Category Archives: live music chicago

You Call It Piano Music Entertainment. Your Soul Calls It Thirst Quencher

You Call It Piano Music Entertainment
Your Soul Calls It Thirst Quencher

It was one of those gigs where I was so happy I took piano lessons as a kid, I had stuck with it as and adult and, most importantly, remained a professional so that I could witness what I am about to tell you.

No one thinks they really need live music. Most importantly the ‘Bean Counters’ who sit around in their office and don’t realize that music truly is the universal language that we all understand.

That’s okay. We all have a job to do.

My job today is to let you know how important
live music and comedy can be for your soul.

It’s like Gatorade after a 60 minute workout. It’s like scratching an itch in a hard to reach place. It’s like a hug and a kiss from a loved one who has returned from a long trip.
Here’s the story …

piano music entertainment

Sing Like No One Can Hear You

This guy was your typical office worker who didn’t have anything else going on his life except to be an office worker. He was kinda grumpy. He had no sense of humor. He had no friends. So he was the guy that made everyone feel a little uncomfortable.

He wore the weird shirt that didn’t appear to coordinate with his tie – or anything else that he wore for that matter. And his hair was always a little bit messy. He didn’t talk much because, well, he liked to be quiet.

Let’s call him ‘Ralph’.

What nobody knew about ‘Ralph’ was he had watched his Mom die of cancer when he was 10 back in 1969. As you can imagine it was horrible.

She was a single Mom. He was an only child. They were not members of a church so there was no support network of any kind. After she died he went to live with an aunt he had never met, in a state he had never been to, with an ‘uncle’ who wasn’t married to his aunt. They had no other kids either. His aunt was nice enough and all. But let’s just say ‘nurturing’ was not a concept she knew much about.

School was also a little rough for Ralph in this small rural town of about 4000 people. They were nice and everything. But having come from a large city school, he felt lost and way behind the other kids.

He wasn’t very coordinated or even remotely interested in sports. He just didn’t get the importance of all that running around and throwing balls and stuff. No one had ever showed him how and he didn’t have any allegiance to one team or another. So, seriously. Like, what’s the point?

The thing about his new school tho, was they had a choir as part of their curriculum. He had no idea how it would change his life.

Choir allowed Ralph to be around other people – especially girls. It allowed him to comfortably shift into his changing voice as puberty set in. It allowed him to express his emotions which ran so deep and so pensive at such a vulnerable and tenuous time of his life.

He stayed with choir all through middle school and high school. He didn’t excel at singing. He was never a featured soloist or anything. He just really enjoyed it for reasons that a growing young man could simply not explain.

But that’s where it ended. College was not in the picture for Ralph. He went to work and learned finance. He was actually pretty good at analysis. He eventually learned accounting with a small local firm that had hired him right out of high school.

In 89 that small local firm was bought out by a much larger one which then grew into a multi-billion dollar corporation through the 90s. He was a good and consistent employee. He was promoted regularly but never to management. He got transferred back to his hometown city in 98 where he just slipped easily into the anonymity of the hustle and bustle. He lives there to this day.

He never married. He never joined a church or a community choir. He doesn’t do much of anything in the way of outside activities. He likes going to the movies. But he feels too shy to search for anything. No one ever gave him permission.

Until one night in February his company event consisted of a large Holiday Party featuring piano music entertainment.

‘Ralph’ was sitting alone, kind of in the background. I don’t think he was eating much off the buffet. I didn’t notice his beverage of choice. But I did notice he was alone.

When I perform I never call anyone out. I never embarrass anyone. What I use is a technique I call “A Saucer of Milk”. It’s like when you want to call a cat over. You don’t yell or command. You just lay out a saucer of milk. If you want what we have to offer, (and your soul knows you do), then you’ll be over in time.

This story is getting a little long. So I am going to finish this tomorrow.

In the meantime, thanks for listening and let me know when you want to have great live music and comedy in the form of piano music entertainment and interactive, sing along fun that brings people together and creates life long memories for everyone in attendance.

One of The Worst Days in Chicago History

We are tremendously loyal to our big name stars who have spent any amount of time in Chicago. We are frequently claiming credit for the accolades that anyone brings to our grand city. The warmth of your accomplishments leaves us magnificently glistening beneath the snowy stars.

On Tuesday, March 24, 2015, three major internationally recognized stars hit the pavement hard. And we watched with gleeful anticipation.

D Rose Chicago Bulls, Chicago sports star, Chicago Icon,

Derrick Rose – MVP

First we lost D Rose. Former MVP of the NBA out with another knee injury, his third requiring surgery and major rehabilitation in 3 years. Yes, Derrick Rose, a truly homegrown product who has accomplished much in his short and talented life. Down for the count again. Will he return? Possibly. But will he ever be an MVP again? Hard to say.

Some say “No way!”

 

Will he ever lead the Bulls to an NBA Championship? Time will tell. I wouldn’t count him out.

 We love our heroes when they win. We adore them when they repeat.

Next, (yes, all on the same day) we lost ‘Kaner’ aka Patrick Kane leading scorer in the NHL on this day. Yes he has the repeat bug 2-Time Stanley Cup winner and the reigning champion of the All Star Game Skills Competition. Gone for 6-10 weeks with what appears to be a broken collarbone.

Taken out on a cheap hit by some guy know one pays to go and see no matter where he is playing. Kane is from Buffalo NY but he is ours now baby! It is safe to say we don’t win either of those Cups without him. I mean, just look at this guy … Will he be back in time for the playoffs?

Third (and not so lastly) Rahm Emmanuel reigning champion of Chicago politics. Former Chief of Staff of our Commander In Chief and Chicago home owner Barack Obama. Currently our sitting Mayor of only one term. His predecessor, Richie M Daley holds the record for 6 terms, which he wrested from the the previous record of 5 terms held by his Dear Ole Dad Richard Sr.

Yet poor old Rahm may not make it to repeat with even a 2nd term. Why? Because he did not hold a majority in the election held on Tuesday and now faces a run off in 6 weeks against some guy named ‘Chuy’.

Who?

Yes Chuy ran as kind of an afterthought and has basically no clue what to do with our huge budgetary shortfalls and monstrous chasms of quality jobs if actually elected.

So instead Chuy just stands there on the podium and smiles like he just got elected Prom King along with the virgin cheerleader that never talks to him in the high school hallways.

These three stories are in no way to be dismissed lightly when Chicago history books get re-written. And yet these three separate but significant events will be talked about and examined by pundits, talking heads and prognosticators until the first tulip blooms this spring.

These next 6-8 weeks before the run-off election and before the playoffs will be a boon for comedy writers and bloggers spanning this City of Big Shoulders. From Lakeview to Austin. From Evanston to Hyde Park. Yes we will capitalize on the heart ache and misfortunes of others’. Even though they are our superheros.

But we will do it with love and good humor. After all it is February and it is Chicago and there is a new layer of snow falling to the ground as I write this.

Chicago Sports

Chicago Institutions

So we’ve got to do something to pass the time. Because even though pitchers and catchers reported to spring training last week, from where we stand we are still light years away from a walk down by the lake to cool off from a humid summer day that we spent in the bleachers that have been completely rebuilt during the reconstruction of Wrigley Field that seemed to have never ended.

So here’s to our stars, home grown and otherwise. The winners and the not so winners. The runner ups and the contestants. We love you all for gracing us with your presence so that we may temporarily bask in your warm glow, if only for a moment, to say “C’mon! You can do it again!”

Can You Really Effectively Do Fundraising For Your Church With Just A Piano Player?

It’s always interesting when I get a call to do some fundraising for your church or school from someone who wants me to play piano music at their charity event. But they think the piano can only be relegated to background music.

It’s true we can offer some beautiful ambiance.

But there is so much more to what I bring to the table. What I offer for your fund raiser entertainment is to bring people together. But if I am also going to be the background piano player first, then I need to bring them in differently than if I am your headliner entertainment.

That’s exactly what I was able to do here for this church fund raiser. Check this out …

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Thank YOU!!!

You’re Welcome! 

It’s always a pleasure to help raise funds for churches and schools. I never get tired of it.

We have a wonderful community here in Chicago. A real mixture of people and cultures and needs. St Nicolai has been around for 125 years now. Think about what that means. All the different changes this community has seen over the decades. From working class families to immigrants to 2nd, 3rd and now 4th generations of people living and working ad dying in the City of Chicago.

I’ve been living and working in Chicago as a musician since 1981. I grew up in the suburbs. I came down here to U of I as it was called back then. Now our kids have grown up here and call these neighbors their friends too.

I’ve known Dave Antieau for a long time. He’s been the pastor at St. Nicolai’s for several years now. He started off as one of my piano students back when I was teaching full time.

His wife is a wonderful woman who is just as active in the community as David is. They’ve seen me perform live music at a mutual friend’s wedding. It’s all the same thing for us.

Bring people together with the power of music and
create great memories. Let us do the same for you and your fundraising efforts.

Call now 773-527-7417 

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Great Party Ideas That Create Lifelong Memories – The Cure for Presidents Day

So I have finally found one of the most perfect party ideas AND it will cure your next President’s Day.

Throw a party. Yes. That would be throw a party during Presidents Day and bring in a piano player and a award winning chef and see where that would lead.

I have many items on my bucket list. I frequently get new party ideas along with all my new song ideas and lyric ideas. But I don’t think I ever came up with throwing an afternoon party on Presidents Day. 

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No Need To Wait Until Next Year for Great Party Ideas

Well it happened for me yesterday. And what a success! Not a lot of people. Only about 10, maybe 12 folks. A few of their kids showed up. We ate great food, we sang some great songs, we sat down with friends and made great memories. You can too.

Plus, and here’s the good part, you don’t have to wait until next year’s Presidents Day. Start thinking about your outdoor BBQs and your graduation party ideas and your anniversary party ideas. We can make this another fantastic event filled and life long lasting memory creating event that will last a lifetime.

Call me to see what kind of ideas I can come up with for you and your memory tank.

How Do You Spell 60th Birthday Party Ideas?

Everyone Loves A Good Celebration — Birthday Party Ideas 

party ideas, surprise parties, piano entertainment, piano music,

Celebrate Now!

Celebrations are to be remembered. With all that can happen in the course of life, the good fortune to be able to come together with friends and family to commemorate a milestone like a birthday or an anniversary is to be relished with a party. But what can I say? I’m a professional entertainer. So there’s that. 

With that said when I get invited to come to your event as a piano player, I am humbled to know that first of all, you value good music, and second of all that you have allowed me to be a part of an intimate family memory that will last a lifetime.

That is exactly what happened last year in the summer when George and Colleen invited me to their home to celebrate George’s 60th birthday party. A little back story first …

George is happy to be celebrating anything above ground. Especially a 60th birthday party. George had had a major heart attack a year earlier. Like as in MAJOR. The weird part is George is one of those health nuts. Apparently he is quite active riding his bike and taking long tours for fun. He’s been doing this for years. In fact, George looks like one those guys who is healthy. Fit, tall, muscualar and full of life and energy.

If you were to put George in a line of 20 other men his age, you would pick him last as a candidate for “The Big Grabber”. But you would have picked wrong.

At the fateful moment he was blessed to be around his family and his wife, who is a registered nurse and knew how to administer CPR, thus keeping him alive long enough to get him on the table and get his operation that allowed him to live.

Now jump ahead a year later and everyone is happy to celebrate a surprise 60th birthday party for him.

So as part of his surprise party his wife, Colleen, and his kids, now grown, prepared this party under the radar. The misdirect (every surprise party needs a misdirect – where you get the celebrant out of the house long enough to get everything prepared) was to take him on a “short” bike ride down around Chicago to the lakefront and back. Nothing too strenuous.

We were all assembled in the backyard when he came around back towards the garage on his bike when we yelled “SURPRISE!!!” to which George was startled so severely that he fell off his bike.

It was then that we immediately realized maybe this whole “SURPRISE!!!” thing might not be good for his health lest we wanted to inflict another hear attack on the unsuspecting birthday boy. 

BIRTHDAY PARTY, 60TH SURPRISE PARTY, PIANO MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT,

No … THANK YOU!

All was well though. Laughter and some memorable video footage will be enterted into the family archives for future laughs.

I was invited to be the piano player because George loves the Beatles and good music all around. Hence, the addendum at the end of the thank you note I received.

As you can see music reaches and heals all of us no matter where we are at. It helps during celebrations as well as times when Mother Nature rears her inevitable patterns.

So when considering party ideas, whether the good celebrations or the not so good, remember music will touch the soul of everyone who is there. It is an honor to not only play piano music for your birthday party ideas but also to be invited to your intimate family event. Thank you.

Dan – your performance not only touched & thrilled me,
it reached everyone’s soul who was there.
Love George”

How Does A Piano Player Learn So Many New Songs?

Learning new songs is part and parcel of our daily existence as a piano player who plays live music regularly. The challenge is sifting through all the new music and finding what works and what doesn’t work.

In my opinion most of the Pop and Country music these days has become homogenized. For those of you that didn’t grow up in the 60s ‘homogenized’ is not a sexual connotation. It means that everything is made the same. Some might say made to the same standard of quality. But I think what has happened is that most of the popular songs have the same chord changes and a drought of tasty melodies. I know there are some great and talented songwriters out there. But by the time their tune gets to the producer and to the recording process, there are changes that get made to make the song palatable. Axis of Awesome did this comedy music bit that has become a perfect example of what I’m taking about  

That’s okay by me. I don’t mind. I just know, as a writer, there are so many possibilities harmonically and melodically speaking, that there is no excuse for this. Even if a song were to have one ‘mystery chord’ in there somewhere, it would go a long way. It could be laziness. It could be ignorance.

But I think what has happened is when people like something, the creators replicate it because they know it’s a winning formula. This is true in every successful business. The music business is no different.

I think Adele has had some good success with adding tasty chords into her songs. Bruno Mars is copying many of the greats that came before him. They are both quite open about the fact that they are standing the shoulders of the giants who came before them.

My job is a piano player is to interpret what is out there and make it my own. For example, I don’t use massive amounts of music production techniques at our performances. I know some players use backing tracks and drum machines, even at dueling pianos shows. That’s cool. I never found it all that inspiring. As a piano player who works a lot I find I get inspiration from the people who are listening. I like that kind of energy rather than a technical energy.

The idea is that then the piano player turns the song into something of his own. Since we are all standing on the shoulders of the great ones who came before us, the only thing left for us to do is to personalize it.

That’s one of the things I learned early on as I was an aspiring musician learning to become a professional piano player. I used to think “Who is the best piano player?”. But then I realized it’s all one magic trick. Once you learn that one trick everything else after that is about adding the personality you were born with or that you are willing to let shine through.

So when I learn a new One Direction song or something from Jason Aldean, it doesn’t matter to me that all the same chords sequences are being used over and over again. I try to find the essence of the tune and make it my own. Sometimes I get it right, other times I need to keep learning.

When Was The Last Time You Had A Good Laugh? Dueling Pianos Music and Comedy

Another beautiful frosty day in November here in Chicago. We had another successful corporate event last night. It was a dueling pianos show in Peoria IL courtesy of Central Illinois Dueling Pianos. Thank you very much Andrew

We entertained a whole bunch of government officials. Some newly elected. Some newly un-elected. And of course all of their staff. We had a lot of laughs.

I love that part of our job as a musician, as an entertainer for an event.

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When Was The Last Time You Had A Good Laugh?

Getting people to laugh. Sometimes we’re just improvising. Sometimes they’re routines that we have been doing for years. But the thing about dueling pianos is we are always going to have something different.

It’s because of the audience. Every audience, tho similar, is different. Different requests. Different celebrations. Just different.

But we know you’re going to have fun. We know we’re going to get you to where you want to go. You want to have fun and you need to laugh. We just have to organize the deck chairs, if you will. Alphabetize the chaos.

We had that rolling laughter last night. That interactive banter that keys off of people in the audience and their responses. A quality dueling piano show allows for that to happen. It’s so flexible.

I feel like the laughter is the key. I have always been looking for that laugh. As long as I can remember. Its a key component of what I do. Getting people to laugh.

One of the ways to do it is to be able to laugh at myself. That right there is probably the top way to get others’ to join me in laughter. I don’t take this whole music and comedy thing too seriously. I know, comedy is a serious business and all. But I just don’t take myself too seriously.

I hope you don’t either. And don’t take it too personally either. We’re all human. We’re all really kind of the same – for the most part. We all do and think the same stupid stuff. So it’s okay to laugh at yourself sometimes. It lightens the load we have to carry.

I think I read something somewhere about how laughter releases a chemical into our systems that keeps us young. I hope that’s true. Because there are times when I absolutely crave hearing laughter and having a good laugh – at myself most of all.

I hope you have a great Holiday season. We are busy busy busy again. Yet there are still a few dates open. I’d love to help you laugh some night too. Call me and we’ll see what we can do.

Addicted To Having Fun? Musicians Are Too.

We know how you feel. We are musicians first and humans second.

Celestial beings who landed here on a lark thinking, “Well maybe these people want to party too!”

If you want to liven up your party, then call a musician.

If you want to get people dancing quicker than a one legged man with his shoe on fire, call a musician.

If you want your friends to tell everybody what a great time you had at your party this year, call a musician.

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Really! Live Music makes Your Party Really Live!

Really! We know that Live Music makes a party really live!

I  have seen it over and over again. We show up. No one knows us. But you know everybody there. They’re your friends, your family, the people in your life who matter most. We understand. No one really says anything to us. We set up our gear. Do a quick sound check. Go to the bathroom. Use your best hand towels. Then we start playing. Not loud at first. Not too fast either. Not unless we are at a concert. We just ease on in under the conversation. We watch. We watch for the smile. Then the hod bob. Maybe it’s a shoulder thrust going on. Someone laughs cuz they see someone else going for it too. Next thing you know the whole party gets going. People move in closer to the band or nearer the piano music the later the party goes. Next thing you knpw it’s 3 hours later and you don’t know where the time went.

Sound good to you? If you’re like us, you want to have some at your party. Entertainers make this all come together. So Call today. You’ll be glad you did.

+1 773-527-7417

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PIano Music Maker Satisfies The Masses

As a piano music maker in the piano bars around Chicago  

I get the opportunity to meet and greet some of the finest of citizens.

It is my pleasure to introduce to one such group of fine patrons from the late night gig last week. Just a warning Poison Squirrels, I mean, Boys and Girls, alcohol was involved in this particular encounter.  

This is just one cute little tale I’d love to pull on your coat tails about, Gather ’round kids . . .

;/;/;/;/;/;/;/;/;;/;/;/;/;/;/;/;/;;/;/;/;/;/;/;/;/;;/;/;/;/;/;/;/;/;

I took a break and walked around the room to talk with people at the club and see what they wanted to hear for the next set.

One highly energetic and slightly giddy trio of young women had a request of sorts.

The first one said, “Let’s find you some good songs to play. Do you play any Shania Twain?”

No. I haven’t played any of her songs in years.”

The next wanted to know, “Do you do any Taylor Swift?”

Do I look like I know any Taylor Swift?”

So the next one says, “How about some N’Sync?”

I said, “I thought you wanted to hear something good.”

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To All My Friends

They finally laughed. In fact, it was as if someone flipped a switch because then the first one said, “Well I just thought you could spice things up. What Lionel Richie do you know that will really rock the house?”

I smiled and told them, “Ummmmm … how ’bout none?” They got the joke.

I quickly changed the subject by getting someone to take our picture. I love my job!

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

The best part is I get to play to all kinds of people. When folks have an idea about what they think is going to be a good song, I can usually play it. But as a professional, I know which songs are going to work. Stress the word ‘KNOW’. I’ve been doing this awhile now. I’ve got a repertoire that expands decades. Anything you want to hear will fit. However, as a profession piano music maker, I can tell you, without a doubt, that Lionel Richie will never get the room rocking. Sorry my dear.  Thanks for playing along though. We sure appricate the thoughts and condolences.