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 …
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.
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 …
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
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.
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.
Everyone Loves A Good Celebration — Birthday Party Ideas
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
“Alcohol was invented so the Irish would not rule the world.” – Irish Proverb
When I’m out playing piano music in public, many folks ask me questions that are quite similar. They range in similarities like, “What do you do during the day for work?” and “What does your wife think of what you do for a living?”; things like that. I would love to write an entire blog post about each of those questions.
But in honor of the great St. Patrick’s Day coming up this week, I would like dedicate this holiday blog post to the patron saint of Ireland with a post about alcohol.
“Alcohol is the great social lubricant.” – Also Irish Proverb
A couple of questions I get asked all the time would be:
- “Where are you playing that we can go see you?” I don’t play out in bars all that often. But when I do, I like Dos Equis …. oooppppss Sorry. I do play out public sometimes when the schedule opens up. But for the most part I like to concentrate on company events and corporate gigs. They’re not as easy to perform at as a bar gig. They require a little more finesse and a whole lot more restraint. Certainly neither of my two favorite things to do in the whole world; restraint and finesse that is.I like the raucousness of a bar gig or restaurant. People cutting loose, cracking jokes, laughing at things that are not normally funny in polite company. But isn’t that the point of going out drinking with your friends? No need to be polite.At company events and corporate functions where we are providing live music entertainment, people tend to hold back a bit because they have a level of decorum they need to uphold in the course of daily commerce. No sweat. People want to keep their jobs.
“For when the wine is in, the wit is out.” – Thomas Beacon
But that brings us to the next question I get a lot:
- Do you think that we need to serve alcohol at our event to be able to get people to sing louder?The answer is a resounding, “No!”“How so?” you ask.I answer thusly.Have you ever heard a room full of kids sing loudly?Of course you have.
Well they can certainly get pretty loud. And I don’t think ALL of them have been drinking. Do you?
You answered “No. Probably not ALL of them Dan.”
So I repeat myself. No. You do not need to serve alcohol at your company event to be able to get people to sing along loudly.
Does it help?
It also helps if you’ve got the winning lottery ticket in your pocket. But it’s not going to solve all your problems.
You will need to hire a professional entertainer (like me, for instance) who knows the tried and true formula for a successful evening of piano music entertainment. Someone who knows how to get people interacting knowing that they won’t be embarrassed come Monday morning around the water cooler, or feel like they’re the only on who knows how to have fun after hours. No.
If you are not going to serve alcohol at your event, then might I make my professional recommendation that before you start your party, make sure the sun has gone down and that you just gave them all raises.
But No, you do not need alcohol to be served in order to have a good time with live music entertainment for events at your company party.
Thanks for playing along and I’m certainly glad you’ve decided to read this far. Maybe you would indeed like to go a bit further. Give me a call at 1 773 527 7417 to see how affordable live piano music can be at your event.
Happy St Patty’s Day one and all!
“The whole world is about three drinks behind.” – Humphrey Bogart
Just getting back in from a whole bunch of road work. Settling back into Chicago for the long winter months. I love travelling and meeting all kinds of new people.
I was down in the eastern Caribbean for a month+ doing a dueling pianos show with some exceptional entertainers. Never met any of them before. What a great way to travel!
And can you believe how blue these waters are? I’ve never been down there before this trip. I definitely plan on getting back. In fact, I’ve heard from my agents that we’ll be back down there in January. Good timing, huh?
The question I get asked second most is, favorite song
“What kind of music do you like to play the best?”
I always like to quote Duke Ellington who said, “There are only two kinds of music. Good and the other kind.”
I only play one kind. Which is good.
But what is good? How do you know it’s good? It’s so hard to tell these days. Let’s go back to the Grand Master Duke who went on to say,
“If it sounds good and feels good, then it IS good!”
So it starts if I can make it sound good. Brown Eyed Girl can have a great groove. You can play it reggae style. You can play it bluesy. You can even go Calypso on it and fill the dance floor in nothing flat. favorite song
So, basically, if my audience is having a good time, it’s probably cuz it feels good to them.
I can play Sweet Caroline 4 times a night because if I place it in the right portion of the night, people love that song. They’re having a great time with it. So I’m having fun too.
I got asked that question the other night again, “What is your favorite song to play?”
I was in a club. It wasn’t all that busy. Kind of a quiet night. Maybe 50 people in the bar. The usual mix of foreigners and American tourists. A few Canadians but mostly Brits. A relaxing, warm spring evening in Chicago.
I love meeting new people. Especially people from other places than my neighborhood or my city. It’s good to have another perspective.
I remember one time I was playing on a boat that was spinning around Lake Michigan. I was a young man; about 20 something. I struck up a conversation with a woman from Israel who was living in Germany. I was complaining about our government and all the problems. She just looked at me and in no uncertain terms expressed, “You have no idea how good you have it here in America.”
There are always more than one way to look at things. I forget that sometimes unless I am talking with a wide and varied group of people on a regular basis.
Last night at a party I met a woman who was probably in her late 60s who is deeply involved in the justice system. Her point of view is massively different than my friends who are police.
That’s why when people ask me what kind of music I like the best, I have to answer with a question; “What kind of music do you like? What is your favorite song?” Because as an entertainer I’m not really allowed to judge. I want you to have a good time. I want you to hear the music that makes you feel good. If you’re feeling good, then I’m feeling good. Pretty simple really.
But as a musician (not as an entertainer) I have a very different point of view. First and foremost, it has to have a groove. I also like music that tells a story. I like music that has interesting harmonic structures; something I can spread my wings on and investigate tonalities and textures within the course of the tune. I like to discover something new in every song. Especially if I’ve been playing it for many months – or years.
It’s pretty simple. It comes down to the same thing for me too. Does it make me feel good? Cuz if I’m feeling good, you are too.
Let’s feel good together with live music and piano songs that create more great memories that will lat a lifetime for you.
Call me at +1 773-527-7417 and I GUARANTEE we will have some fun!