How Did I Get Started in Music and Comedy?

Live Music or Comedy? 

People ask me all the time how I got into this? By ‘this,’ they think they mean “playing the piano.” 

But by ‘this’, I think they mean ‘entertaining.’ 

When I was a youngster growing up, I was the middle child. So that’s one reason why I’m so good at making people laugh. The middle child was always in need of attention. They aren’t as important as the first two. The newness of parenting has worn off. So the middle child needed to resort to other tactics.

I picked comedy. Or maybe comedy picked me. Music came along for the ride. 

 

We had dinner as a family every night at the same time. Dad came home on the 5:36 train out of downtown Chicago. After saying grace, my main task was to crack the stern veneer of my Father’s deadly gaze. Manners were very important to him. Not so much to me. 

My first comedy clubs were the family dinner table. It was a packed room of 8 every night. I was ecstatic when someone was invited over for dinner. I could go through my old routines all over again. 

My sister told me later. We should have never laughed at your jokes. It only encouraged you. 

It was not until my early 20s that I realized what a jokester my Dad was. He loved to sing and laugh and always enjoyed a party. But he died too young for both of us. I only have his memory and his letters from home when I was away at camp to remind me.

We would sing. Loud! 

At the local pizza joint in a neighboring suburb, there was a piano player and a banjo player every weekend.  They performed “Follow the bouncing ball,” Sing-along. We would get to eat pizza for dinner — with a Coke. My Dad would have a beer with his friends. 

And we would sing. Loud! 

We also sang at the Catholic school and in church. But nothing beat the pub for really kicking it out. Even if I didn’t know the ‘old fogey’ tunes they were playing, I still learned them and remembered them for the next time. Or figured ’em out before the song was through. 

That’s what happens now when I have a mixed age room. I’ll pick current songs the youngsters want and pack them in with the standards the old folks want. 

Performing doesn’t feel like a gift. I had to earn it. Lord knows, my family was a tough crowd. Mom, Dad, all my siblings didn’t fall for anything.

 

I can’t Dazzle them with Brilliance. Nor Baffle them with Bull. 

The same holds true for every audience since. 

I still view it as a gift when I see the joy in the crowd’s collective faces. Hear their laughter. Enjoy their compliments, handshakes, and hugs. 

I feel like a kid riding his bike for the very first time. Every time I step on stage. 

Let’s be kids again together. Give me a call for your next event. 

Business or pleasure. 

Company events and private house parties. 

I have theme party ideas galore. 

Ice breakers for conventions to let your prospects sales staff get to know each other. 

Surprise birthday parties that create long-lasting memories for all. 

It’ll be a blast! 

 

List Title

  1. Company Events
  2. House Party 
  3. Employee Appreciation Night

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Piano Player for Hire Chicago Suburbs … and Beyond!

As a full time, professional piano player for hire, I love living here. Chicago is a great city.

The suburbs are loaded with wonderful opportunities for live music too.

2018 has been a great year in so many ways. The weather has been fantastic! Lots of warmth and only occasional (sometimes heavy ) snowfall.

I love the diversity of this city. I love the diversity of my gigs. This Holiday week was no exception.

Thursday we played a Dueling Pianos gig up in Wisconsin. It was a company party. Company Christmas parties are the best. People really know how to turn out after working so hard all year. turning out to be a regular gig because the response has been overwhelming. Word is getting out about the fun to be had at Gruben’s on Thursday.

Friday we got a call to play a last-minute slot in Central Illinois. All American Dueling Pianos went out to a club date for a Cabaret-esque kind of show. It wasn’t packed. There were only about 100 people there all night. But we got to stretch out a little bit. I got to do some comedy because people were sitting theater style. It sort of forced them to actually pay attention to the punch lines.

My dueling pianos partner for the night got to do a whole bunch of Sinatra and Tony Bennett. Then later the dance floor filled up and we went through all the current hits that got requested.

Saturday Night turned into a long day. I started by playing a 3 hour recording session for some spots I’ve been producing for a multi-media company who needs original music.

Then I headed out to Barrington Hills, IL for a swanky event at some friends’ home. Private house parties are the way to go at this time of year. No need to worry about traffic or parking or bad weather.

Jackie & Tom had me out to their home for their Annual Holiday Bash. It was the third time I’ve been out there play ing solo piano.

When you build your own Piano Bar, There’s no need to let me leave. We partied until close to 3 AM.

Then Sunday afternoon was a surprise 60th Wedding Anniversary in Lake Bluff, IL. VERY low key and the perfect end to a sweet, enjoyable weekend. Playing all the standards from 50s, 60s and beyond was a true test of my versatility.

But it was the joy of seeing old friends and family connect again over lunch and laughs. There was a video montage of photographs playing on the TV. Everyone enjoyed reminiscing. So I played the soundtrack. Very low key and extremely cool to be part of such a celebration.

Plus, our hosts asked me to MC a ‘game show’ for the celebrants. 

I must say it is an honor to be able to play music every day of every week. Bringing joy and laughter (and sometimes tears) is a gift I am truly grateful for and I wouldn’t be able to do it without you.

Call to book your private party, company events, and anniversary parties. It would be an honor and a pleasure. 

773-527-7417 is the number to call and afterward, you’ll be glad you did.

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. 

entertainment for events, party ideas, birthday parties, private party,

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”

Quick Retirement Party Ideas

I had a call last week for another custom writing job. It was to be part of a long list of retirement party ideas.

I’ve had these calls before. An executive of seasoned tenure is about to retire. The accolades will be forthcoming. The revealing anecdotes will be told. … and … in this case, a special song parody will be written and recorded for the celebrant.

The gentleman going into the golden years of his life was a life long salesman. He had founded his company, mentored many young professionals in his time and was looking forward to go off hunting and fishing. The perfect choice was a song parody of the Kenny Rogers hit The Gambler.

The interview process is a simple one for gigs like this. I have a 2 page questionnaire I have the contact fill out. They usually send it around to the other executives and co-workers around the office. They become our eyes and ears.

The process is going to take at least two days. I get all the info. I write up a few verses. 5 or 6 to be exact. I’m only going to use one or two. Then I get the chorus to go along with the plan.

After that I get the studio all cranked up. Fire off the essential parts. Arrange it for timing of the jokes and then I get a quick demo out the door. Once the customer signs off on it, I know I’ve got a winner. Then I just re-record it, mix it and master in the studio.

Listen to the final product. How did I do? Let me know.

Lickety split, Super quick Retirement party ideas will last a lifetime.

Car Trouble After A Live Music Gig

Right after I finished another live music gig:

It happened. I don’t like to admit that it happened to me.

But it did.

It’s not like it hasn’t happened before.

It’s just that it hasn’t happened in a long, long time.

Car Trouble. Yup. My truck didn’t start after the gig.

Thankfully it happened after the gig and not on the way to the gig.

I was finished. All done. All loaded and ready to go and boom. Then it happened.

Put the key in.

Turn the ignition.

Nothing.

Don’t you hate that?

It used to happen all the time. You know, like, 30 years ago. When I was a college student and I relied on $50 cars to get me through the winter.

Now it hasn’t happened in ooohhh I don’t know probably 15 years? Maybe longer.

I bought this truck because I needed reliable transportation for our gigs.

Playing live music is expensive.

You’ve got to keep the gear working in all kinds of weather here in Chicago. digital music equipment is fragile. You’ve got to have reliable transportation. And when the cold winds blow, you know the odds rise up against us.

So you stay on top of things. I replaced the battery before the beginning of this winter. I always carry a pair of jumper cables, just in case.

I’ve been trained by The Boy Scouts. Be prepared.

I have a blanket in the back of the truck. I don’t know if I have flairs but I think they’re back there by the spare tire as well. I replaced all 4 tires on her before last winter’s party season. Snow tires. That way I wouldn’t dependent on that spare tire or a tire jack that could get fussy. 

Good thing. Last year was a snowy one. We’re not as snowy this year. But we’re sure getting a lot of cold weather. What’dya expect? It’s winter. 

Here is a picture of our beloved cargo van on the back of the tow truck.

car trouble, cargo van, happened, happens, mechanic,

Not A Sight One Likes To See

This ole girl has been great. We named this van Vicki. My girls called it ‘The Man Van’. The boys said it looked like it belonged on an episode of Law and Order: SVU. My accountant loves it because it has no windows so I guess that means it’s a solid write off.

I love her. Vicki. Yes I always name my vehicles after girls. We figured that one out when we were teenagers. They’re prettier that way. And we all know every girl, like every vehicle, has an inherent beauty to it that must be named.

So let’s see what’s up with Vicki. I’ll let you know. My mechanic is awesome. I can give you his name if you want it.

He’s always been great. Because he never charges that much. He is always fair on what he charges and because I have another big corporate event coming up this Thursday. He said Vicki will be back up and running again by then. Phew!

Maybe its something simple like a starter. Oh well . . . . . it happens. At least it happened after the gig.