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.”
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.
“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
Happy St Patty’s Day
The kids on the cruise ship are hilarious. They are very antsy and energetic. Like, constantly. But mostly right after a meal. They can’t understand how grown ups just want sit back and talk and relax after a good bite. Kids got to get up and run around. They got to do things.
This is especially so when the child has been fed a very steady diet of soft serve ice cream. It can’t be beat. They don’t want anything but french fries and ice cream. Who can blame them? If I didn’t have repercussions from eating like that I would do it all the time. It’s hypnotizing to think about. Donuts and ice cream. No veggies. No rice cakes. Just ice cream. Mmmmmmmm … mesmerizing.
I saw one little tyke this AM who didn’t look any older than 2 years old. I don’t even think he had been walking for more than a month or two. He was holding his Mom’s hand as they were walking along the pool deck to go to the buffet.
It was as if he could smell the ice cream 50 meters away because once he realized where they were going, he just looked up at his Mom as if to say, “Can’t you move any faster Lady?” I mean he was pulling on her limb as if he wasn’t going to stand for the delay in the proceedings and if she didn’t get with the program, he was going to have to release of her of her duties so he could get on over to the ice cream! “Let’s get on with it!” 2 years old.
His poor mother knew exactly what was going on and was not going to release him until he got something nutritious in him first. But she looked utterly defeated. She knew she should not have brought this kid with them on this trip. She thought she was going to catch up on her sleep. She thought she was going to relax. But Nooooo. This 2 year old needed ice cream and immediately after he was going to run around. Probably where danger existed in the form of swimming pools and slippery floors.
I can’t say I miss those days. I’m only working on this cruise ship as an entertainer because our kids are grown up and out of high school now. This is my time to sit back and watch all those parents deal with saying no to ice cream.
Ahhh the life … !!!
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?
St Thomas … I think?
The question I get asked second most is, favorite song
“What kind of music do you like to play the best?”
Two Kinds of Music
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!
I gotta admit. It was not my best night of live music. I was feeling a little off. I felt like I was a beat behind. Even tho I was playing solo piano, I didn’t think I was keeping the groove too honestly. It felt like I was dragging the tempo in places. But I was the one who started it off. I set the tempo. There was no drummer on the gig. So what gives? party ideas for adults
I had worked all day in the studio. I wasn’t really tired. But this was the late set at The Redhead piano bar in Chicago. I started just before midnight and I was going until 3 in the morning. So maybe I could have slept longer last night.
The place was packed. People were having a really good time by the time I got there. I settled in behind the piano and got people rocking and singing along. There were lots of dancers on the floor. Always cool to see that. But I was still trippin’ on my tempos. And then I started forgetting whole verses. Like entire chunks of lyrics. I could nail the choruses. But the verses were elusive. For example, I couldn’t remember the first verse of ‘Folsom Prison’ by Johnny Cash. “I hear the train a-comin’ ….”
Then came Justin. I nicknamed him ‘Captain Energy’. He was gonna be the guy tonight. The Alpha Male. Numero Uno. He had the impetus to get things goin’. He was my savior. My go to guy. He knew every lyric to every song I sang, or started to sing.
He brought the house down. It was amazing! Every lyric. Scenes From An Italian Restaurant? Nailed it. Africa by Toto? No sweat. He never came close to singing on key. But that silly little technicality did not stop Captain Energy. No siree-bob.
Plus he was willing to jump up and dance. What he lacked in melodic capability he did not make up in rhythm on the dance floor. Let’s just say he was an original.
He got people dancing by pulling them into his vortex on the floor. He pulled off Elvis impersonations with no shame.
Then he imitated Neil Diamond during our rendition of “Forever In Blue Jeans” by adapting the Will Ferrell line, “I wrote this song on the back of a dixie cup …” and added the line himself “after I stabbed a homeless guy to get an erection.” Captain Energy was on fire!
I was rescued. I fed off of his energy. I got my groove back. 3 ½ hours went by in no time. I didn’t want to leave when I was done. No one did. Except Captain Energy. He gave his all and he had to go. When he left we all felt like it was time to turn in.
Every room needs a Captain. Justin was ours tonight. Every party needs a ring leader to get things going. Who is going to be your ringleader? Call me to find out how to get your party going. If Captain Energy doesn’t show up, I’ll be sure to do my part before he does. Even if my rhythm is a little off, we’ll still have a great time. 773-527-7417 party ideas for adults