Working with the great Jay Leno!

Dan & JayWe are looking forward to performing again for Make-A-Wish Foundation on May 16th & this year, with Jay Leno!  He is truly a delight, both on stage & off.  He is definitely one of my favorite Celebrities with which to work.  The biggest problem we had with him, was his propensity to leap out of the ground transportation we provided & go into crowds of people!  The first time we had him booked, we engaged our usually security, even though Jay didn’t require it (very unusual).  We generally use off-duty Chicago Policemen for this job, in this case, Matt.  He & a Driver picked Jay up at the airport & they were on their way to the hotel, when Jay asked about stopping at a good Italian Beef stand.  Matt happened to be an expert on this subject.  He instructed the driver & when they arrived, expected to go in & get the sandwiches, while the “Star” stayed in the limo behind tinted windows.  Jay was hosting the Tonight Show at the time & probably one of the most recognizable people in America.  To Matt’s shock, the “Star” leapt out of the limo & went into the crowded street & caused a sensation!  He laughed & joked with people, posing for pictures, shaking hands.  Matt went on to act as “security” for Jay many times after that, always prepared for something spontaneous & hilarious.  Our clients always loved him & so did we!  It’s not surprising that such a generous celebrity would donate his time for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Have you ever been to a GREAT party?

One thing that really gets me, is losing a client to a D.J..  Don’t get me wrong.  Our company created D.J.’s in Chicago.  There was no such animal.  When we went to advertise, there was no category for us.  The whole reason we started down that road, was to accommodate the client that didn’t have the budget for Live Music.  How times have changed.  Obviously, the economical reason to use a D.J. instead of a great band still exists.  However, it’s the client (usually in their 20’s) who tells me that they have decided to go with a D.J., not because of budget, but because their friends tell them “Don’t get a Band!  A D.J. is SO MUCH better!”, that makes me sigh with sincere disappointment.

It wasn’t until recently, that it dawned on me:  We have never performed at a bad party.  Our party’s are FABULOUS.   Have these friends, whose opinion’s are so important to my client’s, ever been to a GREAT party?  In fact, if you are in your 20’s, how many parties have you been to?  Have you been to thousands?  Because, I have.  I am willing to bet that my client’s friends have been to two or three weddings, at the most.  & of those two or three, how many had Live Music?  Maybe one.  Maybe.  This is not a wise & experienced advisor.

I love what I do.  I am so proud of the job we do, from the first contact with prospective clients, to the cries of “Encore” & “One more!!” at the end of another GREAT party.  Our office staff is expert, pleasant & helpful, our musicians are the best, our Vocalists world class.  We give you our all.  & we promise you a GREAT party.

What’s been happening in the New Year of 2015!

January 2015 004 Beside lot’s of snow in January, which we had to expect, we had one very nice surprise!  For those of you planning an event in the Southwest Suburbs, you may want to take a look at The Empress in Addison.  We were involved in planning a fourth wedding for a family that liked to do things Big.  When they informed us they had chosen The Empress, we were surprised & a little worried.  We hadn’t been there in many, many years.  There is usually a reason for that!  How could they accommodate the “Big Plans” of this family we knew so well & how could they handle the needs of our “big” production?  The answer was:  extremely well.  The staff was great to work with from beginning to end, with an accurate grasp of what the client envisioned.  What they produced for them was elegant & top drawer.  & they didn’t have so many of the inconveniences of having to go Downtown to get the kind of wedding they wanted.  They were also able to give us the stage size, power & other production items important to us.  Overall, it was a delightful experience for everyone & at the end of the night, we were all happy! Planning a function in Southwest Chicagoland?  Consider The Empress.

Looking at the 2014 Holiday Season…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA   This Holiday Season has been a busy one for us, with beautiful Parties at the Museum of Science & Industry, the Shedd Aquarium, the Fairmont Hotel, The Drake Hotel & many other Chicago iconic locations.  It makes us so thankful to be members of the Chicago Live Music Scene & to be an integral part of celebrating with many Companies, Corporations & Foundations.

When you have a large gathering of people, especially International Companies or Medical Organizations, you’re going to have rich cultural diversity.  It’s certainly difficult, if not impossible to satisfy everyone’s taste.  However, that is the beauty of music.  It is the great equalizer, knowing no boundaries or barriers.  It’s something that can be enjoyed by everyone, when performed with taste & entertainment value.  We’re so proud that it is for this, that we are best known.  We’re so proud of the all the performances we have done for our Clients in 2014 & look forward to 2015.

We wish you all the best for a Happy & Prosperous New Year!

 

 

 

 

Hard Rockin’ at the Cafe!

005  You can find a Hard Rock Café in many major cities & they are great fun to visit, especially if you’re a tourist in a new place.  If you haven’t been to one, they are usually located where everything is happening, filled with Rock ‘N Roll memorabilia, multi-leveled & have great food.  They’re also set up for Live Performances, with a nice sized stage & professional in-house sound.

The restaurant chain is so popular, you may not think of this facility for a private party.   However, in Chicago, we can highly recommend just that!  The location is perfect, situated in the heart of the happening part of town.  The facility itself is perfectly suited for any type of event you’d like to host, from semi-private to securing the entire place, even on a Saturday night!

We find the staff knowledgeable, friendly & accommodating.  The in-house sound is excellent & the layout perfect for enjoying the stage & having lots of room for people to move about or sit & enjoy the Show.

It’s a great place to consider, if you want an exciting, happening & fun place for your next meeting or reception in Chicago!  We hope to see you there!

Return to the tradition of great Holiday Entertainment!

Here in the Midwest, the leaves are starting to turn, we’re dragging out the Halloween decorations & turning our thoughts to turkey.  If you want to enjoy living here, you have to embrace the change of seasons.  I think one thing that helps us face the impending arrival of winter, is the approach of the holidays.

What better way to celebrate all the aspects of gathering together & celebrating the passing of another year, than to have a great Holiday Party.  & why not make it an event to remember, by bringing in Live Entertainment?  We have done hundreds of company holiday events that are the culmination of a year’s hard work & a thank you for service.  What better way for them to feel appreciated, than to host a night for them to look forward to each year.  Get dressed up, have some good food, then be entertained by some awesome talent!

It is a joy for us to return each year to a party that a company has provided each holiday season for their employees.  There is a sense of community & continuity that is reassuring.  We see the guests excited & appreciative & we are too.   It’s something very, very special, like the holidays themselves.

 

Performing in a Chicago Icon

I always love coming back to the Palmer House.  It’s as if I’ve taken the Concorde to Europe for the evening.  Relaxing for a moment in the lobby is like being asked to lounge in a Palace of Versailles salon.  Such hotels are important to a city, preserving it’s history & helping maintain the sense of continuity that makes people want to return.

Each of the event sites within the hotel are quite unique.  We’ve had rocking Corporate blow outs in the Grand Ballroom, elegant Wedding Receptions in the Red Lacquer Room & quirky avant-garde Networking events in the Empire Room.  We’ve produced quite a bit of Name Entertainment in each of the ballrooms over the years.   It’s such a huge & versatile place.  & at the end of the night, you can sit down & simply people watch in that incredible lobby.  Our work generally takes us to the wee hours & even at this time, the lobby is still full of guests, visitors, sightseers & revelers.

We’ll be there this weekend & I can’t wait.  It’s a reminder of what I love about Chicago & the city that’s made it possible for me to make a living, doing what I love to do.  Maybe I’ll see you there!

Live a little this summer with LIVE music!!

Throughout the summer in the Chicagoland area, you will find it hard to find a community or neighborhood that does NOT offer free concerts at a local park or square.  Taking advantage of this tremendous opportunity, entails putting on pants & a shirt & leaving your front room.  It’s really pretty easy.   Grab your lawn chair, a blanket & your good vibes & take them out to enjoy a night of entertainment, while there’s still live entertainment to enjoy. 

More importantly, if you have kids, take THEM out to see live musicians & performers!  Sadly, people in their twenties come up to me after a Show & say: “That was AWESOME!!  I’ve never seen a live band.”  This is a serious loss for society.  Music & art bind us & fill the gaps between language, culture & color.  It communicates when no other communication is possible. 

So I strongly encourage you, before the summer is over:  turn off your big screen TV.  Walk through your neighborhood.  Maybe say hello to your neighbors.  Take a young person out to see real people playing real music.  & ENJOY!

Story Book Wedding at the Field Museum!

Weddings are my very favorite event at which to perform.  Hands down.  I know a lot of my colleagues don’t agree with me.  I ran into one of them recently, when we happened to be doing a Corporate event at a downtown hotel.  He asked what we were doing there & I told him.  I then asked what he was doing and he replied quote:  “Oh, just a f*&king wedding”.   This not only shocked me, but made me a little angry.  Every wedding is a once in a lifetime event & the most important day or night in at least two people’s lives.  It’s a privilege to be there & make it a success.

That being said, our wedding a short time ago at the Field Museum, was a door buster, even in our vast experience.  It was a seamlessly coordinated effort from all angles, flawlessly pull it off & we did.  One initial challenge:  There was a Dave Matthews Band concert on Northernly Island the same night & if you’re familiar with Chicago, you will know that the Museum Campus shares all parking space with that facility!  Once we got advance notice, we acted quickly to secure parking or travel arrangements for guests & staff.  Does this sound easy?  It took a tremendous amount of planning & cooperation.  & traffic that night was nightmarish.  We have done events where up to 40% of guests invited couldn’t make it to the party on time, many turning around & going home in frustration.  It’s important when doing these downtown locations, to have your finger on the pulse of what’s going on.

Stanley Hall in the Field Museum is an awesome place.  Add gorgeous lighting, linens & flowers & it’s magical.  We always take great care with our sound production, when working this hall & the challenges are considerable.  Our goal is to have the best sound at the most tasteful volume & this was achieved.  The bride’s family were from Italy & when she found out that myself & Nancy, one of our Lead Vocalists are trained in Opera, she had us perform several popular Italian arias.  She & I have performed at the Lyric Opera House & Symphony Center & I think it sounded every bit as good in Stanley Hall!

The groom was Syrian & they asked us to accommodate those guests as well, which we were happy to do.  The blending of the two cultures was beautiful.  I feel confident that every guest went home thinking it was the most incredible wedding they’d ever attended.  It certainly was memorable for us. 

Our thanks go out to the two families, for making us a part of such a spectacular night. 

You can’t have “The Blues” in “The House”

We’re still buzzed about our performance at The House of Blues here in Chicago!  (houseofblues.com/Chicago)     We do a phenomenal Show which we call The Chicago Music Revue, incorporating our musicians doing selections from the band Chicago (as good as the original band, if I do say so myself), numbers by the Blues sensation Pistol Pete & the Mystique Dancers performing costumed numbers from the musical Chicago.  It’s done in vignette form, in this case for an international company’s awards program.   We then follow with the whole Band doing Dance music!  It’s pretty incredible.

There were approximately four hundred guests at this event & so were upstairs in the Mainstage area.  What a fabulous stage to play, first of all.  The multilevel, wraparound viewing areas make every seat in the house great.  The décor is the coolest.  The food is wonderful.  However, what is stand up & apart is the staff there.  For example, the technical staff:  we always bring our own gear & sound specialists, because most of the time, “in house” technicians don’t have the experience of a huge group (26 on stage!) like us.  Looking good is not enough:  we have to sound great.   Imagine our surprise & pleasure when we found the in house technical staff not only knowledgeable, accommodating, but they cared!  They WANTED to do a great job & they did.  We made use of their state of the art sound & lights with delight.

The Catering & Sales staff could not have been more helpful or friendly, not only for our Client, but for us as well.  We are always friendly & easy to work with, but unfortunately it’s not always reciprocal.  Our Client had never done anything this ambitious before & they came into our on site production meeting nervously.  I’m proud to say, they walked out very excited & confident that between us & The House of Blues, everything was going to be great.  & it went better than they ever dreamed! 

At the end of the evening, our Clients (drenched in sweat from non-stop dancing) shook their heads & one said “How are we EVER going to top this?!?”  I’m confident, that it’s going to be REAL hard!