Tag Archives: Event Professionals

How to maximize your Gala Potential

Post-Holiday wintertime in Chicago is the perfect time to hold your Gala Fundraiser.  You might think the weather is a negative factor, but as long as the facility you choose is accessible by major roads, there is only going to be a very slight chance that the weather could effect attendance.  On the contrary, most people are anxious to dress up, get out of the house & have some fun between January & May.

We just finished a tremendously successful event last week.  We have done it several years in a row & it’s always been good, but this year was the very best & our Client was ecstatic.  What was the difference?  They listened to our common advice for party planning:  1.  Keep the party area as contained as possible.  You may be in a venue with lots of distraction such as a museum, but make sure food & beverage is in the same room as the dancing.  2.  Make sure your dance floor is small & directly in front of your music.  People are uncomfortable with a large dance floor.  3.  Hold the largest, most desirable gifts, raffle or prizes to the very end.  This brings everyone together & builds excitement.  4.  As soon as your raffle/awards are over, make sure you’ve coordinated with the entertainment & hit it immediately!  Grab your guests & compel them to stay & party!  They will go home & mark their calendars for next year’s event.

This advise goes across the board for party planning.  Maximize your potential for making a night your guests will never forget.

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.

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!

 

The View from the Stage.

Last Saturday night, we performed on Soldier Field.  Yes, ON the field, not in the Stadium Club, as we usually do.  Our music was for the Make A Wish Foundation wish.org, as we have had the privilege of doing, for many years now.  They had a huge tent set up, fabulous lighting, sports style snacks & our Band to entice their guests to finish out the night dancing, after being treated to Comedian Seth Meyers.  Over the years, they’ve had a star-studded line up, helping to raise money for this wonderful organization.

I stood on the field, looking up at the empty seating surrounding me & thought about dreams.  How many football players stood where I was, realizing their own dreams come true.  They were there, doing what they did best & being recognized for it, being paid to do it.  Then, I thought of all the children who would benefit from the money generated from Make A Wish & have a special dream come true.

It’s a unique perspective, standing on the field, looking up.  Most of us have attended a professional game & watched many on television.  The stadium looks so huge from your seat in the last section or the easy chair of your living room.    Yet, from the field, it’s surprisingly small, somehow attainable. 

In our professional career, we’ve performed on the stages of the Chicago Theater, The Allstate Arena, the Opera House, Symphony Hall, the Erie Crown Theater, the House of Blues, the United Center, Navy Pier, the Celebrate State Street stage, Taste of Chicago & all the major museums in the city.  It never fails to fill me with pride, to stand on these stages & look up, knowing that we are doing what we do best & being honored for the incredible talent that makes up our Band. 

& there’s no doubt my dream has come true.

 

Recipe for a Successful Party: Blending the right ingredients to create a great time!

The other night, we did a Wedding Reception where the bride was in her late 20’s, her parents in their late 50’s, the groom in his late 40’s & his parents in their 80’s.  That is a musical span of 60 years!  When you have a range like this, you will most likely have a block of guests invited from each age group.  Like a skilled Chef, the Bandleader has to put the just the right musical ingredients in at just the right time, to make sure everyone has fun & feels included.  Of course, each party is unique, however, just like the best recipes, you begin with the basics, in other words, things that always work.  Then as you get cooking, you start to add in just the right spices to make everything come together for that particular party & voila!  The audience is demanding more.   

Like any skilled Baker constantly watching the oven, I never take my eyes off the dance floor, constantly assessing how the crowd is reacting, what they’re enjoying, what is working.  Knowing that older guests are more likely to leave early, I try to make sure they hear music they enjoy in the beginning of the evening.  I take advantage of re-make songs, classics that have been redone by contemporary artists.  However, my goal & something that I take tremendous pride in, is that when we’re playing the last dance song of the night, I look out at 90% of the guests that I started with, when I played the first dance song.  As a Master Chef looks on at empty plates & loosened belts, I gaze out at a full dance floor & guests of all ages calling out for one more tune & smile.  We’re all satisfied.

Why do you want LIVE music at your event?

Every client I talk to, whether it is for a Corporate Event or for a Wedding, has to decide: do I want to invest in a Band?  It’s an important economic question, to be sure.  Often times, it is a perception problem, based on your own experience.  Have you ever been to an event with a great band?  If you say “no”, then it is our job to help you understand how great your party can be, when you have an incredible Band. 

A good analogy might be the difference between watching television & going to a Broadway Musical.  When you see incredibly talented people on stage, it’s hard not to get caught up in the excitement.  A professional musician has studied their instrument or art for an average of FIFTEEN years.  Most of them for a lot longer.  A majority of them teach music as well.  It’s one of the few professions that completely immerses your life.  When you are not performing, your attending performances! This is love & dedication.  It’s unlike most any profession.   

If you have a 10 piece band at your event, you have an aggregate of one hundred & fifty years of experience.  It’s the kind of experience you would like if having a heart transplant.  You want your event in the hands of professionals.  Is it worth the money?  You need to ask yourself:  do I want an event I will never forget?  Do I want a party that everyone talks about for years?  Do I want my guests to say “That was the BEST party I’ve ever gone to!!”  If you say “yes”, then invest in the best.

The Polar Vortex got you? How about the perfect Party Vortex!

What makes a great party?  You may think the food, the facility, the decorations.  These are great ingredients, but from decades of experience, I can tell you what is the essential element in making a party great:  unity.  That means, as many guests as possible are engaged & joining in the fun.  The great unifier: music!  But music can also act to alienate some guests, so it’s important that you chose the right professionals who will  make most of your guests feel included & engaged in the whole evening.  When done right, you get a perfect Party Vortex! 

Live music is the building block for a great party.  When you have the right entertainment to interact with your guests, you have the catalyst that starts the fun.  Our Company Credo from the very beginning has been: “The Party Starts on Stage” & is the spark to inspire even the most inhibited closet party animal. 

Most people only have a few shots at creating an event which no one forgets.  It may be a wedding, an anniversary, a birthday party or a corporate/business event.  The one thing that all these special one of a kind events have in common:  you want them to be great.  My advice for obtaining this goal is to consult a Professional.  If you were having surgery, would you want it done by someone who had only done it once or twice?  Or would you want a highly skilled doctor who had performed it thousands of times?  Find the right professionals & put yourselves in their hands.   You’ll get the party of your dreams!