Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Night(s) The Lights Went Out

Being a versatile, professional band means being prepared for any situation that might arise, including the unanticipated, requiring us to be even more nimble and flexible.

Last year we played a New Jersey Winery on a day with intense thunderstorms in the area, which were just starting to clear up around our evening start time. As we set up to play the cocktail hour with our piano trio, we were unexpectedly unplugged by nature. Down the road a tree limb had fallen, knocking out power lines. In the meantime, the crowd gathered for cocktails. What to do? Luckily, our trusty bass player brought his acoustic upright and small battery-powered amp, our drummer needed no power, and our pianist is our lead singer—so we began making music: vocals, bass and drums. The crowd loved the unpredictably fun and innovative approach. The bride and groom wrote to us, “Only the best of musicians could have pulled that one off.”

Then came time to play the main tent for the reception of 200+ guests: still no power. So, with drums, acoustic bass, guitar, and saxophone, we kept it going. Our four excellent singers, while preferring amplification, belted out tunes with volume and heart. It's amazing what can be heard when you turn down (or in this case, turn off) the amplifiers. The bossa-novas, standards, and pop tunes convinced the crowd that the impending darkness would not ruin their candlelit celebration. As they moved to dance floor, so did we-- singing, harmonizing, playing and dancing alongside them. As we waited for the generator's arrival, we continued playing Motown, doo-wop, and unplugged rock 'n roll. With the generator finally in place, three hours later, the power came on, the guests were jubilant, and the energy of the crowd rose along with the lights.

Similarly, near Lake Placid in New York, a downed power line near the historic hotel venue threatened a ruined party, so we quickly rolled in the vintage upright piano from the lobby, gathered on the dance floor with vocalists and horn players, and serenaded and danced the crowd for 2+ hours until power was restored. But the wackiest power outage story of all occurred at a New Jersey Country Club during 
a summer thunderstorm several years ago. Again, we managed to wheel in an on-site piano and were having a ball playing unplugged in the candlelit dining room when someone approached us announcing he was a member of Whitney Houston’s road crew. He said he carried a generator in his truck for “just these types of emergencies.” “Want me to back up the truck to this door and hook you up with electricity?” he asked. “Of course” we said, and he did. That party got the best of all blackout situations—a candlelit dinner dance with a plugged-in band.

It's hard for a client to prepare for such contingencies, but rest assured, we are, like a troop of Eagle Scouts, always prepared.
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