We're thinking of having someone sing at our upcoming baptism party. The room at the restaurant is too small for a band; so do you sing with background tracks? "Absolutely not! I've yet to hear anyone say "Wow, that was classy!" I sang at and ran the karaoke entertainment at a bar years ago and had a lot of fun doing so. I was pretty good, but every so often a pro would come in and "clean my karaoke clock". The pro would bring the house down with his great voice, phrasing and know-how. A singer that sings live is able to do things a guy that sings to tracks can only dream of. Now, I don't knock the person that sings with tracks (a person's got to do whatever it takes to put food on the table) but it's not for me. And what we do, creating music from scratch with a band (and impressing everybody in the room) they (karaoke performers) are rarely capable of replicating"
If you and your musicians are so good, why aren't you working in the clubs everyday of the week? "Good question! Here's the short answer. Lack of good venues to play, the lack of a sufficient budget to hire a great band and a high ratio of owners that don't market music properly. (Which leads to too many empty seats) Professionals need to be paid at a certain threshold (which of course is subjective) to be able to remain in the business. If they're not paid so well, then there needs to be another good reason to work in a club. Reasons like showcasing their talents for other clients, keeping their skills honed, and working with other top-notch musicians. The classic pop and jazz that I sing, require the right combination of acoustics, seating, and overall atmosphere that is conducive to the music and entertaining. Most clubs today are not suitable for jazz or any sort of entertaining. Also, most people responsible for club booking have no clue about what I do or how to market it. Therefore most of clubs just don't work out for live jazz! Jazz also requires enough instrumentation to be effective (to hold an audience for any extended period) More often than not, when a jazz group is working a particular club or restaurant, there are few people in attendance. Second, there is good chance that the caliber of musicianship will be sub-par. The really excellent and professional musicians want to sound their best. An out of tune piano, a total budget of $250.00, eleven television sets illuminating the ceilings (with a different game on each one) is not conducive to musical entertainment. The sub-par or desperate musicians frequently fill these gigs and the casual listener may think that what they're hearing is indicative of all of jazz. Sorry, it's just not the case! I have an obligation to not put myself in these type of environments. Everyone gets short changed!. One more thing, there are many club owners that have a habit of not paying their bills, who bounce checks, or who have to be begged to pay up. Believe me the business is rampant with slimy types. If I even get the slightest uncomfortable vibe from someone, I avoid them."
What is your opinion of the numerous Rat Pack tribute shows that have cropped up in recent years? "I am as big of a fan as there is of Frank, Dean and Sammy. Nobody comes close to their talent. They were in a different category all together. Rarely is a guy going to become a "really good" singer going around imitating people that he has no hope at all of replicating, vocally. I wrote about that subject, a few years ago. Here Don't get me wrong, there are certainly some talented individuals out there. Guys that can carry a tune nicely. What annoys me is being subjected to the same old background or karaoke version of Sinatra's "Summer Wind". That thing (track) has been around since the nineties and it's atrocious. Fake electronic horns. yuck! One other thing, many of the tribute shows with re-creations of Las Vegas showrooms of the 60's bring in Marilyn Monroe. What is that about? She was not a part of the Rat Pack. She crashed JFK's birthday party and sang "Happy B-Day Mr. President". It looks as if Marilyn winds up in these tribute performances because the principle players need a "crutch". It's bad history! I enjoy creativity, originality. Some of the shows I've seen include humor from back in the 60's. Some of it can be offensive, today. I really appreciate originality"
What is your favorite aspect of entertaining? I enjoy winning over a room full of strangers. People that entered and have no expectations and then to really get them to respond positively to a set of songs. It means I have done more than my job for that particular time frame. It means I have made a mark on their memory.
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