Monday, September 29, 2014

Sources of Inspiration: We ♥︎ Twist Is The New Twerk

We had one of those "Ohhhhh" moments recently during an event set up. The audio crew was finalizing the stage set up and running sound checks. The loudspeakers came to life - and we pricked up our ears!

Event Producer Kristen Rensch: "At first, everyone just went on with their work but after the first verse was over, there was this shared moment of surprise. We stopped and looked up, really all at once. What was this classic Doo Wop music? Somehow it sounded so familiar. And yet again so different. And finally the "wow, that is a current pop hit! But done so differently and so well that everyone wanted to know "who is that?". The sound crew was playing  Postmodern Jukebox's album "Twist is The New Twerk". Huge success! We all loved it and  several people logged on to buy the album on the spot. I guess we are all ready for something fresh and different - and Postmodern Jukebox really is."

Check out what Postmodern Jukebox did with Iggy Azalea's "Fancy"!

Postmodern Jukebox just started a weekly L.A. Residency at the Hyde Sunset this past Wednesday that will continue every Wednesday throughout the fall.
Our creative team is looking forward to experiencing their live show as part of our ongoing research - and frankly just for a great night out!

Hope you are swinging along this week!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Event Tech Report: Streaming Music. Does This Work for a DJ?

Pandora, Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Radio, Google Music - the musical cloud is getting more crowded every day. But how does this affect our industry? Can we just put together our Spotify list and pump it into the loudspeakers?

We checked in with DJ Lee Dyson.

Lee Dyson: "There is certainly no shortage of options these days for finding new music.
Pandora first created the Music Genome Project but like all great inventions some other companies have expanded and even enhanced the idea.

Call me a romantic but I do think we are so flooded with options now that something gets a bit lost.
As someone who grew up on cassettes and records (and eventually CDs) I remember the feeling of walking out of a store after hours of browsing with a bag full of goodies that I own.

I’d spend time reading the liner notes and listening to the album or CD from start to finish in correct song order as the artist intended for me to hear it.

As a DJ I’d spend hours and hours in dingy record stores picking through bins of crap just to find that one golden nugget.
Many times early on in my career I had to decide if I was going to eat well that day or come home with 3 new albums.

We will soon be to a point where nobody actually owns anything anymore.
Everything is cloud based and streaming so you are just renting access…not owning the music or art.
So depending on your views as a consumer that can be a good thing or a bad thing.
Artists definitely don’t think streaming is a good thing….they barely get pennies per stream.

 So how does all this affect the event/DJ industry?
For now I’d say streaming is mostly relegated to personal use.
As I DJ - no matter how good a WiFi connection is - I wouldn’t trust that a stream won’t drop out in the middle of my set so I can’t imagine DJ’s giving up their laptops and hard drives anytime soon.

Then there is the issue of what a DJ really does during an event.
Room awareness and the ability to read a crowd while constantly adapting  your set list is what keeps the energy going and can make or break an event.  Streaming, much like an Ipod is unable to do this…at least not yet.

To give credit where it’s due though I’ve found streaming services very helpful in expanding my repertoire of music and in researching songs to use for specific themed events.

Streaming aside, I still think one of the most amazing music related inventions of the last decade is Shazam. Finding new music is great but thanks to Shazam no longer does anyone have to say “what IS that song!?!”

Truer words have rarely been spoken. Besides our emotional attachment to our own record collections, we have all experienced the holes in the cloud. We recently produced an event in one of the most gorgeous settings ever, Amangiri in Utah. We did not even have cell phone service. And yes, that was a challenging situation for me! Thank heaven for live music!
Very best,

Monday, September 15, 2014

Ancillary Benefits of the Business Traveler's Life!

A big part of our job: business travel. Long hours on site but our team makes the very best of it!
We love ancillary benefits!

Like fabulous locations!
We spent the first week of the month in Boston to produce a series of events and we very much enjoyed the surroundings!
Here a shot of Brynne Price, Carolyn Vasi and Melissa Cowley on closing night at a site they loved: the Liberty Hotel.

Two nights prior, the setting was even more grandiose: The Museum of Fine Arts! We took care not to disturb Chihuly's Lime Green Icicle Tower!
To work in such exquisite surroundings is a pleasure!

The next ancillary benefit: restaurants! Event Producer Brynne Price is a self-confessed foodie and she loves to explore the new, trendy, most delectable and special places wherever she goes. Her biggest weakness: coffee drinks! We think she should write a travel guide just for coffee houses!
Until she does, you can follow her on Instagram: #hipsterfoodie! Not just Brynne's discoveries but lots of great tips from across the USA.

Here are Brynne's highlights from Boston!

Hungry travelers. I had Mark's Choice, of course 💚 #markymark @wahlburgers #touristbears

 Mei Mei Street Kitchen
Fantastic modern Chinese lunch at @meimeiboston #eatlocal #sustainable #hipsterfoodie

Cheers! Team dinner at one of Boston's best #eater #hipsterfoodie #eventworksla

And last but not least her favorite coffee house:

Pavement Coffeehouse
Round two. This latte is delicious #hipsterfoodie #coffeeaddict #boston

Bon Appetit!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Checking in With: Danny Bergold's New Group "ARIA" - Our Pop Opera Tenor Favorites

This was surely the most entertaining business meeting we had in recent months!

Danny Bergold, President and Managing Partner of About Entertainment, had scheduled a meeting to introduce us to some of his latest entertainment offerings and surprised us with a live performance by ARIA, his pop opera quartet.

We expected Danny with an iPad and his sizzle reel. In came Danny - with the four Australian born singers that form ARIA! Imagine our surprise! Nothing beats the real thing. We got an impromptu show  -  they sang the roof right off the building, unplugged with just a guitar for accompaniment!

Janet: "Their voices are just incredible, individually and in harmony! Once Scott Fields, Craig Hendry, Liam McLachlan and Jason Short started to sing, work all around EventWorks stopped. Everyone came out to watch the show. ARIA got a standing ovation from our seasoned event pros. These guys have exemplary talent and they clearly love what they do. The show was so much fun! Their good mood brightened everyone's day!"

Indeed, these four guys have known each other for a while, as they sang together in the Australian group The Ten Tenors.

Craig Hendry, musical director: "We coincidentally all left The Ten Tenors in 2009 and ended up moving to the United States for various reasons. I think after years of working on tour, traveling through 25 countries with a large group, we each just needed a break. Jason honed his media production and home construction skills. Liam worked for Barnes & Noble when he arrived on the West Coast, Scotty made a living as a wedding singer and I played dueling pianos in Texas. We were in touch through all of this because we are really friends. Liam was the best man at my wedding. So everyone was doing their own thing but in 2011 Jason called to ask whether we would get together for a charity singing gig in Texas. I quickly wrote some new arrangements and we performed together for the first time in several years. It was fun! And successful! We got several follow-up gigs and ended up formalizing ARIA in 2012. I moved to Los Angeles and we are making ARIA our priority. We all get on very well and working together is really enjoyable now. There is not so much pressure. We are not yet established. We can put the emphasis on a repertoire we really like. And after the concert, we all go and have a beer!"

Danny Bergold: "Their four unique voices bring a hitherto unheard blend of opera and pop, exploiting the versatility and range each of them brings to ARIA.  At ease with diverse repertoire from Puccini to Philip Philips, these boys from Oz pride themselves on delivering a musical experience that is raw and honest and, well, let’s face it – often vocally thunderous.  After all, they are from Down Under."

Please watch the video!  Jason Short applied his video production skills. These guys just know how to entertain!

ARIA EPK from ARIA on Vimeo.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Event Report: Turning a Parking Garage into a Speakeasy.

The client: an international hotel chain.
The location: a large hotel in the Phoenix, AZ, area
The guests: 500 food and beverage executives
The purpose: to show them unusual ways to use every space of their properties.

Our task: creating an amazing fete in a never before used "event" space.

We were fortunate to have a visionary client who came to us with a concept and details in mind. Creating the event together became a very rewarding collaborative endeavor.
Event Designer Kate Brack: "The event was a secret. Guests were only told that they were going to an "evening event" and to meet in the hotel lobby. We surreptitiously took over little used level 2 of the hotel parking garage and went to work. This is where we started."

Since our guests were food and beverage executives the client came up with a theme matching the current jazz age food craze: the Speakeasy!
The concept kept the surprises coming. We created a familiar entrance: an industrial walk-in refrigerator.  The client had found a used model on Craigslist that we could dismantle and re-purpose to create an entry hall that covered the elevator exit in the parking garage.

Our client's national executives graciously acted as kitchen staff, greeting arriving guests in full kitchen costume.

 Don't worry! That is fake blood! No animals were harmed during this production! :-)

Guests were taken for a real ride - once they gained the elevators they had no idea where they were going.

Event Producer Brynne Price: "THAT look of total surprise is what we were after! We had created this hotel kitchen with the help of our host hotel's real equipment. They provided the shelving and pallets. All those boxes you see on the sides are our real packing materials. Our equipment arrived in those and after the event was over, we used those "party props" again to ship things back to Los Angeles. We love to re-use."

Guests crossed the kitchen and arrived in the jazz age speakeasy.

Moonshine, signature mixed drinks, deviled eggs are all back in fashion. The hotel provided the glassware. We created the appropriate space for a jazz age party.

We added four cocktail serving flapper girls, a 5-piece jazz band and three dancing couples.

The client's goal was achieved! The 3-hour reception was a full success and everyone left with new ideas and impressions.

"Can’t repeat the past?…Why of course you can!” (F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby)

It seems so appropriate today!