Things weren’t quite as usual for Felix and Fingers in Barrington Hills last week. Felix was there, but Fingers was nowhere to be found. Or was it the other way around? The truth is, I ditched my alias (whether it be Felix or Fingers,) as this party had requested just one player.
What? A dueling piano show without a player to duel with? Well, first of all, the concept of ‘dueling,’ is not quite how it may sound. It is more of a cooperative event than a battle. And because the owners of this home had such a beautiful baby grand, it made perfect since why they had chosen to have just one piano for the night. It’s always good to make use out of such a beautiful instrument if you have it, and fitting another piano shell in there or keyboard would have thrown off the ambiance that they were seeking.
But no worries! Being there solo was an opportunity and learning experience (I try to learn something from every show.) As we always say, no two shows are ever the same, and that is absolutely true. Playing music for nearly 5 1/2 hours as a solo performer was a first for me.
Additionally, I did not have the opportunity to transpose songs into more comfortable keys using a transpose button that most electric keyboards have. So by the end of the night and only 4 hours of sleep, my voice was tired the next morning, to say the least. But after an event that went over well, I can deal with it.
A Successful Night For Everyone
There are many ways to define a successful event, but for me, here are some points that allowed me to define it as successful:
- I pulled it off, which was a necessity. My voice didn’t burn out and I did not run out of material. Felix and Fingers has not let anybody down yet, and we don’t plan on ever doing so. Thanks to Mike for entrusting me to do this.
- During the few breaks that I took to DJ music, I was asked to continue singing and playing piano instead. Although DJ’ing music can also be great fun for the crowd, it is a nice complement at the same time to be asked to stay at the keys.
- I was able to try out some new fun games to entertain the crowd with. The games went over well, and the crowd had some fun and laughs playing along.
- I brought two mics. One was a wireless, that I could pass around the room, and I did get a few vocal breaks while some participants sang songs that they loved. As much as a hired performer might be enjoyed, a crowd LOVES to see one of their friends take the stage for an impromptu performance!
- I was able to play on that beautiful piano! Perfectly in tune, this Yamaha baby grand had a great feel to it, and with some stools around the piano, I had my own little audience and a perfect ambiance for this private party.
- The birthday boy (60 years young) was a fan of Billy Joel, Elton John, The Beatles, and The Rolling Stones. I have spent a lot of time with those groups so felt right at home.
- Everyone arrived and left safely despite the treacherous weather.
- The food was delicious!
- The crowd was interactive and fun! I had a blast with them!
- I didn’t have to play “Don’t Stop Believin'” – one of the most commonly requested dueling piano songs. In fact, at one point, I was asked what the most commonly requested song was, when I told her, she said, “Oh. Don’t play that. I hate that song!” Anyhow, I prefer to leave this song for Michael Sherman (a very talented and energetic performer to be paired with.)
Dialing Up ‘New Order’ For ‘New Wave’ Dancing
Although this picture doesn’t quite represent the ‘Blue Monday’ moment, there was indeed a time where the dancing became completely robotic and spastic. So where is the crazy crowd? They were simply standing back, laughing at their friends, who were dancing the robot. It was truly a moment that was enjoyed by all.
It was a great night in Barrington Hills, and when I had an opportunity to escape from the piano for a bit, I had some of the best food from any catering service I have experienced. I’m currently on a diet and exercise program, but blowing that off for a day (or two) was an enjoyed break.
Battling The Bad Weather
Like everyone else in Illinois, we’ve been battered with snow storms, arctic blasts, and a polar vortex this winter. It has created some record-breaking lows, an immense amount of snow, and treacherous roads. I must say, I feel like I’m becoming quite the expert in navigating through snow drifts.
Upon arrival, I wondered if there would be any fender benders as the driveway to the home came down a somewhat steep decline towards the parking area that was reserved for 50 guests. But to my knowledge, everyone arrived safely, and they had even hired a shuttle bus to help many people get home.
As for me, my drive was captured in the picture above to the left. To borrow the USPS creed, “Neither Rain Nor Sleet nor Snow will prevent Felix And Fingers from making your party a success!” Or was it slightly different than that? Either way, I did stop the car to take the picture (in case you are wondering.)
Ahhh… Looking forward to Spring!
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