If you don’t live near Holland, Wisconsin, you probably haven’t heard of Van Abel’s of Hollandtown.  It’s a family owned business and it serves just one location.  However, it serves this location in a BIG way.  Not too long ago, we provided US Venture Inc with dueling piano corporate entertainment.  So what’s the big deal?  382 people… with plenty of room to spare!  Originally built in 1848, Van Abel’s began as a saloon with an inn on the 2nd floor.  Over the generations it has continued to go through renovations.  Today it is perfectly fit for hosting weddings and corporate events.  And if you are looking for entertainment, there is an enormous banquet room with a full stage that can accommodate a variety of acts.  Oh, did I mention there is a great dueling piano act, as well? 🙂

Van Abel's of Hollandtown

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I had to use my panoramic photo to try and capture the full size of this area.  I didn’t quite get it all.  I realize it looks like we have the newest trend in curved keyboard designs.  That’s just the camera angle.

Aside from the great stage that was provided, Mike and I also had a chance to try out the new hardware we bought at Guitar Center earlier that day – the “Sonic Maximizer.”  Wow!  What an astounding difference that piece of equipment makes.  It really brings the sound to life.  It’s an equalizer on steroids for dummies.  With the push of one button, it really breathes some new life into the sound quality.

US Venture Inc. Entertains

We had a particularly good time with this group of people.  During a short break, a young woman approached us and told us she made a bet with a few of her friends.  They wrote down a song they didn’t think we’d be able to pull off.  She had bet in favor of us.  I told her I would see what I could do, but the manner in which I said it was not all too reassuring.  Quite often we get requests of songs that we haven’t heard, but with just a bit of time to listen to them during a break, we can usually pull them off.

This time she was in luck.  I actually knew the song quite well.  When I had looked at the title, it didn’t come to me, but as soon as I listened to it, it was in my mind to stay.  The song was Black Sabbath’s, “War Pigs.”  Yes, we played a little bit of everything that night.  And that’s by no means an exaggeration.  We have no problem creating a segue from… let’s say Disney’s “Frozen” (if we still have to) to Black Sabbath.  In fact, finding fun ways to make the transition is often entertaining in itself.

I have to admit, I didn’t get to that song right away during our 2nd set.  I may have made her sit anxiously for a bit.  But when we did get to it, I announced to the audience what was going on, and explained the bet she made with her friends.  Then I unleashed the power of my Yamaha MOX8 keyboard, and instead of using a piano sound, I used the distorted electric guitar.  It actually fit this song perfectly.  With my voice I mimicked the war alarms that are heard in the beginning of the song.  Without spending too much time on that 60-second intro, we jumped right into the groove of the song, pulling it off as if we had practiced it a hundred times.

She was so thrilled that she stuck around until after the show had finished, just so that she could buy us both a beer.  It turned out that was part of their bet.  Someone hade to buy everyone else in their group a round.

Felix Creates A New Speed Record

Felix (aka Mike S.) is a musical-theater major.  He has plenty of diction exercises that he still practices from time to time.  Every once in a while, when the right song request comes in, he gets a chance to put those skills to good use.  This time it was a Johnny Cash tune, “I’ve Been Everywhere.”  It’s a great time to get everyone clapping, and surprising them with just how fast someone can spit out the lyrics,  “I’ve been to Reno, Chicago, Fargo, Minnesota, Buffalo, Toronto, Winslow, Sarasota, Wichita, Tulsa, Ottawa, Oklahoma, Tampa, Panama, Mattawa, La Paloma, Bangor, Baltimore, Salvador, Amarillo, Tocopilla, Barranquilla and Padilla. I’m a killer!”

Mike can perform this at lighting speed without ever slurring a word or missing a single syllable.  The crowd loved it, and it was fastest I’ve ever heard him go.  It’s no wonder there were some looks of amazement on the faces out there.

Like I said, we had a great time with US Venture and enjoyed the stage and banquet room that was provided by Van Abel’s of Hollandtown.  That show raised the bar, which simply means that we’ll be working hard to bring the next one up even higher.  We were glad we had “Van Abel” to entertain everyone.  Ouch!


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