What a great July! I’ve had some memorable gigs this month throughout the Bay Area. Here’s a recap:
Matanzas Creek Winery
A repeat customer of mine for a number of years, I returned to Matanzas Creek Winery to play their “Summer Sizzler” event in the Lavender Fields. Although it was a pretty toast day in Santa Rosa’s Bennett Valley, with temperatures cresting over 90 degrees, I couldn’t have asked for a better spot to play. I had a fantastic view of the Lavender Fields from umbrella-shaded perch. Jazz and some 80s/90s Pop seemed to do the trick for the large, lively crowd.
View of Matanzas Creek’s Lavender Fields from my perch overlooking the oyster and wine station.
UC Berkeley Botanical Gardens
I had the privilege to provide music for Seth and Ann’s wedding ceremony in the gorgeous Redwood Grove Amphitheater tucked into the Berkeley Hills. I had never been here before, neither as a visitor nor a wedding vendor. The amphitheater is surrounded by beautiful redwood trees, and the setting sun filtering through the forest created a really special atmosphere for Seth and Ann. Plus they asked for some fantastic, unique songs for their ceremony, including tunes from the Rocky Horror Show and The Muppet Movie. It was a blast.
View from the top of the amphitheater as guests started to arrive.
A gorgeous setting amongst the Redwoods.
Along with some family friends, my son and I visited the San Francisco Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park during their popular “Flower Piano” festival. The festival is very popular and has a huge following. In addition to getting the opportunity to play a vintage piano in a unique setting, Flower Piano also provides an opportunity sit down at a piano and instantly have an audience full of strangers (people bring picnics and just kinda camp out by each of the 12 pianos scattered throughout the gardens). Towards the end of our visit, I was lucky enough snag a piano and rattle off a few tunes. Special thanks to Katy and Adam for the photos!
Making some music in the SF Botanical Garden’s “Ancient Plant Garden.”
On July 8th, Matanzas Creek Winery invited me to participate in one of their trademark summer events, the Wine and Lavender Soiree. I was stationed on a beautiful overlook at the top of the Lavender Fields, playing some of my jazz standards while folks sipped wine and visit the The Oyster Girls’ Traveling Oyster Bar. A big thank you to estate manager Brad for having me back for the great event!
I’m returning to Matanzas Creek Winery on Saturday, July 8th to provide live music for their Wine and Lavender Soiree. I’m starting up at 11:00 a.m. and I’ll be stationed in the Lavender Fields. Their event is open to the public and you can find more information on the winery’s website here: http://www.matanzascreek.com/events
I had a blast playing at the Stonestown Farmer’s Market on November 27th, 2016. A great crowd (including some family and friends), plus a beautiful blue sky and warm sun made it a superb day to play some tunes outdoors.
Check out the Agricultural Institute of Marin’s homepage for the Stonestown Market here. They’re a fabulous organization that runs top-notch markets around the Bay Area!
The Pour House beer and wine bar on Polk Street signed me on for four more Monday night gigs on the first and third Mondays of November and December. I was excited to return on a more regular basis after playing a couple times this past Fall. The crowds have been good and I’ve enjoyed continuing to work on my sets while getting a chance to get to know the staff and some of the regular customers.
I was honored to be asked by my friends Shawn and Nora, who went to college with my wife, if I would be willing to provide music for their wedding ceremony at Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, MA this past October. OSV is a “living museum” set in the late 1700s and early 1800s, containing dozens of buildings from the era and “cast members” that dress in period clothing.
The couple’s choices for ceremony music were awesome; the songs touched on a number of different genres, including some traditional Irish tunes to pay homage to Nora’s roots, some wedding standards, and some more contemporary tunes by the Beatles and Queen. For their first dance, I played and sang “You’re My Home” by Billy Joel.
A very big thank you to the happy couple for the opportunity to be a part of their special day!
I was very excited when The Pour House, a popular beer and wine bar on Polk Street in San Francisco, invited me to be a part of their new “Acoustic Mondays” live music series. Over the past several years I’d spent a number of evenings here as a customer (including birthday #31), and more than once I found myself thinking that this would be an awesome place to play.
I worked with Matt, the events manager at the Pour House. He’s been booking at least three days of musicians every week for the last several months and he scheduled me for two sets on Labor Day.
The day of the gig, I kicked things off around 7:30 in front of a crowd of about 10 super-supportive friends and some Monday regulars as well. I played two sets, with a focus on some of my favorite “pop pianists.” Set 1 featured Billy Joel, Elton John, and the Beatles. I branched out in the second set and delved into some Ben Folds, Sara Bareilles, Coldplay, Christina Perri, Alicia Keys, and Green Day.
Even though it was a holiday and the city was quiet from the weekend-long BART closure, I was super thankful to have some friendly faces there to cheer me on and fill up the back portion of the bar. A big shout to Paul and Lisa, Greg and Julie, Bryan and Kate, Steph, Rachel, Ilana, Adam, and their cohorts for coming out on a holiday weekend.
Brad, the Estate Manager at Matanzas Creek Winery, invited me back to Matanzas Creek Winery for “Tasting ’til Twilight.” Brad’s been keeping the tasting room open late on weekends this summer, and he asked me to join one night and provide some background music on the patio. The setting was as as good as it gets. From my vantage point I could see Matanzas Creek’s lavender fields and the vineyards of Bennett Valley beyond, all with the sun setting while folks milled about. I played some jazz standards, sipped a bit of wine, and had a great time!
In 2013 I provided music services for two new clients, Matanzas Creek Winery in Sonoma County, and Darcie Kent Vineyards in the Livermore Valley. I was very fortunate to be invited back by both clients for the 2014 holiday season.
Saturday, December 6th took me to Matanzas Creek in the Bennett Valley of Santa Rosa for their annual holiday event. I provided a mix of upbeat holiday music along with some 70s/80s/90s tunes in the winery’s cozy hilltop tasting room:
The following day on Sunday, December 7th I loaded up the car with my equipment and headed east to the Livermore Valley for Darcie Kent’s holiday gathering. The tasting room got quite busy and was packed by the end of the afternoon, with all sorts of wine-loving revelers enjoying some R&R before the final push of the holidays. At one point, a group of about a dozen folks dressed in full Santa gear showed up to the party; I remember those same folks from last year.
Both events were a lot of fun and I’m very appreciated to both organizations for inviting me back in 2014!
A very unique opportunity came my way recently. Samuel, an accomplished violinist, was preparing several pieces to perform at the beginning of his wedding reception in Burlingame, and he needed an accompanist. I gladly accepted the chance to dig into some classical music, which I grew up playing but rarely get asked to play at my gigs.
Samuel and I met several times prior to his big day to rehearse the four songs he chose: Edward Elgar’s love ballad “Salut d’amour,” the intense “Praeludium and Allegro” and the playful “Schon Rosmarin” both by Frtiz Kreisler, and a Korean tune called “Longing for Geumjeong Mountain.”
The repertoire was challenging, but after three rehearsals we were both ready. The performance went over very well and it was an honor to play in front of Samuel and Colleen’s closest family and friends.