Olympic Medals for Parties?

August 31, 2008

Here we are this summer, entertaining at the city of Cupertino’s annual 4th of July festivities. 2008 is our fourth year at the celebration, and the six-man band presented a lively program for family picnickers of all ages, and many dancers, too. It was a wonderful evening, followed by a terrific fireworks show, and I hope you were there. Thanks for the nice photo, Joy. Left to right: Dale Mills, Gary Milliken, Steve Apple, me, Bruce Jolly, and Andy Norblin.

Are you looking to jazz up your next party? Or do you have friends planning their wedding? Please recommend us. They can preview us in Sunnyvale on September 13th, or Belmont on September 19th, or right now at MagnoliaJazz.com.

But first, a story. Yikes — it just happened again. A telemarketer tried to sell me a magazine subscription by asking if I wanted to “support his Foundation or let thousands go hungry”. What kind of illogical offer is that? He gave me two stark choices as though they were opposites and covered all sides of the story. I hear statements like this all the time, and they kill me. Does ridiculous stuff like this ever happen to you, too?

When most issues in the world are some shade of gray, rather than black or white, it makes no sense to select any extreme solution. Chances are it’ll be hasty, superficial, and more wrong than right. Sure, this “either-or” option helps us get off the fence when we’re stuck making a hard decision, especially when making a decision is more important than whatever we decide. But it seems like we’re given these oversimplified options all the time, especially by salesmen looking for an easy commission or politicians looking for an easy vote. “You’re either with us or you’re against us” comes to mind.

I thought about this misleading black vs white situation while watching the recent Olympics coverage. The games were exciting and inspiring, as always, but with so much emphasis on winning medals, I felt the media often verged on saying “We love you if you win a medal (especially a gold one, for our country), otherwise we’re barely interested in you!”

Hold on, the games aren’t primarily about winning medals, are they? Is winning the only thing? That simplistic viewpoint is just too black and white for me. I think it’s far more significant to be in the race at all — win, place, show, or something else. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great honor to compete as an Olympian, and all the athletes, whether individuals or teams, want first to do their personal best. For a few at the very top, this definitely means winning a medal.

But all those medals, and the universal frenzy about national medal totals — don’t they distract from the Olympic movement’s ideal of “excelling”? After all, these athletes are the world’s champions, and at that lofty Olympic level, each one has to be totally focused on their sport. I’m not one of those athletes, so I can’t really know how they feel or exactly what they aim for, but in my heart I hope everyone was striving primarily for the love of excelling at their sport — maybe to come in first place, but always to do their best possible job.

Now don’t be surprised, but this reminds me of my band. Although no one gives a gold medal for helping people enjoy their parties, this is exactly what we aim for. In my opinion, my bandmates -- Andy Norblin, on guitar, and Gary Milliken, on clarinet -- are real champions at entertaining people and helping them have a good time. It’s what we love to do, and we do it well. We’ve spent years honing our skills, learning what makes parties succeed, and we strive for our very best at every party.

Let us do the same for you. Is a significant event coming up in your life? Throw a party and include us. You’ll love it — simple as black and white.

Today I'm talking with people planning parties for Halloween and Thanksgiving. If you'll have a party on one of these days, or on any day in between, now's a good time to plan the details, including the music.

Call us at 408-245-9120. You'll love what we do. We're veteran party-goers, easy to work with, and we know what it'll take to make your next party memorable. We've entertained people since 1975, so let our experience help your celebration.

We play at private parties nearly every day, and you can preview us “in action” on September 13 at a lively picnic celebration in Sunnyvale and on September 19 at an elegant benefit dinner party in Belmont. Visit Magnoliajazz.com for details on these events and more.

Sat, Sept 13, 12–2pm
the new Sunnyvale City Center
Mathilda Av, at McKinley, Sunnyvale

Fri, Sept 19, 6–9pm
Ralston Hall
1500 Ralston Av, Belmont