Please Go to My Current Blog

.

Hi! Thanks for visiting. This blog is not current, and I may return here someday, but for now please go to my current blog: http://MagnoliaJazz.com/blog.


.

A New Blog for Weddings and Parties


Do you read many blogs? Occasionally? Regularly? If not at all, please give it a try -- they often present lots of interesting food for thought.

I'm in the process of migrating this blog to the WordPress platform, and I anticipate a noticeable improvement. Up to now, I've created my blog on Blogger, and if I can get WordPress whipped into shape quickly, this will be my last post on Blogger and my first on WordPress.

What does this mean? First of all, nothing changes as far as you're concerned. My blog remains at the same address.

Why am I changing? Because using WordPress seems more attractive. I've been told many times that Blogger is like "training wheels" -- very easy to begin and use -- while WordPress offers more features and significant benefits. We shall see.

Maybe you and I are in the same boat here, working to market our services. I'm make a living as a musician, and I blog to help me manage my jazz band. For nearly two years my blog has commented on how I help people enjoy their weddings and parties. Lots of examples, lots of pictures. I receive a small number of posted comments, but a large number of phone calls and emails from colleagues and potential clients.

Like my colleagues, I'm far from a full-time professional blogger, and I'm always reading and talking, aiming to improve my skills at the best blogging practices.

If you're a blogger, too, please ask yourself: What are we all doing here? Simply this: laying the foundation for building relationships. Presenting ourselves as people with ideas and talents honed by experience. Offering our services based on who we are and the skills we bring our clients, rather than on a catalog of commodities they can pull off a shelf.

Not at all like Walter Cronkeit, who aimed at presenting the day's news as just the facts, "and that's the way it is", without his own personal viewpoint. Like it or not, we bloggers are lots more like commentators Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Maher, or David Letterman. We're like an opinionated movie critic or music critic, whose reviews are useful especially because they approach their work from a distinct perspective. It's because they have that particular "take" on things, and we know where they're coming from, that their opinions can be useful to us.

Similarly, our blogs are saying that it's our own personal "touch" in our work that makes what we bring our clients so special, valuable, and wonderful. So we create our blogs to reflect our own unique approach and style, and the more creative abilities we possess as bloggers, the better we can craft our presentations. So I'm hoping WordPress will expand my arsenal of blogging tools. Please tell me how I'm doing.

In the meantime, the Magnolia Jazz Band continues to keep busy. Nearly every day, we entertain at memorable celebrations ranging from large, elegant wedding receptions and banquets to small, casual garden parties and picnics, and I'm always on the lookout for more opportunities. Today I'm talking with people hosting parties for Labor Day and Halloween. If you'll have a soiree on one of these days, or on any day in between, now's a good time to arrange the details, including the music.

Have a question? We'll have the answer. Call us at 408-245-9120. We're easy to work with, so let our experience help your next celebration. Please visit MagnoliaJazz.com for our schedule, and catch us at a public event soon. We're playing on Wed, August 26, at a pre-holiday party showcase at the Crowne Plaza Cabana, Palo Alto, and I hope to see you there. (Call 650-628-0138 to RSVP).

Please take a moment to find me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter. Please visit our Facebook Page, register as a "fan", and you'll receive a quick email reminder before each of our public appearances.

Thanks for reading my blog. Please send me a comment (below), and I'll reply promptly.

Practicing for Weddings and Parties




Here we are two weeks ago, at the beautiful Jacuzzi Family Vineyards, in Sonoma. Starting with "It Had to be You" and ending with Pachelbel's "Canon in D", the wedding processional included bridesmaids, the ring bearer, and the flower girl, who paved the way for Kim and her Dad. Congratulations Kim and Chris — you starred in a lovely evening, and thanks for including us.

Thanks to Jere Visalli (Visalli Photography) for the beautiful photos. Visit his stunning website.

Like so many successful events, this wedding required lots of planning and coordinating, and we were delighted to work with Lisa Parker-Kim (Parker-Kim Events) and Melanie King (Jacuzzi Family Vineyards).

Every day we're reminded that success follows thorough preparation. For example, my friend Amy Frugoli (Twitterpated Weddings), an outstanding wedding coordinator, is one of the busiest networkers in Northern California. She seems to be everywhere, and she‘s just been selected to serve as the primary coordinator for the $100K San Francisco Dream Wedding Giveaway, to be announced tomorrow. What an honor!

Upon hearing the news, I reminded her that her good fortune is really no surprise — the more we practice, the luckier we get.

With Amy, it's never "Same old, same old." She always creates new touches for her events, and, like many of our colleagues, she's ready for anything, She's constantly exploring, observing, inventing, and rehearsing, all with an open mind.

For all of us, this is a great habit to cultivate. What's your favorite way to keep your mind fresh and agile?

The Magnolia Jazz Band continues to keep busy. Nearly every day, we entertain at memorable celebrations ranging from large, elegant wedding receptions and banquets to small, casual garden parties and picnics, and I'm always on the lookout for more opportunities. Today I'm talking with people hosting parties for Labor Day and Halloween. If you'll have a soiree on one of these days, or on any day in between, now's a good time to arrange the details, including the music.

Have a question? We'll have the answer. Call us at 408-245-9120. We're easy to work with, so let our experience help your next celebration. Please visit MagnoliaJazz.com for our schedule, and catch us at a public event soon. We're playing on Wed, August 26, at a pre-holiday party showcase at the Crowne Plaza Cabana, Palo Alto, and I hope to see you there. (Call 650-628-0138 to RSVP).

Please take a moment to find me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter. Please visit our Facebook Page, register as a "fan", and you'll receive a quick email reminder before each of our public appearances.

Thanks for reading my blog. Please send me a comment (below), and I'll reply promptly.

A NEW Outstanding Facility for Weddings and Parties


Here’s Andy Norblin, our guitarist, tuning up prior to yesterday’s opening night reception of the brand new “Mission City Ballroom”, at the Santa Clara Convention Center. At over 300,000 square feet, it’s easily the largest meeting facility in Silicon Valley. Fabulous room, over 750 RSVPs, and I believe everyone showed up.

Nearly every day, we entertain at memorable celebrations ranging from large, elegant wedding receptions and banquets to small, casual garden parties and picnics. Over the course of several months, we find ourselves in many of the Bay Area’s most outstanding facilities, and yesterday was no exception. The new “Mission City Ballroom” is gorgeous, with state-of-the-art technical capabilities, and is a welcome addition to Silicon Valley’s impressive list of venues for special events.

Do you attend events like these regularly or just occasionally? What are a few of your favorite locations?

Meanwhile, the band continues to jazz up events of all sizes, and I’m always on the lookout for more opportunities. Please catch us at a public event coming up. Visit MagnoliaJazz.com for our schedule, and I hope to see you soon.

Please take a moment to find me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter. Want to catch us in action? Please visit our Facebook Page, register as a "fan", and you’ll receive a quick email reminder before each of our public appearances.

Thanks for reading my blog. Please send me a comment (below), and I’ll reply promptly.

Walking the Talk for Weddings and Parties


Please catch us in action soon. Visit our Facebook Page, register as a "fan", and you’ll receive a quick email reminder before each of our public appearances.

Here we are last July 4th, jazzing up the pre-fireworks family picnic hosted by the City of Cupertino. We’ll be back again this Saturday evening. L–R: Dale Mills, Gary Milliken, Steve Apple, me, Bruce Jolly, and Andy Norblin. Thanks for the wonderful photo, Joy.

On to "Walking the Talk". Several months ago I accepted a challenge to write 25 interesting things about myself. The project taught me about what counts most in my life, and I recommend you try it, too.

I commented on the people who influence how I think about the world and what I like to do. Naturally, my parents appear early in the list, but I also mention many friends and colleagues throughout.

Here's where it gets interesting. We hear so much about the huge role of parents in molding a child’s character, but how about the role of our friends? And why should it matter to us? After all, we’re grown-ups, right?

I’m in the middle of Malcom Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point, and he claims (at least regarding the rise and spread of social fads) that peer pressure beats parental pressure hands down. I agree. Lessons from our parents form only the first, though perhaps most enduring, window through which we view the world. Throughout our lives, we retain and build on that earliest viewpoint as we meet new people.

Nowadays, our friends continue to mold our perceptions, our decisions, and our character, and I’m sure we all can mention LOTS of examples to support this.

Now let’s change perspective. Think not about who influences you, but rather about who you influence. Like it or not, all the people who know us learn something from what they see us doing. So we need to "do what we say". What are we displaying — courtesy, thoughtfulness, curiosity, industry, loyalty, creativity? The list goes on.

I strive to be a thoughtful citizen of my community, and to treat people right. Day-to-day I manage the band so we entertain people, helping them enjoy their weddings and parties, and making these celebrations memorable.

This is how I make a living, trying to make everyone’s lives a little better, and I hope I’m setting a good example. Ask yourself: How do YOU model what you’d like your friends to do?

Meanwhile, the band continues to jazz up events of all sizes, and I’m always on the lookout for more opportunities. For instance, will you be celebrating a significant event soon? Throw a party and include us. Are friends talking about a wedding? Please recommend us. Today I’m talking with people hosting parties for the 4th of July and Labor Day. If you’ll have a soiree on one of these days, or on any day in between, now’s a good time to arrange the details, including the music.

Have a question? We’ll have the answer. Call us at 408-245-9120. You’ll love what we do. We’re easy to work with, so let our experience help your celebration.

In the meantime, please catch us at a few public events coming up. On Saturday, July 4th, we’ll be entertaining prior to the fireworks at the City of Cupertino’s holiday festivities. Please visit MagnoliaJazz.com for details, and I hope to see you soon.

Please take a moment to find me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter. Want to catch us in action? Please visit our Facebook Page, register as a "fan", and you’ll receive a quick email reminder before each of our public appearances.

Thanks for reading my blog. Please send me a comment (below), and I’ll reply promptly. For now, here’s a question for you: How do YOU model what you’d like your friends to do? By the way, you’ll find my entire list of 25 interesting things here.

Collaborating on a Fabulous Event

.
You’re watching me violate a personal rule.

I seldom talk politics, except with my wife, who is forbidden from testifying against me in court. However, I'm impressed by the recent federal election campaign. So many citizens moved away from extreme positions and toward the center on so many issues.

And with all the positives and negatives we hear about these days, politicians are still talking about having us all work together to solve our mutual problems. Shun partisan conflict, they say. Let’s collaborate, debate all our viewpoints, compromise, and get the job done well.

Though it doesn’t always work out this way (You hear me, Sacramento?), I like this approach to resolving problems, whether they’re worldwide, personal, or somewhere in between. In fact, my personal bias assumes (hopes, actually) that we always gain more from cooperating more than we lose by competing less. Follow that?

In other words, I suspect that when a problem isn’t solved well, it’s because either we overlook significant perspectives or we fail to consider enough potential remedies. Or to twist an old adage, most of the time too FEW cooks spoil the broth.

Here’s my point: In my experience, we accomplish more by working together, and I think we all ought to collaborate more.

Collaborate (“col” + “labor”) literally means Work Together. I believe we are at our best when we work together for the common good. However we keep ourselves busy and useful, we benefit from involving more hands and more brains. Think positive -- we each benefit when we all benefit. You think so too?

Think of the most successful people you know personally. How few of them accomplish everything by themselves? How many of them consistently work with reliable friends and colleagues?

If you already collaborate much of the time, GREAT! It’ll be easy to add one more example to your resume. However if you seldom collaborate, start doing it on a simple job right now, and its success will make your next few projects increasingly easier.

Here’s how. Imagine the next project you’d like to tackle. Maybe a personal ambition or a job for a client. Then choose a friend or colleague whose skills would help you, and invite him to join in, hire him yourself, or recommend him to your client. Choosing partners well makes your work easier, more productive, and more enjoyable.

Here’s what brings this to mind. I’m excited about my part in a huge project, just announced yesterday. It’ll be fantastic -- coordinating with about 30 of my finest Bay Area colleagues who work in weddings and parties. We'll be giving some lucky couple a fabulous wedding celebration, to showcase some of our best professional talent. It’s a wonderful opportunity to generate attention to stimulate local businesses, and give back to the community that supports us. Our success will inspire similar projects in other industries and in other locales. Interested? See the details here.

Meanwhile, my life isn’t ALL big projects. The band has been jazzing up events of all sizes, and I’m always on the lookout for more opportunities. For instance, will you be celebrating a significant event soon? Throw a party and include us. Are friends talking about a wedding? Please recommend us. Today I’m talking with people hosting parties for Father’s Day and the 4th of July. If you’ll have a soiree on one of these days, or on any day in between, now’s a good time to arrange the details, including the music.

Have a question? We’ll have the answer. Call us at 408-245-9120. You’ll love what we do. We’re easy to work with, so let our experience help your celebration.

In the meantime, please catch us at one of these public events coming up. On Saturday, June 27, we’ll be setting the perfect elegant mood for “The Vintage Affaire” wine auction and dinner party at a fabulous estate in Atherton, and a week later -- on July 4th -- we’ll be entertaining prior to the fireworks at the City of Cupertino’s holiday festivities. Please visit MagnoliaJazz.com for details, and I hope to see you soon.

Please take a moment to find me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter. Want to catch us in action? Visit my Facebook Page, become a fan, and you’ll receive an update for each of our public appearances.

Thanks for reading my blog. Please send me a comment (below), and I’ll reply promptly. For now, here’s a question for you: How well do you collaborate with your colleagues?

Making Your Weddings and Parties Unique


“Hey, we ought to gather more friends, and continue talking about this. It’s a great topic for brainstorming!”


I thought this at least ten times at last Tuesday’s meeting of Silicon Valley NACE (National Association of Catering Executives). What an evening, socializing with some of my best colleagues! Networking groups like this create powerful opportunities to share ideas and explore new solutions to persistent problems, like how to make our work unique.

You might already be thinking like this, but here’s my favorite way: Make yourself unique. However you make a living, it’s always good to develop your own special talents and strengths, and then apply your distinctive personal style to everything you do. How to do this? For one excellent strategy, hang out with unique friends and colleagues. If you like to stay up-to-date, get yourself involved with a networking group like NACE or hundreds like it. You can easily find plenty of groups to cover any subject that interests you. For starters, take a look at MeetUp.com, as well as professional associations.

Talking about being unique, last Tuesday two of my favorite colleagues -- Amy Blach (AMB Designs) and Natti Pierce-Thomson (North American Theatre Technology) -- described how they always customize their services, to suit their clients’ wishes. This way, they’re able to present an outstanding value for any budget.

Both Amy and Natti are at the very top of their professions, offering to create many unique options for their clients’ events. They’re like a waiter in a fine restaurant, who first inquires about what his guest wants, and then describes several appropriate options from the menu, offering helpful recommendations and ways to customize each of them.

Amy specializes in creating spectacular, one-of-a-kind balloon decor (“painting the air with color”), as well as eye-catching party props and whimsical table-top displays. Her clients range from the energy-packed home games of the San Jose Sharks to smaller, more intimate personal dinner parties.

Natti specializes in creating stunning theatrical lighting for weddings and for private parties, as well as for professional theatrical productions throughout the Bay Area. She combines an artistic flair for imaginative design with a sure grasp of the latest lighting technology. You simply have to see it to believe what a vivid impact dramatic lighting has on an event.

Both Amy and Natti are unique. For each, their greatest assets are a complete “toolbox” of professional skills and a trained imagination honed by years of experience. Their services might be imitated but never duplicated. In contrast, many of their competitors are “commodities”, like identical loaves of plain bread -- sure, they get the job done, but it’s hardly special. Maybe it’ll be just another balloon arch or yellow spotlight that everyone forgets the next morning.

So here’s the big picture. Want to do unique work? Here’s how to claim your success. Whatever you do, be distinctive and stand out from the crowd. Keep your eyes open. Identify your own strongest personal interests, skills, and talents, and always work to make them even better. Then, based upon what you do best, create options, and apply them with imagination. You’ll become one-of-a-kind, and not just another commodity.

We’ve never been just another “going-rate” band. This year the band has been jazzing up many unique events, and I’m always on the lookout for more opportunities. For instance, will you be celebrating a significant event soon? Throw a party and include us. Are friends talking about a wedding? Please recommend us. Today I’m talking with people hosting parties for Memorial Day and Father’s Day. If you’ll have a soiree on one of these days, or on any day in between, now’s a good time to arrange the details, including the music.

Have a question? We’ll have the answer. Call us at 408-245-9120. You’ll love what we do. We’re easy to work with, so let our experience help your celebration.

In the meantime, please catch us at a public event coming up. On Saturday, June 27, we’ll be setting the perfect elegant mood for “The Vintage Affaire” wine auction and dinner party at a fabulous estate in Atherton. Please visit MagnoliaJazz.com for details, and I hope to see you there.

Please take a moment to find me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter. Want to catch us in action? Visit my Facebook Page, become a fan, and you’ll receive an update for each of our public appearances.

Thanks for reading my blog. Please send me a comment (below), and I’ll reply promptly. Here’s a question for you: How do you make your work unique?

Two Spectacular Parties with Outstanding Colleagues



Top photo: We’re on the far right in this picture, WAY in the back, creating a casual background for the Silicon Valley Concierge Association annual awards party last month. Second photo: Same location, 2 weeks later, and we’re creating an elegant atmosphere for “An Evening of Adventurous Cuisine”. These were two memorable receptions, and what a privilege to work with these top professionals -- Diana Mazza and Mona Davis, of Club Auto Sport, and Jamie Perez and Chris Flippen, of Restaurant “O” Catering. Special thanks to photographer Tommy Wu, of TommyPhoto, for the wonderful pictures. Second photo, left to right: Gary Milliken, me, and Andy Norblin.

The success of each evening is testimony -- as if testimony is ever needed -- that it takes seasoned professionals, working smoothly together, to produce reliably perfect results every time. I’m reminded of this every day I work with professionals like event coordinators, caterers, facilities, photographers, videographers, florists, limousines -- you name it. You want a pro piloting your airplane or removing your appendix, right? Same thing.

Back to the second party, where seventy-five guests enjoyed conversations over gourmet appetizers and wine, while they admired some of the world’s rarest and fastest motor vehicles. Club Auto Sport is a unique facility, certainly in California and possibly in the world. You’ve never seen anything like it! An eye-catching location for one-of-a-kind parties, seminars, and fund-raising events, it’s part condominium for cars, part concierge service for the car owners, and part elegant clubhouse & lounge (10,000 square feet, with 20-foot window walls), where local auto enthusiasts display their prize exotic vintage sports cars and where the club hosts fabulous parties.

Club Director Diana Mazza, and Concierge Mona Davis, are a dream to work with -- charming, outgoing, and expertly seeing to every detail of every party.

Restaurant “O” Catering, always lives up to its award-winning reputation for fine cuisine lavishly presented. Formerly a restaurant, now exclusively a caterer, and soon to be a restaurant again, Restaurant “O” is recommended for catering at the finest facilities throughout the Bay Area. Over the years we’ve coordinated with Restaurant “O” on many special events, and I’m always looking forward to our next opportunity to work alongside Jamie Perez and Chris Flippen. For this evening, Executive Chef Julian Perez presented four sensational appetizers, each paired with an exquisite wine from J.Lohr Winery. Just look at these delicacies:
  • Roasted Jumbo Prawns with Yuzu Beurre Blanc and Apricot-Cipolini Relish, 2007 J. Lohr Bay Mist White Riesling, Monterey County
  • Macadamia Nut Encrusted Sea Bass Medallions with Chardonnay Carmel Sauce, 2007 J. Lohr Riverstone Arroyo Seco Chardonnay
  • Beef Carpaccio Kisses with Coffee Aioli, Manchego Cheese, Mini Croutons, Micro Greens with Merlot Drizzle, 2006 J. Lohr Los Osos Merlot, Paso Robles
  • Chocolate and Scotch Bonnet Truffles with Strawberry Pistachio Dus, 2007 J. Lohr Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles

Sound interesting? The good news is that many more sensational receptions like this are in the works. Watch for our next event, and join the fun.

This year the band has been entertaining people at many events like this, and I’m always on the lookout for more opportunities. For instance, will you be celebrating a significant event soon? Throw a party and include us. Are friends talking about a wedding? Please recommend us. Today I’m talking with people hosting parties for Memorial Day and Father’s Day. If you’ll have a soiree on one of these days, or on any day in between, now’s a good time to arrange the details, including the music.

Have a question? We’ll have the answer. Call us at 408-245-9120. You’ll love what we do. We’re easy to work with, so let our experience help your celebration.

In the meantime, please catch us at a public event coming up. On Saturday, June 27, we’ll be setting the perfect elegant mood for “The Vintage Affaire” wine auction and dinner party at a fabulous estate in Atherton. Please visit MagnoliaJazz.com for details, and I hope to see you there.

Please take a moment to find me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter. Want to catch us in action? Visit my Facebook Page, become a fan, and you’ll receive an update for each of our public appearances.

Thanks for reading my blog. Please send me a comment (below), and I’ll reply promptly. What do you think of working with professionals?

Curious About Parties and Weddings?



Here we are playing at last month’s Baby Boomer/Senior Citizens Expo, chatting with people as they walk by. With a wide range of songs, we entertain people of all ages, from seniors to their teen-age grandkids, at parties and weddings, but who could have guessed we’d ever see a geezer trade show? I thought our society was obsessed with “youth”. The boomers strike again!

Thanks to photographer Roberto Gonzalez, of NuevaFoto Photography, for the wonderful picture. Left to right: Gary Milliken, Andy Norblin, and me. Roberto, looks like you caught Andy by surprise. Curious about what he was thinking.

Let me tell you a personal story about curiosity. I’m continually trying to learn new things, to stay on top. Sure, this routine isn’t for everyone, but for me it’s exciting and rewarding. In fact many of my friends do the same. We read a lot, talk a lot, and constantly try new ideas, wondering what would happen if we did “this” or “that”, instead. This constant eagerness to explore something new, to enhance my old tried-and-true practices, stimulates my curiosity every minute of every day. True for you, too?

How do you satisfy your curiosity? Some of the best ways I’ve found for finding new ideas is by reading -- blogs, newspapers (editorials, opinions, comics), magazines, books -- and by listening to conversations -- with friends, on radio, podcasts, or TV (especially my favorite, Charlie Rose). Whenever I encounter a novel idea, I wonder “Interesting! Now, how could I apply that to help what I’m doing?”

This “build on the best” attitude has kept new ideas blossoming throughout human history. It certainly seems to be true for the local high tech industry, which in turn sets the style for the rest of life here in Silicon Valley.

Curiosity. If the very next words you imagine are “killed the cat”, let me suggest there’s lots more to it than that. I believe that having curiosity is a blessing, and it’s best developed by practicing. Wondering about things is a basic key to success, whatever you do. Your mind stays active, constantly acquires new ideas and possibilities, and keeps your life exciting. Do you think about curiosity this way, too?

Wondering about curiosity, I found dozens of articles online. All looked interesting, and I just read several. Most suggest that to foster your own curiosity, keep an open mind, ask questions, read and listen widely, and make learning fun.

Look around. Each of us is busy being curious about how something works or about how to do something better. What are you doing right now? Maybe just busy with a hobby, or maybe working on your full-time occupation. Maybe updating something old, or maybe creating something new. Maybe “scratching” a personal “itch”, or maybe benefiting someone else. In every case, our passion always starts with curiosity, and develops as we “follow our nose” from where we’re at, to where we’re headed.

Recently I heard Charlie Rose speaking with Bill Gates, who attributed his great success ultimately to his curiosity. Of course, he also benefitted from other intellectual qualities -- his life-long love of learning, tenacity to stay on target, and remarkable memory -- but he felt everything started with his curiosity. And this morning I heard Charlie speak with J.J. Abrams, talented director of the current “Star Trek” movie, who said he envisions his movie to be the story of a dream his main character has, after which he wakes up changed for the better. What an interesting way to think about the plot! Now I wonder, how can I benefit from that idea? Stay tuned.

Now if you’re curious, the band has been entertaining lots of people this year, and I’m always on the lookout for more opportunities. For instance, will you be celebrating a significant event soon? Throw a party and include us. Are friends talking about a wedding? Please recommend us. Today I’m talking with people hosting parties for Memorial Day and Father’s Day. If you’ll have a soiree on one of these days, or on any day in between, now’s a good time to arrange the details, including the music.

Have a question? We’ll have the answer. Call us at 408-245-9120. You’ll love what we do. We’re easy to work with, so let our experience help your next celebration.

In the meantime, please catch us at a public event coming up. On Sunday, May 10, we’ll be entertaining for “Mother’s Day Brunch” at the Toll House, in Los Gatos. Please visit MagnoliaJazz.com for details, and I hope to see you soon.

Thanks for reading my blog, and I hope you enjoy considering my ideas. Please tell me what you think, and I’ll reply to all your comments. Please take a moment to find me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter. Want to catch us in action? Visit my Facebook Page, become a fan, and you’ll receive an update for each of our public appearances.

Why Do Weddings and Parties Make Me Smile?


Why are these men smiling? Here we are last summer, having a great time posing for publicity photos. Thank you to photographer Jeanine Brown for the terrific pictures that afternoon.

Please remember this: Smiling improves everything. This tip is simple, easy, and VERY powerful. No charge.

Somehow we already know that smiling is a wonderful asset for living well, and for taking care of business, too. But do you know WHY smiling is contagious? It’s still a mystery to me, and my research continues. Frequently I spend time just smiling at everyone I meet. I watch them smile back, then people THEY meet start smiling too, and bingo! Everyone around us is not only wearing a dazzling grin, but is happier than we were a moment earlier. I don’t know why it happens, but I love it!

Hospitality is an optimistic profession, so if you’re involved too, whatever you do, be optimistic. If you want to cheer up a room, smile at everyone. Often that’s all it takes. The same strategy works for “breaking the ice” whenever you meet someone.

I’ve always smiled easily. Probably from shyness when I was young (believe it or not!). I’m sure I quickly learned that smiling made me relaxed, happy, and charmed everyone around me.

My mother encouraged my smiling, too. She taught us a song about smiling, from her Girl Scout days back in the 1930’s. It’s what they call a “patter song”, with very rapid-fire lyrics that always brought down the house with us kids. Reading the words alone can be monotonous, so ask me to sing it for you.

If you will smile in the morning,
you’ll smile throughout the afternoon, and get your smiling habit soon.
Smile and the world will come
smiling back to you, and you’ll have everybody smiling too.

Smile when the skies that are blue turn to grey,

Smile and you’ll chase Mr. Trouble and his family away, keep smiling!

Smile when it’s raining and

you’ll forget to curse the fellow who has borrowed your umbrella,
Sunshine will come after a while!

Smile and be a pleasure-maker, smile and fool the undertaker,

Doctor bills you never have to pay,
You’re in style when you’re wearing a smile.

Now, I don’t know if “smilers” are better friends or more productive workers, but I’ll bet they enjoy life more than “grumps” do. Because smiling makes us happy, I enjoy working with smilers and I avoid working with grumps. Seems natural to me. You, too?

Nearly ALL my friends and colleagues smile broadly and often. It makes working with them so much smoother, especially at weddings and parties. Even chatting with them is always a treat. Some of the brightest smiles belong to Amy Frugoli, David Ethridge, Kathryn Kalabokes, Dustin Eisenhauer, Liz Guthrie, Chris Citti, Brynn Kessler, Duncan Reyes, and Kathy Goodman. Just tell ‘em I said so, and watch ‘em go! And if you're looking for any of their services, it's a good bet you'll love working with them, too.

Speaking of “smiles”, the band has been making lots of people smile this year, and I’m always on the lookout for more opportunities. For instance, will you be celebrating a significant event soon? Throw a party and include us. Are friends talking about a wedding? Please recommend us. Today I’m talking with people hosting parties for Mother’s Day and Memorial Day. If you’ll have a soiree on one of these days, or on any day in between, now’s a good time to arrange the details, including the music.

Have a question? We’ll have the answer. Call us at 408-245-9120. You’ll love what we do. We’re easy to work with, so let our experience help your celebration.

In the meantime, please catch us at a few public events coming up. On Sunday, April 26, we’ll be entertaining during a “Baby Boomers Expo” at The Santa Clara Convention Center. Three days later, on Wednesday, April 29, we’ll create a lively atmosphere for a special shopping night at Macy’s Stanford Shopping Center, in Palo Alto. Please visit MagnoliaJazz.com for details, and I hope to see you soon.

Thanks for reading my blog, and I hope you enjoy considering my ideas. Please tell me what you think, and I’ll reply to all your comments. In the meantime, please take a moment to find me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter.

Do You Live to Serve?


Here are Robbie and Andy in action last October 3rd, part of the trio entertaining at an elegant cocktail party in the Corinthian Event Center, in San Jose. Like in any conversation, we not only listen to what the other is saying, but, believe me, we play everything to make being there easier and more enjoyable for each other.

This is exactly how the Magnolia Jazz Band serves every party’s guests, whether at a wedding, banquet, or open house. You like to work this way too? Thanks to Chris Johnson for the nice photo.

Speaking of “serving”, I just had a real eye-opening experience. Recently I’ve spent a lot of time at the Stanford Hospital, sitting with a family member recovering from surgery. The nurses I met there are amazing — always cheerful & optimistic, warm & personable, and very efficient in a job that’s both demanding and life-and-death crucial. After taking care of their patients, they’re always asking “Anything else I can help with?” And they answer every request with a smile. Wonderful, and I’m sure their attitude plays a significant role in their patients’ progress.

I mention their attitude here because it reminds me so much of what we all do every day. “We” being the various professionals who serve at weddings, parties, and other social events.

“Serve” is the operational word here, and it applies to each of us. No matter what line of work we’re in, once we master the skills of our profession, the best of us use our abilities to help our clients get whatever they wish for. In a recent conversation about our previous careers, my friend David Ethridge recently put it simply, “It was a really rewarding job but I love working directly with people“. An outstanding videographer and a tireless networker, David sets a fine example for all of us.

Caterers, restaurants, hotels, and all their associates, including musicians, usually consider ourselves in the “hospitality” industry, but I think a better category would be the “service” industry. This subtle change in attitude makes a world of difference. Our job is the same, of course, but HOW we do the job changes from our thinking “Here’s what we’re selling, and I sincerely think you really need it. Please consider buying.” and becomes “Thank you for telling me what you’d like. Here’s how I can get it for you, and I’ll be honored to deliver it. Plus a little extra.” It’s all about them, not about us. No matter how much we believe in our own product, our top priority should be serving our clients’ wishes.

Like those nurses’ attitude, this eagerness to serve goes a long way toward assuring success — both for our clients and for ourselves. So, the next time you’re in a business conversation, with a client or a colleague, offer to be of service just a little more, and see how it helps.

Speaking of “service”, the band has been helping lots of people this year, and I’m always on the lookout for more opportunities. For instance, will you be celebrating a significant event soon? Throw a party and include us. Are friends talking about a wedding? Please recommend us. Today I’m talking with people hosting parties for Mother’s Day and Memorial Day. If you’ll have a soiree on one of these days, or on any day in between, now’s a good time to arrange the details, including the music.

Have a question? We’ll have the answer. Call us at 408-245-9120. You’ll love what we do. We’re easy to work with, so let our experience help your celebration.

In the meantime, please catch the Magnolia Jazz Band at a few public events coming up. On Sunday, April 12, we’ll be entertaining during Easter brunch at The Toll House Hotel, in Los Gatos. Two days later, on Tuesday, April 14, we’ll create a lively atmosphere for the annual “S.V.C.A. Hospitality Awards” at Club Auto Sport, in San Jose. Please visit MagnoliaJazz.com for details, and I hope to see you soon.

Thanks for reading my blog, and I hope you enjoy considering my ideas. Please tell me what you think. I’ll reply to all your opinions and comments. In the meantime, please take a moment to find me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter.

Solving My Facebook Problem


My Facebook page has recently become noticeably harder to use. It’s too busy with distractions that some people seem to welcome, but I don’t. Here’s how I’m fixing it. (And please see another suggestion at the end of this post.)

First some background. Please don’t get me wrong — I like Facebook. It’s amazing, and my participation brings wonderful benefits in the form of breaking news, as well as deeper personal and professional updates, from my over 180 Facebook friends.

Of course, some of my “real world” friends (that is, people with whom I talk or meet regularly) are not on Facebook, but many are. And some of my Facebook friends are people I see only occasionally, though I care how they’re doing.

Being self-employed, my business looms large in my thinking, and taking care of business is my focus on Facebook. I have plenty of personal friends, and I’ve found that nourishing these social contacts is best done face-to-face, and less well by telephone, email, or on Facebook.

I realize people are using Facebook many different ways, and for me, it is primarily a business tool. Like with any tool, I aim to use it effectively and efficiently. Here’s my problem, and maybe yours, too: Facebook’s new format litters my home page — particularly “News Feed” — with every post from every friend, and it’s become too distracting.

I regret that some of my friends are so adept at the “Hey Dude, Way Cool.” kind of post, that I usually lose focus while reading my page. So here’s some general advice for everyone: Please keep your posts concise and interesting, and they will hold my attention. Otherwise, I’m gone. Reasonable?

For me, and maybe you, too, the benefits of Facebook lie in letting me, in just a few focused moments, track the personal and professional doings of those friends with whom I regularly work and network. I’m less interested in the daily doings of those friends I seldom, if ever, work with.

I’ve always been able to handle a few occasional trivial posts, but I’m now receiving a flood of them. Where are the “privacy” controls and filters to prevent those “Oh, My Gosh!” posts from displaying on my News Feed?

So for now, here’s my response. Until Facebook gives me controls to filter out those posts that don’t relate to my business interests, I’m “hiding” the posts of those friends who most consistently make comments I find irrelevant and uninteresting, often both.

All I’m saying is “Yes, we’re friends, but if you’re in the top 10%, pal, I’m blocking all your posts on my page. You might offer one gem every hundred posts, and I’m willing to miss it, if I can also miss the other 99. I’m not saying all your comments are worthless — just that they’re not helpful to me right now — and for me, life’s too short to become distracted when it’s time to work.”

Hey, wait a minute. Aren’t we trying to expand our connections, and not constrict them? I recognize that hiding a friend’s posts is a pretty brutal tactic, but tell me what else I could do. If Facebook’s new flood of comments is a problem for you, too, how are you solving it? Like with radio or TV you dislike: Turn it off?

So, I hope Facebook creates the controls we need, and soon. And if the controls are already in place by now, I hope they’ll tell us how to use them. Listen, Facebook, please stop distracting me. I firmly believe that a healthy view of life’s “big picture” requires our curiosity and playfulness, as well as hard work, but please let me choose when to relax my focus. THAT would be Way Cool!

P.S. By the way, my friend Andy Ebon just sent me a link to a blogpost by Adam Ostrow that offers a very helpful suggestion for solving my Facebook problem. Nicely explained. Check it out.

Networking Tips for Everyone


Thanks for reading my blog, and I hope you enjoy thinking about my ideas. Please tell me how you like the experience.

Recognize this logo? It’s important to you, and I’ll tell you why in one minute. First, a story. I recently saw a cartoon of a herd of cows. One lifts his head and says, “Hey, you guys, this is grass. We’ve been eating GRASS!” Well, I’ll be that cow right now, and I’ll tell you what I think we’re doing. Namely, we’re living in the center of a monumental communication revolution that has changed our lives forever. Let me explain.

I was chatting with my friend Stacie Tamaki last Saturday. She created that logo as part of her campaign to generate help for a cousin who desperately needs a bone-marrow transplant. Stacie told me incredible stories of the contacts she’s been making world-wide -- with individuals as well as donor programs. Nearly all online. She’s primarily using Facebook, Twitter, her various websites, her blog, and email. Her project shows how far we’ve come from the days of communicating with smoke signals and town criers. Stacie’s logo is important in two ways: First, for rallying support for the worthwhile program it represents, and second, for symbolizing the enormous power of online communication.

By the way, click on the logo to learn more about Stacie’s project. Maybe you can help her directly, and maybe her example can show you how to run a similar project.

So, how about Networking? Well, here you are, reading my blog (online, I presume), so I may be “preaching to the choir”. Nevertheless, let’s find the big picture here. We’re past “amazing”, by now, and these online tools are no longer just for teeny-boppers who ask “What are you doing now?” Smart, creative people in all lines of work are finding these tools unbeatable for exchanging all kinds of messages -- the only limit is our imagination.

Social applications like Facebook and Twitter, through their connections to websites and blogs, let us spread our ideas faster, farther, and wider. We ought to stay aware of these developments and use them for our own networking messages -- discussing ideas, asking questions, offering help, updating plans, and spreading news, just to suggest a few.

We’ll notice how our access to more new information helps us understand more and accomplish more every day. Of course, we need to balance that against how much the trivial portion of all this new information wastes our precious time and distracts us from more important issues in our lives.

What important issues? Ones that matter most. The current explosion in online communication creates options for making our face-to-face encounters more effective, rewarding, and productive. In other words, making our life more worthwhile.

Obviously each of us has many unique needs, and for me one of the strongest is to constantly keep in touch with many friends. Better online communication helps me network better. For example, last Saturday I met Stacie, and many other business friends, at a swinging networking event called “Martini Madness”. It’s coordinated mainly online, through Facebook and Evite, and what a night it was! The brainchild of my friend Duncan Reyes, this movable mayhem meets quarterly at some notable facility in the SF Bay Area. Members socialize, deepen our friendships, and strengthen the basis for working together even more effectively.

What an extraordinary happening this is! What a boon to all of us, and to our clients, as well. We all benefit from Duncan’s imagination and talent for organizing. He is a fabulous wedding and event coordinator (formerly social events coordinator at the Westin St Francis, where I first met him), and he uses the newest online resources to organize “Martini Madness”. I haven’t had an opportunity to work with him now that he’s on his own, but based on how he handles “Martini Madness”, I’m really looking forward to it.

Now, what should we do? No matter what business we’re in, we can all follow Duncan’s inspiration. Let’s go out and create opportunities for our colleagues to meet and develop deeper personal and professional relationships. Maybe add entertainment and educational aspects to these opportunities. As a result, we’ll all work together better, and our clients will love THAT. While we’re at it, let’s support not just our own program but similar programs our colleagues create. We’re all in this together, and we’ll find the more our colleagues prosper, the more we’ll prosper.

Speaking of prospering, the band has been keeping busy this year, and I’m always on the lookout for more opportunities. For instance, will you be celebrating a significant event soon? Throw a party and include us. Are friends talking about a wedding? Please recommend us. Today I’m talking with people hosting parties for Easter Sunday and Mother’s Day. If you’ll have a soiree on one of these days, or on any day in between, now’s a good time to arrange the details, including the music.

Have a question? We’ll have the answer. Call us at 408-245-9120. You’ll love what we do. We’re easy to work with, so let our experience help your celebration.

In the meantime, please catch us at a few public events coming up. On Friday, April 3, we’ll create an elegant mood at the Computer History Museum, in Mountain View, during cocktails at a reception and art auction to benefit the Alzheimers Association. On Sunday, April 12, we’ll be entertaining during Easter brunch at The Toll House Hotel, in Los Gatos. Two days later, on Tuesday, April 14, we’ll create a lively atmosphere for the annual “S.V.C.A. Hospitality Awards” at Club Auto Sport, in San Jose. Please visit MagnoliaJazz.com for details, and I hope to see you soon.

Please tell me what you think about any of my ideas. I’ll reply to all your opinions and comments.

A Dizzy Dog and The Meaning of Life


Thanks for reading my blog, and I hope you enjoy thinking about my ideas. Please tell me how you like the experience.

Here we are two Sundays ago, in the lobby of the Toll House, in Los Gatos. We’re entertaining many brides-to-be attending the hotel’s “Wedding Faire”. This was a wonderful afternoon, and I met a good number of brides, as well as new event professionals. Left to right, the band is me, Gary Milliken, and Andy Norblin. Thanks to Amy Frugoli, of Twitterpated Weddings, who posted this nice photo on her blog.

This has been one of those weeks where lots of random thoughts coalesce into a simple pattern. This week it's about simple pleasures. Where to begin? I recalled hearing radio & TV medical authority, Dr Dean Edell, once comment on dogs chasing their tails, children swinging or spinning around til they got dizzy, cats eating catnip, youthful pot-smoking, and adults having a drink -- just a few familiar examples of normal animals altering their consciousness. All human cultures (maybe all animals, for that matter) seem to have a way to elevate the spirit, all pursuing a simple pleasure. We might call it “playing”, though some consequences might be dangerous.

Then a friend recently announced the 50th anniversary of the Barbie Doll. Another simple pleasure -- Barbie dolls, teddy bears, beanie babies, and “blankies”. Kids love ‘em, as though their life’s mission is to find friends and take care of them. Actually, not such a bad idea -- can this simple notion be the “Meaning of Life” after all? Could be worse.

Last Monday I bought a book written by one of my favorite podcasters, Mark Bittman, the well-known food critic, TV personality, and New York Times columnist. In the Introduction of How to Cook Everything, he explains why “simple things are best” -- they tend to taste best and be best for you, too. The book is 944 pages of “Simple Recipes for Great Food”, and I’m tasting it a few pages at a time, as a simple snack for my soul.

Finally, for years now I’ve liked the pattern of working hard and relaxing hard, and last Tuesday I had one of those relaxing days. It was a tune-up, to “re-charge my batteries”. Like a lumberjack pausing to sharpen his saw, I joined thousands of eager people attending the “Get Motivated” seminar at the HP Pavillion, in San Jose.

What an amazing day! From 8am-5pm I listened to eight world-famous champions speaking in person about what it takes to be successful. Speakers included Olympic champion Michael Phelps, economist Steve Forbes, health expert Dr Earl Mindell, former New York mayor Rudi Giuliani, former Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell, and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar. Their topics ranged widely -- from complex issues of financial management to simple issues of treating people fairly, and each speaker gave us tons of ideas and inspiration for greater productivity and success. Currently my favorite advice of the day is Zig Zieglar’s notion that “You can have everything you want in life if you’ll just help enough other people get what they want.” How straightforward can you get? Ah, if life were always so simple! Wouldn’t we be better off? Is this really the meaning of it all?

Actually, my life IS pretty simple. I make a living leading a band that helps people have a good time. For example, will you be celebrating a significant event soon? Throw a party and include us. Are friends talking about a wedding? Please recommend us. Today I’m talking with people hosting parties for Easter Sunday and Mother’s Day. If you’ll have a soiree on one of these days, or on any day in between, now’s a good time to arrange the details, including the music.

Have a question? We’ll have the answer. Call us at 408-245-9120. You’ll love what we do. We’re easy to work with, so let our experience help your celebration.

In the meantime, please catch us at a few public events coming up. On Friday, April 3, we’ll create an elegant mood at the Computer History Museum, in Mountain View, during cocktails at a reception and art auction to benefit the Alzheimers Association. On Sunday, April 12, we’ll be entertaining during Easter brunch at The Toll House Hotel, in Los Gatos. Two days later, on Tuesday, April 14, we’ll create a lively atmosphere for the annual “S.V.C.A. Hospitality Awards” at Club Auto Sport, in San Jose. Please visit MagnoliaJazz.com for details, and I hope to see you soon.

Please tell me what you think about any of my ideas. I’ll reply to all your opinions and comments.

An Expert Event Planner






Here we are last Sunday, right in the middle of the ballroom at the Villa Ragusa, in Campbell.

We’re entertaining about 350 moms at the “Las Madres” annual luncheon, and the ladies enjoyed an exciting afternoon. This wonderful organization provides mutual support for families in Santa Clara County. Left to right, the band is Gary Milliken, me, and Andy Norblin. Thank you to Linda Ozaki, of Wink Photography, for the terrific photos.

Special thanks to Liz Guthrie for including us in the festivities. Afterwards she told me, “You and your band were fabulous! It was the perfect sound for our Ladies' Tea. All the women have been raving about you, and I was so happy to be able to provide such wonderful entertainment at this special event. Thank You Thank You Thank You!”

Let me return the compliment. Liz is remarkable — a busy mom herself, a tireless blogger about weddings, and an expert event planner. Just from what I saw, her very long list of details included dreaming up the theme, sketching the layout, and arranging the facility, menu, vendors & silent auction items, furniture, centerpieces, volunteers, invitations & program, and marketing & publicity. Among the things no one saw was her forming teams & delegating responsibilities, rejecting ideas that wouldn’t work, and preparing for all the last-minute problems that might have come up. And once she finally had all the ducks in a row, she saw to it all the items were completed perfectly and on schedule, and then she acted as “Mistress of Ceremonies”.

What a job! One mark of a pro is the effortless way she brought it all together last Sunday, gave all her guests a memorable afternoon, and made it look SO EASY. Now, I work with event planners all the time. They range from so-so to fabulous, and although this was the first time Liz and I worked together, I feel she’s among the best.

Events vary all over the place, and so do event planners. Events can be large or small, elaborate or simple, formal or casual, “once-in-a-lifetime” or “just like last week’s”. Some event planners do a fine job with a wide variety of projects, and other tend to specialize and become experts — for example in corporate meetings & receptions, benefits for non-profit groups, conventions, banquets, hayrides & barbeques, health fairs, high school & college reunions, and of course, weddings.

Here’s my point: Especially these days, I’m seeing people doing much of their event planning themselves, and this can be wonderful for some, but a terrible idea for others — particularly for someone who wants to be a guest at her own party. Watching a trained, experienced person like Liz in action can mislead us to imagine that planning is all very easy. But believe me, whenever the occasion requires the sure hand of an expert, professional event planner, nothing less will do.

By the way, will you be celebrating a significant event soon? Throw a party and include us. And you just might want to call an event planner, too. Friends talking about their wedding? Please recommend us. Today I’m talking with people hosting parties for St Patrick’s Day and Easter Sunday. If you’ll have a soiree on one of these days, or on any day in between, now’s a good time to arrange the details, including the music.

Have a question? We’ll have the answer. Call us at 408-245-9120. You’ll love what we do. We’re easy to work with, so let our experience help your celebration.

In the meantime, please catch us at a few public events coming up. On Sunday, March 15, we’ll create an upbeat, romantic atmosphere in the “Wedding Faire” at the Toll House Hotel, in Los Gatos. On Friday, April 3, we’ll be entertaining at the Computer History Museum, in Mountain View, during cocktails at a reception and art auction to benefit the Alzheimers Association. Please visit MagnoliaJazz.com for details, and I hope to see you soon.

What do you think about all this? I’d love your opinions and comments.

Another Way Friends Help Friends


Here we are last Sunday, taking a break from creating a romantic background for the wedding fair at Palo Alto’s Crowne Plaza Cabana. This was an outstanding afternoon — you could meet over two dozen top wedding professionals, plus hear a panel discussion about “Do-It-Yourself” weddings. Meanwhile, back in the lobby, we were fascinated by Screenbooth — the new digital guestbook that recorded every guest’s photos and videos. Check them out — it’s a “fun way to create lasting memories at once-in-a-lifetime events”. The band, left to right, is Gary Milliken, Andy Norblin, and me. Thanks to Felisha Kinsella (co-owner Linda’s daughter), of Screenbooth, for posing us in this lively picture.

One look at the photo tells you we were having a great time. No surprise there. I believe that we should all be so fortunate as to spend our lives doing what we love. Still, no matter how enthusiastic we are, we all occasionally find ourselves saying “Same old, same old” more often than we like. I’ll bet that everyone who’s been in any line of work for a while will occasionally feel “down” — tired, overwhelmed, and frustrated. I’ve been there, and you’ve been there, too, I’m sure. I’m told this feeling is unavoidable, and it’s a temporary part of every job.

Well, whenever it hits you again, just bear down and work through it. Here’s one strategy I like to use. I tally up how remarkable my friends are. Really. I recommend you occasionally pause in your busy life and notice the same thing about the people around you. When you realize that these people are friends and admire you, too, your feelings are bound to improve.

Well, enough amateur psychology. Let me tell you a quick story. Since the early 1990s, I’ve been a very active member of the Silicon Valley chapter of NACE (National Association of Catering Executives). It’s a networking group of top local caterers and their associates. Last month I participated in one of their Leadership Conferences, where “movers & shakers” on the boards of directors from all the chapters nationwide met to exchange ideas and receive training to be better leaders. We were an amazing group of people — clever, energetic, resourceful, generous, and dedicated to our profession — and now that I’m back from that heady excitement, I realize that most of my friends here fit that description, too.

As my grandfather used to say, “People are more interesting than anybody.” Maybe it’s the kind of people who live around Silicon Valley, but once I took the time to pay attention, I found that nearly all my friends have unique hobbies, attitudes, and accomplishments. This makes for great conversations, successful collaborations, and rich relationships, and I’m always glad each time we meet.

Sure, I know a few dull people, too, but even they say or do something interesting from time to time. However, they’re the exception, and every day I’m appreciating my talented friends more and more. As Martha Stewart would say, “That’s a good thing.”

After working in the “hospitality” business for over 34 years now, I count hundreds of fascinating people among my friends — family, musicians, hospitality and event professionals, and clients. In a future blog I’ll describe a few. In the meantime, think about who you’d mention in your own list.

While you’re thinking about your friends, please catch us at a few public events coming up. On Sunday, March 15, we’ll create an upbeat, romantic atmosphere in the “Wedding Fair” at the Toll House Hotel, in Los Gatos. On Friday, April 3, we’ll be entertaining in Mountain View during cocktails at a reception and art auction to benefit the Alzheimers Association. You’ll find details on MagnoliaJazz.com.

By the way, will you be celebrating a significant event soon? Throw a party and include us. Friends planning a wedding? Please recommend us. Today I’m talking with people planning parties for St Patrick’s Day and Easter Sunday. If you’ll have a soiree on one of these days, or on any day in between, now’s a good time to plan the details, including the music. Have a question? We’ll have the answer.

Call us at 408-245-9120. You’ll love what we do. We’re easy to work with, so let our experience help your celebration. Please visit MagnoliaJazz.com for details, and I hope to see you soon.

What do you think about all this? I’d love your opinions and comments.

What Makes Traditional Jazz Perfect for Weddings and Parties?


Here we are last Wednesday, creating an elegant background for a very upscale reception at the San Jose Museum of Art. This event was an exclusive private viewing of “The Prints of Andy Warhol”, and it demonstrated how art inspires a unique event setting. It was a truly spectacular evening, and we were honored to be one of 16 top event professionals involved. The band, left to right, is Dale Mills, me, Gary Milliken, and Andy Norblin. Thanks to Chung Li, an outstanding wedding photographer, for the striking picture.

Whenever we play at posh events like this, I’m always reminded of the humbler origins of jazz music. Traditional jazz isn’t a simple list of old-time tunes or a virtuoso performance you’ll hear in a concert hall. These days a hundred different styles call themselves jazz, but the original tradition of jazz music is “playing pretty for the people”.

That’s how the original New Orleans pioneers described their music. Later on others called it “functional music” or “social lubrication”. It was woven into the fabric of life, and always perfect for weddings and parties — nearly any get-together.

Of course I wasn’t in New Orleans around 1895, but I’m told the men who created the first music called jazz simply added a new rhythmic “twist” to everyone’s popular music of the day — ragtime tunes, gospel hymns, parade marches, old blues songs, vaudeville show tunes, and old folk songs. Talk about your “fusion” music!

What emerged was tremendously exciting. People never heard music like this before, and they went crazy over it in every social setting you can imagine — in backyard parties, at picnics in the park, aboard riverboat cruises, at memorial gatherings and funerals, and in neighborhood taverns, restaurants, and dance halls. A generation later its growing popularity found acceptance in more elite circles, and it helped fuel the young broadcasting and recording industries. At first it was just another musical fad, but it had “legs”, as they say these days, and ultimately led to all of today’s jazz styles.

To me, the important feature was that everyone could recognize and enjoy their favorite tunes in this new and exciting setting.

Long ago, I found this music to be a sure-fire hit for helping weddings and parties come to life. So today when you catch me playing “traditional jazz” for people, you’ll hear me pepping up tunes they love — the popular standards and old favorites. Whether our music serves dancing, or creates a pleasant background, or a little of both, it always helps people enjoy whatever they’re doing, and I’m pleased to call it jazz in the original tradition.

See what I mean when you catch us at a few public events coming up. On February 28, we’re entertaining in Dublin, CA, at the grand re-opening of the Shannon Community Center, and on March 1 we’re creating an upbeat, romantic atmosphere at the “Wedding Fair and Open House” at the Crowne Plaza Cabana Hotel, in Palo Alto. You’ll find details on MagnoliaJazz.com.

By the way, will you be celebrating a significant event soon? Throw a party and include us. Friends planning a wedding? Please recommend us. Today I’m talking with people planning parties for St Patrick’s Day and Easter Sunday. If you’ll have a soiree on one of these days, or on any day in between, now’s a good time to plan the details, including the music. Have a question? We’ll have the answer.

Call us at 408-245-9120. You’ll love what we do. We’re easy to work with, so let our experience help your celebration. Please visit MagnoliaJazz.com for details, and I hope to see you soon.

What do you think about all this? I’d love your opinions and comments.

Two Outstanding Wedding Shows this Sunday


Here we are last March, just about to create an elegant background for dining and dancing at a wonderful party in Hollister. Actually, this event celebrated a birthday, but it could easily have been a company banquet or a wedding reception. Left to right, Steve Apple, me, Gary Milliken, and Andy Norblin. Thanks to Kim Staskus for the great picture.

Speaking of weddings, Valentine’s Day is approaching. Are you (or will you be) planning a wedding? Or helping friends plan theirs? You’re in luck! The South Bay hosts two extraordinary events this Sunday. Be sure to attend one. Better yet, arrange with a friend to catch both!

"The Bridal Extravaganza" and “The Wedding University” will offer two complimentary approaches to solving one of life’s big challenges — planning your wedding.

The Bridal Extravaganza”, at the San Jose Fairmont, is Silicon Valley’s premier wedding showcase. Since the 1980s, it consistently reigns over a host of newer shows produced by local hotels, wineries, restaurants, and country clubs. Featuring a broad selection of over a hundred of the area’s top wedding professionals, it’s always well-organized, well-promoted, and well-attended. Brides- and grooms-to-be strolling through this elegant “trade show” can literally plan their entire wedding in one day, meeting and speaking with coordinators, caterers, photographers, entertainers, decorators, florists — everyone they’d otherwise have to spend weeks hunting for. They’ll even find casual “fashion shows” of wedding gowns and formalwear.

The show is produced by Sharon Sacks, a respected authority on wedding shows and past president of Bridal Show Producers International. You’ll find a list of participants and complete information for registering at bestbridalshow.com.

Also aiming at brides- and grooms-to-be, and inspired by the intensive educational seminars produced by many professional associations, “The Wedding University” offers “An Afternoon of Elegance and Education”. Attendees will experience a comprehensive program of informative presentations, panel discussions, demonstrations, displays, and informal fashion shows. Attendees will learn from the best — outstanding local professionals who will offer “How To” training, as well as their advice, insights, and tips for planning everything from decor, food, invitations, and flowers to photography & videography and music & entertainment.

New this year, “The Wedding University” is hosted by The Four Seasons, in East Palo Alto, and is coordinated by Jubilee Lau (Jubilee Lau Events) and Jean Marks (Jean Marks Weddings). You’ll find a seminar schedule, a list of participants, and complete registration information here. The show is extremely well publicized and will be well-attended.

Each show will begin at 11am this Sunday, February 8, and I’ll be participating in “The Bridal Extravaganza”. It’s a shame we can’t be in both places at once, but you should choose one, have a friend attend the other, and pool all your information afterward.

On February 14, we’ll be creating a romantic mood for Valentine’s Day dinner at the Toll House, in Los Gatos, and on March 1st we’re entertaining in the “Wedding Fair and Open House” at the Crowne Plaza Cabana, in Palo Alto. You’ll find details on MagnoliaJazz.com.

By the way, will you be celebrating a significant event soon? Throw a party and include us. Friends planning a party? Please recommend us. Today I’m talking with people planning soirees for Valentine’s Day and St Patrick’s Day. 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. Have a question? We’ll have the answer.

Call us at 408-245-9120. You’ll love what we do. We’re easy to work with, so let our experience help your celebration. Please visit MagnoliaJazz.com for details, and I hope to see you soon.

What do you think about all this? I’d love your opinions and comments.

How Music Customizes Weddings and Parties


Here we are last Wednesday, creating a casual background for the grand opening at Xceed Federal Credit Union, in San Jose. Left to right, Gary Milliken, me, and Andy Norblin. Thanks to Tom Vo (Accolade Photography) for the fine picture.

It was a wonderful evening. Our music was important for setting the congenial mood while not distracting from the business at hand, which featured several “welcoming” speeches, the Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting ceremony, and mingling with the guests. Our goal here was to provide upbeat, pleasant, recognizable music that did not intrude. Want your next event to be like this?

This open house is a world away from wedding ceremonies and receptions, anniversaries, and birthday parties, where the music is very important for highlighting unique features and making them special. Here people create opportunities to personalize these celebrations with their favorite music, especially songs with significant meanings for the occasion. Want your next event to be like this?

We’re versatile musicians and we always try very hard to customize our music. During my career I’ve seen hundreds of ways for music to add a personal touch and make every event even more memorable. I hope the following examples give you some good ideas for personalizing YOUR next event.

Here’s one popular request. At some of the most touching wedding ceremonies, personal friends sang special songs, ranging from “Ave Maria” to “Unforgettable” to “Our Love is Here to Stay”. In ceremonies, and during the receptions, everyone expects old favorites like “Pachelbel’s Canon in D”, “As Time Goes By”, “My Funny Valentine”, “Embraceable You”, “The Way You Look Tonight”, “Sentimental Journey”, and “Stardust”. Frequently people want newer favorites, too, like “Can’t Help Falling In Love”, “Happy Together”, “You Light Up My Life”, “L-O-V-E”, “Moon River”, “You Are The Sunshine Of My Life”, and “I Will”.

Brides and grooms who met in particular cities have asked us to include “New York, New York”, “Chicago”, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”, “Georgia On My Mind”, “April in Paris”, “A Foggy Day in London Town”, “Way Down Yonder in New Orleans”, “Hawaiian Wedding Song”, and more.

Two years ago we entertained at a little boy’s one-year birthday party. Many of the guests grew up outside the United States, his parents grew up in India, and they asked us to play a few of their favorite “Bollywood” mega-hits. This doesn’t happen often so we needed a little practice, but needless to say, they loved us! Would you recognize “Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas”, “Chookar Mere Manko”, “Papa Kehten Hain”, “Kaho Na Pyar”, “Main Koi Aisa Geet Gaon”, and “Bheegey Hon Tere”?

Birthday guests of honor have been serenaded with “Bill”, “Nancy With the Laughing Face”, “Laura”, “Emily”, “Sweet Lorraine”, “Waltz for Debbie”, “Mona Lisa”, and more.

Whenever a wedding day coincided with a parent’s or grandparent’s anniversary or birthday, everyone sang “Happy Birthday” or applauded the couple waltzing to the “Anniversary Song”.

Themes are always popular. Once at a wedding planned on a Cinderella theme, our dinner music featured old Disney songs including “When You Wish Upon a Star”, “Heigh-Ho”, “Someday My Prince Will Come”, “Bippidy-Bobbidy-Boo”, and the first dance was “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes”.

Finally, I remember a wedding ceremony where we accompanied the bride and the groom singing “All The Things You Are” to each other. It was lovely — really choked me up. Know the song? Written in 1939, music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein.

You are the promised kiss of springtime
That makes the lonely winter seem long.

You are the breathless hush of evening

That trembles on the brink of a lovely song.

You are the angel glow that lights a star,
The dearest things I know are what you are.

Some day my happy arms will hold you,
And some day I'll know that moment divine,
When all the things you are, are mine!


Back to reality. On February 8, I’ll be entertaining brides-to-be in the “Bridal Extravaganza” at the San Jose Fairmont; on February 14 in a romantic Valentine's Day dinner at the Toll House, in Los Gatos; and on March 1st in the “Wedding Fair and Open House” at the Crowne Plaza Cabana, in Palo Alto. Details on MagnoliaJazz.com.

By the way, will you be celebrating a significant event soon? Throw a party and include us. Friends planning a party? Please recommend us. Today I’m talking with people planning soirees for Valentine’s Day and St Patrick’s Day. 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. Have a question? We’ll have the answer.

Call us at 408-245-9120. You’ll love what we do. We’re easy to work with, so let our experience help your celebration, and I hope to see you soon.

What do you think about all this? I’d love your opinions and comments.