Wednesday, February 29, 2012

12/13/11 Childrens Hospital Physicians Party

Over 500 guests mingled in the magnificent Music Hall Foyer of The Carnegie in Oakland.  We have been doing this party for over 10 years but debuted a new wrinkle with my String Symphony.  This year group featured John on piano, Charles May on Violin, Dave Pellow on Bass, and 3 other string players to round out the string section.  What a sound.   Thanks to Kathy Risch and Dr. Norm Cohen from the Childrens Hospital as well as the always gracious Eileen Twigger at the hall.  Already looking forward to next year.

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12/22/11 Christmas Candlelight Dinner

Allegheny Country Club in Sewickley was glowing as members and their guests arrived for the annual tradition of a Holiday feast by candlelight.  John accompanied me on their gorgeous grand piano as we  played everything from "White Christmas" to "Rudolph" for the kids.  Not sure how many times we have done this one but it goes back at least 10 years.  I can't believe I did not take a picture that night.  Thanks to Beth Brown and new GM Justin Kolanz.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Music Business Is Going To The Dogs

Should this be our newest act or is it our latest competition. To watch the video go to

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12/23/12 Rebecca & John's Wedding Day

The grand lobby of The Renaissance Hotel Downtown was the setting for the emotional ceremony.  Rebecca entered to John and I playing the theme song from the film "Legends Of The Fall" titled "The Ludlows" by James Horner.  This was the first time we played this piece but it will be part of our repertoire for a long time.  During the service the Violin and Piano played "The Rose" by Bette Midler as Rebecca offered her Mom a Rose.  Then "100 Years" by Five For Fighting capped the service as The Recessional.  Great Stuff.

Cool idea - for a small wedding.  I noticed that each of the 5 table had empty seats but after the first course John and Rebecca got up and moved to another table to have the second course and then to another for the third ...  Hard to do for a big wedding but I had never seen that done before.

Although no dancing was planned for this intimate Reception the Bride did ask us to play a "What A Wonderful World" so she could dance with her Dad.  A fitting end to a beautiful night.

As always, Tony Lee and the staff at The Renaissance did a great job.
Officiant: Reverend Larry Goyda of Meaningful Marriages
Photographer : Michael Will Photography (He did not take the photo above.  From my iPhone)
Video by All Pro USA Multimedia

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12/24/11 Golden Living Canonsburg

It's become an annual tradition that I play for these fine people on Christmas Eve.  My hope is that my music brightens their day for an hour and creates some Christmas spirit.  Thanks to Noel Martinez at Golden Living for the chance to share my musical gift.

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12/26/11 Tom & Brenda's Wedding Ceremony and Reception

The LeMont on Mount Washington provided the spectacular backdrop for the evening.  I always love dusk when the city goes into 3D mode.  The couple came in from Arizona to show off the city to their families. Here are a few of their key music picks -
Introduction music :  "Wouldn't It Be Nice" by The Beach Boys
Cake Cutting Song:  "Sugar, Sugar" by The Archies
First Dance: "At Last"
Last Song: "What A Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong
Photographer: Ben McMillen  (he did not take the posted photos - that was me on my iPhone)

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Monday, February 27, 2012

12/30/11 Andrea & Howard's Wedding Ceremony and Reception

Our man Tony Lee at The Renaissance Hotel hooked us up for this elegant little affair. About 20 guests celebrated with fine food and drinks in the Foyer and Ballroom. The funniest part of the night was during the Ceremony when the Best Man grabbed the Christmas decoration that looked like a huge diamond (see pic) and handed it to the groom when the minister asked for the ring. Andrea lost it when she saw the huge rock and said she would prefer that diamond to the actual ring.  We played and played for 1 1/2 hours of overtime until they closed the room on us.

Here is the note the couple sent afterwards -
After all the weddings I have been to, the first thing I have always said was, "put your money towards LIVE music." I am so thankful that Tony put us in contact with you! Having a violinist AND a pianist stay all night was the most wonderful part of our evening! I honestly would do it all over again just to hear you two play! My grandmother, especially, was so amazed by you both, I cannot thank you enough. Even the next morning at breakfast, everyone was still talking about the amazing duo from the night before! That's exactly what I wanted...something for everyone to talk about and I'm so glad it was you and John! Music makes any party and your music made ours! I hope you and your family enjoy a wonderful New Year; Howard and I are so happy that you could help us celebrate our start as a married couple! With much love and happiness,
Andrea and Howard  

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12/31/11 New Years Eve

Our friends at Asbury Heights in Mt. Lebanon asked John and I to come out and do a peppy little set to get their party going.  It was party hats and noisemakers for everyone as we did our best set set a festive mood.  This was my perfect New Years Eve gig because I was home drinking champagne by the fire at 9:30 PM.  Ahhh !  Happy New Year to me.

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

1/5/12 Twelfth Night Of Christmas Party

This was the 16th year that we have played this elegant soiree at the home of John DeSantis on the North Side.  The ballroom is like stepping into the early 1900's with the art, scuplture, grand piano, and lighting. My Vienna Nights Orchestra plays music by Strauss as well as Hungarian, Russian, and other favorite styles as the guests - who are dressed to the nines - dance until the wee hours.  We were joined by the spectacular vocalists Etta Cox and Maureen Budway. One of my favorite parties of the year and I hope it goes on for many more years.  Don't call for January 5th.  I'll be busy.

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1/7/12 Matt & Makayla's Wedding Reception

A great luncheon was served at Salvatore's Little Giant Banquet Hall to celebrate their Wedding Day.  Thanks to Matt's Mom Arlene for inviting me to be part of the party.  Nice group and tasty cake.

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1/8/12 50th Anniversary Party

Pietro and Mary Margiotta celebrated a milestone in their marriage so there was plenty of hugs and kisses and food and drinks at Bravo Cucina.  It was great to be with the family again after playing their daughter's wedding a few years ago and this September I will play for their granddaughters wedding.  A real family affair,

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1/24/12 Schneider Downs Holiday Party

The Sheraton Hotel at Station Square was still lit up like a Christmas tree when I played there for the accounting firm of Schneider Downs.  The guests enjoyed Cocktails in the Reflections Room then feasted on the sumptuous buffet dinner.  It took awhile to get the 300 guests to let down their hair but once they did the dance floor was hopping.  Many thanks to Gina Walker for the invitation to make their party extra special.  As always, Jennifer Leech, Joe Benson, and Eric Bowman from the hotel were hopping and helpful.

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2/25/12 Michael and Bonnie's Wedding Dinner

Congratulations to the happy couple !  They seemed to really enjoy the tunes I picked and the requests the guests made. You can see from the pic I even matched the color of my Top 100 Request List to their napkins. Got a big response for my version of "The Gael" from the film "Last Of The Mohicans".  It's amazing how often people come running when I start to play that tune.  Thanks to David and and his Dad Rico of Rico's Restaurant in the North Hills for saving me a few crab-stuffed mushrooms and their signature Fried Zucchini.

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2/24/12 Academy Awards Music Party

With John and Piano and me on Violin we played about 20 Oscar winners from 1939's "Over The Rainbow" from "The Wizard Of Oz" to "My Heart Will Go On from the Titanic. Always enjoy the good folks at Canterbury Place in Lawrenceville.  Thanks to Donnie Scruggs for thinking of us.

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Friday, February 24, 2012

1/12, 1/13, and 1/15/12 Pine Twp. Market District Grand Opening

It was me, The Cake Boss (see photo of his cake above), and the Pirate Parrot entertaining the crowds as the store transformed from the traditional Giant Eagle to the Market District brand.  Lot's of food, activity, music, and people.  Several former and current Pittsburgh Steelers Aaron Smith and Jason Gildon popped in.  Thanks to Kim Stuart at Bees Knees Entertainment for the opportunity to make this Special Event ... Extraordinary !

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1/26/12 Giant Eagle Grand Reopening

Never a dull moment at the Giant Eagle in Leetsdale where the newly remodeled store showed off it's variety and freshness.  Ran into some old friends as well as a cast of customer characters who stopped to chat and ask for tunes. Thanks to Kim at Bees Knees Entertainment for the gig.

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1/27/12 Morgantown Chamber of Commerce

A friendly group of 600 top WV business leads got together at the The Morgantown Event Center at The Waterfront for Cocktails, Dinner, and speakers.  The great sound system made me sound superhuman and I appreciated the hospitality and warm response.  Always look forward to the MC's jokes and stories which keep everyone smiling.  Wish I could remember them.

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1/28/12 Private Dinner Party for 6

Yes, 6 people.  All Italian music at a condo in Trimont.  It was the first stop of a progressive dinner party that went to to several residences throughout the night.  A lovely group sipping wine and listening to "O Sole Mio", "Arrivaderci, Roma", "That's Amore" and many more.  Thanks Marilyn.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Elegant Dinner Party 2/18/12

Mike and Nicole Mendocino hosted 18 of their closest friends for a 5 course dinner in their spacious Belle Vernon home. The martini's put them in a boisterous mood so when I surprised them by stepping into the room unannounced playing Mozart's "Eine Kleine Nacht Musik" they went wild.  Requests ranged from "Moon River" to "The Devil Went Down To Georgia".

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Christening Party 2/18/12

Congratulations to Dr. John and Erin Christoforetti on the baptism of their infant son.  It was quite a scene as multiple generations of friends and family rambled about their beautiful home in Fox Chapel. The next day I spotted the picture of one of the guests in the Business page of the PG.

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The Haven of North Hills 2/15/12

It was nice to be back for a third year for their Valentine's Day Dinner.  Erica Jackson and her staff at The Haven are even kind enough to schedule it the day after the real date so I can be part of it.  Had them dancing in the aisles - really.

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Pittsburgh Auto Show Preview 2/16/12

Something new for us as we combined the beautiful Maureen Conlon on Electric Violin with me and John Garrick on Keyboards playing lush melodies and sizzling, swinging numbers for Cocktails with the Pittsburgh Auto Trade Association VIP's at the David Lawrence Convention Center.  The event was a fundraiser for the Mario Lemieux Foundation and the big guy was there with Nathalie. The event also brought out Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma and his wife Mary Beth who stopped to chat along with Assistant Coach Tony Granato and GM Ray Shero with their wives. Other notables who came by were Hall Of Fame Pittsburgh Steeler Lynn Swann, Steelers Charlie Batch and Max Starks, Lemieux Foundation President Tom Grealish, PATA President John Putzier, and commercial darling Debbie Flaherty of Day Automotive.

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Hidden Valley Resort 2/14/12

It was the perfect romantic winter evening at Hidden Valley Resort.  Big flakes of snow fluttered down as the guests looked out on the slopes - or hopefully, into each other's eyes.  Many thanks to Sarah Greiner for tracking me down and filling up a last-minute open slot.  The sound in the Clock Tower Restaurant was great, too.

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Monday, February 20, 2012

St. Barnabas Village 2/14/12

WPXI Meteorologist Kevin Benson was the star of the luncheon but I did my best to warm up the crowd at St. Barnabas Village on Valentine's Day.  Thanks to Pam Fickes and the staff for their fine French hospitality.

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Lost Titanic Violin May Have Been Found

I'm not sure how to take it but people often say they feel like they are on the Titanic when I am playing.  Maybe I should buy this instrument.

The violin found with the lifeless body of Wallace Hartley, the violinist who led the ill-fated band aboard the doomed luxury liner RMS Titanic, may be the same one undergoing tests for authentication in advance of a possible sale. The British auctioneer Henry Aldridge & Sons has announced that the firm has been approached by the owner of a violin believed to be the one that was returned to Hartley’s fiancĂ© after a the violinist’s body was returned to England for burial following the infamous April 15, 1912 ship disaster. Hartley and seven other musicians became immortalized as the “band that played on” after survivors reported the musicians had stayed on the boat deck to perform hymns as a way to calm terror-stricken passengers.

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

JW Halls Restaurant 2/13/12

It's a small world when you play somewhere for the first time and walk in and know the first person you see.  The place was jumping with couples getting an early jump on Valentine's Day.  Many thanks to owner Jeff Belsky for the warm welcome.  Will look forward to getting back to Aliquippa and JW Halls.

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Doubleheader at Oakmont Country Club 2/12/12

We never get tired of playing at the historic golf mecca.  Photos of the greats from Sam Snead and Arnold Palmer to Tiger Woods hang from the walls of Oakmont Country Club.  They seem to like what we do so much that they had us there twice that day.  John played on their beautiful piano for brunch as guests gathered around to make requests even after our quitting time. Then in the evening I played a relaxed dinner service by myself.  Even got to meet the new GM, Paul Mroz. Welcome and all the best !

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Montour Heights Country Club 2/11/12

Mark, Richard and the staff of the Montour Heights Country Club served up a beautiful dinner for their members in first class style.  Thanks for the warm welcome and support.  This was a lonely site for a golfer.  This was the second gig of the day with John on Keyboards.

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Market District Settlers Ridge 2/11/12

Shoppers stepped into the store from a blustery day with me and John Garrick on Keyboards playing romantic favorites Health and Beauty Department.  Saw some old friends and made some new ones - I hope. Giant Eagle has made a big commitment to live music in these stores every weekend so try to get out and support it.  We have fans of all ages and these 3 were worn out so they found another great use for paper towels.

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Monroeville Assembly Of God 2/10/12

Thanks to Pastor Rob Anderson and Bill Jenkins for having me play for their Valentine's Day Dinner on Friday.  A roaring fire set the tone for the night.  About 60 people enjoyed Italian food in the Church Hall.
HWat a beautiful facility.  Then I found out after Rob worked with my wife about 10 years ago.

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Dinner Party for 6 guests 1/27/12

Dinner Party for 6 people.

A progressive dinner party where they moved from condo to condo for different courses.  This was the dessert course setting.  It was funny going from this elegant dinner party at Trimont for only 6 guests to doing an elegant association dinner the next night for 600 guests.  All Italian music because the menu was all Italian food. The photo does not do it justice but it was a beautiful view from Mt. Washington.
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Morgantown Chamber Of Commerce

Morgantown Chamber Of Commerce Annual Dinner  1/27/12

The VIP's of the Morgantown business community get together at the Morgantown Event Center at Waterfront Place for their Annual Dinner and Deb Adrian has been kind enough to invite me for the past 3 or 4.  The new space is fantastic and they have a killer sound system that makes my job easy.  The MC's jokes alone are worth the drive.  This year they topped 600 guests and I'm hoping they invite me back for next year.  Excellent Dinner too.

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Nina and Ken 2/4/12

Nina and Ken  February 4, 2012

It may have been chilly outside but it was warm and cozy inside the Doubletree Hotel in Monroeville where we played for their lovely Ceremony. My String Trio of Two Violins and Cello played "Canon In D" for the Bridesmaids and then did a pause and restart on the "fast" part of "Canon" for Nina herself.  Tearfully, the bride made her vows and we followed up with an arrangement of "Simple Gifts" during the lighting of the Unity Candle. Then the celebration began when they were announced as husband and wife to the "Wedding March" by Mendelssohn.  A very heartwarming service all around.  Thanks to Stephanie and Kimmie at the the hotel for making this a perfect performance.

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