Monday, June 13, 2016


On Friday April 8, The WannaBeatles played a special event for Aquinas College. 

Located on a small campus it shares with its sister schools St. Cecilia Academy and Overbrook School on Harding Rd. about five miles from downtown, Aquinas has been sponsoring a dinner & dance called Convivium each spring for three years as a fund raiser for scholarships and new construction at the school.

The event was held under a large tent over their parking lot, decorated with fancy lights, large tables, a stage and dance floor, some delicious food, and items being offered for silent auction. 
The Convivium banner in the tent

WannaBeatle Dennis, as usual, assumed responsibility for the stage details, like locating the staircase that would be convenient for WannaBeatle Bryan to use for leaving the stage during a guitar solo. 

WannaBeatle Dennis selects stairway location 
Negotiating details for set times and dinner for musicians

We temporarily hung our stage clothes on portions of the tent, while assembling our equipment onstage.
Dennis and Nathan ponder stage layout
WannaBeatle David ponders drum setup
Soundman Allan sets up monitor

The school provided a comfortable classroom for us inside the school as a dressing room, complete with snacks and water bottles. 

Our main contact at the school was Mario Martinez, whose official title is Director of Donor Relations & Strategic Events. Mario made sure everything about the evening ran smoothly. He was the right guy to know.

The Jazz Set

One feature that set this gig apart from other WannaBeatles shows was the addition of a jazz trio that played before us, to provide dinner music, before the presumably louder music we would play for the dance portion of the evening.

I was delighted to discover that the jazz trio Dennis hired happened to be three of my favorite musicians in Nashville, Jeff Lisenby on piano, Mel Deal on guitar, and John Vogt on bass. They assumed positions onstage, using our equipment to minimize the logistical complications for equipment. It was quite a pleasure for me to catch up with my pals.
Mel Deal on guitar
John Vogt on upright bass
A slightly fuzzy photo of John and Jeff, 
using WannaBeatles gear

During the dinner set, the jazz trio was playing the type of jazz standards that seemed to be calling for a sax solo, and since my saxophone was sitting there waiting to be used, I stepped over the line of strict assignments and joined them for a few tunes, being careful not to play too loud or too exciting.

It's amazing how easily jazz fits into an evening, making the atmosphere more pleasant without demanding too much attention.

It's also good to know that music can be played strictly for pleasure, even in a "professional" situation. Even though these guys had been hired to play, they were just as ready to have a good time as they were to do their job and get paid for doing what they do so well. 
The Jazz Trio, plus WannaBeatle Bryan in the background

I was already there as a WannaBeatle, so playing sax with the jazz trio was totally optional, and I was glad for the opportunity. I stood next to Mel, so we could enjoy the changes we played together, then we got to talk about his very cool hand-made jazz guitar, which he had custom built.

The audience was mostly people who could afford the $110 a plate fund-raiser price, with only a few younger students in the audience. But the energy was enthusiastic, and the music went over well, and we were appreciated by Aquinas College.

Most blogs cite the standard Bloggin' Bryan disclaimer: no photos of the band, or the audience during the show, because the photographer was busy playing onstage. 

But in this case, our friend Mario provided us some great shots that portray the fun the audience had that night dancing in front of the stage.

A fun table near the stage
Shakin' it with the Donor Dance
Fun on the dance floor
Under a beautiful tent
More fun on the dance floor
Girls having fun
View from Nathan's keyboard
Jazz Hands!
The WannaBeatles as viewed from the dance floor

Here's what Mario wrote about us in his letter afterward: 
The performance of The WannaBeatles was nothing short of spectacular! I have heard nothing but praise from my administration and our constituents. Thank you for joining us for this festive event and we were more than pleased to have booked you.

It was a treat to play at Aquinas. Thanks, Mario, for all the pictures, and everybody else at the school for making us feel welcome at such a fun evening. Hope to see you again!

-Bloggin' Bryan 13June2016

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