From the Desk of Doug Daniel: How ECE’s CEO Blends Work + Passion

I love music. I really do. It’s why I do what I do. I love listening to it, watching it live and playing it. My everyday is full of at least two of those. I love the bands we represent at ECE. I am constantly blown away by the musicianship and entertainment of them all. I’m sure many of our presenters are busy dancing and socializing and that’s what we want, but I see ‘em! I hear ‘em! That tiny, very insignificant little drum fill or bent note… I hear those, too. And it’s the best. It is an honor every day to come in here and help lead a team of the best people we can assemble to take care of our artist family, who then, in turn, takes care of their families.

I was hooked at an early age. Saw some bands, learned how to play drums and guitar… and I was ruined for life. I can still remember the shows I saw as a teen at the old Charlotte Coliseum. Standing on seats, waiting in line (because all shows used to be festival seating back then !@#$), and coming back home so deaf that it took a couple days to bounce back. In fact, as an adult, they eventually renovated that coliseum. I bought those seats to look at every day as a reminder of how it felt to be a kid leaving my house for this other world that rolled into my town and having my hair blown back.

But as fun as all of that is and as lucky as I am to be able to make a living associated with the very thing that knocked me out as a kid, we all need diversions. We all need that time to take a deep breath and listen to the air coming in and going out. Because working in your passion often requires you to grab a few more passions as a break. For me, there are three things. Guitars, reading, and movies.

I keep guitars in absurdly conspicuous places at home and at the office. I figure if they are in the way and I have to walk around them, then I may as well pick one up and play it. Playing is the true definition of meditation to me. My brain goes to that place where it is in idle. Not off and asleep and not going 100 mph like at the office. But idle… completely engrossed in that moment and blocking out all of life around me.

Reading does the same thing for me. I get to go to another world, live in a story, and be taken to a place that is far away. Now, as weirdly poetic as I’m trying to make this sound in my crude writing style, I have to admit that I am not reading any high brow masterpiece that promises to save the world. Remember, I’m still just a musician, so my favorite books are all about bands, musician biographies, old Hollywood, Bowery punk scene in NYC, etc. I could go on and bore you forever. But that’s the stuff I like.

I want to tell you about the book I just finished because you need to check it out. It was Noel Monk’s Runnin With The Devil. He is the former road manager for the Sex Pistols, then Van Halen, and later became Van Halen’s manager. Now, whether you like or ever even knew of Van Halen, you gotta still read this book. I could tell you about the road stories of excess and indulgence and those are great. I could tell you about the sheer goliath task of making it in the record business and then even greater task of staying there and that’s great too. But you gotta read this book because it is a testament to grit, hard work, patience and the political line I think we all walk each day to survive in our careers. Go get it or download it. Go ahead. Seriously. I’ll wait.

Ok, you back? So speaking of grit and hard work, you have to check out The Defiant Ones on HBO. I know I said earlier that movies are the last part of this three-headed relax and chill part of Doug Daniel. I count documentaries as movies. And, like I mentioned earlier, the music ones are the best. If you haven’t heard of The Defiant Ones yet, it chronicles the professional and personal lives of Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre. From Jimmy’s beginnings in the studios with the likes of John Lennon and Springsteen to Dre’s childhood and NWA to the founding of Interscope Records and their partnership in Beats, this four-part doc series covers it all. And it will knock you out.

Like the book above, there is plenty of splash. From a front seat to the whole East Coast/West Coast thing to Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson, the piece I keep coming back to is this meaning that continued to shine through. The meaning of two people who found success by having an unbelievable passion for music and an insane work ethic. That’s what separates these guys. Their unwavering conviction and drive to make their lives what they were passionate about. And I loved it.

And maybe that’s a good place to wrap. Like the famous quote from the legendary basketball coach, Bobby Knight: “The key is not the will to win. Everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important.” Those dudes had it. And in my attempt to relax and be diverted, I ended up coming right back to being inspired to be great. To play the game and to play it fairly and with integrity, but to play to win it.

So that’s it. Until next time, my wish for you is that you listen to your soul and feed it in times of needed relaxation. Also, that you know what has that ability to do that for you so you are able to then go out and do it. You might even find inspiration that you were driving 100mph in the daily grind to reach.

Later!

Say Hello to ECE West Palm Beach!

Big news today! We are thrilled to announce the opening of our fifteenth office in West Palm Beach, FL! While we have been booking entertainment for corporate and private parties in South Florida for years, we are excited to finally call this region home.

Our new office is a result of a partnership with South Florida entertainment company, Powerhouse Group. Powerhouse Group books entertainment for a variety of events worldwide. Their signature band, Powerhouse Band, is one of the most popular dance bands in the country and has performed for many celebrities and dignitaries.

As part of the partnership, the Powerhouse Group will take on the ECE name and brand while Powerhouse Group executives, Alan James and Tiffany Guttenplan, have been appointed to leadership roles within ECE and charged with spearheading the West Palm Beach office. The Powerhouse Band will become an exclusive artist on the ECE roster.

“As we explored our expansion into Florida, it was really important to us to find a partner who would be a great fit both professionally and culturally. In Tiffany and Alan, we have two exceptional new friends who perfectly mirror the ECE philosophy of combining the best talent with amazing customer service and integrity. It is hard to express how excited I am to have them part of the ECE team,” says Doug Daniel, President and CEO of ECE.

“Alan and I have been industry colleagues with ECE for almost two decades and have worked together on many shows and events over the years. When we decided we wanted to expand our business we knew that partnering with ECE was the next obvious and natural step. We couldn’t be more thrilled to join this great team and are excited to provide our clients with a vast and impressive roster of new talent,” says Tiffany Guttenplan, Location Managing Director of ECE West Palm Beach.

ECE Agent Life: Behind the Scenes with InsideOut Band

As an ECE entertainment consultant, I spend my days wading through emails, making phone calls, and networking with other industry professionals. We guide our clients through the process of booking a band, help them as they prepare for their big event, and then as the date gets closer the bandleader takes the reins through completion of an unforgettable experience.

Occasionally I sneak into the back of a ballroom to see one of our artists perform but never before had I seen the amount of on-site work that goes into an “effortless” performance by one of our bands. I recently tagged along with InsideOut, an 11-piece party band out of Richmond, on a wedding that I booked and I’m still trying to catch up on sleep!

Here is what the day looked like (make sure to check out the Instagram Story footage at the end of the recap):

12:00 PM:  The band and I arrived at a Home Depot parking lot to meet the van. Many of the band members had taken half days or entire days off their regular day jobs in order to play this Friday wedding. They loaded up their instruments and stage attire and then we hit the road for a 3-hour drive to Purcellville VA.

The energy in the van on the drive up was subdued. Members either slept, joked with/on each other, or listened to the night’s song list on their phones quietly practicing notes or words. Brent, trombone player for the band, controlled the music with a well-curated and eclectic mix of jazz, show tunes, world music, and pop hits. Everything from Les Miserables to John Mayer!

3:00 PM:  We arrived at Shadow Creek Weddings and Events and slowly spilled out of the van into the sunlight. Barry, bandleader for InsideOut, and the production crew had been on-site for several hours already unloading and setting up the basic elements of the sound/light system. We carried in the instrument cases and the members began plugging into amps and tuning guitars/horns.

After a quick full band soundcheck, the members headed off to change clothes and rest before guests arrived. They could be found throughout the venue tying ties, donning heels, and loosening up.

4:00 PM: Outside the guests began to arrive by shuttle and were greeted by the gentle classical arrangements of String Poets and a surprise guest (it was a horse). Alexa and Peyton opted for a trio which consisted of violin, upright bass, and keys.

The bride entered to “A Thousand Years” and several classic hymns like “How Great Thou Art” were played between readings.

5:00 PM: After the vows were exchanged along with a romantic kiss, the bridal party headed into the barn and the guests moved to the patio for cocktail hour. String Poets continued their sweet serenade with pop classics ranging from the Beatles to Bon Jovi.

While guests enjoyed signature cocktails outside, the band began doing last minute mic checks, ran through the bridal party names with the planner, and discussed a change in plans for the first few songs. The timeline had been pushed back a bit due to a late shuttle arrival so instead of going straight into first dances, the band planned to kick in with some light jazz as guests wandered in and took their seats. Victoria, one of the lead female vocalists, is a trained jazz singer and it’s always a pleasure to see her in her element.

6:45 PM: After a few light jazz tunes, with the bridal party lined up outside, the band kicked into “You Make My Dreams Come True” as the hilarious cast of characters made their grand entrance with dance moves and big smiles.

The bride and the groom were the last through the door and after a big round of applause they started their first dance to “Die a Happy Man” followed by the father/daughter and mother/son dances. InsideOut learned three new songs for the special dances in addition to another four new songs for later in the evening. Seven new songs on a weekend they were booked Friday, Saturday, and Sunday! That is the true definition of musicianship.

7:15 PM: The band flipped over to an iPod playlist and headed outside for a quick dinner break. Typically bands eat vendor meals with a sandwich, chips, apple, and a soda but tonight they dined like kings! The buffet consisted of BBQ, mac n cheese, jalapeno cornbread, green beans, cole slaw, and more. They found some empty seats on the patio, ate quickly, and rested up for what was ahead. A two hour+ non-stop dance set!

8:00 PM: Now it’s time for the party to truly begin… InsideOut took the stage in their gold tuxes/elegant gowns, struck the first chord, and immediately the dance floor filled.

The band typically starts with some older classics like “Superstition” and “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” and as the night goes on the songs become more modern. They specialize in the latest club hits so in addition to “24k Magic” and “Can’t Stop the Feeling” they also busted out “Despacito” (a huge hit for the Spanish-speaking bride’s family) and “Strip That Down”.

They ended the night with a special request specifically learned for the bride – “Everybody” by the Backstreet Boys (likely now stuck in your head)! Not a single guest was seated and after the song was over they begged for one song. InsideOut ended up playing two encores!

10:15 PM: Alexa and Peyton exited the barn to a shower of sparks and the band immediately began breaking down their gear. Set up usually takes several hours, but teardown happens in a matter of minutes. Despite having just finished a high-energy dance set, the band all pitched in to help the crew pack up the gear and load the truck. Sweaty clothes were swapped out for casual attire and the band loaded into the van after final goodbyes to the venue staff, planner, and parents of the bride/groom.

11:30 PM – 2:00 AM: Very little talking was done on the way home. For the first few minutes of the ride the band exchanged funny moments from the night and re-hydrated, but within 30 minutes of leaving the venue, every single member was asleep (including myself). We pulled into the parking lot at 2:00 AM, sleepily stumbled to our vehicles and headed home to bed. I planned to sleep in as long as my 16-month old would allow me, but the band had to be back in this exact location less than 10 hours from now to repeat the entire process!

I have an immense respect for the musicianship and talent of our artists, but see them in a new light after observing the amount of sweat equity that goes into making these events happen every week. While most people are home resting from a long week of work these guys and girls were bringing their A-game to create a once in a lifetime experience for the bride, groom, and guests of this wedding.

Working as an entertainment consultant there is no “off the clock”, but I’m thankful for Friday nights at home and Saturday chores. Thank you to the artists like InsideOut who make it look easy and provide unforgettable experiences to thousands of clients each year.