Beyond Bourbon Street: Bringing a New Orleans Theme to Life

Everything we do here at ECE revolves around our mission to deliver top-notch, inspirational performances in ways that make dreams come true. From engaging with us on social media and our website to interacting with our entertainment consultants during the booking process to our artists’ unforgettable performances at the event, this fun and always-on-point client experience is what we like to call The ECE Experience.

One aspect of The ECE Experience that often surprises clients is the partnership they form with their entertainment consultant (a.k.a. agent).  They don’t realize that their entertainment consultant is just that – a resource they can consult with, confide in, and collaborate with to create an event that exceeds all expectations. Today’s post shares a story of how one agent helped a client curate an entertainment lineup that brought a New Orleans themed client event to life.  

WHAT CAN WE DO?

“We’re hosting a New Orleans themed corporate event next year and want to book Harry Connick, Jr.” It was September 2018 and ECE Richmond agent, Stacy Schnetzka, was on a call with a long-time client. The client was hosting a client appreciation event in conjunction with an annual industry conference the following March. The event was to be held outdoors at the gorgeous Wigwam Resort in Litchfield Park, AZ. Other than the date and the New Orleans theme, few other details had been nailed down.

Some clients know exactly what they want, when they want it, and what will work within their budget.  However, most people looking to book entertainment may have an idea of what they want, but need help fleshing out the details. When it became clear that booking Harry Connick, Jr. would be over-budget, the client came back to Stacy and asked, “What can we do?”

BRAINSTORMING THE POSSIBILITIES

Because Stacy had worked with the client for years, she was familiar with the event … and understood the stakes were high.  As part of the industry conference schedule, several companies would host client appreciation parties simultaneously.  Attendees could choose only one party to attend – the competition was stiff. Creating an incredible, memorable experience would be of utmost importance.   

Stacy began the brainstorming process by honing in on two questions: What do I know about this client? What experience do they want to deliver? Her challenge was to determine entertainment elements that would bring the New Orleans theme to life in an elegant, sophisticated way.  

Letting her mind wander to the streets of New Orleans, she imagined herself strolling through the French Quarter and down Bourbon Street. Non-stop music spills from the bars and restaurants, and the crowds are lively with excitement and energy.

BRINGING THE BIG EASY TO LIFE

Non-stop music. A light bulb went off.  Stacy began to formulate a proposal incorporating all of the sounds from Bourbon Street: New Orleans jazz, ragtime, crooners, Dixieland, and even dueling pianos (a client favorite she wanted to somehow incorporate).  She would curate three different musical acts to entertain during the cocktails, dinner, and dessert.  The twist – there would be NO breaks in the music from start to finish.

The client loved the idea. The California Feetwarmers – a New Orleans jazz and ragtime band – would kick off the event on the lawn for the cocktail hour.  Without skipping a beat, the band would lead guests into the dining tent second line-style where ECE Exclusive band, Good Shot Judy, would seamlessly pick up the tune and continue throughout dinner.  After dinner, The California Feetwarmers would return to lead guests back out to the lawn for the dessert course. They would continue with a set before handing off for an entertainment finale provided by dueling pianos. 

BETTER THAN HARRY CONNICK, JR.

With the idea in place, Stacy got to work orchestrating its execution. Before the event date, she collaborated with all artists involved to determine the song selections for the transitions. It was imperative that each band knew exactly which song to begin and end on and in which key to make certain the transition was flawless.

The day before the event, Stacy flew to Arizona to be on-site. As point person for the entertainment, she added an extra layer of security to ensure everything went off without a hitch. By 5:00 PM on the event day, everything was in place and The California Feetwarmers began their set. Guests loved the festive environment. When the band led the guests to the immaculately decorated dining tent and joined Good Shot Judy band to finish out “Bourbon Street Parade,” there were smiles all around. 

The fun continued with Good Shot Judy performing a sultry dinner set full of classic jazz standards played in the band’s modern signature style. Lead singer, Brett, was a crowd favorite as he crooned away onstage.  During the set, the client left her table to seek out Stacy. “He is better than Harry Connick, Jr.,” she exclaimed.

As dinner wrapped, Good Shot Judy began a rousing rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In.” The song was picked up by The California Feetwarmers who led the crowd outside to the dessert party where the liveliness continued. Later, the dueling pianos picked up the tunes for a finale that would rival any performance experienced in The Big Easy.

“This event was a dream to work on. The artists, the client, the other vendors – all were simply top-notch, and it was so satisfying to see the event come together seamlessly. What is really nice is that at the end of the night, the incredible tent/décor designer, Brent Tuten of Glenn Certain Designs, told me, ‘We’ve spent all these resources on this [magnificent tent] design, but it wouldn’t have been this spectacular without this entertainment.  The entertainment made this event come alive,'” reminisced Stacy.

OPPORTUNITY FOR CREATIVE EXPERIENCES

All events – especially corporate events – present the opportunity for a truly creative experience. By understanding the client’s personality and the goals of the event, the entertainment consultant can craft and curate a performance that elevates the event into one that is effective, engaging, and memorable.  Regardless of theme, entertainment options are endless. It is the role of the entertainment consultant to make the process of designing entertainment both easy and fun.

Thanks to photographer Harley Bonham for sharing the stunning images below!

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