Our favorite clients are people that work hard and like to play hard. In this particular instance, the CEO of one of our top corporate clients wanted to throw a back-yard party to entertain his 50 closest friends. As a country music lover, he had a wild and crazy vision to throw a big country concert in his back yard with full staging, lighting and celebrity talent. This presented many obstacles for our team, but we are always up for a challenge.
First, he lived in a wealthy residential subdivision in St. Charles, IL where high net worth individuals live, seeking privacy and exclusivity. Second, he had limited space to actually stage the concert. While his backyard was beautiful, ¾ of it was taken up but a large swimming pool and landscaping. Thirdly, getting the necessary equipment into the backyard was challenging in that we had a limited area to work with on the side yard for load-in and out. We needed to do this without tearing up the grass while navigating the steep decline from street level. Finally, it was going to be loud, so we needed to control the volume. Most people would have told our client it couldn’t be done. He does not like to hear no for an answer though. Let the challenge begin.
We went for a site visit and talked through all of the challenges. We decided that we would buy $1,000 worth of plywood to put down on the side yard so we could safely roll flight cases into the backyard in order to stage the event. We could not get a vehicle into the area, so everything would need to load-in from street level. Our production team ultimately brought in a stage with a roof to erect in between the house and the pool. Our lighting team designed a package that would illuminate the stage and give the show some energy. We procured a silent generator for the front yard and shielded it from street view with some landscaping so we did not upset the neighbors.
Our hosts did not want the guests coming into the house, so we rented executive washroom trailers to be placed in the driveway. We had to work with the rental company to arrange special delivery and pick up so that the washrooms were available right before the event started and picked up immediately at the conclusion in order to make peace with the neighbors.
We worked with a rental company to pick out appropriate outdoor lounge furniture to place about the yard that complemented the casual yet exclusive feel of the event.
For catering, we worked with and planned a menu that would tie in with a down home country backyard BBQ.
Then we had to find celebrity talent that was willing to perform in someone’s back yard. This is always challenging as artists are very protective of their reputation and how they are perceived. We talked to several agencies and gathered a list of country artists that would present well in this environment. We also took into consideration where the artist was performing surrounding the date so that we could catch someone on a route and help control costs for our client. Ultimately, we selected country music legend Phil Vassar to perform with his acoustic trio. They were performing the evening before in Milwaukee at a festival and on their way to a date in Ohio. Our play fit perfectly into their schedule and allowed us to save about $10,000 for our client from their normal booking fees. The fact that Phil could do this date as a trio without drums also worked in our favor as it would help control the volume quite a bit.
Phil is one of the most personable individuals. He is perfect for these intimate up close and personal concerts. He is witty and quick and interacts well with the guests. He has written over twenty top 20 songs for Tim McGraw, Jo Dee Messina, Collin Raye, Alan Jackson and as a solo Artist. In 1999 he was named ASCAP Country Songwriter of the Year.
Our client only wanted to invite 50 people. We arranged for Phil to personally meet and greet everyone and hang out amongst the guests. This rarely happens and is a testament to our company’s relationships with the major agencies that artists are willing to do this for our clients.
Phil rocked through a 90 minute show. Guests enjoyed the amazing food and beverage. Some floated in the pool and watched the concert. He allowed some of the guests to dance on stage. It was truly a unique, once in a life time event for this small group. To experience such a seasoned artist in this up close and personal setting is really a treat. We love making our clients dreams come true.
In order to ensure we would not anger the neighbors or get in trouble with the police, we secured the necessary permits from the Police and then advised our client to invite all of his neighbors within ear shot. Knowing that most would find it a nice gesture but would not attend, we felt this went a long way toward making the evening successful. We also palnned the schedule to end the concert at 10:00 PM.
As the guests exited the party, we greeted them with late night donuts and coffee from a food truck. They could choose from a variety of hot fresh gourmet donuts with unusual flavors such as S’mores, Lucky Charms, Banana with Chocolate Sauce and many more.
Our client has paid us and Phil the ultimate compliment in that he has retained us for a large corporate event in 2018 and asked us to bring back Phil Vassar. Crazy idea?…throw a legit concert in your backyard for 50 people with celebrity talent…Mission accomplished.