Dave Tanner

Dave Tanner's vast experience will help you avoid making costly mistakes, while saving you time, money, and stress.

3 U.S. presidents, European royalty, business leaders from 4 continents, and over 2,000 brides have trusted their special events to Dave Tanner.

So can you.

Have Dave Emcee Your Next Event!

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To help you decide if your needs and my talents are a good fit, please check out the photos, musical and video downloads, song lists, and testimonials you'll find here.

This website is your FREE source for how to make your event a spectacular success. I'm also available by phone, e-mail, or in person to assist you in finding your perfect music, venue, photographer, or florist. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to help make yours the best party ever!

All the best,
Dave Tanner

Bob Dylan: The Rorschach Test Of His Generation?

April 28th, 2010 | Posted in Soapbox   Comments Off

April 22nd, folk singer Joni Mitchell (born Roberta Joan Anderson in Canada) was quoted in the Los Angeles Times as saying “Bob [Dylan] is not authentic at all. He’s a plagiarist, and his name and voice are fake. Everything about Bob is a deception.”

Today, author and LA Weekly contributor Jonny Whiteside amplified Ms. Mitchell’s charges, adding a dirty-laundry list of specific complaints, including:
* 16 year old Robert Zimmerman (the future Dylan) submitted an “original” poem for publication which was – in fact – a “thinly revised version” of Hank Snow’s song, Little Buddy.
* He cribbed from Civil War-era poet Henry Timrod, among many others.
* Dylan’s song Beyond The Horizon featured a “naked… melody heist” from “Red Sails In The Sunset.
* “…his vocal style was high-jacked, in its entirety, from long-dead bluegrass-country singer, Carter Stanley.”

In accusing and convicting Dylan of these and other musical high crimes and misdemeanors, Whiteside invited his readers to type “Bob Dylan plagiarism” into their favorite search engine. So I did. And what I found was both more and less than what Whiteside (and Joni Mitchell) may have intended.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I should confess that I initially bought into Whiteside’s whole indictment. Part of this was due to his authoritative writing style, his many cited examples, and his stated willingness for us to look at the facts for ourselves. But a big part of my lack of impartiality was my long-held personal belief that Dylan is a moderately talented guy who was hyped as The Voice Of His Generation.

So I was open to what Joni and Jonny were selling. Unfortunately, some of their arguments are… well, arguable.

They’ve apparently got him dead to rights for swiping the Hank Snow lyrics – when he was 16. So they’re entitled to claim he committed that particular theft (even if the statute of limitations ran out it, 48 years ago!)

And the chord sequence in Beyond The Horizon (not the melody, as Whiteside stated) is about as close to Red Sails In The Sunset as you can get – as close, say, as My Sweet Lord was to He’s So Fine, and those guys collected, big time!

But the supposed plagiarism of the Civil War poet is – when looked at in context – a harder sell.

So is the claim that he appropriated Carter Stanley’s singing style as his own. Carter did indeed sing in a rural Southern accent (something not native to most kids from Hibbing, Minnesota). And he did have a nasally tenor. But, if you’ll go to YouTube and listen to Carter for yourself, I don’t think you’ll hear any of Dylan’s distinctive talk-singing. Nor did Carter’s pitch fall off at the end of phrases in the Dylan fashion.

Indeed, after investigating each of Whiteside’s claims, I concluded that Dylan was not clad in The Emperor’s New Clothes. Nor is he the Anti-Christ or Zelig (check it out) of pop music.

Perhaps what he really is, is a Rorschach Test in the eye and ear of every beholder – a moderately talented guy who isn’t The Voice Of His Generation. But then, who truly could be?


Musicians At Work: The Economy Must Be Improving!

April 26th, 2010 | Posted in Parties   Comments Off

As a band leader, for over a year now I have had the pick of all the best musicians – not just in my town, but within a 100 miles in any direction!

Why? Two reasons. First, I’ve been lucky that my phone has kept ringing, even if at a somewhat reduced rate. And the second reason? That would be you. You, and others like you have been the ones calling for musical entertainment.

Throughout the current economic downturn, rarely have I had to call more than one – or, at the most, two – of my favorite players on any particular instrument to fill my bandstand. My clients and their guests have enjoyed the very best drummers, guitarists, vocalists, and horn virtuosos. For me – it’s been a slice of Heaven! These musicians are so professional in every way, and so gifted at their chosen specialties, that they’ve made me a hero to many event planners. Even folks who called at the last minute were always able to count on a superior musical experience.

But, just this past Saturday night, came the first glimmer that things are about to change. It wasn’t New Year’s Eve, but it must have felt like a Happy New Year to every sideman and leader in town. For some reason, everyone was working! I know this because my client made a last minute request for me to add a trombone to our ensemble, and it took me 4 tries to find one who was available. This would have been a shock even in December, but in April?

With trombonists in short supply, other leaders trying to assemble ensembles on short notice were really in a bind. One of them called me repeatedly, picking my brain for any drummer I had ever worked with – ever (because all the usual suspects were already working.)

In most respects, this is good news. When every musician is employed, it means that the economy is improving. But there is one way in which – for both you and me – it marks the end of our “lazy period.” Simply put, it looks like those easy days of finding and hiring a great band virtually any day of the week are coming to an end. You, as the party giver, are going to have to call your favorite music providers sooner to be sure of their availability. And leaders like me will no longer have the luxury of knowing that fantastic players are just sitting by their phones, hoping we will call. Both of us are going to have to get organized and to hustle a bit.

Meanwhile, stunned trombonists across the region celebrate the dawning of a new day!


The Mis-Information Age? It’s Here To Stay!

January 25th, 2010 | Posted in Soapbox   Comments Off

Musing through yesterday’s news, I read:
1. Johnny Depp was the victim of a fatal traffic accident.
2. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie split up.
Sir Richard Burton (Liz Taylor’s Ex) was also mentioned – twice (in actress Jean Simmons’ obituary and a review of the late-night wars.)

Of course, the problem with this breathless reportage is that all of it was wrong!

Johnny Depp is alive and well, and is only the victim of a story that re-surfaces regularly (and wrongly.) Brad and Angelina swear they’ve never been happier (which is too bad for Jennifer Aniston, who – according to many of the same online sources that reported the split-up – still pines breathlessly for Brad’s return.) And “Sir” Richard Burton properly refers to the English explorer who died in 1890, not the Welsh actor who twice married and divorced Elizabeth Taylor. Burton the actor was awarded an MBE in 1970, but was never knighted.

I for one am not going to spend a lot of time lamenting the “good old days,” when reporting was more accurate. Indeed, I am perfectly thrilled to live in an age when each of us can share our thoughts instantly with the whole world. That is the beauty and power of today’s Information Age – anybody can write anything. Unfortunately, that is also the reason why our current epoch might better be called the “Dis-Information” or “Mis-Information” Age – anybody can write anything (and usually will.)

I’m also not going to propose tougher standards on who should be allowed to write, or what erroneous crap they can foist upon the reading public. That horse has left the barn; Pandora’s box has been opened. We will never return to a time (indeed, such a time never existed) when only “responsible” parties can write “the truth.” Along with all the wonderful facts and opinion now available to us at the speed of light will be lies, half-truths, rumors, and innuendo which are equally accessible and – at first glance – perhaps even plausible.

So – if the writing is not going to be censored – how are we going to avoid ever more incidents of false information being disseminated? The answer – we aren’t. Therefore it behooves us as readers to evolve from our “it must be true – I read it somewhere!” mentality, to filtering data and considering its source. (This is going to be a challenge when one of the most accurate news organizations of late is The National Enquirer.) We’ll have to actually evaluate what we are reading and viewing online, and – of necessity – take into account the vast potential of Photoshop in assessing the believability of every picture we see.

In sum, we are going to have to… (dare I say it?) …THINK! (Please excuse the all-caps. I’m not morphing into Kanye West – really.)

We will decide what is correct from data promoted by multiple and conflicting “news” sources. (Has Obama created “millions” of jobs, “thousands” of jobs, or no jobs? Is the globe warming or cooling?) Our future, and that of our children, will depend on how well We The People sort through the noise. And only one thing is certain: it won’t be easy.

Aldous Huxley introduced us to the term, Brave New World. Well Bunky – we’d better be brave! ‘Cause whatever we choose to call this Age (Information, Dis-Information, etc.), it’s not going to be a place for sissies!


The Prickly Issue Of “Overtime”

January 20th, 2010 | Posted in Parties   Comments Off

Cinderella had to leave the ball at midnight. But what if the time comes when your party is scheduled to end, and your guests are having too much fun to quit? What should you do?

Bands, deejays, decor, and even the venue where you hold your event are usually booked by the hour (or in 4-hour blocks.) Overtime may be included in your contracts with them. Thus, if the party is rocking and you don’t want to stop at the appointed hour, you already know how much the additional time is going to cost you. The band plays on, and everybody’s happy.

But what if you haven’t made arrangements in advance, and you wish to continue? What is the right way to handle the issue of overtime? Here are my thoughts:

1. Consult your music provider before they start tearing down. If you stop paying for music at midnight, and haven’t told them otherwise, by 5 minutes after the hour your band may have already unplugged speakers, amps, and instruments and be coiling their cords. It could take 15 long, boring minutes to plug everything back in its rightful place. During that brief period, the energy from your guests that made you want to continue will have dissipated, and the dance floor will be empty. If you are the host (and/or decision maker), it is your responsibility to keep track of the clock and keep the music going – not re-start it after it has already stopped.

2. Offer your band or deejay a specified bonus for staying late. Veteran bands have learned – the “hard way” – that offering to pass the hat among the crowd rarely results in enough money to make it worth the extra time and trouble. Saying “I’ll give you $200 for 15 more minutes” lets everybody know how much they will earn and how long they will have to stay to earn it.

3. Be sure your venue is on board for the overtime. Often, the real hidden cost of overtime comes not from the band, but from venue. Every captain, waiter, bus boy, and bartender also has to be paid. There may be fees from the decor-provider and florist, who have sent crews to pick up the room decorations. And – of course – there is the price of any extra liquor consumed to be factored in. It can get expensive in a hurry.

But there is an alternative to any of these extra costs you might consider. And it is one which should be familiar to every concert-goer. It is the famous “fake exit” all entertainers make, before coming back for their encores. I suggest that instead of hiring your band until midnight (for example), you engage them from 8:15 to 12:15. As midnight approaches, let them announce the “last dance.” If everybody is then ready to go home, then your band gets a 15 minute bonus. But – if the crowd demands more – you have a 15-minute window built into your budget. There will be time for 3 to 5 additional songs. The crowd will leave happy (because they got “extra” dance time), the band will be happy (because they didn’t have to go through the uncertainty and hassles of last-minute negotiations), and you will be happy (because what seems like “extra” time to your guests was already factored into your budget.)


“Priming The Pump” On Your Dance Floor

January 18th, 2010 | Posted in Parties   Comments Off

When you go to the trouble of having a dance floor and band or deejay at your party, you naturally hope that your guests will dance. But hoping alone won’t make it so. A few extra steps may be required.

1. Set the mood. A big dance floor effectively tells your guests that you expect them to dance. Keeping the lighting lower in that area adds to the comfort of those who would like to dance, but don’t want to feel like they are on display.

2. Provide “social lubrication.” Alcohol relaxes inhibitions. Typical guests who have had a glass or two of wine are more likely to venture onto the dance floor than those who are stone cold sober.

3. Play the right tunes. Older guests tend to dance first. Starting out the evening with some of their favorite songs (played at a comfortable volume) will help get things going. Don’t panic if your youngest guests won’t dance until the last hour of the party. They need lots of lubrication.

4. “Prime the pump.” Guests tend to run the spectrum. At one end are those who don’t mind being first on the dance floor, and at the opposite – those who will never in a million years set foot out there. Most of your guests lie somewhere in the middle of these two extremes, and are categorized simply by how many others must be dancing before they will take part. Arranging in advance to have a few couples made up of your key friends dance early and often will lead – in turn – to additional dancers who only need a few other bodies on the floor joining in. Their presence will provide enough cover for the moderately shy to feel safe. And ultimately, a full dance floor will encourage even the most severely inhibited to hide out in the middle of the pack.

5. Play “Follow The Leader.” All parties follow the example of the hosts and guests of honor. If the host and hostess are dancing, friends and family naturally join in. (Conversely – when their hosts sit – guests do too.)

To recap, create a mood that encourages dancing, play what your guests what to hear, and – especially early in the evening – lead by example. And you’ll have a full dance floor all night long!


Making A List, And Checking It Twice

January 13th, 2010 | Posted in Weddings/Receptions   Comments Off

Despite its title, today’s entry has nothing to do with Santa Claus. It’s about wedding receptions, and – specifically – the first big moment of the reception: the introduction of the wedding party.

In some cases, only the bride and groom are announced. But often, everybody from the Flower Girl to the Grandparents of the Bride are introduced by name – and these are names you really want to hear pronounced correctly. If the emcee is your deejay or band leader, he or she may have never met your family. This means you will have to help them master any tricky names, through the list you provide. I recommend phonetic spelling, with accents capitalized. (My name would be DAY-vid TANN-ner, for example.) Your emcee won’t care how the name is really spelled, only how to say it properly.

E-mail the list to your emcee in advance. Have them read the names back to you over the phone. Correct any errors and have them read it again. Also, have Mom or Sis go through the list for any omitted names. (I once introduced an entire wedding party, except for the bride’s parents – whose names were not on my list, and who were standing out in the hall through half of the First Dance. Talk about your “Woops!” moment – the very unhappy Dad still had my check!)

Give a copy of this list to your wedding coordinator (or to whomever is helping you line up for your big entrance.) Be sure everyone is in line, in the same order as their names appear on the list.

A “Woops!” moment probably won’t ruin your entire reception. But a smooth and successful introduction goes a very long way to putting your guests in the right spirit and to lowering your stress level (at least a little.)

To that end, maybe you should check that list three times.


Is It Live? (Or Is It Memorex?)

January 11th, 2010 | Posted in Parties   Comments Off

Years ago, naive concert goers actually thought that the music they were hearing at a “Live! In Person!” event was… “live.” (Silly people.) The discovery that Electric Light Orchestra was “sweetening” – or augmenting – their concert sound with sequenced (pre-recorded) tracks created a minor scandal. But soon, the practice became common, and had the benefit of allowing the Bee Gees, for example, to re-create the multi-tracked vocals of their hit recordings before live audiences.

Nowadays, through a reverse Darwinian process called “De-volution,” arena artists don’t even pretend to be “live.” Britney and Beyonce lip-synch openly, if not so brazenly as Miley Cyrus – whose voice continues to be heard on-stage, even as she changes costumes in her dressing room (replaced by a dance double.)

It was only a matter of time before similar practices were adopted by club and party bands. Which is why today you can hire an all-male trio whose sound includes female voices (along with horns and strings.) Indeed, you can hire groups whose pre-recorded sound is so full, that your “live” musicians seem to be doing little more than just playing along with the track. There’s a name for this “new” form of musical entertainment. And that name is KARAOKE!

Now – if you know what you are hiring and are happy with the sequenced sounds of Milli Vanilli, then that is exactly what you should have. My only complaint is with any band whose demos and promo material fail to make clear what is “real” and what is “reel to reel.” One quartet of my acquaintance advertises their “Phat Trax,” letting potential buyers know that – yes – it is (at least partially) Memorex. But another track-using local band’s website simply refers to their “big sound,” and I find that deceptive.

If this trend continues to its logical conclusion, ever fewer live band members will show up. Soon, the music will all be canned. And there’s a name for that form of party entertainment, too: it’s called a DEEJAY!


Happy Birthday Elvis (And Thank Yew – Thank Yew Vurrah Much!!!)

January 6th, 2010 | Posted in Soapbox   Comments Off

This Friday (January 8th) marks the Diamond Jubilee of Elvis Presley’s birth. He would have been 75, which is the age his arteries and heart already were when he died at 42 from all those fried banana sandwiches, uppers, downers, and laxatives.

There are so many bad Elvis impersonators (85,000 according to one report – of which about 3 are really good), and so many bad Elvis movies re-running constantly on TV (he made 31 as an actor – of which ditto), that it is easy to forget how wonderful he could be – especially in concert.

I had the opportunity to see Elvis perform 3 times, and it was a show like no other before or since. Yes, some of his most beautiful and simple songs suffered from over-produced arrangements (I especially grieved at the elephantiasis wreaked upon the hauntingly lovely “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You”), and he occasionally lapsed into self-parody with his early rock hits like “Hound Dog,” but over all, it was magic.

Much has been written since Elvis “left the building” in 1977 about his dark side. And yes, he was definitely given to excess. But as I’ve mentioned before in this column, I think what really killed him was the fact that – like his son-in-law Michael Jackson – nobody had the guts to say “no” to him. The hangers-on of his “Memphis Mafia,” his drug-dispensing doctors, his manager, and even his own father failed to utter the one word that might have saved his life.

It’s a shame. The King of Rock and Roll deserved better. The straight-from-the-heart singer who gave us “Love Me Tender,” “Loving You,” “Crying In The Chapel,” and “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” deserved better. The poor boy from Tupelo who defined a decade’s Pop Music in a way that few (Sinatra, The Beatles) ever will certainly deserved better. For all the joy he gave to millions, he had earned happiness and peace.

I hope he’s found it now. I hope he can hear his fans say back to him those words that were such a big part of every concert appearance:

“Thank you,” Elvis. “You’re beautiful.” “Thank you very much!”


“When The Going Gets Tough…”

January 4th, 2010 | Posted in Parties   Comments Off

Gen. George S. Patton used to say, “When in doubt – ATTACK!”

Closer to home (and to my chosen career) Country Music host Johnnie High told me 15 years ago, “When making a change, UPGRADE!” My band at that time had been a 5-piece group in which everybody sang, allowing us to have some of the hippest harmonies in town. When we lost one of our 2 female vocalists, Johnnie gave me advice that I heeded. Since we still had 4 good singers, I added 2 horns – a sax and trumpet. Suddenly, we were much more than just a vocal band. We had an instrumental fullness that was entirely new (and very marketable.)

But now, it is time for more changes. Wall Street may have recouped its recent financial losses, but the party business – like many others – has not experienced a similar recovery. A number of good bands, including two that I recommended often, have folded. So, how are we surviving? By attacking and upgrading, of course!

While other groups are re-trenching, we have expanded our variety band to include a 9-member option, the biggest group I’ve ever worked with. Because of the current popularity of Swing dance music, we’ve also begun promoting “The Swing Set,” our Jitterbug-Push ensemble. For Baby Boomers like me who treasure the music of those “glory days,” our “Classix Gold” show and dance unit spotlights the music of the 60s and 70s. We’re even upgrading our venerable Country incarnation. Because there are so many C&W groups around, we’ve chosen to focus on Texas music, and thus also include Buddy Holly with our George Strait hits.

I’m happy to report that these changes are being well received, by dancers and party professionals alike (some of whom probably thought we were overdue for a make-over.)

So, if your business, special event, or worthy organization is still lagging behind your goals during these sluggish economic times, let me suggest that you too heed Johnnie High and George Patton’s advice. If nothing else, it will help you stand out from the crowd.

It’s also good to remember another of Gen. Patton’s maxims for success: “Lead, follow, or get out of the way!”


The Father-Of-The-Bride

November 2nd, 2009 | Posted in Weddings/Receptions   Comments Off

A bride’s dad once told me that he only had 3 duties: 1. Show up, 2. Pay up, and 3. Shut up.

Now that’s a smart fellow!

Technically, he is also the nominal host of the wedding reception. But – if he knows what’s good for him – he won’t assume that such a title actually gives him any real authority.

He will know that, in the real world, the bride and her mom are the true key players. Most dads are relegated to providing emotional support (they tend to say “Yes, Dear” and “Whatever you think, Dear” a lot). They also are expected (under Provision 2 in the first paragraph) to dig deeply into what would have been their children’s inheritance, as the budget for the ceremony and reception approach – and often pass – the price of a medium-sized condominium. (Meanwhile, under Provision 3, they will have to also pretend not to notice that the king’s ransom they are spending (a.) comes with no guarantee – unlike the condo – and (b.) will be consumed by the wedding and reception at a rate – give or take – of $10,000 per hour.)

Because Dads adore their precious daughters so much, they are – as a rule – able to handle these jobs with remarkable aplomb. What really kills them is having to give their daughter’s hand in marriage to some scruffy (or altogether too slick) guy who will never in a million years deserve her.

And it is for handling this supreme sacrifice with a minimum of grouchiness and a maximum of grace, that old Dad deserves more kudos than he will ever get.

So brides, I know you’re busy. And I know you have a 1001 things on your minds. But – amid all that – be sure you remember that otherwise “forgotten” man of the nuptial process: your long-suffering (and usually – quietly suffering) Number One fan and first man in your life, your Dad.