Will toe-tapping banjo and fiddle riffs ruffle feathers at a business party? Maybe – if you’re lucky. Bluegrass is absolute fun and a universal crowd pleaser.
The corporate event planner sometimes has to go way out on a limb when selecting musical entertainment. What will be “just right” for the occasion? What genre is “in” with the attendees – or, should you surprise them with something unexpected?
In all likelihood the music will be accompanying the most fun part of the event. If it follows a day of meetings and workshops, you definitely want to lighten the mood. If the event is a meal or cocktail event, the entertainment should provide a festive background without overwhelming the occasion. And, it should be age-appropriate.
Consider a Southern California bluegrass band for your next corporate event. Yes, bluegrass, the folky-but-not-folk music that comes out of the heart of Appalachia. Even if the event is in the hippest venues of Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Miami, Atlanta or Boston. (If you were in Nashville or Memphis, it would be a no-brainer; those music cities know the complete repertoires of Doc Watson, Leo Kottke, and Paige Anderson & Fearless Kin.)
It’s toe-tapping music. It’s lively, it’s authentic, and the lyrics tell a story that just about anyone can relate to the first time they hear it. The fiddle and banjo intro to most numbers lays it out there: get ready to bounce in your seat or dance on the floor. Believe it or not, one can even find a bluegrass wedding band in most mid- to large cities.
In case you’re concerned how younger and sophisticated attendees (Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z) will respond, worry less. Some evidence to support your case with HR when laying out your plans to hire a bluegrass band for the next event includes:
- Two bluegrass performers have made it to the final rounds on American Idol (Alex Miller in 2021, and banjoist Ellen Peterson in 2015).
- Taylor Swift’s music got a bluegrass tribute CD from the bluegrass group Pickin ‘n Singing in 2008, demonstrating the easy translation of her country hits to the genre. It was a best seller.
- Bluegrass festivals abound – hundreds throughout the US (and even in Europe), from Florida to Washington, California to Massachusetts.
People who are trained in classic violins very often love the challenge of playing the bluegrass fiddle – which is essentially the same instrument with different rules, demanding precision, and an ability to share the stage as the music shifts from fiddle to banjo to bass fiddle to mandolin, guitar, and dobro guitar (jugs aren’t as common as they once were).
While bluegrass entered widespread play on radio stations across the country after World War II, other genres (rock, country, hip hop, etc.) supplanted it. But it never went away, never reached anything representing oversaturation – and it endures, adapting to changing mores and culture. It once had a decidedly religious underpinning; today, it’s diverse and more reflective of the broader culture, exploring themes of love and heartbreak, hard work and happy living.
You might be the first in your corporate event planning team to bring in a bluegrass band. But if you do, you probably won’t be the last. People always remember when they have a great time.