California Dreamin’: Marcello Consults With Bay Area Entertainment Powerhouse: Denon & Doyle

Note to self: The next time you fly across the country or anywhere for that matter, make sure you are not seated in the back of the plane near the bathrooms. In addition to the constant NHL-worthy elbows being thrown your way, there’s quite an aroma coming from those little window-less depositories. Fortunately, Dawn Dubois, the District Manager from Rodney Strong Wine Estates was seated across the aisle.   Dawn’s ability to laugh at and make a challenging situation fun actually made the flight enjoyable.

Dan Ohrman, Denon and Doyle's General Manager

Upon arrival to San Fransisco, I met up with my good friend, Dan Ohrman, General Manager of Denon & Doyle.  Dan and his family treated me to a day at the Wharf so I could do the “touristy thing.”  If you’ve never been there, these were the highlights; 1) eating a bucket of Dungeness crabs next to the window at Joe’s so you can watch the Bushman “spread joy” and scare the heck out of unsuspecting tourists,   2) driving down ‘the long and windy road’ aka Lombard Street,  3) seeing Alcatraz, 4) checking out all the street performers, and 5) Ghirardelli Chocolates (soooo good that the line was two blocks long).

Mount Diablo

After a good night’s sleep, Dan took me and one of D&D’s most requested Emcee’s, Partick McMichael, hiking up Mount DiabloNot only was it a beautiful hike and an awesome workout, I felt like a 5th grader on the ultimate field trip. At the top of the mountain, you can visit the Mount Diablo State Park Summit Museum.   Beyond offering one of the finest views in the world, it also has interactive demos that describe the native American history of the region and a diorama that plays native sounds and offers an overview of the park’s ecosystems.  The perfect “80 degrees and sunny” weather made the experience that much better.

Marcello advises D&D Emcee, JT, on how to handle challenging consultations

By Tuesday night, it was time to get to work.  🙂  Over the past few years, Dan has taken Denon and Doyle, which is known primarily by value-seeking brides as the go-to wedding entertainment company, to being a dominant force on the Bay Area’s Bar Mitzvah scene. Dan arranged for me to present an interactive  seminar to some of the D&D djs, emcees and dancers.  I moderated a round table q&a about typical challenges you face as an event director,  offered a few techniques on how to elevate the customer relationship management level before the celebration and then demonstrated three of the most effective interactive audience participation routines that my company, MMP, is currently offering it’s clients here on the east coast.

The 2010 DJ of the Year Competitors (from left) Mark Addington, Chris "Cowboy" Mowery, Abra, Marcello Pedalino (Judge), Patrick McMichael, Dan Ohrman (Judge), AJ Rogers, Solomon Dauber & Jon Higgins

It was one of the nicest ‘venues’ I’ve ever presented in.  It was poolside at Brian & Sue Doyle’s magnificent home.   Their house was the first I’ve ever been to that had a real peach tree in the yard. Brian, Denon and Doyle’s founder, said that the tree only produces California-quality peaches for one week every year…  and guess who had perfect timing for the 2010 season?  (Honestly, it was the best peach I’ve ever had.)   After the presentation, Brian, Dan and I discussed the importance of starting off a Bar Mitzvah effectively with the the necessary interactive cocktail hour entertainment. When your guests are entertained by and enjoy the opening act, that enthusiasm and momentum carries over to the main event and stacks the deck in your favor for an unforgettable celebration.

Dj of the Year Cameron Chatterton (left), the Rockstar Dancers and Emcee of the Year Patrick McMichael (Right)

Wednesday night was the highly anticipated 4th annual D&D DJ of the Year competition.  I can tell you as a former winner and current judge of the national competition held in Atlantic City every year, Dan and the crew from Denon and Doyle definitely know how to produce a first class show! From the LED uplighting and staging to the lazer light show and special effects on surround trussing, the audio/visual ambiance really took the competitors adrenaline level through the roof.   D&D gave out awards for the Best Dance, Best Game, Best Shtick, Dancer of the Year, DJ of the Year, and Emcee of the Year.

I was really impressed by the level of camaraderie as well as the level of talent. All of the competitors supported each others’ performances throughout the night.

Each of the D&D Emcees assembled a select crew of performers to be on their team and even came up with customized names and logos!  Kudos to everyone that participated and congratulations to the winners:

Ashley Castro (left) and the Rockstars

Mark Addington (right) and the PuppetMasters

Solomon Dauber (middle) and the Masterminds

Best Dance: Solomon Dauber and the Mastermindz– Get Down Tonight

Best Game: Solomon Dauber and the Mastermindz-Picture This

Best Shtick: Mark Addington and the PuppetMasters– Dancefloor Volleyball 

Dancer of the Year: Ashley Castro from the Rockstars

DJ of the Year: Cameron Chatterton from the Rockstars

Emcee of the Year: Patrick McMichael from the Rockstars

Competition Judges (from left) Lisa Feldman, Marcello Pedalino & Dan Ohrman

On a side note, I sat at the judging table with Dan and renowned Event Designer, Lisa Feldman.  She is one of most highly sought-after celebration specialists on the west coast.  Not only was it a pleasure getting to meet her, she shared a story with me that really struck a cord.  As usual, the topic of health and wellness came up during our initial small talk.  Lisa, who has run several marathons, mentioned that she just recently ran another one a few weeks back.  But she only signed up for it the day before!   For those that don’t know, you have to be in ridiculously good shape to just decide to run 26.2 miles tomorrow. Anywho, Lisa ran it to help out a friend who was running  her first marathon.  Lisa normally finishes in the incredible 3 and1/2 hour time frame.  For this race, she stuck with her friend, who was having a tough day, and finished together in 5 and 1/2 hours.   You know you found a good friend when they’ll stick with you through the good times and through the challenges. Kudos to you, Lisa!   This running quote came to mind…

“You’re running on guts. On fumes. Your muscles twitch. You throw up. You’re delirious. But you keep running because there’s no way out of this hell you’re in, because there’s no way you’re not crossing the finish line. It’s a misery that non-runners don’t understand.” -Martine Costello

Dan with his daughter, Madison, enjoying the crowd's favorite prop of the night. "The Rockstar Throne." Design and production by Patrick McMichael

The day after the competition, Dan and I went for a nice little run up Brionnes. You know life is good when a great run is literally right outside your door. (The State Park entrance is right up the street from his house).   There were times when we were running along the scenic trails under the blue sky and warm yellow sun when it felt like we could have been filming the next commercial for Nike sneakers or something.

Ms. High Octane, Julie Fink, from Nike

Speaking of Nike, later in the afternoon, Dan took me to the UFC gym to take a “High Octane” circuit training class with Nike’s own, Julie Fink .  It was both an incredible and humbling experience. Julie is the real deal.   She is gorgeous and can kick your ass!  We were doing various 30 to 90 second station challenges that didn’t allow for any weak body parts to be pampered or protected from an ego adjustment. *90 seconds of pushups, tricep dips or burpees sounds a lot more manageable than it actually is.  Trust me.

On Wednesday night, Brian graciously sent Dan and I to Flemings Steak House to debrief on the competition’s production, to do an overall evaluation of Denon & Doyle’s day-to-day business culture and to give specific performance evaluations for three of the company’s top performers. Based on the initial responses, I think my critiques and suggestions were well received and accepted with merit.

Back in 1984, D&D Founder, Brian Doyle, started the company with one sound system and an old bread truck. Currently, Denon and Doyle has 95 employees, performs at 1300 events per year and has annual sales of 2.2 million.

In my opinion, the reason why Denon and Doyle is so successful is because of three things; the founder of the company puts the right people in the right place, the general manager genuinely cares about his team’s continuing education and well being, and the D&D team really cares about their clients and their professional craft.

That’s a pretty rare combination these days.

Special thanks to Brian, Sue, Dan and the entire D&D crew for their courteous hospitality and friendship.

I wish the Denon and Doyle family continued success, health and happiness. -mp

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