Dennis playing solo at Glenora

7 Gigs in 7 Days: A Week in the Life of a Musician

I am very grateful and fortunate to be a musician. This time of year is so wonderful in Ithaca and throughout the Finger Lakes Region, where the days are long, the weather is warm, and activity blooms. It’s a joy to contribute to people’s celebrations with live music.

I also appreciate the variety of gigs I get to perform, from solo acts to quartet performances, spanning genres and instrumentation. This past week was a whirlwind of seven gigs over seven days, from Thursday to the following Wednesday, with a double-header on Saturday. Each gig was unique and showcased different aspects of my musical journey. Here’s a breakdown of each day:


Thursday: Jazz Bass

Thursday evening, I played bass at Brew Ardennes in Geneva with some friends from out ofDennis playing bass on jazz gig town. I hadn’t played a bass gig in years, so I was a bit apprehensive. However, I practiced for about 20 minutes a day leading up to the gig, and it went great!  Here is a video clip of my solo on “Girl from Ipanema.”

Playing bass reminded me of the power and influence that the bass player’s role has on an ensemble. It’s crucial to listen first and play second, to prioritize rhythm and feel, and to make simple, compelling melodic statements with plenty of space. It was also fun to hear the guitarist, Bruce Arnold, stretch out on familiar standards. Janelle Bradshaw, whom I wrote about in my blog on the Geneva Jazz Fest, sat in with us on trumpet. It was a night to remember.


Friday: “Proud to Be an American”

Dennis Singing at Private PartyFriday night, I played a private party near Utica, NY. When I arrived, the party was already in full swing with guests enjoying a large buffet. I started with a Sinatra song and then passed around my repertoire list for requests. The guests were so animated that they called out requests not on the list! With a repertoire of about 300 songs, it wasn’t hard to find something for everyone. I performed “God Bless the U.S.A.” for the first time in honor of the many veterans in attendance, which went well and will now be part of my senior repertoire. The crowd sang along to classics like “Shine on Harvest Moon” and “Camptown Races.” The night ended with a heartfelt rendition of “Over the Rainbow,” a video clip of which is here.

Saturday Morning:  Beautiful Memorial Service

Saturday morning started early. I packed my car for the day ahead, taught Guitar Lessons Ithaca classes from 9 to noon, and left at 1 p.m. for a memorial service in Van Etten. I accompanied a vocalist friend who wrote a beautiful song called “Beauty” for her lost friend. The service was held at a cidery where I had played a memorial service the previous year. It was nice to reconnect with some familiar faces. The song “Beauty” was well received, and it was an honor to be part of such a heartfelt tribute.


Saturday Evening: Birthday Party for a Jazz Lover

After the memorial service, I headed to a private birthday party for a 90-year-old jazzDennis' Dixieland Jazz Band playing private party enthusiast. I booked an upright bass, sax, and trumpet, as the birthday boy had been a jazz trumpeter himself. We played classic Dixieland tunes like “Ice Cream,” (a video clip of which is here) “Saint James Infirmary,” and “When the Saints Go Marching In.” The collective improvisation, where everyone solos simultaneously, was a bit challenging but incredibly fun. The birthday boy was thrilled, and his family was very grateful. I received a glowing review from his son on Google.  It’s a privilege to make great music with talented musicians and enhance special occasions, making people super happy. Plus, I got to bring home cake for my wife two nights in a row! 🙂


Sunday: Solo Wedding at Glenora

On Sunday, after a relaxing morning with my family, I played a wedding ceremony and cocktail hour at Glenora Winery. The view from the deck and the ceremony area overlooking Seneca Lake israinbow at Glenora Winery breathtaking. Initially, it rained, so I set up on the deck for both the ceremony and cocktail hour. Despite the unpredictable weather, the gig went smoothly. The sun eventually came out, allowing the couple to get some beautiful photos, including one in front of a rainbow.

I arrived almost two hours early, intending to set up and meditate. However, with the weather constantly changing, I stayed on my feet the entire time. The ceremony had a mash-up of Pachelbel’s Canon and “500 Miles” by The Proclaimers for the bridal processional and “All You Need is Love” for the recessional (a short video of which can be seen here). The couple gave me a thoughtful handwritten thank-you card, which was very rewarding.

This is the client’s review: “Dennis was PHENOMENAL. Everyone loved his playing, and he really kept the “vibe” going. He learned and played our first dance and performed it better than the original artist! We could not be happier.”


Tuesday: Jazz Duo in Geneva

On Tuesday evening, I made two new friends: Seth Sealfon and Julie Ketchum. Seth is a guitarist and the bandleader of Uptown Groove, a popular wedding band in Rochester, while Julie is a vocalist in the band. We2 guitarists and vocalist at Geneva on the Lake played together at the beautiful Geneva on the Lake, a venue where I have performed several times before. I will be publishing a blog post about it soon.

Initially, I thought the gig would be instrumental duets with Seth. However, when he asked if his singer friend could join us, I agreed. After sharing my repertoire page with Seth, he noted a significant overlap with both his and Julie’s song lists. He created a list of common songs, which included many jazz standards and rock classics. We performed jazz standards such as “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” “Take Five,” (a video for which is here) and “Like Someone in Love.” We also played rock classics like “Landslide,” “Sir Duke,” and “Here Comes the Sun.”

The audience was very appreciative, and many of them left generous tips. Julie’s vocals were impressive, adding to the overall enjoyment of the evening. It was a delightful experience where I didn’t have to lead and call the tunes; I was able to relax and enjoy making music with two very accomplished musicians.


Thursday: Double-header in Horseheads

Dennis singing and playing guitar at Bethany Retirement HomeYes this gig really took place today, Thursday, because 2 days ago the client called me to see if we could push it back one day and I was going to say “no I’ve already written most of the blog called ‘7 Gigs in 7 Days.'”  Of course I’m kidding, but I didn’t want to re-title the blog as “7 gigs in 8 days” either.  🙂  In the end I am glad it took place today because yesterday I was ‘knackered’ or ‘shattered’ as they say in England.  I got a good night’s sleep last night and I feel great today, and I’m about to start 5 hours of teaching.

In any case, the gig was super fun.  It was actually two back-to-back parties in the same location for Seniors at Bethany Retirement Home in Horseheads.  I did a few selfie videos and here is one of them.  It was my first time at Bethany and I got lots of nice feedback.  Nice, fun, easy gig; a great way to wrap up the 8-day week. 🙂



This whirlwind week of gigs reminded me of how fortunate I am to be a musician. Each event was unique, offering different musical experiences and opportunities to connect with people through the power of live music. From private parties to memorial services and weddings, it’s an honor to be part of such special moments in people’s lives. Here’s to many more weeks of music and joy in the beautiful Finger Lakes region!

If you are planning an event and want live music, book a free music consultation with me or contact me through the contact page for more information.