Playing Intimate Gatherings

I love playing private events with just guitar and voice.  Intimacy, aside from its other connotations, is the only word that accurately describes what makes it magical for me and for guests & host of the party.

Private events are cherished moments that bring together friends, family, and loved ones for specific celebrations. To create an ambiance that touches the heart and soul, I carefully curate musical moments that can make all the difference.  This can be done in a lot of ways and varies from party to party, but here are some of my favorites.


When I play a private party, I almost always circulate my song list for guests to choose their favorites from.   The result is that a wide group of people with varying tastes will all hear songs they love, and that people tend to sing along and bond together.  Group singing is actually a very therapeutic activity that goes back to ancient times.  Here is a video that shows a bit of group singing on “Piano Man” by Billy Joel.


Most of the time I’ll set up a second mic for guests to use and sing along with.  Even during Covid I did this at a safe distance, as shown in this video.  Look how happy they are singing together.  In modern times, we don’t get opportunities to do this like we used to, singing together around a piano or a campfire.

Sometimes people bring up their phones and look at the lyrics and sing karaoke-sytle as in this video.  Sometimes they even do group dances such as this family party in Syracuse where they all danced around in a circle.


I was going to say ‘naked’ but that’s a very poor choice of words given that we’re trying to set the stage for musical ‘intimacy.’ 🙂  What I mean by ‘raw’ is that I used to bring a looper pedal (and I still bring a harmonizer pedal) to play the rhythm track while I could embellish on top of it, but using a looper can be restrictive and it’s, again, more intimate, to just have 6 strings and voice.  Unlike piano where you can play the accompaniment in one hand and the improvised melody in the other, on guitar it’s more challenging to play solo sections without the looper, but not only do I enjoy the challenge, but it keeps me ‘mellow,’ as in, I’m not as tempted to over-strum or over-play as I am with a looper.

The Power of the Melodies
The Who has a song that says “It’s the singer, not the song, that makes the music move along.” I really don’t even think it’s really about me at all when I play a party.  It’s about the songs. I love to see people’s lips moving to the songs I sing.  Even if the party is on the mellow side, where no one is up at the mic and there’s no conga line, you can feel that the songs themselves are enough to bind the group.  Sure, having a live musician is much better than playing the same songs on the radio, but I disagree with The Who here as I think it’s really about the songs themselves.
There’s an emotional quality to the songs, and the stripped-down guitar-and-voice format helps deliver them more potently.  The most important effects of all this on the host and guests is what can only be described as joy, love, and togetherness.  No doubt about that being a musician who can touch people this way is an amazing occupation!

If you are planning an event you want to explore your options for live music, book a free music consultation with me or simply write to me on the contact page.