Music-booking Business Creates Some Performances of Note
The strains of a new party-planning trend are being heard locally, as one area musician pairs creativity with commerce to offer a unique, intimate addition to any gathering.
Charlie Apicella, owner of CArlo Music Management based in Amherst, a live-music booking service that specializes in providing unique jazz and classical ensembles, has been a musician since childhood, as well as a performer. After completing his degree in Arts and Administration at UMass Amherst, Apicella put his musical skills to work in a number of music- and culture-based jobs, among them assisting with the management of the UMass ‘Jazz in July’ workshop and the Litchfield Jazz Festival in Connecticut.
But two years ago, he moved on to start his own venture, and said creating a business to serve as an outlet for his talents and those of several other area musicians has helped him cultivate a creative career and fill a niche in the entertainment scene, particularly during the holidays. But on a grander scale, Apicella, a jazz guitarist, said he also feels he’s resurrecting an important piece of American culture and introducing it to new audiences.
“I love jazz,” he said. “We need to go back to the time when there was more of a community for musicians, and we sadly are lacking that today. The environment I would like to help create is a partnership between the venue and the musicians.”
To that end, Apicella has begun to develop relationships with a number of local restaurants and businesses, providing music for events such as holiday celebrations and themed dinners, and tailoring programs to fit those themes.
Apicella performed recently at Yankee Candle in South Deerfield, for instance, as part of a trio put together solely for the event, a Veteran’s Day observance.
“We performed Dixieland, swing, and patriotic melodies for the people while they were shopping,” he said, noting that the performance was well-received, and is indicative of the personal touch music can lend to any event.
“It was really nice to see some older gentlemen in their military uniforms,” he said. “People were filled with pride, were very responsive to the Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong selections we played, and were noticeably touched when our trumpet player did his solo rendition of ‘America.’”
Apicella was also called upon to provide entertainment for Thanksgiving at the Delaney House, and said he worked to provide something both intimate and original for diners.
“I put myself with a violinist and trumpet player,” he said. “We performed in duo and solo formats and moved around among the tables to interact with the guests, and gave them something special to remember for the holiday.”
Apicella said bookings are moving briskly as he continues to develop entertainment packages for venues such as Del Raye in Northampton and Night Kitchen in Montague, and to book holiday parties throughout November, December, and January. That’s due in part to the way Apicella said he manages his musicians and his business — with a strong focus on professionalism and customer service.
He explained further that the music he provides adds a new layer to events, by complementing the ambience a restaurant strives to achieve.
“Wine dinners are meant to highlight the food and wine of a certain country or region,” he offered as an example. “I also do a lot of private parties for people, often at their homes. The versatility of music I can offer for such events is what I feel sets CArlo Music apart.”
Those styles include Latin jazz, tangos, bossa nova, Italian folk songs, light classical (particularly of France and Eastern Europe), and Dixieland jazz (especially of New Orleans and Kansas City). Apicella also manages three specific groups: Cidade, which provides tango and Latin jazz music; the Rhythm Kings, which performs ragtime and early jazz; and Iron City, a jazz groove ensemble. He also books performances in other styles in tandem with partnering musicians, such as string quartets and classical groups.
And while Apicella said his business can provide entertainment to venues across the Northeast, he plans to maintain a strong presence locally.
“The Pioneer Valley has been very good to me, and business is steady,” he said. “I feel very good when I am asked to do special events, and to put together something nice for a large audience.
“My philosophy is that I can help hosts exceed the expectations of their guests,” he concluded. “This is the obvious outcome when you offer music you are passionate about, in a way that is entertaining and engaging for the audience.”