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How to beat the system

Audience contact, communication and rapport are the live entertainers’ secret weapon.

Awhile back at Alcantara Vineyards and Winery, at their annual Zinfest celebration, we were facing cliff dwellings of the ancient Sinagua across the Verde River where Oak Creek joins. In the foreground we saw acres of grapevines, green and leafy and shimmering in the mid-day sun. Playing outdoors there was banjo, acoustic bass, 12-string guitar and harmony ringing out on a glorious afternoon breeze.

But the audience connection awaited. So, to announce the next song, other than just saying “from the Eagles”, I posed a competition. The first person to sight an eagle, who brings two eye witnesses, and produces a notarized document affirming such, wins a Thunder & Lightnin’ (noise from up the holler) CD of 14 original tunes. Then, “And now, from the Eagles”.

There were not a lot of takers, but there were plenty of smiles and laughs to make the whole thing worthwhile. With the trio still on stage a few tunes later, a young man in his 20’s approaches, claiming verifiable truth in the assertion that he has sighted an eagle. I was drawn to the screen of his Galaxy 8, on which I was shown drone recorded video footage of the entire 68 acre vineyards at Alcantara.

Bottom line: Verified eagle sighting. We waived the two witness requirement, ignored the notary document and awarded the videographer (who was engaged to video the event), his Thunder & Lightnin’ (noise from up the holler) CD.

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