Live music is not only an integral part of Grind+Grape, it is perhaps the foundation of the establishment itself. While for most places, live music remains something kept for “special occasions” or on the weekends, G+G has live music every day of the week.
For this blog post we wanted to talk to a few people who make G+G’s music possible. First and foremost we spoke to one of the owners, Barbara. Everyone working at G+G knows that Barbara bends over backwards and gives most of her time to her business.
(Q) Why is live music so important and why is it so important to have it every night?
(A) I felt from the moment we opened that music would be the cornerstone of our business. Having music every night leaves so much room for variety, whether it be a solo artist or an 18-piece orchestra.
(Q) Have you always been a music lover and when did you know you wanted to incorporate music into your business?
(A) We all knew right away that music was going to be a big part of G+G. And yes, music was always playing in my house growing up.
(Q) Do you think G+G brings Vero Beach closer together as a community and if so why is that important?
(A) Absolutely. It’s everyone’s place to go. There are weddings, proposals, class reunions, etc. It’s centrally located and appeals to the young and old. A couple just had their 65th anniversary here. It was so special to see. The heart of a community is connection and music helps that through evoking memories and bringing people together. That’s the beauty of music.
Next, we wanted to look behind the scenes at what goes on when it comes to choosing the music. G+G’s booking manager, Robby, helped us understand the process a little more.
(Q) What do you look for when booking bands?
(A) Professionalism is always important when a band reaches out. Their online aesthetic, quality music videos, and honesty are crucial. G+G also wants to see people who stand out. “What separates your music from the next band that reaches out”.
(Q) What are some of the most important qualities a live band should have when it comes to their performance?
(A) Again, professionalism is a key factor. Being on time and responsible promotion of the show make it clear that the band takes working with G+G seriously. When it comes to the live music itself, the quality of music and relatable sets are two very important details. You have to generate your set and flow based off of crowd interaction. When people are dancing and enjoying the music, don’t stop. Base your song selection off the energy of the night. Read the crowd.
(Q) Vero Beach is a very diverse town when it comes to age groups. Do you take that into consideration when booking bands and do you think the music is something that distinguishes one age group from another or do you think it’s something that brings them all together?
(A) A diverse crowd is always going to be at G+G and if the music is quality it will bring people together no matter what. But, it’s also a band’s responsibility to keep their sets diverse for the variety of people that show up.
Last but not least we spoke to Al Shikaly, who has been playing at G+G for over 3 years and performs there at least once a week. Al began playing music at 8 years old and has spent 58 years of his life dedicated to the craft. His first instrument was clarinet and he has branched out into many different genres such as Jazz, R&B, Latin, Reggae, Blues, and more. He was taught clarinet by a Juilliard graduate and went on to receive scholarships to Berkley College of Music in California. Needless to say, Grind+Grape feels privileged to have Al play so often.
We asked which genres were Al’s favorite and his response was that he enjoys keeping his sets eclectic and diverse. He enjoys all the genres he plays including his weekly Wednesday Jazz and R&B performances with his music partner, Bobby.
“We are trying to make old new again” was something Al said when talking about keeping Jazz alive, saying “musicians have a tendency to reflect on current events and that causes a lot of repetition. I try to select material that no one else plays”.
In G+G’s opinion, Al has above and beyond reached that goal with his sets being one of the customer’s all time favorites. And, in a sense, G+G also wishes to do what no one else is doing. We want music to be accessible, diverse, and a way to bring attention to local musicians and local music fans. Music is not a side thought to G+G and we intend to keep it that way.