Like many corporate event vendors, Mike Petrone had his doubts about working the Republican National Convention. “We were in contact with other bands and band leaders heading into the convention,” Petrone says, “and many of them were just not interested in dealing with the headaches associated with performing at these events and decided to sit it out. And to be honest, there were moments in the days before the convention started when we wondered if we had made the right decision.” That decision had been to play. And by the end of the convention, Petrone was glad he had. “If you are asked to perform for visitors, delegates, and dignitaries to a city known for its Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, you must certainly be prepared to bring your ‘A’ game to the table,” Petrone says. “It was going to be a test of our skills, and we, just like Cleveland in 2016, would rise to the occasion.” Three RNC gigs wound up standing out — one at Pickwick and Frolic on the first day of the convention and two at Cleveland Public Library and then Pura Vida on Thursday of convention week. All three events would require different styles of music (Rat Pack, rock and roll, and instrumental jazz). “Thankfully our repertoire is beyond versatile so we are prepared for whatever comes our way,” Petrone says. Dealing with the logistics of the RNC was a bit more difficult. “Many of the things we normally could rely upon were suddenly in flux. We were dealing with several out-of-state entities, high levels of security, and the spectrum of the unforeseen — protests, bomb threats, and access to venues that was limited and could change at any time,” Petrone says. “The bottom line for everyone associated with these events — police, security, event planners, media, guests – was that no one knew exactly what was going to happen. That was both the challenge and the excitement.”
Runners-up: Burning River Entertainment; Raise the Roof; Rick Smith Jr.; Rock The House.
2016 — Mike Petrone Band
2015 — Rock The House
2014 — The Magic of Rick Smith Jr.
2013 — The Magic of Rick Smith Jr.
2012 — The Magic of Rick Smith Jr.
2011 — Rock The House
2010 — (no award)
2009 — Rock The House
2008 — KJ Blues
2007 — Shout!