I get a lot of questions about what goes on behind the scenes with the artists I work for, and sometimes I can talk about it and sometimes, due to non-disclosure agreements I have to sign, I canít. A Keyboard reader asked me recently about what an artist like Mariah Carey does on New Years Eve and I can talk about that so here goes!

I put in my years playing in club bands on New Years Eve for the ìone night a year drunksî that go completely nuts and honestly I am glad to be out of that scene. Because of that, if I have a New Years Eve off I usually stay home and avoid the drunken revelers. Iíve been told that makes me look ìjadedî by more than a few people,, but thatís just not my idea of a good time.

Some of the most fun I had on New Years Eve was playing with Earth Wind & Fire. We did three years in Las Vegas, two at Caesars Palace, and one at the MGM Grand Arena. We were done with the shows before midnight so we had a chance to party or not at midnight. One year we taped a couple songs at the Rio before our Caesars Palace show for VH1. At the Rio instead of dropping the glittery ball like they do in Time Square at Midnight they dropped a car from about 100 feet in the air and destroyed in on TVÖ VegasÖ.

A couple years ago Mariah performed in Times Square on New Years Eve. It was incredibly cold and windy but of course she wears what she wears which isnít much, so it was interesting to say the least. The security in Time Square is really oppressive. You have to go through metal detectors to get anywhere, and if you get a spot in the crowd to watch the show you canít leave for any reason or they wonít let you back in. I donít understand how or why anyone would spend hours in the cold without being able to go to the bathroom or anything else, but they do. Yeah I know, Iím jadedÖ what do I know about ìfunî?

I was indoors at the TV studio doing my thing staying warm! Since it is that cold and itís a live TV show most artists pre-record the music but will sing live. Itís not ìcheatingî it just makes senseÖ Have you ever played outdoors in that kind of weather? I did a couple times and itís really hard to keep the fingers moving after a few minutes, and guitars will not stay in tune in those conditions.

This year we did a show in St Barths in the Netherlands Antilles in the Caribbean so that was a welcome change for sure. The only problem was there was no time for anything but traveling and working! We did two days of rehearsal in Miami at SIR, then flew to St Barths and did the show. I spent four days in beautiful weather and never even got to stick my foot in the water.

Getting to St Barths requires flying to St Maarten, then getting into a boat for the 40 minute ride to St Barths. The boat my wife and I got into for the trip over was a speedboat and we made the bone jarringly fast trip in about 20 minutes. I think the boat driver enjoyed watching us hold onto the boat for dear life and spill the beers they gave us for the trip all over the place. Big funÖ.

We played at a very small club right on the water for a very elite rich group of 200 people on a stage that wouldíve been small for a bar band. During sound check the band and background singers got attacked by mosquitoes and other flying insects, luckily during the show it wasnít that bad. The ceiling was only seven feet tall so there was very little lighting, and to top it off there was a column right in the middle of the stage that Mariah and the two dancers had to navigate around, not your typical setting for a Mariah Carey show.

In the audience there were celebrities like Jayzee, Beyonce, LA Reid, and many others so there was quite a bit of pressure to make this as good as possible considering the conditions. The show had to end precisely at 11:59 and 30 seconds so that they could count down to a very elaborate fireworks display that went off at midnight. While the fireworks were going off I had to quickly pack my stuff and get it out of the way for Timbaland to perform on the same stage for the rest of the party.

After as many years as Iíve been doing this I usually finish my part of the show and get out, no after parties, or staying up drinking until 5AM like the rest of the band for me. I suppose, again, that makes me jaded, but Iím just over the whole party till you drop mentality, especially when we had to get back on a boat at 8AM, and that ride with a hangover would not be good. So, does that make me ìjadedî? Yeah probably, but Happy New Year!


Mike McKnight Sounds Inc.

34145 Pacific Coast Hwy, Suite #302
Dana Point, CA 92629