Something spellbinding happens when you combine wine and music.
Local musician Rob Meany, a regular performer at several Minnesota wineries and crowd favorite, shared his thoughts on the connection between wine and music.
Rob is a singer-songwriter and keyboardist best known as the leader of jazz-rock quartet, Terramara. As a solo pianist/singer, Rob also performs popular music, jazz standards, and even ragtime and classical.
Born and raised in Duluth, Rob was drawn to a wide range of music at an early age while studying classical piano and listening to Miles Davis, Stevie Wonder and the Beatles. He continued his studies at college, playing french horn, singing in choir, and playing in jazz band.
It wasn’t until a few years later that Rob would find his muse as a songwriter and singer. After short stints as a sideman in various groups, he formed Terramara as a vehicle for his jazz-funk, piano-driven songs. Over the past fifteen years, Terramara has released three full-length albums, garnering a loyal following among smart-pop and jazz-rock lovers around the world.
Q & A with Rob Meany
In your opinion, what is the connection between wine and music?
Wine-tasting is best when the other senses are stimulated as well. The music adds to the experience in a magical way. People forget their worries and get lost in the music. Maybe the songs are taking them back to a childhood memory or a special moment in their past. People get very emotional about certain songs. Music can do that like nothing I have seen.
Do you see a difference in the types of audiences at wineries vs. your other performances?
Winery audiences tend to be a little more sophisticated in their tastes, and are a fun-loving group of people — how could it be otherwise with all that wine around. 😉
Do you enjoy this type of venue?
I love playing at wineries. They combine some of my favorite elements: a feel-good, relaxed, classy atmosphere, an attentive clientele, and they are the perfect size for a solo musician like myself. Plus the gigs are in the afternoon or early evening — great hours!
How did you get started performing at wineries?
I started performing at wineries about four years ago as I was ramping up my solo act. I approached them as many of them seemed to have a very vibrant live music scene and were having live acts on a regular basis.
Do you see people attending your other performances as a result of your winery gigs?
Yes, every show at a winery or otherwise helps grow my fan base. I can also help bring new people to the wineries who wouldn’t normally go there.
Would you recommend this type of venue to other performers, especially those just starting out? What is the vetting process for getting a gig?
I would highly recommend wineries to any musician. The rewards are great and the people are very friendly. For the performer just starting out, just be aware you will be asked to perform several sets of music, mostly provide your own sound equipment, and normally keep the volume down to a decent level. The choice of music is yours, but I have found that what works best is the softer, singer-songwriter material, and the classic pop songs of the past few generations. It’s great to do original material too, but work it in with the songs people know.
What wineries can you be found playing at?
I have regular shows at Cannon River Winery in Cannon Falls MN, and Sovereign Estate Winery in Waconia MN. I have also played at regional wineries such as Summerset in Indianola, IA, Vino in the Valley in Maiden Rock, WI., and Chankaska Winery in Kasota, MN.
Anything else you’d like to add?
The trend toward having live music at wineries and breweries has been a great boon to live performers. I have had great luck playing at wineries and they have been very supportive of live music — thanks to all in the business for their support of independent musicians like me.
You can follow Rob & his show schedule at Robmeany.com
Author Cindy is a self-professed Minnesota wine-lover — join her at mnwinelover.tumblr.com