Big Band, Big Dreams, Big Hearts
In Sinatra’s words, the best is yet to come for the Fabulous Equinox Orchestra.
As far as famous folks go, Jeremy Davis and Clay Johnson have entertained a lot of them. The life-long friends and duo behind the Fabulous Equinox Orchestra recently performed at The V Foundation Wine Celebration in Napa, California, where they also curated the entertainment.
Guests at the event included former San Antonio Spurs player, David Robinson; the Ragin’ Cajun, James Carville; celebrity chef, Emeril Lagasse; Duke Blue Devil’s Coach K and countless other big names. To give an idea of the scope of celebrity in attendance, the event raised seven million dollars in a single day to the sounds of Davis and Johnson’s signature New Orleans big band stylings.
“We were able to go out there and really impress these people. I mean these are people who drive Bentleys around all the time,” Johnson marveled. “We’ve played for Ross Perot, Jerry Jones, T-Boone Pickens,” Davis added.
The Power of Music
As much as they are astounded and humbled by the opportunity to perform for stars, they’re equally as likely to be found serenading a room full of seniors at a retirement center or traveling to bring the joy of music to underserved communities around the world.
Their project, Equinox Global Missions, takes them to destinations like India and Israel where Sinatra’s lyrics may be lost in translation, but the spirit of the music unites everyone in song. “We realized we could use our music as a tool to lift people up and bring people together,” Johnson said.
Davis continued, “There is something special in music that allows people to cross religious borders, language barriers and age differences. Now, we’re planning an expansion of Global Missions with speaking engagements where we talk about that power in music.” The two find sponsors to underwrite the trips and pro bono performances so they can bring their 17-piece band and share the music free of charge.
Growing the Business
If that doesn’t keep them busy enough, Davis and Johnson recently launched Equinox Entertainment, a full-service entertainment agency. “This isn’t new for us,” Davis explained. “If people called us wanting great music and we were booked, we didn’t say no. We’d ask what they wanted, and we would book someone for them,” Davis explained. “We’re just making it official.”
Unlike other agencies, Equinox doesn’t present a massive stable of talent to choose from. Rather, they consider themselves curators in the business of creating custom experiences. They call on their extensive network of musicians, DJs, comedians and Broadway stars to coordinate entertainment for any kind of event from weddings to corporate conferences and theater performances to restaurant bookings.
Their first project was for BURST Oral Care, one of the fastest-growing subscription-based services in America. “They’re huge. They’re this young, hip, sexy company. Sexy toothbrushes,” Clay described. BURST needed entertainment for their company convention synchronically called BURSTCon. “This is a big deal,” Davis and Johnson thought. They saw the potential. It was a job interview for a life-changing partnership.
“It was the worst disaster in twenty years,” Davis confessed. A power glitch had shorted out their speaker system. “Everything was cooked. All the fuses were blown. There was smoke coming out of the speakers. Clay was convinced it was over.” Davis thought otherwise, and the band played on.
As evening fell, the dew settled on the dance floor. “It was slicker than snot on a doorknob,” Johnson joked in characteristic Southern idiosyncrasy. “Their music director slipped and hit his head on the stage. Things were not going well.”
“To make an awful, long, horrific story short, my gut was right,” Davis said. “They saw people who were committed and willing to go the extra mile.” After the conference, BURST put Equinox on retainer. It speaks volumes about who they are as people and as business owners.
Life of the Party
That first near miss under their belts, the two aren’t slowing down. “As Equinox Entertainment has taken off, Equinox Orchestra has been busier than ever,” Johnson said.
On top of that, they’re launching another iteration of the Fabulous Equinox Orchestra in the Equinox All-Stars. “It’s something we’ve had requests for over the years,” Davis said. People would ask for songs that are outside of the Equinox Orchestra’s typical repertoire, so they decided to create a rock ’n’ roll band with a horn section and a rotating cast of three to five additional singers. “We can do everything from shag to Motown to Bruno Mars to Beyoncé,” Davis explained. “It’s really a party band.”
Davis, Johnson and The Equinox All-Stars will be getting the party started at Dine South this year – showing us their talent for entertainment, finishing each other’s thoughts and bringing a sense of fun to every stage they take (and every interview they give.)
Visit equinoxorchestra.com/upcoming to view their upcoming shows.