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Saturday, May 27, 2006

O-Town Schmoozing

Well, I was in Orlando a few weeks ago - good ol' O-Town. Orlando is an extremely unnatural environment. It is a family-friendly version of Vegas. Both cities are over the top and strange. Not surprisingly, both cities are major convention venues. And, not surprisingly, I was in O-Town for a convention - the Association for Corporate Growth Intergrowth Conference. The Association of Corporate Growth is the trade association for people that are in the mergers and acquisition business. The Intergrowth Conference is huge - about 5,000 attendees, all frantically networking and schmoozing over cocktails, golf, meals, and during scheduled chitchat sessions. It was speed-dating for deal guys. I passed out a couple hundred business cards and collected an equal amount in return. I am now getting spammed by all the knuckleheads that got their mitts on my business cards.

While these events are chaotic, there is a certain efficiency to the mosh-pit approach to schmoozing. It would have taken a year to meet all of these people via one-on-one visits. I met one person who might be able to help me on a deal. I built out my Roladex a little.

I also sat in with the band that was hired to entertain at one of the evening events. There is a group called the Alabama Blues Brothers, based in Huntsville, that travels the southern and eastern U.S. doing a Blues Brothers tribute schtiick (the two lead guys bear a passing resemblance to Akroyd and Belushi as Jake and Elwood Blues). The Alabama Blues Brothers band is a classic loud bar band. It was late in the evening, the crowd had thinned out, so I whipped out my CX-12 Chromatic and blew some harmonica with the band. They were expecting a lame conventioneer, so they were surprised to hear me play and sing the blues. I do admire these 'Bama guys - they are out there, fighting to make a living and seem to be keeping there heads above water.

The Blues Brothers - two white guys in suits, fedoras and shades - is the mass market image of the blues in middle class America. It isn't the "real thing," but I still like it. Akroyd and Belushi did a lot to raise awareness of this music. I wish John Belushi hadn't killed himself - we could use his nuttiness right about now...