Emerson Exchange Jam – What A Party!

when pigs fly exchange 2014

Well THAT just happened!  What an honor it was to be part of a really special event at Emerson Global Users Exchange this year in Orlando, Florida.

For years a few of us Pigs have been part of an unofficial “side event” at Exchange by getting together for an ad-hoc jam session. This time around we got a chance to help take it to the next level…an official jam bringing together the Pigs and other musicians from around the world. when pigs fly exchange 2014 horns

Many work conferences focus so intently on things technical that they risk overwhelming their attendees’ ability to absorb information. Without a “right brain break” occasionally attendees can reach information saturation. The few of us who had taken part in jams in the past knew that participating left us feeling refreshed and ready to learn. Why not put together an event that flexed the creative and passionate right brain of a large group of hard worked, details-focused, geeky, engineer types?  And hey, don’t take it the wrong way when I say geeky. That’s a term of endearment!

So this year we set about building a networking event at the conference that would break us all out of the left brain focus of the day. A musician’s jam at a technical conference, who’d have thought? We’re proud to say that several of the Pigs had a hand in scheming this event up and we couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.

when pigs fly exchange 2014 mark

The event was held at the sports bar in the Gaylord Palms Resort, where the conference took place, so it was easy for everyone to find. We kicked it off at 8 pm on Tuesday night just as the exhibit hall closed. The dance floor was rocking from the very first tune.  When Pigs Fly with special guest Mark Kennedy played the first set and then we opened it up to the rest of the jam attendees.  During the course of the night, we had well over 40 musicians join in on everything from guitars, drums, bass and keys to tambourine and bongos.  We even had a horn section! The most amazing part of the night was the fact that those talented musicians were not “hired help”.   They were all conference attendees, every last one of them. We had our end users join in as well as Emerson folks, Emerson’s local business partners, alliance partners, and members of the press. Furthermore, the musicians came to us from literally all over the world. You can’t get better networking that that.

This post wouldn’t be complete without giving credit where it is most due. When Pigs Fly, on behalf of all that attended, would like to say a huge thank you to the two people that were the real driving force behind this event. Mark Kennedy and Deanna Johnson. Thanks so much, both of you, for all your vision, talent and drive. You should be proud of what you’ve created here guys, it’s truly unique and so special to so many that attended.

Rumor has it that this thing might be included again next year at Emerson Exchange in Denver. Would you join us if we do? We’d love to hear your feedback and comments.

~WPF Dewey



When Pigs Fly To Perform at Emerson Exchange

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The Pigs are very excited to announce that we’ll be appearing at the Emerson Exchange conference in Orlando, Florida next week. We’ll be opening up for a one night musicians jam session at the conference which allows musical attendees to participate in an open jam with like minded colleagues from around the world. This jam gives folks the opportunity to take a break from their “left brain intensive week” at a technical business conference and have some creative fun.  It also provides a truly unique networking opportunity that I haven’t seen at any other conference anywhere, ever.

We’ll kick things off at 8pm on Tuesday, October 7th at Wrecker’s Sports Bar at the Gaylord Palms which is right next to the conference center.  The plan is to have When Pigs Fly with special guest, Mark Kennedy, start the show off and then open up the stage for a jam after that.  Musicians that are attending the conference have already signed up for the jam using the Emerson Exchange conference website.

You might be asking yourself  how did When Pigs Fly come to perform at Emerson’s Global User’s Exchange conference? Well here’s the short version of that story. As some of you may already know, 5 of our 6 members work at a company called Spartan Controls. Spartan is Emerson’s local business partner responsible for sales, service, and support of Emerson equipment across Western Canada.  As such, most of us have been attending this conference for a number of years along with our valued customers.

So how does that explain the music thing at a technical conference you ask?  Well here’s the connection.  Years ago while I was working at Emerson in Austin, Texas, Andre Dicaire and I started a band.  Not long after the project got rolling, I moved back to Canada which effectively put an end to that fun. After that the only chance Andre and I had to see each other and jam together was at this annual conference, Emerson Exchange.

One year we brought our acoustic guitars and set up shop in the hotel lobby for a late night “unsanctioned” jam session.  So many people joined in singing along that it wasn’t long before hotel security shut things down.  We sure had fun though and so did the people that came to watch and listen. The next year we did it again and we added Emerson’s Mark Kennedy to the show.  Throughout the night we were joined by several other musicians too.  This time we were on the banks of the San Antonio River along the River Walk and the crowd got even bigger.  So big in fact that Andre and I both blew our voices out trying to sing over the noise of the crowd.  Lesson learned. We need to add P.A. and amplification if we were going to keep up.

The next year in Nashville, we added a full stage, drums, mics, keys and even a sound man.  We had an amazing jam that night and really became part of the “unofficial conference agenda”. Things have been growing ever since and I guess you might say our little “unofficial” thing has been absorbed into the conference as a fully sanctioned, Emerson supported networking event.  This year we’ll be taking over Wrecker’s Sports bar and are looking forward to seeing and playing with a ton of different musicians.  It will be a fun break from the conference with people who just love music whether they’re playing it or just singing along and hanging out listening.


Hope to see you there,


~WPF Dewey