Some of the best restaurants have found their greatest success in relying not simply on their food, but also on their live music. Naturally, that means booking talent that will keep guests engaged and enraptured rather than wishing the music would simply fade into the background, and in hosting School of Rock Alexandria for a recent performance, Paradiso Restaurant created the perfect experience of music to pair with their spectacular food.
“Music has always been a focal point of Paradiso’s success, and I have had the opportunity to expand our reach by digging into the community and working with musicians all over the area to increase the Paradiso fan base,” says Eddy Santiago of Paradiso Italian Restaurant. “We are a beacon for live entertainment in the Alexandria area, and I feel that creating a safe place for young people to express themselves is essential in the world. I have the distinct pleasure of building a great relationship with an amazing company, and I want to help not only the students in the program feel great, but also help them increase their program. The world always needs musicians!”
Featuring two bands—one paying tribute to The Beatles while the other performed a mix of popular ’90s rock songs from groups including Nirvana, Cranberries, REM, and Weezer—the night was a smashing success for both the restaurant as well as theSchool of Rock.
“Students, parents, and staff were thrilled with the performance as well as Paradiso’s staff and facilities,” says Steve McKay, owner of School of Rock Alexandria, a performance-based music education program that combines weekly one-on-one instrument lessons with group rehearsals, all with a goal of performing live at a local venue. “This performance was special because of the energy,” says Santiago. “Everyone was there to be positive and cheer on great aspiring musicians.”
“Each song ended with a roaring crowd, proud parents, and fearless band members.”
- Steve McKay
Creating those fearless band members are what it’s ultimately all about. “Our students are taught about performing and overcoming stage fright as well as things like wrapping cables, marketing the event, setting up and maintaining equipment, and working together as a band,” explains McKay. “They quickly learn how critical each member of the bands is and how their part in each song is as equally important as the other musicians’. Performing in a band teaches hard work, dedication, cooperation, and collaboration, all while building confidence in themselves and as a band. Most of all, it teaches students how to face their fears and give them the tools they need to step through fear and overcome it. After a strong performance like this, our students know that the next time they are faced with a challenge, they can easily step up and overcome any challenge that they are faced with.” All in all, the night was a huge success for both the musicians and the restaurant—and one that demands a second helping.
Story by Liesel Schmidt | Photography Courtesy of School of Rock