Danny Morgan started his first band when he was 13. By the time he was in high school, the Kentucky native would travel to Cincinnati on the weekends to perform. He continued to play at parties and events to pay his way through college, where he studied art. A few years after graduation, he accepted an offer to play five nights a week at a ski resort bar in Colorado—his first job as a professional musician.
For the next 20 years, Morgan and his three-piece band often toured the country in a van, playing live shows at resorts and even opening for The Beach Boys. Since settling on Sanibel Island in the late 1990s, he’s operated Thank You for the Dance, an entertainment company, with his wife, Amy. He balances his own gigs with running a business and representing more than 30 local acts.
How did you end up in Southwest Florida?
Phenomenal luck! I had a friend who had the opportunity to go to New York to make a record for Atlantic, and I filled in for him as a performer at King’s Crown restaurant at South Seas Island Resort. [Then luck kept coming his way, so he stayed in New York and a weekend job turned into a season.] Then the same company that owned South Seas was buying Casa Ybel Resort, and I wound up coming back to play for them. I was still touring, playing in Cincinnati, Colorado and Florida, but the road got to be a little hard, and it just made more sense to be here.
What has it been like to work as a performer in this area?
When I first started, South Seas closed for the summer, and the staff would go to work in New England and they took me with them. Fifteen or 20 years ago, the work was much more seasonal. Now the summers here are really filling up, so restaurants are still hopping year-round, just with a little different clientele. With Thank You for the Dance, we provide local restaurants with exclusive entertainment, and then about half our bookings are bands for weddings and events. So I play almost every night and look for talent. I feel totally blessed to be able to do something I really love and make a living at it.
What’s the biggest challenge of running your own entertainment business?
I think it’s always the same in every business: finding really good people. And we’re pretty picky because we not only want great talent, we want great people. Amy is a big part of [the success of Thank You for the Dance]. She came to the table with a background in business. When you’re on the road, you’re concentrating on making sure the music is good, and I was also writing a lot in those days and interested in getting a record deal. Whereas now, [my focus is] much more service-oriented. It’s about finding out what the client wants, sitting down with them to figure out what they want to accomplish and how we can underscore that with the right music.
Knowing what it takes to be out there on the road, how to budget for travel and time and make sure the talent has a good experience has been a huge advantage for our agency. A lot of the players love to work with us because they know they’re going to be taken care of.