THE WORKING STIFF — By Darren Garnick
The Boston Herald
May 13, 2009
Four or five times a year, Double-Take Software CEO Dean Goodermote makes a drastic wardrobe change to entertain his clients. His necktie is replaced with love beads. His suit replaced with a tight, sleeveless t-shirt, capri pants and bright orange-and-blue sneaks – an homage to the company colors.
“My wife says it doesn’t look age appropriate,” says Goodermote, who plays bass in “Cluster-Funk,” the Double-Take rock band. “But our customers love to see me in a do-rag!”
Cluster-Funk, which performed at this week’s Microsoft TechEd Conference in Los Angeles, is an eclectic cover band devoted to artists ranging from 1970s icons Lynyrd Skynyrd and Warren Zevon to contemporary acts like U2, Weezer and the Black Crowes. Occasionally, the band surprises their audience – heavily saturated with software engineers and their spouses – with a wild card song such as Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.”
Company-sponsored music acts have soared in popularity in recent years, as evidenced by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s annual “Fortune Battle of the Corporate Bands” in Cleveland. But at Southboro-based Double-Take, which has branches throughout North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, Goodermote insists the concerts provide far more than an ego trip or boost to employee morale.
“At investor presentations, people seem more focused and impressed by what we do on stage than the fact we are a (Microsoft) Gold Certified Partner,” he says. “It’s the perfect ice breaker to invite them to a show.”
At a recent annual meeting, Goodermote pulled out his mandolin and played a sentimental ditty about the company’s data protection and recovery software — to the tune of Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.”
Members of Cluster-Funk are spread out at Double-Take’s offices across the country and don’t have an opportunity to practice much between concerts. In addition to the CEO, the band includes lead singer and guitarist Lynn Shourds (Los Angeles), guitarist Jim Armstrong (Atlanta), conga player Brandon Armstrong (Indianapolis) and drummer Ben Merendino (New York).
Shourds, a regional manager who covers the Western U.S. and Canada, cites a recent Denver Microsoft concert as the moment he became convinced about Cluster-Funk’s lasting marketing value.
“I had partners of mine walk straight up to the stage and just stare. They couldn’t believe we were doing this band and I was singing lead. I got emails and phone calls for weeks afterward wanting to get together, talk about the band, and talk about how we could do more business together,” he says.
Shourds is also an actor who played a recurring cameo role as a street thug on “General Hospital” in the late 1980s, and has performed in stage shows in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Branson, Missouri.
His favorite experience: Their 2007 customer appreciation party at the Hard Rock in Orlando. Cluster-Funk was the headline attraction there the same week as Diana Ross and Steely Dan.
“They treated us like rock stars. If I wanted orange wedges, I got orange wedges; if I wanted a fruit tray, I got a fruit tray,” he jokes.
Rock and roll fantasies aside, CEO Goodermote believes the Double-Take band offers customers a “confirming moment” to stick with their software.
“Obviously, they test out our products,” he says. “But it doesn’t hurt to see them all having fun.”
Darren Garnick’s “The Working Stiff” column runs every Wednesday in the Boston Herald. Check out the Stiff blog at www.bostonherald.com/blogs/workingStiff/