Archive for the wedding entertainment Category

A swing band leader, or a musical wedding event planner?

A swing band leader, or a musical wedding event planner?

A swing band leader’s function is not just to turn up and play music, that’s only one part of the equation.

Managing logistics on a wedding day are really important. When and where best to set up in the room, set lengths and timings, liaising with the other wedding suppliers (e.g. with the photographer to get the best 1st dance shot of bride and groom, band and guests) and many other things behind the scenes.

Professional wedding entertainers know what works, and can respond to the mood keep things moving. I place a lot of importance on getting a feel for the room and audience. There are different kinds of wedding crowds, for example “full on dancing” crowds, some “dance and the sit and listen” crowds, guests who want to listen and chill, and so on. E each person has their own way of having a good time, so it’s important to keep tuned in and to know what’s needed.

I constantly check the room to gauge the reaction, to feel the energy of the room and monitor the mood constantly. I keep checking with the organisers or hosts to make sure everything is to their expectations and make sure that whatever the band does is tailored to best suit the program. Some have more energy than others, so it’s important to know when and how to schedule wedding music to get the best results.

One of the most important ingredients for any wedding band is the setlist. Not just the style of music, but which particular songs to play at different times, based on reading the audience and the mood. Whether it’s swing, jazz, soul or Motown, it’s important to be able to switch styles at a moment’s notice, rearrange the order of songs, or change the setlist timings so that the music fits in smoothly with other things going on (e.g. the evening buffet) at the event.

You should expect your bandleader to be a musical event planner.

 

 

Get the wedding band setlist right , keep everyone dancing.

Get the wedding band setlist right , keep everyone dancing.

Who can’t recall attending one wedding reception in life that could only be described as a washout? The guests were making polite conversation; the wine was flowing, but the dance floor resembled an ice-rink in the height of summer. Even the kids preferred the stilted conversation of grandparents, to the mediocre efforts of the wedding band. It probably wasn’t their fault. No doubt they were just playing the usual set-list reserved for receptions, but if the music isn’t catered for the guests in question – it can alienate everyone!

Although there are classic songs that tend to be the most popular, it’s important to have generation appropriate setlists.

Whether you’re seeking a customised play-list for a themed reception party, for example Swing & Rat pack, or you’d prefer an eclectic mix of soul and Motown hits, it’s important to compile a mixture of energetic up-tempo coupled with some slow, melodic ballads for those romantic moments.

With the average wedding reception comprising in excess of 150 guests, it can be difficult to find music that will appeal to all, however consideration for the diversity, age-ranges and conservativeness of your guests can play a big part in getting the music right.

Not everyone appreciates the contemporary efforts of loud pop bands, so it’s important to consider a broad range of genres, whilst sticking to tracks people will be familiar with. Your secondary consideration relates to the age-range of your guests _ the elders probably won’t appreciate an endless night of Lady Gaga and the latest chart hits.

If music is the recipe for a well-remembered wedding party, then variety is the vital ingredient. The bandleader’s ability to read a crowd’s response is key to the instantaneous decisions made during a live set and the bands repertoire is so important when it comes to being inclusive, since too much of one genre can alienate others. Bear this in mind when you’re choosing your wedding band.

 

 

 

 

Wedding Entertainment-Choosing the right wedding Band

Wedding Entertainment-Choosing the right wedding  Band

Choosing the right band for your wedding reception needn’t be a daunting task. The key is finding a professional band that is experienced performing at wedding receptions, is diverse enough to accommodate a wide range of musical selections, is efficient, professional and reliable service…and most of all turns up on the day with a smile and produces a great sound!

It takes more than just good musicians to ensure wedding entertainment runs smoothly. Not only will your wedding band provide party entertainment, but the bandleader will often times act as emcee in introducing the wedding party and turning your guests attention toward particular highlights of the evening, such as the first dance, father/daughter dance, and any special requests.(Even announcing the buffet!)

So great care and consideration should be placed in choosing the right band as well as the right bandleader.

When contacting different bands you should have several goals in mind. You want to know something about the band, the musicians, their history and level of experience performing at weddings, the general style of music they play, how they dress, and of course the logistics… rates, packages, options, availability, etc….

Of course one of the most important factors in choosing a wedding band or orchestra is their sound, however most professional function bands only play private events so it’s not easy to see them first. But a good band should be able to provide you with a live music sample or live showcase video performances on their website.

Firstly, make sure the videos are truly live, not mimed. You’d be surprised how many bands (sadly) do this and it really does make a difference, as some bands are simply better on stage performers than others. If it looks acted on the video, then how good are they at managing a live audience…a very important skill to keep the party flowing!

Make the investment in a professional band, and always speak to the bandleader before booking-you won’t regret it!

Top quality entertainment is crucial to the success of your party and you and your guests experience(and memories), so Its important to put as much emphasis on the band’s budget as you would on any other part of the event, otherwise you may be disappointed on the day.

With wedding entertainment and function bands it is definitely a case of “you get what you pay for”. It’s a common mistake to start by booking the wedding dress/suits, venue, catering, flowers etc. and then use the remaining budget for the band, which means the decision is made on price. Although more expensive is not necessarily better, this is a key investment area, especially for the one day you need to be certain that the entertainers really know what they are doing. Some key points to consider:

• If you choose a band on price alone, then you may be disappointed. Professional bands do cost more because they pay good rates to professional musicians, have top quality equipment and insurance, give better service and have a great repertoire.
• Bands that charge more tend to offer higher level of service and attention to detail. They have better quality musical arrangements and most of all simply sound great and give great live performances!
• Choose a professional Band with experience of performing at weddings, who take the time to understand what you require before you book them. Talk through your plan with the bandleader first.
• Look for video and audio examples. An established group should have their music on their website and references from previous clients available for you to view.
• Where possible, book the band direct rather than through an agent. From years of experience I can tell you that most entertainment agents are simply salespeople who don’t necessarily understand much about music (yes really!) or event entertainment, whether the bands they market are actually capable of providing a great live performance or know how to act and deal with situations that arise on the day of an event. Many of the bands they market are hobby bands. Put simply, the importance of the occasion warrants a decent investment. Would you ask a hobbyist plumber to install your central heating and new boiler just because he has a nice website and he’s cheap?

Some bands and agencies take double or triple booking for the same band on the same night. This can be a quality control nightmare and you may end up getting a completely different level of musicianship than what you saw on the video.(you might have the substitute reserves) Once again, check this with the bandleader.

• Contracts and booking. Once you have found your ideal band, it is important for both yourselves and the artists to have an agreement in writing. The band should send you a contract, so make sure you have an agreement that covers these points:
o Date, venue, arrival time for artists and time they should be finished setting up
o Performance times, length of sets, how many
o Can the artists provide recorded music during their breaks / is this required?
o What equipment do the artists provide? (Sound system, lighting)
o Artist’s performance area requirements (stage size, power supply, dressing
room, storage for cases etc, meals and or drinks)
o Total fee including all extras. Also how and when this will be paid.
o Artists equipment and public liability insurance

It is imperative to have the whole agreement written down so both you and the artists know what to expect. The last thing you want is a nasty surprise on your special day!

Great entertainment can make or break an event, and is one of the things that people will remember for years to come. Whoever you chose (and of course I hope you choose us!) I hope this helps in your selection process. Call me if you would like to chat through things.[/cs_text][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][/cs_content]

Booking the band or the bandleader?

Swing Singer for Weddings StirlingAustinThere are only a few occasions in life when one needs to hire a band to provide music for an event, but just how does one go about this task? Excluding the obvious – hiring a band who performed at a function you attended and who you really thought would be ideal for yours – where do you start looking, what does one need to look for and how to choose wisely?

The interesting thing is, its not just about the music. You can book amazing sounding bands that look dazzling online, but delivering on the day has nothing to do with the website.

Lets use the example of a caterer. You would not simply hire a company to produce all the food for your guests without discussing the fine details at length with its representative, understanding what goes on behind the scenes for what they will prepare, making sure that expectations are understood on both sides and feeling comfortable that you are working with a solid partner who will make sure your guests have a great experience. Otherwise you might as well order online for delivery.

The same goes for a function band and its bandleader. It’s not just about listening to the music or watching the videos.You need to be talking to the bandleader to find out more substance, because it is he (or she) who makes the difference between simply having an attractive shopfront and delivering great musical entertainment. It is the bandleader who gets the best out of his musicians, who makes logistics work behind the scenes, reading the room, ensuring continuity during the sets and in band breaks, and  generally knowing what works in entertaining a crowd as well as dealing with any situation that may arise.

A good bandleader should take their responsibilities of performing at your big day seriously. If they and the musicians do this as a hobby then are you really booking the best?

A real professional will know about venues, timings, logistics, how to work with other wedding suppliers, band access, logistics –in short, someone who cares as much about the smooth running of the event as you do. Whether its a Swing Band for weddings, a wedding planner, a photographer or a caterer, it’s the same as with any business – you need to have confidence in the management.

If you’re booking through an agency, ask to speak to the bandleader first. You might get a totally different impression than what the sales agent is telling you. After all, they list hundreds of bands, they can’t possibly know them all and they are on commission…..

I’m always available to talk through events and I work really hard to cover every single detail beforehand to achieve your vision. On the day I’m totally hands on and I make sure things work, a bit like a musical event planner. Of course I hope you book my band, but whoever you choose…before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you choose the right bandleader who meets your expectations. Same as you want to book the right chef.

Because you only get one chance to get it right.

If I become a famous wedding singer

Swing Singer for Weddings StirlingAustinA nice lady called Kate asked me on one of my blogposts; if I become famous, will I still do functions? That’s an excellent question. Well, yes I would.

Firstly you should expect no less of me than X Factor champion Matt Cardle, who is keeping his promise to the manager of The Bull pub in Halstead (where he used to work) to play at his wedding. Good on you Matt. Also, a lot of people don’t know that in 2000, Bublé’s career breakthrough came from being…yes, you guessed, a function band singer!

An aide to former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney saw Buble’s performance at a corporate event and received a copy of his self-financed independent album. He showed the album to Mulroney and his wife and Bublé was subsequently invited to sing at the wedding of Mulroney’s daughter Caroline, where he sang Mack the Knife. At the wedding, Bublé was introduced to David Foster, a multi-Grammy Award winning producer and record executive. Well as they say, the rest is history.
Now when I play my next corporate gig or wedding perhaps we should introduce that well known classic hit from Bros “When will I be famous”.
So if I do become famous and Prince William and Kate Middleton ask me to play at their wedding..well you see, I’ll still be a wedding singer.

 

Ladies, why wait? The wedding proposal is your privilege!

Ladies, why wait? The wedding proposal is your privilege!

Ladies, if Valentine’s Day this year was promising and your man declared his love for you, then why not seize the opportunity and propose? After all, on February 29th it is your privilege!

Although some could argue that marriage proposals are no longer the  exclusive domain of  the guy, any one more shy and reticent waiting for the “get down on one knee  OMG this is it” moment  can use the day as an  officially sanctioned moment (in folklore) to pop the question.

There are different versions of where this tradition of women being able to pop the question on February 29  came from, depending on who you ask.   I read that some say St Patrick agreed the deal with St Bridget who supposedly bargained him down from every seven years to every four, whereas reckon that as the day stands outside the normal run of things and even has a debatable place in the law, it was natural for something unnatural (some may say) to be allowed.

So if you feel like your relationship is ready for the next stage and you  want some commitment so that you can book a band for your wedding, you can always refer to this blog claiming that as the choice of band is  really important, you need to know now so that we can block the date!

Corny but true!

Are you sure its just a swing band you want to book?

Swing Singer for Weddings StirlingAustinSwing music is great entertainment, and many clients have the image of a swing band providing a sophisticated atmosphere for their event. However unless your event has a purely swing theme, e.g. a rat pack evening, then in many cases there will be a requirement for a more “party time” part of the evening later on. Although swing music is great to dance  and jive to, there’s only so much you can do with “Mack the knife” and similar songs to really get an audience  to  “boogie on down”!

My point is, that many people, in search of something different and sophisticated, think they want a swing band. But what they really  need is a band that can play swing music well, reminiscent of Sinatra, Bobby Darin, the Rat Pack and so on, but then also have the ability and flexibility to play other styles more towards the “pop” genre that appeals to a wider audience.

Not all musicians play more than one style well. Indeed, to play swing music from big band style musical charts requires professionally trained jazz musicians. Not all jazz musicians are naturals at playing pop, however depending on the style of song they will be more likely to be able to turn their hand to other genres, whereas (untrained) pop musicians won’t be able to play swing chart arrangements.

What this all means is that if you book a swing band and you want them to really carry the evenings entertainment, then it’s worth spending some time scrutinising how well they play other styles and whether those other styles will really keep your dance floor busy. Playing the latest Buble song is not the same as a Stevie wonder dance floor hit, and after one and a half hours of swing it’s important to be able to work the crowd and please as many people as possible and keep the energy flowing.

I find  that in many cases  one of a bride’s key concerns is whether or not the band can keep the evening moving. In our case I can confirm that’s why (6 years ago) we expanded the repertoire to cover soul,  Motown and classic pop, genres that blend naturally with swing and  rat Pack.

Whether its a Swing Band in Manchester, London, Scotland or Singapore, it means that clients can be reassured that their swing band is also a party band.

Noise Limiters: Making and Breaking Sound Barriers?

Noise Limiters: Making and Breaking Sound Barriers?

It takes more than a little verve and practice to pull off the kind of party performance expected of a professional function band – and the other night was no exception. The latest in a series of early new year corporate entertainment functions was for us, an exciting opportunity to play in a large venue where you can have great fun. and really get a crowd going. (All 600 of them) Excellent night.

There was just one  issue that we seem to re-encounter more often than over-enthusiastic stage invasions – the noise limiter! For a great deal of function venues we’re booked for, noise limiters seem to have become a compulsory device in order for the allowance of live music. Understandable from a residential point-of-view, when you consider the average DJ-covered wedding party can continue well into the early hours; and a handy reminder to over-zealous rock function bands that they may actually be playing above the level of lyrical comprehension.

But when it comes to corporate functions and weddings, venues are in the business of charging to host client events and in particular live entertainment. My experience in quite a few cases in recent years has been that clients book venues and pay a deposit, only to discover on the night that the noise limiter is 3 metres away from the band and set at at 85 decibels, a low trip level. So venues promoting live entertainment for private functions have a responsibility to ensure they are (to use consumer rights jargon) “fit for purpose”. No problem when you have only background music, but not when you’re having a party.Let’s face it, you wouldn’t organise a large business conference for a company and tell the keynote speakers to keep their voices down to avoid the microphone cutting out.

We’ve experienced our fair share of sound-monitored venues where the acceptable volume level has ranged from around 60 decibels (the equivalent of 3-4 people conversing), up to 90 decibels which can equate to an entire 50+ wedding dance floor shouting encouragement!  Not only do we have to consider our own sound emissions when in the throes of a Sinatra number, but also that of an enthusiastic audience. Rapturous applause could trigger a power outage in the closing bars of a song, if we don’t get the microphone levels just right. I remember one well known venue we played in Richmond, just as we reached the bridge in “All night Long” the power cut out. Lionel Richie would not be pleased and nor was the client.

It all depends how these devices are configured, and if they are not set-up properly then it can ruin the clients entertainment. A fundamentalist culture of health and safety  regulations, over zealous councils and  jobsworth venue managers are not conducive to helping clients who pay decent rates and expect live entertainment loud enough to get the party going.

I can’t see these contraptions disappearing anytime soon, so we’ve tried to become attuned to the sensitivity of noise limiters,without impacting upon  performance delivery. Not an easy feat, but it’s part of knowing your trade as a function bandleader. Having said that, I know some bands who refuse to play at venues where there is one, they believe it compromises their act.

So before you book a venue for your event you’d be well advised to check whether the venue also has correctly configured noise limitation technology in place which fits the style of music. Not all bands can do justice to their setlist within such limitations, so better to be safe than  subdued!

How to ensure your wedding guests won’t evacuate the dance floor

DSC_3630Who can’t recall attending one wedding reception in life that could only be described as a washout? The guests were idly sat making polite conversation; the wine was flowing, but the dance floor resembled an ice-rink in the height of summer. Even the kids preferred the stilted conversation of grandparents, to the mediocre efforts of the wedding band. It probably wasn’t their fault. No doubt they were just playing the usual set-list reserved for receptions, but if the music isn’t catered for the guests in question – it can alienate everyone!

Although there are classic songs that tend to be the most popular, it’s important to personalise set-lists for each and every wedding, because no two clients ever have the same requirements.

Whether you’re seeking a customised play-list for a themed party, for example swing, salsa, jive, rat pack, or you’d prefer an eclectic mix of hits, it’s important to compile a mixture of energetic up-tempo rhythms (guaranteed to get everyone dance-motivated) coupled with a few slow, melodic ballads for those romantic moments.

With the average wedding reception comprising in excess of 150 guests, it can be difficult to find music that will appeal to all, however consideration for the diversity, age-ranges and conservativeness of your guests can play a big part in getting the music right.

Not everyone appreciates the contemporary efforts of boy/ girl-bands, and not everyone can “get down” to pop, club or hip-hop so it’s recommendable to consider a broad range of genres, yet sticking to tracks people will be familiar with. Your secondary consideration relates to the age-range of your guests _ the elders probably won’t appreciate an endless night of Lady Gaga and the latest chart hits.

If music is the recipe for a well-remembered wedding party, then variety is the vital ingredient. The ability to read a crowd’s response is key to the instantaneous decisions made during a live set. An expert bandleader can make such decisions based upon his interpretation of the crowd, knowing that too much of one genre will ultimately alienate others. Bear this in mind when you’re working with your wedding band to compile the set-list and try to please everyone you’ve invited..