Looking and Booking the BEST Wedding Bands
By: Bob Brichmann
Experiencing live music provides such an adrenaline rush. Of course, playing it…totally listening to it. The energy of live music at a wedding is incomparable. Whether it’s for a ceremony or the heart of the party, the pulse of live music and its affect on your once-in-a-lifetime affair is memorable.
There’s the musicianship, the showmanship, the warmth and vibe of a live musician giving it their all. Whether it’s a ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner hour or the down and dirty party, a live band can take your event to a very memorable place.
“Style-wise, we are genius at reading in the moment. Reading the pulse of the crowd. We can play the older standards and as the night gets older, the music gets younger,” shares Kimmy Terrell from the Sensation Showband.
A key element to some of the exciting, popular, local wedding bands is their ability to not only bring it musically, but to be able to help emcee and orchestrate the flow of the night. They can interact very seamlessly with the other professionals involved with the night, help with announcements and make the party happen.
A common thread shared by bands is their cohesiveness as a unit. What that translates to you, the bride, is that they are calm, cool, know their craft and the objective for the evening.
“Every individual needs to be touched the right way…touched by the experience of the evening. Fully engaging the audience leads to such great memories. We’ll even pull the bride or key guests on to the stage to sing along with the band,” explains Tiana Hartsten from the Republic of Music.
Bands can mix and match their ensembles to easily handle the various parts to a wedding day. Wedding ceremonies may call for a soloist, a guitarist or pianist or even a string trio. A cocktail hour may do the same with a slight twist on the music stylings. For the reception, a full size band may step in to provide a huge variety of music and fun. Top bands can vary their ensemble based on your budget, your tastes, the scope of the event and even the size of the venue.
When searching for live music, be sure and ask what they can provide for the overall event. Many can handle staging, lighting, party pumping dancers….making it a “turn-key” evening where they handle it all…again, seamlessly for you.
“We’re a 20 piece band that provides a contemporary and fresh mix of music. Our Big Band Bundle says go big or your guests will go home! But we’re not your grandpa’s big band. Every bride has a separate set of fingerprints and we mix and match accordingly to their discerning tastes,” offers bandleader, drummer & talent agent Bill Dutton from The Rockin Jazz Band.
Bands can learn new songs (with notice). They can respect your tastes from a list provided ahead of time and ensure they don’t play those unique songs you “hate.” The quality San Diego based wedding bands pride themselves on replicating music as you are used to hearing it. The key is the attention to detail and musicianship.
Many bands can mix and match the number of musicians. Can you afford the full band of 25 or do you want to scale it down to a combo of five? They can either work in tandem with a DJ for band breaks or provide a prerecorded break option.
“We always keep it high energy. Whether it’s a five piece or a 15 piece group. We can bring in extra musicians for a band break. We emcee and keep things flowing and lively. We can take it to a superstar status,” states Andy Salmonsen, owner of the band NRG.
There is a trend to keep it live but dial it down a notch, especially when it comes to the early part of the evening – cocktails and dinner. Perhaps you’ve seen a live solo musician at a local club or bar. Maybe you are into that Jason Mraz meets Michael Bublé meets Bob Marley retro vibe. There are so many tastes that brides can accent their special day with musically.
We all have different tastes in music. For a wedding, one might respect the family and older guests with a vibe that is a bit more nostalgic early on.
“Singing, performing…it’s a one-time experience and event. That’s what makes it memorable for everyone attending. Give people the right ambiance and you create an excitement. It’s unique and unforgettable,” says Ryan Hiller, owner of So-Cal Wedding Music.
Another key aspect to the truly professional bands are their ability to interact with not just the crowd, but the other professionals – coordinator, banquet captain, photographer, officiant…perhaps a DJ. It’s a team effort to make an event an overall success.
“As a band, our foundation is that of a family. We don’t have turnover. We take pride in what we do and bring it for every event. Costume changes, music mash-ups…it’s a show,” adds Terrell.
Your interaction with your band is a process – just like with all of the other wedding vendors. You will sit down with them, email them or Skype with them prior to the wedding to clearly map out the event and their role. They will defer to your tastes, but offer many suggestions on how to make things flow smoothly based on their vast experience. That’s why you hire an established band.
The bandleader will know ahead of time those “torch” songs not to play or songs that may remind you of past bad memories. They actually encourage you to be specific with your music requests.
“It’s generally all about the bride and groom and their party. Love, party songs, songs throughout the ages…again, a fresh contemporary mix of standards and new songs,” says Dutton.
The price is higher than a DJ for a good, quality band, but the intensity, party excitement and showmanship is worth the investment. With all due respect to some of the other elements involved with the wedding…..your friends, family, guests and you…will always remember the event. Live music brings the party!