Sydney Wedding Bands
Get out your phone, tablet or computer, go to Google and search for “Sydney Wedding Bands”. The result will show page upon page of bands spruiking themselves as being “Sydney’s Premier Wedding Band”. The impression it gives is that every musician and singer wants to play in a wedding band, yet it wasn’t that long ago that bands were embarrassed to categorise themselves as a “wedding band”.
Musicians used to view playing in a wedding band as a sign of failure. A classic thing you would hear musicians say was, “Yeah, I’m just playing a few weddings until my original project takes off”. The focus and ambition used to be to play the music you believed in and thought would make you famous. Nowadays, the ambition seems to be playing cover versions of Ed Sherin and Justin Beiber songs, along with a few classic disco songs from the 70’s.
What Happened To The Dream?
The dream used to be sex and drugs and rock and roll. What happened? Now the dream seems to be white dresses, reception venues and wedding cake.
The dream used to be touring the world and smashing up hotel rooms. Now the dream seems to be keeping the wedding planner happy, getting some free drinks and hopefully a bread roll with your ‘crew meal’.
The dream used to be getting laid by one or more groupies after the gig. Now the dream seems to be exchanging business cards with the photographer, catching up with some musicians you haven’t worked with in a while and maybe getting some of the left over flowers to take home to your wife or girlfriend.
My Personal Wedding Story
Being born with the surname “McBride”, it seems like it’s always been my destiny to play at weddings. I don’t know anyone who has played more weddings than I have. Over the years I’ve seen many changes to what is a typical wedding reception. I’ve also seen venues come and go, photography change from analog to digital and photobooths become a “must have” addition to the night. I’ve seen many changes, but I never anticipated how competitive it would become to get couples to hire you to play at their wedding.
The Wedding “Industry”
About fifteen years ago, I first started seeing the term “wedding industry”. I’ve never been fond of the term, but the harsh reality is that the business of weddings is seen as a recession-proof cash-cow. Young couples are happy to blow tens of thousands of dollars on one day. Wedding industry suppliers are all vying for a piece of this.
Wedding Planning By “Google”
Meanwhile, the inexperienced young couples open up their phone or laptop and put their wedding planning in the hands of Google. Whichever businesses have the biggest budget to spend on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) will appear on Google’s ‘page one’ and will be front runners for a booking. It’s a sign of the times that Google has such a strong influence on weddings. Consider that I’ve heard hundreds of wedding speeches, and what is very common is hearing, “I wasn’t sure what I should say in my speech, so I went to Google…”. I wouldn’t be surprise if young couples are consulting with Google about consummating their wedding.
The New Dream
The old dream used to be having a top 10 hit with an accompanying video clip. The new dream is about making page one on Google for the search term “Sydney Wedding Band”. My song writing has been replaced by working on and optimising my website.
Yes, I’ve only gotten better at making weddings totally memorable with my band, but without the credibility of Google I have no apparent value.
Live Band Performance Tips –
How To Compete With Mobile Phones
A couple of months ago I went to see Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece, “Hateful Eight”. Tarantino’s film is a conceptual experience designed to give the movie-goer an experience similar to seeing a film at the cinema in the late 50’s/early 60’s. Two notable parts of the experience were (i) that the film was in two parts (with an interval in between), and (ii) there was a musical overture prior to each of these two sections.
I had my “cinematic experience” at the Hayden Orpheum in Cremorne. Another notable part of the experience was that there was no advertising or film trailers prior to “Hateful Eight”. Instead, a massive organ came up out of the floor and we were entertained by the masterful musician, Neil Jensen, a true maestro of the organ.
For those who don’t know much about organ playing, the amazing thing is that an organist uses four limbs simultaneously, that is two hands and two feet. The left foot is playing the bass lines. The right foot is controlling volume swells. The left hand is playing chords. The right hand is playing melodies. On top of this, hands are darting up and making changes to instrument and sound selections.
Being a musician, I was mesmerised. This is multi-tasking on steroids! The brain is being split into four parts. It’s like a four musicians coming out of one human brain.
In between being mesmerised by the organist’s performance, I looked around the cinema to see if people were as in awe as I was. I was shocked and dismayed to see that approximately half the cinema’s patrons had their phones out and were (I guess) either texting, checking emails or were on Facebook.
This brought home a very clear message to me. If you are giving a musical performance, you can’t afford to be static. The number one aim must be to be engaging. Also, sitting down during one’s performance is something to avoided at all costs. Something I am wtnessing more and more of is younger singers not only performing seated, but also using an ipad (which has become a replacement for the music stand and song book). I am appalled. How do you expect to engage an audience sitting down and staring at an ipad? This is simply laziness on behalf of the singer, and shows contempt for the audience. We wouldn’t accept going to the theatre and watching the actors walking around with a script in hand, so don’t bring this lame practice to the band-stand unless you want your audience ignoring you and playing on their phones.
No iphones here – These 2 photographs courtesy of Dean Dampney – CloudFace
These two photographs are courtesy of Dean Dampney from CloudFace Photography
For more details on Dean Dampney and CloudFace, go to http://www.cloudface.com.au
On Saturday, 1st August, 2015, we played at Andrew and Helen’s wedding ceremony, followed by their reception at The Hughenden, Woollahra.
Helen and Andrew had seen us perform last December at their friends’ wedding in Berry. They actually based their whole wedding date around our availability, which is a wonderful endorsement.
The ceremony was in Centennial Park, and was performed by the Marriage Celebrant, Melissa Soncini. The weather was sublime for the first day of August, and Melissa led a relaxed ceremony. We played at the ceremony in our un-amplified roving acoustic format.
Here’s a photo (below) of Melissa with Blake (from the band).
For more information on Melissa Soncini, please click on this link to her website – http://www.marriagecelebrantonline.com/
After the ceremony and photos in the park, guests walked the short distance to The Hughenden Boutique Hotel on Queen Street, Woollahra.
The Hughenden, Woollahra
The Hughenden is a classic “old world” styled private hotel, that oozes decadence and charm. The band band set up in a function room they have at the rear of the hotel. Dinner was from a couple of pieces of meat that were roasted over the spit, which keep the guests (who chose to spend time outdoors) salivating in anticipation.
For more on The Hughenden, please go to their website. Here’s the link – http://thehughenden.com.au/
What I loved about Helen and Andrew’s wedding reception was the format. It was a stand-up/cocktail styled event. This type of function is so simple and relaxed. There were chairs for those who wanted to sit down, but then nobody was stuck sitting between two people for hours on end, trying to make conversation. The stand-up style event is also more conducive to dancing. Many guests are already on their feet, so transitioning into dancing is easy.
And (best of all), Helen and Andrew were staying overnight in one of the hotel rooms, so at the end of the function all they had to do was shuffle up upstairs to their room.
How relaxed is that!
Same Sex Marriage and Band Hire
Last Saturday night we played at a post wedding celebration for Daniel and Damon. There wedding was in New York, U.S.A. last year. Obviously, the wedding was wasn’t in Australia, because that can’t happen here, yet.
Damon (one of the grooms) is from America. Daniel (the other groom) is Australian. The party was at Icebergs at Bondi Beach. It was a cocktail styled function (a particular format of which I am a big fan). Cocktail style styled functions are wonderful because guests aren’t stuck sitting between two people for half the night. They are free to mingle and move around. The ambiance is far more relaxed. Also, generally people tend to dance more at this type of function.
While we have never played at a same sex “wedding“, we have played at three same sex “commitment ceremonies”. These have been exactly like weddings, except that Australian Law doesn’t recognise the marriage as being legal.
I am mostly extremely proud to be Australian, but I must admit a little embarrassment that Australia is so far behind so many other countries around the world when it comes to marriage equality. Hopefully, our country’s leaders with cease stalling on this matter.
In an era where marriage has moved away from the old notion of “until death do us part”, and become more like a “legal partnership”, the current government’s procrastination on this matter is antiquated to say the least.
For your information, here is a list of countries that recognise same sex marriages;
Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, U.S.A., Uruguay
To read more about same sex marriages, you might like to click on these links;
And finally… here’s some footage from the night!
Memorable Events – How Hiring a Band Can Help
Our lives are made up of memories. The more amazing they are, the better our lives have been.
“Come on guys, let’s create some memories!”
Jacqui and Kieran –
Centennial Park Dining, 11th July, 2015
On Saturday, 11th July, 2015 we played at Jacqui and Kieran’s wedding reception at Centennial Park Dining. *(For more information on this venue, please refer to their website – http://www.cpdining.com.au/ )
Jacqui and Kieran are a great couple with heaps of friends and family members who love to dance.
Jacqui is a high school music teacher. One of her close friends is Natalie. She is also a high school music teacher. The two of them met while studying music at University of New South Wales. At the wedding, Natalie was one of Jacqui’s bridesmaids, and as a special treat, Natalie actually sang the song for the bridal dance. The song was “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”, (originally recorded by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons). Here’s a short piece of footage of Natalie singing this song with the band, while Kieran and Jacqui dance their bridal dance.
I managed to get an awesome collection of photographs from the evening.
This is me and the groom, Kieran.
Here I am with the bride, Jacqui
Long Reef Golf Club – What’s The Best Band To Hire?
Maybe you have made a booking to hold your event, function or wedding reception at Long Reef Golf Club and now you are pondering on what’s the best band to hire for this venue. We love playing at Long Reef Golf Club, Collaroy, and these are three reasons that come straight to mind.
1. The people who run the events are so amazing
You can meet “nice, friendly” people every day, but when you encounter “nice, friendly” people who are fantastic at their job and are totally switched on to you needs, then that takes things to a completely different level. Toni, Chantelle and Alex are exceptional at what they do. “Passion” is one thing, but professionalism and attention to detail take things to a completely different level. Follow this link to read more, from the Long Reef Golf Club website – http://longreefgolfclub.com.au/beach-weddings/meet-team/
2. It’s such a cracking location
Going to the Northern Beaches is like visiting a different country. The area offers something unique to the rest of Sydney. It’s a whole “vibe” thing. The sea, the surf and the area’s separation contribute to this, but more than anything, it’s the people. They are relaxed and chilled but also friendly and approachable. In addition, they are also cultured and intelligent. These traits translate through the staff at Long Reef Golf Club. It extends through from the event-sales staff right through to the bar and wait staff.
3. The venue’s layout enables us to demonstrate our full versatility
We (the band) can play in so many different formats, but at Long Reef Golf Club, we can really show off our full versatility. We can play outdoors in our roving acoustic format. We can also play outdoors with amplification which works so well in the summer when the afternoons are so long. When we play inside, it is possible for us to do two separate set-ups. We can play relaxed dinner music with a cut-down version of using amplifiers. We can then crank things up in the annexed room with the wooden dance floor.
We have quite a bit of footage of the band playing at Long Reef Golf Club – some indoors and some outdoors. Please take a look…
Best Band To Hire For Event at Zest, The Spit
Maybe you are wondering, “Who would be the best band to hire for my forthcoming event at Zest, The Spit”? I have had a long association with Zest at the Spit. My band actually played at the opening of this venue. We always relish the opportunity to play there. It’s a superb venue and here are the three things that make it so;
- Their food
- Their service
- The location
If you hire a band, photographer, videographer or professional MC, it is expected that you supply these people with a “service meal” or “crew meal”. This is typically a main course. Therefore, whenever we play at Zest, we get a sample of the menu. So when I write here that the food at Zest is superb, I am writing from my experiences. In addition to this, anyone who make a comments on Zest always rave about how good the food is.
I have played at pretty much every venue in Sydney, and I have witnessed plenty of substandard service. Some venues will use “agency staff”, which usually equates to backpackers on holiday trying to earn a few dollars before the go scuba diving in Cairns. Needless to say, their attitude and effort leave much to be desired. In complete contract, the staff at Zest are totally professional. They are quick, friendly and attentive and… they actually smile.
The Spit is a gorgeous location, and Zest makes perfect use of this harbour backdrop. Pre-dinner drinks are typically held outside on the balcony. Guests can mingle with the ambiance of water and boats, and with stunning views across to Clontarf. The decor of the room is modern and contemporary.
My band specialises in playing at events for between 50 and 150 people where we set up on the floor and become a focus point for the party. A venue such as Zest, The Spit is perfect for what we do. We can play outside on the balcony (in our roving acoustic format). We can also play in this format in the bar area next door to the dining room. We can play throughout dinner at an intensity where people can still comfortably hold a conversation. After dinner, we can cause a commotion to get your gets into motion and inspire them to dance the rest of the evening away.
For more on Zest at The Spit, check out their website –
Best Band To Hire For ‘View By Sydney’
One of my favourite venues in Sydney has just been rebranded. It is now called “View By Sydney”.
I have had a long association with this venue under various names and incarnations. Initially the venue was Ottoman Cuisine. It was an exceptional Turkish restaurant owned by chef, Serif Kaya. He was commuting from Canberra but tired from the long drive to work.
Next, it became The Wharf at Pier 2. This was a re-location of the Wharf Restaurant from it’s original location at the end of piers 4 & 5 (The Sydney Theatre Company). Their lease came up for renewal and the people on the board of the Sydney Theatre Company wanted their space back. The end of their lease coincided with Serif Kaya wanting to stay in Canberra, so Serif leased out the restaurant space and it became The Wharf at Pier 2.
Unfortunately, things didn’t work out. The Wharf at Pier 2 went into receivership and the lease was taken over by The Dede’s Group. They have a few restaurants around Sydney’s waterfront, including Dede’s (at The Sydney Rowing Club, Abbotsford) and Deckhouse (in Woolwich). Originally, the restaurant was called Dedes On The Wharf, but Dede’s Group has now re-branded the restaurant as ‘View By Sydney’.
Enough on history, what about the space?
The restaurant is in a great part of town. Situated at Dawe’s Point near the based of the Harbour Bridge, it’s close to the CBD, has exquisite views of the harbour yet there is plenty of parking. The room will comfortably sit 150 for dinner. Naturally, they can accommodate larger and small groups, but 150 people is comfortable.
For pre-dinner drinks, they have an outdoor area that looks across the harbour to Lavender Bay and the Harbour Bridge. There are wharves adjacent, so you have the option of using a ferry or water taxi as your means of transport. If you use this outdoor space for your pre-dinner drinks, the band can start off in our roving acoustic mode.
The space for the band to set up inside is small but completely adequate for my four piece band. The venue will lay a dance floor in front of where the band sets up, which is usually the northern corner of the room.