What Is The Meaning Of Life ?
This age old question has haunted humans since the dawn of time. Many have made conclusions. Here’s mine.
The meaning of life is…
To serve others.
I have been a singer and musician for longer than I care to admit. I have seriously played a lot of gigs. I calculate that I’ve performed at easily over two thousand functions. A large proportion of these have been weddings, but also in the mix are Balls, birthday parties, corporate events, Christmas Parties, house parties, and even a hand-full of Bar Mitzvahs.
The older and wiser I become, the clearer the picture becomes. The more I focus on serving the people who have hired the band, the more fulfilled I am at the end of the event. When the room is buzzing and the dance floor is packed, people are happy and my ambitions have been realised.
“It’s not about me, it’s all about them”.
This sounds like a cliche, but from my experience this resonates with more and more truth. These days, my goal is to serve with humility. From what I’ve seen and read of successful people, this objective appears to be universal.
My repertoire of songs is enormous and the band covers so many different musical styles. It is common for me to be asked, “but, what do you like playing the most”? My answer is always, “whatever the people want to hear”.
After playing at an event, I frequently hear the comment, “you guys just never stopped”! The way I look at it, we are only there at that function for five or six hours, therefore sitting around taking band-breaks defeats the purpose of us being there. The client has been planning their celebration for months. It would be contemptuous of the band if we did not give 110% to creating the most memorable night possible.
Other successful people seem to endorse my view about the meaning of life being about serving others. Take for example the richest man in the world, Bill Gates. According to an article, “The 50 Most Generous Americans” from the magazine Business Week, as of 2007 Bill and Melinda Gates were the second-most generous philanthropists in America, having given over US$28 billion to charity. This would indicate that despite having more money than anyone, giving it away is more fulfilling than keeping it. Helping and serving others creates contentment.
On a simpler level, anyone who has ever prepared a meal for others will know that it’s difficult to find anything more satisfying than sitting at a table with people who are close and dear to you and enjoying a meal together that you have cooked. The joy comes from the giving.
So…what is the meaning of life ?
To serve others
The band – ready to serve
Live Band For Wedding
One of the most common post-wedding regrets that grooms have is…
…they didn’t hire a live band for their wedding reception
This is understandable, mostly because it is a natural thing to make mistakes at our first attempt at things.
I have personally played at around two thousand weddings, and in my lifetime as a Wedding Singer, I’ve seen and heard it all. Occasionally something new and different happens, like the recent aeronautical display I witnessed during pre-dinner drinks at a wedding at Jonah’s, Whale Beach. Or, the nude wedding ceremony on the secluded beach. Or, the end of night punch up that didn’t end until the police riot squad arrived.
Here’s the source of the problem with wedding planning.
The budget versus the fantasy.
Weddings are like going to restaurants. You can go to a really expensive restaurant, spend lots of money and have a lousy time. Alternatively, you can go to a real “cheapie”and have a wonderful experience. Naturally, there are a whole range of experience in between. You can spend a lot of money and have an amazing time, just as you can have a cheap meal that’s totally awful. But, ultimately, it all comes down to the quality of the experience.
These days, when I go to a restaurant, what impresses me is the quality of ingredients. If you have a cut of meat that’s from an animal that’s been grass feed and has led a stress free life, you know you are going to be in for a treat. If this is served with organically grown vegetable that have only been picked a few hours earlier in the day, then you know you are going to experience something special. Not much more has to be done, because of the supreme quality of the ingredients.
Dessert could be custard make with fresh, free range farm eggs, organic unpasturised milk, sugar and a fresh vanilla pod. It’s not how many ingredients, it’s the quality of those ingredients.
A wedding reception is the same, and there are really only four important ingredients.
1. A great location.
This could be a hired restaurant or venue, a relative’s house, or a marquee in the backyard.
2. Superb Food.
This could range from fine dining at a restaurant, to your Aunty’s home cooking, to perfectly roasted lamb on a spit in your back garden.
3. Plenty to drink
We I was a boy, my father always used to say, “the sign that you’ve had a good party is plenty of alcohol the following morning”. This never made sense with me until I got old enough to understand this pearl of wisdom!
4. Outstanding Entertainment
Never underestimate the value of a really good band. They are the final layer in making your wedding reception a stand out event that you will cherish the memories from for the rest of your lives together.
If you have the above four elements covered, you’ll be in for a totally memorable event, and I would recommend hiring a photographer to capture these memories in images that you’ll be able to look back over for many years afterwards.
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!
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.
Best Band To Hire For An Event At Athol Hall
If there’s one venue in Sydney that suits the band better than anywhere else in Sydney, it’s got to be Athol Hall, AND… if there’s one venue that we have played at more than any other venue in Sydney, it’s got to be Athol Hall.
Set in Sydney Harbour National Park, Athol Hall is just down from Taronga Zoo off Bradley’s Head Road in Mosman on Sydney’s lower North Shore. It has views across to the Sydney CBD.
There are four things that I love about Athol Hall;
- The outdoor space
- The indoor space
- The owner of the business
- The native wildlife
The Outdoor Space
Athol Hall boasts an expansive lawn, surrounded by native Australian bushland. This is a perfect setting for the band to perform in our “roving acoustic” format, but rather than trying to describe this using words, these film clips will show this better.
The Indoor Space
The hall itself is wooden and approximately a hundred years old and has loads of rustic charm. Old wood enhances the quality of resonance. Much the same as an old violin or double bass having a superior sound, when the band plays acoustically inside the hall, the sound is amazing.
The hall is the perfect size for weddings and parties. We recently played at a wedding there for 30 people. We have also played there for a capacity crowd of around 160.
Here’s the band rocking out at Athol Hall (later in the evening).
The Owners Of The Business (Athol Hall)
In this day and age, a function-venue actually being run by a husband and wife partnership is a rarity. I would estimate 95% of function-venues in Sydney are run by corporations with vast networks of managers and staff. What is so refreshing about playing at Athol Hall is that every time we turn up there to play, the business owner, Susan Hewitt is there setting things up and liaising with other suppliers. We have a chat and a catch up before we get on with things. It’s so refreshing!
The Native Wildlife
This is a superb venue if you are going to have guests coming from overseas. The wildlife is surprisingly tame. They help create that ‘uniquely Australian’ vibe. There are kookaburras, possums, bush turkeys and lizards. Check out the cheeky possum in this clip (below).
5 Must Have Tips When Booking Your Wedding Band
Bands Ain’t Bands
Should you accept a “throw-together” band just because the gig is your wedding?
What actually makes a band “a band” is when the same group of musicians do hundreds of gigs together as one unit. It’s the combination. This can’t be replicated easily. Think of what happened to INXS after Michael Hutchence died? The band has kept going, but it’s never been as good. Similarly, think of it like a great football team. If you can keep the same combination going out onto the field unchanged for a whole season, they will run rings around an “all star” team thrown together for one game. Do you want your wedding to be a well paid band rehearsal or would you prefer a well oiled machine? Is it actually a band or has it been “tailor-made” (in other words “thrown-together”) to accommodate your budget.
Tip 1 – Beware of fake bands.
Tip # 2
How long will the band actually play for?
I went to a wedding as a guest earlier this year. The bride and groom booked a 1950’s style rock and roll band to play. Being a musician, I was intrigued to watch how long they played for. The reception went for five hours, during which they played two sets – a 45 minute set and a 35 minute set. That’s an hour and twenty minutes out of five hours. The rest of the time they just sat around. When I told the guys in my band about it, they couldn’t believe how little they played. We normally aim to play 5 X 45 minutes or the equivalent there of. I didn’t become a musician to sit around on breaks. Do you want your band to actually work, or do you want them sitting around drinking up your bar tab?
Tip 2 – Find out how long the band intends to play for.
Tip # 3
A Wedding Band Specialises in playing at Wedding
What makes playing at a wedding different to other types of gigs?
The first consideration with a wedding is the diversity in the ages of guests. Generally, ages can range from 18 to 80. In addition to friends, there’ll be parents, grand-parents, uncles, aunties, cousins and maybe some work colleagues. A diverse audience needs a band with a diverse repertoire.
The second consideration is that wedding receptions are usually a minimum of five hours long. The reception will usually unfold in stages. Guests arrive sober and typically want to talk and catch up with friends and family while partaking in pre-dinner drinks. It’s great to have the band playing as guests arrive. It adds atmosphere and can be lots of fun but it can’t be obtrusive. If it’s a ‘sit-down’ dinner style reception, can the band create ambience without intruding upon guests’ conversations? When it comes to dancing, how many different age groups will be enticed into dancing? The appeal of the band needs to be inclusive of a broad range of ages.
Tip 3 – Book a band that will appeal to multiple age groups
Tip # 4
I’ll Be There For You
Who are you dealing with?
When you talk to the person representing the band, are you dealing with someone who will actually be there at the wedding? Often, the person you’ll be dealing with will be an agent or professional salesperson who won’t be there. If you can cut out the ‘middle-man’ you’ll be far better off. Talking to and building a rapport with the band leader will lead to a better performance by the band. It’s all about relationships. If the band feel like they know you, they’ll do a better job for you. It’s as simple as that. If there’s no relationship, your wedding will be merely a pay-packet. No relationship equals no vibe.
Tip 4 – It’s a genuine advantage to be dealing directly with the band-leader.
Tip # 5
Reputation and Referrals
How many weddings have you been to?
If you haven’t been to many weddings, a great idea is to let your friends and acquaintances (and even other suppliers) do your leg work for you. Good, strong, credible referrals are ten times better than well constructed websites. Chances are that your photographer has been to hundreds of weddings. Ask him/her for their ideas on the best bands going around town. Venues will often have a “preferred suppliers” list, but you need to be wary as to whether the band is on the list due to their merits, or because they have paid to be on the list. Ask around your friends, colleagues and acquaintances. If the name of a band comes up two or three times, chances are you are onto something.
Tip 5 – Nothing beats a great referral or recommendation.
Final Word On Booking A Wedding Band.
The whole wedding scene has changed a so much since I first started playing at them. The fact that people refer to it as an “industry” is something I find disturbing. I find the whole concept of businesses maximising their profits out of a “couple’s special day” as totally off, but so typical of the era in which we live. If you feel the same way, and want a band that’s real, passionate and a bit “old school” about what they do, I can assure you we will run rings around any other bands.