5 Must Have Tips When Booking Your Wedding Band

5 Must Have Tips When Booking Your Wedding Band

Tip #1

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

Work Ethic

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.

Wedding “Industry“?

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.

sergeants mess wedding laura
5 Must Have Tips When Booking Your Wedding Band
small - selfie with bride at pymble GC
5 Must Have Tips When Booking Your Wedding Band
small - selfie with sarah at balmain
5 Must Have Tips When Booking Your Wedding Band

small - selfie with megan burrawang

Slide McBride at Gunners Barracks
5 Must Have Tips When Booking Your Wedding Band

 

Best Band To Hire For An Event At Sergeants Mess

Best Band To Hire For An Event At Sergeants Mess, Chowder Bay (Mosman)

One of Sydney’s premium venues for functions and events is Sergeants Mess. Situated at Chowder Bay, Mosman, this venue has incredible views across to Nielsen Park, Vaucluse. The venue is perfectly laid out to maximise these breathtaking views.

The venue can seat up to 250 for dinner, although typically (when we play there) numbers are between 120 and 180. It is a venue we have played at countless times, and one that we never tire of performing at. Acoustically, it’s a great room. The band always sounds good when we play here. The main room is spacious with ample area to hire a band and set a dance floor for a full scaled party.

Pre-dinner drinks are usually partaken in the bar area at the eastern end of the building. For this early part of an event, we typically set up in our “roving acoustic” format. I sing through my old brass megaphone and the band performs without electricity. This part of what we do is quirky and captures the attention of guests as they arrive on site and sip on their first glass of sparkling wine or beer. It sets up the mood for the rest of the event. It’s fun while not being too loud or overbearing. It’s the perfect start for an event at Sergeants Mess.

When hiring a band for Sergeants Mess,  mindful consideration needs to be given to the main dining room’s natural acoustics. Although the flooring is covered with plush carpet, the parallel walls enable sound to carry with ease throughout the whole room. In practical terms, what this means is that it’s important that the music doesn’t get too loud. Sound travels easily at this venue. We know this, and apply this strategy to how loud we play.

When hiring a band to play at Sergeants Mess, there are generally two options for where to place the band, either in the centre or at the western end. From my experience of dozens of performances at Sergeants Mess, I can say with definitude that the central option works best.

If you have any questions about how a band will fit in with an event you are planning to hold at Sergeants Mess, please don’t hesitate in getting in contact with me.

Best Band To Hire For An Event At Sergeants Mess

Sergeants Mess website – http://www.sergeantsmess.com.au/

 

What is the best band to hire for Gunners Barracks, Sydney?

What is the best band to hire for Gunners Barracks?

Gunners Barracks at Georges Heights (Mosman) is one of Sydney’s most spectacular venues for weddings, private parties and corporate events. It’s perched high on the hill with stunning views to the south, across the harbour to Vaucluse and Rose Bay.

It’s been called “Gunners Barracks” due to it’s original function of housing military personnel who maned the guns situated there to defend Sydney. The exceptional view of the harbour meant that they had the best opportunity of hitting their targets, if any enemy ships should attempt to invade. When I first performed there back in the early 1990’s, the Australian Army used it as their Officer’s Mess. I played there  at some private functions for the army and army personnel.

The Federal Government took back the land in the 1990’s and it’s now administered by the Harbour Trust Authority who lease the premises to Grand Pacific Group. A few minor modifications have been done to the building, but it’s historic charm has changed little.

As a venue for a function, I would describe it “quirky” because of the four separate spaces that make up the venue. The dining room is on the small side, and comfortably seats 80 – 90 for dinner. The terrace (or balcony) is large and open with breathtaking panoramic views of Sydney Harbour. This is the major selling point of the venue. Then, on the other side of the dining room is the courtyard which often gets used for ceremonies and for outdoor dancing. Finally, there is a backroom (off the dining room) where bands and DJ’s usually set up to provide music for dancing.

With four unique spaces available, it’s easy for things to become disjointed throughout an event. This has a major bearing on entertainment (should you want your guests to be entertained). Thrown into the mix, the only space available for bands using amplification is the backroom. Bands playing acoustically can set up outdoors, but leasing arrangements with the Harbour Trust means that volume levels have to be closely monitored.

It’s a tricky venue if you are hoping to use live entertainment, but it’s a venue that suits Slide McBride to a tee! I have played at Gunners Barracks 60 – 70 times, and it’s the ideal venue for us.

My band’s unique ability to play both acoustically and amplified sets us apart from other bands. Add to this our ability to adjust and adapt to the different stages of an event along with the different rooms makes us an ideal choice.

  • We can play out on the terrace in our roving acoustic format. Similarly, we can play out in the back courtyard.
  • We can also squeeze in and play in the dining room. We do this acoustically which creates a wonderful atmosphere but never gets too loud or over bearing.
  • We can crank up the music with amplification later on, out in the back room. Sometimes people dance in the courtyard, other times they dance in the room itself, but usually we end up with a combination of both.

To conclude, Gunners Barracks is a quirky venue because of the four unique spaces there. Nevertheless,  if you understand the value of live entertainment that can transform your function from just a dinner into being a special event that your guest will talk about for many years later, then make a priority of booking us for this event. Gunners Barracks is an amazing venue, but doesn’t suit many bands. We are the exception.

dancing on the deck at Gunners Barracks
Dancing on the balcony at Gunners Barracks

 

 

 

Buying a Bed and Hiring a Band

Buying a Bed and Hiring a Band

What could possibly be similar about the experiences of buying a bed or hiring a band? If you’d like to know, then read on…

Earlier this year, I was waking up with a sore back, and decided that I needed a new mattress. So, like everyone does in this day and age, I open up my laptop and hit Google with key words, “mattresses” + “Sydney”. The result was overwhelming. An endless list appears, and I stared at the screen for about half an hour until I gave up wading through the listings. Can’t I just find a local mattress shop and physically go there and lie on a few beds?

I knew that my local David Jones store has a mattress section, so I went down and got some good old-fashion customer service. The only problem was that their cheapest mattress was $3,500. I was tempted, but not convinced and so I continued on in my hunt.

A few days later, I was driving down Parramatta Road through Annandale, and noticed a shop called “Mattress City”.  http://www.mattresscity.net.au/ I didn’t stop, but made a mental note of the business’s name. Later that day, I put “mattress city annandale” into the Google Search bar, and found the shop’s website. I rang up, but seriously… what can someone tell you about mattresses over the phone? The shop owner’s advice made sense, “Come into the shop and try lying on them”.

The next problem I encountered was to convince my wife that it was worth our while to drive to Annandale to check out this shop. “What do we need to go to Annandale for? Can’t we just buy it ‘on-line’ “?

Buying a mattress is something you only do every ten years or so.  While buying on-line was definitely an option, I didn’t feel confident in making the right choice by looking at websites. In addition, if my choice was poor, it’s difficult to return for a refund or replacement.

I managed to get my wife to come out to Annandale, but when she saw the shop from the outside she baulked and had a meltdown because she didn’t like the appearance of the shop. The shop looked a bit dingy and was cramped with mattresses. It was definitely no “Ikea”. This shop was old school, like going into a shop back in the 70’s before professional marketers transformed our lives into the world of Westfield. We are now so conditioned by the model set up for us by mass market retail chains with demographically specific music chosen to suit the shoppers at different times of the day, and not too many choices in products. Getting her into the shop was like trying to pull a cat by a lead into a swimming pool, but I eventually talked her into the store.

The shop is owned and run by George. This is a classic, school one man show. He answers the phone, does the selling, orders the stock and even delivered our mattress (but more on that later). And George knows EVERYTHING there is to know about mattress. His knowledge and expertise was mind blowing. His frankness and honesty was totally refreshing. His level of service puts most retailers to shame. But best of all, his price was better than we could have got anywhere else. It truly saddens me that the “George’s” of our world are a dying breed. Everything in retail has been taken over by franchises run by people with no passion for what they are selling. They’re just products with  dollar signs attached.

George personally delivered our new mattress. He was concerned about our narrow and steep staircase and didn’t want to take a risk that his regular delivery guy may bend the new mattress in the wrong way. This exemplifies his level of passion, care and service – unequaled.

So… when it comes to hiring a band for you once in ten year party or function, wouldn’t you like to get that same level of passion, care and service?

Buying a Bed and Hiring a Band Buying a Bed and Hiring a Band

Three Things To Have After You Hire a Band

Three Things You Should Have After You Hire A Band

Three Things You Should To Have After You Hire a Band

If you’re stumbled on this article, chances are that you’ve been trolling the internet hoping to find a band to play at any of the following types of events;

  • Wedding
  • Birthday Party
  • Ball
  • Christmas Party
  • Fundraiser
  • Presentation Night
  • Celebratory Dinner
  • Party

So, how do you approach finding the right band for your event?

The secret is working backwards…

Think ahead to the day AFTER your event. How would you hope to feel? What MEMORIES would you hope to have? What contribution would you expect the band to have made to these memories?

Three Things You Should Hope To Have

Sore feet sounds more like something to avoid, but if you wake up with sore feet after your function, chances are that you were dancing your socks off the night before. So… you want a band that will get you and your guests up dancing –  even if these are people who wouldn’t normally dance.

Compliments sounds self indulgent, but it’s actually great feedback to the success of the event. If you are swamped with your guests telling you what an amazing time they had, you know you’ve done your job well.

A Big Smile on Your Face and memories that you’ll keep forever is what it’s all about, but you don’t get these from pleasing yourself. You get this from pleasing other people, namely your guests.

Ultimately (and this may sound crazy), your party isn’t about you. It’s about your friends and family who have taken the time out of their lives to be with you and share that time to celebrate with you, whatever the event should be.

Make the experience amazing for your guests and then you are assure that you will have an amazing time.

How do I know this?

I have played at over two thousand private events. Something I often hear myself say at the end of the night is, “I wish I got invited to (as a guest) the sort of parties that I play at”. The people who hire my band know the value we create… and I love what I do!

Three Things You Should Have After You Hire A Band
Dancing

 

 

How To Pick A Band For Your Wedding

How To Pick A Band For Your Wedding

We live in an era of short attention. Phone apps such a “Vine” work on the concept that the longest we can concentrate for is six seconds. Therefore, the app limits your video footage to a mere six seconds.

In regards to the music business, television shows such as “Idol” and “The Voice” condense performances to ninety seconds. We are getting more and more accustomed to these short performances, and we sit at home and judge a singer by what they can deliver over these ninety seconds.

The irony is that as singers on television are performing for shorter periods, wedding receptions seem to be getting longer. When I first started playing at weddings back in the 1990’s, all wedding receptions went for four hours. That was the standard. Nowadays, the average length of a wedding reception is five and a half hours, although we frequently get booked to play longer than this. A four hour wedding seems rare these days. So…when looking to book a band, the question you have ask is this –

Can they go the distance?

When I get inquiries, a typical question I get asked is, “Can I come and see you play somewhere?” My response to this is is that unless you actually see us play at a wedding, you will have no idea as to what we are like when we play at a wedding.

Watching a band play one set in a pub shows you little as to what they sound like four hours into your wedding, when it’s time to motivate your wedding guests to dance.

Another consideration is, are the band going to playing throughout dinner, or are they going to be spending this time hitting the bar and drinking up your bar tab. If they are going to play through dinner, will your guests be able to comfortably hold a conversation?

What about pre-dinner drinks? What vibe can the band generate when your guests are still sober and arriving at the reception? Can they play outside without electricity?

A singer with a great voice is one thing, but the ability to read the audience and connect with guests is far more important in the context of a wedding. Other factors that you need to consider are versatility and adaptability. Typically, guests at weddings have a broad range of ages, usually from 18 to 80 year olds. Can the band connect across these different generations? Many venues have idiosyncracies that the band has to deal with. Can they adapt to whatever arises without it affecting their performance?

So, how do you pick a band?

One word answer – references

Consider that you are hiring someone for a job (which is what you are actually doing).

Have you ever applied for a job?

Were you asked to provide references?

Did your employer check the references that you provided?

Unless the employer was desperate, of course s/he checked your references.

Therefore, when hiring a band for your wedding –

CHECK THE BAND’S REFERENCES

If the band is one the venue’s preferred supplier’s list, you need to find out if (A) they have paid money to be on this list, or (B) are they on this list purely on their merits.

If the band has testimonials, can you get in contact with the person who wrote it?

Photographers see a lot of bands. They will have an excellent idea as to what bands are best going around.

And, of course… word of mouth is unbeatable.

To see my band’s testimonials, please CLICK HERE

 

 

Hiring A Band For Your Wedding Reception

hiring a wedding band

Hiring A Band For Your Wedding Reception

When it comes to weddings, I’m never at the paying end, but from what I’ve heard, they can get really expensive.

The list of things you have to pay for can include;

  • Venue
  • Food
  • Alcohol/Beverages
  • The dress
  • The cars
  • The flowers
  • Photographers
  • Videographers
  • Table Cloths and Covers
  • Room Styling
  • Etc
So, where does entertainment sit on your list?

Most people will consider hiring a photographer as vital to their wedding day. What a photographer does is to capture the memories of the day into pictures, so that you can always look back and reignite those memories from the day.

So… if a photographer capturing the memories is a priority, what about the importance of creating those memories?

With regards to music, most  people will hire a DJ for their wedding reception. It’s a cheap and easy option. A DJ will have thousands of songs at his/her disposal and will usually work off a list of requests from the bride and groom. Maybe they will also supply some coloured lights, but there is no other visual element. This isn’t really “entertainment”, because a person standing behind a table with a laptop and some decks isn’t doing anything that connects with people.

Alternatively, a live band has a visual element that can never be matched by a DJ. They real people creating music in a live atmosphere. If the band is good, they will connect with guests in a way that no DJ can. This then creates memories that will stay with people for many years.

How often do we hear recorded music being played?
  • When I go to Westfields (or any other shopping centre), every shop is playing their own music playlist.
  • When I drive in my car, I can select music from dozens of radio stations, or plug in my own ipod.
  • When I turn on the TV, there is music in the shows I watch and the commercials that come on.
  • If I travel on public transport, half the people are wearing headphones, creating their own soundtrack to their lives.
Do you want your wedding reception to be just another day in people’s lives, or do you want it to be special, memorable and extraordinary?

If you consider how often most people actually see live music performed each year, you could probably count them using the fingers on one hand. It is not something typical in most people’s lives. This is exactly the reason it make hiring a band for a wedding reception such a vital component in making the event memorable.

I once played at a wedding, and during the event I asked the groom why he had hired us. His response I will never forget. He said he had read a whole lot of reviews of  weddings,  written by bride’s and grooms. He discovered one common regret that kept newly-weds wrote about their weddings. The regret was NOT hiring a good band. He then made it his mission to find the best band available in Sydney. He hired us and considered doing so as the key element that “made” his wedding.

best wedding bandRead these reviews of the band on Event Birdie – SLIDE MCBRIDE REVIEWS

 

Who I am and why I’m here

I believe in finding purpose. When I find purpose then I have all I need to drive me to make something useful of myself. One of the things that I’ve worked out for myself is the value of serving other people. This is what then gives me a purpose, makes me feel useful and then leads to fulfillment.

I have one of those “dream” jobs that people fantasize about. I am a singer in a band, and have made my living from this for the last twenty-five years. It’s a job that sounds great and can be loads of fun, but has many pitfalls and a never ending list of challenges.

An example of one of the pitfalls is alcohol. What other jobs are there where you are encouraged and expected to drink alcohol. As a singer, it’s always available and always free and constantly being offered, but it’s the worst thing for your voice. I learned very early in the game that this has to be avoided, despite the temptation always being there.

I have worked with plenty of musicians who drink when they work, and I’ve never seen it make someone play better. Sadly, I’ve heard it make many musicians sound a whole lot worse. I’ve had some highly embarrassing moments on the bandstand surrounded by drunks while I’ve been totally sober. The audience look perplexed while the guys in the band think they sound amazing.

One of the major challenges of being a singer is getting older. Our culture is preoccupied with youth, and the music business takes this further than any other occupation. I have the experience of performing on somewhere around three thousand gigs, but the person hiring the band will generally prefer a singer with little or no experience but with the right look, that is, young and sexy. In contrast, imagine needing an operation or surgery but opting for a young, good looking doctor rather than an older, experience one. Another example might be that you are facing jail, but rather than employing the most experienced lawyer available, you prefer to hire a young sexy lawyer.

Another challenge that is hard to take is part time singers and musicians who happily play for free because they want to live out a fantasy of being a “rock star” for the night. Sometimes I fantasize about being a banker and buying and selling companies in foreign lands, but I don’t anticipate that anyone is going to let me do that for even one hour.

Getting back to my original statement of finding purpose, the older I get the more I value “serving” other people. I work harder now on a gig than I have ever worked because I can see my role more clearly than ever before. I generally get employed to perform at occasions in people’s live that are highly significant to them, such as their wedding or their birthday party, where primarily my role is to make the night as memorable as possible. So, this is what I try to do. It’s all about them, and not about me. It sounds like a cliche, but that’s where my journey as a singer has taken me.

hire a band sydney

 

 

Wedding at Gunners Barracks

We played at David and Danielle’s wedding reception at The Gunners Barracks, Georges Heights on Friday, 16th January.

The Gunners Barracks is always a great venue for us. The quirky nature of the different spaces makes it an ideal place for us to show all the different facets of what we do.

David and Danielle chose to have a cocktail style wedding. I am personally a huge fan of this style of event. It means that guests don’t get stuck at a table between two people for two to three hours.

We spent the first two hours playing acoustically out on the terrace, and then we played with amplification in the main room.

hire a band

Bride and groom, Danielle and David

hire a band

Selfie with guests out on terrace

blake keep

Blake playing his saxophone