While hiring musicians to entertain during the many settings and moods of the wedding day may seem to be a daunting or pricey endeavor, providing guests with live music can impart a decidedly meaningful and lasting flourish to the celebration.
Considerations when hiring musicians include the varied settings where live music is performed, the size and acoustics of these settings and the musical versatility of the musicians. Matching a great group of musicians to personal taste and the desired tone of the wedding are equally important factors.
“The aim is to hire quality, versatile, professional musicians who can play the space and understand their role,” says Pat Ryan, a Cape Cod-based musician who operates Full Spectrum Music, a custom ensemble enterprise. “A band needs to realize they are entertaining at a wedding, not a club or bar, and need to adjust the volume and their equipment accordingly and, of course, have that accomplished range of styles.”
Among the ensembles custom-assembled by Full Spectrum Music, a few illustrate the range of live music options: a custom, seven-piece band for a tented reception in Chatham that starts with jazz standards and smoothly switches to contemporary dance, rock, Motown and funk as the celebration progresses, or the smaller wedding featuring a Nat King Cole-style trio of guitar, keyboards and upright bass perfect for playing a smaller room during all the segments of the day.
Even though the size of the reception area may dictate how many musicians may be hired, couples are not necessarily limited in how they may configure the size of their group to fit a particular setting.
“Deciding factors on choosing musical configurations include room size and budget,” says Daniel Calvo, musician/proprietor of Boston-based live music agency, Night Rhythm, who performs in the three bands he books — the Washington Calvo Duo featuring his wife, Lisa, on harp, and him on flute and two dance bands called Night Rhythm, distinguished by the number of singers hired.
“The two dance bands we book are especially popular with couples who have a stage for four- or five-pieces who can stretch it to six or more musicians,” he explains, adding the two groups are lauded for their excellence in performing a song book tapping current and Top 40 music to Motown, swing and music from the ‘70s and ‘80s. “One band is a six- to eight-piece group featuring two singers, Monica and Brian, and the other is a seven- to eight-piece ensemble featuring three singers – Rebecca, Meyer and Jerome.” Calvo plays saxophone in both dance bands, which feature multi-instrumentalists and versatile singers with distinguished credentials.
Having a versatile band configuration and being adaptable to various room settings are imperatives for successful musicians and groups performing at weddings.“For example, we play many venues, from the Boston Public Library to a room in a historic house to Castle Hill,” says Calvo.
A musical group’s ability to size up or down depending on the setting, from church and cocktail hour to dinner and reception, as well as change songbooks and tempos to match those settings, make live music a stylish, clever option in Bruce Hopkins’ estimation.
“Live music, price wise, is very competitive with deejays and also offers amazing flexibility with respect to budgets, ensemble configurations and providing top entertainment for many segments of the wedding day,” says Hopkins, owner of Rhode Island-based Music Performance Service, specializing in classical and jazz musicians.
“For instance, the piano player from the four-piece jazz ensemble hired for the reception may come forward as a soloist to perform during the dinner hour,” he says. “Or the solo violinist or vocalist who performed with the church organist during the ceremony, when joined with other musicians, continues to entertain with more up-tempo, contemporary background music, from lighter classical music to Scott Joplin rags, from Gershwin to popular music during cocktails and dinner.”
With a bit of imagination and the assistance of a respected wedding music agency, couples may indeed opt for the interactive energy of live music without breaking the bank.
****This article was published in Southern New England Weddings 2013-2014 issue.