Thursday, December 9, 2010

unrelated brain doodles in no particular order

Had a corporate gig in Scottsdale a couple of weeks ago and shared the bill with a great magician. We had lunch together last week. The event was for an engineering firm. This was my 3rd Christmas event for them. There was an engineer type who came up during cocktail hour, sucking on a soda through a straw, wearing an ill-fitting, out-of-date jacket and he looked incredulously at me and my equipment and asked if I really make a living at this. I got really serious and lowered my voice and tilted my head downward to his, squinted my eyes so they pierced him and I said, "I make more than you..." It frightened him and he walked away. I bet I DO make more than him. He's lucky I didn't respond with, "Do you really make a living sitting around an office doodling?"

People often approach me, who may be somewhat interested in what I do or how I do it or how the equipment works and there also seems to be some romantic notions about the life of a travelling entertainer with the lights, the stage clothes and everything. I know that what they are saying is, "This is really cool, you must have a great life, and I want to be close to you for a minute." But what comes out is, "Do you really make a living at this?" Or worse, they have to tear it down because it shines the light on their boring or otherwise out-of-control life and then what comes out is "When are you gonna play something we can dance to?" or "We can't dance to this, what WE want is..." I look at the dancefloor filled with 75% of the attendees and wonder who elected them spokesperson for those who ARE dancing? I just try to remember that what they are trying to say is- "This is really cool." I DO love my life and my chosen profession.

Since I'm on this subject. I have had two people in the last 2 weeks come up and request the very song that is playing. Are you even listening? They must have really thought it was cool and wanted any reason to come up and say hello.

Made a road trip to LA last month for a concert.

While in LA, had lunch with my son, Javin, he turned 20 this week, met his girlfriend, liked her.

I don't mind what speed people go out in the desert, but I'd like them to maintain it fairly consistently. The left lane isn't really called the fast lane- it's the PASSING lane. If you aren't passing, GET OUT OF MY WAY and let me pass! Don't use the argument that you are going over the speed limit anyways and I should just deal with it. I don't have cruise control in the DJ van but I can maintain a pace within about 2 MPH pretty well. I was in my car for this trip and used the cruise control and it was painfully obvious that people were more interested in texting and yakking than watching the speedometer.

Gary Numan sold out two nights at El Rey Theater and melted some faces! He played the entire Pleasure Principle album to celebrate 30 years since its release. It's an important album because it was the first rock album devoid of electric guitars. They strapped on some guitars for the 2nd half of the show and played some current music and other fan faves from the catalogue. Steve Harris is an unknown treasure in the guitar world- a madman on stage and I almost took a guitar to the face more than once. A few years ago at a show in San Diego, he almost took a tumble off the stage but I caught him. He looks fairly normal here. He's a specimen of manhood, the last time I saw him, he was shirtless and had a black line painted down his face and neck and chest like a zipper- pretty scary.
I had a backstage pass and I got to go to sound check and talk to Gary Numan. I pressed him about bringing the show to Phoenix in the spring when the new album comes out and he said he' would have liked to come this time- they did have some interested promoters- but that he has kids now and doesn't like to be away from them for so long. Next tour, he said he'd do the east coast and then spend some time with family and then hit a few more cities in the west than he did this time. He did thank me very genuinely for driving 6 hrs each way for the show and promised that he'd work hard to make it a a good one. It was.

I know he doesn't particularly like meeting fans but he does it because it means a lot to fans. I just thanked him for the music, got an autograph on a DVD and I let him go. At the height of his stardom in the 80s, he received a live bullet in the mail from a "fan"- a bullet is really hard to get in Britain. The note said that the bullet had been in a handgun (even harder to get in Britain) that was snuck into Wembley Stadium and he had intended to kill him but had such a good time at the show that he decided not to...
There was a photographer with the local music press up in front of the barrier at the Numan show that was a fit and trim guy but still looked a bit like a nerd. He had a shaved head and there was a glaring, long, curly hair growing from the top of his ear. Not a spot on the side of his head where he mistakenly missed shaving, it was ON THE TOP OF HIS EAR. It would seem that a photographer would have good enough vision to have spotted that in the mirror each morning. The stage lights made it really shine.

The opening act sucked.

I have about 6 little cases of ear plugs in my desk in my home office. I always buy a set for each concert I attend because I always forget to bring the ones I have. I protect my hearing pretty religiously. The drug store a couple of blocks down Wilshire Blvd from the El Rey Theater sold me a case of about 10 pairs of ear plugs. A few fans in the front row with me were plugging their ears in the first couple of numbers from the sucky opening act and I offered them my extra plugs. At first, they thought I was offering drugs or something. I had to point to my ears with the purple ear plugs in them. They accepted my offer.

My buddy Scott from Orange County was going to try to buy a ticket after the start of the show when the ticket sellers may be a bit more desperate. Out front, he had offered to snap a pic under the marquee for a dad with two teenage daughters attending the show. He got down on his knee and really framed the pic nicely. For his gesture, he got a spare ticket intended for the mom who was sick. Scott is 6'4" and he pressed/wrestled his way right down front anyway. You suck Scott!

Said hello to a fellow fan that I've seen at shows over the years... he's now a she.

Talk show host, Craig Ferguson and U2 guitarist, The Edge were in attendance- both proclaim Numan fandom.

Gary Numan was supposed to have headlined the Coachella Music festival but was stranded in Britain because of the Iceland volcano last spring. Craig Ferguson had purchased a $270 ticket for the festival and ranted on and on in his opening monologue the next night about not getting to see his hero Gary Numan.

Did a corporate gig for CelllularONE at Hon-dah resort up in Pinetop last weekend. They ain't never seen nothing like me up on the mountain. I sent 'em home in body bags. They had a singer for dinner hour and the hotel staff had man-handled a beautiful white Young Chang grand piano (rather expensive) into the space right beside me. I would have never climbed up there if it was in better condition but the hotel crew had no idea how to handle a piano and it was already pretty scratched up on each corner. It was the perfect platform for me to dance/rock out/do my Baptist preacher routine... They called me on Monday AM and booked me for next year.

The spouse of an attendee came up and told me that he's a DJ too and made a couple of requests that were way out in left field from the format of the evening- THE SONGS I WAS HIRED TO PLAY- I always wonder how good a DJ is when he's talking to me on a Saturday night and not working... Hmmm.... I think he was using cocaine too. I know I talk fast but this guy was going 100mph and couldn't hold still for a second!

Picked some limes at Uncle Dave's house in Pomona CA. Limeade for the last month or so. Juiced it all and made ice cubes out of it. They are in a freezer bag now.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The greatest Christmas songs ever

That's right, I said that and I'll say it again because I'm controversial. I'm like Geraldo.

Here they are, the GREATEST Christmas songs ever:

10) Styx- All I want

  • Most artists either cover an existing song from the 50s or 60s when most of the really good Christmas music was written or they do an overwrought, contrived and unimaginative "original" song about how "it's Christmastime and the snow is falling down..." Falling down?!!???! As opposed to...? This one is a great original by a great band. My only complaint is that it uses sleigh bells. They are used very well mind you, but sleigh bells do not necessarily a Christmas song make and in the same way, merely declaring that it's Christmastime in the first line or two does not make it a Christmas song. In light of the fact that it is an otherwise solid, well-crafted, arranged and performed song, I'll slide it in at number 10.
9) Randy Travis- Jingle Bell Rock

  • It's been covered several times but the song just lends itself to a country treatment and there's none better than the deep and smooth voice of Randy Travis.
8) Peter, Paul and Mary- Children, Go where I send thee

  • A great song in the "Twelve days of Christmas" vein where you add an item with each verse and work your way down. You kinda should know your Christianity to get some of the references but if not, you have a reason to do some searching on who Paul and Silas are (in addition to other things) and why they are sung about together. I have a live performance of it and it is incredibly flawed compared to the quantized and overproduced music of today but that's what gives it some life. The song really does live and breathe.
7) The Osmonds- Kay Thompson's Jingle Bells

  • It's just full of the joy of the season.
6) Jon Bon Jovi- Please come home for Christmas

  • When Bon Jovi was on hiatus and Jon was doing some acting and other things in the 90s, he recorded this song and knocked it out of the park. It's a great vocal performance that only takes 1/2 of the song but he sang what he needed to sing and got himself out. This version clocks in at only 2:53 the rest of it is filled with a respectable guitar solo but it could have just ended early and been fine.

5 1/2) Amy Grant-Breath of Heaven

  • What a powerful song. There is nothing you could do to change it. The reverent and religious message itself causes the chord progression to be what it is. The dramatic pauses are brilliant and it's kindof in a class by itself. It IS a Christmas song but not in the cutesy or secular-ish vein but it couldn't not be on this list... and no, I don't need no English lessons. Amy Grant nailed this one.
5) Dennis DeYoung- When I hear a Christmas song

  • I already mentioned that all of the good Christmas music was already written and we just have the new artists rehashing what has already been done and done and done- this is really a new classic. Although it leans on the sleigh bells again, it's an otherwise perfect Christmas love song.

4) The Chipmunks- Christmas don't be late

  • It's a well-crafted song that used cutting edge technology for the time, but still sounds superior to the electronically treated voices used in the recent chipmunks movies and musically it still holds up pretty well. Alvin... uh Alvin... ALVIN!
3) Amy Grant- The Christmas Song (Chestnuts)

  • This is another one that has been covered by several artists over the years. Ms. Grant's version just captures the message of the song. It's romantic, it's spiritual and fun. It's a great slow dance.
2) The Carpenters- Merry Christmas Darling

  • Karen Carpenter was before my time but her voice is just perfect. It melts me and it should melt you too.

1) Andy Williams- The most wonderful time

  • It's ain't Christmas until ANDY says it's Christmas and he says it so well with this song.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

31 years as a DJ

I just celebrated 31 years as a DJ this last week. My first gig was on November 14th of 1979.

This is the earliest picture I have of me as a DJ. This was taken in 1983. I was 17 yrs old and already 3 years into what has become my career. I didn't count myself a professional until about 5 years later when I did my first big budget event at one of the local country clubs in Riverside CA and I changed that event from a good event into a great event and that golf club became a regular customer for many years.
This is my current DJ rig. It can do about 20 times what that mess up there could do.
Here are some pictures from just this past weekend. I'm doing the Cha-cha slide with a young bridal party. I've got lots of new toys since that first gig back in 1979. This was at King Ben's Pavilion at Golfland/Sunsplash on Friday night. I attracted 200 of the 350 in attendance and I had to compete with Lazer Tag, miniature golf, fried food, a major arcade and a lovely evening with a full moon. Once they discovered that I was there under the tent and I meant business, they packed that space and stayed and danced until the wee hours of the morning.

FUN FACTS from 31 years in this industry-

Other than business cards, I never spent a dime on advertising until early 2007 when I was the new guy in Phoenix.

People I've met during my DJ career: Explorer Jacques Cousteau, Rock singer Huey Lewis, President elect Bill Clinton, Congressman Jeff Flake of Arizona, Governor Janet Napalitano of Arizona (now Homeland Security Secretary), Tommy Shaw, James Young and Dennis DeYoung of Styx, Teen idol Davy Jones of the Monkees, Electronic rock pioneer Gary Numan, Arizona TV Legends Wallace and Ladmo, DJ Kasey Casem, TV fashion expert Avril Graham, The Laker Girls, the San Diego Charger Girls, Guitarist Joe Satriani, British DJ/Producer Ade Fenton, Actor Paul Hogan, Director Steven Spielberg, French composer/musician Jean-Michel Jarre, Radio DJ Rick Dees, Teen idol Andy Gibb, Mormon Church leaders Spencer W. Kimball and Ezra Taft Benson, Fox Morning News host Alexis Delchiaro. Countless Mayors, political contenders, magicians, puppeteers, comedians, singers, jugglers, regional musical acts, special interest authors, school Principals and lots of other nice people who are out doing the things the world needs done whether it makes them famous or not.

Cool places I've played: Under the nose of Air Force One at the Ronald Reagan Library, Queen Mary, Disneyland, Temecula Balloon and Wine Festival, California School for the Deaf, The Boojum Tree, Huntington Beach- and I mean ON the beach, Bear Creek Inn, atop a San Francisco skyscraper with a perfectly framed view of the Golden Gate Bridge, Wrigley Mansion, The Sanctuary, Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Tempe Center for the Performing Arts. I've worked at events in Oregon, California, Arizona, Utah, Florida, Illinois, Connecticut and Texas.

Interesting situations encountered: A groom was unfaithful with a bridesmaid on Thursday and the bride discovered the encounter on Friday and decided that she didn't want to marry him on Saturday but she kept completely quiet and went ahead with the plans in order to embarrass him publicly at the wedding ceremony. When the officiant asked who thinks this couple shouldn't be married, she let him have it!

Only two major equipment failures to speak of in 31 years- New Years Eve of 1983, power amp blew up with sparks and smoke and everything. A guitarist in attendance had an amp in his car and we made it work. 18 months in to digital DJ work, in about 1999 or 2000, my computer software froze. I'm not a computer whiz but witnessed a miracle as the software re-loaded at the moment when I was about to announce the bride and groom first dance. I have redundancies in place against that ever happening again. I did have a lighting rig collapse during set up and as one of the truss bars came down, it narrowly missed hitting me in the head but it brushed against the front of my chest and sliced my left nipple rather severely. I'm pretty religious about the safety latches and pins but this was during set up when some of them weren't installed yet.

Prom at California School for the Deaf in 1993 and 1994. "Hearing" some of those songs in ASL was beautiful and moving.

A car entered a rural two-lane highway from a driveway and I crashed into the drivers door at about 50MPH and lots of DJ equipment came flying through my back window. I nearly careened down a ravine. Brought the truck to a stop safely several hundred feet down the road. The driver was injured and taken to a hospital for a couple of days. I was a mile away from a wedding venue and two hours from the ceremony start time. The venue operator dispatched someone to come and salvage the equipment from the back of the truck and went and set it in place as best they knew how. (it was a place that I worked regularly) Several road cases were destroyed but all the crucial equipment was intact or at least in working order. I showed up later and took care of the wedding. My truck was totalled. The wedding guests never knew anything was amiss.

Someone offered cocaine once and I refused and asked him to leave the stage because I was trying to work. He apologized but only thought I was upset that he was offering so openly so he offered again with his hand down by his hip and backwards- a bit more discreetly. I don't do drugs.

The fathers of the bride and groom got into a fist fight in the foyer in sight of the reception hall. Both left in handcuffs.

Music: I can't say that I've played Michael Jackson and the Beatles at every gig but I've played them at most gigs and I can't think of a gig where a song or two wouldn't fit in somewhere. I never tire of those songs and they always fill the dancefloor. I'm a huge Styx fan but I rarely play them. Not all that danceable. I do a pretty cool DJ mix thing with Lou Bega's Mambo #5 and Styx's Too Much Time on my Hands once in a while. First song I ever played as a DJ was Gary Numan's Cars. Click here for my previously shared thoughts on the impact of that song on rock music. Thank you Michael and Paul and John for the music. I love you guys! Honorable mention to Van Morrison and Glenn Miller.

I love what I do because everybody is always dressed up, they are celebrating something meaningful to them. You've got the food, the music, the lights, the occasion, the anticipation, the color, the heritage, the fun, the electric conversations, the flirting, the dancing and I get to be the Pied Piper and help them release all that celebration inside of their hearts.

Normally people would say "Here's to another 31 years!" when writing something like this. I don't know if I have 31 more years in me- maybe this will be me in 31 years when I'm 76 years old, but I do love what I do and as long as there are customers who want me to do it I'll keep doing it as best I know how or even improving it as new technology comes along. Thanks to all of you for the great life.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween 2010

Had a great time at the Paul Mitchell School today. I go down there about once a quarter to have some fun. I barter for hair care and other products but it's really just a part of my overall marketing efforts. I just try to get myself in front of people when I can. There are a bunch of twenty-somethings going to school there, about 120 of them, that will likely be getting married in the next few years... I've already booked several events from my appearances there over the months.

I made a nice little gobo to project right in front of the check-in desk that they all loved.
This is Terry, one of the faculty there. I think I liked her better last year as Lady Gaga...This guy works at the front desk. He's dressed as 5-yr old "Stewart" from Mad TV. He's got the voice and the moves and everything. I don't know this student's name but she slid all the way across the floor in her socks- a la Tom Cruise in Risky Business. She's rockin' my guitar here.

This is student body president Stacy on the left of the shot and also various and sundry other students filling the rest of the shot. They were doing the Cupid Shuffle here.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Off to work I go

I worked for a real sweetheart of a bride last month. She wept with joy most of the night and was completely comfortable doing so in front of everybody. It had been a pleasure to have her and her fiance in my home office a couple of times planning the music of the night. Congratulations Nic and Christine!

I purchased a new toy this year- I have a gobo projector system thingy that can project a monogram of the bride and groom or a corporate logo on the dancefloor or a wall. I had a very nice monogram for the new Mrs. deKeyser here with their wedding date and everything. She was nice enough to snap a pic with me using my logo on the dancefloor at the end of the night. I also did a retail promotion for Swarovski at Scottsdale Fashion Park a couple of weeks ago. Someone in the corporate office in New York did a Google search for local DJs and they found me even though I'm some distance down on any Internet search. They were looking for something specific and found me. That's really cool. Any event on a weeknight- which is off-peak, is "found" money as far as I'm concerned.

The whole store is only 700 sq feet (there are hundreds of thousands of dollars of jewelry and home fashions for sale in that small space) but display counters, cabinets, cash register and storage closet take up probably 450 feet of that. With my lighting rig and full sound system and everything, I take 400 sq feet! We weren't allowed to extend out in to the mall at all. I brought all of the stuff but ended up leaving most of it in the van. I took, two speakers, my DJ workstation console and one tripod to mount the gobo projector for a "Swarovski Autumn/Winter 2010" logo, which I actually projected through the store window out into the mall hallway. I don't think there was anybody that walked by without it catching their eye. This is just a .jpg file of what becomes just white light where ever it is projected.
I was able to cram my stuff into about 22 or maybe 23 sq feet and make it work. A caterer brought a tray on wheels to help serve some hor d'oeuvres and drinks and that took about 30 sq feet. The remaining 100 feet of floor space was filled with about 70 customers sipping champagne. There was some corporate staff from LA, and the local Swarovski staff but they kinda stood outside the door (other than a cashier) to make more space. They were selling lots of jewelry that night too. I'm confident that my presence added energy and increased the sales.

This is Avril Graham. She's a fashion expert that can be seen on the Today show occasionally. She was brought in from New York to narrate a fashion show. Even though we weren't supposed to spill out into the mall traffic at all, the fashion show just couldn't have taken place any other way. We were barely in the entryway of the store. You can kinda see my equipment in the window there, my left elbow is pointing at it.
Here are the two local models that took care of the fashion show. Not only are they stunningly beautiful, they are probably the most professional I've ever worked with. They really complimented the fashions and jewelry that they were hired to display. I sound like a heel saying this, I did ask their names and then repeated them a couple of times as I shook their hands, but I didn't write them down and now that I'm writing this a few weeks later, I've forgotten. I apologize to both of you but it really was a pleasure to be on board for such a great event and to be surrounded by true professionals in each of our various crafts. I forgot to say thanks to Jeff Colling of Colling Photo for sending me a copy of the picture from the deKeyser wedding you see at the top of this post. Thanks Jeff, you ROCK!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Rewriting history

I'm playing at a Class of '65 reunion tomorrow night at one of the best resort hotels in this city- very POSH! I've been preparing my music for the event based on a music survey function that the class committee put on their website that would collect up the most requested songs to be played- if class mates would just take a minute to request a few while they checked for details of the various activities planned for the reunion weekend.

I compiled the list and noticed there wasn't any music listed from Bob Dylan, The Doors, The Mamma's and Papa's, The Beatles or Elvis Presley yet they want music from the entire decade representing their high school and college years. I would have thought those artists would feature a little bit more prominently. There was one song by The Beach Boys and one listed from The Rolling Stones. I was born in 1965 and I was hardly a gleam in my fathers' eye while these classmates were in high school, but I've been a DJ for nearly 31 years now and I think I know what to play for this occasion.

Does anyone ever notice that when there is a late night infomercial selling a Time-Life music collection of "The Definitive 70's Collection" that there is no Queen or Aerosmith or Elton John included? Do you know why that is? It's about licensing the rights to sell that song. Queen has no problem selling their body of work packaged any way they want it. If you want "Bohemian Rhapsody" you can buy one of the greatest hits packages or find it on A Night at the Opera and you'll pay for the other songs on there whether you want them or not because they are Queen and "Bohemian Rhapsody" is a great song and they can do that! (you can steal it from various nefarious sources on the Internet)

Itunes is changing the landscape as the years go by but there are several artist who still won't license their music to be sold that way. If Pepsi suddenly said, we are no longer selling single cans, you have to buy at least a 6 pack, there would be rioting in the streets. The music industry tried to hold on to that dream of only selling albums and full CDs for some time even alienating what should have been their next generation of customers who just wanted to buy one song. They fought it so long and hard that there is a whole generation of people who were teens in the 90s who still think that music is free.

I think the big Beatles remastered boxed set that came out a couple of years ago will be the last major CD release of any consequence and it kinda signalled the end of CDs. The Beatles only sell CDs and I think that the bulk of their audience would still purchase them that way. Strangely, there are several "tribute" bands that sell crappy cover versions of Beatles songs on Itunes. Kid Rock had a hit song a couple of years ago called "All Summer Long" and since he wouldn't license it to Itunes, there was a horrible karaoke version of the song that went to number 1 on the Itunes chart for a few weeks. Itunes is the #1 retailer of music in the world now. There are teens discovering music now that have never known anything but their ipod or their iphone for music.

I haven't used CDs in over a decade now. I use a music service for professional DJs so I can keep current with the music I need and find songs for occasions such as this if I don't already have the requested songs. (I already had about 85% of their list)

I have a hunch that any classmates that took the survey probably did a google search for music of the 60s to jog their memory and several Time-Life collections came up along with some Amazon suggestions and people didn't really search their memory to think of the songs that meant something to them or try to remember the theme song from their Senior Prom. They just accepted what was given as the truth and accepted that the list they saw really was the " 16 Most Beloved Songs of the 60's" or the "Most Requested Songs of the 60's" when clearly the Beatles probably outsold every artist on those collections combined. If the Beatles didn't, Elvis did.

15 years ago, my favorite act "Styx" went to put together a greatest hits package. Their first hit song Lady was with one record company called Wooden Nickel Records and then they had a dozen more top ten hits when they left Wooden Nickel for A&M Records. Upon creating the greatest hits package, A&M asked Wooden Nickel in 1995 if they could license the song Lady but Wooden Nickel refused. That was one of the few things they had of any value to sell. So Styx went and recorded a clone version of Lady using the same arrangement and instrumentation and called it Lady '95. This version had the added bonus that Tommy Shaw was included in this recording when he hadn't been on the original; he joined the band later and wrote several of the other hit songs.

I think that most music fans could spot the differences between the two versions and certainly the recording quality- 1995 technology had marched on substantially from when the original was recorded in the early 1970's. I also have a hunch that most casual Styx fans would have purchased the Greatest Hits CD anyway- without Lady on it- and just enjoyed the other songs and would NOT have purchased Styx II that contained the original version of Lady. The gods of rock smiled on Styx as their music was featured in a popular Volkswagen TV commercial and in some Adam Sandler movies at the time and the Styx Greatest Hits package sold several thousand copies every week for almost 5 years. Wooden Nickel guessed wrong and they got nothing from those sales as they would have if the original recording of Lady had been included.

I know that retail sales and radio play and the impact of a given work on the art form or on society as a whole don't always coincide with each other and that some songs may grow over a period of time, when we get some hindsight on them and can see their place in a larger whole even though maybe they didn't mean as much at the time they were released. Journey's Dont' Stop Believin' is bigger now than it was nearly 30 years ago when it came out. Come Sail Away by Styx is a good, solid song but it probably didn't change the world. It arguably changed my life though.

So, congratulations Class of '65! That's a lot of years. I'm sure it will be great for you to see each other this weekend. It's going to be a great night and we'll dance to The Newbeats, The Dixie Cups, The Shangri-las, The Supremes, The Temptations, The Kinks, The Dave Clark Five and maybe I'll throw in some Herman's Hermits for good measure.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Some reasons why the DJ can't play your song NEXT

I'm happy to take requests and I thank you for requesting a song you'd like to hear. Please know that I'll make every effort to play it as soon as possible (often with in 3 or 4 songs) but keep the following in mind:
  • In the old days, when carrying several road cases of vinyl or even CDs, it took a couple of minutes just to find your song. With my computerized DJ system, I can find any song in a few seconds but when you are asking as the current song is ending, it's too late. The next song is already in the queue.

  • Others may have requested songs ahead of you. Songs are 3 1/2 to 4 minutes each and if I'm beat mixing in and out of songs quickly, I still like to play at least 90 seconds of a song so that it has a chance to speak its message, its flavor, its groove. With 5 requests ahead of yours, it could possibly take 20 minutes to get to you.
  • We may be at a place in the event where I have other things to do such as speeches, presentations, dinner service, toasts, garter toss and bouquet toss or cake cutting.
  • I may have been specifically asked by my customer to NOT play that song.
  • The song you are requesting may have profanity or overtly sexual content that doesn't belong in mixed company.
  • The song you are requesting may not fit in the format that I've been hired to do or fit the nature of the occasion. George Strait's "All my exes live in Texas" doesn't belong at a wedding. Styx's "Come sail away" is one of the greats, and a personal favorite, and it may fit during cocktail hour at a Class of '77 Reunion, but it isn't danceable.
  • Even if it fits the format of the event, it may not fit what is being played at that moment. If I'm in a set of Ke$ha, Lady Gaga, Sean Kingston and Timbaland, a request for a George Strait song wouldn't fit at that moment but I'll get to it shortly. Maybe I could play Taylor Swift after Ke$ha and then move to a couple of country songs so it's not so jarring.
  • Lastly, please choose a song that a few people might know. An obscure song that you and your two college buddies used to sing karaoke to and... "we used to... Hahhahahahaaa... we stayed up way too late and Hmm... I guess you had to be there... man, those were good times... Can you play that one?" If it's an inside joke, keep it inside with you and your buddies and allow me to try to appeal to the wider group.
Whenever possible, I always try to avoid setting up on a stage, I like to be on the floor where the people are. I can do a better job when I can feel the pulse of the room. When I'm on my game, when I've won the confidence of the dancefloor, people are hugging each other and getting into it, singing along with every word, dancing up a storm. I feel that energy, I dig down, crank it up, send a renewed energy back to them, and they feel it and nurture it and send it back to me and I feel it and I'm singing along and getting into it and I crank up some more energy and send it back to them and they are dancing and hugging and sweating and we have a rock and roll party going on!

I'm still happy to take requests, but the funny thing is, when I'm doing my thing, the requests just stop. The people trust me to take them on a ride and lead them through several waves of musical energy.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Summer School for brides

I was honored to teach a class a few weeks ago at Thee Wedding Warehouse to a few dozen brides and moms and maids of honor. There were photographers talking about how to pose for portraits, a caterer on questions to ask a caterer, an event planner on budgeting etc. I spent a few minutes on questions to ask a DJ on the occasion of hiring entertainment for a wedding or other social occasion. There are a new crop of people being introduced to our industry every month and sadly, they don't know what to expect, what things cost or even what questions to ask. Sadly, many people have resigned themselves to the thought that, those cheesy DJs... well, that's just the way DJs are, or, my friend works at a club, or, a guy at my office has an ipod and eclectic tastes in music and it will somehow be ok. The basis of my short seminar was just a few questions to ask a DJ to help new brides weed out the riff-raff. Every once in awhile, a hobbyist may hit a home run but I wouldn't want to gamble a big budget event on someone without a consistently good track record at weddings. Every time I hear a horror story about a DJ ruining an otherwise lovely event, I always find there had been an attempt to cut corners or save a few dollars by either doing it themselves with an ipod or having a "friend" or other beginner do it. Those kinds of things often ruin friendships if the event goes south. Additionally, wouldn't you want your friend to enjoy the festivities and not be burdened with working at your event?

A survey in 2008 found that a whopping 81% of brides wished, after the fact, that they had spent more time, effort, attention AND money on their entertainment choice.

All of the elements of an event come together to make a great event. They all represent the taste of the hosts, the religious or ethnic traditions, the budget etc. If a guest arrived and decided they didn't' care for the linen choice of the bride and groom, would they leave? Even if there were a disaster such as the cake sliding off its pedestals, would they leave? If the DJ stinks however, they will eat the meal and look for the first opportunity to call it a night.

Here are some of the questions: Are they insured? How do they answer the phone and respond to you as a professional business person? Professional equipment with redundancies or at least back up equipment on the event site? Will they take requests? How will they dress? Will they be yakking on the cell phone or flirting with the bridesmaids or outside smoking all night? Do they know proper etiquette for your event? Will they provide a written contract? Will they play offensive or overtly sexual music? Will they use profanity? Do they belong to a professional association or trade group and as part of that, have they committed to any code of ethics? When meeting with an entertainment agency, are you talking to a salesman or the DJ that will actually be playing your event? None of these provide any guarantee, but they will go a long long way toward getting someone that will provide the vision you have had for your event since you began dreaming of it when you were 9 years old.

I finished my seminar with a bit of education on budgeting. As a DJ, I know where I'm at in the food chain of this industry. I'm one of the last two or three professionals to be considered and hired. I'm not bothered by that. What does bother me is when I'm asked to cut my price for no other reason than, they didn't budget for it and they already spent their money on other things. Well, I guess you'll be left to the abilities of a hobbyist or beginner DJ that will work for less.

If the linen chair covers are the most important thing, that's fine- budget for the best. If the food is the most important, find the best caterer out there and spend the money on it. If the expensive venue with the view of the lake, mountain, city etc is the most important thing, put that first and everything else has to adjust around that. Believe it or not, I have had people in my career who actually moved their wedding date to accommodate me- when I was available, because I was the most important element of their wedding and everything else had to fit in after that.

Just prioritize the elements of your event and then work your way down and adjust your budget but don't get to the end and ask professionals to cut their price without offering some other consideration. I'll flex my price on off peak events, I'll take payments, I'll cut some of the extra equipment- the real value is in my personal expertise anyway. I can make the event happen with my DJ computer and a couple of speakers. I do love to provide all of the extra technology in sound, lighting, video projection, extra sound system for the ceremony itself with a mic for the officiant, live piano playing etc but those things cost money and take time to set up and if you can't afford them, let them go or throw us a bone.

Lastly, if you find a professional that you like, book them! To be booked more than a year in advance is not uncommon. If you wait, you may get who is left over and not who you want.

Here I am sitting in the front row making a point about something during the question and answer session after my part of the seminar. Thanks to Christine Valenzuela from Kiss the Camera for the pics that day. Some cheap fast food may be fine on a Friday night with the kids for a treat after a week of school and soccer and everything, but that won't work on the occasion of your wedding. How about some filet mignon from the best steak house in town?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

WEN- Wedding and Event Network

This is a really cool video that one of the members of the networking group that I run took of one of our meetings back in April. The music is crummy but don't let that be a reflection on the video company- this is just what royalty free music sounds like. They were doing this for my group for free in exchange for the exposure. Thanks to 'The Views at Superstition' for hosting the meeting and Donnie and Bobbe Hayes from 'Media Created 4U' for the brilliant videography and editing of such a nice piece of work. If you are morbidly curious about my networking group, the FAQs on our website are informative and you can see other photos from meetings and blog postings from industry professionals.

Monday, April 19, 2010


Ten things that happened last weekend in order from worst to coolest:

10. Forgot my razor. I'm used to a nice triple or quadruple blade razor with a nice lubricating strip so that I don't cut my face up. I had terrible acne as a teenager and still have a few acne scars and pock marks that can get cut with a cheap razor. The hotel I was staying at provides complimentary toiletries that you may have forgotten- the razor from the hotel was a disposable single blade thingy and I sliced my lip very badly, in addition to several other spots on my neck and everywhere else. I won't name the hotel because it was otherwise a very nice, reasonably priced, quiet and comfortable room and they weren't the ones that forgot to pack my nice razor.

9. That's a big ol' desert out there and it's been a lot of years driving back and forth for work. It has been a fairly wet winter and the desert is in bloom and the butterflies are busy pollinating and my windshield was/is a mess! I refilled my wiper fluid twice on the road. I'll have to get out a razor to scrape the bug juice off the next time I go to wash the van. I wonder if I kept that one from the hotel...

8. I got to work with Catalina from Coors and Erica from Heineken at the retail promotion that I was working at. Most of these girls are working through college or have various other reasons and satisfactions that they draw from such jobs... Erica has huge dreams for an agency that would hire men and women for such promotions or other public relations functions. I think she will go far. Erica is on my left. Catalina may be just as able, but I didn't get a chance to talk to her much. 7. I made some money.

6. I had 12 hours on the road to listen to music. Since I just got a new job playing piano in a dueling piano show, I was listening to familiar songs but with a new ear for what would work in that piano/stage format as opposed to DJ airings or even versions that I would play on the piano during cocktail hour or at a restaurant. My creative juices have really been flowing this last couple of weeks. I seem to be able to learn a new song in 3 or 4 minutes. I'm a bit slow on the lyrics though.

5. I got to work with the Laker Girls. 6 girls on Friday and 6 more on Saturday.

4. I got to watch them dance. They are specimens of feminine beauty and the dance routines are far more complex and athletic than anyone probably gives them credit for. They are very charming, disciplined and trained hostesses representing the Laker organization exceptionally well. Certainly, they drew a crowd to the promotion that I couldn't draw, but I can make people stay and spend money- not just get the free autograph and then split. 3. I got to work with Dynamite Dave. You can see from this picture that he got to work with the Laker Girls too. Dave and I have been doing retail promotions for many many years. He is a BRILLIANT entertainer and it's always a good day when Dave is around. I think Dave was channelling Johnny Depp last weekend. He had a Mad Hatter thing going on for Friday's costume and he was a Pirate on Saturday. He is really working on his health. He's lost probably 40- maybe 50 lbs since I saw him last Thanksgiving.2. I got to spend a bit of time with my good buddy Scott from Orange county. He came by the gig both days to say hello. Without asking, he just sensed that I was thirsty and got me a large lemonade. If I had the presence of mind, I would have asked for something and our host would have offered any drink I wanted as a courtesy, but I hate to ask my customer for those kinds of things when I'm being paid to work. Scott owns several condos that he rents out to students of Cal State Fullerton. If ever there is an empty room, he lets me stay there on my California DJ trips so I can save the hotel expense. My life is better because we're friends- Thanks Scott.

1. Some of you know that I used to teach Old Testament to High School sophomores in a Seminary program several years ago. One of my students has growed up and accepted a full-time ministry assignment in Chicago. Before coming home to AZ, I attended a church service where she delivered the sermon as her home congregation sent her off. Her mom and dad invited me to sit with them and I counted it the world's greatest honor. Her sermon was profound and I think she's going to be brilliant! I would have driven out just for that sermon, but it was cool that the DJ gig paid for the trip. God Speed, Sister Frandsen!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Dear Diary,

Haven't written in awhile so let me 'splain, no, is too much, let me sum up. Buttercup is marry Humperdinck in little less than half an hour...

I've had a few adventures since we last talked. I donated sound reinforcing and music to a small cancer walk that got rained out. The goal was $13k and they still raised $15k in spite of the weather. This woman is on the board of directors and she took the mic for a minute to thank the walkers and tell a bit about the work of the charity organization "Lungevity."
The city park where the event was held was under some major construction and right where I was loading in the equipment, the sidewalk had been dug up and I had to cross about 8 feet of mud. I had considered wearing white that day. I was also having a good hair day at the outset- so much for a good hair day... I was up to my knees in mud when I was done. The equipment road cases got some mud splatters which I still haven't washed out but it was a good cause eh? I took my boots to the car wash to get them hosed down.

A recent trend for aging rock stars who are attempting to please long-time fans AND newcomers to concerts is to play an entire album from back in the day in sequence and perhaps b-sides or other associated nuggets from the same time period. If you don't like the album of the night, don't come to the concert. I recently heard Billy Squire play "In the Dark" in sequence and it was crazy-awesome! A favorite artist of mine- Gary Numan has a substantial catalogue after more than 30 years, but most U.S. media reduces his entire career to "Cars." To please fans that want that song, he recently played The Pleasure Principle album in its entirety. Most of the time however, he plays only newer material.

I said jokingly on Facebook and to some industry mates that I was going to be playing the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang soundtrack in it's entirety at a piano gig for an industry function. There are some great songs in that movie. The suggestion took on a life of its own but I did play "POSH" and sang it in a British accent!
Went on a road trip to Tucson. I hadn't been there in about 18 years or so. Paid a visit to Mission San Xavier Del Bac. It's one of the oldest structures in the U.S. and a highly regarded place among Catholics, historians and architecture enthusiasts. The Mormon Battalion never engaged in warfare, but if they had, it probably would have happened here. Mexican soldiers were stationed here (or near here) and upon hearing the news that 500 U.S. soldiers, who were Mormons, were approaching, they fled and never engaged. The march from Iowa to San Diego- the longest march in U.S. military history ended without bloodshed- other than the suffering of the march itself.
I had a wedding up in Payson about 75 minutes north of here a couple of weeks ago. If you don't know Arizona geography, there are lots of high elevations and mountain country in the center of the state that gets snow in the winter. It was snowing when I arrived to load in the equipment and snowing again when I packed up. It ultimately wasn't a huge snowfall but it was more than I wanted to risk driving in. I couldn't see very well and didn't know the roads well enough. If I could have just got out of Payson 5 miles or so, you drop in elevation very quickly and it would have been just rain, but you climb back up to a higher elevation one more time before coming back in to Mesa and I didn't want to get stranded out in the mountains. Hwy 260 east to Heber and Hwy 87 north to Winslow were both closed unless you had snow chains and Walmart was sold out. There was a line of people to snag motel rooms in Payson that night. I got a room and came home the next day.

Rocked an elementary school dance, a couple of weddings, a Mary Kay rah-rah meeting- that was actually loads of fun- a valentines dance fund-raiser for St Timothy's Catholic Church here in Mesa. I was seated at the head table with the head priesthood leader of the church. I was honored. I told him a great Mormon joke and he laughed most heartily- flew back in his chair and roared.

Here's a pic from a wedding recently. We are trying to submit this wedding to one of the local bridal magazines to be featured. Here I am as Reverend Curtis calling the faithful masses to worship at the shrine of Rock and Roll.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

OK, ok... here's me wearing make up...

This one right below is my pick. I see a magazine ad coming soon and some new business cards with this one.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Photoshoot for Haiti

I participated in a way cool fundraiser last weekend for disaster relief in Haiti. For a $50 donation straight to the Red Cross, people could get hair and make up done and get 15 minutes in front of the camera. Then you can use the photos on your Facebook, website, business cards or whatever.

This is event organizer and brilliant photographer, Kym Ventola (seated) with Robert Ballew adjusting her hair, he's the best wardrobe stylist in this city. Photographer, Katina Patriquin looking away.
When Kym said that she was organizing this, I wanted to participate not really knowing if what I had to offer would be of any value but it clearly made a nice day for everybody working and the music helped people loosen up in front of the cameras who aren't normally in front of cameras. In addition to each of us donating money, we all donated our professional services. The cool thing about it was that we could have all just donated money and not go to all the trouble of lugging our equipment our to Glendale and I'm not sure the event made any more money than had there just been a call to donate, but to come together like this made it special- created more of a sense of community.
I already got a glimpse of my photo shoot. I wore make up for the first time in my life and that was crazy awesome! Thanks Heather Wilson for that. Damian Gomes from Snapdragon did my hair. I'll get those pics up here shortly.

Kym Ventola, bless you for your spirit!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Marketing 101

Last Christmas, I was hired for a retail promotion at one of the local malls. They were giving away 100 $10 Westcor gift cards to the first 100 people in line, then they had 25 more $10 gift cards wrapped up in 50 gift boxes and three people got to dive in and start unwrapping presents and claim as many of the 25 cards as they each could find and then finally, the names of everybody participating went into a bucket and they had a drawing for a $1000 gift card. It was a lovely event and I made a few observations.

I was situated across from "Coach"- the couture handbag company. The assistant manager flew out of their door inside of 5 minutes to complain about the music. I had to refer them to the landlord of the mall- who had hired me and placed me in front of their door... We turned the speakers a different direction but they gave me the stink-eye for the entire time I was there. I'll come back to that in a minute...

At the top of the escalator from me, there was a Godiva Chocolatier kiosk and they dispatched an employee down to the crowd with a nice basket full of chocolate for everybody in line and a little promotional brochure and a Godiva coupon. They gave me a piece of chocolate too and I thanked them and said over the sound system how delicious it was and I pointed out the kiosk at the top of the escalator- a "shout out" of sorts.

Back to Coach- I got another ration of crap from the 30ish store manager who was completely overdone with fake boobs, fake nails, fake spray on tan, fake lips etc. She was cartoon-ish in fact. I pointed out that she had 200 Christmas shoppers in front of her store and she was bitching at me instead of taking advantage of the promotion and inviting them into her store! I again referred her to the mall management who, incidentally, had actually asked me to turn it up. Here's the funny part. She was like an audience member on Jerry Springer- she was waving her pointer finger back and forth with a ridiculous fake nail on it and bobbing her head back and forth and telling me that nobody who is standing in line for a $10 gift card could possibly be a customer at Coach.

OK. Another story to finish my point on this one. I was providing music for finals week at Paul Mitchell School recently. It's a good freebie because I get to make a nice school day for about 120 young 20-something women who will be getting married in the next few years and who do you think they will hire? I've already booked several events off of a few ours of fun on a couple of Saturday mornings when everybody comes down for their free hair cuts with the students.

We were having some fun and one woman came running over with a towel around her neck and a bunch of foils in her hair and she said that I was doing a great job and that she was having a party soon and hadn't even considered having a DJ but that because she was having so much fun, she wanted to hire me. Had I done what the Coach lady did, (think to myself that nobody getting a free haircut can afford my professional fee) I would have missed out on a $1500 off-peak event plus a $200 gratuity! Turns out she lives in the wealthiest ZIP code in Arizona and the party was loaded with wealthy socialites. Her daughter is a student at Paul Mitchell School and she was being a good mom and letting the daughter work on her hair.

For marketing, you never know where the million dollar customer may be hiding. They may have been in that line at the mall. Maybe they were just killing time, enjoying the music, doing some people watching, partaking in the element of chance, maybe it was exciting for their 7-yr old to get a gift card, who knows? I'm sure there were some potential Coach customers among them. I would never shop there anyways, because I don't care one way or the other about expensive hand bags, but now I wouldn't shop there because they employ an idiot!

I went up to the Godiva Chocolatier after the event was over and said hello. They whipped up a chocolate shake for me and thanked me for the shout out. They said that 37 of those $10 gift cards marched straight upstairs and got spent at Godiva and the average purchase was $41! It was cool that the employee at Godiva was given the autonomy and the trust to make a decision of that nature. Nearly $1600 in sales in 1 hour (plus whatever regular sales they had in that time) for a $20 investment in some small chocolates and a chocolate shake for the DJ.

Food experiment + 50 days.

If you don't remember, I tested out my wits late last year by not going to the grocery store or any other store for 92 days. Gasoline and a couple of business items were the only things purchased during that time. Just lived off of what I had in the house or what I could grow. It's been 50 days since and I have a few more items to report on the experiment.

I went to the local farmers market today and that was only the 4th trip for groceries since December 13th. I purchased my 4th gallon of milk today and normally it would have been about triple that amount in that time.

My garden continues to produce abundantly and here's the pictures to prove it.

Butterhead lettuce



Fresh salad every 3rd day or so is great. It's been two months of fresh food for a few dollars of seeds! My garden is against a south wall and so there are about 4 feet of dirt that don't get any sunshine in the winter but the line of sunlight is moving about 2 inches per week and I have room for another row of stuff now and I'm going to harvest the last of my cilantro this week and the peas will probably be done in two weeks so I'll start planting some Spring vegetables shortly. I bought some strawberries at the market today because I have lots of arugula to harvest this week and it's a bit of a pungent leaf so you serve it up with peaches or strawberries to balance it out and some balsamic vinaigrette and toasted pecans. It's a fabulous salad!

An observation of note is the change in attitude towards shopping and eating. No more do I stand in front of the fridge or the pantry and say that there is nothing to eat. There IS something to eat but it's not the highly processed and loaded with sugar and salt and fat and convenience- I will have made some cookies in advance or there are peanuts or pistachios to shell or crackers with some Strawberry/Jalapeno jam or something. Impulsive eating doesn't happen any more. Meals are more deliberate. I think in advance about soaking some beans or grinding some wheat and what I may want to plant so I can have some food next month. Shopping trips are massively diminished- about every 10 to 14 days instead of every 3rd day.

If you noted some of the items that came up lacking during the experiment, they have been replaced with a redundancy stored in a different location in the house.

I did find that some pinto beans stored for about 9 years in #10 cans were a bit crunchy- not enough to break any teeth or anything, they were chewy and edible but they just didn't soak up the water and then soften up when cooked in the crock pot all day. People still store food for "someday" and if they don't rotate it and make home storage and gardening a part of their regular lifestyle, they will find that their bodies can't abide that kind of big diet change and that they have spent lots of money and effort and storage space for food that has spoiled or worse that they don't know how to prepare it for consumption in any case.

I may try the experiment again late in 2010 and refine the lessons learned.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Ode to Background Music

Most people only think of the value of a good DJ in terms of the dancing portion of an event. At most weddings or other social occasions, dancing may not happen until 3 hours into the event, but the DJ will have already provided a great deal of value to the event up until that point. Background music is one of those things that nobody is really listening to, but they'd sure miss it if it wasn't there.

As a society, we have become pretty casual. Nothing wrong with that, but weddings are one of the few things left that are still rather formal. Women wear nice dresses to weddings. Even the most casual of men wear a jacket and button down shirt. A wedding gives everyone a reason to consider their own relationships and there is always a bit of anticipation in the air.

During a sales presentation, I'll ask brides about the moments leading up to the ceremony. I explain that attendees are dressed up and there is excitement about seeing friends and cousins they haven't seen in a while and even old married couples are flirting with each other a bit because they have a special occasion for which to get dressed up. I'll ask brides, "What kind of music do you hear as your guests are arriving before the ceremony?" Owing to the formal nature of the occasion, classical music SPEAKS the moment. Even for people who don't know classical music very well, it feels familiar to them. It adds body and life and it compliments those feelings of anticipation.

People, individually, are pretty smart, but crowds, collectively, have a separate mentality and they need to be told what to do. I like to have the music provide the instructions so that the DJ or wedding minister doesn't need to speak any instructions. If the background music has been strings, I like to switch to a piano song and turn it up 15% to signal the start of the formalities. If it has been piano music, I like to switch to classical guitar and turn it up 15%. People know that something is different and they quiet down and sit up straight in their seats and turn their attention to the entrance of the bridal party without being told specifically to do so. The oft-overlooked background music has spoken it.

A mistake that many DJs make is #1) being too loud in general and #2) not taking advantage of the natural energy of the crowd and the occasion and then, not using good musical selections to enhance that energy. There will always be several animated and electric conversations going on and those conversations add to the energy of the space and that is a good thing! When a spoken announcement cuts into that, it can be jarring as people have to disconnect from their conversations to hear what is being said and then they will be more disruptive to the announced instruction as they now attempt to finish what was being said ANYWAYS! However, if the music speaks it, it can be far more profound and effective at quieting those conversations more naturally and having attendees direct their attention to the matter at hand- like the officiant and groom having taken their places in advance of the ceremony.

I like to keep the music about 5% below whatever the current level of conversation is in the space. I understand that a few voices rise specifically in response to the level of background music but please don't bust my chops over that issue. I've been around the block enough times to know how to gauge the level of music. I contend that more people raise their voices because they are excited and they feel comfortable being animated and gesturing largely with their hands and speaking excitedly. They want to be heard and they want to speak freely, but they would be embarrassed being heard above anybody else. The music needs to be there to mask each voice so that no single voice ever rises above the overall volume and people can feel comfortable being so animated.

Please take this next part as it is intended- with a smile. Most hotels and golf/racquet clubs have music playing in the restrooms. There are certain sounds that are rather satisfying to make in a restroom, but entirely unpleasant to hear or to worry about being heard. Background music masks it- thus adding to your comfortable experience.

I use a computerized DJ system that can play background music automatically with playlists that I have defined and I also determine how I want the computer to mix it and how many seconds each song will overlap with the next one. During automated background music, every once in awhile, a song may have a long "fade." The song may be effectively over, as it has faded from the range of hearing, but the computer does not know to start the next song because the file hasn't approached its actual end- it's still fading. As the music falls silent for 6 or 7 seconds before the next file plays, you'll see and hear a few of the animated conversations go into a brief pause, waiting for that next song before they can finish the exciting thing they were talking about because they don't want their voice to be heard above the rest. I usually make a mental note of such a song and edit it during the week to end a bit sooner so that the next song starts at the "effective" end and not the "actual" end for future airings. If a radio DJ ever spoke or played a commercial over the long fading "strike" piano note at the end of the Beatles' A Day in the Life, even though the song is effectively over, I'd have to call up the radio station and threaten a boycott of some sort.

Side note- during the dancing portion, I always mix live because there are several simultaneous queues that I may not want triggered automatically. I may want a lighting effect and a pose or hand gesture along with a dramatic musical element all timed exactly when I want them not when the computer thinks I may want them. I saw rock group "Styx" recently and witnessed a few such "Spinal Tap" moments. It was the second night of the tour and Tommy Shaw stepped up to his spot after the second song and shouted "Hello Friends!" and a computer triggered spotlight illuminated a empty mic stand on the other side of the stage. For my purpose, during most background music applications, such queues are not as crucial.

Another important element of background music is the flavor and the energy level of it. The ceremony portion may have one musical "flavor" and then the cocktail hour may be some traditional music that represents an ethnic heritage, the dinner hour may have yet another flavor. During dinner, does the customer want classic standards mixed with new school- Sinatra/Rod Stewart/Michael Buble? Or perhaps something more contemporary like Jack Johnson/Dave Matthews/Jason Mraz? Latin guitar? Old Jazz mixed with some Classic R&B? Classic rock like Van Morrison/Beatles? Properly selected background music will take the guests from what has been a formal ceremony to what will be a dance party after dinner without the DJ saying something stupid like "Yo people! Get up out ya seats!" The background music will have taken them there and naturally created an energy level conducive to dancing and they will fly out of their chairs and dance.

I like music that is rhythmic but not necessarily a vocal. For many of the reasons already described, a sung lyric may inadvertently disconnect people from that electric conversation as they tune in to the song lyric and tune out of the moment they are having at the table. I also generally avoid "elevator muzak" where all elements of a familiar song are intact but with a saxophone taking what would have been the lead vocal. It's vapid and it can still have the same effect of people tuning in to the music and out of their moments.

At about the time that the last table is served dinner, I begin to switch ever-so-slightly from background to dance music even though I don't really want anybody to dance before the bride and groom officially open the dancefloor with their first dance.

A song like "My Girl" by the Temptations is somewhere in the middle. It's a well known song, rhythmic, has a memorable vocal and it begins to naturally help people wrap up their conversation and disconnect from it and turn their attention to what will be a more communal experience as we celebrate the wedding with 3 generations of people out on the dancefloor dancing to the same song- together. After a couple of songs like that, I'll start to see tapping toes and snapping fingers and I'll see some attention starting to turn to me waiting for some direction on what to do next. At that point, it IS the intention to disconnect from those conversations. The energy that is lost as those conversations come to a close will be replaced with the energy that is contributed to the space by a packed dancefloor. Strangely, this will be the first introduction of the abilities of the DJ even though I will have provided a lot up to this point.

Here's a recent pic of me imparting some sage wisdom to the masses on a couple of cool dance steps. The magic really happens when the crowd and the DJ become one. People are out there dancing and getting into it, hugging each other, singing along with every word and they send that energy to me and I feel it and I dig down a bit deeper and amp it up and send a renewed energy back to them and they feel it and they get down and they send it back to me and I send it back to them... it's a party!