LET'S SKIP FOR THE MOMENT THE STATE-OF-THE-ART DIGITAL DJ EQUIPMENT, THE ROCKIN' SOUND SYSTEM, THE LIGHTS, THE SMOKE MACHINES, AND THE MASSIVE COLLECTION OF MUSIC. I HAVE ALL THAT COVERED. AND SO DO HUNDREDS OF OTHER DJS.
SO, WHAT SETS ME APART FROM THE OTHERS?
For one thing, I have 25 years of experience as a musician, bandleader and DJ. I have experience on the concert stage, the festival stage, at swank corporate events, casinos, nightclubs, theaters, and venues of all types. I have performed at over 400 weddings from my professional home base of New York City to LA, from Maine to Florida, from Dallas, Texas to Denville, NJ. I have seen the highest of the high end (The Plaza, the Waldorf, private clubs on Park Avenue, exclusive country clubs all over the country, etc.), and the most humble backyard BBQ shindig. No matter what the setting, from glitzy to gritty, my goal has always been the same: Give the crowd 110% and rock the house. Keep the dance floor full, and the guests happy. Make every party an unforgettably fun event that people will be talking about for years to come.
But keeping the guests happy is the end result of a process that involves careful planning in the months leading up to the big event. I have worked with hundreds of clients and wedding couples over the years to determine their musical tastes and interests; to suss out their likes and dislikes; and to play for them the music that they like, with the right song delivered at precisely the right moment. This is the bandleader's job, and it is also the DJ's job. It is a job I enjoy, and a process at which I excel.
One of the things that has helped me keep a career in music going for 25 years is my taste in music. Whether picking songs for my band to perform, or writing my own songs, my musical taste comes into play. As a fanatical record collector from the time I made my first five dollars shoveling snow as a kid, I have amassed a huge collection of music that spans every format from 78 records, up through the most current high end digital files. I have the tools and the ability to convert any format (except 8-track tapes) into a digital file, and I have spent countless hours doing just that. I have spent my entire adult life listening to music, playing music, studying music, reading about music and its history, reading about musicians, meeting and talking to musicians...you get the idea. All of this informs my taste.
Everybody has an idea of what they like. Some people can articulate this idea better than others. Everyone is different! I know this. And my 25 years of experience have taught me that the key is balance. There are certain clients--like myself when I got married--who know exactly the music they want, and when they want to hear it at their special event. There are others who can tell you certain genres they like, and certain ones they dislike, and not much else in the way of specifics. But, the vast majority of people fall somewhere in between. They can tell you a few songs they definitely want to hear, and a few they don't. They can request songs by certain artists, but don't necessarily know a lot of song titles to request. This is where the balance comes into play. Armed with my knowledge of music, my taste, and my experience, I then fill in the gaps and balance the requests of my client with my own song selections, and form a playlist based on those criteria. But let me make this clear: if you want to pick every song and have me play only your requests, I am more than happy to do it. Your big event is all about your taste and your selections. My knowledge of and taste in music is just there as a back-up for you. I will contribute my ideas only to the extent you want. I am not here to impose my taste on you. I'm just here to balance things out musically for you.
READING THE CROWD
Both DJ-ing and being a bandleader involve the art of reading the crowd, knowing what the moment demands, and then delivering it. Yes, there is preparation involved. But every event is different. Every crowd is different. The successful DJ or bandleader is able to read the energy of the crowd and respond accordingly with the correct song selection. While I do work from a prepared list of songs when I DJ, I do not make myself stick to it too strictly, because I know that there are times when a moment will suggest a particular song or beat to which the present group on the dance floor will respond. It's hard to explain, but one develops a sixth sense of the crowd as an energy unto itself, and reading this energy is an art. Nothing teaches this art better than experience.
ALLOWING YOU TO RELAX AND ENJOY!
In the end, I tell you all of this so you can relax. Leave the music to me. You are in the hands of a professional. This may be your first big event, but not mine. I have dealt with the caterers, the florists, the maitre D's, the general managers, the parents, grand parents, aunts, uncles, friends, groomsmen, brides maids literally hundreds of times. I enjoy meeting and working with all these people. I know how to work in harmony and cooperation with my fellow professionals to make your event run smoothly. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes to which the average client is not privy. And there is no reason you should be! Your job on your big day is to relax and have fun. Let the professionals make your event a success.
My overarching measure of success is making sure the client and all the guests are having a good time. Keep that dance floor full! Make sure the music is powerful, but not so loud that Aunt Lillian has her hands over her ears. Make sure every guest leaves with a smile on their face, and the occasional fist pump signifying I did my job well. That's what makes me happy. So, relax! You are in good hands.
This. is. crazy. How does Ron only have one review on The Knot?! He is AMAZING! I know Ron from Swing 46 - the only Jazz & Supper Club in NYC that plays live big band jazz every night of the week. I'm a regular there and so Ron, who plays there once a week, was a natural choice for me for a wedding band. He had also played Midsummer Night Swing at Lincoln Center earlier the week of our wedding - as I said, it's crazy that he only has one review on here - he is a real deal musician and not just a wedding band leader. However. I was a bit concerned because I know him as a swing band leader specifically, but for our wedding my husband (who is not a swing dancer) wanted to make sure the band would be able to play some more contemporary music and not just swing standards. My mom was also concerned because our reception venue (The Metropolitan Club lobby) was huge and she wanted to make sure the band would be able to fill out the room with sound. BOY did Ron ever deliver. He did a FANTASTIC job. He worked with us to create new covers not just of our first dance song, but of three more contemporary songs that were not in his repertoire already (full disclosure, we did have to pay extra for all these except the first dance song which was included, but they were worth every penny!). His band was awesome. A few guys played low-key music during our cocktail hour, and then once the dancing started, Ron played an awesome set list of swing songs (for me), but also blues, funk, and even a bit of classic rock and roll. The music definitely filled out the huge room, and I was STUNNED at how many of our guests got out on the floor and danced to EVERYTHING - even the swing music. One of my mom's friends who is in his eighties and walks with a cane put it down literally put it down, got up on the floor and danced several songs in a row (including one with me). It was like something that happens in a cheesy romcom. Ron kept his eye on the crowd and did a great job gauging what to play next - the result was that the floor was packed the whole night and the dancing was one of the most memorable and enjoyable parts of our wedding. The money that we spent for Ron to do the extra covers of a few of our favorite contemporary songs was some of the best money we spent on our whole wedding, and they were easily a top ten highlight of our night. In sum, Ron and his band were PERFECT, and I could not recommend them more highly.
We were so grateful that we chose Ron Sunshine and his Orchestra to be our band for our June wedding in Amagansett. Ron was a consummate professional throughout the whole process, including jumping on the phone with us multiple times to make sure that everything ran smoothly and was exactly to our liking. Ron also provided a jazz trio for our cocktail hour who set the mood perfectly. The 11-piece band learned our first dance song and executed many of our favorites, including my Grandma's favorite song. A few weeks before the wedding, our plan for the sound system for our ceremony fell through and Ron graciously offered to provide that service (including beating the quote we got from another provider). He was an absolute pleasure to work with and would be a great addition to any event, especially if you are going for an elegant affair that is fun and full of energy!
Initially, I like to have a nice phone conversation where we cover the basics like date, location, general musical preferences. Usually I will follow that up with a couple of emails nailing down specifics. Usually by that time we are ready to move to a contract and deposit, making both parties feel secure that the date is booked and we are all set. If possible, I also enjoy meeting clients in person to get to know each other a bit, and develop a working rapport in anticipation of the big event. We have had many repeat customers over the years, but 80-90% of our customers are still new. So, we are very familiar and comfortable with this process.