Hiring a Live Band: Ask a Bandleader!
Live music for weddings and events usually requires more preparation than it takes to allocate a corner of the room to a DJ — or plug in a microphone and put a speaker’s podium on a stage for an awards banquet.
Ever wonder why DJ’s are so loud? “They probably don’t know as much about music as musicians do,” says Judy Chamberlain, an American jazz singer and bandleader who prefers sublety to volume.
“They’re there to make noise, and to M/C, not to make music.”
“When you hire a live band to entertain,” says Chamberlain, you may just be getting something better than noise — or an imitation of something. That’s why you hire a live band!”
And while most live bands can play a nice variety of live music — unless they’re a cover band or tribute band with a limited repertoire, it’s important to understand that some songs are best left to the artists who originally recorded them. If you like Anita Baker, Sade or Tiny Tim, you may want to hire a DJ. Or an “impersonator.”
And some artists really are inimitable.
Now, give us Sting, Rod Stewart, Norah Jones, Michael Buble, Kenny G. — and we’re delighted to research what it is you like about the music you’ve heard on their records and try to give you those same elements. They do the standards well, and have brought back some terrific obscurities. Buble and Jones are also talented songwriters. Besides, some of our musicians are actually on their albums.
One needs only to listen to Sting singing “You Were Meant For Me” to realize how viable the standards really are. We’re always inspired by creativity like his.
If you’ve rehearsed a special dance number to a standard — like any Frank Sinatra song, for instance — or Etta James’ “At Last,” a good band should be able to play specially-requested tunes for you, note for note. That’s easy!
There are so many wonderful standards!
Some of the best were introduced by Fred Astaire, who sang and danced and swung like mad even when he was simply walking across a room. Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Nat King Cole, Benny Goodman, Billie Holiday and The Boswell Sisters were also stunning performer of standards. They all learned from each other, and often recorded the same material. Each version was wonderful, and there was room for them all.
Standards, basically, can be sung by anyone.
Good music is…well, good music.
Singer/bandleader Judy Chamberlain specializes in live music for celebrity weddings in California, Arizona, Texas and beyond. She can be reached at 714 319-9242