What to consider before booking a band

John Hozey Jr., manager and owner of Blue Earth Productions, tells us about his bands — D”ivine” Play (www.dplayband.com), GOT Groove (www.gotgroovenola.com) and Blue Rhythm (www.bluerhythmnola.com) — and offers advice about choosing wedding entertainment.

GCW: TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR BANDS AND WHAT TYPE OF EVENTS THEY PERFORM.

HOZEY: All three of my groups are party/variety bands, meaning we have developed ourselves to have a wide variety of music that is targeted to appeal to nearly every age and keep a party going. Anything from Frank Sinatra to Cardi B, we’ve got it and do it well.

GCW: HOW OFTEN DO YOUR BANDS PERFORM AT WEDDINGS?

HOZEY: D”ivine” Play is doing between 60-70 weddings a year, GOT Groove between 40-50 and Blue Rhythm is on pace for 20 in their first year.

GCW: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE BRIDES WHEN BOOKING THEIR ENTERTAINMENT?

HOZEY: Entertainment truly can be the one thing where quality correlates directly with price, so keep that in mind. We employ six-plus people, including sound and lighting techs, for each show. Musicians are not a dime a dozen, and that guitar player you heard at a bar once rip a Grateful Dead or Jimi Hendrix solo might have only one trick up his sleeve. To play in a truly successful party/dance band, you have to be versatile and open to everything. That makes putting together an amazing band so much tougher because you are limited to who is available and able.

The players who are good enough need incentive not to jump to other bands or go out on tour, so they must be paid well. Remember, a lot of the good players are full-time musicians and invest a lot of time into learning your songs and keeping their skills sharp. I will guarantee that the $6,000 band always will be leagues above the $2,000 or even $3,000 bands. If you are dealing with a budget below $3,000, I would consider a DJ due to quality control.

Another thing to consider and ask your potential vendor about, especially if they are less expensive, is consistency. How often do they sub, and what is their backup plan if someone has to sub? For the good bands, you are paying a premium for that consistency. For example, with our bands, we have a tight sub policy to maintain integrity.

For the players to buy in, they must feel like it’s worth it to make that commitment and miss out on other opportunities because they are very talented.

To take that a step further, the top groups have a database of qualified subs that can jump in and keep the quality of the show on a very high level. This is so important because we are human; there will be moments where people will be out, although not often, and that’s the reality. Great groups prepare for this.

GCW: IF A BRIDE IS LEANING TOWARD A DJ, HOW WOULD YOU CONVINCE HER TO HIRE A BAND?

HOZEY: The top reason is energy. You can’t compare the energy and engagement of six-plus musicians grooving hard and front men/women singing and engaging with the crowd. That would be the main reason, and that’s not even a debate.

Most brides want to hire a DJ because they have more options song-wise. Although that is true to a point, great bands counter that in two ways. They have a song lists of over 300 tunes spanning every genre and decade. When you only need 50-60 songs in a night, you certainly will find your flow within most set lists and can trust that they have built a sufficient database. Also, we do provide break-time DJ services, so for songs you won’t find on our list that are must-plays, you either can have us learn them (up to three songs) or put them on the DJ playlist for that break — best of both worlds.

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