Tag Archives: Hudson Valley Wedding Bands

Doing Backflips at Emily and Bobby’s Wedding

As a Westchester Wedding Band, it’s always a treat for us to travel outside of the Westchester area to perform at weddings.  Last year, we played at a really fun wedding for Sophia and Michael at Colgate University.  They were kind enough to recommend us to their friends Emily and Bobby, who also got married at Colgate University this year.  Their party was a ton of fun!

One of the cool things about being in a wedding band is you get to watch guests dance, and occasionally you see some pretty crazy stuff… some of it quite inappropriate!  At Emily and Bobby’s wedding, we happened to capture something pretty crazy and cool as heck on video, so we thought it was worth sharing.  Check this dude out doing a backflip on the dance floor as Rhonda was belting out Firework!

 

2014 Wedding Wire Couple’s Choice Award Winners!

We’re very excited to announce that today we were awarded the Wedding Wire Couple’s Choice Award for 2014!  This further goes to show that the Kazz Music Orchestra has become one of the best Hudson Valley Wedding Bands and best Westchester Wedding Bands!  This award, which places us in the top 5% of bands around the country, has been awarded to The Kazz Music Orchestra in each of our three years together as a band.  That’s a pretty great track record!

We are incredibly thankful to all of the couples we’ve worked with in the past year, and very thankful that so many took the time to write amazing 5 star reviews for the band on Wedding Wire.  It’s those couples that made this award possible!

Congratulations to everyone in the band!  I’m looking forward to a great year in 2014 full of lots of great music and fun parties!

 

NYC Wedding Band Prices

“How much does your band cost?”  That’s the first question we hear over and over.  With a little bit of research, you’ll probably find that prices for NYC Wedding Bands or Hudson Valley Wedding Bands can range from as little as $2,500 to well over $10,000.  Are the $10,000 bands really THAT good?  Here’s some perspective from us as an independent band, but also from us as having worked as musicians for various agencies around NYC.

If you’re working with an agency that has an office and staff working for it, consider this:  Who’s paying for their office?  Who’s paying for their sales people and administrative staff?  The answer is that the brides and grooms that book bands through that agency are.  On the low end, an agency will be pocketing at least 20% of the price that they’re charging you to book a band through them, and there are agencies that charge much more than that.  So in the end, the band is only getting a small piece of what you’re paying.

Working with an independent band has some great advantages.  Most individual bands aren’t going to have overhead costs nearly as high as those of an agency, so therefore independent bands’ prices usually aren’t nearly as high as the prices of an agency band.

Here’s a unique perspective on our band:  Many of the musicians in The Kazz Music Orchestra were a part of, or were substitutes, for a very busy band booked through two separate agencies.  Being completely honest, the agencies took a large portion of what clients were paying, and the musicians really weren’t being paid very much.  By forming our own independent band and doing all of our own bookings, we’ve put together a group that is able to charge less for performances (which our clients LOVE), yet at the same time, we’re able to pay ourselves better than if we were working through an agency.  It’s a win-win for everyone involved.

Bottom Line:  If you’re looking at a NYC Wedding Band Agency, consider the fact that an independent band may very well have the same, or higher quality musicians than a big agency band, but may come at a much more reasonable price tag.  More expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better in all cases, so be sure to do your research!  Enjoy the music!

Jenna and Bradley’s Wedding – The Liberty Warehouse

View from the Ceremony at The Liberty Warehouse

View from the Ceremony at The Liberty Warehouse

On Friday, The Kazz Music Orchestra played at a wedding I’ve been really looking forward to all year – the wedding of Jenna and Bradley at The Liberty Warehouse in Brooklyn, NY.  There was lots to like about this wedding.  First off, Jenna is a huge Motown fan, so the mix of music for the whole night was old school classic Motown, Soul, and R&B.  It’s personally my favorite music, so I had a blast playing all night!  For the ceremony, Andrea played solo piano and they chose “You’re All I Need To Get By”, “Stand By Me”, and then “For Once In My Life” on saxophone.  As a little added bonus, I offered to play saxophone on the recessional as a nice way to end the ceremony with a little more “flare”.

The decor at the wedding was awesome – black and white everywhere.  The format for the reception was basically a continuous cocktail hour throughout the night.  So, there were no formal seating assignments – just tables and even couches set up throughout the event space.  We performed as an 8 piece band with two horns for the night, which is a great match for the style of music that they wanted.  All around, it was a really great party.  Jenna worked very closely with the band in terms of the music selection in the planning process, which was a lot of fun for me.  It’s great to work with couples that are very involved, but at the same time trusting of us to do what we need to in order to rock the party.  So, it was a great partnership, and it resulted in a really fun wedding for us!  Congratulations Jenna and Bradley!

Front Page of the New York Times – Morgan and Katherine

 

This past Saturday, we played for an AWESOME wedding at The Belvedere Mansion, near Rhinebeck, NY that has a few really cool aspects to it.  First, Morgan and Katherine wanted to hear us live before booking our band – fairly common request.  So, they tried to catch us at one of our monthly showcases at Groove in NYC, and due to a nasty late season snowstorm impacting their drive into NYC, they only caught the last half of our last song.  It was still enough and we were booked!

Fast forward to their wedding day:  July 13, 2013.  As a band, we had a TON of fun.  Andrea and Dan provided piano / guitar music for their ceremony – great classical music.  Dan then accompanied one of their guests for an acoustic version of “In My Life” by the Beatles.  The guest singer, Woody, sang wonderfully on it!

The reception was definitely one of the most energized ones of the year.  We always know it’s going to be fun when we’re playing background music designed to keep people seated and eating, yet the people are up and dancing anyway.  Once we got to the real dance music, there was no stopping this group, and it was an incredibly fun night for us!

Today, I just found out from Morgan that their wedding vows video made it to the front page of the New York Times, which I think is pretty cool!  Below is a link to their video:

Morgan and Katherine’s Vows Video – New York Times

A big congrats to Morgan and Katherine, and thanks very much for having us party with you!

Wedding at Montgomery Place

On June 29, we played a wonderful wedding at Montgomery Place in the Hudson Valley yesterday.  Mike and Rachel put together a very elegant event.  After worries of rain all week, the weather turned out beautiful – not a cloud in the sky!  The Kazz Music Orchestra provided sound support for the wedding ceremony, a jazz trio of sax, guitar, and bass for the cocktail hour (view below – of the Hudson River), and then our full 9 piece band with both singers, rhythm section, and all 3 horns for a really awesome dance party! 

We had the great fortune of working with our friend Heidi from What Dreams Are Made Of…, who provided the coordination for the day, and we were also excited to work with Hugh Piney and Terrapin Restaurant and Catering for the very first time.  They were the caterers for Chelsea Clinton’s wedding in the Hudson Valley and serve some of the best food around. 

Congrats to Mike and Rachel!

The view from the cocktail hour at Montgomery Place

The view from the cocktail hour at Montgomery Place

Current Wedding Trends From a Band Leader’s Perspective

We’re nearing the halfway point of 2013, and The Kazz Music Orchestra has been really busy so far playing at a lot of Westchester Weddings, Hudson Valley Weddings, and really weddings all over the Tri-State Area. It’s been an incredibly fun year for us so far!

A big part of what we do to make our couples’ lives as easy is possible, beyond just providing awesome music, is coordinating the timing of everything with other vendors, and also taking care of all announcements. We also offer suggestions to our couples based on things that we’ve seen work well at other weddings, as well as things that haven’t worked so well. So, we thought it would be helpful to share what we’ve personally seen this year as a trend in the weddings we’ve played for.

The number one thing that we’re beginning to notice this year is that couples are really moving farther away from all of the formalities typically associated with wedding receptions and are telling us that they want their reception to feel more like “one big party with family and friends” rather than such a formal reception. So, the trend we’ve seen is fewer formalities, which makes time for more dance music! For example, we have not done a boquet or garter toss yet this year, and nor do we have anyone that is planning on doing this that we know about (yet).

Another thing that quite a few of our couples are completely doing away with the idea of a “Grand Entrance” with the band introducing the wedding party to their guests. Instead, we’re essentially seeing people enter the reception area and then once the bride and groom enter with the other guests, we’re typically just inviting them to the dance floor for their first dance. Actually quite often, the brides and grooms are asking us to invite everyone to join them on the dance floor for their dance as well. (Apparently not everyone likes having 150 guests staring at them as they dance alone for 3 minutes!)

It’ll be interesting to see whether the trend continues and whether any more of the “formalities” are gradually taken out of the mix, so hopefully it’s useful information for anyone out there planning their reception! Enjoy the party!

Gig at Groove in NYC on February 25!

The Kazz Music Orchestra will be playing at Groove in NYC on Monday, February 25.  We’re extremely excited to be playing at Groove, as it’s one of the top R&B clubs in all of NYC!  We’ll be playing from 7:00 – 8:30, and there is no cover charge.  Please come down to check us out, have a few drinks and support live music!  After over 2 years of many wonderful Hudson Valley weddings, Westchester weddings, and other events around the Tri-State area, we’re finally getting to perform publicly in NYC!  We look forward to seeing you there!

2013 Wedding Wire Bride’s Choice Award!

We did it again!  The Kazz Music Orchestra was notified yesterday that we were selected as winners of the 2013 Wedding Wire Bride’s Choice Award!  After two full years as a band, we’ve succeeded in winning the award both years, which is a huge honor in the industry!  This helped to really launch our popularity as a band last year and our bookings skyrocketed after winning the award.  Let’s hope for more continued success in 2013!

The award is based on the number of reviews, our ratings in those reviews, as well as the actual content in the reviews.  So, we owe a HUGE thanks to everyone who has taken the time to write reviews for us, and who has given us the chance to share our music with them at their weddings.  We can’t express enough how much it means that people are willing to help us out with these reviews after we’ve performed. 

Once we get the little “badge” that we can post online, I’ll definitely be doing another posting to show off the badge!  It’s so exciting for us, and once again, thank you so much to everyone who has given us a chance to perform for you!

Live Painting At A Wedding

 

Live wedding painting by artist Anthony Galati

Live wedding painting by artist Anthony Galati

The Kazz Music Orchestra was featured in a painting done by artist Anthony Galati during a wedding that we played at in November 2012 at The Madison Hotel in Morristown, NJ.  I know this is something that has started to become more popular at weddings, but we’ve never been at a wedding where this has taken place, and seeing the final product, I’m more than impressed by Anthony’s work!  

This painting was a gift to the bride and groom (Ray and Jennifer) by one of the guests, and we had been watching Anthony work on it throughout the night, but I had no clue how cool the final paintingwas going to turn out!  If you’re considering something very unique as a way to remember your wedding, I’d definitely get in touch with Anthony.  He was a really great guy to talk to, and as you can see, he does really amazing work!

Diamond Mills Hotel – 12/21/2012

As one of the top Hudson Valley Wedding Bands, we’ve performed at many of the premier venues in the Hudson Valley.  On December 21, we had the privilege of performing for the first time ever at The Diamond Mills Hotel and Tavern for Kyle and Tiffany’s wedding.  It was a wonderful experience for us, and we’re really looking forward to also playing at The Diamond Mills Hotel for their New Year’s Eve Gala in a few days!

Prior to the ceremony, Kyle and Tiffany had a quartet of Christmas Carolers entertaining their guests.  The quartet was fantastic, and they came dressed in Charles Dickens era clothing, which was a wonderful touch!  The ceremony featured Joe on keyboards and Rhonda on vocals.  For the cocktail hour, Kyle and Tiffany elected to have recorded Christmas songs played on their iPod, with us providing the sound system.  The reception featured The Kazz Music Orchestra as a seven piece group with Rhonda and Larry on vocals, and then the rhythm section and one horn for the evening.  Tiffany is a big Whitney Houston fan, so we played all of the Whitney songs in our repertoire, and learned a few new ones as requests. 

Check out the video below from the wedding.  It features (in no particular order):  I Wanna Dance With Somebody, Rock With You, Billy Jean, At Last, Crazy, Don’t Stop Believing, and a special request from Tiffany’s parents that we learned as a surprise for the couple – If You Say My Eyes Are Beautiful, along with maybe some others I’m not thinking of right now. 

This was a really wonderful Christmas-themed wedding with lots of beautiful decorations provided by Tiffany’s mother, and a really great crowd that was a ton of fun to play for!  Congrats Kyle and Tiffany!

[wpvideo 8jwMZiR1]

Wedding at The Montauk House – Brooklyn

Our most recent wedding was a unique one.  We played at The Montauk House in Park Slope, Brooklyn.  The Montauk House is a beautiful building from the 1880s that was modeled after a palace in Venice, Italy.  So, it was pretty amazing on the inside!

Most weddings feature a ceremony followed by a cocktail hour, and then a four hour reception.  This wedding was a bit unique, and we loved it!  There are two floors to the Montauk House.  The ceremony was held on the second floor, and immediately after the ceremony, guests were escorted out into some “overflow” rooms while the ceremony room was turned over to become the cocktail room.  During that time, the couple had a great mariachi band performing. 

The cocktail hour featured old 1920s or 1930s style jazz from an acoustic group with a female singer, and actually lasted for almost 3 hours.  Guests were served appetizers non-stop during that time, and that was essentially the meal.  Following that, we basically “led” them downstairs by starting our set with The Spencer Davis Group’s “Gimme Some Lovin'”, which led guests into a two and a half hour dance party on the first floor. 

It was fun for us because the couple loved Motown / Soul music, so we were asked to only play music from that genre, which is one of our favorites to begin with!  We had our full horn section, so that made it even better!

It was an all-around great wedding for The Kazz Music Orchestra!  Only one more wedding, and a New Year’s Eve party in 2012, and then we’ve got a little break until wedding season 2013!  What a great year so far!

Madison Hotel Wedding – Ray and Jennifer

We had the pleasure of playing for Ray and Jennifer’s wedding last week Friday.  We provided our 8 piece band featuring Keith and Rhonda on vocals along with two horns and our rhythm section, and we also had Danny and Rawn play as a guitar/bass duo for their cocktail hour.  This was our first time at the Madison Hotel, and we’re hoping to become one of the regular Madison Hotel Wedding Bands, as it was a wonderful room to perform in, and Joe Zimmerman and the entire staff were awesome to work with! 

Ray and Jennifer had a few very last minute changes that we were able to help them out with which ended up making the music for their wedding exactly what they were looking for!  We had a request to play Scarlet Begonias by the Grateful Dead as their intro music, which was the first “Dead” tune we’ve ever done, and Ray loved it, so that made us happy! 

Ray and Jennifer had something rather unique at their wedding (although I know it is getting more popular at weddings…).  They had a very talented artist painting a portrait of their wedding reception.  Once the picture is posted online, I’ll be sure to post a link to it.  Also, they had a talented photographer, Candice K, taking photos for their wedding.  Definitely check her work out!

Below is a very short video clip I filmed at the wedding.  The videography is terrible.  I’m just not so great at playing sax and taking video at the same time!  But, it gives you a little taste of what the music sounded like for their reception! 

[youtube=http://youtu.be/6K6hbzauptk]

New World Catering – Hudson Valley Weddings

If you’re looking for catering for your wedding in the Hudson Valley, I just wanted to take a brief second to acknowledge my personal favorite:  New World Home Cooking.  Here’s what I like:

  • The Food:  New World Home Cooking has long been one of my favorite restaurants in the Hudson Valley.  When we have guests in from out of town, this is one of the top places we’ll take them.
  • The Team:  Most people only consider the food when choosing a caterer.  As the leader of one of the best Hudson Valley Wedding Bands, I also really value a caterer’s pre-wedding coordination, as well as their ability to communicate and partner with us on the day of a wedding. 

Having worked previously with Sidney Orlando and the New World Catering team on a wedding with a lot of intracacies and last minute adjustments, and having seen how flawlessly we were able to negotiate the challenges we faced makes me give Sidney and New World Catering my highest recommendation for a caterer in the Hudson Valley.  Both prior to the wedding, and at the actual wedding, Sidney and the New World Catering team had their act together and made for fantastic partners for us as a band. 

 

Wedding at The Waterside – North Bergen, NJ

The Waterside - ViewWe had the pleasure of playing for Chris and Tricia’s wedding at The Waterside in North Bergen, NJ recently.  This was our first time at The Waterside, and it was a wonderful event.  Chris and Tricia put together a beautiful wedding.  It featured our pianist, Andrea Shaut playing for the ceremony.  At Chris’ request, Andrea played Radiohead and Elton John songs as prelude music, and then the couple chose some beautiful classical music for their actual ceremony music.   The view in this photo was the backdrop for their outdoor ceremony, which was right on the Hudson River.  Not bad, right?

Our guitarist, Danny, played acoustic guitar for the cocktail hour – a wide range of acoustic rock tunes from the 70s up through today. 

For the reception, The Kazz Music Orchestra was there to rock out for the guests.  We were a 7 piece band.  The reception room at The Waterside is fantastic, with large windows providing a beautiful backdrop of Manhattan.  Speaking with Chris about the venue, he made a great point, you can’t get such an incredible view of Manhattan like this if you’re in Manhattan!  It was a beautiful night, and we are very thankful to Chris and Tricia for having us be a part of their amazing wedding!

Wedding at The Skytop Lodge, Skytop PA

While we are most commonly a Hudson Valley Wedding Band, this past weekend, The Kazz Music Orchestra traveled to play a wedding at the Skytop Lodge in Skytop, PA.  It was amazing!  Sarah and David put so much thought into every aspect of the wedding.  Their ceremony was very personalized.  We provided the music with Andrea on piano and Dan on acoustic guitar playing a mix of selected pop / rock tunes from Sarah and David.

For cocktails, The Kazz Music Orchestra provided a jazz trio of trumpet, guitar, and bass as guests ate and drank outdoors.  Much of the food was personal favorites from Sarah and David, including their personal favorite varieties of grilled cheese! 

For the reception, The Kazz Music Orchestra provided our 8 piece band and we ROCKED the Skytop!  Sarah and David’s family and friends loved to dance!  They warned us ahead of time that it was a partying crowd, and it totally was!  Sarah and David wanted a lot of upbeat music, including starting the night off with a great dance set instead of having everyone sitting to eat right away.  So, we literally had people dancing all night long.  Check out the video below to see us in action.  We had a blast at this party!!!

[youtube=http://youtu.be/PjPXXs0pXU4]

Wedding at The Rhinecliff Hotel – 8/26/2012

We owe a HUGE thanks to Dan and Alison for having us perform for their wedding at The Rhinecliff Hotel on August 26.  The hotel is a beautiful setting – very old and historic, and it sits right on the shore of the Hudson River!  It was a fairly small dance floor, but Alison and Dan, along with their friends danced a LOT and filled it up, so it was a TON of fun for us!  Alison is a huge Katy Perry fan, so we rocked out on Firework, Hot ‘n Cold, and California Girls for her (some of which are in the clips below).  Alison also reached out and asked if we could take one additional request beyond what we typically agree to learn – so we also learned Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen for her as a little bonus!  Alison had proposed having Walking on Sunshine played at the end of their ceremony by Danny, our acoustic guitarist.  I joined in with him on sax to play the melody, and we actually ended up using that song as a theme throughout the evening.  It’s an incredibly upbeat tune, and very appropriate.  So, in addition to playing it for their ceremony we played the “groove” to it as we did our grand introductions of Alison and Dan’s wedding party, and then also played the full song later in the evening as one of the last tunes of the night.  I thought it was a really cool touch to use it in that manner.  This was a rockin’ party, so thanks again to Alison and Dan for having us perform!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsecTIM5aVE&feature=youtu.be]

Wedding at The Kaaterskill on 8/25/2012

On August 25, we had the chance to perform for Mari and Andrew’s wedding at The Kaaterskill in Catskill, NY.  It was a beautiful wedding and a beautiful setting.  The reception was in a large old barn, where we provided the dance music!  The Kaaterskill has a lot of farm animals on the property, so it really was a rural setting, but one that was very elegant!  The food was provided by New World Catering, which makes some of the best food in the Hudson Valley.  We helped Mari and Andrew through a lot of details for their wedding, including completely learning a new song for their introductions only 2 days before their wedding!  Overall, it was another really beautiful evening that we were thrilled to be a part of!  Thanks so much to Mari and Andrew for having us perform!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fq0wednlSqA&feature=youtu.be]

CJ and Stef’s First Dance – August 4, 2012 @ The Hermitage

I posted previously about CJ and Stef’s wedding on August 4 at The Hermitage in Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ.  I also commented on how awesome their first dance was.  They choreographed it to the Alanis Morissette version of “Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall In Love”.  One of their guests took some video on their iPhone, and Stef was nice enough to send the youtube link to me.  Check out how great of a job they did!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GjPW9NuXGI]

Ben and Jane’s Wedding at the Larchmont Yacht Club

On August 11, we played for Ben and Jane’s wedding at The Larchmont Yacht Club.  We knew we were in for quite a fun night when we had tons of people screaming for us even after we were only a few bars into our first tune!  People danced the whole night, and we had a LOT of fun playing for this party!  Ben and Jane were a lot of fun to work with during the planning of their wedding.  I think one of the more interesting points of the wedding is that they asked the band to learn “Psycho Killer” by The Talking Heads.  By most standards, that’s not a typical wedding request.  BUT, everyone loved it and sang along – particularly on the chorus!

It was a great compliment for us to have the manager of the Larchmont Yacht Club tell us that we were one of the best bands that they’ve ever had perform there.  Considering the number of bands they hear every year, that compliment meant a lot to us!

Many thanks to Ben and Jane, as well as The Larchmont Yacht Club for making this such a fun night!  Check out some video of us performing at the wedding:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6SZDzva7l4]

CJ and Stephanie’s Wedding at The Hermitage in Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ

[wpvideo ZsYAiA6N]  On August 4, The Kazz Music Orchestra performed at The Hermitage for CJ and Stephanie’s wedding.  A lot of planning went into this wedding, and we had a great time performing!  CJ and Stephanie choreographed one of the best first dances I think I’ve seen yet – to the song “Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall In Love” as sung by Alannis Morissette (and performed by us of course!).  There were some requests for some line dance recordings, and you’ll see that we were just as into dancing as the guests were!  Rhonda was out in the crowd, and Andrea and Chuck were up and grooving as best as they could from our back line.  Many thanks to CJ and Stephanie for having us perform!  We also need to give a big shout out to Chuck Adams from Take Away Gourmet for being a huge help during the planning process, and for putting together some amazing food for the wedding!

How Do Professional Bands Handle “Emergencies”?

Every bride and groom always wants to know, “What happens if someone in the band gets sick last minute before our wedding?”  The reality is that this can happen, along with a ton of other potential issues to us, or any band.  How we handle these situations is what makes us a truly professional band.

The list of things that can go wrong include car accidents, musician illness, getting stuck in terrible traffic, a death in the family, and a host of other things.  Occasionally as well, musicians in our band get called for major performance opportunities, including as featured in a previous blog entry, an opportunity to perform on Saturday Night Live. 

In our two year history, while our clients typically have never found out and have still absolutely loved our music, we have successfully managed through several “crisis” situations which, in addition to the last minute Saturday Night Live performance , have included musicians being called for European tours and performances weeks before a wedding, illness, and a logistical miscalculation that left one musician two hours away from a wedding reception when the reception was scheduled to begin in only one hour. 

In every situation above, including the situation where we had ONE hour to get a top-notch substitute to fill in for us, we were able to find someone on our substitute list that could step in to make sure that we were able to deliver premium entertainment for our wedding couples and their guests. 

Our clients should feel very comfortable that we are a band with a very deep listing of substitutes that are able to step into a performance situation with our band so that our clients and their guests are still able to fully enjoy the music and energy of the Kazz Music Orchestra.  You should expect nothing less from any band that you consider working with.  If a band isn’t willing to acknowledge this risk and can’t tell you how they manage through these situations, I would suggest looking elsewhere.  The reality is that emergencies come up.  Make sure your band is prepared!

Keith Fluitt on Saturday Night Live with Mick Jagger

On May 17th, The Kazz Music Orchestra’s very own male singer, Keith Fluitt, was featured on Saturday Night Live with Mick Jagger and Arcade Fire.  Check out the video on Hulu:  http://www.hulu.com/watch/363336

Keith is the second singer from the right in the choir at the start of the song.  The group sounded great!  Congratulations to Keith on this amazing opportunity!

This opportunity for Keith put The Kazz Music Orchestra in a pinch, as Keith received the call to perform only three days before we were to perform at a wedding on the same day.  We were able to book Larry Loftin, our #1 sub, who sounds fantastic, to step in at the last minute and help our clients Matt and Alexis have a great time at their wedding, while also allowing Keith to take advantage of this fantastic opportunity. 

While The Kazz Music Orchestra is a group made up of set musicians and we try to use our original musicians as often as absolutely possible, occasionally situations like this do arise, and from a career development perspective, the Saturday Night Live performance for Keith was the right move, knowing that we would be able to find a fantastic replacement and still provide top-notch wedding entertainment for Matt and Alexis.  The great thing about working with such talented musicians in The Kazz Music Orchestra is that when we need a replacement – even at the last minute, we are able to get substitutes that are equally as talented as the other musicians in our band.  This in turn should make our clients feel comfortable that we can handle “emergency” situations that may arise very last minute like true professionals.

June 2, 2012 – Ryan and Amy’s Wedding

Kazz Music Orchestra at the Knickerbocker Country ClubWe performed for Ryan and Amy’s wedding at the Knickerbocker Country Club, and it was such a perfect event (with a packed dance floor as usual)!  Working with Ryan and Amy was wonderful, and their detailed planning definitely paid off, because it was a fantastic night, and we had a really good time!

One of the highlights for us was having Ryan’s Aunt and Amy’s father sit in with the band on vocals and drums to perform “You Belong To Me” as made famous by Jo Stafford.  Amy’s father was also nice enough to join us again later in the evening on “How Sweet It Is” as well! 

During planning, Amy had written on our planning document that if we knew any Gap Band songs, particularly “You Dropped A Bomb On Me”, that they would go over well with her crowd.  It wasn’t a formal request (since we didnt’ know the song), and we never discussed it.  But, we surprised them by learning the tune and playing it for them.  It was a big hit! 

This was our first time performing at the Knickerbocker Country Club, and according to Rod, who runs the events there, they had never had more than a 5 piece band perform.  So, he was very impressed that we were able to perform as a 7 piece group and manage the volume levels for the room with our band.  Rod and his team were awesome to work with, and I’m hoping that this is the start of a great partnership with the country club! 

Thanks again Ryan and Amy!

May 27, 2012 – Katie and Whit’s Wedding

Hudson Valley Wedding Bands - Woodbury Country Club WeddingWe had the pleasure of performing for Katie and Whit’s wedding at Woodbury Country Club on May 27, 2012.  Absolutely awesome couple to work with, and absolutely amazing evening!

There were many highlights that made this wedding fun for us:  1) Katie and Whit had cutouts of their heads that were circulating at the wedding, so of course Rhonda and Keith had to get their hands on them to make it look like Katie and Whit sang a duet together!

2) As a surprise, Whit contacted me without Katie knowing, and asked us to learn one additional request on top of the 5 that we typically learn for weddings.  The idea was to have a bit of a hoe-down at the reception.  Whit ordered a ton of cowboy hats, and we learned “Friends In Low Places” by Garth Brooks and had everyone at the reception singing along with the band!

3) Katie and Whit requested some very fun songs for us to learn, including a jazzy version of “More Today Than Yesterday” as recorded by Kermit Ruffins, and also, Whit asked if we could do a slower and jazzier version of John Mayer’s “No Such Thing” for him to dance to with his mother.  That was fun because I got to write “big band” style horn parts for a song that wouldn’t typically have any horns in it. 

Overall, it was a very fun night for us!  Congrats to Katie and Whit!

Julie and Matt’s Wedding at Minerals Resort and Spa in Vernon, NJ

Minerals Resort and Spa Wedding - Kazz Music OrchestraWe owe a HUGE thanks to Julie and Matt for having us play at their wedding at Minerals Resort and Spa in Vernon, NJ on May 5!  Julie and Matt booked us about a year before their event, so after all of the planning, it was exciting to see everything come together and come out so successful! 

Their ceremony featured Andrea  on solo piano with beautiful classical music, and then our jazz trio of sax, guitar and bass for the cocktail hour.  Both of these were held outside, where it looked like it might pour at any second!  But luckily, the rain held off all day!  The reception featured our full 9 piece band with both Rhonda and Keith on vocals, and our full horn section, which is always a blast to play with!

We had a good little “save” during the wedding.  Julie and Matt were going to do their first dance and parents’ dances to recordings and had planned to give us an iPod to play the songs off of.  I’m assuming the iPod was somewhere in the room, but that people just were busy and forgot to give it to us.  Luckily, I had a backup plan and had downloaded their songs to my own iPod “just in case”!  Problem solved – No delays in the flow of the wedding, and the dances went off without a hitch!

Overall, it was another great wedding, with lots of dancing, and we had lots of compliments on the band once again.  Julie and Matt were awesome to work with through it all, with Julie being extremely organized (making my job very easy!!!)  I’m very proud of the band with all that we’ve been accomplishing – one successful wedding after another!  While we’re primarily a Hudson Valley Wedding Band, we’re more than happy to travel all over the tri-state area to perform for weddings!  Can’t wait for all of the fun performances the band’s got lined up for this year!

“Thanks for everything Joe! We had such an incredible night! And your band was definitely the highlight, as I was hoping. We got raving reviews from so many of our guests that “the band was absolutely incredible”! Loved all the songs you played, and clearly our guests had a blast. I was hoping that everyone would dance, and was thrilled that they did. Thanks to you and the whole band for a wonderful night!”Julie and Matt

Chris and Kim’s Wedding @ The Full Moon Resort in Big Indian, NY

Full Moon Resort WeddingThe Kazz Music Orchestra played our first wedding of 2012 on April 28, at Full Moon Resort in Big Indian for Chris and Kim.  We had an awesome time.  It was a great group of people that LOVED to dance, which makes what we do a lot of fun!  We heard several comments that we were the best wedding band people had ever heard, which to me means that people had a fantastic time dancing to our music!  That’s our #1 goal!

This was our first time at Full Moon Resort, and hopefully not our last.  It’s a fantastic country setting in the Catskills, serves wonderful food, and is run by a great team that was very well-organized and awesome to work with!  Having a well-organized team like this makes our job very easy, and allows for a wedding to flow very smoothly. 

Congratulations to Chris and Kim, and a big thanks to Full Moon for making their wedding a huge success!  We’re looking forward to a LOT more fun weddings in the months to come!

“They were amazing and exceeded our expectations. They were so good that both our venue and our on day wedding planner both told us how impressed they were and asked to have all of their contact information. They made our wedding into the dance party that we wanted. Kazz made our wedding the dream wedding I had always wanted.” – Kim and Chris

“We Want a Band and a DJ at our Wedding”

Once in a while, couples contact us telling us that they want to book both a DJ and a band for their wedding.  My first question is “Why would you need to do that?”  Even as a live musician, I’m not anti-DJ like many musicians are, but, I struggle with understanding why people would hire both a DJ and a band for their wedding.  The purpose of this post isn’t to try and take away work from DJs, but rather to save our clients money.    Here are a few thoughts:

  • From a cost perspective, it doesn’t matter to us if we’re going to perform less because there will be a DJ at a wedding as well.  Our time is still being booked for that date, and we still charge our standard prices.  I’m sure nearly every other band and every other DJ will do the same.  So, it’s not as if you’ll get a discount because both the band and the DJ will each be working a little bit less at your event, and therefore it’s inefficient from a cost perspective.  With weddings as expensive as they are already, this would seem like an obvious way to save money.
  • Any band that you hire should already be planning on playing recorded music during any breaks that they may take during the evening.  So, you’ll still be getting the recorded music to fill the spaces when the band isn’t performing.  While you may not get the same quality mixing that a DJ would be able to do, any band should be more than capable of playing recorded dance music for your guests that will keep them on the dance floor. 
  • Some songs sound better on recordings than they would being performed by a live band.  I won’t argue with this.  But, if you refer to the bullet point above, maybe you’d want to throw in 20 minutes of recorded dance music that wouldn’t necessarily sound as good from a live band, or perhaps that is in a style that the band doesn’t specialize in.  It shouldn’t be a problem for a band to play some recorded dance music for you as well. 
  • “DJs have special training on how to emcee an event” – I disagree with this in several ways.  Bands typically provide emcee services for all weddings they perform at.  Any person who can speak with inflection can do a good job as an emcee. 
  • “DJs have a library of thousands of songs.” – That’s wonderful, except during your four hour wedding reception, you’re going to hear less than 100 songs.  Many of the same songs are requested at every wedding.  So, if your band has a great repertoire of dance music and you still want to supplement it with some selected recorded songs, that library of thousands of songs from your DJ isn’t going to be that critical. 

I’ve been to many weddings where there were DJs, and they were a LOT of fun.  So once again, I am not downplaying how great a DJ can be for entertaining a crowd.  However, I think in nearly every instance, if you want some recorded music at your wedding along with a live band, that a good band will also be able to successfully manage your recorded requests as well.  Enjoy the music!

First Dances – Should the Band Play, or Should You Dance to a Recording?

One of the considerations in planning a wedding is whether or not to have the band perform your first dance together, or whether you should dance to a recording of your first dance song.  From a bandleader’s perspective, here are a few thoughts:

  • If you’re going to take dance lessons and learn a routine for your song, you may want to consider dancing to the recording.  You’ll be spending many hours practicing to the recording, and that’s what you’ll feel comfortable with.  When a band plays a song, even if they play the exact same arrangement of the recording you’ve practiced to, it’s still not going to sound quite the same as the recording.  If you’re going to be focusing really hard on your footwork and getting your steps right, having something that doesn’t sound 100% familiar might be a bit of a distraction.  Even if you’re not taking dance lessons together, dancing to the recording still allows you to practice prior to the wedding, so it still may be the preferable choice for you. 
  • If you’re not going to take dance lessons and are just going to dance together and truly enjoy the moment, having the live band you hired perform your song can make for a very special dance. 
  • Most bands, The Kazz Music Orchestra included, will learn a set number of special requests for an event.  If you’ve got a lot of other dance songs that you’d like the band to play, dancing to a recording for your first dance may not be a bad idea, so that you can have the band learn another one of your song requests. 

Overall, there’s no right or wrong answer.  It ultimately comes down to your preferences and what you feel most comfortable with.  The most important thing to remember is that it is your first dance together as a married couple, so while not tripping over your two left feet, the most important thing is to savor the moment!  See you on the dance floor!

Performance for the West Point Military Academy Glee Club – Saturday 2/11/2012

We are excited to announce that we are doing a special performance for the West Point Military Academy Glee Club on Saturday, February 11, 2012 at the Bear Mountain Inn in Bear Mountain, NY.  The Glee Club will be rehearsing all day on Saturday for upcoming performances through the semester, and when their rehearsals conclude, The Kazz Music Orchestra will be playing from 10:00 until midnight to help the Cadets celebrate and unwind after a long day.  We are excited to volunteer our time and services for these Cadets, as they will be returning the favor to us by serving our country after they graduate. 

If you will be in the area on this day and are considering The Kazz Music Orchestra for your wedding or special event, please contact us if you would like to stop by to see us perform this evening.

2012 Wedding Wire Bride’s Choice Award!

We are thrilled to announce that we were selected to receive the 2012 Bride’s Choice Award from Wedding Wire!  Click HERE to visit our page on Wedding Wire.

According to Wedding Wire:

“This means we are in the top 5% of Wedding Pros nationwide! The WeddingWire Bride’s Choice Awards recognizes the top local wedding professionals from the WeddingWire Network that demonstrate excellence in quality, service, responsiveness and professionalism. Unlike other awards in which winners are selected by the organization, the WeddingWire Bride’s Choice Awards are determined solely by the reviews from over 1.2 million newlyweds.”
 
This is a huge honor for The Kazz Music Orchestra, as 2011 was our first full year performing at weddings together.  To earn such an amazing award after such a short time makes me very proud to be working with the musicians in The Kazz Music Orchestra.  We also owe a great big THANK YOU to all of the couples who gave us the chance to perform for their weddings.  Each and every one of them was amazing, and we truly appreciate the opportunities we were given.  We also appreciate people taking the time to write reviews for us on Wedding Wire, which ultimately helped make this award possible. 

How to Make An Informed Decision About Choosing A Wedding Band

by:  Joe Kaczorowski – Saxophonist / Director of The Kazz Music Orchestra – www.kazzmusic.com

Click HERE to download this article as a PDF file.

As someone who has been working with wedding bands both as a leader and a sideman since I moved to the New York City and Hudson Valley areas in 2001, I’ve had many opportunities to work with couples on planning the music for their wedding, so by this point, I’d say that I feel pretty comfortable about the process.  However, if you’re getting married, chances are that choosing and booking bands isn’t something you do every day.  So, it’s natural that most brides and grooms aren’t incredibly comfortable in knowing the right questions to ask or things to consider when booking a band.  This article will provide you with insight into what you should be considering when choosing a band for your wedding. 

The Importance of a Good Band

Ever been to a wedding where the music was bad?  If you have, I don’t need to say anything else.  If you haven’t, consider yourself lucky.  It has been my experience that the things most often talked about after a wedding are the venue, the food, and the music.  The music can absolutely make or break it in terms of your guests having a good time, so I’d say it’s a pretty important decision to get right!

“How Much Do You Cost?”

Every wedding professional will tell you that this is almost always the first question that we hear.  There are a lot of mediocre bands that are cheap, and there are also a lot of really good bands that charge in excess of $10,000 to play at a wedding.  There are also a lot of mediocre bands that charge a lot of money.  The tricky part is finding a band that is a good value – one that sounds amazing, is priced right, and will be there to help you constantly through your planning process.  That last part is really important, because the planning that you do up front with your band, venue, caterer, and wedding coordinator can really help to ensure that things flow smoothly on your wedding day!

Comparing Band Videos and Audio Recordings

There are a lot of standard songs that almost every wedding band performs, and any serious band should have videos, or at least audio recordings of some of those songs online.  See if you can find a common song that the bands you are considering have all recorded.  Then, do an apples-to-apples comparison between the bands to see what versions you like best.

If you are considering a band that only has audio, but no video, one very important question to ask would be whether or not the band uses a set group of musicians (particularly singers), or a rotating cast of characters.  With no video, it becomes easy for them to pull the old switcheroo on their clients since you can’t actually see what the band looks like.  There are agencies that use this technique all the time.  If you see or hear a singer in a video that you like, ask to make sure that’s the singer you’re going to be getting at your wedding.

See the Band Live

The ideal place would be to see a band performing at a wedding, but this isn’t always possible.  You may occasionally get a couple that’s OK with you coming to see your prospective band play at their wedding, but keep in mind that this may not always be possible.  The big benefit to seeing a band at a wedding is that you can see how they work the flow of events for the reception, and also how well they keep the guests on the dance floor. 

If that’s not possible, see if the band holds monthly showcases, or performs at a bar or club regularly.  These options usually leave plenty of time to talk to the band members, and to get to know them a little bit.  Are they the kind of people you’d want your guests interacting with?

Some other considerations for when you go hear a band play live:

  • Does the band stop after every song and take time between songs?  This can kill the dancing in a hurry at a wedding.  A good wedding band should be able to string songs together in the same way a DJ so that they’re not stopping all the time. 
  • How loud is the band?  Could you picture your grandma with her hands over her ears because the band’s subwoofer is about to knock her wig off of her head?  Or, do you think you’d be able to talk comfortably with guests if you were sitting at a table, or standing at a bar with them while the band was playing?  
  • Are they playing well-known hits, or are they playing obscure songs off of their playlist that only audiophiles are going to recognize? 

“How Many Singers Do They Have?”

Some people think that if a band has five people that sing, that this is going to make the band that much more amazing.  Here are a few perspectives on the number of singers:

  • If there are five singers and they can all sing in harmony together, then you might be in for a treat with some great five-part harmonies.  If they don’t harmonize well, you might get a lot of unison backing vocals, where it doesn’t really matter if there’s one person or three people singing the same backup lines.
  • Some bands need five singers because each singer can only sing really well in one style.  You should be able to see this just from watching a band’s demo video.  Odds are that each singer will typically only sing lead vocals for one or two styles of music because they just don’t sound that great on other styles.   
  • Rather than find a band with five singers that can only sing in one or two styles each, it can be a lot more cost effective to find a band with fewer singers, but ones that are more versatile and that can sound great in any style.  From a cost perspective, the singers are usually the highest paid musicians in the band, so the more and more singers you add, the bigger and bigger your bill is going to be. 

Band Marketing Tricks

“We feature a Grammy-nominated guitarist!”  There are all kinds of tricks like this that bands will use to promote themselves that aren’t really relevant to what you need for a wedding, which is a band that will get your guests up dancing and keep your wedding flowing smoothly.  Do you need a Grammy-nominated guitarist?  Odds are that your guests aren’t going to walk out of your wedding talking about an amazing guitar solo on “Living On A Prayer” for years to come.  They’ll likely remember the singers, because they’re the most identifiable “sound” of the band.  So, you may want to ask about the singers’ credentials, but you shouldn’t base your decisions on what bands or artists people have recorded with.  In the end, just because a band has played the Super Bowl halftime show doesn’t mean that they’ll be a great dance band for a wedding.  At the same time, a band that doesn’t need to have any huge credentials to really know how to work a crowd at a wedding.  Keep the focus on the sound of the band as a whole, and how they will fit into your vision for your wedding.

Talk To Other Brides and Grooms Who Used the Band

If you’ve found a band that you like, ask them for some references to call.  If they can’t give you some names and numbers, then the band may not have much wedding experience.  The same questions that applied to seeing the band live could be asked of these references too.  Here are a few others you might also want to ask:

  • What was the band like in terms of the planning process?  How responsive were they?  How organized were they?
  • Were they accommodating in learning requests? 
  • What did you like most about working with the band? 
  • What did you like least about working with the band?  (You need to hear the good and bad about every group… No group is perfect!)
  • Were they on time?
  • What did your guests think of the band?
  • How well did the band do while emceeing the wedding?

Online References

Every band is going to tell you how wonderful they are and highlight their best reviews on their website.  But, what kind of reputation do they really have online?  A lot of brides and grooms will write reviews of their vendors online after their weddings.  Spend some time looking for your band on different wedding websites and see what people are really saying about them.  Two of the most common places to look for reviews are Wedding Wire and The Knot.  See what you can find!

The Planning Process

A good bandleader will be a huge asset to you in the planning process for your wedding.  Planning involves a lot more than just figuring out what your first dance is going to be.  A top-notch band will utilize a planning document that will make the whole process easy for you and lay out all of your key decisions, including a timeline, music requests, introductions and announcements (and phonetic pronunciations of everyone that will be introduced), as well as other key aspects of your wedding. 

A well-organized bandleader will also share this document with your other key vendors prior to you wedding.  It will be very helpful to your photographer to know that your speeches and toasts will be happening at a certain time, so that he or she doesn’t run off for a bathroom break and miss all of the speeches!  Ask the bands you are considering what they typically do during the planning process, and how they will work with your other wedding vendors prior to your wedding.

Ceremony and Cocktail Hour Music

Odds are that in addition to reception music, you will probably be looking for music for your ceremony and cocktail hour as well.  A good band should be able to provide music for both of these aspects of your wedding.  The band should be able to provide this music much cheaper than if you were to look to other musical groups, as the band will already be on-site for your wedding. 

Most commonly, ceremony music is provided by the pianist from the band.  If you are interested in classical music for your ceremony, there are a few things to consider:

  • You may want to ask what sort of classical music background the band’s pianist has.  As a performer, classical music and reception music are very different styles in terms of performance requirements. 
  • Does the venue have a piano on-site?  If they do, and you’ll be using it for your ceremony, make sure you work into your agreement with the venue that the piano is to be tuned the week before your wedding.  Having beautiful ceremony music played on an out of tune piano will take the beauty out of the music in a hurry.
  • If you’re not familiar with classical music selections, ask the bandleader.  They should be able to recommend some common wedding pieces.  If the pianist is well-versed in classical music and you’re looking for something a little less traditional, ask the bandleader or pianist for other recommendations outside of the norm, and then to listen to them online. 
  • You don’t have to have classical music played at your ceremony.  Your ceremony musician should also be able to play instrumental versions of more contemporary pop music as well. 
  • If you are getting married in a church, keep in mind that many churches may require you to use their organist, and that many churches may not allow secular music to be played at the church.  Find these things out before booking your band’s pianist to play for your ceremony.

For the cocktail hour, a good band will probably give you several different options for music.  The most basic would likely be a solo pianist or guitar.  Most cocktail hours don’t have anything more than a jazz trio at their largest.  In nearly all cases, there are no drums used at the cocktail hour.  One thing to remember is that during the cocktail hour, you’ll want your guests to be able to talk without yelling over each other.  So, ask the bandleader to keep the music soft and light for the cocktail hour. 

Band Breaks

Some bands are going to take a break every 45 minutes no matter what.  Others will provide continuous music the entire night through – even providing a solo instrumentalist during dinner for you.  Others may take a few strategically-timed full-band breaks.  If you’re going to be paying thousands of dollars for a band, you should probably try to gauge how much music you’re actually going to get out of the band.  Ask the bands you are considering when they will be breaking.  If it sounds like too many breaks, then talk to the leader and see if you can work out a compromise. 

Insurance

Any serious band is going to carry an insurance policy.  If the band tells you that insurance isn’t necessary, or that they don’t typically carry a policy, this may be an indicator that they’re not very actively involved in the wedding industry, as this is becoming an increasingly common requirement for bands. 

The policy that many venues require of bands is a $1,000,000 liability policy that basically covers the band in case one of their PA speakers falls and crushes a bridesmaid, or in case the groom trips over the drum set, or in case the band somehow trashes and destroys the venue.

A Note About Wedding Music Agencies

There are many wedding music agencies that represent a variety of bands.  The prices quoted by agencies will include what is typically a pretty hefty agency fee.  This fee can easily be at least 20% of the price, and is usually well over $1,000.  The agency fee will typically far exceed what any musician in the band will be getting paid.  This fee will cover the agency’s time for working with you on the planning process for your wedding.  With some agencies, you may have little or no actual interaction with the actual band until right before your wedding.

Agencies use several selling points:

  • Access to premium bands – It is true that many premium bands are booked through agencies, and this is really what much of the premium you will pay will go towards – being able to access these premium bands.  However, there are also many top-notch bands that do not work through agencies, and these groups can potentially save you thousands of dollars if you can find them.
  • Agencies have access to a network of substitute musicians in case one of the musicians in the band you have booked is unavailable at the last minute.  This isn’t a great selling point, because any good musician in any band should have a half dozen names that they can recommend in a pinch to fill in for them, so don’t let agencies fool you into this being something that only they are able to offer. 
  • Agencies are fully insured.  We already discussed that any serious band that is very involved in the wedding industry should have their own insurance policy.  So, this isn’t a great selling point.

Conclusion

Finding the right band takes time and research.  There are many great bands on the market.  You don’t have to pay $10,000+ to get an amazing band for your wedding.  In fact, some of the bands that cost half as much as those bands are twice as good in my estimation.  So, don’t assume that the more expensive a group is, the better they are.  Use your eyes and ears.  Listen to the band.  See how they interact with people.  Talk to other people who have used the band.  Then, decide which band is right for you and your budget.  Enjoy the music!