What Makes a Great Comedian?

Timing.  I know – an old joke.  But timing is everything – in comedy, in music, at your wedding.

You may have an idea about how the party should go, but it’s really based on your experience at other weddings.  Or you may get some tips from wedding planners or caterers.  While they are well intentioned, they are also not considering what creates the most fun and memorable experience for your guests – they have pre-planned schedules that may not align with the natural flow of your particular day.

Remember – the timing of what happens at your wedding doesn’t affect our job – but it does affect how magical the party will feel to everyone, and that really does matter to us.

You want an unforgettable, non-stop great time?  Here’s what I suggest:

1.            Cocktail hour.   Extend it by ½ an hour.  It’s the very beginning of the party, and it’s the moment.  You really will need extra time because photos are taken after ceremony.  In that last half hour I always have the band join me for an acoustic jazz set.  This changes the feel of the music, and transitions to the dance music that we’ll be playing at the reception.

2.            Guests and musicians relocate to reception hall.

3.            I introduce the wedding party.

4.            First dance.

5.            Second dance for wedding party (including couple) – great time for photographs!

6.            Third dance for all of the guests.

7.            Blessing / Toast

8.            Salad served.

9.            Parental dances – I recommend this here rather than after the first dance because it spreads out the fun – the special dances are big moments people are looking forward to at your wedding.  At traditional Jewish weddings, it is important to play hora/klezmer music before your entree is served because everybody gets involved, and for some guests this is an important tradition that they are really looking forward to.

10.            Entree served.

11.            Long dance set – the party really starts now.  It is important to allow the caterers time to serve entrees at the best time for them, because the food may be hot.  The cake however, is fine waiting, and so holding off on serving it allows the special moments to be spread throughout your party.  It’s great for guests to still look forward to one of the highlights of the event.  This long dance set is perfect to get your guests out dancing so they’ll be ready to relax and take a break when the cake comes out (instead of back-to-back entrée/cake.  Not everyone will be hungry for dessert, and you won’t have a chance to take advantage of great dancing until much later, and then with nothing else to look forward to.  The food and dancing should reflect off of each other …

9.            Cake cutting – the band relocates with just hand held instruments to gather everyone around you and your cake to create an intimate moment, also much nicer, more candid photos instead of an empty floor.  I promise – this is not tacky or gimmicky; it’s a sweet moment.  This pushes service later into the evening, and when timed correctly, there will be no more music breaks for the rest of the party.

10.            More dancing.

11.            Send off dance for wedding couple – this is what you think of as your last dance, but we don’t think it should be the last dance of the night, because your guests want time to be on the floor with you – this is some of the most fun dancing of the party – kind of sending you guys off, without the party coming to an end.  On the contrary – symbolically your dance should make the party really take off.  This adds a meaningful moment that breaks up an otherwise long dance set.  Now everyone dances until the end.

These are suggestions from experience and observation of what has worked well, and what hasn’t.

Two experiences of the same moment:

Your guests finish their dinner and feel like getting up to really dance.  They start, but the set is quickly interrupted with the arrival of your cake, and everyone dutifully goes back to their table for dessert.  They glance around the room, as everyone tries to read what’s happening next.

Or

Your guests finish their dinner and feel like getting up to really dance.  And they do!  Summer favorites and calypso classics, and everyone has a lot of fun right until the end of the set.  When the band breaks, everyone sits down for a rest and some conversation, and – voila! – the cake appears, and now we gather everyone around the two of you and play some acoustic instruments.  It’s a memorable moment, and it happened naturally.

Your wedding can be filled with them; it’s all about – timing.

Happy New Year!

Wishing everyone a year filled with great music … good things will definitely follow ~

Peace!

‘Tis The Season to Get Engaged

For many, the holidays are the ideal time to pop the question, and given all of the ad money spent by high-end jewelers, research seems to support that sentiment.   Maybe it’s being surrounded by sparkle that brings weddings to mind, but also because holidays bring together family and friends, and that makes it a really great time to share big and shiny news with everyone.

Over the years we’ve heard some really great proposal stories – really great ones.  We’d love to hear yours too, so feel free to post and share how the two of you got engaged.

No story yet?  Well, New Year’s Eve is right around the corner, and happens to be the second most popular night for popping questions with corks … so don’t sip the champagne without glancing in the glass first …

Two Calypso Chords for Guitar Players

We love bringing our music to you, and thought it would be great to give some playing tips for musicians at home. This one is for guitar players. Interested in playing some calypso? Here’s a two chord vamp often played by the Talbot Brothers that’ll bring island breezes straight through your living room …

I-V7 CHORD VAMP

E A D G B E
3 5 5 4 X X
5 5 4 5 X X

(X = mute string)

Over the chords, put this Bermudian rhythm:

DownUpDownUp{Slap}UpDownUp

The slap falls on the third downward strum and is played by just strumming across all of the strings while relaxing the grip on the chording hand (which mutes the pitch of the strings). Keep the groove of the 8 strums in the measure. The slap sounds like a snare drum when you do it right. You can also drop the outer side of your strumming hand on the strings (kind of a karate chop) as the pick passes on the strings, to augment the effect. Note that the first and third down strums are stronger.

And if G major is not a good key for you to sing with, just move it up or down.

Check back for more playing tips and ideas to work on … have fun …

The Ridge Club in Sandwich, MA

Calypso Hurricane has played together for so long, in so many different places, that it’s not too often we come across a venue we’ve never played at before. Well, this weekend we played a wedding for some wonderful people at The Ridge Club in Sandwich, MA, and it was such a beautiful place for any kind of party, that I wanted to pass it along.

Basically, this is a private country club with a classic Cape Cod look and a really relaxed feel. Overlooking a championship golf course and only recently open to the public for celebrations, I thought it was a great new place for a party on the upper Cape. Actually, a great place for a party, period.

Okay, so it’s not an uncharted island in the South Pacific. But it’s not too often we discover something new – and this not-so-little gem just might surprise your friends and family. Pretty cool. I’ve posted some photos so you can have a look, and if you want to check it out for yourself, just call and ask for Amanda …

http://www.ridgeclubcapecod.com

So, you’re thinking of hiring an iPod for your wedding?

Okay, let me start by saying this isn’t a live band vs. d.j. debate. A d.j. is never the right choice. Period. Really, that’s about it. I know – lots of people have told you that d.j.s have come a long way, and they have. But unless you’re having a Techno party, it’s just not that cool.

So let’s talk about why that issue even comes up ~ and some of my comments are specific to us, because they aren’t always true for other bands.

1. What’s it gonna cost? That’s really the biggest consideration when people start thinking live vs. pre-recorded music. And it’s a big one. What you should keep in mind is that any cost comparisons are kind of apples to oranges. “A d.j. will probably cost you less than a live band.” Well, yeah, it probably will, and definitely should. It’s one guy or gal with an iPod. We are – lucky for you – a 5 to 6 piece band. Small by comparison to many bands, really. And while paying professional musicians to perform and entertain your guests isn’t going to be the least expensive part of your day, it definitely shouldn’t be. Music is the most lasting impression your party will make.

People will comment when the flowers are creative, and everybody loves a good piece of cake, but I’ve never heard anyone say that guests were talking about those weeks later. A live band sets the mood of your party – it tells your guests what you want them to feel and experience from the moment the band starts until the last person is dragged off the dance floor. (Helped off is probably a better word.)

2. Volume, volume, volume. This is another concern people have. But it’s not an issue for a great band that plays dynamically. Occasionally, some unique venues have sound restrictions (an Audubon property, for example), and we have worked in many places where we have made the necessary sound system adjustments to accommodate such requests. That’s easy. But what about the older guests at the party, who don’t want to be jarred out of an absorbing moment with a fork and a piece of cake, or drowned out of a conversation with an old friend. We are at the party for everyone, and when it’s cocktail hour we play quiet jazz standards that don’t become the focus. When it’s time for dancing the dynamics change, because that’s what gets people out there and losing themselves a bit, and that’s what you want.

3. Hammering down the MC thing. Our job isn’t to take over and run your party, it’s to be a part of your party. Sure, we’ll make all the announcements you need and get people relaxed and comfortable when making toasts. But we don’t have one eye on the clock, and another on a crumpled schedule. We’ve got your notes, with all of the things you want to happen during your event. We watch for when your guests are socializing, and we watch for when it’s time to get everyone out of their chairs. We keep an eye on what the caterers are doing. So when people are eating, we’re not playing dance music and when it’s time to cut the cake, we are not going on break. We know the people in your party who you’d like to have get up and speak and we’ll help get them through that. And many parties have at least one person that would love to sit in with a live band – definitely memorable. When traditional ethnic dances are important to a family, it’s equally important to have a live band pacing the music with what’s happening in the room, and what are the chances that pre-recorded music will line up perfectly with your party and your guests?

4. Wanting it all. This is the “D.j.s can play it all” case. (They can’t.) But truth is, you don’t really want it all. You love flowers, but you know the specific look you want. Lots of cakes are great, but you’ve selected a favorite. Why would music be any different? Your party has a theme, a mood, a feel. It reflects who you are and how you want to celebrate that. So choose a band that best reflects you as well. Not a catch all, but something unique. A band with enough variety and musical breadth to keep things interesting and appeal to every one of your guests, but still having its own great sound. A band with some personality.

5. The downside. There’s always a downside, isn’t there? I guess breaks might be seen as a downside to having a live band – we’re human, not machines, and need to take the occasional break. And no, you won’t be wandering with flashlights down a long gravel drive looking for band members (at least not with Calypso Hurricane) – but remember that we’re working hard for you and just need to take a breather, stretching our legs a bit. No worries – the party is never without music. We bring an iPod with great songs to hear, or even better use yours – that’s what most people do because after all, that’s where your favorite music is. There will be music the whole time – but when the band starts playing again, I guarantee you’ll be glad it hasn’t all been pre-recorded. Hey – I take it back – there still isn’t a downside to having a live band!

Live music sounds a lot richer and fuller than a recording. It fills a room in a different way. No, we don’t sound exactly like the original artist, but neither does a recording. When you go to a concert it’s to hear great music but also for the atmosphere that live musicians create, and that’s what we bring.

We know you can always find easier and cheaper alternatives …

but substitutes by definition are not the real thing!

New Calypso Hurricane Website!

Hey everyone,

Just wanted to let you know that Calypso Hurricane has a great new website, with lots of information and photos worth checking out. We’ll be posting info regularly on where you can see the band, what we’re up to, and there will be some ongoing music discussions as well, so be sure to check in regularly. We’d love for you to jump in on conversations, and send us photos and videos from parties if you have ’em. After all, you’re why we’re here.

Please take a moment to Like us on Facebook, subscribe to our Tweets, and hey – you might even want to sign up for our mailing list newsletters.

But most importantly – please pass along our link to your friends and family, and ask them to Like us as well. Spread the word and join the party!