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wedding music

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Joe Nerve, Apr 6, 2001.

  1. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Would any of you guys who play weddings be kind enough to either email me, or post a list of essential songs to know. I'm considering getting into the wedding scene - and want to at least start learning the basics.


  2. Acacia


    Apr 26, 2000
    Austin, TX
    colour my world - chicago
  3. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    This post will be moved to the "Miscellaneous" folder where more people will see it and maybe it will then have more replies.

  4. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Bass Player Magazine or some magazine had an article on this very topic a few years ago. I'm trying to remember what was said. I know that a band that plays weddings must know a large variety of music styles.

    Well, let me say what bands have played at some of the biggest parties and graduations I have attended. A wedding reception would probably pretty much play the same sort of repertoire. You may be required to play a well rounded selection of both standards and newer songs because a typical wedding reception will have the older generations such as grandparents and parents, plus the generation of the ones being married. Also these days, many weddings are of couples who are in their forties or older who are marrying a second or third time. Don't be surprised if you get requests for songs, especially the bridal couple who may want to hear their "special" song...whatever it is.

    Some World War 11 and Forties Standards:"In The Mood", "Deep Purple", "I'll Be Seeing You,""Chatanooga ChooChoo," "The Charleston"

    Popular rock and dance tunes from the 50s and 60s:
    Such as "The Peppermint Twist," "Let's Twist Again," "Blue Suede Shoes," "Rock Around the Clock,""You Make Me Wanna Shout""Great Balls of Fire,""Johnny B. Goode"

    Disco Tunes: Donna Sumer tunes, BeeGees, etc., K.C. and The Sunshine Band

    Other Seventies Music: Some "Eagles hits, Abba,

    Other dances: "The Chicken Dance," "Hokey Pokey"
    "Mony, Mony" "Macarena"

    Other Styles: Latin beats (salsa and merengue, mambos, rhumbas, cha chas) bossa nova, popular country and Western, some folk dance songs like "Haava Negela"(Spelling?), maybe even a limbo song, reggae

    Popular Show Tunes: Music from Broadway musicals from the past all the way to the present

    Ballads: Some romantic N'Sync and Backstreet Boys selections, Barbra Streisand hits, "fox trots," well liked love songs past and present such as "True Love"

    As I recall the article said that something like 200 songs would be a good foundation. While that seems daunting, many songs are found in fake books. There may even be a wedding and party song fake book or a love song fake book. If you get yourself a good fake book or a book of standards from the 50s and 60s, you will have a good start.

    You will be in greater demand if you read standard notation. Then you can step into any wedding or party band and read right from their charts or sheet music. That way you can get work in an established band much quicker.

    Try to learn a song or two every day or at minimum a few a week. If your reading isn't up to par, work on that.

    A magazine that may have more advice is "Gig" which features articles about bands that play gigs, parties, conventions, weddings, cruise ships--the entire spectrum. Good luck and have fun.

  5. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    JO - Thank you!

    That was exactly the kind of response I was hoping to get.

    If anyone wants to add songs they KNOW are must play songs for wedding bands, please add to the list.
  6. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Boogie Oogie Oogie
    the Electric Slide

    and the "Flush my self-respect down the toilet Mambo" :rolleyes:
  7. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    AC/DC's, "Highway To Hell"
  8. DaveB


    Mar 29, 2000
    Toronto Ontario
    I just read Jason's post and he's absolutlely right. But reading it caused me to break out in a cold sweat. I played weddings (real BIG weddings) for two years and made a lot of money. But musically, it was like going to work in an auto plant. I hope I have led a good life because if they want to send me to hell the best way to do it is put me in an eternal wedding band....no,no.no please I'll be good.
  9. "If we make it through December", Merle Haggard
  10. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    From the Wedding & Love Fake Book:

    Unchained Melody
    Till There Was You
    All The Things You Are
    All My Loving (A Beatles song that works great as a ballad)
    Isn't it Romantic?
    (You're my) Soul and Inspiration

    Of course, This is for the parents of the marrying couple, who're probably footing the bill for the wedding. Always please the people who're writing the checks.

    Will C.:cool:
  11. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Dave - I've heard this from more than one person, but I'm not sure as to exactly why? I play in a cover band now, and although I don't think it's the greatest work in the world, it beats lots of other things I've done for the money - plus I'm honing my skills, and doing what I love most.

    What EXACTLY is it that sucks so much (or that you don't like) about doing weddings? I just want to prepare myself and go into this with realistic expectations.
  12. Max

    Max Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2000
    Bakersfield, CA
    Our band likes weddings. The pay is good. We eat good, and we always laugh when the mother of the bride or groom, tanked up on champagne, nylons bagged around her ankles, dangling corsage, comes up crying and tells us we are the best band she has ever heard. As for songs:

    You've Lost that Loving Feeling
    Waiting for You (Richard Marx)
    My Girl
  13. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    I do a lot of big weddings...with top-notch local people (don't ask how I got the gig;)).

    We do background music for the dining portion of the program, this can be anything the rhythm section plus maybe a sax player might want to do. Probably the most fun for me because we tend to burn it up...at low volume. Working "Spain" at 90dB is fun. Or just some on the fly re-arrangement of a tune. I like that complete control of dynamics thing:D

    We also do a lot of standards: "All Blues", "Blue Bossa", "Caravan", "At Last", etc.

    I haven't figured out why, considering the lyrics but "I Will Survive" is always a huge hit with the wedding crowd. Can you say pre-nup?

    The other biggest response is for Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World"...one of our vocalist actually does it in Satchmo's voice.

    "Brick House" (brides' moms love this one, go figure),
    practically any Motown, like "My Girl", Beatles, Stones, James Brown, current groups, whatever.

    There are probably better ways to spend an evening than playing with people you like, making much better than average money, laughing with and at people having a good time because of what you do. We play for the entire crowd and stay booked up.

    One of the things that really gets us over is playing traditional ceremony music for whomever books us. Our leader is a Jazz vocalist who can sing in several languages and this always floors the customers. We take requests, too, and usually nail whatever is asked for.

    Nailing a "first dance" is especially important, too.
  14. Yeah, what Brad said...

    ...I'll add this much. As goofy as the tunes can be sometimes, it beats ANY day gig I've ever had. The only thing to be wary of is getting in a band with a bunch of bad attitude dudes/dudettes. Nothing can kill the fun faster. Y'know the type, too cool to play "Mambo #5" (no offense, Jon ;) ).

    Also, for songlists, check with the WORKING wedding/convention/etc bands in your area. There will be "regional" stuff that you will almost HAVE to know, and looking through a couple good band's songlists will help you spot the stuff you need to know. If you see a tune, any tune, in two or more band's songlists, know it, and know it in all 12 keys. Different singers will require you to play in different keys, and you'll need to be able to transpose on the fly, as "sub" singers will be a part of life.

    Another thing that I haven't seen mentioned is the tux. Gonna do the wedding gigs, you gotta have a tux. Do your homework, shop around, and you can find a decent one fairly inexpensively. Ask a few of the musicians working the wedding circuit for suggestions to start with. I got a brand new tux for just over $100 when I got my start in the wedding band thing. That didn't include shoes, which you should NOT skimp on, you're gonna be standing for 4+ hrs :eek: (I cheated, wore a pair of black New Balance 606 Cross-Trainers ;) ). You could get lucky if you check with your local Goodwill-style outlets, and get something passable for real cheap, but don't count on it. A lot of these types of bands also play other functions where attire will be important, so finding a decent sport coat/blazer and slacks will also be a good thing. Blue is a good color choice, unless the band wears something specific.

    Good luck...and have fun! :D
  15. DaveB


    Mar 29, 2000
    Toronto Ontario
    Joe - I don't think it compares to most of us playing covers. I think most of us play in cover bands(that for the most part) are based on music that we like in the first place.In my case its high energy Chicago/Texas Blues with a mix of classic R&B to broaden the available gigs. This IS my kind of music. I would make the same argument for guys who are classic rock,modern rock,country etc. cover bands.Thats why most of us get gigs in blues bars, coiuntry bars, rock bars etc.

    In weddings you certainly get to do some popular rock/country stuff but your selections (not unlike your choices for cover bar crowds) are based on the audience. The audience demographics for a working wedding band are far broader than cover bars.This week its an Italian wedding, next week its a Jewish wedding, the week after its third generation Polish getting married to a second generation German. And then there's the age demographics - 12 years old through 70 years old and the bride and groom want EVERYBODY to have a wonderful time.

    So in the end you have to have a very big catalogue of schmaltzy tunes that you can pull out of a hat for every request. You gotta do pop, polkas,rock and roll,fast dance stuff, slow dance stuff,and really stupid stuff eg: the Chicken Dance and, dare I say it, the dreadful Macarana. From a musicians point of view this stuff, week after week, is simply Dullsville to the extreme. But there is an upside too.

    Aside from the serious bucks that you can get for big weddings (when I did this the small weddings were 500 people) there is the other side of the crowd. They are there to party and dance and even a mediocre wedding band ,playing tunes they want to hear, gets incredible crowd response. And that is always cool for a musician.
  16. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Hey, I never said I wouldn't play that stuff, but I sure don't like all those tunes. Actually, I think there's only 3 I really hate: Achey, Breaky Heart, Unforgivable (bad memories) and What a Wonderful World (same).

    But hey, if the check clears, I'm there and smiling! :D

  17. I was once in a country band that was signed to the same label that broke BillyRayBobJackJoeFred Whatevertheckisnamwas. I had to play that one a few times....I remember thinking, just shoot me, NOW, please.... :rolleyes:

    Wunnerful World was one I did a few thousand times down on Bourbon St., don't miss it now either.

    AMEN BRUDDER!!!! :D Tell me, did you learn to be a merc in the military, or did you come by it na'chilly like meself? ;)

  18. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    A little of both, I think. But you know the military, you just play the thing their way, when they say. Figgered I could get some extra cash the same way.

    I once worked at Media Play as a second job (for a whole week) and realized when I saw my check at the end of the week, that I could make the same dough in ONE night. I said right then and there that gigging was the way for me. :D

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