Spice Up Dinner

November 26, 2007 by Steve Sharp

Spice Up Your Dinner MusicIt’s my belief that almost all really great ideas are revolutionary because of their simplicity. An idea that I’ve used over the years has recently come back to forefront of my mind, used in a new analogy that made it much clearer to me what a great idea this is. And we’ve touched on it in this column before: more variety in “dinner music”.

Last week, I saw (for the second time) Peter Merry’s presentation “The Best Wedding Reception… Ever”. The first time I saw this presentation was over a year ago, and prior to his publication of his book of the same name, and Peter’s Wedding Entertainment DirectorTM guild. The topic of expanding dinner music selections was one small idea among those covered in this book, primarily aimed at brides. I won’t be quoting from the presentation, or the book (in fact, I don’t even have the book… yet – hint). But, for more information, visit www.weddingentertainmentdirector.com

Clients (especially wedding clients) often put together long lists of songs they’d like played at their event. How often have you looked at a list, thinking to yourself “how on earth do they expect people to dance to that?” In some cases, maybe they don’t, they just like the song(s) in question. Find ways to include at least some of their ideas into what you’re already doing. Doing so puts a subtle, yet distinct, personal imprint from the bride and groom into their wedding reception.

My bride and groom this past Saturday night had a couple of interesting sets of ideas that effected how the music was handled. One of them was: they wanted classic rock during dinner. They’re both fans of Van Halen. So, I put together two playlists – here’s one of them, which took care of the first hour and 20 minutes of the evening:

Peter Frampton – Show Me The Way (live)
Cars – Good Times Roll
Elvin Bishop – Fooled Around And Fell In Love
Zombies – Time Of The Season
Van Halen – Finish What You Started
Stealers Wheel – Stuck In The Middle With You
Bruce Springsteen – I Wanna Marry You
Cheap Trick – Surrender
Styx – Too Much Time On My Hands
Sting – Message In A Bottle (acoustic)
Bad Company – Can’t Get Enough
Doobie Brothers – Black Water
ZZ Top – Cheap Sunglasses
Fleetwood Mac – You Make Loving Fun
Eddie Money – Two Tickets To Paradise
Paul McCartney & Wings – Maybe I’m Amazed (live)
Boston – Long Time
Heart – Barracuda
Eagles – Take It Easy
Steve Miller Band – Fly Like An Eagle
Billy Vera & The Beaters – At This Moment (live)
With few exceptions, I would be highly unlikely to play any of these songs during dancing. There are always more songs that people won’t dance to versus those they will dance to, so why not play songs the client will like, and/or whatever style they might prefer, instead of “the usual.” For these clients, it was fantastic. Songs that rock harder, songs that rock softer (but not to the point of John Mayer), songs of different vintages, and several songs that reflect a theme of being in love and even marriage itself.

Here’s another I put together yesterday – smooth jazz cover versions. This one will be great for many different client events, because it’s familiar, fun, not too “in your face” but not “elevator” either, and while the songs are familiar, it’s not “played out” because they’re redone in the smooth jazz idiom. They are almost all instrumental. Expect guests to be singing or humming along, in the course of this playlist.

Brad Mehldau Trio – Still Crazy After All These Years
David Wells – Strawberry Letter #23
Tom Braxton – Let’s Stay Together
Kenny G. with David Sanborn – Pick Up The Pieces
Kirk Whalum – Whip Appeal
Rick Braun – Groove Is In The Heart
Foreplay – Fields Of Gold
Jason Miles – Sexual Healing
Warren Hill – Low Rider
Nelson Rangel – That’s The Way Of The World
Tom Scott – Holding Back The Years
Wayman Tisdale – Get Down On It
Larry Carlton – Sleepwalk
Phillipe Saisse Trio – Lovely Day
Wayman Tisdale – Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now
Brian Gallagher – The Most Beautiful Girl In The World
Jimmy Sommers – Take My Heart
Eric Darius – If I Ain’t Got You
While other genres of songs sometimes get covered, smooth jazz is in some respects what old school grew up to be.

Almost all the songs in the 2nd playlist example came from JonesTM’s Prime Cuts Smooth Jazz series, which brings me to:

Free stuff!

I have a five pack of Prime Cuts Smooth Jazz cds (the last five back issues) to give away, courtesy of our friends at JonesTM! Here’s the question: who are the original artists for the first and the last song in the 2nd playlist? Email your answer to me at ThatDJ@aol.com with the subject line “Dude, I Know Those Songs”, along with your name, company name, mailing address, and phone number. Sumissions must be made by 11:59 p.m., Sunday, May 20th to be eligible. I will draw a winner from the correct entries on Monday, May 21st, and announce our winner one week from today!

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Steve Sharp Steve Sharp (12 Posts)

Steve Sharp is a veteran of mobile D.J.ing, clubs, and radio in Southern California. He’s driven to deliver for his clients, both his private clients, and business clients, which also include representative stints for D.J. manufacturers, such as Hercules, Denon, and Virtual D.J.


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