DJ Jerry B’s Blog Mostly daytime ramblings

January 1, 2015

2015 – Happy New Year

Filed under: Weddings — Tags: , , , , , , , , — DJJerryB @ 12:08 pm

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Being a DJ means that you have down time — especially come winter and “off-season”. There is always something to be done. This is the time for new and upgraded equipment purchasing. I do a good amount of research before adding to the equipment inventory, especially now that I am offering rentals. Of course, it’s also a good time to do early work for tax-filing (always such a joy, but I’d rather do it now, rather than waiting until the deadline, which is also just about the official start of wedding season.)

Traditionally, it is also the time when inquiries roll in for wedding season. Many, MANY couples get engaged between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day. There are also a few winter weddings on the docket, so it’s a fun time to put energy into those. The website will get some minor tweaks. I’m also happy to have connected with a vendor — a truly gifted Celebrant — and I’m glad to have the opportunity to add her to the links page.

So for me, in every sense of the word, it’s a New Year. I hope yours is as good as mine looks to be.

April 12, 2014

Boston – Stronger Than Ever

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , , — DJJerryB @ 7:14 pm

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It was right around this time last year that pure evil and cowardice showed itself near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Two completely insignificant “freedom fighters” took on the enemy: a young restaurant manager (Krystle), a grad student (Lingzi Lu) and an 8 year old boy (Martin)  lost their lives. An unknown number of others were permanently affected. Terrorists are the penultimate bullies: only looking for opportunities to wreak havoc on those that can only be described, by those of us who live in reality, as innocent.

I’ve never completely understood what their motive was, beyond being wannabe martyrs, other than to create carnage and fear. So what happened when these two big, brave terrorists dropped their explosives filled knapsacks and ran away? Three innocent people died, more than a dozen bystanders lost limbs, and hundreds of others suffered varying degrees of injury. Carnage? To be sure. Fear? Not even close. Within seconds of the first explosion, and even before the second device detonated, people were running toward the devastation in an effort to help. And it wasn’t just the police, National Guard and EMTs doing their heroic best — it was also Boston Marathon workers, volunteers and civilian spectators.  It’s widely accepted that the death toll would have been far worse were it not for people — humankind — doing what they do when they are needed the most.

I wasn’t there in 2013 — I haven’t watched the marathon in person for well over 10 years. But I made a promise to myself that day: I’ll be there on April 21st, in Boston, as close to the finish line as I can manage. I’ll be wearing my Red Sox cap along with whatever other Boston paraphernalia I decide to drag out of the closet. I have no doubt that I’ll be keeping thoughts for Krystle, Lingzi Lu, Martin and Sean (Sean was the M.I.T. police officer, ambushed and killed by the cowards a few days after the bombings) as well as their families and friends, and for those that were so egregiously injured and continue to recover. I’ll also be doing a silent tip of the cap to those who did everything they could to help on that horrible day.

Boston wasn’t weakened on April 15, 2013. There’s a word for it and you can find various definitions if you look it up:

“not mild or weak”

“having great physical power and ability; having a lot of strength”

“not easy to break or damage”

The word is STRONG.

Boston Strong.

 

 

 

January 26, 2014

A Match NOT made in Heaven

Filed under: Weddings — Tags: , , , , , , , , — DJJerryB @ 5:47 pm

Client inquiries come in a variety of flavors.  Some include little to no information, some provide the basics and some provide so much background that you feel like you’re ready to do the job based on first contact. That first contact, for me, generally sets the tone of the client relationship and, more often than not, gives me a good indication on whether we could have a good working relationship.

I received an e-mail just a day or two ago and was immediately excited at the prospect of meeting a new client. It was straight to the point: date, time, location.  There was a further qualifier that she was certain she would have many more questions but the first was whether or not I was booked.  Someone who was so efficient in getting the basics to me immediately makes me believe that we are going to be a good match.

I was wrong.

She started off by asking some of the boilerplate questions that suggested that she visited a few wedding “help” sites on things to ask your wedding vendors and that was great with me. She acknowledged that she had never hired a DJ before and wasn’t sure what to ask, so I reassured her that she was doing fine. Then came what was to become the deal breaker.

“Music is really important to us and we’d like to choose a lot of the music ourselves. Is that something you’d be okay with?”

It’s not at all unusual for a client to have strong feelings about their music and many want significant input on various aspects of their day. In point of fact, I stress to every one of my couples that I want their input on as much or as little as they choose to take on. First dance, parent or family dances, music styles or genres for the cocktail and dinner hours, the “must play” and “do not play” during the dance portion of the evening — I want to hear it all and work with them to craft an evening that will be fun, both for them and their guests.

As the conversation went on, it became apparent that they didn’t want to provide input. They want to micromanage just about every aspect of the musical portion of the day (in essence, they wanted to specify 90 to 95% of the music that would be played.)

I felt very much like the Grinch in the Dr. Seuss book. I puzzled and puzzled ’till my puzzler was sore. Why would anyone want to pay a professional, at professional rates, when they have already decided that they “know better” how to do what that professional does for a living?

I realize that there could be any number of reasons they are pursuing things the way they are. Maybe they’ve had a bad experience with a DJ at a wedding or party before. Maybe they have listened to other people complain about THEIR experience. Perhaps they are just terribly self-centered and want precisely and exactly what they want, without regard to what might make their guests happy. It could be that they flat out don’t trust anyone but themselves (not the DJ, not the guests…)

See, here’s the thing. I speak often about how important it is to feel a connection with everyone you hire for your wedding. I could have said ‘yes’ to everything she said during that phone conversation, purely for the sake of trying to land a payday. But I can’t do that. This IS a business and, in this economy, I have to tell you, it’s not easy to turn away the prospect of new business. But I also never lose sight of the fact that my job is to help facilitate one of the most important days in a person’s life. If I can’t approach it with 100% commitment and 100% belief that I am THE person to do the job for them, all of that would would just be marketing claptrap. It’s not.

I more-or-less took myself out of consideration for that couple. To her credit, she thanked me, quite sincerely, for my honesty and candor. I truly do hope that she finds THE perfect person to work with for her wedding.

 

 

March 13, 2013

March 13, 2013

Filed under: Personal — DJJerryB @ 5:00 am

He died in 1998 shortly before turning 80. He was a good man and the older I get, the more I wish I had known him a little better. He was already nearly 40 years old by the time I came along.

His father had run out on the family when he was young, so he had to grow up sooner than he should have. I have no doubt it was a pretty tough existence — this was during the Great Depression in coal country in western Pennsylvania. But I think it taught him some valuable lessons about self-sufficiency and tenacity. There was nothing he couldn’t do. He could build and fix just about anything he put his mind to (MacGyver had NOTHING on him.) He was strong physically, mentally and emotionally. I was a little soft as a kid and I was constantly getting hurt. I remember one such a occurrence and crying because of it and him telling me not to cry because of pain. “Tears are for sorrow, not pain” he had said. Indeed, the only time I ever saw him openly weeping was at his mother’s funeral. I never forgot that and I don’t think I ever cried again because I had hurt myself. I’m not ‘tough’ by any definition, but he taught me that I could still be strong.

He was part of the group sometimes referred to as “The Greatest Generation.” He spent 23 years in the military, serving his country during World War II in Europe where he was awarded the Purple Heart after being wounded by a German sniper while on patrol. The nasty scars on his arm were simply part of who he was, but he never talked about the war. He was part of the 29th Infantry Division, landing at Omaha Beach during the Normandy invasion and I suspect it was something that he always carried with him. He also later served in Korea.

Under the G.I. Bill, he was able to continue his education and he became a male nurse while still in the U.S. Army. Providing patient care was, I believe, his truest calling. He held positions at Walter Reed (where I was actually born) and, later, at New England Baptist Hospital. During his career, he provided care to at least six U.S. Presidents (past, present or future) along with a slew of senators, congressmen, athletes and celebrities. I still have the personally autographed photos from Ronald Reagan and the actor Claude Rains (and in the interest of full disclosure, being a huge fan of the movie “Casablanca”, the photo of Claude Rains is the one I keep on display.) He was one of the two attending nurses providing extensive rehabilitation care for Ted Kennedy in the aftermath of the 1964 plane crash. It was the job offer he received after that assignment that prompted him to retire from the military and we relocated to Massachusetts in 1965.

Along with my mom, dad raised four kids. His oldest son (my brother Ralph) followed in his dad’s footsteps and joined the Army at age 17. Ralph also made a career in the military, retiring after 20 years. Ralph’s son, Ryan, is currently serving as an officer in the U.S. Army (a 2002 West Point graduate and recipient of the Bronze Star with “V” device for heroism while in combat in Iraq — dad would have been bragging about his grandson to this day, I’m sure.)

He and my mom divorced when I was 13 or 14 and he moved close to his job in Brookline. I have to admit that the separation kept us from developing the relationship as I grew toward adulthood. I knew he would provide for me if I needed anything — he wasn’t abandoning us, but he and mom were better apart. A couple of years later, he moved to Wareham and we hardly ever saw each other. He ultimately remarried and moved to Ohio with his second wife and I only saw him a couple more times after that. He definitely seemed to be happy in his later years, and I think on some level we connected better, even if it was on very few occasions.

When he died, all three of his sons made the trek to Ohio. One from Massachusetts, one from Rhode Island and one from Colorado. Two of his grandsons were there too, one from Fort Monmouth in New Jersey, where he was attending West Point Prep, and the other flew all the way from Germany to be there. We all had private time together at the funeral home before calling hours began. We ended up in the small kitchen area and, let me tell you, there was nothing sad or somber that day. I think we all knew intuitively that this was more about a celebration and saying goodbye rather than mourning a passing. It was a rare occasion for everyone to be in the same place at the same time and we all had such a collective energy when we got together that it was pretty joyous. If dad had been alive to see it, he would have been pleased and would have been laughing right along with us.

His casket was carried by his three sons, two grandsons and the son of his best friend (who had passed away a few months earlier.) Without even thinking about it or discussing it, we had taken hold of the handles in line in the order of birth: on one side, oldest son in front, middle son, then me at the back. On the other side were his two grandsons, followed by family friend. After we loaded him into the funeral coach, we walked the short distance to the cemetery, rather than taking vehicles. In hindsight, I’m glad we did that. I don’t remember any talking at all, but I think we all connected during that walk. For me, the only truly emotional thing occurred at his gravesite. With his veteran status, he received a full military funeral. Three volleys each were were fired by seven members of an honor guard and the American flag was taken up off of his casket and was being folded by two veterans (they were older gentlemen who were obviously volunteer members from the local VFW — and were more-or-less contemporaries of my dad.) As the bugler began playing Taps, I glanced around. I was standing shoulder to shoulder with my brothers and their wives, and my youngest nephew (the future Bronze Star recipient) snapped perhaps the most perfect salute I have ever seen. It was all so perfect and, I believe, exactly the way he would have wanted it.

My dad would have turned 95 today.

August 20, 2012

Nicole and Tim – Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center

 

Nicole contacted me just after the end of last year. She and her fiancee live in Virginia but were planning their wedding reception at the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center in East Cambridge, Massachusetts. For whatever reason, a high percentage of my clients are from out of state. My only explanation is that, once they narrow their search for their DJ, they must be looking for someone who is experienced and responsive. The fact that both the bride and groom are PhD’s also suggests that they know how to make intelligent choices, so of COURSE they had to hire me! (insert “totally full of himself” emoticon here…)

It was my first time at this beautiful performing arts facility and I am hoping to be back again. I have worked weddings before with Season to Taste Catering and they did their usual spectacular job. A good working relationship with the caterer ALWAYS makes for a smooth wedding.

The reception was fun and there were two highlights for me. One was the Anniversary Dance, requested by Nicole. First off, the dance floor was completely packed when we requested that all married couples join the bride and groom. There was hardly enough room to dance. Even when we eliminated couples to the 20 year mark, well over half of them were still there. At 30 years, there were probably still a dozen or more — the excitement kept growing among those who were watching, wondering how long we were going to go until the longest married couple was left in the spotlight. At 40 years, there were still five couples. Finally when we asked anyone who had not yet reached their 45th Anniversary to please join the other guests at the side of the dance floor, it left Joe and Rita, the bride’s uncle and aunt, married for 62 (!) years to finish the dance. We also wished Joe an early Happy 80th Birthday, which was the following week. The applause from the crowd was exactly as you would imagine.

If that wasn’t memorable enough, consider the bride’s dance with her dad. The bride had played a lot of baseball growing up and her father was often her coach. So they planned this little moment that was a total surprise to everyone, including the groom. I called Nicole and her dad to the floor, but before we queued up their song, they made their way over to the DJ table where I had two baseball gloves and a ball waiting. We put on “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”” and Nicole and her father played a game of catch, right there on the dance floor. I pointed out that there was a room FULL of Red Sox and Mets fans who knew the words, so what were they waiting for? You guessed it. The entire crowd serenaded them for a full chorus of the song. It was so clever and warm and cute that I could hardly stand it.

My thanks to Nicole and Tim for a memorable night.

August 5, 2012

Rocking and rolling

Filed under: Fun — Tags: , , , — DJJerryB @ 3:35 pm

After a very prolonged absence, I’m hoping that this will mark my return to more or less regular blogging. So I’m starting off with something light…

DJ Jerry B is pleased to unveil the latest vehicle in his fleet: the RocknRoller Multi-Cart.

 

 

 

 

It’s available in your choice of colors (as long as your choice is black) and trim (hint: be fond of yellow.)

All joking aside, this thing really does kick butt. It can be configured, by my count, at least eight different ways and folds to less than three feet in length. Weighing in at less than 30 pounds, it carries a ton of weight — okay, technically it’s only rated up to 500 pounds, but you get the picture. As someone who routinely has to move a large amount of equipment a considerable distance, dealing with elevators and long hallways, this is possibly the best piece of equipment I have ever invested in.  Even working alone, it enables me to get everything in one trip.

July 18, 2012

Blogging update

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — DJJerryB @ 8:06 pm

A few of you may have noticed not only an absence of recent blog material, but also the mysterious “404 Error” when clicking on old posts. There were a couple of things at work here:

As it relates to the lack of new material, that was all me. I love writing, but unfortunately, it has to take a back seat to almost everything else. The last year has been an  absolute flurry of activity on both the business and personal fronts. These aren’t bad things — in fact almost everything has been positive — but it has left comparatively little time for the creative.

The second, much more recent contributing factor was something that caught me napping: my blog was hacked and, in essence, taken out of commission.

The hackers that got me are a cowardly little  terrorist group that is intent on spreading their messages of hate through any portal that they can weasel their way into. I’m certainly not going to perpetuate that message by disclosing who these lowlifes are. In all candor, when we first discovered the fact, it was more than a little disturbing. Imagine clicking on a link on your own website and seeing a page come up written in middle eastern script, along with shadowy images intended to intimidate the reader. I seriously considered shutting the blog down.

Then I got mad. Not angry, MAD. I began channeling John Blutarsky (better known as ‘Bluto’ from “Animal House” for the uninitiated.) The Germans may have bombed Pearl Harbor, but nothing was over until I said so.  I would have been well beyond lost if it weren’t for my web guru — she worked countless hours attempting to identify the source of the hack and ultimately saved the day by bringing in a technology company that could wipe things clean and restore everything. The blog is back online and I hope to be able to get to writing. We have disabled comments but would invite anyone who wishes to comment to feel free to do so on the Facebook Page.

 

 

 

February 26, 2012

Goodbye Netflix. Hello Redbox.

Filed under: Fun — Tags: , — DJJerryB @ 3:16 pm

I’ll start off by saying that I used to love Netflix. They had a great, inexpensive program that was convenient. They started off renting movies and television shows online. It was great: you browse their library, put a bunch of titles in your queue (in the order that you wanted them) and, depending on your subscription level, you’d receive your DVD by mail. Watch it at your leisure and return it when you were done and you’d get the next show on your list.

In those early days, the online streaming was limited, both as to titles that were available, and the amount you could watch. Frankly, most of it was very old, out of date movies and television and, in my opinion, hardly worth paying “extra” for — and that’s exactly how it worked — you paid a flat rate of about $9.00 a month for whatever you watched. Eventually, the online library improved and that became their selling point. “Unlimited streaming and DVDs by mail for one low price.” Customers flocked to them. It was a good thing — for a while.

Last year, Netflix changed their whole structure — splitting the DVD by mail and the online streaming into two separate charges and, in one fell swoop, increased the cost for most of their customers by 40%. They did a very poor job of explaining the reasons behind it and the average customer, myself included, saw it as arrogance. In fact, when questioned about the uproar over the increased costs and the possible departure of subscribers, their answer was that they expected some losses, but that the customers who remained paying the higher rates would make up for it.

Not me. If they had announced the changes with a little more advanced notice, and made more incremental price increases, I would have been more on board with them. But the streaming selection has actually degraded in the last year, so the idea of paying more and getting less just doesn’t do it for me.  The DVD by mail was still the preferred product in this house, so the streaming subscription was dumped and I was no longer a “fan” of Netflix. The process of canceling Netflix entirely is now pending, as much on principle as it is on product. The biggest thing that they had going for them was convenience.

Enter “Redbox”

If you’re not familiar with it, Redbox is great. Reserve a movie online and pick it up at your favorite location. Their kiosks are in supermarkets, drug stores and other convenient spots all around the country. You can rent DVDs for just over $1.00 per disc, per night, with no membership fees.  You should try it out. If you click on the link below and it’s your first time renting online, they’ll give you a free one-night online rental.

http://redbox.tellapal.com/a/clk/1SPlgw

So bye-bye Netflix and hello Redbox.

February 14, 2012

Valentine’s Day Special on DJ Services!

Filed under: Advice,Weddings — Tags: , , , , , — DJJerryB @ 12:48 pm

Yeah, that’s not going to happen here. I’ve seen ads all over the web from every Tom, Dick and Harry offering one so-called “special” after another. I suppose if you are operating a restaurant or retail store, and you are trying to get people to discover the products that you offer, an incentive with a gimmick attached is as good a way as any. It’s the reason that mass-buying outfits like Groupon exist. The idea is that, once you try us, you’ll be back for more.

I have consistently rejected this approach for a variety of reasons. For most people, hiring a DJ is a one time experience. From a marketing perspective,  in my opinion, when you offer “discounts” for arbitrary reasons, you only lessen the value of your services by sending a subliminal message to the customer that your full (non-discounted) rates are inflated and out of line with what you have to offer. I do discount for reasons that are important to me. Military personnel and their immediate families always get the best rate I can justify. The same goes for charitable organizations that I have a personal relationship with. I don’t talk about it too much and I won’t go into those details here — the reasons are purely personal and there is no need discuss it in this type of forum.

Another reason to stay away from this type of come-on is that it’s gimmicky. I’m not about gimmicks (or any trick to get you to hire me.) I am as straightforward as I can be with clients and using any type of bait just doesn’t suit me well.

So, in short, there is no coupon code of “SheSaidYes!” or “today only” sales going on. The only thing I’ll do, to those of you that celebrate it, and especially to those who are getting engaged today, is to wish you all a Happy Valentine’s Day.

Oh, and if you need a wedding disc jockey, I know a guy: http://djjerryb.com

 

January 28, 2012

Choosing Price Over Quality

Filed under: Advice — Tags: , , , , , — DJJerryB @ 2:41 pm

The following statement is borrowed from another wedding professional, but I’m happy to use it without claiming it to be my own:

“It’s hard to promote quality service to people who shop for their wedding vendors like they shop for groceries.”

I had never really thought about some of the challenges there would be in getting the right message out to my potential customers until I heard that. But now those words constantly echo in my head.

I read the wedding forums and actively participate in a few of them. I hear the same things over and over again. DJs are obnoxious. DJs are all the same. As soon as a DJ hears “wedding” they automatically jack up the price — presumably arbitrarily.

Um, no…

Some (not all) DJs are obnoxious. Some (not all) hairstylists are obnoxious. Some (not all) cab drivers are obnoxious. Some (not all) salespeople are obnoxious. Some (not all) teachers are obnoxious. Notice a trend here?

Anyone who thinks that the demands of a wedding are the same as those of any other event (and, therefore, should be priced the same) have clearly never been involved in the wedding industry. The funny thing is, I’ve never heard a bride say that planning her wedding was exactly the same as planning a party.

I like to highlight what a true professional disc jockey can offer to their clients versus what an amateur cannot. If you go with a professional, you will get peace of mind knowing that they’re ready for whatever you hand them. They have the experience, talent, and know-how to get the job done. You can rest easy at night knowing your wedding day won’t be an experiment for them.

Okay, now help me here folks…what is that worth?

If statistics are to be believed, a couple will spend, on average, between $22,000 and $25,000 on their wedding. Now that’s a national average. Some will spend from several hundred to a few thousand dollars (Kim Kardashian’s little soiree , on the other hand, probably cost upwards of $10 million — but you have to take into consideration that, for that investment, there were 72 whole days of wedded bliss before filing for divorce. My thinking is that the Defense of Marriage Act may be targeting the wrong demographic, but, I digress…)

I read somewhere that Martha Stewart once stated that the entertainment chosen for a wedding is responsible for 80% of the event’s success. I don’t know if Martha ever really said that or how to quantify such a factoid (i.e. did 80% of the guests have a great time while the other 20% thought it was only “meh…”; or will everyone enjoy everything for 80% of the wedding?) What can I say, I tend to take these “statistics” with a grain of salt, but there is still a perfectly valid takeaway from it:

If YOUR measurement of success for a wedding is having your family and friends raving about how good a time they had, the entertainment is a huge priority. Please (!) choose wisely.

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