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.

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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.

November 22, 2011

Off Season has arrived

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — DJJerryB @ 11:23 am

The end of wedding season is always a mixed bag. 2011 was a great year on several levels. I’ve written about many of the couples I worked with and I would say that it was as satisfying a year as I can ever remember. And while one couple in particular made a huge impact on me (and if you are reading this, you know who you are!) I have to say that, across the board, I am thankful to have shared such special days with so many truly good people — I wouldn’t have traded ANY of them. I thank them all again for letting me be a part of their celebration.

And while there may be some small measure of taking a breath as the slow season arrives, it also presents new opportunities.

Inquiries for the following season begin to pick up around the holidays (many people either become engaged or announce it to their loved ones during family get-togethers around the holiday season.) Many dates in 2012 are already booked and, in fact, I am already beginning to turn away couples because their date is taken — probably my LEAST favorite part of this business. Even as I write this, I have several pending meetings with prospective clients who are anxious to hire their DJ.

It”s also a time to focus on the management side of things by looking ahead. It’s a time to plan business purchases, update/upgrade equipment, determine marketing plans, website updates, budgets and so on. I am excited at the prospect of adding uplighting  as an optional service. As a side note, I’m always very cautious about trying to wear too many hats, but this will fit nicely into the service that I provide and is only being introduced after careful consideration and planning.

2012 looks to be another very good year.

November 14, 2011

Shannon and Matt – Smith Barn

Filed under: Weddings — Tags: , , , , , , — DJJerryB @ 5:21 pm

A return to Smith Barn at Brooksby Farm in Peabody for Shannon and Matt’s celebration was my final wedding in 2011. I couldn’t have been more pleased to end my wedding season with these two.

Shannon was the ultimate planner, having originally contacted me fourteen months prior to the wedding.  It was a great plan, since they were to have a destination wedding in Key West, Florida, followed by a party for all of their family and friends back home. All of that changed when Matt was accepted by the Boston Police Academy, thereby canceling the plan for a wedding in Key West in October (it’s hard to have a wedding when one-half of the couple can’t be there…) They had already secured tickets to see Jimmy Buffett at the Comcast Center in Mansfield and, being self-described major Parrotheads, they decided to get married there in the parking lot, surrounded by 20,000 of their closest friends. Imagine that: after nine years together (they met in college at Hofstra University) and all the early planning, they ended up putting together the actual wedding in only two weeks. A fantastic slideshow of that day in June was shown to the guests immediately preceding their vow renewal and it set the tone for the rest of the evening.

Shannon and Matt have had their share of challenges on the road to marriage, but they come from good stock. Each of them have parents that have been married for more than 30 years, which was celebrated through the dedication of Alan Jackson’s “Remember When.” I have no doubt that they will be celebrating their own 30th anniversary. And if Jimmy Buffett is still around and singing, I have no doubt HOW they will celebrate — nibbling on sponge cake…

November 7, 2011

Julianne and Ben – Stow Acres Country Club

Filed under: Weddings — Tags: , , , , , , , — DJJerryB @ 10:31 am

Planning for Julianne and Ben’s wedding was way ahead of schedule. We had met for our final “in person” meeting three weeks before their ceremony and had reviewed or finalized almost all of the details of the day. As it turned out, my tendency to over-prepare (and to prepare EARLY) ended up paying big dividends since I was without power, telephone and internet for three of the last six days before the wedding. Even cell phone service was interrupted. Nature’s sense of humor by playing a big honkin’ “trick” on almost all of New England on the eve of Halloween didn’t amuse me at all. And although I had managed to stay in touch with the bride by searching out every internet cafe in the area so that she knew that all contingencies were in place, it was a solid reminder that even a veteran like me needs to stay on my toes every single time with such a big celebration. And, when all was said and done, everything went off without a hitch.

The crew at Stow Acres Country Club had been dealing with similar issues but were well prepared by the time the big day rolled around. Vows were exchanged inside the Victorian Clubhouse, which was nicely sectioned off to create an intimate setting. The ceremony itself was simple but sweet and, has been the case many times this wedding season, I had provided the music and sound. I loved that the bride chose “Then He Kissed Me” — the classic song from The Crystals — as their recessional. It was so appropriate and perfectly fit the charming mood of the day.

At most weddings, there is a moment that I know is going to stick with me. At this one, I knew it was happening even as it developed. There were no fewer than four generations in attendance, including the bride’s grandmother, who is restricted to a wheel chair. Nonetheless, this lovely lady was tapping her hands along with every dance song that I played, from Michael Jackson (more on MJ later…) to Nicki Minaj to Earth, Wind and Fire to Pitbull. Then that moment happened: we dedicated Buddy Holly’s “True Love Ways” to Grammy Kate, at which time she was wheeled out onto the floor to ‘dance’ with the bride and a few other family members. It was touching beyond words and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.

Julianne is a huge Michael Jackson fan. She also attended dance lessons for 13 years (thanks to the bride’s mom for filling me in on that one…) The result was, without question, some of the most entertaining dance moves I’ve ever seen. One of the guests had requested that I play “Smooth Criminal” and Julianne, along with a few of her friends, put out the kind of stuff you see in music videos — and they were clearly having the time of their lives. Another guest request (“Ice Ice Baby”) showed why, on at least one occasion, she had won a dance contest.

Big thanks to Julianne, Ben and all of your family and friends. It was as fun as it gets.

October 25, 2011

Kristin and Nick – Indian Pond Country Club

Filed under: Weddings — Tags: , , , , , , — DJJerryB @ 9:05 am

Opulent. No other word describes the Indian Pond Country Club in Kingston, Massachusetts, which is where Kristin and Nick held both their ceremony and reception. It was so lavish that I almost (ALMOST) felt like I was in over my head.

As has been the case many times this year, the bride and groom hired me to do the sound for their ceremony as well as reception. And, true to course this year, the skies were threatening rain. As an aside, a word of advice to couples considering having their ceremony outdoors: if it’s your dream, go for it (and have a solid plan “B” in place in case the weather refuses to cooperate.) If, however, you’re on the fence about it, I strongly suggest having your ceremony indoors. I have done around a dozen ceremonies this year and every single one of them have given the couple an extra element to consider in the days leading up to their wedding. With so much else on your mind, why add one more thing to think about?

That ceremony was quite sweet and I witnessed, for the first time, a wine box ceremony. The couple selected a favorite bottle of wine and placed it into a wooden box. They each brought along a sealed envelope containing a letter that they had written to the other, describing what it was about the person that made them fall in love and decide to share a life together. Neither knows what the other has written and, after placing the letters and wine inside, the box is locked (the Justice of the Peace joked that he felt Kristin should keep the key…) The box is to stay locked until their 10th anniversary at which time the couple will open the box, enjoy the wine and read the letters that were written. At that time, a new bottle of wine will be selected and new letters will be written. The box is sealed again for another 5 or 10 years at which time the process is repeated. It was quite touching.

Nick was possibly the most animated, engaging groom I’ve ever worked with. He was clearly having the time of his life. When the time came for the cake cutting, he appeared to be on his best behavior and, after slicing a piece of cake, raised it to Kristin’s lips…and promptly leaned in and ate it himself. Apparently he really likes cake because it took two or three more attempts to get it right. When Kristin’s turn came, she was clearly NOT going to repeat his antics and fed him quite sweetly  — before delivering the best follow-through I’ve seen since Ted Williams and pushing it up into his face — a totally spontaneous move I am absolutely certain. I’m not generally a fan of this “tradition” but in this case it WAS pretty comical. If that wasn’t funny enough, the little victory dance she performed was (every pun intended) the icing on the cake. Nick, true to form, never even broke character, instead turning to the photographer and asking, “Do I have something on my face?”

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