Wedding season is upon us. I have been conducting planning meetings with numerous clients for their upcoming April-June weddings. The season kicks off this Friday night with Jordan and Lisa's celebration at the Smithville Inn.
Sometimes clients select specific songs for their cocktail hour, or they may specify jazz, soft rock, electronica, or a mixture. Left to my own devices, I enjoy programming a variety of genres, with a gradual energy build-up. Another key goal is that the cocktail hour should feature great music, and not sound like a soft rock mix from the dentist's office.
When guests enter the cocktail hour, I like to have elegant, atmospheric jazz playing at a soft volume. Music for cocktail hour is used to "set the mood." Preferably, these initial songs should have an uplifting theme - after all, this is a wedding! Thereafter, I like to venture out into R&B/Soul, 70s rock, and internationally with Brazilian and Latin America some of my favorite stops! My personal preference is to save crooners such as Sinatra for dinner music. By the end of the cocktail hour, the tempo and volume are up, and hopefully guests are in a great mood - both from their engaging conversations and a gin & tonic or two!
Another key tenet in my DJing is to "keep it fresh." From year to year, I like to start my playlists from scratch to avoid getting trapped in a routine. Sure, a wedding DJ could largely get by using the same formulas party after party. For both musical and personal growth, I feel that it's critical to keep Ambient's playlists fresher than a Parisian baguette. Even if I decided that Michael Buble is an artist who should be on my playlist again in 2010, why not try a new song from his catalog rather than the same old?
Here are my picks for cocktail hour 2010 with commentary where appropriate:
1) The Shadow of Your Smile - Ron Carter (Bassist Ron Carter is a titan who's played with the legends of jazz. This trio arrangement of a jazz standard sets a great atmosphere with Carter's warm bass).
2) I Hear a Rhapsody - Dave Brubeck Quartet
3) The Look of Love - Dusty Springfield
4) Your Love is King - Sade (I would have loved to put a song from her new album on, but Soldier of Love is too dark, and the rest of the album on the mellow side)
5) Here I Am, Come and Take Me - Al Green
6) Baby, I Need Your Loving - The Four Tops
7) You'll Never Find a Love Like Mine - Lou Rawls
8) Haven't Met You Yet - Michael Buble (Canadian Buble put on a great performance of this song at the Winter Olympics closing ceremony; the song is making our playlists, even for teens!)
9) Please Read the Letter - Robert Plant and Allison Krauss - this unlikely duo sounds great together, and could appease country and classic rock fans in one full swoop!
10) Tiny Dancer - Elton John. Until recently, I had never known that Elton was the top-selling artist of the Seventies.
11) Heart to Heart - Kenny Loggins. This song is in an interesting key, and Loggins' falsetto can get inside your head!
12) The Best of My Love - The Eagles.
13) Desafinado - George Michael & Astrud Gilberto (this song pairs two of my favorite artists).
14) The Boy from Ipanema - Crystal Waters (that's not a typo - this song is upbeat with a Brazilian carnival vibe with the familiar Boy from Ipanema melody)
15) Give Me the Night - George Benson
16) Say Hey, I Love You - Michael Franti (this is currently a hot song.... I save it for towards the end given the brisk tempo and fact that it sounds better loud)
17) Deeper (Soulfuric Vocal Mix) - Groove Junkies - an upbeat Brazilian-infused production that sets the mood for the party that is to follow!.
Coming soon - Dinner Music 2010.