Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Best First Dance Songs for a Wedding

Congratulations on your engagement!  One of the key decisions of the wedding reception will be the song for your traditional first dance together as husband and wife.  For some couples, the decision will decision will be easy, as this will be a song that has a special meaning in your relationship.  For example, the song that was on the radio during your first kiss; or the song that was playing when you proposed at the Pearl Jam concert.  When the choice is not so obvious, you will need to conduct research to find a song with the perfect mood, lyrics and tempo for that magical moment.

Your Special Moment (Photo Courtesy of Al Ojeda Photography)
Browsing the internet, there are many contrived lists of suggested special songs for weddings that were clearly not compiled by wedding professionals. These lists may feature songs that are hard to dance to; or worse, contain inappropriate lyrics (e.g., a song  about a bittersweet romance).  Below are listed 50 danceable songs with uplifting lyrics to consider for a bride and groom's first dance.  These tracks span various genres; and  importantly, have been used at real weddings!

The first 25 tracks are Modern or Alternative Tracks, while the second 25 are traditional and timeless selections!

25 Modern or Alternative First Dance Songs

You Are the Best Thing - Ray LaMontagne
Crash Into Me - Dave Matthews Band
In a Little While - U2
Marry Me - Train
I’m Yours - Jason Mraz
I Do - Colbie Caillat
Just the Way You Are - Bruno Mars
Desire - Ryan Adams
Do You Realize - The Flaming Lips
Fade Into You - Mazzy Star
I Only Have Eyes for You - Jamie Cullum
First Day of My Life - Bright Eyes
Falling in Love at a Coffee Shop - Landon Pigg
Flightless Bird, American Mouth - Iron & Wine (from the movie Twilight)
The Way I Am - Ingrid Michaelson
True Companion - Marc Cohn
Angel - Robin Thicke (don’t let the fact that Kim Kardashian used the song discourage you!)
By Your Side - Sade
Stay With You - John Legend
Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not - Thompson Square
All That You’ll Be - Emma Bunton
Slave to Love - Bryan Ferry
Lovesong - The Cure, 311 or Adele
Come Away With Me - Norah Jones
Make a Memory - Bon Jovi

25 Traditional and Timeless First Dance Songs

When a Man Loves a Woman - Percy Sledge
You Make Me Feel Brand New - The Stylistics
These Arms of Mine - Otis Redding
It Had To Be You - Harry Connick, Jr.
The Way You Look Tonight - Frank Sinatra or Tony Bennett
At Last - Etta James
Unchained Melody - The Righteous Brothers
We Have All the Time in the World - Louis Armstrong
Can’t Help Falling In Love (With You) - Elvis Presley
I Will - The Beatles
Bless the Broken Road - Rascal Flatts
Amazed - Lonestar
From This Moment - Shania Twain w/Bryan White
It’s Your Love - Tim McGraw and Faith Fill
The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face - Marcia Griffiths
Saving All My Love For You - Whitney Houston
Heaven - Bryan Adams
Don't Want To Miss a Thing - Aerosmith
Always and Forever - Heatwave
How Deep is Your Love - The Bee-Gees
Through the Fire - Chaka Khan
My Cherie Amour - Stevie Wonder
Beautiful in My Eyes - Joshua Kadison
Crazy for You - Madonna
Someone Like You - Van Morrison

What songs would you add to these lists?  (Please comment below, and check out my comment with reader suggestions from social media responders!).

Should You Be Bound by Lyrics?

There is divided thought on this topic, but what should you do if you love the mood and general sentiments of a song, but there are several lyrics that do not apply to your love story, or may be bittersweet?  Our thought is to let the mood of the song prevail, and be permissive with lyrics.  For example, Adele's "Make You Feel My Love" contains a lyric about rejection, but otherwise is overwhelmingly about the power of love.  We say 'yes.'  Of course, her "Someone Like You" would be wildly inappropriate, as it is a breakup song.  One final scenario is those couples who traveled a long and winding road to the wedding altar - where a song such as Rascal Flatts' "Bless the Broken Road" would be a great selection.

Ambient DJ Service is an award-winning mobile DJ entertainment company based in Central NJ and  specializing in weddings.  To learn more about our services, visit us on the web at www.ambientdj.com.  We look forward to seeing you on the dancefloor!

2011, By Gregg Hollmann, All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Gig Log - WWPHS 10 Year Class Reunion - Nassau Inn

Thanksgiving weekend is a great time to throw a class reunion as guests are in full party mode with the long weekend.  This past Friday, Ambient DJ Service had the pleasure of performing at the West Windsor Plainsboro High School Class of 2001- 10 Year Reunion party held at the Nassau Inn in Princeton, NJ.  We were retained by Princeton-based event planner Dharmi Shah of Evenings of Elegance.

The party was held from 8 PM - 11 PM in the elegant Prince William Room located on the ground level.  Coincidentally, the party coincided with the lighting of the tree in Palmer Square, located directly in front of the Nassau Inn.  The area was abuzz with activity, and it was a wise decision to arrive very early for load-in and set-up.

For the event, Ambient DJ uplit the room in blue.  In addition, we also provided a 42 inch plasma television to display a video slideshow set on a loop.  DJ Gregg Ambient presided on the wheels of steel, spinning a variety of 90s hip hop and current dance music.  Class reunions do not necessarily feature dancing, since classmates are often engrossed in conversation.  Fortunately, the WWPHS Class of 2001 was in a festive mood and hit the dancefloor in the final hour!

Photo Courtesy of Michael Gonzalez (aka Memphis VK)
Rounding out the entertainment, Boardwalk Photo Booth provided a cool photo booth service with a fun prop bin, that became increasingly popular through the evening.  Photographer Michael Gonzalez worked the room, providing many candid photos.

Ironically, this particular class was the first to enjoy their junior prom at the Camden Aquarium, an event that I have been performing at for the past two years.  Perhaps I will have the opportunity to DJ for these graduates in the years to come!

Congratulations to the organizers for what apparently was the best-ever attended WWPHS reunion!  We've said it before and we'll say it again - the Nassau Inn is the top venue in Princeton for weddings and events, and truly captures the downtown Princeton-feel.  In an industry plagued by turnover, the Nassau Inn has a great continuity of staff and it great to see the same faces year after year.  To read our list of the top 15 wedding venues in New Jersey, click here.

Guest DJ Dharmi Shah of Evenings of Elegance!
Photo Courtesy of Michael Gonzalez (Memphis VK)

Gig Log - Amanda & Ryan - Water's Edge in Sea Bright, NJ

On November 19th, Ambient DJ Service had the pleasure of providing music and entertainment for Amanda and Ryan's wedding reception at Water's Edge in Sea Bright, NJ.  We were introduced to this great couple through Joseph K. Brown of Joseph K. Brown Photography.  Joe is one of our recommended vendors and also did the Ambient DJ 2011 corporate photo shoot!

Amanda and Ryan were seeking a cheese-free, high energy dance party among family and friends.  Specifically, we provided music for the onsite ceremony, cocktail hour and reception party.  Water's Edge has a distinctive ballroom, with the sweetheart table located in front of large circular window with an oceanfront view.  We uplit this alcove in red, complementing the black and white color scheme and  red flowers.  We also backlit our DJ facade in red.  One wall of the dancefloor was mirrored, reminiscent of the climactic scene of Bruce Lee's "Enter the Dragon."

What really stood out about Amanda & Ryan's wedding reception was the consistent dancefloor action that began during appetizers, and grew into a frenzied scene in the final hour.  At the bride's request, we dimmed the lights and pumped up the volume.  What an awesome group of party people - this wedding reception will surely rank in our annual Top Ten Best Parties list!

Thank you to assistant Garrett Bargiacchi for a job well done in easing the demanding logistics of the setup.  Congratulations to the new Mr. and Mrs. Granato!

Key Tracks:
Give Me Everything Tonight - Pitbull f/Ne-Yo and Nayer (Grand Entrance of Bridal Party)
Let Me Clear My Throat - DJ Kool (Grand Entrance of Bride & Groom)
It's Your Love - Tim McGraw (First Dance)
I Wanna Grow Old With You - Adam Sandler (Cakecutting)
Pretty Girl Rock - Kerri Hilson (bouquet toss)
Bring Em' Out - T.I. (garter toss)
Ole - Bouncing Souls
Mr. Saxobeat - Alexandra Stan
Shots Through the Heart (mashup) - Bon Jovi versus LMFAO
The Black Velvet Band - The Irish Rovers
Duke of Earl - Gene Chandler
We Belong Together - Los Lobos
Time of Your Life - Green Day (closing song)


Ambient DJ Service is a boutique-style mobile DJ company that provides customized music and entertainment throughout New Jersey, Eastern Pennsylvania and New York City.  Ambient DJ Service is a consecutive year winner of the WeddingWire Bride's Choice Award and has been featured in DJ Times Magazine.  To learn more about our services, visit us on the web at www.ambientdj.com or our WeddingWire portal at www.weddingwire.com/ambientweddingdj

How DJs Should Use Craigslist

Craigslist (www.craigslist.org) is a centralized network of online communities featuring free online classified advertisements, with sections devoted to jobs, housing, personals, for sale, services, community, gigs, résumés, and discussion forums.  It was launched in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1995 by Craig Newmark.

The early years of Craigslist - before hitting the mainstream consciousness - featured a network of cool, artistic types.  Most East Coast DJs were still unaware of CraigsList, and if somebody posted "DJ Wanted," there was a good chance that you could score the job and be compensated at your customary rates.  Weddings and corporate events were all possible through CraigsList!

However, the site eventually devolved into a tacky online flea market of bargain-hunters and a horde of discount DJs happy to oblige this new clientele.  As an example, a user on CraigsList would post something like "Experienced DJ Needed for Anniversary Party.  Must have references and provide demo CD.  Compensation - $0.  Free drinks and food!"  We have not browsed the CraigsList classified in years, but from what we hear, the number of quality jobs posted is few, with competition fierce for these scarce leads.  

An alternative CraigsList strategy adopted by some DJs has been to post "DJ For Hire" in the classified section.  Particularly if posted repetitively (at no cost), this could result in brand awareness among CraigsList shoppers.  The bigger question however is, "Are CraigsList shoppers your target market?" In the case of Ambient DJ Service, the answer is a resounding 'no'.

How DJs Should Use CraigsList

CraigsList is a great tool for recruiting and networking with fellow DJs.  In 2007, our company added its second system, taking the step from single-operator to multi-system operator.  That hire, discovered through a CraigsList ad, DJ Iron Mike, has proven to be a smashing success.  Through Mike, I was introduced to his friend Christopher Smith (DJ Spinz) who also proved to be highly successful in the Ambient DJ roster.  DJ Gary G, another CraigsList contact, became a friend and enlightened us on profitable internet marketing strategies - also becoming a great referral source.  Gary introduced us to his mentor DJ Brett Gash, "the Godfather of East Windsor DJs" who has become a great friend and source of referrals.

Fast-forwarding to 2011, we now periodically post in the Jobs Section for entry level disc jockeys.  The ads always produce a large and qualified group of respondents who we can weed out in search of our next great DJ!  Best of all, there is no charge to place a classified ad.

The moral of the story is that CraigsList, if used properly by a mobile DJ company, can produce extraordinary profits.  But it will not be via responding to "DJ Wanted" ads.  In the case of Ambient DJ Service, CraigsList helped us to find the right staff, opened doors, and set us on a course of "one thing leads to another."  For that, we dedicate this next song to CraigsList and thank you!

Postlude: And as DJ Iron Mike just reminded me, two of our cast members, DJ Extreme and Larry Sargent, also were discovered by the Craigslist relationship ripple effect! 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Motown Dance Party - Our Favorite Songs

In my mind, "Motown" has always been a genre of music - one associated with the 1960s, Detroit and artists like Stevie Wonder, the Temptations and The Four Tops.  Of course, Motown is actually a record label that was founded by Berry Gordy, Jr. in 1960.  The "Motown Sound" is a style of soul music with a distinct pop influence.

Motown is excellent party music and often works well in uniting guests of various ages on the dancefloor.  Danceable, joyous and not too fast, the Motown Sound is a great way to jump start a dance party!  

The Four Tops
Listed below are 30 of our favorite danceable Motown tracks, organized in chronological order.  To be included on the list, the song must have been recorded on the Motown record label, or one of its affiliated labels such as Tamla Records or Gordy Records.

1) Please Mr. Postman - The Marvelettes (1961)
2) Do You Love Me - The Contours (1962)
3) Heatwave - Martha & The Vandellas (1963)
4) Baby I Need Your Loving - The Four Tops (1964)
5) Come See About Me - The Supremes (1964)
6) My Guy - Mary Wells (1964)
7) I Can't Help Myself (Sugarpie, Honeybunch) - The Four Tops (1965)
8) My Girl - The Temptations (1965)
9) Stop! In The Name of Love - The Supremes (1965)
10) Ain't Too Proud to Beg - The Temptations (1966)
11) Get Ready - The Temptations (1966)
12) Reach Out (I'll Be There) - The Four Tops (1966)
13) Uptight (Everything's Alright) - Stevie Wonder (1966)
14) You Can't Hurry Love - The Supremes (1966)
15) Ain't No Mountain High Enough - Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell (1967)
16) For Once in My Life - Stevie Wonder (1968)
17) I Want You Back - The Jackson 5 (1969)
18) ABC - The Jackson 5 (1970)
19) Signed, Sealed, Delivered - Stevie Wonder (1970)
20) What's Going On - Marvin Gaye (1971)
21) Superstition - Stevie Wonder (1972)
22) Brick House - The Commodores (1977)
23) Got To Give It Up (Pt. I) - Marvin Gaye (1977)
24) Sir Duke - Stevie Wonder (1977)
25) Super Freak - Rick James (1981)
26) I Need Your Lovin' - Teena Marie (1981)
27) Let it Whip - The Dazz Band (1981)
28) All Night Long - Lionel Richie (1983)
29) Rhythm of the Night - DeBarge (1985)
30) Motown Philly - Boyz II Men (1991)


Ambient DJ Service is an award-winning mobile DJ entertainment company based in Central New Jersey.  We enjoying spinning danceable music from all genres, and delighting our guests.  To learn more about our services, please visit us online at www.ambientdj.com.  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

DJ Gregg Ambient's Playlist - November 2011

Happy November!  Found below is a countdown list of 30 hot tracks currently being featured in my sets around around the state of New Jersey.  In past countdowns, I have separately broken out "throwbacks," but for this month decided to merge them into a single list.  Myself, and other DJs, have noted the increasing popularity of dance music at the expense of hip hop, and the top ten hits reflect this trend. Dubstep has also hit the local palette, with entries by Skrillex at #20 and #17.  

We welcome your  comments and suggestions for other high-octane dance floor selections!

30) Malo - Avicii (electro)
29) Diet Original Don - Major Lazer (dancehall)
28) Sofi Needs a Ladder - DeadMau5 (electronic)
27) Perfume (Calvi y Neill Bouquet Remix) - BajoFondo Tango (international lounge)
26) Landing Boots - DJ Shiftee (downtempo lounge)
25) Dirty Laundry (Tom Middleton's Balearic Mix) - Bitter:Sweet (downtempo lounge)
24) Natural (Kaskade Roots Remix) - Afro-Mystik (house)
23) Aston Martin Music - Rick Ross f/Drake & Chrisette Michele (hip hop/R&B)
22) You Rock My World - Michael Jackson (throwback)
21) Insane in the Brain - Cypress Hill (throwback)
20) Lick It - Kaskade & Skrillex (dubstep)
19) I'm Still Hot - Luciana (dance)
18) The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie - Red Hot Chili Peppers (rock)
17) Cinema (Skrillex Remix) - Benny Benassi (dubstep)
16) Wobble - V.I.C. (hip hop)
15) Down on Me (Disco Fries RMX) - Jeremih (electro)
14) Come See About Me - The Supremes (Motown)
13) Rolling in the Deep - Adele (Retro-Soul)
12) You Make Me Feel - Cobra Starship f/Sabi (dance)
11) Danza Kuduro - Don Omar (Latin)
10) Now That We Found Love - Heavy D and the Boyz (throwback)
 9) Give Me Everything Tonight - Pitbull f/Afrojack and Nayer (dance)
 8) Party Rock Anthem - LMFAO (dance)
 7) Edge of Glory - Lady Gaga (pop)
 6) Turn Me On - David Guetta f/Nicki Minaj (dance)
 5) Paris - Jay-Z and Kanye West (why?  because it's provocative and gets the people going!) (hip hop)
 4) Moves Like Jagger - Maroon 5 f/Christina Aguilera (dance)
 3) Sexy and I Know It - LMFAO (dance)
 2) Mr. Saxobeat - Alexandra Stan /(dance)
 1) We Found Love - Rihanna f/Calvin Harris (dance)

To view DJ Gregg Ambient's Top Tracks of Early Fall 2011, click here.

To view DJ Gregg Ambient's Top 50 tracks of 2010, click here.

To see his favorite songs of the 1980s, click here.  To view his favorite dance tracks of the 1990s, click here.

About DJ Gregg Ambient

Ambient DJs’ Founder and Owner, Gregg Hollmann, is known for his creative mixing and chameleon-like ability to play in different musical styles. His musical knowledge allows him to excel in environments ranging from elegant wedding receptions to convivial dance parties.  A multi-faceted performer, Gregg also mixes music videos.

A graduate of the College of New Jersey, he holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Business Administration and has lived and worked abroad in Japan and the Philippines.  He enjoys working with clients and personalizing events to their tastes. Gregg was the subject of a feature article in the January 2011 issue of DJ Times magazine titled 'DJ Takes Stock in Niche Wedding Market.'  

To book DJ Gregg Ambient for your next party, visit the Ambient DJ Service website at www.ambientdj.com

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tribute to Heavy D with 20 Favorite Heavy D Tracks

In this article, DJ Iron Mike reflects on the untimely passing of Heavy D and lists 20 essential tracks by this talented artist.  His final Tweet, posted just 21 hours ago, read "BE INSPIRED!"

Today, Hip-Hop lost one of its most legendary and charismatic performers.  Dwight "Heavy D" Myers brought a fun, honest and energetic approach to rap music while maintaining street credibility and most importantly, being himself. I believe it was fellow golden age rapper MC Lyte who said that one of the best things about Heavy D was that you could listen to him in front of your parents and your parents would even began to like his music. No doubt influencing future rap heavyweights The Notorious B.I.G. and Big Punisher, Heavy D didn't poke fun at his size as did the also legendary Fat Boys, but glorified it in a way that could attract the ladies. 

He leaves behind a memorable catalog of Hip-Hop classics and dance floor mainstays including the 1991 smash with his group Heavy D & The Boyz: "Now That We Found Love" which was immortalized in the popular Will Smith film "Hitch" as well as two versions of the theme to the wildly popular sketch comedy show "In Living Color."  Flexing his diversity, Heavy also built a solid acting resume appearing in such films as Life and New Jersey Drive as well as prime time TV shows Living Single, Bones and Law & Order: SVU. Without further ado, here are my Top 20 Favorite tracks either by, or featuring Heavy D solo or with The Boyz.  Pay homage, but most importantly, have fun. Heavy would've wanted it that way.

20. Jam w/ Michael Jackson (1991)
19. Next Stop Uptown w/ Various (1993)
18. My Love (Remix) w/ Mary J. Blige (1993)
17. I Miss You w/ Monifah (1995)
16. Is It Good To You (1991)
15. Keep It Comin' (1997)
14. If You Want it w/ The Lost Boyz & Soul 4 Real (1997)
13. Jam Session w/ Notorious B.I.G. & Troo Kulla (1993)
12. We Got Our Own Thang (1989)
11. Gyrlz They Love Me (1989)
10. Black Coffee (1994)
 9. Now That We Found Love w/ Aaron Hall (1991)
 8. Let's Get It On w/ Eddie F, 2Pac, The Notorious B.I.G. & Grand Puba (1994)
 7. Candy Rain w/ Soul 4 Real (Track Masters Remix) (1994)
 6. Big Daddy (1997)
 5. The Overweight Lover's In The House (1987)
 4. Don't Curse w/ Big Daddy Kane, Q-Tip, Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, Grand Puba & Kool G Rap    (1991)
 3.Mr. Big Stuff (Remix) (1987)
 2.You Can't See What I Can See (1992)
 1.Nuthin' But Love (1994)

For further information on the life and music of Heavy D, visit his Facebook Fan Page at http://www.facebook.com/officialheavyd

Friday, November 4, 2011

Ambient DJ Performs at Gala at Trenton War Memorial

Last Saturday night, the eve of the unexpected October 29th snowstorm, DJ Gregg Ambient provided the musical backdrop for a Gala Fundraiser at the War Memorial / Patriots Theater in Trenton, NJ.  Funds raised benefited the Children's Specialized Hospital Foundation.  The Children's Specialized Hospital is the best and largest pediatric rehabilitation hospital in the United States, with nine locations in New Jersey.

The event, themed "Oh What a Night!" was structured into three segments:  from 6 PM - 8 PM, guests enjoyed food and cocktails in an authentic Jersey Shore environment.  The centerpiece of the room was a bar with a large replica of the distinctive Trenton Bridge built above it.  The depth and attention to detail in the food and decor was truly impressive.  From 8 PM - 10 PM, guests left the George Washington Ballroom to be entertained by a musical performance of the Midtown Men (with four of the original cast members of "Jersey Boys", the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons) in the Patriots Theater.  After the show, guests enjoyed coffee and dessert back in the themed environment and learned the highest bidders in the Silent Auction.

View from the DJ booth
I was situated on the second floor of the George Washington Ballroom, with a bird's eye view of the themed room for the first and third segments of the evening.  Musically, the goal was to compliment the decor and theme early on, and then keep guests energized later on playing a mix of styles.  Unlike many fundraising events with abundant announcements, in this case announcements were minimal and guests were left to enjoy the evening.  The other key factor was keeping the volume at an appropriate level.  The acoustics of the room were good, with a sub-woofer utilized to fill up the low end of the spectrum.

Listed below are ten sample tracks selected to fit the theme:

Wildwood Days - Bobby Rydell
Sea Cruise - Johnny Rivers
Havin' a Party - Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes
Beggin' - Frankie Vallie & the Four Seasons
Walk Like a Man - Frankie Vallie & the Four Seasons
Working My Way Back to You - Frankie Vallie & the Four Seasons
This Magic Moment - Jay & the Americans
Under the Boardwalk - The Drifters
Jersey Girl (live version) - Bruce Springsteen
This Little Girl - Gary U.S. Bonds

Special thank you to Mary Harris Events for retaining our services for this event.  Other top notch vendors at this successful fundraiser included Feastivities Catering, SnapShotz Photobooths and David Kelly Crow (photography and video).

Replica of the Trenton Bridge Built Over the Bar