Spying on Beat Connection…

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On a Wednesday evening last month, I put on my finest disguise (I did actually wear all black) and followed Beat Connection around to see what they really get up to at a gig. You can see my experience in video form here.

In summary, it was a very relaxed affair – the band have quite obviously done this a billion times – nobody dramatically fell off the stage and no nerves were detected!

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The band were hired as the entertainment for the celebratory opening of a wind farm and the event was hosted in the very grand Great Yarmouth town hall with guests and acts flown in from all over the place! Beat Connection was the most local act but everybody from near and far was catered for with delicious lasagne pre-show (including me).

The band had their sound check and refreshments in what was formally a magistrate’s courtroom fit with defendant’s pew and judge’s hammer! There was some time for a quick photoshoot with photographer Julia Holland before their performance which put my camera work to shame sadly (please enjoy comparing mine and Julia’s photos throughout this post).

My fly-on-the-wall experience has taught me that no audience can sit still for ‘tutti-frutti’, bands get fed and performing on stage is completely second nature to Beat Connection!

By Alannah McGovern

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Booking a band, this is what most brides are worried about … Is this you ?

We know what you are worried about!

Not because I am so clever, but because after dealing with live bands inquiries for the past 12 years or so, I would be a bit slow if I didn’t spot a pattern!

If you are on the market for a live band and shopping around there are probably 3 main things you are worried about. Let’s see if you think I am right:

1. What if the band is late, or even worse cancels on me or never turns up? (We have all heard these horror stories!)

2. What if they are not good live? I mean, their demo sounds good, but you can do a lot in a studio nowadays, right?

3. What happens during the band break? Does the room just go back to dark and quiet? Will this kill the atmosphere?

And there’s a few more, but you know what they are!

So, let’s take them one at a time!
1. What if the band is late, or even worse cancels on me or never turns up? (We have all heard these horror stories!)
Here’s the thing. There aren’t many certain things in life, but here’s a dead cert: Beat Connection will be there on your special day, on time, as per contract. We have been playing at weddings for over 12 years, and have a 100% attendance and performance rate. Cancelling a job is simply not an option. If the band breaks down, we have a plan B and even a plan C, apart from the fact that we allow plenty of extra time to start with, so we are unlikely to have to use anything but plan A.
If our drummer breaks his arm, or our lead singer loses their voice, whilst a pub band would definitely cancel on you, we have a minimum of 4 substitutes for each musician, who have been personally auditioned by us, are at the top of their game, have played with us many times in the past, know our set inside out and can slot in to the performance at the last minute without you or your guest having to worry about a thing. This system of fantastically talented understudies allows the band to keep working even when some of the band members are unavailable / on holiday / on maternity leave etc.

 

2. What if they are not good live? I mean, their demo sounds good, but you can do a lot in a studio nowadays, right?
You are right there! And this is why we have recordings of our gigs on YouTube right now that have not been tampered with, and the main video on our website is 100% live, recorded from one of our lighting guys with an iPhone. Nothing was done to the sound, this is us, what you see on the video is what you get on the night.

 

3. What happens during the band break? Does the room just go back to dark and quiet? Will this kill the atmosphere?
Think about this: Beat Connection is going to work extremely hard during their first set to ensure they create a party atmosphere. The LAST thing we want is to kill this atmosphere during our break and come back to a cold audience that needs warming up all over again. Beat Connection will always provided filler music at all times when the band is not on, included in your quote. From the moment our equipment is set up and ready to play music, we will make sure you have background music throughout your meal if you so wish, access to our microphones for speeches, DJ type music before the show, in between our sets and until the end of the night. And we do this as standard, at no extra cost to you.


Did we put your mind at rest?
Then give us a call now to secure the band for your special day! Most people book live bands about 8 to 10 months in advance, but there are also a few who book much earlier than this. Once you find a band you are happy with, you need to take them off the market, because great bands are in high demand and, if you don’t snap them up, they’ll be playing at someone else’s wedding reception!

Alex

The lovely Denise Jones’ 60th Birthday Party

Sound Check Time!

Sound Check

Another Saturday, another great event to play at and people to entertain! On 9th August Beat Connection was booked to play at a private birthday party in Briston, Norfolk. The lovely Denise turned 60 the previous Wednesday, and it was party time. We arrived at 4.30pm, as per contract, to be set up and sound checked by 6.30pm, to make sure everything looked tidy for guests arrival at 7 pm. Of course, sound check was rather thorough today because Matt had a new toy (again). Today, he is sporting a new mixing desk, which apparently is 3 times better than the old one (which was already pretty fine!), as well as being 3 times smaller and 3 times lighter. Not only that, but it connects with the iPad, which means Matt is a very happy boy that he can mix from out-front without having to walk back to the desk every time he wants to turn the guitar down (sorry, Al…). Not to mention all the new LED lights…. But that’s another story for another time!

Matt has a new toy....

Matt has a new toy….

Once sound check was over, we were shown to our changing room (Denise, you have a gorgeous house!!), and we were able to sit down and have a meal. A wonderful chap by the name of Jake Weatherhill was providing catering for the day, and oh my word, was his food delicious. His company Florentina is Norfolk based (but can travel all over) and they cater for anything from small private dining for 2 people, all the way to massive weddings and corporate events. If you are looking for a caterer, you must do a tasting with  them! We then got ready to go on stage, and did a great first set. The rock’n’roll medley went down so well, we decided to do a bit more in the second set. We even did a few new songs, I sang “Sing it Back” by Moloko, Mandie sand “Teardrops” by Womack & Womack and Giles sang “Runaway baby” by Bruno mars.

 

At the end of the night, we checked to see if Denise was happy and we are so glad she had a great birthday party! Yey! Even her daughter Hannah, who is a professional drummer, arranger, producer and all round amazing musician, came to say she really enjoyed the set. Another night, another happy client. Time to pack away and drive home. Only 1 hour away from home today, bonus!

A great night at Lynford hall

Thank You to James Neale Photograpy and Richard Last at Lynford Hall for recommending us to their Client for this event.

Here’s a few pictures by James Neale taken on 5 July 2014 at Lynford Hall for the Sainsbury’s annual managers party.

A great night.

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Beat Connection 7 Piece Line up
Drums, Bass, Guitar, Keys, 3 vocals.

 

PS – Remember, if you would like to just pick our brains about any aspect of booking a live band, do feel free to call the Beat Connection office on 01603 343001 for a free no-obligation chat! See you soon,

Alex and Beat Connection

How to pick the perfect First Dance for a Wedding

Choosing a first dance song seems like it should be one of the easiest wedding-planning decisions, but once couples realise how many great options there are out there, it can actually start to turn into a bit of a minefield! After all, whichever song you pick will be the one that you define as “yours” for the rest of your lives together…

But don’t worry! With the help of all the other Beat Connection guys and other real brides from our 12 years of playing at weddings, we’ve come up with 3 top tips to ensure that your tune is worth replaying in 50 years time!

 

1. Find A Genre you both enjoy

Sometimes, opposites really do attract, so it’s possible (and quite likely) that you and your fiancé don’t share the same taste in music! It might be that he just loves jazz and you are bored by it, and that you swear by a rock ballad and he would rather eat his own right arm that sit through a Bon Jovi classic. But don’t lose hope, there’s plenty of other genres that you may both enjoy. How about a bit of swing? Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin are very popular when it comes to the first dances, and their songs are timeless. Songs like “Can’t Take my eye off you (You’re just too good to be true)” or “Sway”  are well known classics that can lend themselves to a bit of choreography, if that sort of thing appeals to you.

2. Make sure you and your fiancé agree on what you are trying to achieve with your first dance.

We are all different, and whilst some of us may love the idea of making a big statement with a flash mob surprise choreography that involves the whole wedding party and lasts 30 minutes, others are filled with dread at the thought of even taking a few steps on the dance floor. That’s OK. This is YOUR first dance and you can make it as big or as small a deal as you want it to be. There’s no rules. No one ever said you have to be amazing dancers or entertainers (although some of you may well be), but the first dance is a tradition that is there to mark your first dance as husband and wife, not necessarily to be a big show. Some of the most modest first dances can be the most poignant. Just sit down and decide, on a scale of 1 to 10, how much of a big deal do you want to make it, and if it’s 1, or even zero, that’s OK. For those people, we would recommend a slow love song such as Adele’s “To Make you feel my love” or Ed Sheeran’s “Kiss Me“, or even “Come Live your Life with me” by Peter Cincotti, that are all slow enough not to require actual dancing, but lets you have a little smooch whilst the photographer takes your picture and everyone just goes “aawwww”. We would let you have a verse and chorus on the dancefloor, and then if you wish, we could even ask the rest of the guests to join in with you, and put you out of your misery. But, on the other hand, if you want to make a really big deal of your first dance, you could go with something much more upbeat and ask a reputable dance company to help you create a choreography for just the two of you or even your whole wedding party. In Norwich, we love The Miller Dance Studio where you will be well looked after by Richard and his team.
We have played (and witnessed) great first dance routines to songs like “Simply The Best” by Tina Turner, “We go Together” from The Grease Soundtrack, “She loves you” by The Beatles, “We are family” by Sister Sledge and even “Crazy in Love” by Beyoncé.

 

 

This is a picture of Emily and Lee’s First Dance on 11th April 2014, at Park Farm Hotel.

Emily & Lee's First Dance - 11 April 2014 - Park Farm Hotel, Hethersett, Norfolk

Emily & Lee’s First Dance – 11 April 2014 – Park Farm Hotel, Hethersett, Norfolk

3. Watch out for those lyrics.
When you lose yourself in the music, it’s sometimes easy to overlook the lyrics. A few months ago, we had a couple that asked us to play “Let Her Go” by Passenger as their first dance, as the song was laying when they first kissed and it brought back great memories. Of course we said it was THEIR first dance, THEIR choice and we would play whatever they wanted us, but had they thought about the lyrics? When we mentioned this, they bought realised what they were about to do and decided that, whilst the songs would always be a special song for them, it may not have been the best choice for their first dance.

If you are still in two minds about your first dance, just give me a call and I will be more than happy to have a chat with you.

 

 

And here are the TOP 3 most FAQ’s that we receive in the office on the topic of wedding first dances:
1. Will Beat Connection learn and play our first dance live on the night?
Yes! Of course! All we need is 14 days notice.

2. If we don’t want the band to play it live, but we want the original recording, could you play that instead? 
yes, of course! You don’t even need to worry about bringing it, we’ll take care of that too.

3. Can you introduce us on the dance floor and then make sure guests join in after a little while?
Quite a lot of you out there seem to want to keep the first dance fairly low key and not make too big a deal of it, which is fine! If you are not looking forward to the idea of dancing for the whole duration of the song whilst everyone’s eyes are on you, don’t panic. We are quite happy to help you out. We can normally introduce the Bride & Groom on the dance floor, let you dance for about one verse and one chorus, make sure the photographer is happy that he (or she) has a few good shots, and then invite your guests to join you on the dance floor.

And remember, if you would like to just pick our brains about any aspect of first dances, do feel free to call the Beat Connection office on 01603 343001 for a free no-obligation chat! See you soon,

Alex and Beat Connection

Live bands – where do I start?

Live bands – where do I start?

Posted on August 20th, 2014 By beatconnection_administrator

Here at the Beat Connection office, we get to speak to lots and lots of future Brides and grooms wo are thinking of hiring a band for their wedding. In many cases, it is the first time they have ever had to hire a live band so they are worried they are missing something? They often ask the same questions:
“What do I need to know before I book?” – “Is there anything I need to know before I choose?” – “I don’t want to book and then realise they will ask for a massive stage or big generator and that will cause me a load of extra stress and money!” – The are all worried about the same 2 things: “How do I pick the right band and how do I make sure there are no surprises after we pay our deposit?”

Well, here’s how.

1. Professional or amateur.
If you think its ex to hire a proBook a professional band. Pub bands or amateur bands may be cheaper, but they are known to cancel bookings quite regularly, sometimes with less than 24 hours notice, and your event is too important to take that chance. A professional band would NEVER cancel on you. Their reputation, future gigs, their whole business revolves around making sure you are over the moon with their service. After all, this is how they pay their mortgage. Amateur bands often play “for the love of it”, which really means for their own enjoyment. They play the music they like, and if their drummer breaks their wrist, or their guitarist has the flu, or whatever, they often don’t have a way of getting round this. They have no interest in bending over backwards to ensure you are happy, because their mortgage is paid by their day job. Pro bands have a minimum of 3 rehearsed-up and ready-to-go stand-ins to ensure cancelling is never an option.

 

 

2. PL Insurance.
Ensure your band has Public Liability Insurance. Your venue will want to see it. PS: Some amateur bands seem to believe that their “Musicians Union” membership includes PLI. It doesn’t. PS: Your venue will ask to see the PLI Certificate of your chosen band.

 

3. The Contract.
Ensure your band sends you a booking form or contract that states at least
– Date, Venue, Band Arrival Time, Sound Check Time, Performance Time and any mutually agreed requests. Ensure the contract also clearly states what the price includes (ie travel expenses, PA, lighting, etc…) and a clear explanation of their cancellation policy. Professional bands should also have a RIDER. This is the document that should list absolutely everything they need to put on a great show and your party is a massive success. This is also the most important document you need to read before signing the contract to ensure you are able to provide what they need and have no surprises closer to the day. Most band riders are very reasonable and simply consist of making sure you are aware they will need electricity, parking spaces, somewhere to get changed, a level stage or performance area and ideally some hot food before they start. The more in demand the band, the more demanding the rider could become. If you would like to see a copy of Beat Connection’s Rider and / or Terms and Conditions, just email us on info@beatconnectionband.com and we will happily send you the files for your perusal.

4. The equipment and sound engineering.Professional PA Equipment
Take it from us, sound is everything. Even the best musicians in the world cannot put on a great performance if they are dealing with poor equipment, no monitoring and constant feedback. Ask if they a sound engineer is present at every gig, or whether at the very least one of the band members has sound engineering experience.

5. The break.
Most bands will play 2 sets of about 1 hour each, with a 20 / 30 minute break in between. Ask your band what happens when they are on their break. Most professional bands include a “filler music” service when you book the band, or can even provide a DJ service that includes the chance to take requests. If they don’t at least offer free filler music in between sets, beware they may not be as experienced as they seem. Bands work very hard on stage to create a party atmosphere, and the last thing they want when the first set is over is to go back to silence, and completely kill that atmosphere and have to start all over again in the second set. Professional bands know this well and will make sure some appropriate music (that complements the band set without repeating any of the songs) is playing whilst they are on their break. All professional bands should include at least the “Filler Music Service” for free. Most will offer a DJ Booking for an additional charge, and this will offer e much cheaper than booking a separate DJ.

6. Hospitality.
MealBe prepared to look after the band. Band members will probably have had to travel a fair amount to your venue, carried heavy instruments and equipment into the venue, set it all up and sound-checked it. They are about to go on stage and give 100% of their energy for your event for 2 sets of 1 hour. Do budget for a hot meal for them too. At the end of the day, a happy band will be a much better band for you on stage, and a few extra bowls of pasta won’t break the bank and will make all the difference to their performance.

7. Be realistic. 
If you want a live band, but your entertainment budget cannot stretch over £500, you may be better off booking a great DJ rather than a second rate band. Do believe us on this, we have seen the “cheap band” or “friend of a friend” band scenario go wrong many many times. You may be one of the lucky ones, but, make no mistake about it, it is a gamble.

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Wedding of Catherine and Paul

Wedding of Catherine and Paul – Church Ceremony with our gospel choir and Beat Connection band for the evening reception

Invidia Gospel Wedding Choir

Invidia Gospel Wedding Choir

First Dance

Catherine and Pauls First Dance: “The Power of Love”

Yesterday was an AWESOME day of music! Catherine and her Paul tied the know and they booked us to play not only at their evening reception but also booked our Invidia Soul & Gospel Choir to sing during the ceremony. And oh my did the choir sound great in that big grand church! Let me tell you all about it!

Catherine first contacted us just over a year ago when she saw us at a Wedding Fayre, and was booked Beat Connection to play at her wedding ceremony at Sprowston Manor Hotel in Norwich. A few months later I told her about our Wedding Soul & Gospel Choir and she loved the idea of having a choir singing in the church so she booked 10 singers for her ceremony. She picked “I say a little Prayer for you”, “Higher & Higher”, “Hallelujah” and “Oh Happy Day” as songs to play during at ceremony service at St Peter Mancroft Church, opposite The Forum, in the city centre of Norwich.

Click here to see our Soul & Gospel Choir performing “Hallelujah” at the Catherine and Paul’s ceremony.

If you would like to find out more about our Wedding Choir, have a look here or simply call Alex on 01603 343001 / 01603 464532.

THE EVENING RECEPTION

After the ceremony, we made our way to the Suffolk Suite in Sprowston Manor, where we set up the equipment for Beat Connection 7 piece. Below is a little snippet of the evening party :-)

Catherine and Paul kindly arranged for a room for us to get changed in, do our hair and make up (OK, that’s just me and Mandie…., and Phil, when he’s feeling like it…), and fed us a lovely meal before we went on stage. At 9am sharp, we were ready to start with Catherine and Paul’s first dance “The Power of Love” and then into the party sets! Catherine and Paul barely left the dance floor and a great time was had by all. Would you like to see a short snippet of Beat Connection playing the evening reception? Just click here!

Alex and Beat Connection :-)

A great “Black & White Ball” for Kevin and Beverley

What an amazing night!

A few months ago we were booked by Mr B to play at his party on 31 May 2014.

Marquee

Marquee

Now we have seen our share of beautiful marquees, but this was something else!

Kevin and Beverley were amazing and they gave us our own room in the house to get changed in, and for the girls to do hair and make up in, and looked after us really kindly with a hot meals and soft drinks.

They booked the Beat Connection 7 piece, so they had the standard back line of drums, bass, guitar and keyboards, plus 3 vocalists (2 female singers and 1 male singer) fronting the band.

We started off with a bit of Jackson 5 (I want you back & ABC) and, as Kevin and Beverley assured us would be the case, all the guests promptly got up and started dancing. What a great audience!

The wedding of Emily & Lee Routledge

Well,

What can we say?

The wedding of Emily and Lee Routledge was just gorgeous!

Emily had first seen Beat Connection a couple of years back when the band was hired to play at a charity event that she was organising, and when Lee popped the question, she got back in touch to ask us to play at her wedding, and we were delighted to be able to do so.

The wedding reception was at Park Farm Hotel, in Hethersett, and the guests were a great crowd.

Emily and Lee were incredibly kind and they organised for the hotel to let us use one of their empty conference rooms to get changed in (always really useful, especially for myself, with all those tights, make up and hair straighteners to worry about!), and even a hot meal for each member of the band (and I must say, bot does Park Farm Hotel have a great restaurant – it was soooo yummy!).

 

After getting changed and made up, and having some hot food, we were ready to rock & roll.

Emily & Lee's First Dance

We went on stage about 9pm and played Emily and lee’s first dance (“A thousand years” by Christina Perry) via our PA System, as they wanted to dance to the original version. Then we kicked in with a bit of Stevie Wonder.

Emily & Lee had a couple of requests for us on the night. They were Mustang Sally (a classic!) and Superstition by Stevie Wonder. The dance floor was full pretty much the whole night and we had a great time.

 

Alex & Giles from Beat Connection

Alex & Giles from Beat Connection

Other songs we played that night were Hard to Handle, Respect, Brown Eyed Girl, I’m a Believer, Sweet Home Alabama, Lady marmalade, Ain’t Nobody, Don’t Stop Believing, Sweet Child of mine, summer of ’69 and many more.

Emily & Lee had also booked our DJ Service and some pretty funky requests were happening. “Rather Be” by the Clean bandits was requested 3 times, as well as Dark Horse by Katie Perry and of course Blurred Lines!!! (Cant have a DJ set this year without a bit of Blurred Lines…

At the wedding, we also met an AMAZING photographer, Luis Holden of www.luisholden.com . Emily & Lee had booked him for their wedding, and oh my word, what a photographer. The black & white picture above of myself and Giles singing, as well as the one below, were kindly donated by Luis to the band. Look him up. His images are awesome.

Alex

Alex

Well, that’s about it from us. Emily & Lee seemed very happy at the end of the night and we wish them all the best for their future as husband and wife.

Alex and Beat Connection
www.beatconnectionband.com