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Question: Do we entertain house parties?


Answer: Absolutely!


House Party Music:


     Backyard house party concerts have become increasingly popular around St Louis in recent years. Most of these parties are hosting anywhere from a dozen to a hundred guests. We usually perform outdoors in the backyard but sometimes in the front yard as well. Most of the homes we entertain don't have indoor spaces large enough for all of the guests but sometimes we are moved indoors when the outdoor weather is too hot, cold, windy, or if there is precipitation.


Acoustic or Amplified:


     When entertaining smaller parties we can sometimes perform acoustically. If playing quiet finger style music like jazz or folk on an acoustic guitar, it will be hard to hear the music over noise from nearby traffic, guests talking and walking, fans, and other competing sounds. Louder instruments like saxophone, trumpet, and violin can usually carry their sound for one hundred guests without amplification.

     

     For almost any outdoor event with a singer and acoustic guitar player we recommend a sound system. We can provide something very compact that does not require being setup on a tall stand and won't overwhelm guests sitting a few feet away. We often combine this for our singer/guitar player with a violinist playing acoustically and singing occasional background vocals.

  

     If the music needs to be heard clearly from hundreds of feet away or if there will be a lot of competing noise from lots of guests, activities, vehicles, or things we recommend a larger sound system so the musicians are not exhausted, constantly playing at their loudest trying to overcome the limits of their instruments. We almost always recommend amplification for guitar and voice.


Acoustic Piano:


     If you have an acoustic piano you would like us to play we are happy to use it! A baby grand with the lid raised can usually be loud enough for an indoor house party with near fifty guests. We almost always provide a singer with amplification and we recommending having us add at least a small sound system to the bill or else the vocals will not be heard over the acoustic piano, especially over the conversations of your guests.

     

     We ask that your piano be recently tuned before our performance. If near an exterior door or a room with windows, the changes in temperature and humidity can make your piano require attention. Ensure that in addition to tuning that your technician ensures no pedals or keys stick, and that all function properly.


Ensembles & Rates:


     A singer/guitar player and violinist is our most popular and one of our most versatile ensembles. This instrumentation can perform acoustically or with amplification options to project however loud and far as needed. Two musicians with these instruments can perform the majority of our repertoire including rock, pop, Top 40, country, jazz, blues, and folk.

     

     For strictly jazz performances we usually recommend guitar and saxophone. Saxophones can be played very loud and rarely require amplification. When looking for a low budget option we can provide an acoustic guitar without any amplification. This is less than ideal and limits the versatility the guitarist can perform with but is one of our more popular options.

     

     Trumpet and guitar is also very popular, especially if performing New Orleans style jazz for a Mardi Gras house party. Trumpet, like saxophone, is also very versatile and ideal for covering Motown, R&B, soul, funk, oldies, and Top 40.

     

     Duos are our most popular option but we also have many requests for solo guitar and voice. We can provide many hours of live music with a single, skilled musician. A solo acoustic performance for one hour begins at $150 for local events. Most of the private house party events we entertain are for between two and four hours. For classical music we also frequently provide a solo violinist.


Going Big:


     Upscale events are indeed more impressive with a larger ensemble. Our string quartet is an incredible bargain that can play classical repertoire as well as more familiar, popular music. We can often also include the option to have one or two of our musicians switch between playing violin and guitar or piano while singing. This opens our setlists to include much of the music our band often plays, including music your guests can dance and sing to.

     

     For most styles of music we play having more instruments sounds even better. Our string quartet can be amplified to cover large areas with many guests. We can also mic drum sets, auxiliary percussion, background vocalists, and horn players. We can literally go as big with our band and instrumentation as you can imagine. We've entertained events using our musicians and equipment as large as a city-wide outdoor rally and crowds as large as several thousand.


Requirements:


     House parties require the same accoutrements as other types of events. The safety of our instruments, musicians, and equipment is always paramount. Many of us play instruments that are literally irreplaceable made from exotic materials, some being hundreds of years old.

     

     We require a dry performance area that is a safe distance from flying or fallling objects from activities, children, or trees. Instruments also need to be protected from extended exposure to direct sunlight, cold, heat, wind, and any type of precipitation. If there is a chance of rain it is best to either relocate the stage to a covered or indoor location. If there has been recent rain and we are performing in wet grass please provide plywood or another sturdy surface so that our chairs do not sink into the mud.

     

     Electronics must also be protected from dampness. We often play late into the evening, sometimes into the early morning hours. Dew is usually safe but requires extra time during teardown to be dried before being packed and loaded.

     

     Level ground is also highly desirable. The stands for our equipment are mostly designed for level surfaces. Playing musical instruments is already an awkward posture so increased postural issues can affect a musician's performance and accelerate performers' fatigue.

     

     A sheet of plywood or a rug can go a long way to improve an outdoor stage. We also need to avoid dust and dirt, which can render our electronic equipment inoperable. Safe power supply is another major concern. We've experienced electrical shocks and tragically expensive damage to sensitive gear. Using a generator in the rain is the sort of thing many of our musicians will absolutely refuse to risk, with warranted concern.

     

     Musicians need to be able to see. Our iPads usually illuminate our music well enough to read at night but looking into those lights actually makes it harder to see our instruments when playing outdoors in the evening. Without being able to see our instruments playing them accurately will become very challenging.

     

     Unlike Stevie Wonder or Ray Charles we usually aren't performing our own songs and playing the same sets every other night on a tour for several months. We're not a bar band always playing just the same forty songs. We are constantly playing different types of music from our enormous library of over two thousand songs. Having our sheet music prepared in advance enables our musicians to consistently provide authentic performances playing covers by many various artists.

     

     A light for our stage area will be necessary after dark. If you won't have a porch light, flood lights, or some other means of illuminating our stage well enough to see what we are doing we need to know in advance and depending on how much lighting is necessary, those options and fees need to be arranged within your contract.

     

     We've provided as many as eight hours of live music, but performances lasting that duration are rare and very challenging. Very few brass players, particularly trumpet and trombone players can retain their embouchures that many hours. And you will be very hard pressed to find a vocalist who can sing well while leading a large band for that many hours. Musicians need to take breaks.

     

     Time is important as well in two key ways other than the duration of the performance. We need as much advanced notice as possible to assemble a band. We usually don't book musicians until a deposit has been received and our instrumentation is based on your song selections so the more information we can ascertain regarding your musical preferences the more prepared we can be by the time we arrive.

     

     Time is also needed for setting up and tearing down. For even the simplest acoustic soloist performances we usually have someone on site sixty to ninety minutes before we are to play any event. For events with multiple musicians and larger sound systems this number can increase to needing several hours, especially if there is much distance from our equipment trailer to the stage. The simplest solo gigs can also take nearly an hour to carefully and correctly pack our gear, haul it, and load it securely in our vehicles.