Archive for August 15th, 2007

PLEASE Don’t Over-Decorate The Bandstand!

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

Over the years that I’ve provided music for parties, I have arrived to find all of the following (and more) on my bandstand: forests of trees and plants, enough Greek columns to rebuild the Parthenon, glittering cityscape backdrops with real twinkling lights, multi-level platforms for “artistic” placement of the band, 20 chairs (for my 6 band members – all of whom stand, not sit), and more.

While all these items may be beautiful or have been intended as a courtesy, they tend to 1.) reduce the amount of stage space available for the band, 2.) use up electrical connections I need for my sound and lighting equipment, and 3.) cause me to spend an inordinate amount of time un-doing the decorator’s handiwork.

It is not that I am opposed to an attractive stage. But my band – like all others – needs a basic amount of electric power and contiguous space in order to perform at peak efficiency. When the decorator takes the rear 3 feet of a 12X24 stage to hang a backdrop, then places a row of potted plants along the front, our band is left with 2/3 of the space called for in our contract.

Similarly, when decorators plug Christmas lights into every available socket near the bandstand, our band winds up with none of the 6 outlets which are contractually ours. And – while Christmas lights are very pretty – you can’t dance to them.

How can we avoid these headaches for band and client? I suggest 3 ways:

A Bigger Stage. When elaborate staging is desired, you can accomodate both your decorator and your band by increasing the stage size. In this way, the band is not adversely impacted by space-eating decor.

Separate Power. Most venues have the ability to “drop” additional electric power (for a fee.) This ensures that your band still has all the outlets (and amperage) that your contract guaranteed. No brown-outs or blown fuses will mar your party.

A Group Meeting. You, your decorator, and your bandleader can meet together – possibly even at the venue. Let everyone hear the same things at the same time. Take notes, then send both of them a summary of your understanding of who-said-what. In this way, no one can later be unhappily “surprised.”

You have every right to expect your bandleader to uphold the terms of your contract. But – because agreements bind both parties – you have obligations, too. It would be a shame for your party to start late or be adversely impacted because your decorator put you in violation of your contract.