Archive for October 20th, 2008

Do You Really Want THIS Table Next To The Band?

Monday, October 20th, 2008

Last Friday, my band played for an upscale 89-year old organization which hosts 4 elegant events each social season.

Over the past few years, several younger couples (ie. in their 40s and 50s) have joined the club’s members of long-standing. Their presence has caused both the repertoire and – later in the evening – the volume of the music to move in a more contemporary direction than has been customary in the past.

And therein lies the dilemma for both the party chairpersons and the musicians. Older members of the club would be perfectly happy for the music and volume to stay in the pre-electric (acoustic) style. But to keep bringing in and pleasing the newer members who will be the future of this and other similar organizations, their music – played at “their” volume – has to be part of the mix.

So I was astonished this past Friday to see that a table for 8 had been set, literally, 3 feet from the edge of our stage (and directly in the line of fire of our PA speakers). And – at that table – had been placed some of the most volume-sensitive members of the club.

In order for us not to offend this one table all night long, we would have had to play at dinner music volume for all 4 hours of the party. And – if we had done that – our presentation would have been wrong for the rest of the room (especially for the younger members.)

So, we had 3 options: move this one table further from the band; let those people dictate the volume and repertoire for the whole room, all night long; or know in advance that they were going to be unhappy campers as the tempo and volume climbed throughout the evening.

The decision seemed obvious to me, but it wasn’t my choice to make. And, apparently, the folks at that table had specifically requested to be seated there. Much consultation followed. Ultimately, the table was moved, and no complaints about volume were registered.

But a valuable lesson was – I hope – learned. The tables closest to the band should always be reserved for those who are most comfortable with volume. Muzak is great in elevators, but it doesn’t inspire folks to leap out of their seats and fill the dance floor. The sound level doesn’t have to be blaring or deafening, but – for anybody born after 1960 – a successful dance requires something more than “background” music.