Weddings 2012 Planning Guide: Music
AFTER MIDNIGHT BAND
This band—which ranges from four to 10 pieces—favours the well-loved hits, from Frank Sinatra to Bruce Springsteen, the Beatles to the Black Eyed Peas. Jazz, R&B and classic rock are the mainstays. $650–$1,250, with customized wedding services available. 416-789-2828.
ANITA ROSSI BAND
Crowd-pleasing tunes are a given with the Anita Rossi Band. They’re partial to old-school funk, but other styles include hip hop, classic rock, disco and Latin. Lately, guests at wedding parties have been getting down to Black Eyed Peas and Journey covers, as well as Motown faves, such as Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.” For a peek at the popular bandleader, rent the Al Pacino flick Sea of Love and scan for the wedding singer character. Customized wedding packages are created for each client. From $300 an hour for a trio; $800 and up for a dance band. 416-694-9953.
This four-piece a cappella group does it all, whether your venue is a lavish reception hall or your parents’ leafy backyard: swinging jazz or doo-wop, not to mention decades of pop favourites. An hour-long set is typical for a wedding. Prices upon request. 416-652-3318.
Flutist Eileen Fawcett and guitarist Pat Doherty have a wide repertoire, including J. S. Bach (“Air on the G String”), Brazilian folk and The Beatles’ greatest hits. $250 for first hour, $100 for each additional hour. 416-463-5462.
CUBAN MUSIC PRODUCTIONS
The Latin jazz fusion band Cimarrón favours sexy beats to get booties shaking on the dance floor. Cuban singer Luis Mario Ochoa travels with a 10-piece band, or with five or six pieces for smaller soirées. $1,000–$4,000 per night. 416-654-5410.
DJ Dave Morris has been serving up music at weddings for the past 10 years, but he isn’t stuck in a rut of endless standards like the chicken dance or the hokey-pokey—Morris has serious dance cred. He has covered music for The Globe and Mail, Spin.com and Spinner.ca, and throws his own downtown dance parties. You’re not up on the latest indie darlings? No need to panic. Morris’s taste is eclectic: in addition to Beyoncé and Vampire Weekend, his collection includes Stevie Wonder and Otis Redding hits that everyone will know and love. Approximately $500–$600. [email protected].
DAVE MURPHY BAND
If you’re looking for a live, any-genre band, the Dave Murphy Band is one of the city’s best. You may have already spotted these Toronto regulars at their Friday night gig at the Orbit Room or playing with the late Jeff Healey at his Queen and Bathurst club. With more than a thousand songs in their repertoire that span the last 60 years of music, they’ve been kicking up dust since 1993. For weddings, couples can book the band’s core of four musicians (drums, piano, guitar and bass), though they suggest the full complement of six musicians (adding sax and trumpet) for the full effect. $2,600–$5,000. [email protected], 905-845-7444.
Working in a variety of genres, including classical, pop and jazz, Divertimento offers the cream of the crop, with members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the National Ballet of Canada’s orchestra and the Canadian Opera Company. Flute, harp, violin, cello, guitar and piano are all available in solos, duos, trios and quartets. They do processionals, too. $395–$1,500 per night. 416-769-8685.
DJ DOUBLE AA
Double AA has been manning the decks for 18 years, mainly as a club and radio DJ, but also doing weddings in the U.S. and Canada. Unlike iPod DJs, Double AA is the real thing. He melds digital technology, like Serato Scratch Live, Traktor, Ableton and an Apple laptop, with vinyl. Double AA spins R&B, house, club anthems and retro ’80s, as well as top 40 and bhangra. He also offers a wide range of special effects, including dry ice. Fees start at $1,500; book 12 to 18 months in advance. [email protected], 416-735-7281.
THE FOGGY HOGTOWN BOYS
Turn your party into a hootenanny: this five-piece group provides authentic bluegrass, traditional country, gospel and old-timey music. From $1,500 per night. 416-819-8990.
Bubbly Lisa Ng and her crew of assistants bring the party. She’s been scratching it up since 2005, playing weddings for 30 to 500 guests. Ng caters to young, hip couples; you won’t get Céline Dion or the chicken dance unless you ask for them. From $1,450 per night. Book one year ahead. 416-891-8440.
JOHN LENNARD BAND
Musician John Lennard has played in a jazz trio for Gorbachev and a quartet for the Queen. For newlyweds, he’ll gather a three- to eight-piece band and perform jazz, swing, Motown, pop and rock. $750–$3,500 per night. 647-328-5299.
Rochelle Koffman recruits the city’s most outstanding musicians for events big and small. Solo pianists, strolling violinists, harpists, big bands and guitar and flute duos can be arranged on request, in genres including jazz, klezmer and Latin. From $300 per night. 416-449-3336.
MACMILLAN ENTERTAINMENT GROUP
MacMillan Entertainment Group is an old pro at the wedding scene; it has been around since 1962. A team of 30 DJs plays between 700 and 800 weddings a year in many musical styles. Founded by Scott and Cher MacMillan, two veteran club DJs (Scott still hits the decks himself), the family business is now also run by their son Tim. They have DJs on staff who specialize in specific genres of music, as well as different cultures. Lighting and special effects (such as uplighting, mirror balls, dry ice and laser shows) are also available. Prices start at about $900, and you can get an instant quote from the website. 800-207-7747, [email protected].
Though he’s worked the turntables at an NHL all-star game and provided the soundtrack for many hockey players’ nuptials, Michael Coombs checks his ego at the door. “I’m here to make the party,” says the former nightclub DJ. With over 20 years of experience, two Canadian Wedding DJ of the Year awards and a wide selection of musical genres in his kit, he’s an expert at reading a crowd. For Saturdays, book at least one-and-a-half years ahead. $2,200 per night. 416-676-7992.
MICHAEL DANSO BAND
With his jazzed-up American standards, backed by up to 18 musicians, Michael Danso creates an intimate vibe with songs by the likes of George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Duke Ellington. And he always keeps “My Funny Valentine,” one of the most requested songs at his weddings, tucked up his sleeve. $900–$1,250 per hour. 416-694-7992.
Mint has a roster of more than 20 DJs who spin at Toronto nightclubs and who also know which Lionel Richie or Bon Jovi songs will coax that grouchy uncle out onto the dance floor. Find a DJ who shares your tastes, from Motown to disco, or hire a mash-up master. Add pizzazz without the cost of a full band by booking a percussionist, sax player or even an electric violinist to accompany the DJ. $800–$1,000 per night. 416-923-6468.
NOVA SOUNDS BAND AND ENTERTAINMENT
The mother ship of bands for hire, Nova Sounds does everything for everybody, growing or shrinking depending on the occasion. And it has many genres covered: rock, dance, Latin, R&B, jazz, top 40, soul and classical. DJs, lighting, staging and dancers can be arranged, too. The brain behind the band is the musician Alan Shiner, who wrote the catchy jingle “Everyone Loves Marineland.” $100 per hour for a soloist, $1,000 per hour for full band. 416-926-1918.
SPECTRUM OF SOUND INTERACTIVE DISC JOCKEYS
Expect plenty of silly party favours and good-time anthems from such bands as AC/DC and the Village People, if that’s what you’re in the mood for; less cheesy programs are also available. Party games, including name that tune, karaoke, game shows and inflatable guitars for rocking out can be arranged. $200 per hour. 416-754-3600.
Waltzes, salsa, swing, pop, disco, Viennese, even rock and tango—whatever it plays, this 17-piece, multiple-singer big band has a talent for mobilizing the black-tied masses. For more intimate affairs, there’s a seven-piece option. Some of the players have Juilliard and Berklee pedigrees. $750–$1,250 per hour. 416-763-4804.
SUPERSTARS DJ ENTERTAINMENT
The Superstars DJ crew covers all the bases: top 40, dance, ’80s, classic rock, ballroom, country, Latin and disco, plus music from 20 different countries (Italy, Portugal and Greece, to name a few). In addition to the usual party effects—dry ice, for example—Superstars has a trunk full of fun props, like limbo games for tropical-themed celebrations and sombreros and castanets for Mexican fiestas. From $850 per night; wedding package includes eight hours of entertainment for $1,599. 905-850-3535.
THIRD FROM THE SUN
A fixture on the Toronto party circuit, this is one of the city’s hipper DJ agencies. Owner Piers Baker, a seasoned jockey, has a Rolodex of more than 500 DJs at his disposal. And no genre is off limits: if you’re an R&B fanatic, he’ll call Dave Campbell; for Latin-themed parties, he’ll book Alvaro. The company does blowouts at the ROM, the AGO and the Carlu, plus the lion’s share of the city’s film wrap parties. $800 for four hours; $50 per additional hour, plus equipment costs. 416-964-0469.
THREE PIECE SUITE
This trio adds a note of refinement to a reception. The ensemble—flute, French horn and cello—is acoustic and therefore best suited to smaller functions. Leaning toward classical works, the group occasionally shakes things up a bit with show tunes and Beatles hits. Ceremonies $450; $325 for each additional hour. 416-469-3901.
UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO FACULTY OF MUSIC
Having a future Measha Brueggergosman belting out arias at the reception (without the over-the-top booking fee) is why it’s worth hiring U of T’s undergraduate, graduate and alumni performers through their music faculty. Virtually any genre, including world music, R&B, classical, opera and jazz, is available, as well as any configuration (the four-piece string quartet and brass quintet are particularly popular, but a 19-piece big band can also be arranged). No request is too strange—if you need your violinist to wear a clown suit, the friendly staff will help coordinate. Prices available upon request. [email protected].