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Russell Harris Entertainment

(4 reviews)
Service Area
Cairns | Port Douglas | Palm Cove | Mission Beach, Tablelands  View Map
Business Hours
7 Days By Appointment
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Expert Advice

As a wedding professional, Russell Harris Entertainment offers expert advice to help couples plan their perfect day. Ask a question or read their expert advice.

How long should we have a sax player for at our wedding reception?

I want to have a sax player at my wedding reception but I'm not sure how long they should play for - any suggestions?

Russell Harris Entertainment

If you are using the Sax as a stand alone instrument, possibly with some backings or another live performer as accompaniment then during the first part of the reception is a perfect place. If they are a part of the band then the Sax can be included and featured as part of the dinner sets and the rock/dance sets as well. The reception can roughly be divided into 1/2 dinner/speeches etc and then 1/2 Dance music so whatever the length of your reception is just divide by 2 for the standalone feature style of performance or the whole night as an addition to the band. There are also players that do a DJ service as well as different variations of these.

How to really experience a wedding band/DJ before booking

Hi there. Can we come and listen to a band or DJ at another wedding or event before we decide to book?

Russell Harris Entertainment

Experience the band in the context of how you want them to play for you. I always encourage the Bride and Groom to come and see me play live if they can. I put bands together to suit the clients' requirements so even if it is not possible to view the exact lineup, by the time they have come and seen me play solo or in a band then it helps picture the sound and quality they will receive on their special night. Another guide is who recommends the band and how many people are recommending them. I usually find that personal recommendations from clients, suppliers and venue owners are a good guide. Beware of glossy photos and videos. You really don't want to risk your special night by making a decision based on a highly edited/auto tuned music and video soundtrack. Also, it's good to establish if a band is reliable . I wish I had a dollar for every phone call I've had at the last minute from a client whose band has pulled out in the last week. A meeting with the artist over the phone or at a coffee shop face to face (which I prefer) can establish rapport and talk through expectations for the day which, in addition to the sound of the band, can help establish terms of booking etc. If your band doesn't charge a deposit and give you a written agreement  and isn't recommended by local suppliers - beware. 

Are there additional fees to have continuous music without breaks?

Russell Harris Entertainment

As a musician, MC and DJ I have always provided continuous music. There is nothing that can kill an atmosphere that you have worked hard to create more than a big pause or gap in the program.  I like to have a copy of the runsheet before each wedding that I do and even if it is very informal  l will check what is coming up during the evening with the bride and groom or MC just to make sure things are running to plan , that I don't get caught out having a break when there is something important happening that requires the music turned off or back on and they are happy with how the night is progressing.

There is no difference in fees with my performances.

Should I hire a band or a DJ?

Russell Harris Entertainment

It depends on what you would like. As a live musician and DJ my price is the same regardless of whether I am playing live or DJing/MCing or a mixture of both and I provide continuous music. The traditional lines between Live music and DJ's are a little blurred these days so I find that usually when given the choice my clients like a mixture of both but it is totally up to them. Of course you pay for what you get. A professional should carry public liability insurance, be able to meet personally or speak with you over the phone about the music that you want and come highly recommended by suppliers in the industry. The quality of something as critical as entertainment on your special day can make or break it. In my opinion there is nothing better than good live entertainment.

When booking a band - check that they can play the music that you want to hear and how much of it they play. There are many age groups at a wedding so it is good for the band to play a little for everyone and then focus a little more on the songs that the Bride and Groom wish to hear. That way everyone enjoys the music. If the band puts music on in the breaks then that is an opportunity to give them a list of your favourite songs so even if they don't play them you still get to hear them.

Bands and DJ's - Check that the person you are thinking of hiring knows your expectations and can match these with the venues expectations. There are many problems that can be overcome with a little planning, for instance; if a band likes playing loud and the venue has sound restrictions after a certain time, this is a problem.. if the grandparents with hearing aids are seated next to the band or DJ - this will not go well.... 

Whether Live band or DJ - it's the quality and reliability that counts and it depends a lot on the persons you are hiring.

What are some songs that will get the dance floor moving?

I'm putting together my wedding playlist and wondered if you had some suggestions for songs that will get everybody up and dancing?

Russell Harris Entertainment

I agree with all the other suggestions and probably the most effective song to start with is "Nutbush" followed by Uptown Funk. :)

Will a wedding band or DJ act as an MC?

Just wondering whether it's common for wedding DJs to also act as an MC?

Russell Harris Entertainment

If it was me - no problems (but then again I am a live musician). I have done it on many occasions mostly to help facilitate the evening in the absence of a good speaker in the wedding party. What I usually advise my clients is that it is better to find someone close to them that can relate a few funny stories about the Bride & Groom or their families but if they don't feel comfortable doing the whole evening then I am happy to fill in the gaps and keep the show on the road and do things like announce the speeches, cutting of the cake, Bridal dance (when it is time for others to join the bride and groom on the dance floor), gathering all the guests for the departure of the Bride and Groom etc etc. Hope that is helpful :)

How important is experience when booking a wedding band/DJ?

Russell Harris Entertainment

Depends on what you want to achieve. My take on it is that your wedding day one of the few days in your life that you really want everything to go 100% right. There is no substitute for doing due diligence and actually talking to and seeing your wedding band or DJ perform - that way you can tell if they are good to deal with and are competent at their art. If the band or DJ has done lots of weddings, is it because they are the cheapest and have been around a long time and promote themselves well or is it because they are recommended by many people who have seen them perform and know that they deliver the goods? From my point of view I have gained a lot of experience over the years as a performer/musician at weddings but don't think that is the main ingredient. The main thing by far, in addition to what I have already mentioned, is having a band working with you and prioritising your wishes and plans for the day over any limitations they may have as a band or DJ. If you have someone willing to use their craft to make your day fantastic then that is a beautiful thing...... Live music always makes a wedding that much more special and one strategy that I use when I don't have a particular song in my repertoire is to offer to play the song as a DJ would in one of my breaks. I have had many weddings where I have acted as a DJ in between the band sets for most of the evening or even just one song. Inevitably at the weddings I do, when it gets to the dance side of the evening I am usually fielding requests and putting on dance tracks for members of the audience as well as showing people how to do dances like the "Nutbush". Experience is important but enthusiasm and ability combined with it will deliver a much better result!

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