Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas Wishes!

No tips, advice or post regarding DJ and event planning lessons that Top Notch has learned for this week folks. Considering that it is the week of Christmas, today's post is simply a Season's Greetings! The Holidays are such a special time. They are a time to be with friends and family. For many it's a travel time, for others a vacation time, and for Top Notch it is a "slow down" time. In a way, the Holidays can be quite similar to a wedding or an event, as the planning process for both can be quite comparable. There is the obvious planning stage regarding gifts, meals, guests, etc, followed by the anticipation of the day and even the fun and last memories that occur throughout the day. Whether the Christmas day is spent with family, friends, or even co workers, Top Notch wishes you and yours a very Merry Christmas. Make sure to check out the Top Notch 2015 "Holiday Greeting" for a good laugh (link below)

Merry Christmas guys!

-Joseph-
Owner/Operator


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Ceremony Microphones....To Use or Not to Use. That is the question




After nearly ten years of deejaying weddings, it is very safe to say, that Top Notch DJ Service is still learning. One factor and issue I am always striving to improve on concerns the topic of microphone use for wedding ceremonies. I actually addressed this fact in a prior blog post in May of this year, however, due to a recent situation that I was involved in, I felt compelled to share the various types of mics available for a wedding ceremony. For starters, one must determine if a microphone is even necessary? I address this same question to each bride and groom that Top Notch works with. If it is a small wedding, or in a small venue, a mic may not be required. A good rule of thumb to consider is the following equation, if the number of wedding guests totals 25-30 or more, typically I suggest that a microphone should be used.
The next question then becomes., what type of microphone is needed. Top Notch always will recommend wireless microphones versus wired microphones whenever possible. Wireless microphones may provide less feedback and the obvious issue of hiding a microphone cord is never an issue with wireless mics. For the past few years, I have actually requested and encouraged officiants during a ceremony to use a wireless microphone that I provide. Although, many insist that their voices are loud and that a mic is not necessarily needed, their use of a microphone assist me as his or her specific words are my cues for when to play specific ceremonial song selections. Additionally, I have learned that many professional officiants actually have their own microphones and set ups which they simply plug into my sound system, which can be very helpful as well.
Top Notch has experimented with 2 common styles of wireless microphones for ceremonies which are
  1. The hand held with a stand 
                                                           

  2. The lavalier (small microphone that clips on the collar, shirt pocket, etc as seen in the below picture
                                                            




          
    Many years ago, it was common practice for me to utilize the lavalier microphones, however I discovered that the placement on some customers became an issue. Brides and Grooms (especially brides) desired the microphone to be discreet for the sake of their wedding pictures (no bride wants a microphone, nor transmitter pack that the mic plugs into apparent in her wedding ceremony pictures, I understand that.) Furthermore, when used outside, wind became a large issue when using lavalier mics, as well as grooms accidentally hitting or touching the “mute” button on occasions. Due to these issues, I made the decision to use the handheld mic on a stand for ceremonies. The trick, when using the handheld mic (similar to my issue with the lavalier) was to make the microphone discreet, and unobtrusive meanwhile placing it in a location where the officiant as well as bride and groom can be heard. My solution to these dilemmas, became carefully placing a wireless handheld microphone at the officiant's waist level (not face level, or over the shoulder due to the consideration of the ceremonies wedding photos), just between the officiant and where the groom and bride stand. Furthermore, by facing the microphone directly up at an angle towards the bride and groom the microphone is usually able to capture the sound of all three key characters in the ceremony. I may often still provide a lapel microphone to mic the groom at times, depending on the size of the event as well. By following these actions, wedding guests seemed to be able to hear the officiant as well as bride and groom, and the couple could still hold hands during the ceremony without having to work around a microphone stand between them. Furthermore, because of the microphones height, it often was not as apparent in wedding photos.
For now, this method has appeared to my specific answer concerning the use of wireless microphones for ceremonies. Bride and Grooms should always consider a number of factors when debating if a microphone is needed including
  1. The Venue. How large is the location of the ceremony? Are the acoustics clear? Is it outside?
  2. If outside, consider the outside factors that may interrupt the sound of the officiant such as wind, traffic, birds chirping, etc. Can your officiant speak over outside noises loud enough for guests in your back row to be heard?
  3. Any additional ceremony speeches, poems read, people singing? If so, a mic or even 2-3 may be needed
  4. Guests. How many guests are attending the ceremony? Are a large majority of them older or perhaps hard of hearing?
  5. Voice Projection: Is your officiant fairly loud? What about you and your fiancee? Can the guests hear you without a microphone? The volume of your voice, your partners as well as the officiants should be considered.
In sum, a bride and groom spend an incredible amount of time planning the ceremony and guests attend your event mostly for the ceremony and to HEAR YOU say your vows. Make sure they are heard. Although the topic of which type of microphone as well as it's placement is debatable, the question concerning if a microphone is needed is most likely pretty clear. When possible and if available, most certainly use the microphone for your wedding ceremony.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Fun Christmas Songs to get your Holiday Party Started! (hint..No Silent Night will be found on this list)


     Starbucks has returned with red cups, retail stores are advertising amazing sales and discounts, and a hint of chill is finally in the air. Yep, it's the holiday season once again and fortunately for Top Notch with the holiday season come's holiday parties and events. Naturally, with any “theme” party, it's appropriate to play fitting music for the event. Fortunately, during the Christmas holiday, there is a multitude of holiday music to find and play. It's no secret that many artists have produced holiday albums over the years, however, one of the challenges that I have found is locating specific holiday songs that are fun, happy, upbeat and also holiday oriented. Note: That mean's the numerous Holiday jams about breaking up during Christmas (aka “Blue Christmas” by Elvis, “Please Come Home for Christmas” by Don Henley, “Mittens” by Carly Rae Jepsen, etc) do not count for today's post. Additionally, a large portion of traditional holiday songs lack an upbeat tempo which is necessary at any party to get people dancing (examples include “Silver Bells”, Silent Night, The Christmas Song, the list of slow songs goes on and on). So, below I've shared 15 top holiday songs that I usually play to get party guests heads bobbing and the dance floor moving. Feel free to let me know if there are any songs you think I may have missed (topnotchdjservice@gmail.com) and Happy Holidays everyone!

Top Notch Holiday Fun Song List (In No Particular Order)

1. Trey Songs and Flo Rida- "Jingle Bells" (The Gap Mix) 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hXoNIXZmDg

2. Cee Lo Green - "What Christmas Means to Me" 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tt6zwuV8Go8

3. Glee Cast - "We Need a Little Christmas" 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6OJYTv4ipM

4. Kelly Clarkson - "Underneath the Tree"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EM2Fnp_qnE8

5. TLC - "Sleigh Ride" 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGLB96S2--U

6. Train- "Shake Up Christmas"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-8VCL4uSUc

7. Mariah Carey- "All I Want for Christmas Is You" 
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXQViqx6GMY

8. Aly and AJ - "Greatest Time of Year" 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMtwLtDU8Lw

9. Elton John - "Step Into Christmas" 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Fjik78LapA

10. Ariana Grande - "Santa Tell Me" 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlR0MkrRklg

11. NSYNC-"Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays" 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wKj92352UAE

12. Big Time Rush - "Beautiful Christmas" 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPdwqON1G-4

13. Mariah Carey - "Oh Santa"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5zaQ_vIAHE

14. Destiny's Child - "8 Days of Christmas" 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikOWQ9YIb-A

15. Glee Cast - "Extraordinary Merry Christmas"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEQDyAG67rI


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Serving Booze?

Picture credit to www.cakepicturegallery.com


“Will there be alcohol at your wedding or event?” It's a common question that I almost always ask customers during the consultation and planning process for any event. The Alcohol Factor can play a large assistance in “making” or “breaking” an event. Guests are certainly more prone to dance, enjoy themselves and “break out of their shell” when beer, wine or other spirits are involved in an event, however, one should be aware to not allow guests to go over board regarding the amounts of drinks your guests consume. Of course, the largest challenge when considering serving alcohol at any event, is your budget. If the wedding or event budget allows, and alcohol will be served at your event, you may wish to consider some of the following ideas regarding the drinks to be served.

  1. For starters, and the obvious, take into consideration your guests, the activities taking place, the environment of the event and the time as well as day of the event. If there is a planned portion of your event for perhaps entertainment (such as a live band or DJ) and therefore dancing, it may be helpful to provide alcoholic beverages for guests to enjoy during this time frame of the event. The time and day of the event is also very critical, as obviously guests are more open to consume alcohol during an event that may occur on a Friday vs. an event that takes place on a Sunday afternoon.

  2. Liquors and top shelf bottled beverages DO NOT HAVE TO BE INVOLVED. If you desire to serve alcohol, but are afraid your budget may not allow for a large variety of alcoholic beverages to be served at your event, simply consider other alternatives besides the concept of an open bar. Other options include a Cash Bar, where guests must pay for specific drinks if they desire to consume them (which may often limits their consumption of drinks throughout the night) or even simply serving Beer and Wine only for the event. 

  3. Worried that your guests may display their “beer goggles” and cause a scene? One great idea to somewhat control how many drinks your guests consume is to simply limit the hours that the bar is open for your event. For example, if you event is scheduled from 3-10, only have the bar open and a bartender available to serve drinks from the hours of perhaps 6:30pm to 9:30pm.
  1. Allow the bar to close, 15-30 minutes prior to the conclusion of your event. This is another great method I have seen practiced in countless venues to control the alcohol served towards the end of the night. By placing this practice into the event, it helps avoid “lingering guests” that tend to stay and drink as long as the bar is open throughout the night. It is wise to have the Disc Jockey, Bartender, emcee host or band to provide a last call for the bar 15-30 minutes prior to the actual end of the event if the bar is closing at this time as well. 

  2. If, you're planning for an all out party, and intend for guests to have a great time and drink as much as they please, it is ALWAYS wise, to either have a method of transportation on standby to escort them to their hotel or desired place for the evening, or even have a room and board set up nearby for the guests to go. I personally, have seen party busses, ricksha's and even limos booked to pick up guests from events after a long evening of partying or drinking at an event. If the wedding or event takes place at a hotel or resort, it is always a smart idea to possibly book an extra room or two (when possible) in case guests unexpectedly consume more alcohol than anticipated and consequently decide to stay at the venue for the evening.

Personally, as a DJ and entertainer, I'm all for alcohol at an event. Alcoholic beverages assist some guests in “winding down” mean while helping others “wind up”. The product makes guests more social, and usually more fun and prone to dance and enjoy themselves at events. Should you have alcohol at your event or wedding? I don't think it's necessarily a question of “should”, but more so a matter of “If”. If your budget for the event as well as your venue allows the alcohol to be served at the event, then by all means, go for it, and allow the partying to begin!”

For assistance regarding how much alcohol you may need to be served at your event, feel free to visit this excellent tool used by event planners and bride and grooms, www.thealcoholcalculator.com.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

My Best Reference List.


     
     It has been a year or perhaps much longer since I have updated or even sent a “Reference List” to a potential customer. I still use the slogan “references upon request” on a regular basis, yet it seems less and less frequently do I receive this specific request. In the past, references were a fantastic source in booking events. In fact, it was not uncommon to find this Top Notch DJ glued in front of a computer updating my reference list on a very regular basis. I even had the list separated and categorized by events such as “Summer 2012 list” or “The best for kids parties Reference list”. I seemed to have had success utilizing this references source, however last year I determined there may be a more effective, and even practical method for displaying my product to my customers. The Answer? Well, simply that, actually “Displaying my Product to my customers”. Hence, the Top Notch Entertainment and DJ Services Video page and youtube channel was born. Actual film of your events are real, they're lively, and it allows new customers to see your mannerisms, hear your voice and become familiar with you're appearance. Furthermore, a good video is not only more fun to view but it's also more convenient for your customer, as it saves them time from them contacting your references and awaiting your reference responses, etc. Lastly, it's not secret that the world of social media is growing drastically and therefore online presence is essential. Shooting a video allows one to share on multiple social media avenues including emails, youtube, vimeo, twitter, facebook, google plus and more. The advantages to using a video versus a reference list are obvious. My only regret is that I did not put this concept to work many years ago. I however, do not intend on keeping an updated reference list any longer. Past customers will therefore no longer be bothered by questions from new potential customers and new potential customers will now have more to see, more to hear and more to absorb regarding Top Notch DJ service which should hopefully assist them in their decision process in a more convenient manner. 

                                                         

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Top Halloween Songs to Play Besides "Thriller" & "Monster Mash"


                                                
     
     As I write this blog, Halloween is only 3 days away! The day of trick or treaters and frightful fun is right around the corner! As a DJ, Halloween means 1 thing...PARTIES! Consequently, along with Halloween parties comes the inevitable song requests for “Thriller” by Michael Jackson (you have to play it at least 2-4 times on Halloween) and The Monster Mash by Bobby “Boris” Pickett. Although, I find it cliché, both songs are rhetorically expected to be played at any Halloween event. I personally, like to think outside the box, and for Halloween, that means I strive to play a few additional songs that may have a “ghoulish” message for the spirit of Halloween. So, below is Top Notch's Top 10 Halloween songs that ARE NOT “Thriller” nor the “Monster Mash” with links to preview each tune as well. Enjoy guys and Happy Halloween!!!

  1. “This is Halloween” by Panic at the Disco (also performed by Marilyn Manson and The Nightmare before Christmas soundtrack) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIKVF_dA7nQ

  2. “Don't fear the Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ClQcUyhoxTg

  3. “Ghostbusters” theme song by Ray Parker Jr. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fe93CLbHjxQ

  4. “Somebody's Watching Me” by Rockwell https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YvAYIJSSZY

  5. “Halloweenhead” by Ryan Adams. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XC6pu0_snFw

  6. “Running with the Devil” by Van Halen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5txwFv-zYM

  7. “Bark at the Moon” by Ozzy Osbourne https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnNWUUZ7cEA

  8. “I Put a Spell On You” by “Screamin” Jay Hawkins https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwXai-sgM-s&feature=youtu.be

  9. “Werewolves of London” by Warren Zevon https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhSc8qVMjKM

  10. “Living Dead Girl” by Rob Zombie https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvsMPOfblfg


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Frightfully Fun Games to Play for your Halloween Party!!


(picture of a Mummy Wrap Game from a recent Top Notch event)

     October is here, the weather is getting cooler and it appears that pumpkin spice flavored everything is everywhere that you look. People have many reasons to celebrate the Fall Season including the return of Football and tailgating, Homecomings and back to school events and of course, Halloween! Top Notch DJ's has certainly celebrated countless Halloween parties. So, what type of fun ideas and events can you incorporate into your Halloween party to keep the guests entertained when they're tired of doing the “Monster Mash”. See this list for some of Top Notch's favorite Halloween themed games!

          1. Squirt the Pumpkin- Yes, you read that right. Although most Halloween activities include carving a pumpkin, this fun game can be played after the pumpkin has been carved. HOW TO PLAY: Contestants must line up in a line facing a candle lit jack o lantern. Make sure there is a good distance between the start of the line and the Jack O Lantern. Contests each take turns with a water gun or spray bottle attempting to put out the lit candle that illuminates the pumpkin. Kids Love this game!
    1. Find the Bats- This game is very simple, and requires very little prep work. One should either cut black construction paper or purchase small bats for decoration (they can be found at the Dollar Store) and decorate the premise with bats. Guests usually will notice them as only decorations until the game starts. HOW TO PLAY: Guests must gather as many bats that are located around the room as possible. The person that collects the most wins! It often helps for the bats to be numbered, and even some hidden, so that one can keep track of how many are available for contestants to collect before the start of the game.
    2. Mummy Wrap- As seen in the above picture from an actual Top Notch event. This game does require lots of toilet paper as well as 2-4 very willing participants to be dressed as mummy's. HOW TO PLAY: Contestants are divided up into teams and given either 1 to 2 rolls of toilet paper. The teams are then given a time limit to unravel all of the paper around their assigned “participant” and to dress them up as a Mummy. When the time clock stops, the team that has dressed their participant the best is determined the winner.
    3. Find the Critters: This game does include some preparation. Take a bucket, very large bowl, or even a large bin and fill it with a small seeded item of your choice (bird seed, dried corn, dried beans, etc.) HOW TO PLAY: Small rubber toy creatures (such as frogs, spiders, lizards, etc and can be purchased at the Dollar Store) are then hidden within the bin for guests to find. Whoever collects the most creatures wins. HINT: Top Notch recommends going the extra mile and purchasing “Glow in the Dark” creatures. These too are available at most dollar stores and are more of a thrill for kids to find. Make sure before you hide the creatures that they have been in the sunlight for some time before you play this game, so that the creatures will be illuminated at the start of the game
    4. Boo Bomb Toss- This is another FAVORITE! This game does involve much prep work but is completely worth the time and effort to play. For starters, one must understand exactly what is a “Boo Bomb”, so I'll explain. An egg is carefully broken at either end (as if you were to use them to cook with), then all yoke is emptied out of the shell. The shell is then filled with flour, the top of the egg is taped with tissue back on to the shell, and a ghost face (as pictured below) is then drawn on the eggs. HOW TO PLAY: This game is played just like water balloon toss. Contestants must pick a partner and alternate tossing the egg toward one another while increasing distance with each turn until the bomb bursts. The team of partners that remains standing and does not drop their bomb are the winners.

                                           
      Picture illustration of a "Boo Bomb"

Other games that Top Notch has been known to play in the past include
  • Eye bounce- An eye is drawn on a ping pong ball and guests must attempt to bounce the ping pong into a bucket
  • Pumpkin Decorating Contrests- Guests are given small pumpkins and a time limit. The contest that can decorate their pumpkin the best in that time limit wins
  • Glow in the Dark Ring Toss- Glow sticks are combined together to make large bracelets or rings. A pole and stand is then set up for contestants to attempt to toss the glow rings on the stand
  • Frightening Dice- Dice are created with an action or order labeled on each of it's 4 sides (buy a simple wooden block at a hardware store or purchase large dice and decorate/or paint them a bright color. When the guests roll the dice they must do a combination of the actions that are shown on the dice he or she rolled. ToP notch calls this game “frightening dice” because the contestants never know exactly what they will have to do until the dice is rolled.

The above mentioned games are all excellent activities for Fall Festivals, or Halloween themed events that Top Notch recommends for any party! So, now that we have the games out of the way, what type of music should you play? After all, you can't just keep “Monster Mash” and “Thriller” on repeat to play throughout your entire party can you? Make sure to check out next week's blog for the top Halloween theme songs to play BESIDES these 2 song selections mentioned above. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Need to Lose Some Trees? Have a WEDDING!

Pictures of dining table, gift table and ceremony seating from Eric and Leslie's wedding



     Yes, I realize the title of today's blog post may sound a little obscure, but it is in fact the topic and story that Top Notch witnessed first hand this year. It's no secret that a wedding venue can be a large factor concerning the wedding budget. Wedding Venues are not cheap!! As a result, many customers in the last few years have cut cost regarding a venue by taking the DIY approach and hosting a back yard wedding. This concept is exactly what Eric and Leslie opted to do for their wedding earlier this September. Top Notch began the planning process around March of this year and received the opportunity to tour Eric and Leslie's home. They explained to me their plans, as well as what they had envisioned for their “Big Day”. As we walked outside towards their intended wedding reception location I saw 2 things.... A large shed and woods. Little did I know, that the next 6 months would include much labor including cleaning and tree removal that would result in a magnificent yard appearance. Even more so, I was impressed with the simple, yet creative methods Eric and Leslie used to decorate their yard and shed for the event. Large tree remains served as dining tables for guests, lights and a chandelier were tastefully hung above the dance floor of the shed, and Eric's “working tables” in the shed were masked by table clothes and signage to serve as the gift table, dessert table, etc. Perhaps, Eric and Leslie spent many of nights brainstorming the décor and layout for the wedding or perhaps their brilliant ideas were gathered from internet resources such as Pinterest, Google, and others. Either way, these two illustrated the fact that a backyard wedding can be cleverly executed to appear as a great wedding venue. With a little imagination, time and work, a back yard wedding can be a great idea to save cost while offering a great location for you and your guests to enjoy your Big Day!!




Monday, September 14, 2015

Make Your Speech or Toasts EXTRAordinary


    
                   (picture taken from an actual Top Notch wedding- Photo credited to Hilary Mercer Photography)


Why be Ordinary when you can be EXTRAordinary right? Why not apply that same philosophy to your event as well. Top Notch is consistently looking for techniques, ideas and props to make our events stand out and be memorable. This past weekend's wedding of Eric and Leslie Jones supplied me with a great idea for future speeches, toasts, and presentations. It made such an impact that I felt compelled to share it with all of you, my readers. Although a toasts or a speech at event is necessary, it can often be perceived as one of the less exciting times of an event. However, the example below is certainly not the case regarding Saturday's wedding.

Prior to start of the ceremony, Leslie's maid of honor introduced herself and described that she had specific requirements from me, the DJ to ensure that her toasts went accordingly. After nearly a week of planning, the maid of honor had prepared a soundtrack of popular song samples and sounds that were coordinated to play along with her speech. Top Notch has certainly met these demands for maids of honor before, as they have requested for the DJ to play a certain song as a memoir to the bride such as “Here is a clip of the bride and me back in 7th grade singing Spice Girls”. However, this particular toasts was different. It was creative, it was humorous, and had every guests members attention as they eagerly awaited in anticipation for the next “tune” to play. The bridesmaid had brilliantly chosen specific songs to fulfill her words in her speech. Examples that I can recall were the following

“Eric as a single gentleman would go out on a Friday and Saturday night to his favorite local hang out, I'm sure he thought “I Love This Bar”. The lyrics to Toby Keith's popular song “I Love This Bar” were then played in place of the her stating the exact words.

Other examples include

“When Leslie and Eric found each other, they both were thinking “At Last” by Etta James was then played

“Then along came their first baby which clearly made them say “Sweet Child of Mine” by Guns n Roses was then played

The idea was brilliant, but also got me thinking, what other “twists” can be placed here to make a toasts, or speech stand out? Perhaps a dance to music? A Slideshow or filmstrip from a lost relative or friend who couldn't be present at the event? Or even a similar speech coordinated to music like the example mentioned above. With a little bit of planning and creative brainstorming, the possibilities of making the “toasts” or speeches stand out at your next event could be the one factor that all of the guests will be talking about and remembering for years to come.


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Business: aka Following your Passion

     I'm writing this post on a Sunday. On Sunday's that Top Notch Entertainment and DJ Services is not booked for an event, you can find me at my home usually working. Yes, that's right, on the day that society reprimands that we shouldn't we work, I on the other hand, and almost always grinding away. Sunday is an excellent day for “catching up” on missed opportunities or duties that were not fulfilled throughout the week. For some odd reason, it seems that many find my work on Sundays, or my work in general difficult to fathom. I often hear

“Don't call Joe today he's wrapped up in his DJ stuff”
“You're really up until 10pm-12am during the weekdays working on DJ work? For what?
And the kicker....
“What can he possibly be doing that take's up all of his time in that DJ business?

     We'll friends, comrades, and family the answer is this...THE BUSINESS!! Any successful entertainer, musician or even artists will agree, the industry is 80% business, 20% art, sometimes even less. My business is no different. Yes, Top Notch shows up to events with “some big speakers” and entertains guests or crowds for an allotted time period, that's the 20% the majority imagine I do, but there's also the duties of consulting, event and wedding planning, contracts, invoice, and paperwork, marketing, advertising, etc that composes the 80% behind the scenes work aka the BUSINESS. With that being said, I don't mind working on a Sunday, nor until the late hours of the weekday evenings simply because I enjoy what I do. Let's be honest, it's not exactly a normal, admired profession. There was a time when I was hesitant in mentioning these responsibilities to many peers simply to avoid their discrediting comments. Honestly, the “entertainment” in the name Top Notch Entertainment & DJ Services was included for a few reasons, 1 being to avoid ridicules regarding my choice of profession.

Top Notch has been in operation for nearly 9 years and friends still say “he's doing that DJ Stuff”. I'm accustomed to brushing it off, I don't mind it anymore. They don't understand and I realize that they don't determine the success of this business, only I do. And neither should you. No matter your profession, isn't there an opportunity for others to criticize or belittle your occupation? There are reputable landscaper contractors that could be summarized as simply “cutting grass”, plumbers that could be summarized as “just unclogging pipes and toilets”, photographers that “just take pictures”, etc. 

     I actually know a fellow entrepreneur in the food industry that carefully placed his business location, where he purchases his products and even time's he serves his products to the public. He has a blast, appears to be fulfilled and actually earns a wealthy 6 figures and his business is running a hot dog stand (NO JOKE!) Follow your passion, other's may not understand, and that's okay, but don't let them deny your business the success you desire for it to achieve. Some will be with you along the path, other's may come and go on and off the path, and other's may continue to be in your path of life, but must simply take a turn on your success path when it comes to your occupation and professional. It's important for us as entrepreneur's to understand this.

Follow your passion, march to the beat of your own drum, and the less you care what others who are not on your journey think, the more your drive and direction will steer towards the goals of your choosing.

Statements throughout history depict this concept some of my favorites have been posted below for you to review.

Confucious- “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

Preston Ely (Real Estate Guru)- “You need to follow your passion”, “The gifts that you have are supposed to be used, you're going to have a very awkward conversation when you leave this world if you don't use your gifts”

Earl Nightingale: “We are at our very best, and we are happiest when we are fully engaged in work we enjoy on the journey toward the goal we've established for ourselves. It gives meanting to our time off and comfort to our sleep. It makes everything else in life so wonderful, so worthwhile.

Jeffrey Gitomer: When you're on this journey, it may (at times) seem a little silly. This is a natural feeling. Stick with it. Hang in there. Let idiots and zealots go their own way. You're on a mission. Let nothing or no one get in your way.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Your Wedding......There's an "App" for that!

    Wedding Party App - Check it out at https://www.weddingpartyapp.com/
     
Have you checked out Wedding Party?

No, I'm not asking about your Wedding Party specifically, but I'm actually referring to the app. You know the old saying “There's an App for that”?, We'll of course the concept of “Wedding Planning” applies to that statement as well, and the best “application” Top Notch has found for new brides and grooms to utilize in assisting them with their wedding planning projects is appropriately titled “Wedding Party”. 

So, just what is “Wedding Party”? The application allows for many useful and fun tools that your potential guests can employ in regards to your wedding. The application allows invitations to be sent via test message or email to your guests, manage schedules of those involved as well as the event, and the application allows your guests who intend on arriving to “join” your wedding party event so they are therefore kept up to date with any changes or additions the bride and groom make to the event.
Lastly, Wedding Party allows you to skip the Instagram hashtag (for those guests who perhaps are still using just facebook), so all guests can simply share pics from the wedding directly onto the Wedding Party app for all to see! 

The application is available for all Iphone and Android users and is very easy to use! Looking for a 1 stop, easy event planner to bring all of your guests in tune and involved in the wedding planning stages of your “Big Day”? Yep, there's an app for that! Top Notch can't recommend a better application for the job than “Wedding Party”. Make sure to share this with any future brides and grooms that you may know that are getting married, they will most likely thank you for the advice.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Should you Hire the DJ for the Wedding Rehearsal?


    
     Let's face it, the Disc Jockey is the entertainment for the reception aka the after party after the “I DO's” are said and the ceremony has concluded. However, it's certainly not uncommon for the DJ to provide music during the ceremony. In fact, Top Notch this year alone, has provided music for the ceremony and reception for nearly 85% of the weddings that have been serviced. With that being said, one very large factor determines the smoothness and flow of your wedding ceremony, and that essential element is timing. Granted, organization, communication and a mutual understanding regarding what music or songs to play and at what time's play a large factor during the ceremony as well, however, TIMING is the most essential aspect at play. If you are planning on using your DJ for the ceremony as well as reception, it's a great idea to consider booking him or her during the rehearsal dinner, the night prior to your wedding day as well. Why do you ask? Top Notch has outlined 4 BIG REASONS below...

  1. It allows your DJ to rehearse with you, and any additional parties such as wedding vendors, venue owners, etc that may be involved in the ceremony on your wedding day. This allows the bride and groom to also practice live to the music repeatedly until it's perfected before the ceremony. As stated prior, timing can play a major factor concerning when to play the appropriate songs during this crucial part of the event, having your DJ available to assist you and your bridal party in hashing out any timing dilemmas well before guests arrive and the actual event takes place is a huge advantage for you and him.
  2. Any last minute questions can be addressed. With the DJ available on site during the rehearsal any inquiries regarding song selections, sound equipment, set up, etc can be addressed and solved.
  3. Meet and Greet- A DJ present during the rehearsal allows him or her to meet the bridal party, family of usually the bride and groom, and often the other wedding vendors prior to the wedding day. Resultantly, on your Big Day, your DJ isn't necessarily a stranger. Which leads me to reason #4
  4. Comfortability, Confidence and Peace- If the to 3 reasons are all addressed, rehearsal is complete, all questions have been answered and your DJ has met the “key players” in the wedding the day before the actual event, there is a sense of ease, of peace and confidence that will be with not only you and your bridal party but also him or her as the DJ.
Ultimately, depending on your budget as well the importance of how smooth you desire your ceremony to flow will determine if the DJ is used for the rehearsal. Top Notch does offer rehearsal services for bride and grooms when possible, therefore this blog post is speaking from first hand experience. Should you consider hiring a Dj for your wedding rehearsal? If your DJ is servicing your ceremony, why would you not?

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Searching for Contemporary Song Selections for the Bridal Procession?


(picture taken from Brian & Kristin Blonk's Wedding- July 2014)


     Looking for something nontraditional to be played for your wedding Ceremony? No need to worry, today we focus on just that! It's becoming more and more less popular to walk down the aisle to the traditional “Bridal March”. With so many additional songs that may more appropriately express the words that you would like for your guests to hear as your bride and bridal party walk down the aisle, the classic wedding ceremony selections, are now seldom chosen by brides to be played during the ceremony. Top Notch recently held a consultation where the bride was “stuck in the middle”, meaning she knew she did not want the traditional wedding ceremonial songs, but was completely clueless on other options that could be played for her wedding procession. No need to fear, Top Notch is HERE! Actually, a great resource for choosing great, modern wedding processional songs can be found in the Popsugar article listed below. In fact, the site shares 50 of the most popular songs chosen recently to walk down the aisle. Reviewing 50 song selections, can take up some time. Therefore, Top Notch has viewed the article repeatedly, and opted to share, what I think, may be the Top 15 songs chosen by Brides recently to walk down the aisle. They are as follows.

  1. Christina Perri'- “A Thousand Years”
  2. Israel Kamakawiwo'ole - “Somewhere over the Rainbow”
  3. The Piano Guys- “Just the Way You Are” (and there version of “A Thousand Years”, the selection mentioned above are both extremely popular”
  4. Train- “Marry Me”
  5. Ed Sheeran- “Thinking Out Loud
  6. Jason Mraz- “Lucky”
  7. Ingrid Michaelson- “Can't Help Falling In Love”
  8. Jeff Buckley- “Hallelujah”
  9. Lifehouse-”You and Me”
  10. Adele- “To Make You Feel My Love”
  11. Vitamin String Orchestra- “Use Somebody” (originally written by Kings of Leon)
  12. Glen Hansard- “Falling Slowly”
  13. Sigur Ros- “Hoppipola”
  14. Ellie Hollis- “Rather Be” (originally written by Clean Bandits)
  15. Bright Eyes- “First Day of My Life”

The article in it's entirety can be found at http://www.popsugar.com/entertainment/Wedding-Processional-Songs-34604637#photo-34604637. Additionally, many of the song selections listed can be found in instrumental formats from such bands as “The Vitamin String Orchestra”, “The Piano Guys”, The Dallas String Orchestra” and more. I encourage all brides to attempt to search for various instrumental versions of their favorite songs, if the actual versions with lyrics, drums, etc is too intense in fitting the theme of your ceremony.

On another note, Top Notch has seen a large majority of the selections mentioned above chosen for First Dance songs as well. Hmmm...perhaps I may have to follow up with First Dance songs”Top Chosen First Dance Songs” for next weeks post. Until then Top Notch partiers.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Invite Your Guests with Social Media!





Top Notch has seen the following scenario all too many times.

The party was planned, Top Notch was booked as the DJ, decorations were hung, and the venue was reserved; yet the day of the party, the guests count that arrives is extremely low. It's an unfortunate situation, especially when the anticipation for the event is huge! Furthermore, when one is planning a party and the “lack of guests” factor is present, the event can often turn into more of a small get together or hang out rather than a fun, successful event. This scenario does happen on occasions, often times involving teenager events such as Sweet 16's quinceaneras, or graduation parties. Below, Top Notch provides 5 creative, and effective ways to invite friends to your next party or event that are worth considering

  1. Social Media Flyer- Notice that I did not say “ post a flyer”. In today's modern times, hard copy invitations are not necessarily needed. What IS NECESSARY, is plenty of advanced time to spread the word to your guests about your party. A social media flyer provides an image that your guests can not only remember and relate to your event, but they can also share the image on their social media sites as well which helps “spread the news” and ultimately, hopefully create a buzz about your event. Creating an event on facebook and inviting your closest friends a few days before the party, WILL NOT ALWAYS WORK. Facebook's event invite should be only one tool used for the party, along with all other social media resources such as twitter, instagram, email, etc. A great resource for creating fun and attractive flyers is postermywall.com. It is important to make sure your flyer fits the theme of the party as well. 


  2. Invite your guests with a twist- They know your having a party, clearly your invitation and flyer tells them so. Including something either mysterious or benefitting to your guests can make them curious and prone to RSVP early. Methods of doing this include mentioning a surprise guests appearance, a surprise event during the party or even simply a prize or large favor will may be distributed to a lucky guests that arrives. Tricks such as these are very common to use at holiday parties, (ie. A surprise visit by our CEO or local celebrity, a live performance by a well known co worker or raffle drawing for a 50 inch plaza will be taking place) are all common methods used, however, I see them used very infrequently for other parties or events. They get guests involved, and guests become curious, and therefore want to come to your party to see exactly what the “surprise” that you're promoting is all about. 


  3. Ask a question- Similar to tip #2, this tip is also a fantastic way to get your guests involved in the party planning stages so that they feel they are a part of the event even before they arrive. When inviting your guests, it may be effective to asks your guests certain inquiries such as “What Songs would you like the DJ to play for you while you're here?”, Would you like to see (insert well known guests, popular co worker, or student's name here) do the moon walk or do an Elvis impersonation”, Would you like soda or punch to drink when you arrive” “if you could name one activity or fun thing you would like to do at the event, what it would be?” are all questions that could potentially involve guests, resultantly making them feel a part of the event and compelled to come. 


  4. Create a Website- Does this sound a little far fetched? It's not. Thanks to various resources like Godaddy, Wix and Weebly, websites can be created for less than $10, and take very little time to create. A website not only allows a place on the net for you to share your party announcement, flyer and invitation (which you've created using tip 1), but also allows you to share a link that you can spread all over the net. Furthermore, if you, the planner have taken the time to create a flyer as well as a website for the event, then it gives off the impression to your guests that your event is a BIG DEAL, which they don't want to miss! Similar to the flyer in tip 1, make sure to continue to share your website link all over your social media sites so that friends, family, and followers can see the event you're planning. 


  5. Use the hashtag- Prior to the event, encourage your guests to share their pictures and experience on social media concerning your party. Methods of doing this involve, sharing the link of your website and flyer on their social media sites, using the hashtag (the #) sign on facebook, instagram and twitter, and “tagging” your name on their status updates on facebook. I've even seen some go as far as creating a Youtube video to remind their friends and guests of their party. If your guests are using the hashtag the morning of the event with posts such as “prepping up for “#Kaylassweet16” it's an automatic sign that they'll be present. Furthermore, that hashtag just told all of your friends followers that he or she will be present at your party (which assisted you in spreading the word). Encourage your guests to use the hashtag method heavily the week prior to the event, as this will create a “buzz” on your social media sites that may sway potential guests into coming.

The key in all aspects of social media invitations is being early. Be on the forefront of sharing and promoting all of the materials mentioned above (flyer, website, invitations, etc) and guests will have your party date ingrained in their minds by the time the day of your event arrives. Begin creating and sharing these materials approximately 45-60 days before the event. It's important to keep in mind that everyone is busy in today's society. The earlier your anticipated guests are made aware of your event, the likely your chances are that they will be present and not busy with other plans. Lastly, make it fun! Have fun creating and planning your party. By getting your guests involved in the planning stages of your event, creating a flyer and utilizing the strategies mentioned above, your party or event will be a huge success for you, as well as all of the guests involved, and you will have the social media results (the instagram album, hashtag, etc) to show it!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Why Doesn't Top Notch Specialize in Weddings?



Recently during a consultation a “groom to be” asked me “How many weddings does Top Notch normally work per year?” The question posed was quite logical, as I understood he basically was attempting to gather the amount of experience Top Notch has involving the wedding industry. Furthermore, the grooms inquiry is a common question that I receive on a frequent basis. My answer in this particular scenario seemed to take this specific couple off guard. “There are roughly 52 weeks and weekends in a year, Top Notch normally works between 20-30 weddings a year” I stated. Granted, some years Top Notch works more, but never less than 20. I went on to explain my reasoning behind my answer to the couple, which is very simple, I enjoy a variety, and desire to DJ an array of diverse events. If I devote all of my time every weekend to weddings, then 2 things happen,

  1. Top Notch obviously has less time to devote to other events such as Proms, Sweet 16's, Birthday Parties, Graduation Parties, Holiday events, etc. Which as a result leads to
  2. A slower growth in Top Notch becoming a well rounded, versatile DJ.

Reason number 2, is reason #1 for me personally. If my time is spent less at other events, resultantly, I become less and less familiar with the music to play at these events. Sweet 16 guests for example, will know and request songs that are on the cutting edge. Often times these teenagers will know songs before they are even released to radio. A good DJ not only is up to date on this current music, but knows what to play and when to keep the party moving smoothly. I know from personal experience, after taking some time away from a certain event, it can often be challenging to recall what song selections work flawlessly in keeping guests on the dance floor. As with any thing in life, if you step away or pause from doing something for too long, you become out of practice. Top Notch strives to be....well...Top Notch. That means versatile, yet entertaining for all events! Ultimately, I've also learned that striving to be a well rounded DJ has benefited me tremendously at weddings, simply because no wedding is ever the same. When shopping for a DJ, experience is important, but so is versatility. There are a multitude of “Wedding DJ's” advertising online. They'll play the cupid shuffle, they'll play your first dance song, and they'll be professional and dress accordingly, but when it's really time to dance and party is your DJ prepared to play more than the basic wedding clichés (YMCA, Shout, Brickhouse, etc)? Make sure they have the music knowledge to keep your guests on the dance floor! Does Top Notch “Specialize” in Weddings? Absolutely! But, are wedding events, our only specialty? NO WAY!

I explained the above dialogue and reasoning (in a more shortened version) to the couple as they sat in front of me to assure them that Top Notch has plenty of experience deejaying weddings. The conclusion; they understood completely. In fact, they made the decision to use Top Notch for their wedding which will be taking place in just a few months. Look for a post regarding their wedding and a mention of this blog in September on the facebook page. In the mean time, thanks for reading and have a great rest of the week guys!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Top Songs for Your July 4th Party Play list!




July 4th is almost here! As you're gearing up for your celebrations, whether that be a cookout, pool party, or beach/lake gathering, you may need some July 4th tunes to play for the day. Top Notch has got you covered! Top Notch has deejayed countless July 4th parties, so many in fact that I've composed 2 list here, depending on the theme, the message and the age of music you're desiring to play for your event. Yes, there is a “generic” list of patriotic, July 4th songs that is available on many sites, including Spotify and more, however, not all songs necessarily apply to the concepts of freedoms nor patriotism that one may hope to hear at a July 4th party, (for example, many July 4th play lists may include “Independence Day” by Martina Mcbride, but did you know that song is actually about domestic abuse, not necessarily about America's great birthday). 
     In contrast, others simply desire to hear fun, contemporary songs that include the words “America”, aka Tom Petty's “American Girl”, Phil Vassar's “American Child”, Miley Cyrus's “Party in the USA”. Therefore, below are 2 list, one for the top 10 most patriotic songs that Top Notch recommends for a July 4th party, as well as a Top 10, fun, contemporary list. Please note, the below songs are usually the most requested, and most popular songs Top Notch is asked to play at past events, not necessarily my personal recommendation of the best July 4th songs to play. Feel free to check out the list below, and even mix song selections from both lists together for your playlist this July 4th

     As always, thanks for reading and whatever you do to celebrate Independence Day, be safe, have fun and make sure to take a moment to reflect on the reasons for this holiday.

Happy Birthday America!!

Top 10 Patriotic Songs recommended by Top Notch-

  1. Lee Greenwood- “God Bless the USA”
  2. Ray Charles- “America, the Beautiful”
  3. Bruce Springsteen- “Born in the USA
  4. Celine Dion- “God Bless America”
  5. Jimi Hendrix- “Star Spangled Banner
  6. Neil Diamond- “Coming to America”
  7. Toby Keith- “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue
  8. Aaron Tippin- “Stars and Stripes and Eagles Fly
  9. Brooks and Dunn- “Only in America”
  10. John Mellencamp- “Pink Houses”

Top 10 Current/Contemporary and Fun songs relevant to Independence Day

  1. Miley Cyrus- “Party in the USA”
  2. Katy Perry- “Firework”
  3. Taio Cruz- “Dynamite”
  4. Kid Rock- “Born Free”
  5. James Brown- “Living in America”
  6. John Mellencamp- “ROCK in the USA”
  7. Lenny Kravitz- “American Woman”
  8. Tom Petty- “American Girl”
  9. Three Doors Down- “Citizen Soldier”
  10. Kim Wilde – “Kids in America” (made popular by The Muffs from the movie Clueless)

Other jams that did not make the Top 10 include
  • Lady Antebellum-” American Honey”
  • John Mellencamp- “This is Our Country”
    -Rick Derringer- “I Am a Real American” (Hulk Hogan theme song)
    -Demi Lovato- “Made in the USA”
    - Grand Funk Railroad- “We're an American Band
    - Billy Ray Cyrus- “Some Gave All”
    -Martina Mcbride- “Independence Day”
    -Phil Vassar- “American Child”
    -Johnny Cash- “Old Ragged Flag”
    -Don McClean- “American Pie” 
    -Creedence Clearwater Revival- "Born on the Bayou" 
     

Thursday, June 25, 2015

5 Activities to Make Your Pool Party Rock!!


It's time for your Pool Party!! You've got your basis covered including music (hopefully you've hired Top Notch DJ Service or a recommended DJ vendor), you've got your refreshments ready, and perhaps there are even balloons and decorations that have been placed around the venue. This is destined to be a great time for your guests, after all, food, music, and swimming and good conversation is a blast in it's own right? And what about the kids? Did you consider any activities or games to keep them occupied and for them to play? This is 2015, they expect something more than just Marco and Polo. If you're answer to the above is “No” or “we'll, I'm sure they'll be fine”, let Top Notch recommend a few “HIT” games that is provided our pool parties that are ALWAYS a hit. Top Notch strives to go beyond the basic pool games, such as “biggest splash”, water relay”, “penny diving” or “boogie board races”. See below for Top Notch's favorite pool side games.

  1. Water Balloons- Water Balloon toss is always a blast. At times, for the younger children, Top Notch may even play an advanced game of “Hot Potato” with a water balloon, which consists of participants passing the water balloon in a circle rapidly and when the music stops, the person holding the water balloon is out. Top Notch also plays a water balloon relay outside of the pool area when there is space and time allows as well.
  2. Dance Games- Of course, Top Notch provides plenty of Dancing and musical games at all pool events including Freeze Dance (guests must stop dancing when the music halts, anyone who continues to move is out), Musical Chairs, Simon Says, Dancing Contest, and Huggy Bear (guests dance and when the music stops the DJ mentions a number, contestants must get in groups of that number and those not in groups within the time limit are out)
  3. Hula Hoops- Hula Hoops go with a Pool Party, like Ham goes in Mac n Cheese, it just works! Guests always enjoy showing off their Hula Hoop skills at Pool Party events, and a Hula Hoop contest (to determine which guests can Hula Hoop the longest) is always an easy game to “break the ice” at a party. Along with Hula Hoop contests, Top Notch uses the Hula Hoops as props for a game called “Thread the Needle”(see picture below) and also utilizes the Hula Hoops for Scavenger Hunt games as well.


  4. Scavenger Hunt- Top Notch puts a twist on this old game, by placing a limit of ONLY 5 participants per game. I've found this makes the activity challenging for those involved. Furthermore, the quantity of each item hidden decreases after each round of the scavenger hunt making only 2 contestants available in search of the final item in the last round, and resulting in a final winner.
  5. Sidewalk Chalk- Top Notch utilizes sidewalk chalk in a contest at nearly every event. I've found Sidewalk Chalk is not only a great, inexpensive item that provides for a great contest with guests at Pool Parties, but also, its an item that can often be left behind for fellow pool guests to play with after the games and even party is over. Top Notch has been known to hold drawing contests requesting participants to either draw personal pictures of me deejaying, and even my “dancing accompanied friend, Riley”. The resulting pictures are entertaining for most adults as well.

The majority of the above mentioned activities can also be played at Cook outs, Neighborhood Block Parties or any additional style of social gatherings or get togethers that is taking place outdoors. Top Notch usually does have a number of additional activities including stickers or tattoo giveaways, Limbo contests, etc. All Top Notch pool parties include props for each game as well as prizes. For additional activities or games, feel free to send an email to topnotchdjservice@gmail.com. Enjoy the Summer guys!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Afraid Something Could Go Wrong? Here's some peace of mind....

Worried something could go wrong at your event? Yeah, it could. Chances are, you know your guests better than any of your vendors, and you know their tendencies and actions in certain environments. Are they wild when around alcohol? Could your party get out of hand? Are you for some reason, a little hesitant in trusting one of your vendors? Did you know for any of the above mentioned risks, Travelers Insurance (and other carriers) offer Event and Wedding Insurance? It's usually cheap, easy to purchase and can protect you from the money you could lose from a cancellation or postponement of your event due to unforeseen circumstances. Depending on the importance of the event (such as a wedding), the cost of the event and the many factors involved (vendors, weather, venue, etc) an insurance policy may be a very wise item to purchase to help bring peace of mind, as well as protect your budget throughout the event planning process. A wedding policy for example, may reimburse you if you lose your non refundable deposits due to circumstances beyond your control. Say your wedding is postponed due to a commercial transportation failure aka Mother of the Bride is not present at the event, an unexpected death occurs in the family of either the bride or groom and there can even be coverage for catastrophic weather (aka if your ceremony and or reception is taking place on the beach or outside) as well as coverage for the honeymoon. In most cases that Top Notch has seen in the past, Wedding Liability or Event Liability insurance is highly suggested, especially if your event is taking place at an expensive or nice venue. Inevitably, in the near decade that Top Notch has been deejaying, it's fair to say that I have witnessed a multitude of unexpected, nonsensical, and absurd scenarios some which could have been avoided, others that were simply uncontrollable. If you know you're event is taking place at a highly valued, respected and/or expensive venue (let's say a museum) and you know Uncle Eddy might drink too much and could potentially bump into one of many exhibits of dinosaur fossils on display, than you undoubtedly should take out an event or wedding policy so to cover those potential risks. Each event is different, consequently budgets for events vary as well. Although It's always up to the customer in every case to determine if insurance is necessary for their event, Top Notch can certainly attest that it's at least a vital consideration for all, especially for any event with budgets over the $5,000 mark. For more information on event and wedding insurance you can check out https://www.travelers.com/personal-insurance/wedding-insurance/private-event-insurance.aspx or contact www.snotherlyinsurance.com or contact Top Notch for further information topnotchdjservice@gmail.com.


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Those pretty colored lights? What are they?


     

                                         (picture taken from a Top Notch event in April 2015)

“What can you tell me about your set up?” It's a common question, that I, as well as other DJ's are always used to answering, and it's one we're usually prepared to answer. In fact, 50-60% of the time this question is followed by “we'll what can you tell me about you're lights?” I know where the customer is going once a question in this format is received. They want to know not only about the party lights that Top Notch uses but also if the DJ service can offer “those cool lights that shine from the floor”, “you know the one's that you put all around the room”, or “their like spotlights but different colors and shine on the walls”. The term for these effect lights is known as “uplighting” or “wash lighting” and it's quite evident that they are growing more and more popular in the wedding scene. Although it is hard to tell if these items are simply a “trend” for today's weddings, they are repeatedly in high demand for not just weddings, but various events including banquets, proms, sweet 16's etc. The lights are usually placed on the floor and are projected on the wall to enhance the look of the venue and bring a certain touch of color or flare to the room. The colors of these lights can range from basic red, blue, yellow and green, to various colors such as teal, magenta, pink and more. Personally, I think uplighting is one of the best tools an event planner, DJ, or venue owner can use to decorate, and illuminate a venue. The glow of a few uplight's can truly beautify the mood and atmosphere of a venue. Although many venues now offer uplighting as part of their decorating service prior to an event. Top Notch does have the capability or providing this service to our clients as well. “Can you provide those colored lights that face up towards the ceiling?”, No matter, how the question is posed, the answer is “YES”. Top Notch can handle that.

NOTE: For those considering uplighting or lighting and effects rentals. Top Notch highly recommends vividlightingnc.com The owner is extremely professional, knowledgeable, and can irradiate a room pretty quickly as well. Bottom line: These guys are impressive!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

You Have to Let Go, In order to Grow


      Oh, “big boys and their toys”, “guys and their gear”. It's an interesting concept that I imagine goes hand in hand with girls and their shoes. We can become somewhat sentimental of our so called “toys” at times, as each item serves a memory. Our toys may remind us of where we've been, our accomplishments or uses with that piece of gear and even the state of mind or life situation we were in while we were using that piece of equipment. The memories make us grow fond of the material items. Just a forewarning to all....“Big boys and their toys” is the focus of todays topic. Although I strive for the majority of the post on this blog to provide DJ and event planning tips, advice, and thoughts, I found myself feeling a bit sentimental today and felt compelled to share.

      Today Top Notch actually sold the original speakers, amplifier and basic gear that got this company started. Yes, I realize some of you may be thinking “Oh, it's just a pair of speakers”, HOWEVER, this gear has been amazingly reliable, meanwhile delivering exceptional quality for over the last 11 years. As the DJ business has grown I have found myself moving more towards powered, more light weighted speakers as well as gear that provides more power and sound. Considering the fact 2 of the last 4 events that Top Notch has deejayed has been for crowds of 700 +, I found it necessary to simply let go of this gear so more room and space could be provided for bigger, larger equipment. As I sold the JBL speakers and Mackie Mixer I couldn't help but to reflect on the many years of performing, of deejaying, of various towns and venues me and this specific equipment have been through. Very few people know this, but the gear was actually acquired, after I held a music, local band showcase for the band Parmalee in Raleigh. A member of the band, sent me a list of the equipment they used for the show and I immediately went out and purchased the set up weeks later (thank you Visa). 

      However, I realized that as a business and in life, sometimes you have to let go in order to grow. In life, we should be consistently growing, consistently learning and changing for the better. We should always be moving forward. In order for this to occur, we must let go of old ideas, past experiences, and for me, old things, that are no longer needed. Top Notch looks forward to the future, to newer and larger events, and (yes) newer equipment to fulfill all of my customers and their guests sound, volume and clarity expectations. So long JBL's, it has been quite a journey together. Thank you to my loyal readers and customers for your continued business and support, especially those repeat clients who have used my services continuously for many years aka since the days I was using this gear. I am so very grateful! 

 


PS: For those interested, the speakers have been purchased by the owner of Chevy's at Watergreen in Apex and will be serving as the bars main sound equipment for live bands, house music and karaoke. I understand the bar will be open by next Friday (June 5th) so make sure to check them out here!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

When You Say "I DO" Let Your Guests Hear it Too

(picture above taken from Kayelily Middleton's "Raleigh Wedding Blog")



     The title of today's post may sound like an obvious statement, but is necessary to mention as 35% of weddings that I see recently neglect to “mic” the bride and groom, and therefore their vows and words during the ceremony are unfortunately not heard. Top Notch is in fact guilty of deejaying numerous wedding ceremonies in the past that have contained this scenario and this past weekend's wedding of Sean and Nina was no exception. During the consultation, the bride and groom had mentioned that a wireless microphone for the officiant to use as well as themselves, may or may not be needed depending on the size of the ceremony room, the depth and volume of the officiants voice as well as the number of guests attending the event. Providing a microphone for the ceremony was a topic that we opted to “play by ear”, agreeing that it would be available if needed. Top Notch has found myself in this situation a number of times, and when the “Big Day” arrives, the officiant make's the decision to not use the available microphones. I hear statements repeatedly such as “I think my voice is pretty loud”, “this is a small space so my voice should carry” and “I just don't think that a mic is necessary, It should be a brief ceremony and I'll talk loud”, etc. This past weekend's wedding of Sean and Nina was a mirrored image of the above scenario, and an ultimate learning lesson for Top Notch which I have felt compelled to share with all. A microphone was not used for the ceremony. The officiant did great and his voice carried excellent so that all guests including me (at the back to the room) could hear him, BUT (and this is a big BUT) because no microphones were set up, the exchanging of vows between the bride and groom could not be heard. Now, I'm somewhat of a perfectionists, and I do feel that many guests (most likely 85%) could hear the words “I Do”, however, chances are if the DJ cannot hear the bride and groom speak from the back of the venue, than other guests may have a hard time hearing the exchanging of vows as well. Allowing the option for a microphone to be used during the ceremony was
the WRONG DECISION on Top Notch's part and has been a lesson learned for future weddings! The whole wedding is about 2 critical words, “I DO”. Not insuring that all guests can hear these words serves only a disservice to attendees. The decision should not boil down to the opinion of the officiant, but be determined by the Dj or sound guy. As the saying goes, you live, you learn and in regards to this subject, the lesson has been learned and duly noted.