Archive for Dallas Wedding Dj

Equal Time for Okies

Posted in College Traditions, Let them eat cake!, Weddings! with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 10, 2010 by djscottshirley

Everyone’s getting into the act!

It’s safe to say there has been a Groom’s Cake for every major university.

Here is an entry for all you Oklahoma fans:

Sooners want in on the college cake trend too!

The DJ’s Daughter

Posted in Weddings! with tags , , , , , , , , on November 8, 2010 by djscottshirley

A recent FaceBook post from our friends at the Adolphus Hotel brought back a great memory.

As Thanksgiving approached 21 years ago, I was the DJ for a wedding at the Adolphus, the day after my first daughter Lauren was born. I hated leaving her and Mom behind, but Party Machine duty called.

The couple’s first dance song was “The Bluest Eyes in Texas.” I could not hold back tears, since I had just seen the bluest eyes in Texas when I met my firstborn child! Only a father could understand that feeling.

This summer The Party Machine did a large wedding with a full crew at the Adolphus, and my daughter, by then a 20-year-old Film student at TCU, worked with me as a camera operator and video editor.

The Party Machine crew at the Adolphus. Lauren is the girl with the bluest eyes in Texas.

Tomorrow Lauren turns 21 – “all growed up,” and the bluest eyes in Texas are haunting me tonight! We have much to be thankful for.

Not Only Big, But Talented!

Posted in Texas Aggie Weddings, Weddings!, Weird Things at Parties with tags , , , , , , , on February 23, 2010 by djscottshirley

One of my favorite events in recent memory was Bill and DeeDee Whittle’s wedding at the Petroleum Club of Fort Worth. Loyal Blog readers may remember DeeDee for being child number 18 out of 20 siblings in the Jack Joachim family.

Not only was this family big, but there was plenty of talent to go around on both sides, and the wedding guests were the beneficiaries.

I introduced Bill and DeeDee as they made their Grand Entrance to thunderous applause, and walked onto the dance floor. But instead of beginning their first dance, DeeDee grabbed a microphone and sang “Wedding Bell Blues” with custom lyrics to her new husband Bill.

We specialize in doing unique Grand Entrances when we introduce the wedding party, but it’s rare to have a singing bride. And there was an issue with the song, because the woman singing is sad that Bill refuses to marry her. DeeDee re-wrote the lyrics to say, “So Glad You Married Me, Bill,” and I made her an edited background track with vocals removed. This bit of showbiz prep was well worth the effort. DeeDee (whose given name is Mary, but she says she didn’t find out until she was 12) has a magnificent voice, and belted it out with style and grace.

The reception events continued as planned, and after dinner it was Bill’s turn to entertain. He sings in the Sentimental Journey quartet, and the other three singers were all present, so…

Rocky Willett, H J Schmidt, Doug Williamson, and Bill Whittle

Bill jokingly refers to the quartet as “The Four Stages of Male Pattern Baldness,” and they sang the old doo-wop hit Blue Moon, also with modified lyrics. The harmony of barbershop singing required two men to keep repeating the two-note background chorus, which came out, “DeeDee, DeeDee, DeeDee.” The result was hilarious.

As their performance ended, a young boy came up to them with a request written on a napkin. H J said he wasn’t sure if they knew “Low” by Flo-Rida, but I did, so we kicked off the dancing and Shawty got low, low, low, low…and DeeDee showed ’em how it’s done.

But we’re still not done with this talented family, and the next generation got to strut their stuff when DeeDee’s son Joséph showed his Michael Jackson impression. You just have to see it:

That is DeeDee’s other son Mathias who tries to swipe the credit card. The two brothers are roommates at Texas A & M, and avoided discussing football after the Aggies got whooped earlier on the wedding day, but they seemed to enjoy themselves anyway. Special thanks to “Video Keith” Mathis for this footage, who also produced their photo montage.

I look forward to more fun events with this family!

Starting A New Wedding Tradition?

Posted in Weddings! with tags , , , , on February 23, 2010 by djscottshirley

We’ve all heard that a bride needs “Something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.”

By the end of her reception, Brooke Boucher Mielinski had collected a new set of bridal fashion accessories:

“Cellphone, toothpaste, toothbrush, napkin…I’m ready!”

Hey, a perfect smile like Brooke’s requires maintenance!

“Hey, Did Somebody Lose Fifty Bucks?”

Posted in Professionalism, Weddings!, Weird Things at Parties with tags , , , , on February 22, 2010 by djscottshirley

You never know what might happen at a Party Machine celebration.

We were doing a wedding at the beautiful Granbury Resort Conference Center. It was a great, fun event, everyone was dancing, laughing and having a great time, just as it should be.

Then I looked down at the floor and saw Ulysses S Grant staring back at me.

President Grant, my old friend!

That’s right, I found fifty bucks, literally at my feet!

Well, that could only mean someone else had dropped it, as it certainly wasn’t mine. And I knew that it was enough that they were going to miss it.

People lose things at parties all the time, and I am accustomed to being the “Lost and Found” department. As the man with the microphone, I frequently announce that we have found an earring or a cellphone, and it can be claimed at the DJ booth.

But fifty dollars in cash? There would be a stampede of liars, all claiming they had dropped it!

So what to do? I placed it in the drawer of my DJ booth, and figured either A) the money-loser would appear at some point, or B) I would give it to the host, who could return it later.

After two hours, event A happened. A young man who had been up earlier to make a request asked me, in a rather panicked voice, if I had found a fifty dollar bill. He was quite nervous.

I answered, “YES, I have! This is your lucky day,” and handed him the bill. His expression changed from fear and panic to joy, and he thanked me profusely!

About two minutes later I was cueing a song and felt a tug on my arm. I turned around, and a pretty young girl hugged me, thanking me for finding her lost birthday money, and returning it to her boyfriend.

It would have been worth giving them $50 of my own for that, even if I hadn’t found it!

Maybe someday after I earn my second million, I can do that sort of thing.

The Biggest Mistake Brides Make

Posted in Professionalism, Weddings! with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 15, 2010 by djscottshirley

We are a nation of shoppers. We are bombarded by advertising wherever we look, and are always hunting for the bigger and better deal. Entire TV networks exist just for shopping, along with eBay, Amazon, and a jillion other online shopping sites.

Technology allows us to shop 24/7 if we want to!

Most of us have gotten burned a time or two, by a product that did not live up to expectations, mis-representation, poor customer service, or even outright fraud.

In recent years it seems the laws against false advertising have been relaxed, along with other consumer protections. Caveat emptor applies more than ever.

So we are on guard, and tend to be a bit apprehensive as consumers; distrustful, even.

Planning your wedding, even under the best conditions, is stressful. For most brides, it is the biggest event you will ever plan, with the biggest budget.

So price matters.

The biggest mistake brides make is to ask about only price when choosing vendors. Party Machine Celebrations gets requests by e-mail daily, asking for prices, but without needed information such as the date, time, place, number of guests, or even the services wanted – and they don’t provide a callback phone number.

It’s as though they view DJ and MC service as a generic product where all providers are the same, and the only difference is price. Marketers call this a parity product. But nothing could be further from the truth! It is a talent-based service, and the talent and the services provided vary widely – and that is what brides need to know in order to compare value.

Some brides shop for Entertainment like they shop for milk!

It seems some brides are collecting a list of prices, and will only call to talk to the cheapest vendors.

This is a HUGE mistake, especially where talent is a factor. Such brides limit their choices to the vendors with the least experience by doing this, and experience is everything where weddings are concerned.

Entertainment is what “Makes or Breaks” the celebration! For better or worse, 80% of wedding guests say the entertainment is what they remember most.

The low bidder tends to be part-time, un-licensed and uninsured, with old used equipment from a pawn shop. Perhaps worst of all, with their minimal price, they tend to have a minimal approach to everything – no backup gear, no contingency plan for staffing or transportation, and no clue how to coordinate a reception.

But what is ironic about brides not wanting to call on the phone, is that, when hiring a Master of Ceremonies, don’t you want to hear how his voice sounds? This person will be hosting your big celebration – pick up the phone, call him and see how he sounds!

“But we have a tight budget!” I completely understand! Everyone does, and it’s very important to set and follow a realistic budget. (Many brides fail to do this.) Experienced professional wedding vendors will always work with brides to stay within a budget.

But looking for the lowest bidder for wedding services can often lead to disaster. We hear horror stories from brides all the time about bad vendors, and it’s always the low bidder. This is doubly true about entertainment vendors.

There is an old joke about an astronaut returning from space. In his final radio communication from Ground Control before the re-entry blackout, he is told to say a prayer, because he is riding in a tiny vehicle made up of 3 million component parts, “every one of them built by the lowest bidder.”

Early astronauts risked their lives in spacecraft built by the lowest bidder.

The lowest price is only a good deal when the products are the same – comparing apples to apples. I buy gasoline and most grocery items at the lowest cost I can find. For a wedding, perhaps tablecloths might fall into that category, but the reputation for service and reliability of the rental company can be critical.

It is almost always a disaster to choose an entertainer by price!

Brides call my office everyday and ask, “How much is it for ‘just a DJ’?” I have to tell them I really don’t know, because “just a DJ” is not the right thing to have for a wedding, and we never provide “just a DJ.”

Weddings are unique, once-in-your-life events that should be personalized to reflect the style and personality of the bride and groom and their families. An experienced, talented Master of Ceremonies who can direct the timeline and control the flow of events is what brides tell us they really want. And they want a reliable professional who knows what to do if Murphy’s Law attacks and something goes awry, so the reception will proceed smoothly, no matter what.

And they want an entertainer who can create a look and feel in the room, coordinating lighting with the decorations, and often providing sound reinforcement for live talent, and audio-visual support for video or a photo montage.

An amateur hobby DJ simply cannot provide that level of service.

A true professional will never be found on “Craig’s List.”

But the real irony is that professional entertainers don’t cost a lot more than the lowest price being advertised on the Internet, when comparing the same service.

Is it worth it? Well, I have over 2,000 clients who believe it is. I am happy to provide their names, with telephone and e-mail addresses, upon request. (We do not publish them online to protect their privacy.)

So, how does a bride avoid making this mistake? Check reputation and references, and pick up the phone and call! Hear what the voice sounds like, that will represent you and your family at the event. Make an appointment to meet your MC. None of these cost you anything. Then make the choice that you feel best about.

You will be surprised by the way top professionals are happy to work within your budget.

Party Machine Celebrations can be reached at 817-294-9539 to schedule an appointment at your convenience, day or night.

Disco Is Not Dead, It’s Middle Age Crazy!

Posted in Cool Lighting, Disco Nights!, DJ Stuff with tags , , , , , , , , on February 8, 2010 by djscottshirley

I was thrilled when my old DJ buddy Craige Bandy called and asked me to make his 50th birthday celebration into a full-blown Disco Party.

Is Disco Fever having a midlife crisis?

Blog readers may remember Craige as a former Party Machine DJ, who won an Emmy® Engineering Award last year for inventing a specialized camera device. Read about that here.

Craige and I met over 30 years ago in college, we both had fledgling mobile DJ businesses, and we both worked as night club DJs in some of the hottest clubs in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. When The Party Machine grew into a multi-system operation in 1979-80, Craige became our top guy.

The Disco craze was in full swing in our night club years. We lived it, and we know it well. So when Craige said he wanted a “70s Trash Disco” themed party when he turned 50, both of us clearly understood what that meant.

LOUD, with bass notes that you can feel. Sub-woofers that shake your bell-bottoms. Flashy. An amazing display of lighting would be required, with clouds of low-lying fog, and “Saturday Night Fever” showing on two big Plasma TVs. High-tech, but with a BIG mirror ball in the center of the room. And lots of sweaty people dressed in shiny polyester constantly dancing, with bad hair and bling.

And: Vinyl. That’s right, old-fashioned vinyl records, beat-mixed on turntables the Old Skool way.

The vinyl part was easy – I still have every record I ever owned, including all the Disco hits I played in clubs in the 70s and 80s, lovingly filed away in the Party Machine archives.

Even better, when one of the clubs where Craige and I both used to spin was turned into a Mexican restaurant, I ended up with the DJ Booth console, and it has lived in my attic for years. Getting it down, cleaning it, and installing first-class pro audio gear was not easy, but we had a Mission! Spinning for Craige’s birthday, with the same DJ Booth we used 30 years ago…well, it had to be done.

That's right, turntables and vinyl records!

TECHNO-BABBLE ALERT: For you DJs, audiophiles, and techno-geeks, we used original Technics SL-1200 Mk II turntables with a matched pair of Shure M44 cartridges and a Rane mixer, a DBX Driverack, QSC amplifiers and JBL MRX-Series main speakers and sub-woofers. Total system was 4,900 watts, but it was quite adequate for a crowd of 70 people, and crystal clear. In deference to modern technology, I did install a Denon HD-2500 controller in the booth – but we didn’t use it! And we had an Apple computer, with all music backed up on remote hard drives, and even on the iPhone. I confess to playing a couple of tunes on the laptop, but mostly I used it to search the BPM count on some of the records I had not played for 30 years!

Craige’s lovely wife Stasia put together a grand event, including planning the music playlists, which she does better than most of the top DJs I know. She knows her music!

The invitations emphasized that guests should dress “70s Trash Disco,” and the phones started ringing with costume buzz. Invitees received a small brown cardboard box in the mail, with funky disco lyrics scrawled on the sides, and inside was a written invitation, a party noisemaker horn, shiny confetti and a pair of miniature mirror balls, suitable for…wearing as bling! It was clear this was not intended as just another party, but to be a milestone in the lives of all in attendance.

And we planned a bit of showbiz razzle-dazzle, with “red carpet” photos of the costumed guests in the lobby (with a mirror ball, a glittery backdrop, and colored Disco lighting), and a cocktail hour in the bar of the Cowboys Golf Club. Guests would not enter the Disco Room until the “Reveal” moment. We had a separate wireless sound system with speakers in the bar and lobby areas, playing Stasia’s special cocktail hour mix.

The wall separating the bar and the ballroom had multiple doors in the center with smoked glass, so guests in the bar would see occasional flashes of moving light, enough to know there was a party next door.

The doors opened to the instrumental beginning of Heatwave’s “Groove Line,” and the polyester-clad guests poured in. When the bass riff kicked in, Craige and Stasia glided to the dance floor (as much as you can glide in platform shoes), and the crowd followed in a cloud of color-changing fog. Those who could not cram onto the packed dance floor were all dancing where they stood.

It was, in a word, perfect.

The energy level was at fever pitch all night, and we played an extra hour of disco hits before the staff said we had to shut down. So much great old music, so little time!

I forgot how much fun that was. I am ready to do it again, in about three weeks. Long live disco!

And Happy Birthday Craige. Let’s make this an annual event, if it can wait that long!