Archive for DJ Scott Shirley

Weird Ethnic Traditions, Part 1

Posted in Weddings!, Weird Things at Parties with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 1, 2010 by djscottshirley

One response to “What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen at a wedding?” This was the big question at the Southwest Entertainer’s Conference a few years ago.

I did a Peruvian wedding, and saw for the first time an Afro-Peruvian dance they call “the Alcatraz.” The bride had a napkin tucked into the sash of her gown, such that it resembled a tail. As she danced, a man followed behind her with a lighted candle, trying to light the napkin on fire. The bride’s goal was to shake her booty so fast that he couldn’t light her fire.

Here is a comical attempt at the Alcatraz I found on YouTube, using a Bic lighter.

I wonder if the classic Doors song “Light My Fire” was inspired by a Peruvian wedding?

Thirty-five years of the Party Machine has taught me to never assume I have seen everything! Somewhere, there is always something else that’s just plain weird.

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.

Froggy Went A-Courtin’

Posted in College Traditions, Let them eat cake!, Party Machine Sports, Weddings!, Weird Things at Parties with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 2, 2010 by djscottshirley

When I was asked to MC for the wedding reception of Robyn Hughes to Anthony Butorac, past President of the “HyperFrogs” fan club at Texas Christian University, I knew to expect a fun event. After setting the date and contracting with the Party Machine and their other vendors, Robyn and Anthony were disappointed to learn that their beloved Horned Frogs would be playing football on their wedding day! In fact, kickoff was scheduled for the same time their ceremony was to begin.

The current HyperFrogs leader was among the guests, and was not pleased about missing the game for a wedding. But it was too late to make changes, and this group was not about to punt! To provide some perspective for those unfamiliar with Horned Frog football, TCU had just won a conference championship after the best season since the 1930s last year, so to say that enthusiasm was running high would be an understatement.

Anthony's Groom's Cake featured the most unique mascot in college sports, the TCU Horned Frog.

Their wedding party was comprised of current TCU students and alumni, and so was the guest list. So I tracked the game online and announced real-time scores throughout the evening, starting as photos were being taken of the wedding party, when we learned that TCU was winning, 7-7. During photos the guests enjoyed cocktails on the new terrace of the beautifully remodeled Belltower Chapel in Fort Worth. Using our exclusive Party Machine wireless speaker systems, we were able to “beam” Robyn’s selection of elegant classical music outside during cocktail hour.

TCU students love beer almost as much as Frog football, so each guest table was named after a unique Beer label. Tables were released to pass through the buffet line by their brand of beer. And the guest favors were folding beer can Koozies with Robyn and Anthony’s special emblem, that matched their Gobo design on the floor:

Anthony and Robyn's monogram was projected in the center of the dance floor.

We were so confidant in TCU’s victory that night, we even scheduled a victory cheer on the written Party Machine event timeline for their reception! The University claims to have the oldest cheer in continuous use in all of college football, which the HyperFrogs, alumni, and current students demonstrated, followed by their Alma Mater:

The script was conveniently written on the back of the beer-label table tents, so that all the guests could read along:

Riff, Ram, Bah, Zoo!
Lickety, lickety, zoo, zoo!
Who wah, Wha Who!
Give ’em hell, TCU!

They don’t write ’em like that anymore.

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.