Archive for Party Machine

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.

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!

Hawaiian Punny-moon!

Posted in Weddings! with tags , , , , , , on February 2, 2010 by djscottshirley

One of my favorite Party Machine wedding clients recently honeymooned on the Hawaiian island of Maui, and sent this picture:

Read it out loud!

Thanks to Jim and Jane Cronkhite for this one! They visited the island shortly after the President, who was there to celebrate a Maui Christmas.

This one is for all our punster Party Animals.

Wedding Cake Disaster

Posted in Let them eat cake!, Weddings! with tags , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2010 by djscottshirley

It was going to be a great reception at River Crest Country Club in Fort Worth. The weather was beautiful, providing a great view to the east from the upstairs ballroom.

The House Manager spoke with us as we were setting up our Party Machine sound system. He was shocked by the wedding cake that was just delivered, a bizarre creation of multiple cakes on stilts, connected by plastic stairways, with a cheesy plastic fountain under the center cake. The manager said it was the tackiest cake he had ever seen.

I had seen some exotic cakes before, but this one was truly weird. It was Barbie’s Dream House meets “Chutes and Ladders.”

Nevertheless, the reception went well, and everything was proceeding according to plan – at least until a large woman stumbled backwards into the cake table.

You guessed it: the stairs came a-tumbling down, and the fountain made a huge mess.

The manager happened to be on our stage when it happened, but instead of being upset, he was delighted! He made a quick call on his cellphone, and the staff had the mess cleared away before many people noticed. And a beautiful cake suddenly appeared in place of the bizarre Stairway to Heaven cake.

Sometimes a disaster can be a blessing in disguise.

There’s no accounting for taste – but it can be improved!

For funny bad taste, visit the Tacky Weddings website.

Party Machine Wins Bride’s Choice Award Again!

Posted in Professionalism, Weddings! with tags , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2010 by djscottshirley

Fort Worth, Texas – January 19, 2010 – WeddingWire, the nation’s leading wedding technology company, just announced Party Machine Entertainment has been selected to receive the 2010 Bride’s Choice Awards™ for DJ Entertainment, Ceremony Music, and Videography!

The annual Bride’s Choice Awards™ recognizes and celebrates excellence in quality and service within the wedding industry, as determined by recent reviews and extensive surveys from over 500,000 newlyweds.

“This award is a special honor, because it is based on good reviews from past clients,” says Party Machine owner and Entertainment Director Scott Shirley. “This award represents lots of happy customers!”

Party Machine Entertainment is among the top five percent of all vendors in the WeddingWire community, which includes over 100,000 wedding professionals across the US and Canada. Awards were given to winners across 19 different service categories, from wedding venues to wedding photographers.

“We are excited to recognize and honor the success of the top wedding professionals within the WeddingWire Community” said Timothy Chi, WeddingWire’s Chief Executive Officer. “The annual Bride’s Choice Awards™ program has given us the unique opportunity to highlight the best wedding professionals in each region as reviewed by brides and grooms who have utilized their services in the past year.”

We are happy to announce that Party Machine Entertainment is among the very best Wedding DJ/MC Services within the WeddingWire Network, which includes WeddingWire and Martha Stewart Weddings. We would like to thank our past newlyweds for nominating us for the 2010 Bride’s Choice Awards™.

This makes our third consecutive year for this award.

Let Your True Colors Show!

Posted in Cool Lighting, DJ Stuff with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 13, 2010 by djscottshirley

Some of my favorite modern technology has to be LED lighting, which makes it easy to make lights shine in any color you wish. It is simple to totally transform the look of any room, or even outdoor spaces.

We can “Light The Night” in your favorite color, your school colors, or your wedding colors.

So it was no problem at all when Tara Eckelkamp handed me a ribbon, and asked me to light her ballroom the same color as the ribbon at her wedding to Jeff Hackney.

The ribbon could best be described as a reddish maroon color, rather like a red wine, only a bit redder. (I have always believed that naming paint colors would be the ultimate lazy man’s job.)

The individual LEDs in modern stage lights are red, blue or green, and they combine, exactly the way your color TV screen does, to render any of 16 million different colors.

The intensity of RBG can be adjusted to blend colors, using either a simple fader control, or with sophisticated computer software. Tara’s mother, Sherry dashed into the ballroom to approve the color match. With a single click, it was perfect – just like the ribbon!

Tara Hackney dances with dad Hugo Eckelkamp with the room bathed in lights in her Bridal Color. NOTE: Camera flash makes the colors appear lighter.

The “old school” method was to place a colored gel on a light. But stage lights get hot, and gels can burn and colors fade, not to mention that the gel must be changed to alter the light’s color. And to have lots of colors available meant maintaining a huge inventory of gels.

Plus the old incandescent lights got hot enough to cook on, and consumed lots of power. A separate electrical circuit was required for every 3 or 4 stage lights. This meant extra power supplies (and extra charges) at many venues, while making such lighting impractical or even impossible at others.

A modern LED Par light can generate the same output on 15 watts that required 400 watts on the old school lights. This eliminates complexity, cost, and saves electricity. We even have portable Party Machine power supplies and control receivers, making them wireless!

But it also opens the door to a whole new realm of creativity in decorating with light…and at a lower cost. Because they don’t get hot, they can even be used on ice sculpture!

The possibilities are exciting.

I have seen the light!

Give me a call at 817-294-9539 to discuss decorating with light.