FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What kind of music do you play?
After viewing the other pages on this site, you will find that we play most styles of music and we have a huge repertoire. At any given event, the selections will be determined by the specific needs of our client for that occasion, and may encompass several styles. Another event may call for one specific style, like a Cinco de Mayo or St. Patrick's Day party. Sometimes a wedding might include a classical and/or religious service, a lounge style band for cocktails, a Buena Vista Social Club style Latin band for dinner, followed by a swing band for dancing, with a few Motown songs thrown in, not to mention requests. Anything is possible and we will work very closely with you to ensure that you get what you want. Our musicians are all full time professionals with fine training and years of experience in all styles. We don't play heavy metal, grunge, punk rock, or rap.
What about requests?
It is rare that we are unable to play a request. However there are some general guidelines that will help to ensure a successful party. A successful party will seem spontaneous and magical, as if there was no planning. It was just a natural consequence of the fact that your guests are swell people. Of course there is a great deal of planning; it just shouldn't show. If you have songs that carry special meanings for you or your loved ones, they will make excellent choices. You will probably select specific pieces for processionals, first dances, etc. The main thing is not to overdue it.
When we play for dances, concerts, or night club engagements, we will have a tightly written schedule of numbers to hold the audience's attention. But a society event isn't just about the band. People want to visit, eat, drink, and dance spontaneously, and they will have more fun if we respond to their moods, rather than trying to direct them. A successful party is much more than everybody staring at the band. Sometimes we need to provide the underscore.
We suggest you try to keep the number of specific titles under ten (or fewer), to allow for spontaneity. In addition, we will be making notes from our conversations, as we begin to know your tastes, and these will determine what we choose from, according to the mood of the party.
Finally, it's probably best not to announce that we take requests, as it can result in the highjacking of the party by your most boring guest. If we don't solicit requests, we tend to get appropriate ones, and if one of us knows it, we'll play it at once. We don't want to embarrass anybody.
Do you have a song list?
The musicians associated with Original Cast Productions have several hundred years of cumulative experience, and our library fills several rooms. If we published a list it would probably be as big as the phone book. We play all or nearly all of the songs on most song lists that we have seen. We will be compiling a sample assortment for this page in the future, but in the meantime, any song that you ask for in advance will be available for no extra charge if it's in print and available. Some obscure recorded music that's never been written down might require a transcription fee, but this is very rare. At most parties, we tend to play the very most popular pieces in any style, so that everyone will feel like they've heard their favorites. This is our fifth decade performing, and the most common requests have all been added to our repertoire. We also try to include music appropriate for the time of the year, time of day, location, party theme, year of the anniversary event, ethnic make up of the group, and so on, and songs from current shows and movies.
Do you have a vocalist?
Over the years, we have been known primarily for instrumental music. However, some clients specifically ask for a vocalist, and we provide the best available. Our fee is increased by the cost of another musician, plus a larger sound system. Several of the vocalists we have worked with in the past have gone on to great fame, and that will probably be the case with our current favorite, Kelley Johnson. However we have recently been fortunate to work with Kelley exclusively. Her star is rising, and we would have to inquire about availability. Our favorite male vocalist has moved to New York, but there are others who are occasionally available. There are several other women we can call if Kelley's not available.
Not having a vocalist is no compromise. The music we play is so well known that most will be hearing the words in their imaginations as we play the melody, yet conversation will not be inhibited. And there is a financial saving.
When does the music start?
The music should be playing when the first guests arrive, This is so nobody need experience discomfort that they may be too early. We believe a perfect party is one in which nobody is embarrassed. Sometimes we will have a smaller group at the beginning with the full ensemble later. We have even broken the group up into several small ensembles scattered around the grounds and uniting later. Anything you want is possible, and there's no extra charge. Our price is determined solely by the number of musicians and duration of the event. It's not unusual to have several groups involved, in different locations. We always include an option for overtime at the end of the event, and the decision can be made then. The pricing for overtime is always spelled out in the initial contract. and is pro-rated from the basic fee, which is generally calculated for four hours or less.
How about breaks?
Breaks are timed to coincide with other activities, toasting, games, seating for dinner, etc. so that no one will miss the music. However, the musicians shouldn't play much more than an hour between breaks, in order to sound their best. An exception is events of two hours or less duration, which we generally perform without a break. When there are no more scheduled interruptions, we try to time our breaks so as not to disrupt the momentum of the party.
Does the band get fed?
If food is being served at the party, and it's OK with the caterers, we will usually eat during the toasting after the meal. However we don't require you to feed us and wouldn't want you to incur the same cost you are spending on your guests. We're happy to peruse the buffet table after everyone's finished, or leftovers in the kitchen. Every venue has their own policy. Some even provide sack lunches or trays for the musicians. If no food will be available for the musicians, it's nice to know in advance so we can plan accordingly. The price is not impacted. At the very least, we will need drinking water.
Do you provide emcee service?
Yes, we include a small public address system, suitable for announcements, toasting, etc. in our basic price. and Pete Leinonen is an experienced host. However we don't overdo it, in keeping with our philosophy of spontaneous seeming events. Just the basics: time for dinner, first dance, last dance, lost child, etc. If a vocalist is included, a larger sound system will be advised, for an additional charge.
Why is live music better than a Dee-Jay?
Recorded music is mostly produced in a sterile studio environment, which has no personal connection to your guests. Our bands, on the other hand, are so sensitive to your moods that it's as if every guest is in the band. We can turn on a dime, as the mood requires, lengthening or shortening a piece as the dancers require, and playing thousands of requests instantly, at any speed or volume. Unlike Dee-Jays, we can play so softly that you can sit right in front of the band and have a conversation, and still hear us in the back of the room. That's because we use acoustic instruments designed for the purpose while the Dee-Jay is forced to rely on amplifiers and loudspeakers. If the power goes out, we can keep playing. With live music, even the breaks are refreshing, and when the band starts up again it's magic. Surprisingly, it's often no more expensive. And if you're worried about being able to dance, don't; we play everything at the same tempo as the best known version.
What about the cost?
It's surprisingly affordable. People in the trade tell us our prices are very reasonable. We are full time pros with families, mortgages, etc, and our prices reflect that, but we work from a printed price list that only changes once a year, and everyone pays the same,from the biggest celebrities to the smallest neighborhood gathering. Best of all, there's no middle man; every cent goes to musicians and music.
I love big band music but it's a small party. Won't a larger group be too loud?
The loudness of a group is related to the skill of the musicians. Only the best can truly play softly, and they're paid more because they can play soft. All our musicians are in that class. The big band records were recorded with ten to twenty pieces. We can sound a lot like the original records with as few as nine or ten pieces. When the groups are smaller, some parts may be left out, but the quality will be no less; just a little different. You should choose according to your taste. We can make it sound right in any room (or outdoor venue) and for any number of guests. A larger group is not necessarily louder, just different.
How do I know you're any good?
We're well known in the greater Seattle area. You can ask anyone in the business about us and I'm confident you'll get a great review. If you've not heard us recently, we can make an appointment to meet in our Seattle office to hear recordings from recent events. Just call Pete Leinonen (206) 522-3326 or E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our collection of recordings is vast, but we will soon begin selecting some examples to include with this site. Stay tuned.
More Questions? E-mail email@example.com.