Once upon a time
there were spring-like temperatures in Northern Ontario.
Unfortunately, these wonderful temperature readings and "feels
like summer" springtime evenings don't always come out the way
you had hoped for, especially when you are a DJ. Allow me to
illustrate my case in point. I was asked recently to write an article
featuring highlights of being a DJ in Northern Ontario. It just so
happened that the article you are reading now was written as a result
of a booking which took place only two days after I was asked to
write the article. Here's the story.
I was asked by one
of my aunts to play music for her 25th wedding anniversary.
Don't get me wrong, I do know how to entertain as well but all she
wanted was some music for her outdoor anniversary party. Sounded like
an easy gig and she was a good friend so I accepted to do the booking
at no charge (She was also providing me with a wonderful dinner and
it would be a great time for me to meet some relatives which I had
not seen in years. Don't forget - she's my aunt and booking is for free.)
All I asked in
return was to have help available for unloading and that both myself
and my system receive protection from the elements. This is where the
fun starts. I arrived ahead of schedule so that I could chat it up
with some relatives and lo and behold as soon as I got there, she
wanted me set up right away so that they could feed the guests. Some
of them were getting a little cold. (Three-thirty in the afternoon;
temperature was a balmy 42 degrees Fahrenheit.) Another reason that
they needed to eat was that some of these people had already drunk a
large quantity of spirits and needed some food in their system, if
you know what I mean.
I then proceeded
to unload the truck by myself. (No one was available to help for some
reason.) Speakers, Karaoke, system, lights, and music. The setup was
on a back deck overlooking a huge backyard with a tent set up for the
guests and food. Had to cart all of the equipment up approximately 18
stairs. This was a new deck that they had just built.
("Isn't the deck wonderful," she exclaimed.) I had not seen
or known about the @#$@%@%! deck prior to the party.
I was also told
that I could play background music until about 8:00 pm so that I
could meet and socialize. Yet again, that isn't what happened.
Because it was cold (40 degrees by now) she felt that if we got
people up dancing at 4:30 in the afternoon that it would surely lift
their spirit. She asked me to play some rock and roll. I played
Elvis, Rolling Stones, and a ton of other artists but she availed me
of the knowledge that they are not Rock And Roll artists, but, rather
CCR and Rod Stewart were more like what I should be playing. I
thanked her for her generous knowledge and proceeded to play what she
asked for. Needless to say, no one was dancing anyway. Then,
good fortune struck. I had one of the guests tell me that he would
dance if I played the Wabash Cannonball. I played the song for him
and to my surprise he actually provided us all with a good laugh,
until he dropped his beer bottle and it shattered all over the patio
stone dance floor. Now the excitement starts.
My aunt had also
asked that I provide a single microphone for a friend of hers who
wanted to play some fiddle tunes. By the time that I had arrived at
the party, we needed a 16 channel mixing board for the musicians that
appeared as if from everywhere. I allowed them to use my single
microphone and stand.....until the mic holder broke, partly due to
cold and partly due to someone trying to shove the mic a little too
far into the holder. By this point most of the guests had eaten
and we were ready for a first dance. For some reason though, we could
not find the anniversary couple, so I decided maybe it was time for
some Karaoke. It went over really well for the only 2 people that
actually would attempt it. They sang for over half an hour until one
of them fell off the (isn't it wonderful) deck. The fiddler then
requested to come back on just until the first dance started. I said
OK. He played two songs and was booed off the stage, I think it had
something to do with his toxicity level.
Anyway, we were
finally ready for the first dance. (8:30pm and the temperature was
hovering around 36 degrees) It went off without a hitch, and the rest
of the evening the dancefloor was packed and everyone that was still
warm enough danced throughout the entire evening. I somehow managed
to receive many compliments and words of congratulations. At the end
of the night it was 20 degrees Fahrenheit, I was wearing 2 layers of
clothing and my CD players were just about ready to quit working due
to the frost that had accumulated on them.
If you ever get
faced with the same situation. Here are some helpful tips.
If you are going
to do a booking for free make sure that you get a signed contract and
a damage deposit, even from relatives. Make sure that your contract
spells out what the customer has to provide for you as protection
from the elements. My protection consisted of a blue tarp strung over
the deck with no side protection. Good thing it was too cold to rain.
I was told I would be playing in the tent. Should have asked for a
heater as well.
Find out as much
as you can about the location before you arrive.
Make sure you have
a full itinerary from the client and help them stick to it, no matter
who they are.
Please don't get
me wrong. This party was still a lot of fun. We had great food,
relatives, lots of refreshments, and tons of good music.
This just proves
that in Northern Ontario, all's fair in music and ice and I would not
have it any other way.