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Ontario Freebie
Tim Hazelwood

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.


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