What started as a marriage proposal downtown, turned into a weekly downtown San Diego gig, and now playing a few nights a week at Fleming’s fine dining restaurant. Due to Covid, they have to seat patrons on the sidewalk. I set up there and play jazz and pop music for various tables which is great fun and exposure for my business.
During the quarantine, I got hired by a gentleman to play sax on the sidewalk while he and his girlfriend shared a romantic dinner on his balcony in the Marina District of downtown San Diego. During dinner she kept mentioning the saxophonist and romantic music, and finally asked him if he knew anything about the saxophonist. He admitted that he had hired me, for her, for their romantic dinner, for him to ask her a big question. She said “Yes,” and I felt proud to play for the special occasion.
As I played, people started clapping and cheering after each song from their balconies in nearby high rises. It was so gratifying for me, as people said, “The beautiful live music is exactly what we all needed,” and, “This made my week!” Hundreds of people came down from their buildings to find out why I was there and ask if I could come every week. I now have a regular crowd each week and I’ve branched out to play in different locations. Amidst this pandemic, finding ways to spread the joy of live music and connect people is uplifting.
Which is better for a wedding, hiring a live musician or a DJ?
People can feel the energy of live musicians, see them play, connect with them as they play, change moods, feel the groove, get excited, dance, and sometimes- if you ask them- move about the dance floor or mingle with guests, giving a unique, unforgettable experience for that special moment. On saxophone I can play romantic ballads, smooth jazz, growling blues, classical processionals, or upbeat pop or rock music. It can mimic the variety of the human voice and brings songs to life. If you want to add magic to your event, you should hire a live musician, who creates the music and mood right before your eyes.
What if I have special song requests?
Of course a DJ can spin the song you requested, but I can play the song with energy and flair. I’ll deliver a professional and personalized version of your song. I’ll need enough lead time to create the rendition of your song that you desire, so please tell me as early as possible. But I can put together a song in several hours, so I have done day-before requests for clients!
Is a live musician more expensive than a wedding DJ?
My typical rate is $300/hour, which is usually much lower than a DJ. My rate includes my set up, clean up, sound equipment, and travel time (within reason). I only charge for the time I’m actually ready to play music. If money is an issue, or if you have a small family event, please let me know and I can try to stay within your budget. DJs and other bands might charge higher rates, but my product is superb. You won’t sacrifice quality by hiring me.
How soon should I book a live musician for my wedding?
Because I work by myself, I can accommodate last minute requests. But generally you should reach out at least 2 months in advance just to get on my calendar.
Do I have to provide food and drinks?
Though some clients provide food or drinks, I actually prefer not to eat too close to my performance. I’m happy to bring my own water, as well. I want to make booking me as easy and affordable as possible. The bottom line is that I love to play music, so I don’t require extras like other wedding entertainers.
Is insurance required?
This depends on the venue requirements. I can purchase insurance for the particular event, but that would be added to my price. Most of the time venues include insurance in the event cost.
What equipment and space do I provide?
Sometimes clients want me front and center, and other times they ask me to discreetly set up and play in the corner. I work with you to create the ideal setup and sound. My saxophone projects well, so I can play softly or loudly, depending on the venue and your preference. I only need space for a 2’x3’ amp. I stand as I play, so don’t take up much room. I’ll work with you to plan the ideal event, however I know that changes always come up and I pride myself in staying flexible.
Can saxophonists play different styles throughout my wedding?
Absolutely! From chill, easy listening vibe, to upbeat dance beats, I play a mix of jazz, pop music, blues, funk, rock, Latin, and classical music. You name it, I can play it!
What will you wear?
I often wear a suit and tie, but I can wear different styles. I like to ask if there’s a color theme, so I can coordinate with the rest of the event and make it even more special.
I was recently interviewed for San Diego Voyager Magazine and they asked some interesting questions… which I can appreciate as a former high school newspaper editor. For a long time, I wanted to go into journalism; I love the process of thinking of poignant questions and stories.
Perhaps the most thought-provoking question was to describe my proudest moment. A few moments came to mind. When I was hired to play UCSD’s all-campus commencement for 7000 people, that was pretty special. Standing on that huge stage, playing melodies and solos, made me stop and think, “Wow, I never thought I’d come this far!”
Another special moment came at a recent wedding. The bride had called me and explained that, more than anything, she wanted sax at her wedding. I was happy to oblige and we worked out the schedule. I always check in to make sure things are on schedule. In this instance, the bride asked me to come an hour later than planned. No problem. But it turned out she was running 3 hours late! Her mother and fiancé kept asking me to stay longer, slipping me $20 bills to cover the extra cost, and giving me schedule updates. I had to play much longer than I ever do, and pull out all the romantic songs in my repertoire. Long story short, the bride thanked me for staying for the whole event, and got so emotional that tears were flowing. Giving joy like that is one of the many reasons I love playing weddings.
In early 2019 my folks I knew through my college alumni group said their daughter was planning her wedding in Baja. I told them I’d hold the date, but my family almost got in the way! My wife and I were expecting our second child, and the due date was a month after my friend’s wedding. I always honor my commitments, but this international trip had to be cleared by the doctor first. Once he assured us that the baby had only about a 1% chance of being born a month early, and, even then, labor would likely take 12+ hours, I was ready to purchase auto insurance for Mexico and set up credit card travel alerts so I could be part of the festivities!
It turned out really well, and turned into a huge destination wedding weekend with many folks flying in from New York. I was honored to be the musician for the rehearsal dinner at the Encuentro Guadalupe winery and restaurant. Big weddings have lots of moving parts and ever-changing schedules. I pride my services on being flexible and a can-do attitude! Throw in the fact that it was in Mexico, everyone was enjoying the local wine, and most people were relying on limousine for transportation, my show time got changed a few times. But when everyone arrived at Encuentro, they were impressed that I was set up and already playing smooth jazz.
The view over the Valle de Guadalupe (Guadalupe Valley) wine region was spectacular. I felt inspired and enjoyed playing a mix of jazz and pop music, all easy listening background music with backing tracks pumping out of my amp, which added to the ambiance of the event. Between cocktail hour and dinner, they asked everyone for their attention for the practice wedding march. They requested fitting music for the scene, and I went into John Legend’s All of Me, a song that I played at my own wedding years ago. I got rave reviews for my performance during the evening. I’m very happy that our baby decided to come later!