Getting in the festive holiday spirit this week as we start to plan music for upcoming holiday parties. We just had our first snowfall of the Chicago winter season and we’re gearing up to bring warmth and joy to all of your holiday celebrations!

How are you getting into the holiday spirit? Maybe you’re planning a holiday party at work or hosting your closest friends and family for in your home. Looking for a few party ideas? Here is some inspiration to put together the perfect holiday gathering with quality entertainment.

Winter Wonderland

It may be cold outside, but baby a snowy explosion of white can be magical and modern affair! Hire a mixologist to craft some frosty cocktails, add elegance to the decor with glittery linens, and select entertainment to perform all the wintery classics. An a cappella group or a jazz trio is a lively way to channel all of the legendary holiday tunes. The group Pentatonix has brought holiday classics into the modern era with their pop, a cappella twist. A great rendition of Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” will bring back great memories.

Great Gatsby

Transport yourself back to the roaring 20s with all the glitz and glamour, perfect for any holiday event! During this era of social change and prohibition, “jazz bands played at dance halls like the Savoy in New York City and the Aragon in Chicago”. Hiring a great jazz group would compliment this theme and have the perfect mix of upbeat and background music to set the mood for the evening. (source: http://www.history.com/topics/roaring-twenties). Adding a few pieces to the band and you can expand the repertoire to all eras for dancing.

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Masquerade

Who is that alluring person behind that mask? This theme creates a formal and classical affair that your guests can have a lot of fun with. A live dance orchestra with strings can elevate your event to the next level. A string quartet is another option if you’re having a smaller party and don’t need a full band. It’s also an excellent choice for cocktails and dinner before dancing starts and you waltz the night away or get down to the latest Bruno Mars hit!

Movie Classics

Draw inspiration for your party theme from classic holiday movies. You can bring back childhood nostalgia with the classic holiday film, A Christmas Story. Book a children’s choir to play into your guests’ youthful spirit. They can perform a special show or accompany a live band or DJ to provide entertainment that your guests will love and cherish.

No scrooges here! A Christmas Carol theme can bring all your holiday traditions to life. Deck the halls, bake some cookies, and serve up delicious egg nog. You can book an a cappella caroling group with authentic period costumes to pull together this classic holiday theme. The carolers can go around to different areas of the party, serenading your guests and encouraging them to join in on the caroling fun.

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Karaoke

Looking for something that is goofy and fun for your holiday party? Sing holiday tunes or just some of your favorite songs! Karaoke can either be done with a DJ or all out with a full live band karaoke experience! Invite your guests up to sing accompanied by live musicians and they can provide great encouragement for guests to get up there and sing their hearts out! In between your friends belting “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, a live band can provide entertainment to pack a dance floor.

Contact us if you are interested in any of these options for your holiday party!

Here’s a taste for what’s been going on around the Chicago music scene the last few years: Pocket Radio is a Chicago-based band known for energetic live shows and music that combines jazz, funk, hip-hop, and soul and gets audiences on their feet. This original tune, written by tenor saxophonist, S. Hudgens, is a perfect example of Pocket Radio’s style.

When many people think about karaoke, there are usually a few things that come to mind. For some it’s a fun night out at a bar with friends, gladly making a fool of yourself. For others it’s disco balls, flashing lights and the cheesy bouncing balls that hops from word to word on a screen, accompanied by computerized melodies of your mom’s favorite songs. These were my ideas about karaoke before I started working at Stitely Entertainment and learned how cool karaoke can be when accompanied with a live band.

So, how does it work? To successfully channel your inner rock star via live band karaoke there are a few things one should know. First, even people who are a little on the shyer side can fully participate in this activity. To make people feel more comfortable we provide sunglasses, boas, hats and fun costumes to break the ice a bit and bring them out of their shell—so don’t let stage fright keep you from participating!

Secondly, we have a huge selection of songs just waiting to be chosen. Not only do we play the top pop hits of today, but you can also choose from classic rock, Motown, classic standards, country, indie music—anything that floats your boat, we’ve got it covered. Although we don’t have the fun bouncing ball to keep you in time, we do provide the lyrics on stage, as well as a top-notch professional band to keep you on track. The singers adjust to your comfort level—if you’re feeling confident they let you lead the way adding background and harmonies, or if you’re a little more nervous they help you start each line on time. Either way, having professional singer backing you up and joining in on the fun is an experience unique to Live Band Karaoke.

Finally, there are even options to sit in on percussion instruments, or even guitar if you’re really talented!

At what kind of events does live band karaoke work the best?

We’ve found that LBK works well for any group that wants to be interactive and have a great time showing off their talent and having a moment being a rock star. Corporate events—where people are gathered to have a good time and bond as coworkers—are a great example. We’ve have companies split guests into teams and have them perform together. This breaks the ice and creates great camaraderie!

LBK also works well at bar and bat mitzvahs, especially if the boy or girl is into singing and music. We’ve even done LBK at a wedding! A couple that met singing karaoke decided they wanted to incorporate it into their celebration, so a karaoke wedding was born. The bride and groom sang 4 or 5 songs each and were really talented! Many of the guests regularly sang karaoke as well so it was a blast.

In the end, Live Band Karaoke is really a major step up from the regular karaoke with a machine. The quality of the backing music, the personalization that is available, and the energy that is created in the room when a live band is performing cannot be matched. When the lights are shining on you and all your friends are clapping and yelling and supporting you, it really is like being a rock star—it’s exhilarating!

For companies who want to do something extra special, we can also bring in a video team and project the performers onto a live screen in real time. Check out our star cam in action in the video below!

Here at Stitely Entertainment we just love the music scene in Chicago. In the week’s Music Monday post we have the privilege of featuring one of our very own bandleaders, Nicholas Barron, and his solo gig coming up next month!

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Nicholas, the leader of 312 Chicago, will be playing a solo show at Lincoln Hall on Wednesday February 4th. Tickets are $10 and it will be a night of awesome R&B and Blues music. Buy tickets here.

Not only is Nicholas a great musician, but also a talented artist in other mediums! (Note the custom guitar in the picture above!) Check out his website nicholasbarron.com for more info about his music and art.

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See you at Lincoln Hall on Feb. 4th!

Happy New Year one and all! Here at Stitely we are so looking forward to what this year has in store for us. Some vendors we’re looking forward to working with again in 2015 include:

LK Events

Clementine Custom Events

Big City Bride

Café Brauer

Kenilworth Club

Warwick Allerton Hotel

Art Institute of Chicago

…and many more!

One of our resolutions this year is to take more photos and document more beautiful moments! Luckily we had some experts to pick up our slack in 2014. Let’s take a look back at some best moments from some of our favorite events in 2014. (Each photo links to photographer’s page) Enjoy!

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Here’s to another rockin’ year!

 

If you’ve watched any TV this holiday season, it’s likely you’ve come across Acura’s commercial featuring a familiar holiday tune – “I Wish It Was Christmas Today.” You’ll remember the original version from the maroon-clad foursome Horatio Sans, Jimmy Fallon, Chris Kattan & Tracy Morgan on Saturday Night Live in 2000. This hilarious song was an immediate SNL classic.

The version featured in the commercial (as well as topping my holiday playlist) is former Strokes’ lead singer Julian Casablancas’ 2009 cover of the comedy sketch.

Both videos are featured here—which one to do you enjoy more?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFfXqz1h5AY

 

Wedding days are exciting. They are days to look ahead at what is to come for the newly-married couple and mark the first day of the rest of their lives. While weddings are often future-oriented events, they are also times when families look back on where they came from. Many brides choose to celebrate their ancestors in unique ways. Here are some of our favorites from this year:

1. Photos of Grandparents

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[Photo by Averyhouse Photography]

I’ve always loved when couples set up photos of their parents and grandparents on their wedding days. Not only is it fun to look back and see how your family has changed, but it’s also a nice way to remember those who have passed. (Laughing at the old fashion choices is always a blast as well!)

2. “Something Old”

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The age old tradition of incorporating “something old” into the bride’s ensemble is still alive and well. The photo above notes the women in this bride’s family who all wore the same garter!

3. Vintage Voice Recordings

View More: http://brittamariephotography.pass.us/kim-john[Photo by Britta Marie Photography]

This year we also had the unique opportunity to be a part of a fun surprise between father & daughter. The bride incorporated a recording of herself as a child into her Father-Daughter Dance. When her dad heard the 4-year-old bride singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” there wasn’t a dry eye in the place!

How have you incorporated media from the past into your wedding plans?

One of our most requested songs for our bands during Chicago’s wedding season has been the catchy and controversial “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor. It’s definitely a fun tune! For a new twist on the song, take a listen to this awesome jazz cover by Postmodern Juke Box featuring Kate Davis on Upright Bass.

 

Stitely Orchestra's talented keyboardist, Chris White is headed to the Birch Creek Music Performance Center to teach lucky students at the Jazz Vocal Camp from August 10th-15th.  Birch Creek Music Performance Center on Wisconsin's beautiful Door County peninsula is a young musician's dream. Founded in 1976, Birch Creek is a unique summer music school that provides talented students (typically age 14-19) advanced training as well as the opportunity to perform publicly alongside some of the top music professionals around.  The camp offers four 2-week resident summer sessions in Symphony, Percussion & Steelpan, and Jazz. The student-faculty ratio is 2-to-1, ensuring that students receive attentive hands-on mentoring from top music educators and performers.

Chris obtained a B.A. in English from the University of Toronto and then decided to focus his studies entirely on music. In 1997 he attended Indiana University’s prestigious Jacobs School of Music and pursued his Masters degree in Jazz Studies, graduating with a Phi Kappa Lamda award (National Music Honors Society). Gaining valuable experience in Indianapolis, he performed with The Bloomington Symphony Orchestra, David Baker, Jamey Aebersold and Oliver Nelson, Jr.  He has studied piano with Luke Gillespie, Lynne Arriale, Joanne Brackeen, Barry Harris and Andy LaVerne.  In August 2000 Chris was invited to perform in the Steans Institute for Young Artists at Ravinia hosted by James Moody, Rufus Reid and David Baker. Currently he is an instructor of jazz piano and theory at Lake Forest College, North Park University and North Central College.  He is also a combo and theory instructor at Midwest Young Artists in Highwood, IL.  Chris has performed at The Jazz Showcase, Andy’s, The House of Blues, Navy Pier, The Peninsula Hotel, the Coq D’or at the Drake Hotel and many more.  In 2010 he completed his Doctoral of Musical Arts in Jazz Performance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

One of the hottest new trends in wedding proposals is the engagement ring box camera.  Invented by a team of students at Hope College in Michigan, the ring box with a tiny camera in it for filming the proposal has ensured that the priceless reaction of the bride-to-be is captured forever.  Ladies, would you like your reaction to your wedding proposal captured for posterity?