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!

To invite children or to not invite children—the age-old wedding planning question is starting to rear it’s ugly head again as couples are sending those Save the Dates and invites for the Spring and Summer weddings. This topic is a sensitive one and there are many opinions that support both choices. The following is a short how-to post

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Step 1: Talk with your spouse-to-be and make a decision.

Here are some pros and cons to think through as you are deciding whether or not to include children on your guest list:

Pros to Inviting Children:
1. Kids love weddings! Little girls are in awe of the brides’ beauty and they will not hesitate to bust a move on the dance floor. Wedding also teach kids how to behave at formal occasions—it may be their only
2. If you decide to allow kids at your wedding, the drama of who will feel excluded is eliminated. The more the merrier, indeed!
3. Including children also shows that you care about and respect the guests that you are inviting to support you in your newly-married life. Babysitters are expensive! If you allow children at your wedding, you are giving the parents their own choice of either paying for a sitter for a kid-free night or if money is tighter, to  bring them along to join the festivities.

flower girls dancing to chicago wedding band

Cons to Inviting Children:
1. For those couples that do not particularly love kids, they can be an added stressor on the wedding day. If a child crying during the ceremony or yelling “Hi, Aunt Laura!” as you’re walking down the aisle will totally bum you out, it may be a good idea to ask your day be adults-only.
2. Depending on how many kids would be in attendance, feeding many children can also be a budget constraint.

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Step 2: Stick to your guns.

Once you decide either way, stick to your decision with a united front. This can be particularly challenging if you decide not to invite kids. Many couples will feel as though this is a personal attack on their family. If any unrest occurs because of your decision, a phone call is usually the best way to handle that conversation rather than a text or email.

Step 3: Make your wishes clear on the invitation.

If you are not inviting children, be sure to address the envelope specifically to the parents. You could even go as far as filling out the names on their response card. If you end up getting unwanted RSVPs, phone call are again the best way of handling that conversation.

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Step 4: Think about childcare options.

One compromise for those who want to include families with kids is to provide childcare. Having a fun pizza party with games and other activities in a separate room at the venue is a great way for parents to enjoy with wedding without spending on a sitter. They can also conveniently check on their kids for some more peace-of-mind. While this is a slightly more expensive option for you, it will be much cheaper than paying for a full, catered meal for each child included.

In the end clarity, tact, thoughtfulness and maturity are all qualities to keep in mind as your making guest list decisions. Happy planning!

View More: http://brittamariephotography.pass.us/kim-john

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!

 

 

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.

In April 2013 we did a Music Monday post on Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue. Sunday afternoon, they helped wrap up 2014 Lollapalooza with a late afternoon set at the Bud Light Stage with an aftershow at the Vic Theater at 7pm.  I first heard Trombone Short on Letterman and just loved his funky, unique sound.  If you haven’t heard him yet, have a listen and if he’s back at Lolla next year, that’s just one more reason to go.

 

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I am generally not a fan of new bands and when I say new, I mean bands that were formed after the year 2000.  One Republic is an exception to that rule, as are the Black Keys, but that is a post for another day.

One Republic got it’s start in 2003 according to Wikipedia, but they didn’t hit my radar until my daughter hit her teen years.The band’s recent hit “Counting Stars” has become a highly requested song at the weddings where the Stitely Orchestra performs.  I heard their latest single from their 2013 album Native called Love Runs Out.  That title doesn’t scream “wedding song”, but there is just something about it that makes me think it will be requested by more than one couple.

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Stitely Orchestra, Chicago Groove Collective and 312 Chicago all get a kick out of learning fun new songs for our clients.  What do you think?  Will Love Runs Out be the next big wedding hit?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sE5WscjdNZs

This song has been everywhere since its release in October 2013. “Happy” by Pharrell Williams has been super successful, topping the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and charts in 23 other countries. It started as the background music for the On Demand trailer of Despicable Me 2, and in 2014, the song was covered in the 100th episode of Glee. 

To coincide with the single release, 24hoursofhappy.com was launched to broadcast “the world’s first 24 hour music video.” The four-minute song is repeated with people dancing around Los Angeles and miming along.

Williams himself appears 24 times on the hour, and there are a number of celebrity cameos including Kelly Osbourne, Magic Johnson, Jimmy Kimmel, Steve Carell, Jamie Foxx, Ana Ortiz, and JoJo, along with the minions from Despicable Me 2.

The original video spawned many cover videos on YouTube in which people from different cities throughout the world dance along with the song, like this one from Paris.

I’m thinking we’re going to be getting a good amount of requests for this song at weddings. I hope so! What an amazing message for one of the happiest days of a person’s life.

Check out the official music video below, and clap along!

We are totally loving this song!

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Bastille are an English rock band formed in 2010 in London.  The four-piece consists of members; Dan Smith, Chris Wood, William Farquarson and Kyle Simmons. The name of the band comes from Bastille Day, which occurs on the same day as Smith’s birthday, July 14th.

In December 2010, Bastille signed a record contract with Virgin Records, and started gaining steam. Their debut single, “Overjoyed” was  released in April 2012. Their second single followed in August 2012, and shares the name as the band’s first studio album: “Bad Blood.” That song gained moderate success in the UK, charting at ninety. “Flaws,” the third song from Bad Blood, debuted at number twenty-one.

That brings us to this killer song, “Pompeii.” This jam was released to huge demand in February 2013.  It charted at number two in the UK and number five in the US.  The band has been nominated for four Brit Awards in 2014, including for British Breakthrough Act, British Group, British Single of the Year and won British Album of the Year. As of February 2014, Bastille have sold over 2.07 million records in the UK alone.

I first noticed them when they performed on Saturday Night Live on January 25, 2014. Kill City.

Check out the official video: