Here at Stitely Entertainment, we don’t just play music for weddings but we love to revel in the musical roots of Chicago’s blues and jazz scenes. This week’s Music Monday will be featuring 2 Chicago jazz staples: The Bobby Lewis Quintet & the Jazz Showcase venue, founded by Joe Segal.

Jeff Stitely has been playing with the Bobby Lewis Quintet for about 15 years, but Bobby Lewis’ legacy started much earlier. Moving to Chicago in 1961, Bobby quickly became the top studio call for recording on albums, commercials and films. As a studio recording musician he has logged over 7500 recording sessions and has recorded with names like Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Sammy Davis Jr., Joe Williams, Mel Torme, Judy Garland, Rosemary Clooney, Al Jarreau & Frank Sinatra, Ramsey Lewis, Natalie Cole, Jack Teagarden—the list goes on. He also accompanied Tony Bennett for 15 years in all his Chicago appearances. Lewis not only plays with the greats, but is one himself. He has recorded 11 albums and acted as executive and musical producer on all of them.

This week, his Quintet will be playing at the Jazz Showcase, Chicago’s oldest jazz club. Established in 1947 by Joe Segal, and now owned and operated by his son Wayne, the Jazz Showcase is a cultural icon in Chicago. Joe has been called the “ambassador of jazz” to Chicago and is constantly doing whatever he needs to do to keep jazz alive in the city. The Jazz Showcase features live jazz 7 nights a week and continues to be a space where jazz thrives.

With two pillars of Chicago jazz being represented this weekend, there is no excuse not to come out and take a listen! The performances will take place Feb. 5-8, at 8 PM & 10 PM, with an additional 4 PM matinee on Sunday. For more information and tickets go to jazzshowcase.com.

Stage at Jazz Showcase featuring another great group, the Roy Hargrove Quintet

Stage at Jazz Showcase featuring another great group, the Roy Hargrove Quintet

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!

Chicago skyline

Getting married in Chicago comes with so many benefits and opportunities. One of the best is being able to incorporate the city’s architecture and rich history into your wedding day. From photo shoots to reception décor, you can Chicago-fy your wedding easily with these tips.

BeckyBrown0173Wedding Photos:

Many of our couples use Chicago landmarks and scenery as the background for their wedding party shots. Work with your photographer to find some great shots downtown or by the lake. Whether you traipse through your favorite museum or find your favorite nature spot, the city can truly be your playground as you search for great spots! [Helpful hint: Trust your photographer! They will have scouted out great spots before will not let you down.]

 Venue:

Chicago wedding rooftop Choosing a venue with a killer view of Chicago gives your Chicago-fied wedding that added edge. There’s nothing better than sipping champagne and dancing the night away—especially when you can do it all with an amazing view of the city. Whether you’re right down town surrounded by the city, or in a nearby neighborhood on-looking the Loop, there are a ton of ways to incorporate the well-planned skyline into your wedding-scape.

 

Entertainment:

312 Chicago Wedding Band

When planning your wedding in Chicago, why not choose live entertainment that shares its roots with Chicago rich history of blues and jazz. With so much live music happening throughout the city, your bound to find a band that is right for you. Pictured here is one of our best Chicago wedding bands, 312 Chicago.

 Décor:

While the invites will give guests a sneak peek into your big day, the décor for your reception is where you can really show off your Chicago-fied wedding! [Find picture/specific example] Other finishing touches allow you to add elegant Chicago aspects to your reception. Centerpieces, place cards, napkins and gift bags are just some of things you can Chicago-fy. Your guests will love it!

This week we are excited to re-launch our vendor spotlight feature! In this feature, we catch up with some of our favorite vendors to find out more about what sets them apart, while also giving current and future clients a sneak-peek into the wonderful world of wedding planning and all that it entails.

This week we had a chance to talk things over with event planner Audrey Gordon. Having been in the biz over 30 years, we though Audrey would be a perfect vendor to start our re-launch of this blog. She is very personable with her clients, striving to get to know them personally and really make their day special and unique. See our conversation below!

How and why did you get started in the wedding planning business?

My love of entertaining and “hosting” people was the organic beginnings of my business that started over thirty years ago. When a friend of mine asked me to help her with her kid’s 10th anniversary party at her home in Glencoe, someone at the party asked me for my card—at the time, my business card was my name and my phone number on a napkin! That was the birth of Audrey Gordon Parties. Ltd.

Over your years in the industry, what are some of the major changes you’ve seen in wedding planning trends?

Major changes include the TYPE of Venue being chosen to house the ceremony and reception.

What are some things couples should consider when creating a design/style for their wedding?

I believe what couples should consider when creating a design/style for their wedding is to definitely incorporate elements that reflect the essence of who they are as individuals and as a couple. They should highlight their common interests so when guests walk into their environment it makes sense and the guests know that are in the right place!

How do you go about interpreting a couple’s vision and designing a unique look or style for an event?

My most favorite thing to do is to have the first face-to-face meeting at their place. I learn A LOT about the couple just by visiting them at home. I may ask them how they met, what hobbies they have, their favorite colors or definitely show me their Pinterest board. It’s also important to ask them what they really DON’T like.

What key qualities should couples look for when choosing a planner?

I believe a couple should choose a planner they are EXTREMELY comfortable with; to be able to say anything and everything because it’s all about THEM!

What part of your job do you find the most satisfying and the most challenging?

The most satisfying thing about my job is similar to having a baby…you plan…plan…plan…and then the day comes and you watch how all the pieces fall together to create the vision that they’ve shared. The ultimate best is when couples come up to me and hug me and say that it wouldn’t have been such a pleasant experience without me to allow them to “be present”  through the entire experience.

The most challenging times come when things happen outside of one’s control, i.e. unexpected weather conditions for an outside event. The trick is to keep your calm, take a deep breath and figure out a solution because there is always a solution to EVERY situation. The old motto is: “It’s not WHAT happens; it’s HOW you handle it.”

Thank you for taking the time to speak with us Audrey! For more information about Audrey Gordon Parties Ltd, check out her website here.

Here is a fun post I found on the Knot.  How many of these traditions/superstitions did you know?

http://wedding.theknot.com/wedding-planning/wedding-customs/articles/50-wedding-traditions-superstitions-facts-trivia.aspx?MsdVisit=1

Enjoy!

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.

 

This weekend, August 1-3, Grant Park will once again host one of Chicago’s largest music festivals, Lollapalooza.  Organizers have a great line up of headliners including Eminem, King of Leon, Outkast, Arctic Monkeys, Lorde, Calvin Harris, Skrillex, The Avett Brothers Cage the Elephant and Foster the People, among many others.

2014′s summer weather has been fantastic, if you like it on the cool side and this weekend will be no different lots of sun and temperatures in the low 80′s.  So if you were lucky enough to score tickets, make the most of the weekend!

Chicago wedding band leader Derrick ProcellChicago Groove Collective’s dynamic and multi-talented bandleader, Derrick Procell, will be performing from Noon to 1pm at the Summer Courtyard Concert in Waukegan on  July 11, 2014.  Sponsored by the Waukegan Public Library, Derrick will entertain the lunchtime crowd with his unique blend of Country, R&B and Rock & Roll.  You can check out more about Derrick by visiting his web site at http://www.derrickanamerican.com/

wedding band song

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.

Dancing to a Chicago wedding band

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