Last time, we brought you a few tips for choosing the perfect song for your first dance. Now that you’ve picked the song, there’s the dancing part. One very common worry among brides and grooms alike is how they will look to those watching during their first dance.

In answer to this, Jeff Stitely offers a quote from one of his all-time favourite authors, Paolo Coelho:

 

“When I was an adolescent I envied the great ballet dancers among the kids on the block, and pretended I had other things to do at parties — like having a conversation. But in fact I was terrified of looking ridiculous, and because of that I would not risk a single step.

 Until one day a girl called Marcia called out to me in front of everybody: “Come on!”

 I said I did not like to dance, but she insisted.

 Everyone in the group was looking, and because I was in love (love is capable of so many things!), I could refuse no further.

 I did not know how to follow the steps, but Marcia did not stop; she went on dancing as if I were a Rudolf Nureyev.

 “Forget the others and pay attention to the bass,” she whispered in my ear. “Try to follow its rhythm.”

 At that moment I understood that we do not always have to learn the most important things; they are already part of our nature.

 When we become adults, and when we grow old, we need to go on dancing. The rhythm changes, but music is part of life, and dancing is the consequence of letting this rhythm come inside us.

 I still dance whenever I can. With dancing, the spiritual world and the real world manage to co-exist without any conflicts.

 As somebody once said, the classic ballerinas are always on tiptoe because they are at the same time touching the earth and reaching the sky.”

 

Essentially, there’s no need to worry about how you look during your first dance. The dance is about sharing a special moment between you, the music, and the person you love. Just listen, be present, and let the music guide you! And remember, you’re surrounded by people who aren’t there to judge you – they love you, and they love to see you happy. They’re just enjoying the moment and sharing in the love. You’re a better dancer than you think. It’s in your nature.

2017 has arrived, bringing with it snow, bitingly cold winds, and, of course, awards season. This past Sunday, NBC broadcast the annual Golden Globes, bringing with it a cavalcade of celebrities, and high hopes to win one of the entertainment industry’s highest honors. In particular, a little film by the name of La La Land, a musical romp reminiscent of the Golden Age movie musicals of the mid-20th century, had high hopes to bring home a record number of wins.

La La Land, starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, was nominated for a grand total of seven categories, including Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy, Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy, Best Screenplay, Best Original Score, and Best Director. By the end of the evening, the film had swept the awards and won all seven of the categories for which it was nominated. Prior to Sunday, the record for most Golden Globe wins by a film was shared by One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) and Midnight Express (1978), each with six wins that year. Needless to say, that record was shattered this year.

This reviewer has heard a number of people discussing whether or not these wins were well-deserved – after all, how could a romantic musical win out for best screenplay over a powerhouse film like Moonlight? And how could Emma Stone win Best Actress over Meryl Streep? In some ways, La La Land’s sweeping victory doesn’t make a lot of sense.

After two viewings of the film (one on Christmas Day, one the day after New Years), this reviewer can honestly say that not only are those wins well-deserved, they say something about the state of film and our society’s relationship to entertainment and to the ways in which we consume media.

During the golden age of movie musicals (think Singin’ in the Rain, Easter Parade, and White Christmas), movie audiences craved escape and romance, acrobatic dance routines, hummable music, and, of course, a happy ending. Stars like Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Audrey Hepburn, Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney and Debbie Reynolds sang, danced, and romanced their ways into audiences’ hearts, and everyone went home happy. But the 1960′s brought widespread home television viewing and rock and roll into the forefront of public consciousness in a highly immediate and visual way. Showtunes and choreography fell by the wayside in favour of mop-topped teenagers with guitars and the Ed Sullivan Show. The movie musical as we knew it retreated to a distant corner of the public consciousness. In past years, it surfaced in the form of movies like FootlooseYentl, and the ever-loved animated Disney films of the 80′s and 90′s – and more recently in movies like Once. But our dear old movie musical never achieved its former glory – even in Enchanted, which used music to make fun of the old golden age tropes, rather than uplifting them.

La La Land stands out because not only does it bring back the big production numbers, romance, and seemingly spontaneous, flawless dance routines of yesteryear, it transforms them into a work of art that is at once nostalgic and forward-thinking.

The story: a classic show-biz routine. Starry-eyed young actress meets and falls in love with a sardonic, passionate jazz musician. Both are down on their luck, but find new inspiration in one another. They talk, they sing, they dance. They are, in many ways, perfect for one another. BUT their story is not all rose petals and sunshine. Rather than committing fully to the age-old paradigm of the fluffy, happy love story, the two young protagonist’s relationship has very real difficulties, and reflects far more the reality of modern love, rather than another generation’s fantasy.

The music: at once classic Broadway and modern masterpiece. Composer Justin Hurwitz teamed up with Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who wrote the lyrics for the film. Pasek and Paul are Off-Broadway and now Broadway veterans, and are the minds that gave us shows like Dogfight and Dear Evan Hansen, which has just moved to Broadway. The old Broadway sensibility is there – but so is a modern outlook. There is a depth and earnestness to the music that has developed over time in the Broadway sphere since the late 1960′s – far more aware of itself and aware of the underlying humanity. “City of Stars,” which won Best Original Song, is the perfect example of this. It could almost be a modern radio hit – and yet it calls upon influences from the music of composers like Cole Porter and Irving Berlin for a decidedly nostalgic flair. A near-perfect hybrid. 

The performances: decidedly modern. As opposed to the old style of movie musical acting (big laughs, big fun, not a lot of subtext or character development), La La Land throws two powerful acting talents (Stone and Gosling) into an older format and asks them to do what they do best. Occasionally while singing and dancing. The result is enchanting, though in a way that makes one very aware that you are watching something different than anything you’ve seen before. Exquisitely nuanced and deeply felt, Stone and Gosling’s performances lend an incredible richness and humanity to a story that, if handled only slightly less carefully, would have been heavy-handed and insincere. (My only complaint: the singing was only so-so. Is it so hard to find actors with that kind of emotional gravity and heart that can really sing? Several alternatives come to mind…)

Overall: a stunning film. Richly visual, highly dynamic, funny, poignant, well-paced (it clocks in at 2 hours and 8 minutes, but feels like far less), and a wonderful leap into the future, rooted in a shared past. The magic of La La Land is in its deft handling of an older genre (which has a power in and of itself) within a modern context, with modern actors, creatives, and technology. We may not see another like La La Land for a long time, but the film points the way into the future – not in the sense that every film from here on out should be a musical, but in the sense that there is something to be said for listening to the past, taking what works, and taking real care in making it a work of art for the modern audience.

3.5/4 stars

On this incredibly cold Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, this flawless harmonizing will warm your soul.

 

 

At Stitely Entertainment, music is our business and our lifeblood. Not only do we love using music to ramp up the energy at a wedding or other event, but we also love it in our lives. We had a chance to have a conversation with Jeff Stitely to talk about his knowledge of music and go in-depth about how he and the other Stitely musicians use musical nuances to create different feels for different moments. The key, to start, is a solid rhythm section. The following posts stems from our conversation about how different styles of music elicit different responses:

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In a live band, the rhythm section is the backbone. Whether you notice it or not, every band has a core rhythm section, often consisting of bass, keys, drums and guitar. Different styles of music also have different focuses and feels. In jazz, the quarter note is king. The main focus is the bass, playing a walking quarter note bass line. The drummer adds the ride cymbal, also focusing on that quarter note base. The bass and drums have to match up for the groove to come alive. Really, a jazz rhythm section is like a great conversation. You pick a theme, someone makes a statement, and everyone will respond accordingly, adding their own flair to the conversation. When there’s an openness to what’s being discussed and the conversation is flowing, there’s almost a pleasant hum that occurs. In the same way, a jazz rhythm section will flow and hum in a comfortable yet ever-evolving way. The nuances and variations on this key conversation are what make each tune special.

For dance music, that conversation looks totally different. While the rhythm section is still present and important, they definitely have a more scripted part. This is especially true when they are recreating music that’s been played before. For example, the bands that make up Stitely Entertainment are largely playing dance music that is recognizable to the general public. Because of this, they want to make sure they include every lick and detail that the audience is expecting when they hear that song. When playing older jazz tunes, getting a carbon copy isn’t as important—it’s the style and the essence that you want to extract and recreate. You can play variations on the original while still upholding the integrity of the genre and the song itself. But with dance music, you want to follow the song like it’s a map written out before you.

To successfully follow that map, each musician has an important role. They are each responsible for studying their specific part and recreating it to the best of their ability. The meticulous process of writing out an exact drumbeat or strumming pattern that the original artist used can be tedious, but necessary to recreate what the original artist produced. By writing everything out specifically, the musicians are respecting the artist’s original sound and work.

This process can be challenging with contemporary music because much of it is produced in the studio with layers and layers of synthesizers, keyboards, and strings. This can be very hard to replicate in a live setting, and the keyboard player often has the biggest responsibility: to try to recreate the sounds that all the synthesizers in the studio make, prioritizing the layers that are most important to the structure of the song, as well as what will meet the listeners expectations of the what the song is “supposed to sound like.”

Just as both traditional and contemporary styles are structured slightly differently, they also make you want to move differently as a listener. Motown, Classic Rock, Top 40 Pop, and Jazz are all distinctly different in terms of feel and general response from the audience. Knowing the difference in how and when to play all the styles is important, especially at events like weddings when each portion of the night demands a different feel. The differences really come down to the way that the rhythm section structures itself and how successfully them blend into that “conversation” we mentioned earlier.

In summation, music is an emotion, and that musical emotion is expressed differently for each person in the way they move on the dance floor. So whether or not you realize it when you’re cutting a rug on the dance floor, the rhythm section is playing a huge part in manipulating that raw emotion in a way that grooves with the rest of the atmosphere and creates a memorable and energy-filled space that you won’t want to leave.

 

Whether you’re reading this to get tips or finding ways to avoid the hipster scene, this post will let you know what details are considered “hipster.” Feel free to embrace or avoid.

Hipster Wedding

1. The Dress

The style of dress you choose will often set the style tone for the whole event. Whether you choose a Bohemian hippie style or a short vintage look, there are unique ways that your attire can start the hipster vibe. Above all else, don’t get bogged down by the traditional tropes and brands—your dress should reflect your personal style, hipster or otherwise.

2. Invitations

Your Save the Dates and Invitations will be your guests first look into the style and theme of your wedding. For a bonafide hipster invitation, be sure to team up with your favorite local artist or graphic designer to create something wholly unique for your big day. Your guests will be impressed and slowly realize that it’s not their grandma’s wedding style that they’re walking into.

3. Location

For your hipster wedding, choosing a simple location will be key. Try finding a loft space or small outdoor venue that you can dress up to make it your own. If design is really important to you, then finding a blank canvas venue may be a great place to start. If you’re really going for that trademark hipster irony, try finding a more unique venue! A funky museum, an antique store or a coffee shop could make for a hipsterrific wedding experience to remember.

4. Food

Again, non-traditional is key for a truly traditional wedding. Food trucks are a great funky option in place of traditional plated meals. Tacos are also really trendy and fun. For dessert, ditch the traditional cake and go for something a little more fun and surprising—ice cream sundaes, donuts, or pies are some options to name a few!

5. Photography

Finding a photographer that can capture your day in a way that communicates your style is really important for a hipster wedding. Not only should that photographer themselves embrace that persona, but their shooting style should as well. Be sure to check out their portfolio to see what they can do to create a lasting keepsake of your special day.

6. Music

Finally, music is most certainly what makes a hipster wedding hipster. From artist choice to instrumentation, be sure to choose artists and songs that emanate your style. A Mumford-style ensemble for the ceremony, combined with an Indie music quartet for dinner and dancing could be the perfect combination for your big day. Make sure you are clear about what traditions you do and don’t want to include in your day. Your musicians will really play a big part in creating the soundtrack and mood for your day, so make sure you are on board with their style!

To truly find out if you’re at a hipster wedding, check out this fun flowchart at Refinery 29.

With Spring just around the corner, I’ve been itching to get out and do more things in the city! If you’re feeling that cabin fever and love hearing new music as much as I do, then here are some shows to check out this month!

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March 3
Ariana Grande @ Allstate Arena
If you like top pop, head over to the arena for what will surely be an entertaining production with high wow-factor.

March 4
The Lone Bellow @ Lincoln Hall
Unfortunately sold out, but had to mention them. If you haven’t heard their new album “Then Came the Morning” it’s a must must must.

March 5
Ben Sollee @ City Winery
This cellist and songwriter’s music is incredibly unique and hard to describe. Transcending genre in the best way, Sollee will keep you entertained with his skill and creative use of his instrument.

Milo Greene @ Lincoln Hall
While Milo Greene is not actually a real person, the band certainly and thankfully is. Check them out.

March 6
The Dodos @ Lincoln Hall
The band has been around for about 8 years, but is consistently coming up with new and interesting additions to the genre. Check them out at Lincoln Hall!

The Apache Relay @ Schubas
More people should know about them. Period.

March 7
Bob Schneider @ SPACE in Evanston
This Austin, TX native will be playing back-to-back shows at SPACE in Evanston. Definitely one to catch! A unique and intimate venue featuring a uniquely talented lyricist.

March 10
Shooter Jennings @ City Winery
Get your country on.

March 12 & 13
JD McPherson @ Lincoln Hall
This man is true rock and roll. Headlining 2 show at Lincoln Hall it’s a wonder that they’re both not sold out yet. Get on this!

March 16
Thelonious Monday: An Evening of Bebop Jazz @ The Double Door
To jazz up your monday night, head to the Double Door for a unique night, tributing a legendary jazz musician.

March 19
Maroon 5 @ United Center
Enough said.

March 21
Mat Kearney @ The Riviera
A favorite of many, Mat Kearney is sure to entertain on his tour for his new album “Just Kids.”

Mortified! @ Lincoln Hall
While not exactly a music show, this hilarious comedy event is worth every penny! Listen as Chicagoans read their middle school and high school diaries out loud! So relatable, so hilarious, and completely mortifying in the best way.

March 27
Penny & Sparrow @ Schubas
This up-and-coming duo has been around for a while, but their newest album has gained well-deserved traction. They are ones to watch!

March 28
Matthew Perryman Jones @ City Winery
So mellow. So beautiful.

March 31
The von Trapps @ SPACE
Great-Grandchildren of the legendary Capt. & Maria von Trapp, this group has toured across the world, carrying on their family’s musical legacy.

In light of our recent Vendor Spotlights in which we have been sharing some of our favorite planners, I thought I would highlight some reasons why planners can be incredibly helpful in making preparations for your big day!

Planners are no longer reserved only for the upper-class and extremely wealthy like they were once depicted in the movies. There is now a range of ways you can hire a planner to best fit your budget and your needs, so everyone can benefit from a little professional help on their big day. See our thoughts on why and how to make this work below:

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Perks of the Planner: Although it can be really fun, planning your wedding day can quickly turn into a challenging project. Not only are brides and grooms trying to create the perfect vision for their event (a tiring task in itself), but they’re trying to do it with limited knowledge on how to put together a wedding. From catering menus to invitations to booking a rocking band for the reception, it’s all new territory for most couples. And unless you happen to have a ton of free hours every week to pore over details, it can get really stressful really fast. Brides-to-be may write off the idea of hiring a planner, thinking that they know how to throw a party or don’t have the budget for such a luxury. The reality is that the help of a professional is invaluable in letting you enjoy your day and the months leading up to it.

There are some wedding details that practically demand a planner. If you are planning on having a large wedding (100+ people) things can get complicated quickly. A professional has dealt with large guest lists in the past, and she can help you prioritize your tasks and help you make choices that will satisfy your expectations, as well as those of your family and friends. Even if you have a smaller crowd, it can be a good idea to hire a wedding planner if you are holding your ceremony or reception in a location that is atypical. For example, a wedding held in a museum, park or historic home can be a beautiful and unique choice, but that also means there could be less wedding-specific assistance and a lot of unknown factors. This is a time when hiring someone who has spent years planning events comes in handy.

A professional planner can also save you money through their established connections with local wedding vendors.

Not for Everyone: If you are holding your wedding in a full service location (i.e. a banquet hall) you may be able to take advantage of an in-house planner who can assist with the catering, seating, and music set-up. Couples who plan to have a small, intimate wedding may also be able to handle the details themselves, though that depends on the wedding location and time limitations of the couple. (No matter the size, it’s always good to have help planning a destination wedding).

A Happy Medium: Brides who like the idea of having a professional on their team but don’t think they have the budget for it still have some options. Consider hiring a “day of” coordinator. These wedding planners will learn your wedding details a few weeks beforehand and manage the day from start to finish. They confirm details with all booked vendors and arrive on the day of the event, clipboard in hand, to make sure that everything runs smoothly. Even if you spend your days, weeks and months leading up to your wedding in a planning tizzy, the day of the event is really when the planner is clutch. If you’re going to have a planner in any capacity, the day of the event is the number one day to utilize that resource.

Lexi Schumacher & Josh Herz were married on September 27, 2014 at the historic Drake Hotel in Chicago. Throughout the entire planning process, it was evident that this couple would embody the class and sophistication that come with having an event at the Drake. Their attention to detail was on thing that made their event such a success!

Their day started with Piano, Violins & Drums for their Ceremony. Lexi and Josh decided to add an extra special twist to their processional song “Canon in D” by adding the drums, evoking the “Royal Wedding” version of the song that caught their attention. What a special and regal start to the day!

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Their ceremony also included the Love Theme from St. Elmo’s Fire, What A Wonderful World andCity of Blinding Light by U2, all played instrumentally.

This combination was personal and unique to the couple while still maintain a semi-traditional and formal feel that the venue calls for.

After a cocktail hour featuring Sinatra, Michael Buble and Beatles tunes on solo piano it was time for the party to begin! The couple was introduced into the room to a recording of Happy Together by the Turtles and went straight into their First Dance, Glory of Love by Peter Cetera.

After the first dance and introduction a started Drake tradition took place of a Champagne Parade! Servers in black tie parade out with champagne for the guests and wedding party to prepare for all the toasts.

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The band has a special song they play during that time and it is such a fun tradition.

We had a chance to catch up with the bride a few months after the big day and ask her to reflect on some of her favorite moments. Check out our conversation below!The rest of the night featured more music from the Stitely Orchestra that highlighted the couples personality, with Good Life by OneRepublic for cake cutting and  I Loved Her First and A Song For My Son for the special family dances. this party also featured a rocking Hora dance and ended with the classic Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey.

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What kind of style or vibe did you want for your wedding?

Sophisticated, chic and formal.

What role did music play in your vision?

A huge role. We ideally wanted everyone out of their chairs the entire night and a full dance floor, which we absolutely achieved!

Why did you choose the Stitely Orchestra for your wedding?

Came highly recommended by a coworker of mine, Heidi Lauerman and her husband Alex.

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What kind of music or which artists do you and your partner enjoy?

We wanted several genres to suit ours as well as our guests’ taste  i.e. Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, Guns n Roses to Katy Perry.

What was your favorite wedding memory?

The Horah of course!

Please share any stories or special significance behind your song selections for the special dances.

Really no significance, just loved the songs :) We loved the added bonus of Jeff playing the drums during the ceremony music. Very unique and cool!

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Well folks, winter is here to stay in Chicago it seems. As the light at the end of tunnel still feels miles away, I’ve been searching for fun things to do in the city that won’t freeze my buns off. Going to shows is one of my favorite things, so I’ve compiled a list of shows taking place this month for you to think about attending! The list includes venues all over the city and suburbs, as well as old friends and new faces in the music scene. See below for a schedule with descriptions.

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Wednesday, February 11

Forest & the Evergreens @ Schubas

Winning the award for my new favorite band name, this band’s blend of “neo-soul, R&B, and ‘young funk’” is sure to be an exciting addition to your February.

Thursday, February 12

Nikki Lane @ Double Door

Up and coming Nashville singer/songwriter teamed up with Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys to record her second album. Definitely one to watch.

Jason Isbell @ Symphony Center

For a little added southern warmth & Alabama Shoals flair to your February, don’t miss this singer/songwriter, Jason Isbell.

Friday, February 13

Wynton Marsalis @ Symphony Center

For your Chicago jazz fix let this incredible trumpeter whisk you away.

Saturday February 14

10,000 Maniacs @ City Winery

For a Valentine’s Day throwback hit up the City Winery for 10,000 Maniacs’ 2 shows.

Fleetwood Mac @ Allstate Arena

For an even throwier-back (as well as a pretty penny) Fleetwood Mac will be playing their second show at Allstate Arena in the past year.

Tuesday, February 17

Sleater-Kinney @ Riviera

For all the Portlandia lovers out there, head to the Riviera for the grandest reunion show of the season.

Joe Purdy @ SPACE

Another American folk singer/songwriter whose sure to entertain in the most mellowest of ways. The intimate setting of the SPACE venue in Evanston is the perfect place to experience this kind of music.

Thursday, February 19

Timber Timbre @ Lincoln Hall

Winning the award for my second-favorite new band name, Timer Timbre will be your fix for all things bluesy and all things Canadian this winter.

Friday, February 20

Brooke Fraser @ Bottom Lounge

The New Zealand pop artist will surely entertain and impress with her killer pipes at this unique Chicago venue.

Wednesday, February 25

Hozier @ Riviera

Enough said. It’ll be what you think it will be…probably awesome.

Thursday, Februray 26

Motion City Soundtrack @ House of Blues

Nothing like your emo past-self getting a little love this winter. For a night of nostalgia, nothing is better.

Saturday, February 28

Steve Aoki @ Aragon Ballroom

Japanese-American house artist brings electronic energy that will help you to celebrate the end of this wintery month, in one of Chicago oldest and most unique venues.

Punch Brothers @ Riviera Theater

On a sweeter more mellow note, the Punch Brothers will be your bluegrass fix for the month. Their harmonies are beautiful and you’ll feel refreshed after listening.

 

So there you have it—your Chicago music for the month of February. Links to tickets are on all the artists’ names. Click through and enjoy the music!

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!