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Ever wondered what’s it like to be in a band?

These photos are from a typical gig – travelling to the venue, unloading, set up, crew, sound checks, changing room and finally the performance and the travel home…enjoy!

driving to the venue

Here is band manager and guitarist Dave driving our trusty VW Transporter on the way to our gig for Bunn Leisure guests at Selsey.Being a Friday we had to leave pretty early to avoid the worst of the traffic.

arriving and ready to set up

We arrived safe and sound at the mighty Embassy Club in West Sussex one of our favourite venues. Greeted by the very lovely Sara who had the coffee on hand. It really makes a difference to the band when we receive a kind and friendly welcome as you can see by Marc’s happy face!

Entertainment Manager Marc

Soundcheck

We have set up our equipment now and Dave is getting serious about his sound…

Sound engineers

It’s always great to work with a professional sound and light crew – Jamie and Tom are top blokes and this is just the monitor desk!

Kirstie and Marc4 piece band

Here is our changing room – OK so it’s a caravan but it’s very important for us to have somewhere private and secure to relax and get changed into our stage clothes before we start.

Backstage

Here we are backstage behind the curtain waiting for the go, Marc and Kirstie making a few last second checks then its ‘Showtime!’

Dave tuning

Dave says ” I don’t understand this, it was in tune when I bought it”

Sound tech

Here is Tom the sound monitor engineer literally seconds away from the start now…

Andy drummer

Great pic here of Andy counting us in for the first song …1,2,3,4 and we’re off!

on stage

Lead male vocals Marc, with Kirstie on keys and Andy on drums.

live on stage

Four piece band live on stage…Dave on guitar is looking happy, which is good thing!

Kirstie vocals

Our fab female lead vocalist Kirstie doing her thang – she’s the band Musical Director and is a bit good on the keyboards too!

Dave and Andy

View from the side of the stage – Dave on guitar and harmony vocals, Andy on drums

on stage finale

Final live pic of the band, second set towards the end of the night…it was a fab gig and the audience danced all night long.
Journey Home
The bit you never see…

We left our home at 2.30pm and its now 1am with a 2 hour drive home ahead of us.

Most gigs are a 12 hour day, really hard work but great fun. We love our job!

If you would like to find out more about Pop of Ages can do for your event please get in touch…

We will learn your First Dance for free

Wedding Songs First Dances

For many wedding couples kicking off their evening celebrations with the traditional ‘first dance’ as husband and wife is an important part of the day. Having your song performed live by a band can make this a very special moment to be treasured. It can be a wonderfully romantic love song, a 30 second shuffle around the dance floor, a full on dance routine or perhaps a stonking party song to get every one of your guests bopping on the dancefloor.

Pop of Ages would be honoured to learn and perform your first dance for FREE, after all we want to make it extra special for you.

We will of course need time to learn and practice your song and therefore ask for around two months notice please.

In almost all circumstances we can learn and play your special request. On the odd occasion though we do have to say no – please don’t be offended! This is normally because the choice of song is beyond what a live band can do justice too. If this is the case we can of course play a recording of the original song you know and love through our sound system and then kick off straight afterwards into the live music.

For more information about first dances, wedding music and the band, do not hesitate to contact us and we’ll be happy to help!

40th Birthday party packs London Hotel with live music from function band Pop of Ages

Pop of Ages band London for an amazing 40th Birthday party celebration!

Pop of Ages six piece band with brass section had been engaged in conjunction with Disco/DJ and superior lighting from Studio 50.com to play at The Haymarket Hotel in London.

The band had performed for the clients’ a couple of years ago at Botley Mansion, and we would like to thank both Alex and Sarah for looking after us on the night. Everyone seemed to have a fabulous time, and we witnessed a packed dancefloor throughout the night, which always makes us happy and proud.

We recently received a lovely thank you letter which we would like to share with you;

Dear Dave,Alex and I would like to extend a huge thank you to you and the band for another stellar performance at Alex’s 40th birthday at the Haymarket Hotel in London last weekend.We didn’t think that it was possible to top the wedding, but you proved us wrong. The dance floor was full from the first note and, if the aching limbs the following day were anything to go by, most of our guests danced all night!We are currently trying to come up with the next excuse to throw a party and, when we do, Pop of Ages will be our first phone call.With thanks and kind regards Sarah and Alex Preston.

Here are snaps of our set up and some ‘stills’ taken from Daisy Jenks’ fabulous video of the event:

soundcheck

– Pop of Ages fine tuning during soundcheck

Alex-and-Sarah-Haymarket

– Alex celebrates on the dancefloor with his wife Sarah

Dave-and-Marc

– Marc on vocals and band leader/guitarist Dave doing their thang, drummer Andy is hidden from view, sorry! But you can see the band here.

Kirstie-Mat-Steve-Haymarket

– Kirstie on Keys, Mat – Sax and Steve – Trumpet during Stevie Wonder’s classic Sir Duke.

Alex

– The main man Alex Shaking his Tailfeather!

If you would like Pop of Ages to perform for your special occasion in London or elsewhere around the south of England, browse our website to see the live music services we offer, or just give us a ring and we’ll go from there!

For more information ring Dave or Kirstie Smith on 01793 870595

What is the REAL difference between an amateur band and a professional band?

KirstyFirstly, I would like to reassure any readers of this entry that I am not trying to malign any hardworking amateur musicians or bands out there. Far from it, and if you continue reading you’ll understand why.

Secondly, I would like to emphasise that I have a great love and admiration for amateur musicians – I was one myself until I was 14, and I probably will be one again for the last 14 years of my life, and I’m fine with that! Just because you’re an amateur does not mean you are unskilled or unprofessional.

Thirdly, my reasons for writing this particular piece are twofold ; a) to help anyone out there who is thinking of booking a live band for any type of event and b) to recount a story which made my blood boil and clearly highlights the difference between an amateur band and a professional one.

So let’s start with the story and we’ll go from there;

Rob (my friend & an excellent agent) received a phone call at 7.00pm New Years Eve.

A rather agitated gentleman (lets call him Jim) informed Rob the band he’d booked for his ‘do’ hadn’t turned up – he was phoning the agency to ask for an urgent replacement.

Rob asked Jim a few obvious questions including how much he had agreed to pay the band. Jim replied £300.

Rob responded he wasn’t surprised the band hadn’t turned up. “What do you mean”? Jim retorted. Rob explained that the price agreed was ridiculously low, and that any band willing to work on New Years Eve for £300 without a signed contract would more than likely not turn up, espcially if they had been offered a higher paid gig.

Angry manJim was offended and asked (in a fairly aggressive tone) if Rob would at least help out and phone around. Rob replied “No, I’d be wasting my time”. Jim became livid, and demanded to know why Rob was being so facetious.

Rob explained he wouldn’t be able to find any band that would perform on New Year’s Eve for £300, he wasn’t willing to offend his bands by asking, and the best he could provide was a local amateur DJ for £550. Jim slammed the phone down.

The story ends there.

There may be people out there who don’t understand the moral of this tale, so let’s re-ask the question ‘What is the real difference between an amateur band and a professional band?’

Mmm, I think we need some definitions from The Collins English Dictionary to help us along;

Collins English Dictionary ‘Amateur’; (n) A person who engages in a pursuit, esp. a sport, on an unpaid basis; (adj) Engaging or engaged in without payment; nonprofessional; amateurish; dilettante; (syn) Dilettante – dabbler – lover – fancier.

Hang on- just because a person is an amateur, it does not necessarily mean that they are untalented, unskilled or unqualified. By definition, they just don’t earn any money from their pursuit, or make a living from it.

‘Professional’; Of, relating to, or connected with a profession; (n) A person engaged or qualified in a profession; (adj) vocational ;occupational (syn) pro – practitioner – specialist.

Aha, but with the glove on the other foot (!) just because someone is ‘a professional’ and earns their living from their profession, this does not mean they are ‘professional’. We’ve all seen Cowboy Builders and Rip Off Britain where so-called professionals have done shoddy work or have been unscrupulous in their business practices.

So where does that leave us in terms of bands? Confused I expect! Well, I guess the answer lies in the adjectives and synonyms, not the nouns…

An ‘amateur’ is a non-professional, a dabbler, a fancier, a lover of the pursuit, even perhaps a future professional, but ultimately is not a professional.

The ‘professional’ could be called a pro, a practitioner, a specialist. Their trade is their vocation, their occupation – their living.

In terms of bands, a “professional band” earn their living from performance, and provide a service by performing for the client. Therefore a professional approach is paramount. A professional band’s livelihood is wholly dependant upon their reputation and quality of service. Living in today’s social media climate, it’s even more important to maintain high standards and consistently deliver beyond client expectations. If they are amateurish in any area of performance or business, they won’t survive.

An “amateur band” may play for free, or for a fee, and may be good at what they do, but ultimately they will play for their own enjoyment and purposes. They are not in it for the money (as their main wage comes from elsewhere) nor to consistently provide a high quality service of any kind. They do it for fun, and for the love of performing. If they get paid, it’s a bonus, and if people enjoy what they do, then that’s great too.

Don’t get me wrong, professional musicians love performing too (let’s be honest – we wouldn’t do it if we didn’t love it), but it’s a whole different ball game when you ‘go pro’. I’ll save that for another day…

My advice is to do your research. And then some more.

If a band is cheap, ask yourself why. If a band seems expensive, ask yourself why. Don’t expect something for nothing, pay peanuts and you’ll get monkeys (or not, as in the case study above) and don’t pay a stupid amount as high quality professional bands will always remain competitive in their market. Always ask for a quote, and always ask for recommendations.

At the end of the day, hiring a band is no different to buying any goods or services – you get what you pay for.

Sybil’s statement in one of my favourite classic ‘Fawlty Towers’ scenes sums it up perfectly; “Honestly Basil, if you want a professional job done, you should hire professionals”.

There’s plenty of us out there. 🙂

Thank you for reading.

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