Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Rebecca & Jeff at Model Farm Event Center

Traveling north on Pyramid Highway beyond Spanish Springs you quickly leave suburbia behind as the horizon opens up before you, and the possibility of seeing a wild horse, burro or even an antelope grows exponentially (especially passing the BLM Wild Horse Facility lol). Taking a narrow county road turnoff through alfalfa fields and grazing cattle you drive through a browning landscape for four or five miles until an oasis of greenery appears off to your right and as you approach you see a mixture of barns, outbuildings and gardens that lets you know you have arrived at the ceremony and reception spot, the Model Farm Event Center.

Rebecca and Jeff knew the place through a loved one who lives nearby, and decided that it would be the perfect spot to tie the knot and to celebrate their love with their friends and family... and they were  absolutely right. I've been to many venues that share certain aspects of the Model Farm Event Center, but none of them are as consistently charming or as filled with wildlife as Model Farm. A farmhouse converted from a barn centers the property. Decks and patios spill into gardens and pathways where flowers bloom and fountains bubble. Arches and trellises point you in different directions to explore. Century-old cottonwoods encircle a large pond/small lake that boasts a bridge, row and pedal boats. Fish and frogs entrance the little guests, while ducks, mergansers, and geese glide on top. Bird feeders attract song and blackbirds while swallows nest and dart under the bridge. The ceremony site overlooks the water, and across the way there is a large nest featuring some owlets just about ready to fly. Add in a steady supply of puppies (several litters worth) that the kids and bridesmaids seemed to be all holding, and you have an animal refuge inside a garden inside a magnificent valley. What a unique place for a celebration!

The weather cooperated nicely- distant thundershowers could be seen to the south- but they never intruded on Jeff and Rebecca's big day. Fabulous welcoming cocktails and Fat Tire on tap kept the arriving guests hydrated and happy as they found their seats. The bridal party walked down to Jurassic Five's Canon in D, followed by Rebecca and her dad Roger accompanied by John Legend's "All of Me". Ricki, Rebecca's sister-in-law then presided over the ceremony with panache was well as heart. My favorite part was her describing the art of compromise through a fantastic Monty Python analogy ("and the counting shall be three"). Brilliant!  Soon the newly married couple was exiting to the Ghostbusters theme and cocktail hour commenced.

The guests loved exploring the grounds of the Model Farm. Some went to look for the owlets. Others found secret spots or pedaled on the pond. There are quaint, homey details everywhere, and lots of spots to lounge or gather or explore together. The care of the owner Julie and her staff is apparent everywhere you look, and they are in the background making sure everything goes smoothly.

Picture-wise, this place must be a photographer's dream. The gardens and pond are one thing, but there are farm implements, colorful outbuildings, an old work truck, and even an Airstream that can be used as a dressing area or lodging. My favorite spot that I saw used for photos was the bridge that spans the narrow side of the pond. Not only the wedding party, but many guests had their picture taken there. When the pictures were all taken, appetizers eaten and cocktails imbibed, we moved the whole shindig across the property to the barn, which had been decked out fantastically and after a Grand Entrance featuring "Space Jam" (that's just how Jeff & Becca roll!) a delicious Famous Dave's buffet dinner was enjoyed by all.

Very heartfelt and well-thought out toasts followed and then a fabulous cake was cut and cake, cupcakes, and a very well-stocked candy bar was enjoyed by all. We all sang to two guests who were celebrating their birthdays at Becca & Jeff's wedding, and then the newlyweds had their first dance, "Die a Happy Man" by Thomas Rhett. Roger then danced with his daughter to "Return to Pooh Corner" by Kenny Loggins and Margie danced with her son Jeff to "My Wish" by Rascal Flatts.

Dancing ensued and did not stop except for a pause during a couple of tosses (bouquet & garter). What a freaking fun crowd! Eighties and Nineties music was huge... some newer stuff and Motown also kept the dance floor hopping. I even got on the floor for a couple of my favorite songs which were requested by this super-fun crowd. A group like this is what a DJ lives for :)

Thanks to Julie and her fantastic Farm! What a great new venue! Thanks to Ricki for her fine work and friendly words during the ceremony and afterwards. Thanks to Roger and all the family and friends who worked so hard getting the all the decorations and details so perfect. Thanks to Famous Dave's for not only great food but great service. And finally, thanks to Jeff and Rebecca for entrusting the music and emceeing to me for their Big Day. You two are the best! Congrats!

Friday, May 10, 2019


King & Queen!
Until recently, I hadn't done a high school prom in over 25 years. Not that I have anything against them, but it usually involves lighting and trusses that I just don't usually use. I helped out a friend a few years back and they probably had $30,000 worth of lights, monitors, trussing etcetera that would be overkill at my usual weddings and corporate functions. They even had a videographer and video tech for live streaming. Very cool, but four people (five with me) and a full day's worth of setup is a bit beyond my mission statement. Not that I don't have the sound mind you- I do regular parties each year for 1200+ people and my speaker setup rocks, but I just thought I'd stick with what I excel at: weddings and company parties.

But when my daughter's high school recently asked if I'd consider deejaying their prom, I said yes.  Why, you may ask? I'll tell you my reasoning...

First, their deejay last year, in their words "just plain sucked".  It's a small school, so their budget wasn't enormous, but come on!

Second, my daughter was attending as a junior. I wanted it to be a phenomenal experience for her, and a huge plus: she could help me spin tunes and make announcements :)

Finally, I had the full support of the administration and of the student committee. Having experienced a poor deejay, they wanted to make sure that this prom was perfect. I had the students pick out songs and was in constant communication with them throughout. Nothing is worse in a teenage setting than not getting their music right.
Good looking bunch!
When the day arrived, their venue, Hidden Valley Country Club was decked out far beyond what I expected to see. Dedicated teachers and students had spent all day decorating and it showed. It is a small school but they have more heart than their size would indicate.

Soon juniors and seniors began to arrive, decked out and ready to party with their classmates. Hidden Valley, doing exceptional work as always, put out a nice buffet and soon the kids were eating and getting their portraits taken and class pictures out on the veranda.

When the dancing began in earnest, it really never stopped. I love this generation! They love new music, but are just as comfortable with older stuff from the 90's & 2000's and lots of other songs that have become famous just because of memes. I projected several memes on the walls, which just fired them up even more!  I mean, it's a little unreal when you play a John Denver song that my hippie 2nd Grade teacher played on his dulcimer back in the '70s and all these high schoolers know the words and sing along at the top of their lungs! Very fun crowd!  And since a third of the school is hispanic, I was able to delve deeply into a variety of latin music- everything from Banda and Cumbias to contemporary stuff. A big shout out to Felipe Leon for educating me in a lot of the songs that were requested and played. He is the premier Latin DJ in Northern Nevada and a helluva DJ for us jueros as well ;)
My daughter Rickrolling her class!
It was great seeing my daughter take control, making announcements and reading the crowd. But I spun the majority of the music so she could be out on the floor dancing with her classmates and friends. When the King & Queen were announced, they "Danced on a Cloud" like my brides and grooms do for their first dance. And while my lighting might not be enough for 1000-person proms at the Convention Center, it filled Hidden Valley and then some.

Moral of the story: don't be afraid to venture out of your comfort zone. I went out of mine, had an absolute blast, and they said it was the best prom the school had ever had. Can't wait for next year!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

My Top 5 Love Songs on this Valentine's Day

As this day dedicated to love winds down, I was thinking about love songs that make my heart skip a beat. As a DJ who has been collecting music for over 40 years and who probably owns 10,000+ slow songs these are my favorite top five:

#5  “Love’s Holiday” by Earth, Wind & Fire
This album was the first I ever purchased with my own money back in ’77. As a middle-schooler the musical intricacies were immediately apparent, but it took a few years for experience and true love to fill in the blanks of the lyrics. Maurice White’s voice is at its finest and his brother Verdine drives it all with a fantastic bassline. Add Phillip Bailey’s background punctuations and an almost deliberate spacing that mimics a sweet natural… ahem… rhythm, and it is a song that evokes intimacy at its finest level.

#4  “Tennessee Whiskey” by Chris Stapleton.
I have versions by George Jones and by David Allan Coe, but they both are eclipsed by countless other love songs, but then Chris Stapleton put out his cover and I was immediately enthralled. It’s the perfect late-night, headed-home-shortly-to-make-love song and it always packs my dance floors and cuts through genres and people’s predispositions. Stapleton slows the song down by at least half, making it easy to dance to, giving it time to develop, and giving the dancers time to ignite or reignite. It’s the best newer slow song in a long time in my humble opinion…

#3  “South City Midnight Lady” by the Doobie Brothers.
This was a minor hit in the early ‘70s but it appeals to me on a deeply spiritual and cerebral level that is completely different but just as satisfying as the previous two songs. While Stapleton evokes the anticipation of making love, and EW&F the act itself, this song is a celebration of that feeling of being happy to be alive and in love. It’s a summation of an entire relationship and fulfillment that only comes with maturity and life experience. The lyrics are simple and heartfelt and the dreamy music complements it perfectly. I love to play this song late at night, thankful for my wife and the life we have made together.

#2  “Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton.
This is by far the most popular and commercially successful of my picks. Written by Clapton about Pattie Boyd while she was getting ready for a party, it strikes chords on so many levels. Pattie Boyd must be a special woman, as she is also the inspiration for Harrison’s “Something”, in my opinion the best slow song the Beatles ever made. Not to mention, she was also the inspiration for Clapton’s “Layla”. But this song is nothing like the raw longing on “Layla” or the grasping for the reasons of love in “Something”. No, this song is about the little things that really make up the biggest part of love. The way a woman that you love looks when doing the smallest things. The deep communication that goes beyond a just a few spoken words. The satisfaction of being in the moment, of loving someone for whom they are, and they loving you for whom you are. Still fills the dancefloor.

#1  “Sea of Love” by the Honeydrippers.
This comes from an EP that Robert Plant, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Nile Rodgers, and lots of great session musicians like Paul Shaffer made in the ‘80s as a tribute to their boss Ahmet Ertegun. It is a cover of a 1959 hit by Phil Phillips and it has been covered many times since, most notably by Cat Power, whose version I have played several times as a First Dance in the past few years. But more importantly to me, the Honeydrippers cover was our own First Dance back in 1987 J.
Why did we pick the Honeydrippers? It seemed to perfectly encapsulate our relationship at that moment and our hopes for the future. In the years since, it has taken us right back to that rainy March evening when, despite 150 people watching us, we were completely alone up there on the dance floor. Time stopped for three minutes. Time still stops when we dance to it now. That’s the epitome of a First Dance. Time stops. A moment is etched indelibly on your mind. And just by simply playing or hearing it again, you are right back in that moment.

I wish you and yours much love on this Valentines Day.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Lucy & Sid at The Grove at Southcreek

My first wedding of 2019 happened to be on the first day of the year, and it set the tone for what will surely be a phenomenal year of weddings!

Sid and Lucy have grown and almost-grown children. They have grandchildren. They both were doing well as successful single parents when they met and sparks flew. Sparks, heck! More like Fourth of July fireworks! I get to work with so many fantastic couples, many so very deeply in love with one another, but I think Sid and Lucy topped that parameter. When we met they were so aware of each other. It's like their consciousness exceeded themselves and included each other. There are constant touches, both conscious and unconscious. When one is across the room the other seems to know instinctively where the other is and how they are. It is so special to be a part of a celebration of two people, whom after spending perhaps half their lives apart, raising exceptional children and excelling at their professions, experience the love of their lives. They are living proof that true romance is alive and well and out there for those who seek it, no matter where you are in life.

They contacted me rather late last year. The whole thing was conceived and put together quickly- they were just going to elope, but thought better of that, and after meeting their families and friends I can see why. They wanted to share one of the happiest moments of their lives with the people they love. No better motivation than that.

They decided on The Grove at Southcreek. No better choice. Gigi and her staff are the best in Reno, maybe the best in NoNV/Tahoe, and speaking to Gigi and Ruthie prior to the event, I could tell that they looked forward to Lucy & Sid's day as much as I did. It was an intimate gathering, with the ceremony at the far side of the room, with me opposite near the roaring fireplace. The day was clear and sunny- if you didn't know the date you'd think it was 75 degrees outside instead of a crisp 30 degrees. Jen was the Grove's coordinator that day, and she and her crew did a wonderful job, as always. No finer group to work with.

Mark Frady was their officiant. Mark is an exceptional wedding professional. He loves what he does. He is devout but not zealous. He truly believes in the sacred nature of marriage and tries to imbue some of his copious wisdom to the couple standing before him, all with a friendliness and air of someone who tries not to take himself too seriously. Every time I witness a ceremony that he performs, I glean a little nugget or two that I can apply to my marriage. In other words he set a tone that was perfect for their moment. I am always happy to work with Mark.

The guys came in with Mark as "Waitin' on a Woman" by Brad Paisley played in the background. Then Lucy appeared. She was resplendent (you don't hear that word often lol) in a sleek golden dress: absolutely beautiful on her wedding day. Sid looked like he had a tear or two in the corner of his eye as she walked down the aisle accompanied by her sons. In the midst of the ceremony they recited personal vows that got everyone a little teary. I, for one, felt enormously privileged to witness this public assertion of their love, so tangible and powerful. After their vows, Mark had all of their children and their two moms stand up with them, showing the two families uniting into one. Lucy had a bouquet that split into two parts, which she presented to her and Sid's moms. So special and unique!

Soon they were kissing, Mark was introducing, and I played them down the aisle to the Beatles' "All You Need Is Love"- especially fitting, I thought.

Immediately a Bloody Mary/Mimosa Bar opened up, with specially crafted cocktails for the thirsty guests and participants, and the efficient Grove staff removed the chairs and put a brunch buffet line in its place. Sid's brother Todd then gave an invocation and shortly after that people were enjoying a fabulous Grove brunch (did I mention that their food is extraordinary?) along with their mimosas and vodka-tomato concoctions.
Bless the Broken Road
The toasts were free-form and many in number. Heartfelt. Happy. Then I started up Rascal Flatt's "Bless the Broken Road" and introduced the newlyweds fr their first dance as husband and wife. Both of them had told me that the lyrics of the song really struck a chord with their lives and their romance and while they danced, oblivious to the gazes of all us onlookers, Sid softly sang the words to Lucy and Lucy to Sid. A love is so magnificent, so powerful, and so tangible.

A family dance ("Unforgettable" by father and daughter Cole) ensued where Sid danced with his daughter and Lucy with her sons, and all the sons and daughters and mothers and fathers came out to share the song and the moment. True emotion witnessed yet again on this magical day.

Dancing ensued and it was great to see such enthusiasm in the early afternoon. I played lots of country and threw in some rock and pop here and there, everything from Cash to Strait, Lincoln Brewster to Alison Krauss, Van Morrison to Tim McGraw. An Anniversary Dance followed a fun group photo op and the celebration continued for several hours.

For their last dance I found another version of "Bless the Broken Road" on a Christian CD by Selah and Lucy and Sid had one last dance to sing to each other. Magical.

When all was said and done, hugs exchanged, personal items gathered up, I watched as Sid and Lucy approached every single person working their event- the photographer, the wait staff, bartender, kitchen staff and Jen and myself to personally thank them for helping them on their wedding day. Such a classy gesture from such a thoughtful and happy couple. What a way to kick off 2019!

Thanks to Mark Frady and Jen and all of the Grove staff for the excellent job you did! Thanks to the friends and family that made the day so special and fun. And thanks, of course, to Sid and Lucy for allowing me to be a part of their wedding and celebration. People like you make me a better DJ and reaffirm why I do what I do. All the best to you and yours and Happy New Year!
One more dance