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Favorite Things

One of our most favorite things (please pardon the pun) about what we do is receiving photos and videos people take of us at weddings and private events. One of our bride’s guests took this video of us at Glen Island Harbour Club as we entertained people arriving. The wedding ceremony hadn’t started yet, everyone was relatively sober and it was the perfect time to catch us in action. We hope you enjoy!

Our Wardrobe Stylist?

People always ask us where we get the ideas behind our outfits but we prefer to take all of the credit and politely decline to disclose our sources.  Unfortunately, someone caught Sadiki getting some tips from our stylist before a holiday party performance last year. He’s Sadiki’s nephew and a talented little fellow but prefers to remain out of the limelight. Please respect his privacy…and continue to give us all of the credit if you like our outfits! 😉

A Sneak Peek!

We have the privilege of performing for amazing corporate cocktail hour and dinner parties all the time. While we are very grateful for that, there is a downside. Since they’re almost always private events, we usually aren’t allowed to post any pictures or videos. Fortunately, the team at Michael Aram’s NYC showroom didn’t mind us capturing a portion of their client appreciation event. We even managed to include some of his breathtaking work in the video. Enjoy!

Look Out!

VUE Magazine recently did a blog post about us. Guess that means we’re moving up in the world! 😉

Here’s one of our favorite excerpts from it:

Where did you guys meet?
SP: My friend asked if I could go with him to her [Elasea] show because he was interested in one of the actresses so I went as sort of a wingman. That’s when I got to see eL sing and we met afterwards. We became friends, started hanging out and one thing led to another. She claimed bass was her favorite instrument and she was the one who encouraged me to get back into it.

What made you two want to join forces?
SP: She was having a showcase with another band and she thought it would be cool to have an upright bass instead of an electric one so she asked me to play. Well, most of the band members didn’t show up that night and at one point, it ended up just being the two of us on stage and people seemed to enjoy it. So that’s really how it happened, sort of by accident. After the show people kept coming up to us and saying that they’d love to have this at weddings and different events so we decided to make a thing of it and here we are.

Click here if you would like to read the rest of it.

Posing!

This picture was taken a few years ago after our first private art exhibit gig. You could say we were inspired to get our pose on…

A Musical Introduction

Sometimes I think that music has a funny way of bringing people together. It takes center stage when we’re happy, sad and best of all, celebrating. Live music sets the tone at special events, blending blissful with clanging glassware and polite chit-chat. The launch party of the Summer 2016 issue of VUE Magazine was no different.

It was a sunny August evening aboard the new Sundancer yacht. The day finally arrived after months of meticulous preparation. For my coworkers and I at VUE, this event showcased our summer’s work. After countless hours of writing, photographing and designing, it was fulfilling to see all of the puzzle pieces come together at this event.

With good food, great company and breathtaking views of the Hudson River, this celebration had all of the ingredients of a memorable experience for me. The summer sun melted into colorful clouds at sunset, just barely hugging the New York skyscrapers. Once-filled bottles of wine became drops at the bottom of our glasses. Notable individuals made their way through and around the ever-changing crowd…and then there was the wonderful music I kept hearing.

I still remember the first time my coworkers and I spotted them. We were in the middle of a not so deep conversation with a waiter regarding the hors d’oeuvres and then I noticed them on the yacht’s deck. A woman with a beautiful white dress and chic headpiece to match and a man wearing a navy waistcoat, golden pocket watch and striped tie in an extremely fashionable knot. While their vintage outfits were fabulous, their music was even more uniquely remarkable.

Like everyone on that boat, my coworkers and I were blown away by their musical talent. My fellow writers and I are always fascinated by words. Words and their complexity have become our craft so it was a special experience for us to admire their talent of creating sound. We happily listened as the woman’s smooth voice harmonized with the man’s deep plucking of the double bass. We danced to their music and heartily laughed when the ship’s abrupt movement swung us off balance. Before the magical evening came to an end, I knew we needed a photo to eternalize the joy we felt at that moment.

There were of course a lot of great moments to capture that evening and as a staff photographer at VUE, I had a lot of fun doing so. My lifetime love of music and musical instruments made the challenge of capturing the energy of their performance on camera even more special. The perfect photo opportunity finally occurred as the night was coming to an end on our way back into Lincoln Harbor. The duo’s eyes connected near the end of a beautiful rendition of a Frank Sinatra tune just as I found a few angles framing the awakening lights of the Manhattan skyline behind them. Something, other than the camera shutter, just seemed to click.

All celebrations must come to an end, even the great ones. When the Sundancer finally pulled into the harbor, guests made their way off the yacht and my coworkers and I began cleaning up and collecting the scattered magazines. The jazz singer introduced herself to me and asked to see the few photos I had snapped earlier. She complemented me on the photos, and I praised her music. Elasea and I traded business cards, and the rest of the story is now beginning.

So yes, music really does have a funny way of bringing people together.

Andrea Garcia

New Memories, Old Trends

1You know that saying about absence making the heart grow fonder? Well that’s pretty much my connection with the outdoors. I was born and raised in Queens so I quickly learned to cherish my family’s excursions to scenic areas like our timeshare at the Shawnee Inn near the Poconos. Swimming in the Delaware River was fun and so was learning about the different plants and animals but I was an only child. My fondest memories there consist of running around with other kids and constantly getting into trouble! A few months ago, we performed at our friend’s wedding at that very same Shawnee Inn. While her and her hubby created new memories, all of my childhood ones resurfaced along with some new realizations.

On the long drive back home after the wedding, Sadiki and I chatted about how different the same place can seem with a new perspective. The venue’s historic charm was so much more apparent, especially during the gorgeous wedding ceremony. Outdoor wedding ceremonies are always nice when the weather cooperates but this one felt particularly magical. As we started setting up under the protection of a majestic tree, I noticed a huge scar that I’m guessing was caused by lightning or a violent storm. I wish I had taken a picture of it but we still had to sound check and then setup for Cocktail Hour and the First Dance so time was limited. The scar was incredibly deep and almost as tall as the tree itself. We were absolutely stunned that the tree survived, somehow managed to heal and even continued to grow. Chills ran through my body as my inner child imagined the stories this tree would tell me if we were able to communicate… and perhaps it did communicate. Our sound that day was noticeably different and we haven’t been able to duplicate it since. Sadiki is the more scientific2 one of our duo so he thinks it was the combination of warm, humid air and the strange acoustics of being under the tree’s canopy but my inner child has some other ideas. Later on, we entertained during Cocktail Hour on the Inn’s porch and then returned to a pavilion near the river to perform during the First Dance. Moving our equipment back and forth across the breathtaking lawn while wearing an uncomfortable dress and painful heels is a new Shawnee Inn memory that I can’t forget soon enough but it was well worth it. The romantic afternoon transformed into an unforgettable evening of celebration and we were honored to be a part of it.

After wishing our love struck couple goodbye, I ended up chatting with one of the Shawnee Inn employees while we were packing up. I couldn’t help but tell her that I felt like there was something sacred about the area next to the tree where we performed. She said that there actually was. Apparently, Native Americans considered it to be a sanctuary and would gather there every year for a special religious ceremony. It’s easy to understand why they did and why our friends chose that exact location for their wedding ceremony. There’s something powerfully fitting about getting married under an enduring tree that has weathered several lifetimes’ worth of storms and still remembers to flourish beautifully. Watch out. Having nature officiate your wedding may become the “new” trend! 😉

eL

A Vow to Imagine

I’m sure it’s no surprise that most of our business comes from weddings. Romantic music performed live as two souls celebrate their union makes sense. Unfortunately, “romantic music” isn’t very tangible or objective. It can’t be seen, smelled, tasted, touched or even heard. The songs that one couple consider to be romantic will be different from the next, yet the romantic feeling these songs evoke are the same for both. eL and I like to think that the sounds of the upright bass and voice have been in love forever and we’re just telling a bit of their story. Fortunately, those that are engaged are experiencing that same love story.

As children, we’ve all done our fair share of imagining. We imagine everything from what we want to beDahlias when we grow up to what colors our fancy cars will be. Most of all, we imagine the things, events and accomplishments that will make us happy. As we grow older and allegedly wiser, we begin to realize that some of our childhood dreams may not make us as happy as we had originally envisioned. We modify those dreams accordingly or let them go altogether. Our weddings are no different. Whether you’re five years old or thirty five years old, our dreams of what our weddings will entail are constantly evolving. One of our friends, who was recently married, always wanted red roses for her ceremony. That all changed when she met her soulmate during a springtime stroll through Central Park while dahlias were in bloom.

A similar scenario often unfolds when an engaged couple comes across our videos or catches one of our live performances. We hear about their initial plan to hire a string quartet for their ceremony and cocktail hour but now they’ve fallen in love with our style and aren’t sure what to do. We would love to say that everyone chooses to be bold and hire us instead but many are uncomfortable being different and stick with their original plan. Fortunately for us, there are still a few brave and creative folks out there and as the poet Robert Frost said, “I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” That difference is where we focus our attention and talents. As a duo with unconventional instrumentation, we know that we must handsomely reward our clients so we’ve put a great deal of thought into our wedding packages. We believe we’ve come up with the most personalized form of wedding entertainment that currently exists but it does require a couple to imagine like we all did as children.

Budding relationships usually have soundtracks that go unnoticed. We often wonder if our couples would have ever remembered Taylor Swift singing her heart out during their first kiss or the Romeo Santos songs in the background of a memorable evening taking Bachata lessons. These are the memories we ask them to recall so we can ensure that their wedding’s soundtrack pays homage to their relationship’s journey. Once the songs have been selected, we assist them in choosing the right place for them based on their messages. Some songs have a more celebratory message and are perfect for the recessional while others are more sentimental and better suited for the first dance. The challenge is to not let the style of the original song get in the way. We’re known for transforming club hits and pop songs into beautiful romantic ballads, thus exposing their deeper messages. We also enjoy learning and recreating music from all over the world. So far, we’ve had the privilege of performing in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Hindi, Latin and several African dialects. We’re looking to add Hebrew, Mandarin and German to the list so if you know anyone…hint, hint! 😉

While it’s my personal opinion that we should be hired for our music, eL, an unrepentant fashionista who needs shopping rehab, believes our look should be as compelling as our sound. At her request, it’s become vital that our attire always stylishly complement the wedding’s theme and décor. We’ve done everything from Gatsby inspired outfits to futuristic vestments she somehow purchased from 2081. Even I have been forced to admit the obvious. Our couples really do enjoy having control of how we look, as well as sound, on their special day. Just remember that I am an unwilling participant in this dressing up thing and will not crack the faintest of smiles if the client has demanded that I wear white pants or pretty much anything pink! -_-

 

Here’s how we enhance a couple’s wedding day:

Ceremony

We start by performing love songs a half hour before the ceremony begins. It’s a wonderful way to set the mood as guests arrive. And since ceremonies rarely start on time, the least a couple can do is entertain their guests until they decide to show up. We then perform our renditions of the couple’s favorites during the processional and recessional. We conclude with another song or two as guests exit.

Cocktail Hour

Cocktail hour is where we have a bit more fun. We usually perform an upbeat set from all genres but this can be customized as well. For example, one of our couples asked us to not play any reggae during cocktail hour since they hired a reggae band for their reception. When we first started doing weddings, we were consistently hired for just the cocktail hour but those couples always offered the same feedback. Their guests loved our performances but since the couples were busy taking pictures and greeting everyone, they never had an opportunity to enjoy us. We want our couples to be 100% happy so we’ve created our First Dance & Dinner package so they can have their own show.

First Dance & Dinner

MM1As you may have gathered, I’m not the most lovey-dovey type but I can’t deny that our unique renditions are perfect for the First Dance. It’s a couple’s first dance together as one. Isn’t it fitting that they dance to a version of their favorite love song that no one has ever heard before? And isn’t it even more fitting that the sounds of just the bass and voice represent the harmony between two people with a profound connection? Speaking of connections, we want all of our couples’ dance moves to be as smooth as our music. That’s why we send them recordings of their First Dance songs beforehand so they can practice and not embarrass themselves. If they would like, we also perform for the Mother-Son and Father-Daughter Dances. After the dances, the couple is able to finally sit down, eat dinner and enjoy us perform. Once the guests are ready to get their booty shaking on, it’s time for the DJ or wedding band to take over.

 

Now it’s time for me to bore you with the decidedly unsexy but important technical aspects of how we make all of this happen. We own three separate high-end sound systems. That enables us to setup a separate system in the ceremony, cocktail hour and reception areas and quickly move between them. Our sound systems are so easy to use that some of our couples have decided to play their own playlists (via an iPod, cell phone, tablet or laptop) through them for the reception and forgo the expense of a DJ. We provide wireless microphones as a courtesy and they regularly come in handy for officiants during ceremonies and announcements and speeches during receptions. If the venue warrants it, we provide a small stage and lighting as well. Although it’s a lot of equipment for us to lug around, it’s necessary since we aim to make our couples’ dealings with us as easy as possible. While we drive all over the Northeast for weddings, we’re also a fantastic option for those getting married abroad. We both love to travel and my bass folds into a much smaller case (think The Jetsons) that’s airline friendly.

Most couples recognize that we are a luxury source of entertainment but we do occasionally get couples who are surprised by what we charge. Perhaps they spoke to a harpist or violinist who quoted them a few hundred dollars to perform for their wedding. That’s similar to the difference in cost and quality of buying a wedding dress off the rack from David’s Bridal versus commissioning Carolina Herrera to create a couture gown. Both options technically get the job done but only the couture gown was created specifically  for the client and will astonish all who lay eyes on it. It requires an exceptional amount of effort, skill, creativity and time so naturally, there’s a higher cost. Our rates are not dramatically higher than the average musician’s but what we offer is infinitely more valuable. This is due to the unparalleled level of personalization we are known for. Ultimately, our ideal couple is not consumed with having the most economical wedding possible. Instead, they embrace imagining an incredible day celebrating their love and know we are the pen and paper they must use to compose their wedding’s soundtrack.

 

eL’s Loyal Manservant