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

Indebted To Nature

In an age where most of our music is electronically enhanced (I’m trying to be gentle), it’s a really nice feeling to receive compliments for our natural sound. It’s interesting because most people have no idea how how much nature has shaped what we do. I could tell you about how fussy Sadiki is about eating organic foods, juice fasts and cleansing but I want you to keep reading. Instead, I’ll start by telling you about our rehearsals outside on his magical deck.

KnowbleBeing born and raised in Queens and then going to college and working in Manhattan, Sadiki’s place in the middle of the scenic Hudson Valley has always been a relaxing paradise that seemed to be constructed from the pages of a novel. I have written most of my songs in noisy apartments, on the subway or on buses. I’ve then rehearsed them in churches, theaters or studios. It was a new experience to create in an environment where the only things I could hear were birds and crickets engaged in a chirping competition while the wind blowing through the leaves provided a seamlessly disarming backdrop. At first, I had to learn to focus on whatever we were working on. It was SO easy to get distracted watching the hummingbirds chase each other or marveling at the stillness of the frogs who seemed completely at peace sitting right next to us as we rehearsed. Fortunately, I grew accustomed to nature’s charms and and before long, I too was in love with creating and rehearsing outdoors. I discovered a musical freedom there that I hadn’t felt since I was a child and it’s been a tremendous part of our identity ever since.

As much as we enjoy our outdoor songwriting and practice sessions, almost all of our gigs have been indoors at high-end events. We love performing on stage with fancy colored lighting and high-tech sound systems in front of hundreds of well dressed patrons but if I’m being completely honest, it always feels like we’re reenacting the magic that only truly emerges when we’re outdoors. I’ve only realized this truth during the past few months. Last winter was a long and harsh one. It may have been the worst one of my life. If not, the fact that it is the most recent one coupled with my new-found adherence to lady-like behavior (no more sleigh riding or snowball fights) certainly makes it seem so. Like most New Yorkers, I longed for spring’s return. The change in weather brought with it the pleasant gift of several outdoor bookings.

Because we grew used to performing indoors, we initially looked at performing outdoors as a logistical nightmare. Where would we get power from? Would our sound get lost since there were no walls and ceilings? And of course, would the weather cooperate? To make matters worse, our first outdoor event was a rooftop wedding in midtown. While the view was fantastic, it rained on and off all day so everyone was understandably nervous. Fortunately, the rain stopped a few minutes before the ceremony was supposed to begin and we were able to get setup and start performing on time. Although the sun decided to make a fashionable entrance, there wasn’t enough time for it to dry anything including the chairs so all of the guests chose to stand. Although it appeared inconvenient, the ceremony became even more intimate. The puddled rooftop reflected the gorgeous sky and the sun’s rays shining through the moist air created a heavenly glow around everything. The stunning bride walked in to our rendition of Robin Thicke’s Angel and it was truly one of the most breathtaking moments we have ever seen. It certainly set the tone for our other outdoor events.

Since then, we’ve had a few outdoor performances in the Hamptons that were beautiful but pretty much everything out there is beautiful so that’s to be expected. The first thing I noticed was how perfect the temperature was. To be fair, I’m sensitive to temperatures since my biggest professional hazard is having to wear dresses made of about as much fabric as one of Sadiki’s ties. As a result, I’m usually uncomfortably cold whenever we perform. At these outdoor gigs, the sun’s warmth has been such a cozy reprieve. The gentle breeze has also been a welcomed participant. On more than one occasion, it has encouraged the trees to sway along with our music…or did it just seem that way because the legendary Hamptons traffic took a piece of our sanity?

Yacht SunsetAfter one of our Hamptons performances, we were invited to perform on a yacht for a small dinner party. While watching a dazzling sunset, we performed a few tunes during dinner. Towards the end of our set, the ocean was so still that it seemed like we were sailing on a sea filled with stars. The yacht swayed ever so gently and it was during this peaceful juncture we performed My Funny Valentine for a couple visiting from Europe to celebrate their wedding anniversary. The hypnotizing setting inspired us to deliver our most heartfelt performance of the song to date. When we finished, the teary eyed couple was overwhelmed with gratitude. While we graciously accepted their thanks, we shouldn’t have taken all of the credit. We would never have performed the song that way without nature’s assistance.

And for all of this, we say thank you to nature for the many ways it has and continues to inspire us. We just hope it forgives us for expressing our gratitude via a blog post!

eL

Favorite Performance?

Come-Out-Love-1We  were recently asked if we had a favorite performance. It is a tricky question to answer because there are several that come to mind but the one that stands out the most happened at a jazz festival in Martha’s Vineyard last year. We were honored to be invited to perform alongside many talented and accomplished musicians…and to be completely honest, we were also a bit intimidated. It was our first year performing together and we still had our doubts. To make matters worse, I was getting over a cold and my voice was not cooperating with me. The bands who performed before us were amazing and received deafening applause after almost every song. You could tell that the crowd really enjoyed them. When it became our turn, we played a few covers to ease them into our unique style and what an upright bass and voice duo can sound like. Perhaps it was a friendly audience because we too received our fair share of applause. As my voice warmed up, we became more confident and decided to perform one of our originals called Come Out Love. Its soul stirring melodies combined with intimately introspective lyrics invoke emotion when we are at our best. Unfortunately, it is exceedingly difficult for Sadiki to play and me to sing, especially when my voice is on the mend. On that evening, we both made a few mistakes but nothing catastrophic…or so we thought. When we ended, there was no applause. There was no movement. There was only silence. We looked out at the crowd and saw many with their heads down and eyes closed. The lively atmosphere that we inherited seemed like a distant dream. In its place, there was a calm and peaceful state that would be more appropriate at a meditation retreat than a jazz festival. The quiet was eventually broken by a few people whispering their wonder. After that performance, we finally believed we had something special.

eL

 

The 5 Best Halloween Wedding Ideas

Weddings and Halloween may not seem like an ideal combination. However, today’s modern times have eased up a little on wedding styles and themes. Since some people just love playing dress up, couples who wed in late October, have the option to make their wedding reception a Halloween-themed one.

It doesn’t have to be gory and gross. With proper planning, this can turn into an elegant and tasteful affair that people will talk about for months to come. Here are some tips to help you pull it off:

  1. Bring Out the Dark Color Palettes
    No. You don’t have to limit yourself to just orange and black. Contemporary Halloween themes do use a touch of glitter and glam. It’s safe to use jewel tones and pair it with deep reds and blacks. You can also play around with fabrics and textures. Just because it’s dark-themed doesn’t mean it has to be drab and boring.
  2. Try a Mystery Theme
    One way to elevate your Halloween-themed reception is to veer away from common scary themes. Lose the cobwebs and coffins. Instead, play around with backdrops and lights. You can make your venue look sophisticated by making use of a woodsy theme. This will make your guests think that they are walking through a mysterious forest at night. Alternatively, you can go the “whodunit” route and pretend that there’s a murder mystery to solve during the reception.
  3. Make the Bridesmaid Dresses Elegant
    Reds, emeralds, navy blues are alternative colors to black. Your bridesmaids can wear different styles in the same color, or different colors and various styles depending on their preference. You can elevate this theme by adding accessories like lace veils, double stands of pearls, and long, black gloves. If you prefer the goth look, use dark eye and lip makeup. For a modern twist, add sparkle with a glossy lip finish and diamond accessories.
  4. Celebrate Apples
    People naturally associate fall with pumpkins. Most parties or weddings during this time feature pumpkin pies or cakes. But, apples are also big during the fall and they make for good desserts. Instead of the common apple pie though, why not try serving caramel apples? They can be in small bars so guests won’t have a hard time eating them. You can also try mixing apple juice with champagne for an interesting and refreshing cocktail. This can be the signature drink at your reception.
  5. Create Souvenirs
    With this kind of theme, expect long lines at the photo booth. Everyone will want to remember your Halloween-themed party with plenty of souvenir photos. You can have these photos printed on magnets and make them your wedding giveaways. Just ask the guests to choose one photo to turn into a ref magnet so you don’t go over budget.

These are just five basic tips for planning a unique and elegant Halloween-themed reception. Don’t forget to tie in the rest of the wedding essentials such as invitations, flowers and music with the general theme. Plan everything early and make sure all your guests play along. This will be one big celebration to remember!

For booking information, contact Acute Inflections at 800-610-0704!

Throwing a Fabulous Fall Party? Here Are 5 Things to Remember

Celebrating fall with an elegant soiree requires a lot of attention, and time. The golds and browns associated with autumn is a great theme to start with whether you’re throwing a corporate event or a fund raiser. But where you go from there is totally up to what you have planned.
Here are 6 Tips for an amazing autumn party:

  1. 1. Choose the right venue.
  2. The venue is one of the first things you need to consider when planning a party. If you host events like these regularly, you more or less have an idea of the size and location you need. However for most people, they book the venue with a firm idea of how many people are attending.

    Additionally, since this is a party with a Fall theme, it’s also important to consider if your guess will be more comfortable in an outdoor or indoor venue.

  3. 2. Make your set-up WOW.
  4. In a venue or event space, you have to be able to decorate the stage and provide social areas where people can gather and talk. Assigned tables may limit them mingling with other guests. Formal events provide cocktail tables before the actual dinner to facilitate conversations. Choose an elegant backdrop, embellish the lights, and make the room sparkle and shine. Don’t overdo it though.

  5. 3. Feature what’s in season on your menu.
  6. Your menu will highly depend on the profile of the guests you will be having. However, offering the best produce in season will tie up the fall theme. Plan the menu with your caterers and showcase the sweetest pumpkins, carrots, apples and more. For protein, you can geese and turkey prepared in a variety of ways.

    For drinks, you can serve champagne during dinner and have an open cocktail bar during appetizer and after dinner.

  7. 4. Souvenirs or mementos.
  8. Fancy parties need not be boring. For corporate events and parties, make sure you give out small tokens or souvenirs. It can be a paperweight, a card holder, or dainty cupcakes. Having a photo booth is also a great idea. It’s a good thing to give your guests something to remember the evening by.

  9. 5. Elegant and tasteful entertainment.
  10. For formal events, you can have a string quartet or a jazz duo to provide entertainment for the evening. It’s important that the music be tasteful and fitting to the event. However, it is expected that they’d accept some requests from the audience at some point in the evening. While you don’t need to ask for their entire set, you can ask for a general idea of what type of songs or tunes they will be playing.

Fall parties can be dreamy and fanciful. Well-planned events are not only well-appreciated, they also play a big role in raising funds or generating awareness for various causes. Make your autumn soiree a celebration of life and success!

Cocktail Hour Music Done Right

 

Separate Your Cocktail Hour From The Rest

There are several aspects of weddings worthy of the time you put into planning the event. There are other details that aren’t so worthy. Playlists for cocktail hour isn’t something you have to overly assess. If cocktail hour goes as planned, everyone will be socializing and having a good time, and no one will be paying attention to the music in the background – unless it’s unique. A cocktail hour playlist just needs a positive, upbeat vibe, no more and no less. Whether those songs are funky or soulful, as long as the playlist puts people in a positive mood, it’s working.

Did you know that the cocktail hour was invented by British aristocracy in the early 20th century?

We like to play many of the top favorite songs for our cocktail hour playlists. We work with our clients to produce a mix of live music, so needless to say, it incorporates many soul, jazz and funk selections. Nonetheless, assembling a playlist should be fun, not a chore. The songs you select should be inspirational, not melancholy. Songs that you’d be happy to drink to, ranging from Justin Timberlake to Etta James!

 

Your Wedding

Your wedding’s cocktail hour should be magical. You’ve just married your best friend, everyone around you is rooting for your happiness, and the drinks are keeping that euphoria afloat. Even if you and your new partner leave the party early, you’re guests are going to take in everything the wedding has to offer, from the hors d’oeuvres to the cocktails. Whatever they do, they’ll be doing it with a spectacular musical backdrop. Despite the conversation being the loudest sounds in the room during any cocktail hour, it’s still essential to play music that embodies the absolute elation of a wedding.

Acute Inflections is the perfect addition to your wedding soirée. Contact us at 800-610-0704 for booking information!

Background Music at Corporate Events

A common fallacy about live background music is that it must be instrumental. It’s understandable why many would think that – a vocal musician would warrant attention. At a private event, however, people want to socialize and network amongst one another. People can do so freely when live music in the background contains no lyrics to distract them. However, for many discerning clients, adding a vocalist to the music can actually be a fantastic addition to any private event.
Not all musical instruments are made the same. Some are louder than others, and no one wants to be startled during a corporate event. Clients tend to favor bass, keys, and a trumpet/sax over drums in background jazz ensembles. A jazz trio configuration (bass, piano, drums and bass, for instance) is uncommon. Nowadays, clients are interested in more unique approaches to music. Acute Inflections is the perfect answer to that. With a blend of a velvety voice and upright acoustic bass, we can set the tone of any event in any style.
We normally sing the praises of a complete live band, but they are not a practical choice at some events. Budget restrictions, or a lack of room, could minimize a trio or quartet’s platform, inhibiting their performance. This is a more affordable approach to live music than hiring a complete ensemble, and still maintains the live component absent from recorded music. Acute Inflections is the perfect answer to that dilemma. With a unique variety of jazz, top 40 covers, and R&B, we have an answer to the often puzzling question on how to impress and entertain guests with background music.
Small background ensembles generally play either with light amplification or acoustically. Both methods are ideal for patrons of up to 150 people (give or take), but if those people are in separated rooms (or in a single narrow room), extra amplification might be necessary. Because we understand New York’s greatest event venues so well, we should be able to pre-empt those kinds of issues. We have 3 different types of amplification. Doing our own sound allows us to accurately set the tone of our music. Many venues find this incredibly useful since we provide our instruments, sound, and talent in a all-in-one package.