Nothing can match the celebratory nature and heightened sense of anticipation that live music can impart on a wedding ceremony. In my past life, I was a performance music degree graduate and although I try to stay out of the way of the musos while I’m doing weddings, I can’t help but notice when an artist gets it right; there is a big difference between ‘just playing a song’ and performing an original interpretation with energy and integrity.
Brian Ruiz is one of the most soulful musicians and fun guys that I have had the pleasure of working with at my Adelaide weddings. It was great to sit down with him at Patch Kitchen & Garden, Stirling and have a chat about what he does and why he believes (contrary to musician snob rhetoric) that performing at a wedding is the best gig in town.
So Brian, how long have you been playing music for?
“I’ve been singing and playing guitar since I was 10, but have been doing it professionally for the last 15 years here and overseas.”
Where have you played overseas?
“All over the place - New Zealand to Noumea, the U.S. and Canada.”
Are there particular types of weddings that you find yourself performing at more than others?
“I have been playing a lot more ceremonies recently. I think brides are wanting more of a personal connection with their song as they walk down the aisle, to really help convey the emotion of that special moment.”
Have you noticed any (good or bad) emerging trends?
"I did play a few Friday and Sunday weddings last season. They are becoming more popular days to have weddings and I think that’s great.”
What would you say is the most popular walking down the aisle song at the moment?
“Oh, that’s a hard one! Maybe ‘A Thousand Years’ or ‘Thinking Out Loud’.”
Okay, what about the worst song that you’ve been asked to play as a soul/funk band?
“I wouldn’t say worst..but most unusual was probably ‘500 Miles’ by the Proclaimers.” (laughs)
When should a couple book their entertainment?
“I would encourage couples to book their entertainment as soon as they secure their venue and date. As musicians, we try to fill our diary with work as soon as we can because most venues (pubs and clubs) like to lock in our services and I often get booked a year in advance!”
What should couples be looking for in a wedding band?
“A band that has fun! You want your dance floor full and your guests smiling and sweating, so make sure the band can play a whole range of songs that you and your guests will love!!”
What's your rider like?
“Playing a wedding gig is a long day for us. We generally get there before all the guests arrive to set up our equipment and are still there packing everything up once everyone leaves, so I always hope that couples can provide us with a meal each and drinks.... and we don't drink much alcohol, if any, mainly because we all have to drive to the reception with our equipment and then drive it all home!”
If you could dispel the most common misunderstanding about your profession, what would it be?
“Where do I start!?! (laughs) Some people question musicians about their fees and I often say, 'if you want the best flowers/lighting/table-settings/photographers etc., you wouldn't hesitate to pay what they’re worth'. The right band can make the world of difference to your dance floor and will set the perfect soundtrack for your wedding reception!”
What do you want couples to know?
“That they can’t change the core style of the band, so they should book a band for who they are. If they are a jazz band, you can't expect them to play top 40 and a party/rock band won’t be playing "light jazz" as your guests are eating. And most importantly, please don't seat your older guests right in front of where you want the band to be!”
What’s your best (music related) advice for brides and grooms-to-be?
“Book me!! (laughs) No seriously, check out a whole bunch of different musicians or bands around town cos there's some amazing talent and you're bound to find exactly what you’re looking for.”
Brian Ruiz and The Shizzle