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Larry Bernstein

Larry Bernstein

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Disc Jockey Services plays at the Grand Opening of Dick's in Willow Lawn July 14th

What makes a song “classic”? We will skip the dictionary definition and just say a classic is something that is older and has been around awhile and seems to have a style about it that keeps it alive beyond it’s years. Unfortunately music has a certain life expectancy because it follows trends. Much like a gallon of milk or a package of cheese some songs have a relative short shelf life. You’ve all heard of the “One Hit Wonders” like “Gangham Style” by Psy, “Louie, Louie” by the Kingsman.

Playing so many gigs and dealing with everyone from old to young, I deal with so many requests for songs. There are only two groups, the ones that wants to hear the familiar and those who want only to hear just the new stuff. Years ago I attended a DJ convention in Atlantic City where I met the spokesman for Pioneer. His claim to fame was that he was a DJ who had appeared on MTV’s Real World, London. His name was DJ Lars(I always give credit to those I use in articles). Lars, I believe Dj’ed in London in the trendy clubs there. We got onto the subject of songs he played and he said that he played songs only until they broke through to the Top 40 and then he stop playing them. His clientele did not bother with the Top 40. They wanted the avant-garde and the hip. I on the other hand play many of the same songs over and over again at my events. Two different styles for different audiences played by different DJ’s.

Lars will never say, “here’s an old favorite” but I will. There are songs that have stood the test of time. There’s something about the lyrics, the “hook” or the beat. This makes a song seem to go beyond it’s expiration date and is put into that category of “classic” Songs like “Hotel California”, “My Girl”, “Sweet Caroline”, “Brown Eyed Girl” and now add to that list, “Uptown Funk.” I don't want to delve too deeply or dissect the song too much, that takes away the essence and just leaves the parts. All I can say thank God that there are classics and I will continue to play them when asked.

It makes no difference to me if the song is old or new if it has a great beat and people like it. I would play Spike Jones if people danced and enjoyed the songs. I have a saying, “If you have never heard the song, then it’s new to you.” So you shouldn’t care if a DJ puts on “Johnny B.Good” by Chuck Barry or “Why Do Fools Fall In Love” by Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers or even a song from the Bee Gees. If it makes you tap your feet and it makes you want to get up and dance, then that’s all that matters!

I’ve picked one song from each decade going back to the 1950’s. If you would like to check out more one hit wonders head on over to Wikipedia, they have an in depth look at the songs and artist from each decade that rose like the Phoenix only to crash and burn.

!950     Eddie Love     Teen Queens                 Good slow make-out song

1960     Tip Toe Thru the Tulips   Tiny Tim     Need I say more

1970     Makin’ It     David Naughton   Song followed his successful movie “American

             Werewolf in London”

1980     Whip It         Devo     Short lived techno song

1990     Nothing Compare To U       Sinead O’Connor         Prince gave her that song

2000     Smooth Criminal     Alien Ant Farm     Remake of Michael Jackson’s song

2010     Harlem Shake       Baauer       I sneezed and the song was gone!

Thursday, 28 April 2016 15:30

Performing For the Harlem Globetrotters

It was Thursday morning when I pulled into the Greyhound Bus Terminal and started to pull my DJ equipment out of the van to play for the Harlem Globetrotters. They would be arriving at 11:00 am to put on a special show for a classroom of kids who were lucky enough to be picked from Carver Elementary School. 

Let me back up a minute and explain how we got to this point. I received an e-mail from the Greyhound Bus Company out of Dallas, Texas. Disc Jockey Services two years earlier was asked to provide music for Greyhound’s 100th Anniversary which was held at the Short Pump Mall in Henrico County. After a full day of music out there and packing up, I figured that would probably be the last time I would hear from them after I submitted my invoice to get paid. Jokingly I said I enjoyed doing it, could I put them down on my calendar to do the 200th Anniversary in 3014. Fast forward (but not to 3014, but to 2016) to February 2016 I get this e-mail, would I be interested in doing an event with the Harlem Globetrotters in Richmond. Well you didn’t have to ask me twice. I think Greyhound really, really likes me.      

Now back to the show. The kids arrived first and I must say they were very well behaved. They were treated to some refreshments before the show began. I had a talk with the MC that travels with the Globetrotters on the timeline for the event. We went over the songs to play and when to play them. About 11:45 am, “Globie” the Mascot came out with his act and did musical chairs with the kids and did some fun interaction with them. The MC kept the show going and then it came time to introduce the Harlem Globetrotters to (my queue) “Sweet Georgia Brown.” The team came out and went through their famous routines and then talked to the kids about “bullying” and how to deal with it in school.

As the show ended the kids got autographs and pictures taken with the team and back on the bus for the kids and back on their bus for the Globetrotters and back to the hotel and to rest up for the game that night at the Coliseum. All in all it was a great event for the kids and the Globetrotters enjoyed it, too. The staff of the Greyhound Bus station were great to work with and helped with the logistics of me setting up. I left with a nice feeling that I was able to contribute something to the event with the music. That’s why I love playing music. Hope the Globetrotters win tonight!( they did…..they always do.)

Sunday, 17 April 2016 17:31

Music of Our Class of 1961-1965

We are one of the luckiest generations to experience the birth of so many different forms of music. Being born at the end of the swing and big band era and the birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll with Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chubby Checker, American Bandstand, Richmond’s own Teen Dance Party on Channel 12, Teen Tempo on Channel 6. The rise of the British Invasion, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Billy J. Kramer, Dave Clark 5 and so many others. America fought back with the Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, Tommy James and the Shondells. As we went off to college we saw the rise of folk music and hootenannies, Bob Dylan, Byrds, Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix and the Grateful Dead. With the growth of music concerts we saw Monterey Pop, Woodstock and the death nil, Altamont.

And during all this time R’n’B continued its rise from Little Richard, Jackie Wilson, Isley Brothers, Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas and the whole stable of Motown Stars.

Richmond had its own music scene with the Escorts, Panics, Johnny Houston and the Charmers and the Barracudas. TJ had its bands like the Morticians and Sound By Four. And how many remember the Hullabaloo Club on W. Marshall, Huh?

Well, as your DJ for the evening, I want to bring those memories back of sock hops, dedications of songs to our friends and steadies. I want the entertainment to be the best ever done at a reunion and that other high schools would like to duplicate what we have done. Will we have the best dance music, but we have some great retro prizes for the contests we have planned After all, I have a personal stake in this because I’m a member of the class, too. So your homework assignment is to:

1.     Study you pop culture and music from the 60’s for the crazy contests we’re going to have

2.     Look at the list of top hits from Billboards list below. This is just a sample and by no means is the only songs we will pick. Hopefully it will jog your memory to think of other songs from that era you would like to hear and then send in you requests and dedications to your high school friends to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. By the way, we will also be playing music from all eras, not just the sixties, so send those requests in also.

3.     Come to the Reunion

4.     Talk to everyone and catch-up on the last 20 years and partake of the activities

5.     Take a nap Saturday Afternoon, so you can be rested for the “muther of all dances” Saturday night

6.     Practice up on your Watusi, Stroll, Shag, Locomotion, Swim, Twist and the Hully Gully and dance your feet off and have fun, fun, fun, till your daddy takes your T-bird away!

7.     And after the dance go to the Clover Room for that sundae or frosty (if only it were still there) or dogwood dell to make-out (and then to the clover room.)

 

This article appears on the Thomas Jefferson's website for their reunion party. Written by the DJ for the class of '65.

Update to this letter to the class of 62. When I first started doing school reunions, I just came to the event and maybe talked to the person who called and hired me. I soon realized after doing a number of these reunions, from those that had money to spend to those that didn't have to nickels to rub together, there was more work involved than the committee was aware there was. Reunions be it school, college or family usually fall to a few dedicated people. Pass the initial work of getting the logistics down, the biggest concern is getting in touch with everyone in the class and tracking them down. This is an on going job. I have done a number of reunions where the party was poorly planned and executed because with all the work that had to be done the committee overlooked the the events of the evening and it was chaos. When hired I want to sit in on some of the committee's meetings dealing with the party and the flow of the evening. I offer my hands-on services because of my years of experience. If you can afford to have the DJ you hire do this, I believe it will pay off in a more professional run event. The letter below went out to the class of '62 to give the reunion a more interactive feel by being able to get their request, personally to the DJ.

 

To The Class Of 1962

Greetings, Class of ‘62, let me introduce myself, I’m Larry Bernstein and I’ll be the disc jockey for your class reunion in October. What we want to do is make this party so much fun by playing the music that will bring back those memories of crusin’ around Bill’s Barbeque, Shoney’s and going to the Clover Room for the Frosteds or Club Sandwiches. How about after the movies at the Capital and you would go right next door to Julian’s for the best pizza in town.

How many remember the Escorts, Johnny Houston and the Charmers, Doug Clark and the Hotnuts, The Jarmels and Tommy Edwards.

I just want to take a minute to share what happened at the Class reunions of ‘65 and ‘66. Can we taulk! I DJ’ed that party and was concerned that there would not be a lot of dancing and fun times after all we’re not 17 year olds. I figured that after a full day of activities that people would be just to Pooped To Pop. I was worried that people would start to leave early, BUT boy was I wrong! Not only did the event go the full 4 hours but an additional 2 hours. Well we showed everybody we know how to party and as a generation we are not going to go gentle into that good night! We were doing the Bop, Cha Cha, Electric Slide, Shag and the Stroll. There was so much electricity in the air that we could have powered a city block. People were dancing that told me they don’t dance and others who said they don’t like to dance.

Now this brings me to you, the Class of 1962. This is the kind of event that I want for you and just between you and me; I think your class can do better than the class of 65 and ’66. Shhhhhh, don’t mentioned it to anyone you know in the class of 65, I’ll deny I said it!

We have a great party planned with great music, great lights and effects, and prizes for some contest if we can get them in. So those of you that are coming and I expect that to be 99% of the class, you’ve got time to practice your dancing and to help you get in the spirit. We want you to send in requests for your favorite songs of that era and to make it a little more personal, send me your dedications too. Make it to your wife, old boy friend, old flame or anybody you want.

 

Your DJ For The Evening

Larry Bernstein

Friday, 29 January 2016 16:56

Planning Your Music

So the date is set, all vendors are selected and you’re ready to start working on a play list/planner!  One thing on every brides mind is how can we keep the dance floor packed all night long!  Disc Jockey Services is here to help you every step of the way with DJ Intelligence online wedding planner & even a music request list online.  We’re often asked about how many songs should we put in the “must play” section?  We offer this advice to keep ALL of your guest’s best interest in mind when deciding on a play list. We help on what genre’s to play or not play. Our music database is easy to use. Hit this link and see what it does: http://www.discjockeyserv.djintelligence.com/music/

Find the song or artist and click on it and it is put on a sheet and when you’re ready to send just push the bottom. Even your guest can send songs to us the same way. Got a problem thinking of songs no problem, just push the most requested song button and you have the Top 200, Top songs of the 1950’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s,etc. You even have a list of Best first dances, Mother/Son Dances, Father /Daughter, Bouquet/Garter. Most of our couples have complied a list of about 10-12 songs that they’d really like to hear at some point in the evening.  Keep in mind that the average song is roughly 3 minutes long so when you multiple that by 60 minutes you have about 20 songs an hour played.  Line dances are a great way to “break the ice” of any event and even more so if the event is held during the day light hours as most people associate “dance time” with it being dark outside.

 

Keeping your guests interests in mind, it is always a good idea to allow requests from the guests on your wedding day but within reason.  In other words make clear to your DJ in advance if you want to stay away from certain songs or genres.  For example we will always come to the bride if there is any questionable song before just playing it.  If your personal request list for the dancing portion of the evening is more then a dozen or so songs, do make sure that the songs are ones that people can dance too.  This is key to keeping the floor packed all evening.  Also keep in mind to include songs that are well known to everyone. This is sure to keep things flowing on the floor too!

I was watching 20/20 the other night on selling and how companies advertise their products. I took the title from what we see on TV. The products that are sold at low prices and you get the second one for free with only a small processing fee and shipping and handling charge. We get bombarded by the biggest rip-off companies in the country, cable TV.  We are lured into a low price only to be hit with processing fees, rebroadcast fees, recovery fees ad nauseam . Our doctors and hospitals hit us with ‘reasonable and customary “fees. Have you noticed the “Sales” in store touting 70, 80 and 90 per cent off and then you read the exclusions and wonder what is really on sale. There are stores that seem to have the perpetual sale. Remember if the sale is every day, than it’s no sale, people. The other day I had a home improvement company come around our neighborhood and offer 75% off their services. How do they stay in business? Seventy-Five percent is off of WHAT? What is SUGGESTED RETAIL price mean? What company is charging that price? Now I’m not going to give a course in economics in this article but let your common sense tell you something is not right.

What does all this have to do with the price of DJs, well it does, because we are in the selling business. Selling our services, this is made up of time, talent and experience and our cost to run our business. Disc Jockeys are not a commodity like a pair of Levi jeans, where price comparison is easy from store to store. DJs sell a service, you can’t see it or touch it but you have to evaluate it. No two DJs price themselves the same way. Some try to make a living at of DJing others do it for beer money. To evaluate what makes a good DJ takes a little more than starting with the question. How much do you charge? It can’t be done by e-mail or text messaging, although it is the start of that journey. It has to be done by talking and seeing (the old fashion way).

I’m a conservative guy, I don’t go crazy spending on extravagant things and I have come to see from the many years of DJ-ing, just how special the wedding day is to so many people. It is one of a few times in one’s life that you can splurge (a little more than usual), not go crazy, mind you, or into outrageous debt without feeling guilty.

I’m going to propose a radical concept. Don’t hire your DJ last or next to last. Move them up to the second or third vendor you hire. The reason for this is being on the bottom as most wedding couples do with hiring a DJ, they are at the end of their budget so they are cutting corners and looking for the cheapest DJs. Change it up. You want to get the most responsible and experienced DJ you can afford. Remember weddings are a once in a lifetime event for you unless your Elizabeth Taylor then everything I said goes right out the window.

Check another blog I did "After The Wedding" on statistical information on  how brides feel about hiring their DJ after their wedding. Very interesting information.

Wednesday, 02 September 2015 10:55

WEDDING PLANNING TIPS PART 2

Well here are with Planning Tips Part 2 for you to read through and see which ones might fit your needs. If you have some suggestions to add to this list, drop us a line.  We 'd love to hear from you.

ITEMS THAT ARE FORGOTTEN THE MOST

Pen for the guest book
Cake Knife & Server
Throw away bouquet (Not all florists will provide this automatically, you must ask.)
Bridal Bag or Apron for Dollar Dance(if your doing a dollar dance)
Slippers
Helpers for afterwards. You will be surprised at how much stuff that you will have to try to pack into vehicles while still leaving a place for passengers
.


IDEAS TO KEEP KIDS AND ADULTS ENTERTAINED

An Activity Bag as a favor for your child guests. (Crayons, Coloring Books, Cards, etc...)
Candy Bouquet Toss for the children before the Garter - Bouquet Toss

OTHER SUGGESTIONS

It is generally customary for a couple to greet their guests at the tables after dinner. The best time to start this is as soon as you have finished eating(Remember eating and drinking water is important.I've seen a number of brides feel ill at their reception because of the stress of the wedding and they just forget to eat and drink something and it catches up with them. However, do not take too long. Once again, think from your guest’s perspective. They have been sitting for a very long time and they want to dance. Most couples will go to the most important tables, get the first dance started and then mingle around to greet other guests throughout the evening.

In the Rest Room put together a basket of items that may be needed. Your guests will appreciate your thoughtfulness. And you will be amazed at how many of these items get used.

Band aids                                                                                  Shout Wipes
Feminine Products                                                                     Tylenol
Nylons                                                                                      Aspirin
Tums                                                                                        Safety Pins
Imodium AD                                                                              Sewing Kit
Dental Floss                                                                              Mints
Comb                                                                                       Clear Nail Polish
Hand Lotion                                                                              Gum
Tissues                                                                                    Hair Spray
Nail File                                                                                   Garter & Bouquet

One of the hardest things about planning your Wedding Reception is the fact that even though it is your day, you cannot forget about the guests that you have invited to help you celebrate the special day.

With this in mind, you do not want to give your DJ a large list of requests. You want your guests to be able to make requests as well. And of course there are many songs that you may not be fond of, but many of your guests will most likely enjoy them. It is okay to give your DJ a list of your favorites and of course all of the songs for your Special Dances. You also want to try limiting the number of songs that you ask not to be played as well. Your DJ will try to get as many requests played that time allows. But do not expect your DJ to play every single request. The reality is that after dinner and your Traditional Events there will generally only be time at the most for about 55-65 other songs to be played throughout the course of dancing. In addition, the biggest surprise to most couples is that you will be so busy that you will not even be aware that a song had been played. It is common for a couple to come up and ask when a particular song will be played and then shocked to hear it was played 5 minutes before.

Not all receptions are adult only. If you are planning on having children at your reception, a few years ago a family had us make an announcement at their reception and we have had quite a few since then who have had us do the same. Kids will be kids and that is a fact. Kids like to run around and play on the dance floor, which can deter your adult guests from dancing. In addition, can get dangerous, we have seen many kids get injured during a reception. The announcement that was given to us was this, "For the safety of those here this evening, the families have requested that all children under the age of 12 be accompanied by an adult at all times. We thank you in advance for your cooperation." All of your guests will appreciate your concern over their safety.

The most important tip of all is to enjoy your day! Your Wedding Day will be here and over before you know it, so enjoy the moment but hopefully you will enjoy the trip getting there and rely on your professionals to make it a Stress Free Day for you.

Disc Jockey Services

Friday, 14 August 2015 13:34

WEDDING PLANNING TIPS PART 1

After many years of being in the wedding business, we have picked up quite a few tips that you may find helpful when planning your wedding. We hope that you will find these tips useful. Even though we're a Disc Jockey business we see the behind the scenes that take place on most of the weddings we do. Hope these pointers help in making the planning a little easier. Part 2 will be posted in a couple of weeks.

INVITATIONS

Always order 25 extra than what you think that you will need. Just in case you forgot someone. It is very costly to go back and reorder 25 later.

On your Response Card, in addition to having a line for guests to mark that they will be able to attend. Make sure to also give a place for them to put if they are unable to attend.

Number your guest list. Then as you are addressing your invitations, put the number that corresponds on your list on the bottom back corner of the response card. You would be surprised at how many guests forget to put their names on the response cards. If you get one that has no name, all you need to do is flip over the card and look at the number. Then match it up with your guest list and your mystery guest is solved!

TIME BETWEEN CEREMONY & RECEPTION

It is important not to make your guests wait too long from the end of your ceremony to the start of dinner. Even if you put that, your reception is to start later, 90% of your guests will still go directly to the reception. Your guests will start to get impatient if they have to wait too long. Always think from your guest’s perspective. Most planners state that you should not start your reception any longer than 1 hour from the end of your Ceremony. And remember, your guests will be at the reception for about an hour before the Bridal Party arrives. The Bridal Party generally arrives at the Reception about 10 minutes before the start of dinner, right before the end of Cocktails.

SEATING

Assigned seating is generally the best way to go. It may be a challenge to do this, but very much worth the effort. When you have general seating, it is human nature for guests to leave spaces in between themselves and another guest. If you have a family of 4 that arrives a bit late, chances are they will not be able to sit together.

When planning your seating arrangements it is always important to make sure that your DJ, Photographer and Videographer are all seated at the same table and also in the same room as your guests. Your wedding professionals will be coordinating your events of the evening as they dine. There are a few reasons as to why they all should be in the same room as you and your guests. From the Photographer and Videographer standpoint, quite often during dinner something impromptu can occur, if they are in another room they will not be able to get the footage of what is happening. From the Disc Jockey's standpoint, because we provide music during your dinner hour Put your Place Cards in alphabetical order and not by Table #'s.

Seat your younger guests closest to the dance floor.

Head Table - The easiest and best way to seat your Bridal Party is to put your Bridesmaids on one side and the Groomsman on the other. If you have ever seen a Bridal Party that has been seated by couples two things generally take place. Immediately after dinner, they all move so that they are sitting in the way mentioned above. In addition, during dinner the Bridesmaids are leaning back in their chairs to talk with the other ladies and the Groomsman are leaning forward doing the same. They feel more comfortable in groups.

According to The Knot, which surveyed 16,000 brides and grooms who got married in 2014, couples spent an average of $31,213 on their nuptials last year –up from $29,858 in 2013 and an all-time high.

Couples tended to spend more on their reception and less on the ceremony itself. The largest chunk of the budget – an average of $14,006 – was spent on the venue, which includes the cost of catering, musicians and cake. Per-person catering costs rose from $66 in 2013 to $68 last year.

The Knot found that 45% of couples went over their budget in 2014 and 23% of couples didn’t even have one. Almost half of the couples that we spoke with, who had budgets, spent more than they initially wanted to.

At least according to those surveyed by The Knot, only 12% of couples really have to worry about paying for the wedding entirely themselves. The bride’s parents contributed 43% and the groom’s parents contributed 12% toward the overall cost of a wedding.

Not all that surprising, Manhattan is the most expensive place to get hitched. On average couples there spent $76,328 in 2014. “That’s the college tuition for our future child, or at-least part of it”, Barbara Ching said when she heard the number. Runner-up on the list was Long Island, New York, with an average wedding cost of $55,327.

On the other side of the spectrum Utah is the least expensive place to get married, averaging $15,257.

Now before you decide to go out and buy a ladder to elope remember these are averages you always have to question where these 16,000 people were from in the survey. In the Richmond surrounding area I would think that average number would be considerablely lower.  Don't go nuts but remember it is one of the most special days in your life.

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