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HOLLA: Hire a Band or a Dj...or Both?

By the end of this blog post, I encourage everyone to share your thoughts on preferences and why?

Soul Session's Wally World Package

With all the entertainment options available, I gotta go there and put my "25 cents" out in the world. Truth be told, some would think, given that I'm bandleader and chief "crackhead" of one of North East's top flight entertainment band, that I'm shooting myself in the foot by asking this question. True....but not really. Should you hire a band or a Dj for your wedding/private functions/corporate events? Actually....why not have both?!

In case of Soul Session Edu-tainment, Inc, you literally get that with us because at the center of both questions is the "Entertainer" & Emcee on the mic. I'll come back to that later, but let's keep the question fair and balanced.

Why should you hire a Dj for your function?

Jam Master Jay of RUN DMC (RIP Bro)

1) The most obvious reason is cost:

Yes, this is clear. A great quality Dj (non-wedding) could run you anywhere between $1000 to $1500, pending quantity of guests relative to PA needs. This Dj might be a well know Dj playing what they want YOU to hear style wise, but you having no input in music other that crowd feedback. A wedding/event Dj ranges anywhere between $2000 - $5000. This is wide, but several factors SHOULD inform the budget:

- # of Djs on-site

- Bells and Whistle: ie. Wireless Lights, A/V needs, special sauce (unique signature amenities)

- Client access:

a) # of physical/zoom meetings with Dj company before event date

b) Direct input on song selection before and during event

c) Props

- Event Location relative to Dj's HQ:

a) One - two hours radius

b) Backline PA needs if a Dj is a plane trip away

- Dj's fame quotient. Are we talking about Dj Jazzy Jeff or Dj Ray Ray from around the way lol

2) Musical Availability:

Simply put, a Dj can play anything at anytime PERFECTLY. This becomes important when musical diversity is essential - "Hey Mr. Dj, can I request a song.... that new Albanian Jam that just came out last week?" This is often the divide issue between old school verse new school clients.

3) Spacing:

Small intimate DJ wedding at Longfellows (Egan and Big D)

Not all venues are equal, when accommodating people, bar(s), food stations, dance floor, and viking head table (jk). Check this, a family schedules a wedding at a venue who's guest count is 125 people max, with a dance floor of 10'x12'. The Dj's plot may only be 8'x8' for everything, including dj table, tripod legs, and speakers. If that dj required more room, you might have to strike a guest table or two.


Tracy holding court with our amazing bride! "Jack..jack"

Why should you hire a band?

1) Reason numero uno: Entertainers:

You will enjoy the crary! G

This seems kinda obvious but not necessarily. Having a killer band at your function provides a unique "in the moment" signature to your event, non-cookie cutter. Anyone can press play on an ipod, but performing for your crowd elevates the energy of guests. They can engage the audience actively and change up based on the interactivity. I can't tell you the number times I hear someone out front yell out something ("freebird" ... jk), that immediately ends up in my communication back to the audience.

2) Live Music:

How many Dj events have you attended where an out of the box song is played and the dance floor clears? Probably too many to count. But when a live band does the same thing, they have options. Of course, this depends on the skill of the band. But they can yell out "REMIX" and do something gangsta right in the middle of the song. Another option is that they can "sell the performance" because it's live. The whole point behind live music is the ability to read and react. Can we say concerts? No band will ever play "September" by EWF better than EWF.

Earth Wind and Fire

But that's not what you hired! You want a band's unique spin on that song, followed by a spin on another song, and another. This drives enthusiasm at your event.

3) Bands provides entertainment options:

This is kinda a part B to the above point, but it deserves a pop out because of other musical needs such as ceremony, cocktail, welcome music for conferences, etc. Band businesses are typically equipped to cover this elements seamlessly and at reasonable costs. For instance, Soul Session covers all of these elements from within band itself (I'll circle back to this later). The ability to play/sing classical music and range up to Wiz Khalifa live has impact on guest energy.

Soul Session Ceremony Musicians

3) Pimp factor (Ebonics translation: The Optics):

Gig pimpin' Soul Session Style (All In house)

When you walk into the event space, all pimped out and with your hair did, nothing says you means business more than seeing a band off the dance floor. Yes, we may not want to admit that vanity matter when it comes to your function, but when it looks and sounds the part, EVERYONE will call/email/text you after saying, "DAMN... this was straight awesomeness." Of course not all bands are equal, but when you hire a band who's staging is straight pimped out, you can safely assume that they're professional and that they take the entire presentation seriously.

4) The front performers:

Big up Will and Nicole! Tracy and G represent

I held off on this till the end because I didn't want to sound self-serving. The diverse entertainers in the front of the band sells the musical experience. They bridge the gap with regards to audience age differences (i.e. grandma and great-grandson). They also hand you the tambourine for clappin' on the one and three (when it really should be two and four lol). Pre-Covid, they let you sing on the mic with your best Steve Erkel voice and not judge you for it; all while making you a part of the show. Based on the band you select, the primary front performers maybe horns for example. This would tell me that your event style leans in the Earth Wind Fire/Chicago direction. If you desire more Country music for instance, maybe the front group has more acoustic instrument and/or a fiddle. Either way, the strength of these front performers adds to the flavor of the show you desire!

These are just a couple of general thoughts marking the difference between hiring a band or Dj. BUT....WHAT IF YOU CAN DO BOTH?

This is where Soul Session, the band featuring "Soulist" Garland Nelson comes in!

As I say repeatedly, we're not a wedding band but a band that plays weddings, events, corporate functions, showcases..... you get the idea lol. Our musical approach on stage is DJ-like because everyone's musical sensibilities is Ipod-like. NO ONE checks on style anymore.

Then couple this with the fact that I'm also a DJ EMCEE, behind the wheels of steel, and it's on!

Dj G in da' house!

Your friendly neighborhood "Soulist" provides Dj services for events for up to 500 plus people. As an event coordinator as well, plotting and scheming the best ways of audience engagement ahead of your event is a service I provide additionally (Client Comments attached). So mix in live music on piano/guitar/vocals/percussion to a full tilt lighting & Audio/Visual experience, and you literally get a one stop shop option.

Hell a sample night could look like this: ceremonial live music duo, Live Cocktail ensembles,

Soul Session Unplugged Dinner Acoustic

Dj receptions with live dinner music, and solo live performance night cap somewhere else lol. Now this is pimped!

So, it might seem like I avoided the million question, but the question of hiring a band or a dj is moot to us. WE DO BOTH, SEPARATLY and IN THE SAME NIGHT if needed.

If you're interested in my Dj services with live music options, please holla back. 2022 dates are still available (

Big up to our fellow industry colleagues on both Dj and Band sides. We're not in competition, but we're in collaboration in the Capital Region.

Thank you for your time. Stay safe and stay blessed,

With Love, G

If you haven't done so already, please subscribe to my YOUTUBE page for videos, future live performances, and miscellaneous content by Soul Session, the band:

Stay safe out.... with love, G

Follow us on Social Media:

Instagram: @garlandnelson | @soulsessionband

Twitter: @garlandnelson | @soulsessionband

Facebook: @garlandnelsonsoulist | @soulsessionband

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