Thursday, July 22, 2021

"Duck! Here comes another piece of wedding cake!"

 I once co-owned a mobile deejay business with a partner when I was on radio in South Florida.  It was called "Hot Summer Nights." A fitting name for a Florida entertainment company we thought. We would book company Christmas parties, birthdays, weddings, you name it.  Pretty much any occasion where music was needed to light up the crowd for a good time. Coming from my radio background, mobile deejaying was extra fun, as I could actually see my "audience"...unlike radio.  

Weddings were a challenge as the guests in attendance at the reception were everyone from the bride and groom to little children, teens, and in most cases, Mom and Dad and Grandpa and Grandma. So you were playing music to a wide age range. You had to have  something for everyone and keep them all happy. And by all means, DON'T play any unfamiliar music that folks didn't know. That would make the dance floor empty quickly. And you might get a dissatisfied look from the bride or groom. For the most part, I played the hits and kept the good vibe going.

Before the wedding, I would always meet with the bride and groom (and sometimes their parents) to discuss exactly what song selections they wanted played... or didn't want played. Which brings me to what this post is all about. 

By far, a particular Italian wedding was one of, if not thee most, bizarre weddings I ever deejayed. I met beforehand with the bride and her Mom. Right off the bat, I knew this event was going to have its "unique challenges." The mother said, "My creepy ex-husband is going to be at the reception. If he comes up to make a request, DON'T play it!" Alrighty then. "Also," she went on to say, "An uncle and nephew have very bad blood and they'll be at the reception . Hopefully, there won't be any problems." After Mom gave me a 50%  cash deposit to deejay the event, I left our meeting driving home with all kinds of weird scenes playing out in my head; most of them not good. 

Fast forward to the wedding reception. It was your typical hot Summer, South Florida day. The couple had rented out a large party room at a West Palm Beach golf course on a Saturday. My assistant for the day helped me set up my deejay equipment. Soon, guests started filing in. It was a very large and lively crowd. I fired up some music and things got rolling. The dance floor was filling up nicely. That was always good to see. Just trying to keep everyone happy. Drinks were flowing freely as the crowd loosened up. Midway through the reception, the bride's Mom came up to me and handed me the balance due in cash and walked away. I told my helper/assistant to play the music as I wanted to step into the men's room and count the cash to make sure all was paid. Upon exiting, I saw fists flying from all corners and utter mayhem breaking loose, as the nephew and uncle I had been warned about had gotten into a push and shove match, with others stepping in to take a few swings swipes at the nephew, who apparently had a history of run-ins with the law and stirring up issues with the family. A chef came out of the kitchen and tried to get things under control. But the free for all fight kept rolling. I honestly thought someone might pull a knife or gun. I think I even saw Grandma  trying to get in a punch or two at the nephew, people yelling  and taking sides.  And at one point, I feared for my deejay equipment as a tidal wave of people was moving in my direction with little regard for my set-up. Things got so out of hand, someone called the police. The first cop that showed up looked like Barney Fife from the old Mayberry TV show. He looked like he weighed just shy of 130 pounds! I thought, "There's no way this guy is going to be able to get this angry crowd under control." Soon, more officers arrived in the parking lot before running into the reception area. I stepped out to the lot to see a middle aged man punching one of the guests who fell to the pavement. It was all very surreal. Like out of a movie. Or the phony WWE with all their staged wrestling fights on TV. And sadly, the bride had taken a seat in the limo with an open door and was sobbing hysterically, saying, "They've ruined my day!"  I truly felt badly for her. Eventually, things settled down and my assistant and I broke down our deejay equipment and left the "festivities." I was relieved to be on the road. Time to get home for a cold beer. Or maybe a couple.

Later that evening, my business partner called and asked me how the wedding went. I told him he would be deejaying the next wedding we booked. I needed a short "vacation."



Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Who is that lady's voice you hear overhead in the airport?

 As more and more folks begin again taking to the sky, they'll be moving through airports to get to their destination on time. In the background, they're likely to hear a female voice making all kinds of announcements to travelers. She does it in such a nice way and has to have one of the best jobs in the world! Literally. Her voice can be heard in over 200 airports globally. She records the announcements from her cozy home studio. Through good luck and timing, she landed this unique job many years ago.  Imagine introducing yourself at a party and someone asks you, "So what do you do for a living?" You reply,"I make airport announcements. I LOVE working from home and the pay's pretty good too." CBS News did a cool feature on her. It's  brief and fun. Take a look. She has a great laugh to boot. 

Friday, July 16, 2021

"Ewwww! How can you eat that stuff?"

Let me say upfront, I'm dedicating this blog post to the late, great, worldwide traveling TV chef superstar Anthony Bourdain, who ate just about every food known to man, including goose intestines. Yikes! By the way, I miss his wit and unique way of telling a story on camera. I suspect a lot of people do. He was wildly successful. 

 I'm guessing we all have some foods on our "enjoy eating list" that others just don't understand. I was reminded of this when I saw someone on You Tube making a liverwurst sandwich with onions. My mouth was watering as that's one of my favorite sandwiches of all time. Yet there are many who wouldn't take a bite of it in a million years. If you've had a liverwurst sandwich, you know it has a  very unusual odor; one that many may not appreciate in close quarters. Give me a liverwurst and onion on rye and I'm in heaven. I was thinking about attending "Liverwurst Anonymous" classes, but I love the stuff just way too much.  I'm not giving it up! 

I have a sister who has teased me over the years about "those stinky sardines you and Mom use to eat right out of the can. GROSS!" I'll admit, they are an acquired taste and not everyone's cup of tea. But sardines on a saltine or eaten right off the plate is OK by me. And the health benefits of sardines are off the charts.  There are some really good brands in the supermarket. One of my favorites is the King Oscar brand. Many come with olive oil, mustard sauce, tomato and the like. I've always figured the olive oil was good for my voice. You know, keeping it nice and lubricated for my next voice over job. Yep, bring on the sardines!

Another food Mom and I enjoyed eating on a hot Summer day in Ohio was limburger cheese. It has a very strong, distinct odor that my sister once referred to as smelling like "dirty tennis shoes."  I say, "Some people have no taste!" Limburger on rye bread with a bit of onions=priceless, to my tastebuds. I know many folks who love cheese of all kinds, but just say "No!" to limburger. I guess everyone draws the "food eating line" somewhere.  

I was watching TV the other day and a national commercial came on for Kraft macaroni and cheese. The mother is chasing her little daughter around the house with something on her fork (probably a vegetable) saying, "Just ONE more bite." The girl yells back at Mom, "No!" It was being played as she hated what Mom was trying to force feed her to eat. Cut to the next scene and the child and Mom are seated at the table where the girl is happily eating Kraft macaroni and cheese. All was now right in her world. It made me chuckle as I was raised in a middle class family, and as a kid, you ate what Mom put on your plate with no complaints. Dad made sure of that. "Finish what you have on your plate or you're not leaving the table."  And the thought of my Mom chasing me around the house to eat a food I didn't like, well, let's just say you'd have a better chance of hitting the Powerball jackpot than seeing that scenario in our house at dinner time. 

What about you? What's your favorite food that seemingly no one else can stand? Do you sneak down to the kitchen at 3 AM when everyone's snoring to enjoy your guilty pleasure? Any shame creeping out from the fridge? Enquiring minds want to know!

I will remind you. If you're going in to do a voice over session after eating limburger cheese, sardines or the like, it goes without saying, make sure you gargle and brush your teeth really well before heading out. Unless you want to get some very disapproving looks from the audio engineer or director. If you smell like walking limburger cheese, they may not invite you back again. But then again, they may ask you to bring them a limburger cheese sandwich to share at the next recording session. Not everybody hates limburger.



Thursday, July 8, 2021

"Do I need an agent?"

Those just jumping into doing voice overs may long for agent representation thinking it will lead to great jobs falling in their lap. Odds are, it won't. Which leads to the question, "Do I need a voice over agent to succeed in the competitive voice over field?" The rather vague answer is "It all depends." You say, "Depends on what?" It depends on what kind of voice over you are pursuing and what your goals are; where you want to go. There are many voice actors making a good living without an agent. They may be thriving in non union corporate narration or learning voice over. Or perhaps are in demand for audio book narration.  On the other hand, if you're looking to land a national TV commercial , you're more than likely going to need an agent. Why? Because capable agents can get you in the door for an audition and hopefully a sweet voice over gig.  Also, they have access to casting/audition notices early in the process.  They have connections.  But remember this: An agent can't land you the job. That's on you and your audition. There is no magic wand. Having an agent is no guarantee of future success in the VO industry. And getting an agent to bring you onboard can be very frustrating. They may already have a voice talent that sounds similar to you. They have a roster of voice talents they represent and handle. They don't need you at this time. Or,they're just not that impressed with your demo. And when you approach an agent and are lucky enough to present your demo for representation consideration, it's got to be good. Really good. Like the old saying goes, "You never get a second chance to make a first impression." I would say concentrate on your marketing and letting people know you're available and studio equipped at home. Don't get caught up on the fact that you don't have an agent. Remember, they're not magicians. Much of your success will depend on YOU.