February 26th, 2014 | Julia Braime
When I was planning my own wedding, I had a clear vision on the type of dress I’d like (turns out I went for the opposite, go figure), how the flowers would look and what the bridesmaids would wear. Music? No clue whatsoever. The lack of information about quality wedding suppliers in my area – and all in one easily accessible place – in the run up to my own wedding was one of the deciding factors in launching Brides Up North back in 2010. Due to some great contacts I got lucky and our wedding was a musical success, but it could all have been so different.
Lucky for you, Brides Up North now exists (can I hear an AMEN?), and it’s all about putting talented people like Mark Deeks of Music Newcastle right under your nose. He’ll have your personalised musical requirements (and even the hen party!) sorted. Let’s meet him.
Tell Brides Up North about Music Newcastle?
I have played piano for more than 30 years, building up a wealth of experience as a performer, arranger, and musical director, working for names such as Steve Harper, David Miliband, Lenny Henry, Alfie Joey and many more. Music Newcastle is a recommended supplier of live music to some of the top wedding venues in the North East such as Doxford Hall, Linden Hall and the Grand Hotel in Tynemouth amongst others.
For some of the services on offer such as Bespoke Bands, I can bring a huge range of other musicians with me. Between us we have many years of experience in all kinds of music.
Tell us about the various services on offer from Music Newcastle?
Piano Player Newcastle
Being a piano player is what I am best known for, and there are more than 700 songs available for people to choose from on the website. In addition, customers can request up to 6 songs be learnt just for their special day, meaning they can have a huge amount of input and are able to really personalise their playlist, whether for the ceremony, or background music for the drinks reception or wedding breakfast.
I make it a speciality to try to demonstrate the flexibility of the piano to play all kinds of music, and have created very popular versions of everything from Katy Perry to The Killers, and David Guetta to Metallica. If you prefer classic pop such as Billy Joel or Elton John, Motown, rock n roll, jazz and swing, classical, or all of the above… the possibilities are endless – and that’s the point! You’re in charge!
This is another area where Music Newcastle really comes into its own! I often wondered why it should be that couples spend so much time, effort and money, choosing every last detail, shade and style of all the other parts of their day, and then when it gets to their band, they get little or no input into the setlist, often getting handed the list of songs the band already know, or (worse) get exactly the same set as the band have played at all the other weddings for the last x number of years.
With Music Newcastle the customer calls ALL of the shots! This is the ultimate pick n mix approach to live music. You start by choosing your singer from a range of fantastic vocalists on the site to front your band. Then tell me what line up of instruments you want to back them: want a combination you can’t find elsewhere? No problem! This service means you can have a band to fit any budget or space as you just pay by the musician.
Then the crucial part: YOU choose ALL the songs! If you want suggestions that we know work then that’s fine, but the customer simply has to send a list of songs and YouTube links, and these are the songs that the band will LEARN for you! You have total control – it’s YOUR band.
This category covers a range of products. Some people want a song or piece of music written especially for the big day, with the option of having it performed as a surprise. I once had a mother of bride who wanted to say something special to her daughter but felt unable to make a speech on the day so commissioned a song that I performed at the end of the speeches – it was a very emotional moment for the family. I’ve even re-written the lyrics for a Warren G song for a best man’s speech!
I also offer to record a personalised CD of piano versions of your favourite songs. This can be used as a budget alternative to hiring a live pianist for the day, or as a “bolt-on” for couples who do book me to have an audio version of the photo album as a memory of the soundtrack of their wedding, as often this plays a very personal part of their day that they might miss some of when they are talking to guests.
Your Piano-oke parties sound like fun! Would this be a good option for a hen party?
Absolutely! I’ve even had people use them as one room of the evening entertainment. Essentially this is karaoke with a live pianist, and a great excuse to pretty much have friends round, get some food and drink, and have a proper good sing! It’s often quite chaotic and perhaps it doesn’t always sound like musical excellence, but it’s hilarious chaos, and truly a night that you and your friends will remember and talk about for years to come!
What sets your business apart from other entertainment companies?
In just a few words: Music Newcastle offers my customers a flexible, personalised, professional service. I often get emails from customers astounded at the speed with which I reply to enquiries, and the testimonials that I receive pay tribute to the fact that I go to lengths that musicians are often not known for, and am passionate about delivering high quality music and a high quality service.
Tell us about your recent Award win?
In 2013 I won the North of England Wedding Award for Music and Entertainment. This was a real thrill as many of my previous customers were involved in the nomination and voting process, and reading their feedback afterwards was really humbling.
Have you any events coming up that we should know about?
My diary is always full of a wide range of events, many of which are private bookings. However, the next couple of months will include public performances such as that with the Inspiration Choir and Royal Northern Sinfonia at The Sage Gateshead on March 29, and Inspiration’s tour to New York in April where we will be playing at venues including Carnegie Hall, the Statue of Liberty and Central Park! I also have performances booked at some of the beautiful venues in the North East such as Kirkley Hall, Jesmond Dene House and Ramside Hall. The latest events are always listed on the website.
What can a Bride & Groom who book one of your acts for their wedding expect?
As I mentioned earlier, I’m all about making the music services that Music Newcastle provide, personal and high quality. Every couple can have as much involvement as they want in making the music exactly as they want it. They are welcome to have me record clips of piano music to help them choose the songs for the ceremony, and they are welcome to come to HQ for a consultation. I like to establish a relationship with my customers so that I can best give them the benefit of my experience.
What areas do you cover? Will you travel?
The standard prices cover a 30 mile radius, but I often travel further than this if customers require me to, with wedding bookings already confirmed this year in Lancashire and Staffordshire, as well as right across the North East.
Can you give Brides Up North an idea on price?
It would be difficult to cover the price of every service here, but Piano Player Newcastle bookings start from just £150. Bespoke Band bookings vary greatly depending on the number of musicians involved but for a typical 5 piece band you would be looking at a cost of around £860 for 2 x 45 minute sets of music, completely chosen by the customer.
Can you do a discount for Brides Up North readers?
Why not! If a customer mentions Brides Up North in their enquiry then I will take 10% off!
How can Brides Up North get in touch with you or find out more?
Anything else that Brides Up North should know?
I’d love readers to take the time to read some of the testimonials that previous customers have sent in and get a feel for what they can expect from Music Newcastle. They can see these here.
Finally… what song would you choose for your first dance?!
Wow…er… we’ve talked about “When The Right One Comes Along” from the Nashville TV soundtrack… we’ve talked about “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” by Starship! We’ll see what happens when she makes me the happiest guy alive!
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Former lawyer and bride to be Julia founded Brides Up North in 2010 with a chip on her shoulder. Frustrated by the poor Northern presence in glossy bridal magazines and online, she decided to do something about it herself. Astounded by the rapid growth of her blog and brand, Julia now manages Brides Up North’s online content alongside their busy wedding exhibition season, industry events and related commissions. And she’s always, always, got a new project on the go…