Charlottesville Weddings

Sam Hill Entertainment

Today, we are catching up with Andy Jaspen of Sam Hill Entertainment to hear all about how their team makes sure that you have the perfect band for your big day — it is great insider advice for sure!

They work with top-notch talent and just love working with all types of clients, even those who are not quite sure what kind of music they want.  Their level of service is impeccable and  Sam Hill Entertainment is all over those important day-of details.

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How did Sam Hill Entertainment begin and how have you grown since then?

Sam Hill Entertainment was founded by Hank Wells (still the owner and president) in the summer of 1995. Hank had just graduated from UVA and was playing in a number of college bands around Charlottesville, and he had spent a few years helping other bands get gigs around town at fraternities. He decided that he wanted to stay involved with music and bands on a professional level, so he started a one-man “agency” that was originally focused on the college scene at UVA and around other schools in Virginia.

Within a few years, Sam Hill Entertainment was one of the main music resources for parties at college campuses around the Southeast, and the agency quickly developed a presence on the internet (www.SamHillBands.com) which helped us grow into the wedding and corporate event markets. In the summer of 2001, I was hired and the business continued to grow rapidly in the wedding market, and soon the agency was booking bands for weddings and event planners all over the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast.

By 2003, weddings and corporate events became the primary part of the business revenue and focus of the agency, and the agency continued hiring agents and support staff to meet the needs of the growing business. The Charlottesville office has a staff of 7 full-time employees and books all over Virginia, DC, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia. Since 2008, the agency has expanded in to New York City and Atlanta markets by hiring agents specifically in those cities who are dedicated to those markets.

What do you think are the most important qualities that a client should look for when looking into entertainment for their event?

I think the main element to planning an event is determining what the vision for the event itself is, and asking the question “what will the atmosphere be like”?  From there, you can really focus on what kind of music will be right for the event.  A smaller, intimate event where there will be no dancing probably needs a small set of musicians for ambiance, such as jazz, acoustic or classical music.  On the flip side, a larger party where the focus will be on dancing may need a bigger group with more showmanship and energy, like rock’n’roll, funk, Motown or something hip and contemporary.

Of course, we always encourage that a client consider only professional bands with a proven history of reliability and happy clients.  Also, we always recommend hiring bands that have experience playing the kind of event you are hiring them for.  There are a lot of “bar bands” out there that play great music, but if they’ve never played weddings before, they may not have the experience to really entertain or manage the details and expectations of a reception.

How far in advance does a couple need to book a band?

Some of our most popular groups book certain peak season Saturday wedding dates well over a year in advance.  But I’d say the average time period that most couples hire a band is somewhere 8 to 12 months prior to a wedding date.  We have such a large roster of groups in every music style and price range, we can almost always help a couple choose a band that fits well for the style and budget of any event, no matter when they start looking. Sometimes there is an excellent selection of bands available for certain slower season dates just a few months before the event date.

For the peak event seasons dates (for weddings, its April/May/June, and Sept/Oct), some bands often book close to or prior to a year in advance.  But we have had some couples calls us weeks (or even days!) prior to a wedding and we’ve been able to help them book a great band on short notice.

If a bride or groom called you and wanted to find the perfect band for their wedding, how would the process work?

We always start off by trying to really see clearly the vision that the couple has for their own event.  Do they want it to be conservative and classy?  Or really wild and funky?  Will it be a big crowd or small crowd?  Is there a seated dinner or will it be a mingling crowd?  Do they expect a lot of dancing?

Once we know more about what the event entails, we make recommendations that will fit well musically and from a personality and energy perspective for this vision, keeping in mind the size of the space and the audience. Of course, the budget is then carefully discussed and we try to show clients options that will be comfortable for them to consider.  We usually like to show clients the music samples, songlist and video demo of band first so they can get a feel for the different options.  From there, we can usually put a client in touch with references on any band so they can talk to people who have hired the group before.

Certainly, when possible, its nice if we can facilitate a couple actually seeing the band live before they book.  Depending on the schedule of the band and the availability of the clients, this is sometimes easier to do than other times.  We will try to make the band selection process both efficient AND FUN, as we hope that picking a band will be a highlight of the wedding planning process for any couple.

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