Meet Hayley Barberis, the Victorian producer for The Baker Boys Band, who are available all across Australia.
Well, I’ve been during weddings for nearly 20 years now. So, a while now, and I started with the Baker boys in about 2006, when they needed a female singer. It was great. Prior to that, I’d been in a band ‘Reflections of’ which had been heaps of fun, but it was a “real band” and you had to say yes to all the gigs and be properly in the band.
I got some shows overseas and things that I was doing with my own music and some other projects and so I had to leave the band – like all musicians would have to – because everyone had to be in a band and really committed.
And then when I came back home, Baker Boys and started doing more with Baker Boys, it was great. There was the ability to pick and chose a little. If I had something else happening that was OK, there were other female singers. I just loved this new way of working, where it was flexible. Obviously if you commit to a wedding, you commit to a wedding, but it just meant that, I could say, actually, I’m gonna go touring in June next year, so I will just block myself out there. So it was just this whole new way of working in band gigs, and that’s probably one of my very favourite things about Baker Boys.
The Baker Boys Band started in 2005. It was a uni band playing pubs and things like that. They started to get quite popular and needed to add a female singer and some brass and all of those sorts of things. One of the guys built some amazing software, to help us to keep track of musicians and gigs, which is what we still use. I guess it was a primitive version back then. But now it’s developed a lot further.
What was somewhat revolutionary about Baker Boys back then and what is still so amazing about it now, is that our musicians are actually looking at a version of the same form I guess you can call it, the same portal/planning page as the bride and groom and as the producers who organise the musicians and work with the clients, so everyone is literally on the same page.
All the musicians can check-in anytime and see if there’s been any song requests, if there’s been anything updated, or if there’s anything extra they need to know. The musicians are always on top of what’s going on, and always in the loop. It just keeps it super organized and there’s no risk of playing telephone. Everyone’s literally on the same page.
Pete The Celebrant: Now, the Baker boys band, is Australia wide, not a single band?
Hayley Barberis: Yes, that’s right. Because of this amazing software, we can keep track of everyone. We also have an incredible team of producers who are the ones who actually book the gigs and also play on plenty of gigs as well. I think people can have this very sort of, seventies interpretation of what a band is. You know, a bunch of guys living in a share house jamming all day. I have had so many clients ask me where the band will be coming from to get to their wedding. Like any job, they’ll all be coming from their own homes, in different locations.
I do like to dispel that sort of impression of bands as much as possible, we have extremely talented and highly skilled, trained, professional musicians. I think most professional people work with more than 5 or 6 people and that’s a very positive thing.
We have around, 20 to 30 people in each branch now. And we’re all constantly playing gigs together all the time. So, as much as it’s not one band in a traditional sense, we are very much one team, providing a very consistent standard and product to our clients.
The Baker Boys Band performing at The Farm Yarra Valley
Essentially, I think my favourite part about what we do is we offer a live showcase. No matter who you end up booking – make sure you see us play live. I think that’s really important, as you can hide all sorts of things in demos and videos, but, if you see a band play live and you get a good vibe, that’s what they’re really going to sound like at your wedding. So we really encourage our clients to come along to a showcase, to meet us, and see us doing what we do.
Generally, what a lot of clients will do is give us a call, and, we’ll just have a chat about the styles of music they’re after and what they’re looking for in their band. That gives us a great starting point and we’ll start pencilling some things in for them.
All our singers know the same songs, but they do bring their own flavour to the sound and so we’re always working on pairing couples to the best lineup for them. Then clients will come to a showcase, and usually at that point, they’ll say “Oh my God, I just love this singer, He’s amazing!”. And they get excited and we always love to hear is there’s a particular singer they would prefer, so we can do our best to accommodate that.
After that, they pay a 20% deposit to confirm their booking and we send them the link to their planning page. Once they’ve got that, they can really just take their time and put all the information as it comes to them.
We pretty much leave them to it, we know they’re so busy with all their planning, we try to give them some space and just chase them if there are particular details we need at certain times.
They usually get everything to us in plenty of time. Then, we’ll always check in with them a couple of weeks before and sort of sign off on all those final details, make sure they’re feeling good about everything, and take note of any changes they’d like to make.
Every so often in that last phone call someone will say, “Can we put a saxophone in?” Yes, yes we can. So we can up the band size for them. Then it’s just a matter of getting there on the day and doing what we do.
Pete The Celebrant: What do they need to do?
Hayley Barberis: Mostly, what we need is the schedule and then we can help them to work on their run sheet from there. Usually the venue will give the couple their run sheet, and then we can show them how to best schedule the band. Some clients prefer not to talk to us all the time, and just want a quick e-mail here and there, and some of them love to chat about it all. We’re more than happy either way. We’re happy to leave you to it, or to help schedule the band, so you can make sure you’re getting as much time on the dance floor as possible.
You can customise the Baker Boys for 3-16 musicians
We used to really overly accommodating in the very early days, and I think that was probably to our detriment, we used to learn heaps of songs for couples, but we learned very quickly that just because the bride and groom happen to love certain songs, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re right for the dance floor. So these days we actually really pride ourselves on getting musicians who can read the crowd and play accordingly on the night.
We usually couples to give us 5 or six must play songs and 5 or 6 do not play songs. That gives us a great sense of the couple’s style and the direction to take the night. If they’re “play horses” or “don’t play horses”, you know where you’re going. Then we take it from there and the most important thing is to read the crowd on the night.
Pete The Celebrant: What are some of the most popular songs you play?
Hayley Barberis: I should add, that doesn’t mean we will necessarily play those songs. We give couples our list and if someone has a very specific requests like a bridal song, or something like that, then we’re more than happy to learn a couple of special songs, that’s totally fair enough……With the caveat that it has to be playable by a band. Every so often to you get sent a piece and it’s an orchestra…and the client has booked 2 singers and a guitar… so there are limitations, but most things we can certainly do a version of.
Because of the age of the brides and grooms we do seem to get a lot of 90’s song requests. What is very common of course are clients who say, “We don’t know exactly what we want. We just want everyone dancing” . They’re our favourite clients, because “we’ve got this” – we can do that.
The Baker Boys Band is a mix of professional musicians available Australia-wide
I’ve given this a lot of thought because I think more and more we’re being asked for DJs which absolutely we can provide. And we have the best DJs! But, having said that, I think, potentially we’re getting a bit less familiar with going to see live music. It is simply an energy that you can’t create any other way. When you have six people out there, just absolutely pouring their energy into the room it’s kind of unbeatable.
Pete The Celebrant: Yes, and even with a DJ there, what I’m finding is becoming more regular or more popular is having a live musician like a saxophone player or a trumpet player. Accompanying the DJ’s. It just that little added extra of live music completely changes the atmosphere.
So I completely agree. DJ’s do an incredible job and I look forward to chatting to a DJ one day, an episode, but having that live music, there is, I feel like it’s hard to explain. it. Just brings the atmosphere, this whole new vibe, this real touch to it.
Hayley Barberis: So, there is, there is something quite tribal about it in a way, it possibly sounds a bit facetious but there is something quite powerful, on that human level, when you really get a drum kit playing, you can’t help but get up and dance and want to be part of the communal experience.
Visit their website or YouTube to listen
I think our strength actually lies in the fact that we don’t just play one style. Because the Musicians we have are not just talented, but highly skilled and trained, they really are able to be very flexible, and stretch across a lot of different styles. I think that’s actually what keeps me really interested in playing weddings.
There isn’t another gig in town where I get to go and sing a classical piece, like ‘The Flower Duet’ at a ceremony and then a set or two of jazz, and play all my favourite Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn tunes, and then go and belt out all my favourite dance songs, Whitney Huston etc. there is no other time where anyone wants to hear all that, excited at a wedding and it really is so much fun. There’s a lot that goes into finding those musicians who are capable of spanning so many genres and doing it sort of seamlessly. So I actually think that’s our strength, rather than one particular style.
Pete The Celebrant: And do you just, couples pick like one, or two of the members of the band? Or do they pick all of them? How does that work?
Hayley Barberis: They usually just fall in love with a singer.
We used to show, everyone….here’s this drummer, and here’s this drummer, and honestly, it’s so hard to tell the difference it was just confusing to the clients. It was an overwhelming amount of choice. So, what we do now is put a rhythm section together, which is your drums, bass, guitar and keys, and then, we showcase different singers for them to choose. We also showcase the different band sizes as well, we’ll cut it down and bring it up.
Then, usually once the client has a preference for a singer, even if they don’t end up choosing that singer, we will put a rhythm section together that play together all the time, so, you’re getting that really tight sound. We do say don’t chose a bass player and drummer, we’ll put a bass player and drummer together who we know will who will really lock in with the singer you like and make it sound great.
I think I just, I just wish couples knew to just really trust us, and I also completely understand why, perhaps, they don’t all the time. Getting married for them is a once in a lifetime experience and it’s a four times a week experience for us. So, it is really different.
I really do understand why they may feel concerned, I do, I just wish, they knew to just find suppliers they trust and then let them do what they do.
I’ve heard you ask a couple of people this question and I’ve been very interested in the answers, and I keep trying to think, you know, what is my advice for the wedding. I know everyone says to be in the moment but I’m really stumped on that. I think the best advice is, “just get caught up in it all – have a great time, Like, just, just enjoy, it really is so much fun.”
If I learned anything from my wedding….I know I didn’t get time to eat anything and I was just talking to everyone, but it was just awesome. Have a great time, just enjoy it. Get suppliers you can trust, let them do what they do, and just have a really good time.
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