John Birchenall and Sparanda Herbert Wedding Ceremony

Event Details

Band: Ceremony Quartet consisting of 3 vocals, violin and piano accompaniment.

Date: Saturday 2nd April, 11:00am

Venue: Chapel of St Michael the Archangel, 50 Ruislip Street, West Leederville, Western Australia.

On Saturday the 2nd of April 2011 I played as a part of the wedding ceremony band for the wedding ceremony of John Birchenall and Sparanda Herbert this was held at 11:00 am at the Chapel of St Michael the Archangel in West Leederville on the grounds of the Catholic Education Office (CEO).

John approached me and my music management business, the Wedding Music Planner, to see if i could help him in a few different capacities to organise the music for his wedding ceremony including running two wedding band rehearsals, song selection advice and actually playing / Musical Directing on the wedding day.


Chapel of St Michael the Archangel

I have known John for many years, we met in 2003 at a Catholic Youth convention where I was the Musical Director (MD) of the band. Since that time he served for a long period of time as the bass player in various church bands that I was leading through Foundations Community and Church, Youth Impact, City Impact Community and Church, the Foundations Arts Team and Impact Catholic Ministry. He has also seen me play professionally at many different functions and events including in various covers bands including Animal Jam (I played keys and did backing vocals), jazz gigs and plenty of weddings for a number of different people all of whom have asked for a diverse array of song styles and instrumentations.

For John and Sparanda’s wedding they had selected a group of musicians that they knew and trusted to provide the music, I and my business the Wedding Music Planner was one facet of their wedding band. The band consisted of four people including myself playing piano and singing vocals, Davia Bennett playing the violin and two vocalists, Pastor Joel Chelliah and Rebecca Gawel. We prepared the songs selected over two rehearsals on the Monday nights leading up to the wedding ceremony as well as with a soundcheck at the chapel on the morning of the ceremony itself.

John and Sparadna desired to create an atmosphere for their wedding ceremony of fusing together the traditional with the modern, this was reflected in their song selections. For a prelude song, to which both Sparanda’s families entered the chapel and took their seats in the front reserved pews, the song “Cannon in D” by Pachebel was played as an instrumental by myself and Davia on the violin. This was followed by Joel and Rebecca singing a duet called “This Day”, a modern song by Kriste that reflected the hearts of two people coming together and standing forever together from this day forward. Sparanda entered the church at the climax of the song, when Davia lead into her violin solo, ighlights of the songs included the harmonies and counter melody executed by Ps Joel throughout the final verse and chorus.

To add another element to the ceremony John and Sparanda wanted to include a song of worship to God, this was largely due to the importance their faith had played in their individual lives and how much they desired God to be a part of their married life. To be inclusive of all the guests they selected the song “Amazing Grace” which commenced as the parents lit their respective family candles on the altar. In a modern twist on the original, the version used was recorded by Christian artist Chris Tomlin and contained an added in chorus to the original hymn. The male voice of Ps Joel, supported with harmonies from myself and Rebecca and the violin passages from Davia created an atmosphere of reverence though out the entire chapel.

Tabernacle at Chapel of St Michael the Archangel

Tabernacle at Chapel of St Michael the Archangel

The next song we played was at the signing of the registry. John asked Davia and myself if we could arrange the song “From the Inside Out” written by Joel Houston, from  Hillsong Church in Sydney, to be played instrumentally. We had an extra rehearsal to work out the exact length of time we’d need, arrangement for when she would play the melody and when I would take the lead to ensure that this song would be done memorably.

For the recessional hymn John and Sparanda again went for a modern and contemporary hymn, “Now That You’re Near” by Marty Sampson, from Hillsong Church in Sydney. Their reasoning for selecting this song was to create a celebratory atmosphere and select something that many of the guests would know and be able to join in with the signing as they left the chapel. I lead this one on vocals with Joel and Bec giving backing vocal support and Davia playing supporting lines on the violin.

The whole process of preparing the band, rehearsing them and then playing at John and Sparanda’s wedding was an extremely enjoyable one. The combination of musicians we had to do the songs was the perfect blend of voices and skill and the personalities made it a joy filled experience with lots of laughter and many jokes throughout rehearsals.

I know a lot of musicians who don’t enjoy the experience of playing at and organising music for weddings, they don’t like the organisation and forward planning, the dealing with stressed brides and grooms and the responsibility that goes with providing what largely affects the entire atmosphere of a ceremony (it does make or break it). Personally I love all of that, the excitement you get when meeting with them prior to their wedding day and hearing their vision right through to the satisfaction you get when the ceremony is done and everything has worked perfectly and without mistake always keeps me enjoying this side of my professional work as a musician.

I am available to hire for weddings, private functions and corporate events through the Wedding Music Planner as a musician, booking agent, musical director or wedding music consultant.

For more information get in touch with me by connecting through email, twitter or facebook or through the Wedding Music Planner.

Simon Montgomery Duo 20th March 2011

Simon Montgomery and Ben Hall 20th MarchGig Details.

Band: Simon Montgomery Duo Featuring Ben Hall

Date: Sunday 20th March 2011

Venue: Ukrainian Orphanage Fundraiser – Como


On Sunday the 20th of March 2011 my duo, available for booking through the Wedding Music Planner, performed as a part of the entertainment lineup for a high tea being held in Como, Western Australia. The high tea was a fundraiser being held to raise funds to provide equipment and resources to accompany a group of health science students from Curtin University on an upcoming trip to the Ukraine to work in orphanages with children with mental and physical disabilities.

Ben Hall - Jazz Vocalist

Ben Hall

Ben Hall, the singer with the duo, was approached to see if he knew anyone who would be able to donate music that would be able to create the ideal atmosphere for this event. The desired atmosphere was a cocktail / background style music that would provide a level of class and sophistication which people could either listen to as a main performance or have in as background noise whilst potential donors socialised. As Ben has performed many gigs with me through the Wedding Music Planner including Rotarian shows, private functions and wedding receptions he knew that this would be a great opportunity to further promote the services some of the services I can provide as both an entertainment event organiser and also a musician. The proviso on us providing the entertainment for the afternoon was that we would be able to do any promotional work we liked, this included being able to distribute information on the Wedding Music planner and business cards to the guests in attendance.

As the event was being held in a rather large outside area I had some concerns with regards to the quality of sound and the constraints with regards to Ben’s vocals not being able to be heard clearly by all of the guests. I decided that the best way to remedy this was to provide a small PA system for Ben’s vocals to go through, this setup was very simple consisting of a SM 58 microphone, a small Yamaha sound desk and a single EX10 speaker plus a stand. This proved to be very useful to the event organisers who hadn’t prepared any PA system for them to do their announcements, including the drawing of the raffle prizes that had been generously donated by various businesses from around the Perth metropolitan area.

Simon Montgomery - Pianist

Simon Montgomery

This level of professionalism was supported by the choice of songs that we presented over the period of 45 minutes. Our set commenced half way through the afternoon at the conclusion of a performance by a violin duo. The repertoire we selected for the afternoon consisted of a variety of songs, both instrumental and vocal features, that are a regular part of the repertoire for my trio and quintet with whom Ben sings regularly. The set commenced with me performing the jazz standard “Autumn Leaves” as a solo piano piece and following this with one of my original jazz compositions “A Long Way To Go” . Ben then joined me to sing the jazz standard “All of Me” and followed this with the jazz standard “Fly Me To the Moon” in this song he also entertained the audience with a vocal “scat” solo over the entire form. In the middle of the set I performed another two instrumental songs on piano one of these was another orginal composition “When I Heard” the other tune was the jazz standard “All the Things You Are”. Ben rejoined me on stage at the conclusion of these two instrumental tunes for a version of “Tangerine”, “Have You Met Miss Jones” and then a version of “Moondance” to complete the set.

Throughout the performance the audience listened with a high level of attention to every song. Ben Hall’s smooth tenor vocals contain a hint of jazz greats including Sinatra and Buble and his presentation in appearance commanded the attention of every person at the event without being demanding or overpowering. This was became noticeable at the conclusion of the set with the unexpected applause that was received as well as an increase in the background noise levels as people resumed conversation that they had postponed throughout the duo’s set.The appreciation shown by both the hosts of the event and the event organisers showed that the level of excellence of entertainment surpassed their expectations and help contribute to the overall success of the afternoon.

Ben Hall - Jazz Vocalist 20th March 2011

A big thanks is needed to be given to the event organisers and the event hosts for their friendliness and willingness to help us as a duo be able to provide music that built a great atmosphere and ambience. Their assistance in helping us setup, providing us with food and drink throughout the afternoon, parking in close proximity to where we needed to perform and a nice shady space to entertain from. All of these contributed to us performing to our utmost best and in doing so created the best possible atmosphere we could for their function.

The Simon Montgomery duo is one of many of the ensembles available to be booked for events including wedding receptions, private parties, fundraisers and corporate events. More information can be found on their profile page or by contacting myself through The Wedding Music Planner.

Funk Club House Band 25th March 2011

Gig Details.

Band: Funk Club House Band

Date: Friday 25th March 2011

Venue: Luxe Bar, 444 Beaufort Street Mt Lawley

On Wednesday the 23rd of March I received a call from one of my good friends Jon Fernandes to see if I could come and do a fill in gig with the Funk Club House Band (FCHB) at the Luxe Bar in Mt Lawley on Friday the 25th of March.

The FCHB was formed as the profile band for the Funk Club, a non profit organisation located in Perth, Western Australia, whose aim is to support the local music scene in Perth especially the soul and funk genres and provide a place for this art form to be cultivated in Perth. Over many years the Funk Club has had many large international acts perform at their events including Alice Russell (UK), Menaham Street Band (NYC), The Cat Empire (Australia) and Russ Dewbury’s Jazz Rooms.

Playing with the FCHB is something that isn’t new to me, I have played with them numerous times as the first call for their horn players when either of them have been unavailable due to other commitments. Past shows that I have done with them would include the support for Alice Russell, various corporate events, Funk Club New Years Eve Countdown, Cat Empire, Weddings, Residency at the Claremont Hotel, Good Vibrations and the residency at the Funk Club.

The show on the 25th of March was a two hour booking as the main entertainment for the wedding of Kristy and Shaun Wright. We got to the venue for a 4 – 5pm setup and soundcheck and it was great to see some of the regular guys from the House Band that I hadn’t been able to catch up with for a while.

The evening for guests commenced at 5:30pm and was a cocktail style reception. The Luxe Bar is an interesting style venue to have a wedding reception, it is an open air amphitheatre style venue with a bar and medium sized elevated section at the back for people to enjoy drinks. This really would not have been my choice of a venue for a wedding reception, and for those wanting a traditional venue then it probably would not suit in anyway whatsoever, however, for this more modern and update couple the venue proved ideal. The atmosphere throughout the entire evening was lively and celebratory. With the teared seating of the amphitheatre providing the perfect opportunity for guests to talk to privately with each other if they so desired. The staging proved to be ideal for the speeches to be delivered from and the wooden area in front of the staging was turned into a good sized dance floor which was well used later in the evening.

The FCHB started their first of two sets at 7:45pm,Miss Odette Mercy lead the band with vocal soul tunes including Mistreat the One You Love, Reasons and an original version of the Jimi Hendricks song Small Axe. The set also included James Brown tunes Pass the Peas and Soul Power and created a great party atmosphere that guests danced to on the dance floor and up at the bar area.

The second set commenced at the conclusion of the cutting of the cake and the first dance of the bride and groom. The cake was an interesting twist on the traditional with each guest been given a fantail, a type of cocktail, to consume in a toast to the happy couple. This was followed by their first dance to the song “Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green. The second set of the FCHB kicked off into an extended version of “The Best of My Love” which kept the dance floor at its capacity throughout the entire song. The energy created by the FCHB throughout their second set kept the guests entertained with various people continuing to dance the night away throughout the entire set.

The entire experience of playing again with the Funk Club House Band was, as always, an enjoyable one. The high level of excellence in musicianship, fun and energy always make them a great bunch of guys to create music and entertain audiences regardless of what the venue is or what the occasion is. I will look forward to my next gig with these guys in the future, whenever that opportunity arises.



Askari Afrobeat Orchestra

The Askari afrobeat orchestra is one of the bands I play in regularly around the Perth metropolitan area. We are a 13 piece band, yes that is big, that have been brought together by a common love for African music, particularly the Afrobeat of Fela Kuti and Tony Allen.

Since forming in 2009 we have been the resident band at Afrodisia, this is a night promoted by Think Twice promotions which celebrates African Music, particularly the genre of Afrobeat. The Afrodisia nights started at Mojos in North Fremantle once a month on a Saturday before moving earlier in 2010 to being hosted at the Funk Club which is located upstairs at the Leederville Hotel. Afrodisia occurs the third Saturday of every month, the rest of the Friday nights at the Funk Club feature local, national and international acts in the Soul and Funk genres. On the 8th October the band get to support the inaugural visit of Mulatu Astatke and the 11 piece band “The Black Jesus Experience” at the Bakery in Northbridge. Multatu is considered to be the Father of the style of music known as Ethio-Jazz.

The band has largely been influenced by the music of Fela Kuti, considered the Father of Afrobeat, as well as Toni Allen and others including Fela Kuti, Tony Allen, Manu Dibango, Mulatu Astatqe, Franco Luambo Makaidi, Antibalas, Ebo Taylor, Alhaji K. Frimpong, the Daktaris, Orchestra Baobab, Sam Mangwana, Tabu Ley Rocheareau, Mbaraka Mwinshehe, Mahmoud Ahmed, Wallias Band in styles that include Afrobeat, Afrofunk, Highlife and Ethio Jazz.

The Askari are a local Perth band and comprise of 13 local Perth Musicians who work in numerous other bands across the city. The high level of skill and years of experience of these performers leads to a high energy and exciting evening of entertainment every time. Co-led by Jon Fernandes (Bass) and Jamie Searle (Guitar) the band features Grace Barbe (Neema) – bass, guitar, vocals. Ofa Fotu (Mrembo) – guitar, percussion, vocals. Rhys Bailey-Brooks (Kijana) – baritone saxophone. Jimmy Murphy (Madomo) – trumpet. Alistair McEvoy (Buzi) – saxophones. Simon Montgomery (Mtaalamu) – alto, tenor sax. John Brown (Anaondokaye) – sticks, shakere. Shane Kearney (Bingwa) – congas, djembe, talking drum. Zen Fusion (Kifimbo) – drum set. The regular band has also been joined at various times by many other musicians form in the Perth Music community for various shows.

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