Use History to Choose Party Music

by Robbie Schlosser

Last Thursday I used history to choose party music.

Choosing the right music for a party or a wedding can be a challenge.  I often let history guide my selections.  

Of course, you can use many strategies to search for a party’s music.  You can research Broadway shows, movies, flowers, Disney characters, colors, locations, people, food, literature, animals, to name a few.

But whenever you choose party music, and it suits the party’s theme, you might find using history very helpful, too.

How?  Why?  More in a minute.  First, some background:

The San Francisco Bay Area boasts hundreds of very elegant mansions built around a hundred years ago.  The area’s wealthiest businessmen built gorgeous homes and summer homes.

Rich and elaborate, enormous and opulent.  These homes allowed a lifestyle where pleasure and entertaining were essential social and business functions.

(By the way, there must have been successful women in business, right?  But I haven’t heard about them.  Somebody please tell me about them and the homes they built.)

Well nowadays many of these mansions, and their estates, are preserved as historic treasures.  They serve a great many worthwhile social purposes, including hosting banquets, weddings, charity fund-raisers, and other special events.

Magnolia Jazz Band Use History to Choose Party MusicLast Thursday we entertained at a wonderful garden party in Woodside, hosted by “Filoli“, one of the most beautiful of  these mansions.  Here’s a photo of the band in action.  Click to enlarge.  Thanks to my friend Nancy Patten, for these wonderful photos.

Step Back in Time” was the theme of this Downton Abbey / Great Gatsby / Roaring 20s party.  We performed on a bandstand on the tennis court, and our vintage music helped create the perfect mood for this garden party.  

Magnolia Jazz Band Use History to Choose Party MusicMany of the guests wore stunning period dress, and created a dazzling picture as they strolled through the mansion and the gardens. 

Eventually they came to our bandstand for light refreshments, some dancing, and an elegant musical background for their conversations. 

Magnolia Jazz Band Use History to Choose Party MusicLooking out over the crowd, I tried to imagine what music the guests might have heard at a similar party during the “Jazz Age” about a hundred years ago.  Except for our microphone and amps, the band might have been identical — same instruments, tuxedos, and facial hair.  So I’m glad I’d done a little research several weeks earlier.

I’d spent a few happy hours at the library and searching through my own books, CD’s, and records (remember LP’s?  how about 78′s?).  And I found a wealth of great historical information on the internet.  Searching Google, of course, and also YouTube and iTunes.  Even a bit on Pinterest.

I was looking for the most popular songs of the 1920′s, and enough details about these songs to make an interesting, entertaining program.  Songs the guests would recognize and enjoy hearing and dancing to.

I’m happy to report the party, and our music, was a huge success.  

So let me give you a tip for your next celebration:

When it suits the theme, use history to choose party music.  Occasionally history will be the essential aspect of the party.  And if not, searching history will always contribute features to make your festivities memorable.

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Selecting Garden Party Music

by Robbie Schlosser

There’s beautiful weather outside.  Are you planning a garden party?

What about your music?

In several important ways, selecting garden party music is just like selecting music for a wedding reception, Great Gatsby party, or a special business event.

Tell you what I mean.

Last month we entertained at Gayle and Bill’s 50th wedding anniversary party.  The happy couple love New Orleans — music, food, and traditions.  So they had us play traditional New Orleans music all afternoon.

Magnolia Jazz Band Selecting Garden Party MusicHere we are playing the first hour in the Saratoga Foothill Club’s lovely garden, while their guests enjoyed New Orleans appetizers and cocktails.

Then everyone moved into the festive banquet room.  Anniversary toasts, speeches, and a great New Orleans feast followed.

Midway during the afternoon, guests we’re treated to a lively half-hour program by a local New Orleans style parade band.  Toes were tapping, and everyone was “Second Lining” through the banquet room.

After that break, we resumed creating a lovely luncheon mood with everyone’s favorite tunes.  

A few days later, Gayle sent me this wonderful note:

Hi Robbie–

Well, it was absolutely “an afternoon to remember” for us!  It couldn’t have been more perfect — your trio added so much to the New Orleans ambiance that we wanted to create!  We had lots and lots of comments from our guests about the great music you played and what wonderful musicians you all are, and lots of people wanted to know where we “found” you!  Thank you for making the day so special for us and our friends and family.

I’ve written a Yelp review, and here’s a photo of you playing outside in the courtyard (unfortunately, the photographer didn’t get one of you inside on the stage).  If any potential client ever wants a reference, we’d be very happy to tell them what a great experience it was to work with you and to have the Magnolia Jazz Band trio play at our party–we’d do it again in a minute!

Thanks again for the wonderful memories,

Gayle and Bill

So what happened here?  And what made this garden party special?

For one thing, Gayle and Bill kept changing the scene to keep the afternoon constantly fresh and interesting.  From outside in the garden to inside the banquet room. From soft, lyrical New Orleans tunes, to speeches and toasts, to lively New Orleans parade music, back to standards and favorites.

We often entertain at garden parties like this one, where we relocate to different areas of the garden as the party progresses.  And frequently at wedding receptions and company banquets, too, we guide “traffic” by relocating from ceremony, to cocktail party, to banquet room, to dance floor.

So when you’re selecting garden party music, of course you’ll want to personalize your choices, perhaps coordinate with a theme, and go with selections and styles you know your guests will enjoy. 

Let me recommend another tip for selecting garden party music. Keep the afternoon interesting by occasionally relocating your music.  You can also use your music to vary the mood of your party.  Keep it interesting and your guests will enjoy a memorable time.


CLICK here to tweet this post, and join our Magnolia Jazz Band fans on Facebook.  You’ll receive daily tips for planning wedding and party music, and you’ll get reminders for our public events.


Are you selecting party music or wedding music?  Planning should be easy and fun.

Occasionally, however, small planning puzzles get out of hand and become big obstacles.  And usually they’re all avoidable.

In a minute I’ll tell you why.  First, some background.

Nearly every day I help people selecting party music or wedding music.  And then my band creates the perfect atmosphere at their celebrations.

Magnolia Jazz Band Selecting Party Music?  Dont Sabotage Yourself.

For example, here we are (on the bandstand way over on the right) entertaining people at a recent business cocktail party.  Guests in their 20s through 60s enjoyed dinner, wine, lots of chatting, and finally a little dancing.

A wonderful evening at the SF Winery, with sensational decor, lighting, and PA provided by Amos Productions.

Planning the evening’s music was effortless — describing the guests, what they might enjoy hearing, and the atmosphere the party’s planner wants at various points in the evening.  We covered it all, and it’s always a pleasure to work with Jody Amos!

Back to selecting music.  Too often, the people I’m helping manage to sabotage themselves in the planning stages.  They listen to their own little “voices of doubt and uncertainty” saying the job is more than they can handle — too big and complex, with too many choices.

What ultimately helps them is guidance and suggestions from someone who’s “been there, done that”.


As well as family, friends, and other experienced professionals, of course.

I’m thinking about this because earlier today I read a fascinating review of U.S. senator Elizabeth Warren’s recent book, A Fighting Chance.

In it Warren tells of a conversation she had with a veteran Washington colleague.

As she describes it, “…I had a choice:  I could be an insider or I could be an outsider.  Outsiders can say whatever they want.  But people on the inside don’t listen to them.  Insiders, however, get lots of access and a chance to push their ideas.  People — powerful people — listen to what they have to say…”

Seems to me this advice also applies to people selecting party music or wedding music.

The outsiders are those gremlins sabotaging planners with reasons why we can’t do the job.  Plausible reasons, perhaps, but shaky once we examine them closely.  Molehills, not mountains, and we ought to stop listening to these voices.

Sound familiar?  We all contend with some limiting beliefs all our lives.

As I see it, the insiders are our own hopes and dreams, and we should listen to them.  For planning music, our intuition should guide us to our goals.

So here’s a tip for selecting party music or wedding music.

Beware gremlins of uncertainty.  Be bold.  Get help to clarify a vision of what you want, and listen to your intuition as you plan the details.


CLICK here to tweet this post, and join our Magnolia Jazz Band fans on Facebook.  You’ll receive daily tips for planning wedding and party music, and you’ll get reminders for our public events.

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