Wednesday, 12 June 2013

How to Become a Cover Band or Tribute Band - Advice and Tips (Part 1)

Becoming a Cover Band or Tribute Band Tips
After speaking to various bands and people in the know I have decided to compile a little list that outlines some top tips for becoming not only a cover band or tribute band, but, actually becoming a successful one. So, with this in mind if you are looking to get more gigs and earn a bit of extra cash check out this guide to cracking the market :D

Firstly, make sure that you spend the time to record good, high quality demos. It really is worth spending the time and extra cash to ensure that your MP3s are the best sounding that they can possibly be. Also, check that your instruments are in tune before (and during all sessions) starting to record and that all vocals and backing vocals are in tune before saying 'yep, that'll do nicely'. Sounds obvious, but bum notes and bad tuning will immediately make you sound amateur.

Next up, once the sounds are brill, make sure that you get the best quality photos you can as well. It doesn't matter if you are a dirty, rock and roll type cover band or a high class Frank Sinatra tribute singer - make them count! There's nothing worse than the standard 'standing by a wall', or, 'sitting in the pub with pint glasses on show' type photos for putting people off and making it look as though you don't take yourself seriously. And, to top it off they've been taken by a really poor quality camera. So, spend and get somebody professional to take the photos. Dress smart if that's the style or dress casual to suit. Look the part, get the shots and be prepared to pay for it. These piccies could represent your band for the next few years so it's actually a really good investment.

Similar to investing in great photos, make sure you have brilliant equipment! Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying buy boutique or crazily expensive stuff that is just overkill. But, make sure you have high quality, reliable and fantastic sounding kit. (NB. If you are a Beatles tribute, you may have to invest in high quality boutique style equipment to ensure you look the part, but, if that's the path you choose enjoy the trek I say.) And, this doesn't just include your own personal use equipment, ensure that the PA is top quality and also that you have some lighting to set the performance area off perfectly.

Make sure you have a reliable mode of transport! Some bands opt to buy a van... some will hire one for each event, and others will divvy everything into an assortment of cars for getting around. Whatever your choice just make sure that the transport is serviced, reliable and not falling apart. Obviously, even the best taken care of cars or vans can still encounter problems so make sure as well that you are equipped with breakdown cover. A good idea if you are in a band (i.e. there is more than one of you) is to take out 2 different breakdown policies. This way if you breakdown en route to an event you can ask to be towed to the venue so you are not letting anybody down. But, the additional policy will mean that you can also get yourself towed home after the gig and avoid having the worry of what you'll do all night.

OK, so you have what I call the practicalities sorted now... next on the list is to make sure you know lots (and I mean lots) of songs! This applies whether you are a tribute band or a cover band. To be a great tribute band you will now only know all the main tracks by the band or singer you are tribute-ing, but you should also know the album tracks, B-sides and even rare recordings. You are expected to be an authority on the subject... so, get swotting up! With regards a cover band you need to remember that the best paid gigs will probably be weddings or private functions and for these types of events the crowd will vary in ages and tastes. So, you need to know a LOT of songs from the 50s and 60s right up to the present day chart hits. Your songlist should be constantly growing and evolving. Use pub gigs to trial and error certain songs and find out what gets the crowd moving. NO trial and error at weddings.... these are such important days that you need to be a well oiled machine with a great setlist. Take no chances here because you will not be forgiven and it could seriously jeopardise future events and bookings for you. Do a great job though and it could easily lead to another 4 or 5 bookings. But, I digress..' learn loads of songs and execute them brilliantly!

That's enough info to get you started on becoming a successful cover band or tribute act, but... part 2 will follow soon :D

Thanks for reading.

Written by Matt Warren

Thursday, 30 May 2013

3 Unique Wedding Entertainment Ideas... that are not Music related!

This blog is going to go off kilter a bit and avoid all things music like the plague :) I've noticed lately a lot of sites that are talking about hiring out something different for weddings, and, I happen to quite like these smaller niche type markets where the weird and wacky are the norm... so, I did a bit of research and out of all my findings I reckon these 3 wedding entertainment ideas are pretty dang cool!

1. A Freak Show! Yes, you heard me right, a freackin' Freak Show. Now, I don't mean 'Lobster Boy' or 'The Bearded Lady' (even though I know one of the latter), I mean a show that is pretty wedding friendly but does have some twists and turns that will make your guests go 'Oooh' and 'Arrrr' and 'URGH!' en route to a finale. There are some great ones out there but this is one I recommend checking out:

2. Living Tables! You heard me right Living Tables... lol! Tables... that... are... oh, it's easier to show you a photo:

Living tables are a fantastic idea to add at your wedding drinks reception (or, at a corporate event).
They come in loads of colours and also lots of designs so to add a unique idea to your wedding check them out on the Web. A great way to serve your guests welcome drinks or a little snack. But, my question is, what happens if they need the loo? :)

3. Photobooths! Yep, photobooths are really growing in popularity so it may be worth booking one now before they become the norm (anyone remember chocolate fountains for example?!). There are lots of variations on a theme when it comes to photobooths - you can have the dressing up ones, you can have the group ones, you can have backdrop ones and you can even have ones where your head is superimposed onto little dancing bodies via green screen technology. So, if you are looking for something different for a wedding it is well worth having a scout around this idea and seeing what slight variations there are that would suit your particular event or theme.

And, that's it... wasn't too painful was it to not consider music and music for a bit :) Back to normal soon though - oh, and if you have any unique ideas for entertainment be sure to holler up and let me know in the comment box below.

Thanks :)

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Tribute Bands, Wedding Bands and Pub Bands... all the same?

I thought today I'd vocalise my opinion on the differences between tribute bands, wedding bands and pub bands. Because, whilst they may appear the same on the surface (they all perform music by other musicians and bands right?) there are actually some pretty significant differences.

First off, lets get the easy one out of the way.... tribute bands. OK, these are very distinguishable from wedding bands and pub bands because they perform music from a specific artist or band. In it's simplest terms, if you you go to see a Metallica tribute band they will perform Metallica. Chances are they won't perform songs by Kings of Leon or The Killers... unless Metallica do this themselves. In the tribute band genre there are different levels of commitment to the cause. For example, some bands will be a Beatles tribute band and perform all the Beatles classics, but, they will not adopt the suits, wigs and follow the equipment inventory to the letter. However, those who really want to build a show from performing the songs will adopt this approach and make sure a mop-top isn't out of place and that the John Lennon lookalike isn't 25 stone overweight. In addition to the aesthetic, a good tribute band will also actually sound like the band they are paying homage to. They will in essence do everything they can to actually perform, look and sound as close to the originator as possible.

Tribute bands are one dimensional in approach, whereas Wedding Bands and Pub Bands are not. They have the freedom to be able to play a lot more when it comes to choice of musicians and bands. But, whilst they may seem to be very similar in approach there are actually many subtle differences between pub bands and wedding bands.

With wedding bands you are performing at weddings... obvious right :) But, what this actually means is that you are performing to people who do not usually spend their Saturday evening together. For example, Aunty Flo won't be out with little James (aged 8) and not forgetting Nana and the bride and groom themselves. A pretty varied mix right.... all those ages to cater to. In order to cater for this a good wedding band will normally make sure that they have a songlist that caters for everyone. This can be done by having a wide ranging choice of songs from the 1950/60s to present chart hits. The Beatles are always popular across the board, as are modern classics such as Sex on Fire or Mr Brightside. Songs that everyone knows and will get them on the dance floor are the perfect choice for wedding bands - anthems, singalongs, up-tempo... easy :)

The other thing with wedding bands is that they tend to be a lot smarter dress code wise. They are playing at somebodies wedding after all and be getting aid. They will appear on photos, be almost representing the feel of the day from the bride and groom's perspective and more than likely be earning a reputation where they will be re-booked by guests - so, the last thing they should be doing is looking like a bunch of tramps.

In contrast to a wedding band, a pub band has a lot more freedom. They can dress much more casually and they can also have a very different kind of set-list to wedding bands. Many pubs do not have dance floors and so it isn't as important to be providing those floor-filling classics, which is why many pub bands will perform tracks by Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Eric Clapton, etc. where the focus is primarily on the musicianship as opposed to the 'getting everyone on their feet' kind of tone.

This isn't too say that pub bands are any less worthy. In fact, most of the wedding bands I know enjoy playing pubs because it gives them the chance to really tighten up their act and also experiment with new material to see how well it goes down with prospective weekend wedding clients.

Pub bands can also afford to be a little more talky with the punters because it isn't about getting people on the dance floor and then keeping them there (like it is with weddings). So, with pub bands you can expect a bit of banter, which again, is great practice for those pub bands that then go onto the wedding scene and teaches them how to deal with the 'odd' drunk guest.

Anyway, hope that clarifies things a bit with regards the differences between Tribute Bands, Wedding Bands and Pub Bands, but if there's anything I've missed please do comment and let me know.

Muchos gracias for reading :)

Monday, 15 April 2013

The Best Wedding Bands in Lancashire

Having had a look at some of the great bands in Surrey I thought I'd venture further north to the homeland area... Lancashire and Greater Manchester.

Obviously, famed for loads of great popular music from the 60s with The Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers, etc. (Yep, Liverpool I know, but still North West based bands) right through to the 90s with The Stone Roses, Oasis etc. the North West region has provided a plethora of amazing talent, movements and musicians. There is definitely a vibe about music in the Manchester and North West area, and, funnily enough this even translates through to the cover bands and wedding bands from this region.

Having spoken to a few friends I know who run an entertainment agency I discovered that the best selling cover and tribute bands in the Manchester area are those that portray themselves as almost 'real' bands and not just your average cheesy cover band.

With that in mind I set my mind to thinking about the bands I had seen from this area and I can wholeheartedly agree. There is an attitude that is grittier and without a doubt less cliche than a lot of the bands you are likely to come across in a Google search for wedding bands per se.

Anyway, enough with the rambling already... here are the top 3 wedding bands based in Greater Manchester, Lancashire.

3. The Story (
The Story are a 3 piece, all male Lancashire based wedding band and cover band who have a lot of experience performing at events throughout the whole of the North West. I saw these guys at a public event in Tarporley a while back and they were fantastic. One thing I particulalrly liked about these guys was that the venue was quite small, and also had issues with problem neighbours, which meant the guys had to be careful about their volume. And, they were brilliant! They managed to perform with energy and get everyone on their feet without having to play at ear-splitting volume levels. Anyway, check them out and see what you think:

2. The Kickstarts
The band at number 2 is a 4 piece, all male band with so much energy and FUN that you have to see them to believe it. I caught these guys at a wedding and within the first 2 songs, the tables were empty and the dance floor was full. Great vocals, great musicians and actually really lovely guys as well. I got chatting to them afterwards and they told me they perform in excess of 50 private function gigs every year, which is very impressive. Check out their website to have a liten to them:

1. Friends of the Bride
Before I go any further... Listen to these guys!

Friends of the Bride are a Manchester based wedding and party band. 3 piece, all male... notice the theme here? Yep, it seems that couple getting married and people throwing parties like ALL male bands! Wonder why this is... well, I do have a theory, but I'll save this for a later blog :)

But, FOTB are a band with an edge. They obvioulsy like their rock and this comes through in their music and I think when you hear it you just know that after a wee dram or two, you, your, bride, your guests and even Grandma will be on the dance floor tearing it up!

All 3 bands are great and I would recommend them all in a flash! If you can book them all and have a 'band-off' - OK, so a little ridiculous, but you won't go wrong, be disappointed or have an empty dance floor if you hire any of these bands!

For extra options (you may need them because these bands book up very quickly!) be sure to check out:

Until next time compadres....

Over and out!

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

3 Great Elvis Presley Tributes!

The King is dead long live the King! Never has a phrase been uttered more truthfully than when referring to the master himself, Elvis Presley! Although popular when alive, the legend that is Elvis is now held in such high-esteem that he is quite possibly the most loved tribute act on the circuit today.

When looking at the UK there are at least 300 Elvis impersonators roaming the clubs and corporate circuit today. Then, multiply that by amount a gazillion (a genuine number!) in the USA... then triple a gazillion to give you 400 squibillion in Japan and you have an idea that, yep, he is still the King! In this case though, the king of tributes.

So, I thought that I'd knock up a quick top 3 list of the Elvis tribute singers I have stumbled across in my time that I view as the best that the UK currently has to offer. Feel free to agree, disagree or just put lots of spam and stuff in the comments box... anything would be nice though so I don't just feel that I am rambling inanely to myself :)

Right, onwards...

At number 3 I would like to say congratulations to.... Mark Keeley. Mark provides a show that will leave you safe in the knowledge that Elvis will be backed by "Good Rockin` Tonight", one of the most popular Rock`n`Roll bands on the circuit today, with the added feature of keyboards and backing singers. Check out Mark being The King here:

Lee looks and sounds the part... the UKs best Elvis Tribute
At number 2..... It's our old friend Darren! I already talked quite a bit about Darren in an earlier blog, which you can find here, which also includes a video. Darren is truly awesome as an Elvis Presley tribute... but.... there can only be one number one... and, that place goes to.......

The Ultimate Elvis Presley Tribute... LEE! You have to watch Lee's videos, which you can by following this link:

The best young Elvis Tribute act in the UK today, Lee has received awards on behalf of Elvis and modeled Elvis costumes for Elvis Presley Enterprises and appeared on many TV shows (such as 'Heartbeat') and toured the world in various Theatre Shows.

The King is dead, but long live Lee!

I thank you....

Monday, 18 March 2013

The Best Bands in Surrey

Anthem Band make number 2 for great bands in Surrey
Well, let's have a look at a specific region of the UK where there appears to be a huge amount of cover bands... Surrey! Why is Surrey such a popular haunt for musicians though? Well, proximity to London Town and also just how close it is to many venues, music colleges and general obvious things like that.

So, my particular penchant at the moment is towards cover bands that are around 3-4 piece (live drums for me is a MUST!) and in all honesty, male-fronted. Not sure why I prefer male, I think if I were to fully delve into it, it may just be that most of the bands and singers I listen to are male (The Beatles, Alice Cooper, Mott The Hoople etc....)... anyhoo, I digress...

So, the first band based in Surrey that I find particularly awesome is a band called The Daggers (! Wow! I mean for starters how can you not like a band with such a rock and fricking roll name!!! Anyhoo, the guys are based in Surrey and cover the whole of the South East for Weddings and Parties and any other kind of gathering where live music is required. The guys have a great set-list but focus on Brit-rock and Indie type tunes... thank the Lord... NO SUPERSTITION! YES! Here's a some tunes showing what the guys do best...

Next on my hitlist for great bands in Surrey is a band called Anthem ( Anthem is another 4 piece male fronted band with live drums, guitar, bass and males vox. And, these are FUN, FUN, FUN!!! Anthem are young guys but don't let it fool you! I've seen them tearing it up with the best of them. They have bags of experience between them and can make the most hardened non-dancer crumble and bust the daftest of shapes. Ideal if you really want to get your guests interacting at a wedding or want to impress colleagues with the band you booked for your office Christmas party... yep, check Anthem out!

And, my final choice for awesome bands in Surrey is a 3 piece called The Hype ( This is one seriously talented band and you just have to read their past customer feedback to see just what they are all about. In addition, check the vids below to get an even better idea:

And there you have it. A few of my personal fave bands in Surrey... for more great options (not forgetting that these are all cover bands) check out this link:

Until the next time my friends, keep rocking in the free world!

Monday, 11 March 2013

The Best Beatles Tribute Bands

Yep, the title of this blog deffo gives away what it is about :) But, what I can say, I'm a sucker for something easy and straightforward. So, anyway, yes... Beatles tribute bands. There are a lot out there, and when I say a lot I mean a lot. In fact, they must be one of the most covered tribute bands out there, which isn't bad considering how long ago it is that they called it a day!

I've looked around to see which Beatles bands I like the sound and look off and also watched videos, read reviews etc. and so thought I would pop up a list of the top 3 Beatles tribute bands that I came across. I shall start in reverse order and keep them to UK based acts only (I did actually stumble upon a fantastic one based in Argentina! But, figured it might not be easy to hire that band should you fall in love with them. In addition, I will also put value for money and price into the equation. For example, one Beatles band may be 'better' than another, but if their fee is worth taking into account it may mean they rank higher.

So, let us begin....

3. The Cheatles
Well, not only do these guys have a fantastic name for a tribute band to The Beatles but they also have the sound and look to back it up! Based in the North West UK (Rochdale if my memory serves me correctly) also places these guys at least in the right region(ish) to maintain an element of geo-authenticity.

The Cheatles have performed all over the UK and for lots and lots of corporate clients, festivals and private events, such as weddings etc. They definitely get my personal seal of approval as well because once upon a long ago they helped a friend out of a sticky situation who's band had let them down at the last minute. They were lovely, professional and genuinely nice blokes! So, great job The Cheatles! Check them out here...

2. Meet The Beatles
Meet the Beatles are one of my personal fave tributes to The Beatles. These guys have genuinely taken the time to get the right costumes, perfect the harmonies and also use all the original instruments that the guys used back in the day! In fact, such is their authenticity to the cause that the bassist who is right handed has even learnt to play the bass left-handed to get as close to aesthetically looking like Macca himself!

Another good thing about these guys is their fee! For the quality they are one of the most reasonably priced Beatles tribute bands out there. In fact, I have these guys booked for a charity event later this year as well :) Check the guys out here...

1. The Beatlez
The Beatlez are a London based tribute band and they have been my fave Beatles copycats for a good few years now! They used to have a video of them performing Revolution, that has since unfortuntaly disappeared, that was outstanding! But, just to give you a quick idea of their sound, check this out:

A truly professional outfit these guys have performed pretty much all over the world and are lovely to boot! They tribute, with startling detail every Beatles era - the early Rock 'n' Roll days right through to the'Let it Be' rooftop performance.

I would say that for a complete and authentic Beatles' tribute show, The Beatlez are world class and have even performed for high-profile celebrity parties (including Liam Gallagher of Oasis). Check the guys out here for more audio etc...

But, that's it! Just my opinion as always and of course I'm more than happy to hear from Beatles fans or bands with any further recommendations.

For any further tribute bands (Beatles or not) be sure to check out