Brian Hess is the master of Tahoe wedding music. From saxophone to keyboard, DJ to jazz trio, he has it all and will get your guests slow dancing or head-banging in no time. And we must mention: he is truly one of the most sincere and nicest guys you will meet, which makes for the total package in wedding music. Thank you Brian for keeping Tahoe’s music scene on point—we look forward to seeing you on the dance floor this summer!
What is the first word that comes to your mind when you think “wedding”?
Please tell me about your musical upbringing. At what age did you start playing music?
I started playing piano at age 7 and clarinet at age 10. I then picked up the saxophone in high school and went on to study music in college where I indulged in classes ranging from Indian singing to Bach choir, jazz improv to Javanese gamelan, and sound recording to computer music production. I have always improvised with music and enjoy the mashing of different styles. For me, this keeps it fresh, while always remembering where the roots of the music come from.
What types of music and what specific entertainment services do you provide?
I play saxophone, piano, clarinet, flute, and turntables. I play jazz, funk, soul, reggae, ska, latin, hip-hop, and so on… I provide everything from duo groups to full bands, and DJ with an eclectic taste. I am involved in every aspect of the music I represent. In other words, when you hire Brian Hess, that is who you get.
What five words would your colleagues use to best describe you?
Creative, professional, spontaneous, energetic, and driven.
What advice would you give to a newly engaged couple about wedding music?
Shazam. I use Shazam all the time with my iphone to keep track of songs I like. For those who don’t know, with Shazam (smart phone app), you point your phone to the music and it tells you what the song and artist are. I then go back through the history of “my tags” and look up the songs, download them, etc… I use Shazam at the coffee shop, friend’s houses, or anywhere I hear a song I want to keep track of. It’s super handy.
Knowing you work most weekend nights, where would we find you at 9:00am on a Sunday morning?
Drinking a nice cup of coffee at home with my wife and 3 year old son.
What is the secret to packing the dance floor at a wedding? And what is your go-to dance song when you want to get the crowd going?
The secret to keeping the dance floor packed is flexibility; not being stuck in a particular genre and reading the crowd, while always checking in with songs from the bride and groom’s list. The go-to song changes from wedding to wedding and year to year. I’m really digging JT’s “Suit and Tie” lately, which is a pretty hot track.
What is your go-to love song when you want to get the crowd kissing?
Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s get it on.” You can’t beat this song. It’s soulful, deep, and a timeless classic!
Describe how you create a playlist for a wedding?
I don’t create a playlist. I make sure I download all the client’s favorite tunes, and from there, I read the crowd, take live requests, and stay in the moment. To me, playlists are too constrictive and confined. I like having the freedom of flexibility and creativity in the moment. I think it’s the jazz musician in me that thrives on improvisation with the music.
What are the most popular first dance songs?
That’s tough to say. So far with my clients the first dance songs are always different and unique. I don’t really have a lot of repeats. I encourage the couple to think about a song that really means something to them and reminds them why they fell in love.
What’s the most unusual musical request you have ever played or received?
“I’m on a Boat” by the Lonely Island was pretty unusual, but everybody enjoyed it and sang along!
How should a bride or groom decide on the right DJ/musician for their wedding?
I think conversation is the best way to find the right person. Just talk to the DJ/musician they are considering and see if they all get along. This is going to be the person supplying the party for your wedding. Make sure they are nice and personable!
What are you most excited about at the moment? What’s next for Brian Hess Music?
I am excited about summer in Tahoe, looking out at the beautiful lake, then realizing I’m on a gig. I feel so fortunate to work in the Tahoe area and make a living with my music. The next step for me is to always keep pushing my own personal music, play with more musicians from the bay area, and put out an album of my personal music in the next year.
Check out Brian’s website and music schedule at www.brianhessmusic.com