Oracle Band FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions about the band

The Oracle Band FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions

Selecting and Auditioning the Band

How much do you charge?
How can I check to see if you're available for my function?
Is it safe to book a band from a videotape?

Where can I come hear Oracle Band play?
I really want a live band, but my parents are concerned that it will be too loud.
I want a DJ, but my parents want a live band.  Can you really be both?
I really like a certain song that's not on your songlist.  Would you be willing to learn this song for us?
How do you dress for a performance?
Can you hold a date open for me?

Booking The Band

Does the Oracle Band use a contract?
What is the process for booking the band?
Do we have to make arrangements to feed the band?
Do you require Payment in Full prior to the day of my event?
How do you handle Overtime requests?
Do you accept credit cards?

Do you require a stage?
If we have a stage, what are your staging size requirements?

Preparing for the Reception / Party

Do we select the songs we want from the songlist?   Do we put the songs in order?
What information do you need from me in advance of the reception?
How long does it take you to set up?

Selecting and Auditioning a band

Q -

How much do you charge?

A -

Yup...this is almost always the first question people ask.  Surprisingly enough, you won't find the answer to this question on most bands' websites.  Why?  Because they want to find out how much they can get out of you before committing to a price.  We don't work that way.  Our rate is $2800 for a four hour function in the Maryland / DC/ Northern Virginia area.  We are proud of the value we offer at a rate that is considerably lower than that charged by most other larger bands (and indeed some DJs).  For more details on our rates, such as travel fees and overtime rates, see our About The Band page.


Q -

How can I check to see if you're available for my function?

A -

Simply go to the Oracle Band Availability Page and check to see if your date has been taken.  This list is updated as soon as new bookings are confirmed, or as soon as we know of a date where the band is unavailable.  

On very rare occasions we can manage to squeeze in two performance in a single day, so if your date is marked but the times are sufficiently far apart, give us a call and we can see if we can work something out.

If your date is more than 5 months away and we have a club or restaurant performance booked for your date, it's possible we can change the date of that performance.  Please call and inquire. 

Q - Is it safe to book a band from a videotape?
A - Whenever possible, you should try and hear a band perform live at some point BEFORE signing a contract.  This holds true for ANY band you audition. 

Videotapes are all well and good for narrowing down your selections, but you still need to check out your band live or disastrous things might occur at your reception.  Some bands use pre-recorded audio on their videotapes that they could never hope to replicate live, and others actually go so far as to use studio musicians that aren't part of the band!!!

Through the miracle of technology, just about any band can sound good in a professional recording studio.

If you simply must book a band from a tape or CD, try to insist on a tape or audio CD that uses live footage of the band in performance in front of an audience. The audio quality might not be as good as those other studio tapes you've heard, but the performance will be much closer to what you will actually hear at YOUR function.   A key to watch for in these videos are the reactions of the AUDIENCE members, not the band.  Any band can ham it up for a camera, but at someone's party it's likely that if the crowd appears to be having a great time, they probably are!

Q - Where can I come hear you play?
A - Oracle makes regular public appearances, at least twice a month and often more.  We perform at nightclubs, parks concerts, bull roasts, benefits, and for service organizations like the ELKS, American Legion, Knights of Columbus, and others.  A list of our upcoming performances can be found by going to our Upcoming Performances page.
Q - I really want a live band, but my parents are concerned that it will be too loud.  Can you play quietly enough so that folks can still hear to talk without having to shout?
A - Absolutely.  One of the strong points of The Oracle Band is our ability to play quietly, particularly in the early stages of the reception, or in smaller rooms where people also want to be able to talk.

We have had receiving lines set up directly in front of the band and the family was still able to greet their guests effortlessly.  

We make it a point to start the reception at an extremely low volume.  This way, you can always request that the volume be turned up if you'd like.  

We'd much prefer that you ask to have things turned UP rather than DOWN.  This is another reason why it is so important to hear a band perform live before signing a contract.

Q - I want a DJ, but my parents want a live band.  Can you really be both?
A - Absolutely.  Our trumpet player Steve has over 25 years of experience as a DJ in both clubs and at weddings.  Our philosophy is one geared towards less chatter and more music, as we feel the music should be able to entice people to the dance floor without having the DJ rattle on at the mouth.

By having a live DJ take over between sets we are able to play songs that the band doesn't otherwise perform.  It also allows us to bring in elements of other ethnicities and cultures,  by spinning recordings of traditional and ethnic material, such as Greek, Italian, Jewish, Polish, Latin, Oriental, or just about any other cultural heritage.

Steve has written an article about the debate between having a band or a DJ.  Check it out for some additional insight on the advantages of having live music, and how he debunks some of the so called "advantages" of having a DJ over a band.  The Case for Hiring A Live Band

Q - I really like a certain song that's not on your songlist.  Would you be willing to learn this song for us?
A - Absolutely!  We would be more than happy to learn a special song for you.  It can be for your first dance, father/daughter dance, or just a special song that you want included during the course of the reception.  

You can also request for us to learn other material through our Suggest-A-Song page here on the website.  While we don't guarantee we'll learn ALL of them, we do use these suggestions when evaluating new material for us to learn.

Finally, we will be more than happy to have the band's DJ spin any additional songs for you in between sets.

Q - How do you dress for a performance?
A - Typically, for a formal event such as wedding or corporate party the band will wear black tuxedos.  If requested we can also wear a simpler jacket and tie or suit.  If you are hosting a theme party, the band is more than willing to accommodate the theme by dressing appropriately.
Q - Can you hold a date open for me?
A - The band's policy for bookings is that the first person to sign and contract and send a retainer gets the date.  While we do not put a "hold" on specific dates without a contract and retainer, we will be more than happy to call you and advise you if there are any serious inquiries for your date, offering a "right of first refusal".  We don't want to sound like a stereotype used car salesman pushing you to buy before you leave the lot, but we do want our prospective clients to know if they have competition for the date in question.  We wish we could accommodate everybody, but unfortunately that isn't possible.

Booking The Band

Q - Does The Oracle Band use a contract? 
A - Yes, we use a contract for all performances.  This ensures that there are no miscommunications between the band and our clients.  It is for the protection of all parties concerned.
Q - What is the process for booking the band?
A - The process goes like this:
  1. Two identical copies of the contract are mailed to the client
  2. The client signs both copies and returns them with the retainer (typically $600)
  3. Upon receipt of the contract and retainer, the date is officially confirmed
  4. The band leader then signs both copies and returns one copy to the client for their records, with Statement of Account acknowledging receipt of their retainer
Q - Do we have to make arrangements to feed the band?
A - We do request that arrangements be made for a light meal for the band.  However, we do not want our clients to have to pay the same rate as their guests to feed the group.  Most caterers in the area will allow the band to go through the buffet line after the guests have finished, or they may provide a vendor sandwich or other light fare.  If a caterer is insistent on charging full fare for the band to eat, other arrangements can be made.  This is not a major issue for the band!
Q - Do you require Payment in Full prior to the day of my event?
A - No.  Once we receive your retainer, no further monies are due until the day of the function.  Whether we are paid before the beginning of the event, during, or while we're breaking down, that's entirely up to you.  If you PREFER to pay in advance so you have one less thing to worry about, that's fine, of course!
Q - How do you handle Overtime requests?
A - Oracle charges $400 for each additional 60 minute set of music beyond the contracted hours.  The decision to extend the performance does not have to be made until the very end of the contracted period, at which point you simply ask the band to stay and play some more.  

We book overtime in 1/2 hour increments.  The band typically only books one performance a day, so overtime is never a problem.  We'll play for as long as the guests are still partying!

Q - Do you accept credit cards?
A - At the present time we do not accept any credit cards.  We accept cash, personal or corporate / business checks, and money orders.  However, we can also accept PayPal, where you can make payments by credit card.
Q - Do you require a stage?
A - The simple answer for this question is no, we do not require a stage.  For corporate functions or other performances where the band is a significant focus of attention a stage does help direct that focus, particularly in larger rooms.  However, for weddings and other private parties, it is the newlywed couple or guest of honor that is the real focus, so a stage is definitely not necessary
Q - If we have a stage, what are your staging size requirements?
A - The minimum size stage that the band can fit on is 20' x 8', which translates to 4-5 pieces of standard size roll around staging.  For stages of this size the band's speakers will be located off the stage on either side of the band.  Larger stages are helpful in that it provides us more room to move and interact, and permit us to locate speaker cabinets and light trees on stage rather than off to the side.

Preparing for your function

Q - Do we select the songs we want from the songlist?  Do we put the songs in order?
A - Here's what we do.  About 8 weeks before your reception we will send out an updated songlist to you, or you can download a formatted list from our Songlist Page, which will include all of our most recently learned songs.  

We will ask you to select 4-8 "must play" songs, that is, those songs that you really want to dance to or feel very strongly about.  

We will also ask you to select 40-60 songs that you think you, your guests, family, and friends will enjoy.   

Finally, we will ask you to indicate any songs you don't want us to play.  

When you return this list to us, we will put together a rough setlist based on your selections.  Based on the styles of music you have selected, we may also fill in some songs of a similar nature that are pretty much guaranteed crowd pleasers, (unless of course the selection is on the "don't play" list).  

In several cases songs are included in a medley of songs, so if you select "Rockin Robin", you're also going to get "Johnny B. Goode" as it's part of the medley. The setlist that we put together is a general guide only.  The band is quite flexible as far as what is played and when.  As the reception progresses, we will be taking requests from your guests, and if we can honor those requests we will, (unless, once again, the request is on the "don't play" list).  

We will also be "reading" the crowd, to see which  songs are receiving the best response.  It is this experience in reading a group that sets the band apart from a human jukebox playing the same songs in the same order all the time.

Q - What information do you need from me in advance of the reception?
A - Since every wedding is different, we don't need the same information from everybody.  However, as a general rule, here are some of the pieces of information we look for:

1. Itinerary for the reception.  What time do guests arrive, what time is meal served, cake cut, etc.

2. Will the entire wedding party be introduced?  If so, we need the list of names in advance.  We're pretty good with this, but phonetic pronunciations for some of the more difficult names are appreciated.  We'll go over this list with you before the event to ensure names are pronounced properly.

3. When is the first dance, right after introductions or after the meal?  What song?

4. Will there be a Father/Daughter Dance?  What song?  

5. Is there a separate Mother / Son Dance, or is there just going to be one "Parent Dance" where we invite Mother / Son up halfway through the Father / Daughter song?

6. When will the Parent Dance occur...after the First Dance, after dinner, or at some other point?

7. Will there be a Bouquet Toss?  Will there also be a Garter toss?  When will this occur?

8. Is there a toast that will be offered?  Who will be doing it?

9. Will there be a blessing / grace offered just before dinner?

10. Are there any special rules or requirements for the band imposed by the facility?  Examples might be carpets for hardwood floors, early or last minute load-in due to room availability, specific set up and break down times, specific volume requirements, etc.

Q - How long does it take you to set up?
A - Much depends on the facility we will be performing in of course, but in general it takes about 1 1/2 hours to get the PA system set up and ready to go.  If extensive lighting is requested that generally takes an additional hour or so.

The band typically arrives two hours prior to the contracted start time, to ensure that everything is ready to go before any guests arrive, and to give the band time to change for the performance.  However, we have in the past been able to get the full band set up in as little as 30 minutes with sufficient advance notice.

Note that Downtown Washington DC and Baltimore hotels often require longer load in periods, as access is more severely restricted and parking for the band's vans & trailer can take some time.


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Oracle Band
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Gaithersburg, Md  20886
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This page last updated 02/07/2013

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