In July of 2019, pre-COVID, a gentleman came to TSE Entertainment in search of two bands for his outdoor wedding entertainment in Nantucket, MA on September 19, 2020. Little did he & I know the ride that lay ahead over the next 14 months. First was the task of convincing the client that TSE was the best agency for the job. He was vetting another agency plus ourselves, like any good businessman. And a very good businessman he is. He built, from the ground up, his own American privately held commercial insurance company that now has 10 offices across the United States. This guy is known to be a “rainmaker” that “focuses on details.” I could tell right off the bat that specifics were very important to him, especially on an event like this. He found the love of his life and wanted to make their special day was a moment that would be reminisced for years and years to come.
During our first conversation, I was very transparent about how the booking process & financials worked for wedding entertainment. I explained why it is important to be decisive on an agency before moving much further along. If 2 agencies are reaching out to the same artist about the same event, there can be confusion created.
Most of the major national touring artists are not exclusive with TSE Entertainment. Our services focus on streamlining the booking process for our clients. Where our client has a single TSE agent they communicate with, the TSE agent is working with multiple agents at various agencies. We keep all of the details organized and steadily flowing to the client as information rolls in. We work our long-term relationships with agencies such as WME, CAA, Paradigm, UTA, APA, ICM, etc. TSE started in 1975 and books with these companies and their entertainers 365 days a year. We can negotiate the best possible price to save our clients money. Part of this comes in hammering out the “can do’s” and “cannot do’s” of the rider. Every event and buyer is able, or not able, to provide certain things the artist is requesting. I explain the rider is a “perfect world” document where many of the items listed, the band can live without. Certain things are a must-have, but working through the rider with management can simplify this document.
Onward through the story. Next was artist ideas for their wedding entertainment. The bride & groom-to-be created a beginning list for me to start. I got pricing and availability on acts such as Peter Frampton, Foreigner, Lionel Richie, Earth, Wind & Fire, Boyz II Men, Goo Goo Dolls, OneRepublic, The Blues Brothers, George Benson, Bonnie Raitt, Carly Simon, Pharrell Williams, Annie Lennox, plus many more household names. As I engaged with the various agents, we would discuss additional acts that could be a good fit. We needed an opener and a closer; actually more like co-headliners.
After lots of research, rider reviews, and collaboration among all parties, we decided to pull the trigger on Boyz II Men and George Benson for their wedding entertainment. Usually, the next step would be to submit a formal offer. Not in this case. My end buyer wanted the rider details flushed out fully before sending in a formal offer on either act. This typically is done after an offer is accepted. While I completely supported this common-sense approach, it can be quite tricky. High-end acts receive all kinds of inquiries daily. The responsible agent’s (RA) job is to screen these leads and separate credible from non-credible. Believe it or not, most inquiries are the latter. The RA & the artist’s management do not want to waste his/her time. This is the reasoning behind rider negotiations typically taking place after the offer is accepted. I was able to work my magic to deliver for my customer and get it done. On something this big, it totally made sense.
Island Setting and Major Acts Involve a Lot of Details to Coordinate
Rider Negotiations – Tough but we prevailed
- Step 1 – Find a production company up for the task. I vetted several, but we finally decided to go with the company that generally serves events at the wedding venue, Nantucket Golf Club.
- Step 2 – The production company makes contact with both bands to see what the bands could possibly share, what could be supplemented and what was a must-have. We needed a set up for a wedding and not a concert arena.
- Step 3 – Coordinate with the leadership team at the golf club to work through relevant details of the rider including security, layout of the industrial-sized tent, stage size, etc. What else could they provide and not provide? Nantucket Golf Club was fantastic to work with!
- Step 4 – Coordinate with the ground transportation company, Cranberry Transportation, to get a quote on shuttling both bands from the time they land on the mainland to the time they are driven back to the airport. We settled on providing 2 Cadillac Escalade SUVs, 2 -15 passenger vans, & 2 luggage vans all with drivers. Ken at Cranberry was amazing, and I made a new friend.
- Step 5 – Coordinate/negotiate many other details such as rooms, meals (catering), greenrooms, travel buyout costs (not cheap!), etc. We are talking about 2 traveling parties with a total of nearly 30 people with expensive taste. Before we ever made the offers, I could tell you who was coming by name, what their role was, what specific items/amenities they each required…all the way down to a sauna for Mr. Benson.
- Step 6 – Acquire song lists for the couple to look over & convince George Benson to add a solo set singing live while the bride walked down the aisle. This would be in addition to his 90-minute full-band opening performance during the reception. He said YES! We were so excited!
I am sure I missed some specifics, but you get the idea. We dotted our i’s and crossed our t’s. Now it was finally time to submit the formal offers. Needless to say, both acts accepted the offers with the terms we agreed upon. The contracts were executed in November after nearly 4 months of dedicated efforts by all involved. The decision was also made to have me fly out to be the onsite coordinator for all of the bands’ needs. TSE often provides this service as an addition if it is something the client thinks would benefit the event execution. Deposits were then paid. We were set, and all was right with the world!
Covid-19 Throws Wedding Entertainment Plans Awry
Then the spring rolls around and we have the COVID-19 pandemic in full throttle. What now? Well, first we wait because the wedding is not scheduled until September. At some point, one must realize this pandemic is not going away any time soon. The state of Massachusetts at this time left closure decisions up to local authorities. Unfortunately, on June 8, 2020, the head of the local Board of Health contacted the venue stating in a letter it is likely that events of gatherings more than 50 will not be allowed until November, at the earliest.
Again, now what? Do they reschedule for a future date that brings more unknowns or do they shrink their guest list to no more than 50? The bride & groom made the very difficult decision to have a small, intimate ceremony at their home in Nantucket on the original planned date. Boyz II Men & George Benson were no longer a viable option for wedding entertainment with these changes due to the limited number of people allowed at the gathering. Because this falls under the force majeure clause, my client’s deposit was refunded. The letter from the health official was required to be turned in to both artists’ agencies. Both were extremely understanding and quickly wired the money back. That is where the planning sat for over 2 months.
Late August, I open my email and see I have a message from the groom. He reached back out asking if we had a Beatles Tribute act for their wedding entertainment. They thought that would be the way to go with the new circumstances. Beatlemania64 happened to be available. This act is the only Beatles Tribute Band ever to be endorsed by Sid Bernstein, the guy who brought the Beatles to America! Beatlemania64 features the era of hits from the early ’60s & early ’70s making it one of the most highly sought after and absolute best party bands anywhere to be found.
We quickly needed to get an all-inclusive quote from the band including performance fee, production, ground transportation, meal buyout, plane & ferry ticket costs, etc. These guys had to fly out of Texas and make it to Nantucket, which posed a few challenges, to say the least, during the Coronavirus. We also had to find a new production company. We not only found one but they even had a Beatles’ replica drum set! With quick work by everyone, we were able to lock this deal in and get the details lined out from the contract to the payments to the wedding planner to the tent rental company providing the proper stage size down to the groundskeeper for power supply and well beyond.
Thursday, September 17, 2020, came and Mark Nix with his Beatlemania64 crew hit the door for the adventure of a lifetime. After landing in New Hampshire after midnight, they rented a car and drove through Boston to Cape Cod, MA. The band spent the night getting only 4 hours of sleep where they had to get up in order to catch the ferry ride to Nantucket in time. They were literally running with their guitars and luggage through the streets. The hotel manager in Cape Cod was nice enough to let them leave their rental car there for 2 nights. Once they crossed to the island, a guy picked them up to take them to Hertz Rental. Here they got another vehicle for island ground transportation. This was all by noon. Check In wasn’t until 4:00 pm on Friday, so the guys gave themselves a tour visiting sites such as the famous Sankaty Head Lighthouse. At last that afternoon, they were settled in their very pink-decorated cottage ready to cook steaks they had stopped off and bought at the market. Safe at last! “The Rose Cottage” was one of the only places available to rent last-minute in the planning, but it got the job done. These boys are road warriors and are certainly no primadonnas.
Saturday, September 19, 2020, the sun rises and the big day has arrived. The production company set up the day before. Getting equipment to Nantucket can be, well, a challenge, but things went smoothly. At 2:00 pm the band arrives on the scene ready for soundcheck. The groom even got up there to sing with them! Afterward, Mark & the other 3 Beatle look alikes went back to the cottage to relax, eat, & get cleaned up.
At 6:00 pm the wedding ceremony was underway. It was set in the backyard overlooking the ocean like something out of a movie. The witnesses were all very close friends and family of the couple. The guest list was limited due to COVID regulations, but that did not take away from how special this moment was. After the “I do’s” it was time to celebrate!
Beatlemania64 had already arrived back, gotten changed into their classic black Beatles suits in the fishing cottage next door, and were on stage at 7:30 pm for the downbeat of the night’s wedding entertainment. The crowd erupted as they broke into the first song, “Twist & Shout”, then moved right into “She Loves You.” The dancing was off to the races. It was electric! The first set ended after 70 minutes. The audience was ready for more but the band had to take a break to do a costume change into their vintage exact replica Shae Stadium Beatles suits. Back they came for another 70 minutes to close out the extravaganza. By the end of the night, the guests had dubbed them “the new Nantucket party band.” It was a night that would never be forgotten. The newlyweds were thrilled with the wedding entertainment, which really is all that matters in the end. It was a true fairytale event in the most spectacular backdrop in America.
Fourteen months later through pure grit, determination, and adaptation, we reached success in providing wedding entertainment that was a huge hit. This will always and forever stand as an example of what one can achieve by never giving up. TSE Entertainment wishes Neil & Ellie all the best on their new journey together. We are grateful to have worked with them. Wedding entertainment on one’s special day is often viewed as the most important aspect, and they got it 100% right. Congratulations!
“TSE Entertainment is a class-act. Glenda Black is an incredibly hard worker and never gave up. Her sheer tenacity to get things done is impressive. She is persistent, very organized, resourceful & diligent. TSE as a whole instills confidence in the process. You know you are in solid hands.” ~Neil Krauter, Nantucket, MA
“Beatlemania64 was awesome! They were the perfect high-energy act for our wedding. You would swear you are watching the Beatles themselves on stage. Our guests and my wife had an absolute blast. The band was down to earth and super friendly. If you want the party of all parties, you have to book these guys for your event!” ~Neil Krauter, Nantucket, MA