We put some personal questions to Boogie Nights, The Sugar Cubes and Sean Hession (aka Frankly Sinatra). Edited by Karen Birney
Unique, exciting and unforgettable, Boogie Nights is a band whose style and flare come as naturally as jiving does to John Travolta. I managed to grab a few minutes out with Una, lead singer, who shared a few stories about the band and their act.
B Mag: So, the question on everyone’s lips; do you dress like that on a daily basis?!
Boogie Nights: Of course we dress like that on a daily basis! You don't think we just "pretend" to be Tyrone, Cecil, Randy, Leroy and Fifi from Boogie Nights when we're doing a show, do you!? Seriously though, I do think the guys wear their gold medallions under their everyday clothes just to make them feel better!
Where did you get the costumes?
Some of our costumes are made for us by a tailor and others I make myself using unusual fabrics I pick up whenever I come across something loud and sparkly. Sequins are great for stage! We have lots of costumes including quite a few dancers’ costumes in storage from our Olympia shows. As we also have a couple of other bands (The Party Kings and Abba Revival) and that makes for a lot of costumes in storage around the house! Everything from glittery cat suits to Abba's Cat dresses, you'll see them all at some stage during our shows.
What are your top five requested songs?
Definitely the most popular songs I would say are: ‘Blame it on the Boogie’, ‘Dancing Queen’, ‘Love is in the Air’, ‘Night Fever’ and of course the mother of all disco songs, ‘I Will Survive’. All guaranteed to get the floor pumping!
What do you think is the most important aspect of entertainment at a wedding?
We always give 110% at every show we do. We try to involve the bride and groom and the audience so it makes for a lot of fun.
Do you do first dance songs? Ever had to brush down the wigs for a rendition of ‘Lady in Red’?
Absolutely! We will always learn a special first song for couples should they request one. We do our best to accommodate the bride and groom as best we can. I think we’ve played ‘Lady in Red’ once…yes, we did, I think Tyrone & Randy are still receiving counselling from that night!
I see you’ve played Michael O’Leary’s Summer BBQ for the past two years? So how were his moves?
He's the best mover and shaker of them all! They've been great parties to play. Lots of fun had by all.
Any stand-out weddings for you this year?
We played at Emily Musgraves (of Musgraves Cash & Carry fame!) wedding earlier this year in Ballymaloe House in Cork. It was spectacular – no expense spared! We had to do three encores – fantastic night.
What’s your favourite song to do together?
We probably all have different favourites. I guess mine currently would be some of the newer ones like ‘9 to 5’ or ‘Heaven Must be Missing an Angel’ as we havn't been doing them as long. Having someone up on stage with us during a song makes it fun for us too as you never know what’s going to happen!
How did you get together as a band?
A few of us had met doing various gigs together and a couple of the guys came up with the idea of forming our own band, a tribute to an era as opposed to just one band, we came up with the name Boogie Nights and the rest is history as they say!
What do you think is the best thing about 70’s music?
Well, we don’t play just 70’s stuff but the disco material seems to appeal to everyone from 17 to 70! It’s infectious and without realising it, people seem to know all the words to every song! No matter how many gigs we do, we still don't get bored of the songs. They still sound as fresh every night as if we we're playing them for the first time.
How do you relax after a long set?
We normally drive back each night from our country gigs so the only thing we have to face after a long set is a long drive! I love a cup of tea or hot chocolate as soon as I hit home. Not very rock and roll!
What advice do you have for engaged couples?
For a couple choosing a band for their wedding I would say choose a band that have both a male AND female singer, if it’s all guys that means no chick anthems for the entire night…Boo! Also, the band must play a wide range of music as that means there's something for everyone. We, for example, sometimes add some waltzes and rock and roll into our set for weddings as it caters for all age groups but we keep it in the Boogie Nights style and it’s slightly tongue in cheek which adds to the fun element of the show. Also trust that the band knows what songs work and what songs don't, years of playing lots of different shows is the only way to learn this. Above all, never under estimate how important the band is to a wedding reception as that’s when everyone gets to let their hair down and really have a night to remember. After that just hit the dance floor and have a ball!
The Sugar Cubes
Formed in 1993, The Sugar Cubes have toured Ireland and Europe with their authentic style of dance music. From contemporary pop and rock and roll, to swing, motown and country, The Sugar Cubes cover it all with a personal touch. I spoke to Eugene McCarthy, musical director, who together with singer Karen, guitarist Tommy, bassist Adam and drummer Martin makes up this polished and professional five-piece.
Taking you back, how did The Sugar Cubes first get together?
Karen was invited by Louise Walsh to support Michael Bolton at the Point Theatre so we put the band together. It was a great success and we all enjoyed the gig so much that we stayed together. The fact that we’re still together after all this time says a lot.
What is your favourite song to perform as a group?
‘Don’t stop believing’ by Journey.
What do you think is the best song for getting people up on the dance floor?
We have a loads of “get them out on the floor songs”, recently ‘Galway Girl’ never fails.
You are known for being one of the most polished bands in the business, how hard has it been to get the group to that level?
We always had great enthusiasm for our work. It made it easy to put all the hours in preparing and researching our repertoire. Attention to detail at rehearsals was very important, playing on stage with confidence filters through to all the guests very quickly. They know there is a good band on stage.
How do you describe your style?
I’d say a really good “Dance Band”.
Have you ever received any unusual thank you gifts from customers?
Not unusual, but lots of tips!
When you each go to weddings as a guest, is it hard not to get up on stage and join in for a little number?
Often we’re not available to attend friend’s wedding, when we do we would of course do a song or two if we were asked.
What advice do you have for couples putting together their wedding entertainment?
If you have a special song have the band learn it for you, it’s so much better than having a CD played. With the variety of people and age groups at a wedding it’s important that the band play “Popular Hit Songs” from over the years to keep the Party atmosphere going all night.
Sean Hessian, aka Frankly Sinatra has been entertaining the masses with his skilful interpretation of the greats from the big band era for years. Performing sell out shows all over the country as well as stunning wedding guests with his uncanny resemblance to Frank Sinatra, Sean’s name has become synonymous with first class entertainment. Sean took time out from his busy schedule to chat to us about how his talent came about.
I take it your favourite performer of all time is Ol’ Blue Eyes himself? Or are you really a closet Guns n’ Roses fan…?
I discovered Frank Sinatra at an early age in my parents’ home when I found an old record. I have been a huge fan of Frank Sinatra and his monumental music for as long as I can remember. I went to see him live five times when he was on tour in Dublin. For me, he is the greatest singer of the 20th century and he has influenced every singer in the world.
What is your favourite song to sing at a wedding?
Probably ‘Fly me to the Moon’ – a salute to new love and life together.
What’s your most requested song?
‘New York, New York’, which I love to perform.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I think I always wanted to be a singer. Now that I am, it’s a real dream come true.
How did you discover your talent for the Big Band era?
Like all good discoveries, by accident. A couple of friends had me announced at a Big Band ball. I sang two songs and the entire room gave me a standing ovation.
I’ll never forget the feeling after – elation and shock combined!
What is your favourite thing about performing a wedding?
I have been a professional singer for many years and have performed at big venues nationwide both with my big band and working band. Of all occasions weddings have a certain magic, regardless of size. To start, no two weddings are the same for obvious reasons. Each event is charged with its own energy and good vibes by the individuals and guests taking part. The goodwill and positivity just abounds and is infectious. To be chosen to play a central role in a couple’s unique celebration is truly an honour and I pride myself in being friendly and professional and putting them at ease on the most important day of their lives.
What is your proudest achievement to date?
Without question, working and recording with the marvellous Louis Stewart. (World renowned Dublin Jazz guitarist).
You’ve had plenty of fantastic reviews written about you by some of the most popular publications in the country, is it weird to read about yourself and your work?
I’ve been blessed in the past with good reviews for performances and recordings which I’ve done. I always think they are talking about someone else! Like anyone with any job, it’s nice to hear positive feedback.
Have you had any mishaps on stage?
We were playing a wedding in Renvyle House in beautiful, remote Connemara. During sound check, my keyboard player couldn’t get the board to work for love nor money. The resourceful hotel manager eventually saved the day and returned with a functioning keyboard, albeit a child’s pink Casio toy piano, which worked fine. What induced the laughing fit was realising how lucky we were and the fact that the notes lit up every time it was played. Happy days!
Do you have any advice for our readers as they try to choose the best entertainment for their wedding?
Striking a musical balance is key for any event. The music of yesteryear achieves this successfully because the range of tempos, rhythms, lyrics and moods is so diverse (samba, swing, bossa nova, romantic anthems) that there’s something for everyone, young and forever young. Remember that it is YOUR wedding and your choice of music style. If you enjoy the Sinatra/Rat Pack era, you can’t go wrong.
And finally, you’re playing WeddingsOnline.ie’s 10th birthday and Awards Ceremony this February. Are you excited?
Yes, I’m looking forward to it very much!