This interview with Brian Alexander shares some of his secrets as a successful band in the Detroit area.
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What's some of the best business advice you've ever received? Well, when I asked Brian Alexander that he tells me a story about how his lawyer told him when he gets out of the overhead business, and he would really start to make a profit. So get yourself out of the overhead business. Listen in today to hear that and much more from a Detroit guy who sets the bar high, and knows how to keep that dance floor packed. Tune in for an interview with Brian Alexander from the Brian Alexander band. As a Catholic farm girl in Minnesota, I certainly never expected to ever be the Jewish party Maven, but 4400 parties and 26 years later, I am indeed an expert at Jewish parties. I am fiercely committed to helping the best vendors, book more parties in this amazing, lucrative and incredibly loyal Jewish party market. Let's go. Hello there and welcome to a book more Jewish weddings podcast. I'm your host Pat Blackwell. And today I have the great honor of talking to one of the amazing Jewish bands in the Detroit area, the Brian Alexander band. So welcome, Brian.
Thanks. It's good to be here. love working with you period all the time.
Well, and we love working with you. And we know that when you're on our schedule, that dance floor is gonna be packed. But I want to back up a little bit. Tell me some a bit about your background. How did you get into this Jewish party world
to where we are at this point? I have to say, just some of my Jewish friends. Marla and Tamar Shanna. The Shapiro's these guys, they asked me to start back performing in the Jewish community. I had a stopped for probably 10 years. Because I had a a audio and video studio. And we were doing I did a lot of jingles and allowed television commercials. And so that kept me awfully busy in terms of the performance category. So
I get to see you at Jewish weddings all the time. But is that your main gig now? Or are jingle still your main gig?
No. Performances is mostly my main gig. Performance is mostly my gig. I do the jingles and videos when people specifically call me to do that. But pretty much performing. And certainly not just in Jewish community just performing period, you know, has been my thing. Well,
I am not Jewish, I come from this pig farm in Minnesota. So you can imagine and I'm assuming
that you're not doing either, right? I'm not Jewish, I'm African American and, and have just been performing all my life. And it kind of matriculated into the Jewish community. I used to sing with a guy who was who I call the grandfather of all this stuff. He was the number one cat and that was mill ball. So I used to sing with mill. And mill is is kind of responsible for a lot of my Jewish exposure. And I learned an all lot from him in terms of the way that this the ceremonies go and the way that all thing. And I just, I just watched him and it kind of just blended over, you know, and I remember a lot. So that's that's how I got started.
So we both come from a background that's not Jewish. Tell me one thing about Jewish weddings that you just love and you wish that other other faiths would adopt that as their practice. Um, I think that the Jewish category of receptions and one is they, they hold a great deal to tradition. It's very, it's a real spiritual event for them. And weddings are bad for everybody. But I think the Jewish community kind of I mean, they they don't like to veer off they, they keep it right in the center is so it's a very it's a very spiritual serious kind of thing to them. And they put that kind of time into it, you know, I mean, they, they, you know, everybody plans for weddings, but I think my Jewish brothers and sisters Really? Yeah, they they're really sick. It's okay. I fully expected you to say I love that they come in ready to dance, because other groups come in and sit down and have salad and have toast and have dinner and have dessert and then say, okay, fine, I'll dance. But this Jewish party world, you come in partying? Oh, yeah. dance dance dance. And I love that. That's one of my favorite things about Jewish weddings. Sure,
they definitely. They definitely do want to part, there is no question about that. They like to get, like I said, some of the ceremonial things out the way. But when that's done, they really do. So Matter of fact, I know in particular, that's what they hire me for. They do all say what we want to do is just party, just go ahead. And once we get this out the way and get that up, wait. It's bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, that's what they like to do. And they are really, that's why I said, even even with the, when they do the hora and put people up in the chick. I mean, it's, it's a serious event to them. They really, they love it, they put their whole thing into it. And then at the, like I said, they do just want a party. That is a fact. There's no question about that. They love party, they pay you they do. They do they love to party.
I know a huge part of being a successful business in any area is customer service. And you do a great job of giving customers, not just what they want, but also what they need, you do a terrific job of taking care of people all night long. And so can you speak to that at all? What's your What have you learned about customer service? Or how do you handle that? I know we have some amazing customers, but they have stressful days. And weddings can be really stressful sometimes. How do you handle that?
I tell them to Don't forget why they hired me, meaning that they want me to handle the party. And so I tell them, relax, you guys have done all the other stuff. Relax, when you come to the party. I want you to leave everything else at the door. I just come in there. And you know that i Matter of fact, I usually say to them, you know that all Abbott and Costello think who's on first? Well, if he's on first, what's on second, then what about we get the home plate? I tell them, don't worry about who's on first. Don't worry about any of that. When you get there. We have had enough conversations. I usually like to meet with the clients once or twice, for sure. And personally not ended. But I talked to him. I talked to him quite a bit. And I think that it really is just about ease and their tension. And they know, once they know that they've got me doing what I want to do. They kind of just leave it alone. And I think that's probably one of the biggest compliments that I hear is that once they get to the party, once the party is over, they cannot just have forgotten everything. You know, because all they really want to hear at the end of the night is people say to them, oh my god, I couldn't sit down. Oh, I did all the other things. Just the other things kind of just disappear. You know. And once they know that the party is happening. They literally I see them right there in front of me. Forget about everything else. They're party in so and you know.
And as a red coat lady, we pride ourselves in letting our clients be present at the party. And you do the same thing. You allow them to just relax and enjoy those moments. I know a couple of weeks ago, you were at a party outdoors and attend and the power went out and you sang the dead daughter dance and and they still got to have that incredible time with no electricity. I mean that's pretty darn
amazing. And you know that that is a that's a that's a big deal. You know, where I got that from? Was Coleman Young's last birthday party. The last birthday party happened him on the star Detroit. They hired me to do that party. A friend of mine recommended that I did it. And he was or Thea Barnes. And I did the party and the power went out on the boat and I got Up on the table and just started saying, I remember singing, we were singing this James Ingram song. And the power the power went out, and I got up on top the table. And everybody just just, I just told everybody look at me, I got up on the table, and we just continue to sing. And and I've just done that, I've just done that the power goes out. So let's just party, you know, anyway, and so I happened to thank God, I had a, some of the musicians, we they had acoustic instruments as well. And on stage, and we just did that. So that that works, you know, and, and then everybody just, they just love that. And it's good. You know, the one little thing is not gonna stop the show, you know?
Absolutely. And being flexible is huge. And you know, me, I like to come in with a plan. But plans change, and you got to read the crowd, and you're really good at reading the crowd and but this whole party scene is a team effort. And working together is huge, too. And one of the things I love is knowing that the vendors we have understand what's important to our clients. I love knowing that a photographer knows that they have to get all those shots before they can walk out the door. I love that a band knows that their job is to keep that dance floor full and keep the timeline going. And, and being a team player is huge. And I appreciate that about you as well. Well,
I gotta tell you this, that I'm one of the simplest teams to work with in terms of party planning is your team. I mean, I mean, really, every time we know that you are there and the clients say to me, Well, Pat Blackwell, I'd be like, well, you got that part of your party completely handled. And that is a big deal. For bands, I'm going to tell you dealing with I have, we have worked with some event planners that want to micromanage the band. And you guys, once the most the actual party starts, you guys all you got to step back, and kind of just, you know, I see I see all over the place all the time, I see your produce, you guys are in every corner of the party. That's a big deal. I mean, really, that's a big deal. For bands to not be interrupted at the wrong times while the party is flawed. So you guys know, you watch the party, you know, the flow. I noticed the second time that I started working that I worked with you, I remember that you adapt so well to the band. You do. And that's I'm telling you that's a that's a huge thing. So in terms of teamwork, you're absolutely right, that has to happen.
And I know that they hired you because they love your work and they want you to do your game. So my job as a red coat lady is to help you bring your A game to every party. My job is to help the photographer bring their A game and help the caterer bring their A game and sometimes our schedules don't quite mesh, but we work it out. And I love that. But I wanna switch gears a little bit. Tell me about some myths that is out there. I know for me people think I only work on Saturdays. What's it really like to be in charge of a band?
You got to know personalities? In terms of my band started out as a two piece. Of course not long have
you been in business
for a from a from this time band, probably 12 11 years. Prior to that I had a band and then and then we started doing television commercials and jingles. And then I stopped the band for a little while and so but 10 years ago I was out somewhere and Marla Spaulding from Tamil Shannon was call me out and said Brian, you got to start back doing parties. Okay. I did a beer summer, big summer bash and from actually from there I just started back, you know, everybody, I started getting a lot of calls to do receptions, and
you just work on Saturday nights, right? You just show up and sing? Oh, yeah, that's right. That's all it is, you know? Yeah. It's really like, what's your week like?
preparation, preparation, preparation, I mean, learning new songs, staying on top of new songs, and then getting the material to the band, and then rehearse and it's a, it's full time. Somebody in the band, and mostly several people in the band. Now several people, in my opinion, maybe seven people in my band are full time with me. And an auditor, how many
are in your band? 1414, your regular gig is a 14 piece band. Seven of them are full time for you.
Yes. And I'm and three years ago, we were to the pistons corporate bank, the Detroit Pistons corporate ban. And they, we will kind of go downtown when we stopped when they went out of town. But we were doing 42 home games, and then another 37, receptions and a few other things. So, now the band, you know, those guys are crazy. They wanted to do it. All right. me. I was like, because of my preparation dealing with the clients. Making sure you know, I'm always in the top 10 of songs. So I'm my ears always to the ground with that. And then getting those songs to the band. Learning the lyrics and oh my god, is this a serious game? I mean, it's a serious game. You couldn't there's no way you could show up on Saturday. And and do it to the level people the way people want it. It's just no way. The preparation is I always tell the band my favorite word is preparation is never last time. Never. There's never time you shouldn't be learning a song. There's never a time you shouldn't be rehearsing. So yeah, the biggest part of showing up for the gig is easy part. I Cz
I want you guys loading and unloading and loading and unloading. And that's the part that people don't understand either. You don't just show up at the gig and play for five hours or four hours or whatever your contract is. You're setting up for hours before that and tearing down for hours after that
is 100% correct? You know we have a fortunately now for the past seven years, we have a regular sound crew as regulars sound group, so we have one sound engineer to roadies, and and then soundcheck his various tabs throughout the day because everybody's bringing their equipment to the stage. Why does sound crew is setting up so they're bringing their equipment and then then they come back. So we can do a soundcheck. So they come once during the early part of the day, probably right around noon, and then they come back everybody's back by 430. The rhythm section, the band is actually backed by 430 do a sound check. And depending on what time the gig actually starts, they'll either stay and or they'll leave and come back. So they come so we but so easily anytime there three times during that day, wants to set up wants to sound check and wants to come back for the gig. So it's Yeah, it is some work on on that Saturday. And prior to that Saturday. Absolutely.
Indeed. Well, you guys do an amazing job tell the so this is called the book more Jewish weddings podcast and it's primarily designed for vendors who want to get in the Jewish market. But it's also for other vendors. So tell people how they can find you. How do they get to you?
Well, they can call our manager His name is Carrie who stated his numbers 810-471-0446. And, and then our website is the Brian Alexander band.com just that simple. That's it, and they can reach out to us and you know, and get the information they need.
Brian Alexander b r i a n. Alexander, the Brian Alexander band dot com.
The Brian Alexander bands dot com. And again the website is I mean, my email address mine is Brian @ Alexander- assOC. com.
So are you a social media guy? How do you spread the word that you have this amazing band?
Um, to be quite honest, it's been word of mouth is completely been word of mouth. Now we're talking about this year doing some other things because that's why we enlarged the band. We're in New York as a matter of fact, we're performing in New York in two weeks. And and that is the market that I wanted to expand to the Chicago we returned Chicago a couple times and but I wanted to get the New York market and that social
New York market or corporate?
Both Well, we're we're going there for reception to do a reception. And so I like both parts. The plan is obviously to let me say this here. Oprah hasn't marriage Chapman yet. But we
got to have Bon Jovi do the concert or whatever. And then they got to have a
band, do the part I want to do you want to be the band,
I want to be the band that they call. So you know, that's that really is where our goal is. That is the goal is to be the go to party band. We've done a couple of inaugural Presidential Inaugural. But I want to be on that. I want to be on that list.
You know, so thinking back, what's your favorite party you've ever done? Do you have a favorite or there's so many highlights?
You know, I'm one of the favorite artists that I can just think of off the top of my head is the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. We're doing that we were going to do it this year. We did it two years ago. And then of course, there was that the COVID part. But the but they hired us. Actually the president of Ford Motor Company walked up to the stage and told the people they're hired again. Yeah. So we've we've been booked now for a whole year to do that gig for two years to do that gig. That was one of the most fun parties that we've done. That was that What party? You know, there was 500 people and this time, it's going to be 1000 people, and it's actually going to be at Ford field. So the last one was, was at MGM Grand. But it was it was very turnkey. You know, obviously, they had two big cameras and the sound crew, they brought him from out of town, you know, their travels around country when the gig was. We showed up now that was a gig we showed up at before. So we didn't have to load it. It was good. We showed up. But it was like the ceremony. And of course, it was a charity that, you know, is a big, big, big event. It was great. Yeah. So that that's just one off the top of my head I can think of but but of course, the Jewish market. I've made so many friends that don't just ask me to do the party. They will call me from time to time. And once you go up, we down at such and such Come on out to hang out with us, you know. So I've made some I made some lifetime friends in the Jewish community. So I love them. And they treat me really, really nice. So yeah.
It's a wonderful thing to be part of people's happiest days in their lives. And it's emotions, Bond your memories, and we work we have the pleasure of working with people's emotions and I love it. Love it, love it.
I do to manufacture I say to them, they say, well, well, we won't bother you with that. And bah, bah, bah. And I stopped and I said, let me tell you something. This is a big deal. I get it. This is a big deal. You got, you know, you're spending money. You're bringing in people you're doing listening. It's a big deal. And so I tell the brides I've gotten five calls from the bride. As a matter of fact, one time I was at a meeting, and the groom said, Oh, baby, don't duck. You don't have to call him again. We'll get that figured out. And I told him, I said, You know what? No, it's a big deal. Coming up to this event. We belong to you guys. So call me. That's no problem. Yeah, so it's a big deal. It's a big deal.
Well, tell me about some time when you learn something that you wish you'd known a long, long time ago. What do you wish you knew? When you first started that? You know, now? Wow. How many? How many pieces of paper? And how many? The digital world?
I know. Yeah. But no, it's I can't even you know, there's a plethora of things that I wish I knew. I bet. Serious? I wish I knew.
I wish I knew. Oh, man. Are you talking musically or period?
Oh, in general, as a business owner, what do you wish you knew when you were starting out that to know now that you would love to share that advice with somebody who's just getting started?
I'm my attorney is was was already har wells, manager. And he told me, he said, you're gonna really make it on a certain level, once you get out of the overhead business, and I was like, What? What do you mean? You know, because I had two big office and I had two different. So when I actually moved my office into my lower level, they stopped paying 70 $500 a month in rent, and the other expenses. So what I learned was, is to try to streamline your business. Once I learned that, how to do that, and involve other people in it, you know, and really, like you said, putting the team together. But once I got out of the overhead business, I wish I had known that part. Yeah, because after spending a couple hundreds of 1000s of dollars in, in, you know, over the couple of years of rent and the overhead. And so when he told me that that was a big deal. He said, Yeah, once you get out of the overhead business, and so he didn't mean, just, overall, he just meant, you know, you got to tailor and stuff and be more specific of how you run your business, you know. And once I did that, that was a learning process. And all of this stuff is a learning process, you know, so
I learned something every week still, I've done 4400 parties over the last few years, 26 years. And I learned something every week. It's amazing. Yeah,
yeah, I learned, I learned so much stuff I can't even make we're thinking about writing a book for me about doing these things and the things that need to happen in the beginning, and how to deal with clients who write all those things. Most of the time when clients ask me something, my first answer is, they say, can you do such and such? I think for about one second. And I say yes. We'll get it done. You will get it.
Yeah, absolutely. Oh, that's wonderful. Yeah. Well, I want to wrap up this interview. But I so appreciate your time coming down with me. And we love working with you. And it's one of my favorite things to see that dance floor just jam packed full once again, because COVID is over.
Oh, my goodness. Oh, my. And everybody is acting like that to regular look for you can't get back. Oh, we wonderful thing is it's a great thing. So yeah, let's, let's hope. Let's pray that, that it continues on and gets even better and, and bigger and better and brighter, you know? Absolutely. Yeah.
All right. Well, is there one last piece of advice you'd like to give to anybody who wants to start a band?
Just you just give it all you've got? I think to me and my wife always says is my wife gave me this advice. She will say has the party and I would say I was surprised. I would say it was good things could have been. And she'll say is so what a statement. She said to me. You know, good is the enemy of great. So, we need to, I need you to come in here and the party such as you know, great that think about that on Tim Cook is enemy. Okay. So yeah, that's one of the things don't, don't stop until you know that you've done the best that you could do. No,
that's wonderful advice. And I totally agree. If you're just doing a good job, stay home.
Absolutely. You know, you got to be over the top. You know, you've got to be able to talk. Yeah.
Well, terrific. Again. Thank you very much, Brian. I so appreciate your time today. For all of you listeners out there, the Brian Alexander band. He'll keep your dance floor packed. Thank you so much. Appreciate you Thanks.