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Happy New Year and Happy News! 

Happy New Year, Symphomaniacs! This time of year always naturally comes with some reflection as it's the time of year when the gigs slow down, the holiday hustle is over, and we start to book out the rest of the year.  Our years tend to fly by with wild abandon, considering we are not only musicians, but also have full-time jobs, partners, and some of us, children. This past year was filled with some fantastic gigs and we hope to see you at those same venues and even some new venues this year.  We are also actively (and speedily) booking weddings for 2019 and 2020.

We in the band have some happy news to share: our lead singers, Christine & Ricky, have also gotten engaged to one another. The two met when Ricky was auditioning for Christine's former band, She Said Sunday, and more or less sang together before they actually conversed.  Almost eight years of harmonizing later, Christine and Ricky are now actively planning their own destination wedding in Turks and Caicos for June 2020.

Both Ricky and Christine's experience in performing at weddings and working with our local vendors has facilitated their own wedding planning.  If you're considering having live music at your reception, we encourage you to reach out to a real couple who knows the ins-and-outs of the wedding business here in the Lehigh Valley.  

Contact us for our rates and details about our wedding entertainment options and hurry! We're running out of dates for 2019 and booking now for 2020.

White Wedding 

Summer and fall weddings - seems like everyone's having one. And while there is something beautiful about being outside, or under a tent with the moonlight overhead, I believe there's something equally magical about a December wedding and it's a wonderful option that more brides should consider.

This past weekend, we performed at  Jen & George's wedding at Cairnwood Estate in suburban Philadelphia, PA. This venue is stunning in every detail - from the long driveway as you approach, to the giant front door that makes you feel like you're walking into a castle. And you are, in essence, as Cairnwood is the former country mansion of the Pitcairn family, the founder of Pittsburgh Plate Glass (which you may know now as PPG).
 

Best Thing About Winter Weddings #1: Holiday Decorations 

One of the most beautiful things about the mansion is that it was decked out for the holidays, with a giant Christmas tree in the main room, plus lights on the giant staircase, greenery, and candles everywhere. By the time the guests started arriving and the reception started, the sun was retreating for the day, but the candelabras gave a soft ,glowing ambience that couldn't be matched at any other time of the year. I can understand that non-Christian brides and/or grooms may not be thrilled by the idea of a giant Christmas tree in your reception space, but most of the decorations were non-denominational and more "wintry" - think pine greens and candles. 

Best Thing About Winter Weddings #2: Winter Accessories
There is something especially beautiful about a bridal gown with a vintage fur stole, modern faux fur look-alike, or woolen coat or wrap to keep your arms warm in your wedding dress (or bridesmaid dresses!). Bride Jennifer wore a beautiful stole over her dress and passed out pashminas to her guests to keep warm if they were chilly. 

Best Thing About Winter Weddings #3: Winter and Christmas Songs
For Jennifer and George's wedding, the Sunshine Symphony duo performed a set of acoustic love songs, and it was fun for us to be able to throw in holiday songs like "Baby, It's Cold Outside," or "Let it Snow." Your favorite classic holiday songs also work well as mixes for cocktail or dinner music, think Nat King Cole, Johnny Mathis, Bing Crosby, Burl Ives or Tony Bennett.


If you love historic mansions and want to visit Cairnwood, they offer afternoon teas once a month and lots of events that are open to the public. You can find more information on their website:  http://www.cairnwood.org/

Don't Stop Believing! 

Christine faces her radiation treatment.It was December 5, 2014, when I got the call that changed my life. I had gone for a routine mammogram, which led to an ultrasound and then a biopsy, after which the doctor said, "it's better that you know than don't know." With no family history of breast cancer, and leading a relatively active and healthy lifestyle, here I was, suddenly a cancer patient.

The first thing I thought was, "How am I going to fit this into my schedule?"  I work full-time, I help my boyfriend and band-mate Ricky Bell raise his two little girls, and we have the band, of course, which has become a very busy enterprise. Not to mention, we have two households and the stuff that comes with them.  All are important to me for different reasons.

The whirlwind began, and suddenly I held a dozen appointment cards in my hand for surgical consults, pre-op appointments, blood tests, radiation and medical oncologists. Ricky coined "Team CB" - the name of my support group of family and friends to get me through this ordeal. Surgery was first, which was a fairly straightforward recovery, and then came seven weeks of radiation.  Fast forward five months later, and here I am - treatment complete.

I'm thankful to my partner Ricky, who helped me make arrangements, came to appointments, and gave me a whole bunch of pep talks. We managed to play gigs (and most of the time I felt pretty decent), rehearse, find new guitarists, update the website, book more gigs, book weddings, and all the things that come with running a successful band. We rented my house and then packed it up and moved. We continued, business as usual, with his kids, explaining that CB had something called cancer that she had to go for treatments for, but that she was going to be ok.

I am happy to say that I feel pretty decent overall, am healing just fine and am thankful that I am able to continue to perform like nothing has happened - which is completely untrue, as I am a changed human being. Oh yes, I more fully understand the need to have a good time, to unwind, to hear and sing along with great music - to celebrate life's happy occasions because life is challenging and throws some difficult things our way.

Thanks to our friends, family and fans for celebrating these happy milestones with Sunshine Symphony! We love you!

Peace, Love & Rock n' Roll,
Christine

Happy 2015! 

Sunshine Symphony, 1/9/15 - Thanks to Andy Sawran for the photo.



Happy 2015 to our new fans and our fans from the very beginning! We are overjoyed that 2014 was so successful.

We booked lots of new venues! We met so many great people and got to celebrate with our wonderful new friends and fans at their happy occasions.  We'll be making our debut at Club Gravity at Chicago's Restaurant (previously Mezza Luna in Allentown). We're excited to be playing for the members of the Fullerton Fire Company in May, and playing more shows at the Coplay Saengerbund this year.  Also, we hope to soon add a few dates at the Parx Casino in Philadelphia. Several weddings are already booked here and in Philadelphia and there are a few more in the works.

We're working on new music! At rehearsal on Monday, we worked on 5 new songs that we'll be adding to upcoming sets and probably a few more in the next few weeks before we start getting ready for "wedding season". The result of our 2014 Music Poll showed the MOST votes for the Luke Bryan song "Play it Again" - so we may be adding that to our set soon.  Other high-ranked songs from our poll: "Happy" from Pharrell Williams, "Fancy" by Iggy Azalea (I am not fantastic at rapping, but I'd try it),  "Rude" by Magic (already in our set list!) and "All of Me" by John Legend.

I'm currently obsessed with Taylor Swift's "Blank Space" song and can't seem to get that out of my head...we may have to add that one as well.

What would you like to see from us in 2015? More videos? Where would you like to see us play? Let us know in the comments, and we'll do our best to make it happen. Happy New Year - hope it's a great one for you, too!

Peace, Love & Rock n' Roll,
Christine Bainbridge, Sunshine Symphony
 

Fall Weddings and Two New 5-star Reviews! 

We have had the opportunity to play at a couple of beautiful outdoor weddings in the past two months.  We were thrilled to be a part of Sandy and Josh's wedding at their friend's gorgeous home in Zionsville, and Lindsay and Charlie's wedding in Richlandtown, PA. 

Sandy and Josh's day started with pouring rain, which caused the ceremony to be moved inside to the lovely Chateau Peach, their friend and photographer's home. As the guests arrived, we set up in the tent, complete with sides, which were essential to keep our gear (and us) dry.  By the time the ceremony was over and the guests emerged from the house, it was only a drizzle, which eventually cleared to blue skies and sunshine.  The advantage of hiring an experienced wedding band is that we have performed and worked with all kinds of family situations. Sandy and Josh had teenage children from previous marriages, and didn't want to do a father/daughter dance in a traditional sense - but they did want to dance with their own children. We played Five for Fighting's song "100 Years", Sandy and Josh each danced with their children, and each others' children and then invited other family members up to join them, which ended up being a lovely tribute to their blended families.  An ice cream truck surprised guests later, and the night ended clear and chilly, with fires burning outside to keep everyone warm. 

Sandy and Josh had these nice things to say in their 5-star review: "So easy to work with and so organized in their delivery of events. Thank you so much! Keep rocking rockin' in the USA Christine & Ricky and the rest of the band."

The Chicken Coop Bar



Lindsay and Charlie got married on Lindsay's family's historic property in Bucks County. Her family renovated their circa 1800s farm house over the years.  The property included a genuine pottery barn - literally, a barn where Lindsay's mother, a potter, practiced her craft. Historically, the barn had been used for pottery-making for many years prior to that!  They also had a generous, flat lot with a chicken coop that Lindsay and Charlie used as a bar.  The couple also held their ceremony on site, overlooking a grove/marsh framed with grasses and reeds. As it happens sometimes with weddings, there was a snafu happened when one of the shuttle buses bringing guests to the site broke down, which meant that another bus had to go rescue the stranded wedding guests. The bride and groom didn't want to start the ceremony without those guests - so we kept everyone entertained in the meantime.

Here's what Charlie and Lindsay had to say about it:
"On our wedding day the band was prompt in setting up and were ready to go exactly at the planned time, unfortunately the transportation of our guests was unexpectedly running behind - the band was flexible and continued to play mixed tunes while the guests mingled. When the time came for their set to start they rocked the house! "

Table arrangements


Charlie and Lindsay's big day went smoothly from there, and a bonfire and fireworks closed the night.

Thanks to our experience performing at weddings, and years of event planning and other professional experience, we know how to handle situations as they come up. Staying calm and cool and troubleshooting is what we do! We have worked with people in the past who have toed the line of professionalism when something doesn't go as planned. While it's important to stay on schedule, we do understand that things come up, and we will make sure everyone is having a good time, while always handling things professionally.

Photo credit: Top photo - Terree Yeagle, The Moment Photography
Other photos: Taken by Christine

OMG, I need a FIRST DANCE/FATHER/DAUGHTER/MOTHER/SON song for my wedding! 

Some of the hardest decisions to make for couples are songs for the special moments of their receptions. What songs work well for bridal party introductions? What about a first dance? You'd be surprised how many times we hear "I'm not sure what song to dance with my Mom to..." or "I need a good father daughter dance song!" Of course this changes as new songs come out, but classics remain popular over the years and are still chosen today.

We also hear: "We don't want to be the center of attention for the entire 5 minutes of my (first dance/father/daughter/mother/son) song, because that makes us uncomfortable." - a lot. The beauty of a live band is that we can edit the song for you. Many times, we play the first verse and a chorus or two, and try to keep the song at about 2 minutes or 2:30, which is the sweet spot, in our opinion.  Note that there are certain "story" songs that aren't well-suited to an edit. We can certainly advise you of what songs are best if you want to edit them during our pre-wedding consultations!


Bridal Party Introductions
Think: Upbeat, Happy, Fun

American Authors - Best Day of My Life
Pink - Raise Your Glass (recently eclipsed in popularity by "Best Day of My Life")
Robert Palmer - Bad Case of Loving You
Bruno Mars - Marry You
Kool and the Gang - Celebrate
Katrina and the Waves- Walkin' on Sunshine
Hall and Oates - You Make My Dreams Come True
Pink - True Love

First Dance Songs
Think: Meaningful, romantic

John Legend - All of Me
Blake Shelton - God Gave Me You
Jason Mraz - I'm Yours
Jason Mraz - I Won't Give Up
Christina Perri - A Thousand Years
Keith Urban - Only You Can Love Me This Way
Jack Johnson - Better Together
Colbie Caillat and Jason Mraz - Lucky
Sara Bareilles - I Choose You
Hunter Hayes - Wanted
Frankie Valli - Can't Take My Eyes Off of You
Train - Marry Me
Brad Paisley - Then
Rolling Stones - Wild Horses
Queen - You're My Best Friend - SOMEONE, please request this song! We would LOVE to sing this!


Bride/Father Dance (or Bride/Mother/Family Member)
Think: Sentimental
(Many of these songs are suitable for either a bride or groom to dance with a parent/family member)

Rascal Flatts - My Wish
Bob Carlisle - Butterfly Kisses
Heartland - I Loved Her First
Billy Joel - Lullaby
Tom Petty - Wildflowers
Carrie Underwood - Mama's Song
Judy Garland or Israel ‘Iz’ Kamakawiwo’ole- Somewhere Over the Rainbow
The Beatles - In My Life
Stevie Wonder - You Are the Sunshine of My Life

Groom/Mother Dance (or Groom/Family Member)
Think: Sentimental

Five for Fighting - 100 Years
Rod Stewart or Glee (Acoustic Version) - Forever Young
Eric Clapton - Wonderful Tonight
Lee Ann Womack - I Hope You Dance
Phil Collins - You'll Be in My Heart
Kenny Chesney - Don't Blink
Lynyrd Skynyrd - Simple Man
Ben E. King - Stand By Me
Lady Antebellum - Never Alone
Jason Mraz - 93 Million Miles

It varies from person to person as to what makes a song special enough for a first dance or father/daughter dance, but here are some ideas for your reception. We'd love to hear YOUR suggestions in the comments, too.

Peace, Love & Rock n Roll,
Christine Bainbridge, Sunshine Symphony
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Thanks to Ciara and Evan for the use of their photo. Photographer: Sturazzi

You CAN afford a wedding band! 


We had a great time on Sunday meeting tons of brides and couples at Green Pond Country Club's Summer Bridal Bash. One thing we heard a LOT when we told people we were a wedding band, was "I've thought about having a band but didn't think I could afford it." We are here to tell you, "YES! YOU CAN!" Sunshine Symphony's rates are designed to be competitive with the price of a DJ, and fair.

We charge what we feel is fair, based on the amount of time it will take to prepare (in advance, via planning sessions, conference calls, song lists, etc), and then perform, including set up and tear down of our equipment. Performing at a wedding, 99% of the time, requires that we bring all of our equipment, and in some cases, multiple set ups for a ceremony or cocktail hour that is in a different location than the reception. Sunshine Symphony is not a bargain basement band, but we're a fairly priced entertainment option, and we strive to be comparable and competitive with DJ rates, while providing so much more excitement and energy.  Part of our services also includes party hosting, which means we'll make all the introductions and announcements to keep everything flowing and to let you know what's happening next.

A nice bonus for you? We care about our wedding couples. Yes, you're our clients, but we'll make time for you. We're spending one of your most important days with you, and we know that getting married is incredibly stressful for most people.  We do everything we can to make it less stressful, and even fun for you! We want to accommodate you and your ideas and make your reception memorable and uniquely "you."

One thing has consistently happened at the end of each and every wedding we've played: the guests crowd onto the dance floor, and when we say our final thank yous, they unanimously chant "ONE MORE SONG!" We're not kidding when we say this happens every time. We've all been to our share of weddings with DJs, and while great, we've never seen this same phenomenon happen. Ever.

If you even had a passing thought about having live entertainment at your wedding, please give us a call. We're flexible, experienced, professional, talented and honest, and we're happy to answer your questions.

Peace, Love & Rock n Roll,
Christine Bainbridge, Sunshine Symphony

Summer Weddings! 


Congratulations to Lauren and Adam, whose wedding we played last weekend at Riverview Country Club.  What a beautiful location! Riverview is definitely a scenic location for a wedding ceremony and reception.  As we performed at the ceremony, and reception, we got an up-close glimpse at all the details that make Riverview a great location for both ceremonies and receptions.

Riverview's reception location is called "Villa on the Green" - it's a round room with windows all around overlooking the golf course, which is beautiful landscaped. As soon as you walk in, you see a huge, dramatic stone fireplace goes perfectly with the natural wood beams inside and view of the rolling hills of the course.  Lauren's theme of navy blue and sunflower gold perfectly accented the space and lent a summery look to the room.

The ceremony location is behind Villa on the Green. As you can see in the picture above, a long wooden boardwalk with past the pond leads to a rustic wooden gazebo. A natural hill overlooks the gazebo, so all of your wedding guests will have a great view of the proceedings. We set up at the end of the boardwalk, where Ricky and I performed acoustic songs while the guests were being seated, and then, once the bridal party was ready, started playing Sara Bareilles's song "I Choose You."

One advantage to having professional musicians perform at your wedding is our ability to customize your entrance song "on the fly." Since Riverview's boardwalk aisle is quite long, if we had played a recorded version of "I Choose You," we would have been three whole minutes short by the time Lauren got to the end of the aisle. So, we added an instrumental break, and two extra choruses to make sure that as soon as Lauren set foot at the altar, the song concluded - but she still got to hear a good bit of her selected song.  We received one of the nicest compliments ever, when Lauren and Adam told us afterwards that they felt like they were in a movie, with the way the music was perfectly timed.

We then took care of introducing Lauren and Adam's bridal party and getting the reception going inside the beautiful Villa on the Green.  The benefit of having a live band is we were able to introduce the bridal party and then Lauren and Adam in between choruses of "Best Day of My Life," by American Authors.  We then performed the couple's first dance to Blake Shelton's song "God Gave Me You," a Father/Daughter dance to "My Wish" by Rascal Flatts, and Adam and his Mom danced to "100 Years" by Five for Fighting, all performed live by Sunshine Symphony.

At the end of the night, after getting the whole room onto the dance floor with "Shout", and hearing everyone singing along to "Don't Stop Believing", we received the ultimate compliment from our couple: "That was EXACTLY what we wanted!" Thanks again to Lauren and Adam for choosing Sunshine Symphony for your wedding. We always aim to deliver total satisfaction!

We'll be appearing at the Summer Engagement Bash Bridal Show on July 13th from 12-3. If you're thinking about a band at your wedding, stop by and see us - we'll be there to answer questions and show you some footage from shows and weddings we've performed at. Get free tickets (free for brides, $5 for guests) here:
http://bridalexpopa.ticketleap.com/pennsylvania-bridal-expo-presents-a-summer-engagement-bash-at-g/
 

You've Got Class! 

Thanks to Pius X Class of 1974 and Dunmore HS Class of 1989 who just booked Sunshine Symphony for their class reunions!  We hope this is a trend that's continuing.  

We love the idea of bringing a live band to a reunion - there's no better icebreaker than getting everyone on the dance floor with a nostalgic song from your high school years. We always like to go the extra mile when it comes to keeping our clients happy, and we enjoy learning new songs to enhance the event. One of the most fun parts of our job is looking at the Billboard charts for the top hits of that year, and deciding which ones we think will go over well with our audience.

Cara booked us for her class's 25th high school reunion after seeing us perform at Bar Louie in Wilkes Barre. She really enjoyed our variety of music.  1989 was the year of power ballads, including songs from hair bands like Skid Row, and pop/rock bands like Bon Jovi and Poison. Since we grew up loving late 80s music, we're not too proud to admit we already know some of the big hits of 1989, like "When I See You Smile" (Bad English) and "Lost in Your Eyes" (Debbie Gibson). We may have to break a few of those out for slow dances at the reunion.

The Sunshine Symphony duo of Ricky Bell and Ian Frey will be playing the Pius X Class of 1974 reunion at Northampton Country Club. Great songs abounded in 1974 as well - an era that included disco, soft rock and plain old rock n roll! Top hits in 1974 included "Jungle Boogie" by Kool and the Gang, "The Joker" by the Steve Miller Band and "Sunshine on my Shoulders" by John Denver.  

Interestingly enough, there was one song that was a Top 100 hit in BOTH 1974 and 1989, can you guess what it was?
"Rock On' - recorded by David Essex in 1974 and Michael Damien in 1989. So if we learn that one song, we're covered at both reunions!

If you're planning a party, wedding, or class reunion, consider live entertainment to make it a party that no one will ever forget!  Ask Sunshine Symphony about performance options - we can perform as a full band, as a duo or a trio to deliver live music at an affordable price.

 

Music for Your Destination Wedding 

Stacey and Jeff's wedding in Turks and Caicos.
Music by Ricky Bell and Ian Frey of Sunshine Symphony.
Eloping isn't quite the same as it used to be. According to a survey by TheKnot.com, 24% of brides choose a destination wedding - where not only the bride and groom escape to an exotic location, but the wedding guests do, too! A vacation and a wedding in one, destination weddings have an average of 86 guests! 

One unique thing that Sunshine Symphony can offer is entertainment for your destination wedding ceremony, rehearsal dinner and reception.  Just this past week, Ricky, Ian and Christine traveled to Turks and Caicos in the British West Indies (just next door to the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic) for our friends and longtime fans Stacey and Jeff's wedding.  It was a wonderful opportunity to escape someplace warm in spite of a dreary, chilly Spring...but behind the scenes, it required an immense amount of planning and coordination to make it happen. We are happy to say that everything went off with only one hitch - Stacey and Jeff's "hitching!" (Sorry for the corny wedding joke).

Destination wedding planning is challenging, and it seems like a lot of jumping through hoops to get it to happen (and it is), but it can happen. If you have your heart set on having your favorite musicians play your song as you walk down the flower-petal lined beach aisle, it can be done.

One thing we discovered is that Top 40 bands in the islands are few and far between - in fact, there was ONE in Turks and Caicos and the restaurant manager we talked to said they were not so good. You could always hire a DJ, sure - but it's just not the same. I can vouch for that!

At Stacey and Jeff's wedding, the walkway for the bridesmaids and bridal party was LONG. In fact, Stacey wanted Jason Mraz's song "I Won't Give Up" performed for her bridal party AND her processional, and the song would have ended way before she even got on the beach. Ricky and Ian were able to add instrumental parts to make up time so she set foot on the beach at the very moment in the song she wanted. Cue Stacey's tears. There is just something so special about someone singing your favorite song live.

Since making Stacey and Jeff's dream wedding come true this week, we know what it takes to get us and our gear to your destination wedding location. We can handle getting necessary things like work permits, Customs and Immigration, dealing with wedding planners, and renting sound equipment so everyone can hear us perform, too. For what it's worth, Christine also speaks French so she can communicate with the appropriate wedding professionals if need be.

If you're getting married and are thinking about music for your destination wedding, please don't hesitate to contact us. We LOVE making couples happy on their special day!