Have you dreamed about having a live band at your wedding? A great band can bring your wedding reception from just okay to a real party. Especially one that has the variety and energy like In the Fields! We chatted with owner and band leader, Steve Baer, about why you should bring in a live band to your celebration, what kind of music they love to perform, and a wedding faux pas to stray away from.
Q: Let’s get to it, what’s your business’ specialty?
A: In the Fields is a variety/rock band, playing music from a variety of genres in a rock and roll format.
Q: Where can we find you?
A: The band is based in the Twin Cities but will travel basically anywhere. I live in Elk River.
Q: Tell us when and how your business began.
A: The band as it is now is very different from what it was in the beginning. We actually started off playing original music. We moved from rural SE MN (partly where the name “In the Fields” came from) to the Cities. We evolved to playing more covers at bars, where some couples saw us and decided to hire us for their wedding. We started moving in the direction of weddings slowly at first, but by around 2015/16 weddings had clearly become the biggest focus of the band. I’ve had the pleasure of working with some excellent musicians, including former members of bands such as Hairball and the Johnny Holm Band. Alex has been drumming for In the Fields for a majority of the band’s existence – since 2008.
Q: What makes In the Fields unique from others?
A: Aside from a priority of providing outstanding customer service, there are basically two main things. We don’t stop between songs, but we also “read” the crowd. We have no pre-determined setlist of songs but react in real-time to what we feel the crowd is looking for. Though the energy of the dance smoothly changes (tempo/speed, beats/rhythms, genres, etc.), there is never a dead space. The material is always customized to the audience for every show. Any genre, male/female vocals, material a person would think no rock band could do, we don’t shy away from. We welcome it!
Q: How long have you been in the industry? What do you think has changed the most since then?
A: At first, we were involved in the wedding industry to a much lesser degree starting around 2010. We got involved more seriously from about 2015 on. Though I probably wasn’t paying as much attention in the early years, I would just say that in general the decision to use live entertainment for weddings is becoming much more common has been the biggest change.
Q: Walk us through your average day.
A: I play about 6-7 shows per week in the summer — solo, duo, and full band. But what I consider a “work” day is a day where I have no show. I begin usually by answering a number of emails from folks looking to book a show or who have questions regarding details of how the band should handle certain aspects of a wedding. I often spend 1-3 hours looking for and contacting new and our regular non-wedding venues, since most days of the week and much of the year do not consist of prime wedding dates, and those dates are filled with private parties, bar gigs, patio gigs, etc.
Then, if there is a wedding in the near future, time is spent learning songs. Contracts and paperwork usually play a part in most days. There is basically always some musical equipment that needs fixing or replacing. Then of course there is online marketing and communicating with band members over scheduling and event details. Performing in a way is kind of the easy part.
Q: What would you want couples searching for your business type to know?
A: 1) You don’t have to have the traditional wedding band with the traditional wedding band songs. You also don’t have to have a DJ just to hear all the songs you really want to party to. You can throw an unbelievably amazing party by hiring a rock band that will play the songs you and your guests really love with appropriate but unmatched energy. I suggest making sure your band plays recordings of any songs you request which are not in their live playlist during breaks. Or that they choose excellent break music for the crowd so that you get the best of both worlds!
2) Hiring a band does not mean you should be dealing with volume problems. We have played very successful weddings in some unbelievably volume-restricted settings – like “residents directly adjacent to the room in which we were playing” restricted. We have taken some special steps to make sure we have the ability to play less loudly (or louder!), and often get compliments for keeping the volume reasonable. It’s good to have a frank discussion with your band about volume during the planning process or better yet, ask them about their policy before hiring!
3) Choose a band in which you would have direct communication with the band leader only. Having fewer middlemen/women involved means your expectations regarding the details of your event will not be lost or changed.
4) Another more general one would be that if you choose a non-Saturday or any date from roughly November to April, you can save a lot of money on vendors!
Q: How far in advance should a couple book with you?
A: I would recommend 15 months out if you really want a great shot at booking a specific date with In the Fields.
Q: What’s one wedding trend you’re over?
A: I think most people are over having the chicken dance played at weddings. We’ve never had a song so requested to NOT play.
Q: What’s your favorite song? Your least favorite song?
A: For weddings, “Shout” or something like “Party in the USA” always bring such great energy. My least favorite song is a situation where some guests very enthusiastically make a request by insisting it will be an absolute favorite and awesome surprise for the bride/groom (which is okay/possibly amazing), but then the dancefloor clears when it is played because they seriously misjudged the importance of the song (not okay!) Requests made directly by bride and groom however, we are ALWAYS more than happy to learn, perform, or play on break, regardless of any opinions of the rest of the crowd!
Q: What’s the most unique wedding you’ve ever performed for?
A: One of the many wonderful things about weddings is they are always unique. The setting is always changing, and pretty much always awesome. Having said that, here are some standouts: We and our equipment have been ferried to and from islands to perform. We’ve played a couple of weddings in Lutsen where there is no way to get our equipment to the top of the mountain except for by gondola (most scenic load-in ever).
Last fall we were doing an outdoor ceremony in the woods by a lake in far northern MN. The weird thing is that though the sun was shining, it was snowing pretty hard and my fingers were absolutely numb while I was trying to play guitar. At another recent wedding in a different part of the state, someone whom I didn’t know came up to me and asked me if I had been the one performing in the cold and wet at that wedding eight months ago. It turns out he had been the photographer that day! Feeling like I couldn’t control my fingers was quite nerve-wracking but how cool and unique the setting/weather was, and knowing the bride and groom were delighted with that moment made it well beyond worth it.
Q: What show are you binging right now?
A: During the stay-at-home order, a Game of Thrones knockoff.
Q: You’re in charge of the lineup for your dream concert. Who are your headliners?
A: Of artists we don’t play at weddings: Led Zeppelin. Of those we do: Guns n’ Roses, Garth Brooks. Maybe Bruno Mars to round things out?
Q: Gold or Silver?
Q: Black Tie or Casual?
Q: Mountains or Beach?
Q: Who would you like to sit next to on a plane?
A: Had to think on this but I would say Paul McCartney.
Steve and his band’s schedule fill up fast so don’t hesitate to get in touch with him! Shoot him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.