FAQ

Have a question? We’ve answered some of the most frequently-asked questions below.

What are the advantages of using a live band?

Live music provides energy and excitement with a visual impact that simply cannot be duplicated with recorded music. We create a mood that gets your guests dancing and makes the party one to remember! Although many talented DJ’s exist and provide musical variety, all of the music is played from CD’s or other formats. Even though some would argue that their favorite songs are played from “original” recordings, the music often comes across as “canned” and uneventful. In contrast, there is an energy, a vitality, a freshness, and a connection to your guests generated through a live musical group. The keys to a memorable event are the sights and sounds generated as the celebration unfolds. A live band is stimulating — it is visual, original, active, able to generate energy that the audience can feel, and composed of a group of “real” musicians that your guests can celebrate with.

How do I find out if the band is available for my event date?

Please use the PLAN YOUR EVENT form or call 412-362-5266 to see if Modern Times is available on your event date.

Can I see the band live to help me decide whether to book you?

Maybe 🙂 Since the vast majority of our jobs are private events, we need to get permission from our current clients for you to view us at an event. Keep in mind that we customize each event to the client’s needs and may not play the same material that we would at your affair. Most people make an informed choice about the band after viewing our video, reading our literature and client testimonials, contacting previous clients for references.

How far away from Pittsburgh do you travel?

We normally travel within 100 miles of Pittsburgh.

Do you perform for wedding ceremonies?

We have many options for ceremonies, including flute, vocalist, trumpet, woodwind and brass quartet, and piano. Please note: We usually perform ceremonies as part of complete wedding reception packages.

How soon before my event date must I commit to booking Modern Times?

Most of our clients book the band at least 10 months prior to their events. But regardless of your date, the only way to find out if we’re available is to ask.

What should I expect after booking Modern Times for my event?

We will email an Information Sheet to you with your contract and ask you to return it as soon as possible. This helps us better understand your expectations for the event, including whether you’d like Matt to act as the master of ceremonies (a role he’ll gladly perform within the contracted time). We will contact you the week before your event to discuss every detail from special dances, song requests, things you want and things you do not want. We are always happy to answer questions before that time as needed.

Do you set up your equipment quietly so my guests are not disturbed?

We set up the bulk of our equipment (sound system, etc.) approximately 90 minutes before the band begins, ensuring that your party is not disrupted. Some band members with minimal equipment arrive an hour before start time. Vocalists and musicians with only hand-carried bags may arrive a few minutes before starting. We make every effort to get to the stage area via the most discreet path, with absolute sensitivity to your guests. Sometimes one or more of us may have another engagement prior to yours, we ask for at least one month advance notice if  you require an earlier setup or a change in the starting time.

Is it customary to feed the band?

In almost all cases, if you are having the band play for 2-4 hours or more and plan to serve a meal, it is customary to feed the entertainers. If you are having a very elaborate affair, you do not necessarily need to serve the entertainers the same meal you are providing for your guests.

Do I tip the musicians?

While it is not required that you tip the musicians or group, as with other service provider it is customary to tip if you are very pleased with the service you receive.

Is it okay if a guest sits in to perform with the band?

We are happy to have close friends or relatives of the hosts join the band on stage. To make sure it fits within your plans, we require that you approve guest musicians. We also recommend that you notify us prior to the event so we can fully prepare to support your guest musician.

How do you manage volume levels?

Modern Times works to keep overall volume levels to a reasonable level, emphasizing vocal and instrumental clarity. Your guests don’t want our music hindering their conversations, and we’re sensitive to balancing the venue’s acoustics with your audience’s energy level. If, during the event, you ever think we are either too loud or too soft, just let us know – we’ll accommodate you!

Can you do special announcements such as my bridal party’s entrance?

We offer complete emcee services at no extra charge. In addition to handling your special announcements, we keep to your event’s agenda, actively guiding and engaging your guests the entire time we are onstage. For bridal parties, we work with you to ensure proper name pronunciation. In all cases, we discuss your needs ahead of time to ensure that we understand your requirements. Our years of experience working with caterers, party planners, DJ’S, photographers, videographers and florists will ensure that your party runs as smoothly as possible.

Do you play during dinner and cocktails?

Consider enhancing your dinner and cocktail periods with the ambiance of subtle background music. Our expert musicians have years of experience playing jazz, classics, and standards. We can provide soloists, duets or trios to play music for ceremonies, dinner or cocktails. Ask us to tailor a special program just for you!

What are your staging requirements?

If there is not a stage at your function, we would suggest putting up risers when available . This will improve your guests’ enjoyment of the band and will allow those not dancing to see and hear the performance.

Small Band recommended size 12′ x 16′ minimum 8′ x 12 ‘
Big Band recommended size 16′ x 24′ minimum 12′ x 16′

How many breaks do you take?

The band takes two 20-minute breaks during a standard four hour performance. We play appropriate digitally-recorded music during our breaks. If you intend to provide your own break music for us to play on CD or iPod, please let us know in advance.

What types of music do you play?

One of our greatest strengths is that Modern Times has a very diverse repertoire, with styles that include contemporary pop, 70s-80s rock, jazz standards, swing, Latin, Motown, ethnic dances, and much more (see our song list for details). Our skilled, experienced musicians perform all material with authenticity and precision.

Do you play songs not included on your song list?

Our published song list represents only a portion of our complete repertoire, so we may already know a song you want. If we don’t know it, we specialize in learning new material just for you.

Because we want to be accommodating to everyone that we work with, we have set up the following criteria for songs not on our list:

If we do not already know the song, we are happy to give you one special request per function.

We will need the sheet music and a digital recording of the song six weeks before the event. Some good resources for sheet music are Volkweins Music store (1-800-553-8742),and sheetmusicplus.com. If sheet music is not available, we would suggest an alternative song, or could play the actual compact disc.

Occasionally, we must turn down a request if the song is too obscure, the lyrics are too graphic or offensive, or the style of music is not a style we’re comfortable playing. We can often suggest an alternative song.

How many songs do you play during a typical event?

At a typical event, the band plays 40-45 songs. This assumes that the band is hired for four hours, and plays three sets, separated by two short breaks. For continuous music, professionally recorded CD’s are played on breaks.

Do you play ethnic music?

If requested, we have a number of ethnic songs in our repertoire, including Jewish, Italian, Irish and Polish. We can also learn special songs for your event. If you need a more substantial amount of ethnic music, we suggest that you provide your own CD’s for us to play during our breaks.

Can guests request songs during your performance?

We do accept special requests during performances from you or your guests. We are careful to ensure that requested songs are consistent with the hosts’ desires, and appropriate for the event. We recommend that you review our song list and choose songs you definitely want us to play. You can also let us know if there are songs that you do not want to hear. We also ask that you trust our professional expertise in determining when to play these songs.

Are the musicians genuine professionals?

The Modern Times musicians are true professionals, most of whom derive their entire income from performing, teaching and recording music. They have performed and recorded with numerous national artists, and are considered by their peers to be among the best talent in the Pittsburgh area. You can be comfortable that the expertise of the Modern Times musicians will give you a polished, enthusiastic music performance.

What are your payment arrangements?

We generally ask for a 50% deposit:

25% due on the date of booking and 25% due either six months after the date is booked or six months before the event, whichever comes first.
Balances can be paid in any of the following ways:

CASH the day of the engagement, given to Matt Ferrante;
OR
Check or money order payable to Matt Ferrante the day of engagement.

Checks made out to Modern Times cannot be accepted!