Sam Russell & The Harborrats are available and excited to play YOUR private event, be it wedding, corporate event or sleepover. The band has played every kind of event you can throw at them MANY times over and are happy to help make your special day or eve as magnificent and memorable as possible.
Here’s a few of the questions you might have and answers to match!
Who are you again?
We’re Sam Russell & The Harborrats, a 3-piece Seattle-based band that specializes in style that crosses 50s rock n’ roll like Buddy Holly & 60s soul like Motown or Otis Redding with modern indie rock like WIlco and Death Cab For Cutie. We have a HUGE repertoire of both originals and covers (or as we call them, “reinterpretations”).
Why should we hire you instead of a wedding band that will play the songs exactly like they sound on the recordings?
You might have just answered your own question! Having a live band that plays arrangements faithful to the original recording is fine….though when the original recording is what you want to hear, opting for DJ (as most do) might be more ideal.
With Sam Russell & The Harborrats, you provide your guests with a musical experience to make YOUR event or special day even more memorable than it already will be. The band will work with you to make sure the songs from their repertoire and special requests are included as well as earning your trust that they will use their best professional judgement and musical instincts to play what the moment and what the audience wants. The band not only provides the soundtrack for dancing at your event but also will elevate the proceedings to highest level wanted through Sam’s interactive MC skills and prove to be a crucial part of your event! As the kids say, the band will BRING the party!
Will the band be playing originals as well as covers?
The band typically does NOT draw from their original repertoire at private events unless directly asked by or discussed with the client! The band understands that the personal nature of Sam’s originals won’t alternate as easily with covers the same they do at the band’s club shows at a private event setting. Occasionally the band will slip in one of their songs as a spontaneous selection as part of building the party but the rest of time relies on their cover repertoire for all sets.
How long does the band play for?
How long do you want? With three singers and a bottomless setlist, the band can play up to 5 hours (broken up, of course, by breaks and meals), including (if you want) your ceremony, cocktail hour, reception….and even after-party (where the lyrics REALLY start getting dirty!).
Does the band provide DJ between sets/offer MC services through the night?
The band does not provide a separate DJ service. They WILL however curate a playlist for between sets with your tastes in mind….or use their best judgement to bridge moods between their live selections.
The band does offers MC services….for any portion of the evening the band is booked to play. If the band is booked for cocktail hour and the reception, they will be happy to work with the event planner and caterers to make appropriate announcements. However, if the band is not hired to play music for a separate portion of the evening, they do not offer ala carte MC service.
Can Sam officiate the ceremony?
Yes! Sam has his WA State officiation license and will be happy to bring the fun and/or seriousness to your exchange of vows! How much music is integrated throughout the ceremony is up to you.
Can you recommend other musicians (such as a string quartet for the ceremony? or DJs for different portions of the eve? Or recommend songs to use for the ceremony or first dances?
Yes to all! Sam provides a consultation service that includes recommending and finding other musicians and DJs for the specific event’s needs. Sam has YEARS of experience in the event-planning industry and will be happy to share his professional advice re:
-how to incorporate music into your ceremony to match the emotion and significance. Sam will work with the event planner to make sure the music is exactly timed to control the pace of aisle-walks and attention-span of the guests.
-surprising and unconventional ways to incorporate music into your ceremony + reception tailored to your tastes and needs. YOU’RE not like everyone else…why should your wedding be?
How far do you travel?
If the band does not have any events booked the days immediately prior to or after your event, they will discuss travel fees and lodging based on your location with common sense rules applying: the farther away, the more you’ll play.
For any evet more than an hour and a half outside of Seattle, the band does require lodging for the night.
What does the band wear?
The band colors are red and black. While they prefer to wear their custom-made suits, they can also wear different variations of the color scheme based on level of formality for your event or the weather. If the wedding is outdoors and the temperature is over 80 degrees, the band will likely not wear the full suits.
Do you play same-sex weddings?
HELL YES. Why is that still a question
Do you play corporate events?
Yes we do! If you’re looking for more background than party-starting music, the band would play slightly more reserved than they do in a dance setting.
Will the band play our cocktail hour?
Yes! The band’s repertoire includes many low-key songs that can be done with or without vocals for early-eve mellow (and classy!) vibes.
What style of music do you play?
Our style is early rock n’ roll cross with modern indie/alternative! In our arrangements, we reference 50s doo-wop, 60s garage-rock & soul, 70s classic rock & disco, 80s synth-pop & heartland rock, 90s grunge and folk and modern-pop and indie from the 2000s!
Can I choose the music?
We work with you as much or as little as you’d like on the setlist for your event. Since you’ll be also hiring the band’s golden instincts for the right song to play at the right time, they would ask you not to lock down too specific of an order to play the songs in…but of course will be happen to work with you on first-dance and other special choices when applicable!
Will your band play the hora?
Yes! The band is happy to play the hora in either a straightforward traditional manner or a more unconventional punk rock version.
Will you learn a new song for us?
Yes! Though two caveats:
The band most likely will only have time to learn one or two special requests….the rest of the set will need to come from their existing repertoire
Sam and band pride themselves on being able to faithfully convey the essence of any say they choose to interpret. If they feel they can’t credibly convey the essence of the original song (OR if the requested song is simply too far outside of their style), then the band will let you know.
Can the band play during dinner service?
Dinner service counts as same time/rate addition as cocktail hour, with the recommended quieter/instrumental material also applying here We recommend saving the band to start playing after dinner for both pacing and theatrical reasonings , but we’re always up for unconventional timing too!
Can the band play without taking breaks?
The band in general can play up to two hours without needing a break and for wedding sets, the prefers minimal breaks throughout the evening. However if your event wants the band to play for more than two hours straight, extra fees might apply.
How late can the band play until?
The band is happy to play as late as you need! For certain locations and venues however, there may be a time the band has to depart by in order to make a plane, train or ferry.
What is the instrumentation of the band?
Sam is a singer with over a three-and-a-half octave range and is very largely influenced by David Bowie, who used his voice to interpret a large range of styles, from rock n’ roll & pop to soul & new-wave. When Sam doubts how to sing a song, he thinks “what would Bowie do?” and usually does that.
Sam is also the guitar player for the band, playing a low-fi and charming Jazzmaster Squire run through a modest Fender Blue Jr. Sam is NOT a guitar player who will crank the volume and shred your eardrums (for the most part(). He uses effects pedals to shape and diversify his sound in order to have variety amidst the large quantity of songs in their repertoire. He has unique rhythm/lead style that can sound like an orchestra or sole plucked string at any given moment.
Ken Nottingham is the bass player and plays a Fender Precision bass through a Gallien-Krueger 212 cabinet. For certain songs, Ken will switch to keyboard or bouzouki, a Greek instrument in the same family as the mandolin. Ken also contributes both backing and occasional lead vocals and leads his own renowned Americana band Creeping Time.
Drummer/vocalist Aimee Zoe is one of the most in-demand drummers in Seattle. Besides often sharing lead vocals with Sam, she also plays keyboards and a myriad of exotic percussion instruments….AND the washboard! Aimee also plays with The Wrong Ones, Silverhands and Loose Wing. Aimee plays a 5-piece Slingerland kit.
Does the band provide a sound system? Can we use it for speeches?
Yes! We provide a sound system and can provide a mic for your ceremony or reception if all are in one locale. provided those are in the same spot as the reception band.
Can I see the band play before I have them play on one of the most important days of my life?
Definitely! The band plays at least once a month in the Seattle area, most often in ye olde Ballard neighborhood in northern Seattle. Keep in mind these shows mix originals and covers and while not FULLY representative of how Sam and band will play and MC your event. But you will see Sam command and interact with the crowd to get a good idea!
The band occasionally does industry showcases at event venues around Seattle that focus more on their private event repertoire and they will invite potential clients to.
What if Sam Ken or Aimee gets sick or can’t make the gig last-minute?
The disadvantage of being a tight-compact band where each member plays multiple roles at once is indeed the difficulty of finding a sub…but not impossible! The band does have back-up bassists and drummers ready to fill-in at a moment’s notice should the unfortunate occasion arise.
In the case that Sam gets sick or can’t make a show, both a back-up guitarist AND singer would be arranged and we would work with you for the best possible solution to fit the circumstance.
How far ahead of the wedding will you be in contact to go over the day-of details?
That depends on the amount of services employed by the band. For curated setlists and music consultation throughout your big day, Sam or his representative will be in touch on multiple occasions between booking and the big day to get the conversation started.
The band will definitely be in touch 2-3 weeks before your event to finalize details and go over any last-minute adjustments.
How much do I pay and when?
A 30% initial payment is needed to lock your date down. The rest is due two weeks before!
Who will be my contact on the day of?
The band themselves will be! Aimee handles all on-site business matters and will be the main point of contact for the band and the planner/clients.
What does the band require day-of?
The band requires to be fed at some point during the evening when most convenient to the catering staff. They also need to be assured electrical power and a dry flat hard surface to play on. A stage isn’t necessary.
Can the band play outside?
Yes, but covering is required via tent or building awning. This is to protect the instruments, the electrical equipment…and us!.