The Street Players give weddings a unique live music experience.
It all started at Downtown Columbus's Hyatt hotel at John Glenn's inaugural ball following his re-election to the Ohio Senate. The Street Players were a new band with a classic live repertoire. But members John Pollock and Mark Morrison knew they had something special.
“It's always been for the love of the music,” says Katelyn Pollock, John's daughter and the band's go-to girl for all things marketing. “They have always just loved to play and reach every single member of the audience with a song.”
The Street Players rocked that inaugural ball and launched themselves into what would become a decades-long career in which they've played more than 1,500 weddings and other events in Central Ohio. Some of those included the wedding receptions of local celebs like John and Karen Kasich and Les and Abigail Wexner.
It's been quite a ride for the Street Players and the original band members, Pollock and Morrison, as well as those who came in later: Jeff Hutson, Joe Roberts, Rick Markle, Steve Stabile and the newest member, Bob Everhart, who joined in 1995 after Pollock's brother, Bob Pollock, left due to a change of career that took him out of the state.
“The friendship between the musicians truly is one-of-a-kind. It's not just music. It's family,” says Katelyn, who often works with couples to book the band. “It's so much deeper than just performing together on the weekend.”
Just about every weekend, in fact—when they're not at work—they're together, says John.
“We're a band of brothers from different mothers,” he says. “We've all become extended family to each other; we not only have the love of music, but we have this longevity of friendships. We've shared the highs and lows, whether the birth of children or the death of parents. When we get to the point of music, there's just that brotherhood and invisible wire that goes between us … which keeps everybody together.”
That kind of longevity is tough for any business, and doubly so for one that relies on keeping up with the latest in music's ever-changing trends. For the Street Players, wedding bands were ubiquitous when they began playing. But as DJs started to take over dance floors at receptions in the decades that followed, live wedding bands saw a decline in action.
Katelyn says the only way this seven-piece band has survived the fierce competition is by changing with the times.
“Music is an evolving art, and it changes every year and every decade,” she says. “When you perform special events and weddings, you have to be able to adapt to what's popular and on-trend, as well as hold on to what's popular from the past.”
Members of the Street Players understand that every wedding is filled with many different generations of music lovers, says Katelyn, and they've adapted to changing music styles and tastes while keeping the classics in their rotation.
“The Street Players' primary goal is to reach every single member of the audience and make each of them feel personally connected to the music,” says Katelyn. “The band is playing to them and not just for them.”
Another way the band has adapted to changing times is by offering to play at intervals and allow for recorded music to play while they take a break. They've also played at weddings where they start the show and a DJ finishes it.
“Live bands are so versatile,” says Katelyn. “It's quite a competitive market, but there are plenty of brides and grooms open to live entertainment because it's more of a show and it's more of an interactive experience. Live music provides an element of uniqueness.”
Though the market has changed, there are two things Katelyn and John say never change for weddings and how the band keeps people dancing: energy level and staying in one place.
“Couples seek out the band to be the conductor of the evening, to keep the energy where they want it,” says Katelyn. “The energy is the most important thing—that the band can capture the audience's attention and transform the party into an event they can remember. It then becomes a conversational piece, and people will say years later, ‘I still remember the band you had.' ”
And as for staying put, John says it's simple: Keep the bride, groom and guests in one spot.
“People want to be where the bride and groom are. So if they're on the dance floor, then everyone else will be, too,” he says, cautioning against the idea of putting the bar, food or other attractions outside the room where the dance floor is set up. “If you plan it so that people are separated, it's going to create an early demise of your party.”
Katelyn's final advice to brides and grooms: Stay open to the idea of live music.
“Give the band a listen,” says Katelyn, who adds samples are available on its website, streetplayers.net, and Facebook page. “We perform publicly at least once a month,” she adds. “We always invite couples [who are considering hiring us] out, so they can get a taste of what the band has to offer.”