Vendor Spotlight: Side One
Having a live band is a must if you want your wedding reception to bring the house down. But it needs to be the right band, not your typical wedding singer, delivering cringey renditions of “Cadillac Ranch” and “Macarena.” Rob Hamilton, CEO of Rocking at SideOne knows a thing or two about music, and has assembled an award-winning, jaw droppingly talented band that can play everything from Sinatra to Macklemore. We had the pleasure of learning more about his business.
JR: Tell us about your business. How did you get started as a performer?
RH: I was a session musician for many years and toured extensively, playing guitar with many different artists and doing tons of studio work and gigs. Then, eight years ago, I decided to start Side One in Vancouver. We’ve since expanded to Calgary, Toronto, and most recently, Seattle. It’s been unbelievable! Last year we did 275 events between the four cities. Basically, I play “Don’t Stop Believing” for a living.
JR: How many people in the band? Can you explain the dynamic?
RH: We have about 100 musicians and techs on our roster. We have a variety of options depending on the vision, tastes, and budget of our clients. For example, our six-piece band is your standard dance band, which includes a male lead vocalist, female lead vocalist, guitar, bass, keyboard, and drums. From there, clients can add two horns for our eight- piece, add two background singers for our 10-piece, add two more horns for our 12-piece, and then add a string quartet for our 16-piece.
JR: What sets you apart from other wedding bands?
RH: Our service offering accommodates all parts of a wedding, from ceremony and cocktails, to dinner and dancing. This includes solo guitar, solo piano, solo singer/guitarist, jazz trio, string quartets and even choirs!
Something else that sets us apart is that we own our own production companies which supply all A/V for our events. Our techs are the real champions of the day – the first on-site and the last to leave, often putting in a 16-hour day. We’re lucky to work with some of the best in the business.
JR: What is your favourite thing about working in the wedding industry?
RH: I love playing ceremonies. Playing music for the bride walking down the aisle, and then again after a couple is announced is an amazing feeling. It’s also great working with all the wonderful wedding vendors. I have met so many fantastic photographers, planners, caterers, videographers, venue coordinators, officiants, etc.
JR: What is your travel schedule like during wedding season?
RH: Do you remember George Clooney in “Up in the Air?” It’s a lot like that, travel-wise! Looking back, I stayed in hotels over 50 nights last year. I love it though!
It’s been very rewarding getting to know the music scene in other cities and having the opportunity to play with the best of the best in each one. There are times when perhaps a singer in Toronto gets sick, so I fly out a Calgary replacement singer. The rest of the band meets them five minutes before the gig, but they all know the Side One material perfectly, so they end up rocking out together with no mistakes! I don’t think there’s anything quite like that in our industry; plus, we get to perform for couples on the most important day of their lives.
JR: Do you have any crazy wedding stories you can share with us?
RH: A couple got married on June 29 and the bride was perhaps a little, shall we say, overserved. She spent much of the evening in the bathroom and sadly, missed the band which she was most excited about! Three days later, she and her new husband came out and danced their butts off at our Canada Day public show. That was six years ago, and they still make it to every Canada Day show, no matter where we’re playing.