Author Archives: Brad Strouse

Brad Strouse

About Brad Strouse

ECE Richmond agent, Brad Strouse, began his music industry career touring the country with seven smelly metalheads. He left the road and spent time working on the record label side of the business before transitioning to his current booking agent role. Brad is an avid vinyl collector, music listener, endurance athlete and Auburn Fan.

Make a Splash: 3 Ways to Elevate Your Next Pool Party

Pool party ideas

Pool parties are synonymous with summer fun and a no-brainer for beating the East Coast heat and humidity. Graduation parties, family reunions, social gatherings, birthday parties and neighborhood block parties can all take place around the pool and make for a truly memorable occasion. With the smell of BBQ in your nose and the sizzle of the grill in your ears, a ton of planning isn’t needed for this type of summer soiree. However, if you want to elevate your next event, the following three ways will create a splash both in and out of the water.

CHOOSE A THEME
Nothing says summer fun like a classic luau. Dress your guests in Hawaiian shirts, throw an umbrella in your drink and hire a steel drummer or pan steel band. Steel drummers bring the music and the vibe of the Caribbean to your backyard. They can play everything from traditional music to Bob Marley and even your favorite pop songs!

steel drum

For a twist, choose a character-based theme. Pirates, flamingos, mermaids, and water-friendly cartoon characters can all be fun ways to jazz up a pool party. Hire a character actor to mingle with your guests, take pictures and even entertain the crowd using the pool. We’ve seen pirates walk the diving board plank, flamingo stilt-walkers flock the pool perimeter, mermaids inhabit the deep end and even SpongeBob pass out popsicles.

GO BIG
Everyone loves a surprise! I recently produced the entertainment for a 250+ person backyard pool party which included enough sound/lights to fill a small theater, a DJ spinning handmade mixes of everything from modern country to Taylor Swift and a group of Broadway vets who surprised the crowd with a fully customized take on the famed Jersey Boys show. They pulled one of the hosts on stage for a romantic ballad, integrated family nicknames into the story line and had every single guest dancing and singing along at the top of their lungs.

Pool party ideas

THINK OUTSIDE THE POOL-SHAPED BOX
Use your pool as a stage! Imagine treating your family to a synchronized swimming show. What if acrobats in floating orbs walked on water while your guests sipped lemonade? What if a Mariachi band serenaded your friends as they sipped margaritas? There are tons of fun ways to utilize the pool area without breaking out the bathing suits.

Orb floater

Another cool idea is to utilize projection mapping which is now easy and affordable. Cover your pool surface with ping pong balls, project anything from video to music based imagery on top, and invite your guests to dive in as part of an interactive art performance.

There’s still plenty of summer left and plenty of time to turn that rectangle in the backyard into an aqua theater of Vegas-size proportions! Ditch the pool-side boom box and let us help you create an unforgettable summertime experience.

Brad Strouse

ECE Richmond agent, Brad Strouse, began his music industry career touring the country with seven smelly metalheads. He left the road and spent time working on the record label side of the business before transitioning to his current booking agent role. Brad is an avid vinyl collector, music listener, endurance athlete and Auburn Fan.

Married To The Wedding Industry: How I Combined Entertainment And Photography To Find My Happily Ever After

Long before I asked “Will You Marry Me,” my life has revolved around the wedding industry. My college best friend (now wife) Allie, hooked me up with a job at a local photography studio in Auburn and it wasn’t long before we were helping to shoot brides and grooms all over the state. Fast forward a few years to when we were newly married and striking out on our own as Strouse Photography!

My wife’s day job brought us back to Richmond via Nashville where I cut my teeth in the music industry booking nationally touring acts in colleges, clubs, and theaters across the country. I continued to shoot weddings on the weekend with Allie as I booked bands from home. When ECE’s Mark Letson contacted me to book one of my artists for a festival, I was shocked to find out the ECE office was right down the street! I immediately knew it would be the perfect place for me to blend my passion for entertainment booking and love for working with engaged couples.

When I came on board at EastCoast Entertainment, Allie and I already had established relationships with the local venues, event planners and wedding professionals thanks to our photography work. This made for an extremely smooth transition. It was like having a running head start when it came to networking with vendors, because Allie and I have first hand experience with some of the greatest venues, vendors, and planners in central VA!

How does being a photographer influence my role as an entertainment agent? A lot… especially when interacting with wedding clients. I feel truly lucky to have several years of communicating with brides/their parents under my belt and can draw on hundreds of weddings’ worth of experience to make sure our brides have the absolute best experience possible. I have the ability to offer brides a two-prong approach to planning their wedding: entertainment and photography. It’s a once in a lifetime event for these love struck couples which is truly special, but it also means they are looking for guidance when it comes to planning their dream wedding.

Our role as photographers expands far beyond taking pictures. Many times we are called upon to act as “family herders” and time managers. We understand the flow of the day, especially the reception, which has allowed me to offer great advice to ECE brides. Brides and planners are focused on every last detail whether it is flowers, centerpieces, or appetizers. The bands are professional musicians who are focused on gear, set lists, and providing high quality performances. Since I’ve been on both the vendor side and the artist side I can act as a go-between or translator so that we are all speaking the same wedding reception language.

I love this duel life I lead. I especially love that I get to work side by side with Allie. However, being a husband and wife team in the wedding industry doesn’t come without challenges. During wedding season we spend up to 12 hours on a Saturday shooting a wedding with our late nights and early mornings spent editing, bookkeeping, and building relationships with our clients. This is in addition to our day jobs! It doesn’t leave a ton of time for relaxation, but it has forced us to become efficient with our communication, time, and division of labor. The true advantage of hiring a husband and wife team (specifically us) is the almost telepathic nature of our wedding day communication. Since we trained at the same studio, our style is so seamless you’ll think you’ve hired one photographer with four hands!

Here are a few of our favorite local venues and wedding vendors:

Venue: VA Barn Wedding/Adams International School | Planner Marylee Marmer Events | Couple: Josh + Kasey
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Venue: Grace Estates Winery | Couple: Matt + Andrea
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Venue: Manor House at King’s Charter | Wedding Dress: Urban Set Bride |  Couple: Becca + WillRBWLSneak-109_WEB

Brad Strouse

ECE Richmond agent, Brad Strouse, began his music industry career touring the country with seven smelly metalheads. He left the road and spent time working on the record label side of the business before transitioning to his current booking agent role. Brad is an avid vinyl collector, music listener, endurance athlete and Auburn Fan.

Event Recap: #LunchNLearn With The DC International Live Events Association (ILEA)

lunchnlearn

How cool would you look if you booked Lionel Ritchie to serenade your daughter during her wedding reception, Missy Elliot to play your backyard birthday party, or Maroon Five to surprise your employees on a corporate retreat. EastCoast Entertainment has successfully helped clients around the world plan exactly these types of events for decades.

Booking national acts can be both exhilarating and panic inducing. Who will negotiate the fee? Who will make sure the artist has the correct sound, lights, labor permits, staging, hospitality, and Eastern European down pillows placed exactly 2 inches apart and cooled to 68 degrees exactly? That’s where ECE’s National Talent Division comes in. Led by National Talent Buyer, Mark Letson, this division works with the company’s agents and national talent agencies to ensure successful artist procurement and production for events featuring nationally-recognized artists. Mark has led the National Talent Division for 20+ years, booked over 2,000 national acts (over 200 a year) and has worked with everyone from Ray Charles to Tim McGraw.

It was because of this expertise, Mark was invited to be the keynote speaker during one of ILEA DC’s “Lunch N Learn” events. Last Tuesday, our DC office headed over to Sehkraft Brewery to enjoy lunch, beer samples, and great conversation between event professionals. Mark spoke and answered questions on how to navigate the choppy waters of booking these “larger than life” acts. Here are some of the questions asked and things we learned:

1. Why should I work with EastCoast vs booking the band myself?
Mark and the National Division have many years of successful events under their belts so booking agents at William Morris, CAA, and all of the major agencies return our calls and love working with us. They trust that we will take care of their artists, provide the appropriate level of production and connect the dots when it comes to every aspect of the show.

Additionally, the client can trust that they are getting the absolute best price for the artist they’d like to book. Band pricing is not an exact science and with thousands of shows’ worth of experience we can make sure the fee is reasonable and matches the level of artist/event.

2. How do I pick the right act for my event?
First, you will want to consider what type of budget you are working with? Is your budget earmarked for the band’s fee only or does it also encompass airfare, production (sound, lights, staging), hospitality, etc.

Secondly, you want to ask yourself what is the purpose of the event/demographic? If your crowd is older, consider a legacy act like Earth, Wind, and Fire. If you have a younger crowd, you may consider someone like Zac Brown Band.

3. How long can I expect an act to play?
Legacy acts like Stevie Wonder can play anywhere from 75-90 min or more. They can draw from decades worth of hits that will keep your crowd engaged. Younger artists or bands that are currently “hot” may only have a few hits so if that’s the case consider keeping their sets short.

4. What is a rider? What should I expect to find? Are these terms negotiable?
The rider is an additional part of the contract that is a direct communication from the band to the event producer with specific requests. It allows the band to arrive at a venue in Ohio or Dubai to find the exact equipment, food, etc that they need to perform at their best. Common items on a rider are:

i. Production needs such as sound, lights, power, backline equipment, and staging.
ii. Security needs both for the artist and the audience.
iii. Catering/hospitality needs. Everything from on-stage coolers with Gatorade, dressing room veggies and coffee, and after-show food preferences.
iv. Backstage access, sound-board location, # of local crew to unload semi-trucks, ground transportation from the airport, and so much more!

All items in a rider are up for discussion, but some items like autograph sessions or a specific brand of beer are much easier for bands to budge on than the number of monitors, placement of the band’s instruments or power needs.

These are just a few areas of expertise for Mark and his team, but there are many more great answers on our “National Talent Buyer 101” page.

If you’ve ever dreamed of playing air guitar backstage while Bruce Springsteen strolls through a sea of your fellow employees then let us help!

Photography Credit: Strouse Photography

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Brad Strouse

ECE Richmond agent, Brad Strouse, began his music industry career touring the country with seven smelly metalheads. He left the road and spent time working on the record label side of the business before transitioning to his current booking agent role. Brad is an avid vinyl collector, music listener, endurance athlete and Auburn Fan.