Having a packed dance floor during your wedding reception is the best sign of a good band or DJ. If you don’t already have a favorite, this roundup of some of the best options in New Orleans will help you turn up the jam.
Bag of Donuts
This popular New Orleans band has been together since 1988 and includes Bobby Hoerner (lead vocals), Jonathan Hoerner (guitar, vocals), Jerry Christopher, Jr. (bass, band leader) and Kevin George (drums). The band added Ian Smith (trumpet) and Phil Morin (saxophone) in 2016. Since the band’s start, Bag of Donuts averages about 100 shows per year, 20 of which are weddings. It’s also the first cover band to be inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.
A band known for its high energy and over-the-top costumes, Bag of Donuts plays what Christopher calls “SuperPop” — party songs from every decade to current interpretations of New Orleans culture and clever mashups with a jam-band experience. “Folks tell us all that time things like, ‘This felt more like a rock concert or dance party than a wedding,’” Christopher says. “That’s the kind of energy we bring to every performance, so we’re looking for couples who are looking for that type of experience.” bagofdonuts.com
NOLA Dukes Band
Nola Dukes Band — a premium, customizable, three- to 14-piece band — consists of live music experts, wedding enthusiasts and party-starters. The most popular seven-piece band consists of two vocalists, guitar, keys, bass, drums and one horn. The band has been performing since 2012 and has played at thousands of weddings.
“There’s no better feeling than seeing the look of love when a couple’s friends and family join them on the dance floor,” says Randi Adlesic, musician and producer. “We will make sure you and your guests have the night of your lives, because we pride ourselves on contagious energy. We are also there to help you curate your own personal playlist for your special day with a variety of genres to get all your guests grooving.” noladukesband.com
Sunny Side Jazz Band
Formally named in January 2020, Sunny Side Jazz Band consists of Darold Alexander (vocals), Adam Arredondo (trumpet), Adam Lessnau (trombone), Andy Page (alto /tenor/soprano saxophone), Soren Andrade (guitar), Steve Walch (upright bass) and Rob Montgomery (drums, band manager). The band provides a full New Orleans-style jazz band experience with three-part harmonies, a solid rhythm section and an energetic vocalist and dancer.
“Playing jazz sometimes has a stigma of light background music,” Montgomery says. “However, we aim to showcase early and midcentury jazz and swing, which has an energy that is infectious.” sunnysidejazz.com
Another popular New Orleans band, This year, the Topcats, celebrate 40 years of playing together with the same band members. The band consists of Buzzy Langford (guitar, vocals), David Gamble (keyboards), Pat Campbell (bass, vocals) and Robert Schulte (drums, vocals). Since they started the band, they have played more than 1,000 weddings. The Topcats have a vast setlist covering music from the 1940s to the latest hits.
“The band prides itself on being able to play any kind of music, catering to the old and young alike,” David says. “We are a four-piece band capable of creating the sound of a 10-piece band, without distracting from the setting or overcrowding the party area. Our goal is to keep the dance floor packed throughout the entire reception.” thetopcats.com
Aaron Lane Entertainment
Aaron Lane started performing as a DJ at 13, and has consistently performed for more than 20 years (including more than 500 weddings). “I absolutely love performing for receptions, because it’s not only a celebration of love (which we need more of in this world), but it’s a time of joy and togetherness with both friends and family,” he says. “I love being able to take a couple’s taste in music and translate that into a personalized entertainment experience for them and their guests.”
Aaron Lane Entertainment is focused on making sure the music reflects the couple. “Everyone on our team has performed extensively in nightclubs and shows, so we’re able to bring that experience to the reception,” Lane says. “I’ve had weddings that only wanted the classics, and weddings that wanted EDM for three hours.” aaronlaneentertainment.com
Kerem Ozkan performed as a DJ since 2014, and has more than 50 weddings under his belt. His main goal when performing at weddings is to remember he is part of a couple’s momentous day. ”The joy that folks feel at a wedding truly cannot be compared to anything else,” he says.
DJ Kerem works closely with couples to learn about their taste in music. He then draws upon his existing library to prepare a wide selection of music appropriate for the wedding. “Doing that prep work in advance gives me a lot of freedom to improvise in the moment and read the crowd,” Ozkan says. keremthedj.com
Mobile Beat Entertainment
Jeff Tircuit, a DJ with Mobile Beat Entertainment, has been performing in the greater New Orleans area for 22 years (including about 1,200 weddings). In addition to having years of experience, Tircuit provides an extensive music library. He is available to play ceremonies and receptions, and provides intelligent lighting, professional equipment, lasers, foggers and more.
He works with couples to fill out a worksheet, followed with a consultation meeting, to determine the type of music to be played. However, Tircuit says he can literally play anything. neworleansdjselect.com
NOLA Toast Entertainment
Ang Garcia, operations manager and owner of NOLA Toast Entertainment, offers a rotation of eight to 12 DJs for weddings and receptions. Since opening in 2018, the company has performed at more than 500 weddings. “Our DJs have anywhere from four to 25 years of DJ experience,” Garcia says.
In addition to providing DJs, NOLA Toast Entertainment also offers the option to add a photo booth, or photography and videography services. “We train our staff to make your event the lifetime experience it should be,” Garcia says. “Our integrity, attitude, business ethic and delivery of our work is proof of our consistent five-star reviews.” toastnola.com