Photo by Stefanie Elizabeth Photography
Finding a live musician for your special day can be intimidating. I had the opportunity to interview Central Coast singer / songwriter Dave Tate about his story and the important aspects and advice of performing at an event or wedding day.
Keep scrolling to read more about Dave and all he has to say about performing at weddings and events!
Photos by Stefanie Elizabeth Photography
Tell us your story. What inspired you to start playing and making music and where did you start?
"My mom was a piano teacher so I picked up a bit on that growing up. I started performing as a child in a choir. As I grew I performed everything from punk rock to Opera. I studied Opera for five years in college and held leading roles in a number of Operas. However, my original indie/folk music (which is not really operatic sounding) was ultimately the path I decided to spend most of my time on. My music has taken me to Europe a number of times and has been critically acclaimed. I have also performed frequently with my wife Victoria, another singer in our band Many Miles which is more of a Soul/Pop/Rock sound. We have headlined festivals across the western United States. Victoria, my son Eliot and I moved here together to the Central Coast in June of this year from Zion National Park. I had been performing at weddings and resorts there 5-6 nights per week for many years and enjoying the incredible nature that place has to offer, but we felt drawn to bigger horizons here on the Central Coast. I love this place and the people are incredibly welcoming and down-to-earth. I am excited about beginning a new chapter here!"
What is it about music that makes you feel passionate?
"Music is my practice for living a better life and for being in touch with myself. I focus on really being present at performances and I think that makes a difference in the quality of the listening experience of the audience. Being a vehicle for something bigger to come through is my ultimate goal for me in writing and performing. I love how live music can elevate people's mood, create a peaceful atmosphere, and help make a special moment that much more impactful."
What would you say your biggest strengths are as a musician?
"Experience and work ethic. I have regularly performed over 150 times a year for many years. That experience performing at hundreds of events my classical voice training over many years helps me to feel confident in what I can create through music."
A lot of your reviews mention you having your own unique style of music. What do you think they mean when they say this? What would you say differentiates you from other musicians and makes you unique?
"Yes, my original music is definitely its own unique modern-folk style. It's really putting that essence into my cover songs at weddings that makes the difference for those performances, making each song my own and putting my heart into it. Versatility is a big strength. I can perform in many different styles fluidly and, therefore, can create a setlist that hits home with most audiences. I also perform finger-style guitar as well as singer/songwriter material. Not many people do both of those competently. Often times brides will have me perform finger-style guitar as guests gather and singer/songwriter-style material during the cocktail hour and/or dinner. The other thing that separates me is that I take myself and my business very seriously. Unfortunately, musicians can sometimes have a reputation for being unreliable. I have been performing professionally for a long time and I hold myself to a high standard both in my performance, preparation, and in accountability."
What is your favorite and least favorite part of performing?
"Being a part of special moments in people's lives is a wonderful privilege. Performing a processional, or a first dance and really connecting to the emotion of that moment and helping to create that is very special to me. I have a lot of gratitude to the couples who have invited me to a be a part of these huge moments in their journeys. My original music is very much about those intimate moments and I try and translate that through all the performing I do."
What is your favorite type of music to play at events?
"I can do upbeat songs and I definitely like to have a balanced playlist that way, but it's the intimate songs that speak to me the most. I would say that's my strongest card to play, where I can reach the deepest, whether that's at weddings or in my own performances."
Are there any musicians who inspire you?
"It's a long, long list. Personally, I have been listening to Gregory Alan Isakov lately. Paul Simon is my favorite. I am in awe of Jeff Buckley's voice and artistry. I can find something to love in most music, modern and classic. I love old Jazz/Pop songs, I love 60's and 70's stuff, Motown, James Taylor. I play almost anything that can be translated through a singer/songwriter lens. But honestly, a good song is a good song! I have been asked to learn certain songs that aren't maybe my first choice, but more often than not I walk away really appreciating that song on a new level. I try to put my heart into whatever I play!"
What would you say are the trendiest songs to play at wedding ceremonies and receptions right now (2022)?
"Elvis - Can't Help Falling In Love With You has been really popular lately.
Somewhere Over the Rainbow is a standard that never goes out of style.
Cannon in D is the same thing for a finger-style song. And other things come and go. It really depends all on the taste of the couple.
Ben Folds - The Luckiest
John Legend - All of Me is a classic."
Do you have any top song suggestions for the ceremony, couple's walk-in moment, first dance and reception? If so, what are they?
"I usually recommend finger-style guitar as the guests gather and then a singer/songwriter song for the Processional. Mixing that up helps to differentiate the processional as a special moment. The Processional song really depends so much on what the bride resonates with. I often will learn her favorite song from scratch for that moment. For receptions, I recommend that brides give me a general direction to go in and then let me do what I do best in those guidelines. I also want to hear if a couple specifically wants songs by a certain artist and specifically does not want songs by a certain artist. I will do all I can to make it exactly as the couple envisions it, while using my expertise to help that be an easy process."
What are your personal favorite songs to cover at weddings and events?
"My brother Dan Tate wrote a song called Maybe Love I perform which you can hear on my website. That has been a frequent request for Processionals. Here are some other songs that I enjoy performing frequently:
John Legend - All of Me
Jazz/Pop - The Way You Look Tonight
Ed Sheeran - Perfect
Al Green - Let's Stay Together
Bob Dylan - To Make You Feel My Love (Adele)
Elton John - Your Song
Chris Stapleton - Tennessee Whiskey
James Taylor - Shower the People
Jack Johnson - Better Together
Jason Mraz - I'm Yours
Stevie Wonder - For Once in My Life
Plain White T's - Rhythm of Love
Lord Huron - Ends of the Earth
John Mayer - Love is a Verb
Jazz/Pop - L.O.V.E
Norah Jones - Come Away With Me
Sarah Bareilles - I Choose You
Carol King - You've Got a Friend
Bill Withers - Lean On Me"
If you had one piece of advice for people booking a musician for their wedding or event, what would it be?
"The skill level of the person you are booking is, of course, the most important factor. Whether that person matches your asthenic and the taste that represents you as a couple is important, but a close second is how easy they are to work with, their professionalism, and attention to detail. I personally put as much attention as I do into performing in to these other aspects and it helps everything go smoothly. Then everyone can enjoy the day to its fullest!"