The Band

Photo: Victor Prado/New York Magazine

45 Riots’s Adam Mason, Bass/Musical Director; Lashonda Reese, Vocalist; Jonathan Arons, Trombone

There are a lot of wedding bands in this town. Why would a couple choose yours?
Arons: Spontaneity and youth. We transcend backgrounds and ages, all in the name of a good party. A lot of bands that I’ve played in have a formula. You see a band, and you know to expect the same old thing. But there’s a vibrant energy that’s different about our band.
Mason: We bring a real New York City–nightclub experience to private parties.

How should couples screen bands?
Mason: We always ask the couple what kind of music they like and what they envision for the party. Sometimes it’s not the same thing. They have to think about their guests. Some couples want four hours of classic rock, or they want to add musicians for salsa or merengue. I’ll hand-select the right members of our crew for each performance. You don’t want to show up with singers who can do Kanye West if they want Led Zeppelin or the Doobie Brothers.
Reese: Couples should ask bands for a song list. It’s very important to know how versatile your band can be. And ask if they have a video.
Mason: Try to see them live too. It’s a big investment—they should be willing to showcase for you.

Do you ever get tired of playing Sinatra?
Reese: No, but I do a lot of Whitney Houston songs.
Arons: When you play songs you’ve known forever, you have to make it personal. In that moment, that’s when you connect with the audience.

Any tender memories?
Reese: If the bride cries during a father-daughter or mother-son dance, I have to look at the ceiling. It’s hard not to cry. It’s a beautiful moment.

What are couples requesting most these days?
Arons: The dance-techno thing is popular now. You can definitely see it in the collaborations between David Guetta and Usher—that stuff is everywhere. And New Yorkers always want to hear “Empire State of Mind.”

What’s the most memorable wedding you’ve played?
Arons: Sometimes as the trombone player, I go out and dance with people. At one wedding, Grandma was riding my trombone.

How does one ride a trombone?
Arons: Basically it’s like riding a broomstick. I put the trombone between my legs, like I’m riding a bicycle or motorcycle, and I ask somebody to jump on the fun train with me. Grandma got on. People were freaking out. And then I high-fived her.

Illustration by Jim Mezei

“The first dance will end up preserved on video for all time. Choose a song that represents the soundtrack of your lives.”

The Band