Interested in hiring me for a wedding? Please click here for the Music for Weddings page!
Solo Guitar Music for Events:
Info, Rates and FAQ
Among the most rewarding aspects of being a solo guitarist is that it affords the opportunity to perform in so many different contexts. And while there is nothing as thrilling as a concert performance, I equally love my opportunities to perform background music for events of all varieties.
I can be hired as a soloist or for a bigger and more energetic sound as a duo with percussionist Janet Cramer. You can learn more about Neil & Janet de los EEUU here:
Listed below are the services I am most asked to perform, as well as samples of my different "performance modes" and an FAQ. To receive my current Rate Card, please email me at: email@example.com
Also below is an FAQ which goes into greater detail about what I do, but briefly, my specialty as a guitarist are vintage styles from Latin America, music of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela, mixed with great works of Spanish classical guitar. To see a current list of what I play, you can visit my Repertoire page.
Solo guitar Services
Networking/Cocktail Party/Dinner: I perform 50-minute sets with 10 minute breaks. Three hours is common, but I do handle four without repeating material.
Afternoon Workplace Relaxation: I'll set up in a corner of your workplace and performing relaxing soothing ambient music, 2-3 hours no problem. New thoughts will emerge!
Afternoon Workplace Concert/Talk on the Creative Process: Treat your team! This is a concert presentation developing the story of I how learned these styles and guitar techniques and how that can lead to creating new musical ideas. Included is a crash course in how rhythm works in music - your team will never listen to music the same way again!
Fundraiser/Banquet/Special Event: I perform 50-minute sets with 10 minute breaks. Three hours is common, but I do handle four without repeating material.
Creative Work/Original Music/Project Management: In addition to solo guitar performance I'm a bit of a songwriter and can create original instrumental music for your film/video projects.
Private Parties at Home or Restaurant/Event Space
Dinner/Cocktail Party: I perform 50-minute sets with 10 minute breaks. Three hours is common, but I do handle four without repeating material.
“Dinner and a Concert” Special: I perform background music for up to two hours for dinner/cocktails, and then a living room concert performance with stories to follow. Pool your friends!
Wedding: I perform for Wedding Ceremonies as well as Reception Cocktail Hour and Dinner music. And I'm always happy to take on First Dances or make any other special moment happen. For more information about my wedding services please visit the Music for Weddings page.
Memorial Service: I perform 2-3 hours of soothing, soulful, relaxing music.
Art Gallery Opening: I perform 50-minute sets with 10 minute breaks. Three hours is common, but I do handle four without repeating material.
Yoga Class: As a practitioner myself, I love performing live music for yoga classes– let your yoga studio know!
Concert Performance: This is me performing my best and most exciting material in specular fashion, mixed with stories about the origins of the music and my own paths of discover. Very different from my background music performance!
Modes of Background Music Performance:
Cocktail Party/Networking Events: high energy party music: bossa nova, samba, cumbia, son, tango, etc., with songs flowing from one to the other as a DJ would spin.
For larger events and a more party vibe, you should consider hiring the duo Neil & Janet de los EEUU:
Romantic Dinner/Wedding Prelude: romantic pieces played for emotional content, mellower classical pieces. For a formal dinner there is an energy arc: a lively start, slowing down as the meal progresses and then brightening back up for dessert.
Music for Weddings: a sampling of Wedding Processional and Recessional music. Check out the Music for Weddings page for more detail:
Holiday Music: a sampling of Holiday tunes for your party at home or workplace:
Relaxation/Yoga: slower more abstract classical pieces, calming tremolo styles and romantic songs with the emotion drawn in.
Concert Performance: my concert performance consists of my more spectacular material which I would not play in background music situations. I also weave through stories of where the music comes from, for what I hope is a complete "one-man show" type performance.
Why consider Neil Dixon Smith?
I’ve been performing background music for events on a professional basis since 2004, with the number of events I have played now into the 1000s. I look forward to more, and I believe my commitment to excellence is represented in my Testimonials.
At the heart of what I do is a unique repertoire I was taught by a man named Alfonso Chacon, a master guitarist from Chile who recorded and performed throughout South America in the 1950s and 60s. Under his tutelage over a 10 year period I amassed collection in memory of around 100 pieces of music from across Latin America – from classical compositions by South American composers to original arrangements of folkloric and popular tunes. Most originate from the mid 20th Century. When played well on a solo guitar, all are fresh and timeless.
Much of this music is very familiar to North American audiences, especially music from Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and Cuba. Other rhythms from Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, etc. may be less known, but they are equally as rich, romantic and entertaining. And then I also mix in great works of Spanish classical guitar.
Within this repertoire is a tremendous variety of moods and styles: sets of party music, sets of romantic music, and dozens of songs that can work in any context depending on how they are played. It is my art to craft them to the moment.
The quality they all share, from Brazilian carnival march to romantic Mexican bolero, is a foundation in rhythmic ideas. Whether I’m playing in high energy for a cocktail party, or slow and romantic for an intimate dinner there is a “satisfying flow” with this music that causes time to fly by in a way that, in contrast to other styles might become tedious over 2-3 hours.
The styles themselves balance a refined elegance with gritty soul, that at once puts folks at ease while bringing a feeling of “classiness”.
There is a very simple entertainment factor in watching a solo guitarist in action. At an event it is a fun thing for people to take a moment and observe me closely and see how my hands work and I certainly welcome that.
Lastly it should be understood that I definitely differentiate between “background music” and “concert” performance. My concert performance is a set of more spectacular music accompanied by stories of where the music comes from. As with my background music, my concert performance can happen anywhere: on a stage, in a living room or back yard, or in your work conference room.
My ethos as a professional solo guitarist:
· I play by memory. I do not play with sheet music in front of me, so I am playing with full confidence and engagement. Additionally, a music stand is not interfering with the aesthetics event design.
· I play to the event, not the clock. It is my deep disposition to go with the flow, so in case I need to extend a set, or an event is simply running late, it is no problem. If I book multiple events in a day I am careful to be sure there is plenty of time blocked for each.
· I play to the energy of the room. I am there to enhance the experience of the guests and play to the purpose of the event. My job is to complement the vibe of the room, not drawing unnecessary attention to myself.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Do you provide your own sound equipment? Yes, I bring small amplifier that can sit atop a tall stand so the sound travels overhead in crowded rooms. There is a second open channel available on the amplifier that can serve as a PA for a microphone if that is helpful to your event.
What do you need? A chair, and some proximity to electricity. I always carry 25’ of extension cord with me that is sufficient for 99% of indoor spaces. For outdoor events I’ll bring an additional 150’ extension, and I can certainly bring more if needed.
Do you take breaks? If the event is more than 90 minutes, I’ll play 50-minute sets with 10-minute breaks. If an event is 90 minutes or less I’ll play straight through without a break.
For outdoor events, do provide a generator? Yes! I have a small silent battery generator than can last for hours.
Does is bother you that people are talking over your playing? Not at all! I play to the rhythm of conversation and love blending in to the ambience.
Do you have a set list? Do we need to pick songs? For background music events I don’t work from a preconceived set list, as I am playing to the energy/mood of the room and what makes sense to me at the moment. If there are songs a client definitely wants to hear I’m happy to get word in advance and I do my best to accommodate.
Do you take requests outside your repertoire? I’m always excited to make a special moment happen, so if there’s a certain song I can play for, say, for a toast of an honoree or a special dance, I’m happy to do so. Of course, for weddings and other ceremonies I honor all requests. But for background music situations generally I prefer to work within my repertoire. I do hope for at least two weeks notice of song requests though, and can’t necessarily guarantee I can have an arrangement ready in less time.
Do you prefer to play sitting, standing or walking around? I can play equally well sitting or standing, so I tend to do whatever the folks around me are doing - sitting for seated dinner events, standing for cocktail parties. Sometimes I am asked to play walking, which can be fun and I’m happy to accommodate if the event calls for it. One would just understand I would be tethered to my amplifier by a 20' cable (I don't have a wireless system, sorry!). I can stroll without amplification, with the understanding that the sound would not be traveling far.
What is this workplace “Talk about the Creative Process”? My impression is that companies and organizations these days are very interested in the concept of creativity: how to spark it in the workplace, how to overcome feelings of creative inadequacy, how to manage creative professionals. While I don’t have definitive answers to those questions, I do have a unique perspective to share that might me interesting and even useful for your team – or at least a entertaining diversion for 90 minutes. I will come to workplace and give a presentation that includes live performance of my concert pieces interlaced with stories of how I came to learn to play this music and how I take what I’ve learned to create new music, and how I survive as a lone wolf creative professional.