Meet Mike McHenry

Mike McHenry – Co-Owner of ProVolve, father of 2, tinkerer, geek, and one hell of a guy.

1. What’s your favorite thing about DJ’ing weddings?
I enjoy DJing weddings because it’s a lot of pressure, and not many people have the technical ability or personality to balance the scales of not only what needs done from a mechanical standpoint, but to simultaneously make it look fun and easy. It’s one of those adrenaline rushes that comes from riding the edge of an envelope – being the people responsible for the soundtrack and music for their most important day of their lives? When you stop and think about it, it’s overwhelming – but at the end of the day it’s how we spend every weekend. It truly is an expression of a love of music, a desire to execute a very specific plan that the couple envisions, and a willingness to see where the wind takes the party – it adds up to something that’s just as much fun for me as everyone else there.

2. Describe an interesting DJ story.
I think back to a wedding where Eric and I DJ’d a wedding for a couple on private property. About halfway through the reception, some guests and bridal party members busted out some shotguns and started shooting clays about a hundred yards from where we were set up with the sound system. Now, don’t get me wrong, I really love shooting guns and love me a good clay shoot as much as the next person. But it really startled us because we didn’t have any warning, and it was a little hard to have a great dance floor party with an atmosphere that resembled a war zone. But that’s just one that I’ll never forget – Eric and I have a war chest of stories from hundreds of weddings, some of them had stories that we’d only be able to repeat in person.

3. What’s your favorite wedding song?
I have a lot of favorites, but the one that I like at the moment the most is Aretha Franklin’s ‘Respect.’ Eric and I typically open up dance times with some universally loved music, which includes a fair share of Motown and oldies. We don’t always play ‘Respect;’ it works best when there are a lot of women dancing with their significant others on the dance floor during the universal dance times. It’s not a song that you’d expect to slay, but every time the first line of the lyric opens up, *every* girl in the place screams ‘Whatchoo want!’, it’s awesome. Plus, it’s a shorter song, so it’s not like the song drags on for five minutes. It’s a neat little sorbet of a tune that the ladies really dig. And, after all, we do aim to please the ladies first because they tend to serve as a willing catalyst for drawing more people out to the floor.

4. What commonly-played song at weddings do you dislike?
Old Time Rock and Roll. It sucks – so bad. So, so bad. The song itself is an oldie, a song about how much the singer likes oldies. It’s the Buzzfeed Article of a song – a song about songs, in the same way that Buzzfeed writes articles about other articles. This thoughtless pulp-music isn’t even smart enough to be called meta. It’s the same three chords over and over and over until finally the song ends and my brain is able to resume normal function. The only interesting thing that happens in the song is the breakdown, which is just Bob Seger singing the same old shit over the drums – it’s almost as if the other musicians, too, need a break from the truly asinine vamping and just give up for a few bars before mustering just enough will to pound out the last portion of the song.

5. What’s a genre of music people would be surprised to learn you listen to?
I listen to a lot of acoustic instrumental music. Leo Kottke, Don Ross, Antoine Dufour. No words, just technical brilliance and talent. The level of artistry and ability is hard for a lot of people to conceptualize unless you’ve laid hands on a guitar. I don’t appreciate visual art, but the main reason for that is I’ve never tried to paint. And I own that. But having been a (bad) guitar player for so many years, it’s easy for me to sit in jealous, depressed, and awestruck wonder at what they’re able to pull off with their hearts and hands.

6. What’s your favorite TV show?
It’s hard to pick, but I think Arrested Development would be near the top of the list. It’s a classic structure – a bunch of crazy people surrounding a central stabilizing character who seems normal. Our own lives basically follow that narrative – we convince ourselves that we’re the only sane one in the room. But the show’s trajectory peels back layers of a comically dysfunctional family and reveals in time that each character is humourously flawed in their own way, and they own it amazingly. The writing is brilliant, the execution is flawless, and the characters are so well-formed in their own way that I found it impossible to look away.

 7. List your Top 5 favorite bands. 

  1. Pink Floyd – I have to pay homage to one of the first bands that I truly fell in love with. This would have been in high school when I really began to get attached to them as a band, began to really get into guitar. I idolized David Gilmour’s tone and phrasing, and Floyd had a way of painting these sonic soundscapes and lyrical expressions that simultaneously inspired as well as depressed that spoke to me at that point in my life. I can still listen to their music today and it transports me to those adolescent attitudes, those moments where it felt like my life was perfectly encapsulated in a song or a solo.
  2. Lake Street Dive – This is a new one but after giving their albums a few listens through I realized that they’d have staying power in my top few artists. They’re up and coming but I think you’ll hear more about them as time goes on. These cats met at music school – each one of them is a technically brilliant musician, an amazing songwriter, etc. But there’s four of them, and they play in a band, together. The thing that appeals to me about them is that they exercise restraint, have amazing songwriting sensibilities, and generally exceed my expectations of what ‘good’ music means today. Both of their two most recent albums conjure moments of music’s glory days in an effortless way. I have a crush on each of the members for totally different reasons, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for them.
  3. Dawes – Obviously. I’ve talked at length before on this blog about the impact that Dawes has had in my life and I’ve seen them live probably a half dozen times. If I could join any band, instantly – they’d be it. They’re just musically wise way beyond their years, and in contrast to Lake Street Dive, they’re not technically amazing – they just write and play very simple but powerful songs. In contrast to Lake Street Dive, they’ve got one or two powerhouse members which the rest of the band seems to support, but the Goldsmith songwriting duo has turned some of the most complex emotions into lyrical passages. It’s impossible to listen to one of their songs and not immediately inhabit the mindspace of the writer.
  4. Jellyfish – Most people haven’t heard of them, and for good reason – when the grunge movement was coming alive in the 90’s, they were overlooked. Imagine that the Beatles and Queen had a kid – it would be this band. Their album ‘Spilt Milk’ is a masterpiece of complex, analog songwriting and musicianship, and there are passages of it that still choke me up at their beauty. If you’re tired of the same old chord progressions churned out by the machine that is mainstream pop, take a listen to that album and you’ll be treated to song structures and rhythms that you haven’t ever heard placed within pop music, but they work.
  5. The Beatles – and not because I feel like they’re owed it – but because they earned it. The Beatles were one of the proto-boy-bands, except instead of being churned out by a billion-dollar industry like the boy-bands you’re familiar with, these guys spent *years* together playing and practicing together live in Hamburg before anyone knew who the hell they were. By the time the world was hip to them, they were a honed act, great songwriters, and perhaps the best known example of a band where we got to watch their talent trajectory develop in real time. I mean, seriously, as a nation, we got to watch them start off with ‘I want to hold your hand’ and finish out with ‘Let it Be.’ And they released albums *regularly*. They were one of the first bands to bring artistry – real artistry – to pop music and to listen to their albums in chronological order is like watching a child grow.

Email Mike McHenry


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