PM Celebrations started out in 1976 as The Party Machine, and was an early pioneer in the mobile DJ entertainment industry. Scott Shirley began to DJ in 1975 for his own parties and a few friends. When friends and party guests suggested that he “turn pro,” he started The Party Machine, with no intention of doing it for a living. Then the disco craze of the late 70s hit, and the business took off.
The Party Machine grew quickly, and has consistently been the technology leader in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, with many industry “firsts.” By 1979 the Party Machine was the area’s largest multi-operator DJ service, booking 10-12 DJs a night, serving all of North Central Texas.
Great sound was important from the outset. Our first speaker systems were enormous boxes made by Altec-Lansing. Dubbed “The Voice of the Theater,” each speaker cabinet was the size of a washing machine, had its own zip code, and required its own dolly for transport.
They were amazingly efficient, able to belt out high sound pressure levels with minimal power. They were also big enough to be used for emergency housing. Fortunately new speaker technology was allowing smaller cabinets to handle greater power with more clarity, and Party Machine sound improved with each new technical innovation.
Repeat customers were with us from the beginning. School districts, corporations, recreation centers, country clubs, college groups, and charities called us to play at annual, monthly, and sometimes weekly events. Many businesses would choose the date of their Christmas party based on Party Machine availability. We performed Class Reunions for groups where Scott had been the DJ for their prom ten years earlier.
Charity Fund Raising has always been near to the heart of the Party Machine. We performed fourteen Dance-A-Thons for the American Cancer Society, raising thousands of dollars for cancer research and education, and similar events for MDA and the American Heart Association. We pioneered the “duck race” fund-raiser for ACS that is now a staple for many fund-raising groups. We have also supported the campaigns of Olympic athletes, church groups, and Junior Sailing.
After 10 years, Scott decided to take the Party Machine in a different direction. In 1986 Scott wanted to take the Party Machine to the next level, and began booking only events he could perform personally. He also decided to make weddings his specialty, and in order to maintain a higher standard of quality and service for weddings, he would limit himself to just 25 weddings a year. We did our first Bridal Show and wedding brochure in January 1990.
Sound and Lighting Equipment evolved in the 80s and 90s. We switched to Cerwin-Vega speaker systems in 1980, and the late 80s brought the advent of digital recording. By the early 90s the Party Machine was all digital, using compact discs, and we began experimenting with computerized music formats and music video. We continued to set up a booth with turntables for reunions and oldies events. Lighting cabinets replaced ceiling-hung lighting, which evolved into truss-mounted lighting in the early 90s.
The Decade of the Nineties was filled with weddings, bar mitzvahs, reunions, and celebrations of milestone birthdays and anniversaries. Our business came almost entirely from referrals and word-of-mouth advertising from our customer base. We performed Silver and Golden Anniversary parties for the parents of brides that we did weddings for, weddings for their siblings and cousins, and birthdays for our loyal customers as they turned 30, 40, 50, and 60. We even played for some great retirement parties. The flashing lights of the disco era gave way to moving beams of colored light that danced to the beat of the music, the precursor to today’s computerized “intelligent” lighting. The colored beams were made visible by atmospheric fog, that replaced the low-lying cloud effect of the old dry ice fog machines. We tried several speaker systems, including JBL, Klipsch, Bose, Electro-Voice, and Cerwin-Vega. We chose to stick with the great sound of our old Cerwin-Vega systems for large events, and use Klipsch Pro Heresies for the smaller ones.
The Nineties saw growth in the popularity of outdoor weddings, and more of our bridal customers booked us to perform ceremony music, in addition to the receptions we have always done. Special systems were developed for ceremony music and for outdoor use, including self-powered systems that would run from silent inverter power, with no noisy generator, yet another Party Machine first.
The Twenty-First Century has seen wedding celebrations for the next generation of some of our client families, and new performance records. We have done one customer’s 40th and 50th birthday, and for another we played for his 50th and 60th. We have one bride for whom we have done two weddings, one groom for whom we have two weddings, and one family where we played for both a wedding and a funeral. Some of our club and hotel customers have booked us more than 45 times. We have performed five weddings for four different families. Party Machine customers are loyal! We do a good job, and they keep calling us for more.
Equipment for the Digital Age has become more powerful, more reliable, and more compact. Problems that plagued mobile sound systems for decades have been solved with the latest technology. Loose cable connections, microphone handling noise, feedback, and signal loss from wireless microphones are a thing of the past. Wireless technology makes us able to provide total sound coverage for multiple-room events and indoor/outdoor functions. Miniaturization makes it possible to have a quality microphone that is invisible on a bridal gown. Intelligent lighting has added a fun new dimension to the total entertainment package, and the Party Machine continues to lead the industry in cutting-edge technology. And virtually crash-proof Apple computers running Mac OS-X and Megaseg injected a new level of reliability into digital music.
PM sound systems since 2014 feature the latest powered speaker systems from QSC. Wireless PM systems can handle multi-room and indoor/outdoor events easily, with greater reliability and reduced cost for big-venue systems. The Bose L1 System provides great sound for wedding ceremonies, without taking over the pictures. And digital signal processing has eliminated clicks, pops, hissing, and feedback. We even have microphones that will not pick up handling noise, and we can change a song’s key to match a singer’s vocal range on our Karaoke systems.
As it was in the beginning, PM is an industry leader in entertainment lighting. We were using wireless lighting technology eight years before anyone in north Texas.
The Party Machine became PM Celebrations in 2010, although our most popular bundle of sound, lights and video carries on the name as our Classic Party Machine Package.
“Doing parties keeps me young,” Scott insists, “and I love doing them.”
A lot has changed since 1976. And it keeps getting better.
From the beginning, Scott and PM Celebrations has stuck to a simple formula for success: quality sound with good music, friendly personal service, and technical innovation. We’re committed to doing whatever it takes to make your event fun for the guests, and worry-free for the hosts.