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Band frontman Danny Chaimson on keyboards (he also plays lead guitar).

The Gold Coast All Stars bringing the fun to Chicagoland weddings.

A Band Apart

They’re young, they’re hip and they play the songs you want to hear—meet The Gold Coast All Stars.

It could have been a nightmare moment.

Samantha Saifer Berngard had just stepped onto the dance floor with her new husband, Jason, for the first dance at their tented reception at Shore Acres. But something was wrong with the electricity. “There was this awkward pause where the music did not start right away,” says Berngard. Luckily their bandleader, Danny Chaimson, and his group The Gold Coast All Stars had the instincts to turn it into something magical. “Everyone was a little confused, but within seconds Danny unplugged his guitar, told everyone to be quiet, and did the most fantastic acoustic version of our song ‘Sweet Thing’ by Van Morrison,” she says. “It was my absolute favorite moment of the entire wedding.”

Creating these one-of-a-kind memories is The Gold Coast All Stars’ gift, and they’re quickly catching fire with Chicagoans whose discerning taste in music makes them cringe at the typical tacky DJ or cheesy over-the-hill wedding band.

The 11-piece ensemble was born out of Chaimson’s desire to make his own wedding musically memorable. After eight years of nonstop touring, playing guitar and keyboards alongside O.A.R., Jem, George Clinton, Slash, Shwayze and more, as well as releasing his own solo album, the Highland Park native tied the knot with his girlfriend Lara in L.A. in 2009. “I assembled this all-star group of guys to play,” Chaimson says, “and I picked songs that you don’t always hear at weddings. Afterward everybody was going crazy, saying people would be blown away if I started something like this in Chicago because there’s nothing like it.”

After settling down in Deerfield, Chaimson, 35, spent 2009 scouting talent and hit the wedding and events circuit full time in 2010 with recruits like Rico Harmon and Paul Hall Jr., who’ve played with Lupe Fiasco and Talib Kweli, and American Idol alums Angela Martin and Jeffrey Goldford. “We’re able to make every kind of music sound completely authentic by having a specialist who does exactly what the music calls for,” Chaimson says.

Their deep talent pool lets the band rock everything from Rihanna and Jay-Z to Wilco and Elvis Costello and sound like the real deal. And the set list is not just up to the band—The Gold Coast All Stars let the couple call the shots. They even offer to learn at least two new songs for every wedding, so there’s no compromising the soundtrack to that cinematic first dance. “I really try to customize it to what the couple envisions their night to be musically,” says Chaimson.

That can mean everything from a Cat Power ballad playing the bride down the aisle, to Grandma strutting down a soul train line. The band even learned a 1940s Bollywood song so an Indian father could sing for his daughter. “He was hamming it up and calling out the words and everyone was going crazy shouting the response,” says Chaimson. “It turned out to be one of my favorite moments at any wedding!”