Western Springs DJs keep events lively
Dalis Santiago, owner of Funnsongs Productions, plays music during the Little Sweethearts Dance at the Grand Avenue Community Center in Western Springs. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
Owners: Dalis and Nelson Santiago
Updated: April 1, 2013 6:04AM
WESTERN SPRINGS — When Mike and Mary Moisand help plan the Trans World Airlines retirees’ dinner at Christmas, they knew just who to call for entertainment.
As regulars at Emilio’s Tapas in Hillside, they had become fans of former waiter Nelson Santiago and his wife, Dalis Santiago, a jazz singer who performs regularly at the restaurant. And they already had experienced the entertainment provided by the Santiagos through their disc jockey company, Western Springs-based Funnsongs.
“At the TWA dinner, the lady who was organizing it wanted to know if they could sing ‘Up, Up and Away’ and other songs of the time,” Mary Moisand said.
“Everybody in the place, as far as the women go, had tears in their eyes,” Mike Moisand said.
Dalis Santiago has been in the entertainment business throughout her adult life, starting as a member of a band when she was 17. She ran a singing telegram company to put herself through college and started Funnsongs in 1985.
She became a minor one-hit wonder in 1987 with a house music rendition of Aretha Franklin’s “Rock Steady.” That led to a tour of the East Coast.
After her 15 minutes of fame, Dalis Santiago settled back into her DJ business, playing music and singing standards, such as “Let’s Do It (Let’s fall in Love),” at weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs, and corporate events.
About 16 years ago, Dalis Santiago invited her soon-to-be husband to join her. But the rock singer and drummer was skeptical.
“I was kind of a purist at the time. If you’re not in a band, you’re not for real,” he said.
He had missed his own chance at fame after his band scored a minor hit on CD, and two band members refused to go on a three-month tour of the East Coast because of family obligations.
The greatest challenge to their business over the past five years, the Santiagos said, is the MP3 player. That’s encouraged a glut of non-professionals to enter the DJ business. Some people also think they can simply put together a playlist and provide their own music.
“They have songs nobody else likes because they are going to educate their guests on music tastes, and that’s a rally big mistake,” Dalis Santiago said. “They’ll play some obscure album cut, and their guests will be offended by it.”
Being a DJ goes beyond selecting music appropriate to the crowd, she said. It’s about keeping the guests engaged, having good equipment and producing the right sound.
“Nobody remembers the chicken dinner at the wedding. Nobody remembers the ice sculpture. They remember having a good time,” Nelson Santiago said.