This is the 30th year of my music career – in the summer of 1988 Peter and myself sold our belongings, bought one-way tickets, and left our German home to make music our careers and take advantage of a one year exchange scholarship to the University of Alabama. We quickly realized that playing club gigs for the door with our original music would not generate enough income to pay the rent and groceries. The lucrative jobs were the corporate and wedding gigs. We actually didn’t mind at all performing for these special occasions. In contrast to playing in a wedding band in Germany where you end up playing for extremely long hours mostly very square music, corporate jobs in the US seemed to require a good knowledge of the Great American Songbook with sprinkles of some Beatles and Motown songs. I actually enjoyed learning how to select the best music that fits the audience and the occasion. Especially performing for countless wedding ceremonies, receptions, and dances has helped me acquire a large repertoire of songs and musical styles over those three decades.
Weddings are very special and personal celebrations and every time the wedding photographer takes the close-ups of the band I wonder in how many family memory scrapbooks we ended up by now and how often our pictures trigger memories of a special day with special music. Well – and then there are those that trigger memories for us – here is my recollection of some unconventional, somewhat unfortunate, not to be duplicated moments:
- Having the little ring bearers and flower girls walk in at the end of the wedding party is really cute – BUT, little three-year olds get scared and turn around looking for Mom or they might run across the lawn and lose the rings somewhere on the way. That means the guests will get up and start searching in the grass, while the musicians keep playing the Bridal entrance music as the bride had just started her entrance and then decided to turn around and wait until the ring was found.
- Then there was the ceremony in the beautiful club lobby next to the private bar where club guests were watching a football game. Just as the celebrant asked the groom if he would take his lovely bride for his wife a resounding “Nooooooooo” came out of the bar in response to a missed touchdown.
- I’m not sure what to think about a groom who insists getting married with his gun strapped to his waist. That’s an awfully strong attachment to the weapon and made us chose our notes very carefully to avoid any angry reactions.
- With the alcohol flowing freely and some stressful relatives around, some receptions also resulted in abrupt endings, powerful fights, and infidelity.
- The idea of hosting a wedding on Good Friday in a funeral home seemed a bit inappropriate. But when most of the wedding party left during the reception as the only offerings were lemonade, some cup cakes and an endless slide show of the couple posing in pumpkin fields, my guess was that it was the cheapest rental place they were able to find.
- And there was the wedding party that crashed our regular gig because they were to cheap to hire their own band – and the mother-in-law stole our tips after we played their first dance – good luck!
- The Mula Dance – keep playing for a very long time so that guests can put money down to get a few dancing minutes with the bride – that way the guests actually pay themselves for the dinner buffet –
I better stop here and my colleagues have plenty more stories to tell – but of course that’s a small percentage of the hundreds of beautiful and uplifting gatherings that we have the privilege to be part of. I absolutely enjoy adding the perfect musical framework to these special events and I do encourage using live musicians. Musicians are able to react to the moment, the atmosphere, the audiences through their musical choices and unique performance – a DJ provides playback –