Keith plays Esther’s Wedding — 26July2008

Way back in February, a young lady and her boyfriend sat listening until the end of my solo gig at the Tustin Borders, and as I was packing the equipment, came up and asked if I play weddings. I hadn’t really thought of that, but, sure, email me the particulars. I didn’t really expect her to, but she did, and I was on.

I told her to go though my song list and choose which ones she wanted, and she picked all the cheesy love songs from the 70’s, and even asked for some more that weren’t on the list. I was starting to get the impression that this was gonna be some kind of “retro” wedding, but she never presented it as such, and it wasn’t really any different than any other wedding I’ve been to. On the other hand, all weddings are shamelessly “retro”, with the tux and long white dress, etc. Worse than a “hippie theme” birthday party, if you think about it.

Anyway, I made a list of all the love songs I know, and decided to add some more to fatten up the thus-shortened list. I asked her about the new ones, just in case she had an aversion to, say, John Denver (and who could blame her), but she liked them all — except I specifically pointed out that Paul Stookey’s “Wedding Song” was pretty religious (i.e. Christian). She hadn’t asked for anything remotely religious, and had pointed out that her brother was “officiating”, so I was afraid that she was aiming at an entirely religion-free wedding (like mine!).

She replied that it probably wasn’t appropriate, since she’s Jewish, and her fiancé is Buddhist. Whoops, scratch one “Wedding Song”. A shame, though, since I’m one of the very few that can play it right, despite the thousands who try…

I showed up good and early to the ritzy country club in Yorba Linda, ‘cuz I was supposed to play at the outdoor ceremony, and then for the “cocktail hour” between the wedding and the reception proper. That meant that I’d have to tear my stuff down and move it, and I wanted to do that as efficiently as possible.

Turned out that the club provided a P.A. for the outdoor part already, and it had free channels. So I just plugged my mic and guitar into that, and set my amp up in the lobby. After the service, all I had to do was grab the mic, guitar, cables, music stand and book, and go to the country club lobby, and I was ready to play some more.

Esther wanted to walk down the aisle to the Beatles’ “Something”, which is an odd choice, but, it’s her wedding, and I kind of like my strange arrangement of it. She wanted “In My Life” and Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight” as the parents, etc. were coming in, and “Somewhere” from “West Side Story” as the walking-out song. The trick (for me) was trying to wrap-up those songs as the events they were to cover ended. But the timing worked out pretty well — I managed to make the songs end pretty close to perfectly synced.

Everybody seemed to like the music, and several people came up to say so. One guy asked me if I had a CD of “music like that”. I told him I had a CD, with *some* stuff “like that”, but other songs. He wanted one, and handed me a 20 for it. People are feeling pretty friendly at weddings…

After I was done and packed up, I went and found the country club’s wedding coordinator, and gave her a business card. She liked my stuff, too, so maybe she’ll recommend me to somebody that comes in and wants some live music but doesn’t know where to find any.

So, it went pretty well — I played reasonably well, sang OK, and got through all the transitions. Esther and her now-husband were walking over to the pictures-spot, across from me, and she gave me a big thumbs-up.

All-in-all, it worked out good, despite my nervousness at playing something a lot more “significant” than a coffeeshop with a dozen people in it. And any gig where you check after it’s over and your zipper wasn’t down counts as a success in my book.

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