June is the month of cottonwood blizzards, irrigating shovels, speeding tickets, finger responsibilities, finger injuries…and the wedding gods.
Thirty-plus years of playing at Sheridan weddings and funerals, along with my wife Trudy delivering babies for many of those years, automatically pays our membership in to the “hatch ’em, match ’em and dispatch ’em” club.
With this in mind, I feel I am qualified to make a few general statements about weddings. A musician can learn to anticipate these days much as an abused pound dog watches the advances of a potential owner. This might be the best of times … and this might be the worst of times.
Nervous brides, frantic mothers, planned timelines, unplanned seconds that skew planned timelines, weather, wine, equipment failure and family feuds can make life utter hell for the guy who was just trying to play some music for “the perfect day,” especially for a couple that I care about and have known since they were kids.
Wedding gods are mirthful gods. With this knowledge planted firmly in my mind, I entered in to what could surely have been the wedding from hell.
The ominous black sky to the south of the Banner foothills was telling me that this was going to be one of those “nature calls the shots” weddings. I pulled in to the flooded yard while listening to a tornado watch on NPR amidst thunder, lightning and a torrential downpour of rain.
Muttering to my solo self, I began the process of organizing and building our band camp for the evening. Three hours later, my wet boots had made the beginnings of something that could stand up as long as the wind didn’t come up out of the north. Electrical shock was a concern as the grass (lawn stage) was soaked and just waiting for us to conduct electricity — both the kind that came out of the house and into our sound system as well as the kind that was coming out of the sky. My one comfort was that if we were going to fry, all five of us would go together; sort of a “brothers ’til the end” doctrine.
With all of the electricity popping through the air, the biggest shock turned out to be how the “day from hell” turned perfect. The storm rolled out just as Audrey, the beautiful bride, and Carson, the dapper groom, appeared in the yard. The sound system worked flawlessly, the food was excellent, the girls were beautiful, the girls hugged me, the boys were handsome gentlemen, the boys shook my hand, the families laughed, timelines disappeared into a blur, the band was tight and the dancers never left the dance floor.
It appeared as if the wedding gods had been kind. I knew better.
Making that level of music with my close Powder River Boys Band is truly payment enough for me. I had a blast. It’s a good thing, too.
A speeding ticket on my way home that night followed by a lacerated guitar finger and a “no life preserver” summons on a canoe float the next day just about put the wedding gods and yours truly in to a close tie.
There was, however, one thing that they didn’t figure on; my vivid memories of me dancing with my wife, dancing with the bride, dancing with my fiddle and dancing with the night.
I’d say I beat them this go ’round.