After performing at over 1,200 weddings in my music career there are just a few things that I do at almost every wedding. The "Lean On Me Moment" has become a favorite part of the wedding evening for a lot of couples. This sweet moment occurred in St. Petersburg, FL for a couple from Wisconsin.
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A Make Lemonade Evening- Wednesday night found me on the rooftop of one the area's coolest places, Passa-Grille's Hurricane Seafood Restaurant. I was supposed to be there for a wedding cocktail hour, but one thing you can count on about doing outdoor weddings in Florida, the weather will sneak up on you... and it did. I arrived at 3:45 to setup on the rooftop. The Hurricane has something every musician loves, an elevator! Yeah! The wedding was supposed to start at 5:00 and I was supposed to do their first dance and the cocktail hour from 5:30 until 6:30 when the wedding party and guests would leave the rooftop to have dinner in a private dining room.
Sounded like a good plan. But, around 5:00 a wave of sea fog came rolling in that literally hid the beach from view from the rooftop. Everything was delayed. No problem, I'm here in Florida and I have nothing to do tonight so take your time and be happy... that's my motto. Around 5:30 they came to me and asked if it would be OK if we switched things up... eat dinner first and then instead of a cocktail hour we have the reception on the roof. You guessed it... no problem.
So, what was supposed to be a laid back cocktail hour turned into a full on rooftop dance party, with the wedding party and their guests all mixed in with patrons at the bar joining in on the fun. It always amazes me how "real live music" touches folks and gets them up moving and grooving. Tonight was no different. My new Wisconsin friends along with my new Florida friends just let the worries of the world melt away for a few hours and just danced, sang and laughed. The couple later hugged me and told me how happy they were... saying "What could have been a disaster turned into the best wedding night they could have ever imagined". And that made this old musician happy beyond words. Having now performed at over 1,200 weddings just like this, I've learned to just be myself while doing what the couple needs, even if at the time they don't know what they need. Many musicians would have charged a lot extra or refused to stay that long before playing. Many would have been upset because getting there and having plans change at the last minute would make for a long evening. As I tell folks when I perform many times, I've successfully completed the husband training course with my sweet wife, and even though there may have been a day many moons ago that I too would be upset, she's taught me to always, always put myself in the shoes of those who hire me. So I did... they were upset, scared, worried and frustrated by the delay caused by the weather we here in Florida are very used to. Getting upset or charging more would have just upset them even more... the right thing to do was to do my best to make it better because a wedding day is a very, very special day.
If I've performed at your wedding or you've been to a wedding where I've performed then you've probably experienced the Lean On Me moment. At some point during the evening I usually get the bride and groom on the dance floor with all the friends and family around them and help them sing Lean On Me to them. Wednesday night's Lean On Me moment was precious. From that rooftop you could probably hear that crowd for miles on the beach as they sang, clapped and circled around the happy couple. It felt like the roof might cave in when we busted into Will The Circle Be Unbroken as the song ended. I must have had to make up 4 or 5 verses for that song because they were taking turns dancing into the center of the circle and it just felt like they didn't want it to end.
But it did end... with hugs and tears, handshakes and compliments as a rooftop full of friends became a family right before my eyes. That's the magic of music and it's that magic that keeps me doing what I do. I realize I'm lucky and fortunate. I realize so many see the bad sides of this world. Me, I get to see the happy times like this sweet wedding.
Here are a few more pictures:
I love where my music takes me. I've played with some great views before but today's view while performing for a house party on the very edge of Tampa Bay will be hard to top. I'd love to provide a little music for a party for you too. Reach out to me and let's make it happen!
I was honored to provide the music Whittni and Alex Parks' wedding at Sarasota's beautiful Phillippi Estate Mansion. Here are a few images from from the event.
Beautiful Bride And Groom
Fun Cocktail Hour and First Dance
First Time I've Heard "You're my sweetheart and dogs' daddy!" In A Vow! Sweet!
And A Beautiful Location For A Wedding
I usually get asked to learn to new songs when I perform for weddings. This weekend's wedding will include mostly songs I already know and perform regularly but the Mother/Son dance will be to The Monkees' song Daydream Believer. After spending the day working out an arrangement I actually like this song for me.
I have to concentrate a lot when performing at weddings hosted in beautiful venues like this. I hold to the promise that I learn the songs you want to have performed at your wedding, even if it's a song by The Monkees.
Many times when I play out dinner or lunch is included. If you play harp then you already know why I never eat before playing. Last Saturday night I broke my steadfast rule and I paid for that mistake last night and today. It may be gross but food particles love hiding in harp reeds and having their own little party. So last night when I performed at my show at Coquina Beach Cafe those food particle germs from Saturday and all their little germ buddies made their way into my system. The result... A sore throat last night and sick today. Looks like I'd learn.
So how do you keep that from happening? Clean your harps regularly. Easiest way to do that? Just like my grandfather cleaned his dentures... with Efferdent. Just pretend your harps are dentures and soak them overnight. BTW, you don't have to soak them by on the nightstand like he did. Dry them well and put them back in the case the next morning. That's what I did and I swear if I ever eat again before a show I'm going to clean them that night no matter how tired I am. I'm just glad I had cheese and not shrimp at the last show.
But last night while at my show on Anna Maria Island my voice started getting "raspy". I awoke this morning to a full-fledged sore throat. I could have pushed on, but I have a busy weekend next weekend and have learned the hard way that the best thing to do "if I can" is to rest my voice. So if you walked by my corner of the market this morning in St Petersburg and noticed me missing... Well first of all thank you for noticing. Second, I emailed in sick.
Had this been a wedding or private party, then yes for sure I would have crawled out of bed and started doing what we singers do to make our voice work when it doesn't want to. Then again a wedding or party would have been tonight instead of 7am so that might have helped. Anyway, I wanted those who came by and always do come by my little corner of music at the market that I will be back next week as usual.
Me Performing JJ Grey's Song "The Sun Shining Down"
One of my all-time favorite performers is JJ Grey & Mofro, who also uses Farmer Foot Drums, and one of my all-time favorite songs of his is his song, The Sun Is Shining Down. Here’s a clip of me doing this live during the cocktail hour portion of a wedding I performed at this past weekend.
I’d also like to give a shout out and thank you to a few vendors who make my music better. First Pete and Kate at Farmer Foot Drums. I love my setup with the Stomp Jr and I know I’ve told you a million times… but man I love it… the way if feels… the way it sounds… how portable it is… I could go on and on but you get the picture. I also have a few Downbeats in my setup and I’m a huge believer in the Archtop Harmonica rack. It is always the same… it’s lightweight and you put a lot of pressure on it when you need to and it doesn’t budge. It's the best harmonica neck rack I've owned... period! I’m also fortunate to be able to couple my Archtop with Scott Nelson’s Front and Center Mics G-Rack harp mic that is made to fit me and my Archtop. That thing sounds as good as it looks and it is a work of art and such a step up from my previous duct taped old mic. Thanks Scott! Gibson doesn’t sponsor me, but man it’s hard to beat my old ’63 LG0. If you’ve seen me perform then you’ve heard that guitar and it just fits me like a glove. I love playing it and love how she sounds.
I hope you like the video and share it with your friends. And if you need any similar products I HIGHLY and COMPLETELY endorse the products and guys mentioned above. I've searched long and hard to get the best setup a guy can get as a one-man-band these guys and their products make my life easier and better and that’s what it’s all about. And like the song says, I’m alive… and I’m feeling fine.
I love to fish, I love my friends and I love fun shows...
When Lynn and I retired from our corporate careers we made a promise to each other that we'd travel more, be better friends to our friends and continue to pursue our professional hobbies of music and jewelry for at least 10 years. We are now 5 years into that 10-year stretch and it's been eye opening and fun.
To fulfill part of our promise to travel, we decided 4 years ago that we'd start coming to southern Florida for winters each year to play and work. Why? Because it's cold in the winter in NC and since we can work where want we choose to work where it's warmer... substantially warmer than NC. For Lynn she's grown her jewelry business as well as her craftsmanship. For me, I've played at every type of event imaginable... from busking at Pier 60, which I loved, to providing music every Saturday morning at the St Petersburg Saturday Morning Market. I've also played at tiki huts, bars, restaurants, beach weddings, private and corporate parties.
I love playing music here but I really, really love our friends and extended family. You just wouldn't believe how close we've become to our friends we see every day here. Being with them makes Lynn and I want to quickly reach the day when we can enjoy our time here in the sun and sand every day, just like our friends do now. Just today I played the role of an advisor to one of my friends who wants to buy a fishing kayak and spend some quality time on the bayou chasing Red Fish and Snook. Seeing my friend Jerry that happy and excited today about his new kayak made me realize how much I love my kayak.
So that brings me to fishing.... man, I love fishing here. Today I spent just a few hours on the water before sunset and caught so many fish I was ready to come in even before the sun went down. So there are the 3 things I love about being in Florida in the winter. Fun shows, Friends and Fishing. Tight lines and tuned guitars my friends.