Band on the Run: Sister Servant (Pre-Wedding)

This title is tongue-in-cheek. In fact, quite literally; my tongue has found itself being held down between my teeth many times in the “bite your tongue” fashion since my sister decided to get married a year ago, regularly finding itself wedged between my molars and only able to greet the inside of my cheek rather than be used to form words. And, that’s a good thing – really and truly. The motto that I have stuck to (and gratefully) has been to “stand by, offer help and question nothing.”

After all, weddings are for the bride and the groom, right? Some say it’s for the family, but in this case I’d say it’s really for my sister and her husband-to-be. She’s getting married in Maui, Hawaii next week and it’s her dream wedding location. He (the groom) is in love with my sister and knows better than to have any conflicting dream! Together with about fifty family members and friends, we will gather on the beach and enjoy the palm trees and sand while they tie the knot.

No hurricanes please.

Summers are a time of weddings. We just got back from Lyndell’s sister’s wedding in Northern BC and I’ll be off to my sister’s event next week (and be sure to post about Hawaii). The “sister servant” reference is really a reference to what happens to musicians and performers when people in their lives get married.

Quite simply: we get put to work. It goes with the territory.

Whether it be as a wedding band (yikes!); or as an MC at the reception or the various events beforehand like the Stag & Doe party; or as the music that people hear while the church or hall or synagogue or beach area is being slowly populated with attendees; or, quite commonly as the song that is sung during the signing of the marriage certificate. Whatever the particular task is, it surely includes a microphone or the ability to project one’s voice in a cavernous building of somebody’s worship!

I have been asked to do all of these things at one point or another. Usually, it’s a gig. For my family, it’s a gift.

(Do you still have to buy the bride and groom a wedding present if you’re the music and the MC? I’ve been trying to figure this out, but I’ve come up empty. I could use some advice here!)

You see, I’m certainly not a traditionalist. I have been to many weddings and they’re all so different that I really can’t place how it’s done exactly. All I know is that I am often expected to speak to the people, make everyone feel comfortable, program the music for the assembling of people (luckily, I talked her into using a CD for that part) and singing during the signing. Also, happily, I won’t be the music for the reception. There’s no way my band could have afforded the trip to Hawaii – I couldn’t even afford it and so begged a loan to get there next week – and so she will be using the in-house band. Should be fun to watch. Especially because by the time we get to the reception, it will be other people working and not me for once. Phew!

When Lyndell and I arrived in Prince George on the night before her sister’s wedding, we were both prepared to perform together during the signing of the marriage certificate the next day. Lyndell’s sister had asked to learn a song by James Blunt (who sounds suspiciously like Rod Stewart, don’t you think? Maybe it’s Rod’s voice and music with a young hottie in the ad campaigns? I’m just sayin’!) and she wanted Lyndell to play the violin. Well, this song is called “Goodbye My Lover” and it seemed strangely inappropriate for a wedding. The words are about a break-up, but we dutifully sang while I drove and she practiced on the violin. After the many hours on the road, we arrived with the words and melodies memorized.

I’m thrilled to report that I didn’t have to sing. She didn’t want the words to be sung (knowing it wasn’t the right theme!) and so Lyndell just played with her cousin (“once removed,” I might add) who is also a professional musician (pianist) and who was able to find the sheet music in a local music shop. He hadn’t known he was playing until the day before either, but took the task on effortlessly.

I, on the other hand, watched the whole thing by myself in a pew and befriended a little kid named Sammy, the little brother of one of the bridesmaids. We had a great time shooting pictures and trying not to get in trouble.

Now, for my sister’s wedding, I’m planning a few songs so that she can veto the ones that don’t work and choose the ones that do. After navigating a dangerous tryst with my Mother who tried to insert the songs of her choice behind my sister’s back (that’s the equivalent of trying to get me killed by my older sister!), I have narrowed it down to four and she will choose two. That’s my task on this six-day break that I’m on before flying over to the land of the tropics for four days.

Luckily, I arrive a day and a half before the actual wedding day, which gives me just enough time to brush-up on the songs of her choice. I’ll then lounge with a piña colada in the hopes that the beach and the umbrellas in my drinks will help me to forget how much money I’ll owe for the four-day pleasure.

I only have one sister.

I wouldn’t miss her special day for the world.

In servitude,

— the musician, and sister.