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September 23, 2007

Wedding guitar gig

I got a call the day before yesterday from a girl who had desperately been looking for someone who could play guitar for her wedding. So I asked, when is the wedding? Tomorrow, she said. Wow, that is cutting time short, I thought. Thinking it over a bit, I figured I could possibly swing it, if I can learn some appropriate songs the night before.

Since I often perform with my friend Myra, I asked if she would want some nice vocals to go with the guitar, but she said she only wanted guitar music. I agreed to do it, knowing I would be putting some pressure on myself, as I had a cross-country running event the whole morning before the wedding.

I decided to use my JamMan to record basic loops, using my SX acoustic guitar for finger picking and flat picking the chords for each song. I scanned the Internet for some ideas for wedding music, and I came up with:

  1. From This Moment (Shania Twain)
  2. Everything I Do, I Do It For You (Bryan Adams)
  3. Stand By Me (Ben E. King)
  4. Time After Time (Cyndi Lauper)
  5. The River Knows Your Name (John Hiatt)
  6. Remember When (Alan Jackson)
  7. Look At Us (Vince Gill)

It took a few minutes to learn all the songs (I know 3 of them already) and then I went to recording them directly onto my JamMan. I made it simple as possible, since I did not have much time available. Therefore, I skipped bridges and other things - just sticking to verses + chorus. With a looper pedal, tt is sometimes hard to get the looping feature to end exactly where you intend to. I had to quite a few attempts for each song before I got it right.

So far so good. The plan will be to run the JamMan through my Vox AD50VT on a clean setting. I just need to play the melody on top of the loop, using either the acoustic or one of my electric guitars. I decided it would be with my Telecaster, since the gig is outside and the acoustic goes out of tune easier than the electric.

I packed up all my stuff, and headed off to the wedding. I knew it was in a park close by, and I saw a wedding party on the grass when I got to the park. I went over and talked to them, and they were just wondering who I was. "What guitar music? You must be at the wrong wedding!" Oh, darn it.

Jumping back into the van, I wondered what to do now. The park isn't that big, can't be too hard to find. After driving around a bit, I saw some signs. It didn't take long to find, but I was a little bit behind schedule by now. You don't want to arrive late at a wedding!

Turns out there was no big panic time-wise. However, there was no power anywhere. This was a park, after all. So, I could forget all about the JamMan and using any electric stuff. Oh, man!

I had no other choice but the bring out the acoustic guitar and try my best at playing songs "naked" - with no accompanying loops, etc. I am really terrible at playing chords and melody at the same time - have never really learned any of that. Would have come in handy today!

It was cold too. Freezing cold, and I had only a thin shirt. I played the songs mentioned, plus random ideas that came to my head. I tried to hint at the melody here and there best I could.

The biggest problem was the delay of the arrival of the bride. It took way longer than advertised, which meant I had to keep playing and playing for the crowd sitting there waiting. My acoustic has high action and pretty thick strings. I don't play it very much either, so needless to say, my fingertips were burning after a while. I tried to play stuff with as many open chords as possible; any chord that would make it easier on my fingers.

In the end, it all turned out good. I was cold and fingers were going numb, but the couple seemed happy with the music, and thanked me and said it was very nice and appropriate music.

This was a tough gig for me. I usually have Myra there to save my behind, and it was too bad all that preparation with the JamMan was of no use. However, I would do this again, but I would make sure I have access to power so I can use pre-recorded loops as mentioned. I think that would work really well, and I could make it sound like a "mini-band", with percussion, bass lines, chords, etc.

Now I have already learned some new songs that would fit a wedding, so if the opportunity comes again, I'll be ready for it.

Need wedding guitar music?

If you want me to come play at your wedding, I have put up a wedding guitar music page, where you can read more about what I can help you with.

By Robert Renman - www.dolphinstreet.com

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Posted by Robert Renman on September 23, 2007

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