Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Them Wedding Bells

The world hath gone strange indeed.
"As we grow older
The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated
Of dead and living. Not the intense moment
Isolated, with no before and after,
But a lifetime burning in every moment" ~ TS Eliot

Somebody Gotta Do the Work

People believe that music just happens. There's no planning, no practicing, no thought, it all just appears like glitter and unicorns.The Dynamic Duo played a wedding yesterday but, it wasn't me that had to break a sweat. That fell to Li-Li.

My partner in the nuptial biz, Li-Li (flute, piano, voice), was going loony over The Lord's Prayer by Albert Malotte; a perennial favorite. She got the call to play this piano piece a week before the ceremony, so you can imagine the whirling, grinding machinations of trying to master a piano piece she hadn't played in years. Plus, the stress of arranging and rehearsing with the singer (a friend of the family), then attending the wedding rehearsal. All the while, I was chillaxing at home. I got it tough, baby.

The toughest part sometimes is just figuring out how to get the equipment to the right place without bodily injury. Stairs + two fifty pound amps = pain, property destruction and Lortab. Wait a minute, the Lortab part of that sounds good. But, I digress...

I knew she would be suffering from "can't see the forest for the trees" syndrome, that her mind would be on performing this one piece while our main duty was to provide flute and guitar music before the wedding and a few pieces after. So, in light of knowing my partner's focus of her angst, I set about organizing every pre-wedding piece in a neat little setlist and offered to give her a break by playing some solo guitar pieces.

Good thing I did that. We barely had a lull in our pre-wedding music set as the church quickly filled. Some 200 guests were invited and by the time 5:30 rolled around, we had a full house.

Then Why the Shakes, Mister Guru?

Though I preach meditation, preparation and relaxation, still nerves can still upset balance. It's laughable  because I can watch my right hand become off-balance because of the forearm's creeping tension and yet I remain objective in the process. It's kind of like watching the wheels fall off your car in slow motion, but you feel no sense of crashing. You are watching all this with a frustrated resignation. This is something that has manifested itself with greater magnitude over the years or maybe it's just that I have become far more aware of the issue. Regardless, it comes and goes.

What helped is that the combination of my amp behind me and the house system really made us sound full and a great tone. There is something almost transcendental about getting the right sound out of electronic equipment. If your sound sucks, it can throw your whole game off. Nothing makes you happy.

When I play weddings, I am all about doing a good job, but they all have become a blur to me. All the same players again and again: the rowdy friends of the groom, the impossibly manicured bridesmaids, the nervous mom and dad, the groom is usually a nice guy and the bride may or not have even noticed us at all.  It's like a repeating television episode only with ever so slight variations. It's a fog with a nice paycheck at the end.

As we headed home, I could tell a great weight was lifted from Li-Li's shoulders. She was a wreck from stressing and now it was all behind her. I'm sure she crashed both physically and emotionally after the gig. Hell, I was feeling a bit worn myself. Call it age. All those seemingly perfect young people can wear an old curmudgeon's self-esteem down. You can call it self-pity, but wait until you get there and see how the ride feels to you.

Old T.S. was right. The world is indeed a stranger place as we age. Ironically, I feel that I have firmly established my place in it, but yet there are times I feel estranged from it. It is both familiar and empty, rich and flavorless, filled with divine mystery and the dulled primal impulses of the terminally thoughtless and ignorant. In short, it's always been the same; only our perception of it changes.

Gee...I ought to play weddings more often.

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