Posted tagged ‘weddings’

My Boy, A Martin Guitar, and a Wedding

May 23, 2010

        I’ll be back in the morning with part III on my agent search but I wanted to tell you about a wedding first. We played one yesterday.

        The groom was the Harvey County Banjo Diva’s son. Any wedding is important to family, (I cried at my boy’s) but this one was special to us too. Your bluegrass people are close to family.

       The tune was “The Westphalia Waltz.” If you don’t know the song it sounds like one of those things you’d hear accompany one of those ballerinas who goes around in circles when you open a music box.

       My son is a paramedic and had to work the night before. He rushed in at the last-minute toting his old Martin. It was my first good guitar, a D28 I bought for $700.00 with my first check as a doctor. When my boy got his own house I gave it to him. The preacher once said give your best to God. Well, it was my best guitar and I gave it to my son. I figured God and his mama gave the kid to me, so I hoped that was close enough. I’m only human; I have no idea how God gave His only Son. It was all I could do to let mine get married.

        Even when I gave it to him it was beat up, and that was a while back. It had a couple of cracks that had been repaired, the finish was worn to the bare wood in spots, and the pick-guard has begun to lift off one edge from when I got too close to the wood stove at the Bomb Shelter. It looks road weary and smells like campfires and barbecue. He strummed a “G” chord. The smoky low-end matched the aroma.

         We warmed up under a shade tree. It was noon and the sun beat down but we had some protection from the maple leaves. Tommy Jr. called for “Catfish John” which I used to sing to him as a kid, and his mom played the bass and she and I did “Gold Watch and Chain.” Mary Sue, the guitar lady for my wife’s band played rhythm and Tommy covered the lead. We went over “Westphalia” twice. Tommy hadn’t played it in a while, but he got his part just right down to the minors. To play music with your family borders on spiritual.  We got to jamming and then the wedding director gave us the quiet sign. (She’s a school teacher) It was time for the wedding. Even I knew to be reverent.

        Storm clouds hovered but the sky turned blue again. I wouldn’t know if the bride wore chiffon or chenille but my wife said it was a spun gold beaded and gathered satin gown with a layered train. (Is that about right ladies?) I do know she was a pretty girl and a skinny little young’un. The groom was a sturdy ex-Marine, about 6’3.” You ever notice how straight and white young folk’s teeth are?

        It was hot as blazes and they had those little hand-held fans like what we used to have at my grandmother’s church. If you grew up in the South before air-conditioning you remember ’em. Those had Jesus on one side and the football team schedule on the other. The bride and groom opted for a simple version adorned with their names. For an outdoor southern wedding take note. This accessory is a must. It was a very nice touch for this old doc.

         I noticed the father of the groom as he fanned away. It was his youngest boy. Lord I felt for him.

        It all went according to plan except one of the little flower girls got to dancing like a ballerina and we weren’t sure exactly when to quit playing the waltz. The wedding director gave us the cut sign and we fashioned out a nice outro from the “A” part and sat back down. The kids sailed right through the vows and never missed a beat. The next thing you knew it was a kiss, a cool subtle high five and a presentation of a new couple. Even a man knew it was elegant.

        Afterwards I saw the father of the groom at the reception. He mopped his brow with a handkerchief. “Doc, I worried all day we might have rain.”

        “Me too, brother. I know how you feel.” I did too. I still recall how hard it was the day my son got married.

         Afterwards we went home and took a nap then eased over to the Dairyo and had some Coke floats. We sat at the genuine imitation wrought iron tables they imported from Raleigh and contemplated the significance of the day. My wife told funny stories about the kids growing up. We all wished Marie could have been there, but she was out of town for the weekend. I looked over at my boy, a big strapping kid now. “Son get out that Martin. Can you still do “Jerusalem Ridge?”

        “Sure, Dad.” We broke out the instruments and played a few tunes. I looked up at clouds and it set me to dreaming. I really am a simple man. In spite of the fact not many modern humans would consider this all that special of a day, to me it was the best life has to offer. I figured I was about as lucky a country boy as anyone could be.

        I’ll be back tomorrow to tell you of the final leg of my agent journey. Today though, I had to tell you of what is really important.

Dr. B


A Bluegrass Wedding

December 30, 2008

        The bride was beautiful and the the groom was handsome.  They sang some of their vows.  The Circuit Riders backed them up as the house band.  The closing tribute to the bride was an old Charlie Waller number, “Remembrances of You,” a favorite of mine.  They did it perfect pitch three part harmony. 

        The ceremony was reverent and respectful of tradition.  The congregation and the bridal party recited the Lord’s Prayer in unison.  The music was acoustic, but not all bluegrass.  Fiddle toggled back and forth with violin and classical pieces were rendered at just the right moments by the chamber music ensemble.

        The wedding party was pretty young bridesmaids, mature gentlemen in tuxes (someone kindly dubbed them as distinguished) and cute flower girls and ring bearers.  There were Christmas poinsettias and pictures and many hugs and kisses.  It was a bit of a family reunion; bluegrass is but one big family.

       The reception rocked the house.  The Harris Brothers led off.  Reggie might be my favorite guitar man on the planet, both in flat-pick and slide, and Ryan is a soul singer extrodinare and a rock solid bass man.  Some old guy in a tux got up and played with ’em.  I figure a man ain’t lived till he’s jammed with the Harris Brothers and the electric suitcase, so I had to do a few tunes with them too.  Old Doc played mandolin and sang the harmony part to “I got my Mojo Working.”  Now that is my idea of a wedding reception!  The boys were most kind to let me jam with ’em.  (And no I wasn’t drinking)

        Soon the Circuit Riders were up.  Luck fiddled and Corb picked banjo, Billy Gee played bass, and Darin Aldridge was on mandolin.  Jaret Carter and Jerry Douglas are the best dobro guys I know of.  The groom flashed both a wide grin and the the best mandolin chops you’ll ever hear. 

        We had to do several for old time’s sake.  The groom’s version of ‘Catfish John’ brought back childhood memories for my daughter.  I have never heard anyone in a bridal dress come close to the bride’s version of “He Ain’t Never.”

        We ate well, jammed late into the night, told tall tales, and reminisced with old friends.  I never go to a wedding without thinking about how lucky I have been.  We got married years ago, hit the ground running, and haven’t looked back.  I was lucky to find someone so compatible.  I think these kids did the same.  One thing is certain; if they have a married life anything like the wedding, they are gonna rule.  It’s the bluegrass way.

       All the best to them for all time.

Dr. B