Live Music for Weddings: Destination Moon!
The Guests Danced Before They Sat Down For Dinner!
I recently had a terrific time collaborating on a first dance with a dance instructor and a lovely couple whose wedding took place in late December in Arizona. There wasn’t a lot of time for dance lessons, but when the dancers are fast learners it makes things easier. We texted, e-mailed, sent carrier pidgeons back and forth and I timed the timed the sequence with the dance instructor over the phone, merging two distinct tempos.
Some weddings have a life of their own; this one was on fire! The bride and groom joined guests on the dance floor were on the dance floor seconds after they were announced — to the stirring strains of the Air Force Theme Song — dancing to “Cheek To Cheek” long before it was time for their official first dance.
Now THAT’s a wedding!
And it never slowed down from there.
Filled with heart and soul, lots of personality and and love, the lovely winter wedding was a thriller that united two very special families on an amazing night in a ballroom envisioned and designed by the father of the bride.
“We could actually DANCE to your music,” was a comment I heard all night.
And this: “We could actually carry on a conversation!”
“I felt like I was at a fairy-tale wedding,” one of the guests told me in the hotel lobby the next morning.
I’d have to agree. And the band had as much fun as the guests!
We’re classically trained jazz musicians with a swing sensibility and rock and roll souls. Known for playing the right music at the right time, we don’t use a lot of music onstage because we’re moving fast. Sometimes we’re moving REALLY fast!
We can take a bunch of songs that have nothing to do with each other, mix up the styles and genres, eras and decades and play a continuous medley of music for hours. Like our “forefathers”, the musicians who played in the Lester Lanin and Meyer Davis society wedding bands, we don’t have to slow down to turn pages in a book. We go with “the flow” and keep parties exciting, pacing with great tempos when people are dancing. Keeping the energy level interesting while staying under the level of conversation is a neat trick. We’re not loud, but we are a lot of fun. We improvise … because we can. And we never play anything the same way once.
Unless it’s your first dance.
For THAT, you’ll know exactly what to expect. Like a great song and dance team, you become part of us and we become part of you.
The song the couple chose to dance to was Michael Buble’s “Everything.” A FABULOUS tune. They learned rhumba steps to go with it. They also wanted to have a tempo change midway, so we planned that they would switch to a waltz as a surprise. We LOVE surprises; they are the stuff wedding memories are made of.
For the waltz, they decided on “Melody Of Love.” A beautiful, perfectwaltz, it was one of about a dozen I’d suggested, and my favorite of the batch. Written in 1903, with words added in 1954, it had been my parents “song” when they were married in the 1930’s.
Our three-way long-distance “rehearsal” had worked very well, and the result was flawless!
Of course, some people are just natural-born dancers.
We had a LOT of help in the form of musical creativity and planning expertise from the mother of the bride, who knows even more songs than I do!
Additional support and encouragement came from the father of the bride, who envisioned an intimate room rather than a sterile hotel ballroom and made it happen! The mother of the groom was a big help, too, rounding out the collaborative effor of putting together the “signature” dance songs.
For the bride’s dance with her father, we played “Young At Heart.” He is.
The groom and his mother danced to a rocked-out version of “Without A Song,” with the tempo choice specified by the musically-talented groom as he led his mom onto the floor.
It was GREAT!
For me, some of the most poignant and meaningful moments of the evening came when the bride’s parents danced to “Time After Time” — “time after time, I tell myself that I’m…so LUCKY to be loving you” — and the groom’s parents danced to “You’re The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me.
For the last dance, we played “Destination Moon,” sending the couple off on the groom’s “rocket ship” for a “supersonic honeymoon” …wherever it was they were going.
American jazz singer Judy Chamberlain is based in Southern California. She can be reached at 714 319-9242.