You never know what you’re going to get on a gig sometimes. I always chat with the event host by phone or zoom to see what they are looking for musically, but sometimes as an experienced you have to change your pre-conceptions about what music to play to match what you’re actually experiencing in the moment.
Last week, The Way Band trio played a wedding in Bath, NY where all we were told is that the groom liked Roy Orbinson, so we learned 2 of his most famous songs, and that’s all we knew. It turns out the groom was sort of indifferent to the music (or so it seemed), but everyone else at the party was digging the band and dancing and having a great time. Here’s something we didn’t expect, though: they wanted us to stretch out and jam! It was like Cream going to the Fillmore in 1968 all over again. 🙂
They requested songs like “Green Grass and High Tide Forever” which, if you don’t know, features quite a lengthy set of guitar solos. We didn’t have that one in our repertoire, so we played “Freebird” and stretched out on it for a while, as is typical for that song. We also played lengthy solos on songs like “Rocky Mountain Way” etc. Here is a video of some of the guitar solos from the event.
Normally at weddings, it’s not about the band or the musicianship of the individual members. What’s important is that guests are dancing, singing along, and that there’s something for everyone in attendance, from the kids to the great-grandparents. It’s important for a band to adjust the volume and mood at every point of the event, and to play what’s musically appropriate.
This is why The Way Band doesn’t play a pre-planned set list. We may have an idea of what to expect, but it’s much better to be ready for anything. It was fun, in this particular instance, to get to rock out and solo for longer periods. In fact, every event we play is fun in the same way because, whether we’re extending songs or not, it’s spontaneous, appropriate, and relevant.
I am grateful that people have come up to me at the end of the night and said “every song seemed like the right one.” That makes me very happy to hear.