A wedding is a couple’s event of a lifetime, one that they will remember and cherish for the rest of their lives. When a musician like me is hired to perform for such a magnanimous occasion, I feel it is an honor that the bride and groom trust me to deliver exactly what they want. It is a privilege to be given such a significant amount of control over the energetic direction of such an important event.
Then again, everything is yin and yang, like Lau Tzu writes in the Tao Te Ching, “whatever is fluid, soft and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard.” In other words, a good band leader doesn’t attempt to control a crowd. Rather, he observes their collective energy and responds to it musically. A good band leader always seems to know the perfect song for each moment simply because he is reading into the moment and giving it a perfect song.
If this sounds too mystical for you, note that some of this process is formulaic. You start out typically with more subtle repertoire, and gradually build. You take it down during dinner, then really get in their faces during the after-dinner dancing, only to wind down gently at the end. Yet while events do frequently take on similar shapes, every event is completely different, and, for my bands at least, we never play the same sets, or even the same songs, from one event to the next.