On June 16th, 2007 I married someone. Two someone’s actually: Mike and Sharon. It was the first time I ever married anybody and the only time I officiated at a wedding. I’m not a minister or a licensed officiant or anything (so don’t ask me), but it turns out in Quebec anyone willing to fill out a couple of forms and jump through a few hoops can legally hitch people together.
The bride and groom had booked the old tourist train to deliver the wedding party from downtown Gatineau to Wakefield where we all gathered around an arbour, under which the deed was done. I tell you, a gig like that is much more nerve-wracking than any musical gig I’ve done. Playing at weddings – even the dreaded Bridal March – was much less stressful. I can’t help but to get concerned when I don’t have a musical instrument to hide behind (for in truth it is the instrument that does most of the heavy lifting).
So like I say, don’t ask me to do it again. Plus they eventually got divorced so clearly I didn’t do a very good job. But this isn’t what I’m here to tell you about. These aren’t “wedding stories” or “times I was really nervous stories”, these are tales about live music that I’ve witnessed. And weddings always have live music. At least they do when I am officiating.
So after a vacuum of time that sucked away all my memories between the ceremony and the reception (m’lady reminds me that we had a nice lunch somewhere, took the train back, went home and changed, then somehow transported to wherever the reception was), I arrived ready to take in the greatest wedding band ever, Sisters Euclid.
Of course, an instrumental guitar-driven rock quartet that intersperses vaguely recognizable chord-melody cover songs amongst wildly decorated vamps dressed up as original tunes is not the greatest wedding band ever, unless you’re me or one of a growing group of my friends. If I’m not mistaken it was indeed I that had introduced Mike and Sharon to Kevin Breit and the Sisters Euclid in the first place, when I dragged them both to Toronto’s Orbit Room after a Prince concert, and of course they were as smitten as I. Mike actually brought the band to Ottawa for the first time when he booked them to play a show at Maverick’s Bar that has since become legend. I’m sure I’ll tell you about it sometime.
This was…well, I don’t know where it was, but I remember talking to Kevin and drummer Gary Taylor before the gig. I can see their gear set up onstage in a small theatre, I believe there were cushy seats that I’m confident nobody used. One thing I remember clear as a bell was our conversation. Gary (and Kevin, but mostly Gary) was telling me how much they wanted to find a manager, someone who would help champion their cause and bring the band to an expanded audience. I vividly recall him saying “If only we could find someone…if only…”
Although I had booked a three-night run for the Sisters Euclid not so long before this I had stopped managing nero about two years earlier and considered myself out of the game. Now here I was staring down a chance to get back in. I might have been misreading things but as far as I’m concerned they were asking me then and there to manage their band. Crazy…just before nero broke up I had decided I would go all out on the management thing and I had picked five bands in my head that I wanted to work with, and of course Sisters Euclid was one of them.
So I was tempted. But I was already once-bitten, as the band had pulled out of that three-night run I had booked for them at the last minute, and for rather frivolous reasons. And so I forced myself to bite my tongue and say nothing. Gary’s final “if only” just hung there…
My own silence was screaming in my ears, but I held strong.
Getting to the show itself, it was one of the most fun Sisters Euclid sets ever! In addition to tearing through a pile of their regular awesomeness that was quite familiar to most of us in the small, hand-picked crowd, the band tossed out a few fun nods to standard wedding band fare too. Midway through the second set they threw together a delicious wedding-set medley that wove the Chicken Dance into Brown-Eyed Girl into YMCA into…geez, what else did they throw in there? It became a guessing game like a mini Name That Tune that somehow ended with a Donna Lee singalong featuring the happy couple.
The Sisters are just fantastic. To be honest, I hold the band in such high regard that I suspect I might have done a pretty fair job promoting them. But just like the marrying gig, don’t ask me again!