Anyone who’s ever organized a wedding knows that the best laid plans are paved with dumb intentions. Suckers are big, burdensome cobblestones just waiting for the chance to stub your toe. This being my first go at throwing a marriage party, I had to learn of my shortcomings the hard way. From hidden expenses to the realization that you have to actually tell people you’re getting married, I’ve tried my best to deal with these obvious-yet-somehow-totally-unforeseen-to-me obstacles as they arise. My response to most of these things was “Forget it. [Napkins, decorations, food, wedding dress] aren’t that important. Who will even notice if we skip that part?”. Surprisingly, one small change in the sea of wedding details did get my garter in a wad. I shocked myself when after learning of this miniscule shift in plans, I reacted not with my typical “Oh. Ok. Whatever” attitude but with tears. Real, fussy, girly, fussy, blubbering titty baby tears. The culprit? Something I’m almost a little embarrassed to admit.
A family member had to break the news over the holidays that he would not, in fact, be able to perform a short, couple-song set before and during the wedding ceremony. What was at most meant to be a casual way to entertain guests while waiting for all the love and marriage to begin couldn’t happen. No big deal. We’ve dealt with the sudden mention of $2,000 rain tents, the ever-adjusting budget busting add-ons that come along with wining and dining several tens of people. Hell, we’ve even handled the issue of downtown traffic. Such a little change of plans by no means should be the end of the world, especially to a no-frills, barefoot-already-been-pregnant bride like me.
But there I was friends, up Awkward Silence Creek without a banjo, feeling like the loss of that little chunk of live music at our Music City ceremony was about as big a disaster as any I’d ever faced.
With a budget bordering on nothingness, I consulted my creative friends to fix my entertainment woes. “Flame Throwers!,” one particularly festive friend suggested. “I hear you can actually hire rhythmic hula hoopers,” another added. By the time that conversation ended, the best affordable alternative to live music given had been a freakishly flexible pal’s generous offer to perform freaky, circus-quality acts of contortion while juggling. On one hand, I think my grandmother would totally dig that. On the other, I’ve seen her do a chin-to-floor belly bend while tossing oranges with her toes, and it makes you want to gag and ice your butt cheeks before un-friending her on Facebook. Let’s face it. I hardly have the budget for offering complimentary barf bags as wedding favors.
After weighing the gross, gross options, I came back to square one. We so desperately wanted to welcome guests our wedding with live music. We wanted to give them a taste of what Nashville is all about. That- that earthy, home-grown feel of a front stoop pickin’ party crashing against the neon buzz of city streets- was exactly the irony that made us love this little, big city. No fist-pumping DJ, no mix tape, no stunning silence. We needed some organic groove. Naturally, I spent one afternoon watching YouTube tutorials and strumming a child’s training guitar. I’d play the music myself, I decided. I can do home-grown. I can tap my toes (albeit poorly timed toe tapping complete with shin-splints). If I had a front stoop, by god, I’d pick and party on that sucker. I would… I would… I would manage to sprain my pinky and abandon all plans of playing guitar while walking down the aisle.
Still on YouTube (cursing those talented, musical folks), I came across a video that would warm my heart and make me do a celebratory high-kick:
VIVA LA SPOONS!!! Dani Nash is the young talent on the often under-appreciated spoons. I was Dani Nash’s height in fifth grade. I was Dani Nash’s talent level…never. To the side of Ms. Dani “Dessert Spoon” Nash, as luck would have it, I spotted a twangy little Mister with some serious chops. One e-mail later, I thanked the country music gods as Dakota Jay swooped in on a lyrical white horse and saved the wedding day.
Dakota Jay spends his days running a Nashville hostel for traveling musical acts, spends his afternoons jamming with said acts passing through (I’m talking about you Dani “Where’s My Fork” Nash), and spends his nights tearing up local honky-tonks with original music described by radio personalities as “marrying modern sensibility with old soul sentiment”. As I listened to his edgy take on classic country, I was sure he would want nothing to do with our little, backwoods wedding. Then the urban cowboy went and added Nicer Than Nice to his list of talents, not only agreeing to join the Bloggy Wedding fun but also to give a lot of talent for an itty bitty price.
Dakota, who is quickly becoming the most impressive man in a cowboy hat I know, also wowed us with his lengthy repertoire. In addition to learning a few of our favorite modern-meets-country songs to play, he had a list a mile long of tunes he’s already perfected. Dave Matthews? Check. Johnny Cash? Of course. How about a little Sinatra to really surprise the panty hose off some unsuspecting guests? Hopefully Dakota will treat us to a few of his original songs like this cool take on a love song:
Midway through the list, I spotted one song that made me laugh and buy the guy a trophy. If you’ve never heard the TLC R&B hit “Scrubs” given a little country flair, then your life just isn’t complete. Tom, unfamiliar with the hip-hop standard, wasn’t up for walking down the aisle to lyrics like “I don’t want no scrub. A scrub is a guy who can’t get no love from me. Hangin’ out the passenger side of a his best friend’s ride, tryin’ to holla at me.” but the fact that such a southern crooner would have the good humor to give that one a whirl made me have serious respect for the guy.
So, since Tom don’t want no scrubs, we worked out a cool mix of country, folk, and modern songs for Dakota Jay to play. Among them? “Chicken Fried” by Zac Brown Band, “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” by The Temptations, and a little Counting Crows to boot.
Eclectic playlist settled, I pulled a Woman-In-A-Car-Lot and began discussing the intricate details of sound equipment and setup. Yeah, the smartest thing I could think to say was “So you, like, play that funky music, white boy?” with nary a clue of what an amp is and why it’s crucial to music and hearing things. Luckily, Dakota made that simple, too. He shows up with his own fancy pants equipment, sets it all up, delights the masses with his musical stylings, and- if we’re really lucky- doesn’t get freaked out by my mom’s off-key maiming of lyrics.
Just yesterday, I informed my back-bending, produce-juggling, circus freak of a friend that her services, by the grace of George Jones, would not be needed. Dakota Jay’s got it handled, I told her, and thank God for that. I hope you’ll take a minute to check out Dakota Jay’s awesome artistry and- if you’re in need of a cool, new friend- like his Facebook page! A big, big thank you to Dakota for adding the funk to this funky little wedding. I bet your mama told you that you were talented. Mine told me that a time or two. The difference? Your mama was really right.
EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT: Dakota Jay is set to release his debut, full-length album “The Time Is Right” the same month as The Very Bloggy Wedding. That’s April 2012, folks. To get involved in his creative process click here. To blow your speaker’s mind and listen to his hits on iTunes, click here.