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Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: 1RC] #1236330
07/24/09 02:10 AM
07/24/09 02:10 AM
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 828
Germany
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Piano Girl RMG Offline OP
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Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 828
Germany
Hi Greg— I have an unofficial rule about NEVER taking a boat gig. Unless you jump overboard and swim, you can't escape. What a night that must have been. No wonder the other keyboard player bailed (pun intended) on the job and moved out of state.

1RC—I'll look forward to your next wedding adventure. Good luck!

I've been out of town for awhile—in the city of Lyon, France—where my husband was picking up a new bass, crafted for him by luthier Jean Auray. Greg, on the trip down there we discussed many of your stories! John (husband) is no stranger to the SCREAMER.

Hope everyone is having a good summer. I'm back on the wedding scene this weekend. At this point in the year, all brides begin to look alike.


Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist
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Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG] #1238053
07/27/09 09:02 AM
07/27/09 09:02 AM
Joined: Dec 2004
Posts: 4,044
not in Japan anymore
ShiroKuro Offline
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not in Japan anymore
These are all great stories!! Only one question, why are they called "screamers"? Because it's screaming obvious they're not the band that was hired, or because when someone figures it out, they start screaming?


Started piano June 1999. My recordings at Box.Net:
https://app.box.com/s/j4rgyhn72uvluemg1m6u

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Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: ShiroKuro] #1238287
07/27/09 02:46 PM
07/27/09 02:46 PM
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 12
Whittier, California (suburb o...
Dave Gruber Offline
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Whittier, California (suburb o...
Hey. Fun to read! And notice how many scenarios sound familiar. I hadn't been called upon to play a wedding for some time. (I was busy playing for all my friends when they were getting married - now it looks like it might be time for me to start playing for their kid's weddings!) But a percussionist/drummer friend of mine asked me to play for his daughter's wedding.

The older brother of the bride would be singing a special song during the ceremony. It was to be "So Close", by Alan Menken, from the dance ball scene in the movie, "Enchanted". Beautiful song! I should have started practicing a couple of weeks in advance of playing it. I usually fake it well since I read/interpret chord symbols pretty well, but as I began practicing a week before the wedding, I saw that this 7 page piece really called for it being played pretty much note for note - especially the instrumental interlude which is sweeping and grandiose, with wonderful key changes. I worked my butt off to get that part right (like Piano Girl said?: the hourly rate was going down, down, down). I did rehearse with the brother of the bride the night before the wedding. I was still struggling with that interlude (AHHH!). I'm not a great reader, nor great with the big octave block chords moving all over the chromatic place.

Anyhow, I got there about an hour before, to a church that I had grown up in, and knew that in recent years they had changed the interior a lot. So when I got there. I discovered just how dark the sanctuary was. They'd painted almost everything black to promote a sort of theatre atmosphere for dramas and skits(?) (lovely atmosphere for a wedding, huh?) The old 7' Kawai that I'd played as a teen, was there and in decent tune. But it was back in a corner of the "stage" where hardly any light could find it. I set up my 7 pages of "So Close" and other incidental music. "So Close" was all taped together and strung out across the piano's music stand, since I fear the clam that might happen if I can't turn a page fast enough.

Now I notice that I'm not going to be able to see the music back in this dark corner! So I go looking for a music light and do find one. It's the type that you use on a Manhasset music stand, so it won't open up large enough to clamp onto the back of the music stand, which is about 3/8" thich wood (glossy black, of course). I'm desparate, so I find a way to modify the light's clamp (read: "bend"). Once this is mounted, I still can only read music that's right in front of me, so I call my 17 year old son, who is home, THANKFULLY, and ask him to bring my gig case down to me with several lights in it for when I lead a jazz band. Fortunately, we only live about 15 minutes away from this church. Whew! But time is running out! He gets there with about 15 -20 minutes until starting time, and I get it all set up: Three lights and a fair amount of scotch tape.

Oh, I forgot to say that the song was to be a surprise to the bride on the spot. She didn't know what her brother had picked out. I was blessed with a wedding coordinator who DID NOT have a clip board, thankfully. She was pretty easy going.
The special song went off quite well, with only a small weakness during that interlude. The bride was surprised and loved the song. My surprise (besides the darkness) was that it had to have been the shortest wedding I'd ever played at just about 25 minutes total. Never got to congratulate the bride, but the groom said he liked the piano playing, and my friend, the father of the bride, liked it and (having gigged enough himself) knew to have the money ready for me in cash.

Dave Gruber, Southern California (no gators! Have Suburban will travel. But not to audition!) www.giocoso.org

Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Dave Gruber] #1238662
07/28/09 03:08 AM
07/28/09 03:08 AM
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 828
Germany
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Piano Girl RMG Offline OP
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Posts: 828
Germany
Dave!

Great story! Thanks so much for posting this. We all have similar stories but the black hole church isn't one I've heard before. Well done.

Never ever audition for the gig. That's one of my rules.

Castle wedding update: I had to deal with the Chinese soprano from heck over the weekend. She was wearing one of those crazy-lady straw hats, with flowers pinned to it, the kind of hat that always spells trouble. Wedding was on Saturday, and the singer wanted to start warming up on Friday night DURING my steady gig, with me playing for her warm-up session. Madame had hired another accompanist to play for her during the ceremony the next day—she just wanted me to be her rehearsal pianist the night before, never mind that I had a castle full of regular guests who were not interested in hearing scales, arpeggios, and an impossibly high version of "Summertime."

Sometimes I swear these singers see a pianist and immediately think SERVANT.

Anyway, she threw her music on the piano and said something rude to me like, "YOU PLAY WARM UP." I smiled and said, "I don't read music," which is a lie, but it got me out of the situation and saved the sanity of my co-workers and guests who were not into hearing a glass shattering version of "Ave Maria" during the Friday night cocktail hour.

The banquet manager sent her down to a rehearsal piano in the bowels of the castle, where she played for herself and nearly caused the members of the housekeeping staff to lose their minds.


Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist
Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG] #1238856
07/28/09 11:13 AM
07/28/09 11:13 AM
Joined: Sep 2007
Posts: 334
New York City
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gdguarino Offline
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New York City
Originally Posted by Piano Girl RMG
Dave!

Sometimes I swear these singers see a pianist and immediately think SERVANT.

I think that that attitude toward musicians, while perhaps less widespread than it once was, is hardly limited to singers. We are often categorized with "the help"; in places where the help are treated with some respect, we will likely be also. On the other hand...

There's a certain place we've played quite a few times over the years. It's a nice place; even a little quirky, not "cookie cutter" at all. I think they've loosened up a tad, maybe they got new owners or management along the way, but in the beginning it was like working in a prison.

They had a printed set of regulations for musicians, florists, DJs and anyone else that came into the building. The bandleader has to sign it. It was two pages long. One of the most annoying rules was the requirement that we be dressed in our "uniforms" (tuxes), even while carrying our gear.

As bad as that sounds, it's worse. One of the more popular rooms there is a glass-ceilinged atrium. It's on ground level, and there's a door at one end that leads right to the outside; perfect for loading in. Naturally, we were not allowed to use that door.

We were told instead to use the service entrance around back. As the place is built into a hillside, "around back" is actually at least one level up from the atrium room, and at the polar opposite point in the building.

Is that all? Of course not.

Here's the route. (I haven't been there in a couple of years, but it's burned into my memory)
In the back door, down the long slippery tile hallway
Down 4 steps to the upper level kitchen
Turn left.
Down a flight of stairs maybe 3 feet wide to the ground level kitchen.
Down another flight of stairs (a little wider) to the lower level dining room.
[The attentive reader may have noticed that we, having started on the upper level, have now descended to a point lower than the atrium.]
Walk through lower level catering room, turn right, go up a flight of stairs into the lobby.
Fight way through crowd in lobby, turn left into atrium.

On practically every surface in the service corridors there were signs, rules, warnings and video cameras, there to prevent theft, inefficiency and most normal forms of human behavior. Those were mostly for the kitchen help and wait-staff, but the tone was clear.

Even in places where the management is more accommodating, there is rarely much thought given to getting the musicians in and out of the place. I think that the building codes must actually have clauses that specify exemptions for any spaces that musicians might travel through. Stairways can be narrower, ceilings lower, steps steeper, floors slipperier, lights dimmer and directional signs are not required. In addition, corridors whose secondary function as emergency exits would normally prohibit them from being obstructed, can be used to store carts of glassware, hot coffee urns, wedding cakes, and any other bulky, delicate or dangerous items that may be handy.

We just played in a place that was something out of Spinal Tap. The actual party room was beautiful; recently and tastefully renovated. But the route to the room from the subterranean parking garage was through a rabbit-warren of corridors, storerooms and kitchen prep areas. I've got a pretty good sense of direction but made wrong turns on each trip to and from my car, even after I had found the room once.

Our bass player came in with white powder all over the top of his bass bag and on the shoulders of his black shirt. He carries his bass (electric) like a backpack. He's maybe 6' tall and the top of the bass is a few inches above that, but certainly low enough to get through standard doors. There was apparently a low pipe in a dark corridor that was covered with white spray-on insulation.

The most shocking thing about the place was that there were six sets of outlets along the wall behind where we were to play; Six sets of modern-looking, working outlets, placed almost as if someone had thought about the possibility of musicians occupying that area.

Nah. Probably just the contractor padding the job. smirk


Greg Guarino
Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: gdguarino] #1239180
07/28/09 07:25 PM
07/28/09 07:25 PM
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 12
Whittier, California (suburb o...
Dave Gruber Offline
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Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 12
Whittier, California (suburb o...
Yeah. Fairly common stuff. Though your stories, Greg, show how extreme it can get. And then, occasionally, you get hired by someone to do a party, or some casual, and there's this wealthy individual there who tells you he used to play drums in such-and-such a band, and he's made sure you can park close, have a clear pathway to get your gear in and out. And most important of all, knows that you will play better, and with bigger smiles if he makes sure that you and your bandmates have a nice 30-40 minute break with the same wonderful food that the guests are enjoying. Complete with compliments about how good you are sounding (provided you are). No really. I have had this happen, on occasion. No REALLY.

Dave Gruber


Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Dave Gruber] #1239763
07/29/09 02:48 PM
07/29/09 02:48 PM
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 828
Germany
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Piano Girl RMG Offline OP
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Posts: 828
Germany
Yes, Dave, I believe you, I do, I do! It's important to remember that nice gigs exist. In fact, if I didn't have a fair number of good gigs, the goofy ones wouldn't seem so, well, goofy.

I have a lot of luck with gay weddings. For whatever reason, these events seem to be pleasant and classy and I'm treated well. Tuned piano, great food, no hysterical woman in a puffy white dress, and no clipboard lady. Easy.


Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist
Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Dave Gruber] #1240201
07/30/09 06:12 AM
07/30/09 06:12 AM
Joined: Sep 2007
Posts: 334
New York City
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gdguarino Offline
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New York City
It's hard to know how you'll come off in print, but the stories I've told here were selected for their entertainment potential, not to present a balanced picture. The absurdities are funnier than the run-of-the-mill stuff.

We usually get along OK with the staff and clients, usually get fed and are sometimes even surprised by how nice people can be. But who wants to read that? (kidding)

Here's something that hasn't come up yet: The dreaded list. Sometimes people having a party will write a list of the music they want you to play. Our former wedding band once got a list that was several pages long, nearly 100 songs. Notwithstanding Robin's German Wedding Marathons, here in the U.S. the marriage might not last through 100 songs.

Even when the list is of a more realistic length, it's seldom a roadmap for a successful party. People pick all their favorite songs, even if 75% of them are at dirge tempo, or are otherwise unsuitable for a party. Tell us you love Motown. Tell us Uncle Phil used to know "Frank". Tell us the overseas relatives want a Polka. But after that, leave it to us. We're (almost) professionals. Don't try this at home.


Greg Guarino
Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: gdguarino] #1240412
07/30/09 02:07 PM
07/30/09 02:07 PM
Joined: Dec 2004
Posts: 4,044
not in Japan anymore
ShiroKuro Offline
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ShiroKuro  Offline
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Joined: Dec 2004
Posts: 4,044
not in Japan anymore
Not to complain about sopranos... but...

I am currently back in grad school (not in music) and am allowed to use the practice rooms here on my college campus. The facilities are not too bad, all things considered. But the rooms are not sound proof, and you can often here people around you practicing. Usually, I don't mind that, especially since once you start to play, you can't really hear anything else besides yourself. With the exception of... sopranos! Something about the range they sing it, you pretty much can not tune it out no matter what you do.

Listening to anyone practice is generally not fun, but listening to a soprano practice wierd scales that sound like a dying cat is easily one of the most unpleasant things I can think of. Have you ever heard a soprano warm up by bending all the way over at the waist and slowing rolling up as she sqeezes out air from the top of her head? If you can say no, count yourself lucky!

The only saving grace is that, it seems the singers don't tend to be up early in the morning, so I generally am in and out of the practice rooms before lunch time and can usually avoid them.

Sorry for that thread-drift! Back to the wedding stories!! smile


Started piano June 1999. My recordings at Box.Net:
https://app.box.com/s/j4rgyhn72uvluemg1m6u

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Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: ShiroKuro] #1244042
08/05/09 12:17 PM
08/05/09 12:17 PM
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 828
Germany
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Piano Girl RMG Offline OP
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Posts: 828
Germany
There's a film called THE WEDDING PLANNER. maybe there should be one called THE WEDDING PIANIST. Imagine the possibilities.




Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist
Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG] #1245682
08/08/09 08:11 AM
08/08/09 08:11 AM
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 828
Germany
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Piano Girl RMG Offline OP
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Posts: 828
Germany
Okay, my friends . . . here is a piece I've been working on for my next book. It will be a year by the time it's published, and by then you will have forgotten it, plus I will have rewritten it 14,000 times. But I've been inspired by all of your posts. This is a fleshed out version of a gig I wrote about back in June. Hope you enjoy it!

xoxo
Robin


The Tattooed Bride
Cologne, Germany
©2009 Robin Meloy Goldsby


The rain stops. I jump out of my car and my feet skid in the mud. The hem of my raspberry-colored silk chiffon gown catches in the heels of my gold sandals and I almost take a tumble. I bought these shoes at Bergdorf Goodman twenty years ago. They've held up quite nicely through dozens of Manhattan chase-the-taxi dashes and decades of marble hotel floors, but they weren't designed to handle last minute scurries through swamps in the German countryside. I regain my balance by grabbing the door handle of a snappy silver Mercedes sedan—not mine—wipe the goop off of my shoes with a couple of dead leaves, and do the little-old-lady-don't-wanna-fall walk through the parking marsh lot.

I've been to this castle before, but I've never played here. It's not my regular castle, but a lesser castle, situated in a small forest ten minutes from where I live. It's five minutes before six, and I'm scheduled to play for a wedding dinner at six sharp. I've never figured out why it's so difficult to be punctual for a gig that's this close to home, but that's the way it goes.

It starts to sprinkle again just as I'm onto the cobblestone sidewalk, which is even more hazardous than the muck. Affecting an elegant gait while traversing a cobblestone path in stiletto heels can be, well, troublesome. A yellow brick road, it's not. At last I see the castle, looming in the mist, in exactly the way a castle is supposed to loom. I've been in Germany for fourteen years, and I still thrill to the sight of these old chateaus.

But something is amiss. This castle is kind of funky. For one thing, it's pink. I have a moment of Brothers Grimm-induced panic, but recover when my heel sticks between a couple of stones and I'm darn near catapulted into a patch of stinging nettles. I recover, smooth my rain-ruined hair, and proceed. Clusters of casually dressed people lounge in the front garden. They're wearing t-shirts, shorts, and synthetic-fiber sundresses in peculiar shades of green and orange, and they're draped over benches and tables and each other, almost as if they're sleeping. Really, it looks a little like a Jim Jones purple kool-aid kind of scene, but I hear one or two of them snort, so I know they are not dead.

Must be another party, I think. A lot of these castle places are like American banquet halls, capable of hosting several celebrations at once. But these folks, slumped and silent, don't look like they're celebrating anything. I hobble past them—why don't they go inside to get out of the rain?—and hear someone snicker. I glance over my shoulder and see a couple of scary looking guys with shaved heads staring at me. Maybe skinheads, maybe not. I don't care, I just want to find the piano.

I'm greeted by an elegant man in a tuxedo. He's handsome, James Bondish in a Sean Connery way, minus the height and the martini glass.

"Good evening Frau Goldsby," he says.

"You must be Mr. Dinkledein," I say.

"Yes! So nice of you to be with us tonight. Our guests are outside enjoying the fresh air. The bride has been kidnapped in the woods—it's some sort of Bavarian game the bride's family insisted on playing. Her kidnappers should return her soon."

"What fun!" I say. And I thought American catholic weddings were weird.

"I'm so hoping you'll play the Pachelbel Canon in D for us, before we start dinner. I heard it on one of your CDs and I adore that piece."

"What a lovely choice," I say. "I'll be glad to play it." I am up to my eyeballs in Pachelbel this season. Every bridal party wants it, and every bridal party thinks they are the first to request it.

"I will gather everyone for dinner, and once they are seated, I will introduce you. After the Pachelbel, the buffet will open, and I'd like you to switch to background music at that point."

"That's a great idea." I glance at the piano. This handsome man in the expensive suit has rented a beautiful Bösendorfer concert grand for the evening. It's worth 75,000 euros, and for tonight, it's all mine. My goodness.

"The technician was here this afternoon. The instrument is in good shape."

"Wonderful," I say. "I can't remember the last time—"

A shriek from the garden cuts off the rest of my sentence.

"There's my wife!" says Mr. Dinkldein.

I look out the front door and there she is, indeed. The blushing bride, Frau Dinkledein—all 300 pounds of her—is galloping down the cobblestone path towards the yellow castle, chased by a gaggle of tuxedo-clad men with shaved heads. Really, she is moving at an amazing speed for someone her size. Obviously she is not wearing stilettos. But she is wearing a whiter than white taffeta strapless full-length dress, which she has hiked up around her, uh, substantial thighs.

"Wow," I say.

"Isn't she something?" says Herr Dinkledein. He is beaming. We stand shoulder to shoulder, nodding at Frau Dinkledein, who truly resembles a charging bull in a Vera Wang plus-sized dress.

"I guess the kidnappers didn't nab her," I say.

"Oh," he says. "She's way too much woman for those guys to catch."

I'll say.

The lounging people in the park, the ones dressed in orange and green, begin to cheer. Oh no, it can't be. But yes, they are the guests. The corpulent bride and the shrunken James Bond groom have invited a bunch of German rednecks to their wedding. And I've got to play the gig.

"I'll call everyone to dinner," says Herr Dinkledein.

"I'll check the piano," I say. The piano is perfect. Exquisite, in fact. I retreat to the foyer and wait to be introduced.

***

I call it the Pachelbel moment. It doesn't always happen, but when it does, it's magic. People love this piece of music, and I admit, I love playing it. For a musician this is like confessing to a Twinkie addiction, but what can I say? In spite of my rolled eyes and tortured not that piece again proclamations, I dig playing it. It's neither difficult nor boring, categories into which most pieces of music fall. I can tart it up or dress it down, play it long or short, big or small (I like small), and still everyone recognizes it. When they hear the Canon in D they do that little smiling-nodding thing that makes me feel validated.

The guests plop into their chairs.

"We are honored to have Frau Goldsby with us tonight," say Herr Dinkledein. He continues with his speech and I take in the small crowd gathered for the nuptial dinner. There are about six large round tables, each one holding eight guests. The skinheads and their dates are to my right. The dates have big hair, big boobs, and piercings in places that make me squirm. The men have no hair and tattoos.

So. Pachelbel it is. As I play the opening cadence I look to the table on my left. They are very close to the piano and I notice that several of them, no, all of them, have a wart problem. What's with that?

Skinheads on the right. The warted people on the left. I close my eyes and play. This piano is a dream come true, so I enter Pianoland and focus on the music.

As I start the familiar sixteenth note section of the melody I open my eyes hoping for the smile-nod thing from the audience. But no one smiles and no one nods. One of the skinheads cracks his knuckles. And then, the mother of the groom gets up to dance. With her dog. Der Hund. I keep playing.

The dog is not one of those little rat dogs. He is a mid-sized dog with floppy ears, and he probably weighs a good 50 pounds. The groom's mother, who is wearing a green sequined frock, sways back in forth with Fido. Everyone ignores her. But to me, this is something special. I once had a singing dog (at the better castle) who howled whenever I played selections from Phantom of the Opera, but a dancing dog? This is a first.

The zombie guests stare into space as I begin improvising.

The bride's back is to me, and because of the strapless dress and the chair, she looks like she's naked. Why oh why would anyone with biceps that size wear a strapless dress? Maybe she couldn't find sleeves to fit. A large dragonfly tattoo colors her right shoulder.

This piano sings! What an instrument. The notes are like jewels, or stars, or any fine thing that glitters.

The paint on the walls is cracked and peeling, and I notice the crystal chandelier is missing a few pieces. More than a few. This place is run down—charming, but seedy. Except for this piano, which is as they say in German, der Hammer. I play the last chord of the Canon and let it ring. Gorgeous!

Considering the comatose state of everyone except the woman dancing with the dog, I'm not expecting much applause, but one of the skinheads stands up and yells, YEOW!!!!! and makes a hooting sound while pumping his fist. All of the skinheads pound on the table with their silverware. The groom stands to make another speech.

"I am moved to tears by this music," he says. "That was beautiful. And now, dinner is served." All fifty guests, led by the warted people, rush to the buffet. The bride makes a beeline for the piano. I've never seen someone so large move so quickly, except maybe in a Pittsburgh Steelers game. Franco Harris comes to mind.

"FABELHAFT!!!" she yells at me. She has buck teeth, with wide spaces between them. I remember one of my dad's jokes about a girl eating an apple through a picket fence. She slaps me on the back and says, "Sie sind echt cooooool!" Another back slap.

Really, it's like the German version of Hee-Haw in this place.

One of the skinheads, the knuckle cracker, approaches the piano. "Can you play something by the Backstreet Boys?" he asks. I'm reminded of Jimmy Ciongoli, a pianist friend of my mine, who—when asked to play a Black Sabbath piece on the piano—looked the customer right in the eye and said, "What the [censored]'s wrong with you?"

I want to say this, but I am poofy and polite and wearing 200-dollar shoes and a nice dress. So I smile and say: "I'm terribly sorry, but I don't know any Backstreet Boys music."

Crack, crack, crack. The skinhead glares at me, and tugs at his orange t-shirt.

"Those are wonderful tattoos," I say.

Crack.

"Fresh ink," he says. "Got them for the wedding."

"Very, very nice," I say. "Lovely! Look at that. I've never seen a tattoo of a wild boar!"

Crack, crack.

There are two types of people in this world, those who run away from needles, and those who crave them. He smiles sadly, like he feels sorry for me, and walks away. I can hear his knuckles from all the way across the room.

I put on my don't bother me I'm an artist face and try to get back to Pianoland, that place where nothing counts but the music, but I'm interrupted by a warted person who wants to sing. I'm interrupted by the bride's mother, who wants to know if her dog can sleep under the piano. I'm interrupted by the groom, who tells me again and again how he can't stop crying when he hears my music.

But I play and play, until the guests have eaten themselves into an even deeper state of unconsciousness. The room grows quiet, except for the occasional shriek of laughter coming from the bride's table, the cracking knuckles, and the gentle snoring of the dog at my feet. I play a Debussy Arabesque, fully aware that I'm playing well, and equally aware that no one cares. There are no wrong notes on this piano, no shadows or sharp corners, only sparkling light and the rounded edges of the instrument's warm tones.

I glance through the French doors leading into the overgrown rose garden and see the muted colors of the early summer evening—soft pinks and lavenders, a garden's version of a sunset. I see the once glorious history of the castle in the rough stone walls surrounding the castle property; the majestic red maple trees towering over the crumbling gatehouse. And then I see the bride's brother barfing in the bushes.

So much for the Debussy. I keep playing, but I've lost my groove. I don't want to look at the barfing man, but I can't stop myself from staring. No one in the dining room can see him, but the piano is angled so that I have a bird's eye view of the action.

I’m not a snob, really I'm not. I have played for the great unwashed plenty of times and have truly enjoyed myself. But the barfing man pushes me a step too far. I am confused by this event. Classy groom, Hee-Haw bride; kidnappings and green and orange outfits; skinheads and people with warts; mother of the bride with a dancing dog; and a man doing his version of the Technicolor yawn right there in the garden.

I feel a tap on my shoulder. "Guten Abend, Frau Goldsby. As soon as you finish, I'll start my part of the program."

"Oh," I say. "Fine. What do you do?"

"I'm a magician," he says. The dog starts to growl from under the piano.

"So," I say, playing one last chord. "Have a great evening. It's all yours."

I say a silent goodbye to the magnificient Bösendorfer, collect the envelope of cash left for me in the caterer's office, and step into the June twilight, avoiding the rose garden and following the cobblestone path. The rain has stopped and the air smells green and silvery.

Other than making a living, I wonder what I'm doing with my life. Making music? Oh. That.

From the parking lot, I hear the sounds of a Backstreet Boys recording. The mud has dried, so I dance back to my car, wondering how many centuries of magic this castle has witnessed, and how much of it cast a spell worth remembering.














Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist
Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG] #1246047
08/09/09 02:45 AM
08/09/09 02:45 AM
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Posts: 334
New York City
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gdguarino Offline
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Originally Posted by Piano Girl RMG
I have played for the great unwashed plenty of times and have truly enjoyed myself. But the barfing man pushes me a step too far.


I can't remember what sort of function it was; I doubt it was a wedding, but it was certainly a formal affair. The place was, and is still, called Terrace on the Park, a remnant of the 1964 New York World's Fair. It looks a bit like a giant table, a restaurant perched on four 100 foot tall supports. Back in 1964 the restaurant floor rotated and there was a heliport on the roof. The old World's Fair site is now called Flushing Meadows Park.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/wandy-1d/2063677175/

The restaurant is now stationary and there are no more helicopters, but the place still has a terrific view, at least most of the time.

The band had set up and we were waiting for the guests to arrive. A couple of us were looking out the window toward Manhattan. People were starting to park their cars in the lot below us. One car drove up and parked maybe 400 feet from the hall, next to an area of bushes, reeds and small trees. Out came two couples - young - late teens or early twenties. They were dressed for the occasion; the girls in colorful frilly gowns, the guys in suits.

About halfway to the hall the guys broke off and headed into the bushes, leaving their dates at the edge of the lot. We wondered about this, quickly settling on the idea that the guys probably brought some of nature's bounty with them and had stopped to smoke it.

Nope.

Dressed in suits and a half a city block from a building that probably housed no fewer than 30 bathrooms, these guys felt the need to relieve themselves al fresco.

Fiction is no match for reality.

Greg Guarino


Greg Guarino
Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: gdguarino] #1246213
08/09/09 12:14 PM
08/09/09 12:14 PM
Joined: Apr 2006
Posts: 368
USA
DeepElem Offline
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USA
Fantastic writing Robin !
Thank you for posting this here.
Can't wait for the book.


------
If you knew what you were doing, you'd probably be bored.
- Fresco's Law
Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: DeepElem] #1246253
08/09/09 01:29 PM
08/09/09 01:29 PM
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Posts: 828
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Piano Girl RMG Offline OP
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Thanks, DeepElem/Buck! Glad you enjoyed the story. As Greg pointed out, you can't make up this stuff. This piece will be more refined by the time it's published, but I'm glad to hear you're digging the first draft.

Greg, I know Terrace on the Park. My husband played a bunch of gigs there when we were still in NYC. There was often SQUAB on the menu, and John used to joke about the waiters being forced to round up pigeons in Flushing Meadow Park when the restaurant was running low on food.

"86 on the chicken, Guido. Time to start serving the SQUAB. Harry, get a couple of nets to the busboys."




Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist
Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG] #1246369
08/09/09 05:25 PM
08/09/09 05:25 PM
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 1,663
NY
Elssa Offline
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Hi Robin,

Thanks so much for posting this - also can't wait for the whole book to come out! I'm still smiling/laughing at all the shenanigans you describe! My goodness, what you have to put up with! smile eek

Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Elssa] #1247246
08/11/09 11:08 AM
08/11/09 11:08 AM
Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 4,805
San Jose, CA
Jeff Clef Offline
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San Jose, CA
""FABELHAFT!!!" she yells at me. She has buck teeth, with wide spaces between them. I remember one of my dad's jokes about a girl eating an apple through a picket fence. She slaps me on the back and says..."

Thanks for the preview, Robin! Just when I thought I'd heard it all. I'll be looking forward to your new book--- let's hope these wedding people never find out about it.

Some of your phrases just stick with me; there was that other wedding misadventure that had "a major problem with wasps." You may not know it, but as a hiker I have learned that wasps do not care for cologne. It was dramatized by the morning that wasps were disturbed and took off after the one hiker out of thirty who had drenched himself in Eau de Cologne. Half-a-mile, a whole mile, down the home stretch to the parking lot, they avenged themselves. It was lucky he proved not to be allergic. It was lucky a bridesmaid's dress and pumps were not involved.

It looks like your first book has stuck to someone I lent it to, so I guess I'll have to replace it while I get your current one and look forward to the upcoming.

The music for the prison wedding ceremony is another hard-to-forget moment, but we'll let it go for now.

I had to withdraw my own wedding story; it was too dark for this lighthearted collection.

Thanks again for the preview.


Clef

Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Jeff Clef] #1248315
08/13/09 07:37 AM
08/13/09 07:37 AM
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Germany
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Piano Girl RMG Offline OP
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Hi Jeff! I'd say we could use a couple of dark stories on this thread, so please post whatever you've got. And thanks for the wasp tip. No more Chanel No. 5 for me. Maybe I should try a can of RAID.

I LOVE that prison wedding chapter in Piano Girl (for those of you who don't know it, I once was talked into playing for a wedding on Rikers Island), so I'm glad you remember it! It's my favorite part of the book. That story is 100% true, by the way, but I had to change the names and some identifying details to protect, well, ME.

Here's the moral of THAT story: Never ever play for the wedding of a man who is serving 25 years to life (NY Post headline over his picture: COKE KING KONKED) even if his fiancée is a good friend.

Hi Elssa! Thanks for the encouragement. I'm in the beginning stages of this project and it's nice to a have you on my side of the piano bench.

xoxo
Robin


Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist
Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG] #1249808
08/15/09 12:33 PM
08/15/09 12:33 PM
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Posts: 1,663
NY
Elssa Offline
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NY
Hi Robin,

Well, here's sort of a "dark story".. My friend used to play in a professional wedding/dance band. One time the band was hired to play for the wedding reception of two members of a very conservative church. As they were playing at the reception, they saw that nobody was getting up and dancing, just sitting there stone faced, listening to the music. When the band leader finally asked the people why they were not dancing, they replied that the church did not allow dancing because it was evil! The band was so insulted, they walked out. Don't know if the church members hired a dance band by mistake or they were just trying to make a point, but I don't blame the band for calling it quits on that event. shocked

Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: Piano Girl RMG] #1250139
08/16/09 01:26 AM
08/16/09 01:26 AM
Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 796
Massachusetts
rustyfingers Offline
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OK, Robin I really did laugh out loud at this:
Originally Posted by Piano Girl RMG

I glance through the French doors leading into the overgrown rose garden and see the muted colors of the early summer evening—soft pinks and lavenders, a garden's version of a sunset. I see the once glorious history of the castle in the rough stone walls surrounding the castle property; the majestic red maple trees towering over the crumbling gatehouse. And then I see the bride's brother barfing in the bushes.


Not where I thought you were going with this paragraph at all. What a hoot!

Elssa, I was at a wedding with this same religious group, I think. The bride was a college friend of mine (we sang together). She and her fiance were doctors, and had been living together for some time, and I was a little shocked to realize her parents didn't know that. I had no idea before the wedding that her father (who looked a lot like Fred Flinstone) was incredibly strict. They belonged to a church that did not allow dancing. He and her mom spent the evening with scowls on their faces. Why?

In large part because the groom's mother, a beautiful redhead with legs borrowed from Cyd Charisse, was cutting quite a rug in her floating flaired chiffon skirt. She was a former chorus girl.

Yes, the families found out quite a bit about each other that night...


If I had ever learnt, I should have been a great proficient.
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Re: Let's Talk Weddings [Re: rustyfingers] #1250251
08/16/09 10:24 AM
08/16/09 10:24 AM
Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 4,805
San Jose, CA
Jeff Clef Offline
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Well now, Fred Flintstone was not such a bad-looking fellow... and Wilma was no woodchuck. But I sense a dark, seething ocean of ulterior motives in this scene you described. Fred likes Cyd but doesn't want Wilma to catch on; Wilma does, though and intends to keep Cyd as far from Fred as she can (she has a leash and collar in her purse and she's not afraid to use it). And the kids express both sets of parents' unconscious, know it or not. Besides, who knows what storms of forbidden passion may be churning the waters behind Wilma's scowling demeanor--- that frown could very well be a "beard." It's presence is suspicious in more than one sense.

Meanwhile, Cyd knows all about Fred, and Cyd's husband is tolerantly amused and somewhat gratified that everyone's eye is on his beautiful wife; he's used to it, and when they dance the tango he understands how to show her off to her best advantage. It's part of the fun of their marriage, and anyone watching can get as fired-up as they like; he knows she's coming home with daddy. He's looking forward to the rhumba contest at the reception; the band has been primed--- and well-tipped.

And the Wedding March plays on.

I can picture some very colorful future family scenes, and I wonder which branch of the family the grandkids will take after. I hope the young marrieds both have Living Wills... and pre-nups.


Clef

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