David Royko Psy.D

david@davidroyko.com

New Grass Revival -- The World's Greatest Wedding Band

From the Bela Fleck usenet newsgroup, January 7, 1998:
“Maybe someday David Royko will come up with the videos from his wedding.”

In case people wonder what that’s all about...

When Karen (another hard-core New Grass Revival/New Acoustic Music fan--our second date was a NGR show) and I got married in May of 1986, we did our own "fantasy wedding" (we called it "Wedstock"). It was out doors at a little summer cottage my family used to have on Bohners Lake (yep, pronounced how you’d want to to elicit giggles), Wisconsin. There was a deck that jutted out over the lawn that sloped down to the lake. We had a tent set up, and NGR set up under the tent. After trying to convince friends and family that they HAD to come to Holstein's (Chicago) whenever NGR played there (twice a year through the '80s, with Jethro Burns as opening act and sitting in on encores, for Pete's sake!!!), and having most of them think I had gotten really weird in my musical taste (banjo?!? Mandolin?!?) and never showing up, it was the best way to force NGR on them.

My mother-in-law (at the time, "to be"), who needs no assertiveness training, figured that, since they were going to be the wedding band, they should not mind honoring a few requests from her for Jewish wedding songs. So, after the band arrived, Bela took them into a bedroom and taught them four terrific Andy Statman tunes, which they did a great job with, and performed one time only at the wedding. To be fair, I hit them with requests a month or so before the wedding, but at least mine came from their repertoire!

So, we had our ceremony lakeside, and for the recessional music, as soon as the "I now pronounce you husband and wife" and kiss happened, they launched into Bela's "Eager and Anxious." Now try and beat that for a recessional!

Then came dinner, and after that, with everyone in chairs (we made it a small wedding--69 people total) facing the deck, the New Grass boys did a great ninety-minute set. And though there was no dance floor, Karen and I (and her parents) squeezed in two dances right in front of the band, one fast to a Statman tune, the other a slow dance to "Sweet Release." And Pat Flynn was a hysterical MC (no surprise).

I also made sure that I gave strict instructions to the video guy, knowing that typical wedding videographers would wander around, focusing on the guests, cut in and out, etc. -- "Here's what you're going to do during their set. You are setting up a tripod, and you are going to forget this is a wedding, and you are going to get every second of this band's show on video." And, except for an occasional audience shot here and there, he did it. And Richard taped it onto audio cassette off the board, which was nice.

The next day, Karen and I hopped Amtrak out to the Washington DC area to hear Bela do two "Banjo Jazz" gigs, in Baltimore and at the Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia, for our honeymoon (taped the Birchmere show). These were with Mark Schatz, Kirby Shelstad ("Inroads" vibes player), Tom Roady (percussion) and Kenny Malone (drums).

And next time New Grass Revival came through town, I counted 39 people from our wedding in attendance. Our plan worked. That was the great thing about NGR. Every person was blown away, from the 14-year-old to the great grandmother, the metalheads to the jazz lovers and classicalheads.

Anyway, that was our wedding.
 
Dave Royko
New Grass Revival at the Miller/Royko wedding, May 18, 1986, Bohners Lake, Wisconsin.
From left: Bela Fleck, Sam Bush, John Cowan, Pat Flynn. Photo by Fran Kapp.


Music Rambles
Music Rambles