On Friday, September 18th, I found myself at a wedding for which I hadn't specifically been invited. This came about because I had purchased tickets to see one of my favorite artists in concert at First Avenue, unaware of the nuptials to take place during the concert. Lucinda Williams was to begin celebrating her 30th anniversary of her recording career right here in our town! While I was a little skeptical about a wedding situated between the main and encore sets of a concert, being able to see the concert to kick off what is essentially a retrospective of Lucinda Williams' work up to this point was exciting.
Williams began the concert with blues standards, which she sang while accompanying herself on acoustic guitar, and worked her way chronologically through her albums. She talked about being rejected by rock labels for being too country while being rejected by country labels for being a rocker and about how it felt to be playing "Americana" before the genre had even been invented. Sometimes, however, there is an advantage to entering a market at its inception, and Lucinda Williams remarkable 30 years of recording music certainly exemplifies how this is true. By the time she got to the Essence album, it was pretty obvious that Lucinda Williams was most in her element when she was completely rocking out, and the concert remained at that pitch until Lucinda Williams in her unusually formal attire stood alone on the stage with her guitar.
Hank Williams, Lucinda Williams informed the audience, had been married on stage, and she and her beau Tom Overby reckoned that, if it had been good enough for Hank, it was good enough for them. Furthermore, she had recently had the opportunity to write a song with Hank Williams. Bob Dylan had in his possession, it turned out, some Hank Williams lyrics that had never been set to music and had invited Williams to compose music for them, and now she was standing on a stage getting married (as her idol had done), singing the Hank Williams' lyrics to the music she had written. Her poet father Miller Williams, who was very old south in his comportment, took the stage, lending a bit of sobriety to a situation where beer bottle toasts and hoots from the audience competed with the proceedings and reading his most anthologized poem The Caterpillar, a poem to which 7 year old Lucinda's contribution was the last line. The wedding was short, the vows were punctuated with laughter, and Tom Overby took up a guitar to join the band for the encore. The concert concluded perfectly with a fantastic cover of AC/DC's "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)".
Without question, this was the most unusual and festive wedding I had ever attended. Barring "extreme" weddings you've seen featured on "reality" shows or perhaps Tiny Tim's marriage to Miss Vicki on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, what was the most unusual wedding you've ever attended? Or perhaps your wedding, if you have been married, qualifies for the distinction.
* NPR All Songs Considered blog w/photos: Lucinda Williams Gets Married On Stage