|Posted on April 28, 2014 at 3:50 PM|
Saturday - 4/26/2014 - Central Park: One of the great things about performing for marriage proposals that I could never have imagined is the treasure trove of side stories that I am amassing with each proposal. Often times they have nothing to do at all with the couple but the array of characters and situations I encounter leading up to the big moment. Saturday was certainly no exception. It had all the elements of a stand alone story.
Brendan found me on GigSalad. He was intending on proposing to his longtime girlfriend in Central Park as a precursor to a dinner with her parents at the Boat House. After careful deliberation he opted for the small hill situated in between the Hans Christian Andersen statue and the Boat House, a sort of non-descipt location but afforded her parents a good vantage point in which to witness the proposal. He chose the song "Something" by the Beatles, one of my personal favorites of the George Harrison compositions. When we first began discussions about how he wanted to do this it was originally going to be Billy Ryan, guitarist for Setting Suns among many other outfits and me. We were going to pretend to be busking in the park and they would happen upon us playing their song. But as discussions continued I mentioned that I have a band called Setting Suns (www.settingsunsroadhouseramble.com) and we all knew the song. This resonated with Brendan because he was interested in something resembling a full sound. So, Setting Suns were engaged to do the honors.
This was a first for me and for the Suns. Billy had a done a number of these proposals with me using his mandolin. But the full band had never been a consideration for my clients. All the guys were stoked to be asked to join in. Fast forward to the day of the engagement. It began as a beautiful sunny day but by the the time we started heading up to the Park it started raining. My neighbor/bass player and i hauled the generator, PA, mixing board, mic stand, cables etc. from 72nd & 5th to the site across from the Boat House, a short distance by any measure made so much longer with the pirates booty of equipment we had in tow. We were there over an hour early to see if a plan B was needed. Luckily we had one in place which was to scurry over to the atrium underneath the 72nd st. transverse. We waited and waited. Thankfully the skies smiled upon Brendan & Lizzie. The sun broke through and a rainbow even appeared for a short while. To be safe we waited until the very last moment to fire up the generator and set the gear up. Our other concern aside from the weather was the Parks Dept. and the NYPD. A squad car was idling right in front of the Boat House and we were obscured only by a tree in full bloom. They zoomed off without so much as a notice. We breathed a sigh of relief, for a moment.
It's now 7:11 and we were fully set up and quietly running through the song in advance of the couple arriving. As we were doing this one of the Parks Dept. finest stopped his cart, yanked up the emergency break and headed up to us. He asked about our permit to perform. We said we didn't have one and explained that a marriage proposal was about to take place. He was unmoved by the sentimentality of the impending moment and said we had to shut the generator off. We nervously obliged and then waited for him to be gone for about 5 minutes before powering back up. I checked my phone and the couple thankfully was 15 minutes away. They had just entered the park. The photographer, BJ Enright was situated on the rock across the path and gave me the thumbs up that they were on approach. As we launched into "Something" I was focused on the couple and delivering the song. Unbeknownst to me a character from out of Home Alone 2 emerged, huge overcoat flapping in the breeze, gyrating, ambled up to Aldo on percussion and Billy shrieking that we weren't allowed to play music in the park. Billy calmly and professionally and in hushed tones said a marriage proposal was underway. Unmoved she persisted and threatened to call the cops. Ultimately she walked away and the couple was none the wiser. They were none the wiser about any of the tense moments with the rain and parks department. There were a lot of firsts here and some challenges to overcome but overcome we did and delivered a great performance. The couple entered the Boat House to the sound of cheers. At the end of the day it was a major success and a template for how to arrange for the Suns to do a proposal is now clear.