Best Gig Ever: Jefferson Memorial

On May 9, 2013, in Events, News, by Magnolia Guitar

On Saturday, March 23, 2013 I performed, quite possibly, the best gig ever: The Thomas Jefferson National Memorial in Washington, DC.


Daniel Magnolia and the Best Man right before performing “Have I Told You Lately” at a wedding ceremony at The Jefferson Memorial

I was honored when one of my dear long-time friends asked me to perform at her wedding which was planned on the west lawn of the Jefferson Memorial. Both she and her husband had recently come back from Afghanistan and they were having a full military ceremony in true DC style!

The groom’s best man, a childhood friend, was going to sing at the ceremony to a backing track, but they couldn’t find one that wasn’t overly cheesy. So they asked me to support him performing “Have I Told You Lately” by Van Morrison, although the Rod Stewart version is usually more widely known.

Since the Best Man was in Florida, we had no way to practice until we met at the rehearsal, so we coordinated via the Internets! A couple of weeks out, I made a slightly uptempo arrangement of the song that the bride and best man loved. So I sent tracks of me singing it in various keys as an example and also a track without vocals that he could practice with on his own.

Finally, at the rehearsal, where we met for the first time ever, the Best Man and I had about 20-30 minutes to practice a little and coordinate where we’ll stand in relation to the bride and groom.

The wedding planner told me she could have a chair ready for me near the front. No stranger to performing, I politely told her I’ll just stand. However, the bride, in her unique Southern way, just said, “Dan doesn’t need a chair. He’s rock and roll!”

Daniel Magnolia soft-rocking it out to “Have I Told You Lately” at a wedding at The Jefferson Memorial

When the day of the wedding arrived it was unexpectedly cold and I’m glad I had wool gloves in my coat. I had planned on putting my guitar on a stand until ‘showtime’, but it was too windy and it would have fallen over. So I had to just hold onto it where I was waiting off to the side since I wasn’t actually in the wedding party.

The wedding programs.

The wedding programs.

The performance itself went great. It was hard for me to get closer to the bride and groom being tethered by the cable, so they didn’t get a chance to see me. But having been married for 8-years myself, I realize that the whole day is just a big blur for the bride and groom anyway, so its ok. But plenty of bystanders saw and heard me! I even saw a Tweet that recognized me (as the guy with the guitar).

One last thing I should mention. Since the bride was from Texas, I figured I’d plan a little extra surprise. At the end of the performance, I wanted to channel country legend Jimmie Rodgers, who famously had “THANKS” on the back of his guitar. When he was done singing, he’d flip it over for the audience. But instead of “Thanks” I placed “Just Married” on the back of my all-black Takamine that I usually use for teaching.

When we were done with the song, I flipped the guitar over and it got a good laugh out of the wedding guests! Totally worth it!

Daniel Magnolia channels country legend Jimmie Rodgers!

Daniel Magnolia channels country legend Jimmie Rodgers!

For some reason I couldn’t find a photo of Jimmie holding his own guitar, so here’s one of Texas Troubadour Ernest Tubb which is also quite appropriate.

All in all, I have to say that beating that gig is going to be hard!

But… I’m up to try! Where should I play next?


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