This weekend was Rod and Nicole’s wedding reception at the American Visionary Art Museum. The reception took place in the Tall Sculpture Barn, a former Four Roses whiskey warehouse. The life-size welded angel and alien chess set by Lyle Estill was moved out of the way, but guests gazed up at “The Seven Days of Creation” by William Thomas Thompson. An unseasonably early snowstorm put a damper on plans to hold cocktail hour in the outdoor sculpture garden, but everyone was happy to roll with the changes.
Following the wedding ceremony at the nearby National Aquarium, the guests arrived at the Museum and enjoyed delicious appetizers provided by Dionysus’ Kitchen Catering. Dionysus was an appropriate choice, as Rod’s passion for wine ensured that it was flowing freely all night!
During cocktails, we heard a mix of classic jazz, soul, and nu-jazz, starting with Cannonball Adderley and Miles Davis’ very appropriate “Autumn Leaves,” and running through John Coltrane’s “I’m Old Fashioned,” and Ella Fitzgerald’s “They Can’t Take that away from Me.” Also in the mix were Marvin Gaye’s “Mercy Mercy Me,” St. Germaine’s “Sure Thing,” and “I’m All Right,” by Madeleine Peyroux. A request for “the most romantic song ever recorded,” John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman’s “My One and Only Love,” was greeted with a cheer and a thumbs up when it was heard over the sound system.
Nicole’s friend Sheila took the microphone to talk about growing up together and more recently watching the happy couple grow together. Brother of the bride Tom told of his visits to Nicole in DC and offered a heartfelt toast and commented on their recent great adventure together: moving to the west coast. Sheila then directed Rod and Nicole to the dancefloor for their first dance. With big smiles on their faces, the couple danced to “Good to See You” by Neil Young, a surprise selection by Rod for his bride, who looked timeless and radiant in her wedding dress. A contrasting midnight blue wrap took the evening chill off in sophisticated and dramatic style.
Chef Paul Dongarra stepped up to the microphone to tell the guests about the dinner that he and his team had prepared and that it was going to be served family-style. The menu emphasized fresh and local ingredients and simple preparations. There was a mushroom soup, roasted cauliflower, fresh fish and lamb kabobs. It was a nice treat to hear from the chef, and the food was fabulous!
The second round of toasts featured Rod’s sister and his lifelong friend Dave. We heard about Rod’s childhood, his burgeoning career in the wine industry, and the couple’s move to the West Coast. Following the raising of glasses, Nicole and her father took the floor for a stately dance to “Flies on the Butter (You Can’t Go Home Again)” by The Judds. Rod and his mother then took a free spirited spin to “Days Like This” by Van Morrison.
We heard a few more tunes while everyone finished eating. Santo & Johnny’s “Sleep Walk” was one of several songs that elicited compliments from some of the passionate music fans in attendance. Once she and Rod had had a chance to speak to everyone, Nicole and her brother took the floor to dance to Pearl Jam’s live version of Otis Redding’s classic “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay.”
The dancefloor opened up with The Doobie Brothers’ “Long Train Runnin’.” The playlist stuck mostly to the 70s and 80s, with some newer tunes and remixes worked in to keep the dance floor energy high. We heard Neighbour and U Tern’s reworking of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition,” Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Down on the Corner,” and Adele’s “Rollin’ in the Deep (Cousin Cole remix).” Disco was definitely a favorite with the guests, as they boogied to The Rolling Stones’ “Miss You,” The Spinners’ “I’ll Be Around,” and our own Rockmaster Rus B.’s re-edit of Boz Scaggs’ “Lowdown.”
We took a brief interlude for the ceremonial cheesecake cutting, and for one more special dance: Nicole and her grandfather took the floor with “Dance Me to the End of Love” by Madeleine Peyroux.
The dancefloor got started up again with Charanga 76’s burning version of Chic’s “Good Times (Como Vamos A Gozar).” A lot of people got on the floor when they heard “Groove Is in the Heart” by Deee-Lite, which went into “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” The Gap Band. Some more classic funk came with Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give it Up.” We heard a great mix of old and new R&B with “Pony Up,” a fun remix of Lee Dorsey’s classic “Ride Your Pony,” Cee-Lo Green’s “Forget You,” Martha Reeves & the Vandellas’ “Dancing in the Street,” and Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman.”
A special request for a polka was met with “Hoop-Dee-Doo” by Frankie Yankovich, which got a lot of people kicking up their heels. We heard the new version of “Dreams” by Deep Dish featuring Stevie Nicks. The Hollies’ “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress” led into a wild singalong with “Satisfaction” by The Rolling Stones and a big buildup for “Proud Mary” by Ike & Tina Turner, blended with Wilson Pickett’s “Land of a Thousand Dances” (requested simply and accurately as “Na Na Na Na Na”).
As the end of the night all too quickly approached we heard the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ version of “Higher Ground” before going into the requested last song, “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” by Crosby, Stills & Nash. It was a really fun night in a special venue that reflected Rod & Nicole’s unique personal style and approach to their wedding day. And they were perfected matched with a group that knew how to have a good time. Congratulations to Rod and Nicole!