an american band ... in mexico

Guest Blogger: Nash Roberts

This all started for me with a phone call from a former bandmate. "Hey man," he said, "You think The Shakedown would be down for a gig in Mexico?" Putting aside the fact that this guy is loveably crazy, this did sound sorta crazy. Of course TG is asking me if The Shakedown is down to fly to a foreign country to bring our sweaty, classic dance set to some unsuspecting party. But hey, you only go around once, so I decided to follow up on the opportunity. 

That quickly led me to the wonderful Kimberly Richmond, who was 
planning the wedding. International weddings are a group effort. It's a level of complexity, translation and coordination that simply can't be managed without someone like Kimberly. She's bi-cultural, with one foot in the US and the other firmly in Mexico. She's emotionally intelligent such that she can manage the ecstasy and angst that typify the wedding planning and wedding-having process. She's guided smashing weddings from Lake Como to Playa Del Carmen. In this case, Kimberly's managing American expectations of how things should be in a beautifully mañana culture.

My band, The Shakedown, has done over 100 weddings in the States. I've gotten used to the gamut of wedding vendor professionalism. I've worked with the most charming, dedicated pros who effortlessly enable a joyful wedding explosion to the less-than-attentive amateurs whose lack of planning or care tend to help run a train wreck right into the ground. In our case with Kimberly, it was great. Once we sorted through contract items, she pulled in all the vendors that helped us do our job to our clients' expectations. Plane tickets, airport transportation, lodging, back-line, meals, all handled by Kimberly so I can focus on doing my job to the best of my ability. I only like, kinda speak Spanish, let alone know how to get from Guanajuato to San Miguel de Allende. She had our back every step of the way.

It's thrilling to visit a totally new country, do what you love to do, and earn a buck or two along the way. Getting bumped into first class didn't hurt the band's excitement for the trip down to Mexico. Arriving Friday, we stayed at Rancho Las Sabinas which was where the wedding was held. Crazy flooding and rainstorms had torn up the reception tent which had been set up in advance. 

The next morning, a team from the rental company was scrambling to reassemble and fortify the tent given more weather was expected night of the wedding. My wedding was thoughtfully planned the same week a major Hurricane was making landfall on the Eastern Seaboard, so I empathize with how weather or even the threat of inclement conditions shake up the best planned event. 

Of course, the tent repairs pushed back everything in terms of set up and sound check. Everyone remained calm, went to work and this ended up providing us the perfect opportunity to head into town for some sight seeing. We also just wanted to make sure margaritas taste better in Mexico than in the US. They do. 

We get back from some mandatory pre-gig carousing and the reception site is breathtaking. We end up playing the first dance with the entire place lit up by sparklers, a first in my book. From there our dance party starts and I go into time melt mode. I'm just rockin' our show with my mates like always, but we're 2,000 miles from home. I look up and we're through our show. Performing dance parties, we're pretty lucky. 

You know if you've done your job right because people are either dancing their asses off, or they're not. Pretty binary. When you're done, you've landed the plane. I generally have a sense of relief and relaxation that wash over me knowing that we've done our job. This evening was even more so given all the planning and anticipation from March to September. On this occasion, there were post-show cervezas and tacos al pastor to crush which was a perfect touch. I eventually made it back out onto the dance floor for DJ Dulce's set because the fun never ends.

I woke up the next morning, enjoyed a farewell meal with my band and the other wedding vendors and then it was off to the airport to fly home. I blinked and I was back in Raleigh, wondering if it all really happened. Yes, and it was unequivocally awesome. More international weddings please.

I repeat, the experience wouldn't have been such as breeze without Kimberly. Even as a vendor, I wouldn't do another destination wedding without someone like her, let alone recommend someone try to throw a destination wedding on their own. What a time we had! Fly to Mexico, make some new friends, play a few tunes. Just the right touch of crazy for one weekend.  What's not to love about all that?"

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