Living in New York City and writing for a live music site, I have been fortunate to experience many truly incredible shows and events. Live music has opened the door to countless amazing opportunities, friendships, and experiences. However, it was not until recently that I have been a part of something that touched my heart as deeply as the music touched my soul. The event…a wedding. Not just any ordinary wedding. Some might call it “the most EPIC wedding” or the “social event of the season”. While it very well may have been both of those things, I prefer to think of it as A Funk Fairy Tale at The Brooklyn Bowl.
Josh Raskin and Karen Dugan are long time friends of L4LM and what you might consider staples of the NYC music community. Nicknamed “Big Josh” by Trey Anastasio twenty years ago, he is the tour manager of The Nigel Hall Band as well as a devoted school teacher, and a doting father. Dubbed “Tiny Rager” by The Royal Family, Karen provides a huge community of music lovers with the “need to know” in the form of her website Musical Musings of a Tiny Rager. This is in addition to being the official staff writer for Soulive and The Royal Family as well as working with the NYC Parks department full-time to ensure the continuing presence of the beautiful trees in this great city. Pretty special individuals indeed.
Amazing people deserve amazing celebrations, which brings me back to our Funk Fairy Tale. Having met at a Karl Denson show at The Brooklyn Bowl three years prior, and attending an innumerable amount of shows at the venue in the years since, it seems only fitting that their marriage take place at this most sacred of spots. Now, two people whose lives are very much shaped by the music community they are submersed in, should have some pretty great music at their wedding, right? Well, how about if your wedding band(s) were Lettuce and The Nigel Hall Band? While we’re at it, have the legendary George Porter Jr. officiate the ceremony and sit in to rage with both bands?!?! Oh and lets not forget Grateful Dead artist Mikio Kennedy, best known for his cover art for the Deadicated album, will be on hand doing live painting. Now THAT’S what I’m talking about! As surreal as it sounds, this Funk Fairy Tale really happened folks.
According to Big Josh, when he met Karen her Facebook religious profile simply read George Porter Jr. Having been ordained and previously marrying saxophone pioneer Skerik, it was plain as day that Porter Jr. was destined to perform this wedding. While admittedly nervous, he officiated beautifully with a touch of light humor that seemed to make everyone in the room comfortable and smiling. Then a glass was stomped on the floor, Porter Jr. exclaimed “It is done!”, and husband and wife exited the room to Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir“ Played by violinist Hannah Thiem and cellist Isabel Castelivi from Electronic Gypsy Folk Rock band Copal. Now there was nothing left but to rage some funk and celebrate!
The music kicked off with Nigel Hall performing a beautiful rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” for the couple’s first dance. Led Zepparella front woman Noelle Doughty then performed a bad ass cover of “Whole Lotta Love” w/ Teen Posse. The Nigel Hall Band took the stage and really kicked the heat up a notch. Covering Sly and The Family Stone’s “Sing a Simple Song” and “Everyday People” there wasn’t a guest to be found sitting. Porter Jr. joined the band to absolutely crush renditions of Sneaking Sally Through The Alley and Porter’s “He Bite Me (The Dragon)”. Perhaps most poignant selection, Nigel invited Josh and Karen on the stage for a dance to Carol King’s “You’ve Got a Friend”. There was not a dry eye in the house.
Everyone knows that when it comes to the funk, Tiny Rager and Big Josh love them some Lettuce! So when the band took the stage for the main event you just knew they were going to bring something extra special.
The setlist (hand picked by the newlyweds) of full tilt ragers included “Blast Off”, “Bowler”, and “Do It Like You Do”. The band was also joined by Porter Jr. for The Meters classic “Africa”, “Hand Clapping”, and finally a version of Curtis Mayfield’s “Move On Up”which included backup vocals from Josh’s daughter Sophie and her cousins Bria and Lilah, or “The Joshettes”, as Nigel affectionately dubbed them . The scene was quite moving, blanketing the room with an undeniable intensity of love and good vibes. This was a truly magical affair at which everyone present felt blessed to attend.
Lettuce, The Nigel Hall Band and George Porter Jr. would return to the stage later in the evening to perform a public show for a sold out Brooklyn Bowl crowd. Wedding attendees were invited to stay for the evening double dose which did not disappoint. Lettuce was once again introduced by Knicks legend John Starks and the band also invited drummer Adam Deitch’s father Bobby Deitch to play percussion as it was his birthday.
There are no words that can encapsulate the love, vibe, and beautiful energy of this wedding day. It reminds me that music is so much more than notes and sounds. Music brings communities together and inspires people. It can bring two people like Karen and Josh to find each other and fall in love. This is a concept that I learned fully by being a part of this amazing thing that is the Live Music community. It is literally why we Live for Live Music. I would like to share with you a sentiment from Josh’s wedding speech. In reference to having their wedding in Brooklyn Bowl instead of a church, Josh stated:
“The Brooklyn Bowl embodies for us what a church is in society. A place for community to gather and share rituals, experiences and celebrations. A place to sing and dance to the music that is so close to our hearts and is so tied to our spirituality. A place to share good times with loved ones. A place to meet fiancees and best friends. A place to bring family to gather and become part of a community.”
L4LM would like to express our utmost gratitude to Josh and Karen Raskin for all that they do that embodies the beauty of the music community. We were honored to share in your amazing Funk Fairy Tale. We wish you a lifetime of loving companionship and are looking forward to what you have planned for the first anniversary party! Mazel Tov!
-Written by Andre Reddy
[Photography by Phrazz and Dino Perrucci]