A Village Wedding Band
A child walked past me with blood splashed across his face. He had a big smile on his face as he passed the big open fale. Was I worried? Not at all, I was at the end of a wedding, in which the gifts were being distributed and he was carrying the head of the bull home to his parents.
Weddings in Samoa are so wonderful, and I was able to experience this wedding in a different perspective, as being part of the wedding band. This was my first time performing since my high school concert band.
We were supposed to arrive at 9:00, and at 8:30, my family had heard that the wedding had already started from people walking around, so I hurried out the door. We should have never believed those people, because even though they are from the village where the wedding was to take place, they had walked the two villages to our house. How would they really know? The wedding was on Samoan time, so the rest of the band showed up between 9:30 and 10.
Since I was there early, I gave a small flute lesson to one of the boys in the band who is anxious to learn as many instruments as possible. It is a lot of fun to teach others how to play the flute because it reminds me of when I was 11, struggling to get the same sounds out.
We all finally met in the open fale by the church and practiced one of the songs that we were to play. I was given four songs to transcribe into my instrument the previous night, but was missing some, and that was one of them.
The band then headed uta (away from the ocean) to the house where the bride was getting ready. We played a song for her, and then the parade was to start. The band marches first playing music, and they are followed by the wedding party. The parade always begins at the house where the bride gets ready and ends at the church.
The song we played during the parade, was another song I didn’t have, but I was able to figure out a few of the notes, and played the little parts I was able to. We marched on the main road, and then to the church. When we got to the church, we moved to give the wedding party the walkway as we played, “Here Comes the Bride”.
After the church service we sat down around an open fale playing music while people ate cake and ice cream, then we headed to the house where the parade started again. At the bridal house we were showered with chips, and I was lucky enough to get a apple as a treat. We played several songs while people danced, and after the talent competition (it seems as if all Samoan weddings have a talent competition…) we played some more.
After the wedding, we went to the pastor’s house to accept our payment for this wedding..this is when the young boy passed with the gigantic bloody head of a bull. Others were carrying around big slabs of cows. It gave me a chuckle to see these men in their nice church clothes carrying around bloody carcasses. Then the band boys got to work dividing up our payment for working. There were 3 boxes of frozen chicken and 1 gigantic pig. The chicken was chucked around to try to be placed in smaller portions to give to everyone, as the boys went to town dividing up the pig with the machete.
After I received my portion, I had someone ride their bicycle next to me to help my with the huge basket of food. It felt nice to present my payment to my family.