It’s your big day, and you need music. For the ceremony you want piano, maybe light flute and/or guitar. Then there’s the reception. A DJ? Band? A sonic dose of get-up-and-dance is required to get the party fully stoked and started. Good thing Humboldt’s creative climate is rich with high-quality musicians — we’re flush with guitarists, flutists, singers, duos, trios and full bands playing country, bluegrass, classic and contemporary rock, funk, blues, jazz and more. You have options. In fact, you have lots and lots of great ones.

Leah Crenshaw-Pepke is no stranger to the Humboldt music scene. In 2000, she moved to Humboldt and immediately linked up with musicians to sing with and bands to sing in. Currently, Crenshaw-Pepke sings with two bands — Bump Foundation, a versatile funk/soul outfit, and Eyes Anonymous, a high-energy ’80’s cover band. In the time Crenshaw-Pepke’s been rocking the Humboldt scene, she estimates she’s done at least 40 weddings. And she knows a little something about the music that makes them memorable.

What do you enjoy most about playing weddings?

Whether it’s with Bump Foundation or Eyes Anonymous, I love seeing people lose themselves in the music. People love dancing at weddings, and that’s a beautiful thing to be part of. At one wedding where I sang with the Bump Foundation, the bride’s uncle got up and played trumpet with us. He was good. Also, I like seeing the effect Humboldt County has on out-of-towners. We’re looser, freer here. It’s fun to watch what people do with that.

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What are your top three Humboldt wedding venues?

The most unique would have to be the Arcata Theater Lounge — it’s a big space meant for a party. The band plays on the stage, people dance and you can be a rock star at your own wedding. For a more traditional place, Arrington Apples [now Mitchell Grove] outside of Eureka is wonderful. They have a great staff for bands — supportive and totally pro. Can’t forget Merryman’s Beach House on Moonstone Beach. Merryman’s is intimate and has the best view of the Pacific Ocean. Ever. It’s a Humboldt wedding icon.

What tips do you have for couples hiring a band for their weddings?

If you’re local, get out and listen to local bands! Ask your friends, too. Then decide who or what fits your needs. Communication is important. If you want the musicians or band to learn songs for your ceremony or reception, make sure they have that info early so they can be well rehearsed for your big day. And patience. Everybody needs patience, right?

What tips do you have for bands and musicians wanting to play weddings?

Bands, musicians: Get your music uploaded online with up-to-date info! Make sure you have a high-quality photo, too. Yes, you should have a website or someplace where people can go and see and hear you online. Make it good! Also, realize that you will be part of a very, very special day — make sure you have your music learned, rehearsed and ready. And be ready for things to go not as planned. You gotta be able to think on your feet and be smooth.

What’s your favorite wedding gig moment to date?

Eyes Anonymous ... was hired for a wedding in Philo, down in Mendocino County. It was beautiful. In an apple orchard. And the dance floor was this great, outdoor wooden patio with tiny lights strung up everywhere. And the people were really breaking loose in their gowns and tuxedos, all sweaty and dancing. Late into that evening, a packed dance floor cheered us on as the “best band ever.” Yeah, who doesn’t want to hear that rocking into the night? 
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Josephine Johnson

Josephine Johnson

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