Koosharem is a place in Utah. It’s out-of-the-way and unknown. I don’t even know if it qualifies as a town. In fact, I’m willing to entertain the idea that it’s not a real place, but just a distant memory or a dream.
On September 6, 2008 we loaded Trent’s SUV with banjos, mandolins, and other instruments and drove to Koosharem. It was for a wedding gig, outdoors, in the middle of nowhere– the kind of gig that reminds us why we’re in a bluegrass band. There were 5 of us crowded in a small vehicle. We listened to music and talked as we traveled thru small towns.
Our band name was Miles To Go, a fitting name now that I think about it. Traveling is one of the blessings of bluegrass. But there are other benefits too:
- Tons of super good barbecue.
- No one cares if you actually know how to play.
- You get fantastic ideas for how to put on a beautiful, memorable wedding.
We followed hand-made signs. Some of them made us laugh. They led us down dirt roads and eventually to the wedding site: an open field in the middle of ranch-country. Food was prepared while we set up our sound equipment. There were strings of paper lanterns and lights. There were wood crates and coke bottle vases, a celebration of wild flowers. Glass jars with tealight candles hung from an old tree. There was a wooden dance floor on the ground in front of us.
It seemed like the perfect place at the perfect time. The distant mountains were in silhouette. The setting sun turned everything to gold. We felt the first refreshing air of autumn as the sun disappeared completely and the sky filled with stars.
We played traditional tunes while people visited and danced. I remember Cassie and the bride sang Blackbird. I remember realizing too late that the arrangement I knew was non-standard and would probably throw them off. I remember that we had to play for longer than normal, which meant we got to try out a bunch of songs that weren’t quite ready. Tamilisa improvised on mandolin while I tried out my newly discovered classical-steel-string-banjo-guitar and sang, “One morning, one morning, one morning in May.”
We ate dinner on a picnic table in darkness. There was very little light from a nearby lantern. That’s the best way to eat barbecue, when you can’t see what’s on your plate. You just dish spoonfuls of bean/corn/spare rib surprise into your mouth: wave upon wave of sweetened tomato sauce deliciousness.
Thinking about Koosharem makes me hungry and nostalgic. I’ll probably never return. But at least I have a souvenir to help me remember. It’s a drink holder that says “Eat, Drink, and be Married! Rickenbach Ranch, Koosharem, Utah, USA.”
Pictured above, Miles To Go (in 2008) was Geoff Groberg, Tamilisa Wood (now Miner), Cassie Singley (now Gadd), Trent McCausland, Hillary Barlow (now Harris). All the beautiful photos in this post were taken by ?, the wedding photographer.