Long-time Wyndmoor bandleader Rich Posmontier (foreground), who has played at more than 2,500 weddings over the last 42 years, would normally now be arranging his dizzying schedule of upcoming spring and summer performances. Instead, he is at home waiting for the back-to-work signal, like millions of other entertainers.

by Len Lear

Long-time Wyndmoor resident Rich Posmontier, who heads the foremost wedding band in the Philadelphia area, having played at more than 2,500 weddings over the last 42 years and countless other local events such as the Chestnut Hill Community Association’s annual Black and White Gala fundraiser, would normally now be arranging his dizzying schedule of upcoming spring and summer performances.

Of course, that is not the case this year for the 60-ish musician. “As far as events that have been canceled,” he told us recently, “there are so far about five or six. I won’t know what May and June hold as far as cancellations because everyone is going on a week-by-week basis, but we are all taking a big financial hit.

“Some of the weddings that are being postponed will probably be rescheduled to the fall and winter, so there should be less financial damage there. But the fundraising galas we had booked were canceled and will just take place at the usual time a year later.

“There is supposed to be a huge bailout for small businesses, and I hope that they think about performing artists as well. Artists and musicians, dancers and others tend to piece together a living by doing individual jobs, so sometimes this part of the economy is overlooked. I would like to raise awareness in the general community about the plight of all types of artists.
“Some musicians I know are getting very creative in the current situation. My nephew, Alex Posmontier, a very accomplished jazz pianist and the son of my brother, Dave, also a renowned jazz pianist in the Philly area, has put together a virtual concert on Tuesday evenings from 7 to 8 p.m. on Facebook live.

“I tuned in last night, and there were about 100 people watching. He had a virtual tip jar, so I hope he made at least what he would by working in a club. But it’s still a very tough road for the musicians who play several times a week in restaurants and clubs that are now all closed.”

Over the years Rich has played behind some boldface show biz names such as Paul Anka, Steve Lawrence, Teddy Pendergrass and Patti Page. What was that like? “It’s exhilarating to play for hundreds or thousands of people in an audience, which is what happens when you play behind a celebrity. But none of those artists, and this is pretty much universal, have any actual contact with the musicians backing them up.

“They don’t meet us; they don’t say anything to us, and if they’re really nice, they may at the end of the show thank us en masse for playing, but it’s not usual for any one-on-one meeting to happen. We’re just hired guns!”
Rich lives in Wyndmoor with his wife, Leigh Ann. Their son, Andrew, is a junior at Temple University, studying computer science and math. “He is doing research work and classes online from his apartment. I think for college-age young people, it’s not that big a deal because they are on their computers all the time anyway. But in a few more weeks, I think this could get old.”

Rich’s band is scheduled to play for the spring arts festival in Chestnut Hill on May 3, and he is hopeful the festival will still be held. He is also booked to play for the Morris Arboretum Moonlight and Roses Gala on Friday, June 5, and for the CHCA’s Black and White Gala again in October. “That’s so far off that I hesitate to think about it,” said Rich. “Either everything will be fine by then, or we’ll play the party in hazmat suits and gas masks!”

Rich started playing weddings professionally at the age of 15. He was much younger than any of the other musicians, but his brother Dave helped him get into a band he was playing with at weddings and parties. Rich was able to join the musicians’ union and started receiving union scale at the age of 16. “It sure beat delivering newspapers!”

In his late teens and throughout his 20s Rich toured the U.S. and Canada with an original rock band, played in theater pit orchestras and toured with pop stars like those mentioned earlier. He also played on many disco records in the ‘70s. “When I did studio work, mostly in New York, the backup musicians never got credits on the albums, but we were well paid!”

When asked what superpower he would like most to have, Rich replied, “The one I would like to possess would be an ability to get all of the musicians to the show one hour prior to the performance. They would all be prepared and dressed appropriately, in a good mood, and already have parked their cars. But alas, ’tis only a dream!”

For more information, visit richposmontiermusic.com. Len Lear can be reached at lenlear@chestnuthilllocal.com

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