BY DIANE BELL
Who was the happy couple whom Rock Hall of Famer Billy F Gibbons married near the San Diego Blues Festival stage at the Embarcadero last Saturday?
The ZZ Top co-founder, before headlining the blues festival, stood with his back to the bay just outside the front gate. There, he administered wedding vows to San Diego singer/songwriters Tim Lowman and Dani Bell, who have been together for five years.
Their month-old daughter, Marlow Rae, was in the gathering of about 20 family and friends — and a few strangers passing by.
Lowman, an electro-blues rock ‘n’ roll musician who performs as a one-man band, Low Volts, is a three-time San Diego Music Award winner. He and his new bride have their own bands (hers is Dani Bell and The Tarantist) and have recorded duets together.
Radio DJ Tim Pyles, who played a role in bringing them together with Gibbons, posted the matrimonial photos on his Facebook page.
“It was pretty cool to have the Pied Piper lead us across the grass to the harbor,” Pyles says. “He read vows from his phone.”
Gibbons, whose nickname is “The Reverend,” is an ordained minister of the Universal Life Church. He has performed several weddings, including the second marriage of country singer Billy Joe Shaver in 2008 and the wedding of Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh.
“I’ve probably officiated at 50 – 60 weddings over the past two decades,” Gibbons said in a 2018 interview in the Midland (Mich.) Daily News. “Most memorable one took place in a giant IKEA store. I mean a furnished wedding with Swedish meatballs — how great is that?”
Lowman says that being married by Billy Gibbons has been a four-year dream. When he learned Gibbons was headlining the 2022 San Diego Blues Festival, Lowman began contacting people in the music industry who might be able to make it happen.
His friend, Tim Pyles, reached out to his buddy Brian Witkin, head of Pacific Records in San Diego, who made the connection with Gibbons. Witkin’s young son served as ring bearer.
In a separate quest, Lowman has been pursuing the story of his great grandfather, J. Warren “Doc” Lowman, a traveling gospel singer in the Midwest. For years, “Doc” Lowman’s framed photo has been on a wall in his home.
Family history has it that the elder Lowman was framed for a murder he didn’t commit, convicted and sentenced to death by electric chair.
Miraculously, a key witness stepped forward at the eleventh hour, proved that Lowman was somewhere else at the time of the killing, and he was exonerated and set free.
The gospel singer wrote a memoir, “Up from the Depths,” about his near-death experience.
Intrigued by his great grandfather’s story, Lowman persuaded a friend, Andrew Rowley, to turn it into a documentary. “Doc: Lowman,” an eight-minute film, now on YouTube, was screened as one of several “extraordinary people shorts” at the Oceanside International Film Festival last February.
In the hope of capturing Gibbons’ attention, Lowman sent the guitar player a copy of the video “so he knows our story.”
“The video resonated with him,” Lowman adds. “He literally said, ‘Let’s make some history.’”
Dani says the wedding “was a dream come true — everything I could have hoped for.”
There was a bonus. Gibbons signed Lowman’s guitar — “ZZ BFG 22″ — and promised to send a book he recommended about successful relationships.
“A marriage can’t get off to a more soulful start,” posted San Diego Blues Festival producer Michael Kinsman, on his Facebook page.