Archive

Archive for the ‘Sound of Faith’ Category

Just Shut Up and Sing

January 26, 2011 4 comments

Well, they say that the best way to get better at writing is to write something every day. Write anything, whether it’s good or not, whether any one will read it or even if you don’t feel like it. Write even if you are sick, sore, tired or if it’s inconvenient. Just write.

 Such has been my problem over the last few months and some would say much of my life. I tend to find excuses, disguised sometimes as over-analysis, why I don’t do some of the things that I really enjoy or that I have committed to do. I don’t have the time. I don’t feel well. I don’t know what to write about. I don’t have any fresh ideas. Nobody will want to read it. I’ll start back again next week. I need to think it over more. I keep finding in many areas of my life where I procrastinate terribly, all while convincing myself and others that it is in everyone’s best interests. 

As a part of the band Sound of Faith, and the larger umbrella of Sound of Faith Ministries, I have been involved with many discussions and decisions, including major ones such as recording and producing a CD and finding a new drummer, to the mundane like paying taxes and developing set lists. It has always seemed like all of the discussion that went around many of these things were necessary; that we needed to understand every nook and cranny and every possible outcome of our decisions and have a robust plan in place before we could move forward and take the next step. In fact, although I am not the only disciple of over-analysis in our band, I certainly could be called the leader by example.

A few years ago, it became common when these long drawn-out discussions would take place that one of the band members, Scott, would say “Let’s just shut up and sing.” Aside from sounding like a quote from Yogi Berra, it was also his way of saying that the reason we were together was because we were a band, so let’s do the thing we exist for and let the details work themselves out as they will. It used to drive me crazy, because I felt like these discussions were not just necessary, but vital to our band’s success.  But over time, I have begun to see the wisdom in those few words.

My wife and I participate in a popular DVD-based exercise program whose slogan is “Just push play”. Their motivation is to get you to get to the point of starting it every day, to get you over the inertia of stagnancy. Once you overcome the “Will I or won’t I?” decision, the muscle memory takes over and you go to work.

Now looking at the band and what we have in front of us for the year, I see a lot of opportunity and a lot of opportunity cost for wasted time. And, although many of the discussions we have had in the past were very necessary, I keep feeling the overwhelming desire to just jump into things with both feet and feel our way along, instead of trying to plan things to the nth degree before starting. I want to get over that at-rest inertia and get to the “body-in-motion-stays-in-motion” part. I think we have a tremendous amount of God-gifted talent and I can’t help but feel that we are suffering paralysis by analysis.

As I look at all of the things in my life, chores that need to be done, hobbies left unattended, friends or family I haven’t seen recently, or the band itself, I keep seeing opportunities where, instead of procrastinating or over-analyzing, I should just jump in and do something. A good friend has been after me to start blogging again, and while I was able to come up with all sorts of excuses as to why I couldn’t, I was never able to say that I didn’t want to. So instead, I have decided that I needed to just write and see what happened. This is the first post of that experiment; we’ll see how it goes from there.

You know, just shut up and sing.

A Day in the Life of Sound of Faith

July 14, 2010 1 comment

I was surprised a few days ago when I was speaking to a friend about one of Sound of Faith’s recent gigs. He asked how long we played for and for that particular event, a benefit for Make-A-Wish Foundation. It was about a 70 minute set. I then realized that in his mind, we were only “out” about an hour and a half of our day and he had dismissed it as minimal effort. So, with that in mind, I decided to give you guys a glimpse into what it’s like being in a local band and playing around the region. SoF played this past Saturday at a new church-run coffee house, Kickin’ Bean run by House of Worship in North Wilkesboro, NC.

9:00 AM – Wake up. Jennifer got up early with the kids and took the twins to a church fund-raiser breakfast. Alex slept in a bit so I got to as well.

9:00 AM – 3:00 PM – We do various things with the family during the day. When we know we are going to be gone that evening, we try to spend as much time with the kids as possible during the day. I miss not being able to put them to bed at night, so I try to soak them up as much as I can.

3:00 PM – I head to our practice space and put new strings on the Les Paul. I broke a string at our last gig, the Make-A-Wish benefit I mentioned before, and have just used a backup guitar (my el-cheap-o Heartfield Talon IV) for practice. I was lazy, but I needed the Les Paul for the gig, so of course I waited until the last minute to get it ready.

3:30 PM – I pack up the 3 electric guitars (the LP, Hearthfield and my Strat), 1 acoustic (Alvarez), pedal board, guitar stand, cables, and band merchandise and got them ready to load up.

3:40PM – Sean (Bassist) arrives. He and I load all of the guitars, amps, effects, drums, keyboard, stands, merchandise and video equipment into the 2 vehicles for transport. For this gig, we were using the sound system from the venue, so we didn’t need to take mains, monitors, PA amps or the sound board. When we need all of that, we usually rent a U-Haul instead.

3:45 PM – Babysitter arrives. Jennifer (My wonderful wife and SoF’s lead vocalist) gets her settled with the kids while Sean and I are loading up. With both of us in the band, babysitting is necessary for every practice and gig. Most of the time we use family to babysit, but tonight, it’s a wonderful lady from the preschool the twins go to. She has babysat for us before and the kids love her, so it’s not much trouble. There are times when Jennifer and I have to leave to the sound of screaming 2-year-olds. We always joke that the grandparents will be like the ones in the AirTran Commerical.

4:00 PM – We hit the road. Our gig is in North Wilkesboro and we are shooting to get there by 5:30 and play at 7:00. Jennifer and I ride together with most of the equipment. Sean and Scott (Sound guy, roadie and all-around great guy) have the drums. Tasha (Keyboards and Vocals), Vicki (Vocals) and Joe (Drummer) are all going to meet the four of us there. Joe is a pall bearer for a funeral for his ex-grandfather-in-law this same afternoon, or else he would have helped pack and load up.

5:25 PM – Jennifer and I arrive at House of Worship. We walk in and are greeted by the manager / worship leader, Warren. The stage is nice and big and the lighting is some of the best we’ve played with. The coffee shop is bigger than it looked on the web site and would seat 50-60 people with more standing. It’s early though, so only the manager, a barista and one patron are there.

5:35 PM – Sean and Scott show up. They had to make a stop along the way and then they miss the entrance of the venue. Once there, we discuss the equipment setup and realize that the manager is not going to let us take the “cage” down. What is the cage? It is a 5 ½’ tall Plexiglas wall surrounding the drum set for their house band. The drums sit in the corner of the stage and the surround goes wall-to-wall with one section of the Plexiglas on hinges for a door. The surround is not that unusual however. We have played other places that wanted us to use a drum surround. What is unusual is the roof on the “cage”. Sitting directly on top of the 5 ½’ wall is a dense foam ‘roof’ which completely covers the drums all the way to the corner making the drum ‘room’ fully enclosed. The ‘roof’ is pretty low and I have to duck just to get to the drums. Then the drums are mic’d and run through the sound system so that the sound guy has complete control over the drum volume. Apparently the house band drummer is a bit heavy handed with the sticks and has little dynamic ability.

5:45 PM – Sean calls Joe to see how close he is and get his take on the drum enclosure. Joe is still in the Lincolnton area but on his way. He’s going to be pushing it to be on time. He says he will just use the house band’s drums rather than take the “cage” down and put it back up around his drums. He just wants some of his own cymbals and a wood block.

5:50 PM – We carry all of the equipment (minus the drums) into the venue and up to the stage area. I wonder how big we have to get to hire roadies…

6:00 PM – I clear the stage of any equipment not needed for us and then setup my pedal board, wireless system and the video camera (we are videoing this evening). Jennifer gets all of my guitars out of their cases and sets them up on the stand rack. Sean and Tasha setup bass and keyboard equipment. Scott works with the manager to see how the sound system is setup and begins tweaking settings.

6:25 PM – Ready to sound check… except, we still don’t have a drummer. Sean calls Joe to see how close he is but just gets his voicemail. We decide to do a preliminary check anyway, but quickly realize that since the drums will be running completely through the sound system, we really can’t do much without him.

6:45 PM – I call Joe again and find out he is only a mile or two down the road. I wait for him outside and give him the scoop on the setup on the way in. We all kid him about being a diva because he avoided the hard work and just wants to walk in and play.

6:50 PM – Joe tweaks the drums, sets up his cymbals and complains about the ‘cage’. Can’t say I blame him.

7:00 PM – Sound check for real this time. We go about halfway through Hand That Holds the World and then stop. Monitors sound good and Scott says the mains are right. We are also noticing that there are not very many people here. Including the employees, there are maybe 15 people not associated with the band here. Unfortunately this is not that uncommon. Although I think we are pretty darn good, we just have not built up a name to attract a crowd.

7:05 PM – The band, plus Scott and Warren retreat to a parlor-like area where we can pray before the show. We always have a group prayer just prior to practices and shows and usually afterwards as well. Warren leads us in prayer and then we depart for the stage.

7:15 PM – We play our first set. We are trying a couple of new things tonight. One is that to lengthen the set and provide some variety, we have added a few songs that do not use the full band. Each of them just has guitar or piano for accompaniment and a single vocal (in one case Tasha does sing harmony.)

8:15 PM – Break time! We are playing 23 songs tonight and the voices need a break. We get water and iced coffees, hit the restroom, and socialize a bit with the patrons a bit before going back up for the second set.

8:35 PM – Second Set.  One of the patrons has asked us to repeat a song from the first set because they liked it so much. We decide to add it in just before the finale. One of the new songs we are playing tonight, “Your Hands”, is with just Jennifer on vocals and me on acoustic guitar. I only learned this song yesterday and then not even with playing live in mind. I just liked it. But then Jennifer said “I have a great idea…” and now here we are on staging playing it. It goes pretty well. I change one thing up in the song and Jennifer only falters slightly. We pull it back together with little effort. I also mess Joe’s entry up on Mirror because I am distracting him with questions (through the Plexiglas cage)

9:40 PM – Break down time. Joe, Sean, Scott, Tasha, Vicki and I start putting all of the equipment back in the cases and taking them back out the vehicles. The manager gets on stage and asks for a love offering for SoF. It is a modest collection due to the turnout, but we have played for free many times, so it is appreciated. Jennifer does the PR work. She sells 3 CD’s, accepts one other modest donation and gets leads for 2 more possible future gigs.

10:00 PM – The band heads for Wendy’s. I have not eaten since a bowl of Campbell’s soup at lunch time and Jennifer has only had a pack of crackers since breakfast. We go in, get our food and cut up like a bunch of teenagers while we eat. Fellowship within this group of people is amazing and I am truly blessed to be a part of it.

11:15 PM – We drive home. Sean, Scott, Jennifer and I head back to our house since we still have to unload equipment from both vehicles. We remember it’s late on Saturday night so we turn the XM Radio to The Message Amp’d for some heavy Christian Rock to keep us awake on the way home.

12:20 AM – Jennifer and I get home and she goes upstairs to relieve the babysitter while I unload all of the guitars, keyboards, merchandise, etc. from my vehicle.

12:45 AM — Sean and Scott show up and I help unload the drums as well. They stood around talking at Wendy’s after Jennifer and I left so they were running behind.

1:10 AM – Finally get to bed and collapse. Jennifer and I have to get up on Sunday morning at 6:45 because she co-leads the music for the 8:45 church service.

So as you can see, for a gig where we play for 2 hours in front of about 15 people, I actually spent over 10 hours in all on the prep, travel, breakdown, etc. This is a moderate gig. We have played at times where the setup and breakdown were so minimal that we basically walked onto stage with instruments in hand and played. Other times we take our own full sound system, which requires a lot more time for setup and breakdown.

But, I don’t do this because a get a high from playing in front of a lot of people, because we usually don’t. And I don’t do it because we make a lot of money. In 7 years of this, I have never taken a dime for anything I do with the band, except maybe for an expense reimbursement. I don’t do it because it’s easy. It would be a lot easier not to. I play in a Christian band, because I think we have a good message, and as long as there is someone listening, I am hopeful that the message is like the seeds falling on fertile ground. Where it will grow and we will be a part of bringing someone to Christ.