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Christmas Day Rant

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by Dkerwood, Dec 25, 2005.

  1. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    So it's Christmas. Bah, humbug.

    I've come back home to enjoy a family Christmas, right? Well, my father has to work at the hospital all day today, so for the first time in my 24 Christmases, we open all of our gifts Christmas Eve. Not a big deal, but it makes Christmas morning rather anticlimactic. I crash at the folks' house.

    So now I'm dragging my butt out of bed even earlier than usual to get back to church on time. I play drums in their praise band. I have to get back home, load the drums, and get into church. My sister plays bass in the group, so she hitches a ride with me.

    We show up to find out that not only is the band leader GONE (meaning no guitar to drive the team), he told the pastor that my sister and I weren't going to be there this week. Thus, the pastor programmed a lot of hymns and things that are completely un-drum-able. Plus, they didn't have any copies of music or anything for my sister. Heck, they thought all they had was a piano and some singers.

    Right, so I guess I can't fault the band leader, because I WAS gone last week to our extended family's Christmas celebration, but I talked to the guy a mere two weeks ago. I told him I would be gone the next week but "I will be here Christmas day." He understood that enough to tell me that we were only doing one service and no Sunday School, so band practice would be a little later than normal. He made no mention that he might be gone. And I never got a phone call telling me anything had changed. Grrr.

    So I left the kit in the car. I grabbed a pair of cymbals to roll on, I grabbed my triangle, and I grabbed my project for the day - trying to work out an acceptable wired in-ear monitor solution for my band's drummer with a mini mixer and a set of middle grade isolation earpieces. I got the earpieces to work just fine, but found no use for the silly percussion (Christmas carols). Side note: My sister tried to play bass, but got frustrated and went back to just singing.

    It gets better.

    So we get off the stage following the frustrating pre-service rehearsal, and I'm met by the lady who heads a committee that hired my band to play for the church New Year's Eve party. Two weeks prior, SHE had saught ME out to ask if we would be willing to play. We were excited, as we were almost desperately searching for a NYE gig. My drummer even went and got some special NYE tshirts printed up.

    Today, though, the air was different. "Has anyone talked to you yet?" she asks. I shake my head. "We're not going to need the band on New Year's Eve," she tells me.

    She goes on to explain that the mysterious "they" (that everyone always talks about when they don't want to name names) think that our band would be too loud for the family oriented party. She points out that we're still completely welcome to show UP and enjoy the party. I'm having to hold my tongue more than usual after the rough and frustrating morning, but my sister (bassist in my band) overheard the conversation and ended up storming off to avoid blowing her top.

    I went out to go talk to her, and got her calmed down (it sucks to hear "we didn't think you were coming" and "we don't need you" in the same morning, at church no less). I then went to talk with the lady again, explained how our drummer had printed up some tshirts, and we agreed that the church would still pay our band what we agreed on... and if we wanted to, we could play for the youth lockin after midnight.

    Sometime during the service this morning, that lady handed my sister a check for 150% of our rate, which made me feel a little better... And we'll probably go ahead and play for the kids late.

    It did bug me, though, that I wasn't called and told earlier. Heck, if the church thought that I wasn't even going to be in church that day, I have no idea how long they would have waited to call me and cancel. Would they have waited until we're walking in the door Saturday night?

    I was also rather insulted that they thought it better to eliminate the group (btw, we were replaced with karaoke and a "talent show") than to talk to me and discuss the volume issue. Heck, I want to know why they booked us in the first place if they were concerned about volume. The venue didn't change. The group didn't change. The band didn't change. Frankly, I was very aware that we weren't playing for our typical teen - young adult crowd, and we were planning accordingly. But no. No discussion to make sure we'd take that into account. Just an executive decision that we couldn't POSSIBLY be MUSICIANS THAT CAN PLAY WITH DYNAMICS.

    Yes, I'm overreacting. I know. I'm just very upset with the way this whole day is turning out. Not a good day for the musicians in the crowd. But hey, we made some money, and more than usual. I just hope we can work out the playing for the kids... we'll rock it hard and loud, and rock it like a NYE party should be rocked.

    Please tell me I'm not the first to be upset by a situation like this. I just feel very underappreciated. And the fact that I got more compliments this morning on my TRIANGLE than I usually do on the whole set doesn't help.

    Rant off.
  2. BbbyBld


    Oct 13, 2005
    Meridian, MS
    I kind of know how you feel. I play bass at my church and it was pretty dull today. After I found out about todays song service I just left my bass in the car.

    I don't understand why they're so hung up on traditional Christmas songs. I mean, when those songs were written, they were in the popular styles of the time, so I don't see why we can't we play contemporary music.

    My church is pretty conservative and it's almost like they don't want our praise band to succeed. The church elders are very conservative and would probably rather sing with no accompaniment at all, but the younger crowd like me wants a good praise service with good music. We kind of have this cycle where we rehearse and are awesome for several Sundays in a row, and then someone complains that the music is too loud and that we're making too much of a show, and the song director will give in and next Sunday we play the same songs we rehearsed, but much slower and softer so it sounds terrible. After several Sundays of this, one of us will step up and call a practice, and then the cycle starts up again.

    Sometimes, it's like some people in the church are happier if a guitar player or drummer is out of town, which is really discouraging. Bottom line, I do it because that's the best way I can contribute to the church and share my gifts.

    ...just contributing to the rant.
  3. 5stringDNA


    Oct 10, 2002
    Englewood, CO
    My church had no bass today because I attended with my parents for once :D. It's usually just my big fiddle and the piano, so just a piano can fly I guess, haha. our churhc is kinda funny though.. no one gets paid and people show up as they please.. it works.
  4. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    Man, I feel you there, Bbby. I play for two churches. I lead a band (playing guitar) at a church on Saturday night - a designed contemporary service. That's a rather stressful job, so I play in a different church on Sunday morning for fun, playing the drums.

    Saturday church is pretty good about not complaining too much about style or volume or anything, but every once in a while, we'll get a murmur... and so I'll put my electric guitar away for a couple of weeks and play my acoustic... and then the electric comes back out again.

    Then there's Sunday church. When I first started, the pastor and I went out to lunch and he asked me to lead the group. I politely decline, explaining that I just wanted to play for fun in his group, and I didn't really want to worry about anything besides being able to worship with music.

    When I started, the band was VERY bluegrassy (the person trying to lead the band at the time also plays fiddle in a country band), and the pastor wanted to mold that into a more rhythm centered feel... So I agreed, knowing that I could bring in a solid bass player (my sis) and myself, and that we could really rock the joint.

    One thing I'm ALWAYS concerned about is volume, especially when I'm not in charge. The pastor and I discussed this at length, and he said over and over again that he was very interested in being a "louder" church. He and I agreed on many levels, which is why I agreed to play in the group and help lead when necessary.

    So they hired a guy to come lead the band, a rocker like me, and everything is great... except that one of the guys in the church soundman rotation is the psuedo-soundman for the aforementioned country band. And EVERY TIME he runs sound, he tells me I'm playing too loud. The first couple of times, I took it to heart and played softer, or switched sticks. But then I realized that he was nudging the sound levels down to a "traditional" church level.

    After talking to the pastor a few more times, confirming his mission for the music, I started ignoring the sound guy. He had to keep levels up to compensate for my playing.

    I'd like to take the time now to say that I am NOT a heavy hitter. I don't bang the crap out of my drums just for the sake of banging. I just believe that my drums sound best when played a certain way, and when played differently, they lose something. Plus, style has to be considered. If we were playing country or bluegrass, yes, I would be consistently playing too loud. The focus there should be on vocals. But we're supposed to be playing rock, and the guy doesn't know how to mix rock. It's all about the drums and bass.

    Anyway, a couple of veiled insults and a spineless leader down the road, and I'm starting to find I have a very cynical view of this church. I'm having to lug my set in every single week (the church is building its own building, but for now they meet at the civic center). They never seem to bother to call me when practice times change, or when they decide to do a light set...

    Really, I don't mind playing quiet music, but I would like to at least know when I can bring a djembe and not a drumset.

    On the plus side, I can get a whole drum kit now in two trips. No cases to speak of, save for a cymbal case. My throne is on wheels, so I get 2 toms and a snare stacked on there, all the hardware on top of that, and sometimes the equipment bag with tambourine, shaker eggs, etc on top. Roll that in.

    Then grab the bass drum (the one I usually use is my small kit - an old Ludwig style - so it's got a bar on the top that can double as a handle), grab my stick bag, put my cymbal bag on my shoulder, and grab the hi hat stand that never seems to stack properly on load one... and I'm loaded in with only two trips. Not bad for a 4 piece kit sporting ride, hi hat, and room for 5 more crash/splash/china/whatever cymbals.

    Sorry, off topic.
  5. BbbyBld


    Oct 13, 2005
    Meridian, MS
    Man, once I get started...

    Many times our drummer and guitar players start with a real country rhythm, and when I come in I'm kind of stuck with that. The only way to stop that is on the Sundays where the piano player and guitarists don't come. Then, I play guitar, so I can set the rhythm closer to the original pattern if it's a contemporary song. And then, the song leader looks at me like I'm crazy! He can't deal with syncopation.

    We have a major tuning problem too. The piano is never in tune, so we have to try to match it, but if we match it exactly, our guitars sound really out of tune. We have to tune one guitar close to the piano, and then tune from that, which rarely works out right.

    I kind of feel like if they would let me take over the worship band I could make us sound really good. I'm really the only one with any gigging and soundman experience, but like I said before, the people who make those decisions don't like contemporary music.
  6. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    Dude, I figure contemporary music isn't something you can do halfway. No, your choices are not limited to "hard rock or hymns"... but the church needs to choose where it wants to go and go for it.

    If it doesn't want to do contemp music? Well, then it needs to go where the church needs to go.

    I'm blessed to have a bunch of really dedicated folks in my Sat night praise team. True, we may not all have the same experience or the same talents or the same tastes, but we all agree in a direction and go full out in that direction.

    What bugs me about my Sat night church is that the Sat service doesn't have the full support of the church government. I feel like they "allow" it, but don't support it. We don't get a lot of help from the rest of the church, let's just say that. It's interesting in that the majority of OUR congregation are people that never would have set foot in our church (or likely any church) if not for our service, but still...

    It'd be nice to feel like everyone was pushing for the service to succeed.
  7. txbasschik


    Nov 11, 2005
    Leander, Texas
    Well, I'm glad they are going to go ahead and pay you for the NYE gig, and maybe let you play for the kids. You know, I hate when people won't communicate. A phone call or e-mail, expressing concern over the volume or content of the show, would have given you a chance to show them the set list and how your were preparing for a somewhat-different audience should have set worried minds at ease! But nooo...they just decided, w/o asking.

    Having had experience in such settings...some people feel that *any* kind of rock is anti-family, and they complain. I find that such folks complain quite a lot. Squeaky wheels. But...did they not listen to you before they hired you? Pretty cowardly, not to even ask you about what you might play.

    As for the band leader...he should have called you. Saying he didn't think you would be there smells to me like, "I need a good excuse, 'cause I clean forgot, and don't want to admit it."

    I'm sorry Christmas was so disappointing for you. Hopefully, you will get to play for the youth at church! Man, what a lucky bunch, to have a band for their lockin! :)

    Cherie :)
  8. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005

    Thanks for the kind words. I think we've decided to can the idea of playing for the kids. I highly suspect that they would ask us to wait to LOAD IN until after midnight, which means we wouldn't be able to start playing until 1am... which gets us out of there around 3:30 or 4... and considering that there's church praise team rehearsal at 8:30 in the morning (and a van full of different equipment), it's just too late to really be worth it.

    Plus, even high school audiences tend to lose energy once you hit that 2am mark... and that's no fun.

    So yeah, right now we're trying to find anyone who wants a Christian rock band to play somewhere in the Wichita, KS, area FOR FREE. Lol... PM me if you or anyone else is interested.

    The thing that kills me is that we've played for this church group before, in the same bloody venue. Granted, that was for another youth lockin, but still. They knew how we played (for the youth at least), and they knew that BEFORE they booked us.

    Very frustrating.

    Good to see the support from the good old TB, though. :smug:
  9. txbasschik


    Nov 11, 2005
    Leander, Texas

    Prolly someone who attended last year's show, said Anti-Rock Person, is your complaining, "let's have karaoke instead". I'd bet my lunch money on it.

    The kids will miss out!!! What a bummer.

    Well, I hope you can find a gig for that night. Surely another group would want a band like yours to play for them? Maybe a private party, or a youth lockin at another church? I'm down in Texas...too far away to help. But maybe you'll get lucky and some other band will cancel, and then a gig will open up?

    You know what they say...when one door closes, another opens. I hope there will be an open door for you. :)

    Cherie :)
  10. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    Cherie, check your PM inbox...
  11. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    So last night.

    We've just finished our Saturday night church service (our whole band plays in the praise team), and we've retreated to our drummer's house for a little NYE celebration, still rather bummed and hurt about being cancelled on. Drummer's wife is spoiling us with apple cider, cookies, cobbler... good stuff.

    We're just sitting down to watch "School of Rock" (the drummer had never seen it) when our bassist decides to head over to the party we had been cancelled from, just to see what lame entertainment they had replaced us with.

    About 5 minutes later, she calls me to relate a message from one of our middle school "fan club" - that she wanted us to still come play... after midnight, of course. I shoot a glance to the drummer, who was most disappointed about the gig situation, and say no. We've been working on recording this week and haven't played TOGETHER as a band for a long time. Not to mention the fact that we've only really been working on the four songs that we've been recording for the last week anyway. No way we could stretch a full set out of that. Final answer, sorry, but no way I was going to be playing a gig at 1am... just not gonna happen.

    So she calls back AGAIN, this time with one of the youth sponsors on the line. Apparently, the party is a bust for entertainment, there are no "little kids" to speak of (youngest being in grade school), and I find myself being BEGGED to come play, in our original time slot. Quick band conference, and we find ourselves turning off Jack Black and heading out to a gig with whatever we happen to have lying around.

    Understand that when I play a gig, it usually takes about six hours of prep work. Between loading up our full PA, lights, and everything, plus all the setup/tear down associated with it... I knew we didn't have enough time to do it "the right way" (it was already 9pm).

    So we grabbed everything that we had for recording - my only real casualty there was trying to play live without my full pedalboard of effects (I usually record with only a distortion pedal, and maybe a wah if I use it in the song... most everything else can be achieved more cleanly with modulation and EQ effects on the computer). We rushed over to our church and grabbed the only thing resembling a PA system that they have - a couple of speakers off of a Fender Passport and the Yamaha mixer amp that replaced the Passport amp when it died.

    Surprisingly, the gig went really very well. Despite being unpracticed, we played a solid 12 song set, lasting a little over an hour. We were able to get everyone involved, and I saw more of our "fans" singing along than ever. I'm really wishing that I hadn't let our drummer talk me out of bringing some recording equipment to the gig - because we sounded pretty stinking good...

    Moral of the story? You don't need lights or a huge PA to rock. Just a band ready to play, and a crowd ready to dance. Crowd is sometimes optional, but definitely preferred.

    Until next time!
  12. txbasschik


    Nov 11, 2005
    Leander, Texas
    <<<Moral of the story? You don't need lights or a huge PA to rock. Just a band ready to play, and a crowd ready to dance. Crowd is sometimes optional, but definitely preferred.


    I'm so glad they talked you into playing! I was wondering about y'all on Saturday night.

    Cherie :)