Today I played in the Jacob's Well band for the first time! Trial by fire, but I'm pretty sure I didn't completely suck...
I've served as a sound engineer at JW since February, at least once or twice a month, and in that time been blessed to meet most of our wonderful musicians (the worship team has over 30 people who rotate each week). Over the months I've asked if I could eventually slip into the band rotation, and this week I was invited to trade in my headphones and join them up front.
I mentioned today was "trial by fire". I had several factors working against me today:
- No mid-week rehearsal. Normally the band rehearses on Tuesday night, giving plenty of time to work through any kinks or trouble spots in the songs. But Nate, the leader, is a brand new Daddy, so there was no rehearsal this week (quite understandably!)
- Ears. I've never used in-ear monitors before. They're sweet, but the Aviom console to mix what I was hearing in my ears had no labels, so it was hard to figure out which channels I needed to turn up to hear what I needed to hear. (Nate graciously ran through the list slowly so I could write it down before we got going too far).
- Click. I've also never played to a click. Though now I don't know how I'll ever play without one. So this isn't a bad thing, it's just "one more new thing" thrown into the bag.
- You've Got a Friend In Me. Jazz? How the heck do I play jazz? And the song's in Eb (half a step lower than standard guitar tuning, which makes it much more difficult to play). Fortunately, I have a "backup" performance guitar, so I re-tuned that and then switched between the two guitars between songs. Made life much easier. Relatively. Not only are the chords crazy, but the changes go crazy fast.
- Most importantly: I haven't played in a band for a long time. It's been well over a year since I played publicly with a band. I don't get stage-fright, the audience doesn't bother me, but anticipating keeping tempo with 3 other instrumentalists had me worried. (unnecessarily so: that click is awesome)
So I survived. I have room for improvement (always will), but I didn't suck, so all in all off to a good start. And it means I can continue breaking a stereotype by crossing the boundary between tech and musician. Frankly I think it makes me better at both jobs, because as a Tech I know what the musicians need/want/expect, and as a musician I have a solid grasp on what the tech may need me to do.