Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Soooo...you sing?

As a matter of fact, I do. I don't have a band or anything, but I do sing with them on occasion. iPhones, iPads, and laptops being what they are these days I can usually bring enough band by myself to sing with. Some things never change, though. It's largely the same process it always was no matter where the music is coming from. Squib thinks this is interesting and one other laundrette asked so here goes.

The sound check. This particular time it occurred before the dawn of time. 8 am. If you sing, time "dawns" at or after 10 am. I arrived at 8 am. No sound. So I sat on the stage and watched this. Later it will look like a Hobby Lobby exploded in there:
This is Christmas by Candlelight. It's a local event put on yearly right after Thanksgiving to raise money for charity. Each table is hosted and decorated by a woman and she invites guests, etc. I never officially attended until last year. I'm almost certain it's because most people are afraid of my reaction to being in a crowded room. But last year they stuck me by the doors to the kitchen--quick exit. This year, they put me by those big double doors in the upper left of the photo. I guess they sense my innate tendency to escape. But I swear on a stack of Bibles I actually stayed for the entire thing without hiding in the wings or the kitchen.

I did confuse the woman sitting next to me with someone else and did NOT remember that I met her last week. However, she's Drea la fae's mother in law, so she's very used to the weirdness and *I think* we smoothed that over. So much for my mad social skills. Right?

So back to the sound call. There I was with not much to do. Waiting. Here's the view from under my hat:

I didn't bring a book and the ladies going in and out were chatting with me as I attempted to hide behind my headphones and learn lyrics. So we chatted until Ross the Sound Bandit arrived and off-loaded his truck full of equipment and we started playing with the cable spaghetti:
Ross, like me, is not a sound man first, but a bassist. If you play an instrument that requires any sort of amplification, then inevitably you eventually become your own sound person. Usually out of self defense. Ditto for vocalists. There isn't a sound gig that goes by that I don't thank my lucky stars for all those late nights in the University of Houston's Physics department's Circuits labs. 7 pm to 10:55 pm four days a week for a year. What am I doing with it? Not a whole heck of a lot, but I can chase feedback and run sound.

Well, it is nice to be able to replace bad outlets and other electrical junk around your house. No electrician, etc.

During this whole sound thing--once we know things are physically hooked up right--we have to check my mic for all levels which is a fancy way of saying Ross walks all over the room to make sure I'm heard and fiddles with the equalizing nobs to tailor the sound output and effects....blah... then we do that again with the speaker's mic (only we didn't test the speaker's mic enough this time because *someone* was in a hurry and there were some shenanigans later).

So the sound check took and hour and a half which wasn't long at all. I came back to the venue earlier than the event was supposed to start. Rule #1: There is always a snag (Snag Rule). Rule #2: Something weird always happens (Glitch Rule). The snag was the ridiculous feedback from the speaker's mic when we turned the volume up high enough to hear. So, I drove like a crazy woman and *borrowed* a mic stand. Briefly. The woman who loaned me her key to get said stand took no coersion whatsoever in my little plot. I said "I need..." and she said, "I don't care. Just. Fix. It." Then she slapped her key in my hand. She was also slinging around plates of food and flinging them out the door like a pro.

And yes. Leopards have Christmas, too. Every table was decorated differently. Southwest. Traditional. White, blue, red, green, teal, pink, black, zebra print, you name it.

The glitch for the evening was the embarrassing part. My iPhone was doubling as the DJ for the evening. All the festive mood music was playing through it and then, after the door prizes were raffled off, my accompaniment track was on it. When I was done, I stopped it and made sure the ringer was turned off. It was. The bell with the slash through it showed up and everything. However...during the speaking...it rang anyway when my friend Sherry sent a text to me to ask what the song I sang was called. You remember that table way, way, way, way back in the corner? That's how far I had to come to shut the silly thing up. Meanwhile it played the opening credits to the X-files. Oy.
So, the speaker is speaking--and she's really good--and I'm back in my seat with my phone. And I really hate to say this, but half the reason I never really sit still and stare at the person speaking is because I can't. I listened, but I was also eating (I never eat before I sing, so they saved my food for me). Then, I had my phone and was goofing around. I'm not putting all those weird pics in here. You're welcome.

Never take a picture staring down at your camera like this. It makes your incoming wrinkles look wrinklier and your face look puffy. At this point I did not care. I was trying to keep from wiggling.

This particular dinner was to benefit Angels in Action which is a group that supports cancer victims and their families and it operates through several churches in Texas. They make blankets for patients, send cards, make meals monthly (at minimum) and more often if need be. Also, lately, they have been able to help patients monetarily if they need money to finish payment on a round of treatment or a down payment to begin treatment...those are just examples. They are extremely busy as a group and have worked with us (my family) for years now since we seem to be collecting cancer like baseball cards. The woman slinging hash in the kitchen--in addition to owning/operating her own (I don't know what to call it) bed and breakfast minus the breakfast and catering is the leader of the local AIA group. She asked me to sing. She also suggested the song. The song makes me cry when I'm done (if I'm lucky) which is why I'm not wearing any make-up. The two times I rehearsed it at the venue and the two I reviewed it in my office (while sheet rock was being beaten off the walls) were enough to do me in. The one time in front of a crowd was a great run through and I had time on my hike back to my table to shake off the emotions. Sometimes in cases like that, I'll run through it when I get home and let whatever happens...happen. Especially in cases like this when I'll have to sing the song again a week from tonight.

They gave me a nametag in case I forgot who I was. Happens more than you might think.
They could mill around like that for hours. Meanwhile, I'm going to make off with half of the sound equipment.

It's amazing what fits inside my Dooney & Bourke drawstring bag! This is just one handful...
I am probably 20% more likely to do something weird or just plain stupid after singing than any other time. I have no idea why. I have to wind down and that takes time. Might as well amuse myself...right?
I know, not as exciting as it sounds.

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