Friday, January 29, 2010

I'll bet that never happened to John Denver...

I hate to do back-to-back post about our church's Praise Team, but I've seen a couple of hilarious moments happen in my time on the drums...and well, humor's our subject matter this week.

There's not enough good things I can say about Jamey, our Music Leader. The story I posted last week speaks to the genuine heart this man has when it comes to God. He has been a mentor and friend, and it flows easy when he gets a man hug and 'I love you' from yours truly (not an easy thing for me either, see Tony C Today).

He's one of the most musically gifted people I know or have known. All our music and vocal arrangements are composed by him, and he is the rock of the team...the go-to guy. He can play a song on the piano, bass guitar or drums and never look at sheet music. Harmony comes natural as he listens to 8 different singers to make adjustments. Never forgets a song or score. I'm not just building this up people...he's that good.
He's also a chronic perfectionist...a point of intimidation for everyone else...well...except maybe his wife who sings on the team too.

Don't get me wrong. He doesn't try to be intimidating or heavy-handed, he's just so darn good it's hard to live up to that standard. A very humble man despite his gift. If things start to break down during a song, all eyes go to him. Personally, mine are there most of the time anyway, since we've developed a nonverbal system of communication to cue breaks, builds, patterns and other things I'm forever forgetting during a song.

One Sunday, we prepared to open the service with a particularly spirited song by none other than Chris Tomlin. Again, you ask? I'm convinced our Praise Team leader has a man-crush...but that's another post. Anyway, we're kicking the service off, and there's a pretty good crowd of 230 or so already in the sanctuary. I look at everyone to make sure they're ready, and start the count off. 1...2...3...4...nothing. Nobody starts. No drums, keyboard, guitars or vocals.

Everyone looks at Jamey (including me), he nods, and I count again. 1...2...3...4...nothing. Again.

By this time, the congregation (who had been asked to stand and join in) know something just can't be right. Every one's in place, words on wall, so why aren't we praising? The next few seconds seemed like at least an hour for me. Do I count off a third time? Is Jamey's keyboard or maybe his monitor not working? I was lost along with everyone else on the team of four musicians and eight singers.

Jamey sits with his back to the congregation off to the left side and only a few feet from me. I had never seen the look on his face at that moment before and couldn't figure out what in the world was happening...I just knew that every one in the congregation was looking at me. Finally the silence was broken.

"I've got nothing," Jamey half-whispered into his microphone. We had played this song dozens of times. It was a staple, a fallback song in a pinch....but he had brain-locked in a major way. He looked at me as I looked at him...frozen...helpless. I tried to squeak out a few notes, but my state of panic and complete lack of singing ability did nothing to kick start the process.

"I'm sorry, I've got nothing here." (cricket noises)

After an excruciating period of time and a few bars from the Team Leader, we were finally off and running. All of us in complete terror at where the train was going...but off and running none the less. Jamey's impeccable reputation as a musical genius was, of course, completely unblemished by the whole fiasco, but he took a serious ribbing none the less. I probably mess up a number of times on any given song each and every Sunday, and I'm not alone...but never Jamey. His one goof was out there for everyone to see and hear...or not hear in this particular situation.

He's still my musical hero and mentor and has taught me more about honest, open worship in my role as a musician than I could have imagined. Hey Jamey...I love you man!


David said...

Only once on the platform - to me that is pretty darn good. I know the scenario first hand. Thankfully, the congregation was forgiving, right?

I have played worship for 30 years - one thing I learned a long time ago is that I don't have a good memory for tunes. Your post just makes me think of my first recital at college - nothing, no one to help, just nothing - my instructor had to rescue me. I guess there is comfort in knowing that I am not the only musician with brain cramps. My new trick is an iPod with the tunes that we are doing at all times - better than a monitor. :o)


Lauren Blackwell said...

That graphic image of the praise singer is one of my stock images--thanks so much for using one of my images in your blog! ~ Lauren Blackwell