Music's Edge Rock Camp, Friday Nite Big Show at The WOW Hall (Part 1 -- Preparation):
There is still much blogging left. I hope you can stay tuned for 2-3 more installments.
After camp dismantles at 3:00pm, all 6 groups must sound check, in reverse order of show lineup, by 7:00pm when doors open. 50 kids, half of whom never done this before.
My group, "Llama in a Box," goes home for rest, snacks, and wardrobe. They return to the Hall at 6:10pm for their turn at 6:30 check, observing the prior band at theirs.
For efficiency's sake, we wax fascistic: "Bring your axe to the stage, plug it in, and play one or two riffs until it sounds right (Line-Check). Then, don't make another noise until the sound-techs ask for it. (Thank you Davis Davis Davis for your awesomeness at the helm.) They'll attend to you one-by-one, until they've dialed each of you into the House P.A. and your monitors."
It's a "learn-by-doing" endeavor. And my job is crazy-fun, as I position 9 players, guide, explain, trouble-shoot, field anxious (panicked) questions. ("Yes, I'll be at side-stage to cue just like in practice.")
I serve them like a stage manager. I've promised to make sure they have everything they need. Trust me. Lyrics on stands. Chord progressions taped to the floor. Snare drum lowered to junior height, extra sticks. Extra guitar picks. Straps adjusted. Microphones & stands. Need a stool for the bassists, 'cause the instrument is too big? Adjusting distortion pedals. Keyboard sounds.
I re-tune all guitars 3 times, right up to downbeat.
"No Noodling! Hey, the sound guy is talking to you... through that monitor speaker?"
I instill the confidence to demand what they need on stage. Can you hear yourself? Can you hear the others? (Eliot needs to hear the piano to help his vocals on Nirvana.) Tiny Maci (donning a Strat that we've christened "Pink Bandit") thinks she's too loud. "Nope," I say. "We want to hear you as loud as those grandstanders Owen & Caroline."
The instructors chime in to help me with my kids. (Which is generous, 'cause I did not help them -- I went home and took a nap!)
After all that, we are blessed with time to run through parts of 3 songs, which covers each voice, each lead, and each combination of instrumentation. This went smoothly and my kids come out of it relaxed and ready. One by one, they nod towards me with satisfaction.
Then Caroline breaks a string in the Greenroom, 15 minutes before showtime. I'm scrambling for an extra, none to be found. How the hell could I have overlooked that? Neither the instructors, nor the other guitarists have extras. Are you kidding!? I find one in the trunk of my car, and we're strung and ready with 5 minutes to go. Nobody is nervous. Like I mentioned before, they've been ready since before lunchtime.