On typical Sunday mornings, we have about 35 minutes to clear the traditional service off the stage, set up the contemporary service, and then have the band do a final run-through of the music package.
We’ve worked out a pretty smooth approach to these transitions – most weeks it works well, with the sound check/run-through complete about 15 minutes ahead of the start of the contemporary service.
One particular Sunday morning, however, things weren’t quite so typical. The worship leader (who is also the keyboardist) planned on using a Hammond B3 with a Leslie cabinet as well as the acoustic grand piano. The piano is already on stage for the traditional service, so we just had to wheel out the B3 and mike it up.
Simple stuff, right? Simple if it all works…
The Snowball Begins To Roll…
As the band began rehearsing the first number, the worship leader noticed that the Leslie was stuck at full speed and there was nothing that he could do to change it. I took a quick look as well to see if it was something simple like a stuck relay or bad connection. After about three minutes, I said we better move to “plan B” or we were going to run out of time.
I hustled to bring the electronic keyboard from the rehearsal room while the worship leader trailed me, grabbing the keyboard stand, power cord and sustain pedal. My assistant snagged a couple of direct boxes and cables. We had a mission and needed to accomplish it quickly.
After getting the keyboard set up, I asked the worship leader to begin rehearsing while we cleared the B3 and Leslie cabinet out of the way. Usually, I work with the front of house operator on the main mix during the rehearsal time, but on this particular morning, that wasn’t an option. He was on his own. The band ran through a couple of quick numbers and then it was “go time.”
It Keeps Rolling…
Later, the front of house operator said to me, “In all of the rush I was able to get a decent line check and set levels, but I never really started to mix until the guest vocalist showed up.”
What? Did he just say guest vocalist? Oh, that’s right, I recalled. The problem was that she didn’t arrive until 15 minutes before the start of the service. Normally I would have said, “Sorry, but we don’t have time to sound check, so we’re going to have cut your number.”
However, due to all of the other craziness, the band was still rehearsing and another caveat was that the senior pastor who was preaching that day had specifically crafted a good amount of his message around her song. The worship leader noticed that the guest vocalist had arrived, stopped the band and instructed them to jump to her song. She started singing and immediately struggled to hit some of the notes. (Wow, this morning just kept getting better and better!)
The worship leader again stopped the band and instructed them to drop the song by a key. Bingo! She sounded great, the song rocked, and we had a whole eight minutes to spare before the start of the service.