Monday, November 23, 2009

Got a minute?

This post is so bizarre, I still can't believe it even as I am writing.....

Yesterday, I was to play piano with an eight piece band for a live Christian Radio Show at our local Shopping Center. We were instructed by the band leader to arrive and be ready for a 30 minute rehearsal at 4 PM since we go "live" at 4:30.

I arrived at 3:50 with my keyboard. I play this show every month, so I was very confident that the radio engineer would get me up and running in about 2 minutes. (He did) Thank Heavens for qualified sound guys!

The bass player wasn't there at 4. I programed the keyboard to spilt keys. This makes the lower keys sound like an electric bass and the upper keys sound like a piano. Rehearsal went very nicely, and the bumper and spot music sounded great. The vocal soloist was very pleased. The sound guy boosted my bass EQ, so that the bass keys sounded nice and full.

When doing radio and TV, one eye is always on the music and director, the other is on the Radio Producer. When the producer holds up 10 fingers, it means that the show is going "live" in 10 minutes. Five fingers mean five minutes left, etc.

After the producer held up the "One minute until "live" signal, the bass player walks in! He plugs in, turns to me, and asks, "What did I miss?"

There is absolutely no way that I can tell him every cut and vamp for an hour show in less than a minute. I told him that I would do my best to walk him through the show. I de-selected the split keyboard function to make the entire keyboard a piano tone again.

The producer points to the show host and the director counts us off. It only took one note to discover that the bass guitar was horribly OUT OF TUNE! He also had the wrong song up. For the next hour, despite my coaching, I don't think he played a single line correctly.

Normally, I don't play the lower keys when a bass player is there. But extreme cases call for extreme measures. The special guest vocalist this month is a friend, so I decided to drown out the bass part and make sure that he had a good background in which to sing.

When the show was over, the drummer leaned over to me and said, "Nice Save". The director was also very pleased with the show. He never questioned why the piano was playing the lower keys with and bass player there. He also never asked me how the bass player did, so I didn't volunteer any observations concerning the bass parts.

As I started to pack up, the bass player turns to me and asks, "so when do we get paid?"

I smiled and said, "You'll have to take that up with the director".

good gigging!

Larry Marra