Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Our First (non-paying) Nashville Gig!

I haven’t had a chance to actually get to the computer in the last few days, and now I have a tonne of catching up to do. Lots has been happening...

Sunday morning, I decided to go back to last week’s church, BCC. It was such a unique experience that I wanted Gerald to check it out. Also, I’d exchanged emails with someone from the music department, and I wanted the chance to introduce myself in person.

We decided to hit the 11:00am service - such a nice change from the earlier services I usually attend. The music was already on the go when we got there, and the band was even bigger than last week. This church is in a time of transition and, like St. John’s, they are looking for a new preacher. They’ve narrowed down their selection, and this Sunday, one of those short-listed came to preach. He continued in their 8-week preaching theme of “Break Free”, and spoke about breaking free from the self-destructive labels we put on ourselves. He based his sermon on the story of Peter. When Jesus renamed Peter, “the Rock”, Jesus was not just saying that Peter was a rock now, but that Peter would continue to develop into a stronger character who would provide strength and stability to those around him. This preacher challenged us to open ourselves up to God, and to allow God to take away our negative names, and replace them with names of strength, love, and power.

After the service, we started talking to people, and I was lucky enough to speak to Anna, the person who had emailed me. Well, as we’re chatting about the church and all its programs, the assistant music director comes up to Anna and announces he’s in trouble for the youth service Wednesday - He’s without a guitar player and a harmony singer. Gerald and I sort of looked at each other, and very shyly piped up, “Um, we do that”. Next thing we know, we’re exchanging emails and marking a rehearsal time into my datebook.

(As a side note: Yes, this is non-paying. BCC has a roster of volunteer musicians, and we’re not able to accept any paying work without a work visa.)

Later that night, we received an email containing charts and lyrics for the music for Wednesday. We’re thinking, “This is cool. It’s only 4 songs, and it’s a good chance to jump into the music program two feet first.” Then we open the charts... They’re all in the Nashville Number System! That’s that thing I mentioned that Gerald is learning in his guitar lessons where all the chords are represented by numbers instead of letters. But notice I said “learning”, not, “he’s-learned-it-and-it’s-second-nature” So, we both put in some significant time figuring out how to translate the charts and then rewriting them into letters.

In the midst of all this, we still had a bunch of errands to do. Yesterday took us all around, but the best part was a visit to NSAI. We were gifted a few mugs as a welcome-to-Nashville present, and then we decided to use the computers to print off the lyrics for Wednesday. We discovered that the member lounge is a great place to meet other people, and almost lost the whole afternoon to chatting and socializing. And Gerald had a wonderful moment where another songwriter remembered his song from the critique meeting last week and exclaimed, “That was the best song of the whole night!”. Yes, my husband blushed!

Later that night, we had dinner with our great friend, Joel. It was a great chance to catch up and try out a fabulous new restaurant (well, new for us), but it was also an important meeting as Joel is my visa sponsor, and this brings us one step closer to filing the package. I also need a letter from ASCAP, and today, I brought my package to their offices to get that final letter. Then it’s back to Toronto for the final polish and filing.(Sounds like we're giving it a pedicure!) It’s months later than I wanted it to be, and this may keep us in Toronto longer this winter, but I’m so impressed with how it’s looking, and I’m so anxious to have it sent in. Praying like crazy over it. If you’ve got an extra prayer, I know a good use for it...

So, after all that visa stuff, errands, and trying to use our community’s fitness centre (I’m working out every second day!), we still had to spend lots of time practicing these songs. Let’s not forget: Neither one of us had ever heard either of these 4 songs before. Gerald has never read numbers charts before, and I’m okay at harmonies, but listening to recordings and having to pick harmonies out is a pretty daunting task. (I’m no Monika!)

This afternoon, Gerald had a guitar lesson at 4, so he got his teacher to look over the charts to see if we had them right. (Almost perfect!) After the lesson, we jumped in the car and raced over for the 5:00 rehearsal.

BCC’s youth service is held in a funky-shaped portable building called the Onion. Every Wednesday night, approximately 50 high-schoolers gather for an one-hour worship service. They have social time before, and then a full service with music, prayers, and a message. Tonight’s rehearsal was for the band and tech. There were 8 of us in total, and a full sound team made up of young people. We spent a lot of time working out the sound. The acoustics in the room are terrible, but the team worked hard to find a balance. We spent several hours working on the songs, and ended with a final run-through of the set. There’s one other harmony singer who’s done all the songs before, so that makes it a little easier.

We were a little nervous going in, but everyone was very cool and supportive, so we had a lot of fun. We’ve kept tomorrow quiet so we can rehearse a little more. Going to get a good night’s sleep so I have all those pretty notes in my throat!

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