By: Ken Boone
Christmas Eve 2013, Celia and I were playing at an otherwise forgettable Christmas Eve service at a mid-sized church, doing an up-tempo arrangement of “The First Noel.” I usually do our arrangements, but this one was Celia’s, and quite good!
The church offers two weekly services. The contemporary one had a Worship Team/Band that played CWM classics. They had a few good musicians and a lot of not-so-talented musical enthusiasts vying for stage time there.
The church’s best musician had been lobbying Celia and me to “help them” with their music for months. After much consideration, we agreed to help for a limited time. Then we learned that, in order to offer our help, we first had to “talk to” the guy in charge of the music program. After a lengthy interrogation by the self-appointed boss of the music program, along with learning his long list of “must follow” rules, we decided to pass. We did learn that the traditional service needed help, so we agreed to work with them for a limited time. The traditional audience loved our music and regularly raised the roof with their voices. Attendance soared at that service. Another good musician joined the church and started a choir. We did what we intended: Help them with music and motivate/inspire other musicians to help as well.
It was during that time period that I was seriously considering starting a band that would play a collection of originals and cover old, familiar, inspirational Christian songs. Earlier in life, I started over a dozen bands, vocals groups, and choirs. Some were long-running, while most were short-lived. But all of them were good!
On the other hand, Celia, the brains of this operation, insisted that we didn’t need to go through the rigors of recruiting, auditioning, and recruiting musicians. She felt that we could do this music thing by ourselves with piano, bass and Celia singing lead with the congregation singing background. I, however, was dubious.
Even though the band at that church had a roster of over 50 musicians, they typically staged a maximum of seven players per service. I knew from experience that the 43 players sitting out those weekends would usually look for something else to do musically. Not these guys. It was as if they had signed non-compete agreements. But I digress…
As I’d mentioned before on several forums, I fancied myself a pretty decent gospel pianist. I hadn’t performed in years, but could still block out some pretty chords. When I met Celia and heard her play, I realized I’d have to find another instrument. What’s the learning curve for the tambourine? I chose the bass. I could hear bass parts in my head, now just needed to teach my fingers how to play them.
Two weeks before Christmas, the coordinator for the service called Celia, asking for our help and suggested several musicians in the praise band who would probably be open to play with us. Celia offered that we could put a nice musical Christmas Eve service together for them. I thought, wow! This may be the debut performance of our new band! Or so I thought.
A week later, we learned that we would not be putting together the show. Instead, the praise band would be putting on a CWM service and we were asked to do one song. On one hand, I was a little relieved because I’d only been playing the bass guitar for six weeks, and none of the musicians we asked were available to rehearse with us. On the other hand, it was weird.
We showed up, found ourselves scheduled to play second in the line-up, and with the help of a couple of singers, performed our song, which was a big hit! For the rest of the show, the praise band struggled to get through about eight barely-rehearsed CWM songs, none of which were familiar. It got so that no one applauded, not even their family members. It was bad. Okay, who needs a band?
The morals of this story are: 1) Less is more, especially if your “less” is with a trusted source, and 2) Husbands, listen to your wives! They always know what’s best!
But wait... there's more!
About the Author
As owner of the Descant Music & Media Group, Ken is a creator and producer of several podcast shows. He is also a music producer, as well as a writer and an accountant for small businesses and nonprofits.