Just when you think that you are becoming a seasoned performer, something happens to bring you back to reality. The other night at the Blue Lamp proved that I am far from seasoned. Old and grizzled, maybe. Seasoned, not at all.
Yes, Saturday night tested my cool, and my cool lost. We were second on the bill. To paraphrase Phil Upchurch, I could not sit down. We loaded in at 7:00 and stacked our instruments and equipment in a corner near the door. We hung out waiting for the other bands to show up. Guided by the “Sound Guy,” we put our amps on stage. Finally, around 7:30, Don -- formerly Jet Blue of the Lava Pups, now Donnie Funicello of the Funicellos -- arrived. He put his amp on the stage.
In the words of the Sound Guy, “Let’s get as much on stage to make the change overs fast.”
While the Tiki Lounge Lizards played, I paced. Bought a coffee at Starbucks across the street. Then a couple of carne asada tacos off the taco truck parked out back. Paced some more. By the time the Tiki Lounge Lizards finished, coffee, tacos, and anticipation had my nervous energy at warp speed.
Once the Tiki Lounge Lizards cleared the stage, the Sound Guy was in the hurry up mode. Drums to the stage. Position the amps. I had to get my stuff ready. Find an extension cord. Power to the amp. Show the Sound Guy the line out to the PA on my amp. Hook up the pedal board. Make sure that everything is connected. Check the settings on the amp. Check the settings on the pedals.
The Sound Guy was back at the sound board. “Give me the kick.” Glenn stomped on the pedal, and the bass drum boomed. “Is that all that you got? Really kick it!” Glenn stomped on the pedal again. “Rhythm. Play something.” Sue responded. The Sound Guy said something about turning up or turning down. Robert was next.
While this was going on, I checked the connections. Hit each pedal on the pedal board. They lit up. The amp was on -- in standby. I switched from standby and ran my pick across the strings. Silence. Silence? Silence! At that point, I also realized that the spot lights above the stage were kicking out heat. Heat, coffee, tacos, and nervous energy were not combining well with getting no sound out of my amp.
The Sound Guy now was back on stage. “Is your battery dead in your wireless?” “No, I put a fresh one in this afternoon. I’ll use a cord.” I left the stage and fished my florescent yellow cord out of the gig bag. I plugged it into the pedal board. More silence. “Let’s try it directly into the amp.” Still no sound. Sweat was beginning to drip off my forehead.
Heat, coffee, tacos, nervous energy, and frustration were winning out. “Maybe you lost a tube.” “It worked fine this afternoon.” An eternity was passing by. This was downright embarrassing. My cool was being bashed. The Sound Guy was losing his patience.
I looked over the amp again. And . . . holy smokes, the gain knob was zeroed. I rolled it up to 5 and hit the strings. Blang! We had sound. Zeroed. How did that happen? Why didn’t we notice that earlier? What a putz I am.
Robert could see that my hands were shaking. “Relax. Take a deep breath. Collect yourself. Everything will be fine.” I thanked him, and he stepped back. I looked down at my shaking hand and then out at the audience.
“We are the Lava Pups!” I started Surf Rider and hoped that my fingers would find the right strings as the introduction was mine and mine alone. Our set was underway.