Back at it

Uh, remind how all this stuff works again?

Uh, remind how all this stuff works again?

For the past twelve weeks at my church, we’ve had ONLY two services on Sunday mornings – one at 9:00 and one at 10:15. This is, of course, a switch from our “full” schedule of five services on Sunday morning – two at 9:00, two at 10:15, and one at 11:30.

Before we get back to that schedule, we have a couple of weeks of four services – two at both hours – beginning today, which means that for the first Sunday in twelve weeks, my morning involved a lot of Running Around. Not only were we in two rooms, but we also baptized a bunch of folks. I’m pretty sure every ten-fifteen minutes or so, I remembered some detail or item that needed attention (this actually began around 6:30 a.m. when I was brushing my teeth). Except a few things that didn’t go as well as they could have, considering this was our first time in three months to sync rooms, it was a pretty good day.

But the funniest part of the morning had nothing to do with having two rooms.

At the end of the first service, the band(s in both rooms) came back on stage to do a closing song. As we were wrapping up the video feed on the headset, I looked up and noticed we were missing Acoustic Guitar. Electric Guitar was playing ganjo/six-string banjo for this last song, and I saw Worship Pastor gesture to him to move over to acoustic; and he did. And because our team is awesome & Electric Guitar is a pro, the song was fine and went off without a hitch.

As it turns out, Acoustic Guitar had gotten waylaid by some visitors, and he was nice enough to show them where to go, and just didn’t quite make it back in time. However, in the few seconds that Electric Guitar was switching instruments, and capo-ing the acoustic guitar, he looked like he had never picked up a guitar before in his life.1  Since Senior Pastor was praying at this point, I’m guessing not many people saw that moment. I was even told that Acoustic Guitar started to come on stage, peaking through the curtain on the side of the stage, but then backed out. All in all, it was a pretty funny moment. And in the second service, all hands were on deck and in the right place for the closing song.


1. It also reminded me of the TV show from the late ’80s/early ’90s, Quantam Leap – when the guy appears in a new situation/time period and has to figure out who he is, where he is, and what’s going on. Random, I know, but it was kind of fitting.

And because the internet, here’s the opening of the show with a much more detailed explanation:


Guitar Slide Friday: Lead Guitar Version Redux

Athens, GA is a college town, and though my church is not in Athens, it is connected to the university community. University communities are, I suppose, by definition dynamic – undergrads complete their degrees in four years (give or take a few years), graduate students come and go, and professors find new academic positions. And as someone who has lived here for over a decade, I have seen too many dear friends leave as they move on to the next chapter in their lives.1 

Well, Lead Guitar is moving on to his next Thing (but thankfully not leaving town, whew!), and so this past Sunday was one of his last with us for the foreseeable future. I’m quite glad I’ve had the opportunity to get to know him over the years, and I will miss seeing him regularly on Tuesdays and Sundays. He’s been faithful, he’s got a great heart and a great attitude, and probably most importantly, he appreciates my love of guitar slides and has humored me on more than one occasion. But while I’m sad, I’m also happy for him because this is a good opportunity. So in his honor, here are a few of his guitar slides that I’ve posted here on the blog…

Here’s one of the first (since I started documenting this sort of thing). The slide is around 0:11 and unfortunately isn’t very clear in the mix:

Two in one song!!!!

Perhaps the most fun one:

And my most favorite of them all:

1. It is not lost on me that there is a slim possibility that I will be a ‘mover on’ in the future, but I’m not going to dwell on that just now. I’ll think about that later… #professionalprocrastinator

Play it again, again

It’s no surprise here that I like music. I like it a lot. I think it about it regularly. I am frequently overwhelmed by it. I listen to it often. I have also spent the majority of my life doing music in some way or another. Directly and indirectly, music is how I pay my bills and eat (and consume music. And buy shoes.). I also like to listen to the same song/piece over and over and over again, on repeat. This means that my iTunes (more often than not) has the “repeat one” option engaged. It’s quite convenient for my obsessive (compulsive?) listening habit.

I also use my iTunes (on my laptop) at the church each week – to play pre/post-service music and to record the sermon. Usually, I remember to disengage the “repeat” option when I begin the pre-service music on a Sunday morning. Usually.

This past Sunday, I forgot. I started the first song on the playlist, and proceeded with my Sunday morning tasks. At some point shortly thereafter, I left the room for quite a few minutes. I remember looking at the song (“God’s Great Dance Floor” by Chris Tomlin – OK song, terrible title) and thinking it was a long-ish song. However, I distinctly recall walking back in to the room, hearing the song, and thinking, “This really IS a long a song.”

As the first service was ending, I hit play on my iTunes, and began to fade in the post-service music (well, pre-service music for the second service). Approximately five seconds in to the song, I realized it was the same song. Again. It had played at least five times before the service! I quickly started a new song and changed the repeat option on my iTunes.

No less than four people on our team mentioned it to me between the services. Maybe next Sunday, I’ll remember to check the repeat option before I play the pre-service music. However,  I’m pretty sure I know one song that I’ll leave off the playlist for the next few weeks.

Insert clever title here

I’ve been in a small battle against chest congestion of late, and though I’m holding my own, it’s left me lacking wherewithal (and a title for this blog post). On second thought, it could just be that I watched a crazy football game yesterday afternoon instead of honoring the sacred Sunday Afternoon Nap. Either way, we’ll be short and sweet here.

We were back to two rooms/four services yesterday, and thankfully, it wasn’t too crazy. Well, the first service in our room was a little wonky, but nothing too bad. I’ve mentioned that we use loops here before. The loops vary in complexity, ranging from a nearly full track of neat sounds to a rather dull-but-meaty (synth or string) pad sound.

We were using the latter version in a couple of songs in our set, and they got a bit mixed up. So as Acoustic Guitar began strumming the intro to one song, the pad sound came in… but it was the wrong track and subsequently in the wrong key. Very wrong. After less than three or four beats, I not-too-slowly faded the volume of the pad sound and kept it out of the mix.

We’ve had one other incident of dissonance that I recall in the relatively recent past, and really, a little dissonance never hurt anyone, right? Well, unless you count that whole riot thing at the Rite of Spring premier… thankfully, no one in our service opted for catcalls and violence.


Even though it was a week that involved the sync-ing song, a video clip, and a not-regular speaker doing the welcome, AND it was a week without Tall Sound Guy, yesterday went (mostly) without a hitch. We were not without our moments, however. Usually the band(s) are walking on stage at around 1:00, but in the first service today, the band in our room was late coming on, and the last person was getting settled as the timer approached 0:00. In the second service, two of the six folks were on stage at the one minute mark, and three others wandered out when we were down to about 40 seconds. As the timer was getting down to ten seconds, I was yelling asking anyone in listening distance where the last person was. With two seconds to go, Little Drummer Boy bounded onto the stage and in about two steps was in the drum cage trying to get settled. Have I mentioned this makes me slightly nervous?

Lead Guitar was out this week, so Asian Intern Apprentice was playing lead. We opened our worship set with the song “Our God.” The intro of this song has a fairly distinctive lead part, even more recognizable since the song has been pretty popular since it first appeared on the 2010 Passion album Awakening. Asian Apprentice was playing this intro, when there was a not-part-of-the-song noise followed by mostly silence with a bit of piano and maybe some acoustic guitar. The absence of the lead part was obvious. I looked up, speaking (again) to anyone within hearing distance, and said, “What just happened?!?” And then I saw that AA’s electric guitar had come unplugged. By the time he scrambled to find the cable and get plugged back in, it was nearly time for the vocal to begin. Our Female Worship Leader did, in fact, start the song, but it wasn’t exactly a clean start. The opening lyrics are “Water You turned into wine / Opened the eyes of the blind,” but I think I heard something like “…water… wine.” At which point, I laughed out loud (once again, apologies to those sitting/standing near me). Thankfully, the rest of the song went exactly as planned, and in the second service, AA decided to stay plugged in for the whole set!

Deep Breath

As with many schedules in this college town, the church’s schedule tends to revolve around the University’s calendar. So yesterday was our “deep breath” Sunday–the last Sunday before all of the students come back into town. As mentioned last week, we were in one room yesterday, and overall, it was a nice and easy kind of day, made better by a couple of guitar slides from Lead Guitar. And since we were in one room, Sanctuary Worship Leader was leading/playing guitar in our room, with Worship Pastor playing and only singing the closing song.

However, in the category of Things You’d Never Know Were Wrong (unless you saw the crazy lady in the sound booth freaking out), the end of the second service didn’t quite go as planned. As we were wrapping things up, our Guest Speaker got to his final point, which was the cue for the band to come out to play the closing song. However, there was no sign of the band. I called back to the band room and yelled at spoke to someone, asking “Are y’all coming out?!? WHY AREN’T YOU ON STAGE?!?” to which she replied, “Where’s Worship Pastor?!?” After a quick glance around, I replied, “I have no idea, but y’all need to be on stage NOW!” The team walked on the stage, looking at me for help and/or looking slightly dismayed, and Lead Guitar giving me an I-have-no-idea-where-he-is look/shrug. At this point, Guest Speaker was finishing, and I was basically yelling at Sanctuary Worship Leader (and the rest of the band) through their in-ear monitors.

It went something like this:
To SWL: “You have to start playing!”
As he was approaching the piano: “NO, strum your guitar!”
Realizing Worship Pastor wasn’t showing up: “YOU HAVE TO SING THE SONG!”
And since our closing song almost always serves as our offertory, as he began the introduction, “CALL THE USHERS!!”

To his and the band’s credit, the offering happened, the song was great, and I’m sure no one had any idea that this was NOT the plan. I, on the other hand, was calmly freaking out. College Pastor was in the booth for this service, and throughout the song, I kept looking at him and saying, “Where IS he? What’s going on?!?” but it was as the song was ending that I had the awful, panicked thought that something might be Wrong. And then I felt really, really guilty for freaking out and being so irritated.

Thankfully, Worship Pastor was fine, and was simply confounded by the length of Guest Speaker’s sermon. On our weekly service plan, we allot thirty-five minutes for the sermon, and Senior Pastor never rarely fits within this timeframe. Yesterday, however, Guest Speaker told us he would speak for around thirty minutes, and was true to his word in the first service. Since we’re always a part of two services, it’s not unusual for our team members to move around our campus and/or attend to other tasks during the second service. So yesterday in the second service, Worship Pastor left the building and figured he easily had at least 15-20 minutes before he needed to be back on stage. But Guest Speaker spoke for a mere 25 minutes, and, well, Worship Pastor didn’t make it back in time.

So here’s to Sanctuary Worship Leader for stepping up in a crunch, and doing a fantastic job as well. Along with my apologies to him and the rest of the team for all of the crazy yelling 🙂

Did you hear that? It’s Guitar Slide Sunday!

I was looking forward to yesterday because it meant that we were one Sunday closer to this coming Sunday–a day that we will NOT have to sync ANYTHING since we’ll all be in one room. Although we’ve had two rooms only for the 9:30 hour for the majority of the summer, it will still be really nice to not have to think about it for one week, before the craziness of “fall semester” (and all that entails and implies; is it really that time again?!?) comes around.

After a few last-minute scheduling changes on Saturday, my Sunday morning went smoothly. I even had a few minutes to sit and listen to our bands rehearse, think about how great they are, and how much I appreciate them! There was a moment, however, when the countdown was nearing two minutes for the 9:30 service, and our entire Sanctuary team was still in our room. I watched as almost every single person stopped to talk to someone, or someone grabbed them and gave them a hug. I desperately wished they could hear me  yelling, “You CAN’T stop and talk right now! What are you doing?!? GET OUT OF HERE!” They all made it in time, although I believe the last person was walking into the room with seven seconds to go!

A most exciting part of the morning was when the band was running through a song called “I Lift My Hands,” and at a stop in the song, Lead Guitar (not our regular Lead Guitar, but a Frequently Visiting Lead Guitar, you might remember him from some camp photos) played a fantastic slide. So obviously, I recorded it and have posted it here (this has happened once before–remember?). One quick note about the photos in the video. The opening photo is NOT from yesterday, but it’s almost the exact same team that played yesterday (except for Female Worship Leader). The second photo is just funny from camp. It’s Frequently Visiting Lead Guitar’s gear (guitar and pedals), but it’s actually Lead Guitar, the person. Just wanted to clear that up. Now, enjoy this slide!

Hello, Thursday

Wednesday came and went and I completely missed Guitar Slide Wednesday. I won’t apologize too much, though, because I was away from my computer and out in the world Doing Stuff… and really, REALLY getting my money’s worth for my 7-day CTA pass. I’m staying in Bucktown, ventured over to Wicker Park, interviewed a guy in East Ukrainian Village, hung out at Bloodshot and did an interview over in Irving Park, and did a tourist-y thing by visiting the Navy Pier. And I saw fireworks. While on a boat. YAY fireworks!

And since we didn’t have a Guitar Slide Wednesday proper, I did see Cory Branan do at least four at his show on Tuesday night. So here’s a little Cory for your Thursday…


I have a billion things to be thankful for in general, and specifically today, not the least of which is that I’m hanging out in a lovely loft in a hip Chicago neighborhood on a Monday afternoon, listening to indie pop, and blogging. So the shout-outs are as follows: loft/Chicago = College Pastor for introducing me to Fabulous Chicago Actor and Amazingly Talented Husband, and to the both of them for being generally awesome and generous and letting me stay here; indie pop = Youth Pastor introduced me to Songza this weekend and now I’m listening to a playlist called “Sunshine Indie Pop.”

But it’s the post-Sunday post, and in this spirit of gratitude, I’d like to dedicate this post to Worship Pastor. However, before I get to that, yesterday in our first service, we had, um, technical difficulties, which resulted in Senior Pastor being heard and not seen at one point, and then Senior Pastor being seen and not heard at another. It was all really awkward, and during the latter, at least 150 folks were turned around looking at me. Usually in moments like that, I hide under the sound board (yes, literally), but yesterday I stood there and looked back at them. And maybe I laughed, because, well, it was really awkward.

But back to Worship Pastor. The tagline I have given him over the years is “There’s no one like him,” and I regularly tell him this, because, well, it’s true. If you know him, you know that you don’t really know anyone else quite like him. He has an incredibly wide knowledge and experience base, and is well-versed (and excels) in music, sport, design, audio, video, building and construction, and fixing things in general. We emphasize prayer and having a good attitude in our ministry, and he models those two things with great consistency.

And even though I thought he hated me the first year we worked together, am certain he only heard about 60% of the things I said to him in the first two or three years we worked together (I’ve since learned the advanced skill of communicating with him 🙂 ), and he can drive me crazy sometimes (as I can do to him, I’m sure), I’m glad to know and work with him. He loves Jesus and helps me love Jesus more.

So here are two unprofoundly profound photos of him. The first is (one of many, many photos that I have of) him on a lift installing something or running cables during one of many major renovation/installation projects, while the second was taken during the service yesterday, after we talked about the Awkward Moment from earlier in the service and some of our sound issues. So here’s to Worship Pastor–thanks for all you do, top to bottom, ceiling to floor, and everything in between!

Guitar Slide Wednesday: Lincoln Brewster Version

On the way to youth camp, Lead Guitar played quite a bit of Lincoln Brewster, who (to use my favorite Grand Master of Discourse-ism) is not afraid to play a guitar slide. So, we’ll say that yet again, today’s Guitar Slide Wednesday comes to you from Lead Guitar.

If you listen to pretty much any song by Lincoln Brewster, the chances are quite high that you’ll hear at least one guitar slide. In fact, you’ll likely hear at least four. Lincoln Brewster is a singer, guitarist, song writer, and worship leader, and might be most famous for playing guitar for and touring with Journey’s Steve Perry. He’s currently the worship pastor at Bayside Church in California, but I know him as a guy’s whose music we did ALL the time at my church several years ago (mostly from All to You Live from 2005).

My favorite song that we used to do has always been “Majestic” – not only for his ad libs that became a Part of the Song for me, but also for having one of the first vocal octave jumps that I noticed and loved (in the bridge, “I will worship” is low; “We will worship” is high). And while I’d like to use that song for today, in a shocking turn of events, it only has one really good guitar slide of note, which pales in comparison to our featured song!

Instead, we have a newer song called “I Belong to You” from Real Life (2010). As we have found in other posts, guitar slides often serve as structural markers in a song (beginnings/ends of sections, transitions, etc.). It seems that this is mostly the way that Lincoln use them, as this song opens with a slide, and the first two choruses are marked by a slide (0:43 and 1:34). He also seems to use slides in the middle of repeated sections–in this case, after the first time through the bridge, a slide leads into the repeat of the bridge (2:47 – followed by a crazy guitar fill). There are a few more guitar slides in this song, but I won’t point them all out, I’ll just let you enjoy them!

And for old time’s sake, here’s Majestic (which opens with a crazy slide):