Thursday, March 27, 2008

Batman and Rockin

I make no apologies for that title. You'll see...

Well, I’m in DFW to do 4 days of shows. Hope to see some of you there. Already had one great show tonight. I’ll get into all that in the next few days. But first I thought I’d share some stories and pics from last weekend.

Michael, Ben and I spent the weekend at a retreat in Leakey, TX. We led worship for about 700 teenagers. We had one of those weekends when every single set that we did seemed to be really tight, musically. I love a big band, but sometimes it’s fun to see how a 3-piece can come together and sound like much more.

Here are the pics. I had no idea there was a camera there, but it looks like Ben did. Check out that second pic. I mean, what kind of musician has the guts to stare straight at the camera and make a “look how awesome we are” face? He’s so much better at being cool than I am.

Here’s a good story from the weekend. Michael already referred to it in his blog, but he didn’t expound, so I’m taking this one. I guess I need to say up-front that I think you really had to be there, but I’ll do my best to convey the disturbing awesomeness.

Does that whet your appetite? If so, read on.

We were playing in an covered outdoor facility. I think it’s referred to as The Tabernacle. The weather was fantastic, so it was actually really nice, but the downside was that there are lots of bats that come around at night.

Yeah, bats. Let’s all pause for a collective moment of shuddering. More on that in a minute.

So there’s this little closed-in room at the back of The Tabernacle that serves as a sound booth. The system in this place really isn’t too bad. It’s all JBL, which ain’t top of the line, but the speakers are flown and there’s decent subs and everything. I’ve seen all manner of awful sound systems, and this one was way better than the average in my 13-or-so years of traveling.

When we get there, we unload our gear and we meet the sound/tech guys who work for the camp. Nice guys. They let us know that they’re not really professionals, which doesn’t scare me because they seem nice, and nice/unprofessional is way better than jerky/professional. Besides, if all else fails, we can run our own sound. When you’re as un-famous as me, you do that sort of thing from time to time.

But it turned out fine because, pro or not, the sound was excellent. Big thanks to the Alto Frio staff (especially Ben and Ty) for coming thru.

Back to the story. That sound booth room has these wooden, fold-down window covers that are put on the windows each night, I guess to protect them from wind or something. Whatever. Well, when they unhook these wooden covers and fold them down, there are 4 bats sitting on them. Bats! 4 of them!

Well, like everyone in the world, I’m rather uncomfortable with bats.

Let me rephrase that.

Bats make me want to poo my britches and run screaming like a little girl into the bushes where I can hide with a motorcycle helmet on my head and one of those shiny radiation suits covering every last inch of my body so that there’s no chance that one of those flying vermin can attach itself to me and flap my fragile, shivering body with its nasty little wings or molest my face like a randy canine on an innocent leg.

So I’m pretty glad that I’m really far from the booth when this quadruple bat discovery is made. Michael and Ben and I are like “Look, there’s 4 bats on that window cover thing,” and inside my head where no one can hear, I’m like “Please Jesus don’t let them come over here and do unspeakable things to me.”

Anyway, one of the dudes from Alto Frio (I’m not going to tell you who, because in a few sentences, he will be revealed as a hero to some and a villain to others, and I don’t want to be responsible either way) picks up a big heavy stick and swings at the window cover, really hard.

Always ready to think the best of others, I’m like “Hey look, he’s scaring those bats away.”

Only before the words have fully escaped my lips, I realize that he’s not scaring them off. He’s beating them to death with a stick!

Wham! Whamwhamwhamwham! WHAM!!!

4 dead bats. Just like that. Splat.

Apparently there is a zero tolerance policy on bat occupation in the sound booth area.

Listen, I love all of God’s creatures. I respect nature. I know bats serve a purpose. But I didn’t cry a single tear. That’s 4 less bats that could nest in my ‘do and hatch eggs in my eardrums and give me rabies and make me get one of those shots in the stomach that I heard about in 3rd grade. So maybe I’m cruel and uncaring. I don’t know. Pray for me.

Either way, that wasn’t the end of it. The next night, while the preaching/teaching time was going on, me and the guys were hanging out just outside of The Tabernacle, listening to the message and high-fiving over how hard we rocked, we started getting dive-bombed by MORE BATS!

Well, now I’m wondering if they’re just ticked off about losing their brethren. I mean, anyone who came across those carcasses ain’t gonna wonder if they died of natural causes. Them was some bloody, smashed-up bat parts.

So Michael and Ben stuck around, probably trying to keep their stare-into-the-camera-and-dare-you-to-love-them coolness. But not me. I walked away to rock another day.

I’m pretty sure neither one of them got bit, molested, or otherwise violated by any of the bats. But if they had, it would have been their fault for sticking around. And I would’ve had to find a new band for the last worship set.

And that’s the anti-climactic end of the story. Maybe I should’ve quit with the dead bats, but I guess the softy in me wanted to let you know that their friends lived on and scared us (me) a little (a lot).

House concert recaps in a few days.


Todd Wright said...

That story is pure perfection.

Except for the executions.

You took a massive pedalboard, right? No way you can rock a 3 pc. by running DIRECT.

thad said...

Some observations:

- Storytelling is your strong-suit in this blog game.

- Nice work on the self-referential linking. This signifies your graduation to a new level of the previously mentioned blog game, which stands squarely on the assumption that everyone should read what "I" (I being whoever is doing the blogging) have to say. And that being the case, it follows that everyone should read as much as what I have to say as possible, including things I said months (yea years) ago.

- Everyone should read my blog because, of course, everyone should read what I have to say.

Michael said...

Ummm can rock a 3 piece when Michael Steele and Ben Love are your rhythm section...

Johnny! said...

See, that's the sort of thing that calls for martinis on the back deck. Y'all need a "football."

rk said...

Todd and Michael--
I've been running pedal-free, rockin' a 3-piece, since you two bozos were a glimmer in your momma's eye and an itch in your daddy's loins.

well played my friend.

rk said...

either you tell that awesome "football" story, or I will. that is by far my favorite johnny-ism.

Johnny! said...

Short version: after lamenting our inability to enjoy a happy hour at a hotel at which we were leading a conference, my bassist, who will remain nameless, shows up to our next gig with what appeared to be a shaving kit bag. Soon as we were done for the evening he reveals that it is, in fact, a travel martini set (subsequently referred to as "the football"). From then on we concluded each out of town working evening with the toast "to the Lord!" This amounted to some comedy on the back deck at Alto Frio, when we were trying to sneak out of our separate rooms and mix and consume martinis, by moonlight, while avoiding detection by roommates, campers, staff, and our at the time blissfully ignorant employer. Who knew this was all done under the constant threat of bat attacks?

The football has gone through several permutations. At one point it was pretty much a mini-bar. I'm wanting to get a small ATA case built so we can make sure we're stocked in a proper, civilized fashion.

Lauri Hahn said...

One of the very good reasons to have your page bookmarked Ross, is that when I check in on it, I can find a sentence fragment like this: "randy canine on an innocent leg" nonchalantly linked to something else on your site that expounds the point. Just in case my experience with such a canine wouldn't have been enough material to reference.

Michael said...

After reading Johnny's story, I just realized how lame our time at Alto Frio really was.

Also,'ve been rocking a 3-piece since before Todd was born?? How old are you exactly...?

Johnny! said...

There was also some high drama when our speaker, the always-kick-butt Ben Stuart, *GASP!* passed on doing an invitation on the last night.

Maybe all that is what got the bats so agitated. Sorry, guys.

Stephen said...

Great story. This brings up memories of when I used to take my youth group to Alto Frio for Pre-Easter and Summer Camp. In fact, the last thing I got to do with my group before moving to Virginia was to attend the Pre-Easter Retreat. I see the tablernacle hasn't changed much in four years!

martyr said...

Strange enough I was just intro-ed to your music. You are a funny funny man with slightly distructive dislike for flying rodants. Keep on rockin

Bobby said...

My grandfather used to say "Some things was just made for killin." Bats might be on that list.

Great concert Friday night. Julie and I loved every minute of it.