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Sunday, November 04, 2007


My bands Mad Jack and Scream pulled off another one on Friday night -- we packed the house and rocked the house.

BUT -- this was a night in Technical Difficulty Hell.

It all started the week of the gig, when my brother, bassist Brinie, suddenly and unexpectedly learned that the nightclub had hired a new "house" sound man. We're wary of strangers this late in the game; we prefer to have a solid relationship with our sound man, or, at the least, a solid reference.

But Brinie talked to "Wilbur" on the phone and liked what he heard. The guy sounded experienced and accommodating. He didn't balk at our planned 9 p.m. start time, as other sound men tend to do. (Most bands go on at 10.) Plus, his equipment was apparently superior to that of the previous gentleman.

OK -- so far, so good.

As is our preferred custom the night before the gig, we piled our equipment into our vehicles, slogged to the venue and set up. It was me; Brinie; guitarist Titanic (who flew to New Jersey from California just for the gig); guitarist Karch; guitarist The Kid; and drummer Jazzy. We set up our equipment on the stage (leaving room along the front edge, where the monitors would go) and did our own pre-soundcheck soundcheck.

What that means is: Rather painstakingly, we fine-tuned our stage volume so that every guitar was of equal volume, but only loud enough for Jazzy to hear while playing the drums. This makes it easier for a good sound man to mix us; no one's amp is cranked to a ridiculous level, so that all the sound man has to do is turn up Guitarist A or Guitarist B during their respective solos.

To that end, I typed up and printed out a "head's up" sheet for the sound man, which alerts him as to who is taking a solo during which songs (our set-list order is pretty much etched in stone), and any special requests we may have. For instance, I asked for a "delay" (a repeating sound effect) on my voice during the "Wa-a-a-ay down inside" vocal solo in Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love."

Rather than type up and print out those instructions, I might as well have spent that hour scratching my privates.



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