Posts Tagged ‘music’

I am concerned about the drummer at church. I’m not sure he’s getting any air.

A few years back, when the church first went to a semi-contemporary service on Sunday mornings, the drum kit was set up nonchalantly near the back of the stage. As far as I could tell, everything sounded fine.

Then, one Sunday, we walked into the auditorium to see the drummer behind a set of three Plexiglas walls. It looked a little like one of those old privacy screens people changed clothes behind in 1960s movies … but minus the privacy. I wondered what sort of international incident had occurred to bring orange-level security around this one man with sticks.

Church services proceeded without incident, with the drums sounding a bit muffled. This setup endured for a year or two.  I was never sure if the drummer was being protected from snipers, or it the congregation was being protected from hearing the drummer. And I suppose those sticks could have shattered during some crazed rendition of “I Can Only Imagine,” sending shards flying into the front row and causing untold splinters.

But apparently this was not nearly enough protection, or drum muffling, because now they’ve completely encased the drummer in Plexiglas – roof and all. He wears noise-blocking headphones, which is a good thing because it must be so loud inside that box that his teeth are coming loose. And I don’t even want to think about what it smells like in there.

Meanwhile, all I can think about when the band plays during church is the “Rock and Roll Creation” scene in “This is Spinal Tap” when Derek Smalls gets stuck inside the plastic pod and keeps playing bass while the roadies try to open it with a hammer and a blow torch.

I’ve since learned that this veritable Cone of Silence is supposedly about sound isolation. You don’t want drum noise bleeding into everyone else’s mics. But before the Plexiglas house I don’t remember this ever being a noticeable concern. I’m not convinced this whole thing wasn’t just about throwing a bone to the people who think drums are Satan’s noisemakers and, along with saxophones and ukuleles, never should be allowed in church.

So the next logical step, for the good of all involved, is moving the drummer completely offsite, to a secure location fortified by 12-inch-thick lead walls. The sound feed from the stage could be piped in, and he could play along without causing danger to anyone.

Also the church wouldn’t have to keep a blowtorch at the ready.

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O Holy Moley

Posted: November 26, 2010 by Jim Killam in Idiot Friday, music, pop culture
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In honor of Black Friday, the mother of all Idiot Fridays, we present today our list of the 12 worst Christmas albums of all time. Feel free to suggest your own holiday atrocities as well.

Explicit content for your family gathering.

For yodeling enthusiasts.

The year without good taste.

Don't hassle the ho-ho-ho.

Extra Crispy Christmas.

We're not gonna buy it ...

A Teshtastic Christmas.

It defies description.

Carols sung by REAL kittens!

If Col. Sanders' album was too sophisticated for you ...

With any luck, that's thin ice he's walking on.

Before Peter's voice changed.

And, as your Black Friday doorbuster bonus selection …

I own this one. Villains include Rudolph the Red Nose Hitman and Sammy the South Side Santa.

Joy from the Rooftops

Posted: October 18, 2010 by Jim Killam in music, pop culture
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On January 30, 1969, the Beatles went to the rooftop of their Apple Corps studio building in London and began to play.  A crowd of incredulous business people gathered and quickly grew, even though they couldn’t see the band five stories above them. In the film shot that day, people smile and point to the roof when they realize what’s going on. Others climb nearby fire escapes to get themselves a vantage point. This, after all, was the first concert since 1966 by the biggest band in the world.

Others walk resolutely along their way, never looking up or acknowledging what’s going on. Some are ticked off. One businessman interviewed on the film says: “This type of music is all right in its place. It’s quite enjoyable. But I think it’s a bit of an imposition to absolutely disrupt all the business in this area.”

That guy probably went about his business, resenting the interruption. Almost 42 years later, it’s a safe bet that no one remembers what business he conducted that day. But the whole world remembers that concert, how the London police busted it up when the band might have played much longer … and that it turned out to be the Beatles’ last public performance.

U2’s March 1987 video of “Where the Streets Have No Name” was a carefully orchestrated event, but delivers the message even louder. The band played several takes of the powerful song atop a liquor store in downtown Los Angeles. The most memorable shots are of the exuberant crowd, including one guy who climbs a lightpost for a better view. Those shots alternate with shots of police officers trying to shut down the event, which they eventually do.

Both the Beatles’ unannounced performance and the U2 video shoot were beautifully chaotic. Take a few minutes to watch the videos. They brought business and traffic to a screeching halt, and brought absolute joy to most of those who happened to be in those neighborhoods on those days. Unexpected, wonderful gifts. Meanwhile, the police and the “city fathers” could only obsess about the interruptions to the daily routine and on how to stop them.

Impromptu and graceful joy, or a desire to shut it down before something gets out of hand? Beauty and creativity, or Fortress? With which side would most Americans place the church? With which side would I place myself?

 Jesus was a joyful disruption, and sometimes an imposition, whom the Pharisees tried to shut down and who didn’t worry about veering from the routine. In “The Jesus I Never Knew,” Philip Yancey wrote:

 “Jesus did not mechanically follow a list of ‘Things I Gotta Do Today,’ and I doubt he would have appreciated our modern emphasis on punctuality and precise scheduling. He attended wedding feasts that lasted for days. He let himself get distracted by any ‘nobody’ he came across, whether a hemorrhaging woman who shyly touched his robe or a blind beggar who made a nuisance of himself. Two of his most impressive miracles (the raising of Lazarus and of Jairus’ daughter) took place because he arrived too late to heal the sick person.”

Thursday: Pearls Before Breakfast