Friday, January 14, 2011

Wrong Place, Right Time

I don't think I have mentioned that the open mic thing got derailed a little bit before the holidays. The host establishment apparently had a problem with the M.C., so he took it to another place. Well, I didn't hear about that place on time, so I missed it. So I tried to catch up with it, but it wasn't there, either. But that's where things started getting good.

I had worked a pretty hard shift and was preparing for a double the next day. My feet were hurting, and my laundry wasn't quite done. To top it off, I had put something in the oven and had to wait even longer for it. I didn't know that they were holding the open mic at another place, so I was worried about getting a late slot and being pushed back to midnight (happens sometimes), in which case, I would not have stayed because I had to be at work at 9AM. So I thought about not going.

I decided to go anyway. On the radio, the DJ was reading from Luke the story of Jesus calling Peter and John. She pointed out that one Word from the Master can change everything, from the frustrating, endless night of fruitless effort to an abundance so great that the nets were breaking and the ships were sinking. I pondered that, but I didn't think it had much to do with me, though the thought did occur to me that it might.

I arrived, and the place did not look like it was hosting an open mic. From the outside, there were too few cars. Looking in did not reveal any setup that usually accompanies it. I decided to take a closer look. Superficial glances have cost me before, so I investigated fully before giving up. Turned out to be a good choice.

As I walked in the door, one of the patrons said, "Oh, look! A guy with a guitar!"

I just kind of stood there, not knowing what to do or say. "Hello." It was polite, at least.

The bartender came out, and the patron made sure she knew I was there. She immediately realized that I was chasing the open mic, and she apologized. She explained that they had only had it the week before as a trial run, but it had failed.

The patron offered to buy me a beer if I would play a song. I gently refused. The man in front of me suggested a Sprite. I agreed to those terms! The barkeeper poured me the beverage, and I stood at the entrance to the dining room, which was empty and closed (at that hour, everyone there just wanted to drink and talk).

I was nervous, so I played my good ol' stand by: "The Rain Song," by Day of Fire. They loved it.

So I played "Born Again" and "Cry Out to Jesus," both by Third Day. Either they were sloshed or they weren't paying attention to the words (or both), but they loved them, too. So much so, that the guy who had suggested the Sprite told me that they were taking up a collection so I could keep playing. Twenty dollars. Nice. That covered most of the gap between what I had wanted to earn serving earlier in the day (hard work does not always mean big money).

The barkeeper apparently called her boss, because she said he wanted my contact information, and he wasn't there. She said that they had been looking for some dependable music for a while, and he wanted to talk to me. I gave her my cell and my email address. The I played Chris Tomlin's "All Bow Down." She videotaped part of that one and emailed it to her boss (technology these days: that was with just her phone!).

Then I was repeatedly complimented. During that conversation, they noted that I was loud enough to be heard vocally without a microphone (usually that doesn't happen, but the empty dining room behind me helped a lot, and I was deliberately louder, knowing the challenge from experience). Then someone asked for one more song. I gave them Steven Curtis Chapman's "Remembering You" (from the Narnia soundtrack). They loved that, too, even though I blew the bar chords twice (apparently, people who are not musicians don't notice musicians' mistakes unless the musician reacts to them or points them out himself; I didn't).

It was getting late, so I bid them adieu. I had put tracts in my jacket, not knowing if they would allow me to give them out or not. Well, the barkeeper was smoking a cigarette with two of the patrons, so I went for it, giving them the "Get Out of Hell Free" cards from One Million Tracts. I handed them to the two smokers and the barkeeper, too, on my way out. Then, I praised the Lord, all the way home.

Now, I am not counting on landing the gig regularly. I did explain that I only know Contemporary Christian music, though they did not seem to hold it against me at the time. I don't know what the boss's schedule is or if the barkeeper got my information to him (sometimes things get lost). I just thank the Lord that I was so blessed with an opportunity to spread His Gospel to yet another group of people I did not know.

This is after being able to review some Scriptures with one of my younger coworkers as we manned the host station.

Oh, and I don't have to work that double. I did rather well on the shift that I picked up today, and then my manager asked if I would take the night off, because there were too many servers scheduled. Sweet!!

I wonder what I should do on a Friday night? ;)

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