It would have been even better, if I hadn’t had something on my mind. We had a gig coming up at a new place. A new place where they were supplying the sound equipment.
On paper, you would think that sounds like a dream. Not having to haul in heavy speakers and a mixing board is usually a dream. The problem is, since I am the one who has to do the sound (yes, while I am singing), doing it with equipment I have never seen before is usually a nightmare.
Let me describe the beginning of the night at one of our regular shows. I bring in the equipment, most times by myself, set it up and then when we start, I have one song to go out front and dial in a perfectly blended mix of instruments and voices.
Most nights it works. Over 20 years of doing it, you do get the hang of it. Which doesn’t make it any more fun. I love singing, not hauling stuff, but it has to be done.
So not having to haul in big heavy things is great. Having the band sound like crap because I can’t get the hang of something I haven’t seen before sucks.
So I approached my Saturday night like I approach most of life. Prepare for the worst and hope for something that isn’t a complete train wreck.
I started by still loading all my sound equipment into my truck. Why would I do that when the club told me they were providing sound equipment?
Let me first dispel some myths about running a band. You very rarely get all the information about the gig. You usually can’t find someone who knows how to turn on the stage lights, let alone run any sound equipment they provide. If they do give you a sound person, they typically show up fifteen minutes before start time, making you almost late to start. Then they spend the majority of the night at the bar while high pitched feedback rings in your ears. I understand JLo works really hard, but this isn’t the stuff she has to deal with.
But I digress.
I brought my own equipment, because it wouldn’t have surprised me if I walked in and the manager had said,” Sound equipment? Oh, we don’t supply that anymore. Last weekend’s band broke it. Didn’t they tell you?”
I got to the club early, with the loaded truck, took a deep breath and walked inside.
“Is the manager here?” I asked. This alone can be the question of the night, because if he or she is not, that means I will be playing my least favorite game, “Where is my check?” at 200 am.
“Yes he is. Aren’t you Lisa Lyon?”
I am a little stunned. “Yes, I am.”
“We watched your videos. Nice to have you this evening. Let me introduce you to your sound man for tonight. He will get you set up while I get the manager.”
A sound man? In the club? Early enough to get me “set up”? I was starting to feel a little faint.
A nice looking young man came over and introduced himself. “We have everything you need, including microphones, speakers and, oh, did you need an extension cord? Let me run and get one.”
I pinched myself. Hard. Nope, I was awake.
Except for a couple of cases, I didn’t have to bring anything in or set anything up. The rest of the guys arrived and my new favorite sound man did a real sound check 45 minutes before we had to start.
I went to change my clothes.
When I arrived back at the stage, my guitar player said, “The manager was looking for you.”
Of course he was. Someone is always looking for me. Expecting my bubble was about to burst, I asked, “What’s wrong?”
“Our dinner is ready.”
Now my hearing was obviously going. “What is ready?”
“Dinner. They have a table set up for us and they just brought out dinner. Did you know we were getting dinner?”
Of course I didn’t know we were getting dinner. I had just wolfed down a bag of chips while I was driving to the gig. Just to let you know, we almost never get free dinner. Even my bass player was shocked. “I feel like I just traveled back to 1976 when clubs respected musicians!” he said as he cut into a nice piece of chicken.
The rest of the night was like a dream for me. I got to sing. Just sing. Not worry about the feedback, or the drums not being loud enough or not being able to hear in my monitor. It was all taken care of. I didn’t worry about whether we would be coming back or not and all the other dozen things that go through my mind on an average night. I tried to enjoy being in that moment. For once, I really was, just the girl in the band.
And the end of the night? The check was ready and even made out for the right amount.
It was the perfect gig.
Which got me thinking about how much I had stressed about something that turned out way better than I could ever have imagined.
There is an upside to prepare for the worst and hope for something that isn’t a complete train wreck. You very rarely get caught unprepared. The other upside is when it does go right, the high you feel is that much greater.
But are those things worth stressing for a whole week and being distracted from living in the moment in Nashville? Maybe not. Balancing enjoying the moment and worrying about what is around the corner, is something I have struggled with my entire life. I am sure the struggle will continue.
But at least I finally had it. A night I let it all go and just enjoyed it. The best part? I did it once. I know I can do it again.