Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Opening Act

Tomorrow I get to open up for Lincoln Brewster.  For those of you who don't know, Lincoln Brewster is a worship leader from California.  He is one of the best guitarists in Christian music today.  He actually played on Steve Perry's (yeah...Steve Perry from Journey) solo album.  In other words, he's not some hack of a guitarist, but can hold his own in both the Christian and secular music industry (though I do not like the labels "Christian" and "secular" so I very rarely separate the two...I could say more, but it would bore you to tears).  So, anyway, I'm opening for Lincoln Brewster with some really great friends of mine helping me.  As I've been preparing for this show Saturday night, I started to think about all of the somewhat famous people I've at the chance to open for.  The remainder of this entry will take you on somewhat of a musical journey from my beginnings as a musician playing in bands.  Prepare to laugh.

In high school my buddies and I started a band.  Darin, Joel, Matt, and I had our first show on the back of a semi trailer.  Our band name was White Horse Riders.  We sucked.  I won't say anything else on this...except that it was our only show before we added a guy who actually knew how to play guitar named Brian Lee.  We also changed our band name because we thought White Horse Riders was really dumb.  Our drummer, Joel, liked the sound of Ma Foi, which is French for "My Faith."  We still sucked.  We found out later (though it was never confirmed) that "ma" is some form of feminine possessive pronoun in French.  Even though we didn't know for sure, we opted to change the name again just to avoid confusion.  So, we became Twenty-four Seven.  I regret to say that this was the best of the three names we ever had.

So, as Twenty-four Seven, we landed some pretty cool gigs.  We got to open up a show for Rebecca St. James...even though they made us play with our own sound system to the side of the stage...it was still fun.  And, being in high school, I had a crush on her because she was a girl and she was pretty.  I should note, that Rebecca St. James is still a girl, and she is still pretty, but I no longer have a crush on her.  I happen to have a crush on my wife, who is also a girl, and is even more pretty than Rebecca St. James.

Twenty-four Seven had one more very cool opening gig.  It was the chance to open for Christian rock band, Guardian.  Guardian was one of my favorite bands throughout high school, so this was really fun for me.  It wasn't a large show...maybe 100-150 people.  But to meet some musicians who you really look up to was an honor.  Even though we had the chance to open for some cool acts, we still sucked.  And, after high school, we were done...and I think we were all a little bit relieved.

So, in college, I started out just doing random worship leading.  But, then, during my sophomore or junior year (I forget which one), I started singing with a ska band.  Ska music was all the rage back in the late nineties, so we were right on time to be big.  I only actually sang one song with them at Cornerstone Chapel...Joy to the World.  It was fun, but I wasn't feeling like being in a ska band, so I bowed out.  And then the drummer, who was also named Jake, left (not sure where he went).  So the band that didn't have a name (that I can remember at least) all of a sudden decided to name themselves Two Jakes Short (because both Jakes had left).  Shortly after this, I joined up with some friends, Rick Hopkins, Jon Grunden, JJ Sherwood, and Jeff Hocking (who was later replaced by a guy named Ted for a gig or two, who was replace by Scott Gentry).   They had already formed a band, but needed a singer.  In hind sight, they probably should have made Rick sing, but nobody really knew he sang at the time.  So, I wrote lyrics and sang for the band.  We called ourselves Cue 22 (dumb name, I know).  We played some fun shows, and started playing at the Intersection in Grand Rapids fairly regularly.  Many great bands played this stage at one time, just not on the same night that we played.  We did get to open for a band called Grand Theft Audio once, and though they weren't a well-known band, they were good.  They were a British industrial-rock-pop band who had done some touring with P.O.D.  The good news is that I think we brought a bigger crowd than they did.  The bad news is that we only brought about 20 people.  It seems like we opened up for an indie band that was getting a lot of radio play on rock stations around the year 2000 called Creeper Lagoon...but I honestly don't really remember if that actually happened or not.  At any rate, this was the best band I had played with to date...and even though I don't really like a lot of the stuff we wrote anymore, we put together a pretty tight sound by the time we quit.

There were countless shows/events that I've played at that I haven't mentioned here.  Some of the most fun shows I've played have been in coffee shops and bars with my good friend Justin.  We make up the band called Reverend Larry Moonshine.  Of all the bands I've played in, and all the stages I've played on, I'm really excited for this Lincoln Brewster gig.  Here's why.  I feel like I'm at a different spot musically and spiritually than I've ever been.  I feel like it's become less and less about me and more and more about God.  I feel like all of my experience in leading worship and singing and playing guitar points me in the direction away from simply performing for a crowd and towards helping people sing to God.  That's what this gig is on Saturday...a chance to come together and sing loud to God.  And for that reason alone, I am excited and honored.