I started leading the youth band here at our church a few months ago. I’ve always enjoyed working with young musicians, particularly teenagers who actually have time to practice their instruments. The students I’m working with are fantastic—great kids who love Jesus and each other.
Several weeks ago I was working with the band at rehearsal, prior to our leading that evening’s youth gathering we call BigGroup. I’d been playing a little bass guitar until we recently added another kid who wanted to learn to play. So this week I was helping out on electric guitar and singing backups. For some reason, I kept getting shocked by my microphone. When I’d inadvertently tap my nose on the mic grill, I’d feel the electricity, however small the jolt was, and I could have sworn the lights flickered.
So I asked the other musicians, “Hey, are the lights flickering?”
They responded curiously. So I said, “My mic keeps shocking me and I think the lights are blinking.”
“Well, do it again,” they said.
I did and the lights flickered.
“You didn’t see that?”
“Uh, no. Do it again.”
They kept prompting me to tap my nose against the mic. I realized I’d been blinking. I guess a shock does that, causes you to blink.
I said something to our sound guy, and he said, “Yeah, we have that problem sometimes in this building. It’s probably the sweater you’re wearing.”
I agreed this is the season for static electricity with our heaters that dry out everything and the sweaters and socks we wear.
“But wait, Sam’s wearing a sweater too. And a stocking cap.”
We never really figured it out. It could have been my sweater, the carpeted stage, or the electric guitar I was holding. Probably a combination of it all. (Good thing I didn’t need to pump gas that night. I’d have exploded the gas station. Filling station? What do they call them around here?) I just tried to avoid getting too close to the mic, which is hard for me since I usually eat the mic when I sing.
All this reminded me of The Culps, the Saturday Night Live singing duo featuring Will Ferrell. Every sketch opens with microphone feedback and one or both of them saying, “Ooh, hot mic. We got a hot mic here.” (I’d love to share a clip with you, but I couldn’t find one online and thought uploading copyrighted material probably wasn’t the best idea. Purchase SNL’s Best of Will Ferrell Vol. 1. It’s well worth it, since it features More Cowbell.)
Maybe I also related to The Culps, because I felt like an old man playing music with a bunch of kids. That day I hadn’t been able to get home after Sunday morning services to change. So there I was wearing Khakis around teenagers. You don’t dress up for teens. Even the youth pastor was wearing a shirt with paint all over it like he was the Sherwin Williams man. I’d have ripped holes in my Khakis but they were new. I’ll remember my jeans next time and maybe go without socks. Or maybe I’ll just put dryer sheets in my shoes.
Whatever I’m wearing, as long as the kids let me, I’ll keep playing with them and fill out a workman’s comp form if the shocks get serious.