Friday, September 28, 2007

Brianfest day 3 - into the night...

Nice comfy carpets for our picnic/concert - 145 of them to be precise.

This is how the stage arrived!

The frame is coming together.

After much nailing of wood, the stage takes shape.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Brianfest Day 3

Eran was back from the dead, which was great! James made this comment on his blog about my drumming, "Mark did a perfect job by playing well while making us miss our regular drummer." Is that actually a compliment? Not sure!! The services were great this morning, and Asha absolutely nailed the female vocal lead on "Come now is the time to worship". It was just as if Kathryn Scott was in the room.

Brian shared some thoughts from the 23rd Psalm, and really got me thinking about change and transition. He was speaking about how a shepherd moves the sheep on to new pastures. It's the shepherd's job to discern when a field is about to become over-grazed, and then he must find a new place for the sheep to eat. The problem is that sheep don't like change - they'd much rather stay put, and risk dying of starvation than moving on, and the journey to the new pasture can be through some dangerous territory.

The band stuck around for the first half of our Africa Live service and then we went up to Murray's house for some food. I had to run over to the park a couple of times to meet people and show them where to put things for the concert, such as the stage :-) and then we packed Terry and James and Peter into the metro for a trip to the Khan el Khalili (the biggest souq/bazaar in the Middle East) while the other guys chilled out at home.

Felicity and I went to the farewell party for some good friends, Don and Mary Butler. Don was the chair of our church council, and has a great tenor voice - we'll really miss him on the worship teams, and we'll really miss them as friends too. He was the CEO of General Motors here and has been whisked back to Detroit to fix something important.

At about 9:30 I went over to the field again and stuff was beginning to arrive. No stage yet though. We kept waiting, and by 10:30 it still hadn't turned up. We got a call to say it was held up at the police checkpoint on the edge of Maadi because the driver didn't have the correct permit. We had some people working on it, liaising with the police and the national security. In the end, I had to go down to the police station in person and smile at and shake hands with an officer before any wheels were set in motion. It did the trick though, and ten minutes later the stage had arrived. Well, actually, a huge pile of wood arrived.

Within an hour they had most of it nailed together, and when I left at 1:20am most of the sound and light equipment had also arrived and was unloaded.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Brianfest Day 2

So there's Brian Doerksen (he sings and plays acoustic guitar and writes all the songs), Brian T (electric guitar), Phil (keys and vocals and programming), Peter (bass), Eran (drums), James (oboe, duduk, whistles etc.) and the sound guy, Terry. He's a genius.

And special guest on vocals, Asha Groves, our worship intern!

Terry totally rewired our sound system this afternoon, and made it sound absolutely phenomenal for this evening's service. Some kind of aural metaphysics I think. We don't have any subs in our system, and so he boosted some of the harmonic frequencies that could be heard at certain points on the sound waves, and the brain fills in the blanks, so you think you're hearing bass that isn't actually there! Amazing.

Eran, the drummer, got really ill at sound check time. Probably a combination of heatstroke (from this morning's obligatory trip to the pyramids) and stomach bug. He's really not doing well, and certainly was in no fit state to play tonight, so we had to find a stand in to play drums. And we couldn't find a decent drummer, so I played.

Not having touched a drum kit for several months, I found it a challenge! First of all I couldn't get to grips with their in-ear monitoring system, so ended up playing with a huge pair of studio headphones clamped over my ears. Then the kit wasn't set up right for me, so I didn't feel comfortable, and then I had to learn to play with a click track, which was an extra layer of concentration. I dropped a stick in the second song, and all the band members kept giving me encouraging smiles, but I wasn't really enjoying it. I found it especially tricky to play two songs I'd never even heard before, and we didn't rehearse them before the service.

Still, by the last two songs I'd found my groove and I started to enjoy it. It was an immense privilege, but I'm probably the worst drummer Brian's ever worked with, and I'm really praying that Eran is better in the morning. I'm secretly hoping for another chance though :-)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Life expectancy

I'm really only 21 and a half years of age.

I have a life expectancy of 90 years.

According to this bit of fun anyway!

Give it a try, but be honest ok?

HT: Two Blond Boys

He's here. Brianfest Day 1.

Well, Chelsie (my assistant) and I went to the airport today to collect Brian and his band. They're a jolly nice bunch of people. The traffic was awful because it's Ramadan and everyone wants to get home early in time for iftar, and everyone is bad tempered because they are hungry and thirsty and haven't had any coffee or cigarettes all day. And it was about 35 degrees and the air conditioning on the car isn't working, so all in all it was an epic journey. Especially when we came around a corner on a motorway slip road to find a car reversing back down it very fast, swerving from side to side. I just hugged the wall and blew my horn and luckily he saw me.

We had problems with our rendezvous with the minibus driver, and so in typical Egyptian fashion it was a bit of a muddle leaving the airport as we had to distribute seven people and luggage between two vehicles that were a mile apart. We made it in the end though.

This evening we took them all on a felucca ride on the Nile as the sun went down. It was so beautiful tonight and the air was cooling off. It's peaceful on the Nile and it was really nice chatting to the guys and beginning to get to know them a little. Then it was off to an Italian restaurant for a meal (I don't know where else in the world you can eat a hearty Italian meal in and excellent restaurant with hearty portions for $10 a head). Then I did lots of running around preparing for tomorrow, and we got home at about 10pm.

Night night.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Brian Doerksen is coming

I feel terrible that I haven't been blogging, but things have been a bit busy round here. We're setting up for BrianFest :-) on the weekend of 21st & 22nd September, and there is just an unbelievable amount to do.

Brian and his band are going to lead the worship in our weekend services, they will teach some seminars and workshops on the Saturday morning and then , on the Saturday evening, we are putting on a big open-air concert on the local softball field, which is just five minutes walk up the road from the church. It's going to be amazing!

So I've been drowning in project plans, to-do lists and emails, trying to hire equipment and get publicity out and sell tickets, and organise the whole thing. The church is rising to the challenge wonderfully, and all kinds of people are helping out, for which I am massively grateful, but please remember to pray for us.

Has anyone got a decent Yamaha stage piano we can borrow?