Horror Stories, MkII

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by JoeH, Jan 8, 2005.

  1. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Ok everyone, it's back for 2005:

    Horror stories you've seen and/or experienced. You may want to change names to protect the guilty (or avoid lawsuits), but by all means, anything's fair game here....tell us your best, your worst, your most horrifying....

    I'll add a new story here....a local college chorale was doing a big production with a chamber orchestra, and was using a Korg keyboard for the harpsichord continuo part. For some strange reason, they were transposing a recitative or an aria early on in the first half by using the softkey transposition button on the keyboard, (Guess they couldn't/didn't want to rewrite the part manually.)

    You can probably see this one coming....

    10 minutes later, in a separate soprano aria, the continuo started playing the intro...in the "Wrong" key of course....Accompanist had forgotten to "undo" the key change, and they started the part TWICE (each one a train wreck) before the conductor stopped, gently had them all take a deep breath, reset the keyboard, and continue. How the poor soprano was able to sing anything at ALL after two false starts (a fifth up from the original key ) was a tribute to the conductors calm demeanor and ability to keep chaos from breaking out. All in front of a live audience. My respect for this guy (the conductor) grew even more after that episode.
  2. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Live opera broadcast on the radio. Five minutes from the end an IATSE stage hand sneaking out early does not see the phone line for the remote taped to the door frame and somehow pulls the phone line into the door which shuts and cuts the cable. We go off the air just as the soprano is singing her final aria. The IASTE guy was not even reprimanded for taking us off the air but was fined 5 minutes for leaving early. The radio station was EXTREMELY UPSET and the announcer, who was the station manager was LIVID!

    We are ready to start a recording of an opera. The microphones we are using in the mic mice have to be turned on because they are battery powered. The IASTE stage hand that was helping me forgets to turn them on. I realize the problem just as the doors are opened. He refuses to go on stage and they refuse to let me go on stage. I have to plead with the union steward who finally gives me permission to touch my own microphones and turn them on. The program went off without a hitch.

    We are going to a remote recording in a church. The directions seem clear enough off YAHOO maps and we are making good time. It starts to rain and rain harder and then a full blown storm erupts and I cannot see to drive. We stop by the side of the road until the storm passes. It takes about 20 minutes to get going again. We find the road we are suppose to take to the church is blocked off with a sign that says "high water" We ask the State Highway Patrolman who is "guarding" the road for alternate directions which he gives us. We start off again only to find that most of the roads going to the church are either flooded or impassable. We call our contact at the church and they say they everyone is there and the concert will go on as scheduled. We finally find a road that is not impassable and make it to the church 10 minutes before the scheduled start time. We ask if they can delay the performance but they cannot so we setup a simple two microphone XY in the middle of the stage with the chorus around it and it proves to be a GREAT recording. We had to stay over at a friends house after the recording since everything was such a mess and we could not drive home.

    Doing a recording session at a remote church literally in the middle of a corn field. No problems everything is going well UNTIL we hear a tractor outside. There is a cemetery next door and this is the weekly grass cutting and general cleanup. We ask how long and they say about an hour. We break for lunch and come back and they are gone - good. We start to record and they are back with the lawnmower and weed trimmers. I go out and ask them what did they mean by an hour. They said an hour AFTER they took and hour for lunch at the same time we did. So we wait another hour for them to finish up. I guess I did not ask the right question.

    We are doing a recording session in a really old church with beautiful statuary and just beautiful acoustics. We get all set up about an hour before the performance and decide to take a lunch break (turns out to be a BAD IDEA). So I send my assistant out to get some food and while he is gone the pastor says that we are violating fire code (of course AFTER I had asked another pastor were we should set up) and will have to move our setup. I agree and start tearing down the equipment to set it up in another spot further away from the space in front of the altar. Still no assisistant. I get everything changed around and the first pastor comes out and says that we cannot be where we are due to fire laws and will have to move to yet another place. I commence the move and still no assistant. Finally about 10 minutes before the concert my assistant shows up minus the food, he had gotten a flat tire and spent all the time changing it.

    Doing a chorus recording gig in a retirement home. Not great acoustics and we had nowhere to setup except in them same room as the group was singing.(we did it in the retirement home because the chorus did not have to pay to rent the room) We got all setup and then the home's director came in a said that we were setup WRONG (this after doing a site survey with the assistant director earlier in the week) and would have to completely reverse the setup 180 degrees due to the "acoustics". So we pulled down all the equipment moved it to the other end of the room and got ready to record. I was told this was to be a closed session with just us and the chorus but the director of the home, at the last minute, decided that she wanted the residence to "enjoy the nice music" so about 30 of them "joined" us for the session. Most of these people were in their 70s and 80s and were great people to meet and sat their nicely throughout the recording. One gentlemen was hard of hearing and kept asking people around him what was going on in a very loud voice. He was told a couple of times to be quiet by the attendants but he just kept asking the same question over and over. I asked the director if he could be removed and she said no. So the whole recording session was basically ruined by one elder gentlemen asking if anyone knew what was going on over and over and over again in a rather LOUD voice. I think he is still asking that same question.

    Ain't remote recording FUN!!!!!!

  3. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Wow, Tom; those are some GREAT stories!

    I love those "firecode" situations. (NOT!) Been there, as well. I've got one venue where they heap all kinds of restrictions on us (and of course, it's also a semi-charity gig for the client...least pay, most aggravation!) My response to people who harp on the fire code violations is usually: "Hey, not to worry, I'll be the FIRST one outta here with the tapes; I'll make SURE the path to the door is clear and you can all follow me out." :)

    You mentioned IATSE a few times, and I'll chime in here....(choosing my words VERY carefully, if you know what I mean...)
    We had a recent series of horrifying events that mushroomed, in a union-staffed hall locally, that will remain nameless.

    Briefly: They didn't turn up the offstage mic above a whisper for the "Pre-concert" announcement about cell phones, pagers, post-concert lecture, etc. I sit backstage at this venue, monitoring with headphones and only "I" was the one who knew the announcement wasn't being heard in the house. They turned it up, but only at the very last line - "Thank you very much" was loud enough to be heard, and the result was LAUGHTER in the house. (Client pays extra for this service, btw.) I quickly got their attention, and had them relay to the sound booth in FOH to redo the announcement. To more laughter now.

    After the conductor entered, the lighting guy had troubles...he went from pre-show house lights, to dim, back up to preshow, to dim again, several more times. All during the first movement of the Mozart. I don't know how/why the conductor (a major player in the biz) didn't see it or stop the performance.

    The next night (after a sh*tstorm of emails between my client and management), they were making sure it all worked, and it did, but unfortunately, they never turned the mic OFF, so the for the entire first half of the performance, there was a live mic on, backstage, picking up god-knows what....conversations, coughs, etc. Fortunately, it wasn't loud enough to affect the recording, but anyone near an overhead speaker (lots of soffited speakers on the side seating area) heard plenty.

    Main problem seems to be we never get the same people twice in a row in that place, so there's always a learning curve at the client's expence - and sometimes embarassment. Hard to believe, but it happens.
  4. GentleG

    GentleG Guest


    simple one:

    5 piece jazz
    1 trombone player
    think army colonel (seriously, he was)
    has been playing for almost 50 years
    has been the leader in other bands for over 30 years
    can't play a single note straight
    nevermind the tone he plays

    likes to play towards the other players (no way seperating this guy)

    So I record these guys
    Now he suggests everyone else (includind my daw) is out of tune...

    And I can tell you one thing:
    it's not that colonel type figures don't like to be bossed around
    they simply won't listen...

    We now place him way up front so he gets all the attention
    (and the critiques... ;)


  5. Sonarerec

    Sonarerec Guest

    My first master-session-scale orchestral recording session-- the kind that clocks in at well over $100 per minute. At 20 minutes til downbeat the conductor realizes he forgot his score and jumps in the car to go get it. At T-minus 15 minutes I foolishly decide to double-check channel polarity and flip on the oscillator miniswitches on the Studer 269 and one switch (not a Studer as it turns out) disintegrates in my fingers! No way to turn off the tone on channel one! And no time to run get a rental Mackie or such.

    The asst engineer (a real electron head) calmly powers down the board, pulls the strip and figures out how to jumper the leads to turn off the tone. Tone off, strip reinstalled, and I am relieved beyond words at T-minus 10 minutes as the conductor reappears and wants to know if we were anxious!!!

    Next day before the first session one of the WW touchups won't send a signal. All connectors checked at micpres on stage-- all seated. Patches from snake to A/Ds in the control room all OK. Now what? The mics were Schoeps M222 and the PS boxes were facing the rear of the orchestra, so we could not see that one was not turned on!

    I took a deeeep breath...........

  6. Sonarerec

    Sonarerec Guest

    Oh yes-- the moral of the story--


    (and if it doesn't work, make sure it's turned on!)

  7. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    Favours? Bah!

    A charity gig that I was doing in place of an engineering friend who who had taken ill that day and asked me to fill in for him about an hour and a half before it happened. I said I'd do it as a favour for him...

    It was one of those Feast Of Saint Amazing Guy masses at a local church. I couldn't set up until about 15 minutes before it all started, so no sound check. Okay, I'm cool with that...

    Then I'm told that people need to walk down the aisle to take communion, so I can't set up in the ideal position.

    Ultimately, after dragging the microphone stand to half a dozen or so different places that people were going to be walking through at some point in the Mass, I ended up with the Royer SF12 (it was pre-SF24 days) at an inverted corner, looking slightly diagonally across to the centre where all the action would take place, which seemed like a good idea. Then, with about 3 minutes to go before the Mass began, I discovered that in my haste to get there on time I had forgotten to pack my headphones.

    Um, okay...

    I figured I'd done enough of these recordings to rely on instinct and past experience, no problem. I'll just keep an eye on levels and try to fix it up with some MS processing in mastering. No one is going to care if it is predominantly mono... What else could I do?

    I am behind a row of seats, and at certain points in the Mass the well-meaning people on the seats would turn to me and say "Christ be with you" or similar and try to shake my hand and expect me to say it back. It was a very nice sentiment, but it was almost directly under the microphone and, no matter how much I pointed to the microphone and silently gestured not to include me in their blessings, it made no difference.

    When it was finished I made a point of hurriedly packing up the rig so that the relevant people didn't ask to hear it back there and then. I really didn't want them to know that I'd done the whole thing without being able to hear it.

    When I got back to the studio I discovered that the batteries in my preamp had started to fade about half way through this terrible recording and it progressively gets more and more distorted.

    Over the next few weeks my answering machine filled with calls from excited church committee members saying it was one of their best masses and they couldn't wait to hear the finished result.

    What could I say?

    I could've made a better recording with a plastic Sony stereo microphone hanging from a MiniDisc Walkman suspended from a helium balloon bobbing against the ceiling. Much quicker to set up, too.

    - Greg Simmons
  8. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Four words:

    Junior High Flute Choir!

    Do I need to say anymore? It was a "music camp" dedicated to flutes. The youngest members of this 42 piece flute ensemble had just picked their flutes up at the beginning of the 2 week camp. The most experienced members had as many as 2 whole years of fluting experience.

    It was during this experience that I learned 48v phantom power is not fatal as I kept on trying to commit suicide by licking an open phantom circuit! :twisted:

    After the recording, I felt the need to cleans myself - nothing short of ice-picking my ear drums would help...

    Length of concert (flutes, the whole flutes, and nothing but the flutes): 1 hour 20 minutes!
    Fee Charged - $50 (it was for a friend)
    Discs sold - 4
    Gross Profit: $92
    Net Profit: -$1,000+ (psychiatry bills...)

  9. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member


    Your posting brought back some really BAD memories

    A Baroque orchestra in a vast Gothic style church. Sounded really great in the church but I had a heck of a time getting it on tape. This was made even more difficult by the conductor deciding at the last minute that she wanted the whole orchestra (20+ members) to PROCESS down the center aisle of the church. I was doing the concert alone and I had two choices - to run out, take the microphone out of the aisle, wait till they passed and then put it up again and repeat at the end of the program OR I had to put it off center which is what I chose to do. The problem was that the orchestra was right heavy and I had my microphone array on the right side. They also "forgot" to tell me that there was an antiphonal choir and a trumpet solo from the back of the church.

    Another Church Baroque Recording horror story...

    The church was scheduled very closely and there was a wedding rehearsal right before the Baroque concert. The rehearsal was being done in a side chapel which was the only place we could bring in our equipment. We waited and waited and waited and they were still going strong 20 minutes BEFORE the our concert was ready to start. I finally excused myself and walked though the small chapel carrying the equipment much to the minister and the bride's mother dismay. We got set up in record time and all was GO until we turned on the power to our recording setup and found that we only had about 80 volts at the outlet. After some fast power cord switching and running an extension cord to another outlet we were back in business. The concert came off without a hitch and we got a good recording. The minister later sent me a copy of a letter he received from the Bride's mother and SHE WAS PISSED! that we had interrupted HER child's most intimate moment with our equipment moving (I thought that happened on the honeymoon). She told the minister that she would never use the church again (the minister told me that the girl in question was an only child) so he was not sure to what the mother was referring.

    Remote recording in a GOAT barn on a private estate. The Goat barn was a concrete building with lots of natural light that use to house goats but was now used as a concert hall. I was using a friend's equipment since he was in the concert and he assure me that all I had to do was push the record button on his DAT machine and check the levels. I did as he requested but he forgot and I did not bring my headphones so I did the whole concert watching the digital meters. I got back to my studio and listened to what I had. A radio station and hum were part of the program. My friend was upset but understood that there was nothing I could do since he told me that everything I needed would be at the barn.

    Recording in an old theater in a bad section of a nearby town. Youth Orchestra with three different age groups performing. Parts of the theatre are under renovation parts are completed. We did not have our customary walk though before the concert but I had done recordings in the building before. Got to the theater about 2 hours before the concert. I was by myself. Normally we load in from some stage doors that faced the parking lot but the parking lot had undergone renovations and now the door to the building was three feet under the parking lot level with a concrete block fence running along the edge of the parking lot. I had to load in from the alley side but the conductor did not want ANYONE on stage during the rehearsal so I was bared from going on stage to unload my equipment.. He got done about 30 minutes before the concert started. I had to get setup quickly. Normally the hall provided the table but this time they were less than helpful. I set up in the house in what use to be a box seat area and I set up on the floor. The stage crew gave me an AC power feed off the stage and I was ready to go about 10 minutes before the start of the concert. As I was watching my equipment all the bulbs grew dimmer and dimmer and I realized that the stage crew had given me a dimmable feed. I went up and asked them to switch me to a normal AC feed which they did. The concert started and things were going along well UNTIL the conductor started moving back and forth on his podium and every time he did so he made a loud noise on the floor. This went on through the rest of the concert. At one point he started waving his baton so much with so much body English that he fell off the podium and almost fell off the stage which was about 4 feet off the floor of the auditorium. The orchestra was terrible and the recording only showed how really bad the were. They stopped using us for recordings but have since change their minds and I am going a recording for them again this spring.

    Lots more but .....gota do some work.
  10. FifthCircle

    FifthCircle Well-Known Member

    3 sound systems on a single show?

    Well, this is an old thread, but I had a show this week that just redefined what can go wrong on a gig. It was by FAR my worst show that I've ever had.

    Thursday, I was working front of house for a concert in a local auditorium. It was a show of various "combos" in a jazz context. There were ensembles that ranged from a woodwind and brass quintet to a latin jazz octet to a work for string quartet, harp, sax/flute, piano, electric bass and drums.

    The dress rehearsal went beautifully- had almost no problems. That should have been the first concern. Little did I know what was in store for me. After rehearsal, I was tweaking things, setting up the announce mic, etc... and realized I missed dinner. Oh well, I grabbed the dinner of champions (beef jerkey and goldfish crackers.. with a coke to wash it down. ugh...) and it was show time.

    The fun started when the artistic director of the festival walked out on stage and when he started talking- nothing.... I start worrying, check the board, connections, etc... and see nothing wrong. I brought up his mic in the monitors on stage to try to make things so he could be heard, but something was obviously wrong. The amplifiers were seeing signal, but nothing was coming out. Evidently, the amps had gone into Thermal overload (I think). We turned everything off as we had some time. The first group that needed amplification wasn't until the 3rd or 4th group. I turned around some monitor speakers so that I could get sound into the house where needed.

    At that point, we were also having difficulties reaching the emergency line of the sound rental company. We ran into one of the rehearsal rooms and grabbed this little POS Yamaha PA system that they had and started to set that up during the stage changes. Now, it has speakon connectors, but for some reason, they didn't work either... (system #2) They had 1/4" connectors, but the cables we had weren't long enough to make it across the stage (and not like we can easily string cables across the stage in the middle of the show).

    With some measure of luck, we finally made it through the first half. The Monitor speaker facing the audience was our sound system. Thank goodness the group on stage didn't need much help (it was a 6 piece jazz group). Come intermision, the PA company finally said they were going to deliver a new amp rack, but it would take them 45 min to get there. We then sent somebody to the major concert hall on campus to grab the sound system from there. We got it up during intermission and finally got sound into the room. Of course, my console was set up to provide sound to 4 Apogee AE5 speakers at a relatively low level and this was 2 EAW 650 speakers that were set at a level to fill an 1800 seat auditorium (this hall I was in was only about 600-700).

    At least I had sound.... The new issues- an EQ that was set for another PA, no clue as to the overall level (new amps are more powerful), a lack of dispersion in the room (4 speakers are now 2). otherwise everything was fine... :?

    First time I brought up the mics- massive Feedback. Turns out I had to have the output of FOH turned down to the point were it was barely cracked open. Finally got it going, though....

    The big piece that would fail completely if there wasn't PA came on finally. It was a work by the LA based composer/pianist Billy Childs for string quartet, harp, sax doubling flute, piano, electric bass and drums. I had clipon mics for the harp and all of the strings. This was one of the few good points on the show- I used DPA 4061 mics on the violins and viola. I was amazed at the fact that they sounded completely natural without even needing to touch the EQ at all. They were by far the best lav mics I've ever used. Now the problem. We clipped the XLR connectors to the players belts to avoid having to worry about the mics coming off the instruments. Somewhere I had a bad XLR or cable. Perhaps it was the leg of a chair on the cable.... In any case, I started getting phantom power spikes through the system.

    Oh !@#$!@, time to track down another problem. I thought it was the harp mic so I turned it off... Then I got more spikes... Perhaps it was the violin? turned it off.... got more.... Ugh.... turned the entire system off. I got one last spike.... WTF?! There really was a gremlin out there that wanted to make my life hell.

    Piece finally ended and the latin jazz octet came out. They sounded awesome and I got a great sound... The levels by then were set and we were going strong. I had Royer 122's on the horns (trumpet, 2 bones, sax), Microtech M930's on the piano, TLM 103 on the congas, An ADL200 DI and a KM 184 on the bass and my AKG 426 on the drums... Sound was great....

    I then got word over the comm system that the Billy Childs group was going to come out and play a new work for the same ensemble. I kept the royers out there and used Josephson C42's on the harp and sax and it went off perfectly...

    The show ended and I felt like passing out.

    The verdict: Sound system- 3, Ben 0, Microphones- 1, Ben 0. thank goodness that day was done.

  11. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    YIKES! that sounds like a true horror story.

    Must have been the week for them.

    I get a call to do concert sound in a church. They tell me that all the equipment will be provided. I get the tech rider and call the church and ask about the sound system. (I somewhat lucked out and one of the people that recommended me installed the sound system so I call him and he tells me what to expect in terms of equipment.) The tech rider calls for 18 inputs. Almost all of them are for acoustic instruments and vocals. The church has a Mackie sound board and an in house installed sound system. It turns out that this will NOT be done in the church and will instead be done in their "multipurpose room" which also is used for the contemporary worship service and banquets and basketball. All hard surfaces with a stage at one end and four large concert sound speakers on the walls at the stage side. I arrive at 2 pm for a 7 pm concert. I wanted to make sure everything was set up and checked out before the ensemble arrived. I had told the minister I would be there at 2 pm but she decided not to be there until 3 pm and the person who was going to show me the sound system did not arrive until almost 4 pm.

    The building was open and I came in and looked around.

    Everything was set up but I immediately noticed that the concert sound board was about 10 feet in front of the left side rear concert sound speaker. I also noticed that someone had completely repatched the console so now mic 1 was mic 3 - mic 3 was now mic 11 etc. I went on the stage and all the microphone connectors had been relabeled with person's name on the jacks covering up the microphone numbers. There were a couple of people in the hall including one person from the church who was going to do the opening act (no knowledge of an opening act from any correspondence from the church).

    The minister who hired me finally shows up along with the person who will be showing me the setup. I learn that the tech rider I got is not the one I needed and it will be only two people and four inputs. 2 vocal microphones and 2 instrument inputs. <Why they needed to hire me is beyond me.> Ok so we repatched the console back to the way it is suppose to be and the performers arrive. They brought their own microphones and an "in the ear" monitor system" We proceed to set it up and almost immediately there is a problem with the "in ear" monitoring system. Seems it has been on the road for a while and is a bit flaky not to mention that it does not like to be on the sound board and starts humming almost immediately. A piece of cardboard under the unit fixes the hum problem and the performers go on stage and start tuning up and I get some levels from them. I do the in ear from an aux send on the board and we get the levels set.

    One of the church sound people (all volunteers) comes over to tell me that the opening act will be vocals and keyboard then tells me that he does not like my mix. Ok so I ask him what is wrong and he tells me that the two vocals are not matched. I point out that there is only one person singing and the other person has yet to sing. He goes off in a huff!

    Mean while I am being blasted in my left ear from the concert sound speaker and am having trouble keeping the levels correct since the system seem to want to distort and moderate levels. I have no access to the "power amps" or the controller just the board and I figure who ever put in the system thought that it was only going to be used for speaking not concert sound.

    The PAID performers are doing their best and I am trying to keep it all together. They get though with the sound check and the opening act goes on. I get levels from him and we are cool. The church was providing the supper (which was very well done) and I am back at my position at 6:00 pm. When I come back from supper I noticed that the board had been played with and there was some video cables coming out of a VCR which was right about knee high to the console. The church was gong to video tape the concert and provide a video feed to the large screen TV over the performers heads. (again no previous knowledge) The head minister comes buy to introduce himself to me and tell me that he is a "techie" <WOW! I am IMPRESSED>.

    He proceeds to start messing around with the audio console and patches in a wireless microphone for himself and sets his own level. He also tells me that he wants music before the opening act and at intermission. So I check out the CD player and get some levels. The opening act is suppose to go on at 6:50 and play for 10 minutes - 30 minutes later he is still playing and the PAID performers are getting a bit upset.

    The opening act is a singer and is playing keyboard. His vocal mic goes out for no reason and then comes back on. The next thing I know is I have one of the volunteer audio crew in my face telling me that his microphone is off. It comes back on by itself. Then this same person puts himself directly in my line of sight and proceeds to tell me that he could run the sound system better than me and does not know why the church had to hire me and that he is upset that the opening act's microphone went off. About this time the opening act gets done and the PAID performers take to the stage. The volunteer is still in my face and I cannot see the stage. I take his right arm and gently pull him out of my field of vision. He comes right back to I move him off again and tell him to basically SHUT UP and to get OUT OF MY WAY. He finally realizes what is happening and leaves only to come back latter to apologizes to me for being in my line of sight but of course that is where he is standing while he is apologizing.

    The audience that was suppose to be 200 to 800 is closer to 20 and they are having a very good time. The head minister comes by and puts a power point presentation on the screen over the performers heads. The PAID performers notice that the audience has lost all contact with them since they are trying to read and understand the power point presentation. The performers ask that the projector be turned off but it takes a while for the head minister to understand their request. He reluctantly turns it off. (I found out later that he had worked on this for a long long time and wanted to present it to the audience while the concert was going on) WHY?

    Intermission comes (not to early for me) and I am slowly bringing up the music on CD and the head minister comes by and takes the faders and runs it up full on. ( A couple of people in the audience jumped ) Then he says to me . "This is the way I want it done." Ok so I am basically a "hired gun" and I have no idea of the church's SOP and I tell him that if he has such a document I would think it should have been included with the sound rider. He then starts playing with his microphone strip on the console and does some "adjusting" to the sound with no one on stage. At the same time the guy that is doing the video has to change tapes in the recorder that is at my knee level so he shoves me out of the way and puts in a new tape. The second half of the concert goes on and on and on and finally a concert that was suppose to be over at 9 pm gets over at 9:45 pm then the head minister has to have a talk with the audience that lasts about 7 minutes and then the concert is over. I thank the nice minister who hired me and drive home. The next day I write her an email telling her about the events of the last evening and making some suggestions. She writes me back and thanks me for my input.

    One of the things that I mentioned to her was that there was an extreme amount of animosity towards me as an "outsider" and considering the size of the ensemble I was hired to do was about 9 times bigger than what I had done and suggested that their own volunteer crew could have handled the job and saved the church some money to boot.

    Not a good experience and one I never want to repeat. The head minister was not in a good mood the whole evening and was very hostile to me and to his normal audio crew throughout most of the evening. I guess he was upset that I did not know all the details as to how he wanted things done and looked upon me as an extension of his own audio crew. I don't think he would be a fun person to work with. He was also upset at the small turn out of people and how much the concert had cost the church.

    Not my problem(s)
  12. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Good lord, Tom, you sure do have the horror stories! And, sorry to hear about the "Concert From Hell", Ben!

    I'm glad to see this thread resurrected; perhaps we should turn it into a sticky and keep it around. It's almost theraputic, I think, to read as well as write these things....good way to vent, indeed!

    It's been a fairly quiet, unventful summer, but we all know; as soon as ya say something like that, the fates are waiting to step in and change all that.

    The fall season approaches soon enough, and it can only mean one thing: MORE horror stories!

    Bring 'em on!!!! :twisted:
  13. John Stafford

    John Stafford Well-Known Member

    I know this isn't a recording horror story, but I was playing in a piano competition (thankfully not an important one!), and I had the ultimate nightmare of a mental block. During the first movement of Beethoven's Waldstein sonata I forgot where I was and stopped, then I remembered, but the same thing happened a minute later. The adjudicator kndly asked me if I would like to use the sheet music at which point I decided the most dignified thing was to leave the stage :oops: :cry: :evil: That was the end of my aspirations to be a pianist, and in a way I'm sort of glad.

    Second most embarassing was one time I was accompanying using a crappy keyboard, and without considering that the music was lying across a bank of switches, I turned a page. The thing jumped down two octaves, and the sound changed from piano to acoustic guitar. There wasn't a big crowd, and I knew most of them, so I was able to laugh that one off.

    Third most embarassing was when I was asked to play the organ at a friends wedding. I turned up at the church and there was a battered up harmonium on which half the keys either stuck or didn't work. The REALLY scary thing was that nobody noticed!

  14. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    John, some of your earlier experiences are eeirly similar to mine!

    I went to college for Music Theory & Comp, but they made me take juries and end-of-semester exams on the piano anyway, same as the performance majors. (I played a lot at the time, but would NEVER sell myself as a classical concert pianist.) In my case, stage fright in front of a 5 member jury was just awful. My hands would literally sweat from nerves. To my utter shock and horror, I was slipping off some notes due to my very wet fingers. They were nice to me, though, and by the time I got around to playing the contemporary and extemporaneous stuff, I got my groove back.

    My own harmonium horror story: I was playing a "wedding vows renewal" service in a teeny-tiny chapel with an electric powered pump organ pressed against the front wall. Midway through the service, my single sheet of music fell off the rack, and by the time I discretely bent down to get it, it was GONE!!! Looked all around my "immediate seating area" and couldn't find it. Had to improvise a poem (which "I" was supposed to recite as well - thank god I had it partially memorized) as well as improvise the recessional.

    When it was over, we regrouped and tried to solve the mystery of the missing music. We even pulled the beast away from the wall, and still no sheet of paper. Finally, we turned the power off to leave, and....PLOP! The music fell away, out from the BOTTOM of the organ where it was stuck firmly in place - by the intake of the reed organ's blower motor.

    Then there was the time I accompanied a very vain and poorly rehearsed singer at a wedding mass who gave me her version of "Ave Maria' on fax(rice) paper. Midway through the piece, the ceiling fans in the choir loft kicked on, blowing our music away, and down into the sanctuary. We vamped, she got lost, and the Priest - FROM THE ALTAR - put her out of her misery when he turned up to us, smiling kindly, and said: "That will be enough, thank you." Indeed it was! :twisted:

    Sorry if they're not quite the same kinds as Ben and Tom's, I have plenty more to relate from the engineering side of the glass, another time.
  15. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    I love the fussy Diva's. They make me laugh and then they get pissed off cuz I'm just laughing at them whenever I look at them.

    Here's a good one -

    I have a very good regular client whose college orchestra I record. The auditorium he's forced to use SUCKS. It's old and crappy and was never designed for acoustics.

    At EVERY concert, the stage crew comes in and tells us what we CAN'T do because the firemarshall won't allow.

    We were doing a recording of Orff's Carmina Burana with large orchestra and full chorus and children's choir. The director spent good money to get an extension of the stage built so that the orchestra could move forward and make room for the choruses. Three hours before the concert, the stage crew came in and said -

    "You've got to tear down the extension and move the orchestra back on the stage. The fire marshall won't allow it."

    Well, we tore it down and put the choruses on the FLOOR in front of the stage!! We now had no room for good pianos (2 required for this) so we had to use 2 ratty old console pianos that hadn't been tuned in God knows how long.

    All in all, the recording kinda worked out, but it was a nightmare.

  16. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    Yes, I have had my share of horror stories with IATSE and the famous "Fire Marshall" who always seems to be omnipresent but never around when you could ask him a direct question. I can't tell you how many times I have been in situations were "the fire marshal says" is quoted. I know they are around and I have a good friend who use to be a fire marshal for the small town I am in. He is a great person but is ultra cautious about egress and fire exits. Sometimes I think the "fire marshal" is quoted when someone does not want to do something and they don't just want to tell you "@#$% off"
  17. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    So true Tom!

    I often think they are just "quoting" the fire marshall to be jerks - it makes them feel special...

    The egress issue is one that always comes up. Here's the layout:

    In the same hall, there are seats like so (hopefully this translates well):

    ---- -------- ----
    ---- -------- ----
    ---- -------- ----
    ---- -------- ----
    ---- -------- ----
    | |

    The "-" s being seats and the | being exit doors (to the outside nonetheless.)

    I constantly try to set my microphone stands up in the front row since these are the worst seats in the house but a good distance for mic'ing. They always yell at me that they must have, by code, a 12 foot egress - 12 FEET!!! Hell, I don't know any code like that. I've seen 4, 6 or even 8 for movie theaters, but 12?!?!?!

    And besides, if there are exits on both sides of the front of the theater and exits at the rear, who the hell would go down to the front and then try to run out the OPPOSITE side of the building, thereby crossing my mic stands?

    The only fire I can see is the flame coming out of their crack pipes when they "invent" these codes!!! :evil:

    Oh well. It's time to overdose on Vodka and get some sleep... :shock:

  18. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Okay, my drawing didn't quite work. The two vertical dashes should have been on either side of the "seats."


Share This Page