honest songs, honestly sung
singer and songwriter ben bruce

blog > Was My Big Gig Ruined?

Jul 31st, 2010

The snap of the wire wasn’t just the physical breaking of the string, but also the metaphysical breaking of my perception of myself as a pro, for in that instant I knew without a doubt that I did not have extra strings. My pride and preparation crumbled and dropped like a building in a Guatamalan sinkhole.

I prepared for weeks. My voice was strong, my set was rehearsed. I visualized my performance at the Bite of Seattle many times. I was focused like a laser. Before we left for Seattle Center, I went through my gear — cleaned out my carrying bag and the pocket of my guitar case and took out anything that wasn’t necessary. I got demo CDs and my tuner pedal and my cords and pliers and a rag and found them places. I polished my guitar. My eyes at some point looked directly at a pack of strings on the shelf.

We do the soundcheck. The day is perfect. Roadhouse Stage is a little hideaway in a massive festival, a shaded beer garden full of good people. My friends and family were there.

Finally it was time. I strummed a loud entrance, said a few words and began my first song. I felt great. This was what it meant to be a pro.

I strummed my guitar about ten times before the string broke.

The snap of the wire wasn’t just the physical breaking of the string, but also the metaphysical breaking of my perception of myself as a pro, for in that instant I knew without a doubt that I did not have extra strings. My pride and preparation crumbled and dropped like a building in a Guatamalan sinkhole.

I dragged that song to the finish line and said, “I’ll be right back,” having no idea how this would be salvaged, actually thinking it wouldn’t and my big gig was ruined.

Thankfully, there were some pros in the building. Mark, the sound guy, had immediately discovered I didn’t have strings, and went out into the beer garden and found Michael O’Neill, who played just before me. Michael came over and nonchalantly looked in his bag of tricks and pulled out ten D strings in various shapes and sizes. “Light? Medium? Gold-​plated? Wound? What do you need?”

I got my guitar re-​strung thanks to their help, and I took a deep breath and found that my preparation was strong enough to withstand this setback to my confidence. I did go on to have a good set at the Bite of Seattle. I was proud of myself in the end, with a little help from my friends.

Suffice to say I will have several extra sets of strings at the Summer Meltdown next week. My set is at 1am on Sunday night (Monday morning) — the Late Night Cool Down set. See you there!

– Ben

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