“Again, I appreciate your willingness,” Pastor Bruce sighed.
“Let him give it a try, Dad.” Edward said as he was hanging his coat on one of the coat hooks in the church kitchen.
“Yeah, Dad, Santa can do it!” Joy blurted.
“Well, Nick,” Pastor Bruce relented. “I guess you won them over in the van. OK. Come on in, and let’s give it a try.”
Walking into the sanctuary, Nick saw three musicians sitting on the stage. One was at the keyboard, one on a bar stool holding an electric guitar, and another leaned over a drum set in the back corner of the stage. From what Nick could hear and see, the music was pretty solid, but it definitely was missing the bass line. When the trio of men saw Pastor Bruce and the kids enter the room, they stopped the music and looked with interest toward the new fellow who had come in with them.
“Guys, sorry we’re late.” Pastor Bruce called out. “Guess Dan can’t make it tonight.”
“Yeah, that’s what Carol said. Who’s your friend, Bruce?” the man with the guitar called out.
“Hi there guys.” Nick said, taking the lead. “My name is Nick. I play a bit of bass. Mind if I sit in with you gents tonight and give you a bottom line to sink your teeth into?”
Motioning to each member of the band as he spoke, Pastor Bruce quickly introduced Nick to the three church musicians. Seeing each of the guys squirm just a bit at the thought of adding Nick to tonight’s lineup, Pastor Bruce explained, “It’s OK guys. Nick has played bass in other bands.”
Looking a bit skeptical, John the drummer picked up on Pastor Bruce’s lead and motioned to Nick to step up on the stage. Nick was up there in a second, shaking each man’s hand, and, before you knew it, had Dan’s electric bass over his shoulder and was tuning the strings.
“What piece are you doing first, guys?” asked Nick.
“The First Noel. In A.” Dave, the guitarist, quipped. “Know it?”
“Know it? I love it. You playin’ it straight or with a groove?”
“A bit of jazz feel.” Andy, the man at the keyboard, responded. “Something like this . . . ”
Andy played three pickup notes, and John kicked off a slow swoosh with his brushes, supporting Andy’s lead with a steady beat of three-quarter time.
Well, before they got through the first verse, Nick was right there, providing a walking bass line that brought this familiar Christmas tune up to a whole new level. Andy, John, and Dave looked at each other with a sense of excitement. Nick was filling in notes that brought the best out of John’s drumming. As John excelled, Andy the keyboardist began filling in with some nice eighth notes in the upper range. Dave played to the center and brought some warm chords to the arrangement, making it all flow together like hot fudge over a bowl of creamy vanilla ice cream.
Pastor Bruce stepped back from the stage and started to smile. Carol peeked into the sanctuary, just to see how things were going, only to be caught up in the warmth of the music coming from the stage.
“Wow, that’s nice, Bruce.” Carol said as she stepped into the sanctuary.
“Sure is.” Pastor Bruce agreed. “Nick’s got the touch, that’s for certain.”
“Gosh, Dad.” Edward added. “Nick plays bass better than he fixes fireplaces.”
“I told you he was Santa.” Joy proudly proclaimed.
The band finished up The First Noel, and then moved on to rehearse the rest of the evening’s music list. Within 20 minutes, the band had covered all the bases and decided to work on some of the Christmas carols planned for tomorrow morning’s church service.
Over the next hour, the band polished off all twelve songs planned for Christmas Eve as well as tomorrow’s service. Nick swung the bass over his head and shoulders, leaned the instrument quietly on the bass amp nearby, and let out a sigh, “My, my . . . all this nice Christmas music almost makes me feel like dancing.”
“Well, gents,” Nick added. “That was indeed a lot of fun. Hope you enjoyed it. Haven’t played like that for a long time. You guys are very good. It’s certainly an honor to play with you.”
“Sound OK to you, Pastor?” Nick asked as he walked off the stage toward Pastor Bruce and Carol.
“It sounds wonderful, guys.” Pastor Bruce responded. “Carol and I think tonight’s going to be really special. Thank you, Nick, for sitting in. I assume you can join us tonight and tomorrow, right? I guess I should have asked you that earlier.”
“Sure, Bruce.” Nick continued. “May I call you Bruce? Sure wouldn’t miss it for the world. I’ve certainly got nothing else keeping me busy tonight. I’d be honored.”