Advice on running a jam.
Here in my home town I have worked with the city to start a community acoustic jam. The city donated usage of a wonderful building in the city park. We have a small kitchen, A/C, heat, chairs, and tables everything you could wish for. I have established a socail media presence and marketed the jam in are town. But the structure of the jam has come into question!
The first jam I used a song circle platform. Put chairs in a circle and every one plays together and taking turns doing songs if they want to. This worked pretty well. But there were issues with vocals. So some people expressed the need for a vocal p.a. others for a open mic platform.
So how do I do a vocal p.a and still keep the friendly nature of the jam? This is supposed to be a any age any skill level jam. And I am afraid if we end up in a open mic style platform I will lose the shy and beginning player's!
Any advice or comments are appreciated!
How often is the community jam? Perhaps have sessions more tailored to beginners (with more experienced volunteers to help keep the sessions running more smoothly, and give positive pointers for those who are less experiecned), and sessions that are for experienced/confident musicians to get together?
Maybe you could have both formats. Start with the circle, and end with solo performers. If you could get experienced people to join the early group portion, they could help less experienced players, and then, they could do a song, or two solo to close the jam.
keep it accoustic, keep it intimate. No PA's. The shy ones will sing louder as they develop confidence. The key is to actively listen. You might want to have a beginners jam an hour before the main session begins.
+1 for P-Town's suggestion. Let the newbies go first so they don't feel intimidated.
Also, this is a really good idea, I've kinda been wanting to start something like this where I live.
Advice on running a jam
I have been running such a jam for over four years. Our jam is open to all skill levels. We use meetup.com as a platform to communicate. Check us out at
We actually have two flavors of jams to meet different desires.
In our Thursday night sessions every site in a large circle and all peform songs together as a group. All instruments are strictly acoustic except for an electric bass. We use a setlist of songs suggested by members ahead of time, so we have direction and members can familiarize themselves with the material ahead of time.
In our Wednesday night sessions we divide up into groups of 3 or 4 and prepare songs for performance in an open night later in the evening. The open mic allows electric instruments and a small PA.
Our group is very popular, successful and enjoyable. Good luck with getting your group off the ground.
Don't let the drunk idiot touch your bass.
We have a few little acoustic only jams around here but they are all pretty much hillbilly and bluegrass. Each one is hosted by the individual who owns the space and they set the rules so it varies from wide open to sign up and wait your turn. You never have to worry about the drunk guy grabbing your bass, there is no drinking allowed at any of these jams.
The local blues society holds a monthly open jam and alternates acoustic and electric every other month. It's pretty much a signup and wait your turn situation, but it's usually fun enough to attend.
Alot of great ideas and comments! Definitely given me things to try and think about!!
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