Jam sessions in a rehearsal space?
I like going to jam sessions and I find it a valuable learning tool. But the conditions and the organisation of those events are mostly really bad. The sessions are planned rather late in the evening and start even later, are crowded with players, players dont agree on what to play (or trying to do it over people on stage noodling), huge downtime between playing. Not to mention the usual suspects present at all jams :-\
And the play time/time spent is usually laughable :-\
Sooo, that got me thinking of renting a reheasal space and organizing a jam in it.
- Being able to control the quantity of musicians
- ... and their quality too
- Keep good proportions between instruments (not having 10 guitarists per drummer)
- Reducing downtime between songs
- More playtime per player
- Organizing the thing between all the people
- No public watching
- Rehearsal space cost
- Bringing own beer that is not cold :-)
- It might become a tad too academic :-)
- I'll have the duty and the guilt of being a control freak
Have you already done it? How would you approach it?
If I were going to do something like this, I would hand-pick a "band" -- i.e., one drummer and 2 or 3 guitarists -- and just invite them. They would have more fun (and might be more likely to accept the invitation in the first place) knowing that they'll be able to play all night instead of sitting out half (or more) of the time; it would dramatically improve the ratio of playing time to downtime; and it would be way easier on you not having to organize (and deal with conflicts about) who gets to play when and for how long, etc.
Also, I'd be reluctant to invite too large a group of strangers to a rented place because of liability concerns: You'll be responsible for the place. You want to be sure that the folks you invite are gonna be cool and not cause any kind of trouble or damage for which you could be held liable.
My idea was to hand-pick 2 or 3 "bands" (like 2 * (1 drummer+1 bass+2 guitars) or 3*....) and then to do mix and match to have some variety :-)
It would even give some flexibility to absense of some participants (one drummer absent, still got one more)
Number of musicians
I was thinking of having a total of 8 musicians present (2 drummers, 2 bassists, 4 guitars/keyboards). Waddayall think?
If that's the way you want to do it, I say try it and see how it goes. And report back to let us know!
It seems to me that there are some guys who show up at jam sessions at a bar who might not be as interested in doing so in a rehearsal space: you know, the ones who are there mainly to wank off in front of an audience, and then go back to hanging out at the bar with their friends. If a lot of the folks you invite turn out to be "this kind," you might not get much interest -- or worse, you'll get lots of people who say they're interested but then don't show up. On the plus side, though, the ones who do show up will likely be the ones you want to have: i.e., folks who are interested in playing for the sake of playing, rather than just to impress an audience, and who will also enjoy hanging and listening to others play when they're sitting out. That in itself might make for a better jam session than one in a bar, apart from the other advantages you've already mentioned. Good luck!
I've had friends/aquaintances who did similar things....kinda a rotating roster jam band...was always a good time but a lot of work for the dude who organized it and often folks flake out, not so bad when it's the 3rd-best guitarist of the night, not so good when its the only drummer scheduled to come by....
I do this often with 4 to 20 people a session. Usually we go to whoever's calling's rehearsing space (= no cost and a fridge). We actually put together a gigging improv band in which I drum with 3 other players (bass, guitar & keys) and sometimes guest singers. It's very challenging and lots of fun too. When things click it's almost like we read each other's minds - actual songs come out of it.
A cool compromise I suppose.
I have seen places in Nashville do "Build a Band" nights, which are friggin brilliant. Basically everyone attending has to perform two or three songs with a band + one original written on the spot, made up of nothing but other people at the event. Everyone forms groups and are given a time. The only hard part about it is bands actually form from this and may not come back. Mainly you just need house drums & PA. This sort of forces both organization and certain types of noodlers out while keeping fun people.
Put on your own show, don't list it as a jam night, i.e., not open to just anyone.
Invite all the "players" you want to jam with, and pick the tunes, be the BL, but then take a break and let someone else do it for a while.
I used to do it all the time and would get food/drinks for most of the players, and a hotel room at the place upstairs from the joint for myself and the lady.
So.... did you do it?
I basically do it but, it has now moved into a more structured rehearsal time. We send emails around suggesting songs to work on and what style to approach it as. One guy creates pdfs of the sheet music and creates a Band In a Box render and sends it out. We come up with 4 or 5 new songs to approach in that week's rehearsal.
Personally, I'm not into the "jam". I like more of a structure like I just described. The idea of me and the drummer playing 20 minutes of a I-IV-V blues turnaround while the guitarist or keybourdist shreds gets old quick for me. That, on top of paying $20 or $30 an hour for 2 hours split between 3 or 4 people....... it's a "time is money, thing".
If a "lead instrument" wants to try to come up with good riffs over a chord progression, they can practice that at home. In a band situation, I like playing the beginning, middle and end of a song. If a couple klunkers were made, do it again. Other than that, move on to the next song.
We play jazz and so, sometimes it's hard to chop-sort the "impov" section as I know that the lead instruments like that but, as I said, a little goes a long way with me.
Having said all that, the "open mic jam" thing......not for me. That's like 7 people trying to make a pot of soup.
I do informal (small) jams at my place from time to time.
The biggest prob is finding *qualified* musicians who just want to get together and play.
Not a fan of jam sessions for all the reasons the OP mentionedů
I've done something similar. I've gotten together with one or two friends and have rented studio time in the past, and have even hired pro musicians to be part of the line upů
Just in terms of time management alone it beats going to jam sessions hands down.
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