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Egos run amuck

Discussion in 'Off Topic [DB]' started by Steve Killingsworth, Feb 26, 2003.

  1. After a little over a year of "public" playing with a couple of groups and a considerable amount of jamming, I am increasingly amazed at the egos bloating around. This is exacerbated by the fact that the most mediocre players seem to have the highest opinion of themselves. I played a gig a few days ago and after it was over, a few guys gathered around for some informal jamming. All of a sudden it looked like a documentary from the Discovery Channel—you know how when a pack makes a kill and they all begin to fight for scraps. These guys—especially a couple of guitarists and a guy on a banjo—began to pound away until all traces of the melody were gone. It was every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost. It absolutely ruined things.

    I am a relative newcomer to instrumental music and do not understand this at all. My musical background is in singing and was taught from an early age that music and harmony is about blending --not blaring.

    Anybody else get frustrated with this?

  2. In the interest of full disclosure: I grew up in a Bluegrass household but I don't actually play it. Although I will fill in if there's no bass players and one is desperately needed.

    That being said my brother is an excellent flat picking guitar player and attends a lot of jams. He has the same impression. A lot of folks who aren't all that great having huge egos. A number of places seem to have the folks who've been going for the last 20 years who feel that they own the situation and aren't all that interested in having new folks come in and play (especially if the new folks play better than the jam heros). I would probably just get pissed and take off but he's a big festival guy and has a lot of experience with this sort of crap. There's not much worse than listening to a bunch of wanking soloists, "talking loud and saying nothing." My dad also goes to a lot of jams, particularly in the south (he's from CT). He gets the "go home yankee" thing a lot.

    But at the end of the day, who cares. Go in and play your ass off, find the people who are good players and good people (although those aren't always the same people) practice a ton, enjoy yourself and don't take ****.
  3. I don't know about bluegrass, but in the jazz tradition, the "jam session" was the place to separate the wheat from the chaff. If you were the chaff, they'd let you know (remember the cymbal-tossing scene from Clint Eastwood's "Bird?)
  4. I might add that the classical scene deffinately has it's egos too. It's like the whole thing is a competition, to the point where people seem to forget why we play music in the first place. It's art people... if you want to compete with somebody, go play some football or something. /end rant :rolleyes:
  5. Joe Taylor

    Joe Taylor

    Dec 20, 2001
    Tracy CA
    You all are righ about the ego thing. I find it best to let the ego trip types alone.

    I had not played in a long long time, when I showed up at the local community orchestra I picked last chair and was happy with that. So, the next week I sit in the last chair spot and an other player shows up who had played for a long time with the orchestra and had to sit in the 4th spot. The next week the section leader wanted to talk to me like it was real serious, I though I was going to get the boot. He said that he was going to have to rearange the section seating and wanted me to sit in fourth place. I told him no problem as I don't have an ego trip going about my playing. We both were happy I was still playing and he did not have a an unhappy player.

    Leave the egos at the door and don't walk on someone's solo time.

  6. It wasn't really like a jazz thing. As a general rule in bluegrass the whole group usually picks a verse and chorus, then a player takes a break on the verse - all chorus - another break etc. These guys were all just hammering away the whole time. I think they confused volume with style.
  7. tsolo


    Aug 24, 2002
    Ft. Worth
    I wasn't there so I can't know thier intent but, the jam sessions at the bluegrass festivals where I play are always pretty fun. People seem to keep their egos in check. Maybe there are groups that do, I guess i've just avoided them.
  8. Jonesy4fnk

    Jonesy4fnk Supporting Member

    some players just don't get the whole picture and choose to show off instead of creating something musical. I think it shows true musicianship when you can sit in with 10 other players and make the music sound good.

    For electric jams - I prefer to bring along a pair of wire cutters and when someone is wanking off, just cut his cable. ;)
  9. John Sprague

    John Sprague Sam Shen's US Distributor

    Mar 10, 2003
    Rochester, NY
    Sales Manager, CSC Products Inc.
    I'll quote my father's old saying for this topic:
    'bout sums it up.
  10. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Last November I played at a blues festival in Utrecht, Netherlands. It was a hoot, playing with Warren Storm (and Studebaker John). Now, Warren's from La'fyett, Lu'syana, and one of the nicest entertainers I've ever worked with. He's almost 70, still sings and plays drums like a mofo, and had his first hit when he was 19. Do the math...

    What was really interesting was some of the younger blues acts (this is an all American festival, by the way) thought that they were God's gift to the blues world. Warren just llooked at them, then winked at me and laughed. "I see them come, and I see them go..."

    It was the highlight of the trip, for me.
  11. Warren is great, such a smooth, natural musician.

    I thought you said the highlight was meeting Rudy Ray Moore's "valet"!
  12. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Well, as far as "wha'thehell?" highlights go, the Rudy Ray Moore/Dolomites thing was pretty out. But as far as lernin' bout how pretentious the blues scene is, Warren's comment sticks in my head.