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Hosting an Open Stage: Need Advice

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by FirewalZ, Dec 26, 2017.


  1. FirewalZ

    FirewalZ

    Aug 14, 2014
    S.E. Michigan
    All,
    Starting in January i'll be hosting a weekly friday night open stage, ive been to many, was in the house band for a few months at another, but this will be my first time "hosting". The house band will be bass, drums, guitar and the theme will be blues and classic rock. I have a FB page set up for advertising, a templated signup sheet that can be printed and I created a public Spotify list of Blues Standards as a reference for jammers. The plan is to have a house band start off with 3 tunes or so, than start bringing up the jammers. Anything im missing, any gotcha's or recommendations? THANKS
     
  2. 3Liter

    3Liter

    Feb 26, 2015
    Hobbiest
    1. Have a book of stuff you as a band know with the chord changes should someone want to play but only knows obscure stuff.
    2. I prefer where the band drops one guy (guitar) and a new guy comes up o guitar for a song or three and then the drummer swaps out leaving new guitar player up, then bass subs out. It's more efficient than turning the whole band over every two songs (but I've done that too, many times). In this case, limited to 15 minutes or three songs.
    3. Be welcoming, I have seen cliques at these things develop.
    4. Advertise through FB by posting your page to all the local musician pages and Open Mic pages.
    5. Dedicated Facebook page for the OM. Host takes photos of every act and posts them. You can learn performers names that way and it develops community for those that are not as good in the flesh.
     
    TheBear, Guiseppe and PauFerro like this.
  3. FirewalZ

    FirewalZ

    Aug 14, 2014
    S.E. Michigan
    Thanks!!
    1) The HB has a list of about 30-ish tunes we know well and cover vocals, mostly "classic rock". We all have been in cover bands for years so could fake a ton more stuff. I agree on creating a master songbook...are there any online services that may have lyric/chord libraries? I did however create a public Spotify list of "Blues Standards" and had planed on posting that for Jammers.
    2) Yep, this is pretty much the plan.
    3) 100% agree, no egos or "chop" hogs, all level of players should feel welcome.
    4-5) Thanks...I just spun up a FB page and getting that off now.
     
  4. 3Liter

    3Liter

    Feb 26, 2015
    Hobbiest
    Everytime I have seen such a book it was stuff culled from Ultimate Guitar or similar. Spotify only gets you what it sounds like I guess, I would hope people have some idea what it sounded like before they walked in ready to do it. BUT, there's always the X Factor of now standing up with three other guys that "kinda" know it, and a room full of people to make you forget the changes or words (BTDT!), so chord/lyric sheets are a help.
     
  5. FirewalZ

    FirewalZ

    Aug 14, 2014
    S.E. Michigan
    That makes sense...Ill probably have to develop the "song book" over time as this gets off the ground and picks up steam. I think after the first few weeks or so, ill have a better understanding of who is showing up, what needs to be worked on and such.
     
    Lvjoebass and 3Liter like this.
  6. Bunk McNulty

    Bunk McNulty It is not easy to do simple things correctly. Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2012
    Northampton, MA
    I'm impressed with your preparations, especially the idea of the songbook. All the open mics I've ever been to have been more...rough and ready. I'm going to one tonight that my BL started, to give support and probably run into some players I haven't seen in a while. One thought: I understand the efficiency of replacing players one at a time, but it might be wise to identify groups who want to play together.
     
    fhm555, NEOBart, Jay2U and 2 others like this.
  7. FirewalZ

    FirewalZ

    Aug 14, 2014
    S.E. Michigan
    Its possible im over thinking it:) Im not even sure if it will continue long term, the venue is doing this as a "trial" to boost Fri nights. However, since I am sort of the host, I want to go in with at least some sort of a plan.
     
    JRA, NEOBart and Bunk McNulty like this.
  8. Paulabass

    Paulabass

    Sep 18, 2017
    I host two jams. I've never been close to that organized, and I applaud you.
    I just wing it, and play just about anything the jammer calls. Since it's pretty well all blues and classic rock, I've at least heard most of them. If I can hear the melody in my head, I can usually play it in any key. All in knowing intervals backwards, and forwards. Last jam before Christmas I counted. I played 30 songs I had not before. Fun! Keeps you sober, and on my toes.
    Have we been stumped, or train-wrecked? Absolutley, but not often.
    Best of luck, sounds like a fun one.
    Tip- be able to describe a song quickly, and in numerical terms, so the key doesn't matter. Eg:I, V, IV, goes to 2#M, in the chorus. In down from the V.
    Now, hopefully, we all can play it.
     
    lz4005 likes this.
  9. 3Liter

    3Liter

    Feb 26, 2015
    Hobbiest

    It depends on the format....for a blues jam, it works better to rotate out. For an open mic, the whole band concept might be better. Depends on how you train your participants. I've done everything from know what time I'm (or my group) on, to have a frantic host assembling "bands" during the event to getting called from the stage by the host.
     
    Bunk McNulty likes this.
  10. FirewalZ

    FirewalZ

    Aug 14, 2014
    S.E. Michigan
    So what about handling vocals? Will most jammers come in with some material they already know and will play/sing it with the HB backing up....or will they just jam along with something the HB knows? The House Band is more of a rhythm section.
     
  11. Paulabass

    Paulabass

    Sep 18, 2017
    First thing I ask a jammer- you going to sing it? If not, we quickly discuss something that one of our four singers can get thru. Funny, it's rarely a problem. #1 rule- they can't all be zingers :)
     
    Lvjoebass and jchrisk1 like this.
  12. FirewalZ

    FirewalZ

    Aug 14, 2014
    S.E. Michigan
    True....funny thing is that I can sing, its just that I usually cant play bass AND sing lead at the same time unless its something I worked through(and im horrible with lyrics). If it takes off, ill look into an IPAD stand and getting some songbook service for lyrics and such.
     
  13. Paulabass

    Paulabass

    Sep 18, 2017
    ^ Most jams attract many of the same player every week. You get to know that so and so X likes to strum them, and sing them, a buddy here Y, is a good improvisor, so I call them up at the same time.
     
    soulstew, lz4005 and 3Liter like this.
  14. PauFerro

    PauFerro

    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    I like how you are making it easy for people to know what to prepare. I remember the first time I went to a jazz jam I was terrified. I brought my bass, but the players were so good, and I'd never heard any of the songs before, so I wasn't about to go up there and make a fool of myself -- particularly since I had hopes of breaking into the jazz scene eventually.

    The idea of a book is a great idea. I can now show up at jam nights with no problem, but if you were organizing the jam I went to a while ago, it would have boosted attendance for sure.

    In general, it's always good to have a plan. But be prepared to go with the flow as things come up. But you would be surprised how well the plan fits into an improvised situation sometimes. You end up using the various planning elements, but in different ways than you imagined, and it works!!
     
    mikewalker and bfields like this.
  15. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Song Surgeon slow downer. https://tinyurl.com/y5dcuqjg
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2017
  16. Bunk McNulty

    Bunk McNulty It is not easy to do simple things correctly. Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2012
    Northampton, MA
    I'm trainable. :D
     
  17. FirewalZ

    FirewalZ

    Aug 14, 2014
    S.E. Michigan
    Thanks. I created a public Spotify playlist of a solid set of Blues standards, I plan on posting on the Jam's Facebook page. Ill tweak as it goes based on the audience, but the thought was that a jammer can select from the list ahead of time. See anything essential missing?
     
  18. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    #1 rule: have at least one member of the host band on stage at all times, even if just to sing and call out soloists.

    #2 rule: do not let jammers call a tune that anyone else on the stage at that time doesn't know. This is much more of a problem with rock tunes than blues tunes.

    #3 rule: do not be afraid to tell people to turn down.
     
    mikewalker, ELG60, lz4005 and 3 others like this.
  19. Jay2U

    Jay2U Not as bad as he lóòks

    Dec 7, 2010
    22 ft below sea level
    Keep control over the volumes of each individual player/singer. Some always tend to be too loud.

    Never be in a hurry. Take your time to communicate and to tune the instruments.

    I remember once picking a backlined bass to play some ZZ Top songs. The first song was very difficult, because the bass appeared to be tuned D# G# C# F#. :bag::roflmao:
     
  20. 3Liter

    3Liter

    Feb 26, 2015
    Hobbiest
    #2....you CAN have people pick songs that are straightforward that the band doesn't know. If you have a guy that is clear about what the tune does....it's a 1, 4, 5 and the chorus is 5, 4, 1. I've seen it work.
     
    jchrisk1 likes this.

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