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How to win at jam nights?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Pbassred, Nov 3, 2010.

  1. Not that jam nights are a contest, and I know that there are many posts regarding jam night etiquette but.......

    How do you really succeed or at least "look good"? Learn loads of songs (but you can't learn them all)? loads of riffs? Should you just wade in and screw up, or go as a spectator to check it out?

    Maybe nothing matters. I see one guy who is always at jams. 20% of his notes are off but he plays loads of them and everyone thinks he's great. Am I expecting too much of myself?
  2. coffin blurt

    coffin blurt

    Feb 6, 2010
    Victor Wooten's Groove Workshop. nuff said.
  3. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Banned Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    Know how to improvise in every key;
    Know how to stay back on the beat;
    Accept that folks are there to see the guitarist/singer/harp player and NOT you.
    Make friends with the drummer.

    That's the ticket.
  4. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    For jam nights, to be the best player, you have to be the best listener.
  5. Stumbo

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

    Feb 11, 2008
    Song Surgeon slow downer. https://tinyurl.com/y5dcuqjg

    Learn the blues.

    Be able to sing and play bass. That way you'll have a better chance at choosing the songs.

    Learn enough guitar playing to be able to recognize the chords. Be able to follow instructions: Key of A, I-IV-V quick change, start on the V.

    Here are some links you may want to check out:

    ~Getting creative
    Creating bass lines
    Target Approach
    Walking bass line examples
    Ed Friedland on walking bass lines
    TB's Ed Fuqua's walking bass line book

    For a jam

    Playing scales

    Playing behind/ahead of the beat
    Playing "in the pocket"

    1 Blues jam terms/progressions
    Ice Cream Changes
    Backdoor Progression
    more blues
    Abersole's 35 blues variations
    Improving the blues

    Also check out the link in my sig. below for more great TB info that may help you out.
  6. John Wentzien

    John Wentzien

    Jun 25, 2007
    Elberta, AL
    Artist:TC Electronic RH450 bass system (original test-pilot)
  7. RexNFX79


    Jan 12, 2009
    If we are talking about open jams held by bars and such, I think the way to be the winner is to not go. Those are always dissapointing messes from my experience.
  8. Richland123


    Apr 17, 2009
    Know a core of tunes that almost everybody knows so at least you can play a few songs that will sound together. Don't overplay if you are not sure of the songs. If you never played a song before but are familiar with how it goes, ask somebody for the basic chord structure and follow along. Ask if anybody has charts for songs you don't know. Even basic note charts will help you get through a song you don't know.
  9. sorry about that.....
    I have to disagree. These are an opportunity to find like minded people, and if run well, can be a wealth of education, good times and good music.

    If they are not well run , sometimes, you can help, if you know what is needed.
  10. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches

    Aug 21, 2006
    Denver, CO
    In most instances I'd agree with you. In college the bar I bartended at also had me serve as the "house bassplayer" for Monday night blues jams. They were trainwrecks of guys taking turns soloing (on guitar or harp) over the same 12 bar blues in the same two or three keys.

    The exceptions were the nights a couple different guys dropped in. The horn section from a local ska band were awesome. "Blues night" suddenly had tinges of funk and jazz.

    The singer songwriter who played modern blues and had absolute command and feel rather than a bad SRV or Jerry Garcia impression on guitar and could improvise vocally/lyrically as well.

    But my favorite was an older guy who would only come by once in a great while and absolutely drive the train from the kit. It was either hop on board and create some magic or give your spot to the next kid with a guitar because he'd make it so easy for me to lock in with him and create fun, rockin' but still bluesy grooves.

    How do you "win" at jam nights? You find one that has musicians that challenge you, that play in different kinds of styles and then you focus on playing WITH them rather than worrying about what the audience thinks of your playing.
  11. plangentmusic

    plangentmusic Banned

    Jun 30, 2010
    Everything said is true, but I'll put in a dose of jaded experience.

    The short answer is...you can;t. If you show off, you'll come off obnoxious. If you play what's correct, you'll just be a guy who played a song. No improvisation ever sounds as good as rehearsed music.

    Jams are about meeting people and making friends. It takes a long time, but if you'r up for doing the late hangs on a consistent basis, you might make some connections.
  12. puddin tame

    puddin tame

    Aug 14, 2010
    I very much disagree with that whole middle part of your post
  13. Thunderthumbs73


    May 5, 2008
    One of the best ways to "look good" doesn't even have anything to do with bass or your playing. Just be nice, courteous, and put forward a good, open, friendly vibe. Come early as you can. Stay late as you can. Support folks. Be encouraging. Clap and pay attention. Don't constantly talk through the "performances" even though they're jams. Give compliments and nice thoughts if/as they're warranted. Try to build or foster a sense of musician community.
  14. Thunderthumbs73


    May 5, 2008
  15. Skitch it!

    Skitch it!

    Sep 6, 2010
    Just keep the groove most importantly, it's what you don't try to say on an instrument sometimes that makes things work, keep the backbone groove going long enough to draw people in, when the time feels right, start your excursions from there, but defo let people know, you do groove, that is the most important thing they will be looking for ; )
  16. 3rdBass

    3rdBass Funk in A Supporting Member


  17. Well, for starters you have to learn Mustang Sally! In every key imaginable :)

    All kidding aside, just hold the groove while the harp and guitarist are doing their solos. Be nice and attentive. Tip your bartender! Even if the drinks are free! And just be yourself and have fun! Most people there won't remember what happened that night anyway.
  18. butchblack

    butchblack Life is short. Do good. Find and do what you love.

    Jan 25, 2007
    Waltham Massachusetts
    You didn't mention what kind of open jam it is. For a blues jam know the common progressions and the common variations (i.e. II,V turnaround, Allman bros Stormy Monday progression, etc) as well as being able to play different rhythms like shuffles, swing, rumba, marches etc. be able to play them in any key. LEARN TO LISTEN. Being able to hear and react to what's going on onstage is a vital skill IMHO. Always play to make the song sound good, not necessarily to make yourself sound impressive.

    For a rock jam learn the common songs called most often. Jazz jams often use the real book, again learn the commonly called songs.

    In all of these whenever possible lock onto the drummer. Of course sometimes you'll get a drummer who couldn't keep a tempo in a locked cage. If you can hold the rhythm together you'll get a good reputation quickly.

    Most importantly. Have fun. When open jams become more work then fun it's time to move on.
  19. ()smoke()


    Feb 25, 2006
    the funny thing is that i'd come closer to saying that backward because i feel that improvisation is where it's at...the most interesting, beautiful sounds i hear are improvised
  20. thudfromafar

    thudfromafar Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 2007
    If you want people to like you, either be extremely amazing, or extremely mediocre. Pick one.

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