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Open Jam Etiquette

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by capnsandwich, Feb 6, 2010.


  1. Sparkdog

    Sparkdog Supporting Member

    Sep 18, 2006
    Burbank, CA
    Unfortunately, that is typical of disorganized low level jams, it's pretty much "wankers night out".

    For some of these guys it is their only opportunity to get onstage and by God they're going to play every note they know before somebody yanks them off the bandstand!

    A little scouting beforehand is a good idea so you can avoid these situations.

    But lest some folks read this thread and think jams are all just a clusterf--k there ARE good ones where you will hear incredible players who are respectul of each other and actual music gets made.

    And if you're one of the guys who plays well with others it can even lead to gigs, I've hooked into a decent number of those from playing at jams.
     
    Garret Graves likes this.
  2. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2011
    Which is why I was so taken aback by it all. In the past the same organization had always put on very well run, organized jams where it was not unusual for some of the local luminaries to show up if they happened to be in town.

    I got lots of work from attending in the past, but if what I saw friday was typical of the way things are run these days, I'll take my chances on my own.
     
  3. BluesOnBass

    BluesOnBass Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2010
    By the Big Lake
    Pete - thanks so much for your advice and especially for this link and your great website!! I'm gonna use the recordings to jam with myself :hyper: Great practice for 'sitting in".

    Cheers!

    Steve
     
  4. Glad it's of use :) Just a quick correction though... it ain't my website, it's theirs - I just turn up every so often & have a blow :D

    I guess the vids etc could be of use, as they're spur of the moment/on the fly examples with no prior rehearsals, however... no amount of bedroom practice really prepares you for the jolt of doing it for real; f'rinstance you don't get the 10-15 seconds of 'instruction' like "OK, swinger in Cmin, quick change, 251 turnaround, watch me for the stops... 1-2-3-4". No song titles, no warning, off you go. :eek::help:

    Home jamming can take some of the sting out of it, for sure, but the first time at a jam night is a real heads-up to how much you don't know - & the more of 'em you do, the more you find you need to learn :meh:

    This is actually a good thing, as you then have clear targets to aim at rather than wondering what to randomly learn next - it's kind of an ongoing apprenticeship in what knowledge & techniques you really need.

    I've learned more in 3 years of doing jam nights than in the previous 20+.

    Pete.
     
    instrumentalist and mesa300 like this.
  5. BluesBear

    BluesBear

    Oct 17, 2009
    Tacoma, WA
    If you're the one singing a song... PLEASE KNOW ALL THE WORDS!!!

    Don't stand there and sing the same verse over and over.
    It's both annoying to the audience and rude to anyone else who might be thinking of performing the same song later.

     
    iplay5 and s2bs2 like this.
  6. DontFret

    DontFret

    May 10, 2011
    Bath
    Oh i hate that, same awful department as people who only know one bit of a song and think they can get away with playing the same thing over and over again, and miss an important key change... annoyyyying...

    don't be a stage hogger
    don't be the weird quiet kid in the corner...

    thats my advice on this which also can be expanded for pretty much any situation.
     
  7. AnchorHoy

    AnchorHoy

    Dec 29, 2008
    New Jersey
    Played one last night that was kind of a weird mix of things found elsewhere in this thread

    Tiny club - maybe 80 people SRO. Decent backline and PA. Run by a semi-local (lives some distance away but has many ties to the area music scene) who is a fine player in his own right. The thing is being advertised as an Open Mic, but in practice it's more of an 'invitation only' jam. They have a signup sheet but that means absolutely Nothing......

    So I go there with just an acoustic flat-top guitar, leaving the bass at home even though I'm known locally as "that fretless bass player" first and foremost. The plan was to play some acoustic blues with solos by whoever was interested. Sure enough, I get called up to the stage 5 minutes after I get there - to play bass :ninja:

    Leader is kind enough to lend me his Pedulla fretless for the purpose and *ahem* it took more than a little bit of getting used to, to say the least. Managed to cope with it eventually, despite the strap height hanging the thing down to my knees and the lined fretless fingerboard (been playing variations on the P fretless all my life and flat-out hate lined FBs). Since I was singing, I got to call a few tunes which went reasonably well. Then he throws me a total curve ball: coming out of Stormy Monday, he leans over and says "you know Freeway Jam right? Lets do it!" and off he goes into the intro. Have I heard the tune before? Yep. Have I ever played the tune before? Nope :help:

    Doesn't matter in the slightest. Two more guitar players hear the familiar opening lick and jump on stage. Drummer kicks it into high gear and away we go, ready or not. Nothing left to do at that point except fake it, totally from a 20 year old memory. Main riff is simple enough, pulled the first part of the bridge out of my hat and got totally lost on the last lick of the bridge. Covered the potential train wreck by palm muting the strings at the bridge for that section and just going ThumpThumpThump in tempo, which actually worked out better than I expected LOL. Later on that night, I finally got to play what I came to play (with tasty leads by Mr. Gotcha) and that went well enough to get a solo gig offer from the club owner

    Lesson #1 - Bring your own bass, no matter what else you have planned for the night

    Lesson #2 - Expect sudden surprises from this leader

    Lesson #3 - Don't forget to tip the bartender. He's the one who set me up for the potential solo gig :cool:
     
  8. TheRealKong

    TheRealKong

    Mar 17, 2011
    Lesson # 4...and be sure to invite the right musicians!

    A few weeks ago there was a open stage night in a well known bar in my aerea in germany, called "The Rock And Metal House". The name says it all, nice people with long hair that love heavy music. A guitarist and singer, well known in my place as he is with 4 or 5 bands, invited several people to give this bar with that first jam a good start. He asked some guitarists to bring theyr combos, and I was asked to bring my "small stuff", Little Mark II and Peavey TVX 210. I was there first at 7:00 pm, unpacked my amp, cab and bass and started to find a sound for the hollow wooden stage, playing along with some tunes from the stereo.

    BTW, a guy walked in and told the owner imediately: "Wow, you really did something with that old stereo! Heavy bass!"

    Later on more musicians arrived, and we waited for the man who was asked to bring his drumset. Yeah, what can I say: A drumset ever arrived. As they reached tis drummer on the phone he did not know anything about the jam. So we had to chacel it.

    Next time I will do the invitations for those people who are supposed to bring the backline to the jam. I think this will work better.
     
    timplog likes this.
  9. foursring

    foursring

    Sep 9, 2011
    its not a jam if you do covers all night...(unless your a jazz player)
    it bothers me because i dont do covers but i can play all night ; )
    and as far as i know the house will have the amp for you to plug in 99% of the time.
     
  10. Supply the backline, beg a drummer to come, call ever bassman you know to "please" come down so you don't get "beat up" all nite long. No one touches the P/A mixer, no ones plays any ones guitar, disinfect the mics when your done!!! Have "no problem" in telling someone to chill out, or just cut their time off and thats that!!!! You will have jerks come in but you might get some young folks with talent. Call the local high school music director and see if theres a few kids who could come with their parents for a musical/dinner nite out. It worked for me years ago and it sure beats the hell out of some horrible female singer butchering Stormy Monday or some goof ball singing Bruse Stinkstreet or whatever his name is. Go for it and make up a damage kitty for drum heads and dropped mics. Ear plugs work well too!!! Have fun, I did my share, and you better be getting paid! If your freebing shame on you! Doc
     
    Garret Graves likes this.
  11. You should also expect to deal with jerks.

    If your area is anything like mine, there are jam drifters who show up at every local open mic and they tend to be clique oriented. If the host band is partial to those guys, you may not get asked up. If there are friends of the host band there, you may not get asked up. You may sign up and the host may ignore you.

    I've been doing jams for years and sometimes egos ruin the whole night. One week you could have a blast and everyone is cool, the next week you could want to give up playing because of how badly you were treated.
     
  12. soulman969

    soulman969 Banned

    Oct 6, 2011
    Englewood, Colorado
    This is an old thread so I don't know if this was mentioned of not but to me one of the biggest violations of jam session etiquette is to try playing that which you cannot. If your not familiar with the material and can't just comp then bow out.

    There's nothing worse than having everyone else's jam tune ruined because you can't play it. Just excuse yourself and pass the torch to one who can. No harm, no foul and it's the professional way to handle it. No one will think less of you for it but they will think less of you if you can't hack it without creating a train wreck. It's OK to admit you can't handle something. No player can know everything.

    That's my two cents.
     
    timplog likes this.
  13. italianstalion

    italianstalion

    Jan 24, 2012
    These are all great. I'm new to this whole thing so it's nice to read up on this and learn. Thanks for all the help gentlemen!
     
  14. KingLucCole

    KingLucCole

    Feb 25, 2012
    If it's an open jam, just go DI.
     
  15. gigslut

    gigslut

    Dec 13, 2011
    St Louis, Mo
    Abso-frikkin-lutely! I host weekly jams on Sunday and Monday nights. The Monday nights are frequented by a lot of wannabe gui****s who don't know when to turn down or lay out. Even if you don't know the tune, you might be able to play along if you turn your guitar down and your ears up. Instead, these clowns turn UP and guess at the changes, and they usually guess wrong. And because they are playing so loud, they can;t hear that they are wrong. I even turn to them and dumb down my bass line, playing root notes with one finger to show them the changes and they still don't get it. To make matters worse, I am always stuck with the sit in guitarist next to me, blowing chunks in my ear.
    I've also had some great guitarists sit in, so there are rewards.
     
  16. phillybass101

    phillybass101

    Jan 12, 2011
    Artist, Trickfish Amplification Bartolini Emerging Artist, MTD Kingston Emerging Artist. Artist, Tsunami Cables
    Yeah man, it's a social event just be cool and watch what's going on. Be humble, be polite and when you get a chance to play, don't overplay just get down and fit in. People will remember you for sure (good and bad) Also don't forget to pack your thick skin. Each one I go to is a learning event. I'm a decent player and some events I go to, they hand me a bass as soon as I walk in. I don't pay attention to that stuff. I stay humble and try to fit in cause not everyone is going to like you no matter what you do, and scope out the place for all of the exits :)
     
  17. DataDan

    DataDan

    Mar 18, 2013
    Reading,pa
    My family hosts a summer party where we have an open jam from noon-10p every year. I setup my bass stack and start it off. Usually 4 or 5 players come up throughout the day with their bass and ask to play for a while. I show them the amp head, where to plug in, master volume, EQ for the guys I know, and say 'have fun'.

    Sometimes we get a guy that didnt bring a bass, So they play one of mine. Not my favorite situation, but never had any real problems with it.

    One year no bass players showed up all day. We cycled 5 drummers, 2 harp players, ~15 guitar players, and a few singers, but just me on the bass. I only took 1 hour off while one of the guitar players filled in for an hour midday so I could eat.
     
  18. nojj

    nojj Guest

    May 20, 2013
    I've been hosting open stages for a lotta years,
    get many contacts/gigs/leads though networking that way.
    (Known as 'that crazy longhaired bass player')
    In fact the band I'm gonna be touring with found me,
    when they came into a local OS I was hosting 11 years ago or so.

    The better jams have a sign-up sheet,
    complete w/ what instruments they play.
    After a while you can put musicians in with others at their (ahem) relative talent level.
    Adhere to the sheet. Get 'em on and get 'em off.
    Sometimes special consideration can be given to bands auditioning for a regular gig,
    and some will even stick around to sit in later.
    (I always appreciate that, gives me a chance to sit, or get up on some guitar)

    Some jams have (as was pointed out) The Good Old Boy Syndrome.
    These deteriorate pretty fast as competent players leave after getting frustrated.

    My Pet Peeves

    Good Old Boys
    Singers who can't sing, or profess to know tunes they don't.
    People who jump up outta turn.
    Wankers who abuse instruments/eqp
    instrumentalists who blame the backline for their lack of talent.
    Instrumentalists who tune by ear, and get it a 1/4 step up/down from standard.
    Exceedingly loud guitar players
    (Anytime I have to bring an SVT to keep up, there's a prob......)
    Singers who don't know how to use a mic, causing feedback.
    Obviously inebriated musicians who wanna use your stuff.
    Harmonica/sax players who can't shut the hell up.

    But IMO, the plusses far outweigh the minuses.
    Remember not all musicians (even virtuosos) are qualified to host open stages.
    This is true for a lot of bands I've come in contact with,
    when offered an option to host at a club.
    It requires a great deal of flexibility, and patience.

    Work with one guy who pretty much just does British Invasion music.
    Kinda tough at a blues venue OS.
    He called me up because he needed a bassist who could sing lead
    and handle front work with a lot of OS experience.
    I often have to switch out to guitar,
    to play things that he can't (or won't) play.
     
    timplog likes this.
  19. repoman

    repoman

    Aug 11, 2011
    Kinderhook NY
    The group I play with will be going to an open mic at a local BBQ joint. It isn't an actual jam, it's more of, well, an open mic, where individuals or groups get up and play a few songs.
    We've put together a tight 6 song set that goes for 30 minutes straight through, which is how we intend to do it, bang, bang, bang straight through.
    Does this sound like the way to do it? Should we stop between songs to make sure the MC is OK with us doing another?
    This will be my first open mic, a couple of the other guys have played individually but not as a group. They seem to think if we stop we'll "lose the audience."
    The one time I was at this place to watch an open mic most of the "audience' was there eating and only casually listening.
    I just don't want to look like we're hogging the stage.
     
  20. lowfreq33

    lowfreq33

    Jan 27, 2010
    Nashville
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    Unless there are only a few other people there to play, 30 minutes is a bit much. I'd do 2 or 3 songs, and tell the host beforehand to let you know if he needs you to do more. If he doesn't, get off the stage.
     
    dralionux likes this.

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