Open Jam Etiquette

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

  1. charlie ford

    charlie ford

    Dec 30, 2012
    Chicago, IL
    Yeah I'm guessing that there (hopefully) won't be a next time.
  2. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    I play bass for a singer/songwriter who does this at every jam he's at. It's annoying as hell.
  3. Shannon


    Sep 17, 2016
    in back.
    And here I was thinking I'd find ways to help get jars of jam open politely. :roflmao:

  4. bobyoung53

    bobyoung53 Supporting Member

    Here in Ma, there are a lot of jams, most on Sundays, there are a few open mic jams for acoustic guitar players etc. but the vast majority range from traditional electric blues to combination blues and rock. If I go to a new one I leave my bass in my car and just go and listen for a while to get the flavor of it, check out the core band, check out the jammers, the sound, the amps, the attitude of the leader etc, maybe I'll play and maybe I won't. Sometimes I may go back another week if I don't like it the first time and the atmosphere may be completely different. I go to jams because I love to play and meet new musicians. Playing in a jam can be very satisfying or can be the opposite, I've experienced both in my time. I have learned just as much if not more from negative experiences than good ones. I had to learn how to play blues which was a HUGE learning experience for me at first as I had been a rocker all my life, still am but now also love to play blues with good players. Jams taught me to listen to other players better and to keep my ears open.
    Stumbo, pappabass, btmpancake and 2 others like this.
  5. I was in the host band for a couple of jam nights. I always brought my amp rig and a decent bass. I'd leave my #1 bass at home. Most of the time the sit-in's would have their own instruments but not always. OBTW if someone comes up and says they only know the "live version" of a tune politely send them away.
  6. dbase

    dbase Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2008
    South Jersey, USA..
    I too was the headliner band at an open mike night... This was my 1st time at one of these and I was a little nervous being a less than mediocre bass player myself but we had rehearsed our set list where we were comfortable and tight. Once under way the crowd warmed up to us real quick. After our set, the jam started and other bass players came up on stage to sit in. Some were not so good and I began thinking to myself that just having the guts to get up there and play made me appreciate them even more as I was a beginner at one time. I enjoyed talking with them after the jam comparing our gear.. A good time, I look forward to doing it again.
    plong123, Stumbo, pappabass and 3 others like this.
  7. That's the joy of jam nights. The more you interact with other musicians the better off you'll be. I was lucky enough to work in a small mom-n-pop music store and could easily spread the word about the jam nights. Sometimes the jam night crowd beat the weekend crowd. Always a fun time. The jam band was made up of members from two or three different bands but we had enough in common to put together a solid set. Eventually we got serious about it and actually scheduled a rehearsal. One thing lead to another and we started gigging as a band.
    dbase likes this.
  8. PauFerro


    Jun 8, 2008
    United States
    I had never been to a jam night. But then an ex-drummer in my band called me and told me he was doing a blues night a few blocks from my house. So, I went, in complete ignorance about etiquette or what to expect. I brought charts and asked the band to play them, and also asked one of my friends to come who used to play in a jazz band with me. They were easy and bluesey like Watermelon Man. This kind of put me in control of what I played and the actual backup band was struggling more than I was, particularly when I pulled out Cantaloupe Island. It was there that I learned this fantastic blues player on guitar didn't know how to solo over the four chords in Cantaloupe Island.

    Our drummer, who was in the host band, but not on the stage yelled "Who's jammin who???" after I pulled out the charts but no one seemed to mind. After that, the jazz guitarist I was with joined me on the stage and three of us -- this guitar player, a miscellaneous drummer, and myself played a couple jazz tunes like On Green Dolphin Street and Mr. PC. All the blues players were in awe of us jazz guys, which was interesting.

    Other jam nights I've attended have been jazz nights and there are always a lot of charts flying around.

    I like the advice given earlier to show up at a few of the jams and find out what they are playing first. Go home and shed on them, and then show up and nail the tunes...I have found the Band Leader is often amenable to playing the tunes you want if they haven't already played them before in the night.
    Stumbo likes this.
  9. Stewie


    Jul 3, 2013
    Near Boston
    I started going to local blues jams as my drummer and I were starting a band. We would play with anyone the leader set us up with. Gradually we ended up being a 5 piece blues band. I had trouble with feed back from the piezo pickup on my upright, and Ron, the regular bass player was more than helpful, sneaking up on the stage to tweak a few more decibels out of his amp for me. I haven't been back since I added a magnetic pickup, but it will be fun to be loud, and yet be able to stand anywhere but as far away from the amp as I could. The jam is a particularly good one, with way more than it's share of outstanding players. Always a good time.
  10. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008
    Check out fdeck's HPF, it also has a phase switch.

    Maybe fdeck will chime in.

    A low pass filter may help as well. Something like: [sfx] user appreciation society

    Good luck with the band!
  11. Stewie


    Jul 3, 2013
    Near Boston
    I was using a Fishman BP-100, I bought an FDeck, it helped a lot, especially the phase switch, But for LOUD, a magnetic pickup seems to be the answer for me. I'm sure there are better piezos out there for feedback, but the BP100 sounds good for recording
  12. jmone


    Mar 1, 2010
    Somewhat related but what would be the minimum skill requirements before you show up to one of these open jams. Be able to play songs by ear? Be able to read charts? Whatever.

    We had them at my school but it was more rock based stuff and people just hacked away.
  13. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once... Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2013
    You'll never see a chart at a jam, maybe unless it's jazz and everybody has some form of RealBook...
    You should know the changes of whatever song you are likely to encounter. Be able to play the root on the '1'. Everything else builds on that.
  14. jmone


    Mar 1, 2010
    Let's say I live in a little music bubble and I only know how to play less popular things I'm interested in. Is there a "Real Book" for other genres? Or do these musicians rely on their ear to help them chug through it / are people vocal about what the changes are ahead of time.
  15. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once... Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2013
    This is kinda why it's generally recommended to check out a jam before showing up to play - know what songs and players you'll be stepping in to. Then off to Google and type in "name-of-song chords" and you'll find someone's guess as to what's going on. Learn to read guitarists fingers. Almost all blues and 3-chord Rock & Roll is based on a I-IV-V pattern. Be able to play that in every key, although at amateur levels, E, A, D, C, and G are 99%... It's rare for a guitarist to want to feed you changes. It happens but I wouldn't depend on it.

    No question that interval (ear...) training helps.
    jmone likes this.
  16. And if you're lucky, they guy calling out the tune will answer your questions with a cogent answer.
    Example - 'what's the progression?" Answer - "I dunno"
    "OK, what key is it in?" Answer - "I dunno...uh, capo on two"
    instrumentalist, Remyd and delta7fred like this.
  17. delta7fred


    Jul 3, 2007
    As does being able to recognise by sight the chords being played (reading hands).

    The first (and last) time I attended one jam night I thought it was odd that I was called up almost immediately to play with a rock guitarist who also sang.

    I soon found out why no one else wanted to be on stage with him, the guy couldn't count so would change chords when he felt it was time. Once I realised this I was listening intently and watching his left hand like a hawk. Didn't miss a change after that, I may have been fractionally late occasionally but once you know you may have to switch notes in a hurry you are prepared for it.
    BluesBear likes this.
  18. Axtman

    Axtman Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2008
    Seattle, WA
    Let me preface this by saying that I play in a jazz jam at a local bar for many years.

    My biggest pet peeve is musicians that are not team players. Unless your name is on the marquee, people are not there to hear you. They are there to listen to a good band. A good band works together as a team.

    My second biggest pet peeve is when a musician, usually a singer, presents the band with some obscure song from some obscure artist from obscure musical that was a box office flop. We all look at each other like "Do you know this song?" We usually end up muddling our way through the song and the singer gets mad that we are not playing it right. There is no crime in playing the standards. I have yet to see people leave because we are playing a song they know. More often they leave because the band is trainwrecking their way through some bad song.

    I once saw a singer take a seven page taped together sheet music up to an open jazz mike! The musicians look was, "Are you serious? Is this Candid Camera?" The music draped practically to the floor when put on the music stand. The bass player has to stop on several occasions to move his music across the stand. It sounded okay since the musicians were professional. But afterwards I heard the singer say that she should have picked an easier song.

    Last Monday an electric bass player came up and asked the band if we would mind a singing bass player doing a few songs. We all said, "Sure." While he was setting up his music, bass, and mike, I asked him if he wanted me to play bass on his songs. I did not know how he wanted to structure the songs so it was a legitimate question. He turned to me and said, "No. You're fired." That was a real douche comment. I should have said, "Fine, then you can't use my amp." But I rose above that. He did a good version of a popular jazz song. But the next song was a Bee Gees song that nobody knew because it was a "jazz" jam. The 95 year old guitarist was struggling with the music and he turned to him and yelled out the chords. More disrespect to the guy who started the jam! After that I packed up and left. The good news is that guys like that don't usually return.
  19. MrLenny1

    MrLenny1 Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2009
    New England
    Bring your axe, amps are provided.
    Find the host and sign in, tell him that you play bass and what style.
    Get ready to play 3 tunes with no charts.
    Have fun.
    Stumbo, BluesBear and Frankjohnson like this.
  20. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    Yes, there are Real Books for most styles. They even have some dedicated to specific artists. But, this would best be applied to learning songs at home or maybe in a private jam session with your band - I doubt that a Real Book for Rock/Pop/Blues would be welcomed in a public "jam".

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