Open Jam Etiquette

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

  1. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    Most jams don't feature music stands...
    Bobro likes this.
  2. Paulabass


    Sep 18, 2017
    For guests-
    Show up with you guitar in CONCERT E. The jam miester will probably say 'You're on after this/these guys'. Now is the time to tune!!
    Be able to communicate in short, well known abbreviations. For example- Medium 12 bar in E, coming down from the 5. That describes the whole song.
    Watch the band leader- He'll probably nod his head up for 'Back to the 5', point at you to solo, yank his fist down for STOP.
    Bring as little gear as you can. If you're at home pedal board is the size of a buick, yank the tuner off and just bring it.
    Try to bring a WELL KNOWN song. Rolling Stones might be boring to you, but the audience loves it, and the house band can play it. I've been hosting, and guesting at jams for years, and the closest to metal I've EVER heard was War Pigs. Yes, Metallica sold a billion albums- Never heard one of theirs called at a jam.
    If you suggest Coldplay, you'll be asked to leave.
    If you get pointed at to solo, once around the progression is standard, the leader might tell you to go around again. If your big debut solo is only twelve bars, don't think the BL doesn't like you, he's just trying to avoid the dreaded 'endless boogie'.
    Thank everyone, and shake their hands on the way offstage. Let them all know your name, this is a community.
    Be fair, the BL has a lot on his plate. If it's busy, and you only get two songs, them's the breaks.
    Stumbo, Bobro, Emster and 5 others like this.
  3. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    If it's busy, you'll very likely only get two songs. That's pretty conventional.
    Stumbo and Bobro like this.
  4. My 2 cents:

    Bring an electronic tuner that is the kind you can plug into - not the clip-on kind - so you can tune while other acts are onstage.

    You just need to bring one axe.

    Have fun!

    Garret Graves likes this.
  5. mesa300


    Nov 18, 2006
  6. mesa300


    Nov 18, 2006
    Good advice. I joined my 1st ever Blues Jam last Tuesday, and the guitarist/leader called out 3 songs that I had never played,,,,ever. I'm a total newbie, and felt like I had never played Bass before. I made my way thru the songs, but felt more than a little down. I have been practicing 12 bar since. I'm hoping to work up enough courage to go try it again this Tuesday.
  7. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    Central Ohio
    Yeah, so, for grins, I went to a local jazz jam this afternoon. Wait for a couple hours to get up. Sing and solo on Summertime. Pretty standard. Things are great. BL tells me some other vocalist is coming up. She calls out “You Send Me” in Amaj. Chart is Ebmaj. Oh yay. I get most of the transpose on the fly, except the bridge.

    I don’t know why people do that. Test or something? No one even asked before the count.

    Just shook my head and left. Not going back there anytime soon.
  8. Singer gets to call the key in my experience... besides, if it's the Sam Cooke number, that's in Gmaj anyway - so the chart is wrong.

    Your loss. These days I go to a 'jam' fully expecting to be kicked well & truly out of my comfort zone - my current local one is run by a touring pro guitarist, which forces me to up my game. Everybody wins.

    timplog and spooonius like this.
  9. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    Central Ohio
    You pretty completely missed my point. But, perhaps, I failed to be completely clear. Sure, I get that vocalist calls the key. No problem. It’s just that when the transposition is not straightforward, communication means taking 30 s to check off that everyone has a chance to look the chart over. It’s an open mic, what’s the rush? Rule 1 of live performance is to make sure everyone in the ensemble is ready. Rushing the count on a diminished transposition makes no sense. But, whatever; maybe that somehow makes sense in your world.

    As for leaving afterwards, I had to go home. I’d been there for 3 hours.

    The chart was the Real Book chart. It’s in Eb.

    The coda to all this is as I’m exiting the stage, the vocalist says “let’s do something straightforward, like Route 66.” Check.
  10. delta7fred


    Jul 3, 2007
    Rule #1 in my current band is be ready to count off the next song as soon as the last note of the previous one has died away. There is nothing like dead air for clearing a dance floor. (I probably play very different gigs to what you do though.)

    They were probably putting you through the mill because you were the new guy.

    I attended an open mic/jam once where they called me and a very young drummer (also his first time there) up on the first 3 numbers to back a singer/guitarist.

    I soon found out why, the guy couldn't count and would miss bars out at random. As soon as I realised this I was listening intently and watching his left hand like a hawk, I never missed a change after that.

    Later in the evening I was at the bar chatting to one of the other bassists who congratulated me on being able to stick with him, apparently non of the regulars would play with him so it always fell to the first timers.

    I never went back there, not because of the above but because I'd gone there with my band to try and get some gigs and we got the usual rejection - "yes we are interested, we'll get back to you" which of course they never did.
    bucephylus likes this.
  11. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    Central Ohio
    For sure on the dance gig, no dead space between the tunes. Right there with you. But, in that case, the set is the tune, so to speak; and then always make sure the band is ready before you launch the set. And, eye contact at the transitions, no?

    This was an open mic Jazz jam. No dancing. Cats getting up to sit in etc. So, yeah, it was pretty purposeful.
    LilyT and delta7fred like this.
  12. pappabass

    pappabass Inactive

    May 19, 2006
    Alabama !! Roll Tide
    I frequently play at a jam 1 or 2 times a month. We are the 'host' group. We play for 1 hour, than others play 4 or 5 songs at a time. Sometimes they ask for us to fill in with them. We get crash courses in different types of music. But when the host starts back, the people who can not sing or try to sing louder than everyone else, start singing along with us,
  13. delta7fred


    Jul 3, 2007
    No eye contact unless anyone has a problem, whoever starts the song starts it and you have to be ready. We've all been doing this a long time and it usually runs like clockwork.

    I've got to agree that not giving you a few seconds to sort out the transposition was out of order. There is absolutely no reason to rush to start a song at a jam night.
    Passinwind and bucephylus like this.
  14. Scribbler


    Mar 22, 2018
    Brilliant advice... Thanks!
    Stumbo likes this.
  15. Scribbler


    Mar 22, 2018
    Obvious point really but I've found that, if it's traditional folk/Irish sessions (as I'm sure is the case with other types of music), more than one of the same instrument playing at once can be accommodated... Unless it's a bass. If you want to get a good lot of playing in and you play something else, you might consider taking that as well (yes... I know it's a bass forum...!).
  16. My band occasionally hosts an open jam, we encourage novices to attend so they can get used to playing music with other musicians. As others have noted there aren't many bass players that come to the jams so I get to play for most / all of the sessions (which is fine with me - I love to play!).
    GospelMuzishn likes this.
  17. ArtechnikA

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

    Feb 24, 2013
    That was one of the reasons I took up bass originally.
    It seems most of Philadelphia had the same idea - some jams I go to have 5 or 6 bass players and -1- guitar guy.
    And one or two drummers who hit way too hard 'cause they live in apartments and it's their one day a week to play loud, but that's a different thread...
    Nick Danger likes this.

Share This Page