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What do you usually see at your local open mic night?

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by Jean Rodriguez, Jun 17, 2016.


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  1. Having read a few threads regarding open mic nights this week has made me remember a few stories that I have from going to the one that's hosted near my house and why I stopped going. There's a place here in Puerto Rico called "The Poet's Passage" (For those of you who plan on visiting the island at some point, it's in Old San Juan) and they host an open mic every Tuesday night. The first time that I went, it was with a musician colleague of mine and we had prepared 2 jazz standards, a blues jam and a Beatles song for the night (Every song was about 3-5 minutes each). When we got there, we had to sit through two hours of DIY poets, hippie flower children with an acoustic guitar and bad to decent singing voices and a few tourists who recited a few poems that weren't too bad, quite honestly. They let us play two songs and then sit through two more hours of the same things that I mentioned before. The second time, I go with another musical colleague of mine and we had prepared two jazz standards (Again, not too long as to not bore the audience). We ended playing just one because the man who was hosting that night (I forgot to mention that they rotate the hosts) made sit through almost 4 hours of all of the things that I had mentioned before. We played the standard, left and vowed to never return to that type of open mic because we just couldn't stand to listen to that much poetry and hippie songs without wanting to chug down a bottle of scotch, each.

    For those who might play the TL;DR card, that is basically my open jam experience/story. What are some of yours? Every story and/or anecdotes are welcome
     
  2. tangentmusic

    tangentmusic A figment of our exaggeration

    Aug 17, 2007
    Reno/Tahoe
    I usually see locals at our local open mic night
     
  3. Jean Rodriguez...that sounds brutal. I don't blame you for swearing off the place.

    You've piqued my curiosity, though. I've heard of this sort of "open mic," but I've never seen one. I like poetry just fine but would prefer to read it myself - if I go somewhere for music, music is what I want to hear. Has the venue owner been doing this sort of mixed-bag thing for a long time? Is the audience substantial or negligible?
     
  4. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Open mikes suck.

    Jam sessions, be they jazz, blues or bluegrass have actual music and can be OK. The trick is finding the ones that attract really good players. Since there are so many jams these days it may take a while to located ones worth visiting.

    Anyone in the Boston or Worcester, MA area looking for good jams, PM me.
     
    INTP and RoadRanger like this.
  5. Seanto

    Seanto

    Dec 29, 2005
    USA
    I just experienced my first open mic last week. Me and a piano decided to try out some rag time tunes there, as well as check out the other acts.

    Mostly, it was single people singing and playing acoustic guitar. A couple others were single people singing and playing piano. One of the acoustic guys asked if i wanted to join him on upright bass for a bluesy tune, so i joined and it was fun. He even gave me a couple solo spots, lol. My rag time duo actually came off pretty well, very different. Staff at the place said it was refreshing to not hear the same old crap every week.

    I had a good time overall. Going to attend some more as i have time, hopefully get some more opportunities to jam with others if they are open to it.
     
  6. Open Mics are very different from jams. Jams are opportunities for musicians to play with other musicians; open mic nights are more a singer/songwriter showcase with everyone from absolute beginners to seasoned pros.
     
  7. RoadRanger

    RoadRanger Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2004
    NE CT
    Can't stand open mics or jam sessions - nobody even knows the right chords to Johnny B Goode :facepalm:.
    OTOH anybody in the Worcester MA area with a band/duo/solo that wants to play a set tonight hit me back or show up at the Webster MA PACC - One of my bands hosts a sort of non-open mic where we have 2-3 bands play a set and some duo or solo play half sets - all the usuals can't make it tonight so we might have to actually play all night and/or let some hacks sit in :nailbiting:.
     
  8. pklima

    pklima Commercial User

    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Karoryfer Samples
    Mostly Western foreign guys with guitars (this is in a country with very very few foreigners compared to Western countries), then native guys with guitars, then girls with guitars or ukuleles. Sometimes there will be a duo or trio with a bass, violin, piano, cajon or something. After that you get the odds and ends, also mostly foreign: accordion players, poets, classical pianists etc. Never seen a stand-up comedian. The only time I've seen a rapper or a DJ was when I was the DJ and I talked the rapper into doing the open mic.
     
  9. I've done open mics as a poet & rapper. (I do distinguish proper between the two)

    Speaking of jams, I've only jammed with a band twice, and doing so made me so much better for it. How do you guys find jams in your local area? Is there an app or site I can check out?
     
  10. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather Supporting Member

    I hate Open Mics too. I've been to several in my area. It's the same guys every time. And I think guys phone in their slots on the list. I think I'm getting there early and the list is almost full already. Sit around for several hours before being able to play and you get to play 2 short songs and that's it. I've also experienced some stinginess on the part of many musicians. Last time it happen several years ago. I haven't been back since. Basically I've found that they are just jam sessions for a bunch of friends in a bar setting.
     
  11. I'm ambivalent on them, sometimes I'll hit up a comedy night and do stand up, I seem to do well. I rarely go to open jam nights though, With comedy, it's basically free entertainment, and I get to talk to some people while listening to some legitimately funny people. With a lot of open mic nights, I find myself getting bored very easily because everybody likes to take a darn good half hour at least to play a bunch of cover tunes I've heard a million times, with their college-aged girlfriends clapping along. Half the time they're at least good at what they do, just not my thing, so that's a plus.

    Also, the places that do "full band open jams" will allow a "house" band to play until midnight.
     
  12. twinjet

    twinjet WASH YOUR HANDS Staff Member Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2008
    49
    I typically see empty chairs.
     
    S-Bigbottom likes this.
  13. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2011
    I went to a mid week jam a while back and the host and his "band" all tuned down a half step for no apparent reason. My little MIM J did fine, but a lot of guitar players were having trouble staying in tune.
     
  14. RoadRanger

    RoadRanger Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2004
    NE CT
    "D# is the new E" ;)
     
    fhm555 likes this.
  15. INTP

    INTP

    Nov 28, 2003
    Dallas, TX
    This isn't all that uncommon, particularly for blues guitar players that are fans of SRV et. al., but it strikes me as a bit unwelcoming for the host band to do.

    I'd have left my bass in standard tuning and just played a fret lower, but that's harder for guitarists to do.
     
  16. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2011
    I get the idea of an easier way to play E flat, but they stayed in D and A all night and covered more pop, rock and country than blues.

    I hate to be such a cynic, but watching them roll eyes and snicker when someone was struggling with detuning led me to believe it was strictly something to confuse folks so the "band" could shine.
     
    INTP likes this.
  17. JohnMCA72

    JohnMCA72

    Feb 4, 2009
    In addition to the usual guitars, with occasional drums & bass thrown in, we had a pedal steel guitar, cajon, & a digeridoo! Who else gets a digeridoo at their open mic???
     
    BassCliff likes this.
  18. Open mics are by nature a mixed bag. But I like the ones in my town. There's one at a bar/restaurant with a house band (drums, bass and electric guitar) of excellent musicians who can keep up with pretty much anything you throw at them, and almost all of the performers are singer-songwriters with acoustic guitars. Everyone gets one or two songs depending on the turnout, and NO COVERS ALLOWED. Most of the folks who show up are actually pretty good. It's mostly the 30s - 50s crowd, which I'm fine with. I'll die a happy man if I never again hear a 20 year old kid bang out Wonderwall or an ironic hip hop cover song on an acoustic guitar.
     
    Hotblack likes this.
  19. Normally whatever I see is through the bottom of a beer glass.
     
    BassCliff likes this.
  20. These days local open mic around here is more acoustic solo acts and they even get folks doing stand up comedy. One of our local venues here does "art attack" once a month also which is really cool. Unfortunately because of my work schedule I can rarely go to them anymore but they have one day a month where they have a variety of performers from bands to solo artist to dancers and comedians. They also have other types of art like painters, tattoo artist, you name it. Our town also does a forth Friday thing downtown where you get a mix of everything as well. Bands mainly play acoustic unless they bring or hire someone to bring a PA, painters sell their paintings. It's pretty nice.

    Bands don't really do open mic night here anymore. Back in the day bands couldn't get a show without playing open mic night but clubs and shut down and others have opened. These days there's so many venues that there's always a place for new bands to play. May be a hole in the wall that pays poorly if at all, but they get gigs if they want them. Used to be new bands would play open mic night on Thursday nights until the venues owner or manager agreed they were ready for a Friday or Saturday gig. That had its ups and downs. It was nice because people expected to see good bands on Fridays and Saturdays and the venues built a reputation for hosting better bands, downside was the bands that played Friday's and Saturdays got burned out on always playing shows with the same few bands.
     

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