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Went to a club last night that had a "Jam Night"....anyone can sit in...

They had the usual ...drums, bass, piano, guitar and an alto sax.

I talked to the Sax dude first and while not unfriendly, not particularly warm either.

So, I get up on stage and right away I feel like he hates my guts..kept standing in front of the Mic and even over to my side so I couldn't "Get to" the mic. We played some decent jazz stuff and he seemed to want to "Fight" with me...we would trade 4's and he was playing just as fast as he could...
not very musical..just nervous Notes! I tried to not out-do him or any thing...I mean, I thought he might just be self-conscience ...but it seemed to get worse and worse as the set went by. Every time I'd play a blues or jazz break, he'd be 1 inch from me, fiddling around and come in even before the solo was over. Geezz.

After the set, I said the usual:thanks for letting me sit-in and all that..blah...blah..blah BUT....I wanted to add...

"Damn..Man..I didn't know I was going to fight a 12 round heavy-weight battle tonight....I came up to share a musical experience, not Fight with you" :) ...oh Well...
 

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Tough situation especially 'cause it's his gig and not yours... Ideally it should never be so loud as to 'need' a mic...

Maybe next time bring your own gear and plug in your own mic!!
 

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Man, you sure are patient Blue. The guy is a jerk.
Usually the house band bends over backwards with courtesy to keep their gig and the ball rolling.
So much for a pleasant ,shared ,musical experience.
 

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I sat in with a Mizpah shrine band once for a couple rehearsals and a couple concerts as a favor, the concerts being a year apart. Both times I sat to this smelly guy who couldn't play, and the second time I sat next to this guy who is s repair tech for WWBW. Neeeevvvvveeeerrrrr send you horn there under the risk that he might get his hands on it...I woudn't trust him to fix a lego set let alone a sax.

Then there was the time I sat in with a legion band for a rehearsal (favor to the same guy) where the average age was about 85 give or take.
 

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Sounds like he was being pretty obnoxious for a jam nite. There was probably something else going on there that you weren't aware of, like maybe this band wants to replace the sax player with a bad attitude. Sorry you had to put up with that. I'd be off the stage after about two tunes.
 

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I too have had the strange and ironic experience several times of showing up for an "open mic/jam" night only to find the house band acting very territorial about their control of the jam and the stage, as though they wanted it to be their gig and would only reluctantly agree to let visitors play.

On the other hand, I've also gone to some jam nights and found a bunch of mellow dudes who not only knew how to play but were also happy to hear a new fella blow his chops.

I guess these things are, by nature, sort of hit or miss.
 

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The Inverse Rule of Jams

My experience is this: The less the band hosting the jam gigs, the worse the jam is.

If the hosting band seldom plays out and is treating the jam like one of their gigs, it's generally not a great jam.

The bands that gig a lot open the jams they host up a lot faster and run better jams. If I go to an open jam, I'm not generlaly there hear the host band. I come to play and hear the other players.

In my opinion, If the deal is advertised as an open jam, the host band should play a couple of songs and then open it up to the people who have come out to play.

Here's the jam from hell (which I recently experienced). One of the members of the hosting "band" (not a real band, just a throw-together for hosting the jam) shows late. Instead of starting the jam or starting what should be a mini-set with one of the players in the audience subing until the missing bass player shows, they just wait for the guy.

Things were supposed to start at 7:30. Instead they start at 8. The band proceeds anyway to play a 45 minute set by themselves. Then the leader tags a group of guys and wanders off to the bar. The first group of jammers take an eternity to get set up. They play WAY too long. The leader is yaking at the bar and doesn't stop them.

There are a ton of people there to play. Next, the leader calls the members of the host band back with ONE outside person -- a singer friend of his. They do a long block of tunes.

Finally, it's about a half hour until the hard end of the thing. The guy throws two huge groups of people up. Those who have not left in disgust. . . They have twice as many people playing as they should have. It sounds awful, and no one gets any room to play.

If its someone's actual gig and you have been invited to sit in, that a horse of a different color. The band should do whatever they please.

If its an open jam, it should be run accordingly. With someone actually running it.

I go to a fair number of jams. The times when everything clicks make up for all of the crap. If it's a drag, eventually, people vote with their feet and go somewhere else.

Scott
 

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Scott Ramminger said:
Finally, it's about a half hour until the hard end of the thing. The guy throws two huge groups of people up. Those who have not left in disgust. . . They have twice as many people playing as they should have. It sounds awful, and no one gets any room to play.
It's what we call a "fustercluck."

Here it is from the perspective of the house band.

http://www.alstevens.com/openmike.html
 

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Two separate, but related, issues are illustrated on this thread:

1) A jam participant (the alto player in Blue Tone's post) with very bad manners who doesn't understand jam etiquette, and

2) A jam leader who doesn't know how to run a jam (Scott's "jam from hell" message).

Unfortunately you'll run into both situations if you go to enough jam sessions. The best you can do is learn to recognize these abominations and either take them in stride or leave the jam. It is admittedly very difficult to do a good job as jam leader, but a poorly-led jam is a real drag. The occasional jerk is easier to take because he or she will (hopefully) be off the bandstand in fairly short order, assuming you not dealing with a poor jam leader at the same time (that's a real double-whammy).

Still, the jam session, for all it's potential faults is a very important part of the music scene, imo. At it's best it fulfills multiple functions. It gives newer players a chance to improve their chops, learn to play in front of an audience, and learn to play with other musicians (total beginners should shed more before attending). It gives more seasoned players a chance to stretch out, have some fun, try some new things they might not want to play on a regular gig, and network with other musicians. If you find a good jam, enjoy it while it lasts and take full advantage.

Finally, I've noticed the rules can be somewhat different depending on the jam and the leader. It's best to pay attention at a new jam and figure out what is accepted and what isn't. Common courtesy is always important, of course.
 

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blues jams are a way to get players to play for free. I don't do it and I discourage others from doing it. Either it's a bar ripping musicians off, or its a house band ripping other musicians off. It's ok to be a special guests of course if that's your bands thing, but really it's hard enough out there to get good gigs without players playing for free.
 

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playitfunky said:
blues jams are a way to get players to play for free. I don't do it and I discourage others from doing it. Either it's a bar ripping musicians off, or its a house band ripping other musicians off. It's ok to be a special guests of course if that's your bands thing, but really it's hard enough out there to get good gigs without players playing for free.
I missed the part where somebody asked for a categorical judgment of blues jams in general?...and I disagree entirely. Bands playing gigs for free are a problem, but blues jams are a great part of the blues tradition. The Sunday night blues jam I go to is a good paying gig for the house band--no jam, no gig.

Rory

ps. I've been in my share of fusterclucks too:cry:
 

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playitfunky said:
blues jams are a way to get players to play for free. I don't do it and I discourage others from doing it. Either it's a bar ripping musicians off, or its a house band ripping other musicians off. It's ok to be a special guests of course if that's your bands thing, but really it's hard enough out there to get good gigs without players playing for free.
You said it.You would think the bar would at least buy the jam players a drink.That said our blues club has a great jam night.
 

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As to the original question, yeah, I've regretted a couple of the bands i've been talked into...there was the rock band that needed a new bassist that had me sit in and expected me to learn exact replicas of their last bassists bass lines in one listen to a recording. they eventually said "oh, you're a /jazz/ bassist...no wonder you can't play the same thing twice." I promptly left.

There's the two concert bands I'm in right now. One is full of early high school level players, ages 18-60, including a trumpet player with one volume (ffffff), the oboist who never wanted to play in the first place, the seventy billion flutes, the sax player with more money than sense (she bought a Yamaha EX last year to learn on), and the young director afraid to tell the "old standby" members to shut their faces and play.

Or the other bad...when I'm the youngest member at 21 (by a good 15-20 years, honest to God), and I'm the only double reed (bassoon). When they've lost parts, I get baritone music. The band called me in as a favor and they're in danger of completely disappearing in the next few weeks, and I've been asked to find new people...so much for sitting in to build up my chops. Also, I'm starting to tire of grade 3 music.

And as for the jazz band i'm in...sitting lead, constantly asking my section to blend with the band. teaching the second tenor to read rhythms, teaching the second alto to play his horn. "how does i swing rhythms?" is pretty common, too...but I'm still enjoying this band.

playitfunky said:
blues jams are a way to get players to play for free. I don't do it and I discourage others from doing it. Either it's a bar ripping musicians off, or its a house band ripping other musicians off. It's ok to be a special guests of course if that's your bands thing, but really it's hard enough out there to get good gigs without players playing for free.
Everyone has to play the free gigs to get the pay gigs. I've done it. We've all done it. Be it a ska band, a string quartet, or a jazz combo, all of my groups have had to start the same way: open mic nights and "we need someone to play and we'll pay you in a meal." Open mic nights and jam sessions are a great way to get people to know who you are and how you play. Take along some flyers or business cards in case anyone asks about you, and make sure you look liek you're having fun.

If you feel that you're above playing these free gigs, then by all means don't play. I'm gonna keep having fun playing, and then I'll get paid at the next one.
 

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playitfunky said:
blues jams are a way to get players to play for free.
This is not generally the case, in my experience. Usually the house band-- bass, drums, rhythm instrument (keys or guitar) and the leader--gets paid. The rest of the jammers are either less-experienced musicians who need the experience, or more seasoned musicians who are networking or simply having some fun. The jams are held on "off-nights," Monday or Sunday, etc, when most of us don't have a gig anyway. As to free drinks, in one club where I attend a weekly blues jam, they won't take my money when I order a drink. Luckily it's walking distance from my house!

Now, a band playing a gig for free (not a jam session), is another thing altogether. I totally agree that shouldn't be done except maybe for a benefit or something. But it's entirely different from a jam session with a paid house band.

To go back to the original question, I've played in a few jams from hell. The worst are when both the bass player and drummer can't play. That's always a disaster. I realize the bassists and drummers also need a venue to learn, but really a jam can't work without a solid rhythm section.
 
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