Open mic jams observations

ce24

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So, some of you might remember that a while back i posted how i was invited to join the house band for open mic nite….we play a basic set to get it going then anybody is welcome to go solo or with us backing them….even small bands are welcome. What i have observed is…….what are some of these people thinking, wanting us to back them and they bring a song with all kinds of changes stops etc…….the reason i was asked to join the house band was because when i went there to jam….i brought a few 3 chord 12 bar songs in a couple different keys And an i turned to the band and said 12 bar boogie in E…..i started the rhythm after one progression they had it and away we went….turned to the drummer on the last phrase and locked eyes and the band stopped on the downbeat on 1……i dont mean to disparage these guys n gals, it can be a freakout if your not used to the stage…..i get that…been there early on……my advice to those of you that are starting out and want to try an open mic…take the absolute easiest 3 chord country, blues or whatever you do, learn them well, and if a house band is available ask them to back you….show them the song on paper…..then YOU go to the mic start the progression the band will find you…if you have to go thru the progression 3-5 times….so what….it’s your show….you start singing when you are ready…..you wont believe the fun you can have with 3 chords and an attitude.😎
 

Harry Styron

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There are a lot of people who play alone too much. They leave off a couple of beats at the end of a phrase. They speed up and slow down according to their comfort level. They try to cram in too many syllables and too many chords.

An open mic lures these people to venture out. A few will eventually catch on and some of them become as good as you or better. The most remarkable thing is that many of them continue to perform at the same level.
 

pbenn

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Ahh, the eternal tension between songs that are interesting, and songs the band has played before.

(Keeping ability out of it, of course.)

But you can’t actually keep ability out of it.

So it comes down to Knocking on Heaven’s Door, in G. How drunk is everybody?

Often it is the bass player’s repertoire that is being tested here.
 

kennl

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I have had to explain to some players why tuning down to Eb might not be the best idea when sitting in on am open mic set

and have noticed the "Karaoke effect" in vocalists who cannot determine their place in a song (verse, bridge, chorus) unless every fill and figure is played exactly like the recording
 

Dave Hicks

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My wife and I went to one the other night. Luckily, nobody else showed other than a guy I've played with for years. We brought a few written-out songs (lyrics and chords) and got through it fine. Near the very end a previously innocent bystander joined us and we did some 12 bars and Heaven's Door in G (sober, though);).

D.H.
 

OmegaWoods

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Great advice, @ce24 . I've always thought that the key to happiness is managing expectations. New players don't know what to expect and are scared to death when they hop up on stage with you and the house band. They know a little but they generally know it very well because they don't want to embarrass themselves. Maybe let folks know that you'd like them to play through the chord progression a couple of times so the band can get the groove. Maybe make up a little flyer that potential players can pick up when they come and scope the situation or put something on the place's website or FB page that they can read.

They just want to do a great job and meet your expectations. If there's some way you could help them know what to do ahead of time, both parties would have a better time during the show.
 

stxrus

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I ran an open mic/jam for 6 years. It can be nerve wrecking or it can be great fun.
The original song writers with all kinds of changes and wanted backup were the worst.

Hands down the best was a young girl that was maybe 9-10 asked if she could sing. She had an acoustic guitar so we put her on a stool, set up mics and she begs. The covers only young girls would know and an original.
The voice of an angle. Everybody in the place quit talking and listened to her perform. It was mesmerizing.
No one thought to pull their phones out and record this

In the confusion of getting the next players up she and her family left before I could get her name or thank her
 

Peegoo

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I've been attending and hosting jams and open mics for years, and I've seen everything from jaw-dropping amazing vocalists and players to hissy-fit diva meltdowns (gals AND guys) and everything in between.

Keeping things simple keeps things fun--so long as not every tune is a slow blues.

One of my pals is a regionally-famous studio jock and gigging guitar/bass/banjo instructor who occasionally conducts classes on How To Attend Jams and Open Mics. There are more than a few things a player that has never gigged needs to know in order for everyone to have some fun onstage--no matter what a person's level of skill happens to be.
 

ce24

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Great advice, @ce24 . I've always thought that the key to happiness is managing expectations. New players don't know what to expect and are scared to death when they hop up on stage with you and the house band. They know a little but they generally know it very well because they don't want to embarrass themselves. Maybe let folks know that you'd like them to play through the chord progression a couple of times so the band can get the groove. Maybe make up a little flyer that potential players can pick up when they come and scope the situation or put something on the place's website or FB page that they can read.

They just want to do a great job and meet your expectations. If there's some way you could help them know what to do ahead of time, both parties would have a better time during the show.
I did mention in the OP that they should feel comfortable playing thru the progression a couple times so the band can pick up the groove...
 

Blue Bill

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LOL, I just remembered, one young lady announced she wanted to sing Don't Stop Believing! What a mess! Very amusing. My biggest peeve is when a group comes in and takes 45 minutes to set up amps, pedalboards, wireless boxes, etc. Takes up half the night. Then, they want extra time to do one more, because it was so much work to get set up. Jeez, guys, get a gig.
 

KokoTele

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My local blues society has run a pretty good blues jam for 30 years or so. Like others, sometimes there are incredible sets, and sometimes it's like a Saturday Night Live caricature of a bad open mic. There are usually only 2 things that really throw it off the rails: someone who thinks they're Hendrix and wants to crank up a borrowed amp until it blows up, and someone who shows up with chord charts to a everybody has heard like 2 times. Chord charts are a bad idea in this situation.

I haven't been since the beforetimes and I miss it. On the other hand, the crowds are pretty thin and few of the people I really want to hang out with seem to go anymore.
 

oatsoda

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Use to do the open mic thing in a few pubs, community halls, etc., and it could be fun, and I learned a lot, but watching the other people up there…I just don’t want to see it anymore.

Mostly it’s somebody sitting up front on a stool masturbating while people half pay attention while swilling lager, and then clap appreciatively once the person has climaxed.
 

schmee

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That's why I quit going to jams or leading them. Yer stuck playing overplayed 3 chord songs because anything with much more cant be done off the cuff....
It is more fun solo acoustic, you can play anything you want...
 

cousinpaul

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I'm OK with noobs. The gearheads can get on my nerves, though. Big pedalboard, big amp cranked up to "edge of breakup", the endless futzing and knob twiddling between songs... have a heart! I also dislike I-pads on stage. Being able to read the words is not the same as knowing the song. Furthermore, if you know Kid Charlemagne, keep it to yourself.

Sorry about the rant. I've been guilty of all the above, except the I-pad and Kid Charlemagne.
 

Greenmachine

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I'm OK with noobs. The gearheads can get on my nerves, though. Big pedalboard, big amp cranked up to "edge of breakup", the endless futzing and knob twiddling between songs... have a heart! I also dislike I-pads on stage. Being able to read the words is not the same as knowing the song. Furthermore, if you know Kid Charlemagne, keep it to yourself.

Sorry about the rant. I've been guilty of all the above, except the I-pad and Kid Charlemagne.
The "edge of breakup" comment really did it for me with this post. Hee hee.
 

beninma

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I can't understand why Mustang Sally gets mentioned so much. Do people really want to play that so often? (I can totally see how it's annoying.)

There is one jam/open mic night near me. At some point I'm going to get there... it's so hard to imagine people wanting to play Mustang Sally.
 

stxrus

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My biggest peeve is when a group comes in and takes 45 minutes to set up amps, pedalboards, wireless boxes, etc. Takes up half the night. Then, they want extra time to do one more, because it was so much work to get set up. Jeez, guys, get a gig.
Our house rule was you get three tunes…max. You have 10 minutes to set up. You go over that you get two tunes...max. Abuse the system and you are not allowed back. End of discussion

There we’re some guys who thought they could show up 15-30 minutes before our quit time and expect to do the last set. Sorry it doesn’t work that way
 

Flaneur

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Our house rule was you get three tunes…max. You have 10 minutes to set up. You go over that you get two tunes...max. Abuse the system and you are not allowed back. End of discussion

There we’re some guys who thought they could show up 15-30 minutes before our quit time and expect to do the last set. Sorry it doesn’t work that way
All the most successful jams, are hosted by a Dictator. :cool:
 




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