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Competition time

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Prominent Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 680
Topic starter  

Last week I was away to some guitarist's (Joe Satriani, Paul Gilbert, Robin Trower) but this week I was back to the usual jam I go to which I have not been that impressed with for the last few weeks and this week was worse.

Two jams ago......

The first problem with me was the house drummer who was there for two weeks running, no-one seems to really like this guy he seems to me like such an arrogant person. First of all he goes around announcing to people who come in with an instrument, particularly guitarists that they cannot play particular kinds of music tonight because they are banned in this instance "No 12 bars tonight lads". Come on, be fair, if its a jam night it's up to the musicians to decide what they want to do and if it's a 12 bar blues/rock n roll then fair enough I know not EVERYONE likes it but it's highly ironic he's doing this ban when he currently plays in a blues band anyway.

Last jam....

When he said no 12 bars to me the next week I started chugging along on the most predictable 12 bar riff I could he said "everyone and their grandfather knows that" so I played voodoo child "everyone can play that", is that what it really comes down to? So what if everyone can play it?

So anyway I avoided doing 12 bars, I did all along the watchtower which yes is a bit overplayed, Black or white by Michael Jackson and finally boys don't cry. The drummer did not know what the song was, it's a song by the cure for those still in the dark I made sort of drum sounds with my mouth to try and describe how the drums go, but he did not see the humour so I said can we do it and he said ok but "you'll be the one who looks like a c*nt if we screw it up".

At the end of that night there was a blues jam when they invited up all the guitarists who hadn't had a turn yet, it was quite terrible everybody played everywhere without any of, what I like to call, breathing room.

This weeks jam.....

Last night was the worst though, I got up with a friend who doesn't really know that many songs so we stuck to some safe ones knockin' on heavens door and Red House (which I've done too many times) he asked if someone else could get up on Flute and another guy on Sax. Each song lasted about ten minutes because I completely lost control of the band and to my surprise on the first song BOTH of the guys were playing the same instrument (flute). The monitor at my feet was making horrible distorted noises there weren't enough microphones and so people were grabbing them for their solos but on stage we couldn't really hear properly what was going on. Anyway by the end of knocking on heavens door I had sung one verse and one chorus and the rest was people going off on their little solos. Red house was also too long I tried to give everyone a turn but it went on forever. I guess it was kind of my fault I'm not cut out to be a leader yet. It was nightmarish.

As I watched the night go on though I noticed that other people were having similar problems too the saxophone player jumped up as much as possible and even when he left the stage he continued to play. Everyone seemed to be competing there was no time in the songs when someone stopped playing completely and when your doing blues the space is kind of essential.

Anyhow it was terrible and I've found something else to do next Thursday I need at least a break from it if nothing else I've had some good jam experiences but in those good jams everyone works together or at least waits their turn. There was also a much better leader in the best jam night I went to a few years ago but unfortunately he died, I miss him, born leaders aren't everywhere you know.

Just thought I'd share it's a bit of a rant I know but it just seems to me that everyone wants to be the main star all the time it shouldn't be like that. I heard the sax player saying towards the end of the night "gigs are just paid jams" I do not agree.

together we stand, divided we fall..........

Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 6348

that sounds like a nightmare.
it sounds like far too many players at one time. all taste, nuance, challenge and fun is gone.
I attend weekly jams, but they are quite different. rarely do we play covers. but when someone does very quickly it evolves into pure jamming.
for example, someone new attended a jam and began playing, quite well, a cover. soon, we were riffing on the melody and other melodies showed up. it was exciting. the guy who started the cover was soon lost; not knowing how to take a melody and expand it. to explain, let's say someone started playing the theme song from Peter Gun. it is a well know simple melody. next layered on to it is the well known classic Peter and the Wolf, a symphonic works together.
the essence of good jamming is knowing when not to play.

for a guitar player the more guitars the better, as the sound becomes thick and juicy.
we have a two guitar limit per jam piece. that way every one has to work hard. if the jamming gets long winded, often a tap on the shoulder is enough and the player lets another guitarist get in.
these are informal, non public jams. meaning we play in a friends warehouse studio. watchers and listeners often come by.
we have regulars, but most times each week is different as new players hear about the jam and show up. their loss if they have an agenda. friday night jams, as they are known, have been going on for almost twenty years now. I have been attending for near on eight years,
if you click on my soundclick site and scroll down you will find a few jams I have posted.
those are my favorites because we made everything up on the spot. no rehearsal and never is sheet music allowed.
often singers show up. one lady, Jennifer, has the ability to make up lyrics on the fly.
look for:
'Searching for Manuel' and 'Going to Hell'. two fantastic jams.
on '...Manuel' I happen to play bass. on Going to Hell I am on one of the guitars.

Famed Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 4338

Sounds like you need to find a new jam. Or start your own. That way you can call the shots. Jams don't work well if everyone is trying to be the "star". Egos have no place in a friendly jam. (And that drummer sounds like he's definitely got an ego problem!) Jams are supposed to be fun. They're supposed to be a learning experience. It should be musicians sharing what they know with other musicians. Not musicians trying to show up other musicians.

And, that sax player saying that "gigs are just paid jams" is so very wrong on so many different levels. People don't pay good money to see and hear a fiasco as you just described. I HAVE seen bands get fired mid-gig for being unprofessional. It may not have happened to him yet, but it sounds like it may be lurking in his future!

My advice ... if it's not fun, don't do it. Find a more professional, less egotistical group of guys to jam with. My motto is: Do it right or don't do it at all.

..· ´¨¨)) -:¦:-
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-:¦:- ((¸¸.·´ -:¦:- Elecktrablue -:¦:-

"Don't wanna ride no shootin' star. Just wanna play on the rhythm guitar." Emmylou Harris, "Rhythm Guitar" from "The Ballad of Sally Rose"

Reputable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 395

dogbite wrote
the essence of good jamming is knowing when not to play.

How True!

Brain-cleansing music for brain-numbing times in a brain dead world

Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 10264

When he said no 12 bars to me the next week I started chugging along on the most predictable 12 bar riff I could he said "everyone and their grandfather knows that" so I played voodoo child "everyone can play that", is that what it really comes down to? So what if everyone can play it?

I thought that was the whole point of a jam night - to play along with songs you know? A 12-bar blues is the ideal way to dip your toes in the water for beginners - just play along with the riff. OK, it can be predictable, but half the fun is you never know what the soloists are going to do.

I was lucky enough, a few years back, to drop in on a local acoustic jam night. Just a bunch of guys my age (50) and older playing a bunch of oldies. Now, though, I've developed as a guitarist - the problem is, the jam night hasn't. It's still the same bunch of guys playing the same songs - Brown Eyed Girl, Take It Easy, Stand By Me, etc etc - simple 3 or 4-chorders. Me and my friend Stu tried taking electrics in for a bit of variety - it was OK when we were playing, but nobody wanted to join in. So we did the honourable thing, stopped going and left them to it, and started jamming at each other's houses, playing songs WE wanted to play.

Jam nights should be fun, not rigidly structured.....should be plenty of room for everyone to do their own thing. If there isn't, and the person who's running it just wants to play HIS favourite songs, then that's not going to be any fun for anybody.

:D :D :D


"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)

Prominent Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 680
Topic starter  

Well I've decided to give it a break for now, don't know if I'm ever going back (I lie I actually am going to be involved in running one in July) but this week I''m going to a thing called String along it's a little further away. Basically its a group of stringed instrument players mostly guitar learning things off one another and apparently a bit of jamming too which sounds cool. Hopefully it will be a more constructive use of my time so I'm definitely going to give it a try. I think I might try to find some more jams while I have a few free nights.

together we stand, divided we fall..........