First time at an open mic experience. (Warning: Contains excessive rambling.)

eddypierce

Senior Member
Hi Axis, kudos to you for getting up there and doing it. A lot of good advice has been given so far (especially Larry's), so I'm mainly just reinforcing what's already been said. When I first moved to Portland I took some lessons from the great drummer Mel Brown. One of the first things I asked him was where the open jazz jams were in town, and I also asked if he had any advice for approaching sitting in at one of them. The main thing that he said that stuck with me was, "They 'll just like it if you play with a good feel." That's the main thing to bear in mind--the guys who overplay will not impress the other musicians as much as someone who tries to lay it down with good time and good feel, and who is friendly and humble. If you focus on those things, you'll do okay. Obviously, you still have to be prepared as possibly, technically and musically (knowing various styles, knowing how to follow cues, etc.), but even if you lack in those areas at first, if the other musicians perceive that you're trying to play WITH them, and that you're earnest about doing a good job (instead of just trying to show off), you'll probably find that they'll be willing to be supportive of you (and might offer some constructive criticism) even if sometimes your playing stumbles a bit.

There's also nothing like sitting in at jams to help improve your playing, if you're being observant about where you come up short every time you sit in. The first time I sat in at a jam, I basically felt like I got my butt kicked. It didn't feel all that great, honestly, but instead of giving up, I made a note of what I thought I sucked at, and went home and practiced it, so I'd be more prepared the next time around. Then I got my butt kicked AGAIN, but it wasn't QUITE so bad, and I went home to prepare some more. And so on and so on. Over time, if you keep at it, it'll get better and better, and it should get easier and less nerve-wracking to do it, (and, of course, more fun!).
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I also made a point, as much as possible, of getting there in the beginning, watching the house bands entire set, and staying after I was done playing to watch and support the others...that goes a long way. A lot of people stroll in as soon as the jam opens up, and leave just as soon as they are done playing. Even when you are not playing, the way you conduct yourself is still on display.
 

AxisDrummer

Senior Member
I also made a point, as much as possible, of getting there in the beginning, watching the house bands entire set, and staying after I was done playing to watch and support the others...that goes a long way. A lot of people stroll in as soon as the jam opens up, and leave just as soon as they are done playing. Even when you are not playing, the way you conduct yourself is still on display.
That was one thing I actually made sure to do. The jam was from 7 to 11. I got there at 6:45 and signed in. I think I got on stage at about 9 but I stayed all the way until the end. I applauded every performer and made sure to shake some hands and dole out the compliments personally to some guys. Not to kiss ass, but because I legitimately thought they rocked. Not everyday do I see someone rock out to Silent Lucidity by Queensryche AND 3 Iron Maiden songs!
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
That was one thing I actually made sure to do. The jam was from 7 to 11. I got there at 6:45 and signed in. I think I got on stage at about 9 but I stayed all the way until the end. I applauded every performer and made sure to shake some hands and dole out the compliments personally to some guys. Not to kiss ass, but because I legitimately thought they rocked. Not everyday do I see someone rock out to Silent Lucidity by Queensryche AND 3 Iron Maiden songs!
If the players are ones that you want to be "in" with, then you are doing great.

Your jams are a lot different than mine. You REALLY need to know the material. Blues can be faked, arranged rock/metal songs like you are exposed to are a higher hill to climb for sure. You sound like you are you doing great. I like your attitude a lot.
 
T

The Old Hyde

Guest
I'm with you man. Almost every musical relationship I have today is a result of my open mic jam experiences. It's THE place to go if you are looking for others to play with. After a while, I considered attending jams like college courses. It's where I learned to play as part of an ensemble.
I think they are a great way to connect with other musicians. The two bands I am in now are both a result of open mic nights. Im in the house band that hosts the open mic I first attended, the second band I never would have met the kid that plays with us, he's still in high school and has no drivers license but through open mic's hes attended and ive sat in on drums I developed a friendship and we now have a 3 piece we are debuting the 23rd of this month at...Open Mic Night!!
 

drummer-russ

Gold Member
Hey Axis I made it in to Parrots for a few songs Friday evening. The tryout lasted longer than I expected so I did not stay long. Like what you guys did with the Wham song and Imagine to adapt it to your genre. Sorry I could not stick around long enough to introduce myself.

Russ
 

drummerjims

Senior Member
I miss open mics. Where I live there are not many any more and the ones that are around it is basically just a house band that does not want to give up their seat. The first open mic I ever played was kind of a turning point for me as a drummer. I was 16 and snuck into a bar with nothing more than a pair of drum sticks. My friend and I (he was 14 and played bass) went in and listened for a while. The house band went outside to catch some air and asked if anyone wanted to fill some time. Nobody stepped up so my friend and I went up and jammed for a few minutes. Next thing we know some members of the house band started jamming with us. Next thing you know we basically become part of the house band for that night. I'm still not sure what happened to their drummer and bass player but I was on cloud 9. these guys were people I looked up to in the local community. Long story short, that night gave me the confidence I needed to be a drummer and today quite a few years down the road I am playing drums in a band with some of the guys I met that night.
 

AxisDrummer

Senior Member
Hey Axis I made it in to Parrots for a few songs Friday evening. The tryout lasted longer than I expected so I did not stay long. Like what you guys did with the Wham song and Imagine to adapt it to your genre. Sorry I could not stick around long enough to introduce myself.

Russ
Thanks for coming out nonetheless. Oh man....were you there when the mass brawl broke out!?! After Imagine, we did Tool's Sober....and ironically enough as we're playing Sober (with our bass player on top of the bar!), a drunken brawl broke out among idiots. First time that's ever happened. Our singer had to hold onto the PA mains and the light stand. There were two guys standing on my Humes & Berg Cymbal case in the corner, but it did not crack! I was sitting behind the drumset thinking it was toast. And I'm VERY backed into my drumset against the window at that place so I couldn't do anything immediate. I don't even use my larger floor tom because I'll crack my elbow on the window! Ridiculous yet entertaining.
 

AxisDrummer

Senior Member
I miss open mics. Where I live there are not many any more and the ones that are around it is basically just a house band that does not want to give up their seat. The first open mic I ever played was kind of a turning point for me as a drummer. I was 16 and snuck into a bar with nothing more than a pair of drum sticks. My friend and I (he was 14 and played bass) went in and listened for a while. The house band went outside to catch some air and asked if anyone wanted to fill some time. Nobody stepped up so my friend and I went up and jammed for a few minutes. Next thing we know some members of the house band started jamming with us. Next thing you know we basically become part of the house band for that night. I'm still not sure what happened to their drummer and bass player but I was on cloud 9. these guys were people I looked up to in the local community. Long story short, that night gave me the confidence I needed to be a drummer and today quite a few years down the road I am playing drums in a band with some of the guys I met that night.
Great story! I'm definitely an introvert, but now since I'm back into music (even though it's only a weekend warrior band), I've become much more outgoing. I hope I can maintain the confidence with this open mic night. My work schedule doesn't allow me to go every week, but I figure if I rear my ugly head every once in a while, perhaps I'll make a great connection.
 

drummer-russ

Gold Member
That brawl must have happened minutes after we left. We saw your bass player on the bar and you were playing tool as we left so it must have been immediately after we left. That was my first time at Parrot's with a band and yeah it was crazy tight. Glad all your equipment was ok and none of your guys got hurt. When we left we had to sneak under your one PA speaker to get trhough.
 

RockNGrohl

Senior Member
Here's my two cents:
I house drum open mics with another excellent drummer every week. We alternate each week and switch up which ones we play. One is at a coffeehouse. It is acoustic based. People bring in acoustics electrics, dobros, banjos, upright bass, harmonica. The music could be jazz, folk, roots, blues, salsa, bluegrass, country and everything in between. I bring my Tama Silverstar 20" bass jazz kit. I didn't play jazz but I do now.. more on that.. The drums are small and I play a lot of brushes and multi rods. Its all about adding just that little bit to what people are doing, although there have been nights i barely played at all. The music is so great i don't mind.
It's a very welcoming group and anyone that signs up can play if we have time. The coffee house can only stay open so late so we have a curfew. If anyone doesn't get to come up, see you next week!
The second open mic is at sports type bar, with upstairs stage that is famous for having blues cats play up there. We play downstairs in the sports bar pool area. I bring a 22' kick rock kit and play with sticks. The music is mostly classic rock, blues, new rock, whatever.
Electric guitars and the like. It is a few regular faithful musicians, and maybe a visitor or two.
But all of the visitors have been phenomenal! It's a rock jam and is tons of fun.

What I've learned from each is:
1. Don't be picky about the kit! Especially if it is yours and others will be playing it. I Don't mind when people bring their own stuff of change something. I know how to change it back anyways. Bring your own throne, no one will mind. That's almost the norm theses days IMO. Get yourself up there!

2. Don't overplay. The chops guys might sound good, but you can tell if they are showing off for no good reason. Play what you feel, blend in and make the music sound great. I back up a lot of singer songwriters and they appreciate me giving their stuff just that little extra. Get up there!

3. Don't freak out if you don't know the song! Most of my fellow open mic cats don't throw out crazy odd time complicated stuff. They do that solo. If they ask you to come up and play, they let you do your thing. You'll be getting schooled every time you get up and be so thankful for it. If someone plays a genre you don't know but like, go home and google it! Learn the feel so next time you can join in and have fun. Just get up there already!

4. Don't be afraid to ask to sit in if you want. Even though I'm the house drummer, I'll let anyone (who doesn't look suspiciously like a kit wrecker) sit in. If they are sober, lol, and really want to play I give them the benefit of the doubt and let them have fun. I never had anyone trash my kit or play horribly. But I've met many many great drummers to talk shop with. Plus I get a beverage/bathroom break! If you think you can add something go for it. Are you up there yet?

Bring your own stick bag and throne and have fun.
 

AxisDrummer

Senior Member
Here's my two cents:
I house drum open mics with another excellent drummer every week. We alternate each week and switch up which ones we play. One is at a coffeehouse. It is acoustic based. People bring in acoustics electrics, dobros, banjos, upright bass, harmonica. The music could be jazz, folk, roots, blues, salsa, bluegrass, country and everything in between. I bring my Tama Silverstar 20" bass jazz kit. I didn't play jazz but I do now.. more on that.. The drums are small and I play a lot of brushes and multi rods. Its all about adding just that little bit to what people are doing, although there have been nights i barely played at all. The music is so great i don't mind.
It's a very welcoming group and anyone that signs up can play if we have time. The coffee house can only stay open so late so we have a curfew. If anyone doesn't get to come up, see you next week!
The second open mic is at sports type bar, with upstairs stage that is famous for having blues cats play up there. We play downstairs in the sports bar pool area. I bring a 22' kick rock kit and play with sticks. The music is mostly classic rock, blues, new rock, whatever.
Electric guitars and the like. It is a few regular faithful musicians, and maybe a visitor or two.
But all of the visitors have been phenomenal! It's a rock jam and is tons of fun.

What I've learned from each is:
1. Don't be picky about the kit! Especially if it is yours and others will be playing it. I Don't mind when people bring their own stuff of change something. I know how to change it back anyways. Bring your own throne, no one will mind. That's almost the norm theses days IMO. Get yourself up there!

2. Don't overplay. The chops guys might sound good, but you can tell if they are showing off for no good reason. Play what you feel, blend in and make the music sound great. I back up a lot of singer songwriters and they appreciate me giving their stuff just that little extra. Get up there!

3. Don't freak out if you don't know the song! Most of my fellow open mic cats don't throw out crazy odd time complicated stuff. They do that solo. If they ask you to come up and play, they let you do your thing. You'll be getting schooled every time you get up and be so thankful for it. If someone plays a genre you don't know but like, go home and google it! Learn the feel so next time you can join in and have fun. Just get up there already!

4. Don't be afraid to ask to sit in if you want. Even though I'm the house drummer, I'll let anyone (who doesn't look suspiciously like a kit wrecker) sit in. If they are sober, lol, and really want to play I give them the benefit of the doubt and let them have fun. I never had anyone trash my kit or play horribly. But I've met many many great drummers to talk shop with. Plus I get a beverage/bathroom break! If you think you can add something go for it. Are you up there yet?

Bring your own stick bag and throne and have fun.
Great advice and it's appreciated. After all these great supportive replies from everyone, I'm looking forward to next time.
 

Mark_S

Silver Member
If you hold it down, nobody is going to think you're a crappy drummer. I promise. Anyone who's opinion is based on a lack of flash, isn't someone who's opinion you aught to care about.
+1
I've come across a few arrogant musicians (drummers included), but many are nice and will encourage you; just see the replies here. We all have to start somewhere and surely the point of these open mics is to gain experience. If anyone did sneer at you it probably says more about them and their own insecurities than anyone else.

I know how it feels to be intimidated though for sure!

Keep at it.
 

MaryO

Platinum Member
Here's my two cents:
I house drum open mics with another excellent drummer every week. We alternate each week and switch up which ones we play. One is at a coffeehouse. It is acoustic based. People bring in acoustics electrics, dobros, banjos, upright bass, harmonica. The music could be jazz, folk, roots, blues, salsa, bluegrass, country and everything in between. I bring my Tama Silverstar 20" bass jazz kit. I didn't play jazz but I do now.. more on that.. The drums are small and I play a lot of brushes and multi rods. Its all about adding just that little bit to what people are doing, although there have been nights i barely played at all. The music is so great i don't mind.
It's a very welcoming group and anyone that signs up can play if we have time. The coffee house can only stay open so late so we have a curfew. If anyone doesn't get to come up, see you next week!
The second open mic is at sports type bar, with upstairs stage that is famous for having blues cats play up there. We play downstairs in the sports bar pool area. I bring a 22' kick rock kit and play with sticks. The music is mostly classic rock, blues, new rock, whatever.
Electric guitars and the like. It is a few regular faithful musicians, and maybe a visitor or two.
But all of the visitors have been phenomenal! It's a rock jam and is tons of fun.

What I've learned from each is:
1. Don't be picky about the kit! Especially if it is yours and others will be playing it. I Don't mind when people bring their own stuff of change something. I know how to change it back anyways. Bring your own throne, no one will mind. That's almost the norm theses days IMO. Get yourself up there!

2. Don't overplay. The chops guys might sound good, but you can tell if they are showing off for no good reason. Play what you feel, blend in and make the music sound great. I back up a lot of singer songwriters and they appreciate me giving their stuff just that little extra. Get up there!

3. Don't freak out if you don't know the song! Most of my fellow open mic cats don't throw out crazy odd time complicated stuff. They do that solo. If they ask you to come up and play, they let you do your thing. You'll be getting schooled every time you get up and be so thankful for it. If someone plays a genre you don't know but like, go home and google it! Learn the feel so next time you can join in and have fun. Just get up there already!

4. Don't be afraid to ask to sit in if you want. Even though I'm the house drummer, I'll let anyone (who doesn't look suspiciously like a kit wrecker) sit in. If they are sober, lol, and really want to play I give them the benefit of the doubt and let them have fun. I never had anyone trash my kit or play horribly. But I've met many many great drummers to talk shop with. Plus I get a beverage/bathroom break! If you think you can add something go for it. Are you up there yet?

Bring your own stick bag and throne and have fun.
You guys are almost making me brave enough to try an open mic again...ALMOST. I still have to say though, the thought absolutely terrifies me. I just have these paralyzing thoughts of making a huge fool of myself. I think it's the fact of having to improvise. I just don't feel I have grasp on enough genres to keep up with whatever someone plays. I guess I had such a bad experience at the first (supposed) open mic we went and listened to (it was mostly very experienced musicians who made it clear they didn't want any novices joining in even though it was billed as an 'open mic' night) that I'm just too scared to join in at all. I really haven't found one that I'd be comfortable trying. Oh well, maybe someday...until then I'll live vicariously through the rest of you :)
 
T

The Old Hyde

Guest
if you go enough, you can form friendships with other players too without being in a band. There is a guy who shows up at ours named Rockin Rob ( I know..) anyway when he walks in he always scans the room for me and when he sees me gives me the nod and the eyebrow raise meaning he want me to play with him. cool guy, fun stuff. Get out there Mary!!
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Mary you should look for a different jam. Forget the one you went to before. They are not all like that. You have good time, remember that. That's huge. I'd like to see you try (surprise!) a blues jam (if you haven't already). Blues is easy to hear where it's going next. And your time will see you through. When in doubt....just keep the beat, keep the beat, keep the beat. Don't let the time drop. It sounds so much better than you might think.

Plus blues is at the basis of nearly all popular music. I think it is the #1 very best place to learn the essentials, because it's easy to latch on to. If you have a good basis in the Blues, it carries over into all other genres in some way.
 

Vegas Island

Senior Member
Open mics are tough for me too, I can relate. I don't like playing other drum kits. I have mine all dialed in to me. A lot of playing is muscle memory so when I go to hit that crash etc. and its NOT in the same place it totally throws me off. I can't wail and kick ass on other kits like I can on mine. I learned If I participate to bring my own snare and stand, hi-hat and throne. I learned to over-simplify (if ya have to) and KEEP the beat going.
 
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