More existential stuff

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
So last night I attended a jam for the first time in a while. I was really underwhelmed by the attitude of most of the jammers. There seemed to be no joy, no involvement, not injecting one ounce of something resembling emotion, they just stood there like mannequins doing what seemed to me as little as possible.

Me, I was playing on camber hi hats, an over-stuffed bass drum, and a floor tom that sported death by tape. No ride, and the only crash was a 15" china. The snare I got sounding good. So to me I was just keeping time, which always works, but I couldn't do much shading without a ride or crash. I felt like I needed to drill a hole and all I had was a hammer.

But the other players might as well have been asleep, it was so ho hum. Hollywood's sig came to mind, playing a wrong note is excusable, playing without passion is inexcusable...something like that.

I just want to go up to these people and shake them, then slap their faces lol. Playing out is the highlight of my life. I just can't relate to 'barely there' playing. It's not what you play, it's how you play it that comes through. Nothing came through. To be fair, not everyone was like that, but most were. Like I don't even want to go to that jam anymore, it was a waste of my time almost. I'm wondering if it's my problem, but I don't think it is. I do feel spoiled and jaded though. Thoughts?
 
I used to do open nights with some friends, before we formed a band. There were about three bars in the area that had open mic nights and it was always the same crowd. One woman would always, every single time, sing 'Chain of Fools" (chuh-chuh-chaaaaayne!!! One of my most hated songs now). One guy would always sing "Running Down a Dream". They seemed to be going through the motions, and the crowd of other open-mic folks with their one or two songs to play would go through the motions of liking it.

It's a pretty sad experience unless people are feeling it.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
What do you expect, musicians don't get paid at open mic/jams.
I expect a hell of a lot more! If they were getting paid, nothing would change. A person plays how they play. If they base their amount of commitment to the music on how much they are getting paid, like ewww.

I used to do open nights with some friends, before we formed a band. There were about three bars in the area that had open mic nights and it was always the same crowd. One woman would always, every single time, sing 'Chain of Fools" (chuh-chuh-chaaaaayne!!! One of my most hated songs now). One guy would always sing "Running Down a Dream". They seemed to be going through the motions, and the crowd of other open-mic folks with their one or two songs to play would go through the motions of liking it.



It's a pretty sad experience unless people are feeling it.
I know people like that too. 13 years ago they sang the exact same 3 songs, and they are still doing that same tired old thing. Ewww. Your last line beautifully sums up the feeling I'm trying to get across.
 

philrudd

Senior Member
I think there can be a few different reasons for this kind of attitude, with two main reasons coming to mind first:

1) 'I'm too cool for school.' Don't know about where you live and play, but around here, showing emotion - and this applies to the band AND the crowd - is simply seen as being terribly uncool. I think it's a result of too many fanboys observing the attitudes of their musical heroes (Keith Richards, Axl Rose, etc.) and adopting them, without recognizing the work, discipline, and yes, passion that pushed them into the rarified realm of uber-rock stars.

2) 'You can't hurt me 'cause I don't care.' Defense mechanism. All musicians are a little insecure, and silently question their abilities and talents; but by displaying an aloof nature, they can rationalize and deflect any perceived criticism. 'Yeah, I screwed up that bridge, but I don't really care anyway - I barely even practiced at all this whole month. This is just a lark for me.'

Sure sounds jaded on re-reading my own response, but it's been my experience. As you say - not every musician acts this way. The question is, why does ANYBODY act that way? It's playing music! It's FUN!

Or at least it's supposed to be...
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I think there can be a few different reasons for this kind of attitude, with two main reasons coming to mind first:

1) 'I'm too cool for school.' Don't know about where you live and play, but around here, showing emotion - and this applies to the band AND the crowd - is simply seen as being terribly uncool. I think it's a result of too many fanboys observing the attitudes of their musical heroes (Keith Richards, Axl Rose, etc.) and adopting them, without recognizing the work, discipline, and yes, passion that pushed them into the rarified realm of uber-rock stars.

2) 'You can't hurt me 'cause I don't care.' Defense mechanism. All musicians are a little insecure, and silently question their abilities and talents; but by displaying an aloof nature, they can rationalize and deflect any perceived criticism. 'Yeah, I screwed up that bridge, but I don't really care anyway - I barely even practiced at all this whole month. This is just a lark for me.'

Sure sounds jaded on re-reading my own response, but it's been my experience. As you say - not every musician acts this way. The question is, why does ANYBODY act that way? It's playing music! It's FUN!

Or at least it's supposed to be...
I live in the Northeast part of the country, and one thing I realized from my limited traveling, is as a whole, people in the Northeast part of America are a little uptight, especially the white people. Not as much soul as the more ethnic groups, just calling it like I see it. It's kind of sad because music can be a peak experience, but it's very rare to find players that really have it going on.

Re: defense mechanism: How sad that is. Better to commit and miss the mark than to not even bother trying. The stage is no place for fears to take precedence. People are scared to surrender and reveal themselves and play their cards way too cautiously. Not everyone, but 90% IMO.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Wow Larry, that's too bad.
It could be that the musicians didn't know the song well enough to just let go and have fun. Where they good musicians?
I go to two to three jams per week. I find 90% of the players play with a lot of emotion. Maybe too much emotion.

I think maybe what you experienced is just an East Coast thing. :)


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New Tricks

Platinum Member
What do you expect, musicians don't get paid at open mic/jams.
So, you only express passion when you are getting paid? lol

Not me. If I'm happy, sad or bored, you will see it.

Music at this level is obviously not about money.

If everyone seems to hate that they are playing (for free or not), maybe they should stay at home. :)
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
I used to love open jams, have even been the host drummer for a few, but I've grown to, ummmm, not enjoy them.

At first I thought it was totally cool that people who would otherwise not get a chance to play had the opportunity to jam with other musicians.

What it became, though, at least in my area, is a place for all those people who aren't really very good to go and play anyway. I'm not saying all the players are bad, because there is the occasional gem. Still, I'm just not willing to wait through 10 terrible drummers to hear the gem. And in my area, there seem to be ten drummers to one of any other kind of musician. And it's always the same people, with rare exception.

Plus, bars are too cheap to even nominally pay a host band any more, so half the time there is no bass player, or no guitarist, etc etc.

I've written off jams, in my neighborhood at least.
 

gdmoore28

Gold Member
I think there can be a few different reasons for this kind of attitude, with two main reasons coming to mind first:

1) 'I'm too cool for school.' Don't know about where you live and play, but around here, showing emotion - and this applies to the band AND the crowd - is simply seen as being terribly uncool. I think it's a result of too many fanboys observing the attitudes of their musical heroes (Keith Richards, Axl Rose, etc.) and adopting them, without recognizing the work, discipline, and yes, passion that pushed them into the rarified realm of uber-rock stars.

2) 'You can't hurt me 'cause I don't care.' Defense mechanism. All musicians are a little insecure, and silently question their abilities and talents; but by displaying an aloof nature, they can rationalize and deflect any perceived criticism. 'Yeah, I screwed up that bridge, but I don't really care anyway - I barely even practiced at all this whole month. This is just a lark for me.'

Sure sounds jaded on re-reading my own response, but it's been my experience. As you say - not every musician acts this way. The question is, why does ANYBODY act that way? It's playing music! It's FUN!

Or at least it's supposed to be...
That's some good analysis right there. When I was still in music/ProSound retail I was always amazed at how many guys wanted to seem aloof and jaded, been-there-done-that, can't-impress-me, etc.. I listened to and played with some incredible local musicians, and it was impossible not to smile and just soak up the goodness. Even when I was playing four nights a week at a biker bar doing the same songs over and over again, I could never loose the excitement that comes from making music - under any circumstances. I just don't get it.

GeeDeeEmm
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
What it became, though, at least in my area, is a place for all those people who aren't really very good to go and play anyway. I'm not saying all the players are bad, because there is the occasional gem. Still, I'm just not willing to wait through 10 terrible drummers to hear the gem. And in my area, there seem to be ten drummers to one of any other kind of musician.
Yes, I know what you mean. When there are a bunch of drummers it makes me sad.
I'm not a stage hog but sitting there for 4 hours in a bar waiting to play two songs gets depressing.

And what's worse is when the hosting drummer, who has already played for the first 45 minutes gets up to play again because he wants to.


.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the modern internet-era system of learning an instrument is not as conducive to jamming as the pre-internet-era methods. There's a focus on repetition and learning 'parts' of songs, but little in the way of context. Beginners learn 'how' to play, but not when or why to play a part.

When I started Friday-Night-Music-Club, I wanted to recapture the essence of the jam. 2-4 chords, a hook, and a change. All the rest is musical exploration and sonic mayhem. The only limitation is that the mini-fridge can hold about two dozen beers.



Anyone remember doing this? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gae7WxmN3gk
 

T_Weaves

Silver Member
I've never been a "jam night or open mic" player. Not to sound smug but I'm really big on being in a well rehearsed band or at the very least jamming with people I'm in a band with, familiar with or have played with before in a rehearsal space, not at some gin joint.

If other people enjoy it, God Bless ya. Besides, is there anything worse than playing on somebody else's beater kit? I'd rather sing at a Karaoke. At least that can be fun.
 
I think this is exactly what Sartre had in mind...

But I understand completely. I did a "community jazz band" where you pay a small fee and rehearse some big band jazz once a week culminating in a performance. So, presumably everyone wanted to be there (they paid for it), but the lack of enthusiasm was overwhelming. Nobody seemed to enjoy it, not even their solos. Very depressing.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
The thing is, these are older men, who weren't raised on the internet. And the songs are pretty much considered standards. "Stormy Monday", "Love Me Like a Man", and a whole host of other slow 12/8 blues... stuff these guys should really know by now. They should be able to play it in their sleep, actually I think that was literally what was happening. Blues is usually either great or toxic lol. I've known some of these guys for over 10 years, and there's no improvement. They seem to devolve actually. I've seen not one person who records their playing and listens back, not talking just drummers either. I am the only one on my scene that I know that does that at all. I really think that makes a huge difference. I guess I can't hold them responsible for not doing something that does not occur to them....but I do anyway lol. Is it wrong for me to gripe about this?
 

Les Ismore

Platinum Member
The thing is, these are older men, who weren't raised on the internet. And the songs are pretty much considered standards. "Stormy Monday", "Love Me Like a Man", and a whole host of other slow 12/8 blues... stuff these guys should really know by now. They should be able to play it in their sleep, actually I think that was literally what was happening. Blues is usually either great or toxic lol. I've known some of these guys for over 10 years, and there's no improvement. They seem to devolve actually. I've seen not one person who records their playing and listens back, not talking just drummers either. I am the only one on my scene that I know that does that at all. I really think that makes a huge difference. I guess I can't hold them responsible for not doing something that does not occur to them....but I do anyway lol. Is it wrong for me to gripe about this?
Oh well, that splains it all. Older guys playing those tunes? Can easily see how they'd be thinking "Not this crap AGAIN"! and not excited. Unless with some good/creative musicians, I would easily not be into playing those songs with a bunch of hacks. As a matter of fact, at the last open mic I sat in on someone suggested Stormy Monday and I said flat out "NO", nixed it and not bc I don't know the song. Again, now if it was Robben Ford playing guitar, or Gary Moore, I would've been more excited and played it happily.
 

whiteknightx

Silver Member
at least in my area, there's a couple different types of jams. Most of them, especially in my small town are flooded by a small crew of professional jammers who can't carry a tune in a bucket, and are extremely vocal about demanding they get their performance time. Basically they ruin the whole thing, and in about 7 years of frequenting jams from time to time, not one of them has even accidentally improved at all.

Basically they kill off the jam, and are always vocal about how people should support live music, and yet not one of them is ever at any local performances if they aren't going to get up and play, and one in particular goes to every performance in town with his harmonica, and essentially demands to be allowed up to play with whoever is playing. And he is terrible.

And then there is the other type of jam, that is much harder to find, with cool supportive host band, and some decent musicians will show up, and you get some great fun performances. I've gotten really lucky in that I've found a couple of this second type lately, and it's really fun.

I myself love to play on stage in front of other people, and when you are in -between bands, a GOOD jam is a great way to make some contacts and get a little stage time in. It just takes some hunting to find, but they are out there.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
The thing is, these are older men, who weren't raised on the internet. And the songs are pretty much considered standards. "Stormy Monday", "Love Me Like a Man", and a whole host of other slow 12/8 blues... stuff these guys should really know by now. They should be able to play it in their sleep, actually I think that was literally what was happening.
Blues is pretty much lost on generations that had their formative years during the new-wave era. While elements of blues survived and were integrated into modern music, many of us (40 year old) youngsters are put off by playing more than a single blues song.

As a guitarist, the last thing I want to do is play blues for 45 minutes. I would get to mimic Page, Captain, Allman, Guy, King, etc, but don't really have a blues voice of my own and would be phoning in licks from the aforementioned influences.

Also note, that the two songs you listed, I'd be playing the EXACT same thing with a change in voicing. It's like saying "Draw a rectangle" for 10 mins, and then "Draw another rectangle, but slightly narrower" for another 10 mins.
 
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whiteknightx

Silver Member
Kamak, you're probably right about that. I'm 48, and I hate playing the blues. 1 or 2 songs, sure, but after that, ughh. And if there's 2 or three guitarists on stage, they all have to take a couple solos each, so every song is 12 minutes long. Ackk!
 

greenstar323

Senior Member
This post really makes me laugh. Everyone tells me (in general not just drums) I come across with no emotion or enthusiasm. Whereas in my mind I'm really excited about something or trying to be overly dramatic... Kinda like that show from MTV back in the day Daria. I guess outwardly it just doesn't come out the way I think it does.

Honestly when I play I am having so much fun and grooving and feeling it... Sometimes I think "heck yea I rocked that song"! Only to watch the video and I have zero emotion on my face. I can't help it if I have resting bitch face. OK! Maybe these people are the same way. Me and my bandmates joke all the time about it.
 
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