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  #1  
Old 04-19-2016, 07:48 PM
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Default More existential stuff

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?
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Old 04-19-2016, 07:54 PM
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Default Re: More existential stuff

What do you expect, musicians don't get paid at open mic/jams.
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Old 04-19-2016, 08:01 PM
AllTheCoolNamesAreTaken AllTheCoolNamesAreTaken is offline
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Default Re: More existential stuff

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.
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Old 04-19-2016, 08:05 PM
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Default Re: More existential stuff

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Originally Posted by Les Ismore View Post
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.

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Originally Posted by AllTheCoolNamesAreTaken View Post
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.
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Old 04-19-2016, 08:07 PM
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Default Re: More existential stuff

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...
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Old 04-19-2016, 08:14 PM
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Default Re: More existential stuff

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Originally Posted by philrudd View Post
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.
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  #7  
Old 04-19-2016, 08:19 PM
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Default Re: More existential stuff

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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Old 04-19-2016, 08:23 PM
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Default Re: More existential stuff

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Originally Posted by Les Ismore View Post
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. :)
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  #9  
Old 04-19-2016, 08:32 PM
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Default Re: More existential stuff

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.
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Old 04-19-2016, 08:55 PM
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Default Re: More existential stuff

Quote:
Originally Posted by philrudd View Post
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.

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  #11  
Old 04-19-2016, 09:17 PM
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Default Re: More existential stuff

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Originally Posted by IDDrummer View Post
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.


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Old 04-19-2016, 09:28 PM
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Default Re: More existential stuff

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
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Old 04-19-2016, 09:31 PM
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Default Re: More existential stuff

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.
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Old 04-19-2016, 09:36 PM
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Default Re: More existential stuff

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.
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Old 04-19-2016, 09:42 PM
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Default Re: More existential stuff

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?
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Old 04-19-2016, 09:53 PM
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Originally Posted by larryace View Post
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.
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Old 04-19-2016, 09:58 PM
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Default Re: More existential stuff

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.
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Old 04-19-2016, 10:07 PM
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Originally Posted by larryace View Post
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.

Last edited by KamaK; 04-19-2016 at 10:17 PM.
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Old 04-19-2016, 10:12 PM
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Default Re: More existential stuff

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!
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Old 04-19-2016, 10:47 PM
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Default Re: More existential stuff

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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Old 04-19-2016, 10:50 PM
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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.
There's a solution for that.....
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Old 04-19-2016, 10:56 PM
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Default Re: More existential stuff

.

The difficult part for me is; when we drummers are on stage and we want to show some emotion, or more exactly if we want the band to show more emotion,
it is difficult for the drummer to raise the emotion level of the song. (Although I have done it.)


Quote:
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Is it wrong for me to gripe about this?
Yes Larry. You are "Sucking all the fun right out of life...."


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Old 04-19-2016, 11:20 PM
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There's a solution for that.....
LOL

Forgot to mention I'm from New Jersey, but the good part of Jersey aka North Jersey ;) so there ya go Larry it's not intentional. Maybe that's just how a lot of people are in these parts!!

Kidding aside.. I go to lots of open mics in the area and people get really into it.
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Old 04-19-2016, 11:31 PM
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Well maybe they were taken back by that piece of crap drum kit you brought with no ride cymbal-LOL-you should have brought part of Rolanda-kick, floor tom and snare and a dang ride cymbal you can crash. Some folks have lost the fun of playing. I guess I'd have more sympathy if you didn't own two Guru drum kits-and now we see you don't even play them.
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Old 04-19-2016, 11:41 PM
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Well maybe they were taken back by that piece of crap drum kit you brought with no ride cymbal-LOL-you should have brought part of Rolanda-kick, floor tom and snare and a dang ride cymbal you can crash. Some folks have lost the fun of playing. I guess I'd have more sympathy if you didn't own two Guru drum kits-and now we see you don't even play them.
HA! You just created a great image in my mind.
Imagine Larry, the host drummer, brings his Guru drum set to the jam. And a 6’ 5” dude with huge arms gets up with his 2b drum sticks to play the drums……. LOL


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Old 04-20-2016, 12:59 AM
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I guess outwardly it just doesn't come out the way I think it does.
Yes what's in your mind and what the audience is experiencing....the closer together you can get them, the better. Some people, not just drummers, are legends in their own minds, and there's a big disconnect with what they think is happening, and what is actually happening. Again, the recorder is the remedy to this.

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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!
And I bet it's all at the same dynamic, front to back. It's the deliberate ups and downs, and transitions to ups and downs....that's where blues takes on more than 2 dimensions. Only the whole band has to understand. That's why it's so good when it's good, there's a noticeable musical communication going on.

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Well maybe they were taken back by that piece of crap drum kit you brought with no ride cymbal-LOL-you should have brought part of Rolanda-kick, floor tom and snare and a dang ride cymbal you can crash. Some folks have lost the fun of playing. I guess I'd have more sympathy if you didn't own two Guru drum kits-and now we see you don't even play them.
I never attended this jam before and had no idea the kit was lacking basic necessities. I figured I'd go in and use what's there, to take me out of my element a little. Well I was a little too far out of my element. All I really needed was a couple cymbals, I decorate the song with my cymbals. I can make do with no toms. There was only a steaming load of crap sounding floor tom anyway, no racks.

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HA! You just created a great image in my mind.
Imagine Larry, the host drummer, brings his Guru drum set to the jam. And a 6’ 5” dude with huge arms gets up with his 2b drum sticks to play the drums……. LOL
I would have no problem with that. But I would be watching my cymbals like a hawk.
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Old 04-20-2016, 01:14 AM
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Default Re: More existential stuff

host drummers who don't bring a functional drum kit should be embarrassed. One of the local guys didn't bring a ride on a night that 3 bands would be using his kit. He got paid to provide the drums and knew it in advance. I gave him a ton of crap about it, and he's reluctantly started bringing one.

Hey if I'm a host drummer and don't use a kick drum, I better bring one anyways if I'm a host.
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Old 04-20-2016, 01:17 AM
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oh and Larry, you're totally right. No dynamics in blues songs ever around here. Just 3 guitarists fighting over who gets to solo louder than everyone else.
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Old 04-20-2016, 01:25 AM
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Default Re: More existential stuff

They might be tired.
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Old 04-20-2016, 03:06 AM
New Tricks New Tricks is offline
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Default Re: More existential stuff

Maybe all that blues music just got them feeling down.
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Old 04-20-2016, 03:17 AM
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Hollywood Jim Hollywood Jim is offline
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Default Re: More existential stuff

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Originally Posted by New Tricks View Post
Maybe all that blues music just got them feeling down.
Good one. LOL



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Old 04-20-2016, 12:24 PM
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Default Re: More existential stuff

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Originally Posted by larryace View Post
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?
Your'e the only one who's not jaded here. Thats the sad part.

So many play because playing live is also an ego massager, a self esteem thang, a showing-off opportunity ... etc

I call it my gooseflesh test. Everytime you play at home or on stage, you've got to turn yourself on till you can see the goose pimples on your forearms. And that can only happen is the others you're playing with are equally turned on..

thats when music happens.. the rest is all crappy posturing..


...
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Old 04-20-2016, 07:02 PM
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WalterKohn WalterKohn is offline
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Default Re: More existential stuff

Larry,

I feel your pain. I too am in the Northeast. I am in South Jersey so not to far from you. I went to a open mic Sunday night at a place in Berlin, NJ called the Golden Nugget. It was my first time jamming outside of my garage in a long time. Kit was a Tama superstar so not a bad kit per say, but the tuning was horrible. Snare was tuned so damn tight I couldn't get any dynamics out of it. Everyone seemed non-enthusiastic while playing as well.I feel your pain brother I really do. I go out to play because I want to get into it ya know... Feel the music etc. The guy running the open mic I used to be in a band with years ago so I thought it would be better....
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Old 04-20-2016, 08:15 PM
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Default Re: More existential stuff

Jam night is when I can just hang out and play music. I'm not really worried about it, I play fills that I might not normally try even in rehearsal, I overplay, I drink, I jam the same tunes each week with mostly the same people. I still like it. I just enjoy playing music with other humans.

Myself and the core group tries to get up in-between the new guys or less experienced jammers so we can keep things relatively competent through the night, but encouraging new players to get up there is what public jams are about. Doesn't matter if they ain't got no skills, what's important is playing music with others.

When we fall into ruts, I like to put "holds" on playing anything from a certain band. I'll say, "we are not going to play the beatles tonight" or "let's not play any of the usual Modest Mouse for a few weeks". It gets us out of the routines and forces the melodic players to think of something different to play.
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Old 04-20-2016, 09:58 PM
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Default Re: More existential stuff

I don't fault the new players, that's a whole different story. It takes a while to find one's legs. It's guys who have been around. I know they've been around because I used to jam with them over 10 years ago. I would hope people improve with time, not go backwards. Maybe I expect too much. It seems this is one of the best parts of their life, and this is what they give to it? Really?

Going through the motions is a disservice to the people who come to listen to the music. The live music business is in peril. I can't help thinking that maybe it's because the standards seem so low to me. Playing live is near and dear to my heart, and to see the apathy...it pisses me off.
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Old 04-20-2016, 10:27 PM
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Default Re: More existential stuff

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I don't fault the new players, that's a whole different story. It takes a while to find one's legs. It's guys who have been around. I know they've been around because I used to jam with them over 10 years ago. I would hope people improve with time, not go backwards. Maybe I expect too much. It seems this is one of the best parts of their life, and this is what they give to it? Really?

Going through the motions is a disservice to the people who come to listen to the music. The live music business is in peril. I can't help thinking that maybe it's because the standards seem so low to me. Playing live is near and dear to my heart, and to see the apathy...it pisses me off.
Yeah, I'm in agreement here. I love the newer people coming in and stretching their wings. But a lot of these folks have been doing the jam circuit for the 20 years I've lived here.

I also agree the standard is pretty low. On the other hand, bars don't pay enough to draw really good musicians. It's a vicious cycle. Whatever the cause, the effect is that I often see substandard bands playing in bars.
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Old 04-20-2016, 10:55 PM
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Default Re: More existential stuff

I would hope that because the pay is so low, that's why the standards are low. Unfortunately I don't think that's the case.
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Old 04-20-2016, 11:41 PM
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Default Re: More existential stuff

We have a jam here every week that is quite a bit of fun, and I believe thats part and parcel of our musical community here. Granted, this isnt high level stuff, but we are fortunate to have folks that play in local bands that come out, some beginners, some friends who like to give it a try, and occasionally some newcomers to the area and want to meet some local musicians.

We have enough folks who know each other that we can (usually) come up with combinations that keep things moving. Occasionally full bands will drop in and play 3-5 songs, a good way to work stuff out.

Our regulars are very supportive of each other and our guests, and it really is a great atmosphere. Again, no one will confuse this with high level stuff, but you know that everyone is trying to make a good sound, and everyone is enjoying themselves. Perhaps its a generational thing....while we do have some younger folks there, the core group ages 40's to 60's, and we just love to play. Its very much a musical family.

I'm sad more of you don't have something similar.
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Old 04-21-2016, 03:54 AM
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Default Re: More existential stuff

I like blues jams. I went to a weekly jam religiously for years. I'm not a frequenter as much anymore, but I do periodically sub in as the house drummer.

They can be a mixed bag in many ways. Sometimes you get local/regional pros, sometimes you get clueless novices, mostly somewhere in between. The kit is always a mixed bag too. At the defunct jam I went to for years, there was a stage custom kit with XS 20 cymbals. Nothing special, but very playable and well maintained. One of the guys around here bring an old Export (not bad in and of itself) with the toasted stock heads with some laundry duct taped to them with toms at craigslist angles and almost unplayable cymbal placement.

Back to the playing, I really enjoy the idea of jamming. Sometimes in practice it isn't so great, but it's variable on the rest of the talent. When you have good talent, people who know the basic form well enough to play with it, then it's super fun and you end up creating these ephemeral moments that are unique to that time. Even the Stormy Monday example, I've played that so many times and in many different ways. What makes these things work is being able to use dynamics, breaks, stabs... little things like that. I've even done it as a boogie and 4/4 funky blues type of feel, or even switched to a swing feel over some solos.

But sometimes you get people who don't know scales or can't follow the chord changes, or get a drummer who can't do a basic shuffle. Sometimes you get players who, for whatever reasons, have eyes only on what they're doing. So much of jam is cooperative and communicative, and if you're closed to that, the entire experience suffers.

Then there's a delicate balance. If the quality of the music isn't very good, then the higher level players are less inclined to get out there. But the higher level players are the ones who can make the quality better. At the same time, you need to allow the less talented players to get up there, because that's how they get better, and they'll stop coming if they can't play. If there's no crowd, the bar isn't making money, and they could just do karaoke instead.
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Old 04-21-2016, 06:00 AM
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Default Re: More existential stuff

Hey Larry. Tough break bro. I'm hearing this from a different point of view, so I thought I'd chime in.

In my experience with jams, aside from surface things like exposure and contacts, musicians go and participate in jams to feel something and to have an 'experience'.

That's all well and good, but sometimes the attitude is slightly different. Sometimes someone might go to a jam to get inspired or to have an experience happen to them based on the chemistry on stage or the virtuosity of the players or whatever. Maybe for these older guys, they wanted to feel that mad hunger of youth again, and were hoping it be brought out on stage.

Again, there's nothing against that per-se, but when you have a stage full of musicians waiting to be inspired everyone else, you get flat jams.

You need to people to be open and receptive to the ques others are giving at jams, but you also need to interject and stir the pot. Even if you are recycling old licks, they can still be powerful, in the pocket, and get some momentum going.
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