Can you really find a band via a jam night?

Daisy

Senior Member
Couple of weeks ago I advertised on a few musicians' sites, looking for a band. There's nothing happening. No-one's advertising for a drummer. One band responded to my ad, and after speaking to the guy on the phone he said he'd get in touch to arrange an audition, but hasn't.

In April I depped for the house band drummer at a blues jam, (which I loved and it went really well) but it was a one-off. They' do monthly jams in a local pub and have said to come back and sit in for a couple of numbers, and I've also spoken to a guy who operates another monthly blues jam at a different pub who said the same thing (they also have a regular house band).

They both tell me that these jams are a way for musicians to find each other - but does it really work? It seems sort of desperate somehow - a sort of "last chance saloon" for failed or wannabe musicians.

I'm feeling like a failed wannabe myself at the moment. That one-off dep gig gave me such a huge boost of confidence after suffering a crisis of confidence last year followed by a fairly lengthy break, and now I feel I'm falling back into that mind set again.

Help !!
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Jams are a great networking opportunity, and often a lot of fun. Depending on the scene in your area, or how far you're willing to travel, you can probably find jams most nights of the week.

I've done a lot of work with players I've met at the Thursday night weekly jam in my area, and one of my current working bands came from people I met there, so I would have to say it works. It's not the only way you'd want to go about meeting players, but it's easy, no pressure, and fun, and you never know who's there looking for players.

As such, I always suggest treating a jam like an audition. That is, don't think of it as an opportunity to cut loose just because it's a 'jam' and not a gig, and is therefore unimportant in terms of what goes on. Play the way you want other players to know you play, because they are watching and listening and making mental notes about everyone they see & hear there, even if it doesn't seem obvious. And while they may not be looking for a player immediately, they may ask for a phone number or email for future reference. If they do, give it to them!

Bermuda
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
Yes, you can find or form a band by playing in a jam night.

I have formed a band with a guitar and bass player following a lenghty jam.

It's also good (can be bad also, lol) advertisement as a musician, you never know who's in the audience, the phone might ring a few weeks or months after you participated in a jam, it also give you a reputattion as a drummer in your area.

I don't really see jams as a "last chance saloon" for failed or wannabe musicians, lol, more an opportunity to share good (bad?) moments with the others involved, most of the jams I played, outside the context of my own band(s), have never been planned, it's a circumstance thing, I happen to be there or chatting with some musos in a bar and ending doing a jam in someone's rehearsal place.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
In a word, absolutely. That's exactly how I did it. Don't look down on the jams. They are the very vehicle that will get you introduced as a drummer in your local music scene. When I decided to get back into drumming after a 20 year layoff (to learn how to earn money), the jams are the first place I went, there was no second choice. Within a month I was being asked to play, and that's how I got my particular ball rolling. I'd say that if you're serious about playing out with others, face time at as many local jams near you is the best way to go about it. With all due respect Daisy you couldn't be more off about it being a desperate "last chance saloon". In fact it's the best way I know of to integrate yourself with the local scene. There's always room for a good player.

Get your mug out there. Bermudas advice is gold. Look sharp, listen more than talk, and play great thoughtful drums. If you are good enough, people will make their way towards you and offer you opportunities to play. If you're not getting asked..... that's a sign that you need to keep improving. That's how it works. Record yourself right away at these jams, and hear what everyone else is hearing from you. A good drummer, like almost any keyboardist, gets snapped right up. In my world, there's only like 1 good drummer to every 20 "regular" drummers. Be that 1 in 20. Be the ball Danny. (obscure movie reference)
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Maybe not a full band, but yes, you can find key players to form a band around.

Or someone will see you, get your number, and then you'll be in their "file" when something comes up later that they need a drummer for.
 

drstrangefunk

Senior Member
jam nights ares not an instant remedy. it's more like constantly keeping an eye open for the components you need. like keeping an eye on Ebay for that crucial item that you need.

most importantly, the fact is that you are in charge and you should be on the lookout for players that YOU wou like to play with. see a keyboard player that you like ? tell him you want to jam. see your bass player ? did bells go off when you saw that guitar player ? aha - there's my guy.

assemble the players that you want for your ideal band. that's more rewarding than hoping for a perfect fit with a band who's groove you like, that just happens to need a drummer
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
Finding a band might be pushing your luck. Finding a component for a band, you have an excellent chance. Look anywhere, and everywhere.​
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
assemble the players that you want for your ideal band. that's more rewarding than hoping for a perfect fit with a band who's groove you like, that just happens to need a drummer
Yes, and no. It depends what one is looking for in "a band". Finding an extablished band and integrating with it is usually the best approach when looking for work. Starting a band from scratch means that at a certain point, everyone looks at each other and says "what now?" It really is atsrting from scratch. But, it really depends what people want... not every band has to work to be fulfilling. It's a nice freedom to have, if just playing is the goal.

Bermuda
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
jam nights ares not an instant remedy. it's more like constantly keeping an eye open for the components you need. like keeping an eye on Ebay for that crucial item that you need.

most importantly, the fact is that you are in charge and you should be on the lookout for players that YOU wou like to play with. see a keyboard player that you like ? tell him you want to jam. see your bass player ? did bells go off when you saw that guitar player ? aha - there's my guy.

assemble the players that you want for your ideal band. that's more rewarding than hoping for a perfect fit with a band who's groove you like, that just happens to need a drummer
Jam night is like Ebay, excellent analogy, very true. I do have to dispute the "Daisy is in charge" thing. There is a definite pecking order, at least in my neck of the woods. If you are new and unknown and not yet proven...well I suppose you could walk in the room like you own the joint....In Daisy's case... I'm guessing she is not in the position to be cherry picking the best players and assembling bands just yet. Huge turn off, especially to the guitar players, who are above you lol. Who are also the very guys that will be asking you to play (or not). I advise to speak humbly with the lips and let the drumsticks tell the tale. No guitar player likes a brand new uppity drummer that they don't know yet, stealing some attention from them. That could apply almost anywhere in the world I bet.

Usually, the person running the jam has first dibbs on the best players, because the person running the jams is way further up on the pecking order, of which one definitely exists. This assumes you have some hot players and is a good jam. Not all jams are created equal. Of course if your playing is phenomenal right from jump street, then you move right to the front of the line basically. But if you are like me, and not on top of your game when you first start the jams, you basically have to prove yourself through your playing. I drove 45 miles one way every week to the best jam I could find, for a few years in a row to get a foothold. That's why I feel comfortable talking like this. It was worth every dollar and every hour I invested, a hundred times over.

If you are the kind of person who can't/won't improve (and I see tons of that type) then you're doomed. If however you are the type to improve, (translation, the type that records themselves and listens back) then you will also move up the pecking order, directly relative to your speed/quality of improvement. That's how I did it. I got asked to play fairly quickly, within a month... but not by the A list players. That took a little more time, 2 years in my case. But in those first 2 years I played with anyone and everyone I could and developed my rep as a reliable, affable, capable drummer. That's the recipe that worked for me.

If it wasn't for the jams, I wouldn't be enjoying the dizzying success that I do today lol.

Daisy get your fine self out to the jams. Bring your own sticks, and don't forget the recorder. Until everyone knows you, I suggest using whatever is there and leave your snare/cymbals at home. It looks too pretentious when you bring your own stuff IMO, like you think you're a hotshot or something..After a while when you've become accepted, it's different.
 
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Daisy

Senior Member
Thanks so much everyone for the replies. No, I'm not the type to be "in charge" of anything and yes, the goal is just to find a bunch of guys to play with on a fairly regular basis. I didn't mean to look down on jams from some lofty artistic height - it's just the idea of saying "Can I play with you?" like some Billy-no-mates .... it seemed a bit pathetic, but I know now I had entirely the wrong idea about jams.

Been pondering over this all day. Getting my mug out there is a bit scary. Like Larry says, it could work against me, the word could go round: "Oh her, saw her at a jam, she's OK, nothing special". That's my fear. But I've talked myself round out of that - if I am "nothing special" then so be it. I'd settle for a nothing special band until I improve.

Thanks for the tip about recording. I hadn't thought of it although I have recordings of my (two) previous bands from which I learned one heck of a lot.

So, I'm off to the next jam with my sticks and camcorder - and husband to operate it.

Thanks again everyone for the info and opinions. It's all been really helpful.
 

eddypierce

Senior Member
Thanks so much everyone for the replies. No, I'm not the type to be "in charge" of anything and yes, the goal is just to find a bunch of guys to play with on a fairly regular basis. I didn't mean to look down on jams from some lofty artistic height - it's just the idea of saying "Can I play with you?" like some Billy-no-mates .... it seemed a bit pathetic, but I know now I had entirely the wrong idea about jams.

Been pondering over this all day. Getting my mug out there is a bit scary. Like Larry says, it could work against me, the word could go round: "Oh her, saw her at a jam, she's OK, nothing special". That's my fear. But I've talked myself round out of that - if I am "nothing special" then so be it. I'd settle for a nothing special band until I improve.

Thanks for the tip about recording. I hadn't thought of it although I have recordings of my (two) previous bands from which I learned one heck of a lot.

So, I'm off to the next jam with my sticks and camcorder - and husband to operate it.

Thanks again everyone for the info and opinions. It's all been really helpful.
Bermuda's and Larry's advice is 100% spot on. When I first moved to Portland 16 years ago, I started going to jazz and blues jams, and the connections I met there eventually led to all the gigs I'm doing now. The great Portland drummer Mel Brown gave me some good advice before I went to my first open jam here: he said I didn't need to play a bunch, but that mainly the other musicians will like me if I play with a good feel. I've tried to keep that in mind ever since.

It's true that you want to be as prepared as possible when going to a jam so that you sound your best, but if you don't feel as prepared as you'd like, don't use that as a reason not to try it out. Sitting in at jams is an excellent way to show you your weaknesses, so you can go home and practice them before you go back the NEXT time. If you just practice at home you might not have the best sense of what you need to work on, compared to the experience of getting your butt kicked (figuratively speaking) at a jam. I say this from experience, of course. :) Some jams are more low key than others, so you can always try to find a low key jam to start out with before to get some experience, before moving on to the jams with the better players that you're trying to impress.

Ed
 

SticksEasy

Senior Member
You can find band members from jam sessions, but you have to ask around. Don't just approach someone and say "Hey wanna' be in a band with me?"

I always word it like "I'm putting together a project. If you have nothing better to do, give me a call and we'll get together." Because if you spring the B word on them after you've played with them once or twice, as you said, it will make you seem kind of desperate. I still only approach close friends like that - if it's someone I don't know to well, I'm very subtle. And you always give em' time to think about it. No rushing.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
Firstly, a couple of weeks ago is not a long time to wait for results. Patience. This process takes some time, advertizing through clist and musician sites. Lots of trial and error with people who don't work out either.
And yes, jams are the crossroad that can get you face to face with others, and even if you meet somebody who is not looking for a drummer, they may know somebody down the line who is. Be patient and your ship will come in.
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
You can find a band at the grocery store.

Jam sessions are great networking opportunities. That's how you find people to play with. You can at least put the word out to other musicians who might know other musicians who might know other musicians. Make some business cards, meet some people, and follow through if something results from your meetings. Nothing will make other people NOT want to play with you more than being flakey or anti-social...
 

groove1

Silver Member
Almost every band I have played long term with began by meeting one of its members while
sitting in at a jam. Some jams seem like a waste of time but often times there is one musician there that you connect with that makes it worthwhile. Just last year I was at a jam
(in someone's home) where most the musicians were getting trashed. I did meet one reed player there who was as bored by wasting each other's time as I was and it turns out he is
a very gifted/talented/practiced player. We have played weekly every since in small groups.
 
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