Open Jams and open mics what to expect

Recent experiences: Monday's jam was outside and it's too hot right now, even at night. I was invited to play but declined. A seasoned singer asked about it because he was due up, but it was just the heat is what I told him.

Tuesday: I played a jam inside. We followed polished and accompished musicians that produced a great set to a good crowd. Had I played Monday night it woulda been during one of the best sets, but I play every weekend for money unlike the guy who did play in my place. Good to see him play.

Much of the crowd was gone after that. When it was my turn, the singer harmonica player I sat behind for our set isn't good. I knew that going in. He's oblivious to his tone.

His voice is poor (squeaky) and his harp playing is 3 or 4 notes only. He behaves like he's owning the stage, but he's kidding himself. I'm not embarrassed playing behind people who don't know that they suck. Though, maybe they know but want to be a part anyway. Hey, I struggled with foot timing when I started doing jams and sets suffered. Open jams are like AYSO soccer in the States: everybody gets to play. So at jams, you take your set or you don't play. Other players will notice if you do ok no matter who you play with.

The bass player we had was the best player you can get. The guitar player was ok. Not very experienced as a lead presence but he sorta kept up.

The set after us had the over the top jazz drummer that we all like to watch, the same bad ass bass player, they had the host keyboard player and guitar player. They had a singer that always does the same songs because people love it and he does them well. He should since he does the same thing everytime. He did Sara Smile, Superstition, Brick House and a Sam Cook song. Change is Gonna Come, maybe? Not much blues happening. But they did a great set.

Ours was the worst set. No wrecks, except the singer truncated a couple of measures of music by coming in early. The bass player had zero problems following him, nor did I. The set was just how it is.

There were 3 other drummers there. All better than me, but I already knew that. One has recorded his own record, taught extensively and is professionally trained. Another has toured extensively and played for at least 20 years and the other has been at his top level since the early 90s. Don't know his training level but he was probably about 30 in the early 90s. None quit for 15 years like I did so they're all an inspiration for me. The last one mentioned has an attitude that you aren't really accepted if you don't achieve the level that he has set for acceptance. His regular band is great, especially the guitar player but they both haven't shown an interest in cultivating a fan following. His playing is super solid and his hihat is well refined. He played Walkin The Dog, which I feel I play better. Sometimes the little victories motivate you.


Active Member
There isn't much going on in my area. Hopefully things will open up more as the pandemic eases! In the meantime I'll just keep working on my studies.
I've played jams the past 3 nights. With luck you will bond with some people who inspire you., which is as valuable or more than anything else. Last night the host drummer spent at least 30-40 minutes talking 1 on 1 with me about drums, playing, touring, tuning, teaching, mic placement, people, bands, income, etc.
Of the 4 of us who played, only the host drummer was a better player. Another player was equivalent. He's degreed in music and a trained drummer. He's better on overall skill/knxowledges, but it hasn't translated into his playing.

Oh, yeah. I took my sticks out to my car after playing. Two gorgeous young girls were parked behind me and honked calling me back to ask if I was in the band. So, get out there if you can.

Forgot this: the last song we played was the last of the night. It was Congo or Congo Square or something similar, about the area where the drum kit was developed according to the host singer. During play, he turned to me and called for a drum solo which was a surprise, but should have expected it since the song's subject matter. So I did. It was alright. The kit responded pretty much how I intended. The single pedal rolled well enough for a person used to a double pedal.

I'm also sorta socially awkward, but this is what I want to do.
Last edited:
Last week I had another harmonica player/singer to play behind. The host guitar and bass players played this set and we had a good one. Had they not played, it could've been sketchy. Because the guitarist they were accompanying has a slow hand and slow timing. Sometimes the energy drops out. Crowd responded well.
The sets that followed were better, though. The performers are well rehearsed. It was a good night for playing and watching. I didn't want to bug the host drummer.

Weds jam was just ok for playing. Great players, but it was just ok. More about hanging and yakking with friends. Not much crowd. That too quiet drummer i spoke of has found his feet. He plays well.

Thurs was fun. I played with a fantastic harp player (4th one) and an excellent violin player. Saw them again at a weekend jam, but I only played 1 song because a trio band came to play. Very impressive players.

Last night's jam was ok. I played but only because of a shortage of guitar players. One guitar player was going to drum but couldn't get a guitarist to play his spot.

There are 3 different hosts offering Blues/Open jams on Wednesday. One of them is where my current gig came from. Although he recommended me for the spot it still took effort. After sitting in for 3 songs with them one night, the band posted a Facebook ad for auditions. Twelve people were whittled down to 2 of us. They offered it to me because I went to several of their gigs to sit in.