Open Mic NIght...A scary thing

MaryO

Platinum Member
Dr. Watso:

We actually planned on playing together and we have been working on some things but the way this one supposedly works is that you have no say in what the band plays. I would have no idea if it was even a song either of us were familiar with. I would at least like to play something we know for our first time up if possible. I have a lead on a couple of other open mic nites so I'll check those out as well. :)
 

HMNY

Silver Member
when I first started going to open jazz nights in NYC ....which was in the beginning of this summer.....I felt like I was going to have a heart attack

been playing rock, funk , and blues my whole life ...and had only swung with bands I had rehearsed with for the past year and a half or so

stepping on stage with these cats was the ass whopping that I needed......it takes a brass set.......but it needed to be done

once you gain the confidence of one or two of the regular players comfort sets in

it may sound stupid....but it meant the world to me when the house bass player came and found me in the bar and asked me if I would play "Speak Low" with band instead of the drummer who was up there at the time because he really dug my feel......

that is success to me .... completely
Out of interest, where was this in NYC?

Thanks
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
As a rhythm section player, you are typically at the mercy of whatever front person you've been combined with. Singer, or soloist for an instrumental thing. That said, you can usually negotiate a bit. The front person wants to sound good and enjoy themselves, so it doesn't help to call a tune or groove that others don't know. People experienced in jam nights will typically take it easy on someone they don't know. When a guitar is shoved in my hands and I'm put up front, I always ask what someone is comfortable with. Start with a medium tempo funk or 4 on the floor thing if they seem unsure. Medium speed shuffle if they sound comfortable. If they kill that, we can go into faster swings or other things. Ask them if they can play a rumba or second line before throwing them under the bus. If they really can't play, then a slow blues to give them another song and some experience with the situation.

At a non-blues jam, the song selection could be all over the place and some folks will expect you to know the material. Although even these tend to gel around certain genres. A classic rock jam here, a funk/jazz jam there, and so on. Making it easier to come prepared with something the front people are likely to know.

I know of one beginner bass player who comes to jams with a list of songs he's learned in his classes. The other players then pick from those and everyone moves on.
 

bertdrums

New member
Mayo
Daisy's remarks are the exception and welcomes that most open mics when having professional hosting and understanding that the "OM" is not about them but the venue. if the venue is happy the musicians hosting are happy and work to keep it that way. I have been to many open mics in the north east. The longest running have rules that are followed. if a musician has a question or complant they work to resolve it.
Sorry to say that as a drummer who has traveled to record i dont get any consideration at the "local " OM, as well other drummers that i notice locally.
Build your self a big emotional wall to protect yourselve. The best musicians will have a high awareness of musicians , a compentancy of understanding your instrument and what it takes to play it. Set aside the musicians that have or say the "bulk of jokes" on drummers.
At the open mic, a clue to the collectiveness is a song list you may choose from that they know, or the host band has produced. Most musicians carry cell phones or tablets to look music up on as a way to interact with others and play music.
Now to comments , understanding all open mics are done by a "value" system. That is what value you have as seen by the host band, just watch your next "top" OM and see how people are choosen, guitar, horns, vocal, what songs. There is also the celebrity part of "big Fish small pond". the legend to themselves, either way i have never been asked what songs i would like to play at an OM or conversation prior to song. They mostly just tell me what i am playing.
You get the idea, as a girl your better of in a male estesterone zone,
be strong , be happy and play play play
 

Rattlin' Bones

Gold Member
Problem with being a drummer at OM is that there is no where to hide. You can have three guitar players up there and one can be a brand new player 4 lessons in and just play a few chords and hide. Keys can just play chords, too. Bass players can just play a basic rhythm or easy progressions. Not many people will know if any of them screw up. But the drummer everyone will notice. It's just harder as a drummer. Plus they call out something at 200bpm or a fast 2/4 and my poor right foot is gonna falter.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Problem with being a drummer at OM is that there is no where to hide. You can have three guitar players up there and one can be a brand new player 4 lessons in and just play a few chords and hide. Keys can just play chords, too. Bass players can just play a basic rhythm or easy progressions. Not many people will know if any of them screw up. But the drummer everyone will notice. It's just harder as a drummer. Plus they call out something at 200bpm or a fast 2/4 and my poor right foot is gonna falter.
You are correct. It is a well known fact that the drummer is very important in a band.
If any other instrument plays a wrong note or a few misplaced chords, it is hardly noticed.
As a drummer try playing one or two bars of 5/4 in a 4/4 song and see what happens. Or throw a fill in the wrong place.

.
 

TMe

Senior Member
So I went to the local pub where they have an Open Mic blues night mostly to see what it was all about...
Wise plan. See what it's all about. "Open mic" means different things to different people.

Some are more like showcases for musicians who all know each other and have everything rehearsed and scheduled in advance. They get on stage and pretend it's all a spontaneous jam. They are not remotely interested in letting a stranger on stage.

Others are "Rockaoki". People arrange in advance to sing a song with the band backing them up. They might practice with the band before the night. The band is only interested in having guest singers and doesn't want any musicians dropping in.

And then there's an actual "open mic" where random people, or bands, can get up and give it a go. I've been at a few where the host band was practically begging people to get up on stage. Some don't even have a host band.

Step one is to figure out if it's a real open mic night or not. It doesn't help to call ahead, because the bar owner will likely be welcoming, but then the band won't let you on stage. You need to talk with the band or stage manager and see what's what.
 

G19Tony

New member
I played a couple songs with the house band on an open mic night at a dive bar in Iowa. I had never heard either song, but kept a good beat and a couple of basic fills. They were complimentary. This was my first time on a stage. I've only been playing for a year. It was fun. Will do again. :)
 

Vandalay

Member
I've been the backline drummer at more than a few open mics, and after reading the original post, the "band" seems to have it backwards. My experience is the person who signed up does songs of THEIR choosing, not the band. The performer if they were experienced, would often say something like "this is a shuffle in G" and off we'd go, others would say the specific song, and hopefully we'd be familiar with it. Bottom line; the musicians on stage (backline) are there for the perfomer, not the other way around. my suggestion? find a different open mic.
 

Channing

Member
This thread is 7 years old. I wonder if OP ever ended up playing an open mic.

As for my experience with OMs, I’ve been to one at some bar downtown once where I was friends with the singer for the house band. They let me play a bunch of songs, at least 4. I was beginner level then and basically I would just start playing a beat and then they would play whatever song they knew that went with it. So we did a 4/4, then a 6/8, then a shuffle, then a double time and a half time. Or something. It was fun. I got a free drink. They weren’t snobby at all but also, yeah I knew one of them.

My latest jam experiences are as the house drummer at a jam. It’s at a hostel, not downtown, but they have a really nice area in the back with a stage, bar, and pool. So I show up with my bandmates and we set up and start playing, sometimes songs we know, sometimes just make something up. Then we announce that it’s an open jam and if anyone wants to play, we let them, regardless of skill level. The only time I’ve ever gotten annoyed with anyone was this guy who used my hot rods and played way too hard with them and broke them. He paid me for them though. We’ve had people play all kinds of stuff and just do our best to follow along. That’s how an open jam should be, I think. In my experience the house band usually can’t wait to hand over to someone else and get off stage for a bit, get a drink or whatever.
 
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