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How does an open mic blues jam usually work?

Keef Wichards

Member
Messages
293
Hey all,

I want to find some sort of jam where you can just show up with your guitar and play the blues with other people, and I was wondering if this is what an open mic blues jam is. Are they usually like that, or do I need to have an entire band ready and I get a time slot to play with them? If it is like the former, does anyone know any in the central Mass area, maybe worcester or west of Boston area?

Thanks!
 

amstrtatnut

Member
Messages
12,698
Usually you show up early to sign up for a slot of about 20 minutes. Often bass players and drummers play multiple sets. Guitarists are usually 2 or 3 to a set one solo each per song.

Some jams have a backline. Some dont.

If they are well run its a great way to meet others.
 
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smolder

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
14,393
I'm always hesitant to go to these. Im a hack that's been back playing for eight years. I feel like there are just so many great blues guitarist... And I don't sing.
 

amstrtatnut

Member
Messages
12,698
I'm always hesitant to go to these. Im a hack that's been back playing for eight years. I feel like there are just so many great blues guitarist... And I don't sing.
Go and watch then. You may see that you fit right in.

Its fun and gor the most part egos dont come up much.
 

Astronaut FX

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
7,846
I'm always hesitant to go to these. Im a hack that's been back playing for eight years. I feel like there are just so many great blues guitarist... And I don't sing.
Go for it, what's the worst that can happen? I'm sure to get strung up for this opinion, but with a blues open jam session, it's a fairly low risk endeavor. There are so many blues players out there ... yes, it's a genre that you have to be really, really good in order to stand out. But at the same time, it's a straight ahead enough genre that you have to really, really suck to not be able to muddle through a couple of tunes.
 

Turi

Member
Messages
9,485
In A.
Bend the high E 10 to 12, hit the 10, the 8, then the 8 on the B string.

That's how a blues jam works.


Nah but seriously I'd love to hit a blues jam, used to think there could nothing worse but I think I'd love one now that I'm more into it.

I'd imagine you just kinda rock up and tear it up for a few songs then kick back with a drink while other dudes are rippin' it up.
I'd totally just steal everyones licks.
 

sixty2strat

Member
Messages
11,848
or you get the one where there are 5 or 6 regular groups who play the same 3 songs every week. So you sit for 2 hours bored out of your mind hoping the occasional hip player shows up. Then you get sent up with who ever is left, ie the guys no one wants to use or the house guys who are worn out and offer little to no effort or support and don't know anything you suggest so call out hey joe. Finally gave up then ran across 2 that were more Jazz but rock is cool. Got to play superstition with guys who it know and had a clavinet sample of their digital hammond . You might have to find one with the right vibe where you fit, and POLTICS are there 80% of the time.

Not singing puts you at the mercy of who is there.
 
Messages
5,196
From 1999 to 2004 and from 2007 until a couple weeks ago I was the guitar player in bands that hosted weekly jams. I am a regularly working musician who hosts jams early in the week. Most of the musicians that play in the host bands that I work with are also regularly working musicians. Sixty2strat speaks of getting up with "house guys who are worn out". This does not happen at the jams I host. We are very used to playing three to five hour gigs on a regular basis. Individual members of the host band play throughout the night as needed.

We have a list for musicians to sign as they come in. If you sign the list you will get to play. If you are one of the first few people to sign the list there is a pretty good possibility that you might get called up to play a second set later in the night. Also, if you play multiple instruments and bring them and/or if you sing you might get up a second or third time. The host band plays three or four tunes before we start calling people up. Each set is three tunes up to about twenty minutes. We basically put new bands together for each set from the names and instruments on the list. The host band provides the PA, drums, and amplifiers. I usually bring one amplifier but occasionally bring two. But you can use your own amplifier if you want to.

One thing I, and the band that I am playing with that is hosting, try to do is to put more skilled, experienced, and versatile players up at the same time as less skilled, experienced, and versatile players. We might sometimes also choose musicians for a set based on the kinds of tunes the singer will be singing. We might also get bass players and drummers who work well together up at the same time. But we sometimes experiment and put interesting combinations of cats together.
 

paulbearer

Member
Messages
5,463
http://www.bostonblues.com/jams.php

Have fun.
Looks like a few. Call the places to see if they still happen, as they can be inconsistent.
If they're close, stop by one week and observe the drill.
If you're very new, meet the guy who runs the list, etc and let him know and he'll probably weave you in at the right time, with the right tune.

"Hawt Shawtz" in colorful "Lemminsta" might be your closest.

*And NO Mustang Sally.
 
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zztomato

Senior Member
Messages
11,394
Go to a few first and see how it works. I host a local jam occasionally that is run a bit more loosely than some. It's not quite a democracy. There are quite a few regulars that are good players and they tend to be up longer and some will just sit in for a set. There's sort of a list but if you are not that good yet, you'll probably only get one or two songs toward the end of the second set- maybe even the third. It's well attended - one of the best nights of the week- and we don't want to make the patrons suffer.
 

gw247

Member
Messages
155
You should learn to improvise on the I IV V blues songs, such as this one played late at The Memphis Blues Society featuring Eric Gales and Josh Roberts...........bring your $5.
 

bgmacaw

Member
Messages
8,083
It depends a lot on who's running it and the egos involved.

A good one keeps the participants and the audience entertained. There's a variety of styles, songs and musicians. Turns are fairly coordinated. House musicians, if there are any, do a good job. The best ones I went to had members of bands swapping duties on all positions, not just guitar.

A bad one is a lengthy SRV wank-fest with players with Texas sized egos to match. Don't show up with anything less than "blooze approved" gear and you have to have "the look".
 

Yer Blues

Member
Messages
8,686
Usually you wait for an hour or so to play and then get up with one other guitarist who does not know how to comp with a 7th or 9th chord, a drummer who changes the beat 6 bars in, and a solid bassist. Once they other guitarist finishes up his solo and you finally an opportunity to play the cool Albert King licks you have been working on a harmonica player jumps up and plays over everything. You quickly concede and go back to your funky 9th chords because playing along with the harmonica guy is like two people having a conversation and talking at the same time.

... just kidding.
 
Messages
7,602
You should learn to improvise on the I IV V blues songs...
Kind of would be a prerequisite for participating in a blues jam! ;)

What I find odd is when people only seem to know 'specific' blues songs. There was a good jam here about 10 years ago, nice hosts, let everyone play no matter their skill, etc. but there was this one Stevie Ray Vaughanabe who would play his, well, SRV songs every week. But if he was on stage with othere folks who played different blues tunes he was lost. Wierd....
 

TheoDog

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
19,877
Here's my view from my experience in my region.

A Blues Jam is an opportunity to get on stage and join in some blues standards and collaborate with musicians you don't normally play with. Full band type setup, excessive pedal boards are frowned upon

An Open Mic is an event designed for artists to showcase new and/or original material to follow musicians/writers. Typically small acoustic combos.

Both usually have a signup format led by a host.

With a Blues Jam, I recommend visiting once or twice without planning to join, just to get an idea of the list of standard tunes in rotation and to meet some friendly faces.

In both cases, it is polite to stay through several other participants before and after your designated time slot. It really is more about the collaboration than it is purely about the music (if that makes sense).
 

TheoDog

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
19,877
Kind of would be a prerequisite for participating in a blues jam! ;)

What I find odd is when people only seem to know 'specific' blues songs. There was a good jam here about 10 years ago, nice hosts, let everyone play no matter their skill, etc. but there was this one Stevie Ray Vaughanabe who would play his, well, SRV songs every week. But if he was on stage with othere folks who played different blues tunes he was lost. Wierd....
I remember that guy! …Wait, I've never been to N.C.
 

stratotastic

Senior Member
Messages
7,240
Be prepared to endure a number of insufferable propositions from the pipe dream guys who want to start a band to play Yes and Rush tunes because "people would dig that shіt, maaaaaan!"
 




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