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Jam session unwritten rules

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by Roger Axetrample, May 23, 2011.

  1. Roger Axetrample

    Roger Axetrample Member

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    Hey guys,

    after a nice after-hours rock/funk jam session yesterday, with some guy making a complete fool out of himself, i've written down what i think are some elementary rules of conduct, the do's and don't of playing in a jam session:
    http://www.guitarhow.com/50-jam-session-unwritten-rules-etiquette.html

    This matters to me because i think the jam session is one of the greatest situations for getting together with other musicians in a spontaneous and unexpected way.
    Roger
     
  2. mannish

    mannish Member

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    I think the key to a good jam is a good host. I did it for years and you have to run the jam it will not run its self. That is the main problem I see at jams, it becomes a free for all. No one appears to be in charge. In retrospect I worked way too hard at making the jams go well. They went well but I worked my butt off, it's like working with kindergarten kids

    a bad jam only happens when there is a bad host, PERIOD
     
  3. Bobby D

    Bobby D Member

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    this is on the wall at the Carribean Club - Key Largo FL


    [​IMG]
     
  4. Lance

    Lance Member

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    So...let's hear about the guy making a fool out of himself. Those are always much more interesting stories.
     
  5. Freeman

    Freeman Supporting Member

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    I've hosted several Gear Page Gear Geek Jams.... and my #1 rule is only 2 guitars playing at a time. If not ; it doesn't take long for the train wreck to happen. Some players didn't like playing by the rules, so I encouraged them to throw their own jam. Its fun but it is a lot of work too. I agree 100% with mannish. Jams do not run themselves. It is alot of work but a blast at the same time.
     
  6. stevieboy

    stevieboy Clouds yell at me Silver Supporting Member

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    It's all in the a through f at the beginning of the blog the OP posted, which to me are simple common sense, as well as common courtesy. And, as mannish says, a hands on host. He doesn't have to be a dictator, just manage what's going on with the intention that everyone is there to have a good time.
     
  7. Peteyvee

    Peteyvee Premium Platinum Member

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    I like rule # 7. :munch Of course, there's always the other side of the coin:
    "There are always older pros who can play the roof off the house while being completely wasted, but leave it to them. That also takes experience to be able to do."

    That's taken directly from the OP's article and while it can be done (take it from me), please don't do it!
     
  8. stratocat63

    stratocat63 Member

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    I think, being the host or in the host band, it's crucial to help the people sitting in.

    Most of the time that means being totally non competitive. It's not about "me". That's hard to do a lot of times.
     
  9. Roger Axetrample

    Roger Axetrample Member

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    "Stage time is reserved for real musicians, who can actually play"
    LOL, so direct!!
    thanks,
    Roger
     
  10. Roger Axetrample

    Roger Axetrample Member

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    Hey,
    ok, here goes.
    The jam starts. I go on stage, a bass player and a drummer go on too.
    Then this guy jumps on and starts introducing a lady singer friend of his.
    He then proceeds to tell us that this is just him and the singer. We object and he says do you know this Oleta Adams tune? We say we don't know it. I tell him to play and we'll join in, going by ear. He says, NO, because this one is tricky! I tell him to just go on and play it. He starts playing the piano and the girl sings. We join in, easy song, easy changes. He's LOUDLY yelling the upcoming root at the bass player, each bar.

    It's a Bb major ballad.
    After it's done, he tells us: 'But this time it's just me and the singer!'
    We let him. So, he plays another ballad, with the girl singer, in Bb major, same tempo!!!
    After the ballad, he starts introducing some more, but i start a loud funk vamp and he hurriedly leaves the stage.
    A different piano player joins in and we play and finish the funk tune.

    After the funk tune, the fool guy comes back, tells the piano player to leave because he JUST HAS to do a number with his friend, this time a guy singer. The second piano player, an insecure, nice guy who was on stage for about 3 minutes total, is flabbergasted and leaves.
    They play another ballad, and the fool piano player yells the roots at the bass player again. He also wildly waves his arms to cue breaks at the wrong moments...
    After the song he wants to play some more but the opening band tells everyone to move off because they're closing. He objects but finally goes away. The band ask me to play the final tune with them.

    What a moron.
    R
     
  11. picnic

    picnic Member

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    I've hosted 9 jams over the last 5 years based out of another forum. Players coming in from 5-6 states and lots of local friends sign up in advance for approx 50-55 songs we pick out. Nice bunch of people with all egos checked at the door. Very supportive group. It's a big group of players, so we limit each song to 4 guitars, 1 bass, 1 keyboard, 2 drummers and anyone can sing backup if they want

    Basic rules I have found to work.

    1x12's 30-40 watt max. We like to show off our toys, but don't go overboard

    Songs chosen are well known, relatively easy with strong vocals. Last jam had several Motown girl songs on list to let some of our regular female singers star.
    Guitar oriented, but we have done stuff with horn sections.

    Volume police have to be tough. Volume knobs move in both directions

    Organized song list keeps the day on track and moving. Not much dead air. Lots of copies of the song list on tables so you know when you are up next.

    Players are generous with bringing PA, drumkits, percussion and support gear. More people to make things happen brings a bond to the jam.

    Reaction to these jams has been 110% positive and are more than worth the effort
     
  12. Tom Gross

    Tom Gross Silver Supporting Member

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    A key thing I have learned is to encourage all the guitarists turn the volume down when not soloing. This allows the soloist to be heard, and helps avoid the volume "arms race" which causes the whole thing to get so loud. Telling guitarists "turn up when you solo, turn down immediatly after" is easier to enforce.
     
  13. Tom Gross

    Tom Gross Silver Supporting Member

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    I was gonna make a comment/joke about harp players, but decided not to.
     
  14. mannish

    mannish Member

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    The host should have stopped that from the git go. I never let let 1 or 2 people have the stage. It is a JAM not an open mic. I am not sitting down 3 or 4 people so you can do your duo/solo thing. Go find an open mic.
    Jams TO ME are about music socialization & brotherhood it's not about impressing someone or showcasing your talent - find an open mic or get a gig if that's what you wanna do. Jams are not the place for that

     
  15. alberob

    alberob Member

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    I have two rules posted in my home studio where we have been having Jams for over 20 years. Rule 1-Tune up or die. Rule 2- You have got to F***ing Listen. The unwritten rule is to be kind to the novices trying to jam, because we all sucked at one time or another.:bounce
     
  16. Roger Axetrample

    Roger Axetrample Member

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    Hi Alberob,

    thanks for the two important rules, i forgot those so i've put them in!
    Roger
     

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