#1
There is a venue nearby that is looking for a band to host their weekly jam night. I figured this could be a fun experience, as well as a steady gig. $200 a night for four hours. Now, I do have a few questions about these events:

1. I'm assuming most people are going to want a blues-based jam. How do you host a blues jam without sounding too repetitive? As far as I'm aware, the most common jam is the 12-bar blues, but four hours of the same chord progression? That doesn't sound too fun to me. But I'm afraid if we do something else, other people might be deterred from joining in.

2. Kind of leading in from the previous, should we have a set of songs planned to play? If they are common songs, I could see it being easier for other people to join in. However, that isolates the people who don't know the songs. How do you handle this?

3. There's always the issue of unruly musicians, or musicians that are just really bad or really out of tune. I would like to keep a friendly atmosphere, but I want the audience to enjoy it, as well. How do you deal with these people, without feeling like an asshole?

4. Would it be a good idea to "seed" the gig? For example, when busking, it is customary to put some "seed money" into the jar/case/hat, because people are more inclined to put money in there if there is already a little bit there, for some reason. Would the same principle apply to this? Should we invite people to come early and start off the gig with something more than a three-person jam?

There's no guarantee we would even get this gig, but I want to know what I'm getting myself into before I even e-mail the venue in question. It could just be too good to be true, in which case I'd rather not hassle myself with it.
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Quote by MuffinMan
Jesus was all like "To those about to rock, I salute you." then he grabbed his mighty axe and rocked the Romans out really hard. Of course they were strict classical music so....
#2
If I was booking a "house band" to host my "jam night", I would expect it to look something like this...

1. House band gets up and plays a set. A sign up sheet is passed around and made available at a location near the stage. By playing a set full of songs that everybody knows, potential jammers are given the sense that they'll be able to fit in and play something with a reasonable expectation that the house band will be able to provide the support they need.

2. Break.

3. Starting with maybe one more song with the house band, the sign up list is taken (first come, first served.... people *hate* it when they show up early, sign up, and then never get to play because only friends of the house band got called up) and people are called up. Because the house band knows a ton of songs (probably about 60-ish or so, with at least half of them from the last 15 years) that fall into that category of "songs everybody knows" it is easy to find something that the players know that the band does too.

That's what I would expect anyways.....

CT
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#3
If your playing well as band then someone who cant play comes up to jam with you and you sound shit the audience arent going to mark you down for it as its obviously not you best thing to do just take it smiling keep going dont slow down and the audience might respect you for being cool with it.
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#4
I've been to a couple of jam nights and I'd say the best way to do it would be to:

Ask around before the show for people who are wanting to play (if you're doing a "we'll supply the gear" thing, if you ask them to bring an instrument you'll be able to tell!).

Play a couple with your band, then get other people up to jam. Usually it will be a 12-bar blues or a slow blues kinda thing, but also do things like a II-V-I jazz progression too to mix it up in case you get sick of blues!
Also I'd learn some popular cover tunes, like some Hendrix numbers, suff like Black Magic Woman, some Led Zep, AC/DC that sort of stuff cos there's a chance a lot of people would like to do that stuff.

Anyway, if there are ass-hole musicians, just get through one song with 'em and act as if you're on a tight schedule and don't let 'em back on.

And yeah, definiately invite friends or musicians you know to come and have a jam, that's what it is, a jam!
It's always best to have some regulars who get up to jam every time you play, as well as the people who just turn up.

Just make sure you and your band have a good amount of variations on the regular ol' 12-bar and slow blues progressions as well as a few other common rock/blues/maybe jazz progressions, and some other popular cover songs.
Make sure you're ready for anything that'll hit you, cos if you, for example get a young musician who doesn't know too much about jamming on progressions, you could always just jam on an AC/DC track or something.
#5
Thanks for the responses so far. They've really helped me get an idea of what I might be in for.

@Chris: I figured that would probably be the best way to organize it. Pretty much how your normal open mic is set up. I'm not sure about the whole "last 15 years" bit, though, simply because classic rock seems to be the prominent style around here, but I do agree that it is important to have a mix of old and new songs ready.

@Mr.DeadDuck: Of course we're able to use common sense, but I wasn't sure how much common sense your average middle-aged drunk would have.

@Punk_Ninja: I wasn't sure how many people would be able to play your average jazz progression, but I'm sure there will be a few of them. I live in an area dominated by a classic rock cover scene. We already have some Hendrix, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, and other classic rock favorites ready, so that won't be an issue.
My guitar modification blog.
Quote by MuffinMan
Jesus was all like "To those about to rock, I salute you." then he grabbed his mighty axe and rocked the Romans out really hard. Of course they were strict classical music so....
#6
I think it would be a good idea to provide lead and lyric sheets too, for a bit of refresher on the chords, and if anyone wants to do a karaoke-type thing.
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#7
Quote by Black Star
There is a venue nearby that is looking for a band to host their weekly jam night. I figured this could be a fun experience, as well as a steady gig. $200 a night for four hours. Now, I do have a few questions about these events:

1. I'm assuming most people are going to want a blues-based jam. How do you host a blues jam without sounding too repetitive? As far as I'm aware, the most common jam is the 12-bar blues, but four hours of the same chord progression? That doesn't sound too fun to me. But I'm afraid if we do something else, other people might be deterred from joining in.

2. Kind of leading in from the previous, should we have a set of songs planned to play? If they are common songs, I could see it being easier for other people to join in. However, that isolates the people who don't know the songs. How do you handle this?

3. There's always the issue of unruly musicians, or musicians that are just really bad or really out of tune. I would like to keep a friendly atmosphere, but I want the audience to enjoy it, as well. How do you deal with these people, without feeling like an asshole?

4. Would it be a good idea to "seed" the gig? For example, when busking, it is customary to put some "seed money" into the jar/case/hat, because people are more inclined to put money in there if there is already a little bit there, for some reason. Would the same principle apply to this? Should we invite people to come early and start off the gig with something more than a three-person jam?

There's no guarantee we would even get this gig, but I want to know what I'm getting myself into before I even e-mail the venue in question. It could just be too good to be true, in which case I'd rather not hassle myself with it.



We've been hosting a weekly jam for over two years (along with a few other similar things) and it's been the steadiest source of income I've ever had.

A few points:

- You need to be very good musicians, and have plenty of confidence. Nothing worse than great musicinas turning up only to be let down because the house band are crap, or can't figure out anything to play.

- Make sure you've got a solid blues/rock set of at least 25-30 songs. If it's a more rock-oriented jam, you need to know at least a few of the most popular tunes from from Hendrix, Zep, Floyd, Skynyrd, GnR, Free/Bad Co etc, as well as some blues and more modern stuff.
If it's more of a blues night, you need to know plenty 'standards' inside out.
Either way, you need to be damn good at blagging tunes and adapting on the fly.

- Don't skimp on gear. I've been to 'rock' jams where they provide an ultra-basic drum kit (no toms, one cymbal etc), one guitar amp, and one microphone. That's not suitable for anything beyond basic blues and jazz and will cancel out a lot of people straight away. Make sure you've got enough mics and amps to cater for medium-sized (4-5 piece) bands.

- Crap/unruly/drunk musicians are less of a problem than you might think. We wrote up and printed a sheet of official 'jam rules' which has covered
These aren't really there to be followed or seen in the whole, but it means if you get someone uncooperative or unruly you can whip them the 'rulebook' - so they don't think you've got something against them in particular. If it all goes to shit and someone gets nasty it's the bar's job to deal with that.

Obviously every venue is different, but these are a few things I've picked up from hosting 'open mic' kinda stuff. If you get the gig, be sure to come back on here and we'll help you plan it!


EDIT: Also, after trial and error we decided the 'write your name in the book' method is by the far the best for organising who's jamming. It's much easier to keep track of what's going on, and less awkward for people who want to get up.
Last edited by kyle62 at Jun 26, 2010,
#8
Quote by Black Star
@Punk_Ninja: I wasn't sure how many people would be able to play your average jazz progression, but I'm sure there will be a few of them. I live in an area dominated by a classic rock cover scene. We already have some Hendrix, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, and other classic rock favorites ready, so that won't be an issue.


Well it's just a II-V-I, very simple!
Just practice up on that sort of basic jam "standard" in case.
#9
Know this is a couple days old but this thread was really helpful. thanks again UG
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