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  1. #1

    Default my first blues jam: a report

    hello everyone!! as a lot of you know, i'm huge into the blues...guys like SRV, albert king, buddy guy, etc. really resonate in my soul. of course, playing the blues is the most fun, but at my age (23) it's tough to find people that are into it. i feel that, especially in this area, most guys my age are into heavier stuff...punk rock and hardcore seem to be the only stuff people want to play. don't get me wrong, i can appreciate and respect those styles, but nothing hits me like the blues.

    anyway, i've been trying to find people in my area (hampton roads virginia) to play this stuff with and up until recently had been unsuccessful. i saw on facebook about a funky blues jam at this bar in hampton (roughly 30 minutes or so from where i live, if you're familiar with the area i'm coming from virginia beach). i decided to check it out last night.

    i got there around 8:25 right before the music started. as i walked up they began to play and i immediately liked what i heard, before i even saw anyone...sounded tight, funky, and grooving. i walk in to see four older black gentlemen wailing away, wearing the traditional blues uniforms...fedora hats and striped short sleeve dress shirts. a single thought occurs in my head: i have arrived.

    i go to the bar and order a whiskey coke and bide my time, listening to the music, chatting up a few people about the event. when the first break starts, i ask the host (a blazing guitarist named jay) how it works. he is very warm and friendly and says i'm welcome to come up for a number. i head out to the car, grab my strat and tune it up, and wait through another few tunes. finally, after another break, i am summoned with a point and a "let's get my man up here" from the host.

    i go up and find that i have to play on a crate solid state amp that i have no prior experience at all with...the cabling system was some type of wireless system that plugs right into a little transmitter thing that you clip onto your belt - a totally new animal for me. as if this wasn't rattling enough, as soon as i put on my guitar, with all eyes on me, my worst fears are realized: the back hole in my strap fails. *CLANK CLANK*. my guitar clatters to the floor as gasps rise up from the crowd. what a great first impression to make on a crowd of expert musicians

    so i plug in and re-tune and we get ready to start. the host is discussing what song they are going to play with the keyboardist. "let's do pick up the pieces!" he says, and everybody happily nods. the next part of the exchange goes like this:

    me: what key is it in?
    host: either E or F. probably F
    me: umm...
    host: alright, everyone ready?
    me (to the keyboard player): what are the changes?
    keyboard player: alright, here we go!

    and with that, the song began. i started off a little bit too loud, and the host gave me a few glares. i did what i could, but another fellow there was nice enough to come and adjust my volume for me while i was playing. i was also feeding back a little bit, but again, on an unfamiliar setup there wasn't much i could do. i settled in and from there, things started going up.

    of course i had heard the song "pick up the pieces" by average white band, but i didn't know it by name. once i listened to the groove (listening! such an underappreciated skill for musicians!) and got in the pocket, i started off just banging on that F note on the third fret of the D string. i tried to lay off as much as possible - we played with an absolutely monstrous sax player (i think herby knows him), who was jamming hard, so i didnt want to step on his toes. finally, i got the nod from the host to take a solo. i laid down a decent ditty - it wasn't awful, but the combination of an unfamiliar setup with people i had just met on a tune i didn't really know kind of held me back from really getting into it. i relied mostly on the old stock minor pent licks that i've been playing since HS.

    after that one ended, i got off because the host wanted to do a soft ballad by himself. for some reason, a couple people said i sounded good and a few people complimented me on my playing. i made sure to go up and thank each of the musicians for letting me play with them, and some of those guys even said i had a good sound, which was flooring to me. the keyboardist (who was absolutely smoking) even said "you need to do that again son!!" which made me feel great.

    i ended up playing a few more with them as well as a couple other guys, and i met a whole bunch of cats that have the same musical tastes as me, mostly older. it's intimidating to play with guys that have been playing their instruments for as long as you've been alive, but it's refreshing to finally become familiar with a group of musicians whose tastes align with mine. they definitely have a jazzier, funkier kind of feel, but it's way closer than anyone i've ever played with before.

    overall, despite some initial setbacks and nervous hiccups, the night was a rousing success. i'm super glad i decided to check it out, and i will definitely be going back there every sunday night that i can. hope you guys get some sort of mild entertainment out of my story and i look forward to hearing your thoughts and similar stories from others.
    "The weirdest thing in the world is that I used to be home alone in my bedroom pretending I was on stage in front of thousands of people, and now I'm on stage in front of thousands of people pretending I'm in my bedroom." - John Mayer

  2. #2

    Default Great Story, great accomplishment to you!

    That was a totally great description and very entertaining. Thanks for taking the time to share your experience and hopefully you'll have been able to transmit some of your enthusiasm to other folks who are also looking to get up on that stage if only they can find where that stage may be. Great going and congratulations to you!
    Enjoy Your Karma, after all you earned it.
    email: gadlaw@gmail.com
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  3. #3
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    Default

    I personally think that palying out forces you to practice harder. At least ti worked that way with me. Sounds like a positive experience.
    now trying to break 1900.

  4. #4

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    Congratulations

    Tip for onstage volume...set the amp to about 12 or 2 o'clock, roll the guitar vol down to zero, then listen to everyone else and bring the vol up on the guitar. This gives the band time to find the groove and you can also sense where your guitar part should sit.

    I tend to leave the vol about 7 on vol control and bring it to full for solos.

    If you are still too quiet, try strinking the strings harder or else up the amp volume.

    Best piece of advice I got was "When in doubt,, leave it out."

    I will be jamming tonight and I might have to sing....doing a tribute to this guy (17 years gone on Thursday)


  5. #5
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    Rajc - great story. It sounds like a very positive atmosphere. I suggest having as much fun as possible ;-) Please post how the next couple of visits go.

    Leedelta - Thanks for sharing the great advice re: amps and volume (and 'leaving it out'). Writing that down for future reference.

    Tim

  6. #6
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    Rajc - Great post and promises for a great thread. I was glad to hear that everything turned out good in the end. I was a bit worried at first. And a very well told tale. I am starting to consider taking the plunge myself so this was a particularly enjoyable tale for me. Please keep us posted... Thansk

    LeeDelta - Great tip and well worth remembering. I hope the tribute to Rory G goes/went well. He was a great player it's a shame he left us so soon.
    ----------------------------------
    Stay tuned

    Chris

  7. #7

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    thanks for all the great responses guys. overall the night DEFINITELY was positive and i'm soo glad i went. JestMe & anyone else considering it: i urge you to check out a local jam by you. as long as you know how to play in a key and stick in a tempo, you have nothing to lose! i'm hoping herby comes through this thread and tells me where more events like this are!!
    "The weirdest thing in the world is that I used to be home alone in my bedroom pretending I was on stage in front of thousands of people, and now I'm on stage in front of thousands of people pretending I'm in my bedroom." - John Mayer

  8. #8

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    Good gig last night. Played Messing with the kid and Off the handle.

    Had to teach the other guitar player player the parts on the fly.

    We were the last band out of 6, so the bandstand was being pulled down as we were playing.

  9. #9

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    That's really cool, Rajc! When are you heading back? It sounds like you had a great time? Any major dings in the strat after dropping it?

  10. #10

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    nah, she's okay..maybe a few scratches but nothing major. that's one of the things i like about strats - they're pretty durable. i'm of the belief that, while i try as hard as possible to protect my guitar, accidents do happen, and scratches and dings just show that you actually play the darn thing, which is what they were made to do.

    i'm hoping they are still gonna have it tomorrow...if so i definitely plan to head out after we do the whole father's day thing with my family. i'll let you guys know how it goes. i wanna hear some more stories/gig experiences! let's get out there and spread the fire!!
    "The weirdest thing in the world is that I used to be home alone in my bedroom pretending I was on stage in front of thousands of people, and now I'm on stage in front of thousands of people pretending I'm in my bedroom." - John Mayer

  11. #11

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    That's cool. Your story has motivated me to look for a jam in my area!

  12. #12
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    Rajc - Did they jam last night? How'd it go? I'm looking forward to hearing about it.
    ----------------------------------
    Stay tuned

    Chris

  13. #13
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    Great story rajc!!!!

    Just getting up in front of folks like that can be so intimidating and is something many players never attempt. I am so much more comfortable playing in my own band than these type of situations, it's a very differnent animal. I have done it probably 5-7 times, if you can get by the initial tremors and gear situations you will be fine. I have found you usually get maybe 3 songs in a row so by the third song you are hitting your stride (with me I always suck on the first song). Then if you play okay you go out and sit in the audience and people compliment you but you are pumped on adrenelin thinking "did I really suck and they are being nice?" It is just a draining experience but so rewarding as well.

    Great job and great report!
    Too soon we grow old, too late we grow wise

    "I once played notes so fast that light emanated from the strings whereupon, I saw God.... who then told me to relax and start playing music."

    "You know, once you've had that guitar up so loud on the stage, where you can lean back and volume will stop you from falling backward, that's a hard drug to kick." David Gilmour

    Truefire Science Officer (dabgonit....where's my blue shirt!)

  14. #14

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    This is always my fear as well with regards to playing anything in front of anyone, wife, friends, teacher, strangers, just give it to me straight please. I know I'm not very good so although I may be my own harshest critic I'm leery of any praise or compliments for this very reason; that it's just someone being nice or offering encouragement. I mean, that's nice and all but I'd just rather have good honest feedback and if need be, constructive criticism. I'm insecure enough to doubt any compliment anyway

  15. #15

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    we absolutely jammed on sunday, and it was even more awesome than last week...this week we did some more straight blues stuff, 12 bar style, and we even ended with a long blues jam in A where everyone just took multiple solos and took turns BSing lyrics. it had to have been around 11:30 when we were getting ready to shut things down...just a great, relaxed time where everyone was having fun and playing for the pure joy of jamming with others. i'm pretty sure i played much better - the host even said to me "you came back with the motor in high gear this week!" and i got some more words of encouragement from the other players, including a hug and a "you a bad man" from the keyboard player who was still, absolutely smoking (in the words of the host "we call him termite, because he digs down deep into the groove and eats at it from the inside"). i'll be there every damn week until this thing either ends or they tell me not to come back!

    JN999 - you raise a great point. i would like to hear other people's thoughts on this, but my opinion is that one of the best things we can do as musicians to combat these "fake compliments" is just develop an objective ear. meaning, record yourself when you play, practice, gig, jam, etc. etc. and keep working on developing our sound to get better. when you can hear yourself play and analyze what you hear, it is much easier to be confident when playing for other people. i have a serious problem with this because i'm pretty much always looking at the negatives in my playing and what i have to improve, but i've learned through the years to also be able to appreciate the knowledge i do have and the guitar technique that i do have. plus, at the end of the day, everyone has their opinions on everything - what should matter to you is your own feelings about your playing and the feelings of people whose advice you truly trust - e.g. a teacher or someone that you know will give you honest criticisms. again, this is just my 2 cents and i wanna hear what others think about this because it's something i've dealt with in the past as well.

    glad to see the relatively high level of activity in this thread - keep it coming guys!!
    "The weirdest thing in the world is that I used to be home alone in my bedroom pretending I was on stage in front of thousands of people, and now I'm on stage in front of thousands of people pretending I'm in my bedroom." - John Mayer

  16. #16
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    Awesome! Now next time you show up buy the house band a round of their choice when you go up on stage. This should soldify your position
    Too soon we grow old, too late we grow wise

    "I once played notes so fast that light emanated from the strings whereupon, I saw God.... who then told me to relax and start playing music."

    "You know, once you've had that guitar up so loud on the stage, where you can lean back and volume will stop you from falling backward, that's a hard drug to kick." David Gilmour

    Truefire Science Officer (dabgonit....where's my blue shirt!)

  17. #17

    Default

    That's a cool line
    Quote Originally Posted by rajc View Post
    (in the words of the host "we call him termite, because he digs down deep into the groove and eats at it from the inside").
    Do they record the jam so you can hear it later? If not, is it feasible to do so? I think there is a line to walk - trying to be objective so you can improve without being so down on yourself that you never pick up the instrument again!

    Quote Originally Posted by rajc View Post
    JN999 - you raise a great point. i would like to hear other people's thoughts on this, but my opinion is that one of the best things we can do as musicians to combat these "fake compliments" is just develop an objective ear. meaning, record yourself when you play, practice, gig, jam, etc. etc. and keep working on developing our sound to get better. when you can hear yourself play and analyze what you hear, it is much easier to be confident when playing for other people. i have a serious problem with this because i'm pretty much always looking at the negatives in my playing and what i have to improve, but i've learned through the years to also be able to appreciate the knowledge i do have and the guitar technique that i do have. plus, at the end of the day, everyone has their opinions on everything - what should matter to you is your own feelings about your playing and the feelings of people whose advice you truly trust - e.g. a teacher or someone that you know will give you honest criticisms. again, this is just my 2 cents and i wanna hear what others think about this because it's something i've dealt with in the past as well.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by zaphod123 View Post
    I think there is a line to walk - trying to be objective so you can improve without being so down on yourself that you never pick up the instrument again!
    EXACTLY!!!!! you hit the nail on the head sir. you have to be able to identify your shortcomings so that you can work on them, BUT, you can't get bogged down by them. IMO pretty much every guitarist, even professional ones, have things that they need to get better at.

    in the documentary "Rattle and Hum" you can see BB king telling Bono that he's not good at playing chords, and Bono tells him that he will have The Edge play the chords in the song they are doing. i just finished reading Buddy Guy's new autobiography, and he talks about how nervous he was when he first started out playing because he couldn't read sheet music and still can't. Jimi Hendrix used to say in interviews how he wished he could take some time off from his exhaustive touring schedule to go to school and study music theory. there's tons more examples if you look for them.

    these guys are guitar TITANS that have influenced millions of players, yet they will readily admit the things they can't do. in my opinion the reason they are successful is because they have been able to come to terms with these shortcomings while embracing the things that they do well, just like each of us should do. i struggle with this a lot myself, but i'm learning to get better and better at it as time goes on.
    "The weirdest thing in the world is that I used to be home alone in my bedroom pretending I was on stage in front of thousands of people, and now I'm on stage in front of thousands of people pretending I'm in my bedroom." - John Mayer

  19. #19

    Default

    Cool story...good find for a place to go back to.

    I thought 'pick up the pieces' was making light of the 'droppe-d Strat', so the part about it being the AWB song caught me off guard!

    There was a local place near me that had blues but they've changed their name & I don't know what they do there now. I heard one good blues band there from Chicago, but I also got a really bad taste in my ears for...bands with the word Mojo in their name...they were all obese too...excuse me, amigos. 'gordo' is what you meant to say, not mojo, right?

    Well, I hope I didn't just alienate half my Truefire family...
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  20. #20
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    Enjoying reading about your adventures in jamming raj s'got me thinking I should make the effort and get out and play again or at least find another musician to play in real time with it's been a few years. Note to self, "get out a bit more."

    And as for dropping the Strat that's a pre-requirement for a road warrior...must say I do like that dragged 'round the parking lot Strat chic of JV



    H
    Last edited by Hutch82; 06-24-2012 at 04:13 AM.
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  21. #21

    Default wireless at jam sites

    This has me thinking a couple things...

    Wireless plug-in for guests;

    1) Reduces or eliminates shock hazard risk for a guest with an 'improperly grounded' guitar. (Of course if they care about liability, they already know the venue and amps are safe.)

    2) Isolates guest guitar from other unknown wiring anomalies.

    3) I'm hoping someone else can comment on this - what does wireless do for hum-prone single coil guitars? Anything?
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  22. #22

    Cool Fuse links

    Interesting technical issue about grounding of equipment at an open mike sort of venue.

    Taylor was working on a feature for their guitars that involved a low amp fuse link that would break the circuit and keep a player safe if his guitar was subjected to a foreign electric flow or a surge. They said if it developed they would give it to other guitar manufacturers free of charge so that all electrics could be equipped to protect their players. Have not heard anything about it in over a year now.

    Cool report, rajc!
    Studying in Jeff Beasley's Sherpa Class, Shred Warehouse! Alumni of Steve Lasner's Bar Room Blues Workshop! Proverbs 17:22 says "A cheerful heart is good medicine..." So I must be overdosing. "I am slowly puttering along the way to becoming the world's best guitar player."

  23. #23

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    I tried grounding one guitar through a capacitor rather than directly with a wire. I used the assumption that GFCI's limit ground fault current to 5 mA RMS, and selected a capacitor whose impedance at 60 Hz (with a line voltage of 120 Vac due to a hot/neutral reversal) would limit current to no more than 5 mA RMS. That comes out to 0.11 uF. I used a 0.1 uF 275 vac line rated safety capacitor because I had one, it fit on that Strat-clone and it satisfied my paranoia.

    On that particular guitar it was quiet. I don't know if that would be true under every circumstance, and I jumpered across the capacitor when I had the frets leveled in case the luthier felt the need to open the back to solve the 'open' ground as measured by an ohmmeter...and I forgot to change it back.

    This is not my idea...there is an article on the topic on...I think Guitar Nutz or Guitar Noise...I forget.
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