Re: Why not just call them "Guitar Jams"

Regarding getting no respect at jams fturina@xxxxxxx writes: <snip>

> I'm not just writing to whine. I won't go back there, but  I love playing 
> and I'm not going to quit.  My question is how do more experienced players 
> deal with the situation?  How can I "cut my chops" on the Harp?  And Does 
> anyone know of a harp-friendly jam in Denver?

I don't know about Denver but I've been to some pretty brutal ones in 
Chicago. It can be tough, but at any jam you want to be able to have some control 
over what's happening on stage. One way to do that: Be a singer and band leader 
as well as harp player. When you sign the jam sheet don't just write 
"harmonica" next to your name, write VOCALS and harmonica. It gets noticed. Be prepared 
to get up on stage and call out the tune. "OK guys, shuffle in E from the top. 
Ready? One, two, three....." It's much easier to take control of a jam (and 
command some respect) when you're singing and calling the shots, even if it's 
only for one song. Easier said than done? Yes. The solution is practice. Get 
some jam trax, find a tune you can handle, practice the hell out of it at home 
and be ready to perform it when you hit the jam. It doesn't hurt to get to know 
the person hosting the jam either. Buy them a beer (only a small bribe). Let 
him/her know that you have a tune you want to do and that you're going to 
front the band.

Another thing you can do is to partner up with a guitarist, work out some 
tunes in advance with him/her, and call those tunes at the jam. You'll already 
have musical rapport when you hit the jam together and that should translate 
into some level of cooperation from the other players. (BTW, If you don't sing 
make sure your guitarist does). 

And oh yeah, I mention this only as a generalization and realize that it may 
not apply to you in particular, but even though it's only a jam it doesn't 
hurt to dress up a little. Got black slacks instead of blue jeans? Wear them. 
Ditch the t-shirt and wear that cool shirt with the collar that's been sitting in 
your closet. Remember you're fronting the band. Make your mama proud. 

None of this will protect you from the dreaded Jam-Hack, be they guitarist, 
drummer or (yes) harp player. When you meet the hack, all you can do is grin 
and bear it and get off the stage as quickly as possible. Bottom line: Jams can 
be a crap shoot but when you hit one, be prepared to perform and act like a 
pro. Hope that helps.


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