Re: [Harp-L] Players don't participate

On May 4, 2010, at 10:58 AM, Bill Kumpe wrote:

Looking for some input. Why would good musicians regularly attend a jam but
never bring their instruments or participate?

Bill Kumpe
Tulsa, OK

It all comes down to something I have been preaching for years...In a word...Comfortability.

Ok, I don't know how this works for anyone else, but I'll share a few scenarios. Here in S.W Fla. we have a lot of older retired musicians (singers). Some music teachers and professors, some from big bands, some from Ringling Bros., some from Broadway. Youngsters fro the Edison school of music. A nice assortment of talent.

Scenario: There's a restaurant. Up until Haloween, everything is slow, and then takes off with the snowbirds arrival. Things are fine until the New Year. Thats when the father of the owners comes south and takes over the place. He has his own night where he and his kiss asses play. Then another night where special invited guests appear (by HIM). There are 2 nights of just pyano and then Sunday is jam night.

So this guy persists in ruining jam night by taking that over too. With little phrases like "I'll call you when I want you", or "I'll make you a star". I have seen good musicians sit through TWO sets without playing. They usually leave and never return. If they DO return, it's usually with their wife or girlfriend, they have dinner and some wine and then leave. After all the pyano player IS very good :) They probably carry their axes but because they weren't given an opportunity to 'swing', they don't bring them to the woodpile again. The father leaves after Easter BUT by that time, we're back into slow season.

Scenario: It isn't unusual for a plethora of sax players to show up at a jam. Now I don't know about you, but three or even FOUR solos with sax after sax can start to mold my eardrums. I like to play between them to break up that situation. Now 2 of these guys are very very good. One is better than Boney James (a local Sarasota boy), and at least as good as David Sanborn. The other is better than ANYone. Unfortunately they won't stop. They will solo for 6-9 minutes. Hogging the spotlight.

The jam leaders are usually quick to criticize others to keep them in line but ass kiss these two. This turns other people off, and they quit coming. If they DO come back, it's usually with their wife or girlfriend, they have something to eat and leave. They probably have their axes in their cars.

Scenario: The wait staff is unfriendly. Now no one is asking them to be all bubbly, but they act like they hate being there.
Scenario: The management is unfriendly. Constant little complaints about this..and that. OR control freaking.
Scenario: Some players feel that if they are there playing for nothing, the least the establishment can do is front them a beer or two. Since a lot of these places are not cheap, the players think that the establishment can get along without them. I know a wonderful pyano player who, when asked by a waitress if she could get him anything, he replied "A cup of coffee please". When he was packing up for the evening, he was handed a bill for $5.oo. He quit the gig. On principal.
Scenario: The clientele is unfriendly. NO one is paying attention to the music, everyone is yelling/laughing, and they can't wait till the T.V volume is turned back on OR the crummy music on the jukebox.

Disclaimer: I'm not having too much of a problem because I am something of an oddity. I am the only chromo player who is making the rounds. I also can play pop tunes on diatonic, which most are surprised at. Since MY sound is different from the steady stream of guitars and saxs, I get by.

I generally check out a new place and if I get any negative waves, I leave my harps in the Jeep. Most of the guys I know down here do the same. Some of us go somewhere for the music, but won't play there because of one of the aforementioned scenarios.


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