[Harp-L] A Learning Opportunity at the Open Blues Jam

Tin Lizzie TrackHarpL@xxxxx
Thu Jul 20 17:35:59 EDT 2017

This post is for players who are new(-ish) to the open blues jam scene.  (And this post is not for players who front or are in a band and/or have the benefit of lots of amplification gear and time for extended sound checks before the real music begins.)

Last night I went to my local blues jam.  I plug my mic straight into the PA (with the host band’s permission), because speed of set-up and take-down is highly valued:  Plug in, play, unplug, sit down.

For whatever reason, last night I couldn’t get much volume at all without huge feedback shrieks, and the rather-full-of-herself vocalist glared at me, said, “I think that’s you," and asked me to turn it down, which I took to mean, “Please stop trying to get more volume without all that nasty feedback.”  I’ve been doing this long enough to know that sometimes it’s best to just resign myself to being a contender for the “Good Sportsmanship” award.  So, I did.  This time.

The vocalist did give me the nod to take a couple of solo choruses, but I could barely hear myself play, and knew full well that neither of my two fans in the bar couldn’t hear me play, either.  By the third song of the 3-song set, I gave up and opted not to take solo at all.  (Note, newbies, when you do that, be a good sport and stay up on stage, look around, smile, bop to the music, be a part of the band even if you aren’t adding to the overall noise level.)

It was frustrating.  Not the end of the earth, there will be other chances, BUT:  Next time this happens, I plan to politely explain to the vocalist that if the harp can’t go any louder (without feedback), then I need the band to be softer, and  *politely*  ask the vocalist to please signal the band to bring the volume down during my turn to solo.  The rest of the time, well, I’m content to “be the one they want to hear more of.”  And, of course, never play while the vocalist is singing.

Tin Lizzie

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