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

Richard Hunter rhunter377@xxxxx
Fri Jul 21 09:36:47 EDT 2017

Tin Lizzie wrote:
<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.

Solid jam protocol on display in that post.  Certainly you made the best of
a bad situation, and everyone involved knows that you're a team player.
Can't hurt for next time.  And oh, yeah, "full-of-herself (or himself)" is
practically a required qualifier to "vocalist."

If you've done this specific jam X number of times and never had that kind
of problem before, I'd ask what changed.  Surely not just the volume of the
band?  Somebody did something to the mic channel on the PA to induce
feedback.  Too much treble in the mix?  Too much reverb?  Too much gain on
the input?  Whatever it is, you need to know what the channel looks like
when it's not feeding back, so you can make sure you get those settings
every time.  And of course, make sure you're positioned on the stage behind
the PA speakers, etc. etc.

The only other comment I can offer is that an Audix Fireball V is the most
feedback-proof mic I know of, and I generally make sure that I have one in
my kit before I go to a jam.  Might help.

Regards, Richard Hunter

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