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Re: What happens when your gig turns into a jam? (Long)

6/15/2003 3:18 PM
bob predaina Re: What happens when your gig turns into a jam? (Long)
i'm no longer the most seasoned working musician, as i quit gigging years ago. when i did play semi-professionally on the lounge circuit i learned some of the basic etiquette that goes along with sitting in among the local jazz musicians, and i hope my ideas will still be helpfull, even though they may be a bit dated.  
"sitting in" is a courtesy among professionals. its an invitational thing. generally, your performance on your first "sit in" will set the tone for whether you *ever* get extended the courtesy again. if you sit in and its a good experience, you will likely be offered an opportunity to it again. if you sit in and things go badly, you don't get asked to sit in again.  
your bass player really needs to understand this -- if *anything* goes wrong, HE is responsible, the offending party gets permanently cut-off, and there's no second chance. if there's any aspect of his playing or behavior that's not up to par, it reflects badly on everyone in the band, and the reputation of the band shouldn't be subjected to impact by outsiders.  
when someone is offered the chance to sit in, its customary to have rules that they have to live by. reasonable rules would include:  
1. the time period for the guest's performance will be set to an agreed number of songs *BEFORE* he starts to play. this number is not subject to revision once he starts playing, and once his time is up, he quietly moves off stage.  
2. the guest will only play songs that are well-rehearsed and are on the band's playlist. optimally, the guest should have rehearsed with the band if you're not sight-reading off of written arrangements, fake books, etc. -- this controls the flow of the song, how many verses will be played, etc., and helps to avoid the problems of having the song go to too long, not having everyone finish on the same beat, etc.  
3. NOBODY sits in if they've been drinking too much. if they flub the first song, the rest of their time onstage gets cancelled.  
4. the person being replaced remains in control, and can kick the guest off stage at any time without reason. optimally, anyone in the band should have the power to terminate the sit-in without having to offer an explanation why.  
5. nobody is *required* to let anyone else play their instrument. period. that type of policy helps to avoid the kinds of problems that ensue when people don't give other people's instruments the appropriate level of respect. (in most of the chicago blues clubs, a guitarist who sits in has to bring his own axe, and plugs into a house amp.)  
6. whenever possible, offer the guest a chance to play along side of the rest of the band, without giving them the opportunity to replace one of the band members. this avoids the problem of having the audience think that you've been replaced, it keeps your instrument in your hands, and it makes it easy to elbow the guest off-stage if the need should arise.  
these are some fairly common rules that get used by gigging musicians. they were especially important when i was playing out with a jazz act, as the music can become fairly free form. we had clear ground rules in order to prevent some of these kinds of problems. i hope that they may be helpful to you, and that you don't run into similar problems in the future.  
remember, if all else fails, you can always pull the plug if your guest gets out of line, or if necessary you can have the bouncers get rid of him for you. lots of bouncers are familiar with the problem. your band mates should be too.  
6/15/2003 4:04 PM
Le Basseur
Thanks,Bob,for this real "Codex of Good Manners" you just wrote!  
I couldn't formulate it better!
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6/16/2003 5:34 AM

Next time, find another bass player to take and get up and jam with you.. and see how the bass player feels to be replaced and have someone slobering on his guitar.. Usually if someone is asked to get up and play, you do a couple or maybe 3 songs..then sit back down. I don't get out too much nowdays,but played for many years. So i know what you mean. I do work on alot of local bands equipment. And i like to go see them play when i can, and see how the gear sounds.  
Its usually pretty cool here, and people that are asked to get up and play,don't over step there invitation. But as bars go.. after the alcohol kicks in,people turn it to amazing singers and guitar well they think they are.  
Sometimes it gets out of hand,or they want to do the Roger Daltry mic swingin thing..Most of the players around here know each other and don't have much trouble letting someone get up and jam a few songs.. Its usually people you don't know,and are too drunk to focus,want to play. I guess since you told your bass player how you felt,and it wasn't cool. there shouldn't be a next time.  
Sounds like the guy was being a jerk.  
More of a nightmare is having your gear stolen.. or the place is burnt down,and you lose all your gear..  
6/16/2003 12:55 PM
"Oh, and one other thing I should mention is that this guy is a real hack, we're talking pretty bad guitar playing here and the tunes that he lauches into suck and they have nothing in common with the other songs in our sets. Also, he's usually pretty loaded by the time that he elbows his way onto our stage. This guy is one of these rare people who don't have any sense of respect or common sense,"  
Kick this shit heel to the curb as fast as possible. It's good that you told the guys you don't want this clown doing his 15 minutes of fame thing, I'll never get over these hacks that think they're that great because they get up and "blow everyone away" with the 3 tunes they know.  
Me and my singer do this acoustic gig at a sports bar occasionally, this guy wanted to sing one, ok.He came up, he sang fine, hammed it up a bit. So I'm talking to him after, he sits in with his buddies cover band all the time, sings 3 or 4. So I asked him, why don't you just join a band? And he hemmed and hawed of course, but I knew the answer already, same as all these other wannabe hacks, he doesn't have the patience, the commitment to doing it for real, and he's lazy, but more than anything else, he can be a big star in front of his backwards baseball cap wearing buddies if he only sings one or two, and the expectation is very low, so as long as he sings close to in key for ONE MEASLY SONG, then he's cool. Try doing it for three sets, Rock Star.  
This kinda punk ass pussy wanna be bullshit just irks the shit outta me.
6/16/2003 7:06 PM

I'd say you pretty much nailed it. I have nothing to add after that.  
6/23/2003 12:29 AM
Steve A.

    I agree with your post, but Jerkwad has his own band— I guess he's a real "legend in his own mind"... :D  
Steve Ahola
6/16/2003 4:14 PM
Carl S.

Hell, even if you don't want to rock the boat enough to keep this dickhead from taking your time, he's GOT to stop using your LP!  
Maybe that's a first step to getting rid of him...tell him he's got to bring his own instrument.  
I dunno. It can be difficult to just slam the door on him, since he's a friend of the bass player.
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