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Blues Jam Preparation


drohm

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I have played keys in bands for years, but I have never gone to an open mic or blues jam. Thinking it might be fun to try one...or two...are there a dozen or so songs a player should know before showing up at a blues jam? You know, ones that always get played, etc. I may already know most of them, but it would be great to hear from the experience on this forum. Thanks in advance!

 

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I-IV-V-IV-I in A, E, D, C, G, F. That should cover it.

Yamaha P-515, Hammond SK1, Casio PX5s, Motif ES rack, Kawai MP5, Kawai ESS110, Yamaha S03, iPad, and a bunch of stuff in the closet.

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You could go and just listen for a night or two before getting up to play. This way you can hear common tunes for that jam, and get an idea of what the different players are like. You may want to avoid playing with certain musicians that have different tastes than you.
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Learn a couple minor blues.

 

Thrill is Gone should probably be required listening.

 

Also, brush up on turnarounds and endings.

 

Also, maybe study a couple common blues tunes that have a little different structure. "Cold Shot" and "Roadhouse Blues" come to mind.

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This question has come up on other forums I'm on. I'll repeat what BrandonBruce said. Go to the jam and hang. See what it's like, how it's run, what the players are like, what tunes they do, and decide if you want to participate. You may decide to get up there the first time you go, you may decide it's not for you or the jam master or venue sucks, you may decide to go back a 2nd time. If you have played keys in bands for years, you don't need to worry about the tunes to play, you need to find out how you feel about it. I have no doubt that if you got up to play, you'd do fine. What I don't know is if the jam and the players are good and is it a good hang.

 

If the S.F. Bay Area, there are jams every night of the week somewhere (except maybe Saturday) and sometimes 2 or more jams on the same night within a 45 minute drive of each other. I've been to several but I only go to 1 now because it's near my home and it's a very well-run jam in a friendly venue and just a good hang all around. The other jams I've been to have not been so friendly and supportive. To paraphrase the MC5, check out the jams.

These are only my opinions, not supported by any actual knowledge, experience, or expertise.
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Plus-one-ing a couple of suggestions: Keep your ears on and listen for turnarounds, stops, endings, what happens in bar 2 (IV chord or not), and whether you're in a standard form or not. I hate to offer advice for cheating, but remember: the 5 (note) is pretty safe through all the chords. When in doubt about form, you can feature the 5 until you get your bearings.

 

Dreamchilde is spot on that someone will play Thrill. Mostly it will be shuffle after shuffle. Someone will play Sweet Home Chicago. Be aware with stop-time songs in general that some of them drop into the 12-bar form as usual (in bar 5, on the IV, like Chicago), some RESTART the 12-bar form after the stop-time section, and some just sit on the stop time for a certain number of bars (say, 8) and THEN head to IV chord and back into the form (Hoochie Coochie Man.) Again, keep ears on and listen for whether the bass is approaching the IV or not.

 

Don't try to music-store-riff your way through the songs; you'll feature strongest if you find another member of the rhythm section to groove with, and just work on locking in nice and tight. So keep your ears on for this too.

 

Everyone, at every blues jam, speeds up through their solos. So don't do this. Keep ears on and keep locking in.

 

The theme here is keep your ears on.

 

Oh, and have fun. But that's it: just keep your ears on and have fun.

 

OH. And don't be afraid to sit the first verse out while you get your sea-legs on a tune. So keep ears on, have fun, and don't be afraid not to play.

 

But that's all you need. PLUS THIS THERMOS!!

 

 

Now out! "Mind the Gap," a 24-song album of new material.
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As was said on a similar thread a couple of weeks ago, be ready to play Stormy Monday. The Allman's version and the Albert King version. If it comes up which it usually does, you'll look like the veteran bluesman. If you don't know it you'll feel 2 inches tall.

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Pretty much every blues jam I've been to has been a laid back affair. Players of all levels, all different styles of music. Just go and have fun. The key is keeping your ears open and going with the flow of the music.

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Prepare to be board after the first three songs.

 

Unlike reggae right? :)

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I don't get bored playing the blues...........at least when I am playing organ. It's so much fun trying to make the Strats with Hats sound better without dominating.

 

Important tip: lay out! Frequently! I often don't play until the second verse. This gives me the opportunity to LISTEN the first time, and the contrast between no keys and keys is HUGE - no matter what you're playing, people will go, "Hey! That was great when you came in!"

 

Another tip: the guitar players won't want to tell you what key the next song is in. They'll whisper it among themselves and then launch. Make friends with the bass player, or one of the rhythm players. They'll tell you. But don't expect them to be right.

 

Hilarious quote from a bass player at a jam, after telling me it was in C -- "Sorry - Matt doesn't know the difference between B and C".

 

If anybody knows any good tricks for figuring out keys, I'm all ears. I often like to come in strong, without any noodling.

 

Wes

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Prepare to be board after the first three songs.

 

Unlike reggae right? :)

 

Well there is no Reggae open jams Dan all I am saying is some of those jams get so drawn out. Blues jams have ruined every open jam around here that was worth anything because that's all people seem to know.

"Danny, ci manchi a tutti. La E-Street Band non e' la stessa senza di te. Riposa in pace, fratello"

 

 

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Prepare to be board after the first three songs.

 

What kind of a board? A pine board? :laugh:

 

Sorry dumb auto-correct.

"Danny, ci manchi a tutti. La E-Street Band non e' la stessa senza di te. Riposa in pace, fratello"

 

 

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This is true because blues is not bad, that's not even what I mean. It's the other guys that can't. Tucktronix is a house keyboard player at the best open jam around probably. I fill in here and there and it's amazing on how many of these guys just hi-jack the whole song.

"Danny, ci manchi a tutti. La E-Street Band non e' la stessa senza di te. Riposa in pace, fratello"

 

 

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From someone who has played in several blues jams over the past 26 years, here's some things to ponder..

 

1. The most common keys are E, A, C and G. If you learn songs in all of those keys, you're already 95% there

 

2. When a guitarist is too loud(and there WILL be loud guitar players), be vocal about it. Kindly ask him/her to turn down

 

3. Listen. Don't feel like you need to fill up every space. I'm sure the guitar player will have that covered(half LOL). Listen to rest of the band.. lay back a bit. Play some fills here and there. After listening, you'll know where and what to play

 

4. Have fun. This should never be an ego-fest. Everyone is there to have fun and sharpen their chops. Make friends, network. There can be lots to learn from hearing and jamming with great players

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Some of the worst things that happen at jams:

 

1) people tend to over play. Less is more.

2) players especially guitar players tend to play too many choruses for their spot

3) lack of eye-contact and queues for whether or not you are switching soloists or coming back to the vocal

4) lack of listening

5) the whole band is way too loud

6) lack of dynamics

7) too many people playing at the same time

8) you don't have to play constantly. Completely stop playing to get a sense of the over all sound

9) as said earlier check out the scene a few times to see if you want to participate. Some jams will have many of the same players week to week with an occasional newbie.

10) Talk to some of the guys playing during any down time to collaborate.

 

Musicale

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Some of the worst things that happen at jams:

 

1) people tend to over play. Less is more.

2) players especially guitar players tend to play too many choruses for their spot

3) lack of eye-contact and queues for whether or not you are switching soloists or coming back to the vocal

4) lack of listening

5) the whole band is way too loud

6) lack of dynamics

7) too many people playing at the same time

8) you don't have to play constantly. Completely stop playing to get a sense of the over all sound

9) as said earlier check out the scene a few times to see if you want to participate. Some jams will have many of the same players week to week with an occasional newbie.

10) Talk to some of the guys playing during any down time to collaborate.

 

Musicale

 

11) When the musicians are so loud they are on top of the singer. When the vocalist starts singing, the volume HAS to come way down

Kronos 88 Platinum, Yamaha YC88, Subsequent 37, Korg CX3, Hydrasynth 49-key, Nord Electro 5D 73, QSC K8.2, Lester K

 

Me & The Boyz

Chris Beard Band

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Some of the worst things that happen at jams:

 

1) people tend to over play. Less is more.

2) players especially guitar players tend to play too many choruses for their spot

3) lack of eye-contact and queues for whether or not you are switching soloists or coming back to the vocal

4) lack of listening

5) the whole band is way too loud

6) lack of dynamics

7) too many people playing at the same time

8) you don't have to play constantly. Completely stop playing to get a sense of the over all sound

9) as said earlier check out the scene a few times to see if you want to participate. Some jams will have many of the same players week to week with an occasional newbie.

10) Talk to some of the guys playing during any down time to collaborate.

 

Musicale

 

11) When the musicians are so loud they are on top of the singer. When the vocalist starts singing, the volume HAS to come way down

 

Also,

 

12) Lack of groove because:

 

1. Everyone wants to show off with fancy solos, therefore:

 

2. Few can or want to establish a rhythm groove with the drummer/bass.

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A lot of those issues can be fixed by a leader on stage who directs who gets a solo and when. If it's only 4 people up there you can stretch out some, but if there is the full nightmare gambit of horns, harp, 2-3 guitars and keys, the leader has to direct it and keep the solos moving along.

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A lot of those issues can be fixed by a leader on stage who directs who gets a solo and when. If it's only 4 people up there you can stretch out some, but if there is the full nightmare gambit of horns, harp, 2-3 guitars and keys, the leader has to direct it and keep the solos moving along.

 

It would be great to have a leader on stage. Unfortunately, we often do not have that luxury. Most of the jams I've attended, the leader of the host band(on or off the stage) directs the jam.. starting up sign-up sheets, calling out musicians, etc and also keeps track of the time.. making sure that everyone has a chance to play.

Kronos 88 Platinum, Yamaha YC88, Subsequent 37, Korg CX3, Hydrasynth 49-key, Nord Electro 5D 73, QSC K8.2, Lester K

 

Me & The Boyz

Chris Beard Band

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This is a fun topic! right up my alley.

I-IV-V-IV-I in A, E, D, C, G, F. That should cover it.

Don't forget the Key of B! Blues Jams are guitar player dominated, and they LOVE the key of B. LOL Prepare for there to be two, potentially 3 guitar players on stage at once! and don't be surprised if they're super loud and all noodle at inappropriate places.

 

It's all a toss up really. Some jams are laced with experienced players, some are filled with noobs, and some a great mix of both where everyone can learn something from everyone. I'd just go to have a good time and not expect too much. Unfortunately blues is a monotonous I-IV-V experience, and I've even been to jams where they jammed out on one a minor chord for like 15 minutes til I wanted to blow my brains out. It does have it's appeal, but I'd rather a jam with more variety. Be prepared to play/hear Mustang Sally and The Thrill is gone. Potentially multiple times if you're there long enough.

 

 

Prepare to be board after the first three songs.

 

Unlike reggae right? :)

 

Yes, unlike reggae blues encompasses quarter note basslines that hardly vary, guitar riffs in a call and response fashion with the vocals that also hardly vary, very little ornamentation, and the same tempo that resembles a funeral march. Watch out now! We'll switch it up with a shuffle every once in a while!

 

Reggae on the other hand, has basslines that are their own melodies. Varying drum patterns, from one drop, to four-on-the-floor, to dance hall, and horns galore.

 

 

I'm probably gonna catch hell for this. Love you all!

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Am-Dm over and over again lol.

 

 

Live: Korg Kronos 2 88, Nord Electro 5d Nord Lead A1

Toys: Roland FA08, Novation Ultranova, Moog LP, Roland SP-404SX, Roland JX10,Emu MK6

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I agree also that it's important to work on cueing and good communication. Typically the person picking/singing the songs is the "leader" that should cue solos, but someone definitely has to take on the role otherwise one guy will solo forever. Once I had a guy soloing right over me. How annoying! I also agree on learning some turn-arounds/tags for endings. Ending songs at jams can be the hardest part sometimes.

Affiliations: Noble Vibes , Acme Recording Co., Firehouse Saloon

 

Gear: Triton Extreme, Casio WK-7600, Pro Tools 9, Mbox 2, Gemeinhardt flute

 

"insert quote by Bob Marley too long to post"

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I have a question regarding common keys at jams. I know that some guitar players tune down a half step, but if a keyboard player calls tunes in less common keys (F sharp; A flat, E flat...), or a few more chord changes than usual (maybe something like "Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out" ..."in C sharp" :whistle: ) are people going think that he's being a dick?
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I've never had guitar players tune down at a jam, because everyone would have to tune down then.

 

B major- luckily not many get called in that key! Bm, yes but that's a good one.

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