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Why I Don’t Go to Jams to Play

I’ve been to a few, and I’m not complaining.

I was talking with a guitar player today and I mentioned that I saw that he has written a few originals. He said, “do you know why I wrote those? Because the guys who sing at jams were getting called up before the ones that didn’t. Before I wrote those songs for me to sing, I wasn’t getting called up until the end of the jam.”

As a piano/organ player, it’s a bit more to set up than it is for most other players (singer or horns - nothing, drums - adjust the kit a bit, bass - plug in the house amp, guitar player - plug in a provided amp or bring your own and plug into that), but it is admittedly much easier to set up keys now than it was years ago. It still takes time though, as there are a few pieces to set up, and I don’t like to make people wait on me while I set up. But that’s not the biggest problem, as I’ve now realized.

I don’t sing. When I go to a jam, I’m looking to sit in with people. I’m not going to “lead” a tune if someone else has to sing it. There is one jam I have gone to where it’s pretty easy for me to set up at the beginning and play for nearly the whole jam if I wanted to. (Sometimes if there’s another keyboard player who is there to sit in for a few songs, I let them and take a break.) On the other hand, I’ve been to jams where I got to sit in for a few songs and that was it. It seems to be a lot of work just to play three or four tunes. Outside of that, I don’t know if anyone will want me to join them or not. It’s fine if they don’t. Sometimes it’s a band that’s coming up so they are all together. Sometimes people just don’t think about having keys with them on stage. This uncertainty leads me to leave my gear set up in case someone wants me to play. But then it’s hard to get my gear when the band is playing, depending on the setup of the place.

Most jams don’t have keyboards set up. Otherwise it might be easier for me if they did. Still, sitting in on someone else’s rig can be tricky. It just depends on what they have and how it’s set up.

This isn’t a reflection on the people at the jams nor of the people who run them. You never know what you’ll get, and that’s fine. In fact, it can be really cool. You get different people matched up and that can make new things happen. It’s always different depending on who shows up (though I’ve seen some cats play the same dang songs every time they play…). I just wish it was easier for me as keyboard player.

Posted 2016 07 26 at 10:00 AM

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