Sitting in (vs. jams)

Andy Vincent
Thu Jul 31 13:06:09 EDT 1997

Billy Chambliss said:

] After playing almost not at all for something like 15 years, I've been
trying to
] spin up again; meanwhile, a local lues band has started playing at one of
] favorite bars.

] I had been playing with the idea of asking to sit in with these guys the
next time
] they play; I think I'll try to think of something else now. ;)

] Anybody got any suggestions for an ol' fart trying to get back into it?

Yep. I'm an ol' fart, too, so here goes:

1. Woodshed with your axe of choice. Play along with CD's (records to us old
farts). Practice in the car (only if you are a harp player).

2. Play together at your house (garage, basement,  etc...) with some
like-minded friends. Work up a few simply structured songs you can play (and
sing) pretty well. Start with a few songs that lots-O-blues players will
recognize. Leave the songs with lots of breaks, key modulations and unusual
structures for later.

3. Go to a local blues jam session. Watch and learn the landscape & politics
the 1st night at any jam. Introduce yourself to the leader. Let him/her know
you are checking things out and want to come and play next time. Meet and
great other participants. Check out what equipment is there and figure out
what you'll need to bring next week when you play (amp, cords, mics, etc...).

4. Return to the jam next week, sign up and play. Be prepared to call a tune
(title performer, key, chord progression, tempo) and sing it if necessary.
Those who sing as well as play at a jam are valued, more likely to play, and
more in control of their performance. Be tuned up and ready, set up quickly,
stay reasonably sober, play clean and sparingly, lay out during vocals and
other players' solos, and watch your volume. Exchange phone numbers with
other players.

5. Establish your local credentials while you polish your chops. Record
yourself with a little cassette recorder while playing at home alone, with
friends and at jams. Listen critically to the tape another day.

Seems to me that with bar owners looking to save $, there are more and more
blues jams and open mic nights available now than ever. Pay your dues at
these, then if you want to try for a sit in with a local blues band in a
small club, ask politely between sets with your axe and gear in the trunk of
your car. Know the kind of material they play and fit in graciously and
thankfully if they say yes. Be extra gracious if they say no.

My $.02

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