Dumb Question?


#1

I’m just wondering if I should go to a jam circle if I find one soon or should I wait til Im a little more versed in the style and have a few more tunes under my belt? …would love to go to one but dont want to look dumb doing it …thanks for any advice all


#2

Hey Ron can’t say from experience ( I live in such a rural area that even banjo players don’t go) but from all I’ve heard it’s a great idea to sit in at a jam whenever you can. The experience alone is worth the ride. More often than not you will gain some valuable lessons that you can’t achieve on your own. I say go for it.


#3

I haven’t been jamming since I started on guitar (a year ago) but when I played banjo, I’d been to a number of jams. I was not very good and a lot of my jamming ended up as just rhythm playing in the background. No one ever minded and many actually encouraged beginners like me by playing the occasional 3 chord tune a little more slowly so that we could join in. For the most part, I think the large majority of jammers would certainly welcome those of us whose skills are not at a high level. The secret seemed to be to play what you could without “getting in the way” by blending into the background a bit. Even if you’re boom-chucking along with a tune, it’s still invaluable experience!


#4

thanks …i kinda figured it would be a good idea to go to one and kinda blend in where i can as im sure that it will always be an invaluable learning experience everytime …now to find a jam to actually attend …thanks and anymore advice is always welcomed and appreciated…


#5

Yeah, yeah, definitely go jamming and learn how to fit in! Because even if you sit at home practicing until you can fire off notes like a machine gun, you won’t be able to keep up the first time you go to a jam.

That’s because the guy next to you will venture off into the wrong chords, or it will be so loud you can’t hear yourself play, or no one else at the jam will know the song exactly like you do (is there an Em in “Will The Circle Be Unbroken”? Depends on where you’re jamming) , or you’ll have too much adreneline pumping, or… well, you get the idea. The environment at a jam is a lot different than practicing at home and you have to learn some skills (like continuing to play the right chords while the guy next to you tries to lead you astray) that you’ll only get at a jam.

Plus, it’s just fun getting to meet other musicians.


#6

— Begin quote from "ronfold"

I’m just wondering if I should go to a jam circle if I find one soon or should I wait til Im a little more versed in the style and have a few more tunes under my belt? …would love to go to one but dont want to look dumb doing it …thanks for any advice all

— End quote

I say go, however go with an open mind so-to-speak in if you will be participating or not. “Guitarists” are a dime a dozen, especially if you live around Nashville like I do, but anyone can buy a guitar and call themselves a guitar player…when in all reality they are not, so don’t be intimidated by what you think may be a group of “experts” when in all reality they are intermediate to beginners. With this said let me say that when it comes to the level of keeping good time and keeping good rhythm then most fall apart in bluegrass, so a jam circle will welcome you as a solid rhythm player.

I started out “jamming” right when I had pretty much mastered bluegrass rhythm and out of most i play with across most bluegrass instruments I can proclaim to have one of the better ears for rhythm then most i have jammed with. Even though I was not the main guy taking a break and making the strings smoke I was however the one that the lead person would focus on when the others got lost or out of time and I could hear the others faltering in their rhythm/chord progression and knew enough to turn my instrument towards the lead player (so he could hear the proper timing and progression better) and play a little louder so he could get through his break. This is important in a jam…I was always the “go to guy” that most would focus on when the bass player got out of time or the rest were faltering.

It’s funny that most will say “thanks for the solid rhythm and taking over to help me out during my break” after the song was over and the majority of folks that were screwing it up will look and say “what?” and won’t even realize that there were 2 or 3 train wrecks going on at the same time and it would have all fallen apart if someone didn’t step up and provide the guy taking his break with the proper rhythm and timing.

So go and enjoy it. Not sure where “Paulding” is at in Ohio, but I lived in Ohio for nearly all my life until last year and know some jammers in the southern part of the state.

Oldhat


#7

thanks so much …very good advice …just have to find one to go to now …Paulding is in the northwest corner of Ohio near the indiana line …im originally from the Dayton area until about 3 years ago. thanks again ,


#8

Check out: bluegrassmusicjams.com/
maybe you can find one near you.
I have a few jams near me that I don’t go to often enough, I’m lucky because my wife plays too.
The jams that I’ve been to have been real friendly towards new comers and beginners. If you don’t want to take a turn all you have to do is shake your head no when it comes around to you.

jim


#9

Thanks so much Jim …i will check out that site and hopefully find one near me …youre lucky to have another picker in your home .wish I did lol …thanks again


#10

— Begin quote from "Oldhat"

…there were 2 or 3 train wrecks going on at the same time

— End quote

Do we go to the same jam? 'Cause I’m usually in charge of at least one of the train wrecks.


#11

— Begin quote from "ldpayton"

— Begin quote from "Oldhat"

…there were 2 or 3 train wrecks going on at the same time

— End quote

Do we go to the same jam? 'Cause I’m usually in charge of at least one of the train wrecks.

— End quote

I’ve been the engineer of a few myself. :wink:


#12

Ron, Yes! Go! I need to do the same and I can’t wait. I’ve played in smaller groups, but not a big jam circle. We generally can only make triangles, boxes and segmented arcs. I have the 19th on my calendar as a target in Glen Rose, TX.

Jim, thanks for the link. It sounds awesome. Unfortunately, when I went there, Chrome told me it was a site known to have malware. Dangit! I was really looking forward to seeing it so I could go find a circle.

Larry, in response to the huge firestorm of controversy you set off on this topic, I think there should be an Em in “Circle.” :slight_smile: FWIW, I typically play it as an Em7 maintaining the 3rd frets on the B and high E strings, so if nobody follows me, no problemo. It just blends right in with the G. Also, when someone else causes a problem, I call it a trainwreck. When I cause a problem, I blame it on the monitors. That won’t work in a jam circle, so I am thinking maybe I can pass it off as some sort of free-form jazz?
Great post topic!


#13

— Begin quote from "mreisz"

We generally can only make triangles, boxes and segmented arcs.

— End quote

Great. Now I gotta make room for a protractor in my guitar case.

That’s a good idea on your Em7 chord for Will The Circle Be Unbroken. I gotta remember that.

A better example of how songs can change between jams would be something like Shady Grove or Little Sadie which I’ve seen played in both major and minor keys.


#14

Yeah Mike, your the guy that the others look to for the progression on the guitar to visually watch where it goes and your relative “half minor” :smiley: is just the start of the James Gang slowing down the train to rob it! They are telling the engineer to slow down as they have removed part of the track 1 mile ahead!

I can see me now…ok I don’t really know the chord progression here so I will watch mike on his guitar…instant train wreck as I know I was in G and maybe I was going to C or D but what chord did he just make as I have my hands in the air right now! I was jumping off of G to go to something with him and he showed me a new chord, now I’ll just wait for that part to come around again and see if I can make the same chord as he did.

Also in a jams session if you are relied on by other guitar players to watch for the progression, then kindly tip your guitar up so you are chording next to your ear…this allows them to get a good view and follow you…do that through the progression one time and they should be good…you will notice when others need some assistance.

Just busting your chops and being funny!


#15

Another “James Gang” train wreck:

I love to “tag” a progression (add 1/2 measure or something to the progression coming out of a break be it in rhythm or a lead) …now that messes a lot of folks up…and I will defend myself each time I do it…most of the time it’s due to someone being “off” and they’ve been chasing the progression and not catching up…my tag will give them enough time to catch up.

Pisses some folks off though, especially the ones counting beats and measures in the progression vs using their ear to hear it!

Oldhat


#16

Oldhat, yep, I think you are right, I’ll be causing a few train wrecks for sure. Well, I would be causing train wrecks, but I plan on turning my back to the other players so they won’t steal my tasty BanjoBen licks! Just kidding of course.

A couple of times I played with a guy with a jazz background. I was playing bass, so all I had to do was figure out the general chord progression, but it didn’t matter. We were playing straight rock, but I still had no idea what he was playing. It was entertaining in it’s own sort of way.

As I was typing I just saw the tag post. If you are the alpha player on a given song, I think you can take it where you wanna go. It doesn’t mean anyone will follow, but you gotta do what you are inspired to do. For rehearsed performances, sure, I’d prefer we are all pulling in a rather determined direction. But for a jam, why not?

You mentioned James Gang, and it brought up a slight mental tangent. A cover band I was in used to play “Funk 49” by the James Gang. I don’t think they were the same ones that robbed trains. I can’t even remember the song, but I remember it was fun to play. Sorry for the diversion.


#17

— Begin quote from "ldpayton"

Great. Now I gotta make room for a protractor in my guitar case.

— End quote

:laughing:
Nah, when we make your strap case, I can add a little protractor pocket for it :laughing:


#18

— Begin quote from "mreisz"

If you are the alpha player on a given song, I think you can take it where you wanna go. It doesn’t mean anyone will follow, but you gotta do what you are inspired to do. For rehearsed performances, sure, I’d prefer we are all pulling in a rather determined direction. But for a jam, why not?

— End quote

I’m conflicted on this issue. So many old tunes have odd measures inserted here and there, and I’m tempted sometimes to “dumb down” the songs by removing the time changes. It means more people will be able to keep up, but takes something from the song at the same time. It’s the same with choosing a key for a song. Sometimes I’ll choose a key that might be tough for me to sing, just so the chords will be easier for everyone. Or, I might not capo a song that I normally would, so those visual players will have an easier time following.

Here’s an example of my indecision. After seeing Peter Rowan last week, I worked up a version of Midnight Moonlight and I want to play it at tomorrow’s jam, but the progression is so unorthodox, I’m pretty sure I’ll lose half the circle by the end of the song. Not sure if I want to be the engineer of that train wreck or not.


#19

Like I previously said, I haven’t been to the big circle jams, so take everything I say with a chunk of salt. If I am playing with someone and I don’t have clue where they are going, I’ll sit out a verse, or perhaps the whole song and just listen. I enjoy that just fine. Maybe I’m not normal (I guess that’s a given, but you know what I mean). Next time the song comes up, I might be able to add something to it. I guess if all the songs are unconventional, then it might make for a bad night, but usually groups tend to get a mixture of familiar and no-so familiar. I say give a little explanation and go for it.


#20

Larry,

On the odd measures and such.

I’ve played with folks that dumb’d down songs and on the other hand I have played on the other side of the coin with folks that only want to play the song exactly like the original and they are even anal enough to demand it be played in the original key. I will say that it’s typical that the ones that demand it be exact are better players, but they should learn not to be so anal about it.

I think a big thing about playing in a jam is being able to transpose what you are used to on a song to the key the person that selects it wants to play it out out of, however if it has a singing part then the key will typically be yielded to the singer.

Jams are fun and a good learning experience for all this stuff.

My biggest pet peeve in a jam (outside someone being out of tune) is if someone takes the time to say learn the lead for “Any Old Trad Fiddle Song” and they want to play it and can’t tell you the chord progression…now that pisses me off a bit as my idea behind this is that someone took the hours to learn the lead and want you to play rhythm for them but they didn’t take the time to run through the chord progression and learn it. Man that gets under my crawl, the progression and timing are easy to learn in a few minutes and anyone learning a lead part of a song should take the time to perfect the progression and such…oh and fiddlers drive me crazy in a jam…yeah I realize that a fiddle is not a rhythm instrument, but come on dude you don’t have to play your lead and “tidbits” over the entire song!

Oldhat (Just got back from taking my middle kid fishing…25 crappie in 2 hours…guess what’s for chow tonight?)