Friday, May 22, 2009


I've been hitting the local jam sessions lately, to play a little and to network with other musicians. There are a lot of us out here. In fact, Nevada has more musicians per capita than any other state in the Union. That had traditionally been because the casinos had employed full orchestras for their various shows, and these were some of the finest musicians in the country. As the times changed, the orchestras died out and were replaced by smaller bands. With the era of modern electrified instruments came rock, country, and R&B bands replaced small orchestras and jazz combos from the cabarets. In recent years DJs and ultra-modern dance music have replaced the bands, though the signs are evident that the bands are coming back. One way or another, it signals that there's always going to be a lot of musicians in the Silver State.

My favorite jam night is at a tiny restaurant/bar in Minden called Indigo. The guy who runs the jam, Dean, also runs other jams in Sparks and Carson City. Joy and I went to the one in Sparks, and I didn't like it all that much. So many musicians come in, you're lucky if you get to play two or three songs, and usually it's the same old I-IV-V blues progression with the guitarists noodling away like Clapton on PCP. And most of these guys are has-beens, never-weres, and burnouts, who have no real interest in anything other than noodling for their three songs. Dean told me that one night in Sparks, he had twenty drummers to deal with. At Indigo, I can play a real variety of music, and a lot of it, sing lead, and meet people who actually seem interested in the concept of playing music as a source of income. I was hoping to meet up with the guy who'd told me he was looking for a good drummer who was familiar with playing to a click-track, but he never showed.

But I didn't really mind. I just like to play. No clicks, no tracks, no set stops and starts unless it's a song we all know. Of course, that means dealing with players who have a hard time with the concept of 'one', as in "come in on 'one'". I've told Dean that I've fought the urge at times to step up to the front of the stage and conduct the band so they can all come in together. But even when it's annoying or even frustrating, it's still fun. Now if I can only make a little money through this......

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