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Django in June 2012: small jam session idea

Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
edited May 2012 in North America Posts: 1,475
I attended Django in June in 2008 and it was a wonderful introduction to the GJ style, which I'd always loved but never seemed to get very far with. I basically followed Michael Horowitz around all week and took every single one of his classes, then of course purchased his "Gypsy Picking" and worked hard on it when I got home. Now after four years of hard work, I'm starting to feel like I can claim to be an intermediate GJ player! I certainly wouldn't claim to be advanced! But now I feel at least competent enough to attend Django in June again as a "competent" as opposed to "incompetent" player. :wink:

One aspect of Django in June back then which I'm hoping can be improved is the fact that every jam session somehow ended up turning into a huge circle of twenty or more players!

This wasn't great for me then because I was pretty shy as a novice about soloing in front of all those great players. But now that I'm not a novice player any more, I still wouldn't really care for that kind of playing setting for two reasons...

1) I'm not really into playing rhythm for 19 or 20 choruses while awaiting my turn to solo.

2) What I'm really hoping for is the kind of intimate two-or-three player jam session where if somebody plays a really cool lick, you can stop them and say, "Wow! How did you do THAT!" and they'll show you.

I've been tossing around ideas in my mind to talk to about with Andrew Lawrence, the festival organizer, to set up a situation designed to favour the small jam session: Perhaps some sort of designated area where everybody knows that the number of participants is limited?

I don't know if I'm the only one thinking along these lines, but if anyone else who's planning to attend Django in June 2012 wants to get together on this and talk to Andrew, that'd be great!

Will
Paul Cezanne: "I could paint for a thousand years without stopping and I would still feel as though I knew nothing."

Edgar Degas: "Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things.... To draw, you must close your eyes and sing."
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Comments

  • kevingcoxkevingcox Nova Scotia✭✭✭✭ Dupont MD50
    Posts: 298
    This wasn't great for me then because I was pretty shy as a novice about soloing in front of all those great players.
    I'm not really into playing rhythm for 19 or 20 choruses while awaiting my turn to solo.

    Having never attended Django in June, I might be speaking out of complete ignorance when I respectfully beg to differ with these statements. From my experience, sitting around playing 19 or 20 choruses of rhythm is exactly what novices need. There is SO much to learn during that seemingly simple activity.

    It's not like Hono has been sitting there thinking "Geez, when will this Lagrène dude hurry up and finish his choruses so it will be my turn to solo?" for all these years. I am by no means calling Hono a novice, but truly thinking about what you can contribute musically to a situation, whatever that contribution may be, is so fulfilling. THAT is your moment to shine. I have also heard first hand the difference learning how to play rhythm properly can make to someone`s ability to solo well and with good tone.

    That said, if 20 dudes are hammering away on rhythm while one guy solos some of them probably need to back off :-o Which is also a great learning experience! There certainly isn`t a problem with smaller jam groups, they are great, but I just can`t agree with all the reasons you give for your conclusion.
  • PassacagliaPassacaglia Madison, WI✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,413
    Interesting topic. What I'm finding now in my playing, now that I have, I dunno, 30ish tunes (rhythm) down and others more or less, I'm often fine on the first few choruses - it's after the first few that my mind wanders and I find myself kind of going "in" a soloists playing, so much so that my own rhythm engine can lapse; I forget where I am in the form ("is that A', or bridge?") and the soloist's changes trip my switch - when I should be the blank stone on which the soloist should be able to depend. It's a real problem I'm working on, meaning that for me, endurance - of body and mind - is a current training crucible. Of course, I am nowhere near ready to take a solo chorus on anything, so it's a different story, I'd suppose, than for intermediate players.
    -Paul

    pas encore, j'erre toujours.
  • klaatuklaatu Nova ScotiaProdigy Rodrigo Shopis D'Artagnan, 1950s Jacques Castelluccia
    Posts: 1,661
    If you want to keep the group small, the best way is to hook up with some like-minded friends and find an isolated spot. There are plenty of side rooms available in the dorms' main floor where you can go off and be pretty much undisturbed.

    While I'm not disputing what Kevin said - EVERYBODY can stand to work on their rhythm chops, and he and I both happen to love playing rhythm - but there are occasions when keeping the group small is appropriate. Example: last year, I sat down with a wonderful vocalist and a couple of other folks for a jam, which started out great. Then people began sitting in, and before long we had over a dozen people in a circle. The poor singer had to sit there with nothing to do while a dozen or more guys wanked on their instruments. Eventually she moved on, and I don't blame her.

    Another time, we had a huge group going in the courtyard late at night. Denis Chang came over, started to play along, stopped, looked puzzled, started again, stopped, listened, and finally yelled "There are two different rhythms going on here!" One half of the group had drifted about a whole beat away from the other, and no one noticed.
    Benny

    "It's a great feeling to be dealing with material which is better than yourself, that you know you can never live up to."
    -- Orson Welles
  • Michael BauerMichael Bauer Chicago, ILProdigy Selmers, Busatos and more…oh my!
    Posts: 1,002
    We have a designated area, the Hot Club of Room 101 (formerly 202, and maybe at a new number this year). Plenty of single malts, wine, vintage guitars, etc., and only enough room for a small group of 5-10 at any one time. Stop by and introduce yourself. Bring your own guitar, or sample one of mine.
    I've never been a guitar player, but I've played one on stage.
  • It will be my first DIJ and I plan on just absorbing the experience. Everyone can stand to learn rhythm better. Hell... I play rhythm weekly and strive learn how to play better each week,: how to not get lost, how to play after a few glasses of wine, how to play softer, how to drive the rest of the band without being overbearing, how to lock in with the bass player, how to play simple. Of course, I'd like to get better at playing lead and I hope to gain a lot from that. but yes...rhythm is the crux of it.

    Most of all, I hope to get a chance to look and maybe play the Bauer collection.
  • klaatuklaatu Nova ScotiaProdigy Rodrigo Shopis D'Artagnan, 1950s Jacques Castelluccia
    Posts: 1,661
    We have a designated area, the Hot Club of Room 101 (formerly 202, and maybe at a new number this year). Plenty of single malts, wine, vintage guitars, etc., and only enough room for a small group of 5-10 at any one time. Stop by and introduce yourself. Bring your own guitar, or sample one of mine.
    For you newbies, this is NOT to be missed. The Hot Club of Room xxx is a wonderful, time-honored tradition at Django in June, where Michael generously shares his incredible collection of vintage gypsy guitars with all comers. However, please don't take the mention of single malts and wine to mean that freeloading is the norm. If you plan to partake, you should contribute as well!
    Benny

    "It's a great feeling to be dealing with material which is better than yourself, that you know you can never live up to."
    -- Orson Welles
  • EmmettRayEmmettRay Honolulu, Hawaii✭✭✭✭ Koa Iseman, AJL XO-503, Holo Busato
    Posts: 88
    I totally agree, there should be some kind of jam ettiquette at these festivals. This summer will be my 3rd DIJ and 5th Samois... too many times a great intimate jam turns into a "Djang-bang". I prefer to jam with no more than 4 players at a time and won't sit and join a jam if there are already 3 or 4. Sometimes it is good pratice to play in large groups to work on volume control etc, but it gets out of hand often...
  • kevingcoxkevingcox Nova Scotia✭✭✭✭ Dupont MD50
    Posts: 298
    EmmettRay wrote:
    "Djang-bang"

    Good lord that is a good name for a song/band/album!
  • Wim GlennWim Glenn oƃɐɔᴉɥƆModerator 503
    Posts: 1,138
    ah this thing happens at samois, at ozmanouche fest too .. i guess it's a common problem worldwide!

    i just wanted to play through a few of the more obscure django tunes with one or two friend , or work out some arranged bit or a shout chorus, a harmony line, a waltz .. then all of a sudden there's 10 guys appeared and they're calling out 'sweet georgia brown' next :?

    <rant>

    playing with 20 rhythm guitars behind sucks
    - robs the soloist of ability to use any dynamics or subtleties
    - those poor guys with a flat wrist or a wimpy low action guitar can barely even be heard
    - the more people sitting in, the more limited the repertoire becomes.. inevitably end up on minor swing, or worse.. djangology ;)
    - big jams are seldom having a tight groove.. not that beginners shouldn't get in and take a punt, but if just a couple of people have bad time it muddys the whole thing up
    - inevitable to have a few noodlers in there who can't resist to chuck in fills and embellishments every 3 seconds
    - sometimes 2 or more guys both think its their time to solo and it just ends up sounding like a bunch of skeletons having an orgy on a tin roof
    - who knows the breaks? oops, not everyone
    - who is that guy who shreds for 8 choruses .. pass it on mate !
    - ok who's playing the head? wait, was that the head?
    - ready here comes the ending .. let's tag it so it's really obvious, and we'll use that punchy chromatic lick so that it's absolutely unmistakably the ending.. da da da da da da da DA! oh no there's still 3 guys playing rhythm. ok let's play the head two or three times more.

    </rant>
  • kevingcoxkevingcox Nova Scotia✭✭✭✭ Dupont MD50
    Posts: 298
    Maybe it's the educator in me, but while all the stuff Wim "rants" about is true I think they are also great learning experiences for the novice player. We are not born knowing what to do, we make attempts and make mistakes and ideally learn from them.

    Contributing musically is not all about being the loudest or filling up all that space between notes with constant noodling. I understand how that could be frustrating for a more experienced player, just as it would be frustrating for a group of good soccer players to have me on their team, but many people are there to learn.

    Or maybe I'm just being idealistic :?

    -K
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