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  1. #1

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    I just got back from a club where I'd been told there was a jam session this evening, so I went along to check things out, to "test the water", before going home to grab my guitar, just a 5 min. walk from the club.

    Most of the audience, or rather, the people who were standing at the bar or just generally milling around the place, were talking/yelling so loudly that I had to stand about 3 metres from the TRUMPETER to hear his lines with any clarity - that's just ridiculous. He wasn't a bad player at all, as it happened.

    I withstood this assault on my ears for a couple of tunes, then looked around the room and saw there was no sign of an amelioration in the ongoing noise situation, so made for the door. Got better things to do, I suppose.

    This is a medium-sized city in the south east of Spain. What's it like in your corner of the universe and, if it's like this, do you just ignore them and carry on regardless? I personally couldn't, especially if I'm not getting paid

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  3. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter C View Post
    I just got back from a club where I'd been told there was a jam session this evening, so I went along to check things out, to "test the water", before going home to grab my guitar, just a 5 min. walk from the club.

    Most of the audience, or rather, the people who were standing at the bar or just generally milling around the place, were talking/yelling so loudly that I had to stand about 3 metres from the TRUMPETER to hear his lines with any clarity - that's just ridiculous. He wasn't a bad player at all, as it happened.

    I withstood this assault on my ears for a couple of tunes, then looked around the room and saw there was no sign of an amelioration in the ongoing noise situation, so made for the door. Got better things to do, I suppose.

    This is a medium-sized city in the south east of Spain. What's it like in your corner of the universe and, if it's like this, do you just ignore them and carry on regardless? I personally couldn't, especially if I'm not getting paid
    I think that this is pretty common everywhere. Unless a club is a known music destination, people will carry with their conversations and accept the music as part of the backdrop. I host a jam session in Toronto and the situation you described is pretty typical. Some people are there to listen to the musicians but most are watching sports or carrying on with their conversations. The fact that people are in the bar and appreciating the music on some level keeps the jam going. A full bar is better than an empty bar for all concerned parties.

    On another note, most of my work comes from performing in restaurants or corporate events or weddings. In all of these situations, music is not the focus. We are a part of the overall experience. I don’t concern myself with whether or not people are hanging onto my every note. I accept my role in the event and appreciate the fact that I am able to perform for a living. I will occasionally organize a concert whereby it is expected that the audience listen attentively. However for the most part this is not an expectation on my part. Therefore I am not left wanting for a more attentive audience. I accept my role in these events and I do my best to fulfill it.


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  4. #3

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    Most people don't go to bars and clubs to listen to music. They go to drink, socialize, and have fun. If you expect everyone to sit quietly and pay attention only to the music, you're in the wrong place. I don't go to places that are that loud, though, because I don't like noise that much. There is a chain of restaurants here in the US called Chili's, which has tiled walls and floors, and amplifies noise to a high degree. They don't have music, but the place is so loud because of the acoustics that I don't go there. One visit was enough to convince me to eat elsewhere. The acoustics can make a big difference, and for most establishments there isn't much that can be done to change them. If it's too loud for me, I go elsewhere.

  5. #4

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    One of my jazz bands is a trio that has been playing almost exclusively for cozy quiet little upscale wine tasting restaurants for the last three years. The drummer uses brushes only, so we play softly with a focus on sounding good... the crowds are older, attentive, enjoy jazz, raise applause, and often make requests.

    I might be in a bubble that could pop any day, but for now it is happening and feels just about perfect.
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by pauln View Post
    One of my jazz bands is a trio that has been playing almost exclusively for cozy quiet little upscale wine tasting restaurants for the last three years. The drummer uses brushes only, so we play softly with a focus on sounding good... the crowds are older, attentive, enjoy jazz, raise applause, and often make requests.

    I might be in a bubble that could pop any day, but for now it is happening and feels just about perfect.
    Yes. Enjoy it when it’s happening for what it is.

    I love what I do and I appreciate those who are listening and I don’t worry about those that are not. I play for myself and my band mates.


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  7. #6

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    I so want this shirt




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  8. #7

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    Well, this place had apparently just opened and is advertised as a "live (jazz) music venue"; there are myriad bars here one can vocally compete with whatever canned music is spewing out of the sound system, if that's your thing. Conversing is one thing, attempts at drowning out a whole horn section is another! I can, by the way, totally sympathise with the working musician angle - people don't go to weddings to check out your bebop chops.

    OK, so that's Toronto. Where are you, pauln? "quiet little upscale wine tasting restaurant" sorta makes me think somewhere in New York State, don't know why Enjoy the bubble.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by neilspeers View Post
    I so want this shirt




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    haha, I once saw sax player Gary Bartz say exactly this to a noisy audience at Ronnie Scotts. He was playing with McCoy Tyner's band, it was like pearls before swine!

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter C View Post
    Well, this place had apparently just opened and is advertised as a "live (jazz) music venue"; there are myriad bars here one can vocally compete with whatever canned music is spewing out of the sound system, if that's your thing. Conversing is one thing, attempts at drowning out a whole horn section is another! I can, by the way, totally sympathise with the working musician angle - people don't go to weddings to check out your bebop chops.

    OK, so that's Toronto. Where are you, pauln? "quiet little upscale wine tasting restaurant" sorta makes me think somewhere in New York State, don't know why Enjoy the bubble.
    Houston
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  11. #10

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    And it's not just restaurants...

    How Restaurants Got So Loud - The Atlantic
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by pauln View Post
    Houston
    Close!

    With regard to noise in general, thanks to the recommendation of someone here who lives in a thinly-walled NY apartment (I think it was hep to the jive), I discovered white noise. So, instead of earplugs, which have never worked for me, I chill out, even nap, to the sound of rainforests and ocean waves!

  13. #12

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    Paul, what's the name of the place? I might try to get over there sometime. It will be a trek, but maybe worth it.

  14. #13

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    The Free Spirits album, Live at the Scene, February 22nd 1967, captures the atmosphere of the club at the height of its fame: noisy.



    I have a recording of Cream at the Marquee Club, made a few months later; again, lots of talking. I suppose some people do not pay attention. But they will tell their grandchildren they saw the band.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell View Post
    Paul, what's the name of the place? I might try to get over there sometime. It will be a trek, but maybe worth it.
    Not just one place; most places we tend to get series (one of my two shows this weekend is the third of a nine show series, other one is with the classic rock band for a private function). If you do plan a trek, feel free to send me a notification... I'll let you know what's going on.
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  16. #15

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    Even back in the day, Mingus was known to lecture the audience for making too much noise, telling them Isaac Stern didn't have to put up with that shit.

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Litterick View Post
    I have a recording of Cream at the Marquee Club, made a few months later; again, lots of talking. I suppose some people do not pay attention. But they will tell their grandchildren they saw the band.
    Nurturing personal relations and hooking up with females is more important than bands in clubs. Sure if you go to a proper concert then yes, silence is expected ... but in a club?

    Shouldn't you as a musician be stoked over the fact that you lay the soundtrack to their lives? Helping them bond with their friends and and interact with other people .. instead of complaining that they don't appreciate you?

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by neilspeers View Post
    I so want this shirt




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    Saw Peter Ind ask some loud fool on a first date this at the Bass Clef...he was playing with Louis Stewart & spoiled the gig for me (the fool, not Peter Ind)

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by dot75 View Post
    Saw Peter Ind ask some loud fool on a first date this at the Bass Clef...he was playing with Louis Stewart & spoiled the gig for me (the fool, not Peter Ind)
    Well that’s a good excuse to show the clip of Peter Ind and Louis Stewart again!


  20. #19

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    Respect for any non-Brit who can identify the guy who presents Stewart and Ind in that video!

  21. #20

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    The last bar gig I played was in 1993. It reached a point where music was pointless.

    I played a Christmas party once with my trio where the conversations were louder than the band. rather than compete we turned way down. After a while the conversations got quieter. But the attendees were not there for the music anyway. If we had turned up we would be the ones that came off as jerks.

    So YES it is like that everywhere.

  22. #21

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    This type of thing happens to all playing musicans. So unless the group that is overly loud is disturbing the Magority of others Listening I let it slide. But the times that I need to do something I go to the manager and Bar tenders and explain how a group of patrons are makeing it unplesent for the Rest of his clientel. That usualy solves the problem

  23. #22

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    It doesn't bother me if people aren't paying attention, as long I as I see feet tapping along.

    I would not enjoy playing if I couldn't hear myself or the band, or it was so loud that it starts sounding like a dull roar.

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter C View Post
    Respect for any non-Brit who can identify the guy who presents Stewart and Ind in that video!
    Spike Milligan

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo View Post
    Spike Milligan
    Bingo. Not at all well-known in the U.S. - guessing here as gumbo is a Creole stew popular in Louisiana ..

  26. #25

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    Sounds like every great club in America.

    I look at it this way. They could be anywhere else, and they have chosen to be where you are playing. And in no small part because of you, they are having a good time.

    So you should too. Slide up closer to the horn, or get some in-ear monitors, jam, and have some fun!

  27. #26

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    Sometimes the noise level gets to be a competition between the band and the crowd. You turn up; they get louder. You turn up more; they get louder still. It's a vicious circle.

    Sometimes the least bad situation is to just turn down. Usually the audience will turn down too. They'll still be too loud and they still won't be listening but the overall noise level will be less annoying. Sometimes that's the best you can do.

  28. #27

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    How about this? I can only imagine this is what professional jazz musicians nowadays have to withstand...the "jazz brunch".

  29. #28

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  30. #29

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    Great post, Peter!
    Two things: 1.) unless you're in a concert venue where patrons paid to see YOU perform, you can't expect politeness and consideration
    2.) If you have a loud and unruly crowd, the only justification is that you have been paid well. Never play for peanuts and
    NEVER PLAY FOR FREE!!! You hurt the rest of us who only play for fair compensation.

    Good playing . . . Marinero

  31. #30

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    YEAH, I mean bartender, turn up the TV so I can HEAR the GAME!!!

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by dickbanks View Post
    Sounds like every great club in America.

    I look at it this way. They could be anywhere else, and they have chosen to be where you are playing. And in no small part because of you, they are having a good time.

    So you should too. Slide up closer to the horn, or get some in-ear monitors, jam, and have some fun!

    ^^^^^^^^^ This. Well said, Sir.
    Best regards, k

  33. #32

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    Lennie Tristano with Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh at the Half Note in 1964: an audience of people talking, laughing, enjoying themselves; among them, some dedicated listeners.


  34. #33

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    I don't. I throw the guitar on the floor, smash the mic to one side, stride right up to them menacingly and scream 'WHY DON'T YOU B-------S SHUT THE ---- UP!'.

    Never fails

    I come out of hospital next week

  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bahnzo View Post


    How about this? I can only imagine this is what professional jazz musicians nowadays have to withstand...the "jazz brunch".
    ‘These days?’ Holy shit have you heard the Charlie Christian Mintons tapes?

  36. #35

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    I've heard it said, that if you're playing a bar or if you're playing a restaurant you are basically musical wallpaper. If you're playing a Main Street gig, chances are you're basically musical shrubbery. If you're actually playing a concert indoor or outdoor public park gazebo... you might have an audience that is paying a bit of attention.

  37. #36

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    Ira Sullivan told me a story of a gig he did in Orlando. This was a gig at a "music venue" by an artist, but also served booze and lite food. He's in the middle of a solo and someone comes in with a birthday cake sits it down on the table right in front of him and the table all sing "Happy Birthday". Sorry but that's just over the line rude and obnoxious.

  38. #37

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    Just need to remember the difference between customers and employees....

  39. #38

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    A noisy audience is the sound of an audience enjoying itself. As long as they do, there's a better chance of getting a repeat gig at the place, so I kinda like it. I don't mind being the music to their fun night out rather than the center of everybody's attention. It's nice if somebody pays attention at all, but I don't need to be the focus of everything. Besides, the first 20+ years of my gigging "career" was playing pop and rock which was all about getting drunk people on the dance floor. A totally quiet crowd is somewhat unnerving to me.

  40. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by geogio View Post
    I've heard it said, that if you're playing a bar or if you're playing a restaurant you are basically musical wallpaper. If you're playing a Main Street gig, chances are you're basically musical shrubbery. If you're actually playing a concert indoor or outdoor public park gazebo... you might have an audience that is paying a bit of attention.
    ‘Musical shrubbery.’ I should put that on my business card.

  41. #40

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    Musical broccoli in my case.

  42. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by dickbanks View Post
    Sounds like every great club in America.

    I look at it this way. They could be anywhere else, and they have chosen to be where you are playing. And in no small part because of you, they are having a good time.

    So you should too. Slide up closer to the horn, or get some in-ear monitors, jam, and have some fun!
    My thoughts exactly!

    I've gotten used to it, most jamsessions are like that (although there are always some people listening and paying more attention). Later when I grow up to be a famous musician I will ask the audience to be quiet and refuse to play when they are not quiet.

    I actually prefer a bit of noise. Makes me loosen up more and play more interesting stuff, so in the end it's ME having a better time than when the audience is dead quiet.
    Jazz, Funk, Soul & Boogaloo: My group | Listen to Hip Jazz a Go Go! | Jazz, Soul, Blues: Eva La Voix

  43. #42

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    To give another example: I play with a singer (Eva La Voix) and this year we played the 'after party' in a bar after the last concert of the jazz festival in town. Placed was packed with people not ready to go home yet and most of them had already had quite a few alcoholic beverages (it's a cocktail-bar ;-), so you can imagine the audience to be very loud and noisy.

    Somehow at some point we got the whole club to be dead quiet by playing an intense balad - a jazzed-up cover of Amy Winehouse's "Love Is A Losing Game". That was a great experience! Fact is that Eva really puts her whole soul and a lot of emotion into this balad and apperently the audience picked that up.

    My point is, that as an artist you need to devellop the skill to grab the audience and make them listen to you. Even in a jamsession this is possible, when you really make something happen on stage. Give everything! Turn those heads!

    (And if it doesn't work out that night, at least YOU had a good time as well.)
    Jazz, Funk, Soul & Boogaloo: My group | Listen to Hip Jazz a Go Go! | Jazz, Soul, Blues: Eva La Voix

  44. #43

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    An audience that’s too well-behaved disturbes me more than a noisy one. It’s a nightmare to start wondering if I’m playing for an audience or a wall. The audience is a natural part of a performance. Why not let them make noise?

    Remember, a great live album is worth nothing without a noisy audience.
    Have I found it yet? I said that but I didn’t knew it. Did I knew that I had found it yet? No, it wasn’t what I was looking for. Nevermind. Ok.

    -Pataphysical monologue based on Cartesian theory

  45. #44

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    Sorry, Carnegie Hall did not call you for the concert.

    You got a gig in a bar or restaurant (or better yet a wedding or corporate party)? People are going to make noise. Get over it.
    _____________________________________________
    "When the chord changes, you should change" Joe Pass

  46. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by Average Joe View Post
    A noisy audience is the sound of an audience enjoying itself. As long as they do, there's a better chance of getting a repeat gig at the place, so I kinda like it. I don't mind being the music to their fun night out rather than the center of everybody's attention. It's nice if somebody pays attention at all, but I don't need to be the focus of everything. Besides, the first 20+ years of my gigging "career" was playing pop and rock which was all about getting drunk people on the dance floor. A totally quiet crowd is somewhat unnerving to me.
    Actually, I think you're absolutely right. It's not a concert hall. I used, infrequently, to frequent the odd folk club or two and they sit there, like they're in church, staring at you in silence. Utterly ghastly.

    And then you get (no matter how good you are) a sort of pitter-patter of half-hearted, spiritless clapping... not my scene. So, yes, let's have some life! Mind you, I did do a gig once and some girl came up half-way through and said 'Where's the party, then?'.

    Oh, well :-)

  47. #46

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    Most "jazz jams" in my area are at coffeehouses or bars, and like others have said, people go to those venues to hang out and socialize (or study/read, at the coffeehouses). The people who are there for the jam are sitting close to the music and probably listening, but everyone else is chatting it up. This does not make for a "musical" vibe, and often the dynamic range is "forte to fortissimo!"

  48. #47

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    I did a solo (first in a long time) gig recently and cool venue, small room, packed house, (not for me, cool venue) and I told my wife after, no one was listening. She said, you're wrong, just because they're not staring at you silently doesn't mean they're not listening.

  49. #48

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    The Bill Evans Trio was so good that nearly 60 years on I continue to be gobsmacked by their performance at Village Vanguard. Audience was noisy. How can I possibly expect more cooperation from an audience than it would show Evans?
    Last edited by Greentone; 10-28-2019 at 08:11 AM.

  50. #49

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    It’s always fun to use dynamics in these situations, but hard. Sometimes it has an effect on the room.

  51. #50

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    My city is very big and during last years the jazz scene here bacame very solid...

    there si one place - jam club - they only play jams there so they start at 22:00 earliest, it is very small... only bar, no menu.. but the drinks are high quality, they can make any cocktail too on your request...
    often local or foreign stars make guest appearance there.

    there is no place for amateur - or semi-amateurs... also the owner has some problems with guitars.. only some gutarists have exclusive right to play there.

    But as for your question... - it is usually very much crowded... it has big windows and in summetime - they are open and people sit or stand outside... also the street is (sometimes I think today the whole downtown is) restaurant, bar territory...

    People speak very loundly - mostly it is not listening, it is more like a process of communicating... musicians are mixed with audience, some horn players sit right at the bar sometimes... when not soloing musicians talk or come out to smoke and so on... so this all is a crowd and in my opinion it is quite regular situation for a jam like that - it is non-stop playing, talking, socialization...

    There is another place where the jammers are more separated from the audience... and the jam has more regulated order, there it looks more like they do background music just jamming...