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Weird open mike etiquette

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GUEST,Marion 25 Oct 00 - 12:29 AM
Thomas the Rhymer 25 Oct 00 - 01:02 AM
Peter Kasin 25 Oct 00 - 01:52 AM
Sorcha 25 Oct 00 - 02:11 AM
WyoWoman 25 Oct 00 - 03:30 AM
The Shambles 25 Oct 00 - 06:20 AM
wysiwyg 25 Oct 00 - 08:01 AM
The Shambles 25 Oct 00 - 08:47 AM
Bernard 25 Oct 00 - 08:57 AM
Jon Freeman 25 Oct 00 - 09:38 AM
JedMarum 25 Oct 00 - 10:14 AM
StandingBear (inactive) 25 Oct 00 - 11:25 AM
Alice 25 Oct 00 - 12:12 PM
Jim Dixon 25 Oct 00 - 12:23 PM
sophocleese 25 Oct 00 - 12:26 PM
wysiwyg 25 Oct 00 - 12:32 PM
Bill D 25 Oct 00 - 12:38 PM
Jon Freeman 25 Oct 00 - 12:49 PM
Richard Bridge 25 Oct 00 - 05:40 PM
Liz the Squeak 25 Oct 00 - 05:58 PM
Richard Bridge 25 Oct 00 - 06:09 PM
Bernard 25 Oct 00 - 07:13 PM
Bill D 25 Oct 00 - 09:20 PM
paddymac 25 Oct 00 - 11:17 PM
The Shambles 26 Oct 00 - 02:56 AM
GUEST,Murray MacLeod 26 Oct 00 - 08:44 PM
kendall 26 Oct 00 - 09:06 PM
Willie-O 26 Oct 00 - 09:18 PM
GUEST,Murray MacLeod 26 Oct 00 - 09:28 PM
Marion 26 Oct 00 - 09:39 PM
Marion 26 Oct 00 - 09:54 PM
GUEST,Murray MacLeod 26 Oct 00 - 09:57 PM
Midchuck 26 Oct 00 - 10:28 PM
GUEST,Murray Macleod 27 Oct 00 - 07:08 AM
Richard Bridge 27 Oct 00 - 06:12 PM
GUEST,Murray MacLeod 27 Oct 00 - 06:51 PM
GUEST 28 Oct 00 - 08:36 AM
GUEST,Terry Allan Hall (a guest?...I'm honored!) 28 Oct 00 - 09:40 AM
The Shambles 28 Oct 00 - 09:41 AM
Bernard 28 Oct 00 - 11:16 AM
The Shambles 28 Oct 00 - 11:53 AM
Rick Fielding 28 Oct 00 - 04:41 PM
The Shambles 28 Oct 00 - 05:08 PM
Willie-O 28 Oct 00 - 05:22 PM
Thomas the Rhymer 28 Oct 00 - 06:59 PM
Peter Kasin 29 Oct 00 - 01:43 AM
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Thomas the Rhymer 29 Oct 00 - 01:42 PM
Marion 03 Nov 00 - 07:45 PM
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Marion 03 Nov 00 - 07:59 PM
The Shambles 03 Nov 00 - 08:10 PM
Marion 03 Nov 00 - 08:22 PM
Jon Freeman 04 Nov 00 - 04:48 AM
Marion 02 Feb 01 - 04:16 PM
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Mrs.Duck 02 Feb 01 - 05:09 PM
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Subject: Weird open mike etiquette
From: GUEST,Marion
Date: 25 Oct 00 - 12:29 AM

Hello all. See what you think of this situation I found a week ago. I was at an open mike, the kind where you give your name in advance to the MC if you want to play and he calls you up when he sees fit. I was called up second, so I hadn't seen enough to know what would happen.

When I started my first song, I was surprised that two guitar players who were in the first set stayed on stage to play with me, but I didn't say anything. I was just playing a picking pattern with basic chords so it was actually quite nice to have the better players there to make the music interesting while I concentrated on singing.

After the first song, I turned to the gentlemen with me on stage, smiled, and said, "Thank you for playing with me. The other song I'm going to do is a cappella." I proceeded to do the song (Johnny Be Fair) a cappella and the audience seemed pleased.

This was all very well, but as the evening went on I discovered that one of those two players played along with about 50% of the acts, and the other played along with 100% of them - mostly guitar, sometimes fiddle or mandolin. With one group there wasn't enough chairs on stage so he sat in the front row and played along. Also, he was playing (with the volume lowered) as people were arriving, and he kept playing through the intermission as people were milling about.

He was great. While I'm no great judge of guitar skills his work sure looked fancy to me, and I was impressed by his ability to do all that spontaneous improvising, not to mention his stamina. I was chatting with the MC during the intermission and the MC said this guy was the best guitar player in Cape Breton.

But it seemed weird to me to have one guy playing nonstop and for him to be accompanying everybody by default. That is weird, isn't it?

Also, as the night went on I was getting more and more embarassed that I, and only I, had asked him to stop playing when it seems to be an institution here that he always plays. But if it was an open mike I guess I was in my rights saying that a song would be a cappella, wasn't I?

But I think in the future I'll steer clear of a cappella songs or songs where I like to play the solo at this venue.

Marion


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 25 Oct 00 - 01:02 AM

I feel for you Marion. It is an interesting feature indeed, to have unsolicited accompaniment...

Though the majority of musicians probably could not be versatile enough, the players that can pull it off are great, and it can make the evening go smoother, but the eclectic nature of the performances can still get lost in the translation. I would call it a melting pot effect.

But between you and me, unaccompanied singing is a fantastic art, and the people who do it should NOT have to go against the grain of the evening... Please keep doing it, Marion, you have already broken the ice at that venue, and they will (ought to be) more cordial next time...:o)


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Peter Kasin
Date: 25 Oct 00 - 01:52 AM

Was the guitar player Dave MacIsaac? I agree with Thomas's comments. I wonder, though, if this sort of "house band" approach to open mikes is common in Cape Breton. Any C.B. mudcatters out there?


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Sorcha
Date: 25 Oct 00 - 02:11 AM

I've had this happen to me, here in WyoBraska. Sometimes it's good, if I am there w/o back up, but it is really strange playing for an audience with brand new back up that does not know the tune/song and gets the "accidental" chords wrong. Usually, I don't go back. It's another reason I won't do contests.........can't take my own back up who knows where I am going or what the tune does. I think these people are rude and don't know it. Who gets to tell them to just shut up? Not me!


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: WyoWoman
Date: 25 Oct 00 - 03:30 AM

What makes me completely nuts is when someone starts to accompany me on a song he's never heard before and before I can even go through the song once so he can HEAR where the tune goes, he's off and running -- generally in a direction the song never went before. I don't mean just noodling a little bit quietly to get a sense of what's going on in the song, I mean galloping off toward the horizon astride that old familair steed, the I,IV, V.

Listening is good. Not every song has the same chord progression, and if you listen, you can usually tell where the deviations occur.

But ... the upside to this is that I picked up a guitar in self defense because I got so tired of trying to communicate a song to someone. I haven't tried to jam now that I can actually play guitar a little, but I figure if they still won't listen, I have a large, blunt object with which to whap 'em upside the head. ...

By the way, marion, I sing unaccompanied a lot, too, and I am utterly unabashed now at saying, "I sing this unaccompanied." Thanking them for playing is a gracious thing to do though ... it's good you're being that thoughtful, and that ought to put you in good stead when you go back.

ww


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: The Shambles
Date: 25 Oct 00 - 06:20 AM

Interesting set-up. You did imply that you would be going back there. So that probably say's a lot. As you said the audience liked what you did, so I would advise you not to change your approach at all. Next time you go, you may find that you have even set a precedent and that all the other performers will now ask them not to play?

At these informal things, to me it is not really too important how much someone plays as much as what, how and whether it is adding or detracting from the performance. Sounds like he was maybe one of those exceptional players, who I have been lucky to find, very occasionally, that can add to the music on first hearing? There certainly are other lesser talents, who would not have added much, but would have played all night anyway.

If you look at the principle of the thing, as opposed to judging the aesthetic nature of the resulting music, it would not be too much to expect him/them to ask if it was OK with you. The other folk performing probably knew what to expect and went there with that understanding. As you say, you did not know what to expect, so the onus was probably up to them to explain to you. However they did stop when you made it clear you did not want them to play.

I suppose I have some sympathy with them as when I have gone to the trouble of packing my instruments, going out, travelling to the place, tuned-up and unpacked them, I kind of like to play as much as I can. For the one thing that musicians do just as well as make music, if not better, is to 'natter'.

I can 'natter' too and there is a time and a place for that, but sitting there with all those musicians and all those instruments and to be surrounded by absolutely no music at all, is like a bad dream to me.

But just to actively listen to others playing, is good too.


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: wysiwyg
Date: 25 Oct 00 - 08:01 AM

Don't stop being a capella!!!

Curious-- do any of the mic-ers direct these accompanists in any way-- set up the tune and changes with them first, or discuss alternate tunings, or lay out the pattern (like A-B-A-B vs A-A-B-B-A), or disucss tempo changes? Is there a tacit signal when the song is about to end? Do the accompnaists tend to NOT play much for any of the better-quality regulars? How do they handle songs the mic-ers have written, themselves? Is there ever any discussion about what KIND of backup will be useful to the mic-er?

In other words, do they treat each other like colleagues at this place, everyone peers to get the song to go well, or is it more like "We know you are going to need lots of help so we make this palatable for the audience because you just can;t cut it." Or somewhere in between? How did it FEEL to you?

Did this evolve as an improvement from something else, and what, and why? Or have they just invented this form because they were not familiar with usual open mic form?

[aside, AKA Thread Creep to Sorcha-- I thought Indihio and Ohdiana were the only combined state. (It's Indihio driving east, and Ohdiana going west.) The unbroken flatness these names convey... So I really liked [Wyobraska]; but is there also Neoming? And where does Montana fit in? My geography is awful. Could there be a Coloradoho and Idarado? Kanswas and Iowas? Missibama and Alassippi? BTWE, our part of PA is called Pennsyltucky (abbr. PY), although our border with KY is purely in the mind.]

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: The Shambles
Date: 25 Oct 00 - 08:47 AM

It is the United States, after all.


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Bernard
Date: 25 Oct 00 - 08:57 AM

I've always considered it rude to accompany someone unless they have specifically requested it. I am able to join in 'at the drop of a hat' much like the chappie mentioned at the start of this thread; people know this, and ask. If they don't ask, I don't play... manners.


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 25 Oct 00 - 09:38 AM

I would normally say this is just plain rude but this case sounds a litlle different. Are you sure that this guy was not part of the set-up and that you haven't missunderstood the way the venue works?

Did you ask the MC why this guy was doing this and what the set-up of the venue is?

Jon


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: JedMarum
Date: 25 Oct 00 - 10:14 AM

When I lived in Boston I played a lot of pick-up basketball in the local parks. Each court had its own particular set of rules. I sometimes chose the park I would go to because I wanted to play one way, as opposed to another. I think the same thing applies to jams and open mic nights. Each venue has its own rules, traditions or idiosyncrasies.

I have been to open mics where unsolicited accompaniment would be rude. But I've been to others where the 'house' musician or musicians were expected to accompany any and all acts, much like you've described. I ran an open mic for several months in Dallas, and were somewhere in between. We would offer each guest the option.

Sounds like your accompaniment was appeciated, and I suspect that the request for a capella was quite reasonable, and not a breach of etiquette.


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: StandingBear (inactive)
Date: 25 Oct 00 - 11:25 AM

I have been an accompanist for many open mic'ers (esp. on the harmonica and/or harmony vocals) and I NEVER go up unless I am asked. I have done lots and lots of session work, but I always look at my job sort of like Steve Cropper does (Booker T. and the MG's, for the uninitiated): He is a session player par excellence and a great songwriter; he NEVER gets in the spotlight on another person's gig, though. he's there to back THEM up.

Just my thoughts.

Peace on you,

'Bear


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Alice
Date: 25 Oct 00 - 12:12 PM

Sing those songs alone that are meant to be sung unaccompanied! I agree with those who support you in announcing that a song is unaccompanied - the U.S. audience needs to learn that this IS a way to perform and to respect it.


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 25 Oct 00 - 12:23 PM

I don't have a lot of experience with open mikes, but you're right, this DOES seem like weird etiquette. Ordinarily I would call it rude to play along without asking, but if it's true that this guy is a great player, and he sounded good, then I would cut him some slack. I would also cut him some slack due to the fact that his playing along seems to be an established local custom. Weird local customs do spring up from time to time, and usually should be respected.

(That reminds me: I should describe how the "reserved seating" system used to work at the now-defunct Coffeehouse Extemporé in Minneapolis. Now THAT was weird. Maybe I'll start a separate thread on that someday.)

I'd say you handled it exactly right. If you prefer to sing without accompaniment, you should feel free to say so. Just say it politely. It sounds like that's what you did.


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: sophocleese
Date: 25 Oct 00 - 12:26 PM

I'll go along with those Marion who say keep on singing unaccompanied. But also enjoy what seems to be some excellent accompianment when you want it. It would seem that you phrased your request very politely so I don't see a need to worry about stepping on people's toes. From the sounds of it the guitarist is an excellent player who accompanies rather than over playing. Likely then he is secure enough of his abilities not to be hurt by a singer who wants to sing a song or two alone.


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: wysiwyg
Date: 25 Oct 00 - 12:32 PM

Marion, re-reading your initial post, I am left with this nagging thought-- your last paragraph. Do they want to leave people feeling like that? Do they have any idea that this is the reaction they can get? Perhaps even if the format is wonderful, the MC might appreciate someone as gracious as you sound, asking if that is the impression they mean to leave. It would be so simple to NOT leave it, just by making up a little flyer that lays out house practices when people sign up! Wouldn't a gracious MC spot newcomers and want to clue them in??? If there is an acceptable way to let the "helpers" know that you do or do not need a specific kind of help, wouldn't it be pretty normal to say what it is? See?

I just keep thinking, would I have been able to sing at all if I had had the kind of surprise you did?

I think you done good!

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Bill D
Date: 25 Oct 00 - 12:38 PM

any truly good musician can recognize a song/ballad that is often done unaccompanied, and shouldn't have to be told not to play. Since I am not often in club sessions, I have not seen the situation of 'house accompianists', but I SURE have been in song circles where banjo or guitar players considered a challenge to find the key and noodle along within 2 measures, often usurping the pace, tune and rhythm from the singer/player. In some cases it actually helps weaker players 'get it right', but is often only a nuisance.

I suppose that once a guy is good enough, he finds it painful to hear someone doing a song/tune to less than HIS set of criteria. But there are those of us who just wanta play the song the way we want with no help...thankyewveddymuch.


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 25 Oct 00 - 12:49 PM

Praise, in my experience with singers nights in folk clubs and sessions, the correct ettiquite is for the performers to learn the way a venue works as much of it is based on learning the feel for a place. I would hate to see such venues producing a written set of rules.

I have been MC in a folk club on a few occasions and I would try to spot newcomers and ask them if they wanted to sing but I them to listen and try to get a feel for the club and ask any questions they feel necessary. The sort of questions I had were usually "Do you alow contemporary or is this club strictly traditional"? or "is it OK to sing a Beatles song"?

Jon


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 25 Oct 00 - 05:40 PM

If it is really "open mic" i.e. with PA, an acoustic guitar in the front row will hardly be heard.

If it is a singaround (sinagrounds are so much more fun) singers' club or music session then I do think not only that joining in is OK but also that it often adds hugely to the sound.

But if you have a paid guest then even added vocals on verses (as distinct from choruses) may be thought pushy, and mostly instrumental joining in would be intrusive unless requested


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 25 Oct 00 - 05:58 PM

I've been in lots of clubs and singarounds, where intrumentalists "noodle" along with a song, but there have been times when they've been bloody nuisances, and I've even stopped a song halfway through to tell the guy singing really bad harmonies to shut up, as he was throwing me WAY off key. Usually a hard stare shuts em up, but there is always one who refuses to make eye contact. He's usually the one who either a) runs the club/singaround/session or b) thinks he's better than everyone else, or c) both of the above. A and B are relatively easy to deal with, heaven help you if you get a C.....

As for the weird settup - next time, ask to go on later maybe, but don't be afraid to ask the accompanist to lay off, if they asked you to sing, they asked YOU to sing. If all they want to do is play along to something without really hearing it, then take along a Walkman and plug them in..... Of course, tact is always welcome, not exactly my forte....

LTS


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 25 Oct 00 - 06:09 PM

Unaccompanied song usually keeps fixed pitch instruments off, 'cos they can only be in pitch with someone in concert.


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Bernard
Date: 25 Oct 00 - 07:13 PM

Or someone incontinent...


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Bill D
Date: 25 Oct 00 - 09:20 PM

Richard...no, when an unaccompanied singer is slightly off of concert pitch, a guitar player 'tends' to ease them up or down into pitch, and the guitar player can then continue. I know one guy who has such awareness and control that he is NOT movable, and it drives the noodlers crazy. I have heard him start a song between notes, just to make the point....but he is the exception. I can't do it...I have no recourse but to ask them to stop if I want to 'do it myself'. If it is a simple well-known tune and I know the guitar player knows about the same tune, why it might be welcome, but not on EVERYTHING!


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: paddymac
Date: 25 Oct 00 - 11:17 PM

Each venue seems to have its own way of doing things, and even tho they're called "open mic" nights, many are more like sessions, with regular participants. Some that are truly "open" can have performers that - well, let's just say they're not ready to perform in public. Even the best had a "first time". A good accompanist (sp?) is a boon in such cases, and might even be on the payroll. I think it's absolutely necessary to have places for people to "get their feet wet", but that needs to be balanced with the wants of the audience. After all, it's their beer money that makes it possible.


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: The Shambles
Date: 26 Oct 00 - 02:56 AM

Weird? Open Mike?


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: GUEST,Murray MacLeod
Date: 26 Oct 00 - 08:44 PM

Marion, getting back to your initial posting, if the guitarist accompanying you was the best guitarist on Cape Breton Island, then that was JP Cormier. Especially if he played fiddle and mandolin as well. If it wasn't JP then he wasn't the best guitarist on Cape Breton Island. JP Cormier is a living legend, almost, but not quite, as good as Tony McManus, and anybody he chooses to accompany should consider themselves honoured. But it probably wasn't him at all. I sure would like to know who it was, however.

Murray


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: kendall
Date: 26 Oct 00 - 09:06 PM

The late Granpa Jones came out to do his bit. A drummer, left over from the previous set asked "Can I help you some?" Granpa said "Very little, if any."

I recently went to a party, and was asked to sing something Irish by the host. Another musician, who didnt know the song was unable to keep quiet, so, he started ham boning and making mouth music on Kevin Barry. I did not appreciate it. That was my last song of the evening.I just quit. Now, was I rude? or was he?


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Willie-O
Date: 26 Oct 00 - 09:18 PM

Well, maybe JP wasn't on the Island that night...whoever it was, I would be thrilled to have Dave MacIsaac or anyone of that calibre at my back in such a location.

Does remind me of a time I was invited to play when they opened our brand new ballpark--I went onstage tuned in DADGAD with a song ready to go, then realized there was a six-piece hardcore country band playing with me. OK, I says to myself, rapidly retuning, and falling back on my no-brainer (hate that term), Summer Wages.

I do think it's pretty unusual that someone who's that good just played and played and never took a break...I guess that's how he got so good!

But ya missed seeing Archie Fisher in Perth, Marion. I spose being in CB has some compensations....I guess.

W-O


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: GUEST,Murray MacLeod
Date: 26 Oct 00 - 09:28 PM

"being in CB has some compensations" .....Damn right, how about the Cabot Trail at this time of year, also the Celtic Colours Festival (which is where I first saw JP and Dave McIsaac) Funnily enough Archie Fisher was on stage with them as well as was Tony McManus. I have the fondest memories of Cape Breton Island. They even named a bridge after me there .....

Murray


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Marion
Date: 26 Oct 00 - 09:39 PM

He was neither Dave nor JP. His name was either Clinton something or Cliff something - I didn't quite catch it. (Maybe it was Clinton Hammond; he's Canadian, isn't he?)

Thanks for your input everybody. I agree that this man wasn't breaching the local etiquette in playing with me unsolicited, since that's how it works there - I was just surprised because I haven't come across this kind of format before. But apparently it's not so unusual.

You're right, Jon Freeman, I should have gone one night just to listen before performing. I also discovered in the course of the night that almost all the acts were country or bluegrass stuff. So now I'll try to to choose material that might be remotely pleasing to country fans (finding a folkier venue is not easy in my current state of geographical/transportational isolation).

Yes Shambles, I'll be going back. I really enjoyed the ambience - it wasn't a bar, but rather a firehall set up with rows of chairs, with treats brought by participants shared during the intermission. The crowd seemed very nice; I was with a couple of my housemates who have learning disabilities (I live in a L'Arche home) and people were very welcoming to us and tolerant of their little-bit-different-from-normal behaviours.

And you know, I learned something important through this open mike and through this thread: I've often heard that "it's about the music, not the musicians" but it didn't really click with me what that meant till now. I had been thinking of doing a song called "War Bride's Waltz" (Aengus Finnan) not only for its moving lyrics but because I've been practicing a little guitar solo to go with it that I wanted to show off.

So at first I thought: there's no point in doing the War Bride's Waltz because if the other guys play the attention will be distracted from my guitar solo and I can't impress the audience with my skills. But now I realize that the thing to do is play the song, just with chords, and nod to the others to take the solo when it comes up. This way a great song will be presented to the audience in the better arrangement than I could have done on my own, and it doesn't matter who gets the glory.

This must sound like a moment from Chicken Soup for the Soul, but I really did just come to understand the concept that it's about the music, not the musician.

I don't think I'll do anymore a cappella stuff, just because it doesn't seem to fit the venue.

I mentioned being there with some men with mental disabilities; in fact when I was chatting with the MC and mentioned that they play guitar and fiddle, he said that they were welcome to perform too. I'll have to think long and hard about that one (they play very, very badly) but maybe once we've been there long enough... open means open, right?

Marion


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Marion
Date: 26 Oct 00 - 09:54 PM

Hi Willie-O. Archie Fisher? Damn. Who's playing in Perth or district between December 27 and January 1? That's when I'll be there. I'd be glad to look you up and play Maple Sugar with you too, if you're so inclined. I'm definitely bring the fiddle, haven't decided about the guitar.

Where are you from, Murray? Yes, Cape Breton isn't much to complain about, except that I can't buy brown rice anywhere in my town. (I didn't realize brown rice was that exotic).

Willie-O's story reminds of the best scene in Blues Brothers, where the band is stealing a gig by pretending to be a country band, and the only tunes they can think of to do are "Rawhide" and "Stand By Your Man." I'm thinking of learning Stan's "Night Guard" and trying to pass it off as a country song - hey, it has the word rodeo in it - I guess I'd better stock up on chicken wire.

Marion


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: GUEST,Murray MacLeod
Date: 26 Oct 00 - 09:57 PM

I used to host an Open Mike in Worcester MA, Marion, and no one was ever disbarred from performing no matter how dire they were. And they were always listened to politely and applauded afterwards. And that is true of all the Open Mikes I have been to. ( As long as they don't over-run their time ). So go for it, it could be hugely important to your friends' development.

Murray


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Midchuck
Date: 26 Oct 00 - 10:28 PM

Willie-O: Do you really consider Summer Wages a "no-brainer?" I don't quite follow that. I've always considered it one of the finest songs by one of the world's finest songwriters.

What's wrong with it? And if you feel that way, why do you do it?

Peter.


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: GUEST,Murray Macleod
Date: 27 Oct 00 - 07:08 AM

Midchuck, I am sure that what Willy-O meant was that it is a song which he knew the band could follow without any problems. I don't think he was disparaging the song in any way . You are right, it is a great song. Although mathematically Tyson was wrong to write "NEVER draw on seventeen". There are (rare) occasions when it is the correct strategy.

Murray


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 27 Oct 00 - 06:12 PM

If "open mic" includes non amplified, and so singers nights, singarounds, floor spots and the like, there are places where the "welcome" ethos is not applied. There have always been some UK folk clubs where guitars are very unwelcome (the usual basis being that they cannot be proper for folk music because they were not invented when folk songs where written - all guitar music being at best contemporary acoustic). I am told that the club run by the Copper family is very like this. If Bob Copper does not approve of it (I am told) no-one else had better dare to. A friend of mine tells me he accompanied himself there on guitar to do "the Cuddy Wren" (approx 1342, I think) and was told off for his contemporary approach.


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: GUEST,Murray MacLeod
Date: 27 Oct 00 - 06:51 PM

I think that may be painting a distorted view of the Copper family, Richard. I was invited some years ago to one of the Coppers' "invitation only" evenings in Firle, and was the only person there with a guitar. Admittedly Bob was not there that night, but John Copper took the trouble to tell me personally how much he had enjoyed my playing. I saw no trace of purist elitism that night.

Murray


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Oct 00 - 08:36 AM

Marion: Are you really in CB??? Chances are that your a capella songs will be appreciated very much, so don't stop. If you get to Halifax, check out the Dandelion Cafe (email me if you plan to cross the causeway - I live in Dartmouth) or the Folk Harbour Pub nights (usually first Saturday evening of the month at the Alderney Bar and Grill in Downtown Dartmouth). Folk Harbour also hosts a Wednesday evening at Kitchen on the Dock (Ferry Terminal in Dartmouth)from 7-10 p.m. Doors to all venues are open, and Folk Harbour Pub Night usually has a guest performer and an open-mike session.

Pixie


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: GUEST,Terry Allan Hall (a guest?...I'm honored!)
Date: 28 Oct 00 - 09:40 AM

Sounds like that guy had a monumental ego, Marion...'Round here, we ASK if we may play along, in case the singer would prefer to not have "help"!


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: The Shambles
Date: 28 Oct 00 - 09:41 AM

"And you know, I learned something important through this open mike and through this thread: I've often heard that "it's about the music, not the musicians" but it didn't really click with me what that meant till now."

Marion I suppose that is why there are so many jams/sessions/singarounds or whatever. There is an attraction of such things for me. For it is possible, in these settings to create wonderful musical moments, usually very briefly but sometimes worth all the "clashing egos". There is a difference between a rehearsed performance and the excitement of making it up as you go along in public, with the adjustment needed to your playing/singing, to make the most of others inputs. Your place sounds like a halfway house and I think that you have the key to the best way to deal with it on future visits.

I always say (not entirely seriously), that it is the music that is important and that musicians are just a necessary evil. We are only human though and will always be tempted to put our personal needs before the music.

Just to stir the pot a little. It could possibly be argued that to sing solo acapella at informal gatherings is a prime example of placing the musician before the music and the ultimate thrill for the 'control freak'?

I say that not to insult but as something to think on. I will give an example: I was with a group of people mostly unknown to one another were playing tunes, with a few songs in a bar at a festival. A singer who had been present in the bar, for some time but had not joined in with any of the singing, walked up and said "how about a song?" They then sang a solo acapella song (no chorus), during which the group could not contribute and sat and listened. When they had finished the song, the singer stayed elsewhere in the bar but made no further contribution to the music being played and the songs being sung. I am sure they would have sung another song later had they been invited, but given the nature of the gathering, an invitation to contribute was not necessary.

I feel that if a guitar player had played a solo virtuoso performance, in such a setting, they would have been much criticised? Probably deserved, in my view. The singer did not appear to be so criticised but did receive a generous round of applause………….


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Bernard
Date: 28 Oct 00 - 11:16 AM

Dunno about 'over the pond', but over here in li'l ol' England, unaccompanied singing is an artform in itself. By that I mean some songs were never meant to be accompanied, and to inflict accompaniment upon them would be putting the musician before the music!!

A prime example is the Sea Shanty - few shanties (except fo'c'sle shanties) would ever have been accompanied, because everyone involved was working.

'A capella' is not quite the same thing. Okay, by definition 'unaccompanied' and 'a capella' are the same, but I hope I have clarified the subtle distinction between songs done without accompaniment, and unaccompanied songs...


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: The Shambles
Date: 28 Oct 00 - 11:53 AM

True there are some songs (not I would suggest most shanties), that would be difficult if not impossible to provide instrumental backing for, without the singer making adjustments, that would completly ruin the style. Instruments would add nothing and detract from these.

However the vast majority of songs that I hear sung at singarounds, without instrumental backing, do not fall into this category and could very easily be played and added to with instruments. Sadly I have even heard songs sung like this only because there was no one capable of providing the required backing.


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 28 Oct 00 - 04:41 PM

Hi Marion. Wish I hadn't been too busy to jump in here before 'cause it's a topic near and dear to my heart.

First of all JP Cormier or Dave MacIsaak would absolutely have NOT played along without an invitation. They've been around, and know that without politeness they wouldn't be so well thought of by now.

Secondly it's bloody near impossible to have a "win/win" situation from what you've described. My suggestion comes straight from the "Quentin Crisp" school of dealing with the undealable. If you want to sing (or play) on your own. Simply tell the "play along with everyone" musicians that "accompaniement makes you nervous and you forget words!" It may be a lie, but it should get them to shut up.

They don't see their actions as being rude, but if you have a certain way of doing a song you should NOT have to cater to people who've never invested one minute in YOUR music.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: The Shambles
Date: 28 Oct 00 - 05:08 PM

Just this very night and just before I read Rick's post, there was a Quentin Crisp quote on the TV. Not too sure that it is relevant but it possibly is and it made me laugh.

It was a chat about 'stars' and their privacy and was to the effect that if they were putting their camera lenses into your toilet. The trick was not to build up your toilet walls but to "urinate with style".

Surely in a performance the music can be entirely yours. In a jam or informal get-together, it is probably better to think of it as eveybody's?


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Willie-O
Date: 28 Oct 00 - 05:22 PM

Yes, you did the right thing, which is to state your needs, and always be nice about it.

Of course I was not meaning to disparage "Summer Wages", one of my favourite songs. Its a no-brainer in the sense that if I can't think of what to play, and there I am on a stage, that's the one I'll do, and _hope_ the band can handle it cause I can't think of anything they'll be much more comfortable with...

I don't think I'll ever use that stupid expression "no-brainer" again though. I've seen it used too many times in such a way that only the writer knows what the hell he is talking about.

Willie-O


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 28 Oct 00 - 06:59 PM

It is strange to me. As a musician-performer, I can tell the difference between a carefully worked out embelishment, and an off-the-top creation.... in a few seconds... who are we fooling? Now don't get me wrong,... I love Garcia-esque noodling as well as preordained traditional/classical aesthetics... BUT... It is the performer (who is often quite worked up about being 'on' next) who decides how their song goes, PERIOD.

Listening well is the best way to help those around you become better players, which is the best way to become a better player yourself! IMNSHO, the average open-mic is far too susceptible to being overrun by the loud and pushy, because listening just isn't provoative enough for today's musicians. *BG* (o:

But further than that, the posturings of the mock freindly, who are much more concerned with their social standing than anyone's performance, do more damage to folk music with their pat phrases, and their passive-agressive 'little' digs, than anyone here lets on. How many people just don't come back, how many people never really get into their power because of these horrid little self-centered twits, who see 'folk' music as a great way to be seen as "great"... I've become so sick of this that performing in most group settings has become intollerable for me. It seems like more than half the new-comers don't come back,... EVERYTIME! And who do we have to thank for this? Those set-in-their-ways "finally found a club they can belong in" 'folk bureaucrats' that's who.

You know who I'm talking about,... the ones who NEED to decide stuff, and only encourage others if it's Kewl... But seldom (if ever) really dig anything... but themselves putting others down... BLEAHCH!!!!

The remarkable thing is, that traditional music just will not be denied... and that this forum is changing the face of folk-music all over the world. Thank you Mudcat! ttr


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Peter Kasin
Date: 29 Oct 00 - 01:43 AM

Marion, you said you think the name of the guitar player was Clinton? Well, I suppose if he can play sax on a talk show....


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: The Shambles
Date: 29 Oct 00 - 05:22 AM

In the unfortunately unlikely event (for many reasons), that Doc Watson should ever wish to noodle along with me through my entire set, I would be honoured and feel blessed indeed.

Or

I would say to him "I know that you are considered by many to be the finest exponent of that style of guitar playing and that you are also considered by some to have been the originator of that particular style". " That you may have been responsible for influencing many other fine talents, during your long and illustrious career" "A career that I would hope will continue for many long years to come".

Yes Frank, there is no doubting the considerable contribution 'The Doc' has made to popular light entertainment, over many years.

But if he should bring his own unique brand of flat-picking to a performance of mine, at a folk club where I was well known and respected and started to unpack his guitar……I would say…… "OY… WATSON…. NO!"……. "You may be considered to be an exceptional talent, where you come from, but this is a respectable neighbour hood"……. " I will not allow you to inflict you seamlessly constructed and faultlessly executed 'licks' upon this audience"……. "For there are young kiddies present and I will prevent you from corrupting their susceptible young minds by exposing them to your 'Johnny Foreigner' southern influences"………………I would say "OY… WATSON…. NO!"…..

Quite right Frank………

Apologies to Doc Watson and all those who will not be aware of these two of the many characters created in the UK, by Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse, in The Harry Enfield Show. Who as a result will not understand a word of the above rantings.


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: The Shambles
Date: 29 Oct 00 - 05:28 AM

There is a link here where you can read about and hear The Self-Righteous Brothers.


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 29 Oct 00 - 08:54 AM

Well Thomas, I think that the organisers of a venue have the rights to decide how it goes in terms of whether backing/ others playing along is to be allowed or is part of the event and if an event is run in such a manner, it is up to the performers to fit in.

Having said that, in the events I have been involved with, it has always been the right of the performer(s) to decide whether they want extra backing and the "rule" has been "you don't join in unless asked to" and this has stood regardless of whether a song is being sung acapella or not. My view is that it is THEIR song/tune...

The instrumental sessions round here of course have the understanding that once a tune starts, it is an invitation for all to join in but once in a while, someone (maybe more than one person singing together) will want to sing a song. Again, the understanding is that is their song and the other musicians remain silent (or join in singing the chorus if it is that sort of song).

Jon


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 29 Oct 00 - 01:42 PM

Good point Jon, the organizer really is the one who decides the overall approach, and of course, that also means that the venue will be able to continue financially...

But my point is that the value of being inclusive to all the folks who would want to sing/play can bring in more money over the long run, even in the folk/trad format. The real question is, do we include people? It is easier to set up a competition and award a prize or two, than it is to be emotionally supportive of everyone who comes in the door... Most places support the "pros", and leave the rest to flounder, and this leads most of them to give up... or harden up and become unsupportive.

I don't want to give you the wrong impression here. I am quite capable of taking the heat, using the negativity to kick-ass on stage, and to put on a BIG persona... And I do well at it! But hey, what is the point of fighting wars if all the soldiers involved are mercenary...???

I especially like it when people come back because they had a good time. The simple art of learning/writing new songs and sharing them is the finest of pastimes, can be educational, and brings people together. These are good things.ttr


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Marion
Date: 03 Nov 00 - 07:45 PM

Pixie, I do live in Cape Breton (between the causeway and Baddeck). I would be glad to get in contact with you, but since you're posting as a guest I can't send you a personal message. Would you like to become a member of Mudcat? It's free and has at least one benefit.

Marion


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: The Shambles
Date: 03 Nov 00 - 07:51 PM

Glad you dug this one up again Marion. Will you let us know how you get on with your next vist?


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Marion
Date: 03 Nov 00 - 07:59 PM

Actually I have another weird open mike etiquette question before I go again:

Is it proper, when introducing your set, to ask if anybody wants to buy your guitar?

Marion


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: The Shambles
Date: 03 Nov 00 - 08:10 PM

May be a problem for the rest of the set if someone does buy it then.

May be better to say it a the the end of the set?

A little strange maybe but one sees many strange things. Did it happen?

Is that why you sang unaccommpanied?


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Marion
Date: 03 Nov 00 - 08:22 PM

No, I didn't mean selling it on the spot! :) I am in the market for a steel string and I want to sell my classical to help finance it - and I figure that a room full of guitarheads would be a good place to do a little free advertising.

Actually I very rarely want to sing a cappella, but it just seemed to fit the song "Johnny Be Fair".

Marion


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 04 Nov 00 - 04:48 AM

Marion, I'm not sure about etiquette but I am of the nature that would mention that the guitar is for sale.

Jon


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Marion
Date: 02 Feb 01 - 04:16 PM

I am bringing this up again for an update - I've made it back to this open mike (they actually call it a ceilidh, but people call everything a ceilidh in CB) few times.

The next time I went, I didn't bring my guitar and didn't plan on singing anything - I wanted to just listen and learn for a while to get a better feel for how to play there.

Several people, seeing me without a guitar, spontaneously offered me the use of theirs, so this made me feel even happier about the friendliness of the crowd. The plays-along-with-everybody guy was among those who offered to lend a guitar; I also learned, incidentally, that his name is Cliff Carter and that he's deaf in one ear.

Before the show I talked to a couple of older women who had been there last time I went, and they said how much they loved my voice and wanted to know what I was singing. They were sorry to learn that I wasn't planning to sing at all, and begged me to do something "please... for them."

Well, I don't have an ego of stone... so I said I would sing after all.

So when my turn came up I sang Caledonia and Cripple Creek accompanied by the house band (I didn't want to borrow a guitar since I wasn't yet used to a steel-string's fingerboard). And I thought it went quite badly. I knew what keys I liked to play the songs in, but when I asked the guys to give me an opening chord I found it difficult to find my note in it. As the songs progressed I felt ill at ease, not knowing how long to pause between verses or how long to give for an instrumental break, and not knowing how to communicate with the players about when I should come in or how long I expected them to give me a break for.

So when I sat down I was thinking "No more jamming in front of a microphone!" I like playing with others, but I wouldn't want to perform with others when we haven't planned out a strategy verbally beforehand and we're all facing the audience so it's hard to make eye contact.

Then I noticed that the other ordinary performers didn't seem to having a problem with the setup. And I concluded that the others probably weren't worrying about stuff I was worrying about - they were just plunging in how they wanted to do it and trusting the accompanists to find the key, to fill in pauses in the singing, and to go back to the verse when the singer starts the verse again. It was all about faith.

So the next time I went I had it all figured out, and it went great. I told both the accompanists and the sound guy beforehand that I would do the first song with them and the second song alone, and that for the second song I wanted my voice and my guitar miked separately.

The first song I just strummed the basic chords, and I essentially ignored the others - I just played the song and let them fend for themselves. It worked fine. And it was in the second song that I fingerpicked and did a solo.

I think I've hit on the right approach - one song their way, one song my way.

Jim Dixon, tell us about this reserved seating business - it sounds like it might be humourous.

Marion


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 02 Feb 01 - 05:08 PM

If I'm singing and I'd sooner be unaccompanied, I just say that's how I want to do it. The same if I'm playing my own accompaniment, and don't want anyone joining in - though sometime there you have to be a bit more forceful.

Generally I prefer a set-up where people play together when they feel like it, unless they've been asked not to. I don't think anyone ever feels their nose put out of joint if there's a request to people generally not to join in - it's trickier when there's one particular person you want to shut up, or if you've started and they've started.

But unaccompanied singing should never be disparaged as a second-best type of singing. As for "It could possibly be argued that to sing solo a capella at informal gatherings is a prime example of placing the musician before the music and the ultimate thrill for the 'control freak." Well it could possibly be argued, all kinds of strange things can be possibly argued - but in most cases I would hope that the argument would fall flat on its face.


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Mrs.Duck
Date: 02 Feb 01 - 05:09 PM

I have had little experience of the open mike set up but do find that since I always sing unaccompanied it can be offputting if someone strikes up with an accompaniment no matter how good. In an open session I take my chances but would feel quite ok about asking them not to join in on certain songs. Unless someone is good at accompanying and not just trying to muscle in on the tune it can be a nightmare and I have on occasions been drowned out by players who often have no idea of the tune or my interpretation of it. To be accompanied by a really good player would be an honour but would have to be at my request otherwise its just rude.


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Subject: Floor spots...
From: Bernard
Date: 03 Feb 01 - 05:17 AM

Exactly!

At our Folk Club we have some singers who prefer to sing unaccompanied, and you often find the most inept 'accompanists' joining in and ruining the atmosphere - and they are oblivious of it!

However, there are others who ask for accompaniment, and I'll join in at that point.

What I find very distasteful is those who 'join in' and quickly appear to be taking over someone else's 'floor spot'. It's one thing joining in with an accompaniment when asked, but rather ignorant to try to overshadow the performer whose 'spot' it is. Playing an instrumental verse in the middle of a song isn't the same thing - it's an acceptable contribution (assuming the singer wants it, of course!).

I have to admit that I've been guilty in the past, but have learned the error of my ways. These days people specifically ask me to join in, I'm happy to say.


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 03 Feb 01 - 07:31 AM

Marion, reading your last post does make me think again that it is just the way of the venue and that people are friendy but have a different way of going about things that many of us are used to.

Your post does reflect on one of the difficulties of playing with others though. I find that there are some people that I will quickly gain an understanding with and that there are others that I would need a lot of practice with but joining in with others can be hard work. Singers in particular can be peculiar people, maybe wanting to pause slightly to add emphasis to words or to perhap to catch a little breath or maybe they are just inconsistent in the length of a break in between verses.

I guess that this gives me more reason to think that the joining in with a singer without being asked is not a good idea as it can restrict them or force them to perform thier song in a way that they are not comfortable with but I am still stuck with the belief that if this is a happy, friendly venue, maybe it can work although it is not for me and it sounds not really for you.

I would suggest that maybe you consider starting your own event that works the way you like it. There maybe a number of others who feel more comfortable with a different type of venue and that there is room for both approaches in your area - you never really know until you try it.

Jon


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Feb 01 - 03:15 PM

I think there's a big difference between the situation when other musicians join in with accompaniment that's there already, and when they play with an unaccompanied singer.

If I'm playing an accompaniment when I'm singing, I'd normally be happy with others joining in, but when I'm singing unaccompanied, I wouldn't normally like it. I tend to change my speed of delivery and so forth when I'm singing a song, as part of telling a story or whatever, and it takes a hell of a clever accompanist to improvise along with that - it's much harder than accompanying the accompanist who is already doing that.

There is a big difference between playing a tune and playing an accompaniment, and a lot of excellent instrumentalists don't really appreciate that. The tendency is often to iron out the rhythym into something regular enough to dance to. Which is not traditional - but more important, it gets in the way of the song.


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: The Shambles
Date: 04 Feb 01 - 02:41 PM

The informal musical gathering, in all its manifestations, is better not looked at as a performance. Of all these, the open mic is the nearest to such a thing, but in truth is probably more like a rehersal for such a performance. It does however offer the chance to do it exactly as you wish, with an audience, if that is what you want.

The others types of musical informal gatherings offer the opportunity to make music with others and that is the element that makes them special as well as a possible source of intense irritation.

If you wish to involve others in your music making at these gatherings, you risk the possibily that this may mess up your idead of how it should sound, rather than enhancing it. The trick is to accept that the whole event or indeed your turn, is not entirely in your control, to stop trying to control it and just enjoy the ride. Or go home.

There you could play it exactly how you want it, alone in your bedroom.


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: GUEST,Marion
Date: 19 Sep 02 - 02:28 PM

One of the folk clubs in Toronto that used to have a normal open mike has just changed its format, and it sounds interesting. Here's the description on their website:

"On the third Tuesday of every month, you will be sure to catch the best of songwriting and entertainment as Hugh's Room and Trevor Mills presents New Folk Night. Over the years, Trevor has gotten to know a host of great songwriters and musicians from around Toronto and across Canada. Every month he sits down at his computer and composes an email to these fine folks and invites them to the participate in an upcoming New Folk Night at Hugh's Room.

There are two ways to participate:

1) WRITE A SONG inspired by the THEME
2) Play in the HOUSE BAND

WRITING A SONG inspired by the THEME

Each New Folk Night at Hugh's Room will have a very general theme. When Trevor invites people to participate, he introduces the theme. The first nine songwriters to get back to him saying they've got a song finished inspired by the theme are the performers for that night. It's that simple. (In case of a tie, preference will be given to performers who haven't played before).

Examples of themes could be anything from very simple like "Love" or "Work", to a little more involved like "The State of the World" or "Inspired by The Simpsons", to inanely pedantic like "Urban Economic Policy of The Midwest United States Between 1947 and 1952" (okay, we'll probably never use that one).

Songwriters are encouraged to push their creativity when writing songs. The songs don't even have to have anything remotely to do with the theme. A creative introduction or segue is perfectly sufficient. The point is not to pigeon hole people's songwriting. The point is to trigger new material within a creative community and then bring that community together and have a little fun.

The nine performers for each New Folk Night are announced on the Hugh's Room website on the first of the month, giving them roughly three weeks to publicize their involvement. Each performer gets 20 minutes of stage time to play their new song and whatever else they want to play. If they wish and if it's appropriate, the performers are encouraged to involve the New Folk House Band to fill out their sound.

Playing in the HOUSE BAND

Are you a musician who can pick up and play on a song you're hearing for the first time? Are you interested in accompanying and getting to know some great new songwriters? If so, then consider coming to play in the New Folk House Band at Hugh's Room. The house band is simply musicians who are available to play along with any of the songwriters that evening. Adding a band to mix is meant to enhance the songs being performed, so playing with taste is very important.

One of the great things about songwriters is that they're often recording their songs. The New Folk Night is a great way for songwriters to meet musicians they like and vice versa. "

Marion


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 19 Sep 02 - 02:38 PM

Having a theme for writing can be a good way to push you into writing a song you might not otherwise, and maybe stretch yourself a bit in the process. But I've never been too keen on the idea of a theme when it comes to an actual song session.

And there seems something a bit strange about a "Folk Night" that specifically excludes traditional songs, and assumes that all songs benefit by musical accompaniment.

Still, if I was in Toronto I imagine I'd give it a shot.


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 19 Sep 02 - 03:20 PM

Whew! Time sure does pass quickly, doesn't it?

Cheers

Rick


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Marion
Date: 21 Sep 02 - 04:40 PM

McGrath, I think if you read the description again you'll find that neither of your objections are quite on. The nine songwriters that get on the list have 20 minutes each, so after their new theme-inspired song they can spend the other 17 minutes singing Matty Groves if they want. Also, it says If they wish and if it's appropriate, the performers are encouraged to involve the band..., so it doesn't sound like the singers will be pressured to have accompaniment.

This format does, however, leave no place for singers who aren't also songwriters, which is a shame. But it's not like this is the only open mike in town.

Rick, yes - even weirder than weird open mike etiquette is reading something you said two years ago (I mean the general you, not you Rick). I suspect that people who keep diaries do so not to preserve memories but to have something to laugh at in the future.

I still wish Jim Dixon would tell us about the "reserved seating", though.

Marion


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Leadfingers
Date: 21 Sep 02 - 05:15 PM

Even I dont join in unsolicited with unaccompanied singers and am careful not to be too intrusive with accompanied stuff,and I'm the sort of smart arse who can put some kind of backing to nearly any thing.Tunes at sessions are a different matter though.If you can follow it,play along,or keep the volume down while you're sorting it.


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 25 Feb 04 - 08:34 AM

Hi Marion & all others from this old thread. I think that I may be able to shed some light on an old discussion. Marion does not state where the venue being discussed was located , but I am sure that it must have been at the Highland Guitar Society in Judique or at the Blue's Mills firehall ceilidhs. In either case there is relationship between the two.
If you are still interested I will explain the format used there.
I do not recall Marion being at Judique, but I remember a lady playing at Blues Mills who worked at L'Arche and I wonder if that might have been you. I think you mentioned in an other thread that you worked there .
                   Sandy


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Willie-O
Date: 25 Feb 04 - 09:55 AM

Sandy, please do spill the beans on the Highland Guitar Society & firehall ceilidh. Including the whens and wheres.

Something I want to know about next time I get to CB

Willie-O


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Bobjack
Date: 25 Feb 04 - 10:20 AM

Who is Mike Etiquette? Will he be on Mike Harding's show tonight?


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Marion
Date: 25 Feb 04 - 12:10 PM

Hello Sandy. Yes, when I was at the L'Arche in Whycocomagh, I went a half dozen times to the Blues Mills Ceilidh, and once to Judique. There was nobody else from L'Arche who sang there during my era (2000 and early 2001).

Might I remember you? Were you a regular singer/player at Blues Mills?

Marion


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Feb 04 - 01:01 PM

Marion, it surely must have been you that I remember from L'Arche, playing at Blue's Mills. The two guitar players would have been Ciffie Carter and Ronnie Hull, both fantastic players, but only Ciffie would be from Cape Breton.( Ronnie lives in the Antigonish area.)
I have to go to work now, as I drive a schoolbus. I will get back to this later.
                                  Sandy


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: GUEST,Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 25 Feb 04 - 01:03 PM

Sorry, lost that damn cookie again :-}


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: GUEST,Mountain Tyme
Date: 25 Feb 04 - 08:01 PM

Very interesting reading of a subject dear and to near to my heart. I've hosted some premium mics and performed at many others. I can identify with all the previous comments. I've had to learn how to survive the above subject I would call rather a lack of etiquette. Each of us be we song writers or cover players hear each song our own special way. Our aim is to share the special way we each hear with folks who try to listen. To me anyone who attempts to tread on this very individual sound is a bore or cretin. How dare they think they could aid or improve MY music is my stance. I offer this concept to you. I silence them quickly and forcefully whatever their intent may be. They don't ask, nor do I. I first request them to stop the NOISE. (as I've had to do even with Dylan a few times and run him off the stage believe it or not, tho t'was long ago) If that fails to gather their attention I say I will begin again when they are done making a mockery of a music they cannot possibly know the details of. Were a premium player/singer to ask me assist (that has happened now and then) I decline, not because I can't play or sing their style but because I would prefer to hear their masterwork unimpeded by myself or any other... pure as I see it. It's a simple concept, when you listen you learn. Over the years becoming tired of having to deal with these bold or drunken bores I have kept my instruments and my cool tuned together but off of standard 440 pitch. It drives them visibly nuts as they frantically try to find the key. When the true listeners catch on it's a laugh riot. Problem thus solved by the attentive, nuff sed. Try it! Fair is fair, is it not? :) M'Tyme


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 25 Feb 04 - 08:05 PM

It takes all types - some kiddies love to share - and some kiddies need to play The 'Alpha Male' Game - different strokes for different folks.

Robin


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Mr Happy
Date: 25 Feb 04 - 09:21 PM

i was at l'arche 'bout 20 yrs ago-real bunch o' weirdo's- not many gd tunes among 'em.

but the residents then seemed 2 enjoy old time on chord organ + xmas carols every time!


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Mr Happy
Date: 25 Feb 04 - 09:23 PM

candles + yahweh?


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Feb 04 - 11:12 PM

Marion & all,
   This is not a question of etiquette as much as one of format. Perhaps a bit of history on these mentioned venues will clarify this.
   The Highland Guitar Society gathers in Judique, Cape Breton every second Sunday, from September through June. $3.00 is charged at the door and it is used to pay rental for the hall with anything surplus going to charity. Everyone pays this, performers, MC, canteen workers ,sound man and audience,   Everyone who pays this fee becomes a voting member of the organization.
This was started nearly a decade ago by a small group of guitar players and it was a jam session where guitarists sat in a circle playing together. Singing was included as well as picking and all joined in. It was a way for less gifted players, such as myself to try and follow those who had much greater ability.
As people heard about these sessions , they asked if they could attend and watch, and they were welcomed into the group. However, this changed the format somewhat, to more of a concert setting with an ever growing audience. The circle grew too large so a theater style seating
replaced it. The front three rows were reserved for those with guitars
who played along with those who were on the stage. Every player was encouraged to take his or her turn on stage so this then evolved into a bit of an open mike show , but with this twist: What would normally be an audience were playing along, as the original mission was not lost. Those performing up front have the benefit of the sound system with jacked or miked insturments as well as voice mikes and monitor speakers, so they should be in control of their performance. A couple of our best players were asked so often to play backup that it was less hectic if they just stayed on stage.
Today we still follow this format , except that backup players no longer stay on the stage unless they are requested , but they do play in the front rows. The type of material played is whatever the person up front desires. Mainly classic country, folk,celtic and bluegrass but it could be just about anything. It is not just guitars either. You will find fiddles , harmonicas, squeezeboxes etc. but the emphasis is on the guitar.
This format may seem strange to a newcomer but it seems to work for the most part and the audience keeps comming back. We all leave our egos at the door and just have some fun.
The second venue is at the Blue's Mills firehall, located about 5 miles west of Whycocomagh. It is a fundraiser for the Blue's Mills Fire Dept. Many of the same performers gather there every second Friday on the opposite week to Judique. This is a much smaller hall and is more of a concert than a jam session. Due to it being a very crowded venue anyone performing a number or two may lose their audience seat as it often becomes standing room only. People not on stage don't usually play along but when Marion wrote this a few years back it followed closer to the Judique format. Also the two guitarists mentioned were for a time asked to stay up as a bit of a house band.
This is more explaination than justification . My personal opinion is that in a concert format I would prefer to request backup, if desired. I have no problem with these two players as they are far better than myself and I am used to them. I have been in situations though where the sound of my own guitar was being drowned out and due to my limited vocal range I need it to keep me on key.
When the MC said that the guitar player was the best on Cape Breton he was expressing his opinion. To my mind that title belongs to JP Cormier who is also the best in Canada on celtic guitar. Yes Murray, I know that Tony McManus moved to Toronto but that dosen't change my ranking! :-}
I suspect that it was Ciffie Carter who is one of the most talented people that I have ever met. He is both a great fiddler and guitarist. He can play anything with strings very well , and is largely unknown because he plays for pleasure rather than for a living. I have seen Buddy MacMaster come into the audience to ask Ciffie to come on stage and acompany him. Ciffie can hold his own with any of the best!
As for my own ability it is limited and is only a hobby. My mother was a wonderful singer , and as a cruel twist of fate I inherited her passion but none of her talent. I do a bit of songwriting and I will tack on a song that I wrote about the Blues Mills Ceilidh. The tune is obviosly borrowed from the IRA. (Harold Campbell is the Blue's Mills MC )
             Sandy

THE BLUE'S MILLS SONG

                                                                                       
    NOW TELL ME HAROLD CAMPBELL ,TELL ME WHY YOU HURRY SO
                                                                           
    YOUR SPIRIT SO UPLIFTED AND YOUR EYES ARE ALL AGLOW
                                                                                          
    I BEAR NEWS ABOUT A CEILIDH , GET YOU READY QUICK AND SOON
                                                                                          
    FOR THE WHOLE GANG GETS TOGETHER AT THE RISING OF THE MOON
                                                                                 
    AT THE RISING OF THE MOON , AT THE RISING OF THE MOON
                        
    THE WHOLE GANG GETS TOGETHER AT THE RISING OF THE MOON


    OH, THEN TELL ME HAROLD CAMPBELL WHERE THIS GATHERING IS TO BE
    AT THE FIRE HALL IN BLUE'S MILLS , RIGHT WELL KNOWN TO YOU AND ME
    WITH NO FURTHER WORD NEED SPOKEN WE WILL ALL BE HEADING SOON
    TO THE FIRE HALL IN BLUES MILLS AT THE RISING OF THE MOON
    AT THE RISING OF THE MOON , AT THE RISING OF THE MOON
    TO THE FIRE HALL IN BLUES MILLS AT THE RISING OF THE MOON

    NOW THERE'S RITA ON HARMONICA , SHE PLAYS THE OLD TIME TUNES
    WHILE BARBARA PLAYS THE SQUEEZE BOX , AND SHE'LL SING A SONG OR TWO
    THERE'S CIFFIE ON THE GUITAR , AND HE'LL PLAY THE FIDDLE TOO
    IT'S THE WEST BAY ENTERTAINERS AT THE RISING OF THE MOON
    AT THE RISING OF THE MOON , AT THE RISING OF THE MOON
    IT'S THE WEST BAY ENTERTAINERS AT THE RISING OF THE MOON

    THERE'S CARL AND EDDIE UP ON STAGE , AND JOHNNY SINGS HIS TUNES
    WHEN VINCE OR RONNIE PICK GUITAR THE CROWD IS IN A SWOON
    AND WHEN ROLLIE STEPS UP TO THE FRONT , WE DON'T KNOW WHAT HE'LL DO
    BUT HE'S SURE TO MAKE YOU HAPPY AT THE RISING OF THE MOON
    AT THE RISING OF THE MOON , AT THE RISING OF THE MOON
    HE'S SURE TO MAKE YOU HAPPY AT THE RISING OF THE MOON

    THERE ARE SOME I HAVE NOT MENTIONED ; I HAVE NAMED BUT JUST A FEW
    OF THE MANY FRIENDS WHO GATHER AT THE RISING OF THE MOON
    SO ON EVERY SECOND FRIDAY , IF YOU WANT SOMETHING TO DO
    JUST HEAD ON DOWN TO BLUE'S MILLS AT THE RISING OF THE MOON
    AT THE RISING OF THE MOON , AT THE RISING OF THE MOON
    JUST HEAD ON DOWN TO BLUE'S MILLS AT THE RISING OF THE MOON


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: GUEST,Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 25 Feb 04 - 11:14 PM

Sorry but my cookie escaped again.


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Marion
Date: 26 Feb 04 - 11:44 PM

Thanks for all that background, and your song, Sandy.

I remember Rita (the Old Grey Mare, right?)... weren't Vince and Ronnie the brothers that played hot bluegrassy guitar? I remember the name Rollie but can't remember which one he was. What about the little boy in the cowboy hat who liked to play Church in the Wildwood? Is he still going to these events?

Marion


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: GUEST,Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 27 Feb 04 - 06:45 AM

Rita is a real sweetheart. She's past 80 but never stops.
Vince is one of the MacRae brothers. The second brother was probably Robert or Steve. They are a very large family of 12 or more, who all pick and sing.
Ronnie is the other guitar player mentioned earlier.
The boy's name is Justin. He hasen't been there lately but I hope that he'll return.
There should be a session in Blue's Mills tonight but I expect it to be cancelled, as we are into our second day of a blizzard.
Marion, have fun on your new busking tour!
                  Sandy


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Big Mick
Date: 27 Feb 04 - 07:30 AM

Guess this comes down to two things for me. First, you should know the session you are playing in. The Highland Guitar group obviously has been doing it this way since its inception, so one should be prepared for that. Personally, I probably would stick to songs with predictable patterns, and I probably wouldn't frequent this type of gathering often. When I interpret a song, I rarely do it just as folks are used to. I love it when I am playing for a savvy group of folkies and they take the first verse and chorus to get to know how I arrange it, and then jump in on the chorus and sing wonderfully. But altogether too often you have the boob in the audience who refuses to go along with the way I am doing it, and insists on singing/playing "their" way.

With regard to good players jumping in and backing up the song, I don't have a problem with it. I would offer the following advice, remember to stay with your arrangement and keep it consistent in terms of pauses, measures between verses, etc. The good player won't have a problem following and enhancing your creation. Don't be afraid to let them take off on a lead break, they will be able to handle it, and if they prefer not to they will give you a sign. Again, the ones I dislike are the ones that can't "hear" the chord structure, but insist on continuing to play. I know fairly quickly if I am going to stay and play, just watch, or leave.

OH .... To Marion .... You did exactly the right thing, when you informed they in a polite way that you wanted to the song a cappella. If anyone had a problem with that, it is their problem. Don't stop. One thing about an open mic is that you want to haul out your good stuff, cause you get about one, mebbe two, songs to impress the crowd. If that is unaccompanied, so be it. Mick


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: GUEST,Hugh Jampton
Date: 27 Feb 04 - 10:59 AM

Those people who insist on demonstrating their range and virtuosity on every possible occasion do themselves no favours. They spoli their opportunity to LISTEN to what other folks can offer. They may be pleasantly surprised at what they hear. A well sung song, a well played interpretation requiring no embellishments. Fortunately we are not blessed with such characters down in Kent.


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Subject: RE: Weird open mike etiquette
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 27 Feb 04 - 09:05 PM

Mick,
The format usually works quite well. When the players don't know where you are are going they usually just watch and enjoy. They may join in when they figure it out.
I , also sometimes sing without music. I don't do a lot of material in Gaelic but when I do the tradition is a capella. Also I have written a couple of un-acompanied songs that I sing from time to time.
         Slainte,
               Sandy


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