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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
The Shambles 29 Oct 00 - 05:22 AM
The Shambles 29 Oct 00 - 05:28 AM
Jon Freeman 29 Oct 00 - 08:54 AM
Thomas the Rhymer 29 Oct 00 - 01:42 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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