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Author Topic: Acoustic blues night - review  (Read 2181 times)

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Offline Richard

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Acoustic blues night - review
« on: January 27, 2015, 12:13:33 PM »
And it came to pass that the Bristol hostelry where I regularly play some jazz had in the window a large poster proclaimed that there to be on Monday evenings an acoustic blues gathering. All were welcome to come along and perform if so taken, even the barmaid confirmed it was indeed acoustic and that the first night had yielded some 20 in attendance, although down to 10 the following week, this was to be the third week?

Well I mean, who could resist such an invite? A few emails later the entire euroweenie membership of southwest England (that?s, me, Harvey and Norfolk Slim) had agreed to risk it and attend, albeit keeping any instruments in the car till we knew the musical strength of the gathering ? we didn?t want to show them up, indeed nor they show us up!

Hhhhmmmm? even by eighth thirty there were no signs of life, then the door burst open to reveal a tall man carrying a very thin guitar case?. eeekkkk?. what does that imply? Having got there braving impenetrable traffic jams without a snow storm in sight, we stuck it out, or more aptly partially stuck to the table we had commandeered.

Several, strange black boxes appeared which were attached to equally thin guitars with cables, what could it be? Then, horror of horrors a latently (is that a word?) thin geriatric gentleman at least nine feet tall wearing a trilby hat (that looked a small) produced a small suitcase and a microphone stand that was also eight foot tall and as thin as he was.

The musac started and we looked at each other, it was all we could do since the ever increasing volume precluded any form conversation. With each monotonous shuffle lasting at least ten minutes it was the epitome of a night from hell. A succession of harpists (harpies?) duly trudged on stage each one trying to reach the top of the said mic stand and determined to be even louder, much much louder and squeaker than the last. Another guitarist joined in who specialised in those bloody awful long, high pitched notes (sic) played somewhere around fret 57. At one point even somebody in the audience asked (shouted) if they could play anything else, so obviously we were not alone in our views. Although to be fair, as a pub band I?ve heard worse, but sadly they were definitely not as billed...

Should anyone want their own gig sensitively reviewed I am available for a small fee.
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline blueshome

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Re: Acoustic blues night - review
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2015, 01:02:37 PM »
Perhaps you guys should have reached for your guitars and given them hell. At least they would have been silenced whilst you played.

Offline nobocaster

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Re: Acoustic blues night - review
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2015, 01:48:23 PM »
Yikes!  I wonder what electric blues night looks like!

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Acoustic blues night - review
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2015, 07:03:04 PM »
Should anyone want their own gig sensitively reviewed I am available for a small fee.

I smell a kickstarter campaign. I'd certainly chip in.

Offline Parlor Picker

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Re: Acoustic blues night - review
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2015, 03:43:47 AM »
Glad I wasn't there. Well done for giving it a try though, lads.

Even so-called "acoustic" guitarists often insist on plugging in and making their instruments sound like very bad quality electric guitars.
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Offline Norfolk Slim

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Re: Acoustic blues night - review
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2015, 03:47:42 AM »
Pretty much have to plug in at most open mics, although I hope my pickup is reasonably acoustic-sounding.

This wasnt really a jam let alone an acoustic one.  It was a standard electric band playing backing tracks for a succession of harp players to deliver amplified 56 bar solos over :-)  Fun, I'm sure, for harp players- especially those into that style.

Not so much for us nerdy purists.

Offline Pan

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Re: Acoustic blues night - review
« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2015, 04:18:54 AM »
This wasnt really a jam let alone an acoustic one.  It was a standard electric band playing backing tracks for a succession of harp players to deliver amplified 56 bar solos over :-)  Fun, I'm sure, for harp players- especially those into that style.

Not so much for us nerdy purists.

Sounds like the perfect way to make people really hate the blues.  >:D

Cheers

Pan
« Last Edit: January 28, 2015, 04:20:03 AM by Pan »

Offline Norfolk Slim

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Re: Acoustic blues night - review
« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2015, 04:43:35 AM »
You make a good point Pan.

As Richard said, the folks at the next table called out "We know you can play blues, play something different".  Presumably they had the understanding, at that point, that "blues" was one paced, predictable on the ear, formulaic noise entirely lacking in dynamics or variety!  It really did all sound the same.
Next time they see a blues gig advertised, are they going to be interested?...

Oh well. 

Offline harvey

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Re: Acoustic blues night - review
« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2015, 05:10:08 AM »
Well there was something positive from the experience....

Richard bought a round


Offline blueshome

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Re: Acoustic blues night - review
« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2015, 05:36:33 AM »
I'd love to have Richard review our local "blues" jam except I don't think he'd survive the experience.
A million notes to the bar and Bonamassa and Eric are the heroes, jet takeoff volume - it all merges into one. We try to play blues but struggle to find accompanists who have the slightest understanding of blues time.

Offline Richard

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Re: Acoustic blues night - review
« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2015, 02:15:20 PM »
Nice to have a bit of feedback on my reviewing style! I have to say I've nothing in particular against electric guitars, it's more the owners that have to play 'em far too loud that I find annoying. Fact is,  I've always wanted to ask one of those sceaming upper register fanatics if he could demonstrate that on acoustic....

Sorry to say Phil I don't think I can cope with another review until I had my hearing fixed and of course I couldn't contemplate taking it on unless there were at least four harpies waiting in the wings, would that be a problem?
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline joe paul

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Re: Acoustic blues night - review
« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2015, 02:37:27 PM »
Ah, Bristol, so much to answer for.
Is Eddie Martin still playing and doing that regular open mic down in the centre?

Gordon

Offline blueshome

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Re: Acoustic blues night - review
« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2015, 05:23:56 AM »
Richard, no problem with harpies to date. In fact a couple of decent harp players would break up the wall of noise from the self-indulgent widdly widdly brigade. Quite a bit of great technique but not a lot of music.

Offline pete1951

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Re: Acoustic blues night - review
« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2015, 05:49:28 AM »

Keeping everyone happy at a `Blues Jam` is always a problem. To get as many people playing as possible , straight 12bars are the `default setting`, a bass of some sort is thought to be needed (few double basses, so an electric bass and amp will be on hand) a snare-drum and high-hat is then added. Suddenly your `SM57` mic has so much `spill`(unwanted noise from other players) that you need a pick-up, and the sound of your guitar becomes `electric`. I go to an Acoustic Jam most weeks and often end up playing with someone on an electric (I must also say that I sometimes take a solid lap-steel as space is tight and my kitchen sink is very large). If the Electric players are kicked out then attendance is halved and the session will close.
PT
A real acoustic jam would I guess have no PA and suddenly nobody wants to play with the guy who has the loudest guitar and sings loudest (so Phil wouldn`t get a go, which would be a shame)

Offline blueshome

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Re: Acoustic blues night - review
« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2015, 08:04:08 AM »
We had a purely acoustic jam until the pub closed down.
Most people knew how to get a decent volume out of their instrument and sing to fill the room apart from a couple of the Taylor brigade who were lost without an amp to louden their widdling.

Offline Rivers

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Re: Acoustic blues night - review
« Reply #15 on: February 02, 2015, 03:20:52 PM »
Richard, great review of a single event that could accurately describe thousands of similar ones around the world over the years.

I could go on for hours on this topic but, at the end of it, I would have no constructive suggestions.

Quote
We had a purely acoustic jam until the pub closed down.

HeHe!

Offline blueshome

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Re: Acoustic blues night - review
« Reply #16 on: February 03, 2015, 02:18:46 AM »
Nothing to do with the music, just the state of the pub trade in the UK. Several close every day.

Offline Richard

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Re: Acoustic blues night - review
« Reply #17 on: February 03, 2015, 03:33:41 AM »
Well if nothing else this has stirred a few into putting finger to keyboard.

The bottom line is I suppose, why did those morons (that too strong?) have to have the volume so high, although sadly that does seem to be a feature at such events and I wonder if anybody knows the reason?
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline blueshome

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Re: Acoustic blues night - review
« Reply #18 on: February 03, 2015, 08:10:23 AM »
Compensation for lack of prominence in the private areas perhaps?

Offline Johnm

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Re: Acoustic blues night - review
« Reply #19 on: February 03, 2015, 10:56:44 AM »
I think excessive volume is a way of insisting on being the center of attention, sometimes to the point of hostility.  It's as though the performers are saying, "Oh, so you'd like to talk and visit with your friends--let's see if you can talk and visit over THIS!  I also think that a fair number of people who play this way on a regular basis have deafened themselves over the years and can only hear the music when it is played that loud.  And volume can serve in lieu of ideas, nuance, listening, grooving and execution on occasion.  I do pity you guys walking into a harmonica showcase, though, especially in the circumstances you described.  Ugh.
Edited to Add:  Could it be, in a general way, that blues jams are a more rewarding experience for playing participants than for non-playing listeners or bystanders?
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: February 03, 2015, 01:37:00 PM by Johnm »

Offline pete1951

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Re: Acoustic blues night - review
« Reply #20 on: February 05, 2015, 09:55:14 AM »
I think John has nailed it with his last comment . Sadly for many players it is all about `ME`, rather than the creation of something as a group.
PT

Offline waxwing

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Re: Acoustic blues night - review
« Reply #21 on: February 05, 2015, 11:46:20 AM »
I remember back about a decade or so I went to an "acoustic" night at a San Francisco pub, the old Blue Lamp. I got there early to choose a position a few slots down and then had to sit through the "host" playing about a 40 minute set. Oh, sure, it was an "acoustic" guitar, but it had more onboard electronics than my car (albeit a 1971 VW Squareback, but it does have fuel injection run by an analogue computer!) He was phase shifting and chorusing, with tons of reverb and compression, and he covered all those Neil Young, Eagles and other acoustic rock classics, yep, at over-the-top volume. Then the girl in the #1 slot batted her eyes and begged him not to make her follow him. So he looked down the list and picked my name. As he started to poke microphones at me I stated "I don't need no stinking mics! I heard this was an acoustic night." and had him remove them from the stage. I played my 3 songs, possibly on a resonator IIRC, and sang out and was heard easily by the 12 or so folks, except possibly those sitting with the loud mouthed girlfriend of a later performer who talked through everybody but him.

I guess I'm wondering more about the size of the male parts of those who left their instruments in the boot and, even when the audience decried the offered fare and seemed ripe for some real acoustic blues, failed to represent?

WINK!

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Offline Stuart

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Re: Acoustic blues night - review
« Reply #22 on: February 05, 2015, 02:32:20 PM »
Wax: It sounds like just another self-absorbed mess who had nothing better  to do than waste  other people's time.  At an open mic venue, you play your set and if the audience wants more, they'll let you know. Unfortunately, most people are way too polite to let 'em know when they've heard enough. Maybe if there was a basket of rotten fruit, veggies and eggs displayed prominently...Hey,  it worked in vaudeville!

Offline Rivers

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Re: Acoustic blues night - review
« Reply #23 on: February 05, 2015, 06:46:21 PM »
Just wanted to say real electric blues can be really good, if the players love it, know from where it came, and tip their musical hats accordingly. Loud is fine if you're going for early Chicago electric blues, two steps removed from the delta.

I don't believe generic crossover blues-rock, which I believe is what we're talking about, is blues but a lot of people think it is, and that's one source of confusion. The average bar owner is not that sophisticated musically, with some exceptions naturally. The quality of the music in these venues reflects the management's taste and knowledge, or lack thereof. Don't blame the audience, you can lead them down the right path.

Just my opinion.

Offline frankie

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Re: Acoustic blues night - review
« Reply #24 on: February 05, 2015, 07:01:06 PM »
Just wanted to say real electric blues can be really good, if the players love it, know from where it came, and tip their musical hats accordingly. Loud is fine if you're going for early Chicago electric blues, two steps removed from the delta.

Early Chicago electric blues wasn't really all that loud by today's standards (thinking of Buddy Guy and Otis Rush as later guys here) - they just had small, usually not so efficient amps! They'd break up early and sound funky.

I don't believe generic crossover blues-rock, which I believe is what we're talking about, is blues but a lot of people think it is, and that's one source of confusion.

Agreed. I actually like playing electric guitar when I get the chance...  I pick and choose what I play on it, and I like more primitive sounding stuff when I do. The best sound is two guitar players and a drummer..  harp too, if you can find a player who listens (they exist), but not all good harp players are willing to deal with electric instruments...  a lot of good ones think a bullet mic and amp is a kind of cheat...

Offline Rivers

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Re: Acoustic blues night - review
« Reply #25 on: February 05, 2015, 07:33:14 PM »
Yes, I agree, the natural distortion made it sound louder than it actually is/was. So I use the word 'loud' in a relative sense. Good blues bands in a small venue are generally too loud because they have invested in the firepower necessary for bigger halls and don't always dial it down by bringing along smaller amps, there's a cost associated with being that flexible. But what I call 'good blues bands' are rare. Yes, I'm a total snob, and good for me.

Offline Richard

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Re: Acoustic blues night - review
« Reply #26 on: February 06, 2015, 01:27:00 AM »
Quote
I'm wondering more about the size of the male parts of those who left their instruments in the boot..

Heavens how disgusting, we don't have thoughts like that here in England.

(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline waxwing

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Re: Acoustic blues night - review
« Reply #27 on: February 06, 2015, 10:45:00 AM »
Quote
I'm wondering more about the size of the male parts of those who left their instruments in the boot..

Heavens how disgusting, we don't have thoughts like that here in England.

Yes, my point exactly, Richard, leaving the instruments in the car is disgusting. They are meant to be played. As to the other notion, seems it did originate on your side of the pond a few posts up:

Compensation for lack of prominence in the private areas perhaps?

WINK!

Wax
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Offline eric

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Re: Acoustic blues night - review
« Reply #28 on: February 06, 2015, 01:47:58 PM »
Quote
I don't believe generic crossover blues-rock, which I believe is what we're talking about, is blues but a lot of people think it is, and that's one source of confusion.

Not to get too far off topic, but once, after playing Willie Brown's M & O blues pretty much note for note on my old Gibson SJN, an earnest and insistent young person explained to me that what I was playing was most certainly not blues, because Eric Clapton (god bless him) etc.  Ah well. :-\
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Offline Johnm

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Re: Acoustic blues night - review
« Reply #29 on: February 06, 2015, 02:28:59 PM »
It's nice to hear from you here, Eric, and I'd not worry too much about being off topic.  You inject a nice note of civility in the discussion that has been lacking here lately.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Richard

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Re: Acoustic blues night - review
« Reply #30 on: February 06, 2015, 03:19:44 PM »
I'm with you John, the light hearted aspect has become somewhat gloomy.
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline Rivers

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Re: Acoustic blues night - review
« Reply #31 on: February 06, 2015, 04:06:30 PM »
We are all doomed anyway.

Offline eric

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Re: Acoustic blues night - review
« Reply #32 on: February 06, 2015, 04:23:38 PM »
Thanks John. This is supposed to be fun after all. 

By the way, I've been following and attempting your series "What's musician doing?"  Great stuff.  Hope to see you at Blues Week this year.
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Eric

Offline eric

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Re: Acoustic blues night - review
« Reply #33 on: February 06, 2015, 04:27:53 PM »
Quote
We are all doomed anyway.

Stop trying to cheer me up, Rivers.   ;D
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Offline Johnm

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Re: Acoustic blues night - review
« Reply #34 on: February 06, 2015, 04:39:29 PM »
Yup, I'll be at Port Townsend, Eric--see you there.

Offline frankie

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Re: Acoustic blues night - review
« Reply #35 on: February 06, 2015, 06:39:58 PM »
We are all doomed anyway.

Oh....  yeah!

Offline waxwing

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Re: Acoustic blues night - review
« Reply #36 on: February 07, 2015, 10:19:54 AM »
I found this topic depressing from the get go. How can doing nothing but slagging fellow musicians be considered "in fun"?

Get out and play the music and create the audience that is out there ready to appreciate this music.

Wax
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Offline blueshome

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Re: Acoustic blues night - review
« Reply #37 on: February 07, 2015, 11:23:57 AM »
Depressing? That's because we're all doomed......

Offline Monkeyhanger

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Re: Acoustic blues night - review
« Reply #38 on: November 05, 2015, 11:50:29 PM »
This is so relevant in my neck of the woods wherever you see 'Blues Night' you can guarantee it will go down like the above posts.
Exists in other genres too...I play in a Folk trio where we mix up work songs, and traditional fair with some blues etc and we have the tune Katie Cruel in our setlist delivering something like 'here is a Scottish folk song supposed to be dated around the 1760's which presumably found its way to the US Civil War era..blah blah'
 crowd 'do you know any folk music, y'know like Mumford & Sons'  :o

Offline One-Eyed Ross

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Re: Acoustic blues night - review
« Reply #39 on: November 06, 2015, 08:25:14 AM »
One of the things I was told while playing the streets, long long ago in a country far away....(ok, it was Frankfurt aM in the 70's)...  "Don't feed the squirrels, they only come back for more."  Play your set, your way.  If you are entertaining, the crowd will appreciate and toss a few coins.  If not, they move on.  I found the same to be true in bars and pubs.  Play your set - let the crowd sort themselves out.  If  you entertain the crowd, they stay and buy more drinks, the manager is happy, and you get a paycheck. 
SSG, USA, Ret

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Offline Bristol Blue

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Re: Acoustic blues night - review
« Reply #40 on: December 28, 2015, 02:55:27 AM »
Hi everyone . I'm new to Weenie as I'm only 46 and new to this on-line cyber lark ! Only just been reading this thread ,started about a year ago! I'm in Bristol too and have not been able to find any country blues type happenings in the Bristol area on the 'net. I'm not sure I'm confident to play but I really would like to go out and enjoy some live acoustic Blues and meet some like minded people. Like other members on Weenie, I like electric Blues too but usually you get Blues Rock /Cream /ZZ Top/ Bonamassa blah blah ... Is it worth trawling through folk music listings or is it going to be just Mumford & Sons clones?
As we're talking of genres within a genre: A good friend of mine said "You like BB King ? He's the real Blues !! You should listen to George Thorogood & the Destroyers if you're into the Blues !!" He also said Bob Marley was not a real Reggae artist.
No accounting for taste , each to their own etc
Bristol Blue

Offline Richard

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Re: Acoustic blues night - review
« Reply #41 on: December 28, 2015, 12:11:36 PM »
Hello there Bristle Blue, now you could always get yourself down to The Orchard  pub ( close to Mr Brunel's ship Great Briatain  and incidentally where the aformentioned awful infamous blues gig happens) and say hello - I'm there every 3rd Tuesday playing jazz although with Xmas  messing up the rota the next time is Tuesday 26 Jan - we might even persuade those young tearaways Harvey\Norfolk Slim to appear as they are not that far away - who knows we might even start something!

And, don't forget there is always the annual euroweenie event in April now it has moved to Somerset on Sea.

Let me know.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2015, 12:13:36 PM by Richard »
(That's enough of that. Ed)

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