The Rules of the Continuing Jam Game
Peaches En Randalia #2
_Harvey Logan: Rules? In a knife fight? No rules. _
_ [Butch immediately kicks Harvey in the groin] _
_Butch Cassidy: Well, if there ain’t going to be any rules, let’s get the fight started. _
_Someone count. 1,2,3 go. _
_Sundance Kid: 1,2,3 go. _ – excerpt from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, William Goldman
Before I start getting really wordy (see Brad Sands feature at 23,000+ pearls), scholarly, and pseudo-intellectual in the upcoming musical months, Id like use my second column to setup some ground rules. Actually, I plan to bend and break a few of the jamband commandments. We are engaged in a nasty cold war with our indie rocker cousins. Instead of a simple truce with the young jam-challenged upstarts, I propose that we clean things up in our own camp before heading over the hills and far away for an assault down the middle of their temporary terrain. Or something Alexander the Greatish like that.
1. Yes, humor belongs in our music. Lighten up and live with that Zappa Gold fact.
2. You dont have to create a different set list for every gigjust allow for a little bit of room in each song for improv and shuffle the batting order once in a while.
3. Dont choose cover versions of songs weve heard 253,127 times by the original artist or 864 other bands. Dig a little deeper into your sack of goodies and keep it fresh.
4. One percussionist is fine.
5. One guitarist is fine.
6. One in-tune vocalist is better than three tone deaf backing vocalists.
7. Melodies should not be on the endangered species list.
8. Bluegrass is a talent, not a right.
9. Venue soundchecks are not optional.
10. Unless youre a Celtic warrior, my Rabbi or Matisyahu, unkempt beards are pass3-blade razors are the greatest invention since TiVo, Carrie Underwood and mass-produced Salt and Vinegar chips. Use one.
11. Gigs do not have to be two sets. Play a strong two and a half hour set once in a while, get in the van and go to the next town. WELL decide when to hit the restroom.
12. ALWAYS play like its New Years Eve, youre at the Garden and this is the Last Waltz for your bandminus Muddy Waters and some other late friends, of course.
13. Guest sit-ins and whole band segues are fine, will be fine and will never not be fine.
14. I have no brothers but three older sisters who were once the bane of my existence. I no longer stick pins in their little voodoo dolls as they havematured. Therefore, Im not your brother and I wont be in the near future. Get your dollar somewhere else and take a bath, for crissake. Werent you wearing that getup in Vegas, 1998?
15. My two year old sons favorite band is PHISH. Capital P. Capital H. Capital I. Capital S. Capital H. Notice how I used the present form of is and not was.
16. Drinking and smoking are a natural, pipe-cleaning act of spiritual soul cleansing. Choose moderation and dont ever let anyone tell you otherwise.
17. Play it fucking loud.
Randy Ray stores his work at www.rmrcompany.blogspot.com.