So…..yesterday’s Sittin’ In with Ursula Rucker was fantastic! We had a great crowd of wonderful people, and a phenomenal show! Ursula Rucker really killed it! I didn’t really like emceeing too much, but….what’s new?
Now, about the jam session portion….. Well, let me be diplomatic and say that people need to learn the difference between Karaoke, an Open mic, and a Jam session. They are NOT the same.
Karaoke requires the least amount of skill, and is intended for amateurs, occasional singers and sometimes professionals. There’s no band and the music sounds pretty close to the original, so you can literally request to sing any song you like and do as bad or as good a job as you please. You don’t even have to remember the words to the song because they’re on the screen.Karaoke covers just about every genre…..So if you want to sing 80s pop, no problem! You don’t have to ask permission to get up and you can get up 50 times in one night if you have it in you. There’s zero emphasis on originality or “bringing yourself” to the song. You can actually completely ignore the audience!
The Open Mic is similar to Karaoke, meaning anybody can get up, but the similarities end there. Since you are now dealing with real musicians and an audience this involves a higher level of skill. You need to ask permission before getting on stage. The band is there to back you, but you need to be courtious. You should know the song well, and the audience will now expect somewhat of a performance and not just somebody getting their rocks off by singing, “The Greatest Love of All” for the umpteenth time”.
Audiences want to see what YOU can bring to the song and will likely frown on you for singing all the same riffs as the original. Also, you can make requests, but you need to be prepared for the band saying, “No”, “I don’t know that”, or “We can only play it in Ab”.
There’s also a certain amount of improvising or making stuff up on the spot required. If you get up and suck, you will probably never be allowed on that stage again, unless you wear a disguise.
The Jam Session requires the highest amount of skill. You should never approach the stage without permission. You need to pay close attention to who is in charge, so you can make friends. You need to have the flexibility to create on the fly (otherwise known as improvising) so that if you enter something that is already occurring you can asses the vibe and fit in! You should be very familiar with working with singers or musicians, depending on who you are joining on the stage.
Musicians and singers have EQUAL footing, so the singer cannot expect to come up on stage and disrupt the flow of what is already happening! This is arrogant and will likely get you banned. Regardless of whether you are a singer or musician you should NOT hog the sonic space. Do not sing shoobeedoobedoos behind somebody else’s solo! You are expected to participate as a part of the whole. It is NOT about you, but it IS about how the entire ensemble sounds interacts and sounds.
You should be able to draw from a wide repertoire, which you have memorized and know well. You should have, or at least should aspire towards having your own unique voice. You need to be your own editor and think of the music as a whole, so if you don’t have anything to say in that 3rd or 4th chorus of your solo TAKE THE DAMN HORN OUT OF YOUR MOUTH and exit the stage (you know who I’m talking to). Jam session audiences are the harshest. If you suck, they will be happy to let you know.
Lastly, you should be aware of whether you are dealing with Karaoke, an Open mic, or Jam session……