To my fellow, budding musicians out there, I'd like to discuss the fine art of "sittin' in". You might find yourself at a jam, or even on stage playing music with people you've only just met, playing songs you might never have even heard. What do you do? The first rule is Stay Out Of The Way--which means to let the leader, or singer do their thing and don't clutter up the mix. Listen first, then add something subtle. Don't play too much. Keep it quiet at first. Follow the singer--if they go to the bridge, go to the bridge! Don't fight the flow! Go with the flow.
The second rule is Support The Song. Try to find out the key. Just fill in little spaces. Take turns. Listen. If someone else is playing chords, don't double that, just add what you can. Try to illustrate the meaning of the song with your contributions. For soloing, do your thing, then stop! Let somebody else take over. There's nothing worse than a virtuoso who can't stop playing over everybody. Think about playing behind them. If they get lost, jump in and steer them back to the melody. You don't have to be in the foreground all the time, do you? Add color and texture.
The third rule is, If You Know What You're Doing, Bring It On Stong. That means if you're swingin', swing hard! If you've got something to say, say it! Now, don't go on forever---but your confidence and energy can bring the whole band together. The great musicians I've had the pleasure of playing with could match their style to the group. Don't ditch the group--keep with them. Music isn't a competition.
In general, if you've been asked to 'sit in' by a band that is on stage, just play a song or two and get off. The old jazz etiquette is a lost treasure, so we're not too sure how do these things anymore, but from what I've been told by the Wise Ones: Don't assume that you get to sit in just because you came to the gig, and if you do get asked to sit in, take a little time to warm up (tune) before getting on stage, and once on stage just play one or two songs unless the band begs you to stay. Just remember, folks, music is the universal language--you can play music even with folks you don't know! It's magic, so treat it as a precious gift!
Even More Videos!
Friday, January 12th, MC Noodle for the Women & the Dead show, at the Charleston Music Hall, 8pm, $12//
Sunday, January 14th, The V-Tones of Charleston at Prohibition for the Swing Dance, 8-11pm, dance lesson at 7pm, free//
Friday, January 19th, The Amazing Mittens at Savannah Grace for their happyhour, 3pm, private//
Sunday, January 28th, with Roger Bellow and the Drifting Troubadours at Prohibition for the Swing Dance, 8-11pm, dance lesson at 7pm, free//
Friday, Feb. 2nd, The Amazing Mittens at the Summit House on Daniel Island, 4pm, private//
Saturday, Feb. 10th, Johns Island Farmers Market, 10am-2pm, free show! eat your veggies!//
Wednesday, February 14th, The Amazing Mittens for Valentine's Day, Bishop Gadsden, private//
Wednesday, Feb. 28th, The V-Tones of Charleston open for Parker Millsap at Marion Square for the Food & Wine Festival, 6-8pm, more info tba//
Saturday, March 24th, Lime & The Coconuts, Art in the Barn, 2-5pm, more info tba//
Saturday, March 31st, music for the Annual Hat Ladies Parade, 10am-11am, Broad Street, Charleston, free//
Friday, April 6th The V-Tones in Beaufort for private party, 6-9pm//
Sunday, April 8th, The V-Tones of Charleston at the Bee Expo! noon-3pm, Cinnebaree, free//
Friday, April 13th, The Amazing Mittens at the Summit House on Daniel Island, 4pm, private//
Sunday, April 15th, Lime & the Coconuts gig, more info tba//
Sunday, April 22nd, The V-Tones of Charleston, Tom & Olivia, private wedding//
Friday-Sunday, May 4-6th, V-Tones at the French Broad River Music Fesitval, more info tba//
Sunday, May 20th, She Goes He Goes at CHX (Lindy exchange), more info tba//
Saturday, July 7th, V-Tones for the Charleston Tibetan Society. HH Dalai Lama party, more info tba//
Wednesday, October 31st, Noodle at Franke at Seaside, 2;30-3:30pm, private//