*originally published in Sound Waves Magazine October 2017
One of the true pleasures in life is growing old. You get awesome experiences and wisdom and you get to go to lots of places and do lots of things. It’s a privilege lots of people don’t get. Conversely, I could go on and on about how truly horrible it is to grow old, how it’s a drag and all that, but I’ll just focus on one teeny weeny thing. The tiny insignificant thing is: my memory. It just ain’t what it used to be. Truth be told, I can’t remember sh**.
If I have a yellow stickie telling me to pick up some milk, I’ll pick up some milk. If I don’t have a yellow stickie, it’s dry cereal and no mash potatoes for you!
This itsy bitsy little problem is why I can’t leave the house for a gig without my Ipad. I used to have this huge black notebook chock full of lyrics, chord sheets, arrangements, and notes but having dropped the thing resulting in a tangled mess of an un-alphabetized disaster one too many times, and the papers having blown away out to sea at outside gigs one too many times, I finally made the move to this modern electronic memory aid. It works.
I used to be able to remember things, you know, all kinds of things. Not no more.
This is my excuse, and I’m sticking with it, why I steer clear of the musical comaraderie-laden team sport known as “OPEN JAMS.”
Here’s how it goes down:
It’s a lovely Sunday afternoon (or Monday night, or Tuesday night, or Wednesday night, or Thursday night, or Friday night, or Saturday night.)
Wait a minute – why the heck are there so many open jams anyway?
It couldn’t possibly be because the club owners know they can get free music all night, every night, by hosting “open jams” is it?
Anywho, you get up there “ready to jam” with a bunch of other people. Somebody yells out a song. Everybody starts playing. Except me that is. Even if I’ve played the song one thousand times, my puny memory defies me, and there I stand. Befuddled. Outcast. Shamed. Somebody starts throwing tomatos. It’s a lonely and isolating catastrophe. Because as I’ve stated, I can’t remember sh**.
It would defeat the purpose to “jam” with an “open jam” if you have to read what you’re playing. Or to quickly download the chords, hoping the open jam venue has free wifi, then cheat your way through the songs. I think there’s a law about it. No good mon.
There is a particular art to “jamming” I suppose. The ability to make stuff up on the fly is cool I guess. Having the wherewithal to respond to what the other musicians are laying down and contribute your own awesomeness is… awesome… I think. It’s a fabulous and free way for audiences to enjoy music, I figure. Jammers have millions of chord progressions and lyrics in their heads, I presume.
But alas, I steer clear of all things jammin’ mon. No offense to my fellow musical jammers. And no offense to you club owners – YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE.