Flurry of Notes – June 2018

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NEWS

This week, The Jam presents another thrilling Showcase at The Red Lion (at the corner of Bleecker and Thompson), some personal ads, a musing on the future of guitar-based Rock (and its potential Savior), Ed Howe returns to lead an ‘80s-centric InstantBand, a revamped Playlist, and The Art Of The Get-Together. Ooh, and tickets for The 2018 Jammy Awards at Cutting Room are now on sale (link below). Could this year’s Jammys sell out? Hells yes!

If you’re a guitarist visiting our musical hub in-person, check out our newly-restored Fender Deluxe Reverb ‘65 amp. It’s basically been “un-modded”, getting new 6V6 power tubes in place of 6L6s, a rebiasing, and its solid-state rectifier replaced with a vacuum tube – as God and Leo intended. Here at the Jam, we LOVE small, single speaker tube combos (Fender Deluxe, Vibroverb, Princeton, Blues Jr.; Marshall 1974X) – chiefly because BECAUSE they are relatively-low power (20 watts, more or less), and can be turned up to the point of “break up” – a very organic (and beautiful) sound that’s the result of overdriving the entire pathway: preamp tubes, power tubes, and speaker. Because many “dirt” pedals compress your signal, an overdriven amp tends to be more responsive and dynamic in comparison. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some pedals, but most of them offer tonal flavor – an AMP is an INSTRUMENT. If you’ve got the volume at 1, and youre only using it as a neutral vessel for your tone, it’s a lot like riding around the city in a Ferrari at 15 mph – it’ll get you where you’re going, but you won’t experience it’s true glory. In other words: Crank it up!

ENTERTAINMENT

This Thursday (6/4), The Jam proudly presents a Showcase at The Red Lion, with the acoustic duo version of modern rock eclecticists FIRE SIGNS, R&B and Blues courtesy of THE ROYAL TREATMENT, Steely Dan tribute NO STATIC, ‘90’s afficianados CCCP (Ted Ames, Michael Marinic, Stefano Ukmar, Joe Abba), Beatles tribute NO MERSEY, and Rolling Stones clones THE ROLLING BONES.

As always, the show’s FREE for Jam members, and just $10 for everyone else. Well-behaved, accompanied minors are welcome until 10 pm or so, the Kitchen’s open ’til Midnight, and the live music continues until 4 am.

BUSINESS

With an InstantBand, you don’t waste time discussing/arguing about what songs to play, how they go, who’s soloing where, and when the next rehearsal will be – it’s all laid out for you in advance. And it’s a short commitment: 30 days from first rehearsal to the gig. Our next InstantBand is FOOLS IN LOVE, performing the best of ’80s/New Wave: Elvis Costello, Squeeze, Talking Heads, Joe Jackson, The Cars, et al (as always, early adopters will have the best opportunity to influence the setlist). Facilitator Ed Howe (perhaps best known as the guitarist in No Mersey) will be your musical director, with rehearsals on 7/2, 7/9, 7/16, 7/23, and 7/30 (all from 7-9 pm at The Jam), with a gig at The Red Lion on 8/2. There’s room for keys, vocals, one guitar, bass and drums. A complete package, from concept to the stage, with built-in peace of mind: $299 for Jam Members, $349 for non-members. If you want in, call 212 626 8472 x2 – first paid, first served, you snooze you lose.

EDITORIAL

Rock Ain’t Dead

It’s been said by various observers that Rock and Roll is dying, that guitars are falling out of favor. Recently, sales of Rap and R&B collectively surpassed those of Rock releases. But is that REALLY significant? Or that over the last 10 years, guitar sales have dropped by something like 10%? I think not. All it takes is one band to disrupt that dynamic – enter the controversial Greta Van Fleet. They aren’t a game-changer like Nirvana – they aren’t about to birth a new genre, or kill off any old ones. But they may well reverse Rock’s discouraging trend line – and lead other young bands to take up axes and free the masses from the evils of heavily-processed aural junk food. So what’s the problem with that? Well, they sound an awful lot like Led Zeppelin.

After sampling Greta Van Fleet’s pithy catalog (two 4 song EPs), I picked up (and recommend) “Highway Tune” and “Flower Power” – their unabashed love for Led Zeppelin does not bother in me in the least (apparently they split the Rock world – half think they’re saviors, the rest think they’re a ripoff). You say ripoff, I say homage: Though the singer thoroughly apes Plant, the guitarist is clearly a Page fan, and the drums have a very Bonhamesque timbre – the songs themselves are not copies of anything too specific. Look, LZ stole plenty, and had trouble admitting. I LOVED early Black Crowes, even though they owed a heavy debt to the Faces/Stones/and a little Zep (and seemed annoyed by the comparisons). GVF’s mimicry is even more thorough, and specific to one beloved band – so I get why it makes some people uncomfortable. But damn, they’re GOOD, and they light up the Zeppelin center of my brain, bringing on a warm, giddy, familiar rush.

Keep in mind that GVF are really young (half the band are stillness in their teens, the eldest are 22) and they don’t even have a full album out yet – it’s a bit early to anoint them leaders of a Rock Revival – and unfair to heap that kind of responsibility on their shoulders. I expect they’ll develop more of their own sound (though hopefully not solely out of a desire to silence their critics). And if not, I say: ANY band bringing back guitar-based rock (and honest, old-school production) is good news. And if borrows the stylings of Led Zeppelin, fine by me. All it takes is one band to open the doors of perception, and suddenly six strings disturbing a magnetic field to produce a little current, vacuum tubes, and analogue gear are back in vogue. It happened with vinyl – why not with the music that MADE vinyl?

There is a fairly lengthy GVF Rig Rundown on Youtube, and these guys come across as very humble, passionate, and deeply respectful music fans – who are also VERY knowledgeable about equipment. They know their history, and a great deal about how it was crafted. It’s hard to dislike young people who can wax rhapsodic about a model of guitar that was only made for 2 years, who know what gear was used by whom (across multiple genres), why *this* PAF sounds different from *that* one. The kids are most definitely alright.

ADVICE

The Art Of The Get-Together

The Get-Together is a long standing tradition in these parts – a friendly session where like-minded musicians can asses the potential for a band or project – without a heavy investment beforehand, or commitment afterward. The term “audition” makes people uncomfortable, puts them on the spot, divides them into insiders and outsiders. A get-together, on the other hand, is a more relaxed, egalitarian affair. Here’s how it works: You collectively pick a small batch of songs (say 5 or 6) – the more tunes you’re already familiar with, the better. The idea is that you shouldn’t have to do a lot of work for something that may not go forward (or just doesn’t work for you). It’s a proof of concept, a demo – a way to determine what everyone is bringing to the table – musically and otherwise: instrumental prowess, camaraderie, singing and harmonizing ability, enthusiasm, creativity, punctuality. The key word for ME is “potential” – I’m NOT looking to see that someone has perfected every bit of every song. Rather, I want to see that they have the skills to do so. It’s not just a good band I seek, but good bandMATES. Have they made charts, do they crave dynamics, are they open to suggestion, do they play too loud? Do they have a minimal grasp of music theory and lingo? Are they considerate, do they share? Do they communicate well?

Of course, what I’M looking for in bandmates might not be what YOU (or anyone else) is looking for. And you may well not get ALL the info you’re looking for at the end of a get-together. But you should have enough info to decide whether you (personally) want to do it again, and under what conditions (say, with a different drummer, or “we need a second guitarist”). No matter how great you think a get-together went, at the conclusion DON’T ask everyone to commit to a follow-up session. By all means, let people know you’re happy, be complimentary. But always say: “Let’s discuss by email,” so that everyone can give their honest assessment. Maybe you’ll need two get-together to be sure. That’s fine. You’re dating – you aren’t moving in together. And as with dating, “I just didn’t think we had chemistry” is better than “you suck.”

If you keep all this in mind, most get-together s are positive, successful events. Even if you don’t move forward as a band, you might find someone you’d like to utilize in a different project – or someone may discover you. At the very least, you’ll play some music for a couple of hours. That ain’t bad.

PERSONALS

Fire Signs seeks a forward-thinking bassist with a young-ish energy to perform a wide range of unusual and surprising covers.

Squeeze Play (a Squeeze tribute) needs a keyboardist – vocals most definitely a plus.

Ragtag, an original, high energy, funky-edged Hendrixian power trio is looking to reconstitute, seeking bassist and drummer – backing vocals from either would be a big plus.

TECHNOLOGY

I’m shocked when guitarists don’t have a tuner. Clip on tuners are dirt cheap. A tuner app on your phone is even cheaper – or free. It doesn’t matter how well you play if you’re out of tune.

WEATHER

Thursday (6/7): Showcase at Red Lion, featuring FIRE SIGNS (7 pm), THE ROYAL TREATMENT (7:50 pm), NO STATIC (8:40 pm), CCCP (9:30 pm), NO MERSEY (10:20 pm) and Rolling Stones clones THE ROLLING BONES (11:15 pm to 1 am or so).

Saturday (6/9): Newbie Jam, under the guidance of Jimmy Fontanez, 3 to 5 pm at The Jam (541 Sixth Ave, inside The Collective). $10 for members, $20 for non-members. Designed for those who don’t have much experience playing with others, but open to all.

ALSO Saturday (6/9): The Playlist, with Robert Brandow, from 3 to 6 pm at The Jam (541 Sixth Ave, inside The Collective). $15 for Jam members, and $30 for non-members. Here’s what we’ll be picking from (along with suggestions that Robert deems workable):

  • Take It Easy (The Eagles)
  • Wonderwall (Oasis)
    You Can’t Always Get What You Want (Rolling Stones)
  • Coming Into Los Angeles (Arlo Guthrie)
  • Spooky (Classics IV)
  • Cortez The Killer (Neil Young)
  • Mustang Sally (Wilson Pickett)
  • Jumpin’ Jack Flash (Rolling Stones)
  • I Shot The Sheriff (Bob Marley)
  • Dear Mr. Fantasy (Traffic)
  • Born On The Bayou (Creedence Clearwater Revival)
  • Moondance (Van Morrison)
  • Tainted Love (Soft Cell)
  • Another Brick In The Wall (Pink Floyd)
  • Season Of The Witch (Donovan)
  • Franklin’s Tower (The Grateful Dead)
  • Long Train Running (The Doobie Brothers)
  • Santeria (Sublime)
  • Cocaine (Eric Clapton)
  • I Heard It Through The Grapevine (Creedence version)
  • Get Down Tonight (KC & The Sunshine Band)
  • Evil Ways (Santana)
  • Mary Jane’s Last Dance (Tom Petty)
  • People Get Ready (Curtis Mayfield)
  • Walk On The Wild Side (Lou Reed)

POSTSCRIPT

“The most exciting rhythms seem unexpected and complex, the most beautiful melodies seem simple and inevitable.”
-W. H. Auden

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