Flurry of Notes – May 2018

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This week, The Jam presents another thrilling Showcase at The Red Lion (at the corner of Bleecker and Thompson), new bands are forming (and some established bands are RE-forming), a new R&B-flavored workshop is on tap, and we say farewell to Bob Dorough, who passed away at the age of 94 this past week. Oh, and some happy news for those visiting our musical hub in-person: the renovations to our elevator are finally complete, and our two most boutique-y amps (the much-adored 18 watt Marshall 1974X, and the sweet 2×10 Victoria Victoriette) have been restored to their former glory.


This Thursday (5/3), The Jam proudly presents a Showcase at The Red Lion, with the acoustic duo version of modern rock eclecticists FIRE SIGNS (who are looking to re-construe the band, BTW), Pearl Jam tribute DAUGHTERS & DISSIDENTS, Blues purists THE RACKETEERS, Bluesy Rockers TWO NICKEL GUN, 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 doesn’t stop until 4 am.


There’s room for a sax player in our latest InstantBands (what’s an InstantBand? It’s a band with minimal hassle, guided by the charismatic and skillful John Putnam, with no arguments over the setlist or who plays what, no annoying scheduling, and no long-term commitment). The female-fronted: R&B-flavored ROYAL TREATMENT is rehearsing on May 10, 16, 23, 30, and June 6 (all from 7 to 9 pm at The Jam) – and performing live at The Red Lion on June 7. If you’re a fan of Professor Putnam, call 212 626 8472 x2 ASAP – as it’s his last InstantBand until autumn!


Rebelanna, a band with an alt/country-meets-pop/rock-hipster (then and now) taste in covers – seeks a long-term drummer. They try to rehearse every week or so, life permitting. Gig maybe 2-3 times a year – they’d rather change it up completely each time – and do it well – than otherwise.

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

An as-yet-unnamed new classic rock (more or less) band seeks a second guitarist who can sing harmony.

Newly-forming Eric Clapton tribute seeks bass, drums, keys, female backing vox.

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.


Though he was a successful and well-regard Jazz artist in his own right, with a substantial body of work and an enviable resume, the late Bob Dorough will forever be remembered for his central role in “Schoolhouse Rock” – the animated educational shorts which served up bite-sized lessons in English, Math and History in between the barrage of Saturday morning cartoons that all of us ‘70s kids were weaned upon. When an advertising exec noticed that his kid had trouble memorizing his multiplication tables (but not Rock lyrics) he turned to a number of artists to come up with musical solutions. Apparently only Mr. Dorough followed the exec’s instruction not to dumb things down for the kids, and he got the gig. At that point, the project wasn’t intended to be animated – much less broadcast on TV. But the advertising firm happened to have another client, ABC, who liked the concept – and having an answer to the arguments that so much of their cartoon lineup was thoughtless, violent, and only meant to sell toys (oh, if only they knew how much worse things would get in the following decades). Most parents were happy just to get a short reprieve, to sleep in on Saturdays as the tube babysat for them – but Schoolhouse Rock proved an immediate and resounding success with both kids and their minders.

With witty wordplay, indelible melodies, and charming animation, Schoolhouse Rock made some rather dull and abstract topics interesting, concrete – and memorable. Dorough wrote and lent his comforting, down-home Mr. Rogers drawl to all the Multiplication Rock episodes, enlisting some of his Jazz-world comrades, as more installments were ordered, covering additional topics. From the folky two-chord lilting bounce of “Three A Magic Number”, to the haunting sonata-like “Figure Eight”, Dorough exposed his little listeners to a diverse musical landscape, some of it quite sophisticated. “Conjunction Junction”, “My Hero Zero”, “I’m Just A Bill” – you grew up in that era, you learned your multiplication tables from some pool-hustling cats, knew about adverbs from Lolly, and maybe remember how Congress is supposed to function thanks to “I’m Just A Bill.” And by never talking or playing down to us, he raised us.

I was very fortunate to attend a live Schoolhouse Rock show in the ‘90s at Wetlands, with Bob Dorough and several of his SR chorus: (I’m pretty sure) Lynn Ahrens (who wrote and performed many SR numbers herself), and (I think) Grady Tate (the voice of “Naughty Number Nine,” among others – and it blew my mind. Or rather, my heart. Many in the audience brought their kids, they screened a bunch of the original episodes afterward, and there was much inter-generational singing and smiling.


To gig without a regular member of your band – that is the question. Or at least A question. Some would say: “It wouldn’t be fair to gig without him/her.” If you’ve already booked the gig, this is the wrong answer – it would actually be unfair to the club, the other bands on the bill, fans (and bandmates) who were REALLY looking forward to the show), and your promoter – and those needs outweigh the feelings of one person. If you HAVEN’T yet booked the gig, the situation is more nuanced. Is that person rarely available? Have you gigged without others in the past? Recently? I have played in bands where we wouldn’t dream of holding each other up, and in bands where we wouldn’t dream of playing with a sub. And in bands that started as one that ended up as the other. As always, good communication is your best resource. “The thought of gigging without you is depressing. As is also the thought of going six months without playing…” began an email to a beloved bandmate once. She was of course gracious and understanding. Which makes me want to never play without her again:)


We’re getting very close to unveiling a new Jam website in the next few weeks – one that will integrate communications (community-wide things such as this bulletin, bulletin board postings, email, etc), ecommerce (membership dues, rehearsal payments, and other transactions), and database functions (personal profiles, membership term options). This will allow members (and would-be members) to take care of business at all hours – reserve or cancel a studio reservation, switch credit cards, answer an ad in the Flurry. It’s a relatively-big undertaking to make sure the pieces function well together, and it will be rolled out in stages (at first, you’ll be sending a room reservation REQUEST rather than booking it directly. So please understand that there are larger (if somewhat opaque) goals afoot – this is not simply a cosmetic makeover!

Also, withe website roll-out, we’ll begin implementing a two-tiered Jam membership: Current Members (regardless of how frequently they pay) will become known as Premium Members, and those who aren’t ready for the big league can become Basic Members for free (though Basic Members will only be be able to book rooms in the near-term, receive the Flurry, and answer Flurry postings). What’s this about? First, modern advertisers, sponsors, and investors want to know how many free subscribers as well as paid subscribers an entity has – both are valuable metrics. It also helps us to grow our mailing list, and target those who are most likely to become the paid subscribers of the future.


The youngsters studying at The Collective are impressive in their devotion to their craft. You probably can’t (or won’t) devote 2-to-10 hours a day in solo practice (on top of classes), but you CAN get a lot out much shorter stints – IF you spend your time wisely. One of my favorite teachers says: “If you don’t sound bad when you are practicing, you’re doing something wrong.” Meaning: It’s a waste of time to “work” on techniques or areas where you’re already proficient (except maybe as a warm-up). Spend your time on something challenging. It doesn’t have to be “new” or complicated. It can be as simple as improving your timekeeping, interval training/chord identification, developing independence and balance between limbs and/or fingers, and exploring rhythmic “feels” that you rarely visit. None of this stuff is particularly sexy PER SE* – but it opens the doors to all the stuff that IS.

* Per Se means “in and of itself” – NOT “so to speak.” It’s not quite as annoying as the misuse of “literally”, but what is?


Thursday (5/3): Showcase at Red Lion, featuring FIRE SIGNS (7 pm), DAUGHTERS & DISSIDENTS (7:50 pm), THE RACKETEERS (8:40 pm), TWO NICKEL GUN (9:30 pm), NO MERSEY (10:20 pm) and Rolling Stones clones THE ROLLING BONES (11:15 pm to 1 am or so).

Saturday (5/5): Newbie Jam, under the guidance of…someone, 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 (5/5): Rock Jam, with…a different someone, from 3 to 6 pm at The Jam (541 Sixth Ave, inside The Collective). $15 for Jam members, and $30 for non-members. I’m the absence of Robert Brandow, we’ll have to go with a more freewheeling Rock Jam – as in days of yore.


“There’s no age in music.” -Loretta Lynn

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