Jams or Gigs?

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There are three types of musician events that I see when I go out to see music. As the title suggests, they are gigs, jams and a mix. These are the one I see in the Detroit jazz music scene. The jams in the dulcimer community are quite different but gigs are the same.

The gig is and event where a band is playing s for the evening. A jam is usually a house band for one set than other musicians who are at the bar are on a list to play and whoever is running the jam sets up musicians to play with each other and they play.

The best part of a gig is that I get to see a group of professional musicians play some numbers competently. This is the kind of music it is so easy for me to just lose myself and go with the music. For me, this is the best way to check out people I have not heard before and get a sense of who they are as musicians. Sometimes at gigs, a musician in the audience may be asked to play but usually in an extemporaneous way.

Then, there is the jam which is more unpredictable. It usually starts with a house band for one set and then other musicians rotate through the band on stage for the rest of the evening. Some jams have lists and some have a person who set up who will play when. Some allow many musicians to play on one song. The jam can be great when extraordinary musicians show up to play and they can be dreadful when musicians and vocalists who are not very good show up and try to dominate. Also, the jam is where young student musicians get on stage and learn how to play in public. I like the part where I can hear the young, raw talent and see them improve over time. The jam also relies on curtains standards because they are in everyone’s repertoire.

Now that I know the format of each, I can pick and choose whichever fits my mood. This is a realization I have come to over quite a bit of time. When I go out now, I have a much better time of it than at the beginning.

Detroit Concert of Colors…

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Yesterday was the last day for the Concert of Colors this year. The festival has three stages and there were things I wanted to see all day long. I delayed going to midtown Detroit just a bit due to rain since my plans included starting at the outdoor stage.

The first group on my plan was Wissal belles as an Arab fusion group combining Arab, klezmer, classical Indian and American influences. They were on the last few numbers and there were a few drops of rain.

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They has a mandolin, guitar, and clarinet. The percussion was a a skin stretched over a rim in several sizes. There was a stringed instrument I hadn’t seen before. The music was melodic and the real difference I heard was in the percussion which was more pronounced and a part of the music than most of the music I hear.

A stand up comedian named Horace Sanders did an attempt at comedy while one group was tearing down and the next group was setting up and doing the sound check. It was not the best.

The next group was Ben Sharkey named after the vocalist. It is a Detroit group and I have not seen them. I had seen all the musicians(Kris Kurzawa, Takashi Io, and Nate Winn) except the vocalist Ben Sharkey. The music was loud enough to vibrate my body at this point. He is very good and I enjoyed most of the set. As a vocalist, he uses his voice as an instrument. On his own compositions, his words were supposed to tell the story with the music as background. At first, the mic was muffled and improved so that the last few songs were really good.

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The next set was jazz billed as Sean Dobbins and is my home. I had seen all the musicians(Sean Dobbins, Marcus Elliot, Ralph Tope and Chris Codish). I stayed for a number for two. They were as usual good. I wanted to catch a bite to eat before the next set and left for the food court.

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The food court was full and the selections were different than the previous day. There was no short cake so I bought the chicken and waffles. The server put maple syrup on the waffles and some of it migrated to the chicken. It was so good(it may not have been that good but I was so hungry) except for the chicken with the maple syrup drips.

The next set was Calypso Rose with Universal Xpression. I like the reggae beat and was looking forward to the set. The mic was muffled again and it was hard to understand anything. The spokesman who I think was call Mellowman said things that were just no clear due to the mic. After a few thoroughly enjoyable numbers, they introduced Calypso Rose.

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There was another two tier key set up to the left and a trumpet with two saxes. The mic has cleared slightly for Calypso Rose so she was a little clearer. This is the kind of music that lightens my mood and it did.

I left Calypso Rose to get to a set where I had no idea of what I would hear. The group was called Samba Mapangala which is basically an East African dance band.

20130708-123111.jpgSo, for the next hour and a half people danced. The seats vibrated with the music and as the dancing took off, the beat of the feet of the dancers on the floor began to add to the movement of the seats. I can remember sitting at the top of the venue a couple of years ago. At the top the vibration is magnified. The music was electrifying. People of all ages, sizes and colors were dancing with each other in a concert of colors. Walking back to the car, I passed the Chris Canas Blues Band and was too tired to stop and listen for more than a few minutes.

There was only one splash of fireworks in the sky on the way home and I arrived to find a calm and hungry dog. And there is the Paradise Valley Festival at Hart Plaza weekend after next.