For me, Canadian summers will always be linked to campfires: in the backyard, by the lake, at Centre Island. Our township has announced a fire ban due to the lack of rain and resulting crispy dryness of the grasses and trees around us. But I’d like us to keep the summer campfire idea alive by sharing our favourite campfire songs. Post a comment below with a silly song, a soulful one, or maybe that one that always gets everybody singing along.
If you’ve been to a few jams or open mics you have experienced this: the person – usually unwittingly and often well primed with the establishment’s beverages – who sabotages the song. The person in question sings louder than the song leader, often changing the tempo, the lyrics, sometimes out of tune. Although it is usually non-malicious enthusiasm or the effects of too much “liquid courage” that leads to this behaviour it doesn’t change the fact that it is distracting and – frankly – rude.
How to manage this situation? The performer can gamely try to wrestle the song back into their own control by singing louder. A real pro somehow works a good natured comment into their banter like a stand up comic turning the joke around on a heckler. It takes a bold open stager to stop and ask to do the song without the added accompaniment, but this can put a real damper on the ambiance of the room and risk the label of “diva” being applied to the beleaguered performer.
Have you used or witnessed any elegant (or not-so-elegant) solutions to this situation? Please share your stories!
Here is a post from songwriter and music publisher Jack Cooper from a songwriting social media group:
“Hey, here’s a songwriterly question I though I might throw out here. What do you go looking for when you visit song circles/open stages? When I first started going out to open stages regularly ’bout twenty years ago, it was mostly for the performing experience- how to perform under a ton of different conditions and before both supportive and non-supportive audiences.
This evolved over the years to where the main benefit I derive from doing originals at circles and open stages is for editing. You know those twinges you get when you sing something that doesn’t feel quite right? I would note those and revise parts of the lyrics/music that makes me flinch.”
So – where are you on the spectrum of reasons to come out and play? What’s your motivation? What do you take away with you?
Writer’s block. It is like being 9 ½ months pregnant and nothing you do puts you into labour. It is like seeing something in your peripheral vision but when you turn your head there is nothing there. Have you been in this place?
Maybe you have decided that you want to add your own compositions to your repertoire of cover songs but the muse isn’t speaking to you. Maybe you have written songs already but you have hit a dry spell; the music is just not flowing. What have you done to get past a writing stalemate and re-enter the creative current?
Post your tips below for breaking out a song – the first few get a limited edition Open Stage Adventure guitar pick (apologies to my non-guitar playing friends).
If you could assemble your own dream team jam session, who would be a part of it? Don’t let reality interfere with your selection – the only limits are your imagination and the music you hear in your head. But wait – this isn’t a concert, it’s a jam and you’ll be there, too. What role will you play?