7 ways to be a total douchebag at an open mic night or blues jam session

Your local open mic nights or jam sessions are a great place for you to go as a practicing guitar player. An open mic provides you opportunities to learn through meeting other musicians: talking, playing and just hanging out.

But if you want to piss those people off, here's 7 ways:

1. You have too much "dutch courage" before you get up to play

By dutch courage, I mean BOOZE.

A jam session can be intimidating if you are a less experienced live player but the audience tends to be supportive and forgiving. There's a tacit understanding held by the open mic frequenting public that the open mic night itself is a place to nurture, not judge.

But in your mind, your fear of playing live could drive an altogether different behaviour in you. I've seen many quiet and meek guitarists make stumbling, drooling embarrasments of themselves because they turned to the bottle as a way of dealing with their impending performance. Typically the booze took effect quicker because they also felt too nervous to eat something before they came out.

When you're drunk the first thing that goes is your hearing

When you've had a few too many, as well as losing some motor skills, your ears suffer too. I don't know what the scientific explanation is but basically you struggle to hear your guitar and connect with the music around you.

This is extremely bad news if youre going get up and jam because quite simply you'll start turning up your amp in an attempt to rectify this.

The other players in the jam session are not going to appreciate if you start a volume war, and its going to sound pretty shitty if your hearing is so impaired that you can't listen and latch on to the groove either.

Yes, you might be a bit nervous and sure you'll want to take the edge off. But when you get up to play you want to be on your game, not off your face.

2. You refuse to let anyone else at the open mic use your stuff

This is hardly in the sharing spirit of a jam session and a sure way to piss people off. If this was a metal gig then I'd totally understand your concern. You'd want to protect your gear from over enthusiatic players (read guitar loop de loops), flying beer/urine bottles, the mosh pit and stage divers. But THIS IS A JAM NIGHT!

Nobody at this gig is gonna be rocking so hard that they smash your guitar, trash your amp, or puke all over your pedals.

Expect respect of your gear, sure. But don’t be the guy who goes up and says "If any you even breathe on my stuff, they'll be trouble."

3. You call players out on their errors while you’re on stage

It's no use shouting, "Dude, pick up the fucking beat" to the drummer who's trying his best. Or voicing your disdain of another players contribution to the audience.

Nobody likes to be told they fucked up (because they already know and it's humiliating). But nobody likes to be told they fucked up by you on stage, as you humiliate them in front of crowd of their friends, peers and audience members.

Be supportive, help them find the "1" again or lean over and tell them whereabouts in the song they should be: “we're in the chorus”.

Remember: You'll be grateful of the reciprocation when you find yourself in the shit and lost in the middle of a song.

4. You’ve brought the Starship Enterprise of pedal boards

It takes up too much of the stage floor, all your patches are noisy as shit, you take too much time to set it all up and plug it all in and when it's your turn your "awesome in the bedroom" tones sound like total crap at jam volume with a real band.

If you can't do it with an amp and 1 pedal, you don't deserve to be there.

5. You throw yourself around and perform like you’re at the Hollywood Bowl

A jam is a collective musical creation for fun and learning. It is not there to serve the egoist poseur tendencies of someone who has spent too much time infront of the mirror practicing their stage moves.

Leave your David Lee Roth high roundhouse kicks and your "foot on the monitor" metal headbanging at the door. There's not enough space on a jam stage for this kind of nonsense. Even if you have the "moves like Jagger" you'll wind up breaking something or hurting someone.

6. You talk shit about the players onstage when you’re in the audience

"Ah man, that guy sucked. Did you hear him? I can't believe he even thought he was good enough to come tonight!"

This is the douchy-est thing you can ever say. You won't make friends, you won’t be asked back. Expect to have your car "keyed" or your tyres let down.

7. You demand to play the song in the original key

"Hendrix played in in Eb man, so we all gotta tune down"


“The original recording is in Bm and that's the only key I'll play it in. No way I'm playing it in Gm.”

Double Nope.

If a song needs to be transposed to an unfamiliar key, you need to deal with it.

The reason for the key change will be to accommodate the singer’s vocal range. If the singer can't sing the song, the whole thing will sound like crap.

Be flexible – changing a few chords on your part is a small price to pay.

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