Jam Nights: It's
time to put down the popcorn and pick up your
By Charles McHale
Translated by Ann Lee
At Citizen Cain First Friday Jam
A jam night is centered on getting musicians together and getting
the music to the people. It provides young talent
a chance to shine or get shined and take it back
to the practice room 'til next week. For more
mature artists a jam night is a place to try out
a new song or new style and work with different
musicians. Jam nights give birth to new bands,
inspire the crowds, and challenge the musicians
to bring the best that they've got. There are
a few traditional formats Jam nights follow: Folk,
Jazz and Rock.
Folk jams celebrate acoustic music
and singer/songwriters. Moshe Foster of Public
Radio runs the Citizen Cain First Friday Jam.
The Cain used to have full on electric rock and
drums—even Taipei's guitar hero Stevie graced
its stage. While the Folk jammers are still rockers
at heart, like the boys from Johnny Fatstacks,
The Cain's jam is driven by songwriters. It also
includes the blues, reggae, acoustic rock, folk
and a full house. Another bar, On Tap, is featuring
"Whiskey in the Jar", a night of bluegrass
music led by string wizard Rube Yen.
Jazz jams usually feature a house
band with musicians rotating or joining-in for
a few tunes. Tuesday nights at Sappho, Gino Giles
heads up the house band. Sappho just might have
the most international crowd of musicians: a Japanese
bassist, Taiwanese drummer and soloists from France
and Germany, just to name a few.
The Riverside has held the city's rock jam scene
for years. A rock jam features full bands coming
in to strut their stuff. Getty manages the Monday
night session that has given bands like Coach
and Neon their start. Occasionally, jazz players
come through, but the standard is rock bands.
Bliss, the Living Room and many
others have also hosted special jams, but Jam
Nights come and go. Whether you go to a session
to listen or play check ahead. More musicians
always makes for a better night. If you're just
sitting at home practicing, it's time to get up
and get down!