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  1. #21
    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: When I realized I could never play full-time in a "blues" band

    I agree, people who find "the blues" boring are better off not listening to it or playing it. Simples as that.

    It's not compulsory!

    But if you want to learn more, then there are so many different styles. I think abig problem s those bands that just play one style and tempo. That's a bad way to make an evaluation of blues music.
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  3. #22
    Distinguished SOTW Member Mal 2's Avatar
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    Default Re: When I realized I could never play full-time in a "blues" band

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank D View Post
    For me the ideal situation is to be in a blues band as the only horn so you have more flexibility in what you can play, and you can still sync up with a keyboard, guitar or harp player if you want to play section-type riffs.
    This might be an ideal situation for an "intelligent" vocal harmonizer like the Digitech Vocalist Live (2, 3, or 4). It listens to the guitar and/or keys, and the limited harmonic variation keeps it from getting too crossed up. The only issue is that it needs a clean and well-isolated source (meaning YOU) so it is critical to keep everyone else from bleeding into your mic. Good luck with that on a club date.
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    Default Re: When I realized I could never play full-time in a "blues" band

    i, like many guitarists, spent much time playing the blues (not in play-for-pay bands). it used to be my favorite music (the 'quality' stuff), maybe due somewhat to a state of mind and external situations.

    used to be.

    like many, it now bores me to tears. i even find myself getting annoyed to monotonous discomfort with it sometimes. i avoid going to listen to "blues bands". when the inevitable "jam session" starts up, i cringe because the ole 1-4-5 is compulsory. PLEASE DO NOT repeat the 1st phrase AGAIN!!!!! i'm going to explode!

    i think (for me) it has/had it's place, and is still useful/tolerable (even enjoyable) once in a while. i also think that i developed a 'refined' taste of blues getting into it so fervently - so now i despise anything that isn't up to my top-o-the-heap preference. strangely, i never did appreciate BB king very much (sorry martinmusicman - that video is just junk to me). neither clapton. now i DO find pete's production of you guy's (SOTW members) blues spot entertaining, and there is an interesting mix/variety of style/interpretation to keep it from fermenting.

    alas, i find that any music style/genre/idiom gets predictable, boring, then annoying to me. i think that's one reason i appreciate the new/modern stuff - it introduces new ideas that freshen up the salad.
    if you could hear what i hear, you'd like it a lot better than what i play.

  5. #24
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    Default Re: When I realized I could never play full-time in a "blues" band

    I've played in a few blues bands over the years and it's usually been a fine experience but I do sometimes prefer more variety than certain bands present. I've been subbing with a "blues" band that actually does Steely Dan and even Jeff Beck so there's no problem there. This does remind me of a funny story that could have turned me off blues bands forever... <cue flashback fx> Many years ago I was called to sub on a blues band on Valentine's Day. That band played a lot of stuff that was the same basic feel and a LOT of stuff in the same key (guitar players love E). As the night wore on they kept talking about "the medley" and I was wondering what on earth that could be until they finally called it and the bass player leaned over and said, "We'll be in G for...quite a while". They proceeded to play three songs in a medley, all in G, all the same feel, and all the same tempo...oh an ALL with the expectation of extended sax solos. I would love to say I got into the 2nd song without running out of new stuff to play but I imagine I would be lying.
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  6. #25
    Distinguished SOTW Member/Saxophonist Extraordinaire chayjazz's Avatar
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    Default Re: When I realized I could never play full-time in a "blues" band

    I love playing in a good blues bands. And I've spent a lot of time playing in "Bar Bands" that were mainly blues cover bands. I learned a lot playing in those bands. I find that any type of music played well from blues to hip-hop is exciting. Now I wouldn't last to long in a bad blues band or a bad Jazz band, but I can honestly say that it wouldn't bore me. It's just that "bad music sounds bad" and I'd' rather not play it. When I am in a bad musical situation I still try to find a way to make my own playing sound interesting. Sometimes I can, sometimes I can't.

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    Distinguished SOTW Member xax's Avatar
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    Default Re: When I realized I could never play full-time in a "blues" band

    The average band's idea of "The Blues" is for me, some of the most unsatisfying music in all creation. I think it's because some or other forms of the Blues is what I grew up hearing. Back then it was done well...and done right! Considering that so many players listen to and then "make their bones" playing music that is watered down, square rhythm-ed, 2nd, 3rd or 4th hand derived, guitar sheit noise, is it any wonder that so much typical blues has NO LIFE. I've always assumed that it's the result of players who are more interested in, "Look at me, ladies, I'm...a band!", than they are in playing music(ally). After all, what's easier to "master" than I IV V? If that will get you the ladies, well then...

    As with pretty much any other form of expressive/improvisational music, the rhythm section is one of the keys to making and keeping things interesting for the band and especially the soloists. I expect the OP suffers with a rhythm section that "ties your hands", as the expression goes. When i play in these "stilted" types of environments, i try to push the band by constantly creating riffs underneath it all...riffs that, when "necessary", suggest different rhythms. It doesn't always work but often enough, IF the band listens to itself, better music happens as a result. As Frank D. noted above, this works best when there is only one saxophonist.

    I play some or other form of blues about 90% of the time and bless the day i figured out how to do so (relatively) well...
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    Default Re: When I realized I could never play full-time in a "blues" band

    I put my time in with a good bar blues band and had a blast. Miss it actually. As far as getting the ladies its how I met my wife! Her brother was the Guitar player.

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    Default Re: When I realized I could never play full-time in a "blues" band

    Lots of good replies here. Music changes when it needs to be refreshed. Usually haha. The things I've noticed about the more prolific writers is that they found ways to immerse themselves in new styles, listening to them in order to see what could be added to their writing and playing. They tend to garner a following because there will always be listeners who appreciate variations on themes.

    You reminded me of something I realized when I was a kid. My parents didn't like the syncopated rythm coming from my bedroom. Said it was too loud and that it all sounded the same. When I walked out of that room and heard a couple songs in succession, I understood what they meant. What came through the walls was rythmicallly boring. But turn down the volume and stand before the loud speakers and you recieve a totally different experience. They heard "the groove" of the style of music while inside the room I normally heard the nuances plus the groove.

    In some cases you have musicians and bands who found a style that works for them. It may all sound the same even to them, but a contract somewhere might dictate they keep playing the stuff they've already gotten past, musically speaking.

    I've been blessed. I've had the opportunities to play a wide variety of music over the years. Took em too.

    I guess what I'm saying is that some people, musicians and audiences alike, sometimes want to play and hear the same stuff for as long as possible. They just can't get enough of it. Other times we just want to change things up after a while. And a genre of music tends to have a recognizeable groove. One distinct to a particular style of music.

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  10. #29
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    Default Re: When I realized I could never play full-time in a "blues" band

    I agree with MMM and Pete that if you don't love the blues and have a real feel for it, then obviously you won't enjoy playing it. And you won't likely play it very well either. Part of the problem is so many think the blues is easy to play and only has 3 chords. Yes, just like the saxophone, it's easy to play...badly. So you get tons of bands butchering the music. The same happens in other genres (especially rock). Not as much in jazz because it's reputed to be more difficult, but there are plenty of hack jazz musicians out there running scales all over the place, which is the epitome of boredom.

    Anyway, to put a more positive spin on this thread, here are a few guidelines to prevent boredom for those who do love the blues and want to play it (as Pete says, no one is forcing you to ):

    1) Get a good rhythm section, a GOOD one. Without a solid bass player and drummer you don't stand a chance.

    2) Learn to play a variety of blues styles. There are several (Chicago, swing, jump, Texas, New Orleans, etc) styles and rhythmic types. No need to limit it to 'shuffles in G or E.'

    3) Learn variations on the standard I-IV-V progression: 8-bar, 16 bar, 24 bar, blues with a bridge, ii-V7 instead of IV-V (jump blues especially), iii-VI-ii-V turnarounds, and minor blues. Minor blues progressions can sound very different than the standard 'major' blues.

    4) Use intros and head arrangements to bring in the vocals. Louis Jordon did this all the time (for ex., Caldonia, Good Times Roll). As a sax player, in some cases you can double up with the guitar on these, which can be very effective. Also devise and vary the endings. One huge difference between a hack 'jam' band and a 'pro' band are polished intos and endings (very important!).

    5) There is a lot of room for improv and solos in the blues, so you can take advantage of that and get creative, especially if the band plays some substitute changes and different forms (#3, above).

    6) Play some instrumentals. Learn some 'soul jazz,' blues jazz type of tunes that may still be danceable, and/or some funk tunes to play for variety. A few instrumentals actually help support and make the vocal tunes stand out, and vice versa.

    7) Keep the volume under control; most real blues fans (believe it or not there are more of them than jazz fans, although there's plenty of overlap) don't want their eardrums blown out and the 'real' blues are not meant to be played at ear-splitting volume.

    8) As a sax player, learn as many backing riffs, horn lines, and horn arrangements as possible. One of the fun aspects of playing blues on the sax is to step in with the rhythm section and play backing lines. But don't overdo it. Lay out on some verses, and don't play over the singer.

    Ok, that's enough. I could think of lots more, but if you apply most of the above, and you get some good musicians to play with (very important), I don't think you'll be bored playing the blues, nor will your audience! But of course if you don't even like the blues, then play something else. OTOH, if you do like the blues, but get stuck in a hack "blues jam band," move on or recruit some musicians who want to dig in and do it right.

    Sorry to go on so long....

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    Default Re: When I realized I could never play full-time in a "blues" band

    JL's post should be a sticky. Or expanded into a more in-depth article.
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    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: When I realized I could never play full-time in a "blues" band

    I tried to promote to article, but got a no permissions notice.
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    Default Re: When I realized I could never play full-time in a "blues" band

    To make things worse, try blues in the SAME KEY 7-8 tunes in a row!! I did some gigs w/a guy who played slide guitar in various open tunings, and once he put on a guitar he didn't want to change too often. So you get to play mid-tempo blues in G for 35 minutes or so....by the end of the gig I couldn't decide if I wanted to shoot him or myself...or both...

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    Default Re: When I realized I could never play full-time in a "blues" band

    Quote Originally Posted by area51recording View Post
    To make things worse, try blues in the SAME KEY 7-8 tunes in a row!! I did some gigs w/a guy who played slide guitar in various open tunings, and once he put on a guitar he didn't want to change too often. So you get to play mid-tempo blues in G for 35 minutes or so....by the end of the gig I couldn't decide if I wanted to shoot him or myself...or both...
    Only 35 minutes?
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    Default Re: When I realized I could never play full-time in a "blues" band

    Quote Originally Posted by MartinMusicMan View Post
    If this is boring, then you shouldn't listen to or play this music.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKNHFX8Dua4
    The OP's point was that he doesn't find Blues instantaneously boring...he wonders how monotonous it would be as the primary music in a full-time band.
    And who put you and Pete in charge of deciding whether someone can listen to or play something or not if it bores them?
    The kneejerk assumption that people don't understand a musical genre enough if they are not delighted by it is so overdone.
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    Default Re: When I realized I could never play full-time in a "blues" band

    Quote Originally Posted by Yofis View Post
    The kneejerk assumption that people don't understand a musical genre enough if they are not delighted by it is so overdone.
    Who put you in charge of putting words in other people's mouths?
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    Default Re: When I realized I could never play full-time in a "blues" band

    Quote Originally Posted by hakukani View Post
    Only 35 minutes?
    I've got a low threshold...

  18. #37
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    Default Re: When I realized I could never play full-time in a "blues" band

    Quote Originally Posted by Yofis View Post
    The OP's point was that he doesn't find Blues instantaneously boring...he wonders how monotonous it would be as the primary music in a full-time band.
    And who put you and Pete in charge of deciding whether someone can listen to or play something or not if it bores them?.
    Yofis, I'm not sure that's exactly what MMM & Pete (or me, since I agreed with them) were saying, in the sense you mean. I think it's fair to say if you don't like B.B. King, or T-Bone Walker, or King Curtis, or Gene Ammons, or other blues players, then there isn't much point in pursuing that type of music.

    I do agree with you that the OP wasn't saying he disliked the blues, but rather thought he'd get bored playing in a so-called blues band (edit: now that I go back and look he did say he didn't like the blues band he heard). I've pointed out that I'd be bored too, playing in a hack 'blues band' that only plays blues in G on the slide guitar or 'rock-blues' with the same rhythm & changes over and over, but it doesn't have to be that way. If you like the blues and want to play it without getting bored, you have to find the right band and right musicians to play with (this is not unique to the blues, imo). So I guess we're dealing with a couple of different issues. I'd rather focus on the positive and try to answer the OP's question. Unfortunately, sometimes a question can be couched in such a way that a lot of negative posts are sure to follow.

    I should add, that a GOOD blues band is a great place for a saxophone player to stretch out, and we have precious few of those opportunities these days.

  19. #38
    Distinguished SOTW Member rleitch's Avatar
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    Default Re: When I realized I could never play full-time in a "blues" band

    Quote Originally Posted by MartinMusicMan View Post
    JL's post should be a sticky. Or expanded into a more in-depth article.
    Amen! Especially the point about volume. I think the only times I've ever totally lost interest on the bandstand were when the stage volume had become a complete turn-off.

    Funny thing about "boring" blues is: chicks dig it. You know what I mean--how many times have you played/seen a good (i.e in the sense layed out by JL) blues band totally upstaged by the first person who does SRV, "Brown Sugar" or "Shakey Ground."

    I think part of the "thing" about bar band blues is you have to derive some of your satisfation from their satisfaction--even if that means playing (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction every night.

    Great discussion!

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    Default Re: When I realized I could never play full-time in a "blues" band

    I like the blues, but I can only play it for so long....it starts to get depressing after awhile.

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    Default Re: When I realized I could never play full-time in a "blues" band

    Blues is good for about ten minutes at most, and then it's boring for me no matter how good the players are.

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