Elwood Blues Club (EBC)
A drummer friend of mine, Tony Martin, invited me down to the Elwood Blues Club to share in the Jam they run every Sunday at the Greyhound Hotel.
Tony has been most enthusiastic in supporting these sorts of events that he makes the effort to attend the monthly open-mic held by the Gippsland Rhythm and Blues Club held at Newborough. At one of these events Tony suggested that I should check out the EBC Jam. Tony lives in Melbourne so it's a big effort for him to travel all the way to Newborough to attend these monthly events. I can make the same trip.
I've attended probably two or three months of the EBC Jam and have the following observations.
The Jam is pretty typical of these sort of events:
The issue I have is that the band, regardless of the name, always comprises the same people!
The biggest obstacle to Jammers, and to some extent, the main act, is the quality of the sound. The ideal situation is to have a nominated person be assigned to the mixer. This position is the most important bar none. A bad mix can destroy a band in an instant and this often happens even though it's not obvious if you are performing!
The main issue is that the balance of relative volumes for each performer changes during a song. There are times when an individual needs to be louder, or softer at a particular time, hence the need for a dedicated person to always be at the mixer adjusting volumes as needed in real-time. This seems to be an ad hoc process at the jam and the players needs are not looked after. The DP's go to the trouble of providing a microphone for each amplifier, which is commendable, but it seems to make no difference to the overall mix. You can have a guitarist going nuts on stage but not be heard in the audience.
Some frustrated performers take matters into their own hands and use their own amplifiers to blast through their sound. Oddly, some of these performers just go for it and some are told to turn down in a random manner. No consistency by the DP's.
Secondary issues are the quality of the sound. With different microphones or amplifiers the sound will either be too boomy or scratchy. There appears no attempt to equalise the sound for each performer. A recent example was Chris Hanger, who used his own classic microphone for his performance. In the description of the event the words "Guttural roar" was used to describe his voice. In reality, because the microphone was not equalised correctly he came across as a bit of a wimp. The equalisation used resulted in a lot of high frequencies and hardly any low frequencies, hardly guttural. This does Chris a disservice.
At times the mix is done well and in real-time, but this is a rarity.
This a good event that is worth supporting under sufferance. The quality of most of the players are very good and it's a good networking environment.
I'll be back.