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The Most Magical of Jam Nights

Posted by Andrea Adams on May 25, 2012 at 7:40 PM Comments comments (1)

It was a warm evening May 23rd and as the sun dimmed itself slowly in the sky my daughter Tasha and I began to set up the stage for a night of music.


What we didn’t know was just how magical it would be.


Front Street Grill is a clean and classy little restaurant with about a 60 person capacity, located in the heart of Nanaimo, a beautiful harbour front city known for festivals, ferry boat rides and fish. It has a new owner this year and thus the name change from Red Room Grill to Front Street Grill.


We, many of the musicians of Nanaimo, were all quite thankful that George, the new owner, chose to keep it as a live music venue after taking over. Wednesday night was a long-standing jam for over 6 years at Red Room and was shut down for a while because of all sorts of licensing laws and things that made it difficult to continue. I don’t know all the details, but I can only guess it took a bit of effort to re-establish this jam.


A variety of people had asked me if and when I would be hosting a jam again, and the questions seemed to be happening more often over the last couple of months, so I thought I’d host one for fun and bring my lovely and talented daughter, Tasha, to come help. I love hosting events, connecting with people, and sharing music and energy.


My only deterrent from hosting has been my physical capabilities after major neck surgery, and lack of some equipment such as a good guitar amp and drums. Tasha was capable of carrying all the heavy items, my friend Lyle brought his drums and a variety of musicians showed up with amps! Yay!


One by one people showed up and filled the booths, then the seats in front and the seats at the bar. I looked up and realized it was full at The Front Street Grill before 9pm on a Wednesday and I was so thankful.


Tasha and I started the night together, and it wasn’t perfect in terms of notes on my piano or maybe our rhythm, but it was perfect in that we decided it was time that two lead singers picked up a couple of instruments and played in public!


We had a chuckle after the first song, “House of The Rising Sun”, shrugged our shoulders as if to say that it wasn’t too bad considering we were pretty new at playing together.


Tasha went on to sing a couple of songs and got a huge round of applause from the room. Her rendition of Missy Higgins, "Secret" is amazing. It is so nice to see my girl go from being a great singer to now adding emotion and dynamic and drawing the audience in to her musical world. 


Another reason I was thankful to sing and play at Front Street Grill is because people under the age of 19 can go. I’ve raised my children around music and they have attended many events and jams with me. This is what I prefer to do, and thus why hosting there was extra special.


I looked to my left and there in the first booth was my dad, Vic Lindal and my Auntie Virginia who had come up together from Victoria and booked a hotel room so that they could come and see me and my daughter perform and host together for the first time ever. Sitting with them were my two other children Jeffery and Larissa, and as Tasha sang and played I had tears in my eyes like never before.


You see, these three beautiful, talented and smart children of mine have been through a lot with my injuries and several moves, and still manage to support and love each other.


Coming out to music jams and open mics is my favourite family activity.


I had a chance to walk around the room and introduce myself to many people such as Ian and Sue who were sitting in the back and said they came out just because they knew my daughter and me were hosting. There was a visitor from Manchester England named Matthew who just happened to pop in and stayed for the night because of the music, a man named Gary with his daughter who I had seen earlier that day at Tim Horton’s. Gary had recognized me from performing at Marine Fest in 2011! William was another random new face, who had recently subscribed to my Facebook, and then my family and friends and so many wonderful musicians!


After Tasha wowed the crowd with her beautiful voice that left me with tears in my eyes, it was time for another magical moment.


I had sent an email out a few weeks before to some blues musicians who I consider to be like music family to me. When I moved to Nanaimo three and a half years ago, me and my family were welcomed at Blues Underground, a family friendly casual jam spot that sadly no longer exists.


There we met some of the greatest musicians I have ever sung with and they were all so very welcoming. So, with these couple of emails I sent, we ended up on that little stage with…. Eric McLean on guitar, Richard Perks on Saxophone, Rick Becker on Bass, John Forbes on Keyboard, Pete on Harp and my friend Lyle on drums, and WOW! I am a blues singer. That is where my soul is 100%.


Sometimes I forget maybe for a little while as other projects crop up, but the minute they all started playing and that microphone came up to my mouth, that was it, I was back in my comfort zone and I could share every bit of passion that resides in this body and it felt so damn good!!!


The evening went on with a full list of musicians. I was incredibly thankful to Cathy Davis for contacting me in advance and bringing her whole band down, Blue Gambit, a well experienced country band. Wow! They were so great!


Christopher Tate of Ashbury West (A Neil Young Tribute), and Side Street (a great Heavy Rock cover band) came just to play two songs with my daughter and they sounded amazing.


Doris was an adorable older lady, probably 4ft10 with little movement in her warn hands. She sat at a table quietly for hours waiting for her turn, and then she got on stage and picked up Tasha’s guitar that looked as if it was twice her size. Then, another moment of magic and inspiration; Doris’s face lit up, her fingers began to hold down those guitar strings and she strummed a perfect and fun rhythm all the while smiling and singing to the audience, making sure she addressed each one, and part way through her set putting a red clown nose on for added smiles.


Then my friend Kayla, stage name “Kiki Kilter”, getting up with different musicians, and openly welcoming people to come play. The positive energy continued as she lit up the room with her happy demeanor and wonderful pop and rock vocals.


Guy, one of the musicians in this town who is always encouraging others got up with his heavy French accent, sat down at the keyboard and rifled off some lounge sounding songs.


The night continued with musician after musician, and gradually the stage opened up more and more for different mixes of musicians jamming with each other.


Bilbo, Evan and other open mic regulars got up, and the blues musician friends of mine from the beginning joined in here and there. We even got to hear the upright electric bass!!!


Andrea Smith was quite a treat, getting up to play some of her original tunes, and how wonderful it was to hear she is coming out with her second album this fall! She just happened to be walking by and came in. I’ve heard her name so many times because she regularly gigs around town, but finally had a chance to see and hear her… Awesome! Of course we decided that people with the name Andrea are just generally awesome.


Brett, the 17-year-old prodigy, got on his guitar and wowed us all with his abilities. It is pretty cool that he is gigging now and hosting jams. He was one of the Blues Underground kids and I met him 3.5 years ago when he was half the height he is now.


Blues Underground was truly amazing. The vision of Billy Boy and Tom Dodge and other blues musicians is sprouting up amazing talent from the seeds planted in our Nanaimo youth a few years ago.


If you look around this town at the young musicians who are really doing something with their gifts now, you can see they are the ones who came from the rock school originally started in conjunction with the Blues Underground jam.


Well I had tears in my eyes for a second time that night. Mr. Mathew Falvai left me almost speechless with his rendition of ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’. He introduced it by thanking me for showing him that song, and then I sat back and listened in amazement. He took an already beautiful song to a place beyond compare. His dynamic in playing and singing was nothing less than musical genius. As if he was ringing every last drop out of a wet cloth he poured out passion, emotion and just when you thought it was all, he found more.


This magical, musical night was all ages, and many genres, with a variety of skills and talent. We had old teaching young and young teaching old. True and deep gifts were shown and shared.


That was the best jam night I can ever remember. Wow… my kind of jam, and I was honoured to host.

The Most Magical of Jam Nights

Posted by Andrea Adams on May 25, 2012 at 7:40 PM Comments comments (0)

It was a warm evening May 23rd and as the sun dimmed itself slowly in the sky my daughter Tasha and I began to set up the stage for a night of music.


What we didn’t know was just how magical it would be.


Front Street Grill is a clean and classy little restaurant with about a 60 person capacity, located in the heart of Nanaimo, a beautiful harbour front city known for festivals, ferry boat rides and fish. It has a new owner this year and thus the name change from Red Room Grill to Front Street Grill.


We, many of the musicians of Nanaimo, were all quite thankful that George, the new owner, chose to keep it as a live music venue after taking over. Wednesday night was a long-standing jam for over 6 years at Red Room and was shut down for a while because of all sorts of licensing laws and things that made it difficult to continue. I don’t know all the details, but I can only guess it took a bit of effort to re-establish this jam.


A variety of people had asked me if and when I would be hosting a jam again, and the questions seemed to be happening more often over the last couple of months, so I thought I’d host one for fun and bring my lovely and talented daughter, Tasha, to come help. I love hosting events, connecting with people, and sharing music and energy.


My only deterrent from hosting has been my physical capabilities after major neck surgery, and lack of some equipment such as a good guitar amp and drums. Tasha was capable of carrying all the heavy items, my friend Lyle brought his drums and a variety of musicians showed up with amps! Yay!


One by one people showed up and filled the booths, then the seats in front and the seats at the bar. I looked up and realized it was full at The Front Street Grill before 9pm on a Wednesday and I was so thankful.


Tasha and I started the night together, and it wasn’t perfect in terms of notes on my piano or maybe our rhythm, but it was perfect in that we decided it was time that two lead singers picked up a couple of instruments and played in public!


We had a chuckle after the first song, “House of The Rising Sun”, shrugged our shoulders as if to say that it wasn’t too bad considering we were pretty new at playing together.


Tasha went on to sing a couple of songs and got a huge round of applause from the room. Her rendition of Missy Higgins, "Secret" is amazing. It is so nice to see my girl go from being a great singer to now adding emotion and dynamic and drawing the audience in to her musical world. 


Another reason I was thankful to sing and play at Front Street Grill is because people under the age of 19 can go. I’ve raised my children around music and they have attended many events and jams with me. This is what I prefer to do, and thus why hosting there was extra special.


I looked to my left and there in the first booth was my dad, Vic Lindal and my Auntie Virginia who had come up together from Victoria and booked a hotel room so that they could come and see me and my daughter perform and host together for the first time ever. Sitting with them were my two other children Jeffery and Larissa, and as Tasha sang and played I had tears in my eyes like never before.


You see, these three beautiful, talented and smart children of mine have been through a lot with my injuries and several moves, and still manage to support and love each other.


Coming out to music jams and open mics is my favourite family activity.


I had a chance to walk around the room and introduce myself to many people such as Ian and Sue who were sitting in the back and said they came out just because they knew my daughter and me were hosting. There was a visitor from Manchester England named Matthew who just happened to pop in and stayed for the night because of the music, a man named Gary with his daughter who I had seen earlier that day at Tim Horton’s. Gary had recognized me from performing at Marine Fest in 2011! William was another random new face, who had recently subscribed to my Facebook, and then my family and friends and so many wonderful musicians!


After Tasha wowed the crowd with her beautiful voice that left me with tears in my eyes, it was time for another magical moment.


I had sent an email out a few weeks before to some blues musicians who I consider to be like music family to me. When I moved to Nanaimo three and a half years ago, me and my family were welcomed at Blues Underground, a family friendly casual jam spot that sadly no longer exists.


There we met some of the greatest musicians I have ever sung with and they were all so very welcoming. So, with these couple of emails I sent, we ended up on that little stage with…. Eric McLean on guitar, Richard Perks on Saxophone, Rick Becker on Bass, John Forbes on Keyboard, Pete on Harp and my friend Lyle on drums, and WOW! I am a blues singer. That is where my soul is 100%.


Sometimes I forget maybe for a little while as other projects crop up, but the minute they all started playing and that microphone came up to my mouth, that was it, I was back in my comfort zone and I could share every bit of passion that resides in this body and it felt so damn good!!!


The evening went on with a full list of musicians. I was incredibly thankful to Cathy Davis for contacting me in advance and bringing her whole band down, Blue Gambit, a well experienced country band. Wow! They were so great!


Christopher Tate of Ashbury West (A Neil Young Tribute), and Side Street (a great Heavy Rock cover band) came just to play two songs with my daughter and they sounded amazing.


Doris was an adorable older lady, probably 4ft10 with little movement in her warn hands. She sat at a table quietly for hours waiting for her turn, and then she got on stage and picked up Tasha’s guitar that looked as if it was twice her size. Then, another moment of magic and inspiration; Doris’s face lit up, her fingers began to hold down those guitar strings and she strummed a perfect and fun rhythm all the while smiling and singing to the audience, making sure she addressed each one, and part way through her set putting a red clown nose on for added smiles.


Then my friend Kayla, stage name “Kiki Kilter”, getting up with different musicians, and openly welcoming people to come play. The positive energy continued as she lit up the room with her happy demeanor and wonderful pop and rock vocals.


Guy, one of the musicians in this town who is always encouraging others got up with his heavy French accent, sat down at the keyboard and rifled off some lounge sounding songs.


The night continued with musician after musician, and gradually the stage opened up more and more for different mixes of musicians jamming with each other.


Bilbo, Evan and other open mic regulars got up, and the blues musician friends of mine from the beginning joined in here and there. We even got to hear the upright electric bass!!!


Andrea Smith was quite a treat, getting up to play some of her original tunes, and how wonderful it was to hear she is coming out with her second album this fall! She just happened to be walking by and came in. I’ve heard her name so many times because she regularly gigs around town, but finally had a chance to see and hear her… Awesome! Of course we decided that people with the name Andrea are just generally awesome.


Brett, the 17-year-old prodigy, got on his guitar and wowed us all with his abilities. It is pretty cool that he is gigging now and hosting jams. He was one of the Blues Underground kids and I met him 3.5 years ago when he was half the height he is now.


Blues Underground was truly amazing. The vision of Billy Boy and Tom Dodge and other blues musicians is sprouting up amazing talent from the seeds planted in our Nanaimo youth a few years ago.


If you look around this town at the young musicians who are really doing something with their gifts now, you can see they are the ones who came from the rock school originally started in conjunction with the Blues Underground jam.


Well I had tears in my eyes for a second time that night. Mr. Matthew Falvai left me almost speechless with his rendition of ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’. He introduced it by thanking me for showing him that song, and then I sat back and listened in amazement. He took an already beautiful song to a place beyond compare. His dynamic in playing and singing was nothing less than musical genius. As if he was ringing every last drop out of a wet cloth he poured out passion, emotion and just when you thought it was all, he found more.


This magical, musical night was all ages, and many genres, with a variety of skills and talent. We had old teaching young and young teaching old. True and deep gifts were shown and shared.


That was the best jam night I can ever remember. Wow… my kind of jam, and I was honoured to host.

Bar Owners & Musicians - finding a balance

Posted by Andrea Adams on May 18, 2012 at 5:05 PM Comments comments (1)

I remember a friend saying a couple of years ago that the Canadian standard minimum rate per musician was $110. This is what was learned in school, taught at University here in Nanaimo I believe, and I am sure it is right, and that was a couple years ago…


Let’s take a look at both sides. I have talked to many bar owners and many musicians about their beliefs on payment and it very rarely lines up. It seems a lot of musicians don’t take a look at the bar owners expense and a lot of bar owners don’t seem to appreciate the amount of effort put into being a quality musician.


Can we find a balance? It is a matter of musicians and bar owners stepping back for a second, considering more than one perspective and appreciating the other’s opinion then finding common ground.

Here is something I can imagine bar owners and musicians saying to contradict each other…


Musicians, “If you are a good bar you will have regular patrons already.”


Bar owner, “If you are a good band, you will have a following that will come to my bar.”


How about a combination? A good bar will not be empty. Even if you play good top 40 tunes all night, if you have a decent location, good bar staff, some drink specials and clean and well-kept washrooms you will likely have a few regulars.


If you are a really good bar, then the entertainment you hire will be quality every time and you will have even more regulars because they know they are guaranteed to have a good night.

Quit whining about the economy and drinking laws and put some positive energy out there. I can speak for myself, a single mom of three children with a partial disability who makes barely enough to get by at times. I need a break now and then, and I will make sure I have money to do so. When I spend that money I will only spend it where I am not taking a risk of wasting it. Do you know what this means?


This means QUALITY entertainment, quality food, decent drink prices, and good service. Or, I might be a designated driver for friends who want to drink… Guess what? They also don’t want to waste their money. They absolutely will pay cover charge if they know a venue always has good bands.


About and for musicians… To be even a good pub level musician you need to do a lot of work. I know, as a vocalist, each song takes me about 5 hours from start to finish to sing it in perfect pitch and have all word memorization down. Some musicians are a lot faster and some slower, but either way to get a 30 – 40 song night takes hours upon hours of unpaid rehearsal. Having enough songs in your repertoire so as not to bore a regular audience takes even more unpaid hours of hard work. Now having those songs back to back so people keep dancing takes years of discipline and experience.


Generally you start in a basement, do some jams and open mics so people hear your talent, then you book gigs starting out at a lower rate and as you build a following and reputation you become more valuable. Honestly, if you don’t have a following of more than just your close friends and family, then either you are new, or you need to go back to the garage and work a little harder, get some lessons, get some outside objective opinions on what you need to do to make it better, or get some better marketing. Sometimes marketing is playing for free, thus the few songs at jams or open mics. I like the idea of playing for fundraisers or benefits, and I believe in doing this a couple of times a year. This, for me, is not for advertising but for the cause.


There is no harm in playing for a fundraiser for exposure as long as you are not getting known as the ‘free band’. Musicians please remember that undercutting simply devalues all of us. If you have a gift combined with hard work you are valuable.


You make a difference in people’s lives even if it means they are just escaping the day to day. Sometimes your music, your energy and your words can save someone from utter despair. People pay counselors $200 / hour over a long period of time to feel better. People take drugs to do the same thing. Why not value your service and realize you give people a natural and healthy high, sometimes even healing deep wounds with one performance. You are worth it!

Balance…. There needs to be a balance. It is terrible that some people want to take advantage of musicians and get them to play free as often as they can. Tell me, how many unpaid hours of work did you do to be good at your job? Remember, 5 hours for one song… hmmm… a 40 song night… 200 hours of work to get paid $100 at most venues in Nanaimo = $2 / hour. I know, once you memorize the songs you’ve got your three sets and eventually you will see a better profit, but remember musicians are always changing their list so they don’t lose regulars, keep up a fan base, and so they still have some passion for playing. Thus, the hours of work are still there every week, unpaid. They are like competitive athletes, always in training.


Our job as musicians is to make a venue profit somehow from our performance. That is most often shown in the amount of…………. money spent. Yes, money spent, not people. If you invite three regular drinkers who like to get drunk and can consume a lot of alcohol it makes the bar money. Moral standards aside, that’s our job, to make the bar money. So all these hours of work to entertain, get people dancing and make a bar money better pay off, right? I mean really, if you are a cover band, there is at least one song hated by each band member, but played anyway because you know the crowd loves it. It’s work if you are doing it to make money. It’s work that can pay off if you are honest with yourself and you truly put the effort in.


Debate: Paid by cover or paid a flat rate? Musicians who have put the hours in to be at a higher level than most bands should get paid more. Yes, of course! Guess what? You will probably have a following that will come to the bar when you are playing in your local town if you are that good.


Cover charge can be good or bad: Know your bar. Keep track of people yourself or get someone you trust to do it. If you have a following, then you should be fine, or if the bar has done a good job of always hiring quality musicians you should be fine. Paid by cover charge protects the bar from a possible slow night, and puts more pressure on the band to advertise.


What I don’t get is why would a bar become more lazy in who they hire just because the band is getting paid cover and not a flat rate? The bar becomes reliant on bands to have fans, and the bar runs the risk of hiring terrible performers who drive patrons away and affect the reputation of the bar.


If bars are doing the whole ‘paid by cover’ thing… can you please still screen your bands well? If you hire new bands that have no followers yet, but are really great, you still have a good reputation and when people are sitting around at home with their friends having a beer and they say, “Hey I want to go out. Where should we go?” Guess what? They will pick your bar.


Flat rate: Probably my favourite because I know where I stand, what I am getting and I always give my best so the bar is guaranteed they get what they pay for. Any bar I have seen pay a decent flat rate is fairly picky about their hiring and have the option of hiring the better bands.


Minimum + Door: For sure! This is not a bad option. Have a minimum that the band gets paid, so some pressure is put on the owner to select well and help promote, and have the rest via the door so the band has to make effort in promoting as well.


Bars with no cover… This works well for getting people into your bar, but I kind of wonder…. I know I would rather pay cover and go where I know the music is good than to not pay cover and listen to bad music. Either way, if the bar has no cover but still hires great musicians consistently, the reputation will grow. Here’s the thing though… As a patron I want to go where it is clean and fun and where it is not a meat market. Sometimes charging cover can keep out people with meat market mentality.

How To Run A Successful Jam

Posted by Andrea Adams on April 29, 2012 at 4:35 PM Comments comments (0)

 

This is my opinion based on all the discussion I have had with musicians, owners and patrons, and hopefully it will help all of you who want to run a great jam or open mic.

You need some factors to run any event successfully...

 

1) Venue

2) Host

3) Equipment

4) Staff

5) Patrons

6) Advertising


VENUE: This seems simple, but it isn't. There are many factors that make a great venue such as cleanliness. If you want to build a good jam, make sure the washrooms are clean, the lighting is appropriate and tables are steady.

What about the location? Is the venue easily accessible to the patrons you are looking for. How is parking? What about access to rides home after people have been drinking?

Give this info to your patrons to make them want to come.

 

HOST: They need to be friendly, welcoming, knowledgeable and organized. This is not an easy job to do well.

A great host makes sure people know where to sign up, introduces them well and thanks them for playing / singing.

A great thing to do is to ask people about their music background, if they have a CD, where they might be gigging next or if they are looking for musicians to play with in a band. You can use this info when introducing them over the microphone, and it makes the musicians feel welcome and appreciated and wanting to come back.

Also, a good host notices the patrons and makes them feel welcome.

 

Remember - your job is to make the bar money. If you bring out water drinkers your jam will not last. Lots of people does not equal lots of money.

With that said, people stay where people are...

 

Also, musicians should not have to play for free. If you can arrange even a glass of beer or pop for each musician, this is honouring to them for their time and effort.

I sometimes do some feature spots and make a poster which offers them free advertising.

 

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are running a jam, you are required to put musicians together on stage. If you want this to be successful, look at your list, let people know who they are playing with in advance so that they can discuss possible songs! Dead air on stage does not have to happen.

I have left jams and never returned because I had no idea where to sign up or who to ask.

Know your equipment and how to adjust sound!

 

 

EQUIPMENT: Are you running an open mic or a jam?

The main differences are:

A Jam has drums

A jam requires the host to put musicians together

An Open Mic can be music or even poetry... generally anything you can do on a mic counts

For a jam, here is what I consider the minimum equipment:

2 speakers, guitar amp, bass amp, drums (electric or acoustic) and two microphones

Ideally you will also have: monitors, a DI box for acoustic plug in, 4 or more microphones, and it is a good idea to have two guitar amps. It is great to at least mic the kick drum. At most venues you do not need instruments plugged in to the board. You can go straight off the floor, but if you mic or plug in everything, you may have better control over sound.

 

Do not be afraid to walk up to a guitar amp and turn it down. Just be friendly first!

Adjust for each band, but get it right within the first minute of the first song so the musicians can enjoy their set and know what they are working with for sound.

 

STAFF:

This is a tough one. Obviously you are not in charge of hiring, but we all know it is impossible to keep people coming to your jam if they have to wait an hour for their first beer. The funny thing is that the host always gets blamed for a jam failing, when often I have seen that it is inefficient or rude staff that are the buzz kill!

Before you host at a venue, go for a beer yourself on the night you might want to host and see how you are treated. How is the service? How is the food?

Talk to the owner about staff, or if their are problems with food, etc. Quite often the host of a jam will be told about rude staff and bad food and the owner won't know at all. You are helping him / her by telling him / her.


 

PATRONS:

Do you really have control over patrons? Yes.

You are in charge, and it is your job to win over the right crowd.

When you start your jam, you will be able to bring out your friends and probably a few musicians you know, and when people walk in, if there are people there, they are more likely to stay.

Let the patrons feel involved. Go around the bar asking how they like the jam, or if there are any genres of music or songs they might like to hear. Maybe even learn a song or two for next week and let them know you will play it just for them.

You can also do door prizes or other incentives to keep people there.



 

ADVERTISING

This site is here for you, so that is a start.

You can advertise in the paper, Craig's List, posters up around town, Facebook events, handbills handed to people walking around near your venue.

When you make a poster, make sure it is clear, concise and shows some extra reason why people should come out such as dinner deals or drink specials or prizes.

 

 

 


Diner's REndezvous Jazz Jam

Posted by Andrea Adams on December 20, 2011 at 5:30 AM Comments comments (0)

DINERS RENDEZVOUS JAZZ JAM - Now changed to Chritopher Tate's OPEN MIC, but here is my blog from the night I went out to the Jazz Jam...

Nights are getting darker, and lights are getting brighter, and cold is creeping in with ocean wind on the sometimes lonely streets of Nanaimo.

I love our little city though, because there are always new treasures to be found, and music at Diner's Rendezvous is one.

I was in need of food one dark Tuesday, and was welcomed into the pleasant and warm atmosphere of Diners Rendezvous.

I sat undernath their star covered celing in a room built for sound.My server was friendly and efficient and my food was great... a steak sandwich and greek salad. The dressing was a bit stronger than anywhere else I've had it, but I really liked it.

As I ate my dinner, the University Students began to play. What a beautiful venue and a classy sound.

You walk in to a romantically li,  pleasant blue room with a small, black semi circular stage in the middle, above which is a dome like ceiling filled with stars. It really is a place to escape the usual in Nanaimo. 

As the students began to play, dispersed evenly were the slightly complicated, well played jazz sounds from the centre of the room. 

 

 


Serious Coffee Jazz Jam

Posted by Andrea Adams on November 30, 2011 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)

As our cold rain leaves it's sparkling puddles, and boots and gloves are being purchased by the dozens, there is a faint sound radiating through the air... 

The sound of musicians and singers in a community of art, Nanaimo. 

It was about a month ago I finished a tasty Thai dinner on Commercial Street with a new friend, and we thought it might be nice to go for a walk. Oooh but that lovely Ocean Wind would not allow much more than shivering and in a matter of minutes I was begging for warmth. 

I heard a faint sound from Serious Coffee. It sounded like jazz... but really really good jazz. 

We popped in to get warmed up with a hot chocolate and some indoor heating and were surprised to see people young and old sitting in a friendly circle, smiling and laughing and jamming out some music. 

Every Wednesday at Serious Coffee on Commercial Street, Marty Steele and many other jazz enthusiasts and well experienced musicians head down at about 6pm to do what they truly love and have spent a life time doing... playing jazz. 

Marty is so friendly and welcoming, and has a certain touch and passion when he plays that it makes me actually stop all talking and want to listen. It was funny because there were several Marty's in the room - I think the final count was four. Is there something with the name Marty and Jazz???

I did not see a sign up sheet for this jam. It seems if you want to play you mention it to Marty and he makes it work. If you play an instrument, it appeared that if you knew the song you could just jump in. It seemed like an open concept considering everyone who was playing was sitting in a big circle.  We showed up for the last 30 minutes, and I can't wait to make it out again!

My First Blog EVER...

Posted by bigsexy_251 on November 21, 2011 at 4:45 PM Comments comments (1)

My name is Brandon Cowie and I am twenty-four years old. Not many people know, but I actually have a university degree in english and history from Vancouver Island University. Even though currently, I am not pursuing what my degree has provided me with, it has helped me become the man that I am today.

 

I have always wanted to become involved in the musical community of Nanaimo and have been working hard towards that goal for almost twelve years. I started when I was twelve years old by playing saxophone in my elementary school band. I played for a year which helped me learn and develop the fundamental skills needed for playing a musical instrument. The dedication, commitment, and hard work required for learning an instrument did not phase me because it was something that I loved so much. Once I reached high school the following year, our band class was so large and so full of different instruments, that just our saxophone section alone had about fifteen players. Mostly alto, which happened to be the saxophone that I played. Due to the fact that I only had one year of experience, whereas mot of the others had at least two or three, I was asked if I would be interested in switching instruments. That's how I became a drummer.

 

It was an easy transition for me because it was a prime opportunity to try something new. There was a more experienced drummer in the class, but because our class was so large, it was split into two. I was enrolled with the less-experienced class which for the most part, was great for my development. I had the honour of being the only drummer in the class and had the responsibilities to be the backstop for the rest of the band. It scared me at first to have that immediate pressure, however, I was excited for the opportunity. I did not disappoint. By Christmas time, I was playing the lead songs in the experienced band. And after that year, it stayed that way.

 

I ended up going to the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival in Moscow, Idaho three times, twice as a jazz drummer in a full band, and once as a drummer in a seven person combo. In my grade twelve year, I competed at the National Concert Band Competition in Richmond, B.C. And won an award for making the biggest contribution to the band. It was a tremendous honour and accomplishment for me. After high school, I basically stopped playing drums. About two years after I got out of high school, i started frequenting karaoke shows in town and started singing. I always enjoyed singing, but never in front of people or in a professional setting. After going to a few different shows, I started frequenting a show put on by who is now a good friend of mine Joe Riches (Karaoke Joe). After becoming chummy with Joe, we actually formed a band together. Joe played bass, his friend Terry (who obviously became our friend) played rhythm guitar, and then together, we met Steve who became our lead guitar player. As a band we had a great mix of experience and non experience. Steve and I were 19 and 21 respectively, and Joe and Terry were 49, and 40, respectively. Joe and Steve were more experienced playing in public than Terry and me, for the type of music we were playing anyway. So we formed great chemistry and I eventually took over the lead singing role while playing drums at the same time. Currently, we have changed two band members but Joe and I are still the original members. Joe helped expand my vocal abilities by working with me and helping me learn how to sing harmony.

 

Now I host karaoke shows in town myself, music trivia shows, play in a live band, jam at different establishments in town, and am working on becoming part of the elite musicians in our community. I have worked hard in my life in everything I have done and have accomplished so much. Winning tournaments in bowling, playing hockey as a youth, been invited to speak in public on behalf of school policies, writing poetry for the paper, graduating high school and even graduating university still do not compare to the first time I got on stage as a musician and performed for real. For people who wanted to hear us, for people who were there to share the experience and joy of music with other people. To me, performing is my narcotic. It is like a very strong drug. You don't need to be high or drunk before going on stage because the high from performing is enough for anyone if you have the passion for the music like I do.

 

I want to thank my mom and dad for always supporting me in my endeavours and paying for the expensive rentals growing up. Moreover, I want to specifically thank my dad for always quizzing me, drilling into my head all of the song titles, artists, and their backgrounds, and (at the time) what I thought was useless information. Because of his passion for music, I developed the same passion and beyond. Thank you so much and I love you.

 

Thanks all for reading and reply if you wish!

 

Cheers,

 

Brandon

Who I am and Why I love Community...

Posted by Andrea Adams on November 15, 2011 at 12:10 AM Comments comments (2)

I moved to Nanaimo November 1, 2008 from Victoria, with my three wonderful children.

 

It was a tough move as we left family and friends behind to find more affordable housing as I was seriously injured from two car accidents and consequentially lost my very loved job at Veterans Affairs because I could not go back...

 

But! There is good and bad in every situation. My dad, Vic Lindal, personal business coach always says, "For every set-back or dissapointment are the seeds for equal or greater opportunity."

 

Even though I have had physical struggles, I have also had some incredible, amazing experiences here in Nanaimo... Ones that I would not trade the world for...

 

I didn't know where to go jam, but a friend of mine in Victoria mentioned "Blues Underground". Every Thursday, me, my daughter Tasha and my son Jeffery would go down, and eventually I was singing with the house band and doing a radio broadcast on CHLY every Thursday... so much fun! Tasha got to sing, and even little Jeffery!!! Everyone smiled when 6 year old Jeff echoed, "I got my mojo working".

 

Blues underground was great! It is where I built my love for Blues and why I chose to sing that genre more than any other to this day!

 

I am so thankful for the incredible musicianship that came into that room, and it is wonderful to see people moving up and on from those days... Mike and The Rockin Recliners are one of the many bands that came through there and blessed us all with their talent, and I see them getting quite popular all over the island now...

 

It is great to see some of the "kids" from those days getting out to the open mics, and even playing with bands at the Queens, or getting sound engineering degrees, etc... I see them continuing in music and blessing us all with their talent.

 

Do you know how much fun it was heading down to the Vault with my kids and doing a Christmas performance at an open mic in front of everyone?It was a musical mom's dream! Or to see my daughter Tasha get up on stage at the Old Red Martini Open Mic and sing some jazz... or when my daughter Larissa and I played trumpet together at Red Martini?

 

I have had the opportunity to see and hear some incredible talent just by attending jams and open mics for the past few years. I love the opportunity to play with different musicians just to connect with that energy, passion and love of music and to share with the listeners.

 

Those who know me now probably would not guess that it was incredibly difficult for me to sing in public and I really started doing it regularly in 2007.

 

It was one random person one day in church who got me... (Yes I used to go to church)... I had to fight my fear that day and sing something in front of everyone. it wasn't for me. It was for them, because let me tell you... I did NOT want to sing solo.

 

This man came up to me and said that I should sing more often. I said thank you but I would rather other people sing. He made sure he looked me in the eye and said, "When you have a gift like that, it is dishonouring to not share it."

 

Whoah... talk about perspective change! I thought getting up in front of people was showing off, or trying to get attention. I fought it for a little while and then said, and still say... "If the people want to hear me sing, then I will sing. If I can share energy for a good purpose, then I wil do it."

 

That's why at my gigs, when I know there is another person in the room with a gift that can bless the crowd, I am going to get them up if I can. I often have a few other singers who haven't had opportunity to sing with bands come and join in because they should share their gifts!

This is why I want to share a listing of all the open mics and jams... Because if you have a gift, we need to hear it, and sometimes there are moments of magic...

 

All musicians who have been around for a while have had those... Where you are jamming with others, even people you've never met and all of a sudden it is as if the room goes dim and an energy is built that is beyond description... a beautiful energy, and you are playing and singing with no thought, just freedom, and it is perfect...

 

Let's jam people!

 

Lots of love,

Andrea




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