Pete's Blog

An open mike without the mike

People around here have heard me - well, not complain - notice that what people call a "jam" isn't like what "jams" are in the East, or at least in the part of the East I came here from. A jam is what jazz musicians used to (may still) call a "jam session," group improvisation among more-or-less randomly gathered musicians, everybody contributing at the same time. Here, what's usually called a "jam" is what we used to call a "song circle," singers sitting politely in a ring waiting their turn to perform. The music in these cases has none of the freshness and unpredictability of group improvisation. It labors under a yoke of inflexibility. It's dull. Another thing my friends have heard me "notice" is the difficulty finding a decent slice of pizza around here. Last night both these problems were solved. The Bella Luna Pizzeria in Suquamish may not be Ray's Famous in NYC, but they have an Italian name, a thin crust, and a beautiful view of Puget Sound. I'll take it. They also have, on Thursday nights, the closest thing I've found yet to the Friday night free-for-alls I left behind in Bucks County. Everybody plays all the time and if you have a tune you want to do you speak up. This may seem a violation of hippie politesse, but the music is better for it. Another great thing about these Thursdays is the total absense of a PA system. If you're gonna sing, you sing. If you're gonna play, you play. The music fills the room from wherever the musicians are sitting, with no speaker-boxes pointing the music at the walls. If what you're playing is interesting (not difficult, just interesting - which is MUCH more important) it's heard, because people want to hear it. You don't have forests of microphone stands and thickets of patch chords defining who's inside the ring of fire and who's not. Right on.

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