I hate to be cranky, but I like the players at blues jams to at least know the structure of a 12-bar blues progression. This was not the case for the players at the blues jam on Wednesday night in Orlando.
The evening began badly. The convention I am attending is located on the Disney property. I didn't realize how far Orlando is from the Disney property! So I jumped in a cab and found myself ponying up $55 when we reached our destination. I knew that the jam was trouble before I even walked in the door. The jammers sounded like a middle school garage band. I understand that many jams include musicians that have modest skills, but this jam seemed to specialize in that category of player. There were two people hammering on a keyboard (at the same time!!), a morbidly obese alto saxophonist with great tone but no knowledge of the improvisational blues idiom, a guitarist/singer who so mangled "Key to the Highway" that I didn't recognize it until the third verse, a bass player who could not find a note in the chord beyond the root note and a truly awful harmonica blower (I can't bring myself to call him a "player"). The redeeming feature of the jam band was a very feisty female drummer who kept great time and sang like a baritone version of Janis Joplin. The jammers stumbled about for a bit, then a second guitarist started playing. He equated great guitar playing with lots of volume and lots of distortion via his effects pedal. The crowd in the bar agreed with his assessment and lustily cheered his solos. Everyone was having a great time and everyone was super friendly. I am sure that they are wonderful folks. But I fled without playing. I guess Chicago has spoiled me - I am not willing to play with incompetent players anymore. I dropped another $55 on a taxi back to the hotel and felt like a big dummy.
I hope these folks never quit their day jobs.