It’s easy to reduce the idea of a “jam session” to a bunch of (stoner) clichés: a group of dudes get together in a “jam spac," decide on which Phish or Dead song is the crunchiest, and then muddle their way through it for 20-30 minutes before taking a break to...find more inspiration.
However, “jamming," especially when it happens in front of an audience and features an ever-changing line-up of players, is also an incredibly valuable way for musicians to network and to hone their craft. And for CU musicians looking to get their jam on and play out with other local performers, Open Jam Wednesdays at the Canopy Club is the place to be. Hosted by local band Grand Ambassador, Open Jam Wednesdays take place from 9-11 p.m. on the last Wednesday of the month.
I first saw Grand Ambassador play as part of last years’ “Great Cover-up” where they ripped through a blistering set of “Thin Lizzy” tunes. Their covers were tight, technically proficient, and abundantly energetic, and their delivery had just enough tongue-in-cheek humor to give it a bit of swagger and charisma (the wigs and other affectations of 70's rocker excess didn’t hurt, either). It was a genuinely enjoyable show and an experience I was eager to repeat. So, when I saw that they were hosting an open jam at The Canopy Club, I decided to check it out.
It’s a fairly straightforward proposition, this open jam. The band plays a short set as people (mainly shaggy-haired, twenty-something men) sign up to jam. After the band finishes their set, the aspirant jammers-in-waiting are called on stage, quickly tune-up, and maybe name a tune, and the rocking commences. After a few songs, the interaction quickly evolves into a series of rapidly permuting combinations of audience participants and Grand Ambassadors. Multi-instrumentalists switch between guitar and bass, covers and blues progressions abound, and while there are a few awkward intros and the occasional extra final chorus needed for a smooth ending, there are many more moments of groove and spontaneously joyful musical communion.
It’s also a very low-key opportunity for local musicians to connect, play with some new people, jam in unfamiliar genres, think on their feet, and get a little weird. And it is all (thankfully) facilitated by the competent stewardship of the rockin’ gents of Grand Ambassador.
So, if you’re looking for a break from your main band or harbor a secret desire to rock out in front of a modest but encouragingly enthusiastic crowd, be sure to check it out.
The next Open Jam Wednesday takes place on Wednesday, November 20th at The Canopy Club. Doors open at 8pm. Jamming commences at 9pm.