The last night in Barcelona finally rewarded me with a place to play. I knew all along, of course, that Jazz-Si had a pop rock jam on Sunday nights. And I also knew last year that I had missed another pop rock jam session at the Big Bang Bar about five minutes walk from Jazz-Si an hour or so after the Jazz-Si jam. So this year I was determined not to miss the second one.
The only problem with these jams is that the music is very rock ‘n roll and much less the folk-rock kind of stuff I do. So I decided that I would only do two songs at each spot, in order to make for a real change for the audience, but in order also not to lose their interest in my stuff – if there was any. So I had a great time playing at each place with a drummer and a bassist. And I played…get ready…. “Crazy Love” and “Jealous Guy” at Jazz-Si and “Just Like a Woman” and “Father and Son” at Big Bang.
The Jazz-Si is a wonderful cozy venue with a huge crowd all the time, packed into a small space right up to the stage and with a mezzanine climbing up the back wall. The sound system is good for the audience, but bad for the singer, so I felt I was overextending my voice to make up for what I didn’t hear of it…. They have a different style jam every night, as I mentioned with the Flamenco on Friday, and I think Jazz on Saturday. The place has existed since 1992, and it is attached to the school of music.
The Big Bang is a large bar with a front room where it is possible to talk and drink and behave like in a normal bar. The jam takes place in a back room that resembles a recording studio, but has bleechers up the walls surrounding the stage. It is very, very laid back and cool and the quality of the musicians is generally high. In fact, that’s one thing about both of these jams that is completely different to an open mic: They’re not places for people who have no experience, confidence or no talent whatsoever. You have to have a minimum ability to carry your musical weight, and unfortunately they are also a little limiting in the sense that it’s best to play songs everyone knows. In fact, the Italian guy who organized the Big Bang jam took to the bass for my second song – I think he liked what he heard on the first – and said to me, “Do something I know this time….”
Here are some videos, two each of the jams – oh, and by the way, the Big Bang is known as a temple of independent music in Barcelona: