How Community Jams Are the New Open Mic Nights
Indie artists are given the opportunity to collaborate, ideate and share the same stage
We’ve heard it all before when any promoter or club venue will specifically stress on the word “indie” when they mention a gig opportunity. It’s low or no budget and even if it does pay, chances are the money arrives late, after multiple calls and warnings about naming and shaming on social media. When Mumbai-based event agency Tilt Entertainment began in 2018, they had one clear goal; “We started with the objective of helping people with a special focus on ensuring better treatment to artists,” says co-founder Kaelyn D’souza. Along with his partner and indie musician Nathanael Mookhtiar, the pair began programming gigs in Mumbai with a concept of jam nights, taking off to great success and becoming an entity of its own.
As opposed to an open mic night where artists have slots and are given a couple of minutes to showcase their talent, Sunday Jam Fest (held at Door No. 1 in Bandra) and Amped Up Jam (held every Thursday at 3 Wise Monkeys in Khar) bring together as many musicians as possible in an impromptu fashion.
There are songs and smiles shared, but the aim is also to educate. “We wanted to target people mainly out of the indie circuit and educate them about the problems that artists face in a fun and lighthearted manner which will only happen when artists and the regular public come together and connect,” says D’souza.
Tilt Entertainment’s jam nights have taken place at venues across Mumbai since last year, from their DIY efforts at The Elbo Room in Khar where they were occasionally shut down by complaints for exceeding sound limits to their current somewhat cozy homes at 3 Wise Monkeys and Door No. 1, equipped with better gear.
Most recently their flagship jam night at Door No. 1 hosted a Grand Jam Fest where city-based singer-songwriter Mali judged artists performing and handed out prizes to the best from the lot. D’Souza says the jams have proven to be one of the “most consistent properties” in terms of artist interest, attendance and the venue’s food and beverage sales. He adds, “People love coming down and experiencing what we have to offer.”
While D’souza speaks about the success of the jam nights, he also states that there have been a few challenges they endured through the times. “We might have a great consistent run for months but even two bad sessions on the fly and suddenly we might lose the client,” he says. One of the biggest difficulties is not being able to focus on the experience they want to give attendees due to the fact that they also need to ensure of “good billing” at the venues. “This puts a lot of pressure on marketing and spreading the word rather than focusing on the people who come in,” says D’Souza
Perhaps taking a cue from the full house that Tilt’s jam nights have gained, open jams have also taken off at Mumbai’s Carter Road Social with their Sunday afternoon Seaside Jams. While the concept isn’t new, the togetherness and creation of a new brewing underground community of young indie artists is only a boon for the music scene in India. If you’re an up-and-coming musician in Mumbai and don’t know how to go about getting gigs, pick an open jam night over an open mic night to perform and also get acquainted with like-minded people and artists.