Finally attracted to a PLOJ, you look sheepishly around...
You've parked, and you're meeting a bunch of new people. You have your mandolin in one hand, your electric guitar in the other and you've forced your boyfriend/dog/wife/packhorse to haul your amplifier, drum kit, food item and songbook. In your pocket you've got your contact book, a bunch of fliers and a bag of weed. Ah, musicians, a predictable lot.
Well, first off, leave that bag of weed at the door... or better yet, in your car. These are all-age parties and drug free. Now, some people have previously expressed the idea that you can't properly appreciate music unless you're high, stoned, rolling, tripping, dying, whathaveyou, but that is not the belief of the organizers. While you're out there, drop off your amp and kit, too. Think acoustic, guys.
Stumble inside with your load o stuff, thoughts, ideas, songs and packbeast of choice. Please, be aware of what's going on around you. You might be entering during a Quiet Moment. Figure out where to sit. If you've brought a cushion or something, sprawl on the floor. Your hosts, rob and Heather, are floating around somewhere. Feel free to say hey, and they'll do their best to make you feel Loved and welcomed.
Music etiquette is tricky, but really it all comes down to listening. When you've got so many people playing, it's useful to have a base-line for your tuning. If you've got a tuner, go ahead and use it. We try to have everything tuned to 440 rather than some circumstantial communal A. It makes Life easier for the harmonica players and the pianists. It also doesn't hurt to bring a guitar stand. Dozens of precariously balanced instruments beg for trouble.
At the PLOJes, there are some people who are there to jam, others there to share their songs and all sorts of other things are going on at the same time. Listen to yourself, listen to the other people in the room. This isn't an open mic, and there isn't a list. When you see an opening in the music, jump in. In any song, there will always be a "leader" - and if they can't be heard, the whole thing falls apart. If you're playing too loud to hear the changes initiated by the person leading the music, you're playing too loud. This is the reason electric instruments and big drums are banned - it's just too easy for them to get out of control. The most important thing is that we're all having a good time. Don't let ego get in the way of that. If you're asked to turn down, or if someone specifically wants to play a song alone, don't be offended. Also, with this statement made, please talk to one another if you can't hear something.
Please, keep in mind that your hosts are there to make you feel welcome, but they sometimes have to maintain a little bit of order, too. Don't be offended if they ask you to turn down, or give someone else a turn. Generally, the hosts guide the flow. Also, please respect the HOME that this is taking place in. PLOJ is here at the owner's disgression, and the organizers do NOT want to upset the open invitation.
Don't be afraid to screw up. You're among friends here (or you're about to be), all just having a good time together. The goal of PLOJ is not the goal of most music parties and open mics which are often covers for networking and selling CDs and filling your mailing lists. At a PLOJ, you're meeting friends. Sure, pass cards to one another, and trade CDs - but try to avoid music community politics at all costs. Our music world is cut throat and merciless, but only because it's allowed to stay that way. A COMMUNITY of ARTISTS can be built if we all just get past the business of our egos for a bit. It's a worthy goal, and for years, over and over again, people have come together to realize it.
Stay as long as you like, play as much as you like, and eat. Pick up after yourself, don't walk off with the wrong guitar and be open to meeting some new people.
And again, have fun.