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NJ Acoustic Music in the Park Message Board › My Apologies

My Apologies

A former member
Post #: 96
My Apologies

It's come to my attention that there has been some discord concerning my recent posts on NJAMP. For those of you that don't know me, My name is Bob Graham, I have also in recent years have gone by the name Dusty. The reason for that is because I speak my mind and usually kick up the dirt regarding our meetup group.

It is true that I have been outspoken on several subjects and members in the past. I live my life by a code of honor. That may sound corny to most of you but I take it extremely seriously. I treat people the way I expect to be treated by others. When someone I have given my trust to, betrays that trust, I take extreme offense to that and have a tendency to speak out (lash out some would say) to that person or situation.

In light of the recent situation at Maloney's I did speak my mind. It is true that I have yet to make one of those meetups. The one time I was planning to go it was canceled. Thankfully a member was gracious enough to call me and tell me so, otherwise I would have made the trip in vain. (I understand that that situation has been addressed and better communication has been put in place.) I was vocal in my concerns that our needs (NJAMP) were not being met and I took offense to it. I tend to be more vocal than most. A member that I will not name said that he had never heard of a complaint. I say this in response of that, most people will not vocalize their discontent as I would and because of that no complaint was ever heard. I simply put forth the notion that most people do not want to rock the boat and hold their tongue. They just don't come back and no one thinks any more of it.To me this is unacceptable.

I have been fortunate to be one of the first members of this group when we used to meet at Johnson Park in Piscataway. No one knew one another but that didn't matter. We were all brothers and sisters in music. We would get together after work once a month, no set list, no expectations, just a love of music and the common ground of sharing that love. We had all come from from different backgrounds and life experiences, but we all shared a love of music. I can't begin to tell you how those first meetups had filled in empty part of my life. Just to be a part of those first jam sessions was magical!!

OK, fast forward a few years, the group has become so much more than we anticipated. 400+ members is unthinkable!! If we tried to get everyone together in one room, we'd have to book the Byrnes arena!! We are so much more than anyone could have imagined in our wildest dreams!! Here we are, four hundred members strong but only less than 10% show up on a given night. What does that say? To me it says that people come with different expectations. Some are met but most are not.

I've looked at who's been coming to Mannion's, Rolf's and Maloney's. I used to be a regular at Mannion's. With the exception of the members of OTG and 2 or 3 others, they're not the same people that came to Mannion's when I did. Why is that I wondered. I have to wonder if it is the same reason that I had stopped going. First and foremost is that there is just too many people going there. I don't care what the aforementioned person says, I won't bring a guitar to somewhere where I'm going to keep bumping into someone or break one of those wall sconces. Let's be real people that many people in a room that size is not enjoyable. It may be a good place for a novice to hide or maybe work on a few licks but as a whole it's too crowded. If you don't agree with me that's cool, we agree to disagree.

I tend to take my music very seriously. I am always striving to better myself musically and as a person in general. When I speak my mind, I am confronted with people who disagree or want to censure me. Instead of taking what I say and see what we can do about it, they try to put me down and try to maintain the status quo. I put forth this one question. It may seem far fetched and obscure to most of you but the principles are the same. Where would we be as a country if our forefathers had NOT stated their discontent with the British Government? We'd all be drinking tea and bowing to a Queen who lives over three thousand miles away!! LOL I know it's a stretch but basically the principles are the same. The leadership is meeting in the next few days to decide on whether or not to censure the posts to NJAMP's web site. (My apologies to Tommy and anyone else who takes offense to my colorful language) I say BULLSHIT!! If we are not free to voice our concerns, like or dislike we are no better than the Soviets and Chinese who have their thoughts dictated by the state.

How can we grow as a group and as a person if not all voices are counted?? You may not like what I say or maybe you do. But the time has come for you to get off your backsides and voice an opinion. We are facing censure in this group like it or not. I personally will continue to voice my opinion. Whether it is deleted or left to stand, that is out of my hands. But I will continue to voice it until the breath has left my body!!

Wishing you all the best.

Joe H.
user 10401699
Bridgewater, NJ
Post #: 81
I have a tendency here to agree with Dusty, in some respects. Mannion's IS too crowded! I came in last week with my music stand (and tablet), but couldn't find a decent place to set up. Fortunately, being a guitar GOD wink , I really didn't need it. I either already knew the songs or could "steal" the chords from someone else. But that might not be so easy for a novice.
And it's too noisy (or people don't listen). When I started "Tequila Sunrise", half the room was into the first verse before I finished the intro.
So as for "no complaints", there's two! And I have occasionally, in post-Meetup comments, referred to the crowding or at least alluded to how much better it is when the crowd thins out.
Still, I don't have any suggestions on how to fix it. If we found a larger venue, we'd probably just attract a larger crowd. So, if Mannion's works for you, keep going and enjoy. If it's not to your taste, then skip it. These days, when I come to Mannion's, it's more for the people than the music, though if the people I want to see have stopped coming (you know who you are!), then there's less reason for me to be there.
Right now, Rolf's is working for me (if I could get that waiter to remember either my name or my drink order, I'd be a happy cAMPER --- if he'd get the drink order right and put it on Dusty's bill, even better!), but even there, we're experiencing some growing pains. I can't speak to Maloney's, since I haven't made it there yet, but it's a work in progess, and less of a drive for some, so let's give it a chance. One of these days, I'll stop by.
With more than 400 members, we obviously can't accommodate everyone. If you sort the member list by "Last Visited", and scroll through the pages, around page 9 or 10 you find people who haven't visited the site in 6 months. A few pages later, it's "a year". So about half of our "members" just don't bother any more. They didn't complain; they just quietly left.
In any case, let's keep the discussion open, and constructive, and CIVIL. We should be thanking Dusty for raising these issues from time to time. Hey, he irritates me too, sometimes, but I still have to love him for not being afraid to speak his mind
Michael S.
user 43377822
Warren, NJ
Post #: 1
I probably shouldn't jump into this thread, but like Dusty, I tend to speak my mind, and believe that an honest discourse can resolve a lot of unspoken issues.

So, that being said, let me upfront identify myself as a relative newbie. Clearly I don't have the same historical perspective that Dusty and Joe possess, so maybe my opinion can sort of cover the 'other side' of this discussion.

I probably love just about everything that you two guys are saying takes away from the experience. I certainly agree with your point about the venue, the rectangular room is probably not the best configuration for multiple people swinging instruments around. That being said, the crowds and the loose mood make for a thoroughly enjoyable evening out. Speaking as a spectacularly mediocre musician, I think the fact that people have varying skill levels contributes greatly to the atmosphere. I have learned so much from sitting next to some truly talented players, and maybe, just maybe, somebody has picked up a thing or two from me. In fact, I have a fond memory of somebody wandering in from the bar and asking 'Hey, how do I join this group? I play a little guitar' and being answered 'You just did'. That's EXACTLY the spirit and intent, as I understand it, that the group was started for.

Correct me if I'm wrong ( it doesn't happen often, but it DOES happen.. biggrin ) but I thought the idea was you get as many people as you can who feel like joining, you get together and sing and enjoy the music. If you can't play an instrument, you tap your feet and sing. Or you learn to play something. Whatever, it's irrelevant. It's about the people, and the music.

Maybe, and I really and truly don't mean anything negative by this, but if you guys think you should be with a smaller group of more talented players, maybe a separate Meetup with stricter rules about joining would be a solution.

Sorry for putting in my two cents, but I LIKE the format, I love all the people, and I truly don't want anything to change.

Judy Barrett S.
user 60129762
Warren, NJ
Post #: 1
As one of the fairly new members of the group, I thought I would add my view.
I have to say I agree with "Dusty" on a few things, and some other things disagree.

I believe the main reason for his post is that he feels that comments should not be censored. I have to agree. All comments should be left, as posted, as long as they are respectful, and relevant. I don't think it should be a place though where people should attack another individual. That is a personal matter, and should be handled privately, between the individuals involved. I don't think a few negative comments will do any harm. Look at how many people write about how they LOVE the group. There is always room for improvement, maybe someone has a real concern, and this should be respected & addressed.

As far as Mannions being crowded, I agree. Like Joe said, I don't know how you fix that.
I think the South Meet Up was started, partly for that reason. Some people now go there. I think what happens , people walk into Mannions to eat, or get a drink, and hear the music. They follow it, and find us, and want to join. So more people just keep joining. That is how I found the group.

Now the things I disagree with. I am one of those novice players he spoke about. Actually I had not touched a guitar in MANY years. Since then I developed RA. At first I brought a Tamborine, and joined my husband, as he played. Because everyone was so friendly, I got the nerve to try playing again. I bought a travel guitar, and as Dusty put it, I was able to
"Hide in the Crowd" and try playing again. My husband called it "Guitar Boot Camp". I can't tell you how happy I was to be a part of the group, and playing a guitar again. I only could do this because the other members accepted me how I was! I also felt that Rolf's was for the more experienced players, so even though I live in the same town, I stay away. I thought Mannions was for EVERYONE. I hope I was not wrong, and that other members aren't silently resenting people like me belonging to the group.

I respect thatDusty takes his music seriously. At one time I was looking for a group to casually sing with, and could not find one, so I started my own group. May I suggest Dusty could also start a group of his own, that would be for serious musicians only. I also understand he may not like how the group has changed, but things always evolve. You can not keep everyone happy.

I personally want to Thank Alan, Fil, and the organizers for all they do. I once heard a man come in from the bar, and his comment after listening was... " I just found a little piece of heaven." That comment is my sentiment also.
NJAMP-long may you run!
user 11393383
Newcastle, ME
Post #: 61
This discussion illustrates how many people feel about NJAMP... that it is a family, and like all families there will be disagreements. I also agree with some aspects of Manion's that Bob has mentioned regarding the crowds and the venue, but in many ways that's what gives Manion's it's uniqueness. It's a no pressure, no stress musical and social experience.
When all is said and done and distilled to it's very essence, NJAMP's aim has always been to welcome all people of varying musical stripes as members.
Bob's past criticisms, I believe, have in fact led to the formation of the Rolf Workshops and Open Mic Nights that Tommy and Autumn have turned into a labor of love.Very successful at that!
The reality is this is a "High Class" problem. Sure, now that I have moved to Maine LAMP has formed (I used to live only 10 minutes from Lambertville when I lived in Hunterdon County), the Rolf Workshops are in full swing, NJAMP South has been formed, Manion's is one huge musical love fest.
All in all, more than anything you reminisce, Bob, about NJAMPS early days I'm sure you must take pride in how far a small group of park players have become so popular and loved. Sure, people had criticisms, I had them too, specifically, since NJAMP does bring such a huge crowd to the Pub, I always felt Manion's should cut NJAMPERS a break on the price of food and drink, but I spoke with Allan and other members privately about that and any other issues I had.
Should anyone be censored? No. Not as long as the discourse is civil and there is no repeat of the gross animosity that took place the last time this issue arose. Public personal attacks are unacceptable. Constructive criticism is.
The only solution for Manion's maybe to take a page from the Rolf group...that is to possibly set a max limit then indicate on the home page how many spots are left, but then that would obviously limit accessibility.
NJAMP has been a great source of joy and pride for me. I met many really good people and made some lasting friendships (emphasis friends not acquaintances), that includes Dusty (although like he said we agree to disagree).
Finally, I have been homesick for NJAMP and my NJAMP friends since I left NJ last May.I check the set list every week and appreciate any and all news, pics, videos of the group and of my friends performing. Thursday nights, I'll even go to the set list and play some songs, just to still feel like I'm one of the crowd!
Allan, FiL and Jim should always be commended for shepherding an idea into a successful reality, Tommy and Autumn should always be commended for Rolf's, and NJASMP members should be commended for coming out and joining the fun!
You guys have got something real special down there...cherish it.
bob c.
Hillsborough, NJ
Post #: 180
Well, far be it for me to not chime in on Matters Meetup! I've known Dusty for much longer than I've been in meetup; he is actually the one who introduced me to NJAMP, and I am eternally grateful. I think we all have found something very special in our little (well, maybe not so little) group; that we all get some manner of gratification from it. Yep, there's a ton of talent floating around here, and as in any group of this nature, the more advanced musicians may feel a little stultified, which is unfortunate. At the same time, one of the strengths of NJAMP is that open-hearted welcome and tolerance that everyone extends when you walk through the door. The more advanced people are stimulated by exposure to each other and the less advanced people are stimulated by exposure to the more advanced ones! That is part of the magic of NJAMP. Like Ange says, we have formed great friendships through the group, too. Alan, Fil, Jim, Tommy, Autumn and Joe Higgins have all gone far out of their respective ways to further the experiences of all of us! They all put a lot into this, and I really think it's too easy to lose sight of that. The fact that the group has grown so large is evidence that some of us really love it! It has spawned actual bands, lots of extra jams, and public performances for many of us, as well as several spin-off groups to help alleviate the numbers issue. Yes, Dusty, a lot of people have come and not come back, but half of them were looking for a dating service, and many came from impossibly far away: that probably accounts for at least 200 of the 400 members right there. Yes, the numbers at Mannion's have become an issue; kudos to Alan and Fil for keeping it on track at all when it's so large, and we might have to figure some way to deal with that, but for my money it has to be the decision of the people who have spent hours and hours of their lives putting (keeping) the whole thing together, rather than the group as a whole. And if we give them enough grief over this, they may just decide that their efforts aren't worth the aggravation! I'm sure there is a solution, even if it's just folks meeting for private jams occasionally and letting the Thursday sessions continue as they are and hope for the best. This group would not exist if someone wasn't putting a hell of a lot of effort, thought, and, well, love, into it. Let's not forget that! The park sessions have begun again, which should help the claustrophobic members (by the way, NO ONE is more claustrophobic than I am; it helps if you can get there early and settle in) get some uncrowded time in...I agree that there is no earthly reason why members shouldn't be able to voice their opinions in a civil and constructive manner as long as they do so with consideration and respect for the other members of the group. Unfortunately, the non-specific membership is one of the great appeals of NJAMP; to change it would involve a certain loss that would detract from the experience in some respects. Therefore, it's not an easy decision or a simple matter to remedy. And decisions of that magnitude really should be made (or not made) by the folks who concieved of and organize the whole affair. They do deserve everyone else's support and understanding, and hopefully we can figure out a way to make almost everyone happy! (the world leaders should have such problems, right?) With love to all....
user 8203581
Perth Amboy, NJ
Post #: 96
I want to thank all the concerned members who took the time to share their thoughts and feelings. You all obviously care about our group very much. NJAMP is awesome, perfect...NO, but...AWESOME. I believe we are about to celebrate our fourth birthday and from time to time we have had these conversations...They are important and usually, constructive. We do need to be respectful of each other and accept the assortment of feelings, tastes and skill levels brought to the group by ALL of our members. I hope we can continue to discuss the group and its structure and continue to grow. I have said it before and will repeat: NJAMP is very important to me... I Love You Guys!! ALL OF YOU. Jim
user 11393383
Newcastle, ME
Post #: 63
I don't care what anybody says, I think "Dusty" is a very cool nickname, and, an even better stage name! I can see it now Bob," DUSTY GRAHAM IN CONCERT TONIGHT!"

It's all good!
the "Maine" Man
A former member
Post #: 97
WOW!! I thought when I had posted this a few days ago, I was going to be hung in effigy!!!! I'm not used to getting mainly positive responses to my posts. I'm actually feeling some love here!! It's all new to me being the muckraker of the group. I just want to clarify some of what I had said. I am in by no means knocking the novice or beginning players of the group. Far from that actually. In many respects I am a beginner and a novice myself. For years, I've tried to play lead guitar. I know the scales, I've got the timing down but when it comes time to play.... well let's just say it ain't pretty. One of the things I loved about Mannion's was that I COULD hide there and try and work on some of my licks. Also one of the things I took great joy in was that I was able to pass on some of what others were gracious enough to pass on to me. In that regard I truly miss jamming at Mannion's. I stopped going not because of the people or even what we were playing, I stopped going when we started to hit the 20 to 25 members in attendance. I normally bring one of my acoustic guitars, a mandolin and either a laptop or netbook. While trying to set up one night, I knocked into one of those wall sconces and shattered it into a million pieces. I was mortified but at least I didn't bang into someones head or someones expensive Martin guitar. If the numbers were to drop a little I would more than likely start attending the Mannion's meetups. Just so we're clear here, it's the amount of people that attend Mannion's and NOT the people themselves that I object to. As Angie has said, I too have made some wonderful friends thanks to NJAMP. Do we always agree? Hell no!! But I like to think that there is a mutual respect for one another regardless of whether you agree or disagree with what I have to say. I did take some offense when I heard the organizers of this group were considering deleting posts they didn't agree with. I asked if we were all going to be issued rose colored glasses as well. Hopefully that will not happen. If we are not free to speak our minds and voice an opinion contrary to the status quo, we will begin to stagnate. That would truly be a shame. I'm thrilled that some of my rants has lead to the formation of Rolf's and performance nights and trying new venues. (unfortunately the Sun Tavern's management wasn't agreeable to what we were doing). We really do have some incredible talent among us. I love going to Rolf's. It's a smaller attendance and a great format. Tommy, Autumn, Joe and Jim have really got something good going there. It's a lot of fun and you should come check it out some Wednesday night. Just be aware you may not get what you ordered for dinner, get the right drink or have the server short out your phone because he doesn't know how to put a beer on the table correctly. And I will try to get to Maloney's in the near future. I will bring my Amex card just in case though! wink BTW if you want to stay in Joe Higgins good graces, don't sing WaaAAttTTeEEeRRRrrr to loud around him. tongue Love you guys

bob c.
Hillsborough, NJ
Post #: 182
No, dude, we don't hold with no hangins 'round here...And that waiter was just trying to get your attention; what's better than a beer bath?
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