My friend Yuka, who is an amazing drummer, moved to Amstelveen from Japan last summer. She wanted to get into the music scene here and, fortunately for me and you, she was then pointed in the direction of the Vivid Sessions at P60 on the first Wednesday of the month.
P60 is the principal stage for music in Amstelveen and regularly hosts big international bands. What I didn’t know is that P60 is also a place where you can jam out. Another Helicopter regular, Gijs, the amazing keys player for Club Motown, also said I should check it out. So off I went, Jazz bass slung around my back, leaving the safety of Amsterdam on the number 357 bus into the heart of Amstelveen.
I figured they had a small room somewhere for the free jam session. I looked around the cafe on the ground floor. Nothing there. So I pursued a guitar player up the stairs and found myself at the main stage, a large high-ceilinged room, with a bar, dozens of tables and seats set up throughout. Spirits were high, in the crowd and on stage, and the jam was well-attended. There must have been about 50-75 people there, lots of musicians but a lot more to just enjoy the music and the great atmosphere.
I met Yuka, who told me that a guy named Isaac ran the jam. He had been expecting me, saying I could play with Yuka a bit later, he would call me. There was a band trying out some material (any Heli bands wanna try out some material?), after which Isaac opened up the stage for the many excited musicians. Some highlights were the perhaps 12 year old drummer, who absolutely killed it, the 75 year old lady on the drums, who also absolutely killed it, and Isaac himself when he got up and sang and really got the crowd moving. The genres were pop, soul, funk and blues, some covers, some improvised on the spot as Isaac was throwing strangers together in the ring.
When it was time for Yuka and me to shine, Isaac asked us to support a singer, who was doing a Bob Dylan cover. Not exactly the most exciting stuff to play for the bass or the drums, but there is honor in being a serviceable rhythm section. Next up was a teenager from Ukraine with his guitar who asked to play the blues. He did well enough, but the whole piece was a bit uninspired to be honest. After that I already had to make way for the next bass player in line, which felt like a bit of a missed opportunity. I could have come up with a plan to play something more exciting and involve Gijs, who was actually dying to get up and play with us, but our time was already over.
It was a good experience though, playing on a massive stage with great lighting, equipment and supportive audience. Isaac is a nice guy and does a good job of managing the different musicians. Not everyone has the same level but overall, good music was happening and there was a wholesome atmosphere that was quite welcoming. The house band closed the night with a hyped-up version of Hey Ya!, which got us out of our seats and jumping, and I’m sure it was a good time for the audience at least as much as the musicians. I definitely recommend checking it out.
The next Vivid Sessions was going to be at the beginning of July, but it hasn’t been announced on their website yet. Keep an eye on P60’s calendar or the events on the Helicopter website. I did see that there are also jam sessions happening in the P60 café, the next one being on Thursday the 1st of June.