The Bally Carousel Sessions -
A brand new concept in meeting new musicians and finding band mates. Regular events that are a combination of speed dating and pub jam nights, with the aim to help you either find new band mates, have fun, practice playing with others, or just to meet fellow musicians.
It can sometimes be a very intimidating and time consuming process to find new band mates. Auditioning people one at a time can take weeks or months, with the expense in both time and money in booking and travelling to those rehearsal sessions. Joining an already established band can be intimidating for some, as will finding them. It's tricky. Many people go to Jam nights in an attempt to seek other musicians, which is a great idea, but in that case there's only 1 stage and up to 30 musicians in the room jostling for position, meaning you may be lucky to get to play 3 songs all night long. On top of that you'll have a room full of people gawking at you while you're trying to size up which of the other people on stage are on your wavelength. You'll likely be giving up a whole 'school night', tired after a day of work, spending £5 a pint with lots of waiting around. That's why we have started the Carousel Session. Each session is like having up to 5 simultaneous Jam sessions in the same studio complex, where all of the organisation is taken care of to make sure that you get to play with as many people as possible. Every 45 minutes we swap people around in the studios in a pre-planned way to find as many new combinations of people who can play with each other. You play for 45 minutes, and then have 15 minutes to move to a new studio, and that's a "rotation." Every session you'll get between 3-5 rotations, depending on how many people sign up to the event. Every hour you'll meet different people, in different studios, with different backline equipment, different acoustics, etc. However long the session is, you'll spend up to 75% of it actually playing music. Lots of changing, variety, different combinations of people, as we say, it's like speed dating for musicians.
So, how does it work?
1) A date and a time is set for the sessions. We are currently taking bookings for Saturday 21st March 2020, 11am - 3pm. The price for this first session is £15, which is inclusive of all fees, use of back-line equipment (amplifiers, drum kit, etc)
2) We then try our best to attract as many people to the event as we can. We'll promote and advertise the events like we would a gig, and take bookings for 28-35 days before the event, to try to ensure that it's as full as possible.
We'll reserve up to 5 studios, and we'll try to get people in the following categories:
e) Additional musicians, such as keyboardists, saxophonists, violinists, etc, (Extras).
3) The more people that sign up the better, as then there'll more people to rotate. We'll list all of the bookings that we have taken on an easily accessible Google Spreadsheet, so you can see how many people have already booked, and what slots are available, and then you can contact us to book your slot by either emailing us, messaging/WhatsApp, or calling us on the phone. For example, if you're a Vocalist and you want to book for the following Carousel Session below, you can contact us and say that you want to book the slot in "Code 3V-1000" (The third vocalist slot in the 1st Carousel session). Please email us at to request a booking in a certain slot.
***Please note, that for this first event, on Saturday 21st March 2020, we will be restricting how many people attend it to ensure a successful event, with the price being adjusted accordingly. Each person at this event will play with an average of 13 new people, if all of the slots are booked up. All future events will be run with up to 5 studios being used.***
4) We will then ask you to email us with your list of what 5 songs from the list below appeal to you more, so that we can compile a profile of what kind of music the people who sign up to each event like.
5) You make the payment to us via either bank transfer or paypal, and then email us at to let us know that you've made the payment, and we will then send you a confirmation email/text to confirm you are booked, as well as putting your booking in our schedule, along with your initials, so that you can be reassured to see your booking in place. (We will only put your initials to protect your privacy.) If not enough people sign up to the event, we'll then email you to get your banking details so that you'll get a refund on the day that the Carousel session would have happened, with no fees taken out of it. You'll get back exactly what you paid us.
At the event, the drummers will stay in the same studios for the whole session. This is because the changeovers are only 15 minutes each, and as drumming is much more physically demanding than other roles, it would be better for the drummer to spend whatever time they have resting, rather than packing up cymbals, moving drum kits, etc., all of which takes considerably more time than for other musicians. A drummer full of energy that is able to unleash that energy for 45 minutes will be better with regular rests, which will make for better sessions all round. Apart from that, everyone is moving studios all of the time. Extra details of the exact logistics of the sessions can be seen here:
All you need to do is sign up, pay £15, and we'll organize everything else, and pair you with loads of people.
Why do you need to take the payment in advance?
Usually we're happy to accept the payments for band rehearsals on the day for the event, but in this case we need to take payment in advance, for two reasons:
1) On the day there could be up to 30 people at each event. By accepting payment up front, we can focus on making sure that the event runs well, rather than taking people's payments.
2) Taking a non-refundable advance payment means there's less chance that people dropping out of the event, which increases it's chance of being successful. We need as many people as possible to be at the event, the more the better, and this is a way to increase the chances of it happening. If someone doesn't turn up, it will have a knock on effect for everyone else at the event, so we need do to what we can to make sure that everyone turns up.
How will I know what studios I need to be in and at what time?
When you arrive at the studios you tell us your name, and we will hand you a sheet of paper that tells you where you need to go, and at what time. We'll come into the rooms at the start of the changeover periods to provide any help that you may need.
Out of the guitarists, which one plays lead, and who plays rhythm?
That's easy - if one of you wants to play lead, and the other wants to do rhythm, then you do it that way. However, if you both want to play lead, then take it in turns of one song each, or go for a Thin LIzzy style double lead! Much of the event is about meeting people who are on your wavelength and to connect with them, so there's not much incentive for musicians to not want to co-operate with each other.
So we only play cover versions?
This can be the plan at first, but once you're in the room you're free to do whatever you want to do. 45 minutes is not that long a time, so spending 10 minutes working out what song you like as a group is time that you won't get back. By us putting you in a room together and by giving you the information that "between you, you all like David Bowie, AC/DC and Guns 'n' Roses by far the most," this saves you time. However, between you you can work out what you want to do. We'd advise you stick to the suggested songs, but you don't need to, by all means.
Here is the list of songs that we recommend you try, and everyone is free to make suggestions:
Van Morrison - Brown Eyed Girl.
Chuck Berry - Johnny B Goode.
Coldplay - Yellow.
The Stooges - I Wanna Be Your Dog
Led Zeppelin - Whole Lotta Love.
The Eurythmics - Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)
David Bowie - Starman
REM - Losing My Religion
U2 - With or Without You
The Supremes - Where Did Our Love Go?
Don McLean - American Pie
The Rolling Stones- I Can't Get No (Satisfaction)
Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel - Make Me Smile (Come up and See Me)
Blondie - Call Me
The Undertones - Teenage Kicks
The Kinks - Waterloo Sunset
Johnny Cash - I Walk The Line
Cyndi Lauper - Girls Just Want To Have Fun
Kaiser Chiefs - I Predict A Riot
Cornershop - Brimful of Asha
Radiohead - Creep
Sheryl Crow - All I Wanna Do
Morrissey - Everyday Is Like Sunday
Franz Ferdinand - Take Me Out
The Clash - Should I Stay Or Should I Go?
The Who - Substitute
Black Sabbath - Paranoid
AC/DC - You Shook Me All Night Long
REM - Losing My Religion
The Doors - Light My Fire
Depp Purple - Smoke On The Water
Red Hot Chilli Peppers - Under The Bridge
Dire Straits - Money For Nothing
They're all pretty straightforward songs, and we'll ask you to pick 5 of them when you sign up to the event. At the start of session 1 you'll go into studio 1 and in there will be a record of which song was the most popular between you. For example, if there's 7 of you in the studios, you might find out that 6 of you picked one song, and 3 of you picked another. We'll give you a list of what songs people picked, so that you can work it out from there. It'll need co-operation, but then so does a jam night, and they usually pass without incident.
What if less people turn up than they said would?
We're going to try to do everything that we possibly can do to make sure that this happens, but there is a risk that it will happen, which is something that is beyond out control However, we have plans in place to reduce the effect of this happening, including booking people on a reserve list in case we get cancellations, and if it is the case that anyone cannot take part in the event due to there not being enough people present, then we will (of course) give a full refund in this circumstance, so long as the reason for someone not being able to take part in the event is not due to their own personal actions. (If someone didn't feel like coming on the day, they couldn't get a refund in that case.)
Can I bring my own amplifier/drum kit?
This is possible, but only if the amplifier is small enough that you can pack down your guitar, move studio, and then be ready to go within 15 minutes, since this is the length of the changeovers, and we need to strictly stick to this. If you have a pair of 4x12 cabs (a Marshall stack) then it's going to take too long to pack things up and down at the start/end of every session, so we would advise against that. However, a 1x12 or 2x12 combo that can be easily carried is no problem. We would advise that drummers just bring their breakables, but they're also free to bring their own kit, should they choose. In addition, part of the fun of this event is to be thrown into it with as much variety as possible, and this includes using different amplifiers that you normally wouldn't use. Check our gear page out, we've got loads of amplifiers that we get lots of positive feedback on, you'd be more than welcome to use them, and we'd encourage you to do so. There's never any charge for doing so.
So what do I need to bring then?
Drummer - Your drum sticks, (we also sell some, but can't lend them), and it's advisable to bring cymbals too, since ours are usable, but also quite basic. We have 9 snare drums here of different sounds, but if you're very particular about your snare sound, maybe bring that along. We only have single pedals, so if you use a double pedal, please bring one with you. Many drummers also prefer to use their own drum throne as well, so that may be advisable too, but we do provide these in the session.
Guitarist/Bassist - Your instrument and guitar lead, remember to bring a strap too, and whatever pedals you want to use as well. If you want to bring your amplifier head we have cabs here you can use, but please check with us in advance to make sure that we have enough cabs, as we have fewer cabs than we'll have guitarist attending the event.
Vocalist - Your throat.... ;-)
Extra - Whatever your instrument is, and the accessories to use it. For keyboardists that means your keyboard (we cannot provide a keyboard, sadly) , a jack to jack cable to plug it into the PA system, sustain pedal, keyboard stand (we do have some of these, so if you need one, please let us know in advance so we can reserve one for you) and keyboard stool. If you're playing a violin, brass instrument or whatever, please check with us in advance so that we can plan how best for your instrument to be heard, which may include putting it through the PA system.
What will the level of musicianship the other people at the event be like?
Whilst we'd love for it to be very high, the truth is that we don't know. We'd recommend that people be competent enough that they can play to the level that you'd expect at a pub jam night, even if you're just sticking to the root note on the bass, playing 4/4 on the drums, or playing guitar chords, but the truth is that there's no way that we can guarantee it. Some people overestimate their abilities, there's no getting away from that, but that actually makes this event all the more attractive. If you were to audition a drummer for your band, for example, and they were not very good, the whole session could be a write off. However, in this case it will only affect 1 out of 4/5 sessions, so the damage that is done is limited. The benefits of having so many people involved is that the risks are spread over so many people.
What Instruments do you accept for the events?
Apart from the standard instruments that most bands play (Guitar, Bass, Drums, etc) we're happy to book in any instrument that does not overpower all of the other instruments. For example, piano, keyboard, organ, violin, trumpet, trombone, accordion, or whatever. The main criteria is that you can move it from room to room for the changeovers. If you're a DJ and you want to bring some DJ Decks with you then we couldn't accept the booking, as adding DJ decks over a band instantly changes the whole mood of the song, and can overpower it, and they also take a long time to set up.
Can I add backing vocals?
Sure! We'll make sure that there's plenty of microphone stands, microphone and cables so that people can also add backing vocals if they want to.
I have limited mobility, are there steps?
There are two main ways into the building: the main entrance which has 3 steps, which is opened all of the time, and a second step free access, that we can use with a little bit of notice (24 hours). If you require step free access, please let us know and we will make sure that you get this. In addition, in terms of swapping between studios in the changeovers, our basic plan has everyone swapping between all of the studios, but we also have a plan where we can be restricted to only moving some people between studio 2 and studio 4 if needs be, both of which are step free once you are inside the building, and it would be our pleasure to put this plan into action, should you need it. If so, please let us know in advance, so that we have time to prepare it all for you.
Can I drink alcohol at these events?
So long as you are 18+, sure! Remember though, the events will start at 11:00am, and it'll be hectic enough as it is, so you'll need to be on your A-game, so it may be better for you to stay sharp. However, if you want to do so, feel more than welcome to bring a sensible amount of alcohol with you. Like all businesses in the UK, we cannot accommodate smoking within the building, which includes vaping, and we also cannot allow illegal drugs to be consumed, for obvious reasons.
Throwing loads of people into a studios to play for the first time together, won't that be a bit chaotic?
Indeed it will, but then that's the point! Everyone has to go through that first process of playing with other people, so you may as well be thrown in to it in this way. Remember, however, it's the same for everyone at the event. Anyone signing up to this kind of event will be pretty open minded people from the fact that they've signed up, everyone in the room has the same vested interest in meeting new people and making music. Everyone is rowing in the same direction, and you're only dealing with people who are open enough to join up to these schemes in the first place. There's a big vested interest in making the event work for everyone, including from us.
There are also many times where things just don't click when you play with someone new, and that may well happen here. However, we believe that this kind of event actually mitigates this risk, since people are only in the studio for 45 minutes at a time, and so there's barely the time for things to go that amiss.
If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to get in contact with us, and we'll be more than happy to help you.
Thanks for reading, we hope that you've found this useful.