Session Etiquette 102
This came out of some email correspondence and an agreement a thread should be thrown out there for the wider world’s perusement. I’m also desperately procrastinating. 🙂
When I go to a new session, I hang back, only start when asked, and if it went down okay, I might start another set or two later on, but it’s my policy to pretty much let the regulars do what they do and just play along on the tunes I know. If asked to play immediately on walking into the session, I try to get out of it with, "Maybe in a bit. The pipes need to warm up" or some such excuse (which is true, by the way), as I like to hear the sort of repertoire being played and choose tunes which seem appropriate to the session. You know, the ones your fellow players *might* know but won’t be bored sick of. Takes a bit of psychic ability (and stress!) to work out the perfect tune set for the occasion. 🙂
Anyway, in my travels and often in my regular sessions, I have found that a great many people do not use this as their standard operating procedure as session visitors. Oftentimes, I encounter the blow-in player, who starts tune after tune after tune in the session, far more sets than the regulars are getting in. There is a small part of me which admires the chutzpah and wishes I were as un-self conscious as them, and a larger part of me which thinks, "Bloody hell. Chill the f-ck out."
If the person in question is an amazing player, I’m actually really happy to just sit and listen to them, but usually they are a fairly middling, mediocre player. Nothing wrong with that. I’m a fairly middling, mediocre player, but I don’t expect everyone to sit and listen to me play and start sets all night. Ugh. I don’t want to listen to me play and start sets all night! The amazing players, when they do show up, often don’t start many sets at all and you find yourself nagging them to start more so you can hear them play. That said, some amazing players can run right over you with their egos, while another person, just as good, can start a bunch of sets but not do it as if they have some God-given right to run over a session they perceive as being far inferior to them. It’s in people’s sort of energy, body language, the way they interact during the lulls between tunes.
So the discussion I am throwing out there is… what are people’s expectations, experiences, whinges? Am I just being a bit neurotic and surly (well, we know the answer to that)? How "should" — if there can ever be a *should* in a session — one behave on venturing into a new session for the first time?