Unpaid vs. Paid Sessions ~

Unpaid vs. Paid Sessions ~

open and friendly communities? vs. cliquish & unfriendly autocratic fiefdoms? 😏

And no, that’s not me making a judgement but an amalgam of things I’ve heard from others, presenting opposing extremes, just to generate some heat and collect tales of highs and lows, good and bad, musicians, venues and publicans. It does also verge on the old gas generator, ‘performance’… 😛

The following thread is where some of us, myself included, started veering off into the topic for this new thread. This seedling is a sideshoot from this one:

Discussion: Now we have this little problem sorted …
# Posted on February 1st 2012 by Bernie
https://thesession.org/discussions/29254

The passion is obvious, and we have our druthers and our biases. I’m wanting to try to listen openly to all facets of this subject, fully aware of my own inclinations, preferences and passions…

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Gulp! 😲

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remind me again, what’s the question ?

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Why the versus?

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Re: Unpaid vs. Paid Sessions ~

Is that the question?

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“Why the versus?”

’Cuz just the chorusus would be boring

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Look at it this way… The paid session host would be sitting there feeling a tad bit lonely if other musicians didn’t show up to play for free, eh?

All together now ~

The versus were just waiting for your choruses…

Well, because that’s how sometimes people put it, pros and cons. Some prefer them with, others without, some really only like choruses, when everybody sings together. Mind you, the best ones have always had someone conducting them one way or another, paid or not… 😉

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If it is an open session, it seems to me the only reason to have a paid leader is to make sure the session happens. I think it would be better and cheaper to simply provide free drink to the participants. We don’t need no stinkin’ leader!

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Re: Unpaid vs. Paid Sessions ~

Since I am not at thelevel to think about being a paid session leader…

I suppose I would prefer to have an paid autocrat responsible for keeping the session productive by having a rerptoire wide enough to accommodate the variety of skills ranging from the 9 year old girl with the fiddle who knows two polkas to the hot shot who wants to demonstrate his/her prowess causing everyone else to wander off to see how the Bears are doing on TV..

I also suppose it would be nice to have a paid autocrat had people skills to keep control of the various players and tune selection after the two self appointed Alpha guitar players decide to take the session in the direction of Galway to Graceland, and such causing everyone else to wander off to see how the Bears are doing on TV..

And I also Suppose it would be nice to have a paid autocrat
whose surely princely stipend would cause him/her to feel obligated to show up so that those interested in willingly participating, don’t walk into an empty place and have to wander off to see how the Bears are doing on TV..

All seriousness aside though, as an American I am well aware of the pitfalls of those who confuse unfettered free markets of any type (including the millieu of a session where no one is in control and can’t make a decision, or where the Alpha male takes control) and a well regulated participatory democracy.

Enough of this ….it’s almost 5 here. Ther has to be a bar somewhere where the Bears are playing 😉

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And did I mention that the 9 year old girl has a surly grandfather next to her with a shelalagh next to him and a short temper with little tolerance for the hot shot who insists on playing the Harvest home which I forgot to mention his 9 year old grand daughter just learned at 240 bpm.

And I was just corrected that a session has nothing to do with unbridled free market or participatory democracy.

I was just told I should shut up and let the music do the talking…..

The political forces that be ~ Ahab! There she blows!!!

Zip it up in other words, or at least as far as the person carrying the big stick is concerned…

The ‘ideals’ are developing, but are they merely fantasy or are there really such beneficent leaders in the world of sessions, and are the open leaderless ones a bit too anarchistic or, heaven forbid, too socialist or even communalist for some folks? I’m only asking, I’m not judging or doubting… 😉

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No not at all. Interesting question for an organizational dynamic perspective….there I go talking like my day job 😉

I was just offering a very limited view from a perspective of someone who is not qualified to be the ‘fearless leader’ tyranical or not, and not confident enough to challenge an Alpha session male/female (usually fiddler) in an unbridled leaderless situation.

But when I get really good….those Alpha Fiddlers are going to have hell to pay 😉

Screwed or Bayonet ~

You mean you haven’t come across the ALPHA MALE Boxers? I hope you remain virgin there… 😀

How are The Bears doing?

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Won’t be any Bear activity until next fall.

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I think Silver Spear said it best, i.e., paid leader would be lonely playing by him/her self if no unpaid people showed up. Besides, having a paid leader seems to increase the odds of the session being cancelled during hard economic times when the pub owners decides to quit paying. I go to sessions every week, in part, to get away from the trials and tribulations of making a living. Don’t need to put up with people arguing over who gets paid and how much and why not me, etc., etc. Of course, every session occasionally has those individuals we would be willing to pay NOT to come.

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“paid leader would be lonely playing by him/her self if no unpaid people showed up.”

Sure, but that can happen in any session. At least when one person is being paid to be there, everyone else is pretty sure that there will be at least one other person there - hopefully someone they like, and like to play music with.
And of course, since there’s little chance that I’m going to be the only one who turns up, I’m more likely to go out, which means paying one musician means people are more likely to come out and play. That seems worth while to me.

“Don’t need to put up with people arguing over who gets paid and how much and why not me, etc., etc.”

Never comes up, around here. We just play tunes. Someone manages to get a few bucks out of the bar, good for them. “To hell with the begrudgers”, isn’t that the way it goes? If you can’t stand the thought of your friends getting paid to do something they love, what kind of friends are they and are you sure you want to spend time with them?

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I’ve played at paid sessions, unpaid sessions, and sessions that may or may not have been paid - I never found out. I haven’t noticed a difference in character between the paid and unpaid ones. Both are around equally well-attended, and feature music of comparable quality. What I *have* noticed is a difference in their stability.

In the five years since I started playing at sessions here, no fewer than five of the local sessions where I’ve played have been axed. From reading the threads here, it seems Vancouver is hardly unique in this regard. Three of those cancelled sessions had paid hosts; they were axed when the pub changed management and the new managers figured that they’d make more money with sports on big screen TVs than with live music. The fourth paid its hosts in booze, and folded when the session grew to dozens of people who took up space that would have been claimed by heavier drinkers. The fifth was at a venue that was just a bad fit for us - also, it didn’t attract many players and those who did come didn’t drink enough to justify our presence. I’ve done the math - if a pub is shelling out the going rate for paid hosts, they have to sell dozens of drinks, if nor more, beyond what they’d sell on a non-session night in order to justify our presence. As Jimi says upthread, it’s not hard to see why, from a business standpoint, paying hosts is either a non-starter, or at best a short-lived experiment. If, on the other hand, everyone is playing for free, then a business-minded manager will keep us on as long as we’re not repelling customers - something much easier to achieve.

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Sessions in Doolin are paid. They are very clinical. Not much craic. Very little (or no) interaction between the paid players and the chancers. Loads of tourists taking flash pictures. Sometimes thinks lighten up a bit when somebody like Christy Barry is the head honcho. But generally “The Elite vs the Unwashed” is the prevailing character of sessions in Doolin. Maybe that’s because the Elite are working and the rest of us are only playing.

Our own session at Marrinan’s, in Ennistymon, has been going for years now. Anywhere from three to fifteen players, depending. Lots of laughter, teasing, interaction. We are friends getting together for the fun of playing music together. Some are elite players but that doesn’t matter. Nobody has anything to prove.

There are paid sessions where the atmosphere is less clinical and friendlier - sessions led by somebody like Frank Custy come to mind. But even then, session leaders don’t always like it when somebody else introduces a tune that the leaders are shaky on. Again, because they are working while the rest of us are only playing around. A paid session is a gig…. and you can’t leave a gig early if you aren’t having a good time.

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Great discussion all, and interesting points too.

I apologize for what seems a quite rough and rash start to this thread. I’m also interested to hear from paid and unpaid musicians what they think the benefits are to one way or the other, and tales of how they’ve seen it work ~ or fail miserably, so also what goes wrong, more of what you think is right or wrong with this approach.

Interesting points TDM, but then some paid sessions, how ever much is being shelled out, have lasted for quite a long time, at least up to the current recession. 😉

I too have been in a session where we got drink, and then it grew to an uncomfortable size, outgrew the generosity and courtesy of the landlord… But, it wasn’t like we weren’t aware of it as well. Rather than taking the poor publican for granted we should have moved ourselves to finding a solution for our success, and to lessen that burden on the business. It’s sad when something is allowed to go sour…

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I’ve visited Doolin a number of times when I’ve been in Ireland and I’ve found the “elite” musicians there very welcoming. On two seperate occasions in 2007 I tried to buy a cd from a musician and they would’nt take my money, they gave me one for nothing. No one minded me taping the sessions, I found them very friendly, and the music was outstanding. In my experiences with Doolin musicians I’ve always been made very welcome.

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“session leaders don’t always like it when somebody else introduces a tune that the leaders are shaky on.”

I’m not sure if I’ve understood this one. Are you suggesting that the session leaders prefer to lead the tunes just in case someone else plays one they don’t know themselves…. worried about being caught out, perhaps?

🙂

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Who are the Bears?

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An American football team, harmonic. I’m not sure how I know that. 🙂

David stated how I feel perfectly. Boston must be some kind of fantasy-land, where the fact that several musicians are paid to be there doesn’t effect the interaction of the session at all. I suppose it depends on personality but i have not found this to be the case. My experience has been more like David’s.

The way I see it, there are other things I do for fun and do with other people for fun, like climbing and hiking. My friends and I don’t get paid to go climbing. We’re all out there because we love the mountains and the outdoors, like-minded individuals enjoying dong something for no other reason than because it’s fun. Doing a climb with your mates is a very different experience than doing one with a guide, someone who is paid to be on that hill that day. Playing a tune with people who have gone to the pub that day just because they like playing tunes in pubs is noticeably different than playing a tune with people who’s job is playing tunes in that pub.

At paid sessions, there seems to be a gap between the session gods who are paid to be there and as someone said it above, the great unwashed masses. It creates hierarchies, basically saying that if X is the paid host, X’s contribution is more valued than Y and Z’s. The session wouldn’t be as good if Y and Z didn’t show up, because X would be playing by himself, so Y and Z are indeed valued and necessary in a broader sense, but at the same time, they’re just the chumps who play for free.

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Seems to me, some of you folks are getting hooked on the notion that the central character of those paid musicians is always some sort of dictatorial character. 🙁

The fact is, that’s not always the case. I myself have been such a person for many years up here, at a few sessions each week, but rather than some sort of leader, I prefer to think of myself as an Anchor. So I attend every week, year in, year out & illness is all that stops me from being there, so folks know there’ll always be a tune.

Others, who are unpaid, are free to come & go as they please, arrive when they feel like it & leave early if they wish, play all night, or stand blethering at the bar half the night if the notion takes them.

As for being upset when someone starts a tune I wouldn’t know, that’s utter nonsense around here & I’m sure I’m not alone in positively encouraging others to lead tunes, sets or the whole night, if they are confident enough. It seems to me that any anchor worth his salt, would behave in a similar fashion. After all, in an open session, everyone deserves a kick of the ball & if you have a premier striker in your midst, you’d be daft not to let them run with it! 😉

For me, two of the greatest joys at a session, are to hear a great tune I ’d almost forgotten & haven’t played for many years, suddenly pop up at a session, the other is to hear a wonderful tune I’ve never heard before.
If I were to lead the session as some sort of dictator, then I’d probably never hear either, it’s as simple as that.

Cheers,
Dick

Re: Unpaid vs. Paid Sessions ~

Quite often though, it’s all three… X, Y, and Z who get paid or that often tends to be the de facto arrangement even if the money is actually just handed over to one individual by the management.

While this ensures that there is always good music(hopefully) and that a session takes place, it always means that other musicians and visitors are not really necessary at all although, of course, they may still be welcomed… and in lots of good sessions, usually are.

However, with such a scenario, I feel that this can sometimes deter other musicians from joining or attending such as such a session.
In some cases, it may be an attitude of “Why should I play if I’m not getting paid?” but probably more often it’s a case of feeling that you don’t wish to intrude too much on someone else’s territory.

So, while I have visited quite a few “paid sessions” in my time I usually feel that it might be inappropriate to do so on a very regular basis. While I often enjoy the experience I still regard myself as a guest in these circumstances.
Yes, I can be made to feel welcome more often than not but I’d still be a bit hesitant as regards turning up there every week.

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No doubt Ptarm, and glad I am that a ‘leader’ has offered comment, as well a something of what is seen as positives with regards to having someone regularly attend and set the table, so to speak, and make sure all present are welcomed and involved… It would surprise me if visitors didn’t get a welcome in your case… 😉

I hope other ‘leaders’ will contribute their views and experiences here ~ the good, the bad, and the ugly…

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“Yes, I can be made to feel welcome more often than not but I’d still be a bit hesitant as regards turning up there every week”
That rings true for me, and if the difference between unpaid and paid can be expressed in a short few words, it’s that the paid musicians seem to feel threatened by people dropping in to their domain ( the word Scab has been used on a previous thread ), whereas in the casual session, sharing the tunes seems to be the norm, with new arrivals being treated the same as regulars.
Yes there will be falling out, and all that entails, between people, and the lifespan of an unpaid session is sometimes shorter than the paid ones, but the quality in social, if not musical terms, is IMO better.

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“ It creates hierarchies, basically saying that if X is the paid host, X’s contribution is more valued than Y and Z’s.”

I think you’re reading more into this than the situation warrants. I’m a writer. I work for a company that values my time significantly more than the bar does. Even if the session fee were more than my hourly rate, committing to hosting a session would not be a good deal for me because I’d suddenly have to be there every week, and I don’t necessarily want to be there every week. And even if I do turn up every week, I don’t want to HAVE to turn up every week.
For me, and I think for most of the people that I play with, being the host and getting that fee is not something we want. I’m glad that someone does it, because it means the session comes off every week and some good musicians get a bit of extra cash that they need, but there’s no sense of hierarchy or division because most people aren’t in a position where being the session leader would be a good gig for them.

As for people being welcomed or not, you’ll never be made more welcome than you will when you walk into a session hosted by Sean and Liam here in Boston. Someone might come up to their level, but they’ll never exceed it.

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The session I attend is hosted by a monetarily compensated leader. She is the undisputed Queen Bee of the hive and yet makes every effort to welcome all newcomers to play and start sets if they wish. She is also uncompromising in her quality control where as a beginner is always welcome, but a clueless noise-maker is pulled aside and asked to knock it off. She can play for 3 hours by herself if nobody shows or only kick off a few sets if its a big crowd where everyone knows lots of tunes. I couldn’t be happier with they way it’s run and have been going there for ten years or more.

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“That rings true for me, and if the difference between unpaid and paid can be expressed in a short few words, it’s that the paid musicians seem to feel threatened by people dropping in to their domain ( the word Scab has been used on a previous thread ), whereas in the casual session, sharing the tunes seems to be the norm, with new arrivals being treated the same as regulars.”

Ah, what? Was this supposed to make sense at all?

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“……..session hosted by Sean and Liam here in Boston. Someone might come up to their level, but they’ll never exceed it”
Wow, did you get paid to say that jon?

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“Wow, did you get paid to say that jon?”

Nope. They’re friends of mine, and I’m not ashamed to speak well of them, but I wouldn’t say it if it weren’t true. Come in some time and see if you don’t agree. (I’m not nearly as nice they are, but I generally shut up and let them be nice to people)

And yeah, they’re paid to be there, so all this nonsense about paid sessions is just a load of nonsense to me.
(and by nonsense I mean another word, one which Harry Frankfurt analyzed in a little book a few years ago)

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In general, when it comes to jobs and work, if you are are paid, you don’t expect help, you were paid; but if you aren’t paid, you not only don’t expect help, you’re more likely to need help.

Now to reference this to sessions-

I’ve been a sit-in at paid and un-paid gigs, gotten tip shares and seen them run with the tip jar (all $20 of it)! I think the main difference is the shared expectation between the performer and the house/audience. After all, it should be the same, but there seems to be an intensity and precision that is expected when pay is involved.

Maybe the difference between unpaid vs. paid sessions is the same as the difference between a job and sharing a hobby with the public?

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My last post may have been slightly misconstrued and I wasn’t suggesting that session hosts or “paid players” would necessarily feel threatened by visiting musicians and I’m quite sure that they wouldn’t consider us(?) to be “scabs”. Certainly, not around our way.

However, it’s still their session and very few are likely to adopt a completely “laissez faire” attitude to the proceedings although I’ve occasionally been to sessions where the “hosts” seemed to spend most of the night at the bar and just played a couple of token sets at the end but this is the exception rather than the rule.

So, it’s more out of politeness and respect that I wouldn’t wish to assume that I should be a regular attendee or always have equal input to the proceedings when I was there, i.e. in terms of starting/leading tunes etc.
Maybe I’m just being over cautious, of course.

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U ever wonder if the person u think is playing for free is getting paid 5 times more than u?

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I have no doubt about your faith in them Jon, or indeed their ability, and I bet you’re much nicer than you think. I am in no position to take up your invitation however, but I’m aware of the cold chill of being excluded by folk who’s only interest was being in charge. I’ve been paid to play as well, and felt it was more of a job than a pleasure, and concious that the Publican was actually in charge of the content. At the moment, I play in a session most weeks, where nobody gets paid, but the odd drink comes everybody’s way. I live in a town where every combination of pay / no-pay exists, and I’ll bet if I was to bring you on a tour, you’d spot which was which.

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Sure

five times zero is still zero

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Let’s get down to basics: Do sessions need a leader, and if so, why? Seems to me that if session hours exist, people can show up and play. Sessions can and and should be, IMO, self-sustaining. The structure and etiquette of sessions is understood by most (if not always observed), so it seems to me that any benefit of having a leader (especially a paid one) is outweighed by the fact that the group can manage itself.

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I’ve also visited some so called “Open sessions” where there were no hosts or paid regulars but the atmosphere could also feel less than friendly.

In some of these, the players hardly talk to each other let alone the visitor. Attempts to introduce yourself or find out if anyone is in charge can be met with blank looks or shrugs.
Such sessions seem like “headless” affairs and can often lack coherence or direction.

So, having a “leader(s)” of some description, paid or otherwise, isn’t always such a bad thing. They don’t necessarily have to take a dominant role or throw their weight around but just be there. At least, there’s somebody with enough gumption to greet a visitor and help to make them feel at home.

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I’d check on that zip, wouldn’t be 1st session where musicians thought nobody was getting paid to find out that somebody is getting paid, sitting home. By the way, u got excellent tunes

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“However, it’s still their session”

You can get that attitude with anyone. I’ve seen it in free sessions, but I don’t see it from the guys here. Try going to the Greenbriar and see if you think Larry Reynolds thinks it’s “his” session.

There’s jerks everywhere, even in Boston, and they’re jerks no matter how much or how little they’re paid. I don’t deny that there are jerks running sessions and getting paid for it, but I contend that it’s because they’re jerks, not because they’re getting paid. That’s all I’m getting at here.

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I didn’t mean that to come over as being negative or imply that they were “jerks”.
Nor do I see anything wrong with a host directing or managing the proceedings to a greater or lesser extent.

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“ and I bet you’re much nicer than you think”

You’d lose that bet.

“Do sessions need a leader, and if so, why?”

Leader? No. Need? No. But having someone good who can play with lots of people and make them feel at home, and be an overall good influence on the session, and maybe call around and let people know if there’s an event and the session is called off, and having that person commit to turning up every week - that’s apparently worth some money to some bars.

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So Jon, u like session leaders who r nice? Don’t make stupid remarks that display their ignorance?

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What are you, 5?

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Yes

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It’s funny how it’s not ok to be a “jerk” in a session but it’s ok to be a jerk on the Internet.

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I love u all, I care about u all and worry. Music brings people together, it shouldn’t divide us.

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I agree with everyone.

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Leadership: Unpaid vs. Paid ~ needed or not ~ ??? 😏

An interesting and relevant discussion of leadership, and as someone said, there are jerks of some percentage in most things where people are involved, mixed into the inevitable politics of group activities.

We’ve got a jerk collared dove that keeps chasing away other birds from our feeder. It’s getting so fat it has difficulty taking off. But just as there are jerks, there are saints too, if not in the bird world ~ but folks who are willing to take on responsibility and who are kind, considerate and welcoming. We all tend to also have our moments, both sides of that, jerk and saint…

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It doesn’t really matter regarding whether a session is good or fun or has more craic or is “clinical.” Paid and unpaid sessions can both be either great or less than… it really depends on the people as to whether you enjoy yourself or not. I’ve hosted or participated in both kinds and have enjoyed them both equally, and have experienced bad nights at both as well. The only real difference is that the volunteer sessions are more likely to fade away. I see publicans that pay hosts to be supporting sessions at their pubs, i.e. ensuring there will be a session there.

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I put my feeder inside an ornamental bird cage, with the door open. Only the small birds can get in to get to the feeder.

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I am starting to get an answer to my question about the need for a leader. Although I acknowledge that a leader affords more control and organization, it seems the real reason for having a leader is so the publican can ensure a session as entertainment for the customers. If so, it’s the publican’s decision to make and one with which I would not disagree. However, as a player, I find no need for a leader, especially one who is paid. Seems like overkill to me unless the publican wants it.

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Fed vs. Unfed ~

That’s a good idea Bernie. I’ve actually seen something like that. It’s not just the collared dove, it’s also magpies and rooks. 😉 I have tried a few things but that idea is probably the best, putting it somewhere somehow so the large birds can’t dominate it and empty quickly….

I wonder if something like that could be rigged for a session? 😀

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Why does a caged bird sing?

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Supporting or ensuring there’s a session at one’s pub isn’t the only reason; there’s also the notion that scheduling outstanding players as “hosts” will draw people in to play or just listen because they like a particular player. At our local there is a rotating schedule of hosts and people will elect to go based on who’s hosting.

Re: Unpaid vs. Paid Sessions ~

In some cases, it’s nice to have a leader.

One of these is when there is a large proportions of randoms: people who show up once every 3 or 4 months and don’t know what the sessions “character” is and don’t even realise they don’t know its character or that it might be different from their assumption (do people like songs? is it open season if some decides to sing one? does the publican say “ok, you can play here, but don’t drive the other punters away by playing poorly”? does everyone start sets? etc etc.)

The other situation is when there are a large number of beginners or intermediates - they are less sure of the pecking order, more insecure and can find the support of a leader who knows their stuff valuable.

Long story short, in an ideal situation, where people get together to play tunes together (either with friends or with new people because they’re making friends) you don’t need a leader. In the situations where people are primarily coming because they want to play these tunes they’ve been practicing… it’s not really a session, so you need to make it more session like - and a leader can help

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Fed vs. Unfed ~

I have known a few sessions akin to the birds, where the louder and bolshier take over, like the magpies, rooks and that fat collared dove, while the small birds keep their distance and twitter away in the hedge within a few meters/yards of the food…

More good food for thought here, and another session leader with a long history, Phantom, glad to have your input and ideas on this.

And good points too Tirno… Thanks all!

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@ kook: “Why does a caged bird sing?”

In a desperate & usually utter futile attempt to find some company!

“A robin redbreast in a cage. Puts all heaven in a rage.”

This as a pet hate of mine, to see social creatures being kept in solitary confinement, to entertain some dimwit human, who clearly has no real love for the creature he or she is keeping, as a prisoner!

In my book, a Bird Cage is an utter abomination & I hate them with a passion!

Well, you did ask ……

Cheers,
Dick

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Do you know this from experience… Ptarmigan?

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Your analogy is missing birds of prey who eat starlings like snick snacks, the cats who toy a bird Of one wing and then let’s him walk away

Or better yet, the empty feeder, mOldy seeds or even those pesky squirrels who don’t sing. Chipmunks that speed it all up, or da budgy that never seen another bird before and keeps looking at himself in the mirror

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Birds of prey ~

Magpies eat other birds too, and raid nests…

I can’t imagine a Ptarmigan caged, I’ve only ever seen them, outside of the wilds, stuffed and mounted… 😉

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The Groundhog has told the notables of Pennsylvania that it will go back to sleep for another six weeks.

Or so I seem to recall reading recently. I think it’s called Punxsatawney Fred. Or something a bit like that.

I mention it because I find groundhogs funny and mention them whenever I can 🙂 🙂 🙂.

But I don’t think I’m as strange as the great and the good of Pennsylvania, who come out in foul cold weather to venerate the critter and practice divination with it.

Re: Unpaid vs. Paid Sessions ~

I usually see the type of situation described by Ptarmagin and Jon K.
Here in Rhode Island, pretty much every session has a paid leader or leaders. The good ones not only attract patrons for the pub, they attract other musicians as well. Those are the folks who are not only good players, but also like to share the stage, encourage participation, and make people feel welcome. The bad session leaders tend not to attract fellow musicians, and their sessions tend to wither away.
And I don’t know of anyone who begrudges those session leaders for the small token they receive for being willing to show up week after week, and keep things flowing.

(And speaking of groundhogs, I heard that the groundhog’s family name this year was Stark, because he decided that “Winter is coming.”)

Staged or not Staged?

“like to share the stage” ~ Al, are these actually up on a stage or platform? There’s another kettle of fish. I have seen such sessions, as different from those that are on floor level or in the corner of a pub or bar. That’s a whole other dimension and feel, being raised up, however little. Curious.

Do they still barbecue groundhogs?

Re: Unpaid vs. Paid Sessions ~

Oops, share the metaphorical stage, not an actual stage. But come to think of it, using the stage metaphor could imply that I think a session is a performance, so let’s not go there!

Re: Unpaid vs. Paid Sessions ~

Pan-fried indoors, when the weather is bad; barbecued outdoors, when the weather is fine. The humble groundhog also clothes some of us too. However, it is their wisdom and predictive knack that we rely on most. Many times in our history, we have been content to let groundhogs pick our presidential candidates, and to let individual groundhogs break Supreme Court deadlocks.

Re: Unpaid vs. Paid Sessions ~

Didn’t the martins eat all of the groundhogs in Ireland?

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Al, I agree, touchy ground trampled and blood shed all over in previous threads. I did fear starting this one…

Ata ~ but when they get old and less reliable with the predictions, then is the time to find other uses for them, though I would have though slow baking would have conquered the toughness usually ascribed to an old carcass. And don’t go calling me an ‘old carcass’ any of you… I’m not ready to be barbied yet…

No MK, it was the snakes, which is why they both died out…

This was a well represented thread, only missing Llig’s contribution, he being one of those ‘paid’ session leaders on site here. I would have liked more from that side of the rink, and more in general about pros and cons, but such things have been dealt with multiple times on site here in the discussions… Maybe I should chase up a few links to those, making further connections? Such emotive things do need regular airing, require a better understanding…

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As to paid or unpaid sessions ~ it seems obvious, as with most such things, that one can’t generalize really. “It all depends ~” ~ on so much… There are so many variables…

😉

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Meanwhile, as I told ’Er Indoors, we should call them squirrel-feeders, not bird-feeders.
But, back in the music world; years ago I was invited to join a ‘session’ in a Central London pub for a Friday night performance. The idea was that we would just sit and play in a corner acoustically, and they’d pass the hat for us. The event was listed in the local weekly events guide. The pub was pretty-well empty the first week. After three months it was full, and so was the hat, and then the landlord changed and we were kicked out.
Was that a paid session ?

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I’ve got the solution to the bird feeder problem, Pete. Hang them with a long string from a branch, so that they dangle in mid air. The squirrels don’t seem to like hanging upside down holding onto the string and swinging and they give up, leaving it to the birds.

Re: Unpaid vs. Paid Sessions ~

I suppose if a proprietor wants to pay somebody to run a session because he/she wants to have sessions in his/her establishment, that’s his business. That’s one way to encourage a session in the place, while giving free drink and/or food to the participants is another.

In general I consider a paid session a performance, end of story. However, paying one person a little to be the “runner” of a weekly session doesn’t seem like it is necessarily detrimental to the spirit of an open session.

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If the management imposes a complete jerk on an existing session to be its paid leader, well, ruling out violent overthrows, find another session, or stay home. If these are not possible/acceptable options, then find out what the management is willing to pay the jerk, take up a collection among yourselves for a little bit more, and pay the jerk to stay home. How important is your session to you?

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The above is basically another vote for the “autonomous collective” column. Back to birdfeeders, and groundhogs.

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I go to a session with two paid leaders. Of course If they offered to pay me I would go every week. I don’t go every week as it is because I just can’t afford to drive there 52 times a year, no matter how free the drinks are, and they are. I also don’t have the patience that they have to work with some of the less experienced players that happen to frequent this middle of nowhere pub. There’s a lot of repetition in material from week to week, which is a good opportunity for someone like me who despite knowing plenty of tunes I always feel like I don’t know the common currency . It’s also something that the session host has to be ok with. If I hosted a session I’d want as much variance as possible, but I’m probably not at the level where I could host such a session.

Re: Unpaid vs. Paid Sessions ~

There’s an open session nearby (in the other direction) that in some ways feels less welcoming to me. This session has many of the regions best players. I still enjoy going to this session because they play better tunes to be frank, but the session is dominated by a format that has been developing for over a decade and it’s hard to commit to being a regular there because it often involves very long sets of obscure tunes that they’ve all learned together. It’s also much more random. Some weeks there can be 7 or more fiddles depending on who decides to show up so I feel pretty silly to have my fiddle, even though I could have brought my guitar perhaps, just to avoid being another fiddle player. The paid session doesn’t have a banjo player so I can bring my banjo every time and know I’ll be the only one. And there’s still 4 fiddles sometimes at the smaller session.

Dug in or surface cast ~

Part of the reasoning for starting this offshoot from the other thread was to pull away from specifics and to discuss this in a way that all involved might widen their perspective on ‘issues’, and by ‘all involved’ I mean the publican/landlord too. I was hoping it might offer a better understanding, from numerous perspectives. And, I think that has pretty much beenaccomplished.

I see from where we’ve gone that, aside from more talk about bird feeders, another topic worth exploring further on its own would be the whole idea of session management and a leader or leaders, paid or not.

It is probably a reasonable generalization to say that ‘most’ publicans/landlords haven’t really a clue, except for those few who are musicians themselves and have been party to that realm of sharing music, the session. Sadly that corner of the ring hasn’t had a voice here, someone from the pub/bar world expressing their notions of this.

Maybe, where there’s money crossing hand between the pub and the payers, or a leader, if there’s an established group, the responsibility to lead could vary, the regulars taking turns, or even handing it over to the occassional visitor?

That’s after having rearead everything here again, for ideas… Maybe that idea of another thread needs preparation, the gound being opened up and a bit of fertilizer, etc…

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I’m not the leader at my session, I’m just the convenor; or is it the facilitator ?
Whatever.

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“Some weeks there can be 7 or more fiddles depending on who decides to show up so I feel pretty silly to have my fiddle”

Christ, what a daft thing to think. Do you go to a session to want to stand out? You want to play your banjo because you are the only one? Sheesh.

Posted .

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Bodhran players never seem to “feel silly” or embarrassed when there’s seven of them turn up.
🙁

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I don’t know about bodhrans but I would certainly feel that the statement “banjo players feels silly or embarrassed” was an oxymoron… and that’s a banjo player’s opinion….

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well, I certainly wouldn’t want to be one of two banjo players. I don’t see how that would work at all. Multiple fiddles is ok, but I prefer the sound of a session with only one or two of each instrument at most. I tried playing my concertina while a box player was playing once and because I couldn’t hear myself, my lack of confidence and experience made me make all sorts of mistakes. Yes so I like to be able to hear what I’m playing and how it works with the group as a whole. 4 or 5 fiddles is ok, but 7 is just too many and I don’t like to contribute to that.

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“well, I certainly wouldn’t want to be one of two banjo players. I don’t see how that would work at all.”

I’m sure there’s a crowd of people asking themselves right now…

why wouldn’t it work?

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“ 4 or 5 fiddles is ok, but 7 is just too many”

what about 6??

😉

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Or da 40?

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Being a paid session-leader spoils it.
Familiarity breeds contempt if you are playing in the same place week in - week out.
You feel obliged to play a different repertoire than if you were doing it for free, and are able to slip new tunes in.

I prefer to be have a choice of different sessions to go to on an evening and visit them in turn (and do a gig if I get a better offfer).

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I guess it could work. but when I hear a banjo in this music it tends to function as both percussion and melody, and having two banjo players would be similar to having two drummers. While it can work, I personally don’t like 99% of cases where this happens. One drummer would have to be pretty much in control while the other supplemented, all while they both payed very close attention to whoever is leading the tune so they don’t fall off. Two banjos would have to default to a certain way of ornamenting the music that would be very rudimentary. There would just be lots less room for expression, but then larger sessions become like this anyway, not that I would know, I’ve only been to smallish sessions.