Question about starting a private session…
Yep, yet another thread about sessions. I really don’t want to start a war so I’ll go straight to my question: to those of you who have experience running a private irish music session, what would be your suggestions?
I know that many cities have their own private or half private sessions. Those sessions that are disliked and hated by many as being so “snobbish” or “elitist”. I am contemplating starting a session in my city with a few friends and would like it to be private. There are many beginner or intermediate sessions here. Beginners have a place to play, they can enjoy their favourite polkas and no one will criticize them if they’re out of tune or their rhythm is erratic. The problem is, there is no real session where more advanced players can keep a quality to their liking… most of the most experienced musicians left the city so there’s really no one with strong leadership to keep a hold on sessioners’ behaviour.
I was thinking of contacting a pub owner and telling him/her I’d like to run a “private Irish music performance” as a private session with 2-3 friends. I’d like to make clear with the owner that this is not an open session. If she/he accepts, the real challenge is to deal with other musicians in the city. Let’s assume the “session” is never publicized as an open session, and the owners know about it. How do you handle people who show up randomly and don’t fit your criteria. I don’t mind having a bad reputation in my city, to be the “snobbish evil ba$tard”, but I’m not sure how to manage people who are not respectful of the “session rules”.
I heard of many tricks from different session leaders. Sometimes, when there’s a person who starts a set of tunes and plays them in a very bad way, most musicians will get up and go for a pint… the musician will be left alone playing his tunes. Sometimes, the session leader will go sit close to the musician and talk to him/her honestly. But these tricks are for open sessions with stricter rules. Since my session would be private, could I simply tell the newcomer that he’s/she’s welcome to sit but has to follow some rules if he/she wants to join?
There’s a session in New York city which has a specific set of rules, and those rules go as far as to specify that if a specific musician shows up, the person next to the leader has to give his/her place to the friend of the leader. I’d rather have a totally private session than have to have such rules. I can understand the idea, but for me, having something half open with such rules seems harsher than simply closing the session.
This subject is a real can of worms and as I said, I’m not trying to start a fight. I’d like to hear from people who have experience with such sessions. I’d like to set it up in September so it will give me plenty of time to come up with a strategy. Thanks!