Sessions ARE public performances?

Sessions ARE public performances?

Something that Kerri and I talked about on her “noodling” thread raised a question that might be interesting to air out. I was talking about how tunes were possibly learned in the days before tape recorders etc. were around, and that people would have to hear the tunes when they were played at sessions held in pubs where the public could hear them. I used the term “public performance” (of the tunes) as opposed to private performances (in people’s houses.) Kerri thought I might have been inferring that sessions were “public performances” and now when I reflect back on it I started to think about it. (Always dangerous when Jack starts thinking… his wife has to move all the nice furniture and chach-kas out of the room he’s thinking in… give him some space so that nothing gets broken) Anyway, aren’t sessions in pubs public performances? Are dart games in pubs a “public performance” of darts… or what about pool games? And when people dance, isn’t that a public performance as well? It doesn’t have to be a “show” and the players/ dancers don’t have to be intentionally putting on a show — but people are watching or listening… and sometimes even clapping. Wouldn’t this constitute a “public performance”?

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Ah, yes! A nice healthy late nite debate!

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That’s like saying my band rehearsals are public performances cuz sometimes my mother shouts "woohoo" from the kitchen, the neighbours complain and the dog curls up at my feet.

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hmm…I think pubs are public gathering places.lots of people dont have private spaces to accomodate a whole session..but i dont thnk that makes it a performance.I think performance is when you face th audience..

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I’m thinking too Jack! The kitchen window’s shattered! Electrical appliances in my flat are flickering on and off! Books are hurling themselves off shelves and forming a messy heap of fluttering pages on the floor!

Yeah well anyway, in the days before tape recorders, were pub sessions that popular? I always had this vague idea that tunes were either played at people’s houses, or at community dances like my dad says he used to go to when he was a kid. I dunno, but anyway that has nothing to do with the question.

I reckon that it depends what you mean by "public performance". If you mean "playing music in public", then yes that’s what sessions are *in the minds of the players*. If you mean "putting on a musical performance in the sense of ‘show’ for people in the pub to listen to" then that’s not necessarily what sessions are *in the minds of the players*. To be honest, when I think of "public performance" I’m more inclined to think of the latter definition for some reason. I’m sure non-musicians must see it as a performance for their benefit, judging by the amount of times I’ve seen some drunken idiot demanding Wild Rover/Whiskey In The Jar/Fields Of Athenry etc. They must come into the pub, see the session happening and think "oooh, a live show specially for us, and we don’t even have to pay to see it - how nice!" As for the landlord, well any live music is a public show for him/her. He/she gets more customers and more money, and he/she doesn’t necessarily have to pay the musicians: "oooh, a live show specially for my pub, and I don’t even have to pay to put it on, ‘part from maybe a few beers - how nice!". Meanwhile the musicians are thinking "oooh, we get to play whatever tunes we like because we’re not expected to put on some sort of show for an audience, and we get a few free beers - how nice!"

End of thought.

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My problem with your terminology Jack is "performances." I don’t think of the punters as an audience (and indeed, many of them appear to ignore the music completely, except for the extra effort they have to make to talk over it). And I don’t think of my session playing as a "performance"—just playing tunes, and if other people happen to listen, well that’s their perogative. On the noodle thread, you said you didn’t mean performance in the gig or concert sense of the word, but that and a public defender won’t make for much of a case. 🙂

For me, the reason to hold a session in a pub or other public place is so other musicians can sit in without necessarily being invited. It’s open to the public, not a public performance. In contrast, house sessions tend to be among friends, by invite. Our local pub session came about because new people kept hearing about a house session and asking if they could sit in. But it’s not exactly kosher to invite total strangers into someone else’s house. So it made more sense to hold it at a public place.

What makes a session special to me is when you bring that personal, "in the kitchen" feeling to a pub or coffe house, and there’s no division between players and audience—everyone present is a participant. Just neighbors socializing over pints and tunes. I think of it as a potluck where a bunch of people bring music instead of food. (And I’m not into the competitive cooking approach to potlucks.)

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And in response to Mark’s taxonomy of session meaning, our hosts (the publicans) here in Helena understand that it’s not a performance. For them (and myself as well) it’s about building community. (They have busier nights of the week when we _don’t_ play 🙂.

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i always meant to ask you dow…when i post now at ten pm thursday night, and you post now,what the hell time is it? I’m smart but not tha that smart……..

ok now, back to the topic…..zpeaking of audiences, ya gotta love the patron that sits all night listening to tune after tune after tune, never calling attention to himself just listening listening……wow! like, 4 hours later you turn around and he’s still there……

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Yeah it’s to do with semantics. I think Jack’s trying to use "performance" in its benign sense of "execute", as in "perform an action". But when it comes to talking about music and the arts, "performance" usually means "show" doesn’t it?

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good point "open to the public" meaning anyone can come, but at a house you really should have an invite uh .."knock knock" uh "hi there, i heard some fisddle playin.. kin I come in?"

as an aside: what would you do in this situation?

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It’s 3pm and I’m supposed to be reading online Japanese newspapers to find a suitable text to use for the "Section B: Unseen Text" part of the exam I’m making my students do next week. I love making students do exams and seeing the look of panic on their faces as they do last-minute revision from notes before they go in. Hahaha! I just sit there grinning and thinking "I’m glad it’s not me doing this", but it actually gets very boring sitting there doing nothing for hours but check that nobody’s cheating and copying someone else.

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I reckon they’re not.

A public performance in my definition firstly requires the presence of a body of people other than those playing, and will not go ahead without them. Lots of people feel that a session ought to have punters, but the session will go ahead quite happily whether anyone else is in the pub or not. They may enhance a session but they are not essential. A chamber orchestra or stage band, however, would call it off if no one showed up.

A public performance also has those non-players as its main focus and raison d’etre. If the intent is to entertain them while they listen passively, or to play music so they can dance, or to lead them in community song (say hymns in church) then I reckon it’s a performance. A session has no such focus on non-players it’s not there to "do" anything either to them or for them.

I was prompted to think about what is and isn’t a performance in the past by one too many incompetent and lazy church musician deflecting justified criticism with the cry, "But it isn’t a performance!" I wonder whether this is said at sessions to excuse can’t-be-bothered playing…

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Well vboyd, I would say "what’s a fisddle? Ain’t no fisdlle in my house" and slam the door.

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Vboyd, I would simply say very loudly, "Can’t you read?" and slam the door.

(I have a front doormat that says "GO AWAY".)

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That’s a great excuse Tish, I’ll have to use it on Sunday 🙂

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LOL cross-posting makes for interestingly incoherent threads.

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That worry did cross my mind, Dow 😀

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Kerri wrote: "hat’s like saying my band rehearsals are public performances cuz sometimes my mother shouts "woohoo" from the kitchen, the neighbours complain and the dog curls up at my feet." With the exception of the neighbors complaining, I think this would be a "private performance" 🙂

Interesting thoughts gang! No one has yet to convince me that when you play tunes in a public setting it’s not a public performance of those tunes. Half of the crowd not listening doesn’t make your performance (execution) of the music “private.” The one guy listening at the bar all night is a member of the public at large, and he’s listening, so he’s your "audience." To perform in public you need an audience, passive or otherwise, but an "audience" none-the-less. They aren’t invited to the pub as if you invited them to your house, and they aren’t going to go make a selection on the jukebox, (unless they’re a total eejit) so you’re performing (playing) the music in public. The jukebox or CD player is off and the air is filled with the music you’re playing, everyone who wants to can listen — it’s a "public performance".

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If a mime is performing in the park, and no one is watching — is it no longer a performance?

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If no-one has yet to convince you then that means that we needn’t bother because you’re already convinced 🙂

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I don’t have any problem with the adjective "public". You were saying in the other thread you meant the word "performance" as in "the execution of a task" and I agree "public performance" in this context sounds better than "public execution" ;^) However, putting the two words together conjures very specific ideas into my head. I play *in* public (at sessions) and I play *for* the public (at concerts, festivals, etc.). I can’t call them both the same thing. And here’s why:

I just can’t picture going up on stage in a festival before an audience, sitting with my back to them, drinking pints and swapping dirty jokes with my friends, then telling them to sod off when they ask me to sing something. Conversely, I can’t imagine leaping off stage in the middle of a concert because I see a cute guy I know way in the back and I want to go for a bit of a flirt. Clearly, session-like behavior would be out of place in a venue where I was expected to "perform". As this type of thing is standard practice at a session, a sesson can’t be considered a "performance". At least not by me.

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Wow, what a hot thread! By the time I finished writing that last comment a bunch other comments had appeared relating to what I was writing about and now I *really* look like I was paying attention!

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And yer man doing the mime in the park. That’s a public performance because his sole purpose for being there is to put on a show for people in the park and hopefully make some money (although not necessarily). If the mime guy walks away from his audience and talks to one of his mates for half an hour, his audience aren’t going to be there when he gets back. In a session, the customers are going to be there whether you’re playing or not, and whether they view your playing as a "live show" or not.

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If a mime falls in the forest, does anybody hear?

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I mean, if a mime falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

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his audience *isn’t* - my grammar has really gone to pot recently.

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But Kerri, the session as a whole is observed and enjoyed by the public isn’t it? At our local people show up specifically to enjoy watching and listening to "the session." They tell me they are entertained by the way we carry on and joke with each other — and they love the music. Sometimes the dart players are happening right to the side of us. (This makes the bodhran players nervous) People are watching them and clapping when they make a good shot sometimes. Are they not "performing" in a sense?

Dow, I just said that bit about not being convinced so you would stop thinking. I don’t want anyone to get hurt. 😀

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Nope, Jack, no one is my audience at a session. The only people I play for are myself and the other players. Since the other players are playing too, their not a mere audience. And if the guy on the stool at the bar is enjoying his evening out, great, but that’s not my responsibility. Which it would be if I were "performing" music for him.

As Mark says, you’re trying to use "performance" in its sense of "execution" or "doing." But when talking about playing music, "performance" has a primary connotation of "entertainment" or "presentation."

Your session may be different (indeed, I’ve heard that the Plough and Stars session is more structured, more like a casual concert, and less of a seat-of-the-pants, off-the-cuff session). But at my local session, the tunes aren’t "presented" _to_ anyone. In contrast, songs _are_ presented—the room is hushed, and the singer usually does a pre-arranged piece. But as Tish says, we’ll play tunes even if it’s just us in the pub, not a punter in sight. My intent is to enjoy playing music, not to impress or otherwise affect any non-players within earshot. It’s no more a public performance than it is a private performance when I lock the bathroom door and play fiddle all by my lonesome.

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"If a man is standing in the middle of the forest speaking and there is no woman around to hear him … is he still wrong?" — George Carlin

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BTW Jack, so there’s nobody watching your mime in the park. It’s still a public performance if it’s not the middle of the night and some members of the public are likely to turn up. He’s just unlucky because nobody happens to be there to watch. Or maybe he’s just crap at what he does. Now, if he does his mime act deep in the middle of Kerri’s dense forest in the middle of the night, then no, it’s not a public performance because unless he’s incredibly dim or on drugs, he’d realise that nobody’s going to be watching.

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…does his act deep in the middle of Kerri’s dense forest… LOL oh dear. Time for me to leave!

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Hmm, OK Jack, attacking it from another angle… "in public" to me doesn’t make it a "performance" unless anyone in the "audience" has a right to an expectation of some sort e.g. they’ve paid $250 for a ticket so it had better be good, or something has been advertised as a dinner-dance so you have a right to expect to be able to foxtrot/cha cha/quickstep to at least some of the music. Even if a pub advertises a gig with no cover charge, the audience still has a right to expect certain standards of playing and a type of music appropriate to the location and time of day.

Does the lone punter at the bar have right to an expectation? He might grizzle if they music is scheidt and ask for the juke box instead, but does he have a *right* to do that?

This is a bit off the top of my head (like Dow I’m supposed to be doing something else of a very tedious nature) but it seems to me that an audience at a performance (whether they’ve paid $$ or not) has rights, a punter wandering in to a session possibly doesn’t have the same rights and maybe that’s the what makes something a performance, regardless of the fact that it’s "in public"…?

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But Will, We aren’t playing for the punters either, and we don’t come to the pub to "perform." We come together to share the music — play with and for each other, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the result isn’t, in it’s essence, a "public performance" whether we intended as such or not… does it?

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See Dow… I knew someone would get hurt. hahahahaha

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Tish, I think "rights may have something to do with it. But I also think - or thought - that it had a lot to do with the musicians’ expectations and beliefs about what they’re doing too. I think that most session players wouldn’t think of themselves as putting on any sort of show for the public, and if it was like that then they’d probably avoid them like the plague - I certainly would. I’m really surprised that Jack sees it differently. Jack you’re just so impure and untrad 😉

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Tish, the session is often advertised in papers, published on-line etc. And at our local there’s a sidewalk board that says, "Traditional Irish Music tonight" and it’s always free. People come in to listen and watch… it’s still a "public performance"… isn’t it?

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I don’t come to the pub to "perform," Dow, but it still ends up being a "public performance" anyway.

"impure and untrad" hahahahaha… stop… yur killin me.

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A-ha! Now we’re getting to what I talked about in my 1st post, which is how the punters view us. What you’re saying now, Jack, is that none of us views our playing in pubs as a "show", but the fact that some of the punters might see our playing as a "show" makes it a "show". Well, all I can say is that this difference in perspective must be what causes a lot of aggro and resentment between players/punters, and in some places (especially over here in Oz) the landlord.

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One man’s "show" is another man’s "performance" I guess. Remind me to bring a plastic flute, toy concertina and a helmet to OZ sessions Dow 😉

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You already have a toy concertina 🙂

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I think Jack is winding us up.

So: remember the car wash scene in Cool Hand Luke? Was the woman in the tight, wet dress washing her car, or was she giving a performance of washing her car?

I think that’s where Jack is coming from.

I used to be a professional juggler. In the summer, I often practiced outside, in public places (parks, college campus, gymnasiums). If I wanted my practices to be effective, I often had to ignore the bystanders who sometimes insisted on treating it like a performance. When I quit throwing up for a living, I would still go juggle in a park, for my own enjoyment. But all too often I’d get an audience and end up dealing with "Can you eat an apple?" and "Do that one again!" and "I saw a guy on tv who juggled 99 balls—can you do that?" So I eventually quit juggling in public places. Even if it wasn’t a performance in my mind, other people couldn’t understand or respect that.

Sure, sessions can have the same problem. But it’s not _my_ problem. We just hunch closer together in our little circle and ignore the bleating for Orange Blossom Special.

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WHAT were you saying about my dense forest?

LSHTARDMCARMNSC!

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Will, yes, our sessions are "tight" I guess — that’s how we like to play. But at the end of the day we’re still just sharing the music with one another, and we aren’t really concerned with the crowd’s enjoyment so much. It’s fun when the crowd participates by demonstrating their enjoyment and encouraging us, but that’s not why we do it.

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Yer right, FonV, go away to type a response and fifteen more have appeared in the interim 8>)

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I’m not sure that he is winding us up. If he is he’s doing a crap job of it because it’s actually an interesting question. It’s probably quite healthy to think about how punters etc view sessions once in a while, if only because it might help you understand why they’re asking us to play naff Wild Rover songs. Then at least you can consider their perspective and feelings before you tell them to fack off!

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I go to the park and play tunes on hot days. People try to give me money and I tell them, "Thanks, but I’m not busking." and I give them their money back. They’ll sit down nearby and listen, and one time two lovely young gals who tried to give me money came back with flowers and put them on my flute case. (I melted) So even though I told people it wasn’t a public performance… they saw it as one anyway. So were they wrong? If so, what was it, and what were they doing in relation to it?

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How "Haight"!

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No kidding, tish!

Hey, Jack, you haven’t mentioned the type of session where the audience is actually EXPECTED to leave BECAUSE of the performance: beginner sessions.

Are they still public performances? If so, what are they after the public runs screaming from the pub with their fingers in their ears? Are they still sessions, and therefore public performances (with no public), or are they no longer sessions, as there is no longer a public to perform to?

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Oh… I play in the park on hot days because it’s too hot in my apartment… I should have added.

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In Montreal, we play in the park for fun, even if we have air conditioning. And you said you were a hippie!

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Sometimes our sessions out-last the crowd, Kerri. Yea… what is it then? A victory party? 😀

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Whew, just caught up again. Yes Jack, if your session is advertised as "Traditional Irish Music Tonight" just the same way as the pub might advertise "R&B Tonight" or "[insert band here] Tribute Night" then that does tend to push it towards a performance by my definition. I wonder, though, how sessioneers who feel most strongly that a session is not a performance would like to see the publicity worded.

(And ooooh, Dow, you *bitch* 🙂

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Well I wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t fun. 😉

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The two lovely young girls weren’t "wrong", in fact they were so totally right, man. That had nothing to do with "public performance", it had to do with peace, and love 😀

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Jack, you’re sessions are tight because (besides being talented players) you like to announce the tunes before a set, and at least some of you play in a band together. We have sessions like that too, sometimes, and the non-core players sure complain about it when we do—"We can’t keep up," and "Those were obscure tunes…not very inclusive," and "That was such a nice arrangement we didn’t want to mess it up."

I suspect some of the debate here stems from big city vs. small town. At our session, everyone’s on a first-name basis. There’s no advertising. The pub isn’t even a real pub—just the tap room of a local micro-brewery. Sometimes we just sit and talk. Sometimes we all learn a tune, slow and over and over. Sometimes we play stuff "wrong" on purpose. The kind of stuff that would drive an "audience" batty. And that’s okay because they’re not expecting a performance or show.

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I would word my sandwich board something like "There’s absolutely nothing to see here, folks. Move along."

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Actually Tish, I never tell people to fack off in a session, I just set Beebs on them! ("Kill!")

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Maybe, if your session is a "public performance", the real question should be "Are public performances sessions?"

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Possible sidewalk-board-signs:

"Private Meeting of ‘ITM Geeks Anonymous’ (public welcome)"

"English-system Concertina’s attempting ITM here tonight, enter at your own risk."

"Caution: Drinking and driving tunes don’t mix"

"Experiments involving unusual sounds being conducted here tonight, sorry for the inconvenience."

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Right, Kerri. I’ve walked in on sessions that clearly were public performances (with a mic for every player, and play lists), and bounded back to the car quicker than I could think.

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Come on now… it’s not my session that I’m talking about, Kerri — it’s sessions in general — the concept and application.

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Heh, we won’t have a sandwich board. When the local newspaper tried to run a notice about the session, the publican asked them to remove it. Is the public welcome to enter? Yes. Are they invited? No. Do we care what they think about the music. No, not as long as they don’t actively object to it. The ones who don’t like it can go to the bar next door.

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For the record: Our session isn’t miked, everyone’s welcome, it’s not intended as a show. Come on… give me a break gang!

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Dow, I typed "you bitch" after your toy concertina comment but there’s so much steam coming off everyone’s keyboards that the link was lost 🙂 And poor beebs, what bad press, you know she’s really a sweetie. (Deep down >8>)

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Jack, when you come to Australia I’ll lend you my very own dockyard hard hat.

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I’ve been to hot sessions in Ireland that were hosted by people who were in bands together. I didn’t mind a bit, infact I felt lucky to be there. They didn’t exclude me or anyone else, they would talk about what tune they wanted to play with what tune… what’s wrong with that?

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And for the record, I’ve seen and done many public performances disguised as sessions. Every pub in Doolin, for example, pays a bunch of musicians to play every single night all summer long for the tourists. They sit in a circle and crack the odd joke and sometimes they are surrounded by backpakers with guitars, so it looks like a session to the untrained eye, but I bet they’d be shown the door right quick if the "session" wasn’t Irish enough or fast enough for the tourists.

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Do the group of punters have absolutely no influence whatsoever on the music and the way it’s played? If you cleared the bar of everyone but the musicians would the mood of the session remain exactly the same, and not a note be played any differently than if they were there?

If yes, then this is absolutely not a public performance. As a bonus, you may be eligible for full membership in a Buddhist monastery.

(And I will be totally unaffected by Michael Gill’s assessment of my post, good or bad. ommmmm….)

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Jack, there’s nothing wrong with you, *right everybody* wink wink? Put the english system concertina down before somebody gets hurt…

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Well, greg, a bit of redundancy in the first movement, but I think the judges will give high marks for your use of five four-syllable words in such a brief remark.

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Punters certainly can enhance or detract from the playing, but their removal won’t render the session pointless. An appreciative or unnappreciative concert audience can likewise enhance or detract from the music, but their removal will render the event pointless.

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six.

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Sign outside the Plough & Stars reads "TONITE! Bearded hippie performs bouncy folk music on honky squeezebox thing, accompanied by his unmiked friends. Everyone welcome except those who play smooth, flowing tunes on sweet-sounding squeezebox things".

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Oh, yeah, and greg, WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOHOOOOOOHOOOOO! Go Flames Go! How’s the craic in Calgary tonight?

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One of the things that makes a session different than a “show” is the fact that the players aren’t putting one on. But the session is still being performed (happening) in public thus making it a "public performance". The fact that the session would continue unaltered if the punters leave doesn’t change the fact that it’s happening in a public place.

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Okay, Will, I agree, Jack’s winding us up 🙂

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Agreed it’s still in public. We’re just defining the word "performance" differently.

Jack, what’s your cap size? Just looking at the adjustable band on this here hard hat.

And Dow - you *BITCH*!

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"being performed (happening) in public"… so is taking the garbage to the curb also a public performance? Standing in line at the bank machine? Suntanning? I’m starting to feel very self-conscious!

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Sign outside the Plough: "IRA bomb-drive here tonight, donate unwanted scrap english-system concertinas in bin at front door" 😀

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I can’t hear you, fov! The car horns are deafening. My kids’ school decided to go ahead with the spring concert during the game, so we had to rely on cell phones with web access to keep track. D’oh!

We’ll need to clear out of the Joyce early on Saturday before the big screen fires up.

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Beebs is NOT a bitch. She’s just in a very very bad mood, and she’s been in a very very bad mood for a very very long time… *grin* Just kidding, Brides.

Och aye, but you guys do like to split hairs.

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I wouldn’t bother going at all - the party downtown probably won’t stop between now and then long enough to get a tune in…

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Well Kerri, if your session is like taking out the trash I don’t know what to say. 😛 hahahaha

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Suntanning. I’ve seen occasions where it’s a public performance, and some where it’s not.

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Worse is when it’s a public display, Greg…

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Tish, I’m not really being a bitch for slagging anglos. I’m just making rude comments on every single thesession thread to rally support for the Low Caste Frowned-upon Brotherhood and to remind readers that we’re a force to be reckoned with, one that won’t be pushed into the background by dismissive remarks as we march deeper into the 21st century.

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But seriously… Kerri, if people showed up to watch you take out the trash, stand in line. (this is believable, I’ve seen your photo 😉 Then it could be considered a "public performance" I suppose.

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I figure if I say "execution" where Jack says "performance" and Jack says "show" where I say "performance"… maybe…?

Aiiee, 4.50 Friday afternoon, time to go home and play my "fisddle" 🙂 CU Sunday, Dow.

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Slagging anglos? Low caste frowned-upon..? Is this a Quebec separation discussion?

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Helas, c’est vrai. Even now there’s a mob outside my window clamouring for the recycling. And autographs.

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Wow, what a bizarre time to lapse into French! I didn’t even see you Quebec comment greg. We must be psychically in tuuuune…..

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It’s about the free-reed separatist movement. Down with the anglo oppressors!

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Yea Dow… you bitch! hahahahahahahahaha*gulp*hahahahahaha

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If I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about can I still play?

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Jack doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about and he still plays, so go ahead 🙂

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Sorry, a deliberate misunderstanding. I can’t believe how many hits this thread has had since it was posted. It really doesn’t deserve the attention 🙂 Back to work…

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Yea… what was I saying?

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Hey… where’d everyone go? Dow? Kerri? Will? Zina? Hey guys… I was just kidding… *sigh*

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Past one AM, and I’m going to bed! 🙂

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OK… I guess I will too then… *yawn*

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Fine, if you’re all packing it in, no point sticking around trying to get myself riled up.

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I must say that some of the posts here are a load of tosh! A session isn’t a public performance….?? Tell that to the public! I can’t believe statements like ‘We are only playing for ourselves’ or ‘If someone is listening then that is their prerogative’.

Tell me this - if all of the people in the pub totally ignored you and your music and they all talked loudly and over the top of the tunes and wouldn’t keep quiet when you called a singer - would it not bother you? IF it DOES bother you then it is a perfoemance since you care about what they think.

Pretending that it doesn’t matter if you connect with the punters or not is nonsense, and if it does matter then clearly you are performing, paid or not.

I know that when we a sussing out a potential new session venue and important aspect is whether or not there is likely to be a sympathetic audience - are the ‘it’s not a performance’ people out there saying that it really doesn’t matter what kind of people are in your session pub as long as you get a few free beers? Get real!

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Oh dear, I go to my bed about 03.00 and return to see a new thread with over 100 posts. As, it was inspired by something I suggested in a previous post, I feel that I should make a comment.
It obviously depends on how you define the terms "public" and "performance". However, in this instance, I’ll concede that Jack is technically correct and that a session is a "PP", although I wasn’t really thinking of it as such. A quote from Nigel Gatherer’s music pages about the origin of sessions reads as follows
"It has been suggested that the first move to play Irish music in a pub was in The Black Cap in London’s Camden Town in 1947, followed by The Devonshire Arms, also in London. From then it spread over the years so that there are now Irish pub sessions all over the world, from Japan to Rio de Janeiro. Of course there were jam sessions before, during the Jazz era for example, but nothing has caught the people’s imagination like the Irish pub session."
See http://users.argonet.co.uk/users/gatherer/sess.html

However, I would suggest that there has always been sessions of some sort whenever or wherever friends have gathered together to play music eg in neighbours houses, village halls, bothies, and, of course, pubs. Today’s sessions are just an extension of this and are still, in some ways, private events. Some are more inviting than others but they are not necessarily intended for everyone just to come along and take part. Of course, in practice, most musicians aren’t turned away and the invitation often tends to be implicit but it is still required even if it is described as an "Open Invitation". I know that this sounds a bit pedantic but that’s how the problem arises when people turn up at these sessions and don’t understand "the rules" eg when and where shakey eggs are welcome, playing different styles of music, when and when not to "noodle" etc. Now, all of these things can be acceptable, even welcomed depending on the type of session or, on the other hand, "grimly tolerated" at the very best.
To sum up, if you regard a "session" as the natural successor of the practice of friends getting together for " a tune", then I still think it’s a natural environvent to "pick up" and swap tunes. However, I realise that things have moved on these days and most good sessions are much more sophisticated and complex than that so, once again, it just depends on who you’re with and where you are. I keep using phrases like "common sense" and "good manners". Most of us here know what is and not acceptable but, unfortunately, many casual participants don’t.

John

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Okay, let’s "get real". Here’s what I think. If all of the people in the pub totally ignored me and my music I wouldn’t give a scheidt. If they all talked loudly and over the top of the tunes I would be mildly irritated and so would the rest of the musicians I play with, not because they’re not appreciating the music (I expect that most members of the public have scheidt taste in music) but because it would mean we’d have to go through the rigmarole of finding a new venue where we could hear ourselves play (not necessarily one where the punters enjoy our tunes, because, like I said, I don’t give a scheidt about that). So yes breandan, I for one am saying that I don’t give a scheidt what kind of people are in my session pub as long as 1) I can hear myself and my mates play tunes, and 2) we get free beers.

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Ok - to put a more positive spin on it. If I am playing tunes and see a couple of the punters tapping their feet along with the music then I feel that connection is valuable. I get a buzz out of it - don’t you?

It’s also marvellous when an educated listener comes over and asks for a really good tune [not the bloody lonesome boatman or the fileds of athenry]. Don’t you ever get that feeling?

IF you do then have you performed or not?

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Yeah, it is nice when punters appreciate it, of course, but it’s not necessary to have that connection for a good session. When you do get that connection with punters, are those punters viewing your playing as a show for them, or do they just feel privileged to have happened upon a good session? I suspect that your "educated listeners" probably play tunes or sing themselves if they’re asking you for "good tunes". And people who are not new to the music are going to know what sessions are all about. They’ll know that it’s not a show put on for their benefit.

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So I see audience appreciation as totally incidental, and an added bonus to my having a good time. Put it this way, I could tell a joke to a group of people I’d just met in a pub. They might laugh and they might not. If they laugh, I’m going to get a buzz and feel good. Doesn’t mean I’ve put on a public performance for them. It was just an incidental reaction to the joke that must have been innately good or just well-told. Same with the music, for me anyway. I try and play as best I can so that the resulting sound pleases me and I get a buzz from the music. If anyone else in the pub gets a buzz, great, whoopee-doo for them 🙂

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Agreed - However …

I have the choice of a kitchen session or going out to the pub. Same players, same tunes - so why go to the pub?

It can’t be just to get a few free jars since I’ll end up spending a fortune anyway [No matter how generous the publican I will always want an extra one or two (yeah!)large Powers :~)]

Frankly it’s because I want to play for people. The session in Maghera every month is one of the biggest nights for Matthew [our very generous landlord]and even though most people who go aren’t necessarily into the diddley dee they love the atmosphere that it creates. I LOVE being part of that. In a way I feel that I have a responsibility to play tunes in public for the public because it really is the greatest music and the loveliest place in the world.

I boast about the richness of our music, song and dance to envious punters from other countries who have nothing like it where they come from.

Public performance - Absolutely!!

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This is where the "different session experiences" thing crops up. You’re in Ireland, I’m in Australia. A lot of people here (and the States) wouldn’t have a clue what traditional Irish music was, let alone how to appreciate it. In Sydney, and probably other cities in Oz, it’s a nighmare trying to find a venue where the landlord would be happy to even have you there on 1 night a week, with no free beers or anything. Don’t ask me why. It seems jukeboxes and miked-up concerts are what they want. As for the punters, well, they’re mostly completely clueless, so you can’t expect anything from them. So if you can find a venue in somewhere like Sydney where the landlord is happy to have you there to play tunes once a week for a few free beers, you end up not giving a scheidt whether the punters enjoy it or not. You’re just happy to be able to play tunes with your mates.

So to get to my point: if I had a choice of having a kitchen session or a pub session, it would depend how much beer was available. If there was no beer, we’d go down the pub. If there was lots of beer, we’d almost definitely have the kitchen session because we can hear each other better and there are no clueless punters/landlords to have to deal with.

It must be nice to be somewhere where people aren’t clueless…

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Don’t worry, Dow. We have lots of clueless punters/landlords in Scotland and Ireland too. Even worse, some who think they have a clue. As the old saying goes "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing". 🙂

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Yeah, the thing is, I’m sure there are more clueless people here per head of population than there are in Scotland and Ireland, due to lack of exposure to the music other than through Riverdance and other McTrad of that ilk. Oh and god yes, the ones who think they have a clue annoy the hell out of me.

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Dow! When I was living in Perth (WA) in the early 80s there was a very lively trad. Irish scene …especially at the old Esplanade Hotel in Fremantle on a Sunday arvo. The punters were always very appreciative and we all enjoyed playing for them so I suppose it was a performance, but only by default as it was an unmiked session. We did do requests (but only when asked) but we never got asked for Danny Boy etc. …they knew better.
But that was Perth.
Sydney is different it would appear.

The only session I go to nowadays is the Herschel in Slough and that attracts so many musos normally there isn’t enough room for any punters in our bar! It’s a performance but only for ourselves and Tom King the landlord!

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This entire thread has been quite a public performance (-;

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Perth!? That’s the other side of the world! I’ve never been to WA and actually I don’t think any of my Aussie friends from Sydney have either. To them Sydney-Perth is like how we think of London-Istanbul. Weird isn’t it? I’ve heard that Perth (and Adelaide?) are a lot more "mother country" than other cities in Oz, so I suppose it doesn’t surprise me that there is or was a good scene there. Melbourne was much better off than Sydney for a while but I don’t know what it’s like at the moment. The thing with Sydney is, it’s cyclically good/crap. One year there’ll be a few sessions a week and loads of backpackers will come through and bring fiddles and flutes and pipes with them, and then it sort of dies and nothing happens for ages. So any backpackers reading this: come out here on a working holiday like I did and bring your instruments!

PS Geoff, does Tom King have anything to do with the tune "Tom King’s Toolbox" by Alan Burton?

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Hi Dow!

Alan Burton has played at the Herschel so it seems likely that he named the tune in Tom’s honour. I’ll ask him next time I’m there and I’ll let you know.
Go to bed!
It’s late over there!
But I forgot; it’s Friday so it doesnt matter. Stay up and have more beers.

Mmmmm! Beer!

Back to my marking :(

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Tell him the tune has spead to Oz via the Kerr-Fagan link.

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Dow, Perth is indeed the other side of the world from you. Tt’s only 40 miles up the road from me ,in fact. 🙂 Beautiful countryside but not a lot to do in the town itself, apart from changing trains.

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The worst ones are. The best ones aren’t. Infact, it could be how you define a good or bad session

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I have attended some sessions as an observer many times. Whether or not you are *actually* performing, I am taking in a performance. I came to here the music. The sandwich board on the sidewalk said "Live Irish Session Music 7pm". I came in with expectations that music was gonna happen. The musicians in my estimation were not *performing* for anyone. I mean to say they did not look like they were trying to engage anyone much less an audience. I think maybe they were still getting to know each other? I don’t know but I wasn’t there for their personalities. I wanted to hear music. And they played. I liked the sound the other punters liked the atmosphere and the publican liked the alcohol sales. Everyone’s agenda was different. But because everyone’s agenda was different didn’t mean that only one agenda was successful. They all were. So it was a public performance but definitely not a show. A good time was had by all and no one got hurt.

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Interesting discussion! I didn’t have time to read the whole thing, so sorry if repeat what others have already said.

There’s a great book by a sociologist named Erving Goffman called "The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life." Big with performance theorists. He would make the case that everything we do is performance in some sense, on some level. Sessions, I think, are definitely performances on many levels.

Remember that we are conditioned by our culture to think of performance as involving a stage and an audience, where generally this is not necessary. "Performances" in many cultures have blurred lines, sometimes invisible lines, between "performers" and "audience" (also constructs of our culture.) One could easily argue that a session is precisely a performance of this type, even a house session. When someone starts a tune, they are performing for the rest of the session. We are all at least somewhat self-conscious …

Think about what an outside observer would think, one who knew NOTHING about sessions and such but was familliar with some other kind of music. They would certainly categorize a session as a performance, however odd it might seem to them. Doesn’t their objectivity have some value here? Maybe we can’t see the forest for the trees.

And why is a session as a performance so stigmatized, anyway? Does it somehow grate against some ideal about communal, shared experience or something? We have nostalgic notions about what sessions might have been like before we were around, but sessions have always been performances. House sessions included.

Chris

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Were you ever at a session where one of the players (a new visitor in our case) turned to the punters and made a loud announcement "the next tune will be…"

urnghhhfmmm.

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In some ways house sessions may be even more of a performance that pub sessions. People tend to be listening for one thing 🙂

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This hair splitting is getting Freudian.

Yes, Chris, Goffman would say simply playing a tune within earshot of another human being is a performance. And I suppose some people are so self-conscious that playing a tune completely alone feels like a peformance too (whether or not they’re in front of a mirror).

But in our everyday lives, I’m guessing most of us distinguish between how we present ourselves in public versus how we present ourselves to a public gathered for the express purpose of seeing us do something special.

In other words, going to the grocery store is a public presentation of self. But standing on a check-out counter in a frilly shirt and tuxedo pants singing Verdi’s Aida to attract customers for the grocery store climbs to a whole ‘nother level of calling attention to oneself and one’s "performance."

Some of us here play in sessions _and_ also peform in gigs and concerts. To an outsider, there may be similarities, but as felt by the musicians (me, at least) the two events are strikingly different. We’ve already explained those differences in this thread.

Yes, if walking out to the mailbox in your pajamas is a performance, then so is playing in a session. But in my reality, a session where people are striving to impress an audience or each other, where "performance anxiety" and ego and conscious attemtpts at virtuousity and an "us" and "them" mindset between audience and performer loom large (and all the other baggage that typical comes with a "performance" in the more formal sense of the word), is a poor session indeed.

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Good morning gang, I’m back, but I have nothing more to add. (Don’t you feel fortunate?) While I was asleep people on this fine site have again said it better than I. Thanks for all the great contributions from all sides – I enjoyed this. See you in the next discussion.

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Whoah… I post that last bit and there’s still more… I thought everyone packed it in. OK… go on….

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Hey Will, like I mentioned to Kerri last night. If people are showing up to watch you go to the mail box in your jammies — it’s a public performance.

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No Jack, it’s when I forget I don’t have any jammies on that it’s a performance….

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Will -

Part of my point is that a musical event is a performance even if there is no "us/them" mentality. Performance anxiety is totally natural in any context. For many, I’m sure that playing in a session surrounded by accomplished musicians inspires more nerves than playing in front of a crowd who probably don’t know the music anywhere near as well.

Having performance anxiety and wanting to play well (striving for virtuosity?) doesn’t mean your main goal is trying to impress other musicians/punters. We should all try to play well. We all do. And we care what others think of us. Even in the most laid back of situations, playing music with one close friend, we hope that they enjoy the experience as much. You can’t take it to the extreme of nobody caring about how well they play or what anybody else thinks. THAT sounds like a lousy session.

Chris

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Will, I’ll just quote British film star David Niven in regards to your mail box "performance", ”Probably the only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping off and showing his shortcomings.” 😀

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It seems a little silly to try to assign brand new connotations to the term "performance" for the purpose of a heated conversation with a bunch of performers who view sessions as their opportunity to play *without* performing. If I have to read a university textbook to tell me why my internalized meaning of a word is imprecise then we’ve all forgotten what words are for. They are shortcuts to ideas.

Anyway, going by the standard definition of the word "performance" as it relates to music, I’ve realized some people at sessions are there to perform, and some aren’t. Some people come in to watch a performance and some come in for a beer. So perhaps the relationship between the musos who specifically came out to be heard by the public and the public who specifically came to hear them is a performance. Fine. You win.

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Aw come on Kerri… there’s no "winners" or "losers" here. When you put it like that it’s just like saying that some people come to these discussions to "win arguments" and others just come to share ideas. No one is trying to claim the higher moral ground here, we’re just exploring terms that have caused misunderstandings and controversies about sessions.

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I don’t think that we get to decide whether we are performing or not. I think the context determines this. Sorry if I seem like I’m trying to win an argument - I enjoy reading all of your points of view!

I think I may be speaking from different experience, too. I play three nights a week, all sessions, and get paid pretty well for all of them. I think this changes things vis-s-vis this discussion, no? I guess that’s another question (maybe already addressed above?)

Chris

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Chris, I said "striving for virtuousity" because I meant more than just trying to play well. Don’t go insinuating that I said anything about nobody caring how they play.

I’m with Kerri on this. When someone puts on the airs and mannerisms and ego of a "performer" (as in, "Listen to me play—I’m a rock star!") at a session, in my experience the casual, informal, friendly, crack-inducing, good times soon go out the door.

Yes, you can have your textbook definitions. I’ll stick to mine, thanks.

Jack, heh, Nevin’s line only applies to mailbox struts in January. This _is_ Montana, after all. (A biker friend of mine brags that he has a tatoo in an interesting place. Sometimes it reads "Shorty’s." And sometimes it reads "Shorty’s Bar and Grill on the Beach at Point Reyes." 🙂

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Yep, getting paid to lead a session would definitely make it feel like more of a paid gig, a performance, all right. Which is one reason I don’t take pay to run our local sesh.

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Gotta run…this _is_ a worthwhile discussion, but we might get further if we quit playing semantics and thought more about the actual similarities and differences between a non-performance oriented session and a paid, miked, staged, rehearsed gig.

Check on youse all later….

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Chris, I mentioned in a different thread that we seem to be coming from different backgrounds with our session experiences and then we lump them together as if we were all talking about the same thing. I think it’s an inherent problem with this format. There seems to be a negative stigma about the idea of a session being a "performance" for some folks here. People are using the term to either support or dismiss concepts and ideas that come up and it also seems to be used in an effort to gain a higher moral ground – and that doesn’t seem to promote a mutual understanding very well IMHO. My hopes in starting this thread were to air it out and hopefully come to an agreement as a group so the word won’t be used as a weapon. I think the term is given far more significance than it merits, and it seems to divide folks into "us vs. them" mentalities.

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Thanks, Jack. I see the problem.

Will and Kerri -

This started to feel awefully personal toward the end - sorry if something about my tone or whatever caused this.

Around here, you really can’t have a public session that isn’t paid. Unless maybe it’s a beginners session not in a pub. Although there isn’t a trad musician’s union to speak of, there is an unspoken code - including don’t do a session for less than x. This may detract from the whole thing for some, but I don’t see it that way. The flip side is that there are tons of great musicians around all the time. And we do get together and have sessions where no one gets paid every once in a while! (But always in a pub that regularly supports the music.) I guess this (Boston) is the big market. Please take my comments in this context and take no offense!

Chris

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I never get offended. All of my comments should be presumed to be peppered with smiley faces all the time. The "fine, you win" was just a begrudging bit of aknowledgement that the strength of my convictions has been slightly altered by the conversation, which, if you have ever argued with me, you would realize is a spectacular achievement. I *do* feel more pressured to "perform" when I am going home with a pocket full of cash at the end of a "session", so the line is a little more blurry than I could bring myself to admit at the start.

:^) ;^D :^)

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That’s the real problem with you lot—every time we get a flaming argument going, someone has to go all warm and fuzzy, apologizing, and such. And Kerri, going turncoat on me like that….
🙂 🙂 🙂
Just kidding!

Seriosuly though, the discussion might actually get somewhere if we can agree that the word "performance" means different things to different people (my Webster’s lists 11 distinct definitions), and depends also on the context.

I wasn’t trying to gain any moral ground in my arguments, just pointing out that my sense of what makes a cracking session tends to lean away from most aspects of a more formal performance. Like Kerri said, when I’m playing in a session, I enjoy the freedom to go to the bar, or have a conversation with a friend who’s just come in the door, or simply put down my fiddle and just drink for a spell. once in a great while I enjoy being able to wig out on a tune and try something crazy, just to see if it works, even if it does cause a train wreck. Things I would never consider doing in a performance. Things that most audience members would consider rude, or at least bizarre behavior.

Yes, sessions that are colored more like gigs *can* be fun—for the stars, the core players. Been there, done that. The less experienced players tend to grouse about it behind your back afterward. They don’t get to play much. I’m not saying I never enjoy playing to the crowd, or launching into well-polished, pre-arranged sets, but I prefer more inclusive sessions, even if it dilutes the quality of the music a little.

Chris - your points about playing in Boston are well taken. I understand why the big sessions have paid leaders. And I appreciate the desire to maintain a very high caliber of music. I’ve been to sessions in D.C., Philly (years ago), Portland OR, Vancouver BC, etc. Yes, here in Helena, Montana, circumstances are different. Most of the time, our session has an undercurrent of player development. There are about four core players, and it’s not unusual for only two of them to sit in on any given night. If we want our session to grow and improve, we necessarily have to encourage participation, share our knowledge, and generally help people along. Frankly, I find this at least as enjoyable (for different reasons) as an All-Star session going at 90 all night.

And when we’ve had top-tier players sit in with us (well-known names passing through on tour), to a person they’ve crowed about how great it is to find a top-flight session in the middle of no where. Great tunes, a core of good players, and incredibly friendly and down to earth. Perfect? Far from it. But a different, more relaxed beast from the ones I’ve seen in bigger markets.

Kerri, I agree that the line between session and performance is blurry. But because I spend a lot of energy encouraging newbies to join in, I work hard to minimize the performance aspects. I’ve found that the less like a performance it feels, the more comfortable people are joining in. So it’s a very conscious choice for me, and one I can’t waver on at this point in our session’s life.

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well. omg, you guys really rabble roused the night away didnt you? i went to bed and missed it all. Now I’ll read it back, some anyway, and gain wisdom and insight to aid me in my musical journey through this…..thing we call life

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Veronica—one thing anyone can gain from this discussion is an awareness of how Goffman’s sense of presentation of self or Jack’s "public performance" colors our daily experiences, including playing music in the company of other people. There’s a world of insights in that line of thinking—good stuff to be conscious of as you continue to develop as a musician.

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Main Entry: per·for·mance
Pronunciation: p&(r)-‘for-m&n(t)s
Function: noun
1 a : the execution of an action b : something accomplished : DEED, FEAT

According to that so does eating a sandwich, definitely includes playing in sessions.

2 : the fulfillment of a claim, promise, or request : IMPLEMENTATION

This ones slightly debatable, depends if you care about pleasing anyone besides yourself. There’s two sides to that coin; playing for the audience is one, playing just for the musicians is the other. Any session which is forsakes the idea of entertaining either an audience, the other muso’s or yourself is a farce; right up there with the bogeyman, "modal chords" & the easter bunny.

3 a : the action of representing a character in a play b : a public presentation or exhibition

Well, I guess the only debate here is if a pub is a ‘public place’ seeing as many pubs aren’t run by the gov’t. Let’s face it, people don’t go to sessions to drink beer.

4 a : the ability to perform : EFFICIENCY b : the manner in which a mechanism performs

Hopefully.

5 : the manner of reacting to stimuli : BEHAVIOR

Exactly.

6 : the linguistic behavior of an individual : PAROLE; also : the ability to speak a certain language — compare COMPETENCE 3

Music is the universal language, baby!!

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Whoa, hold on Brad… I don’t go to sessions to drink beer? That’s news to me! Free beer is the whole reason I got into this racket in the first place!

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How about private = home or anywhere that people gather exclusively and public = away from home and anywhere people gather inclusively. Sessions play (‘perform’) in public, for everyone and not for ‘the public’. The bar location was originally just an extension of the smaller kitchen community of the past. As I see it session players play in their community role of providing music for the social atmosphere of the pub of which they are a part and at the same time for their own community of musicians. It certainly isn’t about individual ‘performance’.It’s an older, more intimate relation than that of performer and audience. The music goes back a long way and was meant for dancing and now it creates a great atmosphere for conversation and drinking and getting together.

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Urm… could you put that in laymen’s terms please JNW? I’m missing your point.

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The Canadian judge is giving a relatively low score of 7.5 for clarity, but JNW may just earn back a few points for difficulty on this postulate, putting him/her back in the running…

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Let me rephrase: People don’t go to sessions, for the sole purpose, of drinking beer.

It’s false logic to say a session isn’t a form of a performance. If you belive that a session is in no way, shape, or form a performance than your putting on a little performance of your own.

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So, the session that happened in the green room at 4AM in an empty community center Friday night after the audience went home wasn’t a session any more, or we were "performing" for each other? Or what? The "performance" line falls somewhere in the middle of what we do, not to one side or the other. If you’re going home with a bunch of cash the landlord gave you to entertain his clients, the session stops when the audience goes home, and you’re more concerned about what the punters think than savoring your beer and cracking dirty jokes with your friends, then you have stepped over the line.

When I go to the Monday session, it usually doesn’t start crackling until the "audience" finally clears out. Then we get a few good tunes in - the highlight of the night - then we are kicked out; the last people in the bar, whining and moaning that they don’t stay open late enough despite the fact we’re the only people there. Last Monday my only interaction with "the audience" was shoving a drunk who was trying to get at our beer safely away from the table.

It’s still a session whether anybody’s listening or not, but it isn’t always a performance.

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"A session is usually comprised of the participating musicians, listeners, onlookers and a third group who neither listen nor look. The importance of good listeners positioned around the musicians cannot be overstated as they help to bring the best out of the musicians and make the session a success." - Charlie Lennon

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Please teacher, can I be one of those? A good listener, I mean? Since I don’t know very many tunes yet?
Sara

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

Gee, why’s it so hard to comprehend that a group of friends (and strangers) might get together in a pub or coffee house (or spare meeting room at a library, or park bench) just to play together, with no regard for who else might listen in? My session mates and I play in a pub because it didn’t feel right to be inviting people we didn’t know into each other’s houses for sessions. That problem was solved by agreeing to meet in a public place. A public place also offers the serendipity factor of other musicians stumbling upon the session, which would not likely happen if you always played in your own kitchen (although we once had a wonderful Scottish fiddler fall into our house session—he was selling school books door to door when he rang our doorbell 🙂.

Our particular "pub" wasn’t even open on Tuesday nights until we asked the owners if we could play there. There is no advertising of the session. We sit in an unlit corner, half of us with our backs to anyone else in the room. The tap room would provide free beer even if no punters showed up—in fact, they’ve given us free kegs for our summer house ("private")sessions.

And we have loads of good music and fun.

Our session is no different than a group of neighbors using the hoops at a local park to play a pick-up game of basketball. And our session is as far removed from a performance as that game would be from the NBA big-money spectacle down at your city’s arena.

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"A session…is a gathering of Irish traditional musicians for the purpose of celebrating their common interest in the music by playing it together in a relaxed, informal setting…as an elaborate excuse for getting out of the house and spending an evening with friends over a few pints of beer." (Barry Foy, Field Guide to the Irish Music Session).

"More like a concert or recital then…"
"Wrong again. Although a few solo performances make for a well-rounded evening, the general aim of a session is to get the maximum number of musicians playing together on the maximum number of tunes. In the same way, a session is not an occasion for trotting out carefully wrought arrangements, stunts such as following a hornpipe with a reel and then back into another hornpipe, or breaking from a jig into a slip jig….. Those kinds of things fall into the category of _show biz_, fine for entertaining a paying audience from a great height, but unsuited to sessions, which run on different principles altogether. The session is where the music lives and breathes, where it does its homework, where it flexes its muscles and idly picks its nose. If a musician has a mind to package Irish music for maximum marketability, or polish it to a dazzling sheen, or encase it in amber like some kind of prehistoric gnat, a session is neither the time nor place to do it." (Barry Foy again)

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I’ll note that Kerri and I have not once suggested here that sessions are never performances, only that some sessions aren’t, at least in the minds of the musicians and informed bystanders. Seems odd how insistent some of you have been in correcting us—that all sessions *must* be performances. Yes, they are "happenings," and if that’s all you mean, then so what? But a session need not be a planned exhibition for the purpose of entertaining an audience of non-participants. Ours isn’t.

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New idea for the sandwich board outside Jack’s session/performance:

"That place…is strong with the dark side of the Force. A domain of evil it is. In you must go."

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Our Monday session is not a performance, but the 2 Saturday sessions probably cross the line - the first in the mind of the "audience" (who listen very attentively and sometimes clap and make requests) and the second in the attitude of the landlord, who insists on microphones, and the hosts, who often stand up and sing to the crowd, who are not usually listening. Obviously none of the kitchen / backyard / park / living room sessions are "performances".

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By the way, Will, your session sounds like fun. What a deal! The bar sends free kegs to your house parties? Who’s deep forest did you have to do your business in to get a sweet deal like that?

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This is a perfect example of why many fraternal organizations ban discussion of subjects on which "men (and women) of good will may honorably disagree". (That’s an approximate quote.) The usual list includes religion and politics; I’m not sure which heading this would fall under in the great fraternity of ITM, but apparently one of ‘em. ;)
FOr cat’s sake, o musos of good will, can’t we just agree to disagree and go home and play some music?
Sara

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This conversation’s really rocking! Fiddler on Vermouth, you could be sitting next to me anytime, except I’m way too slow for Monday nights. Wednesday’s my speed. It’d be fun to see if we’d recognize each other. Glad I’m back in the running..!Can’t comment right now because I’m out the door for an evening of more music.

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And likewise, Will, none of us have insisted that sessions have to be "planned exhibition for the purpose of entertaining an audience of non-participants” But you have to admit that the term "public performance" has been used with negative connotations. Case in point, Kerri said: "I personally wouldn’t want to be at a session that the players describe as a ‘public performance.’" Furthermore, you quoted Barry Fox saying: "a session is not an occasion for trotting out carefully wrought arrangements, stunts such as following a hornpipe with a reel and then back into another hornpipe, or breaking from a jig into a slip jig….. Those kinds of things fall into the category of _show biz_, fine for entertaining a paying audience from a great height, but unsuited to sessions" I don’t recall implying any such thing. I don’t recall anyone else defining sessions as “public performances” implying that either. We’re just talking about getting together for some tunes too.

If your basketball pick-up game were held somewhere that people that weren’t playing basketball congregated to talk and have drinks, and some of them watched and enjoyed the game – what would that be? If you have a gathering of friends in a house away from the public and you’re playing tunes together… then maybe that wouldn’t be a “public performance” even though you’re still performing (playing) the tunes… or would it? If you were to suddenly get up and strip your clothes off, people might say to you, “Will, you shouldn’t do that in public – wait till you get home for feck’s sake!”

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Geez… I typed that in respose to Will, posted it, and now it’s a mile away.

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It’s true, I wouldn’t want to have a session with a group whose sole purpose was "performing in public", because somebody has to pay me for that kind of thing. I realize some people who don’t do many "gigs" might be getting some kind of kick or buzz from the "public" aspect of my sessions, but it’s immaterial to me. Irritating, even. I try to ignore it as much as possible. It’s a hot button for me because calling a session the same thing I call my gigs means most of the time I am *working for free*, which I am deeply morally opposed to and haven’t EVER done (as a musician), even when I really stunk (with the exception of a few open mics and benefit concerts).

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Kerri, it blew me away the first time we did a big house session, during the holidays, and I went into the brewery to buy a couple of kegs. They wouldn’t take my money—insisted on providing the kegs for free, gave us our choice of ales, porters, and stouts. It’s been that way ever since. The owners chalk it up to all of us contributing to our community. I’ll drink to that!

I’ll be the first to admit that our local session may not stand up to the standards of some our esteemed members here. But we are capable of playing fine music on par with what’s heard at good sessions in the major centers of Irish trad. The difference is that we sometimes choose not to dwell on the quality of the sound, preferring instead to just kick back and have fun. Again, like a potluck. The food just has to be decent, not gourmet. Nobody complains when the cooks knock themselves out and the food’s spectacular, but in the end, company and conversation’s more important.

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Care to plug the brewery? I’ll buy a case out of respect if they sell it up here… (although it sounds doubtful…)

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Jack, I use "public performance" to mean something more formal than just a "happening" or a "playing" of tunes. I’m using it to mean entertainment, along the lines of a show or concert. As I understand it, you’re using "public performance" to mean a "happening in a public place." Obviously, by your definition, a session in a pub would be a "public performance." But not all such sessions meet my definition.

While I’ve had fun at some sessions that were more akin to shows or concerts, I’ve also seen people have a miserable time at them because they relegate less experienced players to the peanut gallery, waiting for hours for a tune they know, at a speed they can muster.

In our local session, "performance" does indeed have a negative connotation—some of our less experienced players won’t play if they sense that there is pressure to perform to some standard higher than what we typically maintain for our very relaxed, informal, just-us-friends-here session.

I quoted Barry Foy only because you quoted Mr. Lennon (btw, your authority figure towers over mine, so I’ll grant you points for that cheap debate tactic 🙂.

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Kerri, I’m not free to advertise it. Go look up the session in Helena and you’ll get the name. As far as I know, they don’t yet dirstribute outside of Montana. Their porter is screaming, as is their stout, and they do an assortment of seasonal bocks that are very tasty as well.

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Will, I didn’t intend it as a tactic, but rather as a quote from someone we all respect that could help us define the subject. So I guess we can all agree that even though sessions are usually "public performances" it doesn’t mean they have to be "shows" and in fact trying to make them so is not in keeping with the spirit that we all agree a session should be. Also, not all sessions are alike, but that doesn’t make one morally better or more correct that the other. And whenever we visit sessions that are in other places we shouldn’t judge them by our home standards, but instead decide whether or not we would enjoy participating in them. OK… Group hug.

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He would have told me then about the different sessions that were going on. It was kind of a different scene — there was no such thing as playing for money or anything like that. There wasn’t a lot of music at pubs, either. It was just in these little clubs where we got together just for the sake of playing. At the time, Matt Molloy was going to the college there and Mary Bergin and other people of that age group were around — Sean Keane, James Keane, and the like. That was about the bulk of that age group. Then there was the older generation, like John Egan, John Kelly, Des O’Connor and Tom Mulligan. Leo Rowsome was teaching at the time in the Piper’s Club, so he would often be there on a Saturday night. There were some great old characters around. They were wonderful people and you were safe in their hands.

- Tommy Peoples

Our way of life is different. People pick it up through hearing tapes and such, and that’s the way it is — the process has changed. The one downside is that they don’t get to know musicians because they don’t get a chance to talk to them. You can’t divorce the two of them — that’s the big pity for me, because part of the mystique of John Doherty wasn’t just the way he played the fiddle, it was talking to him. It was the man, it was having fun and having a bit of craic. Part of John Kelly’s mystique was that he had an incredible sense of humor, so you would spend a lot of time in these people’s company and you mightn’t play a tune. You could be there for hours and never even think of playing, you’d just be having a bit of fun, and that’s a very, very important part of the whole operation.

- Paddy Glackin

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Fun is the foundation of any session I choose to participate in, but I’m afraid the paid session isn’t going to go away anytime soon. In my case, getting paid doesn’t take away from the fun — they couldn’t pay me enough if I didn’t think it was fun.

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I hope the paid session doesn’t go away, personally, because they help me eat, but the sessions where I have the most fun are the ones described in the above quotes (hopefully trumping the other two quotes). Judges?

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Or maybe all our quotes just illustrate that even the masters don’t agree on the subject.

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Dow’s post (quoted below)sums up 90% of the sessions I’ve been to (Doesn’t really answer the question though. Does it matter?):

"They must come into the pub, see the session happening and think "oooh, a live show specially for us, and we don’t even have to pay to see it - how nice!" As for the landlord, well any live music is a public show for him/her. He/she gets more customers and more money, and he/she doesn’t necessarily have to pay the musicians: "oooh, a live show specially for my pub, and I don’t even have to pay to put it on, ‘part from maybe a few beers - how nice!". Meanwhile the musicians are thinking "oooh, we get to play whatever tunes we like because we’re not expected to put on some sort of show for an audience, and we get a few free beers - how nice!""

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Now we’re quoting ourselves! This has gotten out of hand!

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I suppose you think you’re getting the last word?

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Yes.

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Maybe. Maybe not….

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Actually, I agree 100 percent with Jack’s wrap up in his last…er, well his final…I mean, his previous post 🙂 I never meant to imply that a non-gigging session was superior to any other kind. Just that I prefer them, sometimes, because they tend to be more inclusive. I like seeing all sorts of people participate, whether or not they’re the best Irish trad musos in the room. And circumstances dictate that’s how we run our local, hinterland sesh. I wouldn’t use the word "performance" to describe our session, but that’s just my choice.

Agreed too that being paid to run a session can be a good thing, both an important source of income for a muso or two, and a real asset to a session in keeping it going well.

Kerri—great quotes. Where did you find them? I’ve seen the Tommy Peoples one before, I think, but not Paddy Glackin’s.

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Speaking of Tommy’s quote… One thing I always enjoyed doing when I was visiting Ireland was going to Tommy’s session that he was paid to host. First in Ennistymon, and then latter in Cruises, after mass on Sunday in Ennis, and later over in Tula in Linnanne’s. 🙂

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Morning everyone! (Well, afternoon)…
I’d just like to say that "I win". I claim the moral high ground because I’ve been to sleep on this and when I woke up I still knew how right I was. I’m a bit disappointed in Will and Kerri for stooping to Jack’s level by using quotes to back up our side, like we even need it! Quoting me alongside the likes of Tommy Peoples was okay though 😉

It seems the debate has changed its angle slightly from yesterday. Now people are saying that some sessions are performances and some aren’t. Whilst I hate to compromise like that, I’d probably have to agree. I’m afraid life’s too short to be spending any time at the "performance" sessions though. I go to play tunes with my mates, but mostly I go to drink beer with my mates. The tunes are secondary to getting off my tits.

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I’m still here, gleaning. I said the least and lastest the longest, so I must be the wisest.

This thread is all about winning, right?

…now everybody be nice and DONT POST ANYTHING ELSE……go away..go find another thread……..

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It’s been an interesting debate. But the thing that has shocked me most is how many session players there are out there who are wrong 😉

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Urm… just for the record… I’ve never been to one of them "performance" sessions that Dow just mentioned or like Will or Kerri were talking about. I’ve never been to one that’s a "show" either — they don’t sound too fun. Well… that just about wraps it up I’d say, it’s been a "win win" sort of discussion I’d say. Well… all except Dow who still has to play an english-system push-fiddle. Sorry Dow, don’t fret, you’ll get a real concertina some day — I’m sure of it.

😀 hahahahahaha

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Jack I think you should know that the Low Caste Frowned-upon Brotherhood now organises lynchings of persistent anglo offenders, preceded by days of excruciating torture to the genital area. So I’d watch yourself if I were you. You think you’re safe in your cosy little San Franciscan hippie world, but the Brotherhood are everywhere 🙂

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is everywhere.

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Zina! Is this the longest thread ever on the site?? I think it just may well be. Congrats Jack -the longest thread ever and still just talking in circles…..so who won then?? Just for the record - I’m a 100% on Dow, FOV and Will’s side. Couldnt give a toss about punters as long as I get beer.
Having said that - loud, annoying punters really irritate me - not because I want them to listen and respect the music, but because I cant hear myself. If there were two chaps having a conversationa at the bar I wouldnt go sit next to them and start loudly talking over them to Dow, just common senser really…. unless of course they were bodhran players🙂

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Could someone please explain to me what the "sides" are? It has become very fuzzy, and my hunch is that we all agree for the most part. And I don’t understand the "win" and "loose" part either. Help! :-\

Dow, you don’t have to answer, I don’t want you to hurt yourself or any innocent bystanders that might happen to be nearby. 😀

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‘is a session a public performance’?? No - it is an excuse for me and Dow to get free drinks. that is all. Therefore we win🙂 Simple - whew and it took you guys 185 posts to work out what I already knew in just one🙂

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Indeed. Who would care to synopse this discussion, by, say, categorizing the camps or sides? Brave soul if you do you will be drawn into the vortex and we’ll get another 180 posts.
no I think it’s a flogged horse. I still think facing in a circle is a session, facing out is a performance. Hah imagine a session where everyone faced out, like the spokes of a wheel.. on a rotating stage ..

hey, jus for fun, for Guiness’ sake, not th beer but the statistics keeper, lets just always post here.. no new threads, just l-e-n-g-t-h-e-n this one forever and ever……

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CRASH!!! KA-BOOM!!!
(Jack’s name dropping flattened us all 🙂

Veronica, our band rehearsed like that once, all sitting facing out, with our backs to each other. So we had to listen to each other, rather than rely on visual cues. It was our guitarist’s idea. We only did it once. We couldn’t play because we were laughing so hard….

We should start a new thread for Jack: "Discussion threads ARE competitions?"
:-|

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Jeremy’s the boy to ask about the number of posts, Beebs, not me, but it seems to me that we’ve gone well over 190 or so before a couple of times. Can’t remember if we’ve ever gone over 200. Admittedly, I believe that one of those was the time we decided that we needed to make the thread as long as we could just because we could. I think Kerri may have started a thread that went over 190, once back in the misty days of yore.

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I bet this is the longest thread before a successful hijacking….

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And maybe the largest in terms of word count….

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And possibly the least productive….
🙂

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LOL

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Oh, and how about "most posts in an argumentative thread without Jeremy giving anyone the boot"? Dow, you still with us?

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"LOL" - Is that all you have to say, Zina? Is that how you’ve tallied such an astronomical number of posts?
🙂

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Hahaha Beebs you crack me up! I’ve been waiting for you to come and set the performers straight. If I thought I had to perform in sessions I wouldn’t go, full stop. I’ve had to perform in concerts before and I hated it. That’s why I like trad. It’s about going to the pub with your mates, and getting drunk whilst playing tunes. It really is that simple. The punters are invisible to me, especially when I’m in the zone and concentrating on my playing, and listening to the other musos (this happens at the start of the evening and then my concentration deteriorates). In fact when someone comes up and taps one of the players on the shoulder and says "thanks we really enjoyed that", it’s like "wow, where did you come from? You were actually listening".

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I guess Charlie has it all wrong then eh? Maybe you guys should write him and set him straight.

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Naw, Charlie has it right for the session he goes to. Or the types of sessions he prefers.
But some of the rest of us truly do not pay any heed to the punters. Like Mark, I’ve had that "wow, where did you come from" shock too, amazed that anyone else was in the room, let alone listening. Not at every session mind you, but it’s magical when you’re unaware of anything but the music.

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Okay, here’s post 200. Who wants to break 200? Post away! Jack? It’s you’re thread…

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Me, I win.

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Will said, "it’s magical when you’re unaware of anything but the music." I think that might be part of what fascinates the punters who are listening, Will. Or are they ruining the session by behaving like an audience? Bad punter, bad punter!

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No, I’ve tallied more posts than anyone by talking more than anyone else, plain and simple. 🙂

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The punters can be fascinated or unfascinated. I don’t care as long as they shut up so I can hear Beebs’s lovely fiddle playing 🙂 If they behave like an audience and clap and shout hurrah then that either shows that the music is so good they can’t help themselves, or that they think we’re going to get huffy and stop playing if nobody shows their appreciation. That just has to do with how the punters perceive what is going on in the room. Nothing to do with me though…

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Now I come to think of it, punters probably think me a bit rude. Whenever someone thanks us as they go out the door there’s always a moment of awkwardness as Beebs and I are thinking "did you _really_ enjoy it or are you just saying that because you think it’s expected of you and you’re feeling guilty for getting free entertainment", and I always acknowledge it but I’m sure I must always look slightly shocked. I know that if I treated the session more like a performance then it would involve punters more and the atmosphere might be different, but there’s always that worry that if you actively involve them then they’ll start making requests, and then you feel bad for being nice to them at first and then telling them to fack off…

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It has everything to do with you, Dow. You ARE the show, they’re probably just fascinated that you can get anything that even sounds remotely Irish out of that english-system contraption. 😀

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Is this you finally admitting that you can get something that sounds Irish out of an EC Jack?

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I don’t care if someone wants to act like an audience, although if I had my druthers, there wouldn’t be applause, except maybe for the singers. Lots of times, we don’t get applause cuz no one’s paying attention ("good punters, good punters" 🙂

The problems arise (sometimes) when the musos treat the punters like an audience. Now we’re back to the top of this thread, so just start reading there again—it’ll save you waiting for the whole page to re-load. 🙂

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Even worse problems arise when a muso decides to treat the other musos as an audience 🙁

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Agreed.

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We will often get applause from the punters that come in specifically to participate as listeners and enjoyers of the music. They not only encourage us, but they ply us with drink as well. It’s a beautiful relationship. (wipes away tear) *snif snif*

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Or as competitors….

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I think you might have touched on what make other musos uncomfortable and fidgety when they don’t know the tune, Will — they feel like they’re being forced into the punter’s position. Then they’re compelled to… yes… that’s right… NOODLE! 😀

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Oh, we get applause too, but *for me* it kinda interrupts the flow. It’s like the "punter shock" Dow mentioned above—"Huh? There’s somebody else in the room?" every time a set rounds off to a close. I like it when punters listen surreptitiously. Covert punters. Maybe even camouflaged to blend in with the oak and brass and neon Guinness signs.

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It’s late…I’m getting weird images of musos sitting around a circle, only two of them actually playing a tune, the rest sitting with their instruments mute in their laps, and rigatoni spiraling out of their backsides into heaps on the floor, little pasta machines, noodling away….

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People who come in specifically to participate as listeners… hmm I like people like that. But then I wouldn’t even consider them as "audience to perform to", I’d consider them as part of the session, cuz they’re adding to the craic and buying drinks. The trad world needs more people like that!

Now, musos "performing" in front of other musos is a whole ‘nother thread that we’ve gone over before. I think that type of performance can be a lot more destructive to a session than performing for punters who supposedly lift your playing as outlined by Charlie Lennon. The only thing that ever lifts my playing is a lining of guinness in my stomach, and interaction with other musos. SirNose and I call this "dolphining", when you get in the zone and mindread another muso and do the same stuff, e.g. chords/variations. I think we called it dolphining because SirNose had been watching a documentary about how you can tell 2 dolphins to perform certain tricks and they’ll go off and do it and synchronise with each other, but you can also tell them to "be creative", and they’ll go off and do some radge stuff and then all of a sudden, they start synchronising their improvised stuff. How cool is that?! Maybe that should have gone in a new thread. Ah well…

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I include the punters in our sessions if they want to join in the fun, ask Zina. The night she was there we were having a brilliant slagging fest with the boys at the bar — it was great craic! They would cheer us on and insult us in the same breath… pure genius. Our sides were aching. We and the punters were buying each other rounds all night and we all got so pissed out of our heads that we had to get take-away pizza from next door and stuff our gobs till we could see straight again. The punters still tell me that was one of the most brilliant sessions ever. You guys should really give it a try instead of ignoring them like that.

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Our session’s so full of people and noisy that you can’t even see the bar, let alone talk to people sitting at it. Last week - and this is the god’s honest truth - I couldn’t hear the uilleann pipes at the other side of the table.

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Most of us here in the States don’t have the same quality punters as you do, Jack — the Plough is kind of unique that way. I can’t see any of our punters slagging us with gusto as yours do, that’s for sure, they’d be appalled at the thought! 🙂 We might have the odd Irish accent at the bar, but rarely to never would we have ‘em all lined up in a row like you do. You can’t go judging sessions all over the world by Plough standards.

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So Dow… punters are now part of the session so you don’t have to acknowledge that you’re being listened to thus the session isn’t a "public performance"? My God! You are really reaching.

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BTW, I just saw a t-shirt that I have to buy, even if I’ll never have the nerve to wear it into a session as a joke: "Yes, it IS all about me. Get over it."

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Yeah, anyone who buys me drinks can be in my gang 🙂

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Zina, I’m not "judging sessions all over the world by Plough standards." Jayzus, I’m just giving you an example of what we do here. If your punters aren’t like that, that’s cool. I’m sure they have their own qualities.

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It’s a fine line though Jack. Over here most of the punters are clueless like I said, so I/we ignore them. However, you do get the odd one or two who are clued up. And they _always_ turn out to be either really good singers, or tune players who simply haven’t brought their instruments with them. I’d like to go to your session Jack, on 2 conditions: 1) I don’t have to perform for anyone, and 2) you don’t use your bellows when you play your anglo 🙂

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Guys, this thread is a *monster*, LOL

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Dow, you don’t have to perform for anyone at our sessions, we play for our own amusement — the punters find that to be very entertaining.

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I’m thinking again, the lights have blown. Maybe this has to do with the concepts of "in-group" and "out-group". I mean, it’s interesting that Jack said he "included" those punters. That presumably means that if one of them asked to sing a song then Jack and his mates would’ve said "yes". And the young crowd of ravers at the other end of the bar who’ve been making a din all night: would Jack let them sing a song if one of them staggered over and made a request?

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If someone asks if they can sing a song, we let them, of course. If they try to disrupt the session with their song — then we have a problem. This has only happened once to my knowledge and the barman escorted the offender to the door.

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By the way Dow, we have an arrangement with the publican that if the pub gets too noisy for the session — we pack up — no regrets — no resentment.

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With only one session a week, I couldn’t bear to pack up when the pub gets too noisy - it would mean we’d only get about an hour’s playing in. That’d be like the musical equivalent of premature ejaculation (not that I know what that’s like or anything). Oh dear, reading through this thread I’ve just realised that most of the references to drugs, sex and adult themes are in my posts. This thread is rated "M" for mature audiences!

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

If the noise is chronic, Dow, it might be time to look for a new pub… or change the time of the session.

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

Yeah definitely. But it really is easier said than done in Sydney. We’re unwanted and outcast by everyone. And no, before you make some smart-arsed comment, it’s nothing to do with the fact I’m carrying an English concertina 🙂

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

We get punter participation here in Helena—slagging, a song or two, sometimes dancing. They don’t buy us drinks cuz we get ‘em for free anyway. Oh, it’s prolly not the high caliber punters like at the Plough and Stars, but we hold our own. And we don’t ignore the good punters, Jack, just the ones who’re ignoring us or being too audience-ish. 🙂

Sessions, for all their similarities, are different everywhere you go. They tend to take on the personalities and purposes of the people in them. Some are good and some aren’t so good—not so fun. But if a participant-driven session gives those people what they want out of it, then they’re probably on the right track.

Posted .

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

Don’t get so defensive Dow, I realize it’s not because of your english concertina. It’s because you don’t play anglo system. 😀 hahahaha

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

We’ve spent at least the last dozen threads talking about a session entity that consists of those who are entertained by the public performance of the anti-public performance session, by the way. 😉

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

I mean dozen entries, not threads.

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

No! They’re entertained as an incidental consequence of our playing for our own pleasure. Like I said, whoopee-doo for them, and again we have a rewind back to halfway down the thread. I still think the idea of public performance is a rather sick one when it comes to trad sessions. Definitely *very* impure. Youse should have your mouths rinsed out with soap and water, and your anglos while you’re at it. Put a bit of wood-and-metal-eating acid in the mixture too 🙂

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

Finally got back to this discussion. Am still recovering from last night’s fun in Maghera. We had a cracker of a session and the audience were very appreciative - applause for most of the sets. A couple of punters at the bar stood sipping their pintsn and listened intently to the tunes all night.

I find it hard to believe, Dow, that you wouldn’t give a scheidt for these guys. Their active listening to the tunes adds an element of satisfaction for the musician. Making the musical connection with another person is part of my love for the music.

In the session I am performing and it’s in public. Surely that makes it a public performance??

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

Did I get the last word? :~)

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

Sorry Breandan…

Are there implications to "public performance" for any of you such as ASCAP, union membership required, etc? Could it be that it’s best not to mention it, even if you think that’s what you do?

Posted by .

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

What have I leaned from this thread? To mention "public performance" in the context of ITM sessions in here is like bringing up child molestation at a Michael Jackson Fan Club meeting.

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

I read through this discussion and had all kinds of things to say but by the time i get to the end here I’ve lost my comment…. I think at this point the more interesting discussion is regarding the medium rather than the message. Don’t you agree?

So , to breifly conclude,by somewhere around post 100 the arguements were pretty much in favour of the "yes sessions are performances" camp. But then Dow got back on (he arrives late, you see, and stirs everything up) and rah! rah! rah’d for the "nay" camp.

By the way: "Yea" for ‘nay’, I say.

But now we have Breanden’s recent prodigal return, to inspire us to undertake another round of "Sessions ARE indeed performances."

Sometimes I think musicians just like to talk!
(thats a joke) Seriously: I find it very interesting to "talk" to musicians, and this may be the only place to do that. Generally I find musicians Don’t talk, we just play, and sometimes we grunt.

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

Ungh?

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

gnoff griff grumnc

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

Hehehe you windup merchants. I was actually about to reply to Breandan’s post, but I won’t. I’m going to arrogantly rise above it in the full knowledge that I’m completely right, and that there’s no need to argue about it because the people who are wrong will never truly see the error of their ways and I should just feel pity for them rather than try and help them. For the same reason, I’m not even going to bother trying to help lowly anglo players see the light. I must be wasting my time otherwise they wouldn’t have started on anglo in the first place 🙂

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

Ah, it’s the lofty approach — it must be wakeup time down under…!

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

Zina, I think this is Dow’s way of admitting defeat… shhhhhh… 😉

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

So, Dow, will I hear you shout, "But it isn’t a performance!" after every flubbed note this afternoon?

See you there 😀

Posted by .

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

Actually, I probably won’t a) because I’ve never actually heard you flub a note and b) if it’s anything like last week, you could be singing Verdi’s Aida and I wouldn’t actually know.

Posted by .

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

The Session God is not smiling on us - it was worse than last week 8>l

Posted by .

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

Oh, thank god. It’s finally over. YOU try reading the last (*thinking*) 150 posts after four Stanley Cup Playoff pitchers, a Quebecoise kitchen party and a bottle of Jamieson and tell me whether sessions are public performances or not. Who cares?

Ridiculously belated answer to your question, Will "Where did you get those quotes". Google.com, "Tommy Peoples", interview. Search. "John Doherty", interview", Search. Just picked my two favorite guys.

Sorry this took so long. Been shutting up and doing all weekend and haven’t had time to talk.

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

By the way - Last word? Yes.

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

Glad to see that I am officially in the wrong!! :0) Been a while.

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what the shneck.. I’ll bite > last word is mine

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Okay we’ll let you have the last word!

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

so shutup an give it to me

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Is there any beer left?

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That’s cruel Jack, I was all set to let vboyd100 have the last word and you went and ruined it.

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Dow, I think that last crack was definately a "public performance". 😀

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

I’m still watching, people. You can’t win. I’ll come back in a year after everyone has forgotten about this thread to get the last word if I have to.

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

DOG PILE!!!!!!!!!

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

I’ll just quietly watch and wait, maniacally rubbing my hands together… soon, soon I will prevail.

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

How will you know you have prevailed?

Posted by .

To prevail, or not to prevail…

That is the question.

Whomever has the patience to wait for this page to reload will prevail.

How sneaky!

Caught…

Trying to disguise your last word by changing the subject! I am too clever for infantile ploys like that! mwahahahahaha!

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

I vote that we leave that last post by fov be the last word.

Posted by .

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

I second the vote, but you know as soon as Dow rubs the buggers from his eyes he’ll have his grubby paws all over this. 😀

Go Flames, Go!

Post here if you love the Flames!

Posted by .

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

Who’re "the Flames"?

*ducking*

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

You mean "Feet of Flames"?

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

the game is on now…40 minutes in. I will bet anyone five dollars that flames will win…but you gotta post purty dam quik..

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

GO FLAMES GO! I have a dilemma - watch the game or go to the session? So torn…

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

OH, they’re, like, a sports team? Are they like the Avalanche?

*smirk*

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

I say go to the session.

Spare us the honking

I say burn your
anglo 🙂

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

oh well.. anyway most a them tampa bay players are canadians,, so we still won.. hahaha

(yes,I am all about winning! winning, winning……)

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

Oh man, city-wide depression tomorrow. Know any dirges?

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Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

oh dear, so sorry grego

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

Tell me about it, greg. Glad I chose the session instead. By the time I got the news I was too drunk to care. We should talk to Jeremy about having a "dirge" section in the tunes so we can express our misery.

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

Yes.

Posted by .

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

Word.

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

What do you call that thing the cobbler puts the shoe on when he’s working on it?

Posted by .

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

I don’t know greg, what?

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

It’s the "last" word.

Posted by .

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

Is the need for getting in the last word some sort of public performance? I think we should be told [by Jack, presumably]

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

agreed.

Posted by .

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

Yes

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

No
🙂

Posted .

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

They asked me, not you Will. *smirk*

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

Will youse just let this thread die please? 🙂

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

Ok Dow, whatever you say.

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

Sure, sorry.

Posted by .

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

So did you get my answer grego? It was "yes". So… there’s nothing more to see here… please move along.

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

k

Posted by .

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

the last is the shoemakers anvil, daily plodding life turnedupsidedown, a tribute to man’s technolgy.

the Flames went down, uh, ..LAST.. night

good threads never die

I feel it’s never too late to posthere, as I am certain the diehards will check…..

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

5 to go, and we’ll hit 300!

Oh, now it’s 4…

Posted by .

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

Jack, only Breandan asked, not a plurality of posters, and he only *presumed* that you should answer. That leaves the door wide open in my book.

See, we can argue about any and everything….
😉

Posted .

Re: Postings ARE public performances?

It depends on which door it is that you refer to, Will. The "door" to this thread of course was opened by yours truly, which is why the assumption was correct. grego was merely stating the obvious with what was essentially a rhetorical question. Furthermore, we can clearly see that the endeavor to post the final word on this thread is indeed a "public performance" since the final poster seeks to be recognized by the "public" as "performing" the ultimate post.

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

But Jack, you opened the door by asking the question, not answering it, and the rest of us came to your rescue by providing all sorts of enlightening, illuminating, edifying (and wholly valid, accurate, and correct) answers.

Um…are we over 300 yet? Can we stop now?

Posted .

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

Jack, that should read "performing the Last Post."

Where’s me bugle?

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Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

You’re absolutely right Will. So, to conclude, in light of all the brilliant and thoughtful contributions from the distinguished constituency of this fine website, I hereby declare that sessions in pubs are indeed “public performances.” I would like to thank everyone for their assistance in resolving this query, especially those of you who at first didn’t agree, but then came around to the obvious correct conclusion. Some of you have shown courage in your propensity to accept the fact that you were wrong, and you should be commended for this. I would like to add that I am very honored to be associated with all of you and this outstanding ITM discussion facility. This discussion has now officially fulfilled it’s purpose and will no longer need any further comment. Again, from the bottom of my heart – I thank you.

😀 hahahahahahaha naa naa naa naaaaa naaaaaaaaa

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

*UNofficially*, though, feel free to annoy Jack by continuing to post as much as you like. *grin*

See ya tonight, Jack! Just got done with the dress and now must go pack!

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

I can’t wait to see it Zina… wear it tonight ok!

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

LOL — not a dress for ME…it would look pretty damn funny, me wandering through the airport and into the Plough wearing a stepdancer’s team costume for a girl aged about 11.

Sorry, it wouldn’t matter WHO I was seeing, I wouldn’t kill myself staying up all hours sewing a dress if it was just for me! 🙂

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

It might turn some heads though. 😉

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

…and it would *definitely* be a public performance….

Posted .

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

Actually, what this thread did for me was help clarify some of the pitfalls and shortcomings of the "performance" show-biz, gigging mindset. Which encourages me even more to avoid that mindset when I’m playing in a session. Thanks Jack.

Posted .

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

LOL — Will, I could charge to let people *out*…!

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

Excellent point Will. More awareness, better clarity — always a good thing. But don’t ignore the listners — they can contribute something too. If you ignore them, you might as well just keep the session at home behind closed doors and away from the public.

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

Here we go again.

I do sometimes ignore the other people in the pub. But mostly when they’re essentially ignoring the music, which is a lot of the time. Let’s face it, most people in Helena, Montana, come to our pub on a Tuesday night to drink, not get an earful of diddly-eiddly. For them, the music is just part of the ambience, not the focal point. Of course, some punters are there for the tunes and craic, and sometimes they participate (last Tuesday four of them danced a bunch, and one sang a nice version of the Blackbird). And it’s always nice to exchange winks, nods, smiles, etc. So in those cases, I’m not ignoring them, but neither are they the reason I’m there. Is their encouragement welcome? Sure (if we’re deserving 🙂. Do they add to the session? You bet. I think of them as participants though, not an audience. And just like everyone else at our session, sometimes they don’t show up. And the session goes on anyway. The point of holding the session in a public place isn’t to entertain anyone, but to allow the session to be open to broader participation than it would be in a private home.

It’s not a public performance, but it is public participation.

Posted .

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

But I do that sometimes, too, Jack. 🙂

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

Right, I think I’m getting it now Will, it’s kind of like bystanders at a car wreck who help out, or ambulance drivers performing their duty. (oops, there’s that word) Ok ok, scratch that… how about like monkeys in a zoo performing their tricks for each other? They would still do it even if no one was there watching, but when the public shows up — they watch their performance… hmmm… ok ok… wait, I got it. It’s like a hidden webcam…

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

What’s that Zina?

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

Um. How about, "it’s just like a session", Jack? Everything doesn’t *have* to have a really good analogy for it, you know. *grin*

I have sessions at my house, of course, away from the public. But the neighbors usually end up listening from their porches anyway.

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

That would be semi-public I guess. Kind of like FoV’s private performance for her dog. 🙂

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

Well, some sessions I’ve been to were a lot like a bunch of monkeys performing CPR at a head-on between the clown car and a busful of hyenas….

Jack, what your elegant pedantry seems to be missing here is that some of us carry the same mindset from a samll, intimate, private house session to our sessions in public venues. Any difference in how we think about playing is negligible.

Taking this a little further, if someone at the house session happens to hear the music while he’s folding laundry in another room, he’s not an audience. And neither are the punters who happen to hear the music while they’re seducing some sweet young thang at the bar or heaping insults on the ref in the game on the telly.

Posted .

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

Are we going for 400 now?

Posted by .

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

Let’s let the words speak for themselves then.

Public:
1. relating to or concerning people as a whole or all members of a community
2. provided for the use of a community
3. open to everyone, and typically frequented by large numbers of people
4. relating to or involving government and governmental agencies rather than private corporations or industry
5. known to large numbers of the community because of being involved in activities such as politics or entertainment
6. made, done, or happening openly, for all to see
7. known or potentially known by all members of a community

n
1.the community as a whole
2.a part of a community sharing a particular interest
3.the fans or followers of a performer or author

***
Performance:
1.a presentation of an artistic work to an audience for example, a play or piece of music
2.the manner in which something or somebody functions, operates, or behaves
3.the effectiveness of the way somebody does his or her job (often used before a noun)
4.a public display of behavior that others find distasteful, for example, an angry outburst that causes embarrassment (informal)
5.something that is carried out or accomplished
6.the performing of something, for example, a task or action
7.the language that a speaker or writer actually produces, as distinct from his or her understanding of the language.

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

Well, since we’re summing up what we’ve learned from this very thorough and informative thread, I’ve learned that *real* session.org contributors will continue to argue long after the audience has gone home, so their motives clearly have nothing to do with public performance.

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

hahahahahahaha…

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

LOL, Kerri. I rest my case.

(Well, maybe one more poke in the eye….)

"1. a presentation of an artistic work to an audience…."

Exactly. Not "performing" in the narrow sense of carrying out or doing something, but _presenting_ it to an _audience_. Precisely NOT what I’m doing when I play in my local session.

Are there sessions that _do_ present the music to an audience. Certainly. Must all sessions function that way? Not at all.

The words do speak for themselves, but you have to keep your ears open to hear what they’re saying.

Posted .

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

Will, at least one, but probably more of the definitions fit what you described you were doing in you sessions. i.e. for "public" #3 #5 #6 and under "n" #2. For "performance" #2 #4 #5 & #6 I rest my case (unless you want to re-write the definitions)

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

But Jack, the definitions don’t necessarily overlap. Language doesn’t work that way. It’s George Carlin’s infamous, "It’s okay to prick your finger, but not finger your…." It’s the same string of letters, but two very distinct meanings, and the context makes the distinction clear. When I talk about a public performance of music, I’m using #6 under public and #1 under performance. You seem intent on willfully disallowing those definitions in this discussion, insisting instead on #6 under performance. That’s your perogative, but it doesn’t advance the discussion, and it certainly doesn’t negate what Dow, Kerri, and I have said from the get-go here.

Which is why I still think this whole thing has been a wind up….

Posted .

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

It’s not a "wind-up" (I’m not sure what that is) Regardless of the definitions you choose, your description of what you do at a session still falls under the definitions I sighted. You can’t exclude meanings just to support your argument. The evidence provided by the definitions proves your session in a pub are a “public performance.” There’s nothing wrong with that – it’s just a fact. ("Pub" is short for "Public House" BTW)

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

Wow. I can’t exclude meanings? So when my buddy says that the Pistons "murdered" the Lakers in game 1 of the playoffs, I have to believe that the Lakers are all dead, cold on slabs at the morgue? Huh.

Jack, you’re falling into preachiness. Yes, I know where the term "pub" comes from. Yes, I can acknowledge that "performance" means all those things. But when it specifically means "a presentation of an artistic work to an audience," then some sessions no longer fit that definition. I know because I’ve participated in them. And when you insist on calling them a public performance, it creates a false image.

Imagine this conversation:

Aspiring actor calls home to his Dad in Chicago. "Dad, I just shot my first pilot!"
Dad: "Hey not so loud! You’d betta be callin’ from a pay phone. Are they tracing dis?"
"No Dad, a tv pilot."
"I don’t care what airline he worked for—"

We exclude meanings all the time, or we’d never be able to communicate (which I think is what’s happening here 🙂.

So does "performance" have negative connotations when applied to a session? For some of us, it can, when it implies the artful presentation of music to an audience. And Mark, Kerri, and I have explained that very carefully and clearly above.

(A wind up is when you start a discussion just to tease someone or get their hackles up—so you can laugh at how gullible they are, BTW.)

Posted .

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

That’s all very cute Will, obviously you can exclude the meanings that don’t pertain to your descriptions — I did that too. But you can’t exclude the ones that fall under the descriptions you provided about your session. It’s like saying something barked at you in the yard. Then when asked for a description, you say it had a snout, floppy ears, four legs and a tail. Then someone might say, "Sounds like a dog." You can’t then tell them that it can’t be a dog because there wasn’t a bun around it.

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

… unless you were in denial about a dog being in the yard I suppose.

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

But it wasn’t a dog at all, it was a bear (I live in Montana). It isn’t my fault you interpreted "snout, floppy ears, four legs, and a tail" to mean something else.

I give up. My descriptions of our local session clearly distinguish it from a stage show, gig, concert, show-biz, or other presentation of art for an audience. Mark and Kerri also gave plain, clear explanations of how and why what they do at a session is markedly different from what they do when giving a performance of music to an audience. You can read it however you want. But you’re only fooling yourself.

Posted .

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

I never said I didn’t play differently when doing a show than when I’m at a session, I’m just calling a spade a spade. The evidence is clear; according to the definition — sessions, especially in pubs, ARE public performances… so what? I have to say I’m amazed at how this fact seems to touch a raw nerve with a few of you… and I’m also amazed that bears in Montana bark. 😀

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

Jack, I’m trying to give you the benefit of the doubt. It’s your insistence on playing dumb about the various accepted connotations of the word performance that’s rubbing the nerve raw.

Saying that all public sessions must be public performances simply because they occur in public and the musicians perform (play, do, accomplish, whatever) music willfully ignores the distinction that some of us are making, based on the *primary* definition of performance (see #1 in your list above).

To wit, performance may mean all the simple things you cite above, but in common usage it clearly also means a presentation of a work of art to an audience. Some of us prefer not to think (1) of what we’re doing as "presenting" anything, nor (2) of the punters as an audience. As a musical performer, I have a responsiblity to entertain my audience. As a session player, I can get up and leave when I want, just sit and drink beer, ignore their requests for tunes, etc. I can play whatever tune pops into my head, for the sheer sake (and joy) of breathing life into the tune—not for anyone’s entertainment. I can choose to NOT rehearse, or worry about being in top form, or playing pre-arranged pieces. I’ve found that this distinction is *critical* for some people, especially less experienced players, and as I said above, it’s important in my small town to encourage a wide range of abilities to participate in our session. Some of them won’t do it if the session smells like a "performance"—like a concert, rather than a musical potluck. In a nutshell, the difference is between being invited to a black-tie-and-jacket formal dinner vs. a come-as-you-are potluck. Some people don’t own a tux and wouldn’t be comfortable in one, no matter how good the food is.

We’ve been over this before, but you seem hell-bent on misunderstanding this. From my end, it feels like you’re ever-ready with another counterpoint rather than genuinely trying to understand a point of view different from your own. And you apparently can’t admit that another point of view on this subject might also be valid.

I’ve played this music for more than 25 years. I’ve played with very knowledgeable, experienced people from the beginning. My opinions aren’t unfounded, and I’ve stated them clearly. What’s so hard to understand?

Posted .

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

P.S. Bears do bark. They also yip, chuff, moan, whine, snuffle, and even occasionally (though not as often as Hollywood would have us believe) growl. Actually, the "floppy ears" were a bit of a stretch….

Posted .

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

Will, I understand what you’re saying; you want the definition of "performance" to be limited to #1 so that you and the folks at your session will be comfortable. In doing this, the problem begins when the word (that you’ve placed limits on) comes up in normal discourse. A case in point is the premise of this very thread. When I used the word in relation to a valid definition of it ("performance" #2 through #6) I’m told I’m "wrong" and I’m "not getting it." Instead of invalidating legitimate definitions, why can’t we expand our awareness to come up with terms that better define what we’re trying to convey? I believe I’ve successfully demonstrated in this thread that telling me I’m "wrong" was in error. Contributors to this thread have agreed that sessions are indeed "public performances" but that sessions aren’t necessarily intended as "shows." I would have thought the discussion would have died at that point, and if someone consequently used the term the way I did they wouldn’t be pigeonholed as a traitor or something. I guess it would have helped if Noam Chomsky could have played ITM and been around to sort it out, but he has more important things to do I’m sure.

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

No Jack, I’ve been watching this discussion carefully and I totally agree 🙂

Re: Sessions ARE public performances?

NO. I’m not trying to limit the definition of performance to only #1.

But I am saying that how we use a word in context carries connotations with it that are more important than a laundry list of dictionary definitions. Most people I run with think of a musical "performance" as something more formal than the mere "doing" of an action. In short, "performance" is synonymous with (cited in order from Rodale Press’s the Synonym Finder) "entertainment, show, production, presentation, premiere, matinee, engagement, appearance, stand, Music: gig, exhibition, exhibit…."

(Sidebar: Similarly the online Roget’s Thesaurus divides the word into it’s different definitions. It gives both:

"Entry: performance
Function: noun
Definition: accomplishment
Synonyms: achievement, act, administration, attainment, carrying out, completion, conduct, consummation, discharge, doing, enforcement, execution, exploit, feat, fruition, fulfillment, pursuance, realization, work
Concept: achievement"

and

"Entry: performance
Function: noun
Definition: entertainment
Synonyms: act, appearance, behavior, Broadway show, burlesque, business, ceremony, concert, custom, cut, display, drama, exhibition, gig, interpretation, offering, opera, pageant, play, portrayal, presentation, production, recital, rehearsal, representation, review, revue, rigmarole, rite, set, show, special, spectacle, stage show, stunt, to-do
Concept: performing action"

So, clearly the synonym you choose depends on the context the word is used in.)

In other words, that’s what comes to mind first for most users of American English. Not a mere "doing." It’s a special form of doing, intended as entertainment for others. And a session does NOT have to be entertainment for others. Some sessions are intended to be entertainment for others. Some aren’t. So some aren’t "performances" in that sense of the word (which is what most people think of first when they hear it, especially regarding a musical performance).

As my Websters says, one sense of a word is not necessarily any better than another. "The best sense is the one that most aptly fits the context of an actual genuine utterance." Given that the prime synonym for "performance" in the field of Music is "gig," I’d say you’re ignoring the all-important context.

Contributors here agreed that sessions are public performances only insofar as they are a "public doing" of music. But that ignores the context around us—we’re musicians. Other people see us as performers even when we aren’t performing. To suggest that we all now adopt a simple "doing" as the gist of what "performance" means in a musical context baldly ignores what most people apparently think of when they hear the word "performance." And when I’m playing in a session, NOT doing a show or gig, not intending to entertain anyone but myself, I don’t want other people to misconstrue the session as some sort of "show" for their benefit.

You wanted to know why this strikes a raw nerve. I think you now have both halves of the answer: It ignores the context of common musical usage, and it casts sessions in the sometimes unwarranted, undesirable glare of a show.

Whew. Do we each get an honorary doctorate for this? Or just a yellow card for Jeremy for wasting bandwidth?
🙂

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LOL, Noam, weclome…I’ve read much of your work. Never pictured you as a "Grumpy old fart who plays sloppy."

Um, but you cryptically left it in the air as to whom or what you agree with….

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Very funny Orson. I’m telling Noam, this could result in a lawsuit. 😀

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As if "Orson" wasn’t also a nom de plume….

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How’s your sis, "Blanche"?
🙂

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This is starting to sound more like that TV game show "Family Feud" where you gain points from having the lowest common denomination of trivial knowledge. So it leads me to this question Will; if you exclude all the other meanings for "performance" except the one you’ve determined to be the "most common," what word would you replace it with to accurately describe what happens when you do the act, execute the task, make happen, carry out, etc. the session in a "public" place? And what other words are on the list are taboo and can only be used with a limited definition in this context?

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It stikes me that the irony of Jack’s position is that if a session is a show, punters (in America at any rate) are less likely to participate, for fear of spoiling the entertainment. The fact that punters do participate again distinguishes the sessions I go to from a more formal performance where "audience participation" typically occurs only when it’s invited by the performer.

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But Will, we have loads of punter participation at our sesh — ask Zina. We also have folks who sing songs, dance, give recitations, and sometimes just slag us from their bar stool. Just because I expand my definition of "performance" beyond the most common definition doesn’t imply that our sessions are any more a "show" than yours, or that we conduct them as such. The only sessions I’ve seen conducted as a "show" was in Gurteen, Co. Sligo, where Noel Tansey (no relation to Seamus) had a microphone for himself and two or three others and he introduced players and tunes to an "audience." It was advertised as a "session" but to me, in that case — it was definitely a show.

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Jack, I’m not saying you can’t call a session a public performance. Go ahead. But if you insist on it, you’ll likely generate no little confusion and consternation in some circles (and amoebic ovalish thingees).

Besides, why does it have to be called anything other than a session? That’s the word I use to describe it. If someone needs more information, I explain how our session works. I often say, "It’s like a potluck, except we bring tunes instead of food." And come to think of it, I frequently tell them that it’s "not a performance or concert…. Just neighbors getting together over some tunes and pints for an evening out." Using those very words. I help them understand that, unlike a formal performance: (1) there’s no admission fee, (2) no one is paid to play, (3) there’s no official start and end time, or intermission, (4) the music may or may not be stellar that night, (5) the roster of musicians is hit or miss on any given night, (6) they’re welcome to join in if they play the tunes or can sing a song, as the spirit strikes them, (7) it’s okay to ignore the music and visit with your neighbors at the bar, (8) we don’t know what we’re going to play that night, and (9) some of us haven’t picked up our instruments since the previous week’s session, and that’s okay. Around here, it’s not unusual for someone to say, "Oh, so it’s not a show." Right. It helps them distinguish it from a band doing pre-rehearsed sets at the bar next door, with a cover charge, and some expectancy of professionalism.

Go ahead, call it a public performance. See where it gets you. I’ll continue calling it a session….

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We,re posting over each other. That’s where the irony comes in Jack—your session is a session, not a show. So some people would likely be confused if you billed it as a public performance and suddenly everyone in the room is singing and dancing. Twilight zone—like they’d entered a participatory dinner theater murder mystery.

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Um…if the vast majority of sessions you’ve been to aren’t "shows," why would you use a term widely synonymous with show to label them? Why not just call them sessions? Why confuse the issue just for the sake of a legally defensible turn pf phrase?

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Will, you’re completely missing the point. I don’t go around calling our session a "public performance.” I don’t advertise our session as a "public performance" or say to people, "Hey, why don’t you grab your fiddle and come on down to the pub for a public performance tonight." I call it a session just like you, the difference is; if I’m discussing the ins and outs, good things, bad things, or frustrating things about a session — the term "public performance” isn’t taboo. I don’t suddenly bristle and reach for my rosary beads if someone says it — it’s just a descriptive term. I don’t understand what all the fuss is about.

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I mean, I could put a sandwich board on my sidewalk announcing a daily "public performance." But that would be counterproductive if I prefer to skip out to my mailbox in my boxers without much publicity. So if I had to use a sandwich board at all, I’d prolly just write: "Middle-aged sagging curmudgeon collects his morning mail" and leave it at that.

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No, it’s not taboo. But it does make some people bristle. Look back a few posts—I explained at least two reasons for that. If you like hanging out with bristly people, call it a public performance. Obviously the meaning for you is different, even in this context, than it is for many people. And they will tell you why they prefer to not think of sessions as "performances." It is synonymous with "show" to them, and if I get your drift, even you might get bristly if someone started saying sessions were shows. In fact, you _did_ brislte a bit when I said that I’d heard your session was more of a show than other sessions. Ouch.

I could use an English concertina joke about now….

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Will… hello… are you reading my posts? I don’t advertise it as a "public performance", I never said I did, I never implied it. I only used the term in reference to the event as a discriptive when it the concept of options for hearing tunes was raised. No sandwich board, no morning mail… got it? :-\

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I don’t think of our session as a "show", but I might show you a tune at the session. The usage of this word, "show" is probably more acceptable to you in it’s variety of definitions. I certainly don’t see any need to have the same debate about it, and I certainly hope you agree.

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Oh, that’s just me referencing back to this novel of a thread. The sandwich board notion came up because Kerri and Dow and I think of a performance as a show, and shows are advertised, eh? Not saying your show is. *snicker*

But I can’t help but wonder—if you don’t advertise it as a public performance, why not? If the term is good enough to use in casual conversation, surely it’s good enough period? Or does it carry the wrong connotations in that context? Hmmm….

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Gee, this is far more fun than what I’m working on at the moment. Please revise *this* into plain English: "The counsel advised that the significance test in the preceding flow analysis is unlikely to be determinative." See, that’s what I do for a living—make that comprehensible at an 8th grade level.

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Ok, I’m going to be a total buttinsky here (you can tell me to go away)…but before I get set up and start learning Patsy Hanlys reel(ooh I can’t wait), I just want to make sure two of my favorite online guys are going to soon have a virtual pint and handshake 🙂

xxx Joyce

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You lost me on that bit about "show" being more acceptable to me. I certainly wouldn’t want my session to be a "show." Yecchhh.

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Pour away Joyce. I’ll take a porter. 🙂

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Are we at 400 yet? *evil grin*

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Wow…this page takes almost 7 full seconds to open on a 256k dsl line. Oooph. How many calories does that burn?

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Ok, Will, how about a smoked porter with a hint of Vermont apples and rich malted barley from Canada?

Jack what are you drinking?

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I only use the term as a descriptive in the context of a discussion about sessions. The only board I would put it on is this one. My intention in posting this thread was that the discussion might result in me being allowed the option of choosing the term in the course of discussion when I felt it was necessary. I’m still waiting for that list of sanctioned alternatives so I don’t cause such scandal and alarm next time.

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Huh? oh… hi Joyce, uh… I’ll have a G&T please.

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Jack 🙁

Ok, I gotta get crackin here….Jack I was gonna pour you a chocolate esspesso stout, my other specialty beer on tap….

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Can’t wait till the Oz contingent wakes up and stumbles onto this. 🙂

Actually, my mind is racing with all the possible entrance lines I now have at my disposal when some fine evening, I saunter into the Plough and Stars, walk up to the beared giant with the hollow twig at his lips, and say:

"Mr. Gilder, I’m with SFPD. Can I see your public performance permit?"

"Is this where the pubic performance happens?"

(naked but for plaid boxers and my fiddle case) "I’m here to pick up my mail."

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🙂 LOL

we cross posted! OK, G&T coming up. I do have a full stocked bar in the basement, no lie!

someday if we ever get a digital camera, I’ll post pics of my Irish pub..hehehe

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Ok I’m now going to insert disc 2 of the new wooden flute obsession CD into the computer and start learning my tune….but first I think I need a nice cold one myself 🙂

‘Night all

Joyce

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Joyce, that’s a choice beer you pour. Nicely done! Is that a hint of maple syrup I taste? Spectacular!

Jack…"sanctioned"—um, do you mean approved or restricted. "Sanction" is such a confusing word, heh.

Sorry, just kidding. That porter is kicking in.

That’s the rub though. If you use words that get other people’s hackles up, you risk getting barked at or even bitten. Witness Mr. Gill and the "diddly" hulabaloo. Or your reviewer’s "pure drop" dalliance. Or call a tune a "song." Or horror of horrors, let’s talk about "jam sessions."

Somewhere, people immersed in this stuff draw the line. Much depends on how much grief they’ve suffered from being misunderstood—of enduring some poor plonker’s attempt to sit in on a few songs at the jam session. I’ll hazard a guess that some of us have seen things go sour under the guise of a performance or show, and we recoil at the possibility of a relapse.

You can call it anything you want. I like "session." If we need more descriptive detail, fine. But if the language raises more confusion than it clears, then why insist on using it?

I can imagine a conversation about the "performance" aspects of sessions—but I’d be most interested in exploring which of those aspects are session-friendly and which might be counterproductive, and how to eliminate or at least minimize the latter.

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Here it is Will… my infamous quote: "Before the phenomenon of sessions came around people would get the tunes from one another away from any public performance. Now we have recording devices of all sorts along with CDs and Internet resources galore that allow us to speed up the tune gathering process considerably." This is the context I mentioned it in — hearing tunes and learning them. Then Kerri responded later with, "Clearly, you shouldn’t try it at Jack’s session, but I think anywhere else I’ve been (including Ireland) it’s pretty much OK" and, "I personally wouldn’t want to be at a session that the players describe as a "public performance" - (sorry to pick on you Jack)” So now, not only have I used the taboo word, but sessions I’m involved with are unfriendly and somehow out of context with the rest of the world "(even in Ireland)" Kerri adds, and I’m made out to be some kind of control freak ego-maniac because I used the taboo term. This is a misrepresentation of what I was saying — all because of an unnecessary negative stigma attached to a legitimate descriptive term. Why must we demonize the word “performance” if it comes anywhere near the hallowed word “session”? Are we that up-tight?

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That’s interesting. Of course, I’d start off by disagreeing with your premise—what I’ve heard and read is that lots of the old players picked up their tunes from listening to other players at public performances—house dances, ceili band performances, etc. In many cases, they just lilted and memorized what they could and filled in the rest over time. Not really noodling the way we talked about it in the other thread, but certainly picking up tunes on the fly, at public events, where music was played.

I think Kerri meant (tho I’m loathe to put words in her mouth) she wouldn’t want to be at a session the players describe as a gig or show (that sense of ‘public performance’). But that’s her perogative, isn’t it? As is picking up tunes on the fly at a session, although you made it clear that you frown on that sort of thing (unless the player really can get the tune right away with little or no noodling, which is a rare talent). So Kerri was just saying she would honor your preferences at your session and refrain from "noodling."

Nobody’s demonizing the p word. But just as the word "jam" raises a warning flag about someone’s degree of experience with Irish sessions, and perhaps their musical intentions (anticipating lots of noodling), so does ‘performance’ in the gig/show/entertainment sense of the word when associated with sessions.

In the world of playing music, there are few genres that offer such a ritualized outlet for playing music with other musicians just for the sake of playing the tunes. The classical musos I know don’t play together unless they’re rehearsing for a concert or playing the concert itself. Same goes for rock and jazz musos. Some of the local bluegrassers do a weekly jam, so there’s that, but it involves rotating solo breaks while everyone else plays backup—putting each player a bit more in the spotlight than a typical Irish session.

Irish sessions foster amateurs playing together for the sake of playing together. That’s way different than a show, gig, rehearsal, or other ‘performance.’

You yourself said only one of the sessions you’ve been to was truly a ‘show.’ And while it might have been a great show, it doesn’t sound like it was a very inclusive, fun session. If you went there expecting to sit in and toss some tunes into the mix, you probably went home at least slightly unfulfilled. Which is what happens when other people arrive at a ‘session’ only to find out it’s more of a gig, or show, or ‘public performance’ (in that nasty Synonym Finder’s sense of the term). So some people shy away from such sessions. And they’ll be less inclined to give you the benefit of the doubt if you insist on ignoring the gig/show/entertainment connotation (a rather strong connotation) the p word carries on its shoulders.

I could also turn the question around—why don’t you call them jam sessions (oops…maybe you do?)? If it’s because you get tired of other people explaining the difference between a jam and an Irish session, or because you know and understand the difference, then the same thing applies here: some sessions are shows, are ‘performances’ in that sense. Some aren’t. To insist on your right to call them all ‘performances’ in spite of other sessioneers objections seems to demonstrate that either you don’t understand the difference between a session and a show/performance, or you’re trying to teach us pigs to sing. Or a third possibility. You really like the term ‘public performance’ and want to defend its under-appreciated meaning of "executing an action around other people."

Up tight? Not me. Too much porter sloshing around inside….

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Heh, Will, your plain English effort is more-or-less what I’m doing right now, too, with the same degree of enthusiasm. I think the sandwich board came up when Kerri responded to my comment where I wondering how sessioneers who feel strongly that their session is not a performance would word any publicity their venue might put out.

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But they won’t let me drink porter while I do it 8>(

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What the bloody hell is going on here?! I can’t believe this thread! Well, you already know what I think (and still think) about this one.

All I can say is, if you read through this thread the thing that stands out is that there are some session musicians who think that sessions are public performances and will stand by that till the bitter end, and there are some who think the opposite, and will stand by what they have said till the bitter end. This thread has been a shocker for me - and this is the absolute truth - *I never even realised that some session musicians see their sessions as public performances*. To see them that way is *soooo* impure!

I’m especially shocked to hear it from Jack. I would have thought Jack would be the last person to think of sessions in show-biz terms. Perhaps he just likes showing off and performing to the punters 😀

At the same time, I’m deeply saddened to see that some great musicians see it this way. I think it’s definitely linked to Riverdance and other McTrad that cheapen and commercialize the tradition we love and cherish. Irish music sessions have spread round the globe in the last few decades, and we all thought that was a great thing for the tradition, but now we’re seeing the flipside of that, the negative consequences of ITM’s popularity. The idea of an intimate session where musicians can go just to play tunes for the sake of pure enjoyment of the music is disappearing, or at least becoming thinned out and dumbed down. To find such a session, we have to journey to the depths of Montana. I imagine in another 10-20 years, it won’t be possible to have sessions like we have them now, unless we take them "underground" and have them in the privacy of our own homes.

Incidentally, with all this stuff about licensing venues for musical entertainment, how can we expect the law to make an exception for sessions so that there’s traditional continuity, if even the musicians themselves can’t agree that they’re not public performances?! Jack, I think you have to listen to your conscience here and think about your responsibility to your own community 🙂

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I didn’t intend to re-hash Kerri’s thread, Will, I was just showing you where the whole thing started. I can see that the "P" word inflames certain insecurities with some players, but I still think it’s silly that it evokes such a strong reaction in this forum when were just discussing certain aspects of sessions, learning tunes, history etc. I am very clear on the differences between sessions and jam-sessions as anyone who’s been following these threads can attest, and I’m not trying to get anyone’s shackles up when I use the "P" word — I’m just trying to communicate my ideas and use the English language. I didn’t appreciate the inferences about me that came up (hence this thread) but I had no idea that people would become so defensive about it.

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Insecurity alright - my beloved tradition is being dumbed down by McTrad and there’s nothing I can say to stop it 🙂 🙂 🙂

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Dow, I’m not even going to comment… for the love of Pete. There are too many misquotes and errors in the way you characterize my position, I’ll leave it to anyone who’s interested or cares to go back and read what I really think. Jayzus!

I’m off to play for a set dance, I’ll see you guys tomorrow. I’ll tell Zina you said hi.

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Who’s Pete? Zina’s Pete? I’m only slagging you Jack. Just seeing how far I can push you… Looks like I’ve finally found your buttons hahaha 😀 Nothing wrong with the odd hyperbole thrown in there for good measure.

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I knew that, Dow — I just wanted to throw you off your game. hahahaha

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And the irony here is that you said you "didn’t appreciate the inferences about you that came up [in the other thread], so you must have known that posting this thread was going to provoke a strong reaction. So you *were* winding us up and pushing our buttons, as Will said, and now all I’m doing is pushing your buttons back 🙂

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Throw me off my game!? Everyone here knows that I am as tenacious as a pit bull. Jack, you and I are scarily alike. I just think I belong to a higher, purer class of human being. I mean, it’s no coincidence that it was members of the aristocracy who were playing English Concertinas [notice the block capitals] when they first became available. Why do you think they were so much more expensive than anglo squeezepoxes? Duh because they’re better that’s why.

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Hey Will you can come back now. It worked - I think he’s given up 🙂

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hahahaha…. anglos are way more expensive than those English mouse traps…. (actually, it’s not very funny.) Anyway, it probably has to do with the fact that English music is nowhere near as popular as ITM. 😀

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Oh well, at least you two are a change from Joe Quinn’s, "but what about the bodhrans?" popping up in every other thread.

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And a good thing too, Jack. We’ve seen what happens to traditional music when it becomes McPopularized to the extent that ITM has.

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Yeah, bodhrans are about the only thing that hasn’t been covered on this ultra-ridiculous thread.

Okay, now we’ve established yet again that I’m right (along with Will, Beebs, FOV & practically everyone else on the yellowboard), I think we should let the thread die a dignified death. Otherwise my slagging of Jack will get more and more ridiculously outrageous, and he’ll suddenly take offence without warning, and he’ll call me names and the thread’ll get deleted by wor Jeremy. That always happens to me 🙂

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See now, that "insecurities" thingy Jack just said. Is that supposed to be funny or earnest, and if it’s earnest, I can’t help but think Jack isn’t really reading anyone else’s posts, just trying to drive his argument home with a wedge.

Of course it’s not a reluctance to play under pressure (well, it can be that, because it’s more fun to play for…uh, well, for fun), but more just a focus on sessions as community, with no divisions between performers and audience cuz everyone’s a participant. I’m pretty sure Jack gets this, but I think he underestimates the unpleasant experiences some people have had at giggy sessions. And then discredits them for being insecure. Which sorta smacks of the behavior that can drive people away from giggy sessions.

Living in a culture driven by ego, celebrity worship, and commercialism, I prefer to de-emphasize those aspects in the session I participate in. It takes the opposite of insecurity to stand up for that in the face of angry misunderstandings and pressure to conform. This was a very clear, ugly struggle for our session in the early years. And I’ve seen it in other sessions as well.

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Sorry Dow… everyone doesn’t agree with you. Read back and find the lads in Ireland, Scotland and England aren’t having problems with the concept.

(The rest of you can thank me later for suggesting he read this thread over again — it should keep him busy until maybe Tuesday week at least. It will be so peaceful.)

All right… I’m off to the dance.

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But we’re only 17 posts away from an even 400…gee, I thought that’s why we were still at it. *smirk*

I bet every time this thread unfolds it brings the rest of the site to a crashing halt. muwahahahaha

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Sure, but the lads in Ireland are getting paid to entertain the Yankee tourists, right? 🙂

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Just in case Jeremy does delete this thread, I’ve printed it off. Anyone interested can email me for the 17-volume set. $45 USD a copy, leatherbound extra….

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But Jack, Will — how do you really feel?

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So, Will, does bear-tipping have a great following in Montana?

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mmm…a tosh inebriated at the moment, and legs are tired from this afternoon’s bike ride. Overall? I’d give it an 8 out of 10. Thanks for asking….

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LOL Tish, yes, but there’s a high turn-over rate. Seems the bears tend to outlive even our best tippers.

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The one person who could sort this out once and for all - Zina (because she’s always right even when she’s wrong) - seems to not want to tell us her opinion 🙂 Well, I don’t feel the need to read the whole thread again to be quite honest, because the "lads in Ireland, Scotland and England" aren’t going to convince me to give in to commercialist McValues. This lad in Australia is sticking to his guns. I liked what one lad from Scotland (michael gill) had to say about whether sessions are public performances: "The worst ones are. The best ones aren’t. Infact, it could be how you define a good or bad session".

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I was only kidding, but you’re almost there - 400 beckons - go for it people!

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Dow - Zina could be on an aeroplane right now heading to San Francisco, and the Thursday night set dance at the Plough & Stars Pub. Featuring Tipsy House in a Public Performance of Traditional Irish Dance Music.

I was planing to go myself, but it’s a fair drive and my wife (who aslo dances) was feeling just a little tired tonight.

Jack - did Zina make it to the Plough tonight? See you all on Sunday for the session.

(Gawd, I can’t believe what a total waste of bandwidth this thread became! Glad you all had a chance to practice your typing skills online🙂

Bob

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Last night, rocking up at our session with this thread fresh in my mind, I was amused by the chalkboard sign which our landlord had put up outside:

TONIGHT: Irish Band
Hear Them Play!
See them Drink!

ha.

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I wonder how Zina will feel about being made to perform like a circus animal for the entertainment of Jack’s friends. Don’t let him use you like that Zeens!

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Will: Blanche is fine, so is Doily 🙂
I realise there’s just a *slight* timeshift here. I vaguely remember posting the Noam Chomsky thing after last night’s [London] Joe Burke concert. The Session is a lot easier to use now we all just post to a single discussion 🙂

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Come on guys, just a few more posts and we can bump this thread over the 400 posts mark.

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Hey Orson… Joe Burke just rang me yesterday to tell me about the Kevin Keegan CD he and Charlie Lennon just produced with Kevin’s brother Vince. Did he have any at the gig in London?

Zina never showed up at the set dance last night, but we had a great time anyway. Yes indeed… it was a public performance all right. The public was in attendance and performed their task beautifully. Some listened, some drank; some both drank and listened, while others did neither. I don’t know what might have happened if they realized they were in public — and performing — but there ya go.

The bartender performed magnificently as well — my first pint was a masterpiece. And my friend Martin performed a miracle when he got the girl with red hair to give him her phone number.

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Q’s post above gave me a laugh. Although at last night’s session in the Blythe, due to the level of background noise from the grockles sat right next us the sign would have had to have read …

Irish Traditional Music Session
See them play!
See them drink!
(See them pack up early and slink home … not quite!)

Hmmm …

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Tomorrow will be an interesting day for some of us : the Blythe/Shillelaghs crew. In the afternoon we’re playing at the Catford Beergut Festival … that will be (sort of) a public performance. And then in the evening we retire to the bijou delights of the dipsomaniac Shillelaghs for a session. I tend to the view that sessions are not generally public performances; the primary "audience" is the session itself. So it will be interesting to see whether we - consciously or unconsciously - approach each event with a different mindset!

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Aidan, I approach most of my sessions consciously, but the same cannot be said for leaving them….
🙂
Let us know your findings.

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Yes

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A punter complained tonight, after our session. Said it was the first time she’d ever been to an Irish Session & she enjoyed the songs & tunes but said that we were doing it all wrong!

What she wanted us to do was announce every song or set of tunes & so react with & relate to our audience.

Then she said "You know, it kinda looks like you guys are just playing for your own amusement & you don’t really care what we think?"
I said, "Ah, so now you understand what an Irish Session is all about" & walked off…………….

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Regardless of her errant preconceptions about the nature of your session, since you were in a public place — your session had an audience and someone enjoyed the music you performed.

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Agreed, Jack, but why can they never just leave it at that ?

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Jeez it was hot here yesterday - must have been well over 30 degrees, maybe even over 40. Then there were storms and I was hoping the rainfall would cool the place down, but it never did and it was quite hot again today. I was driving along the freeway and a lightning bolt hit the road about 10 metres in front of me with a loud "BANG"! I got such a fright. Has that happened to you before?

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Never actually travelled on a ‘freeway’ myself but I remember a car losing a trailor on a simple road in front of me one time Dow. He swung right on a bend & his trailor just went straight on. Luckily it just ploughed into a large hedge & stopped, but if he had turned left & the trailor had ploughed into something coming the other way…………………………

Oh yeah & if the temperatures reached 40 around here - the roads would simply melt, so any bolts, spanners ot nuts that fell on them would go splodge - not bang!

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But Mark, was the lightning bolt aware that it had you as an audience ?
The performance could hardly have been more public. Or was it just doing what comes naturally to lightning bolts regardless of who was listening or watching ?
There again, it could have been because you play the English concertina. Divine retribution traditionally comes in the form of thunderbolts 🙂

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Speaking of Freeways, just watched a prog on Australian wildlife & how the Brits exterminated over 3 dozen Australian species by introducing UK animals like Rabbit, Fox, Rat, Cat etc

Anyway, first time ever - I saw a truck on that prog with not one, but to trailors. I think the guy called it a Highway or Freeway Train - weird!

Must try & get out more!

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I think you get bigger ones than that even, which you need a very very special licence to drive. Ones with 3, 4, 5 + trailers, 100 wheels, and big roo bars. I think they call them road trains or something, and they go through the desert, and they basically are just trains with wheels. They are absolutely awesome machines, like something that would chase after you in a nightmare. I really must get out more too because I’ve only ever seen photos of them.

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I can just about reverse with a Horse Box in tow, but how do those dude manage with 4 or 5 trailors on?

As far as I know, those Roo Bars are outlawed in the UK. But then we don’t see many wild Roos over here.

I did look after an old retired circus boxing Kangaroo one summer & he was a real character. Never went three rounds with him though!

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Three rounds with a Boxing Kangaroo - now that would have been a performance!

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I just read that the road trains they used just after the war didn’t have air brakes so the only way to stop them was to take your foot off the accelerator and wait. How funny is that!? Apparently they have them in Canada but they’re not even allowed on roads in the States, even though they make all the Aussie ones over there.

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The funny thing is, the ones I see when I refuel my bus at service stations are the short ones which only have 2 or 3 trailers. And the truckies often come up and say "wow what an amazing 4WD - how much fuel does it hold? what’s the power of the engine? what’s it like up the hills?" etc etc, and they’re standing there refuelling this fecking massive MONSTER right next door, with several pumps inserted into fuel tanks the size of the whole of my vehicle!

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Dowsie - I was in a building that was struck by lightning, scariest thing ever - sounded like a jumbo crashing and before it actually struck this weird feeling came over everyone and our hair started crackling and standing on end. The force of it knocked some kids off there feet and it set the building on fire and the fire brigade had to come. And people wonder why I’m so scared of storms.

For once I have to agree with Ptarmigan - I woudve asked the lady if she did anything - practice a religion etc and then offered my services to take the group and make it better.

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Red Letter Day! Wooopeee de Dooo Deee! bb agreed with me…..walks off to make a note on the Calendar………………………..

Anyone else sense a bit of one-upmanship starting here?

1 - Lightning hits the road
2 - Lightning hits the building

What’s next?

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And they both happened in Australia - can be a scary place sometimes🙂

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At Nariel Creek one year there was this terrifying electrical storm that was right there, banging and crashing around us. Thought it was the end, but it must have missed the good folkies camping under the trees by metres.

When I drove through Coober Pedy on 30 Dec it was 44 before mid-day, and then by Marla, it was 47. The car airconditioner couldn’t cope and made the engine run too hot, so I had to turn it off and swelter. Jeez it was bad. That’s why people in CP like to live underground - they get temps to 50!! When I got back here on the 31st, we had 12 days straight over 40. The Irish guy housesitting my house had let the water feature dry up, burning out an expensive water pump, and killing my pet goldfish. He ended up in hospital. Not everyone copes. It isn’t ‘outback’ and sparsely populated for nothing.

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Scraper, are you telling us that you put that guy in hospital for killing your Goldfish? I wouldn’t like to play a Bum note at your session! 🙂

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You don’t back road trains, well not very far anyway, and then only in straight lines. You turn them round. If youv’e ever been behind one on the highway you would realise that they move like a snake, there’s this wobble. Horrible to overtake. I think there is a law that says you can only have three trailers on at a time, but that’s long enough. The truckies hate the traffic lights in town, once they stop its hard to start off again. Now a days they have brakes, but out bush there really isn’t any need for them, you use gears to regulate your speed and you just ‘grill’ any animals that don’t get out of your way. Rule 1 for bush driving, always brake in a straight line and never swerve to miss a kangaroo.

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I would have done if he hadn’t made himself scarce and with the house keys too (so I had to change all the locks). He simply lost it!! Too damn hot!

Bum note in my session? What session?

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Come on guys, let’s hear a communal Awwwwww for Scraper, he ain’t got no session!

Can you not just pop over to Sydney & help them get that new
Thursday night session up & running?

SHOOT Scraper! 120 trailers, 1,700 metres in length - that’s some train! We certainly don’t have any roads long enough to cope with a monster like that over here. These are more like our roads here:
http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&q=small+bendy+roads+photo&btnG=Google+Search&meta=

I can just picture a Road Train on one of those!

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She’s a she Ptarmigan.

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Well, we all have our problems!

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Well, I wouldnt know because I’m a she too.

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Well, there’s only one thing stranger than a ‘She-too’, & that is a ‘She-he’.

Checks parachute & jumps …………………………………………………………

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Beebs, your experience in that building sounds as though it was very frightening. I can understand your fear of storms. I have this recurring dream that I get caught in a storm and struck by lightning and then I always wake up just as I’m dying. In my dream I’m always in the same place. The countryside is slightly rolling with not many trees. There is a suburban area nearby with huge bungalows. I’m crawling up a hill on my hands and knees in the pouring rain facing the ground, with lightning flashing around me knowing that I can’t escape. The weird thing is, I used to have this dream before I ever came to Oz, and I used to wonder where the place would be because I’d never been anywhere with houses like that before. Then when I came here I realised that there were places out past Campbelltown that looked just like the place in my dream — freaky! I’m hoping I’m not one of those people who have premonitions 🙂

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"Three rounds with a Boxing Kangaroo - now that would have been a performance!"

And if you were in a public place — it would have been a public performance. 😉

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I get to see kangaroos boxing every day. Apparently the male Eastern Grey Kangaroos live for years just fighting and doing nothing else. They don’t get any because the females are only interested in shagging the older males who can win the fights.

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Dowsie - what a creepy dream! Actually the building was in Katoomba - not that far from Campbeltown…do be doo be doo, freaky.

Jack - I’m sure the boxing Kangaroos are like - ‘oohh- okay -lets really ham this up because its a public performance.’ They are so clever those little tykes🙂

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Put instruments in their hands and it won’t be much different than sessions I’ve been to.

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Well, according to Dow they ARE hamming it up and putting on a good performance for the girly kangaroos. Put ol’ Ptarmigan in there with one of them and it would really be an interesting show. Be sure to have an ambulance nearby though.

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Katoomba "not that far" from Campbelltown? You really are a true Aussie Sheila aren’t you Beebs? You’ll be driving a ute next 🙂

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But it isnt that far dowsie - compared to say Old Scrapper who lives in the NT - thats right isnt it Jan?

I dont beleive sessions are a public perfomance - if people annoy us I will go up to them and tell them to ‘Shut up’ - Ive done it lots before havent I Dow. I play for me and I play at pubs because my friends are there - not because of any none musos. Tho I spose they serve their purpose sometimes…like when they buy us a drink. I like to think its because they think Dow is cute rather than our playing🙂

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You have done it lots before Beebs, but I think you’re mellowing in your old age. What about that Ponchoman at the Trinity - do you remember him with his flute? You pretty much just sat there looking all bemused and waiting for someone else to send him away. I was all waiting for you to lay into him but you never did. Maybe you hadn’t had enough to drink. Speaking of which, my drinking habits have changed dramatically since you left. I’m saving a lot of money! Oh and btw this is going to really annoy you but I’m thinking of *not* going to the Nash this year because my car rego and insurance’ll need to be renewed in April and I’m going to be penniless, and anyway there are no acts I particularly want to see. And I’ll probably have to work anyway.

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Sorry to interupt this All Ozzy conversation. You may carry on!

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Ah, (quite) So! It was just disguised as the same thing!

I love the quote:
"Mr Boyce says moving the 112 trailers the required length was not an easy task."

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LOL yeah, you would never have guessed, would you?

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While you’re payin me a visit in The Alice, NT - yes Bridie, you’re right, I’m Jan, and I’m a she-too Ptarmy.

Old scraper or old scapper, who cares, today I got presented with the most fantastic set of handmade mulga clapsticks. Not the tourist stuff - the real Arrente thing, from the tradition. Won’t say what I did to have been given them, except it was a nice thing that I feel really good about having done. Not only do these sticks sound great, with different clap tones depending on where you clap them, but they are decorated with delicate brandings of a large spotted goanna, gum flowers and honey ants. The stick you clap on has a knobbly end and would make a great donger, like a shillaghlee (don’t know how to spell it!), so watch out if you ever come to Alice Springs looking for a scrap and not a scrape.

Ptarmy, the roads around here don’t have what YOU would call bends, or hills for that matter. They seem to lead off toward some land feature or other far out on the horizon. People come here from places where there are bends and hills etc, get into 4-w-d’s and find themselves upside down off the road and in the ditches! Strange that!

You have to get used to the mirages on the road, images of people moving through shimmering puddles of water ahead, turn into road signs when you get closer to them. … and, if you are on a single lane tarred road with gravel apron, you brake straight then move right off the tar for an oncoming roadtrain. Rule 2 bush driving - always give way to anything that is bigger than u are.

Core, I’ll get youse all trained yet!

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"The stick you clap on has a knobbly end and would make a great donger,"

Hey Scraper, If I ever reach Alice Springs I’ll make doubly sure nobody gets their hands on my Knobbly end, or my Donger!

I’m not convinced it’s the heat that causes those strange images. I suspect that dreadful amber necter you guys ‘n gals drink over there, might have something to do with them?

I’m looking out my office window on a lovely sunny February morning, but there’s still a touch of frost on the ground.
A lovely fresh morning indeed, with absolutely no heat haze to worry about! 🙂

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Scraper, I think your having a laugh! I know for a fact that these things you call Clapsticks are in fact baby Surfboards.
I understand that you plant them in Bush Sand & within 3 months you have yourself a fully grown Surfboard!
Come on, admit it? 🙂

By the way, do your Clapsticks look anything like these?:

http://laoutback.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=LAOD&Product_Code=LAOPAFB117

or these:

http://www.giftlog.com/images/bullroarer/clapsticks.jpg

or these:

http://www.didgeridoos.net.au/clapsticks.html

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Tee hee hee. Haven’t laughed so much in ……….s. The answer is no, no, no and no! But you’re looking. The first ones are probably mulga, two tone colour scheme is right, but that’s about all.
A donger is something you hit someone over the head with, isn’t it?
Although, even before you mentioned it, the stick you hold over your palm (or maybe you don’t) looks incredibly like ……………………………….. Oooo, did I say that! A big ripe banana comes to mind. Only much much longer, and the knobble end has still got bark on it and three lovely knotty knobbles, and this beautifully delicate spotted goanna climbing on it (as goannas do in mulga trees in reality) and honey ants and gum flowers. The other stick, the hitting one, is shorter, fatter, straighter, has a big knotty knobble in the middle, has a bigger bark handle and has honey ants (these ants have bulbous bodies filled with honey, and they are dug for and eaten as a bush delicasy - though I’ve never tried them). The branding is really fine and intricate, very beautiful. They are a hand crafted musical instrument, every one different.
Cheers

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They sound fascinating Scraper. Don’t forget to bring them with you, next time you come over for the All Ireland Fleadh!

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Oh and Ptarmi, Alice Springs is the furthest place from the closest beach in any direction, the closest seaside being Darwin and Adelaide, 1,500 km north and south respectively. The one thing you don’t pack when you come here is a surfboard.
http://www.henleyontodd.com.au/

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I went recently to a session to play a few tunes with a bunch of lads I hadn’t seen for some time. I was sitting quite content facing the other musicians with my back to the punters and the bar and I was told by a fellow musician I SHOULD face the audience a bit. AUDIENCE if you don’t mind - I thought I was there for a session and a bit of craic. So Are sessions public performances?

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We sorted this on another thread. The conclusion seems to be that even though it is a public performance to most punters, it isn’t to the musicians — unless they choose to make it so. What a session is to musicians has to be understood by punters before they can realize what a session is or isn’t. Until they endeavor to find out, or someone volunteers an explanation, they will likely think it’s some sort of public performance.