Finding a pub that will host a new session

Finding a pub that will host a new session

Any suggestions on finding a pub or approaching an owner about hosting a new session? We live in a medium sized city with a few sessions, but wondered if anyone has any experience in getting an owner to allow a new session
Thanks.

Re: Finding a pub that will host a new session

I think most people start by organising a one-off event to give a landlord some idea of what sort of thing is meant by a session. A lot of landlords really have no idea at all! It also allows the musicians to assess the attitude of the locals to the session. If they all go in another room and put the pop music on then the session probably won’t work at that particular pub.

Re: Finding a pub that will host a new session

Find a quiet pub, so there’s more musicians than punters. Then point out how much the musicians will drink during the evening

Slainte…..

Re: Finding a pub that will host a new session

I think the first consideration is to find a place where a session makes sense. Often times, this will be in an Irish Pub, but not always. Sometimes an Irish Pub is only using the theme as a kitschy way to attract customers, and not because they really have any affinity to Irish culture. (And, as I have seen a few times, an Irish Pub will sometimes hire an Irish manager, who dislikes the traditional music and kicks the session out…) I have also had a couple of pretty successful sessions in venues that weren’t Irish Pubs. So a session needs to make sense in the establishment. If they already have an established regular crowd on the night you want to play, then the session may risk hurting their business on that night. In that case, it might still work if they have a separate room that you could play in, etc.

We played a session in a local brewery for a few years. They were kind and supportive to us, but it didn’t make a ton of sense for us to be there, and people stopping in for a beer after work were often surprised to find the music going on. We developed a small number of regulars that would come to listen to the music occasionally, but the brewery wasn’t the kind of place that they would normally patronize. It was brightly lit, and only served beer and popcorn. So after a few years, the establishment was well justified in deciding to try something else. Contrast that with another session just 2 miles away in a Scotch Pub with great food and comfortable pub-like decor. We’ve played there for 5 years, and we’ve developed enough of a following that customers often have to arrive an hour before the session if they want to sit within earshot of the music. And that’s because we make sense there - we’re part of the overall "experience" of the establishment.

So once you’ve determined a decent candidate venue for hosting a session, you’re down to how to convince the establishment that it would be something worth trying. In my experience, it helps if you regularly patronize the establishment, and get to know people there on a friendly basis before you bring up the idea. When you do bring it up, I think it’s important to lay out what it is and what it isn’t. It isn’t a "free performance", it’s a social gathering for the musicians. So it’s not necessarily going to be non-stop music, like having a band. Talk to them about what kind of arrangements you’re looking for… Food and bar tab? Just buy us a round of drinks? Pay X amount money every week? Etc.

Talk to them about how it may take a while to build a following (at the Scotch Pub, it took us about 2 years before it started really being good for business), and then offer to try it for a month to see how it works, and then plan to meet with them again to discuss the situation to see if there are any issues on either side. Most commonly, the session will become a burden for the staff in one way or another, and you want to try to minimize that, because if the staff isn’t happy, the customers won’t be, the session won’t be, and ultimately the establishment won’t be. So be open to working with the venue to make it good for everyone involved. And also point out to them the potential upside if it does garner a following. As Njugglebreck pointed out, another thing that you can remind the establishment is that you’re creating a new group of "loyal regulars" who will be there every week, and spend money. So even if they’re buying you a couple rounds of drinks, they’re still going to make money even before you have a following (especially if they serve food, and a number of your session mates will eat before the sessions…) Another thing that you can try is to invite the owner to come see one of the other sessions in town (preferably a successful one!)

I think it’s important to be on friendly terms with the establishment, so that they don’t feel like they’re being pressured into anything, and both sides feel like they can discuss any issues without it being confrontational.

Re: Finding a pub that will host a new session

Does a Scotch pub only sell whisky?

Re: Finding a pub that will host a new session

Ha, minijackpot! In my case, I was referring to it as a Scotch Pub, because it’s designed to be a UK/Scotland type pub - they do great pub food, and their bar is focused primarily on Scotch whisky (with 120+ varieties), but they also have Irish whiskey, bourbon, beer, and regular mixed drinks… But it is most definitely not an "Irish Pub"

Re: Finding a pub that will host a new session

A Scottish pub will certainly have a better range of Scotches to choose from!

We have had to move venue on several occasions between a few sessions that I go to: often a change in management, and therefore "change in direction of the music" or they’ve just put in a big screen and want to show endless football, or (overheard in one) - "those folkies don’t drink enough". Or regulars (ok, it’s their regular pub) just being too noisy and disruptive - "play The Wild Rover again" - and again, and again!

Finding a new one? Pooling ideas from all session members, who may come from different areas, and therefore know different pubs, then just visiting them and asking. If you can have your session on a night when the pub might otherwise be 3/4 empty may go down well as an "increased bar sales". And a bonus if they offer sandwiches, and if it’s a separate room, as for a couple of our sessions, no charge for room hire. (And in recognition of that, at one place, we just have to smile (grimace?) when the bar staff barge in halfway through a song or tune, stomp across the room to get to their bar store cupboard, and stomp back through after a noisy rummage in said cupboard!)

Re: Finding a pub that will host a new session

What’s the session like? You’ll need to figure out what part of the experience you can sell to the prospective venue. If it’s a large session, with 10-15 people or more possible every week, you could probably just pick a dead night and say, "hey, we’ll be coming in regularly to buy food and drinks, will you let us?" If you have a lot of people who like to listen to you, that’s also good.

It’s also a good idea to take honest stock of how the session sounds. I know people here say it’s not the "point" to play to the punters, but knowing what the punters will think is key to finding a new place to play. To any regulars, you’ll be essentially forcing your music on their ears, and if they decide to go elsewhere, the owner won’t be so happy. Not saying this is the case for you, but I’ve heard some fairly dire-sounding sessions, and people are sometimes genuinely surprised that no one wants to listen to their godawful racket.

On the flip side, a good-sounding session can be a huge asset for a pub, especially on a normally quiet night. I know plenty of people who go every week to various sessions and jams just to listen, and obviously buy food and drink while they’re there.

Re: Finding a pub that will host a new session

"Does a Scotch pub only sell whisky?"

Yeah, but it’s very good whiskey.

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Re: Finding a pub that will host a new session

Reverend - please - anything to do with Scotland, other than its Scotch whisky is Scottish or Scots. Scotch was used in describing some of the old airs back in the 17th-18th century, and of course, there is the "Scotch or Scottish snap" that you’ll find in many strathspeys, but other than that, Scottish, please!
"Whiskey" with an e is either Irish or American.

Re: Finding a pub that will host a new session

Hear hear - only lamb and whisky are Scotch, except for a particular type of beer, "Mines a pint of Scotch (ale)".

Probably not as contentious as "Celtic" though.

Re: Finding a pub that will host a new session

Sadly, there is a tendency to knock pubs and premises "into one" these days.
Snugs, lounges, alcoves etc were ideal for sessions and you didn’t have to disturb or mix with the football fans next door.

There’s also the serving of meals. So, the music won’t get started until very late if at all in many places. Also, as has been said here already and on the Mudcrap site, the furniture and seating is becoming increasingly unsuitable for sessions.

Generally though, I agree with what’s already been said. It’s best to choose a quiet night for the pub etc but do ty to support its sales in one way or another. Be sure to bring along one or two "designated" drinkers.. :-)

By the way, as Llig used to say..

Scotlands= whisky and diddly
Ireland =whiskey and diddley

Re: Finding a pub that will host a new session

Sorry, trish, didn’t mean to offend with my term "Scotch Pub". Being that their main specialty is Scotch Whisky, it seemed like a good term to give the idea of what kind of place it is. But I didn’t realize that there was inherent discomfort with the term Scotch in place of Scottish, so thanks for setting me straight on that!

Re: Finding a pub that will host a new session

That was the fastest resolved internet stooshy I’ve ever read!

Fair play Rev!!

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Re: Finding a pub that will host a new session

The drams are on me….if we ever meet, Rev!

Re: Finding a pub that will host a new session

We had a hard time finding a pub to host sessions. Many of the so-called Irish pubs in the US are Irish themed pubs and they didn’t really care about having traditional Irish music. Where I live there is a session in a coffee house in Greensboro, and in a brew pub in Carrboro. We were fortunate to find a real Irish pub run by real Irishmen who love and appreciate the music, but as far as I can tell that’s a rare thing.

Re: Finding a pub that will host a new session

A restaurant is probably a better choice than a pub. As the dinner crowd eases out, the musicians can come in.

All the sessions I know of in pubs/bars are VERY noisy; and the few I know in restaurants are very nice.

Reverend’s "scotch" pub is really more of a restaurant. Or at least, the "bar" end of a restaurant. Definitely quiet and intimate.

Re: Finding a pub that will host a new session

I suppose restaurants are handy if you forget to bring your spoons. :-P

Re: Finding a pub that will host a new session

Strangely enough, a "scottish" in France is what in Scotland would be called a schottische! (I’ll crawl back into my hole.)

Re: Finding a pub that will host a new session

Hmmm … I wonder why certain old airs, snaps, whisky, lamb, and a particular type of beer are all called ‘Scotch’? It would almost make you think they have something in common …….

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Re: Finding a pub that will host a new session

"Hmmm … I wonder why certain old airs, snaps, whisky, lamb, and a particular type of beer are all called ‘Scotch’? It would almost make you think they have something in common ……."

They’re all bound together with Scotch tape. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scotch_Tape

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Re: Finding a pub that will host a new session

I still want to know what a Scottish pub in Colorado puveys in its efforts to be Scottish. If it’s not Irn Bru and Buckfast, it doesn’t count. ;)

I found that in the UK, the tape in question is called "sticky tape." People give you weird looks when you ask for Scotch tape.

Re: Finding a pub that will host a new session

DrSilverSpear said: "I found that in the UK, the tape in question is called "sticky tape.""

When I lived in Ireland and Scotland (OK, it was many years ago) it was called "Sellotape". It may have been a brand name, but if so it had taken on a generic application, like Kleenex and fridge. When I return for a visit now, I notice the vocabulary gulf between queen’s English and American English is much narrower now than it was in the 70’s; the inevitable result of American tv and the internet in the British Isles I suppose.

But I’m right there with you on the Irn-Bru, and my Scots wife still bristles at anything "scotch" besides uisge beatha.

Re: Finding a pub that will host a new session

The seductive approach:
On your next night out go to the target pub and sit at the bar and have a couple of slow drinks.
If there’s a television, loud music, pool table or other toys, don’t bother.
When appropriate, ask the owner/maid behind the bar if there’s ever any music.
Ask if it’s okay to play a tune.
Sit in a quiet corner and play a nice air on the whistle (Carolan?) that you have in your pocket.
Return to the bar and continue talking.
Come back next week and bring a friend.

Re: Finding a pub that will host a new session

Yes, sellotape covers any type of transparent stick tape, and has done for as long as I can remember. If you are a certain age, you will know that on Blue Peter they would say sticky tape to remain strictly impartial on the subject of branded products.

Re: Finding a pub that will host a new session

Had to be the double-sided stuff for Blue Peter!
Also useful, as is Blu-tack, (oops, another trade name!) for sticking sign on door of your newly found session venue, if in a separate room, detailing what you are doing in there!

Re: Finding a pub that will host a new session

trish santer said: "Also useful, as is Blu-tack, (oops, another trade name!) for sticking sign on door of your newly found session venue…"

Not to mention its primary use for tuning regulators and ballasting drone reeds. Must have been invented by Messers Coyne, Egan, Harrington, et al. ;^)

Re: Finding a pub that will host a new session

Any pub serving Buckfast Tonic Wine will be suitable for your enterprise/ project.

Re: Finding a pub that will host a new session

I thought Buckfast came from Devon. Incidentally, nobody’s mentioned Scotch Pies - yum, yum! Why can I not buy Irnbru in pubs by the way?. It’s what I call a proper soft drink; that and Tizer. You can drink them both in large quantities and go home both sober and having enjoyed your drinking.
I found some of these answers very helpful by the way, as I’m trying to find a suitable pub for French sessions. At the moment I’m having to travel thirty miles or more for this and I’d like somewhere a lot nearer. I suspect that we would need somewhere in our City centre, rather than a country pub, simply because not everyone has their own transport and buses don’t go very far out of town nowadays.

Re: Finding a pub that will host a new session

How about Scotch Mist?

https://thesession.org/tunes/3569

Or the Lindisfarne tune of the same name?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4UA0Ozu9Bdw&list=RD4UA0Ozu9Bdw


:-P

Re: Finding a pub that will host a new session

Re: Finding a pub that will host a new session

There used to be an Edinburgh group Hopscotch. Essentially a ceilidh band although they met for sessions too in some of the local hostelries. They included one or two people you might know too, Nigel.

Re: Finding a pub that will host a new session

A "large Scotch" always seemed to be the preferred tipple of TV detectives e’g’ in The Sweeney, The Bill etc.

We rarely refer to Whisky that way in Scotland. Usually, it’s just a nip, dram etc or in East Lothian we call it a "Goldie".
:-)

Re: Finding a pub that will host a new session

Another expression for a whisky is "a hauf" as in, "Will ye hae a hauf?" Derives, I think, from half a llig.

Re: Finding a pub that will host a new session

Ah, forgot about that one. ;-)

A "fly hauf" is when you order one for yourself without telling the assembled company.

Re: Finding a pub that will host a new session

In my home city (Bristol, UK) there is a pub (now closed) called "The Scotchman and his Pack". There used to be a weekly ITM session in this pub up to a few years ago.

This pub is situated on a very steep hill. Back in the days of horse-drawn transport, the wheels of carts stopping on this hill to make deliveries neded to be chocked in order to prevent them running away. These chocks were called "scotches" - and the guy who job it was to do it was called the "scotchman". He carried these scotches in a pack - hence the pub’s name: "The Scotchman and his Pack".

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=scotchman+and+his+pack+facebook&dcr=0&biw=800&bih=454&tbm=isch&source=iu&ictx=1&fir=2ctbtDjbl14s-M%253A%252C0JffS-QZahSA0M%252C_&usg=__J9989CxGcqHtW4KSSzwSBanQxoY%3D&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj18tfe14bYAhWlI8AKHTMnD8UQ9QEIRDAH#imgrc=2ctbtDjbl14s-M:

Re: Finding a pub that will host a new session

See also: Shakespeare: Macbeth: Act 3, Scene 2

"We have scotched the snake, not killed it"

Re: Finding a pub that will host a new session