Will the COVID-19 pandemic be the end of pub sessions?
With the social distancing enforced according to guidelines, even after pubs reopen, will we ever see sessions in pubs again?
With the social distancing enforced according to guidelines, even after pubs reopen, will we ever see sessions in pubs again?
you’d have to wonder
I’d hope we’ll get back to it, but probably not any time soon.
I will concede that playing flute while wearing a mask does present a few issues….
Surely an opportunity to crack a new market now Terry, get the patent in on the “McGee Improved Enclosed Hygienic Headjoint” before someone else gets there first
All flute players must now convert to playing Uilleann pipes to avoid aerosol dispersion and drips. Those of us who don’t have another 20 years in our lives to learn the pipes, well, you’d best pick up bodhran or something else.
Luckily, I started this ITM madness on mandolin, so I have a backup.
Flute player here: haven’t tried it, but I think I could play the whistle by making a wee slit in my mask? @Conical bore: at my age, the pipes are too far-fetched. But the bodhran……naw!
I cannot see any reason to discontinue music once pubs reopen.
Here are the guidelines for the pubs reopening.
It’s not over until we say it is!
Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? HELL NO!
And it ain’t over now.
One is assuming the pubs will reopen. Many will never survive this.
In order for pub sessions to return there will have to be a vaccine and/or eradication.
“It’s not over until we say it is!
Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? HELL NO!
And it ain’t over now.”
If the pubs don’t open, we’ll find some other way. In the spirit of Blutarsky (language alert):
This situation absolutely requires that a really stupid and futile gesture be done on somebody’s part.
Not just flutes and whistles! A recent article in Scientific Proof Magazine said that the Covid 19 virus can live up to a hundred years on stretched goat skins.
So it will be us flute players sitting alone in the corner instead of [insert name of instrument] players?
I’d like to repeat the point I made only a day or so ago on the other CV19 thread:
The upward trajectory sessions have had for nearly 70 years has been knocked sideways. Recovery is probable, but uncertain, and there cannot help but be change.
The need, which might well last for many many months, for physical spacing might perhaps bring a resurgence of the largely solo playing that was the way of things before sessions got started. This can already be seen online, with solo performances (or performances by cohabiting duos etc) from players great and not so great. For great, see for example https://www.facebook.com/stephgeremiamusic/videos/240568777047739/ and other stuff from Culture Ireland (https://www.facebook.com/CultureIreland/) - you may need facebook to see these, I’m not sure.
Sessions grow into a “playaround” format, a largely instrumental version of the singaround. Some may be horrified by this, but players would have to be prepared to *perform*, possibly *entertain* but certainly not just grind on and on because they know the tune.
For better or worse, *some* kind of change will come. It could be for the better, but we would have to rise to the occasion for that to happen.
With the welcome corporate economic crash,we could go back to 18..19 Century Ireland worldwide and rescue the future.
Yeah, right… another potato famine!
Back to the Highland clearances for us here then. Not that they’ve ever ended.
Love the idea of a “wee split in my mask” and I could also suck beer through a straw..Yippee all is not lost!
And just to set things straight it was the Japanese who bombed Pearl Harbour.
Yhaalhouse has it about right. Many pubs just won’t be able to open again after this. They need drinkers in all the time to pay the bills. Rent & rates are generally very high in London. Then there’s paying the staff.
I’m hoping that at least some trad session pubs will escape the fate of closure. Good session pubs tend to be lively and popular places, so some may survive. The Blythe HT here in Forest Hill/Catford, London should pull through, but nothing is certain. And The Kilkenny in S. Wimbledon, also The Colin Campbell in Kilburn, and others of course, I would hope. Here’s hoping….
Many pubs may not re-open. I don’t see how this could possibly end pub sessions though. Already places are talking about re-opening and planning what will need to happen to do so. Yeah, it’ll be a slow start with a lot of restrictions. I don’t see many restrictions still being place a year or two from now and in 5 years time I couldn’t imagine any restrictions at all. When the time comes people will want to be with friends and pubs, no longer having restrictions will be there to accommodate patrons. They may not be all the same pubs that were around in 2019 but there will be pubs and there will be music. It would take much longer of a shutdown to do any kind of serious damage.
While many pubs etc may go out of business, it is also possible that new ones will emerge once the economy improves.
Not as many, of course, as there seems to be a general decline of such establishments due to more people drinking at home, over successful health messages, and so on. It will depend on the area too and circumstances/demand will be different depending on whether the locality is urban, rural, tourist, or whatever.
So, while many businesses may fail, this doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the pub as such. New management and/or owners may be able to take over existing premises. Or, as I suggested above, new pubs could start up in some areas too where there is a demand or gap.
Winston Smith: surely the Winchester Tavern will pull through, it is said to be an impregnable fortress.
No let-up in lockdown here yet, according to what our First Minister just said this morning. And totally agree with her.
Meantime there are lots of virtual sessions on Zoom and Facebook, hosted by those who would normally have been hosting live sessions in our local folk pubs.
Too many mixed messages going around. I agree that we should wait a bit longer too.
However, some of the restrictions on “meeting up” with very close friends and immediate family members seem quite extreme when there are so many motorists on the road, queues at B & Q, and many other premises re-opening now that they’ve worked out social distancing requirements. Also, many others are being a little too creative in how they use their allotted exercise time. The Prom and Links where I live is like Blackpool some days. 🙁
“Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? HELL NO!”
I didn’t know the Luftwaffe’s bombers had that kind of range in 1941. 🙂
I think many pubs and other small music venues will be no more when/if the lockdown lifts.
Well, with New Zealand, Australia, and in my case, British Columbia, Canada doing a phased return to normalcy, we might be some of the first places in the world with sessions happening. I know pubs here will be allowed to open in a week (under new guidelines), and with no hockey or sports on the screens to compete with they are gonna have to find new entertainment…. would be nice if a couple of post-covid sessions popped up as our town was already struggling trying to find a venue for music. Then again, if publicans are hit hard, there may be no money for pay musicians who make a living off it.
To be fair I think in 2 week intervals. Too many unknowns in the world at the moment with this going around sessions are a lower priority in my life at the moment. The music will survive, and it may change for better or worse. All I know is that it’s been refreshing watching all the online collaborations with various musicians and dancers.
For myself, I will probably be social distancing and not changing my habits for at least a month. I don’t trust idiots to break rules and cause another blip in the curve.
The link which Jack posted leads merely to proposals being made by the bodies representing Irish publicans. Those are pie in the sky until it’s seen what happens here in Ireland with the reopening of some cafes and restaurants from June 29th onward.
Frankly, there’s going to be a heck of a lot of pubs which will never reopen here in rural Ireland, either because they’re too small to function under hygiene regulations or because the level of custom won’t be economically viable. Equally, the pubs in the traditional music hotspots rely on a heavy footfall to subsidise the cost of extra staff and musicians. Will any of Doolin’s or Temple Bar’s ‘trad’ pubs be able to remain profitable? I doubt it.
Despite Alex Wilding’s claims, the number of session pubs has been in decline in rural Ireland since the economic crash of 2008/2009 (pubs closed, young people left Ireland in droves to seek work), and was further exacerbated by the laudable tightening of drink-driving legislation.
Some of the larger music pubs in the cities may be able to ride the downturn, but the days of the rural Irish session pub are numbered. It’s also difficult at the current time to imagine how any music festivals or summer schools will be able to operate next year. Small gig venues will also bite the dust.
The virtual session’s a no-no for many of us too. Away from the major conurbations broadband speed can be ludicrously slow or non-existent.
Apologies for the negativity, but this is the reality. Maybe there’ll be dancing at the crossroads again (cohabiting couples only) or the odd outdoor session (rain and wind permitting), but nowt beyond that until 2022.
I hate to be a downer here, but (what with ever-expanding idiocy successfully finding voice here in the north american states) I believe it’s axiomatic that we’ve seen the best of times, in our generation. I don’t see much hope for recovery, especially since we’ve not supported a system in 80 years that was sustainable; inevitable collapse was long overdue. Idiocy and ideology are being exploited at an ever-increasing pace. We were ripe for exploitation, and destruction is its logical course. There is good, in all of this, in that nature is self-correcting - but this is a long view.
It’s an important time for artistic voice; observing, documenting, mythologizing. Session playing may abate, but music and art can still flourish, and provide vitality, purpose, and vision.
Wow, lots of negative energy in this thread… I get it that these are dark times and people have reason to be down, but I am more optimistic than that. The world has made it through pandemics before. They can certainly change things, and this is going to feel like a long haul, but it’s not like there isn’t potential for light at the end of the tunnel. There are daily breakthroughs in the ability to test for covid-19 and the antibodies that fight it. There are new antibody therapies that are showing some real early promise, and there are numerous people working on different potential vaccines, a couple of which are already in limited clinical trials (which is faster than any time in history). This is all in spite of the rather loud idiocy from certain segments of the population that we see and hear every day. Most of that idiocy is on the fringes of society (even though it seems to have crept into the mainstream a bit more than normal these days), but the current shelter in place restrictions make it even more amplified with our non-stop news consumption. I firmly believe that the greater good of society will prevail!
And as a former bar owner, I realize that a lot of establishments probably won’t make it through this, at least in their current incarnation. (And yes, that really sucks for the owners, patrons, and musicians associated with those venues). But the human race is resilient, and for all we know now, the long haul may end up producing new wonderful things, like people caring more for the environment, new technologies to help people who are isolated, and a greater sense of togetherness when we do get to socialize “normally” again. So while there is most likely going to be a pretty devastating world-wide economic downturn, people are still people and will want to socialize (and eat and drink) in outside establishments. New ones will open to replace many of the ones we lose. And my guess is that pubs will be eager to provide unique entertainment to draw people back in… So not all hope is lost here! 😀 We just need to keep a positive attitude, make the world around us a better place as much as we can, and be patient, because getting back to “normal” is going to take time (measured in months or years, not minutes).
If sessions go away, it most certainly will not be because of Covid-19. No more pubs? No more music? Why Not? Are we all going to die? As Mark Twain noted, the earliest pioneer of civilization is never the railroad, never the newspaper, never the missionary, but whiskey. And since a session is naught but a drinking binge set to music, I’m thinking their return is assured. Call it an inspired guess.
I’m looking forward to getting together with my closest musical friends in the near future, in a by-invitation house session while we wait for the public venues to come back. It will take time, but the music and the friendships will survive, if we make the effort to host house sessions in the meantime.
Obvs in the long term sitting down together and playing tunes will persist like it has for presumably centuries. But in the aftermath of Big Bug some of the pubs that have hosted sessions for decades may not be in business and finding alternative venues maybe troublesome or at least a pain! And it maybe time before it settles down again.
House sessions just aren’t quite the same for some reason!
From Eastern Canada, even where there is a will, not sure there will be a way. I can’t see how MANY pubs and restaurants will be able to continue under the new rules being set in place here. They will have 1/3 to 1/2 the patrons for a start, by mandate. The six foot social distance rules are not going away, not here anyway. In my job (college) we are being told to prepare for that for the next year at least. If in fact we do go back face-to-face in the fall, and based on meetings this week, that is extremely unlikely. So I honestly don’t see how a pub or restaurant can make it with that large a drop in volume, especially if they were marginal to begin with. I think it’s pretty clear now the economy will not be healthy again for many months, if not years.
House sessions, now, may be a very different thing. See, being positive.
House sessions aren’t the same because they’re too comfy, too safe. Very enjoyable playing with your friends, but it lacks that little extra spark of adrenaline when you know there are people outside the group of musicians listening. You’re working without a safety net in a pub session.
I know this risks dredging up past arguments here about whether sessions are performances or not. But even if you’re not thinking that way when playing in a pub, there’s still an element of performance inherent in the setting. At a completely open pub session, there is also the potential for surprise. You never know who will show up. Maybe a newcomer walks in and asks to join, for better or worse. I miss all of the above, but I’ll settle for house sessions for now.
As a musician that has played at folk jams for well over 30 years, all of which were in private venues, I find there to be zero difference to playing in pubs. I like both, but for some reason have never found a private session to attend, so pubs are just fine. If it takes a while to get mine back, I know several of our lot could easily host sessions and we could trade off. Seems likely to happen and if we never went back to the pub, I say who cares?
Well we’re not even allowed to have “House Sessions” in The UK unless we are all already living together. Hopefully, this will change soon.
Same here in California…
We’re looking probably first at open-air sessions in parks long before house sessions could even be considered.
I would imagine we won’t see local pub sessions again until this time next year, if not later.
I did not mean start house sessions now. The discussion seemed to gravitate to the notion that pub sessions may never return. I doubt that will be the case, but if some pubs permanently close, house sessions will likely be the interim alternative. However, if it became permanent or last for years, I could live with that
The wild card is a vaccine, that might return things to normal. At least for the venues that manage to survive the economic downturn.
Conical bore, it’s great to be reminded of my legacy here. 🙂
No of course not. No lockdown here (Sweden). The powers that be rely on people using their common sense. As regards feeling ill, if in doubt, then stay at home. Nursery- and grade-schools are open. No gatherings of more than 50 people allowed though. Social distancing is the norm now in cafés, restaurants, pubs, so not many people. Denmark, Norway and Finland’s borders are closed, and incoming flights from a number of countries with imbeciles at the helm, Hungary, USA, Saudi Arabia, England are not allowed it seems. The pub where we have a Sunday session in is closed for renovations, but will open up for two weekly sessions soon.
Steamwilkes, please continue to keep us posted on how things go over there!
Just a short walk from my home a barber shop and nail salon have reopened. And just today a coworker was telling me a tattoo shop has reopened. If these, very literally hands on businesses can reopen there seems to be no sound reason to keep pubs and restaurants closed or under restrictions.
Two other observations make the long term continuing of distancing seem dubious. 1. Consider grocery stores. At the two at which I shop people comply with the distancing at the check out. But in the aisles we are of the a foot or two separated. 2. I work in food services at a hospital. In the cafeteria the 6 feet separation is generally ignored. This seems to matter little. Once people get their meal they sit in the dining room in groups at a table or booth as we have always done.
“If these, very literally hands on businesses can reopen there seems to be no sound reason to keep pubs and restaurants closed or under restrictions.”
It’s the customers who will determine the success or failure of these businesses after restrictions are lifted. Will they show up if there are still new Covid-19 cases in the area, and before there is a vaccine?
One other wrinkle is the average age of session participants. I don’t know if it’s like this elsewhere, but in my area, almost all session players are in their 50’s and 60’s, a few in their 70’s, with only an occasional younger person showing up. That’s the “fearful” demographic for the virus, which may slow down a return to sessions even if the venue is okay with it.
I agree, the majority of our regulars (including me) at the session I co-host are over 55, one is over 70, and we have a few fine younger players in their 20s and 30s. I’m sure these younger players will play a larger part in whatever is to come next when/if the local pubs open again and sessions are possible. I still think it won’t happen before 2021.
As mentioned above, a POWER DRINK to be sipped through a slit in said mask
Keep safe and well everyone
All the best
If it had been the Germans at Pearl Harbor, they certainly would not have bombed it. Many nearby topless beaches. ;)
Here in Colorado (and nearby States), Trad Live Music died out in 2004 -2006. There was never what I would call a True Session Tradition to begin with (in comparison to what was across the pond and in the Irish heavily influenced cities on the East Coast or Mid America as in Chicago). Yes, there’s venues, but most bar owners look for the cheapest way to get a crowd in, and so Open Mic nights have increased over having a band in. I don’t have my ear to the scene as I did 10 to 15 years ago, but I don’t see this changing anytime soon with or without the Wuhan Virus. I do believe we’ll see a reduction in bars and pubs, as a number were walking the thin line of viability prior to the pandemic, and so a number of them are probably going to be unable to re-open, whether due to changing social guidelines or from the financial woes is a moot point at this time. The end result is the same.
Without going in to the questionable efficacy of RnA Strand Vaccines, we’re left with Herd Immunity as the prime source of ending this crisis. Eventually, enough of the populace will acquire the virus and recover sufficiently for life to return to a semblance of pre-pandemic normalcy. Will it be as it was before? It’s highly doubtful, since changes due to a crisis result regardless of the causative agent, will continue to influence society from the top on down.
There’s simply too many unknown and unforseen variables to accurately predict what society will be like post pandemic. Yes, we all want a return to normalcy, but we’ll likely face a new and unfamiliar normalcy that we’ll have to adjust and adapt to.
So, not trying to piss on anyone’s parade, but it’s a bold new tomorrow we’re looking at friends.
I dunno, Chuck. Before the pandemic hit, there were nearly 20 regular sessions along the Front Range between Ft. Collins and Co. Springs. They would come and go periodically… But I would say that Denver and Boulder had a pretty vibrant session scene, and it seems like 2005, or thereabouts, was when it really started to build some momentum… But I’ve never tried to session in Pueblo… I think it will return, but not until sometime next year, most likely, and by then the venue landscape (and economy) may have changed pretty drastically…
Music is our only sanity right now. I’m looking forward to the day when I can sit and play some music with my friends
In Durham (UK not NC), we are all looking forward to when we can restart our sessions in the various pubs in the city……but only when it is safe and legal for all of us to sit together in a small room in the pub. That could be several months away, assuming that the pubs we use survive and reopen.
Can you imagine the number of new and/or improved players that will arise out of the ashes of Covid 19.
It’s a wonderful opportunity to pick up a new instrument, tackle a bodhran, speed up your jigs and reels, or take your first instrument back out and remember the journey. The pubs will return, and when they do, I’ll be a better man, husband and father. In the meantime, I’ll settle for Guinness in a can and pour my own whisky generously. Slainte from Maryland, Patrick
There’s a good chance that many of us will return to sessions as “new and improved players” due to all the home-bound practice. I just wonder what’s going to happen when many of us have fallen down different rabbit holes into odd and enticing tunes, that aren’t part of the normal session repertoire. The “governor” of shared repertoire is off the engine now for some of us. Or maybe it’s just me? Everything I’ve been practicing lately are tunes that aren’t part of the local session scene, although still “inside” the tradition as performed by well-known artists in ITM.
It’s going to be very interesting when we all get back together again in sessions, and we all try to entice each other to learn our favorite new tunes. 🙂
Checking in on this thread… here in SF the pub and restaurant closings, etc., in 1918 were similar to what’s happening now. Obviously at some point things got back to normal. Personally I have been optimizing the extra time to work on fundamental aspects of my playing. As has been mentioned in this thread, I’m not alone and we will likely see some improvement in our playing for those of us that survive. I hope everyone here survives and returns to their prospective sessions with better technique and new repertoire.
Pleased to report that here in NZ the regular Tuesday session at a pub in Wellington gets going next Tuesday. A metre apart and limited to 10 musos. First come, gets the tunes I guess. Stay safe all.
Some of the sessions in Durham (UK) started again in August 2021.