Covid rules - English sessions (of Irish music!)

Re: Covid rules - English sessions (of Irish music!)

We successfully held our first session since lockdown last Sunday. The apparently prescient landlord had requested us to restrict it to 6 musicians, to permit the required distancing.

He said yesterday that he was looking forward to the next one and as he’s a stickler for doing things correctly, I assume sessions of 6 are fine under the new rules.

Re: Covid rules - English sessions (of Irish music!)

One of my local session venues (which has just re-opened in a new guise after being closed for over a year) has agreed to host a Sunday lunchtime session. So far (i.e. on three consecutive Sundays), we have been very lucky with the weather and played outdoors, but we are allowed to play indoors when the weather dictates. The venue is now operating as an unlicensed cafe (so the only beer available is of the ginger kind - but nice coffee) and is already set up social distancing. Obviously, being caught breaking the rule would be fatal to the business, but the issue of numbers has been dealt with thus: The new regulations (yet to come into force in Wales, but imminent) state that a ‘gathering’ indoors can consist of no more than 6 people, but the total number of people may exceed that - depending on the size of the venue and the distancing possibilities, there could be two or more gatherings of 6 simultaneously in the same space. So, if more than six people happen to turn up, provided the excess persons are seated at a sufficient distance from the rest, they constitute a separate gathering. There is some question over where mouth-blown wind instruments fit in the rules, however.

Re: Covid rules - English sessions (of Irish music!)

It wouldn’t work in Scotland. Nicola stipulates a max of two households but you can bring the kids!

Re: Covid rules - English sessions (of Irish music!)

After 5 months with no sessions in San Diego, CA, in August we started having a weekly outdoor session in a large (30-foot diameter) gazebo in a local public park.

Everyone wears a mask, no flutes or whistle, and we’re all sitting at least 6-8 feet apart minimum. The sound is great because of the domed roof, and there is plenty of airflow since we’re essentially outdoors.

We’re honestly wondering why we didn’t start doing this 20 years ago instead of playing mostly in loud crowded pubs. Of course, in Southern California, we have fairly warm weather all year round, so might night be an option for colder locales. Eventually, the evenings will get chilly here and we’ll probably have to switch to a daytime event.

Re: Covid rules - English sessions (of Irish music!)

Correction: "might not be an option for colder locales."

Re: Covid rules - English sessions (of Irish music!)

Just a tad off subject but we sing through masks at church. It’s probably an improvement…

I did Zoom into Michael Eskin’s online session earlier this week. I’m thankful for being muted when not leading a set. It’s been long enough that my backing ability (minimal) was even worse than I would have ever expected. I think I’ll blame it on tinnitus…

Re: Covid rules - English sessions (of Irish music!)

I keep wondering if we will have sessions again. In our lifetimes, anyway. Not feeling super optimistic, and I haven’t looked at the pipes in three months. What’s the bloody point?

Re: Covid rules - English sessions (of Irish music!)

As a fellow player and retired epidemiologist, I urge us to not give up on the possibility of sessions, ones that may be much like we have known, in the future and in our lifetimes. Fouci thinks things may be back to near-normal by late 2021. Treatments are improving with increased experience and knowledge of the virus, more effective preventive measures are being developed, and new interventions are helping reduce case fatality rates and morbidity. Once effective vaccines are available, and if we can be smart(er) about how we respond to changes on the ground, it should help get prevalence lower, and we should be able to get back to safe sessions within years at most. Best keep practicing and learning new tunes - 2022 will arrive and things will be different whether we keep playing or not.

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Re: Covid rules - English sessions (of Irish music!)

dfost, thanks for the words of encouragement.

I’m turning 59 in October, so I hope we’ll be back hosting sessions in pubs by my 60th, if not before.

Re: Covid rules - English sessions (of Irish music!)

I see no reasons why sessions can’t return in the near future. They won’t be quite the same for a while and many people may be reluctant to participate.

As some members have stated, it is already possible in England up to a point. However, devolved countries differ and there are lots of peculiarities and inconsistencies in all of the UK countries.
In Scotland, as I said, no more than two households can now meet up indoors or outside. So the best we can hope for is two musical families getting together. There have been outdoor and house sessions already but even these will also be technically illegal if players attend from more than two households!

While I might reluctantly accept a "rule of six" in certain circumstances, the Scottish version is particularly restrictive. However, children under twelve do not count towards the total which is good in some ways I suppose.

Re: Covid rules - English sessions (of Irish music!)

‘And this is the message we are getting back from the old people’. Really, Will? Would that be all ‘old people’? Does this imply that you been deputised to speak for old people in general? And I see from your profile that you say ‘Im a friendly good natured happy chappy’ . Do you feel you might have given a different impression with your last posting? I rather think that any assault on medical systems and freedoms is more likely to result from a virulent disease than from media-driven fear campaigns (though the latter may give rise to conspiracy theories, which can be equally unwelcome).

Personally - and writing in my capacity as a relatively old person - I find that there continues to be a purpose to playing, whether or not live sessions can be resumed in the reasonably near future. There is always an opportunity to carry on learning - in my case, new tunes, improved proficiency, another instrument … We are fortunate in having an interest in music, though it’s not for everyone. Other goals for other people, of course. Punctuation, for example.

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Re: Covid rules - English sessions (of Irish music!)

" the Scottish version is particularly restrictive." Maybe it won’t have to be in place for as long - or will put off further restrictions for longer. In England it looks like the weather will allow six people spaced in a garden for a while yet.

What about workshops where a leader does a risk assessment and is responsible for adherence to requirements? Some non-musical evening classes seem to be going ahead.

(I guess Will may know people in locked down care homes - average residency before death is something like 3 years)

Re: Covid rules - English sessions (of Irish music!)

Since the beginning of August we have restarted the main weekly Stockholm (Sweden) session.
But we’ve had to change a few things.
1. Maximum 5 musicians, because we have only one table with just so much room, and have to keep the distance to the next table.
2. Session is closed, i.e. for booked musicians only. We’ve made an FB group for interested musicians where we book who’s playing when.
Not as good as the open session we had before, but still better than no session at all.
So far it has been very much appreciated by the listeners, especially considering the current dearth of live music.
Some people here might be interested in copying our ideas for how to solve having sessions under coronavirus restrictions.

Re: Covid rules - English sessions (of Irish music!)

Yes! The Stockholm session is back! Looking forward to it, if we can ever get back there.

Re: Covid rules - English sessions (of Irish music!)

Again we are different in Scotland between what you can do indoors, and what is allowed outdoors. One of Edinburgh’s best folk pubs has been able to set up sessions on the street outside the pub, but now this may be in difficulties after the new "Rule of Six" and only two households. Other people I know have set up other outdoor sessions, but I haven’t been: it’s a long bus ride into town, and there’s no way I’m going on a bus yet. I could drive, but car parking charges in Edinburgh would be enormous, far more than the cost of my pint of soft drink, not being able to partake of any alcohol if I was driving!
So, I’ll stick with my Zoom sessions: some people feel they are a waste of time and space, but I would say, "they’re not the same as a real session, but they are the next best thing". Someone at a session yesterday said the exact same thing, which cheered me a lot! The social side of them is not to be under-estimated.
As for this ageist cr&p, ok, I’m officially "elderly" by most definitions and a "poor old pensioner" and I do have certain disabilities, but music keeps the brain cells alive, so let’s keep the music going and stop talking rot about "old people"!!!

Re: Covid rules - English sessions (of Irish music!)

I imagine there are (or have been… before this two household rule happened) outdoor sessions but you definitely need to be on the ‘in’ crowd to be invited. I’ve felt kind of disconnected from the music crowd here for a while, and this clusterf*(*ck just increases that disconnection one hundred million-fold.

One of the pubs started to run sessions again. Probably on dubious grounds, at best, given prohibitions on music, but anyway…. I can’t imagine it still is because the government cracked down on pubs. Anyway, several of us asked how they were maintaining social distancing. We were told that the session was limited in numbers. Fair enough, but then we asked, well, what if you have to drive wildly out of your way to get to the pub? For me, driving there and back would amount to an hour and lots of shite traffic, and a few other musicians drive further than that. Is it even worth bothering if the session is very likely to be full when you get there? Of course, the session organisers didn’t have a response other than, "it’s up to you." Is there even an equitable way to limit numbers? Probably not.

Re: Covid rules - English sessions (of Irish music!)

slightly off subject here - anyone have the name of the last Flook Eb reel above [starts 2;15] ? Its familiar to me from somewhere and I can hear it in my head played on Highland pipes…………

Re: Covid rules - English sessions (of Irish music!)

Flook. Each to their own.

Re: Covid rules - English sessions (of Irish music!)

Christy its the subject of another thread running concurrently . Lexie MacAskill πŸ™‚ my guess is he posted it in the wrong thread , easily done.

Flook I really enjoy their virtuosity and the way they play so well together , but its kind of busy πŸ™‚

Re: Covid rules - English sessions (of Irish music!)

thanks Will - is there a current discussion on L. McAskill? must have missed it.
yes never 100% sure about Flook - good live show but not really my thing…………………

Re: Covid rules - English sessions (of Irish music!)

thanks Trish - probably as it was headlined ‘whistle players ’ I just passed straight over it - probably miss a lot that way! Sorry, nothing against whistle players but discussions of their playing techniques might as well be in ancient Babylonian to me……………..

Re: Covid rules - English sessions (of Irish music!)

Dr. Silver Spear, I hear you. Unfortunately I don’t have any satisfactory answers for all those circumstances and impositions. At least not now, not today. :(

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Re: Covid rules - English sessions (of Irish music!)

DrSilverSpear: "Is it even worth bothering if the session is very likely to be full when you get there? Of course, the session organisers didn’t have a response other than, "it’s up to you." Is there even an equitable way to limit numbers?"

How about "Hey everyone, considering the current situation, how about we play in 20 minute shifts, and give everyone get a chance to play?"

If there are seats for 5 and 7 people show up, either two people can generously volunteer to switch out every 20 minutes, or if there are no volunteers, perhaps draw straws or roll dice. Odd times sometimes require creative solutions.

If the players are so selfish as to not be willing to agree to such an arrangement, then do you really want to play with them anyway? I’d go start something else on my own with other like-minded players.

Re: Covid rules - English sessions (of Irish music!)

"How about "Hey everyone, considering the current situation, how about we play in 20 minute shifts, and
(give) everyone get(s) a chance to play?" "
Nice (altruistic) sentiment, Michael, I just cannot imagine it magically happening now (during the current situation). Too much Robert Young vs. Jane Wyatt for my 2020 session-returning state of mind.
If so though I’ll take Rochambeau over drawing lots or tossing dice.

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Re: Covid rules - English sessions (of Irish music!)

AB, that’s a shame…

In our weekly outdoor gazebo session, we can handle about 10 players with safe distancing, but haven’t had more than 8 show up on any given night.

Re: Covid rules - English sessions (of Irish music!)

What is a shame, Michael?

Sorry, but it’s painful to hear of Dr. Silver Spear’s dilemma regarding her being on the outside w/local sessions. Thinking hers’ is situation which someone without similar issues can completely resolve is a bit too utopian.
At least that’s how I read the ‘big’ picture outside my personal experience.

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Re: Covid rules - English sessions (of Irish music!)

AB That it’s not a possibility for your situation, or did you mean something else?

Re: Covid rules - English sessions (of Irish music!)

Yes, something else. I have the opportunity to play with other people. Chico is not very large. If anything Chico is too small & very close.

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Re: Covid rules - English sessions (of Irish music!)

Ah, I’ve heard from Jewel about the lovely sessions you’re having in Chico the past few weeks, been getting the set lists in my email from Michael. πŸ™‚

Re: Covid rules - English sessions (of Irish music!)

We are making the most of an otherwise miserable set of circumstances.
All the best, Michael!

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Re: Covid rules - English sessions (of Irish music!)

Us too. We’re wondering why we didn’t play in park gazebos in the before-before, it’s been really nice the past couple of months. Hoping for some better air quality in the coming weeks, had to cancel this week because of the PM2.5 levels.

Re: Covid rules - English sessions (of Irish music!)

Yeah, AB, you’re totally right,

If only Michael’s approach was how people at sessions here did things. But it’s cutthroat under the best of circumstances, and if you’re playing, you’re on top of the world, and someone who’s not playing is not your problem. They are only your problem if they’re in your seat, and then you can’t play. It’s every man and woman for themselves. I would not describe the scene as warm and fuzzy, like it’s been in other places I’ve lived.

It’s academic anyway at this moment. I doubt anyone is playing. As of two weeks ago in Glasgow and last week everywhere else, you’re not allowed to hang out socially with more than six people and two households. And pubs aren’t allowed live music. Or canned music. Or anything. I believe the music prohibition came in as a ‘guideline,’ rather than a rule, at first, and that’s when the pub in question restarted sessions. I can’t imagine they are now, as the Scottish government took a dim view of the Pirates of the Caribbean approach to following their advice, and said they would enforce it.

Re: Covid rules - English sessions (of Irish music!)

Your gazebo sessions sound great, Michael, but over here in Scotland, apart from the problems already mentioned by Dr SS and myself, of driving, traffic, parking charges, no drinks allowed, numbers, venues, bar managers, etc, we also have the Scottish weather to contend with; "four seasons in one day" is an apt description of some days we get. Gazebos blown away in high winds, torrential rain, and if the sun does come out for an hour or two, also out come the midges to drive you bonkers!

Re: Covid rules - English sessions (of Irish music!)

Will such difficulties yield something good for sessions eventually?
I do not know. The tunes matter though. This I can appreciate with or without hope.

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Re: Covid rules - English sessions (of Irish music!)

Sessions with 5 people ? In your kitchen ?

Re: Covid rules - English sessions (of Irish music!)

"here in Scotland"

You’ve been listening too much to Jason Leitch, Trish. πŸ™‚

Unfortunately, Will, we aren’t allowed 5 people even in our kitchen "here in Scotland" unless they live there or are from only one other house. Or even in a gazebo out on the moors, for that matter. πŸ™

Re: Covid rules - English sessions (of Irish music!)

Oh, in the news this morning. A Pathhead pub in Midlothian, Scotland held a karoke event in their beer garden on 5th of September. This was technically legal but several people who attended were tested positive for Covid and told to self isolate. The venue has now been cleaned with a deep "covid fog spray"!

https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-karaoke-night-linked-to-covid-19-outbreak-as-pub-customers-told-to-self-isolate-12072916

NHS Lothian warns that music can cause people to "raise their voices"… Mind you, certain people will always like to hear themselves in pubs whether there’s music or not!

Of course, tune sessions and karaoke are completely different beasts but we’ll still be tarred with the same brush. Especially "here in Scotland".

Re: Covid rules - English sessions (of Irish music!)

I’ll be going to my third outside - but under cover in a pub garden - social distanced session this Sunday. These are great while the weather holds - but sessions when it gets colder/wetter are going to be a problem

Re: Covid rules - English sessions (of Irish music!)

I attended a supremely well organised garden session last Saturday - not specifically Irish, although there was a signifiant Irish-trad-playing contingent. All musicians (excepting couples and other ‘bubbles’) were seated a minimum of 2m from their neighbours, with white-painted bamboo canes laid on the grass as distance markers; everyone submitted their contact details for trac(k+e) purposes and had their temperatures taken on arrival with a forehead sensor; close tabs were kept on numbers in attendance (which reached 23 at its peak - still 7 short of the maximum allowed for outdoor gatherings at that point). Keeping in time was a challenge at times and the ability to laugh at oneself was an advantage, but everyone was in the same boat and a good time was had; it was a pleasure just to be in the presence of some other musicians (and some very good ones). Whatever view you may take of the ‘rules’, it was a spectacular achievement on the part of the hostess.

Re: Covid rules - English sessions (of Irish music!)

I’ve been to at least 6 different venues in London running sessions and gigs since lockdown finished in July. So far I have not since or heard anything about local covid spikes. In all there was singing, and most contained flutes and whistles. It seems that a number of the musicians involved probably caught covid back in March (as did I). So hopefully we are clear for a while yet.

After saying that, after the reduction in numbers over the summer months, the disease appears to be making a comeback.

Re: Covid rules - English sessions (of Irish music!)

I just wanted to add that I haven’t been to any sessions since February but I’m trying to make the most of the time to learn all those tunes I never quite got before. I do miss playing with other people, a lot, but until things are back to normal I’m just doing what I can to improve my playing.

I’ve found it fascinating watching various some, more "famous", folk musicians who seem to have really taken advantage of the lack of gigs to expand their online presence. At risk of going off topic again, there are thousands of hours of people’s personal videos taken at gigs and the musicians make no money from this - essentially they’re now unpaid gigs. The only way for them to combat that is to make their own, better online content and some of them are doing this.

Perhaps as amateur session musicians we could all try recording our own personal videos and upload those to YouTube? It’s frightening how exposed you suddenly feel, and how all your technical flaws become so apparent!

Re: Covid rules - English sessions (of Irish music!)

Sadly, the limited and carefully spaced sessions outside one of Edinburgh’s pubs ("here in Scotland", JJ!) are off again as of the last couple of days and the "Rule of Six from two households" kicking in.

As for Mudchutney’s suggestion above, this is already roughly how the Linlithgow online sessions work: people send their own videos, YouTubes or Soundcloud clips in to the association chairman, and they are then posted in sequence on the session night via their Facebook page. Most of us are amateurs, though we did have some nice ones from a few of the professionals who had played at our festival before, over what should have been festival weekend a couple of weeks back.