Session -Bored Out Of My Mind

Session -Bored Out Of My Mind

Galway Session - Working in Galway this week fancied a few tunes, I won’t mention the pub’s name, but here’s what I was greeted by ; Stern faces of concentration broken by the odd dry nervous smile, a closed group of younger players mostly all young girls late teens early 20s, playing specifically awkward but well practiced tunes all in Eb. A social awkwardness bordering on a slightly rude if not unapproachable attitude, other players not really welcome, tune after tune after tune being played with no deviation, singing, chat or banter. Played to a specific time, packed up and gone, not a drink or bottle of water bought between them, or any interaction with those in the pub. I had already got bored, was finishing my pint, flute still in box on the table in front of them, so I left as well, I passed the ‘Session Tonight Musicians Welcome’ sign on the door as I walked out. This may sound controversial, but these younger players have ruined playing Trad music in public, for everyone but themselves. After watching them, I doubt whether they even enjoyed it ! No lift, No Craic, No Sharing, No Smiles, No Deviation, No Conversation, No Fun Allowed. Is this what these younger players have been taught by Comhaltas, is this the future of Irish Traditional music ? This isn’t the first time I have seen this, but it’s coming near the last, because I am sick going to sessions, fleadhs or attempting to play music in this atmosphere. But maybe thats just what these younger players want. This exact same snobbery, arrogant and highly competitive attitude has ruined local GAA in the past, and has now ruined Trad music as well.

Re: Session -Bored Out Of My Mind

Every session has its own character. There are and always have been the types of sessions to which you refer. Especially Galway has many sessions. Some play in unusual keys because they are top notch players and don’t want beginner or intermediate players messing up their pro sound. Some are laid back and have a lot of intermediate players and you’ll get the craic you’re looking for. Some will be so loose that you can stop the session to sing Danny Boy. Just find the right one for you or level up. Don’t get mad. Have fun. If you can’t keep up enjoy the music and appreciate that these folks have dedicated their lives to perfecting their art. Order a pint and listen. I know how you feel. I’ve been there. I used to get mad but it made me practice a lot more and a lot harder. Find the right session for you. In Galway that should be easy.

As the other Jim Morrison used to say “Women seem wicked when you’re unwanted.”

Life’s too short to be mad. Have fun out there!

Re: Session -Bored Out Of My Mind

“… a closed group of younger players mostly all young girls late teens early 20s, playing specifically awkward but well practiced tunes all in Eb.”

They were possibly being paid.

Re: Session -Bored Out Of My Mind

They would have to suffer me - i do have 2 Eb whistles in my case, and its a rare thing I get to play them with others. And whatever my foibles as a musician, i know a lot of tunes :P

So, I have mixed feelings about what the OP described and feel like playing devil’s advocate.
With the best will in the world, a local session where the regulars play the same 20 sets gets wearing when you are a keen player. There’s thousands of trad tunes and ‘obscure’ is often a local phenomenon - i go to 2 sessions 20 miles apart, and the Venn diagram overlap is about 6 tunes tops. I’d consider it rude to play a bunch of ultra-modern compositions all night, because that is being exclusive. Anything else is fair game, unless you’re being exclusive by playing prohibitively fast.
The best players I know locally however don’t do this, and aren’t session-hogs starting every set. And they do go out of their way to be welcoming to newcomers. To not do this and not give newcomers a chance isn’t fair either.

A session is a social phenomena and inclusive - to a point. A newcomer has an onus to adapt to the regulars. To pick an extreme example, if I went to a session where I looked around and saw a pantheon of ITM gods, well i’d suspect i’d have died and gone to heaven, and secondly wouldn’t feel - or want - those guys to play down to my modest level. However, I’d be made up if i got to play a couple of sets with them, and would be disappointed in them if they made me feel unwelcome.

I don’t agree that all sessions should proceed all the time at the pace of people who haven’t bothered to learn a new tune in 20 years - especially if they are in the minority. Also, a solitary individual who rocks up and tries to monopolise a night should be (in the words of John Prine) ‘politely told’ and if they persist, asked to not let the door hit their ass on the way out. Ditto for people who try and change what a session is - Morris people co-opting a trad session is something thats happened to me more than once, ditto the obligatory guy-with-guitar who feels the night would be improved by him singing every 5 minutes and this Danny Boy/ Fields of Athenry/ …
Caveat: I’m not saying the OP did either of these things! Or anything about his/her standard as a player. Like i said, I’m making the case for the defence …

I think that a group of like-minded players should be allowed to find a place to play their music, and if picking a key of Eb was their way of doing it, so be it. I think though that they did wrong by advertising it as an open session when in truth it seems like a (mostly) closed session.

that said the music and the musicians should be welcoming, the best players i know don’t have much or any discernible ego.

Re: Session -Bored Out Of My Mind

If we’re looking for specific examples, the Saturday night session at the Crane in Galway has always been welcoming to me, and they definitely play in D.

Re: Session -Bored Out Of My Mind

“No lift, No Craic, No Sharing, No Smiles, No Deviation, No Conversation, No Fun Allowed.” Welcome to the 21st century. That’s a very depressing picture you’re painting there, TommyS, and I share your frustration.
“ Is this what these younger players have been taught by Comhaltas” - big assumption there, were they are wearing Comhaltas medals ? I know what you mean, though.
,“.. is this the future of Irish Traditional music ? ” If it is, it’s dying.
But the problem here is honesty and accuracy in advertising - remove the - ‘Session Tonight Musicians Welcome" sign, and all is clear. In fact, you’d be entirely justified in taking up the points you have made above with the pub management. And I don’t see the point in making this complaint here without naming the premises in question. It might save other musicians having the same unfortunate experience as you had.

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Re: Session -Bored Out Of My Mind

Yes, “Musical friends” can get together and play whatever music they wish.

In a pub too whether it’s for a session or payment(if they come to an arrangement). Even if it’s just a session, it can be as exclusive as they wish. If the management is happy enough with them playing there, so be it.

The only issue here, as Kenny says, that it shouldn’t have been advertised as an “Open session” when it clearly wasn’t!

Unfortunately, the management of bars don’t always understand the finer intracies of such things although I’d have hoped that this wouldn’t be the case in somewhere like Galway.
For instance, Here in Scotland, I know of one particular session which is advertised in the pub’s FB page as a “Folk Band night” which is a bit like the situation described here in reverse. So musicians are actually welcome but might feel discouraged or not realise that they can attend.

Re: Session -Bored Out Of My Mind

Naaa Wodanaz….I’m not changing to suit that sh:te. Been playing over 40 years myself to a high standard, why should I change to suit them ? To be honest, even if you copied each and every tune, played beyond their standard, you would still be unwelcome. It’s the attitude, the snobbery , the exclusion. They must do this over practiced mundane set, just like a puppet show, everywhere they go ? It certainly is totally boring and stifling for a listener, how they hell they do it is beyond me.

Happy Camper…what you say I mostly agree with. But there is no need for such exclusion and rudeness. Moreover, the set they where playing became barley indistinguishable to the untrained ear. It was even for me, with my experience, eventually boring ,annoying and repetitive. Add to this their social awkwardness and standoffish behaviour, it simply wasn’t a nice experience for any good traditional listener..Maybe for a tourist and young ‘wannbe in crowd ’ ..not for me.

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TommyS, I can understand your annoyance but how was their performance received by the patrons, especially the regulars?

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“No lift, No Craic, No Sharing, No Smiles, No Deviation, No Conversation, No Fun Allowed.” This isn’t a new phenomenon. I went to many sessions when studying in London in 1993/4. The only one I really didn’t enjoy was run by a Comhaltas clique. I had the following conversation with them before they started playing “Are you having a session tonight?” “Yes”; “Do you mind If I sit in with you?” “No”. They were the only two words any of the musicians spoke to me during the two hours or so I was there. I knew several hundred tunes at the time, but only recognized about four of the ones they played. Not being familiar with the material didn’t put me off at all - I like to be exposed to new tunes. What annoyed me was, just like TommyS describes, the arrogance, exclusivity and total lack of welcome. They were all very skilled players, but it was robotic, monotonous, and they didn’t really seem to be enjoying themselves. If they’d rather stick to their own company, that’s fine, but why allow me to sit in? They could have just said it was a closed session and I’d have accepted that. This was nearly 30 years ago, and I still remember it with bitterness.

Re: Session -Bored Out Of My Mind

I’d agree with Kenny - name the premesis please! It’ll save me bringing my instruments anywhere near it!

On a serious note - none of what you say surprises me, have seen it in action more than once, and there’s nothing more off-putting. Not that new either. It’s also so short-sighted, for any of those talented people who want to make a living from trad music will learn soon that their primary audience is going to be other players.

There’s an insularity in certain pockets of trad that I think is partially self-protective - partly the same insularity that has protected the Celtic languages and culture for decades. Makes it difficult for “outsiders” to integrate easily in some areas and that has spilled into local sessions. There are other theories on why many of this generation of young musicians are particularly insular, but that’s for another day’s thread, I think.

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Ed McGarrigle; To be honest, the session went by virtually unnoticed by most. There was a table of 4 American tourists who enjoyed it for a bit, but then turned their backs and talked between themselves. In fairness the bar was not packed, but the session offered nothing in return, rather you would have been standoffish yourself to approach any of the players or try to engage in conversation, least alone attempt a tune, you could feel the coldness in the air. They had little or no interest in reaction.

Fluther & Kenny, naming it is not really fair on the bar , lets just say you could throw a stone from Mainguard St and hit it. Look, the way I see it, these kids see nothing wrong with what they do or did. It is a very common thing these days as you’s say, coldness, rudeness, social awkwardness , exclusion, snobbery, Christ they wouldn’t even buy a bottle of water, least along a cup of tea or a pint. I seen it just as bad in Doolin in Gus’s this summer.

I grew up in smoke filled, porter supping bars playing trad music, the sessions oozed character and I can honestly say they were the best days of my life. Better than playing on stage or gigs, better than recording and certainly better than playing with people like this, but I do accept them days are gone. As I said, these session are not for me and there is no point trying to fight it or behave like it myself, just to fit in. The hole thing has just got too false and those with timid, not so confident or engaging characters, seemed to have turned it to suit themselves, cocooned themselves if you like in an attempt to make their obtuse behavior seem normal. The human side of the performance gets lost in a non stop barrage of reels and jigs, with each set eventually sounding like the next. The fact that so many do it, behave like it, is obviously testament to the teaching.

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“… and those with timid, not so confident or engaging characters, seemed to have turned it to suit themselves, cocooned themselves if you like in an attempt to make their obtuse behavior seem normal…”

I’ve often thought, behind every musician is someone who, for their own reasons, has spent tens of thousands of hours sitting in a room alone (practicing).

For lots of people the attraction will be a love of music, but for a significant proportion I suspect it’s partially also due to some form of social anxiety/low level trauma which is soothed by the process/act.

With the growing incidence of these sorts of conditions in younger people in general, I wonder if its also a factor in some younger trad players?

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belayatron; given the widespread nature of it, I dont think so, I think it’s more on an accepted culture.

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We started s new session in our town this year and as we had a bunch of people coming from another town nearby i said we had a couple of ground rules and one was that you had to have a couple of minutes talking between each set - none of this sitting around waiting to play your fave. It’s worked too, but nobody needed to tell anyone this when I was young. Or am I getting nostalgia myopia?

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I think this is a bit of sad post. I get the complaint about the description as a welcome session but this seems a bit rough to me.
"Nervous smile, mostly teen girls, socially awkward, etc. Sounds to me like young nervous people who were only just old enough to be going to the pub. It takes time for kids to develop social skills. Ruining trad music? Really?, they’re kids. I’m just glad there weren’t trad music websites about when I was younger for more experienced players to wade in and slag off the countless faux pas my naivety led me to.

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‘Or am I getting nostalgia myopia?’ I don’t know, but - and I really do hate to be negative about this, and have held off till now - the sort of thing described in the OP is really what comes to my mind when someone says, ‘Irish session’, and long has, since my introduction to same back in the ‘70s. Not to say that I have not participated in many sessions not like that (that’s a lot of ’nots’ for a guy who didn’t want to be negative!), but … I’ve more often been around more of the other. Proviso: not in Ireland; I’ve never been there.

Re: Session -Bored Out Of My Mind

Bogman has a point too.

I’ve witnessed quite a few sessions of the “Nervous smile, mostly teen girls(and boys), socially awkward” variety. Often, no smiles at all.
However, a few years later, they turn into great all round musicians and becoming much more outgoing and welcoming.
Everybody has to start out somewhere but, perhaps, they should be encouraged to join established sessions and share their music with other musicians and vice versa as opposed to just doing their own thing. There’s a happy medium.

However, as as been mentioned already, they are quite entitled to do it their own way if they want as long as the pub agrees.

Re: Session -Bored Out Of My Mind

Bogman, not a sad post, more frustrated. We were all young and nervous at one stage in our playing, that’s no excuse, because this behavior would never have been accepted or tolerated in ordinary pub sessions during the 60s,70s, 80s or 90s by our elders.. and if it did exist it in pockets, it was certainly not accepted on a wider scale.

The trad music scene has become younger, more conservative, and more politically correct. The level of competition has become very serious, very stern and very competitive. I could see your point if this was just a few isolated younger musicians, but not only does this culture now seem widely tolerated, it also seems to be encouraged and promoted as part of the playing.

What I am saying is that I, someone who has played for over 40 years, don’t find it acceptable, as is the case with many others who feel the same. I have a right to speak out and say ‘f off’ there is no excuse. I was at the Mullingar Fleadh during the summer for a day, I hated it… Not just the crowds but the attitudes. These young players need to realize, there is very little money or fame to be made in Irish music, and as such no reason to turn arrogant, stick your nose in the air and lose all sense of manners. It is there to be enjoyed, shared and encouraged by all, not as an individual form of self glorification, but more in terms of the community and respect for the wider tradition. Watching and listening to these younger players, simply drives a lot of listeners and fellow musicians away from the music. I certainly wouldn’t sit down with such people and engage in conversation, least alone play a few tunes with them. For myself , they ruin every session they pollute, and at this stage all I would give them, is a wide berth. The music doesn’t belong to them, it belongs to us all.

Re: Session -Bored Out Of My Mind

The first thing I’ll say is that while I’ve run into this situation many times, I don’t quite agree that it’s the “young generation” or whatever. One of the most egregious instances of this I experienced was at a session in Cork, three older (likely all 60+) fellas, myself on flute, and a fiddle player. The three older guys were the session mainstays, myself and the fiddler were new to that session. About halfway through the session, he leans over to me and says, “is every session in Cork like this? Does anyone ever talk to you?” We had sat there for nearly two hours and MAYBE gotten ten words out of the three guys. They pretty much ignored us during both the music and the chatting, it was as if we were invisible.

It turns out that the fiddler was new to town, had been considering moving there in large part due to the music scene, and was pretty dismayed that he might have made the wrong choice. And what’s worse is that, while I’m a fine enough flute player, he was a seriously good musician, and is now a fairly well-established fiddle player and teacher in the area. To think, if I hadn’t assured him that this was out of the norm in an otherwise fairly open and welcoming scene, he might not have stuck around!

Now, again, anyone who runs a session can do what they want. If you want to do that, that’s your prerogative. And I can understand that there are people who come in and want to bang away on a bodhran or play a badly-tuned shrieky whistle, and maybe that’s a defense mechanism of sorts that develops. But I do think it negatively impacts the music scene if you give the cold shoulder to everyone, especially musicians who could seriously add to your musicmaking.

Comhaltas probably does get some of the blame, as does the blurring of lines between “paid gig,” “concert,” “session,” etc. that means that you can never quite be sure how open any given group of musicians really is. You can get groups of young people who have literally grown up playing music together, and of course you’re never going to be able to penetrate that bond as a blow-in off the street in just a couple hours. But I wouldn’t discount simple social awkwardness, either; some people are outgoing and some people aren’t, and some people just don’t know how to make someone else feel welcome even if they would want to. One of the most welcoming sessions I’ve been to was at the very bar I believe you’re talking about, and with musicians at a much higher level than I was, but the person sitting next to me was warm and inviting and it made all the difference.

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“The trad music scene has become younger, more conservative, and more politically correct…”

How does the trad music scene become both “more conservative” and “more politically correct” at the same time? The two things would seem at odds with each other would they not? And “more politically correct” how exactly? What does that even mean?

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“The music doesn’t belong to them, it belongs to us all.”
True enough but the only real *crime* I see (in the Galway pub session) is a closed session being advertised as ‘Session Tonight Musicians Welcome’. Are there no other sessions in Galway?

edit:I just now read Kenny’s post & I agree 100%. I definitely think naming the pub here would be more helpful. Or, at least take it up with the managemement, Tommy, if you think it’s important for you.

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Re: Session -Bored Out Of My Mind

Triplet, I think Tommy might mean “conservative” with a lower-case c, in other words personally conservative in how it deals with outsiders or things that deviate from “the way we do things,” rather than a political sense like agreeing with “conservative” politics.

I don’t exactly know what “politically correct” in the context of trad means, though.

Re: Session ~ Rhetorically Out.

I hear ya’, triplet! Too much of everything & the kitchen sink as well.

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Re: Session -Bored Out Of My Mind

As to drinking or not drinking whilst playing many musicians are broke and can’t afford to buy anything. Secondly as your playing level goes up drinking becomes less of an option. I used to drink at sessions. Now I have a lot of moves that I can’t pull off under the influence. So I drink water so that my fingers do what I tell them to do.

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“I don’t exactly know what ‘politically correct’ in the context of trad means, though.”

Perhaps it means not playing in a regional style other than your native one for fear of causing offence.

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I’ll admit to not drinking while at sessions, as I don’t drink at all. I do get a soft drink or something of the sort, but I wouldn’t have 4 or 5 the way people can go through pints. A lot of the time the drink is free, so I don’t feel bad at all for not taking them up on it to the fullest extent. Presumably if these girls were being paid to play at this session, that’d probably be the case for them.

To be completely honest, drinking at sessions can often be overrated for everyone other than the drinker, and I’ve had way too many experiences where I’m sitting next to someone too far gone by the end of the night, they can’t play and they’re being obnoxious in some way. So I find it hard to judge people for not drinking, if that’s what they choose to do.

Re: Session -Bored Out Of My Mind

Nothing new-back in late 70s there was us and them.As far as they were concerned if you were not first or second generation Irish forget it.
And wo bedite if you didnt stand and play The Soldiers song at the end of the night!
What happened to them?Well both sides produced some well known musicians who have persued a career in trad. Music.
Mind you it goes on in trad.Scottish music where the more obscure the tune key and rendering amongst young Scottish musicians the better.
But at least we have “ Peat and Diesel”.(what keeps the Hebrides going)from Stornoway to keep us entertained

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Politically correct..What did I mean ? It’s not considered politically correct, to step outside the framework established by these young players. They simply don’t accept it. Their conservative nature, does not tend to hold with conversation, laughter or even engaging with others…but bear in mind this is a pub in Galway, playing traditional music, in a session. In that sits the contradiction itself. We just have to accept that sessions are no longer the welcoming friendly environment they once were, or should be.

I think one of the rudest things I see, is when an accomplished musician is completely ignored, and better still snubbed, because he/she has the potential to take the limelight away.

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re- “mostly all young girls late teens early 20s,” .. Well as an older, retired man myself, I probably would have just let the young women be. I really don’t see what your problem is. We’ve all been to music sessions where we don’t quite fit for one reason or another. What’s the big deal? Have a beer, let the girls get on with it and enjoy the music. Or if you are indeed bored out of you ‘old’ mind, go home. And then…
“I think one of the rudest things I see, is when an accomplished musician is completely ignored, and better still snubbed, because he/she has the potential to take the limelight away.”…. ‘’Limelight"… Really?? I thought that was for music halls, not sessions.

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Re: Session -Bored Out Of My Mind

I’ll have to say that in a town like Galway where it feels like you’re never more than a five minute walk from a pub with a session on, I’d vote with my feet if I found myself stuck in one where I was bored out of my mind. If you feel like they want to be left alone it might just be best to oblige them.

Re: Session -Bored Out Of My Mind

In just reading the OP, my gut reactions are

1) When In Rome

2) get an Eb flute.

In my fluteplaying days I had a good vintage Eb flute, an 1880s Boosey 8-key made of hard rubber, which I picked up for very little money.

For sure it didn’t get nearly as much play as my D flute, but it were several times over the years that the Eb flute saved the day.

My strangest session experience was right before the COVID shutdown when I attended a quite large Irish Festival in the eastern USA. Their website listed “traditional session” and sure enough on the festival grounds was a gazebo with a large number of chairs ready and a sign “traditional Irish session”. No-one was there.

Suddenly 20 people showed up, set up music stands, got out music books, and the leader called out “page 28” and the session began.

Too bad the website didn’t say “bring music stand and _______ book”. (I never found out what book it was. I quickly lost interest and wandered off to drink beer.)

Re: Session -Bored Out Of My Mind

The OP seems to have left the building.
🙂
Anyway, as has been said, the only issue I see here is with the advertising. Also, there’s no real harm in this type of session for those who want it especially where there’s plenty of others available.

There used to be a weekly session in The British Legion in Dufftown before lockdown(I don’t know it it restarted?) https://thesession.org/sessions/2322

I think other instrument players other than fiddle and accordion would be welcome too but it is very much a “dots” session. However, the procedure is that all the players take a turn to “start a set of tunes” but hand out the music to the other players. Believe it or not, it works quite efficiently and there’s not much time wasted.
I realise that’s not for everybody and it helps if you can “sight read” well. Of course, if you already know the tunes, there’s no real problem.

That’s the general format although there’s usually room for a couple of “turns” or solo spots.

Actually, it’s a very good night and a good way to add some new tunes to your repertoire. As I say, it’s not for everyone. However, for a “dots” session, it’s very sociable and friendly.
There’s no problem going as a visitor either as you get the music too. There’s no set “books” or anything like that.

Re: Session -Bored Out Of My Mind

“When in Rome…” yes, the only alternative is to get pissed off and let things spoil your evening.
“Buy an E flat flute/whistle” brilliant, but of course the challenge to the main street trad fiddler to play outside the “people’s keys” remains. My attempt at solving that was to learn The Banks. I fell in love with E flat and, well, it wasn’t as hard as I had feared. If for nothing else, I have The Banks to thank for getting my fourth finger up and running—something I had been too lazy to do for decades.

As for “attitude” in sessions; from the ‘it takes all sorts’ department…I’ve been in snobby sessions, loose sessions and sessions that embraced every branch and twig of the Celtic cannon: Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Breton, Cape Breton, Ottawa Valley, Québécois, etc. Some sessions in Montreal lurch good-humouredly from one tradition to another, even within a single set. Purists would likely find this as galling (sic) as the OP found the nameless Galway Bar session.

One session I sat in on in Clifden of a frozen winter night was led by an Englishman and included two French players and some locals. They were a pleasant, chatty group. When I made the customary “may I join?” signal (raised eyebrows and brandished fiddle case), I got the nod and sat down. As per common session etiquette, I refrained from starting anything. After every set, the Englishman whipped out his notebook and pencil and wrote down the names of the tunes played, what key each was in and who had started the set. (Picture the weekly meetings of the Danebury Metal Detecting Club on “The Detectorists”). I was bustin’ to ask why he did this, but,…. “When in Clifden ….” Although nary a smile or word was said to me all evening, the music was fun and the pints delightful.

Far from Mayo and more recent are the Wednesday sessions at Cardinal’s Pub in Hudson, Québec. This is mainly a beginners‘ session and there’s lots of sheet music handed out to the readers. There’s the ’tune of the week’ notice on FB ahead of time and the friendly joshing and encouragement of the beginners by more seasoned players makes for a fine evening. It’s really fun to have a double bass player there too. Apart from the creative chord inversions he gives us, he’s good at keeping the tempo within sustainable limits. Yes, it takes all sorts.

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When in Rome…yes indeed, and fair enough. So, the following is my take on this. Possibly some of it has been expressed above by others.
Before one enters a “foreign” session you should be prepared to accept almost anything. (Foreign as in, not your own local session. Even in your own local session things can change from week to week, even set to set!) But upon going into said pub with session, there are most likely certain pointers. Like, if it’s Galway City the sessions are likely to be high class affairs. If it were The Crane in Galway, that would most certainly be the case. But the OP says he is an accomplished musician, which I don’t doubt. But just curious as to why he felt the need to reinforce that point a few times….
Also, it might have been a good idea to ascertain who might be the so-called “session leader” if there was one, and introduce oneself and ask would it be OK to join in now and again. Maybe he did, but I didn’t read that bit.
Worth also remembering that not all - in fact not all that many, in my experience - session players are ebulient extroverts, ready to smile, crack jokes and be yer best pal forever on first meeting. In fact, a certain amount introvercy (is that a word?) goes with the territory. Outside of the session environment you need to be on your own a lot if you want to be able to do enough practice to merit going out and playing tunes faultlessly in public. Maybe we all need to be a bit more forgiving and leave our fragile egos at the door.

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Slightly off track question - in an Eb session do fiddlers tune up a semitone then play normal fingering? Banjo and zouk players could presumably just capo on the 1st fret and play as normal. I ask cos I tried playing a few D tunes in Eb on a standard tuned mando and gave up after a fairly short time - too frustrating and ultimately displeasing !

Re: Session -Bored Out Of My Mind

Good story Jack, although I should note that Clifden is in Galway, not Mayo!

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“Slightly off track question - in an Eb session do fiddlers tune up a semitone then play normal fingering? ”

@christy - yes they do, usually.

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@AB - there’s a fair bit to go through there!

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“Here in Scotland”, we sometimes have to play up a semitone with Highland pipers.

They won’t necessarily have the “full set”, of course, and that would be a bit loud for most rooms.
Although I have a spare fiddle, I’m a little nervous about tuning up just in case I do any damage. I believe it’s probably safe enough according to what others say here.

The mandolin is a bit too high pitched, I think. However, capoing an octave mandolin/mandola type instrument works well in that situation as does a tenor banjo. I prefer the former though as it’s a nice sound and there’s more scope for accompaniment as an alternative to playing the melody.

At The Harp Festival, they usually play in “friendly” keys as all instruments are welcome in the sessions. The harp is usually tuned in Eb(Historically Ab in Scotland). So, such tunings are no real problem if you can play the harp but, otherwise, it’s just a case of changing the levers for different keys. Thankfully, the fingerings are the same. 🙂