Visiting musicians.

Visiting musicians.

Although the standard of music at our regular session is usually pretty good I have noticed how visiting musicians can raise the bar for our local players. A few weeks ago a very well known fiddler popped in for a pint and a few tunes at the end of the night with just a few of the regulars lingering but it seems to have had a profound and lasting effect on the other musicians, as one person commented, “the best thing that’s ever happened to me.” As a result there is a palpable improvement in overall sound, less hesitancy and more direction if you will. Has anybody else noticed the same phenomena in their area ?

Just the opposite

Mediocrity often protects itself in the face of excellence by usurping power and forcing itself on others.

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Re: Visiting musicians.

What? Explain that, Eliot, I haven’t the slightest idea what you’re trying to say about Patkiwi’s post.

Re: Visiting musicians.

My apologies for being obscure. There is a local session that plays from sheet music and has played the same tunes for years. Whenever a decent player shows up and tries to do something musical, there is a fight. They think it’s rude and we’re just showing off. And maybe they are right, after all, it’s their session.

My experience (and this comes from academia as well as music) is that mediocrity often breeds contempt and jelousy in the face of excellence.

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Re: Visiting musicians.

Good visitors are great, whether “well known” or no. We had a couple of visitors to our session last week, and it gave it an added lift. New tunes, new energy and a breaking down of expectations. I agree with Patkiwi that good visitors can have a lasting effect. Partially, I think it can break up habitual tunes and reintroduce the notion that you can play new tunes; or that you don’t have to play the same old tunes every week.

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Re: Visiting musicians.

Only a mediocre person is always at his best.
William Somerset Maugham

Re: Visiting musicians.

I can’t see the pleasure in the quoted “session” just playing all the same tunes, from music, every time. My immediate reaction if someone comes up with a “new” good tune is “what’s that ( called ) ?”, and to go home and look it up here or elsewhere, to learn. Ok, my tune book, here and in the binder, is well bigger than my performing repertoire, but I do try to learn, one way or the other, from what strangers can bring to the session.
On the other hand my band plays from a fairly static book, but you can never tell what they’ll do with a humble row of tadpoles on telegraph wires, using the book just as a reminder and starter for their musical expression. And of course we have a different audience every gig, which helps. And then there was the evening I forgot the book……I don’t think the audience had any idea, either, and why should they. After all, some bands only play one tune per dance.

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If the session regulars have an open mind, and welcoming attitude, and the visitors have an open mind, and a polite attitude, visits can be wonderful experiences–we should all strive for that. But when, as Eliot described, the locals don’t appreciate change, it doesn’t work. Also, if the visitors push the “lesser mortals” out of the way and just play the tunes they like, that doesn’t work either. So, whenever we are on one end or the other of this transaction, lets remember that the goal is to SHARE tunes.

Re: Visiting musicians.

I find that visitors to our local sessions really liven things up, and always bring new ‘juice’ to us, in one way or another.

Our regular sessions can get stale, and do from time to time, for various reasons… Melodists leave (it’s a transient college town) or can’t play for a while because of work or other ‘real-life’ stuff. So some of us try to travel around to other sessions to recharge our own sets of tunes and new ideas about playing.

We’ve asked our host venue, the Encore Cafe, for a “long session” version of our regular Friday gathering, that happens about every four weeks. One big reason for this is so our friends who live some distance away can come and join in, and we can make overnight arrangements for them.

It’s sad to hear the tale of the academics being so prickly about stuff… Fortunately, the stodgy and prickly parts of Indiana University rarely, if ever, make it into our sessions. Most of us aren’t part of academia, tho some of us work for the Univ. (it’s a Company Town for IU…), and dot-readers are welcome, tho a minority. Some of our best melodists will open a book to remember a tune now and then.

But we try to stay open, welcoming, unprejudiced and anarchic. <GG> It does take some effort to do so. It seems that there are always folks around who want to build little fences…

C’mon, new players! Our Long Session is this Friday! <GGG>

stv

http://cdbaby.com/Culchies

Re: Visiting musicians.

I’ve been known to drag the quality of a session down when I show up, so I suppose it must work just as well the other way around. ;^)

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Visitors should always be welcome, without placing unknown “rules” and “restrictions” on them. The session was above all else a social event, rather than a musical event.

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“Visitors should always be welcome, without placing unknown “rules” and “restrictions” on them. The session “

It’s the visitor’s responsibility to sus out what the session style is they’re visiting. If you’re a visitor, and you assume they operate according to your own session style and standards, and you force your preferences on them – that’s rude, regardless of what the level of the session is. In other words, you don’t walk up to a group of people who are talking and just start blabbing about what you want to talk about… you listen first to find out what they’re talking about and add something if you feel that it will be relevant. Sessions are no different; it’s all about social responsibility.

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Eliot writes - “They think it’s rude and we’re just showing off. “ “My experience is that mediocrity often breeds contempt and jelousy in the face of excellence.”

“Excellence” eh… I’m glad to see your self confidence is building. 😀 hahahaha

Re: Visiting musicians.

Ah - in the great session of life, it seems that Eliot’s glass is half empty.

We welcome visitors to our session - but I’ll admit it’s risky - a visitor might turn out to be a grumpy tw*t with a bitter experience of life in the musical and academic worlds who tries to drag everyone else down into his own slough of despond. But when that happens we usually manage to cheer them up a bit.

Perhaps the whole thread would have stood as an icon of irony if nothing had been posted here after the first reply.

Re: Visiting musicians.

I love it when I hear new musicians for the first time. There’s something so refreshing about listening to someone else’s take on a tune or what they play in sets, what their repertoire is. As was said earlier, you should try and make visiting musicians as welcome as possible. By the same token, if you are a visiting musician, you should be courteous; some sessions just don’t open up - don’t worry, it’s nothing personal!
Al said it better than I did.

Re: Visiting musicians.

Patkiwi,
Great discussion. I don’t get a regular session coz I live in the hills miles from anywhere. All the same I do get to visit Irish musicians who live within 3 hours travel, and they visit me too when they can. So starting from the base of no sessions, any visit by a musician lifts my session experience quite a lot.
On the other hand I sometimes travel to big cities like Canberra, Melbourne and very occassionally Sydney to session out for a few days while pretending to do important work stuff. And that can be very intimidating coz I am only an average player. I go to the sessions to get experience and generally end up getting invited to play something. Thats pretty scary most times coz often no one there knows my tunes, obscure as they can be sometimes.
More often than not, next time I go there someone has learnt the set and it takes off. Thats a really rewarding experience and is definitely a “profound and rewarding experience” Is there anything better than a great session with new tunes being played by new players sharing stuff? Not in my book anyway there isn’t………
I share heaps every time a visiting musician comes around and my house is always open so if any one wants to come around anytime for a few tunes…..email me……

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Re: Visiting musicians.

You are a wonderful, sharing person, Kiwi. I’ll have another one of your beers out of that esky please, but just keep your songs to yourself will ya 😉

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“melodists leave”.
Does that mean we don’t notice/care if accompanists come and go?

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Visitor doesn’t have to be a musician! Last week we had Ed Reavy Junior from Philadelphia at our Monkstown session and he electrified proceedings. Not only did he talk to us about his father’s compositions and musical friends (Lad O’Beirne, Martin Wynne, etc - a “who’s who” of trad giants in the US) but he also treated us to a couple of dance items with his wife, Mary - Michael Flatley, look out!! Such was his energy that I was astounded when he admitted to being almost eighty years of age.

As to the other comments on this thread, I feel there’s a good consensus regarding respect for the ethos of particular sessions, etc. Most musicians observe these un-written rules but as for the others, as they used to say in holier times gone by, “just offer it up!”

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Geoffwrights: “ “melodists leave”.
Does that mean we don’t notice/care if accompanists come and go?“

No, just that the guitarists and bouzouki players are not students, but home-owning residents, and don’t leave. But we have lots of melodic players who are young (it’s a college town) and come and go. There are melody players who live here, too, but of late there aren’t as many as the transient ones.

Jack G writes: “It’s the visitor’s responsibility to sus out what the session style is they’re visiting.”

Yeah! Another reason why I like to travel. I like to find out how other folks do things and relate to one another, and I don’t like to come ‘carrying a banner’ or with an agenda of any sort.

When our home folk don’t travel, the local session can get pretty stale, sometimes. Many of us go to festivals in the summer, so at the end of the fest season, in the fall, our local sessions can feel much fresher.

stv

http://cdbaby.com/Culchies

Re: Visiting musicians.

It seems that the people at some of the sessions I have visited tend to assume that the visitor doesn’t know very much about Irish music. The visitor tries to make polite, ice-breaking conversation, but this gesture isn’t generally reciprocated, and so the visitor, not wanting to be pushy, gets pigeonholed off into his/her own little corner with very little interaction with the rest of the session.

This has happened to me on several occasions (once in Dublin, of all places), and it is never pleasant. It always feels uncomfortable leaving such situations, but it is really the best thing to do. You’re presence clearly isn’t appreciated, and it’s not going to get any better for you, no matter how long you stay.

Sorry, I don’t mean to pick on Dublin. I actually had a wonderful experience there at M. Hughes to counterbalance the bad one.

Re: Visiting musicians.

Well, does it matter if you think you know anything about the music?

Part of sessioning as far as I am concerned, is going to see what they are playing and learning what tunes they know. If you come in with an impatient attitude and start a bunch of tunes they don’t know anyway, you could get “pigeon-holed into a corner”.

So I would look at how I am approaching a bunch of strangers in a new session and evaluate my own behavior, instead of judging how “welcoming” they are?

my $ .02