A true story…

A true story…

For those who weren’t there (and by way of therapy for those who were)…

It was a dark and stormy night in the fair city of Edinburgh. Out of the gloom a ragtag group of peely-wally musicians began to gather. The beer was almost cold and the cheap whisky seemed not to burn as much as usual. A lone mandolin strikes up a tune to be joined by fiddles, guitar, accordion, Scottish pipes and keyboard (special mention for Cath and her full size keyboard in it’s own body bag!). As the alcohol took effect, the tunes began to flow thick and fast: a canty highland reel, a rattling jig, a jaunty strathspey, and more pipe marches than an Edinburgh Tattoo!

Fully two hours into the session, the assembly conclude a most rousing set of marches (which shall heretofore be known as the “Balamory Highlanders” Set). A lone figure approaches from afar. Her hair is white with age, her clothes a garish relic of 80’s chic, her manner squat and dumpy (I’m trying to be polite here!).

“Are you almost finished rehearsing?”, she asks plaintively.

“Excuse me?”

“Well, I was wondering if you might play something Scottish”

A stunned silence falls over the congregation. Furtive glances are exchanged and people shuffle nervously in their seats.

“Ehm… most everything we’ve played so far has been Scottish.”

“Oh. Well perhaps you could play something we know.”

“OK, what do you have in mind?”, we enquired politely, girding our loins for a rendition of Flower of Scotland or Skye Boat Song.

“How about ‘Mull of Kintyre’?”

“THAT’S NOT SCOTTISH!” Gordon erupts, causing all within earshot to recoil in a sympathetic display of anguish.

One of the group bravely takes it upon themselves to enlighten the lady as to the nature of pub sessions and thereby perhaps reach a serendipitous and harmonious conclusion to the exchange. The tack proves fruitless. She is unable to grasp the basic tenets of session music. She appears largely unphased by the unanimous display of incredulity, leading some to suspect she have had one Heather Liqueur too many.

By now, the old lady must have known she wasn’t making any new friends here. Perhaps she should retire gracefully and record the event as a salutary lesson in how not to address unpaid musicians giving feely of their time for communal pleasure. But no, she continues albeit in more subdued tones…

“Well, I thought we’d suffered your practising long enough and perhaps you’d play something we all knew. I’m a tourist”.

And with those words, turned and sloped back to the dark abyss from whence she came. In her wake, lay a crestfallen group of stunned musicians.

“Did she say ‘sufferred’?”

“She bl**dy did!”

The group took a deep breath, gathered together their bruised egos and proceeded to salvage what dignity they could from the dying minutes of the session. Valiantly, they triumphed and recounted the events of the previous week when one of the regulars bought the assembly a round in appreciation. Still, a few feathers may need to be spat out at their next meeting!

THE END

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“Girded our loins”?

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>“Girded our loins”?

Yes, it’s a well-loved Scottish pub delicacy. Goes well with Innis Chips.

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I would have flipped out myself.

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Classic, Apteryx. Wish I’d been there (I wasn’t, was I?). I was mucking around in a bar in Kenmore at the weekend when we were asked for some Bon Jovi, but I don’t think I’ve experienced anything quite like you’ve described.

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Which hostelry was that Apteryx?

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When I visited Linlithgow Festival a couple of weeks ago, I was sitting in a “mixed” session of songs and tunes when this drunk Irishman(from the North, I think) with tattoos demanded to hear some Irish music. We duly obliged with a few well known tunes and, I think, somebody sang a song too. However, he wasn’t happy with this and wanted some “real Irish music”.
“How about Willie McBride?” he slurred. We explained that this song was actually called “No Man’s land” written by Eric Bogle who is a Scotsman living in Australia and it was about a Scottish soldier. Anyway, he didn’t believe us “Away ye go. Stop talking p-sh. That’s a Finbar Furey song!”

I bet everyone here has a story(probably several) like this.

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One St. Stephen’s day we were at a party given by the Wren Boys in Listowel. The session included Frankie Gavin, Joe Burke, Seamus Creagh, Jackie Daley, Paddy Glackin and several others including myself. In the middle of a set, somebody asked Joe. “Could you play the Hucklebuck?” To which he replied, “It’s time to get the Hucklef**k out of here…..

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I was once involved in a blues session in a bar in Antwerp.About halfway through this Dutch lady said to us
“That’s very good,but can you play some real blues for me?”
We exchanged puzzled looks,because we’d been playing Chicago blues all evening.
“What do you mean?”
“Real blues,something from Status Quo”

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I wish I had John,it would have been a great answer!

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Having a session in a bar in Bournemouth (!) circa 1979.
Old guy comes up, ‘Can you play some old tunes now’
We explain we’ve been playing traditional old tunes for the past hour.
He says, ‘No, something really old, like ‘Lilli Marlene’ (!)
We say, ‘But our tunes are much older than that’.
He doesn’t believe us.
We carry on regardless and are heckled by him and his pensioner mates.

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Just like to add that over the years, sadly I’ve stopped being surprised by people’s willingness to display their total ignorance about most genres of music. It’s just worse in sessions because these people are not just ignorant, they’re drunk as well!

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Drunken behaviour, as you will probably have gathered from reading some of the other threads here, is not merely confined to “ignorant” punters alone. 🙂

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Not sure if that’s worse or not, than the people who tell you they “love what you’re doing” and “can you play x”.

You do, and they talk all the way through it.

Then they come up 10 minutes later and say “when are you going to play x”.

B**tards!

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I wrote all this a while back but the internet ate it.

I would have had to give the old bat a long and LOUD explanation how “tourists” are people who go to far away places to experience the local culture and listen to local music, not to display their own ignorance and demand pop songs from home.
Immediately after this, the trick is to start into whatever set you know will get the most players joining in as soon as possible, and keep it going for a good long time to stifle any reply.

Kerri - re: “girding our loins” - it is traditional in Edinburgh and its surrounding area to strip naked in between tunes. (Why else do you think MichaelGill comes across so grumpy - he’s probably just cold, and people are staring at him.)

😛

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WHAT! You mean to tell me MULL OF KINTYRE isn’t Scottish after all! 😀

Hey Ian, nice bit of name dropping there my man - neatly done - we are not worthy!! 😀

Well, there’s logic for you, isn’t it, aren’t you, dafydd. I mean Status Quo always make me feel blue!

“heckled by him and his pensioner mates” - brilliant. Good to know these old guys still have spirit!

Apteryx, your tale reminds me of a couple of similar incidents.
First was a Swede who kept asking us to play REEL Irish Music.
Well, we tried Reels, Jigs, Hornpipes, Ballads until finally we asked him to explain just exactly what it was he wanted to hear, to which he replied “something from Riverdance”

The other time I remember was on the 12th July this year.
The local council had asked me to organise a few musicians for an open air Bandstand display of traditional music, down on Portstewart Strand.
Well, as it was the 12th, the great marching day up here, for big Ian & his mates, I decided it might be more prudent if we were to don our Ulster Scots caps for the occasion, so we took our Scottish Smallpiper with us.
This admittedly still gave us a line up of Fiddle, Harp, Guitar, Mandolin, Bodhran but included the Scottish Smallpipes, and we did stick to Scottish Music for the occasion.
Anyway, we needn’t have bothered, for, as our hour of entertainment was nearing an end, one of the bikers who had been listening to us for most of the hour, came forward & said “O.K. enough of this Irish rubbish, now what about playing The Sash, after all, it is the 12th you know”

It’s a funny old world, isn’t it.

You just have to bite your lip, don’t you?
They are more to be pitied, than scolded, for they know not what they do!

Hey Mark. I know what you mean. But what about those shallow compliment folk. That is a sinister phenomenon isn’t it.

I remember a bloke staggering up to me years ago and coming out with, “hey, that’s the best banjo playing I’ve ever heard”. Now these guys really annoy me, cause, for a start I know I was never better than average on ye olde Bocca Bocca, anyway, I decided to take this a stage further so said, thanks very much, but how many other Banjo players do you know? - none was the reply! OK then, how many other Banjop players have you ever heard - none was the reply!

So I was in fact the only Banjo player he’d ever heard!
Och well, I suppose it could have been worse, he could have complimented the Bodhran player instead!

P.S. No, we didn’t play The Sash for him & I think I can be pretty certain it wasn’t the same Norn Iron guy you saw in Linlithgow J J!

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Showad - sounds like your trying to start trouble here. Haven’t we had enough of that recently?

“(Why else do you think Michael Gill comes across so grumpy - he’s probably just cold, and people are staring at him.)” Aye, an’ we all know what the cold does to us chaps & our extremities.

Speaking of Edinburgh tales reminds me of the time three of us Sandy Bells regulars (no names etc) were invited to a School boys & School girls Fancy dress party.
We three ‘thirty somethings’ agreed to meet up in Bells for a laugh first, before heading to the party.
Well, for badness & unknown to the other two, I decided to dress as a schoolgirl which was great craic, what with me beard, big balloons & gymslip & them in their wee short trousers & knobbly knees!
Anyway I got a taxi to the pub & we had a great laugh & where I spent all my cash on a carry out.
We went to the party & had a great time, I was lucky, my girlfriend was there so I stayed the night, but when I awoke next morning, she had gone off to work, so I had to walk home through the streets of Edinburgh, in broad daylight, dressed in a mini skirt, as a schoolgirl.

Only a tad less embarrassing than the thought of being at a session where Michael Gill is playing with no clothes on!

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start trouble? moi?

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Now don’t you start getting all pretentious & French with me, you ‘dito’ you! …………steps back ready to take a swipe……………….

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Ptarmigan,
You became the best banjo player the man had ever heard, the same way I became one of the 10 best button accordion players in the great state of Rhode Island (there are only five others that I know of, and in our small state, we pretty much all know each other).
😉

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At least no one requested “Christmas in Killarney”

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They play naked in edinburgh? With girded loins? What kind of bastardized western version of non-traditional sessions have I been going to? And where can i find the Real Thing?

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…………eh, don’t mind me, I’m still trying to get over that image of you in “butless chaps”……………… Bet they’d go down a bomb in an Edinburgh session!

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Sure, they’d at least give me something to strap my mandatory loin girders onto.

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ererererererer… I’m away for a cold shower……………

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hey everybody, ptarmigan has a thing for midgets in chaps!

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Reminds me of the time I had to play an Irish Night at a local golf club. Before I left home I’d had to do the deed and put down our old cat, which was finally beyond all care and redemption. Bundled it up in the shed for later burial, gear in the back of the car, and off I went like a professional.
I think it was my unaccompanied version of “The Curragh of Kildare’ that finally did it, but the club chairman snatched the microphone from my hand and regailed the audience with “Fureys’ “ songs for the rest of the evening with us backing him, the audience being in no mood for dancing to our music.
Am also reminded of the era when the Johnstons, ie Paul Brady, Mick Maloney, and the two Johnstons girls, swithched from their more pop/contemporary repertoire back to the pure drop, and had parish priests and other event organisers phoning up their agents to get them to drop this awful rubbish, and get back to the proper irish stuff like “Both Sides Now” ! Ah, those were the days ( my friends ).

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During a pause at a recent session, the inevitable punter slid over and asked if we knew “Danny Boy”. While minds were visibly steaming up the perfect viciously disembowelling retort, Brian the Concertina snatched up an empty beer pitcher and told the offender to repeat his request when the former was full. Surprisingly, he did so; and Banjo Stu obliged with a couple of verses. Seemed fair to me.