Kelly’s Bar

285 King Street, Newtown, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Two hundred and twenty-two comments

Kelly’s session

This is Sydney’s newest session. It starts at 7pm every Tuesday night and finishes at an unspecified time. It has been known to continue until the pub closes at 2.30am. It’s been going about a month now. It’s run by me and Mary. What follows is not a list of rules but rather a description of how Mary and I (and a few of the other regulars we’ve spoken to) would like the session to be.

The Kelly’s session was set up because Sydney desperately needed another tunes session. This is an ideal opportunity to create a new environment that contrasts both the Durty Nelly’s and Harp sessions. It’s also geographically convenient for musicians who are stranded in the musical no-man’s land between the other 2 sessions. It need not be a beginners’ session and it need not be an advanced session.

The main objective is to provide a space where we can play a wide variety of session standards at a reasonable pace, and where we can learn each other’s tunes and swap ideas.

What we would like is somewhere where everyone plays together and enjoys the tunes and enjoys something resembling a community atmosphere. Most of all, we want a session where everyone listens closely to each other.

Fortunately the bar staff here are wonderful and they love the music. They seem happy for us to play until the pub closes.

This will be predominantly a tunes session, but that’s not to say we don’t want songs. By all means sing us a song. A scenario we don’t want, however, is 5 or 6 guitarists who don’t generally back tunes all playing different chords and rhythms just because they’re playing for time until they can squeeze their next song in. If you want predominantly songs, you’ll need to organise another session - a singers’ session, because this one will not cater for you. If you’re a singer and you can deal with the fact that this is a tunes session, then great, give us a song!

We would like this to be a place where tunes are played at a reasonable pace so that beginners can hear the tune easily and pick it up through constant weekly exposure.

We would like this to be a session where the emphasis is on playing together, not “look at me I’m brilliant”. It’s nice to listen as well as play, but a session gets boring after a while if you’re listening to someone playing solo all night. So try and choose tunes you think other people are likely to know, so that everyone can join in. If you want to play a more obscure tune, try putting it in the middle of a set of 3 tunes, so that at least people will be able to join in with the other 2.

How about we try the “snippet method” where we play a couple of bars of each tune before starting a set? That way we’re going to know if other people know the tunes, and it’ll make the tune changes a lot tighter.

If you’re a beginner, why not bring a recording device so that you can learn some of the tunes at home? Feel free to ask questions of other musicians about the tunes they play, like where they got the tunes from. That can help to personalise a tune and can also be a memory aid. Sometimes you can be playing a tune you got from a particular person, and the memory of that person can trigger more tunes to come out.

Let’s try to leave a bit of a gap between sets so that we have time to have a bit of a chat and get to know each other. There’s nothing worse than being in a session you’ve been going to for months and you still don’t know everyone’s name because there’s been no talking between tunes.

Backers try and keep in mind that you have a huge responsibility. The percussive effect of a guitar or bodhran can throw everyone out of rhythm or out of time so yours has to be spot on. Know the tunes inside out so you can highlight where they accent, and give it a bit of swing. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking the rhythm of jigs is a simple “humpty-dumpty”. If you’re playing guitar, try a nice swingy DUD DUD rhythm for every bar, and lengthen the first downstroke of every 3 to get the swingy rhythm. DUD UDU will do as well, but make sure to listen to how the notes differ in length, otherwise you’ll have the effect of speeding up the tune players which won’t go down well. If you’re not sure how to do this, ask. If you’re still not sure, just put your instrument down and listen.

Bear in mind that, for this session, the person who starts the set will be considered to have the right to set the tempo and decide which tunes to put together. To jump in and alter the original pace or take over the set with a second tune of your own is extremely discourteous. We’d like this to be a session where that doesn’t happen. Unless you know for sure what that person is going to play by doing a bit of mind-reading or hearing them do the snippet method, wait and let them decide what tune to play.

Mary and I both play in a similar laid-back and swingy style, so obviously we’re hoping that’s the direction we can take this session in, so that it contrasts the other two sessions which can be quite frenetic and fast-paced. That’s not to say we want a slow, pedestrian session. We want it to have energy but we want that energy to come from a powerful groove, not necessarily a fast pace.

Well, let’s hope we can keep up the momentum so that we can enjoy sessions here for years to come!

Kelly’s Bar is on King Street opposite the junction with the Erskineville Road. It’s on the same side of the road as the Marly. From Newtown station, turn right and walk along King Street in the direction of the city until you come to the traffic lights at the junction with the Erko road. Look further along King Street and you’ll see the sign outside the pub.

… and to think I was going to ask for more detail when I first saw this session notice. I shoulda known better.
Let’s hope it lasts for as long as the preamble 🙂

Posted by .

thanks for warning us about the DUD guitarists …

I think I might come this week. I probably won’t bring an instrument but are spectators welcome?

If a spectator is spotted they are first chased and rugby-tackled to the floor. They are then stripped completely naked and handcuffed. After severe beatings they are tied to the loudest pokie machine in the pub and left until the next week’s session to starve and dehydrate with only 3 packets of cigarettes, a bucket, and a few dollars for the pokies in their immediate vicinity. At the next week’s session they are pelted with rotten fruit and vegetables and taunted with live rats and insects. Only when they are on the point of death are they set free and allowed to shower and have a beer. Of course spectators are welcome.

And, if last week was any indication, they may actually be able to get a seat within cooee of the action. Pub certainly wasn’t deserted but finding somewhere to sit wasn’t the emotionally draining experience it can be elsewhere.

Posted by .

Kelly’s newtown

What a great session last tuesday night. The best I’ve had in a while. Great tunes! Well done Mark

Posted by .

No, well done *you* 🙂
The highlight for me was all those polkas Jamie played. Well done Jamie. Come back soon!

Is Nihilist now chained to the poker machine?

Posted by .

Sometimes you just gotta ~

So Dow what’s this I hear about you losing your cool? Did you really shout at someone? Come on, tell us all the story…

Oh yeah, for some reason, probably lack of sleep, I caught myself screwing around with an old religious icon, well, not really an ‘icon’ per se ~

Hail Mary full of pace,
blessed art thou amongst sessioners
and blessed is the fruit of thy swung style…

Anyway, best wishes with what sounds, after extracting the pearls of wisdom from the preamble, like a great seed for a session. I’m on the next plane out of here… Oh damn, it’s a Tuesday night, my canoe polo night down at the river Ribble…

well I was all set to come. I worked out the bus timetables and where to go. Too bad I thought it was on Wednesday.

Thank god i checked i was going to the right place before I left otherwise I would have gone all the way into the city for no session.

I’ll try again this week. I’m going to bring some food in my pockets just in case Dow isn’t kidding.

Just what I hoped…

Lots of tunes, but breathing space too. A few were fast, but they weren’t relentlessly breakneck. Players of different standards all seemed comfortable. I certainly did. I could hear what was happening. And only one short busride from home!
PS Nihilst was there.

Posted by .

Mark, I’ve just read your “rules”, or set of expectations you want from your session. They are completely spot-on. If everyone were to memorise those there would never ever be any trouble in any session.
Hope it’s still going strong.

Cheers Danny. It’s working well so far. I noticed we had lots of chatting time between sets last Tues, which was nice because there were a few new faces who had come because they saw the listing here, so we were able to get to know each other a bit. You know how it can be when you turn up to a session you’ve never been to before and nobody even bothers to ask your name. We also had a nice mix of tunes and everyone felt comfortable enough to start a set of their own. Lots of hornpipes this time, and Alex played us a nice slow air which was great - we don’t hear many slow airs in sessions in Sydney…

It was nice to be at a session in a place where a slow air could actually be *heard*!

It seems to work well for the pub in general - listeners come get close if they want or move right away, the session doesn’t stop them talking and their talking doesn’t worry the players. Looking good!

Posted by .


Woe is me that I cannot get to this session each week. Its one of teh best I’ve had the luxury of getting to in a while. Thanks for those nice comments Mark. The polkas are off Aiden Coffey and Seamus Creagh and are a great set. Thanks to you and Mary for setting up this session. Cheers. Hope to see you in Sydney again soon.

Posted by .


Woe are us that you can’t make it each week, Jamie. You’d have had a blast last night. Another 7 hour marathon for me complete with a set of reels that went on for about half an hour in the early hours of the morning! Alex started us off on barndances and set dances and we ended up playing tunes I’ve never even had a chance to play in sessions before, like the Bluebell Polka and stuff like that. My homework for this week is the Chaffpool Post. The only thing we haven’t had yet is flings, and I love flings, so maybe we can play some next week 🙂

You are not the only hungover one…

that was a good sesh last night, thanks for the tunes mark, and the humour Katoomba ( why were we still there at 3am?). I’ll hopefully get those tunes and learn them for next week.
Uni on a wednesday is a struggle but a good struggle!

Posted by .

It figures

Just after I leave town someone goes and starts a good session round the corner.

Ah well, what’s a hundred K trip on a Tuesday nite …

Posted by .

No FLINGS ~ What’s with yuh?

What’s life without a fling or two, eh? Sorry, I keep missing the flights out of Manchester, but it’s not for lack of want… If anyone goes tonight please let us all know what Dow is wearing as far as clothes go. As the writer of the preamble he has standards to set, and wearing that naff baseball cap had just got to go…

PLEASE SOMEONE HELP ME NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
# Posted on June 6th 2006 by Dow


Thanks for the session last week - it was great to be able to join in a session while on holidays!

If you’re ever in Vancouver come to the Wolf & Hound (it’s listed here) - Bridie, I promise it’s not as cold as St John’s!

Vancouver-Aussie not-another-bodhran-player chick

A real little gem. Up May-O!

I had a great time visiting this session last night. Thanks to Mary from May-O, Mark, Ben, Chris, Margo and others for some very nice tunes. A great session for those with discerning taste about how they like to play tunes.

Just a tip folks - next time, get some sleep BEFORE the session - that way you might be able to actually make it to that legendary 3am finish!! 😉

Hope to catch up again some time - if you’re ever coming to Canberra, get in touch. Cheers

Slight change…

…to where the session is! The bar decided to move us upstairs. So if you go in on a Tuesday night and can’t see anyone, well, that’d be where everyone is!

Been a while since we had a 3am job though…

Ah, sydney

sure its the friendliest session in sydney!! he hee

Posted by .

Hey Mary I ended up having beers till 4am with your mates from home last night, how funny, and someone spilled a whole pint of beer on me concertina case and today I had to open it with a screwdriver because it had glued itself shut.

Core session tunes

Some people have approached me at the session asking for a list of session standards, so I’m posting one here for anyone who wants to use it.

What follows is a list of 60 bog standard tunes which all session musicians at any level would be expected to know at any session anywhere in the world. There are certain tunes that get played in sessions for the purpose of involving everyone, whatever your level, and these tunes perform that function since it’s expected that everyone present will know them. These are the tunes that have been “done to death” at most sessions, so people will be surprised if you don’t know them, even if they don’t say it to your face 🙂 People will be even more surprised if the same tune gets played the following week and you still haven’t learnt it. I’m not trying to exclude anyone here - I’m simply explaining the reality of the situation; there are certain tunes you just *have* to know if you’re serious about playing Irish music, even if you end up hating these ones so much you never want to play them 😀

Of course that’s not to say you have to know a certain number of tunes before you can come to the session. But if you’re a beginner, just make sure you have these tunes down as soon as possible. Bring a recording device to the session if you like, and if you want to learn a particular tune, ask someone to play it slowly into the recorder so you can learn it at home. I’m sure any of the regulars would be happy to do that, provided that they know the tune of course 🙂

So please make sure you *at least* have these core tunes under your belt. These have been picked from a list of hundreds of session standards, and believe me it was very hard to cut it back even to 60. There are thousands of tunes in the session repertoire and this really is the bare minimum to get you started. Alternative titles are in brackets and composer names are in square brackets.


The Banshee [James McMahon]
The Bird In The Bush
The Bucks Of Oranmore
The Concertina Reel
The Congress
Cooley’s (Luttrell’s Pass)
The Cup Of Tea
Drowsy Maggie
Farewell To Ireland
Father Kelly’s (Rossmore Jetty)
The Foxhunter’s
The Gravel Walks
The High Reel
The Humours Of Tulla
The Maid Behind The Bar
The Man Of The House
The Merry Blacksmith
Miss McLeod’s
The Mountain Road [Michael Gorman]
The Pigeon On The Gate
Rolling In The Ryegrass (The Shannon Breeze)
Saint Anne’s
The Sally Gardens
The Silver Spear
The Star Of Munster
The Wise Maid (All Around The World)


Banish Misfortune
The Blackthorn Stick
The Blarney Pilgrim
The Cliffs Of Moher
The Connaughtman’s Rambles
Donnybrook Fair (The Joy Of My Life)
The Irish Washerwoman
The Kesh
Lannigan’s Ball
The Lark In The Morning
The Lilting Banshee
My Darling Asleep
Out On The Ocean
The Pipe On The Hob
The Rakes Of Kildare
Tripping Up The Stairs


The Boys Of Bluehill
Harvest Home
King Of The Fairies
Off To California
The Rights Of Man


The Choice Wife (An Phis Fhliuch)
Drops Of Brandy
The Foxhunter’s
The Kid On The Mountain


The Butterfly
The Rocky Road To Dublin


Merrily Kissed The Quaker’s Wife
The Road To Lisdoonvarna


Denis Murphy’s
John Ryan’s (The Keadue)
The Rakes Of Mallow

Those polkas at the end there: um, they’re ones you have to know, but, um, that doesn’t mean you actually have to play them 😀

And there’s not 16 of them. Thank god.

I’m joking, polka-lovers.


Haha yeah I know, the Irish Washerwoman’s there, even. I played that with Mary and Enda the other day and it was the first time I’d played it in about 10 years! I think we should revive it at Kelly’s. Our session could be the only one in the world where people actually still play it. Or maybe that’s a bad idea. Maybe if we resuscitate it it will come fully back to life in an even more evil form than before and take over the world and make all Irish music evil.

I was always suspicious of that tune “The Frog In The Well”. I think that might be a minor version of the Irish Washerwoman. How horrifying. The evil’s been lying there dormant all this time and nobody notices because it’s disguised so effectively.

And has anyone noticed that the Irish Washerwoman is like the hardest jig, ever?

Suggestion for beginners

“For every tune you learn of the above list, learn one that’s not on it”

Thus spake llig leahcim, 1st December, 2006.

“Maybe a suggestion for a beginner could be, for every tune you learn of the above list, learn a polka that’s not on it?”

# Posted on December 1st 2006 by gill chimlea


~ or a waltz, or a mazurka, or something nice and slow and emotional, or a march, or better yet a nice Northumbrian tune, maybe one of the Taylor or Hill tunes, something not Irish? It would make Nox’s day…

Hey Nox, when are you going to add the song list? 😛

Danny Boy
When Irish Eyes are Smiling
My Charming Molly O’
What Do You Do With a Drunkey Sailor
The Limerick Rake
Byker Hill
Ratlin’ Bog
Mr. Tamborine Man
Bridge Over Troubled Waters

Now I’m feeling guilty…

Waltzing Matilda
The Dying Stockman

“Wrap me up with my stock-whip and blanket,
And bury me deep down below,
Where the dingoes and crows can’t molest me,
In the shade where the coolibahs grow.”

Shut up ‘c’ 🙂

the word “molest” always worried me in that song

Posted by .

Apparently stockmen spent a lot of time alone. It was probably just a fantasy 🙂

Thus spake Artsuhtaraz?

Posted by .

Kumbaya my lord, Kumbaya

Someone’s laughing, Lord, kumbaya
Someone’s laughing, Lord, kumbaya
Someone’s laughing, Lord, kumbaya
Oh Lord, kumbaya

Oh, sorry, just realized there’s no billybong in this song…

Put the gun down dow, no, sorry, Nox, just ease up… Put the gun down and back away from it… That’s it, you can do it…

Forget the molesting dingos and crows, what the hell is a coolibah?

Where’s the loo here, I gotta pee?


Where are the good tunes? Surely you can come up with even one regular tune that isnt completely boring cant you? Here - I’ll do it for you. How about ‘Spike Island Lasses’. PS - I go to this session sometime and choose not to play these tunes. Does that mean that secretly you are bitching about me???
Coolibah is a tree.

Posted by .

Brides, the Spike Island Lasses is a standard, but if a beginner told me they only knew about 10 tunes, then I wouldn’t expect one of them to be it, whereas I might expect that they’d know the Kesh etc.

Look, put it this way. You might not want to play the Kesh, right? But wouldn’t you be surprised if you were in a session in Ennis and you said to someone there: “I hate the Kesh jig, don’t you?”, and they said “we’ve never heard of it”. Whether or not that makes you feel good that they said that is neither here nor there. But you’d be surprised that they didn’t know it wouldn’t you?

The Tao according to Nox (?):

Here is a gravy reduction of a good Ozzie wine and guinea fowl fat and juices (perloined from the ‘Discussion’ thread “Too Many Tunes”:

The Tao according to Nox:

The above ~ list was bloody hard to write. I had to leave off tunes like the Sligo Maid and the Wind That Shakes The Barley and Jenny’s Chickens and all those tunes otherwise it got too long. And then I started thinking well I’ve cut down the list to this extent and there’s *still* 60 tunes there.

People are saying that it should be about the tunes played in a particular session. Well, I’ve always gone for that approach, and I don’t think it works here in Australia. Not enough people have a solid grounding in tunes over a number of years, and the sessions here tend not to be beginners sessions, so people end up learning tunes like the latest Lunasa tune or Diarmaid Moynihan tunes, which is fine because they can join in with them in the session, but it means they don’t get a solid foundation in terms of standard tunes, even though they’re playing what they’re playing quite well. So you get this thing where you drop in on a session and people seem to be at a higher level than they would be considered to be at in Ireland, because of the type of tunes and technique, but it’d be mind-boggling for a visitor from Ireland if they tried to use one of these standard tunes to involve everyone, only to find that only a few people played it. I mean, these are the sort of tunes kids learn at *school* in Ireland, right?

~ “common session tunes” and “standards-you’re-expected-to-know” are not necessarily the same thing…

No-one is expected to like or want to play them all, but is it unreasonable to expect everyone to *know* them (all 60 ‘standards’ listed)?

Related thread ~
Discussion: Common Session Tunes
# Posted on September 19th 2001 by whoosis

All ye, all ye, in come free ~

An unbiased way to approach assembling such a list might be to go to sources, to check the frequency of tunes in Irish tutors for various instruments and / or in collections. I did a quick check for “Spike Island Lasses” in an handful of basic tutors and tune introductions, and it showed up, so far, only in the Sean Keane collection “Fifty Fiddle Solos”…

To regionalize it, a similar list could be pulled from the local tutors for the tradition in the given area ~ give us your list and we’ll incorporate it into ours, so your students will have a place to go and exercise your teaching… Such a list can work both ways…

I like the basic balance of forms in this set, and it’s done well for covering some of the ‘standards’ ~ but ~ I am concerned that no 3/4 tunes are listed at all, no waltzes, no mazurkas ~ and no marches of any time signature… (Hey, I could have gotten into the rest, including all the varieties of swung tunes, and I’vekept it ‘Irish’ too…)

You know that I was only joking…right? right? The session we are talking about doesnt really like new weird tunes anyways….oh well - I just sit at home with my husband and we like the new tunes together.

Posted by .

Yeah, it’s a lot easier for us to bitch behind your back anyway ;-P

Yeah, yeah - Dow - you slag off the new tunes and then accidently go into them without even realising it….so shayup Batch!

Posted by .

Which “Spike Island Lasses”?

Spike Island lasses

Actually - its neither - last night when me and Dow where going through all those tunes we realised I hadnt meant that tune. I meant another tune - and I cant remember the name.

Posted by .

The Bunch Of Green Rushes

Our last session before Christmas happens on the 19th. Then we’re having a break throughout January. We’ll start back up again Feb 6th. Hope to see a good turnout for the last couple of sessions of 2006!

Awwww maaaaan!! What am I gunna do on a Tuesday night for six weeks or so???

Last Session for the year….

…is on this Tues (as in, tomorrow 19th). We have been granted the sue of the downstairs bar for a one-off occasion and we’re hoping there will be a few dancers who come along to join in the craic. Should be a reasonably big night - Mark how do you rate our chances of doing a 3am job again?

…that said ‘use of’, not ‘sue of’….

Chances are quite high. I’m up for getting wasted in Newtown afterwards if the bouncers will let us in.

…work tomorrow morning??? What work tomorrow morning??? ;)

How did it end up - and what next?

As usual I was one of the first to leave last night - work calls, you know. Hope it finished well. When did you all wind up?
Now that I’ve recently started learning tunes again after a longish pause, I face the question of “which tunes?”. Mark, your list of “general standard session tunes” was a good idea. But how about a supplement: tunes that are played a lot at *this* session? Could you? (Or Mary, or one of the other regulars?) ’Twould be a mighty help!

Posted by .

I’m still waiting for the ‘report’, he was obsessing about his concertina last we shared information, something tinged with desperation:

“I immediately took the thing apart and ripped the bushing out from that key and threw it on the floor in disgust so at least I could finish my session!”

My, my… 😉


This session is about to start up again. First sesh of the year is tomorrow night, Tues Feb 6, 7pm start. Apparently we’re going to be upstairs again. Everyone’s keen to get started again. See you there!

I can’t wait to hear the outcome… Don’t abuse your tina Dow…

The Outcome…

…was as follows. We had great tunes and then one by one people started to leave because they had work the next day. Then all of a sudden I realised that everyone had gone and I was the only one left, so, in my drunken state, I decided to hang out with people I didn’t even know. I played pool with these people (doubles team) and somehow managed to win, despite only potting one ball (my team partner must have potted them all I suppose), and then, still very drunk, I hailed a taxi and went home. Upon my arrival I rolled out of the taxi onto the grass verge by the side of the road and lay there for a while. Then I puked up several times, and quite violently too. I awoke this afternoon and got up to go to the loo. I looked at myself in the mirror and noticed that I had burst all the capillaries in my head when I hurled. I always do that.

I feel inspired to learn the Bunch Of Currants after hearing it in the session. It was played about 7 times through so I almost managed to learn it in my head, but I need to have a proper look at it.

Oh and I rang bb and Cors at 11.15pm and slurred down the phone to bb that she should come out and we could get drunk together, but they were in bed, asleep, and therefore not available for a night out. I had to ring today and apologise. Sorry Brides!

Where was Tina?

I hope through the miasma that you kept a firm hand on her?

I don’t take Tina with me anymore - only Keith. I had a panic attack this morning because I couldn’t remember taking him with me when I got out the taxi, and I also couldn’t recall picking him up after I was sick. But it was okay - he was still there this morning, safe and sound in his box.

This has gotta stop, either that or send me all your instruments and you take to singing…

By the way, we got this weird message that time ~ we were told there was a text message for us, BT, and when we did as they said to hear it, 2, something garbled out ~ maybe at most a syllable, but I recognized the voice, or thought I did ~ it was you Mark… So if you have some unexplained charge on your phone bill, that would be whatever it was you were trying to gargle over the phone to us…

We’d been out when you called…

Oh my god how embarrassing! I don’t remember ringing you!

HA! Sorry I missed the entertainment…

…then again, I WAS the last-person-but-Mark to leave…

Yes, I remember talking to you at the bar shortly before I started playing pool, and things just went downhill from there. I don’t remember being in that much of a state when I was talking to you though. Maybe I had one too many that pushed me over the edge 🙂

been up to this session a few times over the past 4 or 5 months. i like it alot. I’m only a beginner so it’l be a few years before i take my whistle with me. the upstairs lounge area is much better, far more compfortable and not so bad acoustics ( as compared to downstairs ).

look forward to meeting you all in the near future

Hi to Jaywhite

Well I like the upstairs - there just *isn’t* enough room downstairs - but it does have one big disadvantage: there is no hard floor for the dancers. “Back in the old days in Ireland” (or so I am told) this problem was sometimes solved by taking the house door off its hinges to provide a platform, but I doubt whether the landlord of Kelly’s would approve.
So who are you? Do you have any strange distinguishing features or mannerisms by which we can identify you?

Posted by .

Attempting to play irish tunes in a place a million miles from Ireland is a fairly strange distinguishing feature we all have in common here …

there were a few strange features on display at Kelly’s all right

Posted by .

See me at kelly’s

u may have noticed a young handsome looking man coming in every once in a while form belfast. usually bring a few friends with me. i’l be sure to say hi I’m jay next time i’m there. I’m sure i’ll see you 2nite at Lunasa so if i see any of you. i’ll say hi also.

Dance Floor at Kelly’s

You know. It just dawned on me. I remember back in the days of breakdancing, the dancers would arrive with their own piece of lino under their arms. Maybe we could get everyone to bring a floorboard each ?

Strange features….

…Aye, that there were!!! Good to see you out here Mr Bad Learner, let us know next time you’re in town.

Did she leave you alone eventually?? ;)

I always get left alone 🙁

Posted by .

Great night on Tues. Bridie and I ended up going out and we didn’t get back till about 2pm on Wednesday. We saw people going to work in the morning, and we’d been out for so long that we’d almost sobered up by the time we got back to her place. 21 hours is a record for us, I think.

I got a work call at 7am after going to bed at 4.30. I had no idea where or who I was. This corey fella must be a saint

Posted by .

and I didn’t mean that in a bad way beebs

Posted by .

I missed out again!!!

Damn having to work the next day. Harder to skip that than the Wednesday morning lecture used to be…

Dow and Bride

So do explain! Are the two of you having an affair or what?

I believe you have to be sober occasionally to do that banjack

Posted by .

We both have a love affair with alcohol. Fortunately, so does Bridie’s husband so it’s all good, but someone has to stay at home to look after the baby 🙂

Really? I thought Corrs would be fairly independant by now.


You fellas are hilarious.

Posted by .

Kelly’s 2nite

I’m coming up there 2nite. look forward to meeting you all. I’ll be sure to say hi

Re: The secret of Kelly’s in Sydney is almost out…

This is outrageous!!!

HOW are we supposed to continue our careers as professional sh*te stirrers if our identities aren’t protected!!!
OK, back to the bat cave to plot our revenge. MMMUUUAAAHAHAHAHA! ;)

Re: The secret of Kelly’s in Sydney is almost out…

You bastard I wondered why you were going round taking photos!!!!

I am still awake from that night - you took those photos about 20 hours ago. Was that Tuesday? It is now 2.40pm the next day. I’m about to go to bed. I have to admit defeat tonight - Bridie is still up chatting and drinking round her place…

Re: The secret of Kelly’s in Sydney is almost out…

Its actually now 4;44pm -I feel so sick..

Posted by .

Re: The secret of Kelly’s in Sydney is almost out…

They’re great photos. thanx for a great nite last nite.

Re: The secret of Kelly’s in Sydney is almost out…

Great t-shirt Ben is wearing. Has Ptarmi seen that yet? I used to play in my namesake’s pub every Wednesday; strange seeing it turn up in Sydney.

Lovely pics all told, especially of the not-so-secret contributors to this site.

Re: The secret of Kelly’s in Sydney is almost out…

That’s a nice one of Beebs isn’t it?

I remember having a laugh about Mary’s T-shirt as well. It said something like “men in spectacles are hot”! 😀

Re: The secret of Kelly’s in Sydney is almost out…

That’s a funny one of Kevin too. Little did he know that a few minutes later he and his box would be drenched in beer thanks to Cors spilling it all over him… and then he proceeded to dab it off his head for him with his hankerchief! 😀

Re: The secret of Kelly’s in Sydney is almost out…

Ah ha, so that’s Ben in his *Natural Habitat*! Nice to see him flying the T Shirt for Toms! I notice this venue is not quite so *cozy* as Tom’s! 😀

Latest news

The pub came under new management last week, and we were unsure whether the session would be allowed to continue. Fortunately they’re quite happy to carry on with the same arrangement. Apparently the new manager (Jimmy) was lurking and watching us for a while. Mark the barman was going to introduce us ot him but I think he was busy so it didn’t happen so he said he’d introduce us next week.

So, good news! Nice to see Jamie up in Sydney again - the session was all the better for his being there. And he brought some new tunes with him too. Thanks also to Mick - it’s a pity you can’t make it more often…

Re: The secret of Kelly’s in Sydney is almost out…

I see the pinball machine is still there, right next to the players. I promise to disconnect it, in case that eejit ever decides he wants a game again.

Could only spot one pair of thongs and no barefeet - this must have been a formal event.

Re: The secret of Kelly’s in Sydney is almost out…

You’re not quite there, Dogbox. There was *one* other pair of thongs… mine!
I hear next week’ll be the ‘formal’ week. But we won’t let anyone take any photos of that one - have to maintain the aura, you see… ;)

Re: The secret of Kelly’s in Sydney is almost out…

You all look so…civilised. As does the pub. I’m disillusioned now,


Re: The secret of Kelly’s in Sydney is almost out…

We’re only civilised as long as we’re playing tunes. It’s afterwards that it gets messy, especially if Beebs is there. There’s almost always a fight, and someone almost always ends up in tears 🙂

Tunes from last night

The voices in my head told me to write another list today so I listed all the tunes I could remember playing from last night. Obviously there were loads more than this, e.g. ones I didn’t know the names of or ones that were played while I was away in the loo or talking to people at the bar - these are just the ones I can remember playing. I know I know, they’re in alphabetical order, but don’t worry I’m not so sad that I ordered them like that. I made this list by deleting tunes off a much bigger list which was made by cut & pasting stuff off this website so it was already ordered for me 🙂


Aine’s Invitation
The Bond Store
The Boy In The Gap
Brendan McMahon’s
The Bucks Of Oranmore
Miss Brady’s
The Bunch Of Green Rushes
The College Groves
Colonel Rodger’s Favourite
The Crosses Of Annagh (the Matt Molloy one)
Drag Her Round The Road
A Fair Wind
The Fox On The Town
The Galway Rambler
George White’s Favourite
The Green Hills Of Tyrol
The Happy Days Of Youth
The Heights Of Muingbhathá
Jackson’s #1
Jackson’s #2
The Jolly Tinker
Kelly’s On King
Kit O’Connor’s
Lady Gordon’s
Larry Redican’s Bow
Last Night’s Fun
Launching The Boat
The London Lasses
Lord Gordon’s
The Maid Behind The Bar
The Maids Of Mount Kisco
Maud Millar #1
Maud Millar #2
McDonagh’s #2
McGovern’s Favourite
Miss Johnson’s
Mother’s Delight
The Mountain Top
My Love Is In America
The Noisy Curlew
O’Connor Donn’s
The Pretty Girls Of Mayo
The Providence
Roaring Mary
Rolling In The Ryegrass
The Sally Gardens
The Ships Are Sailing
The Skylark
Solus Lillis’
Speed The Plough
The Star Of Munster
Stony Steps
The Swallow’s Tail
Sweeney’s Buttermilk
Toss The Feathers
The Trip To Nenagh
The Wind That Shakes The Barley
+ some others I don’t know the names of


Brid Harper’s
The Burnt Old Man
Jimmy Neary’s
Emmett’s Hedgehog
Glasgow Gaelic Club
The Gander In The Pratie Hole
Health To The Ladies
The Humours Of Ballyloughlin
The Humours Of Drinagh
The Humours Of Trim
I Ne’er Shall Wean Her
Jim Ward’s
The Kilfenora
The Maid At The Well
Matt Hayes’
Michael Dwyer’s
Out On The Ocean
Palm Sunday
The Pipe On The Hob
Quilty Shore
Richard Brennan’s
The Roaring Barmaid
The Steamboat Quickstep
Tatter Jack Walsh
Tell Her I Am
The Tenpenny Bit
Tom Billy’s
Up And About In The Morning
Willie Coleman’s
+ a handful of others I don’t know the names of…


The Choice Wife
The Cock And The Hen
Farewell To Whalley Range
The Little Fair Cannavans
My Mind Will Never Be Easy
The Swaggering Jig
+ 1 from Jamie I don’t know the name of


The Maids Of Ardagh and a couple of others I don’t know the names of




The Fervour Of Youth
The Fly On The Wall
The Lost Key

Re: The secret of Kelly’s in Sydney is almost out…

…and SHE looked such a nice *civilised* young lady the time she turned up at the Woodman!

Pretty shocking that there so many jigs and reels and not enough hornpipes and stuff, but there were lots of slip jigs last night which was good.

Re: The secret of Kelly’s in Sydney is almost out…

lookin lovely fellas! see yas all at de mash in a cupla weeks……

Re: The secret of Kelly’s in Sydney is almost out…

One of those shots shows 4 concertina together!!! MY god, that must have made some racket! What a summit.

Re: The secret of Kelly’s in Sydney is almost out…

Yeah, about the list, once through everything then is it? I take it this was the only clean shot, the rest were censored? You look so ‘serious’, putting on ‘the face’ for the punters and publican, at least until you get those free drinks down yuh, eh?


Cough, cough, damn hair ball… 😲 🙂 😉 😀 😛

Such a sweet looking gathering, it could almost be a knitting circle or the Sydney branch of the Australian Ladies Guild. Your parents must be mighty proud…

Re: The secret of Kelly’s in Sydney is almost out…

I want the real thing, a video of the break up and everyone stumbling to and through the door… Please?

Re: The secret of Kelly’s in Sydney is almost out…

I’m just jealous ~ no smoke! 🙁

Re: The secret of Kelly’s in Sydney is almost out…

Heh, Kevin actually drove me home one of the few times I’ve made it to Kelly’s - how pretty does that make me? 🙂

(Not necessarily very, I suspect!)

So that’s what upstairs looks like … will get back one day when I can work out how to manage the 6.30am start the morning after …

Great photos - nice one of beebs.

Posted by .

Re: The secret of Kelly’s in Sydney is almost out…

By the way, the speech bubbles on the front of that Belfast Chippy, on the Albertbridge Road, read:

Paisley … “Probably the best chipper in Belfast.”

Adams … “At last we agree on something.” 🙂

Slip jigs good? Good?? Annoyed me no end, they did… you can’t (ok, I can’t) dance to them… ;)

Re: The secret of Kelly’s in Sydney is almost out…

What’s the centrepiece in the first pic with the blue christmas lights? I see the Sony recorder on the table - does that mean someone has some good MP3’s? (hint, hint) Just a silly question, but which one of the ‘tina players is Dow? (Ducks fer cover) That’s a great t-shirt Ptarmi, do you have ta visit Tom’s to get one? Thanks Morphonimic Tootler for the photos - really enjoyed seeing you all. Which one are you?

CD asked “Which one are you?”
I’m the one behind the camera that took the pictures. Go behind your monitor and look backwards. 🙂
Or muck about with the address line when you are looking at the pics and you’ll find more about me than even my mother would want to know.
OBTW, Ptarmigan was not amongst us afaik.

Posted by .

Latest news: Kelly’s session, Sydney

Friday 30/03/07

Tonight Mort and I had a meeting with the Jimmy who is the new owner of Kelly’s. I had only met him briefly and introduced myself, and this was a chance for us to find out his views on the session, and at the same time explain how we would like things to be. The meeting went very well, and I’ve come away feeling all the more convinced that it’s unlikely we’ll ever find better in Sydney, and that we’re lucky to be able to play there.

I think it’s important that we all know what was talked about so that everything is transparent for all people concerned with the Tuesday night session. I’m going to recount what was said point by point now, because if I leave it I’ll forget what was covered in the conversation:

1) What are we there for?

I wanted to make it clear that we don’t view this as a business arrangement. What’s important to us is that we have a space to play where we feel comfortable, and that all sides (musicians/bar staff/management) do their bit to foster this musician/dancer micro community that we’ve created. Jimmy replied that he realises that we’re there on an informal basis, and that it’s not a formal “gig” in the normal sense of the word.

2) Tunes vs. chat

Something that came up in the conversation was the dynamics of the session, and the fact that it’s not a band, but simply an informal gathering of musicians, and that a different combination of people turn up every week, apart from a few core members who are regulars. Also ability levels and repertoires vary greatly, and this can have an effect on the flow of the session. It was made clear that it’s important to have chat time between sets of tunes, and this applies particularly when new people turn up who nobody has met before. I pointed out that sometimes we can be playing for quite a few hours – even till the early hours of the morning, and that it was important for musicians to have breaks, otherwise we all end up with RSI, and high stress levels from watching the clock the whole time!

3) Jukebox?

This issue ties in with point 2. Jimmy admitted that he doesn’t like a quiet pub. It’s not good for the atmosphere, and he says that if he were a potential customer, he wouldn’t feel comfortable in a silent bar. This is fair enough. To solve this problem, he’s trying to acquire a digital jukebox so that the music is continuous. He understands that we session musicians can neither a) compete with a jukebox, nor b) be any sort of substitution for one, seeing as we are basically there for a night out and a drink, and we can’t be playing one continuous stream of music for hours at a time. If you look at it from their point of view it’s like this: the place has just come under new management, so obviously there are going to be problems and tensions going on behind the scenes that we have nothing to do with, and mostly there’ll be dramas on nights when we’re not even there. The bar staff are aware of what Jimmy wants, and you don’t have to be a genius to realise that the bar staff are going to want things to run as smoothly as possible in these early stages, and that’s where they’re coming from with this problem about the breaks in the music etc, because what we do sort of reflects on them. We need to be aware of this on Tuesday nights, which brings me onto the next poin…

4) Upstairs or donwstairs?

The pluses and minuses of both were discussed. “Downstairs” in this case means the central, wooden area, not the tiled area we had last year which is now out of bounds so that there’s access to the toilets and pokie machines. The problem with our experiment downstairs is that the only suitable space is the long, narrow area in the centre of the pub, enclosed by the wooden railing. When the session gets big, it can only expand along the length of the table, and we end up in a situation where nobody can hear anybody else. The idea of being downstairs was that the acoustics were supposed to be better, but I’m not so sure anymore that this is the case. The wooden floor has more of a tendency to soak up sound than the tiled floor at the back of the pub. The advantage of being upstairs is that it doesn’t matter how big the session gets – it can always expand in any direction to accomodate. Also the session can be any shape – circle or whatever – because we have the space up there to move tables around and sit where we want to sit. Upstairs also has the advantage of the sofas at either side where non-musicians can relax and listen while they chat or read the paper or whatever, just as they’ve been doing the past few weeks. If we’re upstairs then they can have the jukebox on downstairs and play it to their heart’s content. The main disadvantage of being upstairs is that there is no hard floor for the dancers. Everyone likes the dancers being there, so we agreed that we should purchase a roll of linoleum for the dancers to dance on. This could be stored away near the window and brought out and set up at the beginning of the night.

5) New website

Jimmy says that a new website is being set up for the pub. There will be details about what’s on every night of the week – trivia nights, karaoke etc, and he would like to include something about the session. I agreed to write a short piece explaining what we do.

6) What’s in it for the pub?

This is something we talked quite a bit about. We got to the question of attracting customers from outside. I pointed out that we’re not exactly a cool, trendy band or funky DJ, and that we couldn’t really be expected to bring hordes of people in, given that Irish tunes are a minority interest. On the other hand, we have the advantage that it’s truly live, spontaneous music and dance, and that’s a rare thing in Sydney these days. Jimmy understands this well, having come from managing a place in Surry Hills himself. He’s seen the deterioration of the live music scene in favour of pokie machines etc, and is keen to help develop our music community in his own little corner of Newtown. He said that a lot of pub owners in Surry Hills are just in it for a quick buck, but that he’s not like that; he’s not just in it for the money. Obviously we all have to make a decent living, but he also sees the importance of building a community. Then he said something I’ve never heard a barman say before – he said “you have a home here – I don’t want you to go”. This one sentence made me realise how far we’ve come, and how lucky we are.

7) Free round

Jimmy’s happy to continue this arrangement. I pointed out a few times that new staff haven’t been aware of who we are and what the arrangement is, and that it’d be nice to have the round of drinks earlier in the night. This would keep the musicians happy and therefore make it more likely that people involved in the session will stay around and buy more drinks, eat pizza or whatever.

So, everyone’s more than happy to continue to have us at Kelly’s. We’ve been there almost a year now. I’ve spoken to Mary, and she says she enjoys the session and would like to continue playing on Tuesday nights, as do I. It’s up to us to keep up the communication with Jimmy and the bar staff so everyone knows what the score is.

Long live Kelly’s. Hope to see you there on Tuesday!

Well done! What a happy outcome!

Posted by .


Now maybe I can get a decent night’s sleep tonight, other worries aside…

Quite the preamble to the constitution Dow… 😏

I held my breath for the Juke part of it… Upstairs eh? Some dance groups have made portable floors too, four sheets of plywood sort of things. The problem there would be where to store such a thing. Rolled lino eh? Hmmmmm? You know our hearts and prayers are with you, cheers! 🙂 😉

Good work boys.

See you Tuesday!

Latest news: Kelly’s session, Sydney

wow. that all sounds very positive from a management point of view. myself, I’m from a Djing background and have spent the last 12 years DJing in bars in surry hills so i have a lil bit of experience in that department ( cant wait till my whistle experience catches up. )

i had an idea that may help. Usually a venue will have a cd player hooked into the house pa. if you could maybe bring our own cd’s to be played and get yer hands on the cd player remote, you’ll easily be able to play music while your all busy gassing to each other. that way you’ll be able to keep control over the music integrity.

there’s nothing worse than listening to good music only to be bombarded by the latest schlock usually found on jukeboxes these days.

good luck people and hope it works out at last until I make it down there again

Posted by .

grrr! “at *least* “

by the way, in line with Jeremy’s “post a comment” note - it is friendly, and is suitable for beginners although there are some very advanced players, the night I was there they were also making space for a few “beginner” type tunes, although the drinking was more for the older experienced types

Posted by .

The session tonight

it totally rocked. Thanks for coming everyone.

Tunes from last night

Again, these are just the ones I remember playing/trying to play/listening to whenever I wasn’t at the bar/in the toilet/downstairs.


The Abbey
Ah, Surely!
Ambrose Moloney’s
The Aughacashel
The Banshee
The Blackberry Blossom
The Boys On The Hilltop
Brendan McMahon’s
The Broken Pledge
Come West Along The Road
The Concert
The Congress
The Connaught Heifers
Crowley’s #1
Crowley’s #2
Dowd’s #9
Dublin Porter
Farewell To Erin (the one in D)
The Floating Crowbar
The Galway Rambler
The Gates Of Mullagh
The Glencolmcille
The Green Groves Of Erin
The High Road To Glin
The Honeymoon
Hughie Travers’ #1
Jackson’s #2 (the Edor one)
Jenny Picking Cockles
Jim McKillop’s
Jimmy O’Reilly’s (weird version of this which I don’t play)
Kelly’s On King
The Killavil Fancy (The Ten Pound Float)
Kit O’Connor’s
The Lady On The Island
Larry Redican’s Bow
Larry’s Favourite
Last Night’s Fun
Launching The Boat
Lomanach Cross
The London Lasses
Lord McDonald’s
Lucy Campbell’s
The Maids Of Mount Kisco
Marry While You’re Young
The Milliner’s Daughter
The Mossy Banks
A Night In Ennis
Over The Bog Road
Over The Moor To Maggie
Patsy Tuohey’s
The Peeler’s Jacket
The Road To Ballymac
Roaring Mary
The Sandmount
Sean Reid’s
The Skylark
Solus Lillis’
The Spike Island Lasses
Sporting Nell
Sporting Paddy
The Sunny Banks
Sweeney’s Buttermilk
Tim Moloney’s
Tommy Peoples’ (the one in G)
The Wind That Shakes The Barley
The Wise Maid


The Battering Ram
The Blue Idol
The Bohola
The Carraroe
Castletown Connors
The Cliffs Of Moher
The Connaughtman’s Rambles
The Curragh
Dandy Bash
Father O’Flynn
Garrett Barry’s
The Hag’s Purse
Happy To Meet, Sorry To Part
Josie’s Visit
March From Oscar And Malvina
Out On The Ocean
Queen Of The Fair
The Rollicking Boys Of Tanderagee
The Rose In The Heather
The Shandon Bells
The Sheep In The Boat
The Whistling Postman


Some I don’t know the names of


Long polka fest – didn’t know names. Ivan might know if you really want them


There was one by Sean Ryan but don’t know what it’s called

I should add Kevin’s Buck’s Of Oranmore/Jolly Tinker set. That was when Chris and I were fixing my concertina and spraying superglue everywhere!

Thanks for your time and trouble with the tune lists, Dow.

I’m regularly out of town these days but that won’t last forever … will get out and about soon I hope and having a couple of tune lists for reference is great.

Posted by .

Just thought of some more tunes that were played - some Niall Vallely jigs off his new album which I don’t know and don’t have the names for, and also I remember playing the Dogs Among The Bushes, which is probably my favourite tune of all time!

Rumour has it tonight’s session could be… well… large.

Blimey it was too. Thanks for coming tonight everyone it was great! The bar staff and management were really chuffed, and said it was the best turnout we’ve ever had. Even Mark had a smile on his face so we must have done something right 🙂

…and downstairs, with jukebox blaring, was strangely devoid of punters… ;)

Was it typical in other ways?

I’m not at the stage of playing in sessions. Just with friends. Maybe one day. And I’ll only be in Sydney for about another 6 or 8 months. Anyway I like to go and listen to a session once in a while - I’ve got friends in England who are players, and family too (my father is a fiddler, but does more English stuff).
I went once to another session here that was a singaround, and another that was cramped and the atmosphere wasn’t great. So I liked the sound of this one.
When we arrived last night it looked great. Quite a lot of players, atmosphere felt good. But most of the people sat around with instruments on their laps or in cases hardly ever played while we were there! The two fast fiddlers were working away, a couple of people on either side of them joined in quite a bit, but there was only about one tune that got people going. A guy with a guitar got it out, tuned it up, and put it away again. Are the fiddlers the session leaders? The fiddlers took a break and another set was played, then they came back and it didn’t look as if things were likely to change much, so we left.
That all sounds a bit hard - I didn’t mean it to sound too critical. You are doing a grand job, I mean it. I couldn’t do it, and if I could I doubt that I would. And I know from small but long experience that sessions vary. So that is what I wanted to find out, as we have a fair treck to get there. Is that the usual way this session runs? An honest answer would be much appreciated.

It took a while to get going last night. It was only really after about 10 or 10.30 that it started flowing and the dancers started dancing. The problem with the people sitting around not playing - that’s because they don’t know the tunes. And it’s up to them to learn the tunes; if they’re left out then that’s not the fault of the people playing the tunes.

Also, I’d say those fiddlers you saw “working away” were thoroughly enjoying playing the tunes, and that’s the important thing. You as the spectator don’t come into it - at all, actually. I don’t mean that in an offensive way. I’m just being honest. We’re there to share tunes with each other for our own enjoyment, not to entertain you.

Let me put in different terms: if we wanted, we could have a session in which everyone joins in every single tune. That would mean that the tunes we play at the session would all have to be very common session standards so that it’s guaranteed that everyone would know them. But I don’t think there’s much value in playing the same old session standards week in week out. Sydney needs exposure to a wide variety of more obscure tunes as well as the standards. I think this session should be a good place for the better musicians with the bigger repertoires as well as people who have just started learning the music. As I said in the opening post on this thread, “It need not be a beginners’ session and it need not be an advanced session”.

Learning the tunes

Let me put it in different terms again. We have a rather broad range of abilities at Kelly’s and there’s no reason to change that. But one of the “fast fiddlers” you speak of has a repertoire of well over 1000 tunes, or possibly over 2000. Others in the session have maybe 10 or 200 tunes or even fewer. If you’re one of those people, and you’re playing with that fiddler, you have to expect that, with a repertoire less than a tenth the size of his, you’re going to be sitting around not playing for much of the time. If you want to be doing less sitting around with your instrument on your lap and more playing, then learn more tunes, preferably ones that that fiddler plays, and preferably by recording his playing from the horse’s mouth with a recording device. Otherwise you have to be content with sitting and listening. There really is no other way round it.

I meant 100 or 200

I’ll just say one more thing which I think will make my point clearer. You asked whether the fiddlers were the session leaders. Well, it depends what you mean by “leaders”. One of the fiddlers was taking over from Mary who is currently in New Zealand, and so he was helping run the session and make it happen. The other fiddler wasn’t. The reason why the other fiddler was playing all the tunes and really getting into it was because he is currently making a massive effort to learn the tunes and improve his playing, even though he hasn’t been playing all that long. He does this by recording other people’s playing and taking it home and listening to it outside of the session environment. He learns the tunes and then enjoys playing them in the sessions. The more he learns the more he enjoys it. This is the best approach to learning the music, and I wish everyone would do it.

Thanks for answering.
It’s OK, I know we aren’t a big part of the equation. I work shifts, my husband has to leave the house around 7, so we’d have had to go by the time it warmed up anyway. And music is not the number 1 thing in my life, so I’m not thinking of coming to Kellys to play anyway - I’m not that far on.
Gold star to the fiddling lads for knowing so many tunes, but that wasn’t really what I wanted to know. I just wondered how much of the time your session is only like what we saw. But if it got more interesting later on, and if some weeks are different to others that’s good to know. We might swing by again sometime.
Thanks again for answering.


Well, more people were playing later on than just two fiddlers if that’s what you mean by “interesting”. Just remember that “interesting” is different for different people, and that it’s not all about *you* and what *you* find interesting. Personally, I found the first part of the session the most interesting. That bit where you were probably sitting bored stupid, I was totally engrossed in the tunes and having a whale of a time. We had a whole string of hornpipes which we don’t usually play. That was fun, and then the fiddlers introduced me to one or two new tunes which I have wanted to learn for ages. They were played so well that I managed to pick up the B-part of one of the tunes on the fly. When they finished playing, I asked one of the fiddlers to teach me the A-part, which he did gladly. This is the part of the session which I most enjoyed.

It’s all about a willingness to learn, really. I would hope that the other people sitting with their instruments in their laps wanted to learn the tune too, but maybe not. Maybe they were waiting to be entertained.

I like to think this is an open and welcoming session, and I hate to say this, but I’m not going to go out of my way to encourage people to come who expect this session to cater for their needs and their interests only. The session is as it is. We’re there because we’re a bunch of mates who love playing music together and learning from each other. If you can join in by sharing what you know and learning from the other session members, then great, but if you’re going to sit there and complain that you don’t know enough of the tunes to join in, or that the session doesn’t interest you because there aren’t enough people playing, then you’re best off finding another session. Too many people sit back and expect to be entertained and for someone else to do the work for them and make the session happen, not realising that they have a responsibility to help make that session happen too. Sessions only work because the musicians involved in them turn up and play. If they can’t put the work in and learn from the other people at their session, and they can’t play, then the session can’t have a critical mass of members and it can’t work, and so it dies. Plain and simple. And let me be absolutely clear about this: that would be the fault of the people who sit back and won’t learn, not the fault of those fiddlers who were “working away”.

Gotta say this because I’m a little bit annoyed now. It’s like this: you imply that you found the playing of those two fiddlers uninteresting. Well, if you had a willingness to learn, and a genuine interest in the music, you would have opened your ears and listened properly, and you’d have realised that you were listening to fantastic music played by two of the best fiddlers Australia has to offer. If you can’t appreciate that, then that’s your loss.

Yup. you hit the nail on the head dow - you would only find those tune players that are playing loads of obscure tunes *interesting* if you were the slighest bit *interested* in trad irish tunes in the first place.

This is not a performance -it is a session - Leslie - you may want to look in the search function on this site for the threads that have gone into great detail about the difference in a session and a performance. That may help you to understand the world of traditional irish music a bit better.

You probably would feel much more entertained if you learned some of the tunes and could join in.

Posted by .

Wow! extreme stuff. I must drop in for a few tunes when I’m next in Sydney. Last time I was in town someone told me to head out to a pub called the mean fiddler. Nothing of note on there in fact nothing on a tuesday at all.

Posted by .

Genus & Species ~ free on the wing or pinned and pickled under glass

It seems obvious that lestow/Leslie is a novice, hasn’t a clue, so we must temper our responses for the naive and inexperienced, with that understanding. And yet she says in her first offering ~

“I like to go and listen to a session once in a while - I’ve got friends in England who are players, and family too (my father is a fiddler, but does more English stuff).” ~ lestow (Leslie)

~ ? ~ maybe your experiences are limited to house music and the English folk club scene?

Even the punters, the regulars who come for the drink and a listen and don’t carry a musical instrument, know that the usual session doesn’t really warm up until after 9 or 10 at night, and can last past midnight. I’ve been in places where it didn’t happen in the ‘warm’ sense until after the pub closed, and not just Irish varieties, English, Scottish, Welsh and Breton, to mention a few. To be fair, sessions may not be for you anyway Les, in any form? You wouldn’t be alone there. Maybe it would be best to keep to the well rehearsed and more controlled situations, either listening to recordings or catching the occassional concert, or something more organized and folk clubby? After your understanding and appreciation of the whole thing develops, if that ever happens, then you might consider again dipping your toes in on these species of sessions, when you have the time and patience and can leave any preconceptions or expectations behind.

Every session is different, and some aren’t really sessions at all in the loose and social sense like at Kelly’s, but semi-performances. These are often in Irish theme pubs, and maybe you might find something like that more to your liking, with a timetable and sets and little or no chat and regularly scheduled breaks like on the tele or commercial radio? I prefer to go to such things without expectations, and to keep ope to the variation and suprise that every time you show at a place of music things are likely to be different, unique, no two sessions quite the same… But I know that puts some folks off.

As Dow has been saying, these species of sessions are by and for musicians, that inner circle, participating or listening, not really for the punters, though an appreciation from the peanut gallery is welcome, but these sessions, on the whole, aren’t created and maintained to entertain the punters…

Oh, I seem to have touched a sensitive nerve. I’m sorry if I somehow offended anyone, really. But it does seem that the lady is protesting an awful lot. The answer I was hoping for was something like “Sorry you didn’t like it, we do – it’s like that nearly always/some of the time/hardly ever.”

I’m surprised though how much people seem to think they know about someone like me – I have been told that I do not have a willingness to learn, or a genuine interest in the music, and have not opened my ears or listened properly, that I can’t have the slightest bit of interest in trad Irish tunes in the first place, and that I’m obviously a novice who hasn’t got a clue.
Well thanks fellers for the insights, but although I will mention that some of my most played CDs are of fast fiddling, I can tell you I have no plans to explain or defend myself further. Like they say “don’t wrestle with a pig – both of you get dirty, but the pig enjoys it”.

I will say that it’s interesting to read from one of you that “loads of obscure tunes” were being played, and if knowing loads of obscure tunes is what makes you think that they are “two of the best fiddlers Australia has to offer” then fine. Gold star.

But hey, de gustibus non est disputandum. I avoided using the word “boring”, because although we didn’t see a lot of point in staying I didn’t want to criticise too much. As someone said, it’s not about me. But since along with the rest of the description of our attitudes, knowledge and taste, I’ve been told that we were probably bored stupid, I’ll admit it. Yes, we did find it boring, yes, they did all sound the same (even though I can tell the difference between a reel and a hornpipe), and yes, Virginia, the Emperor has no clothes.

If you think that means there is something wrong with my attitudes or musical sensibility, you must have a very poor view of most of humanity. Once again, de gustibus non est disputandum.


“I will say that it’s interesting to read from one of you that “loads of obscure tunes” were being played, and if knowing loads of obscure tunes is what makes you think that they are “two of the best fiddlers Australia has to offer” then fine. Gold star.”

No, they’re also extremely good technically and play with a lot of heart. The musicians at Kelly’s recognise that and respect them for it. You found it boring. You’re also laying on the sarcasm heavily with your “gold stars”. In fact you know what? You p1ss me off, because I know how much work those fiddlers have put into their playing over the last few years. Hours and hours and hours. They love the music. You clearly don’t. That’s fine - you don’t need bother coming back if you didn’t like it.

Here’s the thing, Leslie, and I’m going to put it more bluntly than I did the last time. And this may shock you. We don’t actually care if you found it boring.

“I’m surprised though how much people seem to think they know about someone like me – I have been told that I do not have a willingness to learn, or a genuine interest in the music, and have not opened my ears or listened properly, that I can’t have the slightest bit of interest in trad Irish tunes in the first place, and that I’m obviously a novice who hasn’t got a clue.”

Leslie, Leslie… are screaming from the rooftops with a massive neon sign “I Have no idea about this music” with every post and every comment. Its starting to get pretty embarrassing…..almost like me going onto some scientific website and saying ’science is boring….does it ever get more interesting than this“? Even though I havent a clue.

“I will say that it’s interesting to read from one of you that “loads of obscure tunes” were being played, and if knowing loads of obscure tunes is what makes you think that they are “two of the best fiddlers Australia has to offer” then fine. Gold star.” - Leslie - when you learn new tunes…it means you a interested in learning the music. Anyone can learn a hundred tunes. Big deal.

And lastly - Kellys is a great place with great craic and great people and great tunes, I dont think anyone cares either way if you are there or not…

Posted by .

Dow & Kelly’s Session ~ Nil Illegitimus Carborundum 😉

Sancta simplicitas = Spucatum Tauri

Postremo pensandum quanta doctrinae commoditas sit in libris
Quam facilis, quam arcana! Quam tuto libris humanae ignoranttia paupertatem
Sien verecundia denudamus! Hi sunt magistri qui nos instruunt
Sine virgis et ferula, sine verbis et cholera, sine pannis et pecunia.
Si accedis, non dormiunt; si inquirens interrogas, non abscondunt;
non remurmurant si oberres; cachinnos nesciunt, si ignores…

For translations go here ~

“fast fiddling” ~ “boring” ~
‘Royal *******’ ~ the empress has no clothes, but it obviously doesn’t end there…

Hmmm ~ judgements harsh and sweeping…usually the sign of a little mind… Not knowing you personally, though having experienced this sort of thing too many times, I reserve ‘judgement’… However, I find that ‘boredom’ is usually the disease of the carrier… 😛

Those were funny. I especially liked this one:

In the good old days, children like you were left to perish on windswept crags.


* * * * * 🙂 ~ The Session Extreme Conditions Awards

Damn, and SHOUTING too, that must have felt good Dow, in a Lon Chaney, Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre B-movie sort of way… I see you in goggles and a lab coat running around looking for a circuit breaker to pull. Damn Peter was good at that particular brand of laugh wasn’t he…

You do realize that this little piece of the site, under ‘sessions’, probably has earned notoriety for the longest? (that needs confirmation, even if you are responsible for the bulk of it) ~ and also, with this latest addition, possibly the only negative unconstructive and biting comment in the comments of any other session? This would also need confirmation, but this is the first one I’ve come across, couched in a biting inconsiderate question. Maybe we could start a ‘discusson’ to probe the depths of this category of the site?

Anyway, it’s probably at least unique, if not on just these two counts… We may have the longest use of Latin on the whole damned site?

Keep having fun… Wish I were there… 😉

Active participation at Kelly’s

I hate the way the biting comment was disguised as a well-mannered, innocent question. That’s why I just had to say something. I mean, who in their right mind would go to a session full of musicians they’ve never met, and then when they found they didn’t like it, go home and go straight online and tell the whole world how bored they were? And this is the bit that gets me, the bit where she gives the answer she was expecting from us: “Sorry you didn’t like it, we do – it’s like that nearly always/some of the time/hardly ever.” She expects us to be *sorry* they didn’t like it?! That’s like going to a pub, listening in on a group of friends having a natter for a few hours, and then announcing to everyone in sight that you were “bored by their conversation” and expect the people who were in the conversation to be “sorry” you were bored by it. I’m just truly amazed that someone can be so self-centred.

You know, ‘c’, for a while I was feeling a bit depressed that this little exchange had been posted here, and regretted my part in it, worrying that if people read it, it might put them off coming to the session. But actually I hope it works the other way. I hope it dissuades people from coming who are hoping for a bit of free entertainment, so that they can just absorb passively like a transpiring plant, instead of doing their bit by actively participating in the session, whether that be as a musician or onlooker. I want to make it clear that if Leslie had brought her instrument, and introduced herself, and said something like “hi, I’m Leslie, I play a bit of mandolin, not sure whether I’m ready to play in a session or not though” I would have gone out of my way to make her feel welcome, and sat her down, maybe encouraged her to play her favourite tune so we could play it with her or whatever. 🙁 🙁 🙁

I didn’t mean transpire. What’s the “absorb” one? Photosynthesize or something? You know what I mean anyway…

Grow a tree.
See what transpires!

“Perspiration”? ~ Yeah, I know you would Dow, and green fingered kookabat ~ go out of your way for the novice… 😉

Keeping everyone Happy

in all my years of public performances i’ve always had the diffiuclt requests.

“can you play something we like?”
“can you play something we know?”

i have come to the conclusion that it is impossible to keep everyone happy. so there is no point in trying.

I developed a standard response to the above questions that i thought was quite fitting to you guys here.

“there’s a pub up the street that has a jukebox in it , why dont you go there ?’

It has never ceased to amaze me how some people believe that when they go out for the nite, that somehow, the night should be tailored to their needs. strange - eh ? i think some people should stay at home and drink with their friends, listening to their favourite cd’s.
going out is about enjoying new experiences, meeting new people and most importantly, in my view , hearing something you’ve never heard before.

Dow, i think the word your after is osmosis, Tis a great way to pick up on the music your interested in.

Good one Jaywhite, in Dow’s case there’s a jukebox downstairs…

I still can’t quite fathom ‘why’ make a dump here? This person was so disappointed and full of ‘personal boredom’ that they felt a need to take it out on this session, and here publicly in the comments? I don’t quite see the purpose, anything constructive in it. It is a first in my experience, in the sessions comments, but I may have missed something similar elsewhere? On that count, ‘boredom’, they didn’t come alone. Was their own company and the person next to them so uninteresting that they couldn’t have filled their felt void by a bit of friendly chat, banter, food and drink, or just people watching? If I’d made all the effort they claim to have done I would have made the best of it, instead of stewing in my disappointment and then ragging on about it here on site… But, in our difference we are all affected by and respond to things in our own way…

Tunes from Tues

A lot of standards this week. Never let it be said that we don’t play enough standards so everyone can join in.


The Antrim Rose
The Banshee
The Blockers
The Cameronian
Castle Kelly
Colonel Rodger’s Favourite
The Congress
Craig’s Pipes
The Cup Of Tea
A Fair Wind
The Galway Rambler
George White’s Favourite
The Green Fields Of Glentown
The Happy Days Of Youth
The Holly Bush
The Honeymoon
The Hunter’s House
John Dwyer’s
Johnny Cronin’s
Jimmy O’Reilly’s
Kelly’s On King
The Laurel Tree
The London Lasses
The Long Drop
The Man Of The House
Master McDermott’s
Matt Peoples’ #1
Matt Peoples’ #2
Maudabawn Chapel
Mayor Harrison’s Fedora
The Mermaid Of Mullaghmore
The Merry Blacksmith
Miss McLeod’s
The Musical Priest
My Love Is In America
The Nine Points Of Roguery
O’Connor Donn’s
The Old Schoolmaster
Paddy Canny’s Toast #1
Paddy Canny’s Toast #2
Pauline’s Place
Rakish Paddy
The Sally Gardens
The Sandmount
Sean Reid’s
The Sligo Maid
Sweeney’s Buttermilk
Tommy Peoples’ (G)


Aaron’s Key
Banish Misfortune
The Battering Ram
The Black Rogue
The Blackthorn Stick
Calliope House
The Carraroe
The Cliffs Of Moher
Dusty Windowsills
Father O’Flynn
The Frost Is All Over
Garrett Barry’s
The Haunted House
Hughie Travers’
The Humours Of Ballyloughlin
The Humours Of Trim
Jackson’s Morning Brush
The Jig Of Slurs
Jim Ward’s
The Kerfunten
The Lark In The Morning
The Maid At The Well
The Maid On The Green
Matt Hayes’
The Merry Old Woman
The Mug Of Brown Ale
My Darling Asleep
Out On The Ocean
Paddy Fahy’s (Gdor)
Pay The Reckoning
The Pipe On The Hob (Dmix)
Quilty Shore
Tongs By The Fire
The Trip To Killavil


The Clareman’s
Her Long Dark Hair Was Flowing Down Her Back


The Choice Wife
The Kid On The Mountain



Sorry I keep playing the McKenna’s set (Colonel Rodger’s/Happy Days) all the time but I really love those tunes. Promise not to start them next week.

There’s actually a tune called Kelly’s on King???

Yes, it’s a John Brady tune that got its first airing at Kelly’s, and still only gets played by Sydney musicians. It’s our secret tune 🙂

hey Dow, you should keep both your hands on the computer keyboard, to avoid the unhealthy habit you’re exhibiting in that last post 🙂

and how much will you pay me to lose my recording of your bodhran playing from a Kelly’s session??
It’ll just be our little secret …

Not that secret a secret, dogbox!! I’ve witnessed young Dow on the goatskin once or twice as well….

Hmm, won’t be doing that again…

The bodhran is good therapy - when the tune-playing isn’t up to scratch you can take out your frustrations on the goatskin 😉

…or the bodhran player, one of the two!!!

Looks like ISS99999 - International Session Standards - is well under way thanks to Dow making his Standard Operating Procedures available online :

All you need now are some qualified inspectors - I’m volunteering to do the course.

Posted by .

Tunes from last night

Thanks for coming everyone - it was an enjoyable night, and it was nice to see some “new” faces (new to me anyway). I thought we had a bigger variety of tunes this time, and the session was all the better for it. It’s nice to have something different. This time we had old tunes, new tunes, some French Canadian tunes, some Newfoundland tunes, even a Northumbrian hornpipe!… polkas, marches, slides, mazurkas, and lots of slip jigs as well as our usual reel and jig fodder.


The Aughacashel [Josephine Keegan]
The Banshee [James McMahon]
The Black-haired Lass
Bonny Kate
The Boys Of Ballisodare
The Bus Stop [Anita Anderson]
The Chicago
The College Groves
The Congress
Crossing The Shannon
The Culfadda [Larry Redican]
The Cup Of Tea
The Dunmore Lasses
Eileen Curran (The Sailor’s Return)
The Exile OF Erin [Tony Sullivan]
Farewell To Erin
Farrel O’Gara’s
The Galtee
Geoghan’s (Eileen O’Callaghan’s)
George White’s Favourite
Glen Allen
The Golden Keyboard [Martin Mulhaire]
The Gooseberry Bush
The Green Fields Of America
The Green Gates
The Holly Bush [Finbar Dwyer]
The Honeymoon
The Hunter’s Purse
Jenny Picking Cockles
Jim Hodder’s [Emile Benoit, Newfoundland]
Kelly’s On King [John Brady]
Lad O’Beirne’s (G)
Larry Redican’s Bow
Last Night’s Fun
The Laurel Tree
The Long Drop [Richard Twomey]
The Maid Behind The Bar
The Man Of Aran [Darach de Brun]
The Maple Leaf [Darach De Brun]
The Market Day [Ed Reavy]
Matt Peoples’ #2
McDonagh’s #2
The Merry Blacksmith
The Morning Star
My Love Is In America
Da New Rigged Ship [Shetland]
Now She’s Purring (Callaghan’s)
The Old Bush
The Old Copperplate
Palmer’s Gate [Joe Liddy]
Pamela’s Lonely Nights [Emile Benoit, Newfoundland]
Pauline’s Place [P.J. King]
The Rainy Day (the Bothy Band tune)
Sailing Into Walpole’s Marsh
The Sailor On The Rock
The Salamanca
The Sally Gardens
The Sandymount
The Scholar
Shamrock Hill [Sean Ryan]
The Shaskeen
The Ships Are Sailing
The Silver Spear
Sweeney’s Dream
Sweeney’s Buttermilk [Brendan McGlinchey]
The Teetotaler (The Temperance)
Tommy Peoples’ (G)
The Trip To Durrow
Two Days To Go [Diarmaid Moynihan]
The Virginia
The Volunteer
+ Some from Joanne I don’t have names for, including nice reel by Jerry Holland


The Bohola (Joe Cooley’s Delight, Seamus Cooley’s)
The Burnt Old Man
The Castle [Sean Ryan]
Dancing Eyes [Sean Ryan]
Emmett’s Hedgehog [Niall Vallely]
Garrett Barry’s
The Geese In The Bog
Grappa Groove [Niall Vallely]
Health To The Ladies (Sweet Biddy Daly’s)
Lost And Found (The Castlebar Races)
March From Oscar And Malvina (Leslie’s March) [Maria De Caro]
The Mist-covered Mountain [Junior Crehan]
The Morning Lark
The Mouse In The Kitchen [Colin Farrell]
The Nightingale [Sean Ryan]
Nina’s [Niall Vallely]
Paddy’s Return (Kitty Lie Over)
Palm Sunday
The Pipe On The Hob #1
The Pipe On The Hob #2
The Rambling Pitchfork
The Rollicking Boys Of Tanderagee
The Rose In The Heather
Tatter Jack Walsh
Timmy Clifford’s


Lewis Proudlock’s [Northumberland – request 😉]


The Cock And The Hen
Dever The Dancer
The Fairy
Farewell To Whalley Range [Mike McGoldrick]
The Humours Of Ballymanus
The Humours Of Whiskey
The Little Fair Cannavans


Dan O’Keeffe’s #1
The Road To Lisdoonvarna


Bill Sullivan’s
+ some others I don’t know the names of


We had a couple of French Canadian marches from Norm but I don’t have names for them


The Old Donegal (The Irish, Vincent Campbell’s #1)
Rachel On The Rock (Kitty’s Fancy; Alex calls this John Doherty’s)

Almost forgot to mention, a song or two as well 😀

# Posted on May 25th 2007 by Bren:

“Kelly’s Bar isn’t really typical, it’s a shining island of something in a sea of something else.”

Discussion: Ronnie Cooper Waltzes
# Posted on May 25th 2007 by Bren

Cory’s box

This is one of those things that you can look back on and laugh about after the fact, but at the time it was pretty horrifying. After the session on Tues, Cory and I went downstairs and stayed on drinking till about 1am or so, and then we decided to go to the Zanzibar down the road, but the bouncer wouldn’t let us in because Cors didn’t do a good enough impression of being sober.

So we crossed the road and went to the Townie. Miraculously we managed to get in no bother. I ordered a pint for us both, which Cors promptly knocked everywhere, and it went all over my instrument cases, and the crotch of my trousers, much to the amusement of the bar staff and customers at the surrounding tables.

Then, after finishing his pint, Cors suddenly decided to leave, picked up his stuff, said his goodbyes and staggered out the door. I assumed that since he only had to turn right and walk down the road to get home that he’d be ok, so minutes later, I left and got a taxi home.

Just as I was about to get into bed, I got a phone call from Cors complaining that he didn’t know where he was. Then he hung up and then rang back about 10 minutes later, complaining that he had lost his box and that he was sitting outside a BP garage. So I threw on some clothes and got a taxi back to Newtown. My phone was out of batteries, so I hoped I’d be able to find him. I knew he couldn’t move very far in his state, and at least I knew his last location at the BP garage.

Fortunately I met him staggering back towards the station, instrumentless and forlorn-looking. I managed to gather from his almost-incoherent mumblings that he’d been on the train and had been sitting at train stations. After coming out of the pub, instead of walking straight home, he’d walked down the steps to Newtown Station and got the first train to anywhere. Then when he’d realised his mistake he’d got the first train back to Newtown! So I thought that he most likely left it on the train or at one of the stations. We retraced his steps and searched thoroughly all the station platforms where he thought he’d been (and he wasn’t even clear where he’d been). Then we searched along the road between Newtown and Erskineville stations, after I finally managed to establish that he’d walked along that road, rather than getting a train via Redfern. No joy.

So we went back to Beebs’ place around 5am feeling pretty dejected, and I fell asleep on the sofa until 7am, and then tried ringing Cityrail lost property when I woke up. I could hardly speak after only 2 hours sleep, and the stupid man on the other end of the phone kept saying “what?!” really abruptly, I wanted to shout “just shut up and listen properly to what I’m saying!”. I was told that even if it did turn up as lost prop, it could take as long as 5 working days for it to be sent to the office.

Good news today (Thursday). Cory told me he’d found his box! Apparently it was along the road he’d walked along - the same one as the one we searched twice over - only it had been thrown over a 10ft wire fence. Luckily it was in its case, and doesn’t seem to be damaged.

I wonder if someone found it and opened it up, and when they realised it was valuable they threw it into an inaccessible place for its own protection. Or more likely they opened up the box, and when they found it was a button accordion, they threw it away in disgust 🙂

Corys Box

Aye, There’s a lesson to be learned by all. If you’re drunk don’t stop to roll a ciggy and have a slash because you might leave your instrument lying around and forget about it. And someone might throw it over a fence. Seeing as it was an accordion they probably thought good riddance🙂 It was pretty funny and a relief actually finding it cause I had to scale over this wire fence with traffic and people going by and until I actually picked it up didn’t know if there was still an instrument inside. Once again, thanks to Dow for being there on the night and BenMc and JB for the possible organisation of a benefit and the handcuff idea🙂

I just drove past that fence, Cors. I hadn’t realised that whoever it was had actually tried to throw your box onto the TRAIN TRACKS at Erskineville station!!!! Looks like my second scenario was correct, i.e., that they threw it away in disgust when they realised what it was 🙂

if this was true there would have been a pile of them in the same place. People usually make a pile because its a waste of petrol only burning one at a time…

Posted by .

Let’s make a pile of anglo concertinas 🙂

This session is currently in a state of indefinite suspension. If it starts up again, someone will post a note here.

“Indefinite suspension”?! That doesn’t quite work. I meant “suspended indefinitely” or “suspended for an indefinite period”.

what happened?

Posted by .


Panic! Whaaa??

Posted by .

Writing as one who has much to lose (at most I missed only a couple of sessions) by the closure of this session, thanks Mark and Mary for keeping it going for as long as you did. Best session ever, down to you two…

Posted by .

Well if this is the case I want to chime in with CAG, though I was not quite such a pillar of regularity as he was. The session was welcoming, yet with a remarkably high standard of music. Attending has done my own playing a power of good (believe it or not). I must mention Mark and Mary again as the ones who put a stamp on this session and made it what it was.
Damn, the golden days are over again!

Posted by .

What the…???????

Why did Kelly’s close?

So you havent said what happened. Did you all get bored after all?

You are sick in the head. Go away.

come on Dow spill the beans, give us the drum, etc.

Posted by .

Suspension of disbelief ~ R.I.P.

It was good while it lasted… As with most such things, its influence and mythology will long outlive the few points of turbulence… 😏

lestow ~ Extenuating circumstances outside the community of musicians and dancers…

Erm, or maybe mean-spirited people writing mean-spirited things on websites? 😏 I detect a hint of glee in lestow’s tone in the knowledge that the session has been suspended. That’s really disappointing that people can be like that, and it made me mad enough to be mean back. >: - (

Hey you all the way on the other side of the world.
I created a link from my session notice to this session
thread. We play every Sunday night in Newport, Rhode Island, USA. I am disappointed to find out that the session my reference points to is no more. You’ll have to find a way to
make your session live on. We are going strong here in the northern hemisphere in July 2007. Please get back up to bat and have at it! Move it somewhere else if you need to, but don’t
do nothing!!

I’m not gleeful Dow (I’m not “lestow” either!) but I am (yellow)
What happened? Was it a bang or a whimper?

Posted by .

“curious (yellow)” I meant. Bloody touchpad.

Posted by .


Originally posted by Dow on the thread “Why is “performance” an issue?” - I can’t believe I was still reading this far down… Re-posted here for ‘completeness’:

In a way, this whole issue is why our Sydney session closed recently. It was because of my absolute stubborn refusal to compromise on what the session was to be. It was clear from the way the bar staff acted that they expected us to perform: they’d complain when we didn’t attract enough customers to the pub, and if you went to the toilet for a 2 or 3 minute break between sets, they’d switch the jukebox on while you were away to “fill in the silences”. This is because they didn’t understand what our session was intended to be. I had meetings with them and explained that we were not there to be performing monkeys. We were there to foster a sense of musical community by playing tunes together as a group, in a place where we could also benefit from an ambient atmosphere and the availability of alcoholic drinks. The manager understood this but didn’t communicate it effectively enough to his bar staff. They treated us more and more as performing monkeys, as though we were obliged to entertain, with no gaps between sets, and no conversation. That wasn’t good enough for me, so I arranged for the session to be closed. That’s how strongly I feel about this topic. I won’t budge on it, because I care about the music and I care about my enjoyment of it and my friends’ enjoyment of it. I’m happier to have the odd house session where nobody expects us to perform for them.
So anyone who was curious to know why it closed - now you know.

I had my reasons for not posting that in this thread, kookabat. What if we decide we want to start up again?

My reasoning was that people had asked but not heard anything. I thought it was important that people knew - many would not have found it on the other thread.

I see no issues with “what if we decide we want to start up again”…?

Because the manager knows about this website and could potentially read it?

I wish it were back

I loved this session . i miss it dearly. i found this during my search for a whistle tutorer. I have always found everyone very friendly and some of the musicians that come seem very talented at their respective instruments. i was only new to ITM and am very saddened that my source of not only joy but great information has gone.

Please bear in mind why it was started in the first place. it’s about the music and the community.

Now i know that bar owners and staff have their own agendas and they always will. it’s always going to be a struggle between the artist and the owners, but it’s all good and natural. sometimes it;s just difficult to find the happy medium.

i can see DOW that this situation had left you a little jaded. i feel for you man, i done a 10 year stint DJing behind these very same bars. but i’ll hark back to one of my previous posts about the silence between sets. bring a cd to be played at the bar, that way the music can be continuous and everyone would be happy.

I would love to see this session back, as i was only just getting to know a few of you, plus, what sort of an irish bar doesn’t have an irish music nite ?

so please, reconsider. for me, for the music, the love and more importantly, the community of people that you were building into quite a remarkable bunch of people.

New session site?

How’s the Carly management these days for a session? Most pubs seem eventually to take this attitude to the music. A business proposition that needs time to develop, but if it doesn’t, hey, we’ll just turn the jukeboxes on. Happens again and again. The Thurles Castle was a brilliant venue and was great when the pub was owned by an Irish publican who actually liked the music for itself. Look what happened after he moved on! Now that pub is boarded up for the last eight years or so.
Any other suggested venues?

This session’s been back on again for months now. It’s not run by me and Mary anymore but I still go regularly. The session has a different vibe. It’s faster and the tunes are less orientated towards the old standards. There’s good guitar backing and the dancers now have a dance floor to do their thing. The atmosphere’s good most weeks. If you turn up and annoy the people who are now running it by doing something like playing a saxophone or really bad backing on a guitar, I will pay you 10 dollars. 20 if you do it for the whole session.

Only kidding 🙂

He’s only kidding that he’ll pay. He does really want you to do it.

Posted by .


When this session started out (again) there were 2, maybe 3 musicians slugging their guts out all night and no one in the pub. Luckily it has evolved into a nice session maybe anywhere from 6-10 people (never too big) nice mix of tunes, some modern some not and a good standard of musicianship. The pub is packed as the punters like the atmosphere and the dancers turn up and drink all night🙂

Posted by .

“the dancers turn up and drink all night”

Oh dear Brides, we’ll have a reputation soon if you’re not careful!!

Tuesday Session No Longer On

After many, many good nights myself and my newfoundland buddy have decided to call it a day. We had a great time with this sesh, and the pub’s been excellant, but my co-sessioner’s wife is on the verge of having twins so we thought It’s a good time to take a break.

Sunday Session at Kelly’s

This session has re-started; it’s now on Sunday evenings beginning at 5pm.

Posted by .

Sunday Session at Kellys Bar Newtown Sydney

This session is going well. Start time is now 7pm.
All session players welcome to join in and play.



I was reading in a detective novel today that Kellys is on the site of the only McDonalds to have abandoned a complete suburb, or something. The sentence just sort of jumped out at me.

All I can remember is a rather long session (the drinking part) with Bridie and Dow some years ago and staggering out into King St around 4am. Happy days.

Anyway, carry on, as you were.

Posted by .

any more sessions at kelly’s?

am in from the US - Boston, MA, till Jan 26 and seeking a session to attend in NSW, Sydney. I play the fiddle and know a few of the traditional irish tunes, not much of anything else. Polkas, jigs, reels, hornpipes. Thanks for any info you can provide.


I think this session is still going on a Sunday but I haven’t been to this pub in years. Not sure what the session’s like but I suspect that it would be balanced more towards singing than it was when it originally started up. Check your private messages for info about current sessions…

Whats the craic with this sesh?

Posted .

Re: Kelly’s Bar

Hi, I’m new to the area. Is this session still running?

Posted by .

Re: Kelly’s Bar

Email from the Irish National Association tells me this session is now closed unfortunately. The musicians will be looking for a new venue. Hopefully they find one soon.