The Bush Music Club

142 Addison Road, Marrickville, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Added by cag .

Twenty-nine comments

New Slow Session in Sydney

Starting October 11th I am going to run a series of slow sessions in Sydney, probably at the Bush Music Club in Addison Rd Marrickville, Sunday nights at 7-30pm for 6-8 weeks.

These sessions have come about because I was aware of a number of people who are interested and playing but not quite able to cope at a regular session.

There will be a regular play list, all common tunes.

Anyone who knows someone in the Sydney area who fits this description, let them know and ask them to email me

We have around 8 people so far…

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Re: New Slow Session in Sydney

It seems to me that most people could cope, for a few tunes at least, at the Sunday night Harp session in Tempe, so perhaps they’d be better to support that, rather than clash with it, and you have your session another time, say earlier in the afternoon. Then some of your crowd could go on to the Harp by train or bus or car. The Harp’s getting quiet and perhaps could do with some new faces

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Re: New Slow Session in Sydney

Just a suggestion 🙂

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Re: New Slow Session in Sydney

There is also I think a similar session held at the Shamrock bar in the Asquith leagues club opposite Waitara Station 7.30 - 10.30 on Tuesday evenings. It is co-ordinated by Pam and Norm Merrigan (of the Turning Wave Festival, Gundagai). I think there is quite a crowd that goes to this session, maybe they would be interested in another session on the weekend. Contacts at

The Bush Music Club actually looks like a really good venue.

Slow session in Sydney

Looking for new members

Do you live in Sydney and want to become a session player? Are you a little slow and worried you might have trouble fitting in? The way to bridge the gap is the Sydney Slow Session. It is designed to lift people across from playing in the comfort of their bathroom to the sessions of wider Sydney.

For two years the session has been meeting every Sunday in Marrickville with up to 14 people attending. Some people have hardly missed a single session in that time and many players have now begun attending proper sessions.

What do we do? Its not really like a session.

From 6.30pm until 7pm we teach a tune by ear. The tunes taught in this part of the session come from a list of 30 or so tunes attached below.

From 7pm until 8pm we play very slowly, and only tunes from the 30. People learn to start sets.

8pm to 8.30pm, tea time

8.30pm to 10pm we play a little faster, only tunes from the 3 Fionn Sessiun books published by Comhaltas.

You will not be left behind, people can say at any point, can we play that again, or can we play that slower, can we play this specific tune? I f you want we will play it ten times.

How good do you need to be to come to the slow session? You need some familiarity with your instrument, be able to play a little. ie. no point in coming with the fiddle you bought that morning. We are very tolerant however, if you are inexperienced but keen and putting the time in; we will help.

Unfortunately we are not able to accommodate rhythm players, so no Bodhran or bouzouki or guitar players. Melody instrument players only.

Sheet music is tolerated and we will help you move away from it.

If you are interested in coming email Chris Ghent or call me on 0402 411 552

Slow Session tunes for the first part of the evening

The Boyne Hunt
Shannon Breeze (Rolling in the Ryegrass)
The Red haired Girl

Drowsie Maggie
The Glass of Beer
Tommy Peoples

The Bank of Ireland
Father Kellys
The Silver Spear

The Wise Maid
The Salamanca
The Concertina Reel

The Banshee

Miss MacLeods
The Merry Blacksmith
Sally Gardens

Geese in the Bog
The Connaughtsmans Rambles
Out on the ocean

The Kesh
The Rambling Pitchfork
The Leitrim Jig

The Cliffs of Moher
The Rose and the Heather
Tobins Fancy

Club Ceili
My Darling Asleep

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Re: Slow session in Sydney

I tried cag’s Slow Session, and in two short years I lost 30 lbs. and all my hair grew back!

Re: Slow session in Sydney

sounds like a good plan, cag. Good luck to you!

Re: Slow session in Sydney

"… we are not able to accommodate…" Orwell would be proud. Lovely :0 )

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Re: Slow session in Sydney

I wish you all success you deserve, cag! 🙂

Of course, if you are 100% successful, there will be no more demand for your "slow session" …. 😉

Re: Slow session in Sydney

and for slow session practice at home, you could always use the tunes above in tatsuaki’s excellent (free) slow down player at whatever speed you want…and get ready for next week!!

…and I’d recommend using Mix’s excellent website resources too, as exercises before the ear class.

Re: Slow session in Sydney

I want to go!!!!! :( Do you think i could fly from Carlisle to Sydney???

Re: Slow session in Sydney

Best of luck, and let us know how it goes, but don’t forget to put it in ‘Sessions’ here, where you can make updates and share some of the story, successes and upsets alike…

" ~ only tunes from the 3 Fionn Sessiun books published by Comhaltas."

You have my best wishes on all things except this. PLEEAASSE! - do not neglect the versions that have become a part of being Irish in another land, in this case Sydney, Australia. Those little differences aren’t far from the beneral flow, but they are special, worth preserving, against any stale standardization that has been in part what drives some folks on, as if there is only the one version of any single melody or under any one title. Those accents and slang of melody are the proof it is a living tradition. While the stuff in books is OK as a basic guide, they can just as easily stifle and smother the music and reduce it to following the dots. And the recordings that go with those three books, aren’t far off of the dots themselves, being mass band events, again, OK as a very raw guide, but not really enough to get personal with this music.

No doubt you’ve folk about who will help with making it personal, but don’t sacrafice your own way with it to the commercially produced products of THE Organization, Comhaltas. They do good, these collections have value, but they are not a living tradition. Don’t ignore the life around you through trying to emulate these products… Acknowledge and accept what it is ~ Irish & Australian…

Re: Slow session in Sydney

Great to hear of such things going on at the other side of the world. I’d love to go too.

Re: Slow session in Sydney

thanks for the pep talk, ceolachan. Speaking for myself, I
tend to think it has to come direct from Ireland to be proper music.
But of course when you think about it people from the UK and
USA have made huge contributions. I don’t know about my
adopted country though; we’ve got the Bush Band versions of
tunes here, which I’ve ignored so far.

Re: Slow session in Sydney


I know, I know… but when it is more impersonal ie. a class, and for only a tiny amount of time every week, it makes it easier to have a reference point. I often say to the people at the session, the book says this but what I hear every week in sessions is it being played this way… etc

The greater influence on Australian Irish versions is not our own history of music, called Bush Music as Hup says, but CDs.

Another factor is the relative inability of the person running the session ie. me. Trouble is, everyone has got a bloody opinion, and some people have huge need of structure to lower their fear level. If I can say at moments when being challenged, this is the word, it relieves me of the need to be encyclopaedic, highly skilled and experienced. If anyone with these qualifications would like to take over the session I would be delighted. Initially I thought of it as a democracy, more of a, lets go forward together sort of thing. Now I see it as a dictatorship. This allows me to keep doing it two years down the track.


yes, its not confrontative, but expressed in any terms it is a form of self defence.

I have a lot of trouble keeping control of the tempo. With a rhythm instrument running I have no hope. There is a slow session running in Melbourne, (from where I got the idea as Melbourne has such a thriving music scene, though maybe its for the same reason as Ireland, the weather!) and the leader of that uses a bass drum pedal on a bohdran to keep time. I can’t do that, its enough for me to use both hands.

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Re: Slow session in Sydney

As I hope I made clear, such things are OK - as just guides. I also remember a lovely little collection someone gave me of tunes from sessions in Australia, which had quite an impressive mix of melody types, including polkas and slides, but the influence of recordings was clear too. On that point, there are a few recordings or Australian musicians, including in local collections, where you could draw some of your inspiration. But, you could always bring in guests too, those already based in Australia, and those passing through too.

And yes, there are also such things in Ireland. One I remember used ABC notation and taught a tune each time, at the start, then went into the slow session, and a regular session followed that. Some Comhaltas branches were organized similarly, including in the big smoke, Dublin, but also in Clare, Ennis for one, Galway and Cork… An old friend, sadly missed, who went by the name of Bannerman here, he ran a slow session in both Dublin and Ennis, and the interest was growing, and he had great success. ~ sadly no longer with us except in spirit…

As to another important element of it all, aside from a clear structure and set ideals, is to include some discussion about sessions and etiquette… Don’t let the preparations be incomplete. I’ve seen too many burned because they stumbled into a session clueless, aside from having a few tunes under their belt…

Slow session charge

Errr… very tentatively, and at the risk of learning a lesson the hard way, as did Josh “Lemon” Lymon in the West Wing when he got online….

I only just heard about this discussion, and I need to put my hand up and acknowledge that I am the evil person collecting the $5 per week at the aforementioned Slow Session. The collection of the money has nothing whatever to do with the guy leading it.

I do this because I hire the place where we practice. I am a member of the folk club that runs that place, so I organised to hire it, and they basically charge $5 per head rent for us to use it (as they do for other groups). They kindly let me take out $5/week to cover the cost of coffee, tea and biscuits.

Let me repeat – they charge us rent (they don’t own the premises, and they have their own rent to cover). We don’t pay it out of the goodness of our hearts (although it’s nice that they benefit). But basically, no rent, no place to practice.

From the beginning of the Slow Session, for about a year, the guy leading the session paid the $5 to be there himself, until we decided that was a bit unfair, given how much work he is doing for us (teaching tunes each week, encouraging us etc.).

When we set up this Slow Session, we discussed trying to have it in a pub or club, but decided against that because we wanted a low-pressure environment where we could make mistakes and learn tunes in peace. It couldn’t by any stretch of the imagination be called an ordinary pub-type session, and in Sydney we certainly don’t pay (or charge) for ordinary sessions.

My only regret would be that we may not have made it clear to everyone up front that there was a charge to cover rent…. and I will make sure that is fixed. It’s very clear in the mustard board Comments section for the session itself what the nature of the session is i.e. that it’s a Slow Session, not a regular one.

It’s such a shame that someone was so upset by that, and that they didn’t tell us at the time – two and a half years ago! If we had been told then, we could have fixed it straight away, and we wouldn’t have been in the position of allowing this oversight to continue.

Everyone else who was at those early sessions is still coming today, and we love them!

Thanks to those of you who took the time to ask for the facts before commenting!

Slow session

Sorry all,
I’m an idiot. Just posted the last comment to the wrong place. Will now put it on the correct thread!

But it’s probably not a bad thing to have this here - now you will all know that we charge $5 for the Slow Session, and why!

June 2013 this session is still going…

I think the title says it all…

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Re: Bush Music Club…is this still on?

…or am i a few years too late?

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Re: Bush Music Club

Still going Al…im pretty new to it but same time and place. Best search on Facebook and message the lady who runs it. Cheers

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Re: Bush Music Club

Thanks Colum. I found the facebook page. Ill double check its on and drop in sometime soon.

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Re: Bush Music Club

I might try this too. I want to get used to playing with others.

Re: Slow Session @ The Bush Music Club

Slow session at the bush music club in Marickville is still going strong after 10 years. Lots of players with different ages and backgrounds. Relaxed and friendly environment. Learn a new tune each week.

All welcome.

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Re: Slow Session @ The Bush Music Club

Adding an email address

Re: Sydney Slow Session (@Bush Music Club)

Hi All,

The Sydney Slow Session is still going strong after +10 years!

It is held every Sunday at 5.30pm at the Bush Music Club in Marrickville, Sydney. The Club is a hut at the far end of the complex. Please call ahead if you want directions.

The format is:
- 5.30 to 6.30 learn a new tune (by ear)
- 6.30 to 7.00 tea break
- 7.00 to 8.00 Slow Session
- 8.00+ Moderate/Faster Session (players can choose their own pace when starting a set)

It’s $10 (optional) to attend which covers rent and tea/biscuits. Also, we organise weekends away every 6 months or so to go and play tunes in the bush (sometimes camping).

This session would suit beginners and intermediate players or simple those looking to learn some new tunes and those not quite ready for the fast pub sessions.

If you have any questions feel free to email me or call using the details on this page.