Traditional Irish Music
Throughout my life I've been honored to be a part of many different types of "Sessions" (traditional music settings with "indigenous folk" people). One thread that seemed to be a constant was the inclusion of good times with "enhancements". Whether it was in the mountains of Jamaica with the Rastafarians playing Nyabinghi music and reggae ("Ya mon,....de Ganja helps for to feel de music"); a pig roast in the South Bronx, NYC, singing "Jibaro" music and drinking Puerto Rican rum ("Aiii! Soy borrrrracho!!!!!"), sitting in someones' home on the West Coast of Ireland near the mouth of the Shannon River just south of Galway Bay, playing tunes and telling stories with a little Potcheen to take away the chill and loosen the tongues, mellow the voices and make nimble the fingers ("Careful there, boy. That's the real thing!!! Sip it,...sip it,....or you may find yerself wakin' up at the bottom of the Cliffs of Mohr wonderin', 'How did I get here?' "); sitting in a social club on the lower East Side of Manhattan, NYC with a bunch of elderly Black Jazz Musicians, drinking Jack Daniels bourban and an occasional beer and playing some serious jazz ("Hey man,.....remember this one???"); or, my favorite memory of playing with a bunch of Aymara Indians from Bolivia where it seems the custom was to open a bottle (or can) of beer, take a deep swig on it, place it in someones' hand and walk away to get another bottle (or can), ("Daneeeee,.....Daneeeee,.......Daneeeee,......"). After so many beers, of course I had to find relief in the bathroom: closed the door, lifted the toilet seat and proceeded to "do my business". Suddenly, the door burst open. I commented in a panicky voice, "There's someone in here!!!!" In walks 4 Aymara Indians saying, "Daneee, Daneee, Daneee", and they all proceeded to gather aound the toilet bowl and joined me in relieving ourselves. Between the crowding and the swaying of all those bodies around the single bowl, the floor was wet, our shoes were wet, the bowl was wet, my pants were wet and I had to resign myself, "Oh well, can't stop now!!!". They then staggered out of the bathroom ("Daneee, Daneee, Daneee") leaving me in a culture shock and wondering, "OK, how do I clean myself up???"
Which all brings me to the reason of discussion: Would love to hear some Pub Tales or Session Tales and the reasons why we take that pint with such eagerness. And don't tell me, "Sha,....'tis thirsty work, it is".
Also, if you attend sessions that include family, how important is moderation. Ya can't tell your children "Just say no" between sips. Carry on.........
Is this discussion inappropriate???? Or are we all in denial???
No, I've been in many sessions and all have been fun. I told my boys about them and i was rather proud when my middle son told me the following yarn. The youngest, Tim, plays heavy metal guitar among the many instruments that he has. He got his first gig in Edinburgh in a well known gig pub in the Auld Toon. Jon, the elder, went to support him. After the first set, Jon went to the toilet and came back to find no sign of Tim. Girvan, the drummer, had gone out for a smoke and Tim had gone to look after him. No sign outside the pub. But from an alleyway came the sound of music. Jon went and looked. There was Girvan sitting on a dustbin rattling out a rhythm with his sticks. There was Tim with a Tibetan stringed instrument improvising a tune. There was the Tibetan with a guitar accompanying Tim. And there was the Tibetan's wife coming out of the door with a tray of mugs of tea and cake. Jon said, "I looked at them all and my first thought was of you. It was just like the tales that you tell and that I thought you'd made up. I'm just glad I saw it with my own eyes!" It's not just music that we pass on!
Great story, David!!! You never know when something will happen that falls out of the "norm" of things,.....and opens your eyes to a truly unique experience. (I'm smiling from ear to ear!!!) Cheers, Danny
Well, I hate to stomp on your kitten, but I do not drink alcohol when I am going to drive myself home later. Last Saturday night I politely refused an offer of free Guinness after my set because I had to get in the truck and drive home. Now if I am at a campground or a place where I am spending the night I'll have a bottle of brew, but never more than two in an evening anymore.
Until recently, our local session was held in a coffee shop/bar combo, which nice if you wanted a Bailey's and Coffee, which I frequently did, but more often than not, I was flying on just the caffeine. (Oh, Barista! Great creator of the Mocha! How could you combine two such bitter flavors as Cocoa and Coffee, and combine them in such divine proportions, that the Gods themselves would pass over nectar to partake of your loveliness? But, I digress.) Unfortunately, we're a session in search of a venue, since apparently our patronage every Sunday wasn't enough to keep the shop open at its current location, and its new locale doesn't have enough seating for us.
At gigs though, I often find a need for a pint of something. Generally a missed note or decoration will cause the next few beats to go... whonkey. (Spell check does not like that word.) With a bit of Cider in my system though, mistakes don't bother me as much, so one note errors last only one note.
We are of the same mind, Bruce. I usually only have 1 pint (Guiness) at sessions (Sha,..'tis thirsty work, it is!!!),...but that's at the beginning of a session and I (dare I say it??) "nurse it down". For the most part, I've never really been to a session where people (Players) got messy and drunk (yes,...maybe the Punters). At one session of my memory, one gentleman started (while we were setting up) by ordering a "double single malt scotch" to be washed down by more than a few pints of brew. Somewhere in the middle of the session he ordered another "dsm scotch". But you know,..he never got messy,....sure his eyes were red, his laugh was boisterous, his voice was louder as the night progressed, and his playing wasn't altered in any way,....but he never got messy. I will admit though that he stayed when the session was over, so I didn't see if he staggered to his car. But for me, one is enough!!
I'd normally only have a pint or two at most but was over in Achill for the summer school there a couple of years ago and went along to some of the pub sessions there. The lads playing at one particular place seemed to be booked and paid to turn up for the night. Led by a fairly raucous chap - I couldn't decide whether they could actually play as their practice was to play a set of a few tunes at fairly breakneck speed, slap the table and order a round of (free) drinks, 15 minute break and repeat... After an hour or two of this, you can imagine the resulting musical mish mash. I'm not sure what the visiting tourists made of it!!
Back in 2007, my wife and I went to southern Ireland. I can't remember if it was in Dingle or Doolin, but there was a session going on that I found very disappointing. The pub was jam-packed with tourists from the continent (Europe) who were the rudest, rowdiest, most obnoxious people I had ever seen (I won't say "met" because I didn't want to meet any of them). The session that was going on was UNHEARABLE (is that a word???). I don't know how the session mates managed to hear each other. I was able to move myself right behind the fiddler and I couldn't hear a thing from any of the players. But, they played for themselves and seemed quite content,....playing stiff-backed, no smiles, an occasional sip on their stouts, then breaking into another set. Eventually, I begged my wife for us to leave. I just couldn't take the lack of concern (as well as the level of noise) from these tourists for the group of six session mates. So here, it was the "Punters", not the players, that ruined the session.
Hey Dhomhnaill. Thanks first of all for your contributions to Tradconnect. Always worth reading. Have to get you blogging as well. There is a funny thing about sessions. Its like flies to a lamp. It draws people to the source of the music/light and then they stand/sit there and talk in the loudest tones giving no thought to other listeners or the music itself. Hard to explain. We sometimes play in a venue that has very bad acoustics, so the sound gets lost quite easily anyway. Then a bus load of tourists turn up, in search of the pure drop, listen for 5 minutes, and then ignore for 55 minutes +. Strange.
Wow!!! Thanks, Tony. I was just reading "your" discussion on "Session Frustration" and was tempted to comment,....may wait a day to think about it before I do. I've been thinking about starting a session group in my home (kind of what you were saying in your discussion intro),....don't know if the wife will go for it though (we wake up at 4:00 in the morning everyday,....6:00am is sleeping late!!!). But we have a large dining room with a fireplace that I think might add to the feeling of "Just like the old days before the pubs and coffee houses". Just have to figure it out. Let me know about this "bloggy thingie": be happy to participate. Cheers, Danny
Had the same experience here last Sunday. There was a trad and ballads session in one pub, it got so loud, asked the punters to come up and sing, we got about an hour of off key country and western, funny coz the accordion player's box was in E, the guitarist kept shouting "boys this one's in normal!"
After 10 pm we went to another very quiet pub and had tunes until closing time, the contrast was refreshing.
Hi Domhnaill. The bloggie thingy is simply my attempt to get members to use the main blog section ( ie the Featured Blogs and News ) on the home page. This allows members to do a more detailed comment on anything in their musical lives. Could be a piece about an album you bought, session review, concert review, product etc. It just gives members a chance to bring something to others attention, or have a "nice" rant about something etc. This will be a way of providing good content ( with all all good pieces featured.
Members might assume that it is only I that can do these, but not so. Anyone can. I am also slightly amazed that artists aren't using this much more to promote their work ( In a nice , informative, non spammy way ) I would love to hear what our artist members are up to. Where they are gigging, who they are going into the studio with. It is the best free advertising they will get, yet not many have grasped that idea yet. It would be much better to hear what they are up to than simply getting links to things. And don't forget you can change the setting when posting a blog so that replies to it are not allowed. This is handy when you want to give a view on something, but don't want to get into a discussion about it. Sorry for the long answer, but I use these opportunities to highlight issues that help the site develop.