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Seeking advice re: session tour in Ireland
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Author:  ObieWhistler [ Mon Dec 08, 2014 7:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Seeking advice re: session tour in Ireland

My wife and I are life-long amateur musicians with formal musical training who have been playing Irish music for three years in sessions and at contra dances. I know 200+ tunes on my beloved Burke narrow bore D whistle and can usually improvise on acoustic bass guitar on the tunes I don’t know. My wife plays bodhran and djembe. We would like to take a tour of Ireland in 2015, seeing the sights during the day and playing in sessions in the evenings. We understand and respect that not all sessions are open sessions and would like to hook up with a tour company that does such a thing, but it seems that most tours are geared toward music enthusiasts and not players. We’re not looking for flashy sessions led by big-name musicians - just common folk like us who love playing the music together. You can check out our session etiquette at All constructive advice is welcome!

Author:  Mr.Gumby [ Tue Dec 09, 2014 4:30 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Seeking advice re: session tour in Ireland

Like most things in Ireland it's probably best to play it by ear. Keep the expectations low and take things as you find them. Be flexible, don't tie yourself to a schedule. Some areas have more music than other. Visit the tourist spots you want to see and ask around locally if there's any music going. If you find a place you like, stick around and make the most of the experience, get to know the people and the local music. It will beat the hit and run of a country wide tour.

Realise you're a beginner with only three years of playing and a small repertoire. Listen to the musicians you encounter and enjoy any good music and company you find. Be happy to just play the tunes you know if they come up but also realise you may get a night's music of tunes you never heard before.

It's probably good to travel light. Don't walk in with a set of percussion and a bass until you have a feel for the lay of the land.

And with regards to tour companies, you either get a situation where musicians are hired to accommodate a batch of people the company brings around or you have a local session that finds itself overwhelmed when a busload of people gets parachuted in. Either one will be less than ideal and neither will give you a feel of what the atmosphere of a local session in Ireland would be like, and I assume that's the purpose of the whole exercise to begin with.

And another thing that usually baffles traveling Americans: don't expect any music to start (or people to go into pubs) before 10-10.30 at night.

Author:  MarkP [ Mon Mar 30, 2015 10:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Seeking advice re: session tour in Ireland

Good advice.

Maybe if you want to mix it up a bit you could plan to be around one or more of the trad festivals (where you might also have access to some concerts and visitor sessions) but stick around for the quieter days afterwards having established the lie of the land by asking around. Word of mouth and going with the flow count for a lot, be happy that an evening spent listening to great music can set you up for a year's playing homework.

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