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My first Irish Trad Jam

Posted by bj on Friday, April 3, 2009

Wednesday night I went to the local Irish Trad Jam run by my friend Ed Saultz. at Hammerhead's in Northampton PA on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month. A great group, though I was dismayed at first to find myself the only fiddler! Another did show up a bit late, though he split his time between the fiddle and the mando.

I found it interesting, and even managed to play along just a bit (a very small bit) on a few tunes common to both OT  and IT, Red Haired Boy, Wind that Shakes the Barley, and St. Anne's Reel. Playing was in unison like I'm used to, but because there were a lot of whistles of various types, a button box which only handled a couple keys, and a set of pipes that was also fairly key specific, it wasn't unusual for a third of the circle to sit a tune out if the key changed. The sound was very different, and I found it a bit hard to twist my brain around it, which was compounded by the fact that they medleyed a whole lotta tunes! It'll be awhile before I pick up tunes on the fly at this jam, if I were to concentrate in that direction. It was pretty obvious this bunch has been playing together awhile, though they were also very welcoming to me, the newcomer.

It was a lot of fun, and I'll probably attend again on occasion. I was an anomaly though, since it was obvious that the attendees all sprang from the exact same gene pool. Irish Americans playing Irish Trad, for sure. If I wasn't sure when I looked around the circle, it became apparent as talk of song/tune origins and families and history entered into the conversation.

OT is still my first love and will remain so. It is for sure fabulous though that there is so much good music going on in the area!

3 comments on “My first Irish Trad Jam”

Humbled by this instrument Says:
Friday, April 3, 2009 @4:27:41 PM

At our Celtic session we have professionals leading the pack, that is, folks who get paid to play at various pubs and dances. I've taken a few lessons from the leader, a superb fiddler who won a bunch of state fiddling titles before concentrating on Irishy stuff fifteen years ago. Needless to say, I am often sitting out most of the tunes. We have about six or seven fiddlers, me, about four or five flutes, maybe a mando, a bag pipe, a few bodrans,.... It's fun, but I don't want to wait twenty years to learn all the songs, so I'm basically concentrating on my bluegrass currently, a style which, around here anyways, just welcomes you with open arms seemingly. Learn to slur and slide over a 1, 4,5 pattern and bam you're playing along with many of the songs. But there's something so...attractive about the Celtic stuff. I love it. Just can't play it well enough! Thanks for your story, bj

FiddleJammer Says:
Saturday, April 4, 2009 @7:01:17 AM

My early session experiences included tunes from the Fiddler's Fakebook, so I'm appreciative of the Celtic tune repertoire. Playing tunes through only 3 times, I find, kind of slows down the learning curve, compared to an OT session where the repetitions are the cornerstone. There's some mighty fine tunes, though, that's fer sure. I love a good Irish pub session. Nothing like it. And, if you can get in some Scottish tunes, even better.

amwildman Says:
Saturday, April 4, 2009 @4:27:56 PM

Sounds like fun!

Around my neck of the woods, it's exactly the opposite. Often it's all fiddles, with nary another instrument in sight.

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