Posted by harwilli55 on Saturday, July 17, 2010
I hope no one minds that I am using this blog as a place holder for keeping tabs while I work to set up a way to communcate with our jam/session members over the next couple of month's.
For the past three years, we have had an informal jam/session in a small coffee shop about 35 miles from Richmond. It is the perfect setting for a jam. From 12-4 pm on a Sat afternoon, we have just a few patrons about while we have learned both OT and Traditional Irish tunes. The balance of attendee's has swung back and forth between the two cultures since we tended to play from both traditions. This was frustrating to 5 string clawhammer banjoist, and to fiddlers who were conversant only with OT. However, there were enough of us that played both, to keep the jam/session going for a while. OT people began dropping out and eventually only ITM people attended. Then, some new Sessions came into being which drew the remaining ITM'ers. Something had to be done. So, I decided with permission from the core group members, to try a new format. Since we meet on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays each month ( plus on the 5th Sat when that happens), we are dedicating each Sat to its own culture for the four hours. 1st Saturdays will be an OT format. 3rd Saturdays will be Irish Seisiun format. 5th Saturday will be an open scramble( scramble and open are yet to be defined).
Today we had our initial 3rd Saturday Irish seisiun. There were seven of us playing for the 4 hours. We had two guitars, two tenor banjos, one autoharp, one lead fiddle, and I backed on mandolin and fiddle. The session started with a set that the majority of us have been playing for a couple of years: St. Anne's Reel-Galway Reel-Cooley's Reel. Then straight into our favorite Em set : Swallowtail Jig-Morrison's Jig-Drowsy Maggie-The Morning Dew. We followed up with our favorite polka set : Dennis Murphy's-John Ryan's- Britches Full of Stitches( which we deleted). Now we were warmed up and ready to tackle some fun material :-D
Phil sang us a song which had all of entranced. Some of us joined in the playing, while others listened. I wish I knew the name of the song, but cannot remember it off-hand as I was not familiar with it. We worked on some tunes we had been wanting to incorporate into our regular sessions : Bucks of Oranmore is a reel, that we worked with slow for a little while, then sped up to session speed....what a great tune.....full of life.....zestful and energetic....a heel kicker of a tune. We worked with " Jack Broke Da Prison Door-Donald Blue-Sleep Soond Ida Morning and found that we needed to pick up the tempo on Donald & Sleep to really make that set come alive. We also introduced a new set that Jeff and I have been putting together with much discussion of order: Hole in The Hedge - Haunted House - Carraroe Jig and the consensus was that that is the order to play them in.
We played a lot of tunes today. Belfast Jig... The Boyne Hunt ... The Derry Reel .... Huddie Gallaghers ... Gravel Walk .... Sonny's Mazurka .... Cup of Tea ... Julia Delaney ... Rights of Man ... Whiskey Before Breakfast ..... Temperance Reel .....Atholl Highlanders ... Calliope House .... Fair Jenny's ... Boys of Bluehill .... Harvest Home ... Fisher's Hornpipe .... Silver Spear ... The High Reel ... Maid Behind The Bar .... The Swallows Tail Reel .... Dinkey's ..... Dick Gossip's ...... Road To Lisdoonvarna .. Haste To the Wedding ... Mairies Wedding ....Tommy Peoples ( Ryan's arrangement)..... and more !!! It was easy to tell which ones we were really comfortable with and which ones we needed work on. Between Ryan's ( who is 16 yrs old) lead fiddling and Jeff's lead tenor blended in with Phil's tasty DADGAD back-up, we made some excellent music. Some of the patrons, clapped along....and a couple of ladies waiting for their order of coffee were dancing ....Bravo !!!
It was afternoon. Our final excursion was to take an arrangement I had found for 3 fiddles of John Ryan's and put it together with Ryan playing the harmony on his viola while I lead with the first first fiddle. Fun !!!
We missed the strong lead fiddle of Bern today, but Ryan more than made up for his absence. David's guitar playing is coming alive. He was fascinated with Phil's use of DADGAD. Pam broke a string while playing zestfully on her auto-harp, which means her confidence is way way up there. Lanny's kept up with the session speed tunes that he knew....and he is learning the chord patterns to play on those he doesn't....which was nice to have that back-up. All-in-all it was a good session with all of us parting with a smile on our faces !!!
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