Here in Hamilton (about a half hour from Toronto) we're lucky to have a few Irish sessions going on. When I first started playing the fiddle, the session I attended was very eclectic. A bit of everything was played, Irish, Canadian, English, American, even Gypsy. I was lucky enough to be able to find out what I really liked, and that was Irish music.
So, eventually as I focused more on Irish style playing I was invited to the local Irish session. I'd come out and listen mostly and be invited to play the few tunes I knew. All well and good, and very welcoming. There was a good guitarist that helped lead that session and he sang a few song through most nights. My playing style and repertoire advanced over the years, to the point where I was a bit sick of playing the same tunes at this session. Around the same time, two more guitarists started attending regularly, and the focus began to shift from tunes to songs, to the point where "brown eyed girl" was acceptable material.
The piper from the session (Nick Brown), my girlfriend (C#/D box player Karli Strohschein) and myself decided to start up another session in town at an old favourite microbrew pub where we'd gigged a few times. We are staunch in our focus on Irish tunes, as the three of us put in a great deal of time learning tunes, especially finding tunes which aren't common at the big Toronto sessions. People appreciate this and drive good distances to attend. We're open to any playing level, and we tend not to play extremely fast. Those with a deep appreciation for the music, even if they haven't been playing for ages, are more than welcome by us, and we make efforts to invite people from other sessions who are clearly focused on the old-school style.
However last Wednesday, a guitarist and piano accordion player apparently from the old session (which has since fizzled out) plopped themselves down and cut in with some pub song. They didn't invite themselves, and took no time to get a feel for what we were all about. We let them finish, politely explained what the session was all about, encouraged them to listen and ask questions, but to refrain from songs or from attempting accompaniment. They understood and were fine with it. We directed them to another folk night which had started up and were grateful.
All it takes is to have a clear focus and stay away from the free-for-alls.
PS Robin and Paul, I'd love to come out to your session and have a listen. I'll leave the instruments at home though!
Edited by Pgidley, 08 March 2009 - 04:17 PM.