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Starting A Slow-jam From Scratch

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...the session in Austin (BD Riley's on Sundays)...

Tell me more. What time? Maybe I can talk my nephew (not a concertina player) into checking it out. :)

As far as I know, it's at 8 pm every Sunday at B.D. Riley's Irish Pub. This is on 6th street, at the NE corner of where it intersects with Brazos.


The few times I've gone there were around 3 fiddle players, a whistle/flute player or two, one banjo, one guitar, and perhaps a mandolin or bazouki. There's usually a couple of bodhrans floating around, too, but they all appear to be secondary instruments.


As for concertina, not so much. There is one guy, John, who occasionally plays at the session, and he plays english. Actually, I may be the only anglo player in Austin. I recently went to a gathering of Austin concertina players, and they all played either english or duet. (not terribly interesting pictures of this momentous occasion here: http://www.crusheddreams.com/roy/gallery/concertinaGathering )

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I'd thought vaguely about refreshments, so thanks much for the reinforcement by suggestion :)


I really like the format of the slow session I am in now, which is the same format used by the open sing I used to sporadically attend in DC: go around the room and let each person pick a tune to start (from the repertoire book in the case of Irish music) or lead a song.


I agree that more time should be spent playing and almost no time arguing format! At least until the refreshments at the end part. :)


I had toyed with the idea of opening it up to all music from Great Britain, and also thought about including singing.


All these details, I suppose, could be discussed with potential attendees when they call me for more information. Yes? No? Then at least folks would know what they're walking into.


I am hesitant to open it up to "local influence music" as I am sure, considering how many churches, restaurants, etc have all-Spanish signs out front, that venues for that niche of music already exist. To be more blunt: I'm doing this a lot for me and some for other interested parties. I want to keep playing what I know and love for a while before branching out into another culture.


How does this sound?


Off now to check out that website on slow sessions.

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...How does this sound?

Sounds great to me.

What's more important, though, is that it sound right to you.

And what's most important is how everyone responds to it when it actually happens.


........ Have fun. :)

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I think Jim feels probably much the same as I do about *rules* in sessions.

They should be *unspoken* ones ideally.


Any tune started should be continued at the same tempo......well that is common courtesy......and not speeded up, etc by the rest of the session members.

Not everyone can play reels at breakneck speed and indeed many do not want to even if they can.


Beginners should be made to feel welcome and part of the group of musicians and gently guided and helped to understand what the *unspoken* rules are......but as they are based on *common courtesy* it should rarely be necessary.


Other genres and non-traditional instruments would naturally fall by the wayside at our irish session, mainly because we are all *into* irish music only......therefore the problem hasn't cropped up......except for 3 scottish bagpipe players who fancied joining :o .......they were *told* that we didn't play scottish tunes :unsure: they did visit a few times and therefore understood that they wouldn't *fit* in. No-one was offended thank goodness.



It is your little session so you should set out with a firm idea in your mind what genre of music you want. The rest should then fall into place.

Any *other* types of music that someone may start up are normally discouraged quite naturally if no-one bothers to join in or learn those tunes, after all you have already found people with which to play your chosen genre of music. So hopefully *rules* won't have to come into play...


Good luck



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I think that any session, however long its history, is subject to evolution. As members leave or join you will get subtle (sometimes not subtle enough) changes of influence.


Don't make too many assumptions when you are starting a new session. The form that the session develops into may be unexpected but that may not be a bad thing or an undesirable format.


I think that most players respect people who show "evidence of effort" rather than pure talent for talent's sake. This is not to say that they are mutally exclusive, far from it.

The most repected players are those that respect other's limitations and work with them, not speed up and leave them behind. Also those who show dedication in helping others and in improving their own playing or repertoire.


I think that everyone learns by example, so if you put the effort into starting a friendly session that is what you will get.


Best of luck and keep us informed,


Robin Madge

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Cool!  I wish there were more!

How many were there, altogether?


Hey, I didn't know Mark was in Austin.

Please tell him "hi" from me, next time you see him.

5 of us, altogether. I just added two very brief videos to the page, including one of Mark singing a song he hadn't played for 20 years.


From what I could gather, Mark is pretty newly arrived to Austin.

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Ignore the "rules" threads in "The Session", and go to the tunes (including midi) or recordings (tune lists for many concertina cds) or links sections (search on either your particular instrument or tune collections). Thats where you can pick up useful stuff to play on concertinas.

It is as useful as the tunatron!!.


I think the biggest decision to make when starting a "slowy" is whether the group want to learn from dots or ear. I encourage the learners by arriving early and playing through their latest tunes at quarter speed.

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As you all probably know, I'm in the process of moving lock, stock and barrel to a teeny tiny town in New Mexico (in about 3 weeks) where the closest Irish jam sessions are 3-5 HOURS away.


There have GOT to be some closet folk musicians in this town, however (Portales, 90 miles north of Roswell (I expect the aliens to play, yes) and right near Clovis) with the college and all.

My cousin Steve, who is at the same University, is visiting Indiana this week. He tells me there are folk musicians in Portales, and out in the open, too. You may be able to dovetail into something they are doing already. Getting to know musicians in a new place has always been fun for me (I certainly have moved enough in recent years), you always find new ideas, music, and influences. They influence you as much as you influence them. I guess that is the way music works.


Enjoy your jams, wherever you find them.

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