An Open Celtic Session with:
How to Join In
A long while back, David and Todd, two neighbors and friends had been trying to find the time and a format to get together and play some music. Eventually they found a style of music and the right instruments that worked well together. They toyed around with some formats and eventually adopted a "Trad Session" format, which uses a set of two or three songs laid out together.
These lists are then posted for other musicians to come join them with the intent of capturing some of the energy they were both used to in being part of live open jam sessions while trying to capture the spirit of this type of community often found in Great Britain, especially in Ireland.
Using this format allows for other neighbors (and Todd and Dave's Wives) who liked the idea to bring their instruments and voices to join in. Hence the name "The Neighbors", because, well, that is what we are.
While the main focus of the sessions are focused on Celtic music, we also pull a bit from classic American Jazz which we roll into sets of two or three as well.
What is a Trad Session?
A session is a casual and sometimes impromptu gathering of musicians who have come together to play traditional Irish music.
Traditionally Irish music sessions would take place in the kitchen of a local family’s house. House dances were commonplace, with the musicians gathered pumping out tunes for the set dancers.
These homes became known as céilí houses and were typically the homes of large musical families, with other musicians frequently coming and going. Tunes were plentiful and the craic was definitely mighty.
Today, sessions are more commonly found in pubs, and in the many Irish arts and cultural centers throughout Ireland (and indeed the world). That being said, wherever a group of trad musicians is gathered, it’s likely a session will break out.
Whether it’s outdoors, on public transport or even at the departure gate of an airport – it’s almost impossible to stop the tunes from flowing.
We encourage anyone who plays to read below for how to come and join us.
If you would like to jump into a session, please consider the following:
Know the tunes in advance. If you don’t know the tune (or you’re not an incredibly fast learner), don’t join in. There’s nothing more frustrating than sitting beside someone who is noodling along, only half playing the tune with all the wrong notes. Learn the tunes on your own time. If you hear a new tune that you’d like to be able to play, record it to learn at home later. (see the list below)
Ask permission to join in. Most groups are welcoming of newcomers, as long as you ask first. I know this can seem intimidating, but the worst that happens is they say no. Then you’ll know it wasn’t the right session for you anyway.
Tune your instrument. Make sure you’re in tune. Don’t be afraid to ask someone in the group to play a note for you to tune to if needed – they’ll appreciate that far more than you playing sharp or flat.
Know your limits. Be honest with yourself about your own ability. Would a group of seasoned musicians welcome you as one of their own, or are you still in the early days of playing? Be considerate of your fellow musicians.
Please Do Not:
Push in. Introduce yourself to the group and ask permission before you join in. Some musicians won’t mind, but most will be irritated by a stranger joining their ranks without so much as a ‘how do you do’.
Play too loudly. This one is self explanatory really. A good session is all about the group dynamic – you’re not there to be a solo superstar so make sure you’re playing at an appropriate volume that can blend with the other instruments.
Interrupt the set. Tunes at sessions are typically played in sets of three or four, according to tune type, with each flowing seamlessly into the next. It’s up to the person who started the first tune to choose the next one in the set. Keep an eye and an ear out for their signal that the tune change is coming up, but don’t try to barge in with one of your own.
Adams St. Open
The Americana Blue
The Way Out
The Cove Set
While we do not have any videos of our own uploaded (working on it) we have selected one worth looking into to get a feel for the experience we are trying to create: