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Running a session, advice please

GUEST,Bugs 01 Sep 08 - 03:53 AM
Will Fly 01 Sep 08 - 04:02 AM
Black Diamond 01 Sep 08 - 05:46 AM
Les in Chorlton 01 Sep 08 - 06:52 AM
Richard Bridge 01 Sep 08 - 07:00 AM
Leadfingers 01 Sep 08 - 07:08 AM
Mo the caller 01 Sep 08 - 07:18 AM
Will Fly 01 Sep 08 - 07:19 AM
Marje 01 Sep 08 - 07:26 AM
Will Fly 01 Sep 08 - 07:34 AM
Zen 01 Sep 08 - 08:12 AM
alex s 01 Sep 08 - 11:39 AM
Mo the caller 21 Sep 08 - 01:44 AM
Will Fly 21 Sep 08 - 06:24 AM
Silas 21 Sep 08 - 06:59 AM
Girl Friday 21 Sep 08 - 08:46 AM
meself 21 Sep 08 - 09:43 AM
Silas 21 Sep 08 - 09:48 AM
Gedpipes 21 Sep 08 - 12:33 PM
Silas 21 Sep 08 - 04:40 PM
treewind 22 Sep 08 - 07:59 AM
treewind 22 Sep 08 - 08:02 AM
Mr Red 22 Sep 08 - 08:29 AM
Gedpipes 22 Sep 08 - 12:31 PM
Leadfingers 22 Sep 08 - 12:35 PM
Silas 22 Sep 08 - 12:41 PM
GUEST,MC Fat 22 Sep 08 - 12:45 PM
Peace 22 Sep 08 - 12:49 PM
Mo the caller 23 Sep 08 - 06:30 AM
Manitas_at_home 23 Sep 08 - 07:10 AM
Dave Hunt 23 Sep 08 - 08:21 AM
Silas 23 Sep 08 - 08:44 AM
Leadfingers 23 Sep 08 - 09:06 AM
GUEST 23 Sep 08 - 09:35 AM
Busy Lizzy 23 Sep 08 - 11:12 AM
Silas 23 Sep 08 - 11:21 AM
Busy Lizzy 23 Sep 08 - 02:31 PM
Busy Lizzy 01 Oct 08 - 05:43 PM
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Subject: Running a session, advice please
From: GUEST,Bugs
Date: 01 Sep 08 - 03:53 AM

Hi, I'm trying to start a folk session from scratch in the Loddon area of Norfolk playing mainly tunes in a Pub. I've no-one to play yet and no Pub to play in. I'm looking at putting up posters and advertising in the Parish mag to raise aewareness and find other musicians. Has anybody any advice on the best way to make this work. The two things that most tax me are; Do I advertise "beginners welcome" to start off with or try to limit to musicians who can play reasonably well to start off with (Hopefully not too much better than me). This will hopefully get us sounding reasonable earlier on. Secondly, do I try and find a plug to play in straight off, or again do I hire somewhere for a few weeks while we sort ourselves out. (My way of thinking, don't want to get banned from every pub in the area). Any other words of knowledge also welcome.

    Bugs.


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Subject: RE: Running a session, advice please
From: Will Fly
Date: 01 Sep 08 - 04:02 AM

I assume you mean a session where everybody mainly sits in and jams together, as opposed to an open mic/open stage situation where performers take it in turns to get get up and do their bit in rotation - like a folk "club".

I suppose you could just take a punt and get a room in a pub, put up some local adverts and see what happens. However, it might be better to (a) get some ideal of who, locally, might be interested, and (b) see if there's a possible venue. So - why not have a word with the landlords of the pubs in your area and see if they might be up for an acoustic session in the bar. If they know there's no money involved, they might well say "yes" in principle. Then advertise locally to see if any musicians are interested - and get to some local clubs to see if anyone's interested.

If you do actually get a venue and some musicians lined up, then I think you have to advertise it as an open session - which means musicians of all shapes, sizes and abilities. That's what it's about.

Best of luck!


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Subject: RE: Running a session, advice please
From: Black Diamond
Date: 01 Sep 08 - 05:46 AM

Hi Bugs
I did just that just over 12 months ago. First I got the venue, by going round all the pubs to check them out and asking at the ones I liked the look of - and one which was in new ownership, said yes to a regular monthly session.   Then I took the plunge and advertised (with beating heart and thinking no one would come!!)   well it just took off, attracting players of all abilities and all instruments so that at times we have struggled to seat them all!!) theres a wonderful atmosphere, we pass around tunes we like and ask people to learn we give advise and support to new players - its proved to be a very good experience.
So, go for it, suck it and see, and good luck
Lin


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Subject: RE: Running a session, advice please
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 01 Sep 08 - 06:52 AM

I'd say the hardest part is finding an appropriate room. I think it's best to have a room that seats around 20 - 30 people with good acoustics. The general public should hear what's going on so best not out of the way.

Almost as important is a nucleus of support singers or tune players who will definitely come to the first session. If that goes well you ahve a chance. In this day & age e-mail can do wonders.

Best of luck

L in C


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Subject: RE: Running a session, advice please
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 01 Sep 08 - 07:00 AM

I would agree with Les - sort out a hard core at least for the first session or two, from your own contacts, who will come as a favour to you, to start the ball rolling.


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Subject: RE: Running a session, advice please
From: Leadfingers
Date: 01 Sep 08 - 07:08 AM

I think going in with the idea of paying for a room is self defeating ! Any landlord who is interested in a live music session in his pub , as opposed to a 'Club' should be at least prepared to let you play free , unless you WANT to be in a separate room from the paying punters . You MIGHT even hit lucky and find a Landlord who will give a free pint to everyone who plays !!


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Subject: RE: Running a session, advice please
From: Mo the caller
Date: 01 Sep 08 - 07:18 AM

You asked "do I advertise Beginners Welcome"
It seems to me that there are 3 levels here.

1. The sort of session that is for a particular kind of tune and expertise, and if you don't play that then you are made aware (however politely) that this is not really for you.

2. The session that takes whoever comes, gives them a hearing, and supports them if they need.

3. A session that specifically says 'Beginners Welcome' which could mean that you are prepared to play standard tunes slowly for a good part of the evening, and maybe had someone who was prepared to support or lead tunes the beginners had ALMOST mastered.

One way to go might be to say 'all welcome', then when you see who turns up a few times, ask if a 'beginners half hour' to kick the evening off would be a good idea, if you had someone prepared to lead it.
I used to sometimes go to 'Nellies' folk club when I was in Beverley, and Ollie started a 'learn to play some tunes from the David Oliver CD' half hour. It was really useful to get into playing.


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Subject: RE: Running a session, advice please
From: Will Fly
Date: 01 Sep 08 - 07:19 AM

I'm with Leadfingers on that. I approached the landlord of my local recently with a proposal to try out an acoustic session in the bar on a Sunday night - no money involved. He thought it was a great idea and we'll be going ahead with it in a fortnight's time. From his perspective, it's a reasonable deal: no money to pay musicians, and music to draw in the punters on a what is often a quiet evening. The musicians get a venue to play together for free. Let's see what happens.


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Subject: RE: Running a session, advice please
From: Marje
Date: 01 Sep 08 - 07:26 AM

I've done this twice - once with great success, once not. In my case it was all down to the pub -the choice of pub is crucial. It's a good excuse for a pub-crawl with a mate or two, to explore the possibilities of the local hostelries. The best set-up, I'd say, is a pub with one recognisable section that can be earmarked for the session - ideally not totally separate from the rest of the pub, so that other punters can hang around and listen if they want to. It's also important to understand the boundaries (if any) between the session players and the people who have come in for a meal - sometimes they put the musicians in the restaurant area without keeping tables aside for them, which can cause problems for musicians and unsuspecting diners alike.

And then you need to get it across to the landlord that you are not offering to set up a band like the Pogues in the corner of the pub for free. Some don't really understand what an open session entails. Once it's clear, you may be able to get him to provide a free drink or food for players.

And, as others have said, do try to persuade a few tried and trusted musicians to come with you for the first few sessions at least, to make sure there's a core of players to get things going. Be welcoming to newcomers and friendly to listeners-in.
Good luck!


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Subject: RE: Running a session, advice please
From: Will Fly
Date: 01 Sep 08 - 07:34 AM

Marje: "It's also important to understand the boundaries (if any) between the session players and the people who have come in for a meal - sometimes they put the musicians in the restaurant area without keeping tables aside for them, which can cause problems for musicians and unsuspecting diners alike."

Exactly what happened at a monthly session I went to last might! The session area has tables where people can eat. The music was clearly advertised on the blackboard as starting at 8pm. But the pub allowed meals to be served so that when about 12-15 musicians turned up to play, there was nowhere to hold the session. Eventually some of the tables cleared and we managed to clear s cramped pace in which to play. Luckily, the eaters still there liked what was being played and stayed on to listen. But, not good management - and I'm aware that many pubs make most of their profits from food and not from drink these days.


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Subject: RE: Running a session, advice please
From: Zen
Date: 01 Sep 08 - 08:12 AM

Good advice here.

I've done this twice recently with success. In both cases I chose the pub carefully for its layout/ambience and discussed it well in advance with the landlord/manager. I've had poor experiences before with sessions where some musicians/singers were paid and others weren't so suggested in both cases that we could pay for free. In both cases a round or two of drinks for the players were spontaneously suggested by the landlord.

Both sessions have comprised a mixture of people from professional standard down to complete beginners and are of the jamming rather than "taking a turn" type. The first one has finished now due to a change in ownership but the second is still continuing on a weekly basis after a year. As the de facto "leader" I haven't ever had a problem with cliquishness or rudeness but we make sure we play a mixture of material both easy and more demanding. I think only once in recent years have I had to "whisper in an ear" and any problems were easily rectified with no acrimony or residual problems. We don't seem to suffer with prima donnas and maybe that's to do with the session ethos that's built up. The current session has about two or three tune sets to a song and seems to suit most people. I think it's quite a good idea, when starting up, to have a reliable core of three or four people who can keep things going.

At the beginning we had posters but mostly now it goes well by word of mouth. I let regulars know by text message that things are going ahead or, one in a while that I or other regulars wont be there.

The regular drinkers at the current session like the music, which in our case is mainly Scottish and Irish with other odds and ends thrown in, and have complained the one or two times there was no session. The number of punters has increased on an otherwise slow night and the pub management are very happy, even to the extent of putting on a beer festival with music (the musicians got paid for this).

With a bit of goodwill, consultation, good session ethos and etiquette and luck it is possible to get a win-win situation for everybody.

Good luck with your efforts Bugs!

Zen


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Subject: RE: Running a session, advice please
From: alex s
Date: 01 Sep 08 - 11:39 AM

Why not get in touch with Norwich folk club. John the Trucker is a good bloke and you may get some advice/participants that way. Check the website for his e-mail address.


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Subject: RE: Running a session, advice please
From: Mo the caller
Date: 21 Sep 08 - 01:44 AM

Did you take this any further?


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Subject: RE: Running a session, advice please
From: Will Fly
Date: 21 Sep 08 - 06:24 AM

I don't know whether Bugs got any further with this, but I can say that the session I organised at my local last Sunday got off to a flying start, and is now on a regular monthly basis - 2nd Sunday of the month. We'll see how it goes...


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Subject: RE: Running a session, advice please
From: Silas
Date: 21 Sep 08 - 06:59 AM

Hmmm...

Just a few words of advice. Firstly, take control. Let people know that it is YOUR club, and make sure you have the type of music and players that you want. We have a session club that has been going for years. It is supposed to be a trad club, but we are happy to welcome most players if they are reasonably competent. The problem is, the club has been running so long that people no longer know what it is about and we get all sorts of rubbish now. Couple of weeks ago we had a guy, someone who can and does sing well, belting out 'Hungry Heart' can you believe? We get other people singing early sixties pop songs and last week we had the most god awful duo, one guy that could hardly put his fingers properly on a fretboard singing in the strangest voice you have ever heard accompanied by another guy on guitar. One of the problems is that there is just no control. As soon as one player finishes, another will jump in uninvited and we can end up with a night of absoloute shite.
We also have some absoloutly brilliant players and singers, these more than compensate for the dross, but some of these guys are starting to get a bit pissed off with the situation.
So, my advice is take control from the start, don't let it degenerate into a free for all.


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Subject: RE: Running a session, advice please
From: Girl Friday
Date: 21 Sep 08 - 08:46 AM

"So, my advice is take control from the start, don't let it degenerate into a free for all."
This is good advice. Although a well organised session should run itself, it does help to have someone at the helm. We've found that people like to be asked to perform. It does help when they are nervous, shy, or (usually unfounded), lacking in confidence. It also gives everyone a fair go. Someone could be wanting to play, but it can be difficult in a session once the diddly lot get going.


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Subject: RE: Running a session, advice please
From: meself
Date: 21 Sep 08 - 09:43 AM

"We've found that people like to be asked to perform. It does help when they are nervous, shy, or (usually unfounded), lacking in confidence."

Or when they have good manners!


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Subject: RE: Running a session, advice please
From: Silas
Date: 21 Sep 08 - 09:48 AM

Agree. Being one of the 'diddly lot' we do still try to encourage the quieter performer, but it seems that just when they have plucked up enough courage to have a go, some other 'person' will start to belt out some tuneless interminable selfindulgent boring ballad with incredibly long tedious guitar chord solos on the middle of it.

Jeeezzze its enough toy make you spit.


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Subject: RE: Running a session, advice please
From: Gedpipes
Date: 21 Sep 08 - 12:33 PM

what the feck does 'diddly lot' mean?


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Subject: RE: Running a session, advice please
From: Silas
Date: 21 Sep 08 - 04:40 PM

Us tune players.


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Subject: RE: Running a session, advice please
From: treewind
Date: 22 Sep 08 - 07:59 AM

First, find a pub or other place to hold your session.
First equal, find some people you'd like to be in your session. If you don't know anyone, go to other sessions to recruit, and to find sessions in Norfolk or anywhere in East Anglia look in Mardles for session listings.

As for advertising "Beginners welcome" - decide what you want. There are my different types of session. There's nothing wrong with a beginners session if that's what you want, but if you encourage that, beginners is all you'll get and if your pub landlord thought you might be providing some entertainment for his other customers he might be disappointed.

We run a session once a month. It's mostly tunes and mostly English because that's what we like doing. We don't turn anyone away, but we don't advertise it either, and keep an email list to remind people about it, and we're careful about who we invite. It's not elitist -
if somebody wants to run a session along different lines, they can, and in fact in this case they do, in the same pub on a different date.

Payment?
You shouldn't need to pay for a room, even to run a folk club with people paying to come in.
Pubs paying musicians is a very different scene from informal sessions and the two shouldn't really be mixed. I play lots of music for payment but I go to sessions for my own enjoyment and education, though the odd plate of sandwiches or chips or free drink won't be turned away of course...

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Running a session, advice please
From: treewind
Date: 22 Sep 08 - 08:02 AM

There are my different types
Duh. I meant many, of course.

A.


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Subject: RE: Running a session, advice please
From: Mr Red
Date: 22 Sep 08 - 08:29 AM

Well I tried to post to this thread and is didn't stick

However I would advise you have more than one group. If you can't make it to one week you need others who will go, run and keep it running. Bad news travels fast. If one person turns-up and nothing happens word gets out and the word usually morphs into "FINISHED".

The other thing I tried to say was - start at the appointed hour, regardless. If no-one else turns up, make music anyway. That stranger who found no session will find no music and that same word will now morph into "NOTHING HAPPENS". You won't see the stranger, he will be gone before you see him. I often look through the windows before I venture in to a strange venue. And may go on to the next possibility, smartly.

Having advised on the apparent existence of the session - all else is how you want to present it. Friendly and inclusive works for me. If you want an English Session - make it clear. "Bluegrass and no Bodhrans" - if you must. But explain everso nicely and point-out where sessions are that do "that kind of thing".

And if it is anywhere near Gloucestershire and adjacent bits - tell cresby.com or look for who Mr Red links to and surf from there until you find a listing site that fits.
Free publicity is worth every penny.


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Subject: RE: Running a session, advice please
From: Gedpipes
Date: 22 Sep 08 - 12:31 PM

Now that is sensible advice


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Subject: RE: Running a session, advice please
From: Leadfingers
Date: 22 Sep 08 - 12:35 PM

I would only use 'That Diddly Lot' to describe the Musos who only ever want to play STRICTLY Irish ! And usually too fast !


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Subject: RE: Running a session, advice please
From: Silas
Date: 22 Sep 08 - 12:41 PM

You can't play Irish too fast.


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Subject: RE: Running a session, advice please
From: GUEST,MC Fat
Date: 22 Sep 08 - 12:45 PM

Interesting thread this. I am involved in two sesions where I live. Myself and my playing partner are the 'session leaders' and we get paid for doing this. So I find this idea of playing for free a bit strange and it seems not to make fiscal sense. You bring a load of people into a pub, drink lots of beer and bring in extra punters into the pub, all of which spend money and the landlord gets this for free !!!


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Subject: RE: Running a session, advice please
From: Peace
Date: 22 Sep 08 - 12:49 PM

"You can't play Irish too fast."

Golf's like that, too.


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Subject: RE: Running a session, advice please
From: Mo the caller
Date: 23 Sep 08 - 06:30 AM

The idea of session leaders being paid seems the strange one to me.
We can sometimes get along to a session at Audlem. No leader but there's always someone in on a Monday night,or afternoon if Boxing Day is a Monday. The character varies according to who floats in (it's by the canal). We all take responsibilty for seeing that people have a chance to contribute. The same crowd go to other sessions, some of those do have a leader, but the session carries on if the leaders are off on their summer travels.


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Subject: RE: Running a session, advice please
From: Manitas_at_home
Date: 23 Sep 08 - 07:10 AM

MC Fat, what you get is the use of the room for free. You can play waht you want or just chill out and chat without the pressure to entertain other punters. If I were paid for a session (which I occasionally am) I would feel obliged to keep the music going. If not I can start late, stop for a chat and leave early if I want.


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Subject: RE: Running a session, advice please
From: Dave Hunt
Date: 23 Sep 08 - 08:21 AM

From above - 'You can't play Irish too fast'.
Oh yes you can! - and that is the trouble with MOST Irish sessions that I have ever been to - listen to some of the old Irish musicians and even some of the younger ones like Mary MacNamara and they take it at a lovely steady pace - allowing time for the tune to develop and space to add in little flourishes and decorations.

I have been running a session for over ten years - pretty well all English tunes with the ocassional tune from elsewhere, and a few songs. A lot of the regular musicians are well known nationally and well regarded for their knowledge and expertise. I run it as a 'tunearound' usually - i.e I start with a tune, then go round the room asking people to lead us in something....and we do like to wait until something has been played through once before we all join in - it might well be a different version to what we expect!
Dave


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Subject: RE: Running a session, advice please
From: Silas
Date: 23 Sep 08 - 08:44 AM

Hi Dave

I _was_ joking about Irish music!

But some people play English a bit quick as well!

I'll get along to another Mucky Duck session one of these months!

Cheers


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Subject: RE: Running a session, advice please
From: Leadfingers
Date: 23 Sep 08 - 09:06 AM

As has been mentioned before , play ANY tune too fast and you lose all the delicate nuances of the melody , and it makes 'proper' ornamentaion almost impossible !


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Subject: RE: Running a session, advice please
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Sep 08 - 09:35 AM

Here's my five penneth! I used to be over-run with musicians who just fancied a music session, 'hey lets all go to Liz's house!' when it got a bit too big and cost me too much in beer and nibbles we shifted to a local pub, that was 2 years ago, originally called it 'guitar strum and sing,' Pete Massey (Broadside)re-named it albeit Christmas 'the pluck, struck, wail and wassail' for us, but we are still at it, first Sunday in the month, some sessions there are so many people we fill two rooms, sometimes just a half dozen of us strum our favourite tunes or practice new ones, I do invite guests, well actually they invite themselves and no I don't get paid for doing it but I do take a real pleasure in seeing people who come in with a dusty instrument who haven't played for years rattle off a tune or two or guests who are quite famous really who just want a night with friends in an informal setting, and quite often a mix of both, we really don't mind who comes to join us and I always say to people, 'just come and enjoy an evening of music with friends and a few beers,' (I hate beer!) and no 'performances'! And that's how the Kings Lock Folk Club was born and is still going strong, so look forward to seeing you first Sunday in the month, Kings Lock, Middlewich. Keep an eye on my website for details! Liz's Website
Liz


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Subject: RE: Running a session, advice please
From: Busy Lizzy
Date: 23 Sep 08 - 11:12 AM

Oh that's me as Guest I didn't notice it hadn't logged in!
Ha! Ha!


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Subject: RE: Running a session, advice please
From: Silas
Date: 23 Sep 08 - 11:21 AM

The Lizzy link was a bit of a givaway though...


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Subject: RE: Running a session, advice please
From: Busy Lizzy
Date: 23 Sep 08 - 02:31 PM

Ha ha!! I'm not right good at this mudcat thing!!


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Subject: RE: Running a session, advice please
From: Busy Lizzy
Date: 01 Oct 08 - 05:43 PM

Now talking of sessions our next one is at the Kings Lock Middlewich on Sunday 5th October. 8pm start. Usual band of friends, Liz, Ian the big bloke with a melodeon, Nantwich guitar, mando and fiddle players, Guitar Mal, Liz's band of Wildboys fresh from their gig the night before at ANTROBUS BEER FESTIVAL! Just come for a listen or a join in!


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