Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Are You Going to Scarborough Fair

Last night I had one of the most magical experiences of my entire life. I went to my very first Irish Session at the Landmark Tavern on 11th Ave. I came in very nervously and not wanting to be disruptive. I know a few Irish Tunes, but I knew I'd be way out of my league in this circle. Everybody in the circle was very friendly/welcoming and they made space for me to join them. I didn't know most of the tunes that were played, so it was a real treat for me to get to watch and listen a lot of the time and try to figure things out as people played them.

I was invited to start Road to Lisdonvarnia at one point, which was really cool! I also got to play some of my favorite fiddle tunes from Master & Commander throughout the night (which are of course originally not from the movie). There was tin whistle, pipes, flute, guitar, banjo, some small diaphragm instrument I've never seen/heard and violins. There was just this absolute magic in everybody coming together during the tunes. Most people playing the melody ... there was just this joy and power that I've never felt in playing with other people ... even with jamming or chamber music. It's almost as if the tunes had their own magic because of their age & because of the sounds of all the instruments.

One thing I found really interesting was that tunes often went from one to the other in a segue kind of fashion & people seemed to always know when it was going to happen (despite not knowing in advance what the tune would be). Throughout the night, I cautiously began to add in some accompaniment and harmony lines. About an hour and a half into the session, this Irish Band from Australia showed up and started adding in some tunes ... everything just went up a whole level from there ... it was a good deal of fun ... before they arrived I had started Road to Lisdonvarnia, Swallow Tail Jig & Moorlough Shore (which only a few people knew, but was really nice ... I was incredibly nervous). They played for at least another few hours. At one point, after improvising along with one of their tunes, they asked me to play a tune (which I was really honored by) ... so I played Scarborough Fair and people loved it (I also discovered that I didn't have a very good sense of the timing with it) ... I played some more with the group, but the original group began to pack up and so did I ..

I stayed to watch the band play for another hour or so & got to witness one of the members wet his tin whistle (finish half a pint of beer with it before playing The Lonesome Boatman) & got to witness one of their gang tap dance something crazy fast (which was so cool!!!) & in general just had a ton of fun! The whole thing really felt like musical home to me. I've got some serious tune learning to do now & good reason to do it. I'm going to another session tonight & it will be a while before I can go to another monday session, but I can't wait to go back!

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