BEGINNERS' OLD TIME JAM – DOWN THE PUB

Robin Clark
Robin Clark
@robin-clark
9 years ago
257 posts
Hi Linda,The first tune is "Frosty Morning". There are at least two tunes by this name. The one we played is a lament written after the Battle of Culloden 1745. Two of my sons were born at Raigmore Hospital which now overlooks the battle ground just outside Inverness.The tune is regularly played a dance speed but I have also heard it played more slowy with great effect.RobinLinda Bowshier said:
Just listened to the first song...what fun! Can you tell me the name of it? I would love to learn it.

Linda
John Henry
John Henry
@john-henry
9 years ago
263 posts
Sounds as if you found a good 'un there Dusty, and the word 'speed' still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, I still remember the utter panic I felt the first time I said that I would lead off (with a tune called Nonsuch) only to find that they all knew it, but played at three times the tempo I was used to, thank the Lord that there were the usual four or five squeeze boxes in the session!!! Another thing that irritated me when playing in places 'where the sherbert flowed' was that often very 'friendly' folk with a pint in their fist tended to lean over your instrument and shout " I love all that hillbilly stuff, play Duelling Banjo's for us, I'll buy you a pint", by which time I had most of their pint over the multiple strings of my Ham Dulc!!!I never did learn that tune!my regardsJohnHDusty Turtle said:
Good point, John, especially in the context of a discussion specifically about a "beginner" jam. I, too, have attended a couple of those hardcore Irish jams where everyone knew every song and what order they would be played in. Those jams are indeed not welcoming to beginners or even intermediate players.

But jams sometimes evolve. I used to frequent a bluegrass jam in the Bay Area (with a guitar and mandolin, for I had no idea what a dulcimer was back then) that was held weekly in a small fish taco joint. There was a small group of hardcore folks who played really tight music, with precise harmonies and stellar solos. It was hard to join in. I was just happy to play chords to back 'em up and never dared take a solo. But then that core group started their own band (and still play around SF, I believe) and left the jam behind. That opened it up for those of us who were not quite up to their speed.

We couldn't get Guiness on tap (my favorite, too, Robin) at that fish taco joint, but we had plenty of Bohemia and tequila, and the Mexican seafood was spicy enough to light the wicks on our picks and get some happy music going. Some customers seemed surprised to find bluegrass and old timey music in a taqueria, but everyone seemed to have a good time. The jam was good for business, so the owner loved having us around.

Of course, that was years ago. For all I know that space is a Starbucks now.

John Henry said:
Hi Dusty, a nice thought, but a better statement might be "many British pubs.............." I live in a fairly big city, and would be hard pressed to find a folk based music session every night, and even when one does, they are not always welcoming. Ever tried joining a hard core Irish session? You need to know every note and play em in exactly the right way to suit that group. So most of us know that special pub where the session accepts just about anyone ( in my case, a hammered dulcimer) Having said all that, some of the happiest most memorable times of by later life were sitting in with others and playing whatever as it arrives!
my regards,

JohnH

Dusty Turtle said:
OK, I have to confess that I have a large, flat-screen TV in my house and indeed watch sports and grill food, sometimes at the same time. But chez moi you can also find several guitars, a mandolin, a fiddle, two ukuleles, two banjo ukes, a dulcimer, two autoharps, numerous pennywhistles, a limberjack . . . and no amplifiers!

A sports bar is obviously not the best place to gather for an acoustic jam. But any British pub is (unless a World Cup match is in session)! In general, the more Bud Light served the less likely acoustic folk music will be welcome, but the more Guiness or IPA around, the more the patrons might enjoy Billy in the Lowground or Blackberry Blossom or Flowers of Edinburgh or . . .


Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
9 years ago
1,030 posts
Good point, John, especially in the context of a discussion specifically about a "beginner" jam. I, too, have attended a couple of those hardcore Irish jams where everyone knew every song and what order they would be played in. Those jams are indeed not welcoming to beginners or even intermediate players.But jams sometimes evolve. I used to frequent a bluegrass jam in the Bay Area (with a guitar and mandolin, for I had no idea what a dulcimer was back then) that was held weekly in a small fish taco joint. There was a small group of hardcore folks who played really tight music, with precise harmonies and stellar solos. It was hard to join in. I was just happy to play chords to back 'em up and never dared take a solo. But then that core group started their own band (and still play around SF, I believe) and left the jam behind. That opened it up for those of us who were not quite up to their speed.We couldn't get Guiness on tap (my favorite, too, Robin) at that fish taco joint, but we had plenty of Bohemia and tequila, and the Mexican seafood was spicy enough to light the wicks on our picks and get some happy music going. Some customers seemed surprised to find bluegrass and old timey music in a taqueria, but everyone seemed to have a good time. The jam was good for business, so the owner loved having us around.Of course, that was years ago. For all I know that space is a Starbucks now.John Henry said:
Hi Dusty, a nice thought, but a better statement might be "many British pubs.............." I live in a fairly big city, and would be hard pressed to find a folk based music session every night, and even when one does, they are not always welcoming. Ever tried joining a hard core Irish session? You need to know every note and play em in exactly the right way to suit that group. So most of us know that special pub where the session accepts just about anyone ( in my case, a hammered dulcimer) Having said all that, some of the happiest most memorable times of by later life were sitting in with others and playing whatever as it arrives!
my regards,

JohnH

Dusty Turtle said:
OK, I have to confess that I have a large, flat-screen TV in my house and indeed watch sports and grill food, sometimes at the same time. But chez moi you can also find several guitars, a mandolin, a fiddle, two ukuleles, two banjo ukes, a dulcimer, two autoharps, numerous pennywhistles, a limberjack . . . and no amplifiers!

A sports bar is obviously not the best place to gather for an acoustic jam. But any British pub is (unless a World Cup match is in session)! In general, the more Bud Light served the less likely acoustic folk music will be welcome, but the more Guiness or IPA around, the more the patrons might enjoy Billy in the Lowground or Blackberry Blossom or Flowers of Edinburgh or . . .




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
folkfan
@folkfan
9 years ago
378 posts
In our area we don't have bars that have patrons that would put up with the TV remote being "nicked". The only bar in the town that had a bar type of set up, rather than a restaurant that serves alcohol which is the most common situation, had 5 big screen TVs in it. But it closed down a while ago, couldn't afford the rent.Most places in this area are primarily restaurants, and they want you to eat dinner and go, thus freeing up a table for the next person eating. If the restaurant does have a bar, it's off to one side and isn't set up like a pub. I'm thinking of restaurants like Appleby's and Northwoods which are chain operations. Not at all the sort of place that would encourage musicians to come in and have a session.Robin Clark said:
Forget the food - I'd go straight for the draft Guiness!!!!

It is good to hear you have a welcoming music scene in your town Strumelia.

I think that we should make the effort to reclaim our bars and other public spaces for live music. We have had to fight a number of battles over here. And the musicians' political lobby has stopped draconian licencing regulations and amended by-laws on music in bars and other venues. We can now play "incidental music" without the venue needing a music licence. This basically means that you can get paid for a gig and as long as the venue is not selling tickets specifically for your gig then they don't need a licence. Pub landlords have become far more welcoming since this law change.

We do have flat screen TVs in pubs over here (but we nick the TV remote from behind the bar at the George when we arrive so we can swich it off). Carrying one of those universal remotes in your MD case should solve that issue in most bars
Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
9 years ago
1,483 posts
Robin - nice photo of the aqueduct! I've crossed on a few; but none so large as that! I'd bring my own canoe - as carry-on baggage. I have a 14 ft, 30# folding canoe that fits in carry-on sized nylon bag complete with paddle. Winters would get a bit chill camped on the tow-path though....
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
9 years ago
1,541 posts
Robin Clark said:
I think that we should make the effort to reclaim our bars and other public spaces for live music.
I totally agree! We've migrated towards playing at our town's farmer's market instead of the pub. We do it for free as our way of giving to the community. I like the scene at the market, and we can hear ourselves better and sit in the pleasant outdoors amongst good food. We do some charity and community events for free. Other gigs we get paid for.


--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Michael Vickey
Michael Vickey
@michael-vickey
9 years ago
30 posts
Robin, I downloaded your mp3 files, but I don't hear a MD in the mix - mostly banjo - very nice though. Is it the sound on my laptop that is keeping me from hearing the MD?Thanks for posting. I wish you were closer - your group and my band would have fun together!Michael Vickey
Robin Clark
Robin Clark
@robin-clark
9 years ago
257 posts
Forget the food - I'd go straight for the draft Guiness!!!!It is good to hear you have a welcoming music scene in your town Strumelia.I think that we should make the effort to reclaim our bars and other public spaces for live music. We have had to fight a number of battles over here. And the musicians' political lobby has stopped draconian licencing regulations and amended by-laws on music in bars and other venues. We can now play "incidental music" without the venue needing a music licence. This basically means that you can get paid for a gig and as long as the venue is not selling tickets specifically for your gig then they don't need a licence. Pub landlords have become far more welcoming since this law change.We do have flat screen TVs in pubs over here (but we nick the TV remote from behind the bar at the George when we arrive so we can swich it off). Carrying one of those universal remotes in your MD case should solve that issue in most bars
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
9 years ago
1,541 posts
Robin, you might be surprised to learn that in our tiny little rural town, we actually have a Welsh style pub right on our one-block-long main street!

Brian and a friend and I used to play there once a month for free....but the food was lousy and we got a good paying gig instead somewhere else! lol! They still have once a month Irish trad and Bluegrass jam sessions there. Plus some weekend local rock groups, and an open mike.


--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
John Henry
John Henry
@john-henry
9 years ago
263 posts
Hi Dusty, a nice thought, but a better statement might be "many British pubs.............." I live in a fairly big city, and would be hard pressed to find a folk based music session every night, and even when one does, they are not always welcoming. Ever tried joining a hard core Irish session? You need to know every note and play em in exactly the right way to suit that group. So most of us know that special pub where the session accepts just about anyone ( in my case, a hammered dulcimer) Having said all that, some of the happiest most memorable times of by later life were sitting in with others and playing whatever as it arrives!my regards,JohnHDusty Turtle said:
OK, I have to confess that I have a large, flat-screen TV in my house and indeed watch sports and grill food, sometimes at the same time. But chez moi you can also find several guitars, a mandolin, a fiddle, two ukuleles, two banjo ukes, a dulcimer, two autoharps, numerous pennywhistles, a limberjack . . . and no amplifiers!

A sports bar is obviously not the best place to gather for an acoustic jam. But any British pub is (unbless a World Cup match is in session)! In general, the more Bud Light served the less likely acoustic folk music will be welcome, but the more Guiness or IPA around, the more the patrons might enjoy Billy in the Lowground or Blackberry Blossom or Flowers of Edinburgh or . . .
Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
9 years ago
1,030 posts
OK, I have to confess that I have a large, flat-screen TV in my house and indeed watch sports and grill food, sometimes at the same time. But chez moi you can also find several guitars, a mandolin, a fiddle, two ukuleles, two banjo ukes, a dulcimer, two autoharps, numerous pennywhistles, a limberjack . . . and no amplifiers!A sports bar is obviously not the best place to gather for an acoustic jam. But any British pub is (unbless a World Cup match is in session)! In general, the more Bud Light served the less likely acoustic folk music will be welcome, but the more Guiness or IPA around, the more the patrons might enjoy Billy in the Lowground or Blackberry Blossom or Flowers of Edinburgh or . . .


--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
folkfan
@folkfan
9 years ago
378 posts
It's great you've found a place to gather and play. There's nary a pub in the my village that would have such a session. Actually there's nary a pub that I know of in the village.The town next to us has a sports bar and grill, but instruments wouldn't be welcome and they wouldn't be heard over the flat screen TV in every corner of the place.We just aren't set up anywhere near here for the type of music sessions you all do over there.
Robin Thompson
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
9 years ago
823 posts
I enjoy this, Robin-- am listening now. Jamming with another musician or musicians is, in my experience, a great way to learn lots about tunes. Helps hone my listening skills, which are in need of honing. ;-)Thanks for sharing the recording, Robin!


--
Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!
Robin Clark
Robin Clark
@robin-clark
9 years ago
257 posts
Hi Jennifer,A "midge" is a tiny gnat - I think that are known as "no-see-ums" in the US. They are ferocious and annoying. We get them in summer on still evenings.Glad you enjoyed the session recording! We had great fun!!!RobinJennifer Ranger said:
Oh my goodness, you guys sound fantastic!!Grin.gif
I'm listening to your MP3 right now and I LOVE it!

By the way, what's a "midge"?

Thanks for posting this.
John Henry
John Henry
@john-henry
9 years ago
263 posts
Robin,loved the photo, but can't help but wonder how it fits in with our current Health and Safety at work Requirements, provision of suitable handrails and the like! LOLregardsJohnHRobin Clark said:
Thanks Larry,

Playing live music together builds what the boffins would call "social capital" in our community - coz there sure isn't much of any other sort of capital in these parts at present!

Ken - I can't manage a narrow boat - how about a canoe! Just be careful paddling over the aquaduct at Llangollen, it's a long way to fall out of your canoe!!!

Robin Clark
Robin Clark
@robin-clark
9 years ago
257 posts
Thanks Larry,Playing live music together builds what the boffins would call "social capital" in our community - coz there sure isn't much of any other sort of capital in these parts at present!Ken - I can't manage a narrow boat - how about a canoe! Just be careful paddling over the aquaduct at Llangollen, it's a long way to fall out of your canoe!!!

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
9 years ago
1,483 posts
And we're certainly glad you bought that Session dulcimer, Robin! You've been a great contribution to the dulcimer scene.Now if you could just fins me a cheap narrowboat to retire to on the Llangollen canal, I could join some of your sessions!Grin.gif
Robin Clark
Robin Clark
@robin-clark
9 years ago
257 posts
Hi Dusty,Yep - I do think that I was very lucky to find this group of players. And the beer is great over here!!!!It is Nick's fault that I started to play MD last year! I bought my good lady a fiddle for Christmas 2009 as a surprise present (she said a while before that if she ever learnt to play a musical instrument she would want to learn fiddle). We started to go to the beginner old time sessions Nick was running and I would take my dobro but quickly realised the instrument was not a good "fit". Nick suggested that I tried a mountain dulcimer as he had seen someone play one at an old time jam he had been to in the US a good few years back. So I looked the instrument up on Google and bought my Walnut Creek from a shop in the US - having never seen an MD in my life!!! I guess I bought the instrument specifically for playing with other musicians knowing nothing about its history or playing styles. I started with chord/melody as it seemed the most "musical" way to play but it didn't really cut through at mixed instrument sessions and got a little muddy and lost. Nick kept saying that the player he'd seen didn't play like I did but used a stick on the frets. So I switched to noter playing and everything started to come together. After some advice from folks on ED, I looked up Phyllis Gaskin's and Bonnie Russell's recordings, both of whom recorded with string bands, and discovered Galax style tuning d,d,d,d And that really opened up possibilities. It gave me the punch and speed I needed for fast fiddle tunes. Plus I could play in the keys of D and G without re-tuning and the key of A (major and minor) if I used a capo on the drones at the first fret. That d,d,d,d tuning is not a "pretty" tuning for solo playing - so I can see why it is not more widely used - but, when I play with another instrument filling out the sound it really comes to life.So I actually bought my MD specifically for playing old time with other instruments in sessions, rather than as a solo instrument - not knowing that session playing was not the "norm" for the instrument (I thought that's what everyone did with the darn thing!!!!) And perhaps not knowing anything was the best place to start !!!!!!Robin
Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
9 years ago
1,030 posts
Wow, for a beginners group you all sound really great. I wish I had a similar gathering nearby to join. You write, "Playing collectively with good musicians is such an excellent way to develop your skills" but I would be happy to play collectively with poor (well, let's say mediocre) musicians. Instead, most of the time I play unaccompanied (I was going to say I play by myself, but that sounds weird) so the music doesn't sound as good and the beer is not quite so tasty.I am able to identify nearly every song you played and could probably play a version of each one, so if I the day should ever come when I find myself near the George III, I'll invoke a version of the Quartering Act, commandeer a place to stay for the night, and come join you.Anyway, I hope you appreciate the fine jam you have found. The fact that it is in a fine pub is merely evidence that you have found truly sacred ground. Enjoy.


--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
Robin Clark
Robin Clark
@robin-clark
9 years ago
257 posts
Our beginners old time session has been going for just over a year now and we held this week's session at the George III pub last night. The session is led by Nick who plays banjo (and knows hundreds of old time tunes) and Chris on mandolin and tenor guitar. The rest of us have been playing our instruments for about 18 months. Last night we had 2 fiddles, mountain dulcimer, guitar, tenor guitar and banjo. And we went to the George III pub for the session. We feel we are pretty much at the stage where we can (just) get away with simply turning up and playing in a public place.


Nick has been excellent at bringing on us new musicians not just teaching us the tunes but also aspects of jam etiquette, collective playing and general musicianship. And it has been the simple stuff like back off and play rhythm while verses are sung that have made the difference. As a result, we have all progressed far quicker than we hoped.


We played outside the pub last night for an hour or so until the midges chased us inside during Soldiers Joy! So we played for the second half of the evening inside the pub.


Attached is a compilation from the evening recorded on my Zoom H2.

If you are thinking about attending old time jams with your MD I hope you find the encouragement and the guidance that we have. Playing collectively with good musicians is such an excellent way to develop your skills and stretch you out of your comfort zone (in a positive way).


updated by @robin-clark: 01/13/16 07:26:27PM