Author Topic: how to deal with irish/trad jams when i play a non-traditional instrument?  (Read 484 times)

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Offline downtowntrain

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all i want to do these days is play my keyboard. i feel like i could really handle all of the other myriad difficulties of moving to a much more staid culture if i could just play music with people.

when i say keyboard, i mean that i play a computer keyboard in the manner of a washboard. that's not really accurate, as i play it in a manner somewhere between a washboard and a guitar. suffice it to say that it is an acoustic rhythm instrument.

i'm very familiar with traditional british (irish, scottish, etc.) music, having grown up with it due to my father being british. i've been playing for about 2 years, and recently have been practicing constantly, and i'm not half bad. i'm actually pretty good at this point, really.

one problem is i don't want to play folk music (in terms of people playing whiny american ballads on guitar, etc.) it's boring. i prefer bluegrass or jigs and reels etc. 
i'm so happy to be in the UK because i love this kind of music. but the "sessions" i've been to that are worth anything look at me like i'm some sort of alien bug-person. i realize i'm not playing a bodhran, but i'm playing what i play well, and quite frankly, i have little desire to play a bodhran. i respect it, but it doesn't interest me. all of the research i've done says that rhythm players are the serfs of the music session kingdom, and i'm not supposed to play when any other rhythm players are playing, which is a giant bummer, because i'm doing a totally different thing than they're doing. i understand completely why five mid-skilled bodhran players shouldn't play together. but what i do is more akin to a snare drum, though less loud.

i am not a jerk yankee running roughshod over everyone else's good time, but i feel so ostracized, and i don't know how to find those that wouldn't find me offensive.

i am super respectful and have learned session etiquette from playing song circles in texas. but in texas, they welcomed me, even though i wasn't playing an instrument they were expecting. i've done research about what the expectations in irish sessions are, but what i've come away with is that they basically wish no rhythm players were there at all, even traditional-instrument-playing ones. so i feel really unwelcome, and that's only confirmed by how people treat me, even after leaping out of seats for them, never touching their instruments, waiting to play, never being loud, (all obvious) and being extremely courteous, etc.

i practice and i study, all the time, almost every day, and i'm good. but i show up at a trad circle and i'm playing an instrument that literally no one's ever heard of before. call me a crazy american, but i think that's awesome. furthermore, that's the damn POINT of folk and traditional music! how did washboards come about? jugs? cajons? spoons? i'm so frustrated that all i want to do is play music with people and while i am respectful and i don't suck, everyone is looking down their noses at me.  i don't know how to find the circles that would accept me at a minimum, and ideally teach me more. so that's what i'm asking: does anyone know where or how to find that?

i would actually move anywhere where that was possible. all i want is woods to walk in and people that will let me play my chosen instrument with them.

does anyone have any ideas? other than london. i can't stand london.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2017, 01:06:15 PM by downtowntrain »

Offline eatoomey

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Re: how to deal with irish/trad jams when i play a non-traditional instrument?
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2017, 01:00:20 PM »
Glasgow. Only caveat is that you can't be pretentious. Other than that, everyone fits in.
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Offline downtowntrain

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Re: how to deal with irish/trad jams when i play a non-traditional instrument?
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2017, 01:10:55 PM »
i am so much less pretentious than almost everyone i've met here. :) that was also true in texas, granted.

two questions: 1: do you have anywhere specific to recommend, or someone to ask in glasgow? 2: do you think edinburgh has that as well (it's much closer to my parents)? and do you have anywhere or anyone to recommend?

Offline sonofasailor

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Re: how to deal with irish/trad jams when i play a non-traditional instrument?
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2017, 01:48:30 PM »
I like that guy from Bela Fleck.
Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across - Sun Tzu

Offline eatoomey

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Re: how to deal with irish/trad jams when i play a non-traditional instrument?
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2017, 07:17:15 PM »
i am so much less pretentious than almost everyone i've met here. :) that was also true in texas, granted.

two questions: 1: do you have anywhere specific to recommend, or someone to ask in glasgow? 2: do you think edinburgh has that as well (it's much closer to my parents)? and do you have anywhere or anyone to recommend?
I'll have a think, re Glasgow. I haven't lived there for four years or so, so my knowledge of folk music nights will be outdated.
No, Edinburgh will not be the same at all.
Sept 2001 - June 2006: studied at the University of Glasgow and the University of Strathclyde
Aug 2010 - Dec 2010: in UK on holiday visa
Jan 2011: issued fiancée visa
July 2011: issued FLR(M)
March 2012: DD1
June 2013: issued ILR
November 2013: DD2

Offline DrSuperL99

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Re: how to deal with irish/trad jams when i play a non-traditional instrument?
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2017, 09:52:07 PM »
I have a fiddler friend who does loads of folk/trad sessions along the east coast, I can ask if she can suggest anywhere. Whereabouts would you be looking? Just Edinburgh area, or would Fife and/or Tayside be of interest?
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Offline downtowntrain

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Re: how to deal with irish/trad jams when i play a non-traditional instrument?
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2017, 06:48:49 AM »
yes, that would be great if you could ask her. I'm not attached to edinburgh at all, in fact i'd prefer not to live in a big city, but it's seeming more and more like smaller places won't accept me. i'd prefer to be on the east coast, only because i'm here to be of assistance to my elderly parents and don't want to be too far from them.

i'm an artist and i get not let into clubs in cities (edinburgh, glasgow and lincoln have all denied me) because i have paint on my shoes. it's really depressing. i've been comparatively very sober at the time (not being difficult at all), but i don't get to go dancing because i have paint on me. i own almost nothing that doesn't have paint on it somewhere. i've tried to keep paint off of me, but it just doesn't really work. also, it's not me.  i don't know what to do. i've even abandoned my preferred uniform of beautifully paint-splattered trousers for boring jeans, but then they just bar me on the basis of my shoes. 

i'd really prefer to be in a smaller town, but i'm worried it will be even worse there. i've lived in so many cities, and i'm sick of them, but if that's where i have to go to be allowed inside, then that's where i'll go. that said, i'll even try to keep paint off of my shoes if i can find people to play music with. :)


if there are any ideas about non-big-cities, i'd love to know them.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2017, 07:01:52 AM by downtowntrain »

Offline sonofasailor

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Re: how to deal with irish/trad jams when i play a non-traditional instrument?
« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2017, 07:58:04 AM »
because i have paint on my shoes.   

See this is something that baffles me! 

"There was this crazy painter trying to get in with paint on his shoes."

Well of course he has paint on his shoes....He's a painter!  The way I look at it, it would be odd if a painter didn't have paint on his shoes.

When I worked in the fish business people would say, "Oooh, you smell like fish!" Well of course I smell like fish,  if I smelled like gardenias that would be odd.
Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across - Sun Tzu

Offline Groover

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Re: how to deal with irish/trad jams when i play a non-traditional instrument?
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2017, 09:34:22 AM »
Music - I play clawhammer banjo but unfortunately I don't go to any jams, because there are none near where I live. I've seen washboard used online though - didn't think it was that unusual. Sorry you've had the bad experiences with others.  :(

Shoes - sadly the world is not going to bend to you, you will have to bend to the world. If you want to go dancing in a nightclub then I guess you will have to invest in a pair of shoes that you keep away from paint. This will be the easiest solution I think.

Online jimbocz

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Re: how to deal with irish/trad jams when i play a non-traditional instrument?
« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2017, 10:04:44 AM »
What is it with night club bouncers and their obsession with shoes?   I was turned away from some place once because my boots were made by Timberland, apparently a sure sign that the wearer is a chav troublemaker.  I've never met anyone in my life who cares at all about my shoes, other than those bouncers.  Little did they know that I absolutely hate dancing and nightclubs and I had no desire to go to their crappy hell hole of loud music and was overjoyed that I couldn't enter.  Now I make a point of wearing scruffy shoes or Timberland boots every time I go out so that if I am ever pressured by some group to go into a place like that I have a good excuse not too.   Places that care about the scruffiness of my shoes are precisely the kind of places I want to avoid.

Online jimbocz

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Re: how to deal with irish/trad jams when i play a non-traditional instrument?
« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2017, 10:06:54 AM »
About the jam session, why not start your own?  Don't you get to make up your own rules if you start it?

Offline DrSuperL99

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Re: how to deal with irish/trad jams when i play a non-traditional instrument?
« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2017, 11:41:08 AM »
My friend says you'd be welcome at her session in St Andrews, Fife! I'll PM you her details and you can get in touch with her directly :)
Arrived as student 9/2003; Renewed student visa 9/2006; Applied for HSMP approval 1/2008; HSMP approved 3/2008; Tier 1 General FLR received 4/2008; FLR(M) Unmarried partner approved (in-person) 27/8/2009; ILR granted at in-person PEO appointment 1/8/2011; Applied for citizenship at Edinburgh NCS 31/10/2011; Citizenship approval received 4/2/2012
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Offline phatbeetle

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Re: how to deal with irish/trad jams when i play a non-traditional instrument?
« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2017, 07:41:59 PM »
Aww, I'm sorry no one has been welcoming you! That instrument should fit in just great with any jam session. If people don't want you ,that is their issue.  Keep finding another jam, I'd say! 
Are there any adult feis classes near you? They could put you in touch with traditional players who would welcome you.
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Offline cdtaylornats

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Re: how to deal with irish/trad jams when i play a non-traditional instrument?
« Reply #13 on: February 22, 2017, 11:47:50 PM »
Sandy Bells in Edinburgh, always people playing in there , afternoon and evenings

http://sandybellsedinburgh.co.uk/sessions.html