Raleigh, NC Irish Sessions

Raleigh, NC Irish Sessions

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Mandolins were abundant at these sessions.

This Summer I spent a good deal of time in “the Triangle”, woodshedding some tunes everyone should know and even writing a couple more. Living in Durham, NC for the Summer,  I was missing my musical creative outlets back home in Asheville, so I sought out some local Irish Trad Sessions. This led me to two sessions in Raleigh and one in Morrisville, NC. Luckily, the reputation of being a session player from Asheville only slightly preceded me.

Tir Na Nog –  Raleigh, NC

My first stop of the Summer was to attend the Sunday session at Tir Na Nog in Raleigh. It was a wide open session, with a great deal more of variety than I was used to.  It was also the last session they were to have. It turns out I showed up on the last day of business for Tir Na Nog. Which was a shame really, because it was a lovely place with a wonderful hostess/owner.  The session itself was a little less structured than I’m used to. And there were even some classic rock songs sung with sincerity towards the end. I got to play my favorite Choice Wife/Gallagher’s Frolic set and so it was lots of fun nonetheless.

It was at this session, that I was reminded how reputations can influence expectations for the good or the bad. I showed up early to meet the session leader.  There were a few folks who also showed up early. I brought my octave mandolin with me, which travels in a guitar shaped case. The first expression I got when they saw my guitar shaped case, seemed to say, “Great, another guitar player” as if they had seen their share of sessions with multiple guitarists. (Those of you who have also experienced that, might understand how much of a headache that can be.)

Asheville Reputation!

Then after exchanging names and before I could ask about the standard session

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My travel companions on this trip included my Rozawood Octave Mandolin and my Deering Tenor Banjo.

etiquette here, they asked where I was from.  So I told them.  Then everyone was silent a moment longer than necessary, and someone said, “Oh, you’re from the Jack of the Wood aren’t you?” And I knew exactly what that statement implied.

 

So I had to laugh good naturedly and said, “Yes, I am from the Jack of the Wood session in Asheville.” and with a wink said, “But I also play well with others and would rather have a good time, making friends, than fret over musical purity.” We all laughed out loud and it was then clear we understood each other, and went on to make great music.

The Stag’s Head –  Raleigh, NC

The next session I was able to attend was at the Stag’s Head, also in Raleigh, down the street from Tir Na Nog. This is a glorious session. It’s on a large stage! The stage doesn’t matter, but the amount of room each player has on that stage is fantastic. (Remember, I play at the Jack of the Wood often, where sometimes 18 people try to fit on a stage built for an acoustic singer/songwriter duo.) The players range in skill level, but they all get along nicely and play beautifully.

 

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The Stag’s Head Irish Trad Session in Raliegh, NC

Alan, the accordion, concertina and whistle player can mesmerize you with his tunes. His whistle playing in particular, I could listen to for hours, so sweet and full of the spirit of what I imagine Irish music to be. Every other player too adds a nice touch to the group.  This session is a bit tighter, and I did not experience anything other than Irish music here.  The session at the Stag’s Head occurs on Sunday at 2 PM as of this writing.  It’s worth checking out, and does seem to be an open session. Meaning, there aren’t any obvious restrictions on who can play and who can’t.

Trali – Morrisville, NC

In Morrisville, NC there is an Irish Pub called Trali. I’m assuming this is a chain as I’ve seen them other places and this was the second one I encountered while in “the Triangle”. This session is a semi-closed session.  It seems to be you should probably know someone who already plays in the session, and you should be able to play a lot of tunes, keep a steady tempo, and not try to play when you don’t know the tunes.

Luckily, one of the players, Scott (a fantastic flute player), told me about this session.  He said he’d put in a good word for me with the session leader, whom I then corresponded with electronically. She said I was vouched for, and so welcome to attend, and then she asked if I played with the earlier session or the later session at Jack of the Wood.

This gave me pause.  Some of you who have been to the JOW sessions know there is an interesting culture between the earlier and later sessions. The earlier session is a rocking good time, but sometimes (not often these days) the tempo shifts or we get a brand new player who means well, but derails things a little. The later session is “a full-bore, you better be damned good, or we’ll ask you to leave” kind of a session. That can be intimidating, and not a lot of fun for folks who may be decent at their instrument, want to have a good time, and aren’t expecting to get ignored or told to leave because there is someone better in the audience who wants a seat.

So what was she asking?  Did she think the earlier session was sloppy?  Did she think the later session was too stressful?  Did she wonder if I was laid back like the earlier session?  Was she asking me if I was good enough to play with the later session? Who knows really? Musicians are a peculiar bunch (myself included). Sometimes people hold on to grudges.  Sometimes people maintain high standards at the expense of joyfulness… it goes on…so…

I decided to quit over thinking it and tell her the truth. I said, I personally really enjoy playing with both sessions for different reasons.  I have and can play in both sessions, but to be honest prefer the more laid back approach of the earlier session. That seemed to be the right answer, and so she gave me the time and day to show up.

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A lovely time at Trali in Morrisville, NC

And this session was also glorious. Everyone was friendly, the musicianship was stellar, and there was plenty of room. (Can you tell, I like my space?) We sat around two tables pushed together, the waitress brought us beer, and we went around the circle each picking sets to play as we would. If you get a chance to listen to or be invited to play at the Trali session, I’d highly recommend it.

Conclusion

I was asked to attend a home session in between Stag’s Head and Trali. That was an excellent welcoming group of people made up from all the different sessions I had visited. And overall, my experience of the Irish Trad sessions in Raleigh and Morrisville were fantastic and just what I needed while away from the cool (because it’s hot as hell here!) Mist Covered Mountains of Asheville.

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Return from Fingal Counter Melody

Celtic Week is here!  In honor of this noble week I’ve been playing around with some recordings and tab to post.

So far, I’ve got a counter melody for Return from Fingal.

Here it is…

Return from Fingal Melody

This counter melody was composed by Jim Magill.  His wife, Beth, and I played a little gig in Hendersonville a month or so back, and she played this lovely counter melody on her flute while I played the tune on mandolin.  Before she packed up to attend the Swannanoa Gathering, I was able to get a copy of the music to tab out.  Ideally, I aim to create a recording of both these parts for the youtube channel http://www.youtube.com/ashevillemandolin.

Jack of the Wood July 7th, 2013 -- Irish Session

Jack of the Wood July 7th, 2013 — Irish Session — Sean, Ryan, Billy, Doug, Lynn, & Shannon

I have also been working on a recording of Na Ceannabhain Bhana/The Black Rogue/The Noon Day Feast .

So far I’ve got an octave mandolin track and a mandolin track.  Once, I get it tightened up and a backing track I’ll post it.

All three of these tune can be found in the Asheville Celtic Mandolin Collection.

Asheville Celtic Mandolin Collection

Asheville Celtic Mandolin Collection

 

Jack of The Wood Asheville NC Sunday Session

A videographer showed up on Sunday and decided he wanted to record some tunes.  He happened to get a recording of Dinny O’brien’s and Islay Ranter’s Reel from the earlier session, and a song from the later session.

Notice the lighting.  We did happen to have a number of mandolin family instruments at the first session.  Most of which were playing during those tunes.

and…

The Choice Wife

Today I was inspired to tab out one of my recent favorite tunes.  One is called The Choice Wife, or O’Farrel’s Welcome To Limerick.    The mandolin tablature also has standard notation. You can access these files as .pdf clicking the links below or through the tunes page.

The Choice Wife Mandolin Tab

This is a tune played often at the Jack of the Wood session, when Sean is on the pipes. It’s got a great groove, and nice melody.

 

 

The Choice Wife & Muireann’s Jig

Last week our local piper at the early session at the Jack of the Wood, encouraged me to back him up on a jig and a slip jig.  They are great tunes, so I spent some time researching and creating a chord arrangement to for rhythmic backing.

Here are the chords I found from VCP Sheet Music for “the Choice Wife”.  They work nicely.

Slip Jig Mandolin Tab and notation and chords

Next up are some chords I’m playing around with for “Muireann’s Jig”.

A
Bm- BmEm BmEm BmEm B- BmEm Bm- BmEm

B
Em- F#m- G- Am Em- F#m- G- Am

C
Bm- D- D- DEm Bm- D- D- DEm

D
DBm DA D- DEm DBm DA BmA DEm

I feel it can still use some tweaking, but it works well enough at the moment.

If you’d like to play along, use the videos below.

The Choice Wife is also called O’Farrell’s Welcome to Limerick

25 Irish Tunes Mandolin Tablature and Standard Notation

Here’s a great PDF from a fellow MandolinCafe member, Michael Pilgrim.  Some of these songs are individually on the tunes and tab page, but

Tune List from Michael Pilgrim’s Irish Tune Booklet

there are a number of them which are not.

Enjoy adding these common irish session tunes to your repertoire.  I look forward to seeing you at the Jack of the Wood some time here in Asheville!

25 Irish Fiddle Tunes in Standard Notation and Mandolin Tablature

Click the Link above to view or Download this file.

See below for a great book full of Mandolin tab, standard notation and chords for the Celtic/Irish mandolin, octave mandolin or tenor banjo player.

20% of all profits go towards the Swannanoa Gathering Scholarship Fund.

Asheville Celtic Mandolin Collection

Asheville Celtic Mandolin Collection