I was at a session last night.
It’s a long time since I heard any decent music in a pub, as these days the ‘musician’ tends to be some bloke with a keyboard full of gizmos that provides what may be termed as ‘background’. The lads last night however were different. Between the pair of them, they had a fiddle, a bouzouki and a guitar, and the only electronics was a couple of microphones.
I probably mentioned it before, but I used to be a bit of a musician myself. I have played at such auspicious events as the Kilkenny Beer Festival [now defunct], the Bennetsbridge Festival [now no more, as far as I know], the Cambridge Folk Festival [still going strong] and just about every pub in the southern half of Ireland. In other words I think I am in a position to know what it’s like on stage, even though that was nearly forty years ago..
There was a fair crowd there last night. There was a gang of rowdy women who left as soon as the music started [thank God], a few locals and a load of tourists from Holland and America. The old tourist trade seems to be picking up again?
The two lads were good. And when I say they were good, I mean they were fucking good. They not only knew their way around the instruments but had a fair line in banter. They mainly played folk and traditional stuff and in between songs they insulted the audience. At one point he shouted down from the stage, asking what country I was from. He had for some reason taken me for a tourist [*shudder*]. I told him I was from the next village, and he had the grace to apologise.
During the next fag-break I got talking to the two lads. I asked why they had assumed I wasn’t local. They said it was because I was listening to the music. I know what it’s like to play to a packed house only to have half the audience yakking away, and it can be tough.
Sadly, they are right. The only people who will really listen to good music are tourists and ex-musicians.
Some things haven’t changed.