I decided to finally give it a shot!
Since I could always remember I have always been fascinated with the world of Celtic music! Having recently finished university and being fed up with life in general, there was no other better time to finally bring in my Mandolin to a traditional Celtic Session at the Black Swan! And I must say I have been going religiously every Thursdays since.
The Session is a truly unique music tradition like no other. A welcoming circle of musicians in a pub reel out the Celtic tunes on a weekly on going basis and it has been going on in pubs around the world for years.
The folks at the Black Swan are really nice, especially the bartender. My first day they all learned my names and were eager to help out in anyway they could! I wasn’t exactly familiar with their repetoire so they didn’t hesitate to tell me the name of each tune after it had been played, and where I would be able to find recordings. The host even took the time to e-mail me a pdf of a list of their commonly played songs along with their scores !
I took some time and memorized a good 20 songs (err… I mean ‘tunes’ ) on the mandolin before coming again. And it was worth it, because there is no other joy than to be able to play these joyous tunes that have been passed down for hundreds of years. Playing with the musicians brings the music to life and I’ve been inspired to learn more and more.
Top 7 absolute favourite tunes so far:
1. A Trip to Pakistan http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QBsxY-v_YXw
2. Arthur Darley’s http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lfclpu9jGuA
3. Drowsy Maggie http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtkKJqmW3Jo&feature=related
4. Over the Moore to Maggie http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HtimrcpeWxE
5. Star of Munster http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwJCKDUB48Q
6. Kesh Jig (can be heard on Flogging Molly’s “Salty Dog” track) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsdNl72WVs4
7. Silver Spear http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIcBQAFtkR4&feature=related
There are tons of sessions that go on in Toronto, in fact there is one everyday… the ones I know for sure are
Thursday – Black Swan, Dora Keogh’s
Sunday – Dora Keogh’s
It’s best to call the pub beforehand to make sure as times and place can unexpectedly change!
Here are some helpful links that helped me get started:
http://thesession.org – This site provides a full listing of sessions around the world, the largest database of Celtic tunes with their scores.
http://celticmusic.ca – Your guide to the Celtic music scene in Ontario- festivals, workshops, teachers, musicians, sessions, and more!
and of course http://youtube.com for hosting the millions of videos so that you can hear the songs over and over!