Irish Traditional Session News
In Santa Barbara, California, & wherever our friends are playing
The Agoura Hills session at Brendan’s Irish Pub and Restaurant has changed to Tuesdays, 6–9 p.m., beginning October 7, and will likely continue to meet on the First Tuesday of each month. (Thursday nights have become a bit raucous because of televised football games). There’s more info in the Agoura Hills listing below.
Regular Irish music sessions in the Santa Barbara area and wherever our friends are:
Santa Barbara: Sorry, there’s currently no regular session in Santa Barbara.
Agoura Hills: The session at Brendan’s Irish Pub and Restaurant is now every first Tuesday from 6–9 p.m. Remember to come early for a meal if you can. Location: Brendan’s Irish Restaurant & Pub, 30315 Canwood Street, Agoura Hills, CA, located just off the 101 freeway at Reyes Adobe. Google Map: Brendan’s Irish Pub and Restaurant.
San Luis Obispo: The session is now at SloCo Pasty Company, 1032 Chorro St., every Wednesday evening from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. It’s across the street from the SLO Mission, with free street parking after 6:00 p.m. and a parking lot around the corner (entrance on Palm St.). For more information, contact SloCo Pasty Company at 805-540-7278. Google map: SloCo Pasty Company.
Ashland, Oregon: The Black Sheep Pub, 51 North Main St., has a session on Sundays from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, contact the Black Sheep Pub at 541-482-6414. The pub is on the I-5 freeway corridor, conveniently located for those traveling between the Seattle/Portland area and the SF/LA area.
Several sessions are happening in the Los Angeles area:
Tunes: The Session has links to sessions, tunes in ABC and traditional staff notation, as well as discussions and info about the music and recordings. “The exchange of tunes is what keeps traditional Irish music alive. This website is one way of passing on jigs, reels and other dance tunes. Some of the tunes are well known, and some are more obscure. It’s this mixture of the familiar and the new that makes for a good session.”
Andrew Kuntz’s The Fiddler’s Companion is a valuable index of tunes and tales for performers looking for something to say to introduce the next tune. Many of the entries give the history of the tune, a list of printed and recorded sources, and one or more versions in ABC notation. See The Earl’s Chair, for example.
Need titles of a set of tunes on an album? Use Irishtune.info’s Album Search and Finder. Album details give titles as listed in the album, along with verified titles (which are sometimes different) with links for info on the tunes.
The BBC’s Virtual Session is a collection of sets of tunes played by Ian Carr (guitar), John McCusker (fiddle), Michael McGoldrick (flute and whistle), Tomai Taylor (bohdrán) and Karen Tweed (accordion), with the sheet music and chords displayed so you can play along. The subtle background images are a delightful accompaniment.
Michael Eskin’s TradLessons.com offers “a collection of short videos demonstrating tunes commonly played in San Diego and Los Angeles Irish sessions.”
ABC music notation is a simple way to type out a tune using the letter names of the notes. John Chambers’ ABC Primer is an easy-to-understand introduction, and Chris Walshaw’s ABC Music Notation site has a more complete tutorial and links to tune collections and ABC music software.
Language: Michael Robinson’s Beginner’s Guide to Irish Gaelic Pronunciation is a simplified guide for “traditional musicians, radio announcers and anyone else who is interested in traditional Irish music.”
Google has a language translator that does a quick job going from Irish to English. You can even enter mixed Irish and English, though the results are sometimes amusing!
A better translator for single words and some phrases is Irishionary.com, a collaborative dictionary with hundreds of members continually adding words and translations.
Irish Culture and Customs has, among many other interesting things, a Basic Irish Language reference, handy for a quick word or phrase (with pronunciations) such as “ceoil na hÉireann” (Irish music), “Slán go foill” (“Bye for now”), or “As Béarla led thoil?” (“Could you say that in English, please?”)
Et cetera: TradConnect is a new social network for people who play, listen to and enjoy traditional Irish music. Launched in April 2011, the aim of the site is to connect people who are learning and playing traditional Irish music with other players in their own area. In addition to discussions and news pages, members have their own profile pages and blogs where they post photos and videos. More info on Why Join TradConnect?
Michael Eskin’s Traditional Irish Music page has lots of interesting links for session players.
FolkWorks has calendars of ongoing sessions and suchlike, and all of the Folk news you need (including dance, music and art) for the greater Los Angeles area. Formerly a bi-monthly newspaper, FolkWorks updates its calendar and other resources frequently.
Thanks to Chris for telling us about LiveTrad.com, a website launched in March 2010 “dedicated to the live web streaming of traditional Irish music sessions, concerts and festival events online.” See their Videos page for an index of their videos.
Brian O’Donovan’s A Celtic Sojourn explores traditional and contemporary Celtic music on WGBH in Boston. Archives of recent shows can be heard on the web, and you can find the show in iTunes – look in Library > Radio > International > Celtic Sojourn.
Our friend Patrick tipped us off to Clare FM Trad Podcasts, several weekly programs each about two hours long. “This is seriously the best trad music online,” says Patrick.
The Roadtunes Sessions, hosted by Andrew Doerr, features Irish music and a variety of other genres, with singer songwriters and tunes, both acoustic and electric. The time and date have changed: it’s on Tuesday evenings from 7 to 10 p.m. on KCSB 91.9 FM in Santa Barbara. Roadtunes Sessions is simultaneously webcast at KCSB’s Webcast page. The phone number in the studio is 805-893-2424 for questions, comments, or suggestions for future shows.
Thistle & Shamrock, Fiona Ritchie’s weekly radio program of music from Celtic lands, is no longer broadcast locally but is available streaming on the web for 3 weeks after broadcast. Thistle now has its own website with a listing of stations carrying Thistle & Shamrock in California and elsewhere.
FolkScene, hosted by Roz Larman, is still on the air, Sunday nights 6 to 8 p.m. on KPFK-FM, with traditional and contemporary live music, interviews and remote recordings. Tune in at 90.7 FM in Los Angeles, and 98.7 FM in Santa Barbara. See the Folkscene web site for more information, and how to hear the Folkscene webcast.