The UK and Ireland are famous for their Pub/bar sessions and open mics. Where one can turn up with an instrument and be welcomed in to the fold (providing you keep to the ethos of the group). But does anyone know of other countries where this is the case? I have found "tourist" folk performances when abroad but rarely have I found a group of musicians just doing there stuff.
It is an odd thing isn't it? Here at home I can go out virtually every night to a folk session, open mic, pub music session, folk club to the point where I have to limit myself and do rotas so that I don't miss anyone out. But when I go abroad it is rare that I find other musicians playing (for fun) in public. So far only in Ireland, Spain (but not everywhere and only occasionally), Brittany and Nepal have I found places to play and I have been to a few countries. I accept that most of the time it is just a question of knowing where to look and if you are not in the know then you won't find it.
Here in the Netherlands where I live, there are a few sessions that are held monthly in pubs. I visit them as much as I can. Almost all of these are focussed mainly on Irish/scottish trad. I have yet to discover a regular blue grass session. I think a big difference with Ireland and U.K is that over here these session's are not very well known, unfortunately we don't have a real session culture like you have . I am under the impression though that it is growing in the Netherlands. If you are ever in Holland, I can give you a list of the session dates.
Hi Duncan, I think the best list for Irish trad is thesession.org/sessions, but I guess you're looking more for indigenous music sessions rather just Irish music sessions world wide. It might be worth asking on theSession.org although it's predominantly Irish I think musicians there are involved with other traditions.
I wonder if in other traditions the music is still closely tied to dancing so musicians playing together without dancers only happens sporadically and informally. One of the nicest sessions I play at is just the hour or so after playing for Morris dancing practice, when musicians get to do their own thing. This isn't really an open session (although anyone passing would be made welcome) and it isn't publicised anywhere - and won't happen at all if no-one is in the mood.
I think France has a strong folk-dance tradition - maybe the musicians don't get together much away from the dancing?
I accept that most of the time it is just a question of knowing where to look and if you are not in the know then you won't find it.
Despite the fact that I've lived in the US my entire life, I have found that to be the case here as well. You have to be in on the pipeline to know what's going on. Subscribing to magazines such as Bluegrass unlimited & Banjo Newsletter will get you started. You still have to do your homework, but at least you have some starting points.
Years ago (before 911) my wife & I did a tour of the U.K. with Nancy Covey who used to travel the world on behalf of McCabes music store in search of talent for their shows. Bluegrass unlimited had done an article on her, which was how we found out she was doing that. We took our instruments as carry on luggage. Aside from Stonehenge & the like, everywhere we went there was the opportunity to play with some really fine musicians. Pipeline. Highly recommended. She also does Cajun Country USA & some other places as well.
Just returned from an English folk session this evening at the jolly Potters pub (it was a toss up between that or the Irish one at the Bridge St Ale house.) Abroad I have found Brittany to be good for sessions, either Breton or other types. They have a steady stream of music festivals throughout the year it seems and last time I was there the people we were staying with got out their instruments for an impromptu session and BBQ. When I was in Nepal there was a regular temple session near Durbar square that seemed to be more a bunch of locals getting together rather than anything specifically religious. Alas I didn't play at the time so I never found out if it was ok to join in. In Galicia Spain we stayed with a woman who played guitar and invited us to play on the first night. Also found a session, by accident, in the mountains of Tenerife when I heard someone mention music party in a shop where we were buying some food for lunch. I took my Tranjo which was well recieved