The following post was written by fiddler, David Meatyard.
After a 7-year hiatus, I returned to the Radio Bean Irish session. Just as sessions come and go, we as players may have long lapses in our session playing. As it turns out it was great fun and just like old times. It is awesome that the traditional music community is so welcoming, since there are few things as satisfying as making this kind music with others.
As usual before playing my fiddle in public, I feel some nervousness and apprehension. The Radio Bean session after all has been around a long time and is known to attract some very good musicians. It doesn’t help that I haven’t been very happy with my tone production or intonation. Also, I’m thinking my basic repertoire is pretty boring. There is no point in worrying, so I decide on a few tunes I know well, and then practiced a bit before leaving for Burlington.
I arrive about a half hour early, leaving the fiddle locked in the car. There is still a chance I will chicken out and just listen for the evening. As I walk into the coffee house, I am pleasantly surprised to see an old friend. One of the first things he asks is, “where’s your fiddle?” I say, “oh, it’s in the car, I’ll bring it in later.” I say to myself, I’m committed now. Before the session starts at 9, I’ve met a couple more people I know, and have introduced myself to a few others. Everyone is very friendly and welcoming. So, I go to the car and retrieve my fiddle.
My memories of the Radio Bean session were of tightly packed musicians and a crowded room in general. Tonight wasn’t too bad. There were eight other players, and a good mix of instruments: Fiddle, flute, whistle, accordion, bodhran and guitar. The room was comfortably full with patrons showing interest in listening to the music. We wait for someone to start a tune, and it happens to be one I know. I quickly start to really enjoy myself and loosen up. A couple more tunes get played and I’m ready to start one of my own. The group playing tonight is friendly and supportive. Also, the people listening are very appreciative, with a warm round of applause after each set of tunes. Eventually, I get a bit impatient to start another tune, but we are all considerate and respectful taking turns.
Although the room has changed and many of the faces are different, I’m amazed how those seven years have melted away. The nervousness before playing will surely continue, but I know I’ll be back to play at the Radio Bean. I feel this is a very friendly session, welcoming players of all skill levels. My boring tunes were fine, and I had a great time playing them with the others. This was a great experience, seeing old friends and making new ones. And the chance to hear some new tunes, and getting motivated to learn them. See ya at the next session.