Porch Sessions, Installment No. 1

Since it’s summer, we thought we would record our practice session on my front porch for the first installment of Porch Sessions. Keep an eye out for more porch sessions throughout the rest of the summer and upcoming fall. Reach out if you want to come play in one.

And don’t forget there’s a session tonight at the Jericho Cafe in Jericho and one on Saturday at Bagitos in Montpelier. Play on!

Find more Irish sessions in Vermont.



Irish Session to benefit ACLU

Fiddle and beerThis Sunday, March 5th join Irish musicians from around the country, in participating in the Sanctuary Sessions, traditional music for civil rights.

Whether you live in Vermont, Massachusetts, New York or Oregon, you too can make a difference.

This is a massive session taking place around the country, and in Ireland, to help raise money for the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), an organization that strives to protect the civil rights of all people.

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Outside the circle

irish sessionWhen you’re caught up in playing at a session I think sometimes we forget that people outside the circle are actually listening to us and our music makes an impact.

A few weeks ago I attended the bi-weekly Irish session at the Jericho Cafe in Jericho. It was a small session but the tunes were mighty (and the food was good too!) and a good time was had by all. We sat in our circle drank beer and played for about 2 hours and then packed it up.

As I was packing up my fiddle, and getting ready to go, this older gentleman who was sitting at the table next to us listening intently, told me how much he appreciated our music. He told me that his wife had died a year ago, and his mother had died 3 years prior. His family was Irish so he grew up listening to Irish music and when he heard us play it reminded him of days gone by with his beloved family. He told me he goes out to hear music as much as he can and that this music was “just lovely.”

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Playing in an Irish session – Jericho Cafe Style

JCaT sessionPlaying at a session can be intimidating. It’s scary to start a tune or to hop in on one when you’re a newcomer. Know that you’re not alone and there is something you can do to ease your uncertainty.

Aside from learning the tunes, it helps to know what kind of session it is and what is expected of you as a player. Armed with this knowledge, you may just gain the confidence to start your favorite tune without having to worry about what is appropriate.

Every first and third Thursday of the month, the Jericho Cafe and Tavern plays host to a traditional Irish session open to all Irish musicians. Like all sessions, it has its own flavor. It is designed to be less intimidating and a comfortable place for people of various experiences to share a tune. The intention is to include all who want to play.

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2013 in review

Thank you all for your continued support of both Irish music and my blog. Please feel free to write me if you have a topic you’d like me to write about or if you’d like to be a guest blogger for Session Obsession. I hope you have a safe and happy new year! I’m looking forward to writing more in 2014!

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,300 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Post by Katrina VanTyne

An Irish Good-bye, An American Thank You

Though it has been almost a week since I returned home from fiddle school in Ireland, I can still hear the last session ringing in my head. And here is what it sounds like:

Sessions like this went on all night and every night throughout the fiddle week in Glencolmcille. Though there were only two bars in the town, every night both were filled with music like this until the wee hours of the morning. I think I’m still trying to recover from my lack of sleep, even a week later. Those who frequent Irish Arts Week in the Catskills know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s a tune learning marathon complete with sessions that never actually end. The music is still ringing true in my head and in my heart.

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Trust the notes, remember the feeling

Recently, I was at a session and there was a woman playing Uillean pipes. While she played, she closed her eyes and let her head and upper body dance ever so slightly to the music. She let the tunes run right through her like it was something she couldn’t actually control. It was almost as if the pipes were just a tool to help her get that feeling out. The music was effortless and she was mesmerizing to watch.

This experience was a good reminder of why I play music. It’s really not about the notes or the number of tunes I know. It’s about how the music makes me feel when I play it. My fiddle is just a tool to express those feelings. Yet, I sometimes spend so much time trying to remember the notes and wondering whether or not they are going to sound good, that I forget to actually express them.

This is a picture me me playing recently at a benefit concert with my friend Harold.

Fiddle Music

I posted it to Facebook and one of my friends wrote:

This is my favorite picture of you at play! Normally you look all serious and concentrating, this one makes you look like you are FEELING the music! Love it!

Music is so great because it evokes emotions in both the person playing and the person listening. It’s a relationship that is hard to put into words. But the greatest people to watch and listen to are the people who clearly love what they are playing and have the courage to just play it from the heart.

This picture of me is one of very few where I am actually expressing what I’m feeling. But I am going to keep it around as a reminder to feel the music and forget about the notes. My fingers know where to go, I just got to trust them.