Etiquette

Thank you for taking the time to read the etiquette section of this site. Sessions can differ in the way they work and there are no set rules how to behave. Usually it is a matter of common sense and respect for others.

 We are lucky to have such a lively and friendly bunch of people at the Blue Lion and would never want to enforce any strict rules that limited people’s enjoyment of a night out in the pub, playing tunes and hanging out with friends.

However, here are a few pointers that we hope will help make the night as enjoyable as possible for everyone.

  1. To start off the evening we tend to go round the circle in turn so that everyone gets the chance to choose a tune – even if you are not confident enough to start it yourself you can still choose one and someone else who knows it will kick it off. So come prepared with some ideas. After this it becomes a bit of a free for all.
  2. If you do start the tune please make sure you are happy to play it at a reasonable pace. Also try and be conscious that you keep in time and don’t speed up, especially if you have a loud instrument.
  3. Please don’t noodle away to yourself between tunes or during other songs as this makes it difficult for people to start a new tune, and can be annoying to people generally as it creates a bit of a din.
  4. Feel free to chat away between tunes, but also be aware to keep an eye on what is happening around the group so that you are able to hear the next tune being announced, and definitely keep your voice down when people are playing.
  5. Be aware of how loud your instrument is compared to other peoples. If you can’t hear other people play it may be because you are inadvertently playing more loudly than others and should hold back a little more. If someone is singing you should definitely play much more quietly to allow them to be heard.
  6. In bluegrass tunes people will take “breaks” – i.e. solos between verses of songs. Again you should play much more quietly to allow the soloist to be heard. The person leading the song may ask you if you want to take a break so keep your eyes and ears peeled.
  7. We do change key! So if you are a banjo player, be ready to change key/tuning. Bring a capo and one of those handy electronic tuners you clip on the end of the instrument. And don’t moan because it really only takes a second!
  8. Please try and be as welcoming to fellow musicians as possible to allow them to join the circle if there is room. If the circle is at capacity please do still try to join in as near as possible as some people will leave earlier than others or go off for a chat so there will always be room for you in the end.
  9. Have fun. Any other suggestions for the etiquette section welcome!
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3 Responses to “Etiquette”

  1. Absolutely on the money. I was out in Tennessee in June this year at the Steve Kaufman Kamp (the biggest flatpicking camp in the World) and they pretty much have the same rules and brief everyone on Day One on how to behave in jams. If everyone can follow the rules (easpecially the noodling between numbers – it so unprofessional to do that) it all works out and everyone has a blast. This way you get to sit in with some of the best players in the World and everyone enjoys playing. (And it was officially a ‘dry’ Camp, being Tennessee, so we didn’t even get to mellow out with alcohol – apart of the odd smuggled can of beer.)

    Additionally, if the tempo is too fast – sit out that tune. Don’t try to slow everything down because you’ll drive away the better faster players eventually. No shame in admitting your limitations. Some of the guys in Tennesee can rip it at 250BPM or more – at that pace most of us are even having trouble chunking the chords – but I love to hear it done. On the other hand I knew some Celtic stuff they didn’t and they were happy to listen or accompany and take a break. If you are “speed-challenged”, just sit it out and wait for the slower ballads and waltzes is my take.

  2. Well done, E.P.! Always good to have a few ground rules, especially in a venue as noisy as the Blue Lion where things can quickly get out of control!

    Can I just say to any beginners out there not to feel intimidated by any of this – so long as you don’t play really loudly over everyone else’s breaks you’ll be fine!

    It might also be worth pointing out that the person who starts the tune is also responsible for ending it, usually with the trusty sticky-outy leg.

  3. Absolutely right Angie – we were all beginners once and probably still remember the first tunes we played publically – mine was ‘Whisper’ and ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’ played in The Lady Margaret pub in the Lady Margaret Road, Southall. http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?hl=en&tab=wl

    The first times are always a bit scary – but that evening started me playing for the next 50+ years! Maybe the Blue Sessions will be someone’s start. And they can always take a break and have a pint – something I couldn’t so back in 1960 because I was too young and on a stage!

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