Sessions have long been the life-blood of Irish music, the perverbial watering-hole where musicians would go to quench their thirst for music. Stories of legendary sessions would pass through word of mouth but stories of musicians knocking heads would also do the rounds. Sessions attract musicians of every calibre and thus, the relationship between sessioning musicians can often be tumultuous. There is always the lingering threat to good sessions of the dreaded 'session wrecker' who may or may not sit in to play, often disguised as normal looking people, blending into the crowd and unseen until it is too late. However there are a few things one can do sort out these 'session wreckers'...

 

Simply play away in the hope they'll leave

While musicians can be quite forthright in their attitudes to the music, they can also be quite passive and do what they can to avoid conflict even if it means having a really shit session. One thing you can do if you are unlucky enough to have to deal a session wrecker is simply play in the session and put up with the horrible scratchings emanating from the corner of your eye for the whole night, resigning yourself to another lost evening of good music and pray this person doesn't know too many tunes and leaves. This rarely happens as not knowing the tunes doesn't seem to matter to them as they try out some new age jazz accompaniment to go along with your Tommy Potts version of The Lads of Laois. Groovy.

 

Politely ask them to tone it down

This only really happens when there is one musician in the session who has enough balls to put their reputation as a human being on the line or maybe they just have common sense. No-one really thinks to themselves that 'Hey, this person is a human being and surely won't mind if someone has a quiet word explaining to them the dynamics of the session and the atmosphere of the music and how they're, ye know, completely ruining it'. Most human beings are reasonable and on talking to would surely see the error of their ways and try something more in keeping with the music going on. But most session wreckers aren't reasonable human beings...

 

Flat out tell them to stop playing

If having two quiet, polite words in their ear does not work then everything else is fair game! If they have the neck to impinge upon other people's enjoyment then they are asking for a rollicking. These people are not of sound mind so don't expect them to go without a fight, 'I've been kicked out of every session in Belfast so I came down to Dublin! If you think I'm gonna give up easy you're wrong! Does anyone else have a problem with my awful 3rd position playing on the violin?' Just pray that you're not sitting beside this person because more often than not you'll be expected to kick them out, if there isn't a designated session leader or gigger.

 

Make loud, passive aggressive remarks

Drawing attention to the session wrecker can often create a feeling of inadequacy on their part which would eventually get so uncomfortable they would have no choice but to leave. This can be done by making loud, passive aggressive statements aimed indirectly at them. For example, if they play guitar you could say, 'Ye know, I love unaccompanied sessions. It give you more control over the rhythm.' If they play out of tune, 'Am I out of tune? I don't think so.' Or you could just say, 'JESUS! I REALLY, FUCKING HATE THE PIANO ACCORDION!!'

 

Give them filthy looks and hope they'll get the message

One of the classic strategies that most traditional Irish musicians develop at a young age is the giving of filthy looks. Everyone knows the saying 'If looks could kill...', however with Irish musicians this quite literally the case. Most musicians are quite passive so this allows them to convey their message of hatred simply by glaring at the culprit until he or she realises they are not supposed to be there and leave. This works surprisingly well most times, unless the person accidentally thinks the entire session is coming on to them in which case they'll probably leave anyway. Or they might stay if they're into that kind of thing. Go with the flow sure. 

 

Talk about them into their recording device

Many session wreckers use recording devices to allow them to learn more tunes to destory at later sessions. These are often left running the whole night, even when they leave to go to the bathroom. This is an ideal opportunity to ensure that they never come back. Talk clearly into the recorder making sure to abuse and bad mouth the said wrecker ensuring that they'll never return. This one is a slow burner and only works on musicians that have been regularly sabotaging your session.

 

Hide their instrument while they're in the toilet

This is very much a last resort as manhandling somebody's instrument without their permission (especially if you don't know them) is a big taboo in Irish music, it's not recommended unless you want to start something. But God damn it they're ruining this session and enough is enough! While they're in the bathroom hide their instrument and don't tell them where. This will definately put them in a bad mood and make sure they leave and never return. Alternatively you could have a bit of fun with this one by pretending to them that they don't play and convincing the wrecker that nobody has ever seen them before. Mess with their head a little!

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