Sessions are the cornerstone of playing folk music today. In earlier times music was played by local musicians at local events and this provided much of the background fabric of their society. This was particularly true in the country where there were fewer diversions on offer. Nowadays, when folk musicians are not performing in concerts and bush dances, they gather for their own entertainment in hall, pubs and clubs to experience the joy of playing music together. The tunes are played with most instruments playing the same melody line with individual variation of course. This gives a strong unifying sound sometimes underpinned with piano or guitar, and sometimes with percussion.
Sessions provide an important social context for playing music, where players are encouraged to partake of a common repertoire and to extend that repertoire with tunes and songs from their own background. After a round of tunes the request for the name of a tune will often be heard with the asker having the intention of following up and learning the tune to join in next time.
Sessions within reach of the Southern Highlands include:
Bush Traditions Session @ The Goulburn Club in Market Street, Goulburn. These are held on the first Friday of each month from 7.30pm. Each month has a theme for songs and poems to challenge players. A list of current themes is given below. A collection of songs called Songs of Australia is often used as a source. Local collected dance tunes (from south-eastern NSW) are also played. These are both available for viewing/download here.
Bundanoon Folk Session @ The Bundanoon Club on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday evenings. Meet from 6pm for dinner with the music from about 7.30 to 9.30. This includes Australian dance tunes and some Celtic tunes. Occasionally someone will burst into song. The repertoire is a hotchpotch of music put into the mix by those attending. A set of regularly played items is available for download as a PDF.
Robertson Sessions organised by Chris Hayden with a focus on the Irish repertoire are held regularly @ Robertson Inn (3rd Wednesday of the month from 5pm) and @ Robertson Bowling Club (2nd Sunday from 1pm).