Traditional music sessions return to iconic Oban pub
These informal gatherings bring musicians, like-minded individuals and passers-by together
In wee couthy pubs across Scotland, music lovers can find something that is part of the beating heart and social identity of the community: the traditional session.
These informal gatherings bring musicians, like-minded individuals and passers-by together for one- off performances that are completely unrehearsed and spontaneous. The beauty – and the tragedy – of these sessions is that they happen off the cuff, and the tunes will never be played the same way again.
Now Oban has brought this very organic brand of entertainment back with a midweek stint at the Oban Inn. This session has a real buzz about it, and is well attended by musicians and punters alike, bringing some much-needed cheer to otherwise dreich, dreary and quiet winter evenings.
These informal gatherings bring together a wide cross-section of society. At last week’s session, engineers, scientists, merchant seamen, designers, carers and teachers were on show. Add to that bar regulars, tourists and curious passers-by, and you have a fascinating mix.
The instrumentation is varied and colourful, with a mixture of the usual fiddles, accordions, guitars, mandolins, whistles and flutes and the occasional bodhran. But do not be surprised to find more exotic sounds emanating from the pub when the tourist season warms up and fellow troubadours from around the globe bring their own colours and musical textures.
Many local players see this old bar, first opened 1790, as a proper place for the session, and since re- opening after a decade-long absence from Oban’s seafront, it seems like it has always been there. Many local players are returning to the place where they first became entranced by traditional music and, which for some, has become a real passion. Now they form part of the old guard, with a new generation of young bloods continuing the tradition.
The personnel vary each week, and audience participation is always welcome, for, as they say, the more the merrier. After just a few weeks, the session is settling in nicely, with the first Wednesday of each month set as the main organised event, though do not be surprised to hear some heart-warming tones at other times.
So, if you are passing by and feel like joining in, or you just fancy a break from the winter weather, a warm welcome awaits.