Tra­di­tional mu­sic ses­sions re­turn to iconic Oban pub

These in­for­mal gath­er­ings bring mu­si­cians, like-minded in­di­vid­u­als and passers-by to­gether

The Oban Times - - Leisure -

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.

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