The Almonte Traditional Song session meets on the third Sunday of the month from 2 PM to 4 PM at the Barley Mow Pub in Almonte.
The primary focus is on traditional songs with choruses such as sea shanties and old gospel tunes. The session is built on the idea that we spend so much time listening to highly produced commercial music that we’ve lost the experience of singing for ourselves. We attempt to revive the days when people would gather round the kitchen table or in a local pub and sing and play for their own pleasure. That is also why we emphasize songs with choruses. The stronger singers lead and sing the verses, and everyone gets to join in on the choruses.
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A number of people have asked about "the rules" for the session and without being too rigid, we focus on traditional songs with choruses. The idea is for the stronger singers to provide a foundation for others to sing along. For this reason, it is best if the person leading the song knows it pretty much by heart -- if you like to keep the words in front of you as a safety net, that's okay. It's also a good idea to bring a few copies of the words of the chorus for those who might not have heard the song before and to teach the chorus by singing through it a couple of extra times the first time through to help people learn it.
We generally go around the room and ask each person if they would like to lead a song. After the first couple of rounds we will sometimes hear a solo piece that someone has been working on. We have been getting between ten and twenty people for each session with anywhere from five to ten of those leading songs. Typically we get around the room three times or four times depending on the turnout.
A word about instruments (other than voice). The original idea was that all of the singing would be 'a cappella' (unaccompanied), but we've since relaxed that to welcome the odd guitar, accordion, etc. The guideline is that it's okay to accompany yourself on a song that you're leading, otherwise wait until asked and refrain from continuous playing in between songs.
There can be a lot of latitude in defining what is traditional. As a starting point, here is a definition lifted from the http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/ web site:
Traditional music consists of songs and tunes which have been performed, by custom, over a long period (usually several generations). They are most often folk songs, country dance or similar types of folk music but they can also be pieces from known early composers and may have been the "pop music" of their time. Traditional music (or public domain) is also used as a copyright status covering music which is out of copyright.
See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traditional_songs. I like the emphasis there on "oral tradition" - the idea of learning from someone else and then making it your own. Traditional songs are also "regional" - they have a texture that grows out of a specific time and place.
That said, the founding principle of the session is to create an opportunity for people to sing in an informal and relaxed atmosphere - to experience music and singing as something you do yourself - not just "consumed". So bring an old song you've been singing years, learn one that you've always wanted to sing or just come out and sing the choruses - but come and SING!
Directions to the Barley Mow Pub
The Barley Mow pub, 79 Little Bridge Street, is right on the river, in behind the Thoburn Mill and there is also access off the main street (Mill St.) just up fom the Post Office - look for the stone archway that leads down to the pub. For a map and directions, see this map. On Sundays, you can park in the Post Office parking lot and it's just a short walk through the park (literally) to the pub.