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View Full Version : Anyone else going to St. Louis this weekend?



withak
Mar-29-2004, 9:02pm
Is anyone else going to the St. Louis tionol (http://www.tionol.org) this weekend? There are sessions Friday night, Saturday night, and Sunday; a concert Saturday evening; and workshops during the day on Saturday. John Carty is doing a banjo/mandolin workshop so I'm taking the opportunity to not be completely self-taught (or self-ignorant). I'll be the funny-looking redhead guy, probably with a banjo.

I only remember seeing one banjo and one or two other mandolins at the sessions last year.

John Flynn
Mar-30-2004, 9:15am
I am of Irish descent, interested in Irish music, I live in St. Louis and I hadn't even heard about it, LOL! I am tempted to go. Have you been to one before?

GBG
Mar-30-2004, 10:18am
You need to go. Drag ole Curtis along with you. I wish I could go too.

John Flynn
Mar-30-2004, 10:25am
Good recommendation. Unfortunately, Curtis has an out of town gig, but I plan to go.

GBG
Mar-30-2004, 10:30am
Give us a report on the event. I visit kin folk 1-2 times a year in the St. Louis area. If it is a good festival, I'll plan a trip to St. Louis this time next year.

John Flynn
Mar-30-2004, 1:28pm
GBG:

Will do. Let me know the the next time you are in town. We can do some pickin'. I can either get us to a jam that is already happening, or look into putting one together.

John Flynn
Mar-30-2004, 1:33pm
Also FYI for everyone: I just exchanged emails with the event organizer and he said that they have space in the mandolin/banjo workshop Saturday. Walk-ins would be welcome. BTW, I assume they mean Irish tenor banjo and not the dreaded 5-string "b@^&o" we seem to love to hate here on the Cafe'!

withak
Mar-30-2004, 3:47pm
I am of Irish descent, interested in Irish music, I live in St. Louis and I hadn't even heard about it, LOL! I am tempted to go. Have you been to one before?
I went last year too. If you are already in St. Louis, even if you don't want to play it would probably be worth the trip just to go and listen to the music at the sessions Friday or Saturday night at the St. Louis Taproom (somewhere a bit west of downtown) or Sunday morning and afternoon at McGurk's (a block or two from the AB brewery). There's addresses and times somewhere on the site here: http://www.tionol.org. From what I remember, the beer at the Taproom is worth the trip by itself.

The sessions Friday and Saturday night pretty much fill up the whole place, probably four or five different sessions spread around the 3-story bar. You might still be able to get tickets to the concert Saturday night, but I think they usually sell out.

There wasn't any kind of mandolin workshop last year, so I went to one that was basically a slow session that wasn't really worth the registration fee (for me, at least). I wasn't planning on going to the workshops this year until I saw that there was a banjo/mandolin one. Hopefully that will be a bit more interesting than last year.

mikeyes
Mar-31-2004, 6:40pm
I'll be going to the workshop and the sessions before and after. Since it is a mandolin and banjo workshop I will be the guy with the mandolin-banjo. That should cut down on class size. <G>

I am eager to see how he integrates the two instruments. I know of at least four others who will be there.

Mike Keyes

steve V. johnson
Apr-01-2004, 8:44pm
I've been to Tionol for the last three years and it is a MUST GO on my spring/summer festival list.

John Carty is most known here as a fiddler, but in Ireland he is much better known as a banjo player. I heard him play mandolin in Killarney in a session, back in Febr, and he ROCKS, so don't worry about bringing a mando (and don't worry if you have a 5-str banjo, either! Just come!!!)

This year the teachers are all stellar, the sessions are mighty and forget about sleeping. The food at the TapRoom at the Schlafly brewery is great, as are the beers!

One guy called Mike Mullins, the promoter, to ask if there were going to be any other zouk players there... He was afraid of being the only one! LOL!! I know of a fellow from Nebraska coming, (bringing a zouk I sold him!) and I know of two others, so there will be a good, good time.

And, consider signing up for a course that's a bit outside your experience. If nothing else, spend some time with Paddy O'Brien in the "sessions" course! Paddy is a treasure, knows more tunes than almost anyone and is a wonderful man and Master button accordionist. Pat Egan's ballad class is sure to be grand, and Ged Foley's guitar class will help anyone accompanying tunes or singers.

Sorry, I'm gushing now, but I can't WAIT!! WooooHooo!

stv

withak
Apr-02-2004, 11:37am
One guy called Mike Mullins, the promoter, to ask if there were going to be any other zouk players there... He was afraid of being the only one! LOL!! I know of a fellow from Nebraska coming, (bringing a zouk I sold him!) and I know of two others, so there will be a good, good time.
I'm pretty sure there's a bouzouki player coming from Champaign as well.

John Flynn
Apr-05-2004, 1:41pm
Give us a report on the event. I visit kin folk 1-2 times a year in the St. Louis area. If it is a good festival, I'll plan a trip to St. Louis this time next year.
Here is my report: I thought the event was very well organized and well attended. It was also a great value for the cost. The venues were all very nice. The workshop leaders were amazing players. I was quite impressed with the talent they got to teach and perform. The mando/banjo workshop was taught by John Carty, who played the 4 string tenor banjo, which was tuned GDAE, so the mando players had no problem following. There must have been about 20 participants in mando/banjo, including everyone from beginners to some really fine players. One humorous moment occured when two Irish pipers who apparently know John C and wanted to get a rise out of him, stood outside our door and played "Dueling Banjos" on the pipes!

I did have a couple of challenges: I am a solid intermediate player who has held his own at many old-time, bluegrass, folk and rock jams over the years. Even so, I found even the slow sessions and the workshop moved too fast for someone who is new to Irish music. I felt like I was "drinking from a firehose" at every turn. I also found that at least this event did not seem to have the same tradition we have in old-time where if a beginner shows up and is polite and keeps a low profile, which I did, people would naturally help them out. In old-time, we will intentionally move to sit so a beginner has a clear view of our fretboard or call out chords to rhythm players. No one was cutting anyone those kinds of breaks at this event, even in the slow sessions. Also, a couple of times I had to explain to someone that I was new to Irish music and really didn't know much yet. When someone makes that kind of admission in old-time, again, we tend to be empathetic and welcoming. At this event, I felt people tended to shut you out. Just MHO.

If I wanted to go to this event next year, I would spend the next 12 months learning all the standard Irish session tunes, attend some local sessions and if I could get the info soon enough, I would get the CDs of my workshop instructor and try to at least develop an ear for his style and hopefully learn some of his tunes. Even then, I would expect it to be a challenge.

GBG
Apr-05-2004, 2:31pm
Thanks for the report. Even with the mixed review I think I still would like to attend this festival at least one time. I know I could hear some good music and probably put down plenty of Harp and Guinness.

John Flynn
Apr-05-2004, 2:42pm
I know I could hear some good music and probably put down plenty of Harp and Guinness.
You could do that if you just had access to a CD player and a liquor store! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Seriously, I think that would be a good call. I will strongly consider going next year also. One of my problems this year was that I only heard about the event a few days before it happened and I already had some things planned that weekend. Next time, I will plan in some prep time beforehand and some "hangover time" during the weekend!

mikeyes
Apr-05-2004, 5:31pm
I have to agree that the John Carty course was geared a little towards the more experienced players but the experience of seeing him play was worth the price ($75) several times over. Those one day workshops are hard for everyone as they cram in so much and the level of proficiency is so varied. If you decide to go to one of these, bring a recording device, you will refer to it for years.
A class like this is also better if there are only three or four students because the teacher gets to know you a little better and will tailor the class. You also get to meet all the others in the class and talk to them.
Overall it was a good class for me.

As for the sessions, Irish sessions tend to be very orthodox at these events and the leaders frown on bringing in music, calling chords (besides, if there are chord instuments there, no two musicians play the same chords anyway), or having musicians play harmony or noodle along. In BG and OT you can do that and no one will notice. In ITM you may find the music nazis there in full force. Not in every session, of course, but it does occur.
You will have to bring your own Guinness to the official session as it was held in a micro-brewery that did not serve Guinness. The American Pale Ale was good, though.

TimPiazza
Apr-05-2004, 11:31pm
Well, I sorta attended Tionol. ;-) I really didn't have the weekend free, so I took Friday off and took my new Indian for its maiden cruise--200 miles each way, and a mando strapped to the saddlebags. I got to the Tap Room just in time for the Friday night concert, then while the ceili was going on, somebody told me there was a session in the hallway. It turned out to be a blast! I found a spot in the middle and played for about three and a half hours before catching a ride back to my hotel. There were some really fine players, and there were at least two groups of folk who knew each other and each other's tunes. I was lucky that one of the groups was made up of folks I play with regularly.

I'm sure the session went on for a few hours longer, but I was already starting to feel the effects of 4 pints of oatmeal stout and I didn't relish 200 miles of open road with a hang-over.

I met Mike Keyes there, though we didn't get much of a chance to talk, and another mando player from St. Louis who had never heard of Comando. The space we were in was tight--it was an L-shaped hallway with an elevator at one end. The room was lined with musicians, and a crowd stood outside listening. There may have been more sessions going on in the building, but I didn't know about them.

I capped off the trip by finding a 50 year old button accordion in great shape for a yard sale price. It isn't good for irish, but it'll probably be great for musette.

mikeyes
Apr-06-2004, 10:02am
Tim, You brought that gorgeous black faced Gibson on a motorcycle? You are a better man than I am as I tend to be a wimp when it comes to taking my instruments anywhere.

There were at least three other sessions going on and a dance all at the same time. The session we were at on Friday was very friendly and worth being at even if I could only see half the musicians (the other half were around the corner, very weird).

Mike Keyes

John Flynn
Apr-06-2004, 10:12am
I should have been in that session. I was in the session on the third floor, which was listed on the program as the "slow session." Unfortunately, it was not slow or friendly. Oh well...

withak
Apr-06-2004, 2:31pm
John Carty and Ged Foley played a concert at a bar here in Champaign on Sunday night right after the festival. John mostly played fiddle for the concert, but a few people talked them into an impromptu session after the concert so I got a chance to hear him play some more banjo. Ged Foley is quite a fiddler as well.

As far as the workshop went it did seem to be geared more towards non-beginner players, but with a group that size there isn't really a way to please everyone. Personally, I preferred the way he did it. I went to the general session playing workshop last year and it was pretty slow.

I wish they would have found a place for the Friday night and Saturday night sessions that stayed open later. The group I was with didn't get there until 11:30 or 12 Friday night and they closed at 1. They were supposed to be open until 3 on Saturday but because of DST they kicked everyone out at 2. They also had half of the bar closed off because of a private party. On the plus side, we learned that hotel exercise rooms make great places for sessions in the wee hours of the morning if you don't want a visit from the night manager for being with two pipers playing in a hotel room at 4am.

The sessions at McGurks were a blast. How often do you get a chance to play with Gray Larson, Mary Bergin, and Tim Britton all at once? It still blows my mind that you can go to these kinds of things and sit down and play with world-class musicians like that.

steve V. johnson
Apr-07-2004, 2:18am
I'm pretty sure there's a bouzouki player coming from Champaign as well.
If you meant Matt Stewart, he wasn't there, tho Lisa Boucher was...

stv

withak
Apr-07-2004, 9:24am
If you meant Matt Stewart, he wasn't there, tho Lisa Boucher was...

Yeah, I thought he was going to come with us but he didn't make it.

TimPiazza
Apr-07-2004, 11:19pm
Tim, #You brought that gorgeous black faced Gibson on a motorcycle? #You are a better man than I am as I tend to be a wimp when it comes to taking my instruments anywhere.
Yeah, I suppose it sounds a little crazy, but I couldn't bring myself to haul out a "lesser" mando. The instrument definitely inspires me to play my best. I actually bought that one so that I wouldn't be taking my "same year" F4 into bars. If I close my eyes, it plays identical, and almost sounds identical.

It actually travelled surprisingly well. It was a little out of tune when I got to St. Louis, but not by much. I found an even better way to strap it onto the bike for the ride home. I suppose one could argue that the vibration from a V-Twin helps the mando's tone "open up".

Just to keep things in perspective, if I had dumped the bike for any reason, the mando would have been the least of my worries.

TimPiazza
Apr-07-2004, 11:38pm
There were at least three other sessions going on and a dance all at the same time. #The session we were at on Friday was very friendly and worth being at even if I could only see half the musicians (the other half were around the corner, very weird).
When a friend told me about the sessiun, I thought it was in another room. Boy was I surprised when I found out it was the hallway to the elevator. I can only imagine what those people who were trying to get off the elevator on that floor were thinking.

The banjo player was in the best position for the sessiun, and good thing, too. He was a solid player and kept things from splitting into two groups.

I was pretty fortunate because from where I was standing, I was always near 3-6 people that I knew from a sessiun on the Illinois-Indiana border, and when there was a tune that was new to me, I could look down and watch the fingers of the fiddler sitting next to me.

It was a friendly sessiun, and I just figured they were all like that. It surprises me a little to hear it was different in some places. I think we had the fortune of two groups of people who knew each other well and it would have been difficult for anyone to dominate the sessiun under those circumstances.

I don't know if you caught those two young girls playing fiddle when things first started out. They're sisters and they're very good! I've had a chance to play with them a couple times and it's a treat. Their parents are very encouraging, though they don't play themselves.

Tim