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Celtic Session

The first Newport Celtic Session was organised by Simon Leverton at the Newport Bowls Club in 2011. It brought together club members with a love of this music (and some tune playing skills), who wanted to be part of a local monthly session. Since then we have maintained a vibrant group of regular players, joined occasionally by “out-of-town” visitors, and a dedicated group of people who come to listen (our fans!).  You’ll get the most out of this group if you have a reasonable level of instrument skill to be able to join in with the tunes we play.  It takes time to build up your tune knowledge so practicing at home is a good idea, as well as a lot of fun.
We always welcome new members.

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Polkas

Dennis Murphy’s
£40 Float
Church Street
Bally Desmond
Davy Knick Knack
Soldier’s Joy
Bill Sullivan’s
Britches Full o’ Stitches
Rose Tree

Nancy
Rakes of Mallow

Portsmouth

Session Etiquette

Simon, or Alison our co-organiser, start each session off and keep it going during the evening.  Other people are welcome, and sometimes invited, to start tunes too.  If you’d like to, best let the session leader know ahead of time to avoid tune congestion. 
We follow a few simple ‘rules’ of etiquette to make sure everyone enjoys themselves and gets to participate, no matter what their level of proficiency.   
First thing is to make sure your instrument is in tune – there are side rooms to do this away from the group, or do it in between tunes/songs but not during them.
We usually play each tune 3 times through (except for really long ones, which are played twice). This rule can sometimes be a bit unruly but the session leader will clarify the situation on the night.
If you’re uncertain of a tune, play a little quieter than normal, and only play the bits you know.  Please avoid guessing notes and hoping that some might be the right ones - this will likely put other players off and spoil their enjoyment.  Make a mental note to practice that tune at home - you'll nail it in no time.

Sets

There are a number of sets of tunes (typically 2 or 3 tunes to a set) we play regularly, and we will go directly from one tune in the set to the next. If the group finishes playing and you know another tune that follows on naturally, then launch into that tune.
The tempo chosen by the person that starts the set is kept throughout (except for Drowsy Maggie which always speeds up – it’s a tradition!). This gives less accomplished players a chance to start a tune or set of tunes at a pace that suits them.

Tempo

We try not to play so fast that hardly anyone else can join in – our session is about participation.  Beginners may find many of the tunes are too fast for them, but with practice and in time they will be joining in more and more – playing an instrument is a journey.  That said, some of us also enjoy playing tunes at or close to dance tempo.  To accommodate the mix of skills in the group, from 2024 we will try something new - run the first half of the session at a slow to moderate pace, and the second half after the supper break at a brisker pace.

New tunes

If you’re introducing a new tune, tell us the key and tune type (eg. a jig in D). You may hand around copies of the sheet music (with chords), although learning by ear is the preferred approach though this does take some time and practice.

Songs too!

Songs are very welcome, and some of us will join in choruses etc. and maybe add some instrumental backing if we can.
Don’t worry if you forget these ‘rules’ – we do too occasionally! We’re a pretty relaxed bunch, so just come along and have fun.

Organisers

Simon Leverton 

Simon has been a member of the Newport Fiddle and Folk club since it began. He has played and sung folk and other kinds of music since his teenage years (when photos were black and white!). He sings, plays guitar, mandolin and fiddle and performs with a range of friends at all sorts of places. He has been in numerous bands over the years, including the bush band Black Sheep where many Celtic tunes were learnt and played.

Alison Dew
Alison is another original member of the Fiddle & Folk Club as well as one of the founding members of the NFFC’s committee. Alison has played music with a passion since she was a child and thanks to the Celtic Session her tin whistle has improved leaps and bounds. She also sings and plays ukulele with the Ukulele Dolls and every Saturday morning with SUNG (Saturday Ukulele Newport Group) at a local café. Coming from an Irish family, Alison grew up with Irish tunes, rhythm and song.

When

7:30pm on the first Friday of each month February - December

See calendar for dates.

Venue

Newport Community Hub

13 Mason St Newport

(Enter via terrace at the side of Paine Reserve.)

Entry

Entry is $5 or $3 for NFFC members.

See our Covid safe policy for entry conditions.

Airs

Planxty Irwin
Inisheer

Waltzes

Tom Bhetty’s

More tunes

The following tunes are ones we play either regularly (in bold), or from time to time.  The session repertoire is constantly changing as members learn new tunes and bring them to the group.

Reels

Drowsie Maggie
Silver Spear
Joe Cooley’s
Bird in the Bush
Sally Gardens
Devil’s Dream
Concertina Reel
High Reel
St Anne’s Reel
Miss Monahan’s
Maid Behind the Bar
Mountain Road
Spootiskerry
Father Kelly’s

Merry Blacksmith

Jigs

Kesh
Lannigan’s Ball

Kid on the Mountain
Over the Oceans
Athol Highlanders
Jimmy Ward’s
Morrisons
Connaughtman’s Rambles
Banish Misfortune
Blackthorn Stick
Rakes of Kildare
Tripping Upstairs
Merrily Kissed the Quaker’s Wife
Miller of Glanmire

Top of Cork Road

Hornpipes

Off to California

Boys of Blue Hill
Harvest Home

Kitty’s Wedding
The Home Ruler
Fairies Hornpipe
Galway Hornpipe
King of the Fairie

Slides

Cock o’ the North
Hundred Pipers

O’Keefe’s

Airs

Planxty Irwin
Inisheer

Waltzes

Tom Bhetty’s

Where to find even more tunes

One useful source of simple Celtic tunes that has been around for a long time is the publication Begged, Borrowed and Stolen compiled by Chris O’Connor and Suzette Watkins, which can be purchased at Celtic Southern Cross.  It’s a good place to start.

Another fabulous resource is The Session, where almost any tune available is listed, along with downloadable sheet music and a MIDI file.

The Newport Craic

A sub-group of Celtic Session players has formed a performing band called The Newport Craic, which is open to new members.  For more information on this group, go to the Performers page.

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Tunes
Newport Craic
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