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What do you do on Sunday afternoons? A Sunday Sessions Update.

I get asked this a lot and it isn't something with a quick, easy answer. Heres a couple hundred words or so that might help...


THE HONEYSUCKLE SUNDAY SESSION


‘Honeysuckle Days’ go back 14 years, to 2010, taking their present form a couple of years ago, post pandemic, and making use of the studio and live room. Originally an occasional get together, a weekly ‘band practice’ became the ‘Tuesday Club’, ‘Thursday Club’, and - after the hiatus of the CoVid era, ‘The Sunday Session’.


Moving suddenly from a fixed practice session for four regulars, the session became a different beast altogether - not exactly an open mic, not quite a jam session - but needing to find some form of structure. It is essentially an easy going collaboration of whomever turns up, which isn’t easy to explain to potential new members, so some structure was needed.


Is it an Open Mic? All too often, open mics are intimidating - you get up, play through your three songs and you sit down again. Most people in the room are talking, buying drinks, whatever, and there is little sense of playing to an audience, aside from a handful of others waiting on their turn, and who may give some feedback and support. Feedback and support is the best thing to have, and that element is one I want for the Sunday Session.


Is it a Jam, then? Jam Sessions also have their issues - a bunch of people all trying to play all of a song, all doing their own thing is a big, musical tangle needing to be unpicked and arranged. Taking several players and throwing them into a song only a couple are a little familiar with is not the best plan though it can be - for want of a better word - ‘fun’. Making art of any kind is never fun, intrinsically it is a serious business, but that element of exhilaration that can be found when playing along with others is another main ingredient I want from the Sessions.


Coming to a session, be prepared to either perform a song or two with an attentive audience of a handful of others some with more experience and skills, some with less, or be prepared to join in with an impromptu band - with a lead sheet to follow if needed, and likely an arrangement that assigns your instrument and/or voice a part.  If you’d like others to play a part in your songs it’s a good idea to have a lead sheet with you so bass, for example, can know their part. There’s a photo-copier, if needed - and lead sheets can be prepared for you if you let me know in advance what is needed.  Transposing keys can often be done on the fly, for singers wanting their preferred pitch, for horn players etc.

No-one is expected to play on every song but if they want to, there is a structure to shoe horn them in.  It’s an approach that supplies the remaining ingredient for our Sunday Sessions - education. If everyone leaves with a sense of having learned something, improved a skill or two, or of having contributed to others learning and improving - and especially if both, that’s great.


Who's it for ? All skill levels welcome. Ideal for learners, for anyone wanting to practice for open mics or gigs, for trying out new material, or for simply meeting like minded musical folk.


The setup: a loose circle (more an oblong!), I may set a room mic centrally.


The Studio: I created the studio to develop songs and I’ve added stuff to facilitate playing with a bunch of friends, and for tracking and mixing. As a Studio, it’s a Development Studio, a resource to get projects to the point where they are ready for professional tracking and mixing, looking for a recording deal or just wanting to get stuff demoed, online, etc.


Technicals: There is a PA, when needed. There are guitar amps (2), acoustic amps (4), plenty of mics. A keyboard (not to mention a harmonium), there’s a Roland drum machine, sundry percussions, and a big Boss looper (3 channels). It’s also possible to play samples, and also to play backing tracks for Singers who would like to use them. Backing tracks can be prepped for you if you let me know in advance - there’s a small fee involved for this. Clicks and cues can also be prepared ahead.


Specials: The Studio Challenge. If you have a song that’s record-ready, book the Studio Challenge slot. You’ll get one run through and two takes. Your tracked song will be given a ‘static mix’ (a basic balanced mix) and can be sent to TheVoiceFM’s StreetLive show for an airing. The Challenge is restricted to solo artists and duos - there isn’t time to setup for a full band.


And Finally: I started the Sunday sessions since its the one afternoon when I go into ‘the room’ to make myself practice, learn stuff, generally unwind. You’re welcome to drop by and join in. Sundays 2-6pm. For more info from Jeremy call 07898 626076.

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