I was staying with friends in Havant, UK and they took me to a local Celtic music session at a tavern in King Street, Portsmouth.

The first thing I noticed as I pulled out my pochette (travel violin) is that in fact none of the other fiddles were standard violins either!

A group of unusual fiddles

A group of unusual fiddles

in addition to the viol-like fiddle, the top-corner violin and the guitar-shaped violin, there was my pochette and a baroque-style violin (not pictured).

After introductions I quickly found that I had about 60-70 percent tunes in common and quickly settled in for a very enjoyable session.

Session at King Street Tavern, Portsmouth

Session at King Street Tavern, Portsmouth

Here is another view of the musicians

Session at King Street Tavern, Portsmouth

Session at King Street Tavern, Portsmouth

I was invited to join them at a session in Winchester a few days hence, but sadly, my plans led me in another direction. I had a great night and our friends enjoyed the music too 🙂


After a great welcome at Brendan Mulvihill’s session on Monday I was recommended to try the Tuesday session at McGinty’s Pub – 911 Ellsworth Street Silver Spring. And I wasn’t disappointed. The place is easy to reach on the red metro line and the session runs from about 8.30pm.

McGinty's pub, Washington DC

The pub has Guinness on tap and about 18 other beers if Guinness is not to your taste. The session was in an alcove room around a long table – very close and intimate and away from the distractions of TV and much pf the pub noise.

McGinty's session

Again I was welcomed and introduced around, and there was a lot of curiosity about my pochette fiddle when I pulled it out from the backpack. Some tried to describe it as a cigar box fiddle, but I guess they hadn’t seen the real thing – my pochette is more shaped and has a sculpted belly, unlike the cigar box fiddles. Many commented on the surprising amount of volume I could get out of the instrument.

I’d had dinner at Romano’s Macaroni Grill and welcomed washing my food down with a pint of the good stuff at McGinty’s.

I knew about half of the tunes played and was pleased that they welcomed my starting a couple of tunes – some of which they didn’t know.

And all up I had a great time and even managed to navigate back to the metro station in time to catch the train back to Faragut about three blocks from my hotel. Once again, many thanks for the warm welcome – would that all sessions were as open as the ones I found on my travels this time 🙂