An enormous part of the festival, and the welcoming vibe that pours of Stromness’ hostelries, is its pub sessions – informal, social gatherings of musicians, often over a dram or two, which run throughout the weekend, breaking only to allow a few hours’ kip.
Whilst we arrange for most of the visiting acts to lead tunes at some point over the weekend, sessions are very much are organic affairs that quickly take on a life of their own – they are not performances. Joining in is very much encouraged and it’s not uncommon for a midday session to end at closing time, creating one-off collaborations, as well as meetings and exchanges of traditions and tunes along the way.
It may even be that a session’s natural momentum is that strong that a band due to take the reins might not even be able to squeeze their way in – but that’s absolutely fine by us. If the tunes are already in full flow, they will always take precedent.
Despite the best will in the world, true session magic can’t be planned, and we’re very lucky to have the town of Stromness providing the ideal backdrop for tunes all day, every day.