I’m fairly new to Plymouth having only got here nine months ago from Cambridge, but I was quickly able to find a very lively sessions scene with something to do several times a week. I’ve not made it to all the sessions I’m aware of yet, but I thought I’d do a quick synopsis of what I’ve found.
Monthly Session, First Sunday at The Dolphin
This very well attended and lively session at The Dolphin on the Barbican, Plymouth’s historic harbour, is often standing room only. Musicians are usually starting to gather at 1pm and the session is usually in full swing by 2pm.
Music mix is probably 70% Irish with some strong Fiddle, Banjo and Accordion players playing a good mixed repertoire of the standard session classics alongside the less well known tune. Standard is upper intermediate with many of the regulars coming from some of the many local bands.
The pub itself is a proper unspoiled boozer: Bass is served from casks behind the bar, there’s always a fire going and although no food is served, you’re welcome to being in food from outside to enjoy with your drinks – a fish and chips lunch before the session is common.
A fun lively session with some great playing and a great atmosphere
Monthly Session, Second Monday at The Dolphin
The Dolphin hosts two well attended sessions, the second session of the month is the second Monday evening of the month, starting at 8pm. This is generally not as busy as the Sunday afternoon but there is always a friendly crowd and it’s not been unknown for the session to continue in some of the later bars after the pub has closed.
This is very much a mixed session, with an equal mix of songs and tunes, coming mainly from the English and Irish traditions. Instruments regularly in evidence include fiddles, a few whistles, at least one banjo, a couple of English and Anglo Concertinas, a regular Hurdy Gurdy and occasionally a couple of Cellos.
Shanty Session, Third Tuesday at The Fortescue
Paul runs a well attended Song and Shanty Session at The Fortescue on Mutley Plain. Unsuprisingly, Plymouth has a strong shanty and sea song tradition and this is well reflected in this session with some great rousing chorus songs.
The pub itself is award winning and often considered the best pub in Plymouth with a great mix of real ales on cask.
Folk at The Fort, Fourth Tuesday at The Fortescue
Another session at The Fortescue, this one a good mix of tunes and songs with some overlap with the Dolphin Monday night session. Always busy and often standing room only.
There’s many more that I haven’t made it out to yet:
- Tuesdays at The Artillery Arms: Song and Tune Session
- Second Sunday: Folk at The Drake Manor, Buckland Monachorum
- Third Sunday: Devonport Folk Session at The Stoke Inn
I’m sure I’m missing a lot more! If I’ve missed your favourite session in or around Plymouth, tell me about it in the comments below – or better still, add it to the calendar!