Eighth Annual

Princeton Traditional Music Festival

Friday 14 to Sunday 16 August ~ 2015


Irish Jam

Almost every year the Traditional Music Festival has featured an Irish Jam session. A jam is when a bunch of musicians get together and play tunes. The session will be hosted by Irish flute player Chris Corrigan from Bowen Island who will coordinate the jamming and tell the audience about the tunes and the protocols of jamming. He will be joined onstage by Blackthorn and the Irish Wakers, two Celtic quartets from Vancouver, Barbara and David Denz from Campbell River, Stewart Hendrickson, Valerie Cohen, and Brad Reynolds, all from Seattle, Just Tyme, a Celtic duo from Kelowna, John Walsh, an uilleann pipes player from Vancouver and the Psycho Acoustic Ceili Band who play for the Friday evening street dance.

The reason all these people from all these different places (some of them have never met before) can spontaneously play music together is because they share the common language of Irish traditional music. If someone in the group plays the first few notes of a tune the others will immediately recognize it and begin playing along. The people listed above will be joined by many others: the stage for this workshop tends to get very crowded! The session is only 55 minutes long, much shorter than a typical jam, which can go on for hours.

The Irish jam at the Festival is actually a very artificial imitation of what happens at these kinds of sessions, particularly in Ireland. Sessions typically take place in pubs and a pub owner might have one or two musicians paid to come regularly in order for the session to have a base. Sessions can also be held in homes or at other public places. Often at a festival, sessions will be got together in the beer tent or other convenient corners. When a particularly large musical event "takes over" an entire village, spontaneous sessions may erupt on the street corners.

In a session someone starts a tune, and those who know it join in. Good session etiquette requires not playing if one does not know the tune, and waiting until a tune one knows comes along. The objective in a session is not to provide music for an audience of passive listeners; although the “punters” (non-playing attendees) often come for the express purpose of listening, the music is essentially for the musicians themselves. The session is thus not a performance but a musical “conversation” shared by a community of musicians. Sessions are the heart of traditional music; they also enable less advanced musicians to practice in a group.

Socially, sessions have often been compared to an evening of playing card games, where the conversation and camaraderie are an essential component. In many rural communities in Ireland, sessions are an integral part of community life.

Tunes in a session are played in “sets”, the first tune being followed by another two or three tunes. The art of putting together a set is hard to put into words, but the tunes must flow from one to another in terms of key and melodic structure, without being so similar as to all sound the same. When the set ends, someone will usually start another.

The Irish Jam is just one item on the rich menu of music available at the Princeton Traditional Music Festival. The Festival begins at 6:15 pm on Friday 14 August with an opening ceremony and a participatory dance on Veterans’ Way. On Saturday and Sunday there is music from 10 am until 6 pm right in downtown Princeton. It’s all free and everyone is welcome. If you would like to find out more, visit the Festival’s website at www.princetontraditional.org. If you’d like to help out at the Festival or billet a performer the committee would love to hear from you.

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The Festival

Admission is FREE.  Events are held on several stages in the centre of Princeton and begin on Friday evening with a public street dance and an Irish ceili band. Between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday there's a potpourri of concerts, workshops, and jams.

The Scene

This event is primarily for and about the performers. Traditional Music lacks venue in the west, so players, singers, dancers, and fans are willing to travel in order to meet up. Professional performers are making personal sacrifices in order to be here, but the many people who come just to listen attests to the unique value of this event. For those new to the Festival please have a look at the Our Story page to learn about how it started and what Traditional Music means to us.


The Place

Nestled among rolling hills of ranchland, the little town of Princeton is the gateway to the Okanagan. About 300 km from Vancouver, it is the first town after Hope along the Crowsnest Highway. Summers are hot and dry - just what we like for our festival which takes place mostly in the streets.


In addition to the sponsors, this festival is primarily supported by hard work and artists who perform for free. However, we aim to pay for artist's meals and at least part of their transportation costs. Please consider contributing in order to help maintain this important cultural event.

Become a Member

You can support the continuing operation of the festival by buying a $10 membership.


Every year we need a stage crew, MCs, office staff, and many other important helpers. If you want to be part of this exciting event in this way, please let us know. volunteers@princetontraditional.org


We encourage the sale of food, crafts, art, and more at the Festival. Please contact the Vendor Coordinator. vendors@princetontraditional.org


Funding for the Festival comes from donations, as well as grants from the Town of Princeton, the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, and the Province of British Columbia.

We thank you all!

Festival Audience



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