A Celtic jamfest crowded Port Fairy’s Surf Club as musician’s circled for a special covenant at the 2014 Port Fairy Folk Festival.
Some obligatory intoxicated Irishmen at the well-stocked bar were quickly hushed, by an outraged matron, for this was not a time for glorious revelry.
It seemed more akin to the attending of a church mass, judging by the hushed expectancy of the crowded audience.
An intricate murmuring of sound gathered pace from the musicians in an upwelling of tempo, made rapid by the play of many hands, before becoming subdued, almost reverent.
Like an ancient dance at some remote Irish crossroad the musicians teased out sounds in a complex challenge, a secret exchange of knowledge and skill where music advanced or retreated as players took up play, or bowed aside respectfully .
There was no singing, no words seem needed for this old way of knowing, where music sounds are woven into tempest as intricately as some Celtic image adorning an ancient text.
Musicians joined and departed the sacred circle in an intricate interchange of instruments, darting and weaving their way throw the crowded throng.
Only the musician’s knew who leads off and asking only annoys fellow observers as they strain to catch the intricate play.
This Celtic jam seemed a serious interchange of age-old traditions where musicians pay homage to their peers and fellows, and audiences are almost superfluous.
Leaving the jam early seems akin to departing mass too soon– one almost expect the hand of some almighty something to catch you back for the things you will miss.
A bracing south-easterly wind outside Port Fairy’s surf club didn’t shake the uneasy sense of having just experienced some ancient ancestral soul call, conjured up by musical hands teasing out age-old secrets in a Celtic jam.