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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Howard Jones UK 60s Folk Club Boom? (1167* d) RE: UK 60s Folk Club Boom? 19 Mar 19

Jim, once again you are shifting the goalposts. No one is suggesting that these songs are "folk" in the VWML/1954 sense. However you agree that some modern songs which do not fit this definition may also be acceptable in folk clubs. The question is which songs are acceptable in folk clubs as "quasi-folk"? The answer is, that depends on the club and on audience members. I doubt that many who attend folk clubs would be surprised to hear "Galway Girl", although at some clubs it might be out of place.

If you are insisting that only modern songs which are so close to traditional songs that they could be mistaken for the real thing are acceptable then I am afraid you are out of step with the practice in most folk clubs for the last half-century or more.

The other question is whether these quasi-folk songs are driving out traditional songs. I don't see this myself, and others agree with me, but neither of us can see the full picture. I am encouraged by the number of young performers seeking to earn a living on the folk scene who are performing and recording traditional songs, which they wouldn't do if they didn't think their audiences would be receptive.

I agree that the reluctance in some quarters to listen to ballads is alarming. However it takes an exceptional singer to deliver a long ballad well, and many club floor singers lack this ability, so it is perhaps understandable. Singers like Martin Carthy and Brian Peters, to name just a couple off the top of my head, are able to include several ballads in their performance sets, so there is a willingness by audiences to listen to ballads when they are performed well.

There are valid concerns about the health of the folk club scene, although I doubt the accuracy of the figure of 186 clubs. However in most cases these are more to do with performance standards than the nature of the material performed, and the willingness of new people to take on the burden of running them as the current organisers get older. Attracting young people to clubs largely populated by older people is more difficult, but they are finding folk in other ways. I hear lots of traditional songs performed by exciting young performers. I am optimistic for the future.

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