Mudcat Café message #2553958 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #116964   Message #2553958
Posted By: Will Fly
31-Jan-09 - 05:18 PM
Thread Name: Why folk clubs are dying
Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
The implication was that people were knowingly performing badly because they didn't care. Would you say that was true of the performers at that club? They seem to work in isolation so may honestly feel they are giving of their best if they have little to compare themselves with.

Most folk clubs are very supportive and friendly places - which is great because, if they weren't, many of us would never have had a place to get started as performers in the first place. I certainly wouldn't. Most folk clubs have a core of regular audience members, some of whom will be regular performers. When these performers get up to do their piece(s), they will usually get very warm and enthuiastic applause from the audience. The whole evening is friendly and cosy. Nothing wrong with that whatsoever.

However, there's a potential drawback with this. At its best, you get an evening of good singing and/or playing, with enough dedicated and competent performers to make it worth while (as WLD might say) to shift your arse away from the telly for the evening. At its worst, however, the whole ethos of the club is so lacking in discrimination and so smug that you get a whole string of poor performers who seem to have no sense of their poorness. And because the club is warm and inviting and cosy and everyone knows everyone else and everyone's used to it being like that for 1,000 years, no-one cares. Except me?

Let's be clear: when I see a performer who is obviously a beginner, obviously nervous and shaky, my heart goes out to him/her. I worry for them. I want them to get through it successfully and, when they've finished, I try to show my appreciation of their effort. Note the phrase: "their effort". Because they remind me of meself 40+ years ago. What gets my ageing goat are those who, by their smug demeanour, think they're adequate - actually sometimes think they're very good - when, in fact, they're not. And they can sometimes be experienced - and even being paid a guest fee.

So what's the remedy? Well, to return to the nub of your question: if they have little to compare themselves with. Hmm. This surely can't be true? There's just so much excellence around - in good clubs, on radio and TV - on YouTube - on CD - on DVD. Surely we each have powers of discrimination? Surely we have role models? When I was starting to play guitar, I had so many role models that I wanted to be like that I drove myself crazy trying to be like them - Merle Travis, Doc Watson, Django Reinhardt, Davy Graham, Big Bill Broonzy, Rev. Gary Davis... The list goes on and on and - grows: Richard Thompson, Duck Baker, Martin Simpson - it never ends, for God's sake. I'm still driving myself crazy - but I have improved a little, I think. And so have many others - because we listened, we wanted to be like our role models - and because we weren't we tried a little harder. We could tell the difference between what we sounded like and what our role models sounded like. We may have failed to attain the giddy heights that we'd aimed for - but at least we tried!