Mudcat Café message #2602099 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #119211   Message #2602099
Posted By: Mitch2
01-Apr-09 - 08:24 AM
Thread Name: Tom Bliss Article -So long and thanks
Subject: RE: Tom Bliss Article -So long and thanks
I've just found this thread as I see that my initial post, which was originally a new thread, has been appended to it. I didn't see the original thread so I've duplicated some of what was said there. However- to reply to some of the points raised from my last post...

First, none of what follows is criticism- it is fact, based on my own experiences of playing at clubs throughout the UK.

Go into almost any UK folk club and you'll see a group of mainly 60+ year-olds performing mainly traditional music. If you're a newcomer trying to get gigs, it's easier to get them by playing trad. music, as your audience will already know the songs, or at least be receptive to the genre. You just have to sell your performance. (Yes, and your personality, audience rapport, etc.- let's accept that you have to do that whatever you perform.) If you're playing your own songs you have to make two sales: first the music, then yourself.

As Tom says in his article, clubs are closing or having fewer guest nights. You have to be wearing blinkers NOT to see this. OK, YOUR particular club may be bursting at the seams with a famous guest every week and a constant influx of fresh young new audience members, but if it is, I can assure you that it is the exception! Oh and yes- I know that YOUR club welcomes and books performers of all types of music, including singer-songwriters, so don't rap me on the nuckles; again, you're the odd one out!

I repeat; like Tom, I'm not criticising the club scene- I still love it- or the valiant work of those who keep it going. But if it doesn't attract a young new audience it will inevitably die out, thereby removing the platform for new performers trying to launch their careers.

Compare these scenarios:

1970's - Regular peak-time TV programmes featuring The Spinners, The Corries, Steeleye Span, a weekly late-night programme with John Pearce, mainstream entertainment programmes with guest spots from Jake Thackray, Julie Felix, The Fivepenny Piece and Pentangle. A weekly national 1-hour radio show which includes a live recording from a different folk club each week. Terry Wogan playing Ralph McTell on Radio Two. A national folk magazine (Folk Review) which focuses on the action at club level. A weekly folk page in Melody Maker. Clubs that feature weekly guests and are full every night.

Now - Mike Harding. A scattering of clubs that feature weekly singarounds with 15 people sitting in a circle.

Yes, we have more festivals, and there's nothing wrong with a singaround- I still enjoy them. But they don't raise the profile of the music, and, as I wrote before, the festivals will not survive unless they can draw on new performers from the club circuit- no-one wants to go on seeing the same artists year in and year out, however good they are. Apart from that, how many of today's leading bands and artists will still be going in 20 years?

I STILL love the club circuit and extend my appreciation to those who struggle to keep it running. I will lament its passing.