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Collapse of the Folk Clubs

Les in Chorlton 01 May 07 - 04:53 AM
George Papavgeris 01 May 07 - 05:07 AM
GUEST,It was the the raffle 01 May 07 - 05:14 AM
Pilgrim 01 May 07 - 05:25 AM
Les in Chorlton 01 May 07 - 05:26 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 01 May 07 - 05:29 AM
bubblyrat 01 May 07 - 05:43 AM
Sandra in Sydney 01 May 07 - 05:49 AM
Betsy 01 May 07 - 06:30 AM
GUEST,Helen 01 May 07 - 07:46 AM
Grab 01 May 07 - 07:49 AM
Liz the Squeak 01 May 07 - 08:00 AM
Mark Dowding 01 May 07 - 08:05 AM
GUEST,It was the raffle 01 May 07 - 08:14 AM
GUEST,Sooz (at work) 01 May 07 - 08:24 AM
Les in Chorlton 01 May 07 - 08:37 AM
Leadfingers 01 May 07 - 09:08 AM
McGrath of Harlow 01 May 07 - 09:25 AM
GUEST,RamblinStu 01 May 07 - 09:27 AM
Liz the Squeak 01 May 07 - 09:30 AM
George Papavgeris 01 May 07 - 09:48 AM
Folkie 01 May 07 - 09:57 AM
Tim theTwangler 01 May 07 - 10:07 AM
greg stephens 01 May 07 - 10:13 AM
Tim theTwangler 01 May 07 - 10:14 AM
Grimmy 01 May 07 - 10:42 AM
Folkiedave 01 May 07 - 11:13 AM
Grimmy 01 May 07 - 11:45 AM
14fret 01 May 07 - 11:49 AM
GUEST,Geoff Wright 01 May 07 - 11:56 AM
concertina ceol 01 May 07 - 11:57 AM
Folkiedave 01 May 07 - 12:32 PM
greg stephens 01 May 07 - 12:35 PM
Dave Sutherland 01 May 07 - 12:47 PM
Darowyn 01 May 07 - 12:53 PM
Richard Bridge 01 May 07 - 01:03 PM
GUEST,SINSULL at work 01 May 07 - 01:05 PM
MikeofNorthumbria 01 May 07 - 01:16 PM
The Sandman 01 May 07 - 01:49 PM
Big Al Whittle 01 May 07 - 01:54 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 01 May 07 - 01:58 PM
GUEST,wordy 01 May 07 - 02:19 PM
The Borchester Echo 01 May 07 - 02:31 PM
Mikefule 01 May 07 - 02:34 PM
henryclem 01 May 07 - 03:25 PM
GUEST,Warwick Slade 01 May 07 - 03:52 PM
greg stephens 01 May 07 - 04:01 PM
GUEST,Warwick Slade 01 May 07 - 04:06 PM
Bernard 01 May 07 - 04:24 PM
GUEST,Terry McDonald 01 May 07 - 05:37 PM
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Subject: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 01 May 07 - 04:53 AM

In the late '60s through to the late 70's thousands and thousands of Folk Clubs existed. Almost every town and city and lots of vil-lages had clubs.

Then they started to close - many never to re-open. Why did the Folk Club scene collapse?

I offer:

1. The quality of some, many?, was low
2. Their is a limit to the number of times anyone can enjoy the cannon of "popular folk songs"
3. It was a generational thing - we all went off to have children
4. The climate of 80s Thatcherism was running elswhere
5. Punk was much more exciting and then them New Romantics?

Things are looking more promising at the moment but what can we learn from last time?


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 01 May 07 - 05:07 AM

No 3, then No 1 for me. But all of those have surely played their role, with different people.

The biggest single block for the future IMHO is still the generational thing; I mean, that it is viewed as a pastime for a certain generation, by many. Sort of like knitting or baking. This gets exacerbated by many club organisers simply wanting to preserve what they are used to, and are resistant to change or moving outside their comfort zone.

Old clubs that have broken the mould, and new ones inventing "new moulds" for the younger generations, stand the better chance, I think.


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: GUEST,It was the the raffle
Date: 01 May 07 - 05:14 AM

Why did the Folk Club scene collapse?

Simple answer is that it didn't.


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: Pilgrim
Date: 01 May 07 - 05:25 AM

In the Manchester area, I can go to a folk club any night of the week I choose. If I visit my sister in York at the weekend, the situation is the same. When I went on a training course in Milton Keynes, I just put Folk Club Milton Keynes in google and found a terrific little session in The Cannon, Newport Pagnell for that night. I'm in Liverpool tomorrow night and there is a session listed on Folk Orbit very close to where I will be. Coincidence, or indicative of a scene that, rather than collapsed, is flourishing? I know where my vote lies.


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 01 May 07 - 05:26 AM

Perhaps collapse is too strong a word but a lot of clubs closed How many are left from a high point? 20% 10%?


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 01 May 07 - 05:29 AM

Raffleperson, maybe you're right that collapse is too strong a word, but Napper tells me of the good old days when you could tour for a whole week in just Cornwall, say, or East Scotland. Towns had dozens of clubs, and many people went to a different one every night of the week. Now the distance between clubs seems almost to be defined as double the length of time people are prepared to drive home afterwards - like the distribution of market towns being defined by a day's walk. George is right. That's why we've started the new clubs e-list, and can only hope that a lifeltime's wisdom on what makes a good club good will be passed to new hands.


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: bubblyrat
Date: 01 May 07 - 05:43 AM

I come from Henley-On-Thames, and,years ago, in the sixties, that area was a folk "wilderness ", no club, no local musicians, no morris sides, or none of those three that I ever saw or heard of !! But nowadays, it"s BRILLIANT !! Nearby Nettlebed has one of the premier folk-clubs in the country, and equally nearby Wallingford has at least 3 pub sessions a month, usually with Bill McKinnon, and of course the annual Bunkfest. Then there"s "Readifolk" every week at Caversham, and Knowl Hill isn"t that far away for seeing Leadfingers ( and George !! ).   What next ??---The Cookham Cloggers? The Rotherfield Rappers?? Mapledurham Molly ?? Who knows?? ( I moved back to Henley to live YESTERDAY ( !! ) , so lots of things to go to and see now, I"m glad to say ! )


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 01 May 07 - 05:49 AM

Fashions change - and generations rise & fall -

I have a good friend who had a folkie flatmate in the 70's & was overwhelmed with folk music, till he ran away! He won't come to my club, but he has enjoyed the singing at my birthday parties.

I have a newspaper clipping somewhere advertising a festival. It has an interview with a High School Irish band (The Forrs! - well, there are 4 of them) & they said all their friends thought Folk Music was for Seniors.

Greater Sydney now has 9 or 10 clubs spread between the coast & mountains, and an unknown number of Irish & other sessions in pubs, there would have been dozens in the 70's. The Bush Music Club's walls are covered with posters from long past concerts, festivals & folk clubs.

sandra


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: Betsy
Date: 01 May 07 - 06:30 AM

The concern is that there are not many young 'uns going to them , and if they don't learn the songs, tunes and dances , what was it all for?.
Any young 'uns that are any good - instantly go to the concert circuit.
They should get Folk into into school - and learn to play enjoyable music skiffly stuff / make their own tea chest base(s)- get them playing music for fun and see what rubs off   
Aye,the big problem was ,lots of us had Kids ,(and worked too
f#¤%king hard / mortgages etc. etc !!! ) but now it's a pleasure to drop in to a Club, where many people who didn't play or sing in their younger days are doing exactly that.
There's always money for Opera, Classical Jazz , and all that sort of stuff , but mention our own roots music and they all become sophisticated and cite that it would be socially devisive to encourage such narrow tastes as Folk Music.


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: GUEST,Helen
Date: 01 May 07 - 07:46 AM

My guess is that there are about half the clubs now compared to say 1980 (perhaps 250 - 300 rather than 600.) But the big difference for me is university/college clubs. In the 70's every Uni had a club. Now ...? But things aren't so bad. Here in the NE I can certainly still get to a club every night of the week within easy travelling distance(although that is now probably 30 miles rather than 3!) and for some days there are choices of clubs. New ones opening round here as well and some young blood. But I agree with Betsy. School introduced so many of us to it and that doesn't happen anymore. Fashion plays a part too - Fairport & Steeleye were 'cool' when I was young. Groups like the Corrs nowadays are doing the same job of capturing the imagination in todays teens/twenties.


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: Grab
Date: 01 May 07 - 07:49 AM

Tom, would that mean that the rise in the use of cars and the tendency to travel further afield for a session has contributed, then?

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 01 May 07 - 08:00 AM

I'm sure that the demise of compulsory music lessons in primary education has played a large part in the reduction of folk and accoustic music, just as the withdrawal of domestic science lessons has lead to a huge rise in food poisoning and poor nutrition.

The lack of all inclusive music lessons has meant that children of all backgrounds are only exposed to the music of their peers. If your house is filled with folk music, they'll assimilate it, but if all their school friends are playing hip hop, garage, house or rap, that's what they'll be interested in. When was the last time you heard a kid in a playground or at a bus stop demand their co-horts listen to the latest Martin Carthy record?

Limpit attends a school that has a huge interest in music - there are several choirs, orchestra, recorder lessons, violin lessons - but there is no time when the whole class sit together and learn to appreciate the music of history or the music of geography. Consequently, she is only interested in the music she is exposed to by her peers and by us.

She has expressed an interest in folk songs, she's even sung one in public at the age of 5, but her school friends have had no exposure to folk music, so she gets laughed at; as a result, she distances herself from it and has turned headbanger (my influence... sorry!).

I'm sure she'll 'return to the true path' as it were, because we'll continue to expose her to ceilidhs, folk CDs and singarounds, but it could take some time.. after all, when did you learn to ignore those who laughed at you and to walk your own path?

LTS


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: Mark Dowding
Date: 01 May 07 - 08:05 AM

I don't know how many mudcatters are music teachers in school - not sure if music in primary/junior school is still part of the curriculum (or even secondary school come to that) but I know a couple of music teachers who get pissed off when somebody wants to hi-jack their lesson to get someone in to show them a load of instruments and sing a few songs. It means that whatever the teacher had planned goes out of the window. The music lesson is always the one that other teachers pull pupils out of for other activities whatever they might be.
I'd be interested to know what the opinion of teachers is regarding importing folkies into the music lesson. There will probably be a bias towards favouring this because of the nature of this forum but if anybody feels the same as the people I've spoken to then please feel free to vent your spleen!

Cheers
Mark


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: GUEST,It was the raffle
Date: 01 May 07 - 08:14 AM

Raffleperson, maybe you're right that collapse is too strong a word, but Napper tells me of the good old days when you could tour for a whole week in just Cornwall, say, or East Scotland.

What we are comparing here is boom and bust.

In many ways (for a form of music making that has always existed and always will) - the 'boom' is far worse that the so-called 'bust'.


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: GUEST,Sooz (at work)
Date: 01 May 07 - 08:24 AM

In my secondary school, all Year 7 - 9 pupils have a music lesson every week. They learn music theory and have a chance to try composition etc. (I'm not a music teacher but I do run a choir of sorts.)
With the support of our headteacher, we have concerts for the whole community as often as my stamina allows. The artist(s) perform to anyone who wants to buy a ticket in the evening but I try to have a session in the afternoon for smallish groups of pupils who are vaguely interested. These have included: Y7 pupils hugely enjoying a mini-concert from Tanglefoot, GCSE pupils singing in French and Spanish with Flossie, Y9 leaning about song writing from Jez Lowe and a largish group of Y9's doing an Irish dance workshop with Damhsa.
I would rate our folk club as successful but rather exclusive so this is a good way of bring live music into the school and local community. (I try not to use the word "folk"!)
I don't really want to try to enforce change on the club. Afterall, it is a club for its members and it supplies what they want at the moment, even if it may not always be what I might want.


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 01 May 07 - 08:37 AM

I don't think either the first or second revival were much driven by people's experience of folk music at school. Changes in education policy are many and varied but it's hard to see if they matter much.

It's not uncommon for people who want something to happen or to be supported to think "Lets get it into schools". I have witnessed teaching packs called:

White fish across the curriculum
Concrete across the curriculum
savings, investments, insurance and pensions for Infants!

I kid you not.

Folk was, is and I think will remain "alternative" perhaps we need to stress this side but keep it a bit of a secret?


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: Leadfingers
Date: 01 May 07 - 09:08 AM

One reason why there are fewer Clubs now is that the Pubs have changed! The very few that still have a function room seem to want more for the use of the room tha a lot of clubs can afford to pay Guests !! And so many have knocked walls out to make one BIG bar , with NO space for a Pay To Enter club !


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 May 07 - 09:25 AM

Any time schools start trying to support any type of music that is liable to be disastrous for it, apart maybe for a tiny number of fast track performers.

Much better to have it denounced and banned.

It seems young people want to do stuff that they feel their parents know nothing about and don't approve of. That should mean that, provided we can get it seen as a bit dangerous and generally unsavoury, the next generation along should get quite interested in folk music.

Meanwhile there is probably far more actual music being played, and played far better, than was ever the case in the time of the last folk boom.


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: GUEST,RamblinStu
Date: 01 May 07 - 09:27 AM

Les from Chorlton, started this thread by asking why folk clubs declined after the 60's and 70's.

I was a young folkie and I attended and played in folk clubs back then, and thoroughly enjoyed both the clubs and the music, but as things must, the music evolved. Some folkies went electric, some folkies went heavy and the folk music of the time diversified into many different forms.

I went off in a totally different direction, sold my soul to the devil.

Thank goodness some people maintained the traditions of folk music and folk clubs, because the clubs have survived. I am glad because six years ago I returned to folk music, and many others are also returning.
The clubs that I visit in South East England are all thriving, the festivals are thriving.

What we should learn from the 60's and 70's is that music will always evolve and change; it is the nature of the beast. So lets us all enjoy the moments we have now in 2007, because currently there is an awful lot of very good music to be listened to.


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 01 May 07 - 09:30 AM

So if we make folk music naughty and offensive like most Rap seems to be, it would suddenly be all over the place?? I'll start learning the Chastity Belt again!

LTS


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 01 May 07 - 09:48 AM

To lead into the dance - the Cotswolds Massive, followed by the Gangsta Rappas.


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: Folkie
Date: 01 May 07 - 09:57 AM

The inferior clubs have died but the best ones are still going strong. Cheltenham Folk Club was packed out last Friday for Belshazzars Feast and the Somers Folk Club in Worcester which is a singers club is usually full.


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: Tim theTwangler
Date: 01 May 07 - 10:07 AM

Inferior clubs Best ones?
Well done sooz what we need is a sooz in every school and getting paid for it.
I am hoping to visit a club in Hartlepool later this month any one heard of it?
IS called the Pool or something similar they sound fun folks


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: greg stephens
Date: 01 May 07 - 10:13 AM

A few reasons:
1) Crazes happen. They pass. They may come again
2) In the 70's a lot of clubs became taken over by people playing new forms of music(which their adherents labelled, confusingly, "folk"). Naturally when the proportions of the new music outweighed the the original, people who liked folk (original definition) started leaving in droves. Unfortunately,many of them were not interested in the new stuff, and there was no law to say they should be. New people came in keen to try out their own compositions(or to listen to others'), but not in sufficient numbers to replace those they had driven out. The new people shouted abuse at the oldtimers, calling them folknazis. Not surprisingly, they left even quicker. QED.
3) The rise of the session. A lot of people found different ways to perform and enjoy their music( they took the music out of the folkclub seedbeds and released the plants into the wild, if you will). They liked what they had set up, and never(or rarely) went back to the clubs.


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: Tim theTwangler
Date: 01 May 07 - 10:14 AM

Pools Folk and accoustic club actually.
Any one been.
RE this thread I meant to say have seen afew on this subject and In my opinion there needs to be a lkittle deffinition as to whether our opinions pertain to left or right bank of the Atlantic,and what it is that makes a club good or bad and what we mean by the term collapse of the folk scene.
Sorry but lately if you are prepared to look around,ask on the cat and of the locals you can usually find somewhere to go and play,sing or listen in mast parts of the UK.
The other point needing clarification is.
Does the opener refer to clubs or clubs where you can get paid to play?


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: Grimmy
Date: 01 May 07 - 10:42 AM

Hey greg, some of those self-same clubs were actually started "by people playing new forms of music".

There are some hereabouts who seem to be trying to perpetuate the myth that if clubs had stayed traditional then there'd be one on every high street today, bursting at the seams. Get real!

If, like me, you want folk music to be around in 100 years' time, then you need to ask yourself just why the "proportions of the new music outweighed the the original" because therein lies the key to its survival.

Adapt or die.


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: Folkiedave
Date: 01 May 07 - 11:13 AM

I started getting into folk in the early sixties. Well, Ok then, very early sixties. I went to hear political folk songs and found myself listening to traditional stuff instead. I loved it.

What I would like to suggest is that there are many more people making music now then there ever was. In the "old " days, people played guitar, the odd person played fiddle and some banjo, that was it. There were few competing sessions, few festivals and so on. The first Keele Festival was 1965 and apart from Sidmouth and IVFDF I don't remember any others.

The dance scene was restricted to EFDSS dances, often to recorded music.

Compare to now - dozens of festivals, all with top line artists, more melodeon players than you can shake a stick at, fiddlers fiddling everywhere etc. Dances to bands like Whapweasel, Hekety, Bedlam. Sessions all over the place. Young bands like Devil's Interval, Kerfuffle etc.

Whilst I know it doesn't say precisely that - the thread seems to indicate the folk scene is dying along with the clubs.

From my aged position it is just the opposite. Sheffield does not really support a "traditional format" folk club. But sessions most nights, excellent dances thanks to the Ceilidh Soc. etc etc.


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: Grimmy
Date: 01 May 07 - 11:45 AM

Quite so, Dave. The future's not as black as it's sometimes painted.

It is also more instructive to compare the number of clubs now with, say, 1950 than with the 60's and 70's when the folk boom was at its height.

Remember also that folk (in the UK) has had to compete with the Beatles etc of the 60's, Clapton, Led Zep etc of the 70's, Motown, Reggae, Rock, Punk, New Age and goodness knows what else besides.

And it's still going strong.


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: 14fret
Date: 01 May 07 - 11:49 AM

It's fashion, it's the folk police/nazis. The '70s etc; were open minded, open policy. From Blues to Bluegrass and all the stops between.
Then the 'folkies' stipulated that it wasn't 'folk' unless it came from your roots! How far do yours spread? 10, 20, 30 miles.
Let's keep it really parochial and myopic, say, 7.5 mlies and disappear up our own district.


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: GUEST,Geoff Wright
Date: 01 May 07 - 11:56 AM


As a 50-something, I remember folk clubs had a standard of singing (probably governed by the standard of singing and playing in popular music, somtimes missing today). I don't find that same standard in many clubs on a non-guest night - in fact I dread having to listen to bad singers so rarely attend round-the-room singers clubs, prefering to go to guest nights. (Obviously there are still some with even higher standards than 30 years ago).
In those days, you went down the pit, you ate, you went to the pub for the evening so the folk club was quite a natural thing to go to. In this high-speed age there are many more pressures on our time and pubs are no longer as conducive (unless they sell real ale).

On the other hand, there were few folk sessions then and even fewer folk dances then (due to the amount of WMClubs running dancing and some attititudes of the EFDSS), so as a budding musician I learnt my trade playing for Old Tyme, Latin, Sequence etc in clubs.
As WMClubs with dancing became the minority, I moved more into ceilidh, and nowadays have more work than I can cope with - so the folk scene is not all doom and gloom. Tune sessions abound, many of a very high standard which are well attended.


There are still a host of modern artists setting the standard for singing - listen, learn and apply some of it in your local folk club tonight.

p.s.
I am not anti-singing, I am out doing it tonight at a trad club - I just have an aversion to unprepared or unrehearsed singers.


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: concertina ceol
Date: 01 May 07 - 11:57 AM

Err.. Folkdave - Kiveton Park folk club should be open tonight as it has been every tuesday for several decades... I would class that as very much a "traditional format" club.

But I agree with the rest of your post. The scene has moved on, it has become more commercial, people like to go to festivals with big name artists. Also venues have become different. There are very few pubs round me with function rooms as the pubs have been adapted so they can serve food. This means it is much harder to find a venue with a bar that you can run a folk club in.


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: Folkiedave
Date: 01 May 07 - 12:32 PM

Hi And Let me apologise to Kiveton, you are absolutely correct and I have spent many a happy hour there.

What I meant to write was "Sheffield City Centre", where there used to be clubs at the Grapes, Three Cranes, Red Deer, Shakespeare, etc...


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: greg stephens
Date: 01 May 07 - 12:35 PM

It's no good saying what you think ought to have happened in history. Things did happen, whether they were Good Things or Bad Things. Maybe the traddies should have embraced the new. But they didn't.Or to be precise, a lot of them did, but a lot of them didn't. People left, and not enough new blood came in to replace them, overall. Obviously in some clubs things worked out fine, but not in all. So there was a decline. Arithmetic, not right and wrong. Yes, it would have been lovely if everyone had liked all the new songs being written and everybody had loved each other. But you can't make people like contempoarary folk if they like old folk and new rock taste is not a matter of argument or compulsion.
   I was not part of that change, one way or the other. In the 70's and 80's I was writing new music, but not in folk clubs.And I was playing trad music for dancing, not for listening to in folk clubs. I was no folk nazi saying what should be sung, neither was I a singer song-writer inflicting my diary on others(to take the two stereotypes that get trotted out in these arguments). But I did observe what was going on, from a distance.
There are places to play folk music in other than folk clubs and folk festivals: the places folk music has always been performed. Taking a broader picture than just the folk clubs, I'm sure the audience for folk music is larger and more diverse now than it was in 1965.


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 01 May 07 - 12:47 PM

When I lived in the North East it was quite possible to have the choice to attend up to three different clubs on the same night every night of the week. Some were traditionally biased others had a broader outlook (in fact for ten years I helped to run a folk and blues club up there)but nobody worried about it. When I moved to Nottingham in 1978 I found less clubs there than back home so I suppose we were more fortunate. Like many fellow folkies, in the early eighties, I was to experience the majority of social/economic upheavals mentioned in the original thread which certainly curtailed time to spend in the folk clubs. This was also the period when Martin Carthy described the folk scene as becoming "flabby and constipated" and what I saw in place of the excitemennt of the two previous decades were clubs with an "anything goes" attitude and a general lowering of standards. All the items previously mentioned like the lack of function rooms in pubs and the enormous prices charged by some pubs who still have them plus the countless counter attractions for young people that have sprung up in the last twenty years have, of course, taken their toll on the folk clubs which when I was in my teens was one of the few places that you could go to hear live music. Thankfully the good clubs of today are coaxing some folkies of previous years back to the fold and that is certainly the case of the club which I have been involved with for the last sixteen years through the good and bad times and currently the very, very good times. However we have been told that we are "too traditional" so we must be doing something wrong.


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: Darowyn
Date: 01 May 07 - 12:53 PM

It's perfectly obvious, the demise of Folk clubs was caused by narrow minded trad folkies insisting on playing nothing but their boring old songs.

t's perfectly obvious, the demise of Folk clubs was caused by narrow minded talentless guitar strummers who insisted on polluting the tradition with miserable songs about their girlfriend leaving.

Delete where inapplicable.

Now, once we have got over the usual squabbles, it is worth looking at the bigger picture. During the same period, live music venues of every kind have vanished. A semi pro rock/covers band could make a full time living playing clubs at one time. Venues seem to have polarised into tiny and huge, and there are precious few folk performers who would fill the NEC, or Wembley- and not many pop acts either- unless they have massive marketing budgets or TV exposure. As concertina Ceol says music is commercial at that level.
For those who play without payment, in the tiny venues- commercial pressure has had its effect there too as Ceol says. The other aspect which struck me on visiting a pub that does run a Folk Club is what a dump the old style traditional pub is. Why should I go out and sit in a room which is shabbier and dirtier and less comfortable than my own house? Bare boards and oak benches might have been OK when people lived in houses floored with flagstones. So my final conclusion is that the demise of folk clubs was caused by the widespread adoption of the sofa.
Cheers
Dave


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 01 May 07 - 01:03 PM

Sex. In a folk club you sidle up quietly, make some conversation between songs, it takes time to get to the leaping on stage.

As the pill generation widened its intake and instant sex became the myth and maybe in some cases the reality of wiggly music clubs, guess where people went to get laid?


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: GUEST,SINSULL at work
Date: 01 May 07 - 01:05 PM

Discos disappeared too - they went out of fashion.


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: MikeofNorthumbria
Date: 01 May 07 - 01:16 PM

Perhaps it's true that there are fewer folk clubs now than there were in the 1960s - but has anybody actually counted? It does seem to be the case that the average age of punters and performers at folk clubs is higher now than it was then - probably because quite a lot of them are the same people, grown somewhat older, if not any wiser. (Me, for one.) Nevertheless, there are compensations.

There are certainly far more festivals, sessions and ceilidhs on offer now than there were then. We also have access to far more recordings, covering a much broader range of musical genres and styles under the umbrella of "folk". And while the number of youngsters actively involved in folk music may be relatively small, the quality of music some of these kids produce is astonishingly good. All in all, I don't think we should be too downhearted.

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: The Sandman
Date: 01 May 07 - 01:49 PM

on my easter tour,three out of five clubs were well attended,40 plus,they showed no signs of collapsing.


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 01 May 07 - 01:54 PM

The charismatic people who spearheaded the folk revival MacColl, Pete Seeger, Dylan, Baez, Jansch. these people were songwriters as well as performers of traditional material. these were the people who initially persuaded us there might be something in this folk music business.

In actual fact those people did more to popularise traditional material than many of the so called traditional singers.

If you look at the thread on AL Lloyd you will see pretty much what happened in my opinion. Gangs of middle class types who had read one or two books appointed themselves experts. they went round aping the mannerisms of traditional singers regardless of whether it would communicate with the audiences. In fact, when the audiences started voting with their feet - this was taken as proof positive that they were performing 'real' folk music.

Follow the lloyd thread and you will see these same people with vigour defending their bailliewick.

When I started performing in the 70's the pressure was intense to adopt a daft traditional accent and DADGAD tuning on your guitar.

Most of the people who started when I did, just gave up on the situation. Basically we lost a generation or two or maybe three of John Martyns, Davy Grahams and Bert Jansch's.


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 01 May 07 - 01:58 PM

It would seem, to me, to be good practice to wait until confirmation of the patient's death before proceeding with the burial.

Folk clubs may, for many and diverse reasons, be struggling. They are not now, nor are they likely to be at the point of collapse.

These things seem to run naturally in cycles, and there are numerous indications that there is an ongoing upturn in what one might call "home made music", i.e. sessions.

There will be a knock on effect on public interest in the kind of songs which still have, wait for it, MELODY.

That's us folks!....and off we go again.

Some of us are old enough to have seen more than on cycle.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: GUEST,wordy
Date: 01 May 07 - 02:19 PM

A lot of what are called folk clubs today would not have been classed as folk clubs in the 70's. Sessions are not folk clubs in the 70's sense. There was a huge nationwide circuit of clubs that employed proffesional performers and provided them with a good living. it was a bit of a musical free for all, but you got to see great writers, singers and comedians for a rather small entrance fee.
As the more successful writers, singers and comedians left the clubs the writers, singers and comedians who had previously been floor singers began to take over and the audience drifted away to have children.
The explosion of talent that was the 60's and 70's was unique in its breadth. Today the young musicians mostly play better than we did, but I don't hear them writing better, or entertaining better.
The festival has become less about the music in many (but not all) cases, and more about being a lifestyle statement. Something for the weekend, but not for life.
The pubs have not helped, many installing sound systems that make playing upstairs an impossibility, and a more sophisticated generation don't want the spit and sawdust. Today, there are so many things for people to do in their own homes, let alone for a night out, that the circuit we had can never be rebuilt.
Basically for those of us there at the beginning of the Folk club boom it was a tremendously exciting and innovative time. If the young folkies today organise themselves as we did they could have the same fun, but too many of the new performers seem to want to be "stars" without paying their dues or organising venues.
I hear this from arts centres and clubs I play. The things they want provided backstage that they list in their contracts really make me laugh!
Folk music was sexy back then and I know so many marriages begun in folk clubs. So, that's what the young have to do. Make it sexy, organise, pay their dues and work bloody hard.....and even then they might make enough to just about live!


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 01 May 07 - 02:31 PM

I hadn't read any books till I started working at the EFDSS in 1969 and discovered there was a whole library of them. (Except, that is, for one book I found in Helston library while doing a summer holiday job). I thought I'd made a fantastic discovery and did Jennifer Gentle & Rosemary to death till someone told be that it was not only a Child ballad but the Harvard Prof's #1 hit).

Prior to that, I'd learned from my grandfather who had played many, many years previously for a then long defunct Morris side (now revived) and for village dances. Our extended family ridiculed him and me and I was packed off to a convent to rid me of my genuine (not daft) North-East accent. I didn't actually know that what I was learning was f*lk music. Nor did my grandfather, I don't think. Fortunately.

I went to stage-school classes at a miners' institute after school with the Ellwood family. Didn't realise THAT was f*lk either. Nor did anyone. We learned Northumbrian clogging and how to sing show tunes. Didn't realise till much later when working at said EFDSS that the Ellwoods were 'famous f*lkies'. To some.

And then I'd rush through homework or get in done in school time just to slope off to The Bridge in Newcastle at night. Not because it was a 'f*lk' club or session (don't think we knew the words) but because it was such fun getting into the pub well under age.

The music I have grown up with has been an integral part of my life. Not an add-on 'entertainment'.


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: Mikefule
Date: 01 May 07 - 02:34 PM

When I was first interested in folk music in about 1980, there were several busy clubs in and around Nottingham - and very many dance sides too. But I couldn't help noticing there was a huge overlap of membership. Some people were at a different club or out with a different side several nights a week.

Lose one of those people and (s)he counts as several - one fewer at each club or side that they would normally attend.

Darwinian selection then cuts in: the remaining people gravitate towards the best adapted clubs - those that are accessible, in decent pubs, with good beer. The less well adapted clubs become marginalised and fade. And anyone trying a folk club for the first time who turns up at a fading club has all his or her worst preconceptions confirmed: a half-hearted meeting of a few drab people in a drab pub. Is a first time visitor likely to try a different club, or give up on the idea? I suspect many do the latter.

I had several years when I was not involved in folk clubs at all, then I started to visit a few. Most of the ones I visited were poor shadows of the ones I remembered. I would have given up on the idea if a friend had not encouraged me to go to Grand Union Folk. That one club seldom has fewer than 25 people present, most of whom can sing or play pretty well. They have guest nights with 50 or more in the audience, and I have seen the "Folk Club Full" sign up at least once.

Too many clubs was the problem. It was great while the in crowd was young enough and fit enough (and rich enough) to sustain them all, but I am sure the sheer number of clubs contributed to the decline of the scene as weaker clubs were a poor advertisement to new people wanting to try folk music for themselves.

The hardest thing is to see ourselves as others really see us.


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: henryclem
Date: 01 May 07 - 03:25 PM

I've had 40-odd years of Folk Clubs - when I first started (late 60's in West London, clubs tended to have headline guests 3 weeks out of 4, and only their residents tended to get a spot otherwise (how I first came across Don Shepherd, at Hammersmith). I wouldn't have dared to get up and sing then; indeed it was not until I came down to ChipSod that I found clubs which were much more encouraging in allowing me to get started. Some would argue that I don't do folk anyway but all I know is that my songs don't fit anywhere else but in an acoustic - and predominately folk setting (club or festival session). There is no shortage of clubs within driving distance for me - Devizes or Bristol (The Nova Scotia)Monday; Bradford on Avon Tuesday, Highworth every other Wednesday, Corsham or Minchinhampton Thursday, Swindon or Shortwood Friday; a bit further afield the Litton club thrives on a
Wednesday. Every one of these venues has a genuine vibe of its own which I am sure comes to a great extent from those who organise and sustain the clubs. Maybe its our area but I have never experienced anything less than a welcome, nor has anyone ever suggested that my songs are out of place because of some strict definition of what music is permissible in the context of a particular club.

I am not a professional performer, but I enjoy doing a couple of songs of an evening. I don't find it onerous to listen to other people who fall into the same category. I reckon a number of small clubs (limited by the size of the venue as much as anything) do struggle to survive because they are dependent on their weekly singaround takings to subsidise the occasional "name" guest nights. It's a 65 mile round trip for me to get to Devizes but to me its a club well worth supporting for the quality of its regulars (best choruses around) and the calibre of its guests.   I feel if I am going there for guest nights I should be putting something back in by attending other times as well. There are always times when attendances dip, for no obvious reason, and it is surely the weekly regulars who keep the clubs going, not those who simply go along on guest nights.

Folk clubs do come and go - we had a club which was struggling but at least ticking along but then ... they put a full-size snooker table in the middle of the room. No loss of interest in the music, just a lot of bad backs from having to crouch down in order to see past the gigantic suspended light ...

The better attended clubs, around here at least, may well offer a much wider spread of acoustic music than the old folk club, but folk is still the major element in the music on offer week in week out. No-one is being driven away by (a) the wrong sort of music or (b) poor quality performers of whatever ilk. It's when there is an perceived policy of exclusion for either category that numbers decline and may well lead to collapse.

It always surprises me when "folkies" appear to demand to be entertained to the highest standards of professionalism every minute of their deigning to attend a club ... this is not an attitude I have encountered amongst the pros themselves, who show interest and offer encouragement to many of the floor singers they encounter - they know what clubs survive and thrive on.


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: GUEST,Warwick Slade
Date: 01 May 07 - 03:52 PM

I feel one reason for the demise of the Folk Clubs is the lack of back rooms in pubs. They all want to be open spaces serving food.
We, in Wimborne, are fortuate enough to have our own room in a British Legion club and a singaround club has grown into a venue for good quality music making. We leave the other clubs in the area to book the 'stars' of the folk world while we enjoy a cross-section of music. However anyone under 50 needs a note from their parents.


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: greg stephens
Date: 01 May 07 - 04:01 PM

I would hazard a guess that in the heyday of the clubs, say 1965, less than 10% of people went to folk clubs in cars. And now, less than 10% go to folk clubs without them. So the loss of beer sales must be enormous. Which must surely explain why landlords are not all mad keen to make space available for that sort of thing.


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: GUEST,Warwick Slade
Date: 01 May 07 - 04:06 PM

Very good point, and the 10% that drove cars still drank!


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: Bernard
Date: 01 May 07 - 04:24 PM

A very successful club in the 1960s was held at the Cattle Market pub in Bolton, and Bob Williamson was involved in the running of it.

The club closed around 1970 because the owner of the pub was reluctant to spend money bringing the upstairs room up to the required standard for fire regulations, which needed to be met for the (then) new music licensing.

Sometimes things that are working for us work against us.

The Open Door folk club in Oldham is barely hanging on to an existence, mainly because we cannot find a suitable pub. Whilst the Royal Oak is very pleasant, very clean, and very welcoming, the room is tiny.

Happily, the Railway at Lymm is blessed with a good sized upstairs room, and welcoming pub staff. The club is thriving, but the room isn't very 'disabled-friendly'. I suppose it only needs someone to complain, and we'll be forced to close because there's nowhere else to go...


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Subject: RE: Collapse of the Folk Clubs
From: GUEST,Terry McDonald
Date: 01 May 07 - 05:37 PM

I agree with my friend and colleague Warwick Slade about Wimborne, but as someone who returned to the 'folk scene' after a long absence (playing 'barn dances' in a folk band for fifteen years isn't being part of the scene!) I was struck by a num from their seatber of differences from the heady days of the 1965-1975 period. Firstly, the 'singaround' format, where everyone takes a turn, rather than getting on the stage or standing up in front of everyine to do their 'spot.' Secondly, it's common for people to have their words in front of them - when did the law change to allow this? Thirdly, most clubs in this part of Dorset are monthly (Wimborne's one of the exceptions) and are usually in very rural locations. Unknown in 'my time', when the Wessex and Free Xpress were Bournemouth based,and the other local clubs were also in the towns, e.g. Dorchester, every Thursday. Now Dorchester is a monthly (singaround) club. All enjoyable, but not what I think of as 'proper' clubs.

I agree with those who make the 'generational' point. I was always struck by the similarities between folk the trad jazz boom of the late 50s/early 60s. A generation took up a musical style and many stayed with it throughout their lives. I was originally a jazz musician (well...guitar and banjo in a trad band) before gravitating to my natural home, folk, and when I used to go and hear our local hero, Gerry Brown and the Mission Hall at a local hotel, I saw many of the people who who'd been stalwarts of the jazz scene in Bournemouth 45 or more years ago. Coming back into folk song, I found many people who I'd not seen since about 1975.


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