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Why folk clubs are dying

GUEST,Howard Jones 16 Dec 08 - 04:23 AM
Folkiedave 16 Dec 08 - 04:16 AM
Jim Carroll 16 Dec 08 - 03:55 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 16 Dec 08 - 03:54 AM
Andy Jackson 16 Dec 08 - 03:44 AM
Richard Bridge 16 Dec 08 - 03:42 AM
fumblefingers 15 Dec 08 - 07:56 PM
Herga Kitty 15 Dec 08 - 07:46 PM
GUEST,Ancient Briton 15 Dec 08 - 07:43 PM
greg stephens 15 Dec 08 - 07:18 PM
GUEST,Howard Jones 15 Dec 08 - 07:05 PM
The Sandman 15 Dec 08 - 06:41 PM
GUEST,Howard Jones 15 Dec 08 - 06:39 PM
The Borchester Echo 15 Dec 08 - 06:33 PM
TheSnail 15 Dec 08 - 06:31 PM
Gervase 15 Dec 08 - 06:15 PM
Stringsinger 15 Dec 08 - 06:13 PM
Richard Bridge 15 Dec 08 - 06:08 PM
TheSnail 15 Dec 08 - 06:06 PM
TheSnail 15 Dec 08 - 06:04 PM
Gervase 15 Dec 08 - 05:48 PM
Banjiman 15 Dec 08 - 05:47 PM
TheSnail 15 Dec 08 - 05:47 PM
Gervase 15 Dec 08 - 05:42 PM
TheSnail 15 Dec 08 - 05:40 PM
Gervase 15 Dec 08 - 05:23 PM
Desert Dancer 15 Dec 08 - 05:20 PM
The Sandman 15 Dec 08 - 05:13 PM
TheSnail 15 Dec 08 - 05:07 PM
The Villan 15 Dec 08 - 05:02 PM
GUEST,Howard Jones 15 Dec 08 - 04:56 PM
VirginiaTam 15 Dec 08 - 04:52 PM
Ruth Archer 15 Dec 08 - 04:42 PM
Andy Jackson 15 Dec 08 - 04:39 PM
VirginiaTam 15 Dec 08 - 04:34 PM
Jim Carroll 15 Dec 08 - 04:28 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 15 Dec 08 - 04:26 PM
GUEST,Howard Jones 15 Dec 08 - 04:20 PM
Joybell 15 Dec 08 - 04:17 PM
The Borchester Echo 15 Dec 08 - 04:11 PM
Gervase 15 Dec 08 - 04:09 PM
TheSnail 15 Dec 08 - 04:02 PM
Folkiedave 15 Dec 08 - 03:42 PM
VirginiaTam 15 Dec 08 - 03:41 PM
GUEST,Howard Jones 15 Dec 08 - 03:33 PM
Waddon Pete 15 Dec 08 - 03:28 PM
Sleepy Rosie 15 Dec 08 - 03:15 PM
Art Thieme 15 Dec 08 - 03:12 PM
Nick 15 Dec 08 - 03:09 PM
Gervase 15 Dec 08 - 03:05 PM
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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 16 Dec 08 - 04:23 AM

A club which has a good average standard of singing can probably accommodate one or two poorer singers. The clubs I started going to in the 1960s were all like that. It's when you get a whole evening of mediocrity or worse that it gets depressing. Furthermore, when those singers are being congratulated and applauded simply for getting up, they won't feel any need to improve, and won't have any standard to aim for.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Folkiedave
Date: 16 Dec 08 - 04:16 AM

Richard - you are allowed to play and sing as much as you like.

But once in a club I do not have the right not to listen. So I would want the standard to be reasonable - in tune and words remembered and preferably not a crib sheet.

The perfect floor singer would take regard of what has just gone before and thus would want a decent repertoire.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Dec 08 - 03:55 AM

I find all this discussion on how to improve the clubs extremely encouraging - but I do wish we could lose this 'two-tier system' mentality
The punter deserving of your best evenings is the one who drags him/herself out in the pissing rain when there ISN'T a guest on - that's when a club becomes a club (and not a concert) and that, as far as I'm concerned, is where the future of the music lies.
I have NEVER at any time advocated excluding anybody from performing; I simply ask that they have enough respect for me (the audience), their fellow performers, the music and themselves to put in enough work beforehand so as not to send me home embarrassed on their behalf. If they are not prepared to do that they have taken the decision to exclude themselves - just as they would have done in any other public-performance based activity.
Virginia - perhaps you might explain why I should have to to be patient and tolerate of bad singing when it lies well within the abilities of most people to become good ones - or don't you believe that to be the case?
By turning clubs into places where people go to practice you are in fact putting the music into the hands of concert organisers - shame on you.
Ruth;
The Critics were working just on their own singing - they never advocated or suggested anything for other singers or clubs (a weakness as far as I'm concerned), but they did pass on as many ideas and experiences to anybody who showed an interest. I set up a workshop in Manchester on the basis of recordings of Critics Group meetings and I know there were others who were assisted to do the same.
In the end, all this boils down to whether you consider the music worth putting in the time and effort to perform it well - some people do, many don't, and some people obviously don't even like it and consider it outdated and irrelevant and use the term 'folk' as a cultural dustbin to bung whatever their own flavour-of-the- month might be. To this latter group - I do wish they'd go away and practice their George Michael/Amy Winehouse impressions and leave the rest of us to get on with it.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 16 Dec 08 - 03:54 AM

Richard, I can't believe that you don't get it.

A folk club which puts on guests is, like it or not, a commercial enterprise. Someone, an individual or small group of people, is risking their own money to hire a room, advertise it, and pay a guest. In most cases they do so not in the hope of making a profit but because they love the music.

What gives you the right to demand that they let you sing?


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Andy Jackson
Date: 16 Dec 08 - 03:44 AM

Your Crap, and you're on next. Oh can you do four, the artist hasn't turned up.

Cheers mate,

Andy


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 16 Dec 08 - 03:42 AM

I can't believe people still don't get it.

The judgment that is impermissible is denying people the liberty to play/sing.

Tell me I'm crap if you want to.

Don't say I'm not allowed to play/sing.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: fumblefingers
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 07:56 PM

Leadfingers: "Is there ANY point me posting anything ?? I thought I had made a sensible comment - 5th post 02.28 pm , and generated not a single response !! If I am posting crap bloody well tell me !!"

Terry,
I read every word and agree with everything you said. Most people, even rednecks like me, are too polite to tell someone they ought to hock the guitar and take up hog calling.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 07:46 PM

Lewes is amazing, because it's not a very big town and it has 2 folk clubs, but it's benefited from a long heritage of local singers and musicians (eg the Copper family). One reason folk clubs are dying is because the rooms they met in are being turned into restaurants, (including the Lewes Arms).

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Ancient Briton
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 07:43 PM

I always thought that most folk clubs were comfort zones where music came second to folk, but I would be sad to see them go as they offer an accessible platform for new talent to perform in a programmed entertainment in front of a wholly attentive audience - something not possible at a session.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: greg stephens
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 07:18 PM

I sense (as usual) that this thread is a bit of a troll wind-up situation. Faye Roche, the instigator and keeper-going, is a professional folk singer apparently, acording to herself. A litle more information please?


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 07:05 PM

I don't think anyone, not even Jim Carroll, is saying that someone should not be allowed to sing at all (although I can think of one or two...)

What I am saying is that there is a time and a place. There are the situations VirginiaTam writes about, where everyone is very friendly and supportive, and the fact that the singers aren't very good, or very talented, or very confident is overlooked. Believe me, I'm not knocking these clubs, they are an important part of what folk music is about. But there is another side, where people visit a folk club expecting to hear good music. If you want to get up and perform in that environment, then you should have a certain amount of ability.

They are different sides of the same coin, but they are different. The problem with some folk clubs is that too many people want to carry the attitude of the first sort of club into the environment of the second sort. It's this which results in floor singers thinking they have a God-given right to perform, and organisers thinking they have to get through all the floor spots before they can put on the guest who people have paid good money to see. It's this which results in the situation the OP complained of, where someone who's gone to listen to good music has to sit through a load of crap.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 06:41 PM

What qualifies you to judge others?[quote Richard Bridge].
nothing, its called subjectivity,it cannot be avoided.
while we may admit certain performers are competent,liking/disliking others[ie making judgements]is often subjective,there are some professional performers who are very competent,but they do nothing for me,thats making a judgement.
the folk club organiser,has every right to decide who he books[thats making ajudgement]and also who he puts on to do a floor spot[thats making a judgement]because he finances the club,he is ultimately responsible for paying the guest.
[As to the rest of you - the bulk of you - I remind you of the prayer of the Pharisee. "I thank thee Lord that I am not as others". Get over yourselves. AFAIK Martin Carthy can always find something nice or encouraging to say. 99.99% (or more) of you are not as good as he is. That includes some of you who seem to think you are. Wake up. Smell the coffee. You aren't. What qualifies you to judge others?]quote Richard Bridge.
sorry, mate, you have just made a judgement yourself.
but thats ok,Richard Bridge is allowed to make judgements, we are not.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 06:39 PM

There is no reason why a club organiser cannot say nice or encouraging things to a would-be performer while at the same time letting them know that they need to improve to deserve a floor spot on a guest night at the club.

I'm not saying that the floor spots on a guest night need to be of professional standard, and I agree that anyone going to a folk club needs to understand how the format works, and that it may be a bit different from anything else they've experienced. But it's not unreasonable to expect that the floorsingers should reach a certain level of competence. Singers nights are a different matter.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 06:33 PM

Exactly what Gervase said. I'm not nearly as good as Martin Carthy or lots of others for that matter. I realised that a very long time ago and I'm far too lazy to practice much and so it's been a long time since since I got up and did something in public and the gaps are becoming longer. But just because I'm not doing much performing these days does not mean I'm not qualified to know what's good and what's crap. Quite the reverse, actually, having watched and listened intently for so long and in so many places. Alongside writing, managing and promoting I think I can managed to separate wheat from chaff. Now that I've just heard that Davy Graham has left this planet I think I'll just weep into a soundhole while playing to remind myself why I gave up.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: TheSnail
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 06:31 PM

Gervase

I'm afraid that went right over your head.

I may not have been paying a lot of attention.

If I'm going to pay money, I want to see people at least make an effort to be half-decent,

Move to Sussex.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Gervase
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 06:15 PM

Sorry Brian, I'm afraid that went right over your head.
Anyway, I'm certainly not good enough to warrant a booking, or possibly even a floorspot at your club.
The thing is, you don't have to be a very good musician or singer to know when someone else isn't very good. If I'm going to pay money, I want to see people at least make an effort to be half-decent, and I don't want to pay to support some sort of care-in-the-community hobby convention. I can go to singarounds and sessions for that, and even join in!


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Stringsinger
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 06:13 PM

Jim Carrol,

I think the answer is two-fold. Education is the first one. People who are not exposed to
traditional folk music need to have it explained to them. The environment has to be right.

Point two, the best environment is not in a coffee house but in a small living room type
gathering where there is intimacy and NO sound system. A sound system is antithetical
to the experience of folk music. When it is introduced, then it becomes a "performance" and not representative of how folk music has traditionally been transmitted. There is nothing
wrong with this, but it is different than the atmosphere necessary to communicate folk music.

The audience must be intimately part of the experience.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 06:08 PM

Please VT - don't elevate me to any sort of guru. I just believe that folk music is important and deserves to be researched and replayed and re-arranged and enjoyed - and that we should all do it as well as we can, trying to do better, keeping life in who we are and where we come from. That does not include stopping other people from doing it.

I am deeply saddened to see one who does deserve to be a guru (at least in terms of research and scholarship) want to shut people out.

I am not surprised to see some others pour acid. They do little else.

As to the rest of you - the bulk of you - I remind you of the prayer of the Pharisee. "I thank thee Lord that I am not as others". Get over yourselves. AFAIK Martin Carthy can always find something nice or encouraging to say. 99.99% (or more) of you are not as good as he is. That includes some of you who seem to think you are. Wake up. Smell the coffee. You aren't. What qualifies you to judge others?


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: TheSnail
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 06:06 PM

Gervase

You couldn't afford me!

I wasn't offering you a booking.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: TheSnail
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 06:04 PM

Banjiman

if you are advertising a folk club as professional entertainment

We aren't, we're advertising a folk club which, for as long as I can remember, has meant a mixture of floorspots and a booked guest (who may or may not be a professional).

Seems to be working OK.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Gervase
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 05:48 PM

Move to Sussex
You couldn't afford me!


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Banjiman
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 05:47 PM

I'm with Jim, Diane and The Villain on this....... if you are advertising a folk club as professional entertainment and charging people to get in they should get professional standard entertainment.



A singaround or session is a completely different thing....fun but different. Never the twain shall meet......if we want to attract a new "audience" for folk music anyway.

We've taken to having a session/ singaround AFTER the main acts at KFFC. This means on the occaisions that we have had none clubbies in they see the "professional" entertainment (usually a headline act + a good quality support) first and we can explain what happens next..... the audience has had its moneysworth and can decide for themselves if they want to stay for the informal stuff or go home.....

Seems to be working OK.

Paul


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: TheSnail
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 05:47 PM

Gervase

I'm buggered if I'm going to give up an evening and drive maybe 50 miles on the off chance of finding a good club!

Move to Sussex.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Gervase
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 05:42 PM

So go to the good ones.
I'm buggered if I'm going to give up an evening and drive maybe 50 miles on the off chance of finding a good club!


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: TheSnail
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 05:40 PM

Captain Birdseye

if clubs allow large numbers of extremely bad singers

WHAAAAT?

Gervase

I have visited many folk clubs. A few are are excellent, many leave something to be desired, and some are simply dire.

So go to the good ones.

I do suggest you leave that little bubble of wondrousness in Sussex

Why? It's nice hear.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Gervase
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 05:23 PM

Mr Snail, I can only conclude that you live inside that parallel universe I mentioned earlier. I have visited many folk clubs. A few are are excellent, many leave something to be desired, and some are simply dire. I do suggest you leave that little bubble of wondrousness in Sussex and walk around a bit.
If you do, I can only infer that you are a pretty undemanding sort of chap with Van Gogh's ear for music.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 05:20 PM

Faye sure put the cat among the pigeons -- then took off, never to return...


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 05:13 PM

Nick ,I have not changed sides,I believe performers should rehearse before performing in public.
I am pretty tolerant towards other performers,there are only a few floor singers that I thought were so bad they shouldnt have been allowed on.
the secret is for the club to be run well,by that I mean the mc exercises some skill,by knowing who his better performers are,and after a weak performer puts on a better one*
this is the problem,if clubs allow large numbers of extremely bad singers,[tone deaf,unable to hold a key],without offering workshops,the singers will not improve,the club will suffer,and the music will suffer,in as much as it will not be an enticement to listeners because the standard is awful.
if I was running a club,I would allow singers providing their instruments were in tune,they could hold a key for the length of a song,that is a pretty low standard,I do not expect amateurs to be as good as professionals.
I prefer if they didnt use word sheets,particularly on guest nights,a goal for new singers to aim towards,to try and work hard to memorise one song for a guest night,its not asking much is it?
if they dont want to do this then they dont sing on a guest night,people pay more money on guest nights,so its not unreasonable to expect a better standard..
From: Captain Birdseye - PM
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 02:10 PM

But, is Faye, comparing like with like,was she paid to perform her competent pop crap?if she was,she is comparing herself to Amateurs who play/sing for the craic/fun.
ok, so there was an admission charge,but there was presumably a guest /guest band,were they not worth the admission charge,were they incompetent?or were they not to her taste?
how much was the charge?
The strength of the folkscene has always been that it is a place where perfomers learn their trade/
Barbara Dickson,Paul Simon,Long John Baldry,Bob Dylan,Roy Harper all learnt the art of performing on the folk club circuit.
NICK,I dont see where I have contradicted myself.
I do believe there should be standards,my standards are probably more tolerant than some others on this thread,but I do believe that if there are only a few bad singers and there are also good ones thats ok.
it is really up to organisers to sort this out,and to give some thought to their presentation of floor singers,however I would still prefer a night of badly performed folk songs to an evening of competent Britney Spears imitators[or whatever FAYE used to imitate],I am not overkeen on either,but one is marginally preferable to the other,its a bit like a choice beteen cold tapioca and cold semolina.
organisers , have to use discretion,folk clubs are the learning ground for novice performers,the organiser has to be able to spot people with potential who are likely to improve,and encourage them,he /she also has to note that maybe a mediocre performer,may go down well with the majority of the members because they are popular people,even if the newcomers [faye and friends] dont like the performance.,the whole shebang is a minefield,does the organiser indulge his members who support him every week,or the disenchanted newcomer.
I think he should allow a few of the not so competent regulars on a guest night,providing he has good singers to intersperse,but make it clear that on a guest night no one has a god given right to perform,but are welcome on a singers night,if there are not many good singers on the guest night,have fewer singers.
I have in the past seen ridiculous situations,where the mc has put the guest on so late,because he thought he had to accomodate floor singers ,that people have had to leave to catch last buses and trains,and the guest has had to play to a reduced audience


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: TheSnail
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 05:07 PM

Gervase

Many places outside Lewes, I should imagine.

Curious that considering we have a policy of giving a floor spot to anyone who wants one.

GUEST,Howard Jones

but as I have stayed well away from them for several years

Yes, I'd noticed that's a common property of people who slag off the current state of folk clubs.

If your experience of clubs is otherwise, count yourself lucky.

Ah, but is it luck?


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: The Villan
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 05:02 PM

I would like to add something to this debate.

As my venue is a concert environment, I need to make sure that the main guest can entertain for 2 x 45 minutes.

The support act is allowed 30 minutes. Why as an organiser would I want to put somebody on that was incapable of doing 30 minutes. I normally expect that they can at least handle 45 minutes or indeed 2 x 45 minutes. They are mainly acts that have a job and do the music in their spare time. What I would call, very good folk club performers that do it for the love of it. The other type are performers who are trying to make it on the scene, who want to platform their abilities. They still need to be competeant singer musicians.

I happen to think that if people are paying decent money to get in, the least I can do is try to make sure they enjoy the evening. They have an expectation and we should do our very best to achieve it.

However, if I go to a folk club, I take what comes and do not have an expectation as I would at my venue. I see a folk club as more of a family type environment, where people are friendly to each other and everybody is allowed to sing. I love those evenings as they have characters and there are lots of good humour and fun. My favourite is Gainsborough Folk Club.

I went to a session once,and felt so out of it, as I am not a singer or musician. It was like sitting on the outside looking in. I understand the issues with a session and have no problem with them as they do a great job for musicians. However that was the first and last time.

Back to the statement "Why Folk Clubs are dying".
I don't beleive they are. If you don't like the folk club style, you probably should be watching concerts.
Folk Clubs are all over the place, but generally have smaller groups of people attending.
I think the statement "Why Folk Clubs are dying" is put by somebody who did not take enough care about ensuring that the people they took along would enjoy that style of music.

Although I run a concert style venue that is mainly folk music, my wife and daughters don't like folk. So I go to folk music on my own. I wouldn't dream of taking somebody to a folk club, unless I was sure they would like that sort of thing.

Hope that all makes sense.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 04:56 PM

"I am not happy that there is rubbish going on in clubs and I agree it does give the genre(?) poor street cred. But I can't (or maybe won't in my pollyanna way) believe it is right or good or healthy to exclude anyone"

But you can't have it both ways. Either you exclude the rubbish, or at least confine it to occasions when it won't frighten the horses, or you have to be happy with it.

There used to be an expectation of reasonably high standards and whilst new singers would be encouraged, there was an expectation that they would try to improve. When I started out, I went to a singers club (where the standard was on the whole pretty good) and a guest club. I'm not sure the first one actually excluded anyone, but there were so many singers that anyone really poor might have to wait some time! At the second I took it for granted that I couldn't expect a floor spot on guest nights. After a while I reached a standard where the organiser would give me a spot - and I was pretty pleased with myself.

I actually don't think it's healthy to offer unqualified applause and encouragement to people who aren't any good. It gives them a false sense of their abilities and removes the incentive for them to improve. It's seen at the extreme in those deluded souls on X-Factor who've been assured by friends and family that they're wonderful and talented and end up humiliating themselves on prime-time TV.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 04:52 PM

Jim

I did answer your question how should we react.

I replied with patience and tolerance.

If you are happy to approach poor performers to offer constructive criticism and advice and can do it kindly and spirit of helpfulness (which I guess from reading you elsewhere on the MC is the case) that is fantastic. Go ahead and do so. I would love it. RB instructs me and I am taking it on board. Slowly, but I am.

It is just Richard said. Please don't tell people they may not sing.


Tom - I wish I did have the answer to your question. All I can say is keep plugging away mate. If I was a billionaire I would make a musician's paradise, where people could make a living doing what they loved and were good at and all wanna be's could learn and hone skills without reproach.

My own planet Folk. Sigh. Then I would be the tyrant.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 04:42 PM

Jim, the point of my comment is that I assumed that music with no standards would have been anthema to the Critics Group. My impression has been that the reason the Critics believed in criticism within the group is because there was a desire to improve the general standard of folk music.

Happy to be corrected. :)


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Andy Jackson
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 04:39 PM

"..........and can't remember words without holding a crib sheet, and so is incapable of interpreting a song because they have to read it? "
Everyone who knows me, knows that I ONLY sing or verse with the words in front of me. Not a "Crib Sheet", bacause that implies cheating. From London Symphony Orchestra to Les Barker, there is a well set precedent for words/music.
To presume lack of interpretation as a natural follow on to having words is an insult. I spent many years running and attending Folk Clubs before I ever sang. I decided that the worst public failing was not getting the words out. Once the performer is seen to falter all the audience confidence is lost, they worry/feel for the performer, getting to the end. Any thought of following the story or getting into the song is lost.
If a singer is using words this at least assures the listener that there will be an end!

As for interpretation this is so much easier to perfect when the printed word is in front of you. I can also read the words of the following verse and if necesssary drop and or alter as I go along. I still have the problem occasionally of seeing the words through the emotion of some of my favourite songs.

As we can see from this thread, we all have different ideas of perfection v performance, and although some may need a humour transplant we are all singing the same song really.

Happy ******mas


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 04:34 PM

Think I am going to have to respectfully disagree on this. It is still a folk club and as such will have floor spots meted out to members whatever their abilities.

Most of the clubs that I've frequented, since I became interested in this music two years or so ago

By her own admission the OP knew what the potential was before she went and got embarrassed in front of her friends.

I am not happy that there is rubbish going on in clubs and I agree it does give the genre(?) poor street cred. But I can't (or maybe won't in my pollyanna way) believe it is right or good or healthy to exclude anyone (except for BNPers - but that is another thread).


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 04:28 PM

"And thus speaks a former member of the Critics."
Sorry Ruth - this one's totally above my head.
The whole basis of The Critic's Group was in working on singing by criticism, analysis and suggesting ways of improvement within the confines of the group. Despite all the flak we got from outside we never took that work outside the confines of our meetings. That was the method used throughout the life of the group because it worked.
Please explain your comment.
Virginia - no suggestions as to what we do while the bad singers strut their stuff (not that I expected one); so we just lay back and think of England I suppose.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 04:26 PM

"If non members decide to attend a unknown club because they have an interest in a paid guest performer that is fine. They paid to see the guest. They got their monies worth. This does not give them the right to complain about the abilities and performances of any member of that club taking up other floor spots."

This is one of the most interesting posts I've ever seen on the internet.

It is obviously passionately believed and for myself I can understand why. I do understand and support those who champion the idea that things like passion, participation, personal development, repertoire, and story can and often do outweigh musical ability and presentation.

But bad experience can easily outweigh good. Will people really feel they've got their money's worth if they've spent nearly half the evening being, err shall we just say, a bit uncomfortable?

It's hard to get people away from telly and merlot at the best of times.

As someone who attracts people to my mailing list from folk clubs and non-folk venues such as village halls in equal numbers, I have a particular problem.

The folk club people will not pay to see me in a non folk venue (plus some want a chance to sing or play themselves).

The non-folk people will come not come to see me in a folk club because they are not comfortable there (for various reasons, with floor spots at the top, they tell me).

Result: plenty of fans, but not enough will turn out at either gig for the job to work.

End result: not possible to be a full-time musician.

Now, Virginia Tam, you may think that's not a problem - quite a few of the people posting on this thread as it happens think 'good riddance' :-) but those people on my mailing list are quite unhappy about it.

I don't want clubs to change. But I want people like me to be able to go on doing it for real.

Is there anything we can do?

Tom


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 04:20 PM

The idea that anyone, good or bad, is "entitled" to their slot is part of the problem. It should be up to the club organiser(s), who in most cases are risking their own money, to decide who gets to sing.

Snail, I could have pointed you towards a number of clubs which fit that description, but as I have stayed well away from them for several years because they were so rubbish I have no idea whether they are still going. If your experience of clubs is otherwise, count yourself lucky.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Joybell
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 04:17 PM

Over a hundred years ago Flora Thompson -- "Lark Rise to Candleford" - noted the attitude of the young people to the old songs and the old singers. They were shown respect, though, even though their songs were considered old-fashioned and boring. There's a place for us all. It's not necessarily the same place at the same time.
Cheers, Joy


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 04:11 PM

What I (and others) keep on bringing to your attention is that what the OP was talking about was a venue where she and her friends paid good money to see a headline act but had really crap floor spots inflicted on them, so much so that the newcomers are unlikely ever to bother again.

She did not take them to a singaround or session consisting of amateurs (not that this necessarily will or might indicate lower standards).

This means that the event was, presumably, advertised as professional entertainment. Money changed hands yet new potential supporters, far from being encouraged to return, have been repelled, not by "amateurism" but by "amateurishness". They were insulted, and rightly so and in fact robbed and cheated. Even more importantly, the music which some of us care about has been demeaned and diminished.
Should an organiser have exercised quality control? Emphatically yes.

If your woman who composers songs about her pit town has aspirations to perform them before a paying public, then your organiser should persuade her to learn how to sing her songs in tune first. And not put her on till she can.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Gervase
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 04:09 PM

Many places outside Lewes, I should imagine.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: TheSnail
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 04:02 PM

Could some one tell me where to find a folk club where significant numbers of floor singers can't "remember words, hold a tune, and have a modicum of understanding the meaning of the words of the song so they can sing it with some sort of understanding."?

It would be worth seeing just for the novelty value.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Folkiedave
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 03:42 PM

Floor singers are dues paying members of the club and entitled to their slot. If you don't like it then stay the frig away. Set up your own club and good luck to you in running it exactly as you wish. If you are successful then more power to you. But don't be surprised if it dies the death due to tyrannical organisation.

RANT
Floor singers should be allowed to sing in public if they can remember words, hold a tune, and have a modicum of understanding the meaning of the words of the song so they can sing it with some sort of understanding.   

The fact they have "paid their dues" is totally irrelevant. They have succeeded in putting people off folk music and contribute to its poor media image.

Tyrannical organisation is one where people are allowed to sing regardless of quality.

END OF RANT


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 03:41 PM

Diane

Would you tell the lady who delivers the heart rending songs about coal mining town of her childhhood "tunelessly" that she is not welcome? Her lyrics are amazing, powerful, not at all maudlin. Though she is no "singer" by the "standards" proving evident in this thread, her stories and performances move listeners (and me to tears in one instance).

If that is not the purest example of folk process I don't know what is? What she performs in public today will one day be traditional as it is accepted, encouraged and carried along by others following in her wake. What a loss if these songs had lain mouldering in her journal never to be heard. Is this not what the clubs should do? Encourage the process?

I am a novice here, but this concept has been taught me recently on other threads. Am I wrong?


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 03:33 PM

The folk club is a unique institution - I'm not sure any other genre of music has anything quite like it. However there seems to be a huge difference of opinion over whether a folk club should just be a support group for the untalented or whether there should be some quest for higher standards.

Perhaps this is just looking back through rose-tinted spectacles, but when I started going to clubs in the late 1960s there did seem to be a desire to achieve an acceptable standard. But this was largely self-imposed - our own self-respect drove us to try to do better. In my recollection the organisers of the clubs I went to were very encouraging to new singers but would not hesitate to refuse you a floor spot on a guest night if you weren't up to it. Being offered a floor spot on a guest night was seen as a privilege to be aimed for, and was an incentive to get better.

It's fine to have the sort of club that VirginiaTam talks about, "where we hope to be accepted regardless of talent, ability, stage presence, simply because we love what we are doing". That can be lovely, and there's a place for it - just don't expect to hear much good music. The danger is that these sorts of clubs become polarised - the good musicians get fed up with it and go off to find other good musicians they can play with, leaving the rest to group together for comfort and mutual admiration, but with nothing to measure themselves against.

The other sort of club, which puts on guests and presents itself as some kind of entertainment, has in my opinion a duty to its audience to put on a good show. That means only the best floor singers, and if the club doesn't have anyone capable, then book a support act.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 03:28 PM

Music stands and crib sheets......

There was a lovely band playing outside our local supermarket tonight...of course their interpretation of the music was dreadful because they all had music stands with music one. One trumpet player even had the temerity to have a little music stand clipped to his trumpet! So of course I was outraged.

Further down the street there was a choir singing songs of the festive season. They didn't, of course, put any feeling in to what they were singing as they were too busy reading the words to give them any true musical interpretation. So of course, I was outraged.

A guy came to do a spot at our club. We should have chucked him out as he had a music stand and a crib sheet. Were outraged! Until he played and sang everyone's socks off. We were still outraged....but we asked him to do another one!

Peter


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Sleepy Rosie
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 03:15 PM

Surely if you go out for an evening and shell out the cost of a pint to join in a social gathering of fellow amatuer enthusiasts, that's one thing. Same as going to the local Am Dram Society or Writing Group?

And if you spend a tenner to go and watch a professional act perform, that's another.

So long as the organisers make it fully clear to punters what to expect, then can't everyone enjoy what it is they choose to?


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Art Thieme
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 03:12 PM

Possibly, those that don't make it are getting what they deserve.

Art


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Nick
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 03:09 PM

Jim - I actually agree with you 100% on that one.

However I'm not sure that people understand the meaning of the word let alone how to react to it.

At the moment people are going with the 'find fault' part of the (generally accepted) definition of the word 'criticism' rather than the 'discuss the merits and...' definition.

Just goes to show that the meanings of words are only dictated by the partiality of ones view.

I can think of another word that suffers from that too but hey-ho


(nonny nonny - sorry I couldn't help it it just slipped out)


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Gervase
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 03:05 PM

Are you telling me that second rate singers and musicians are good enough for you to sit through but not your friends? Maybe you are selling your friends short? Why do you go? Is there not something that draws you? Makes it worth your while? How do you know it wouldn't be the same for friends?
Good point!
I suppose because I've got more than 30 years' exposure to such things, so it doesn't come as a shock to me, and because there still burns a small ember of hope in my breast that, on the rare occasions when I do go to a club now, it will confound my expectations. It's not something I'd inflict on friends.
Interestingly, my wife was bowled over the first time she experienced a rousing session in full swing at Chippenham, and again at Sidmouth, where the youth and energy of the Late Night Extras made her thing that folk was fantastic. Sadly she then encountered the club scene, and has now become wholly disenchanted with it - seeing traditional music as, intrinsically, a good thing, but practised by odd people. From being something we did together, it became a solitary vice.
And now, by and large, I just don't go to clubs at all.
When I lived in London I was fortunate enough to have a couple of excellent clubs that I hugely enjoyed, and the same in Buckinghamshire. They were rare oases, however, and experience has taught me that it probably isn't worth a 50-mile round trip from where I live these days to bring home to me how bad things are.


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