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Why folk clubs are dying

The Borchester Echo 24 Jan 09 - 04:18 AM
TheSnail 24 Jan 09 - 04:32 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 24 Jan 09 - 05:38 AM
Jim Carroll 24 Jan 09 - 05:49 AM
GUEST,PeterC 24 Jan 09 - 06:16 AM
evansakes 24 Jan 09 - 06:28 AM
TheSnail 24 Jan 09 - 06:42 AM
Dave Earl 24 Jan 09 - 11:44 AM
The Sandman 24 Jan 09 - 12:13 PM
Jim Carroll 24 Jan 09 - 12:26 PM
TheSnail 24 Jan 09 - 12:53 PM
Jack Campin 24 Jan 09 - 01:18 PM
TheSnail 24 Jan 09 - 01:59 PM
Tootler 24 Jan 09 - 07:55 PM
Jack Campin 24 Jan 09 - 08:36 PM
Betsy 24 Jan 09 - 08:36 PM
Jim Carroll 25 Jan 09 - 04:18 AM
The Borchester Echo 25 Jan 09 - 04:48 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 25 Jan 09 - 05:14 AM
TheSnail 25 Jan 09 - 06:57 AM
Big Al Whittle 25 Jan 09 - 07:28 AM
matt milton 25 Jan 09 - 07:45 AM
matt milton 25 Jan 09 - 08:02 AM
Phil Edwards 25 Jan 09 - 08:18 AM
matt milton 25 Jan 09 - 08:23 AM
Jim Carroll 25 Jan 09 - 09:08 AM
TheSnail 25 Jan 09 - 09:17 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 25 Jan 09 - 09:33 AM
Ian Fyvie 27 Jan 09 - 08:51 PM
Big Al Whittle 27 Jan 09 - 09:43 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 28 Jan 09 - 05:50 AM
BB 28 Jan 09 - 05:51 AM
The Borchester Echo 28 Jan 09 - 08:43 AM
Faye Roche 28 Jan 09 - 09:22 AM
The Sandman 28 Jan 09 - 10:39 AM
Folkiedave 28 Jan 09 - 11:00 AM
Big Al Whittle 28 Jan 09 - 04:21 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 28 Jan 09 - 05:18 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 28 Jan 09 - 05:27 PM
Big Al Whittle 28 Jan 09 - 06:15 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 28 Jan 09 - 06:50 PM
The Borchester Echo 28 Jan 09 - 07:00 PM
Big Al Whittle 28 Jan 09 - 08:00 PM
Folkiedave 29 Jan 09 - 03:35 AM
The Borchester Echo 29 Jan 09 - 03:57 AM
Backwoodsman 29 Jan 09 - 04:21 AM
Phil Edwards 29 Jan 09 - 04:39 AM
Phil Edwards 29 Jan 09 - 04:46 AM
Backwoodsman 29 Jan 09 - 08:02 AM
Big Al Whittle 29 Jan 09 - 08:46 AM
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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 24 Jan 09 - 04:18 AM

I've never heard of some of the places Mike Milton lists but I suspect they are open mics. He omitted some London venues that do describe themselves as "clubs" (a hangover from the previous PEL rules which forced them to be "private members clubs"). These include the unique Musical Traditions at the King & Queen, the Cellar Upstairs now at the Exmouth Arms which has an apparent aim of a residency at every pub in the borough of Camden, and Walthamstow at the Plough.

The first and last are close to the ideal trad music venue. MT speaks for itself with its now close on 20-year record of promoting source singers, an annual weekend festival and amazing resident bands. Walthamstow also has a resident band, a burgeoning monthly session and occasional Standing Room Only on a different night showcasing high-profile bands such as the Demon Barbers.

The key seems to be participation and multi-genre presentation. As a counter to the inevitable "London-centric" whinges, here's a mention for what is possibly the best venue in the land. The Ryburn Three Step. If only more were like that.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: TheSnail
Date: 24 Jan 09 - 04:32 AM

Lewes population ~ 16,000. Two folk clubs, both thriving, both supporting what even Jim Carroll would call "folk" music.

Lewes Saturday Folk Club
Royal Oak, Lewes

Folk clubs are dying.... except where they aren't.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 24 Jan 09 - 05:38 AM

Thanks Diane - yes, I know about those three. Fingers crossed for Damo (who was excellent with Mike Wilson last night at the Grove - and they're at the Cellar on the 31st as it happens) in the R2FAs. (Oh, and for ALL the other nominees too!) T


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Jan 09 - 05:49 AM

"Folk clubs are dying.... except where they aren't. "
Ding-ding - I'm on the bus
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,PeterC
Date: 24 Jan 09 - 06:16 AM

Jim, I didn't say that a change in format was good or bad, I just said that it was a change. If people expect "old format" and get "new format" they will see the club as "dying". If they prefer "new format" they will see it as "improved".

The test of any "club" is if it can keep renewing its membership when faced with the natural attrition of death, job changes, marriage etc.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: evansakes
Date: 24 Jan 09 - 06:28 AM

Jim Carroll said "The regular singers always used to be the stars of the show before (apparently) the organisers decided that it was easier to use guests as a crutch"

I haven't looked at this thread for many weeks but (fool that I am) came back to it this morning....and ended up almost choking on my crunchy nut corn flakes when I read the above words. Guests as a crutch? I seriously think I've heard it all now!

Once again I ask myself why some people persist in criticising those who sell their souls in preferring to observe (and admire) musicians performing capably and professionally.

Feel free to make your own choices, Jim, but please don't be so condescending about others who think differently.

Gerry
pp TwickFolk (another not entirely unsuccessful London venue)


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: TheSnail
Date: 24 Jan 09 - 06:42 AM

Jim Carroll

Ding-ding - I'm on the bus

I'm a simple soul. What the £@#* does this mean?


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Dave Earl
Date: 24 Jan 09 - 11:44 AM

I'm sure he'll tell you himself Bryan, but maybe he means he's "on board"

Dave


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Jan 09 - 12:13 PM

ding ding ,Im on the bus?
Is it an episode that stars Reg Varney, I cant find it on you tube ,at all.
I think its about time this bus stopped and we all got off.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Jan 09 - 12:26 PM

No,
It used to be "I'm all right Jack".
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: TheSnail
Date: 24 Jan 09 - 12:53 PM

Glad to hear it, Jim.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Jack Campin
Date: 24 Jan 09 - 01:18 PM

YOUR CLUB AND YOU

"The writing is on the wall" "The boom is over"

These, and similar comments, are now being heard in and around many of the folk song clubs of Britain. Many clubs are going through their worst season in years and many old clubs have closed their doors. Before it is too late let us take a serious look at the development of what has come to be unimaginatively called the 'folk scene' to see if an indication can be found towards the means to avert a sad and dismal tailing-off to obscurity of a once vigorous movement.

When the folk song club movement was in its initial stages there was a continual search for material on the part of the young and developing singers; there was a definite attempt by the majority of clubs to encourage members to sing; there was constant use of books and records available - and what was, infact, a decided - if somewhat - disorganised attempt to build what was to become the 'folk song revival'.

But now, with a sufficient number of singers to provide guests and residents for these clubs, the tendency has been for clubs to become weekly music-halls with the emphasis on folk or folk-styled music, with little or no contact between the organiser and the audience. This, in turn, has led to the establishing of 'stars' and crowd-pullers who often have little to contribute in developing - or, simply, continuing - a folk song revival which encourages an active and practical participation on the part of the audience. Consequently the trend has been for the audience to become passive and fill the role of the audience which we would normally associate with the cinema and the theatre.

The time has come for folk song clubs to reach their audiences; to offer more than weekly entertainment. Eight years ago dozens of people wanted to learn songs - and how to play a variety of instruments. Time has not changed this - but the form of the folk club has submerged any moves to meet this need.

The roots of the revival have been neglected for too long - let us look to them before the tree is starved. Let everyone who is interested and involved in the revivak and in folk music and song look to his contribution - and let us hope that it is a real and worthwhile contribution.


- "Folk Notes", issue 2, 1970 (editor: Andrew Moyes, published by the Glasgow Folk Centre)


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: TheSnail
Date: 24 Jan 09 - 01:59 PM

Jack Campin

"Folk Notes", issue 2, 1970

Ah yes, back in those halcyon days that Jim remembers so fondly.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Tootler
Date: 24 Jan 09 - 07:55 PM

Jim Carroll said "The regular singers always used to be the stars of the show before (apparently) the organisers decided that it was easier to use guests as a crutch"

See excerpt from: Folk Notes", issue 2, 1970 above

A case of "Years ago when everything was perfect"?


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Jack Campin
Date: 24 Jan 09 - 08:36 PM

They may be in agreement. The author of that piece implicitly states that the time things were better was in 1962. Maybe that's the time Jim has in mind as well.

I think he's got a point. If nobody in the audience takes active steps to learn to play or sing the sort of stuff you're doing as result of your activities, you may have succeeded as an an entertainer but you've failed as a folk musician.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Betsy
Date: 24 Jan 09 - 08:36 PM

Many less-than-average Joes (or Joans ) believe they are on the brink of stardom and they are unwittingly boring the tits off everyone.
There isn't the fun that used to be at a Folk Club meet - it can extemely tiresome - so why bother to make the effort to attend ?
The people who attend week-after-week are regarded as the stalwarts ,and indeed by definition I think they must be, but, the Folk club (of course I'm generalising ) has chosen the route of lowest common denominator instead of, highest commom factor.
If Vin Garbutt, Jez Lowe , the Wilsons ,Kathryn Tickell popped-in to the Folk club - I would expect the club to make a fuss of them , but NO, too many Organisers want to show that THEY are in charge of proceedings, and if such people wish to perform , they will need cow- tow in the same manner as all the duffers.   
Quite simply decent performers instead of attending Folk clubs would rather spend time at their locals - and having jam seesion in someomnes house afterwards.
Organisers, we ,you, me , have frightened them all away .


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Jan 09 - 04:18 AM

That's exactly what I was referring to Jack, it was the "young and developing singers" who became the residents and were the constants of the clubs not the professionals.
The residents were the mainstays of the club - not 'visitating' stars; guests were the icing on an already well-baked cake. The expected standard of singing meant that we didn't have to hide our less skilled singers in a cupboard until the guests had gone (see earlier discussions).
Residents working as a team could put on a balanced evening of songs, work on accompaniments together, plan feature evenings and research local material. The London repertoire was floated on research done by the Critics Group, Singers Club Residents and audience members combined. The resident evenings were well run, skillfully performed and enjoyable in most of the clubs I visited - they stood or fell entirely on the efforts of their residents. Nor do I remember too much smugness towards clubs that were struggling by ones that were doing better, (as I said - "ding-ding, I'm on the bus").
Halcyon days indeed!
"Organisers want to show that THEY are in charge of proceedings,"
Organiser bloody well should be; it's their job - not to be forelock pullers to any 'star' who deigned to turn up.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 25 Jan 09 - 04:48 AM

Another reason why established "names" shy away these days from just turning up as punters at their local club is that they get pounced on the minute their noses peek through the door and badgered to do a floor spot. Organisers need to be aware that a very important part of their role is stage management. They should have a running order in their heads and respond to a request from a late arrival (whether Eliza F Carthy or Josephine Bloggs) with "can you do 1 / 2 or "great to see you, but give us a ring next time before you come".

But just leaping on them in an expectation that their performance will lift the evening is not on and smacks of desperation. Long ago, we often had a better time in the downstairs bar at the Enterprise with those who couldn't get on than those up in the clubroom, though now it's just another trendy bar. Times change.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 25 Jan 09 - 05:14 AM

Different clubs have different approaches for different reasons. When I (ok not a Name, but a regular guest) pop over to York (fc of the year) I never expect a floor spot. There are plenty of VERY good regulars/members, and they don't need me. If I did want to sing there I'd ring Roland first, and fully expect to be told no thanks.

Most other local clubs do usually ask me to chip in, but I don't expect it, and they don't always. They'll usualy want to strike a balance between the loyal people and someone like me who's probably playing there soon-ish and who they want to promote. There are even times when I'll have a quiet word and ask to be excused if I have a really good reason - but it's their call, not mine and I'll usually sing if they want me to. Truth is that though I feel 'at home' at three local clubs including York (and a couple of singaround/sessions), and a 'local' at another half dozen, I don't go to any of them often enough to count as a regular (I'm away too much).

There are so many different models, and those models are applied in so many different ways, in clubs that have a such different characters, born of different environments, personalities, philosophies and standards, that it's impossible to generalise. What works perfectly in one club rings the death knell in another, and vice versa.

I'm becoming more and more convinced that it's not what you do, it the way that you do it. That's what gets results!

Tom


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: TheSnail
Date: 25 Jan 09 - 06:57 AM

Great night last night at the Lewes Saturday Folk Club. Our first booked guest at the new venue, John Morgan from Kent. Traditional and in-the-tradition songs with a wonderful voice. I don't know why this chap isn't more well known; perhaps he just doesn't crave stardom. Everyone who wanted a floor spot got one and not a duff act.

This will probably come over as smug to those who don't want to hear about clubs doing well. I don't actually know of any struggling clubs.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 25 Jan 09 - 07:28 AM

I think you're a name Tom. I've heard of you. I know several people who've heard of you.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: matt milton
Date: 25 Jan 09 - 07:45 AM

some more info on those London clubs I mentioned.

(By the way, I didn't mean to suggest that any healthiness or unhealthiness, of folk clubs in London is in any way representative of the rest of the UK. It's just that, being a Londoner who attends these things, it's the only thing I can really talk about with any insight. It does strike me that London is in rude health folkwise: I could go to something folky every night of the week if I wanted to. Then again, it's a big place...)

None of the places I mentioned are singalongs or sessions. Though, of course, a good deal of singing along often spontaneously occurs... Much as I love singalongs and sessions, my main personal interest is in performing, whether its original or traditional material. There are other people on this board who are much better placed to tell you about the best places in London for singalongs and sessions. (The Cellar Upstairs, as Diane pointed out, is one; Court Sessions at Tooting Constitutional is another; Walthamstow Folk et al...)

In decreasing order of traditional folkiness:

Magpie's Nest (www.themagpiesnest.co.uk)
Probably familiar to many on this board. Run by Sam Lee, who works at Cecil Sharp House, and others. Have a look at the website to see the sort of performers they book: right across the folk spectrum but are usually quite well known, and similar mix of ages. Format is always 1 or 2 established featured acts preceded by an hour of floorspots (which are open mic, not pre-booked). Almost always busy – I've hopeless at guessing numbers in rooms, but I'd say audience numbers vary between about 30–100ish. Magpie's Nest have also put on events in bigger venues than their Islington pub hub.

The Goose is Out (www.thegooseisout.com)
Similarish booking policy to Magpie's Nest really. Recent performers have included Martin Carthy, John Kirkpatrick, Chris Wood, Alasdair Roberts. They put on big name performers at Dulwich Hamlet Football Club, and smaller acts at local pubs. Always very well attended, almost miraculously so given that all events are in south london's East Dulwich, where there's no tube. Very well promoted, most tickets sold in advance via established online places like ticketmaster, wegottickets etc, many sell out in advance. Format is name performer with a couple of short sets from lesser-knowns. Again, broad mix of ages.

The Local (www.localism.org.uk)
Regular monthly events in the basement of the Kings Head in Crouch End. Howard Monk, the promoter, also puts on various other events elsewhere in London, and also puts on similar nights at the Dulcimer Club in Chorlton, Manchester. All pre-booked acts. It's very much a "Green Man Festival' sort of vibe: UK folk, Americana, psysch and often a distinctly 60s/70s whiff. (They run an annual festive fun event called Folk Idol, which in 2008 was won by a certain chap called Matt Milton.) Upcoming shows include Devon Sproule and Alela Diane. Their Kings Head regular night is always well attended and I'd say is about 150 capacity. Distinctly younger (for folk) audience.

Easycome Acoustic (myspace.com/easycome1)
Folk at the moon (myspace.com/folkatthemoon)
Basket Club (myspace.com/thebasketclub)
Lantern Society (http://www.trevormossandhannahlou.com/#/lanternsociety/4529301645)

Easycome Acoustic is a bit of a south london institution – it's been going about 15 years. Run by Andy from the alt.country band the Hankdogs, it packs on far too many acts onto a titchy stage above the Old Nuns Head in Nunhead every Wednesday. Format is booked guests plus open mic, but the lines get a bit blurred as the night goes on (as does the host's speech and vision). Audience (and performers) range from precocious teenagers to grizzled trad singers, with a few ageing punks in the middle: a median age in its early 30s I'd say. Chaotic anarchic but great - some of the best nights out I've had in the past few years.

The organizers of Folk at the Moon, Basket Club and Lantern Society all met at Easycome. A chap called Greg, who sings Dylanish, Townes Van Zandty orginal songs under the nom de stage of Harrisburg, tirelessly organises Folk At the Moon and Basket Club. Bigger names at FATM (at the Herne Hill Half Moon), with occasional guests from the US, while the his Basket Club in Brixton is a Monday night free-entry thing for up and coming, with donations requested for the "Basket" to pay em. All pre-booked acts; no floorspots.

Lantern Society is basically Easycome transposed to the Betsey Trotwood pub in Farringdon. As a performer, I prefer it to Easycome, as you're more likely to get a floorspot: in fact, unlike Easycome, it's entirely floorspots, although they do occasionally opportunistically invite acts to play full sets if anyone interesting is visiting London at the time. It's quite an off-radar night and I suspect Trevor and Hannah who organise it like it that way. Trev and Hannah perform themselves; used to be in the bluegrassy band Indigo Moss. The club is mostly sets by the diehard regulars. As the landlord is very sympathetic, the club sometimes goes on all night.

In fact, it's well worth checking out the Betsey Trotwood's website, because most of the music put on there tends towards folk, bluegrass and Americana. I think more people on the folk circuit should know about the Betsey, as I'm sure the landlord would be amenable to putting on a gig there as a London node on any tour: www.thebetsey.com/events

Those are my personal faves, which reflects my own predilections. I'll also mention in passing the Green Note in Camden, the Undercover Folk Club open mic that the Woodlarks do monthly in Brixton and the Gladstone pub in Borough. All are myspace-able and google-able.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: matt milton
Date: 25 Jan 09 - 08:02 AM

just to clarify, of the places I mentioned above the ones that have an open mic element are: Magpie's Nest, Easycome and Lantern Society.

And I didn't mention entrance costs, which vary, but are all cheap. The only one that's free entry is Basket Club, though entry to the Gladstone pub, which I mentioned as an afterthought is always free.

Top tourist tip: if you're visiting Tate Modern late in the day on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday, it's worth going into the Gladstone afterwards for a pint. Chances are there'll be some post-Jansch fingerpicker who fancies themselves as the next Bob Dylan or Joni Mitchell. Though I concede that might well be a very good reason NOT to venture in there)


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 25 Jan 09 - 08:18 AM

Cheers, Matt. Just one nitpick from this middle-aged* traddie...

Much as I love singalongs and sessions

Ugh. It's singarounds.

But thanks for that - some of them sound terrific (and none of them sound moribund!) I'll keep that list handy next time I'm heading for that London.

*Although I live in Chorlton, I've only ventured into Dulcimer once. I compared notes with a friend afterwards & found we'd both had the same experience - most of the music they played wasn't folk by any stretch of the imagination (some rather interesting grungey psych-beach-prog-garage when I was there, very like the stuff I remember Stan Chow playing at Night and Day) and all of it was turned up much, much too loud ("pointing at the bar pump to order" levels). We compared gripes for a while, then my friend said, "Then again, they probably aren't really aiming for the 50-year-olds." Speak for yourself, I retorted curtly**, some of us are only 48...

**This part may not have happened.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: matt milton
Date: 25 Jan 09 - 08:23 AM

Yes, sorry. I re-read the message and did notice that. Chalk it down to my relative lack of attendance in that area...

I suspect that events at the Dulcimer are consderably less folk-oriented than those at the Local. And of course, you may well not have been at the Dulcimer on one of the Local's nights. But sure, Howard does put on a fair few proggy things too.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Jan 09 - 09:08 AM

"This will probably come over as smug to those who don't want to hear about clubs doing well"
Who are these people who don't want to hear about clubs doing well. I certainly don't know of any such individuals. Most people I know who are involved want ALL clubs to do well.
I do know several - not mentioning any names, but hands up if it rings bells - who believe that because their own club is thriving, then all is well with the world. I often think that their local night schools run courses in smugness - but maybe it's a natural talent!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: TheSnail
Date: 25 Jan 09 - 09:17 AM

Jim Carroll

I do know several - not mentioning any names, but hands up if it rings bells - who believe that because their own club is thriving, then all is well with the world.

No, can't think of anyone who has said anything like that. I seem to recall some who have claimed that the entire UK folk scene is in terminal decline and refuse to accept any evidence to the contrary.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 25 Jan 09 - 09:33 AM

Thanks for that extensive reply Matt. Duly retained for future reference!

Tom


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Ian Fyvie
Date: 27 Jan 09 - 08:51 PM

One question before this interesting thread expires - has anyone got any figures for how many clubs there are now comparede with 1year ago? 5years? 10? 15? 20?

Any info about hundreds of clubs in an area once upon a time but where there is now a folk desert?

There's plenty of folk activity in Sussex (English South Coast - the stretch directly below London ) but Surrey (on the South West border of London) is relatively dead as I understand it - with thriving clubs in Byfleet and Staines but not a lot more?

Can EFDSS give us some data? Has anyone done a study for their Uni work?

Ian Fyvie


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 27 Jan 09 - 09:43 PM

The EFDSS - don't mess with the mafia.....


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 28 Jan 09 - 05:50 AM

I do have quite a bit of data on this Ian, but it's not academic, just collated to help me find gigs. I used to spend huge amounts of time researching - I had to - but I stopped last spring, when I decided to retire (I had enough info to see me through the last year or so). So my data is already out of date, though I do update when I can (eg the London clubs above) for future reference.

folkWISE (with whom I'm now no longer involved, again because of my imminent departure) has a very good database, but it's not available to the public, and in fact I've never seen it because I didn't need to (my own database is comprehensive and designed to suit my personal working methods).

I have in fact presented my estimates on the trends re numbers and types of clubs from 8-9 years ago (when I started) to today, plus opinions gathered from longer-serving pro friends about longer term trends, here on Mudcat. But for unknown reasons this triggered unexpected unpleasantness from certain quarters, so I'd rather not do so again.

I do think an expert independent survey and report (to which I'd be happy to contribute) on Folk Clubs is now overdue, and do suggest this in my Living Tradition article. With luck it would be accepted by all 'sides' and would form a basis for future plans at all levels - as the Folk Festival report did for festivals

Tom

PS Living Tradition 82 has been put on hold, for various complex reasons, so the article will not appear until March.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: BB
Date: 28 Jan 09 - 05:51 AM

Probably be able to get a fair idea from old Folk Directories, which I assume EFDSS have kept, but it hasn't been put out for quite a long time now, so it wouldn't be easy to find the information in more recent years.

Barbara


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 28 Jan 09 - 08:43 AM

I used to compile the Folk Directory in the early 70s and Bonnie Shaljean did it after me. All they consisted of were listings of those who bothered to reply and verify their entry. I also travelled about (as I'm sure Bonnie did too) and added some that way but, nevertheless, the published version was far from an accurate record of what was actually occurring on the ground. You just need to glance at Mrs Casey's much more recent Direct Roots to see how quickly it's gone out of date.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Faye Roche
Date: 28 Jan 09 - 09:22 AM

Dick Miles- you asked me for an apology some time ago and here it is: Sorry.

I was very wound up on the day that I made my original post and got a bit heated. If you did not respect this music you would not be here.

There are singers who show no respect for either the music, their audiences and themselves, and it was they who got me going.

Sorry that the apology has been so long in coming- I've just moved house and started a new job so have not had time to visit here.

BTW, to answer another question, the guest Faye Roche was me, but I was using someone else's computer and could not log on for some reason.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 Jan 09 - 10:39 AM

thanks ,I wish you every success your new job


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Folkiedave
Date: 28 Jan 09 - 11:00 AM

You aren't comparing like with like and therefore the figures would be meaningless IMHO.

In the "glory days" when I was involved in running a club the pubs opened at 7.00 pm and there would be a queue outside for popular guests.

It held about 100. There were loads of clubs like that. Thre were two in that pub for example.

The law was different indeed as someone has pointed out - it is where the name folk club came from - you needed to be a "club". I have not been to a folk club with an attendance around 100 in years and I go to a lot of folk clubs.

What would be more meaningful would be the number of people who have atteneded folk "events" - clubs, sessions, festivals etc.

And you would find a vast expansion in numbers. (There were no sessions and apart from Sidmouth and Keele hardly any festivals in 1966.) Loads of folk clubs though.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 28 Jan 09 - 04:21 PM

Why folk clubs are dying.....?

'Them as die will be the lucky ones......!'

trad. attributed to the Long John Siver Family


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 28 Jan 09 - 05:18 PM

I second what Diane says above about the Folk Directory - a lot of people never took the tiny amount of effort it required to contact us (by phone if posting was too much hassle) and give us their info, even though club listings were free. Packie and I were gigging around at the time and I included every one I could think of.

I used to come home from festivals laden with minuscule hand-scribbled scraps of paper, often barely legible, or money for people's adverts & pre-orders, usually in coins of the smallest denomination that was still legal.

Even so, the listings weren't comprehensive, hard as we tried to make them so. Much easier now in these paperless days of email and virtual cut-&-paste instead of the scissors-and-eyestrain variety. Now that there are far fewer to deal with. What I wouldn't give to have the old multitudes back!


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 28 Jan 09 - 05:27 PM

I even had a member write to me publicly in ED&S - and challenge me to reply in print - about their brilliant suggestion that EFDSS "should put out an index of folk clubs".

Admirably deleting all expletives (instead of making poor old Tony Wales do it) I sweetly pointed out that we already had one. It was called The Folk Directory.

News to him, I gather.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 28 Jan 09 - 06:15 PM

You know this is a bit naughty. Its a very selective account of history.

During the 1970's I worked at Holt School in Birmingham. I remeber reading in folk review - Fred Woods magazine - that EFDSS had an office in the next tower block to the school in Newtown. I made a couple of phone calls and an even on one occasion visited the office and every time I was rebuffed.

Now at the time I lived and breathed folk music. i was at different folk clubs every night of the week. I ran two folk clubs. The city was teeming with folkmusic activity and I wanted the EFDSS to at least look at what we were doing.

i was told that they had no time attend folk clubs and no interest in them.

in short, they were already embarked on the disastrous course which they have now succeded in persuading so many English folk music fans in following. they were and are committed to supporting the view of various vaguely eccentric 19th century intellectuals - there is a tradition, and it has nothing to do with the living and breathing people in the next tower block.

it is arts and crafts, neo georgian, ante bellum (Ist world war), pedagoguic and paternalistic.

okay if you can walk the walk. some of us can't.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 28 Jan 09 - 06:50 PM

All depends on who you dealt with, I guess.   Not everyone was like that -


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 28 Jan 09 - 07:00 PM

Yes, surely not Sybil Clark who was charming and interested in everything . . .


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 28 Jan 09 - 08:00 PM

the point I have repeatedly tried to make on mudcat is that folkmusic is out there - it can do no other.

At that point, it was still fairly homogenous;-

1) ian campbell was still trying to hold together his band, and the jug of punch club - although his kids had decided to go into reggae.

2) charles parker was still somewhere in the background at the grey cock.

3)the old crown digbeth was the oldest folk clubin England - they claimed

4) New kids on the block were the Boggery, the Bell and Pump, Jim McPhee and John Mitchell's various ventures. All attracting huge working class audiences.

5) all the Irish music - of which there was a hell of a lot.

It was basically all white.

If you were to start putting a view of folk music now - you would need take into account the cultural diversity of our cities - in fact our whole country.

The EfDSS weren't willing to shift its perspective then - thirty years ago. What chance now when the task is so much more confusing. I wouldn't know where to start looking. I damn sure they are still missing the motherload. Its not just a few old gypsies and agricultural workers who can tell England's story.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Folkiedave
Date: 29 Jan 09 - 03:35 AM

The person we dealt with as EFDSS rep unpaid was Kathy Mithcell. A stalwart as ever there was. Encouraging and helpful and with hubby John a great addition to any folk scene. However like many from the society (and I am talking early to mid sixties rather than when you are talking Al, she was from the "dance" side of things.

However there is no point there is no point in judging the society by what it did, the society seems to have learnt a lot from its past and is definitely moving forward.

But again whatever the state of folk clubs - there is tons more fgolk music around (however defined) than there ever was.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 29 Jan 09 - 03:57 AM

At that point - what point?

Through the 50s and 60s, extensive field recording was taking place in Birmingham (as elsewhere) by the BBC and EFDSS. Most well-known would probably be the songs of Cecilia Costello which eventually became available commercially from Leader in the mid-70s. Ian Campbell was indeed still working in Birmingham but would shortly be in London to work on the start of breakfast television. Two of his sons were in UB40 (in fact I think three are at the moment) - a multi-racial "f*lk" band if ever I heard one), while another son David has only last year stopped being organiser at Islington Folk Club.

As for the Ian Campbell Group, Dave Swarbrick and Dave Pegg had long been in and out of Fairport and Gordon McCulloch had long departed for the Exiles. And the Boggery had been there since at least 1969. I recall Jasper Carrott sending me a pic of the back of his head for the Folk Directory (really helpful). Fine revival singers to come out of Birmingham (and thereabouts) at the end of the 60s included Chris Richards/Coe and June Tabor.

Music ebbs and flows on the surface but is always there and changing, whether statutory bodies are or not. But the EFDSS was there and had a regional office and from my recollection, were very active, especially on the dance side.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 29 Jan 09 - 04:21 AM

"Music ebbs and flows on the surface but is always there and changing, whether statutory bodies are or not."

You're spot on there, Diane, and I think that's WLD's point too. And changing is surely the operative word. I don't believe anything's dying at all, it's changing, and that's what some contributors to this thread seem unwilling, or unable, to accept - maybe because "it" no longer fits into their personal (and IMHO, sometimes blinkered) view of what folk music is/should be. There, I bravely said the F-word - please don't hit me! LOL!


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 29 Jan 09 - 04:39 AM

I've said it before (probably on this thread) and I dare say I'll say it again (ditto), but if folk clubs round here are 'dying' it's strictly in the "nobody goes there any more, it's too busy" sense.

True story, lightly edited. As the towels were going on the taps after a recent musical swarrey, the conversation among the hard core of pint-nursing traddies turned to Those Other Clubs...

"ClubOnMonday's good."
"Yes, I used to go there a lot. It's a nice setup. Very mixed, though, the kind of stuff you hear there."
"Yes, that's why I don't go to ClubOnTuesday so often."
"Really? I thought you were a regular."
"No, I go now and again. It's quite mixed, though."
"If you want mixed, you should try ClubOnThursday."
"Is it still...? I thought it had improved a bit."
"The thing with ClubOnThursday, it's so busy - you only get one number."
"And it's mostly..."
"Yeah. Some good stuff in there, though."
"Still, thank God for ClubMonthlyOne and ClubMonthlyTwo, eh?"
"And ClubFortnightly, don't forget that."
"Yes, I really must get down there some time."
"When you think about it, there's quite a lot going on, isn't there?"

[I'd like to apologise on behalf of the group to ClubOnFriday and OtherClubOnTuesday, which nobody mentioned, and which are also very good. Quite mixed, though.]


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 29 Jan 09 - 04:46 AM

maybe because "it" no longer fits into their personal (and IMHO, sometimes blinkered) view of what folk music is/should be

The "unaccompanied vocal renditions of traditional English material" scene in South Manchester is buzzing, actually. The "I've got a guitar and I've learnt some words and what is 'folk music' anyway?" scene is buzzing even more, but it's all good - there are connecting doors.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 29 Jan 09 - 08:02 AM

Absolutely, Pip.
I don't believe anything is dying, but some die-hard blow-hards would like it to, so that they can crow "There you go, what did I tell you, everyone's out of step except me!".
Dying? Nope.
Evolving? Yup.
Good, innit?


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 29 Jan 09 - 08:46 AM

yeh everythings changing john - you're right there. theres a lot more nice instruments around than there used to be. you can access more music easier. Those two factors alone would change everything.

people are educated differently from how we were. the dynamics of the family have changed. our generation couldn't wait to leave home - even if involved living in squallor - we rejected our parents values. most kids these days virtuaslly have to be ordered to fly the nest.

how could things stay the same?


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