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Why folk clubs are dying

The Borchester Echo 15 Dec 08 - 03:01 PM
GUEST,Captain Swing 15 Dec 08 - 03:00 PM
Nick 15 Dec 08 - 02:58 PM
Ruth Archer 15 Dec 08 - 02:55 PM
Richard Bridge 15 Dec 08 - 02:52 PM
VirginiaTam 15 Dec 08 - 02:45 PM
Jim Carroll 15 Dec 08 - 02:36 PM
Effsee 15 Dec 08 - 02:36 PM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 15 Dec 08 - 02:28 PM
Lizzie Cornish 1 15 Dec 08 - 02:17 PM
The Sandman 15 Dec 08 - 02:10 PM
Folkiedave 15 Dec 08 - 01:45 PM
Musket 15 Dec 08 - 01:28 PM
The Villan 15 Dec 08 - 01:25 PM
Nick 15 Dec 08 - 01:02 PM
goatfell 15 Dec 08 - 12:59 PM
The Sandman 15 Dec 08 - 12:57 PM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 15 Dec 08 - 12:55 PM
Gervase 15 Dec 08 - 12:50 PM
Gervase 15 Dec 08 - 12:49 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 15 Dec 08 - 12:48 PM
Richard Bridge 15 Dec 08 - 12:43 PM
The Borchester Echo 15 Dec 08 - 12:39 PM
Folkiedave 15 Dec 08 - 12:32 PM
John Routledge 15 Dec 08 - 12:24 PM
Andy Jackson 15 Dec 08 - 12:22 PM
Chris Green 15 Dec 08 - 12:20 PM
Gervase 15 Dec 08 - 12:20 PM
The Borchester Echo 15 Dec 08 - 12:19 PM
Chris Green 15 Dec 08 - 12:15 PM
Phil Edwards 15 Dec 08 - 12:09 PM
Jim Carroll 15 Dec 08 - 12:02 PM
The Borchester Echo 15 Dec 08 - 11:52 AM
The Villan 15 Dec 08 - 11:48 AM
Gedi 15 Dec 08 - 11:47 AM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 15 Dec 08 - 11:45 AM
Richard Bridge 15 Dec 08 - 11:39 AM
greg stephens 15 Dec 08 - 11:38 AM
Andy Jackson 15 Dec 08 - 11:32 AM
VirginiaTam 15 Dec 08 - 11:28 AM
manitas_at_work 15 Dec 08 - 11:27 AM
manitas_at_work 15 Dec 08 - 11:23 AM
Will Fly 15 Dec 08 - 11:14 AM
VirginiaTam 15 Dec 08 - 11:12 AM
Marje 15 Dec 08 - 11:02 AM
Chris Green 15 Dec 08 - 10:58 AM
Chris Green 15 Dec 08 - 10:58 AM
Will Fly 15 Dec 08 - 10:57 AM
Will Fly 15 Dec 08 - 10:55 AM
Chris Green 15 Dec 08 - 10:32 AM
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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 03:01 PM

On the contrary.

It is bad manners as well as being disrespectful to the music and to paying punters to put on a poor performance.
As Jim Carroll says, do your tuneless singing in the bathroom and duff playing in the bedroom until to are fit to sing or play out.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Captain Swing
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 03:00 PM

Richard Bridge
I was trying to say that traditional music will only develop as part of a culture and within that culture. In that sense, it remains truly contemporary.

Sadly, so many people in the folk clubs seem intent on keeping the tradition preserved as it was, or they think it was, at the turn of the last century or whatever. They are effectively killing the tradition.

Perhaps that's incompatible with my screen name, but who cares? Don't know who you think I am though?


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Nick
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 02:58 PM

>>But, is Faye, comparing like with like,was she paid to perform her competent pop crap?

Competent pop crap. No judgements there then.

>>if she was,she is comparing herself to Amateurs who play/sing for the craic/fun. The strength of the folkscene has always been that it is a place where perfomers learn their trade/

Have you changed sides on this argument, Dick? It's not a flame but an observation; and I temper it with saying that your behaviour in folk clubs to those who don't come up to the standards that you would LIKE are exemplary (by your admission and others confirmation)

but

I could have sworn you presented a diametrically opposite view on the long Folk Manners thread * (see below - I hate to quote people but it did seem rather clear; it's much like my wife reminding me of things - when I do it is in entirety) - ie at a paid gig you shouldn't be presented with rubbish. I'm often wrong so I may have misunderstood. Alternatively Damascus arrives to many in the strangest places.

I thought that Faye went along with friends and it was crap and you should expect more. And I thought that you were saying the same thing.

>>Barbara Dickson,Paul Simon,Long John Baldry,Bob Dylan,Roy Harper all learnt the art of performing on the folk club circuit.

I didn't think this lot were folk performers and they all came from those roots but let's not go there again (eg first chapter of Dylan's Chronicles Vol 1)


* 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.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 02:55 PM

"NO PERFORMER IS ABOVE CRITICISM - NO MATTER HOW GOOD THEY BELIEVE THEMSELVES TO BE"

And thus speaks a former member of the Critics. Agree or not, but I think you're unlikely to change his mind. :)


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 02:52 PM

By all means tell me I'm crap, Jim. I'll probably agree (but some don't). Or I might tell you you're rude. Don't tell me I'm not allowed.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 02:45 PM

Jim - How would you suggest we, as audience, react to a singer who can't hold a tune and can't remember words without holding a crib sheet, and so is incapable of interpreting a song because they have to read it?

How about with patience and tolerance? I mean there but for the grace of (insert your favourite supreme being here) go any of us. Talented and un, well rehearsed and not, lucky and un.

A folk club should not be a bloody fraternity. What's next? Hazings?

Can you sing and / or play up to "OUR" specs?
Is your repertoire to "OUR" tastes?
Are you entertaining enough for "OUR" group?

"WE" don't care if you love what you sing.
"WE" don't care about your content as much as your form?
"WE" do care if you make "US" look good or bad.


To anyone else who is interested -

Nobody is going to tell me the lovely older (and I do mean old) gentleman in my club should not be there, because he doesn't play his banjo very well or forgets a lyric now and then. Or that another bloke shouldn't be there because month in month out he sings the same few songs, especially when eveyone loves singing along with him. Or the lady who self-admittedly does not sing very well but writes and performs the most touching and compelling poems about growing up in a coal mining town. Or that I shouldn't be there because I am a Yank singing traditional English songs, when so many of my English fellow members sing Americana.

Don't confuse a sad desire for five minutes of fame with a shared deep abiding love of singing and playing music of a certain vein. It is a place where we hope to be accepted regardless of talent, ability, stage presence, simply because we love what we are doing.

Diane - responding to issues raised by OP of shelling out to listen to shit

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.

That is just bad manners.

Gervase - But I have to confess that I'd rather stick pins in my scrotum than subject my friends to some of the dire stuff that one finds at the average club.
To generalise sweepingly, folk clubs are a bloody embarrassment. Every third person is someone you have to make excuses about, "Oh so-and-so's a great singer, so do forgive...," or "she used to be brilliant, but...", or "No, really, he's doing really well, given that..." It's like introducing a perfectly normal friend to a convention of train-spotters or any other slightly obsessive-compulsive and socially-inept hobbyists. You really don't want to do it.


Chrissakes! Then don't! 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?

p.s. thanks RB for backing me.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 02:36 PM

"But whether they do or whether they don't they don't have that right. "
Sing in public and es they do - you don't like criticism, stay at home and sing in the bath.
NO PERFORMER IS ABOVE CRITICISM - NO MATTER HOW GOOD THEY BELIEVE THEMSELVES TO BE
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Effsee
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 02:36 PM

Why is that Lizzie? She sure ain't poor! http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/spectrum/Welcome-to-my-world-.4786497.jp


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 02:28 PM

...too late!


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 02:17 PM

Ooh heck, don't mention poor Barbara Dickson....or all hell may break loose.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: The Sandman
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.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Folkiedave
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 01:45 PM

Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Nick_ - PM
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 01:02 PM

[....]

Not sure when that was


I first started going to folk clubs in about 1962 (19 years of age) inspired by CND marches and I wanted to hear more political songs.

When I went to my first folk club (memory starting to fade here) it was one of Harry Boardman's clubs in Manchester and they were singing "traditional" music. A couple of years later I moved to Hull and went to the local folk club. The previous organisers had just turned professional and a committee had been formed. I helped put the chairs out - so I became part of it.

And despite my boyish good looks and distinguished grey beard (well designer stubble) I am over 65.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Musket
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 01:28 PM

I got up in the late '70s for the first time and was given a polite round of applause.

All was well till I did a set in somewhere other than a folk club. Nearly made me stop performing. I had been in a rock band or two as a guitarist before folk clubs, but folk clubs made me think people actually liked my songs.

So... Folk clubs are great in that anybody can get a polite audience for their attempts at being outwardly artistic, and they are good places for that if for no other reason.

They are not the best apprenticeship for entertaining per se though. Far too polite!

The average age is keeping track with calendars though. Pot replaced by sanatogen and what does the future hold?

Err.. Kate Rusby, Eliza Carthy, Spiers & Bowden etc etc etc.

Something must be right? Not everybody in UK folk started by trying to change the world in the early '60s.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: The Villan
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 01:25 PM

Hi Richard
I have no doubt you are good, but you know what the folkie world is like.
If they don't like you, you are crap.

Les


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Nick
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 01:02 PM

FolkieDave - My point is that when I was involved in running a folk club everyone else was about 23-26 years of age and so were all the organisers of all the other folk clubs and festivals I went to. (Except the National)

Not sure when that was. When I was at University in the 1970's the Folk Club was very well attended and full of young people (perhaps because it was a university to state the obvious). I dare say that a number of people involved at that time then went on and continued their involvement as they had got an interest. The 1970's interest no doubt looked back to the folk boom in the 1960's.

I'm sure that there are a group of people who have been involved all the way through but I wouldn't be surprised if there aren't people of a similar age to me (I'm mid 50s) who have growing children or grown children, have some time on their hands and an interest in music; I play in a rock band too but that is a lot to do with my son's interest in music and a group of friends who are somewhat younger than me, but I still have my interest in acoustic music and my concept of what folk music is (sorry all let's not go there again...) and it's easier to start a 'folk club' or acoustic thing than get a rock thing going.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: goatfell
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 12:59 PM

well I sing with the song words infront of me, because I use it as an aid that is all, I know the song, but when you're in front of people you sometimes get nervous and you either forget the tune or the words and sometimes both, and when I'm really nervious I just don't sing because I just don't feel right, so maybe I'm wating your money and time but no asked you to come to the folk club did they, so it is your choice and not theirs or mine.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 12:57 PM

the way for singers/ musicians to improve is to rehearse and go to workshops etc,.
I can only speak from my own experience,which is generally[ singers at clubs where I have been guesting],and they have all been pretty good recently.
I have strong opinions about people reading words and using crib sheets[although one singer at Robin Hoods Bay ,did give a good rendition while surreptiously using a crib sheet].
nobody is forced to go to a particular club,there are generally choices,so why not let all the shit performers congregate together,and let others go elsewhere[just joking].
seriously,it is up to performers who expect to make money out of clubs to put something back in,one floor spot once a month by competent performers,would go some way to improving standards.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 12:55 PM

perhaps folk clubs should hand out bags of rotten fruit and veg
as the audience pay up and enter..
that'd encourage positive audience interaction
with wilfully shite [coz its their 'right'],
or sad deluded, 'outsider art' singers and musicians..

Debate the theories & idelogies of 'exclusivity' versus 'inclusivity' as much as you like..
lifes too short and moneys too tight
to constantly put up with rubbish nights out.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Gervase
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 12:50 PM

Sorry about the typos below - cold hands and a keyboard clogged with clag don't help.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Gervase
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 12:49 PM

If anyone is expected to fork out many to hear something, then they have a right either to hear a competent rendition or to call is shite if it is.
As has been said by many people, if you're going to bugger a song it should only be done in private and between consenting adults.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 12:48 PM

"lumping them all in under the term 'folk club' is a bit misleading"

First prize to Chris for the understatement of 2008!

Half the people responding to the OP are applying Singaround Club ethics to Concert Club standards.

There is a half-way house - the Guest Club, and the club movement was built on it - but it only works it the organisers are willing to be tactful but firm.

Luckily there are hundreds of unsung heroes out there who run the gauntlet week after week to maintain that delicate balance.

The rest are happy further to sit further out towards one end of the seesaw or the other.

But I think that across the UK there does seem to be long term trend developing. The balance seems to be tipping towards the 'participation ethos' side (with it's downside of ghettoisation), which must impact on the 'application of standards' side (with it's downside of exclusion).

If so, then 'Guest Clubs,' if not Singaround Clubs or Concert Clubs, are indeed dying. And if they die, then maybe the other two will eventually ossify too (I explain why in my forthcoming, lengthy article in Living Tradition)

There may be life in the old dog, but only as long as the old dog lives.

Meanwhile - how about we all try to move half-way towards the other guy's position for once, and see if we can come up with some practical suggestions?

Tom


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 12:43 PM

Not to be immodest, Villan, but people don't tell me or VT that we are not good enough. Indeed sometimes the reverse.

But whether they do or whether they don't they don't ahve that right.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 12:39 PM

A person on the Isle of Wight is trying to tell me I'm "wrong".
I was addressing the issue raised by the OP of shelling out to listen to shit.
The OP was quite specific that she did not mean a singaround complete with bowline hauling and Ranzoing which has free entrance (or possibly from which you need to pay to exit.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Folkiedave
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 12:32 PM


The Club I am helping with now, (Newport, Isle of Wight) is still in its infancy but we already have a strong Club feel. We don't charge entry or book stars but by heck we enjoy our evenings. All this under the banner of Traditional Folk and Sea songs.


I cannot imagine that would be a problem to the original poster.

You can also raise money by raffles, collections, selling fund raising scratch type cards or whatever. You don't even have to raise money if you don't want. Plenty of sessions and sing arounds don't.

She was objecting to paying good money to see rubbish. And I don't blame her.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: John Routledge
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 12:24 PM

Thanks Gervase. I always wondered why I never took friends out for a night in a folk club.:0(


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Andy Jackson
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 12:22 PM

Ok so now I've started at the end without reading all.
Dueling B is, it seems, maintaining the balance that surely we need. In an area luckily rich in sessions and singarounds a concert type venue should do well, and good luck.
I shouldn't respond to Diane E, but how is she always so wrong? Ah yes, she practises.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Chris Green
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 12:20 PM

Oop, posted before I'd finished!

What I was going to say is that I don't think folk clubs are dying, I just think the term is becoming increasingly meaningless. Or perhaps that it's taken on too many meanings - to some people it's an evening of traditional music where people take it in turns to sing unaccompanied songs, to some it's a gig where you go and see a band or singer, to some it's an open mike in a city centre pub where you get people with guitars belting out 60s pop songs.

I have nothing against any of these things. But I do think lumping them all in under the term 'folk club' is a bit misleading, as they're all utterly different and will attract different types of audience (or participants).


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Gervase
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 12:20 PM

If you have, as you say, been visiting clubs for a while now then you should have known what it might be like prepared your friends accordingly. Seems to me this rant is about you being embarrassed in front of your friends.
Well, for me it certainly is. I would love the average folk club to be the sort of place one could take a friend and have them pleasantly surprised, even delighted, by what they found. But I have to confess that I'd rather stick pins in my scrotum than subject my friends to some of the dire stuff that one finds at the average club.
To generalise sweepingly, folk clubs are a bloody embarrassment. Every third person is someone you have to make excuses about, "Oh so-and-so's a great singer, so do forgive...," or "she used to be brilliant, but...", or "No, really, he's doing really well, given that..." It's like introducing a perfectly normal friend to a convention of train-spotters or any other slightly obsessive-compulsive and socially-inept hobbyists. You really don't want to do it.

Perhaps we have two parallel universes here - in one the clubs are all grand, every singer is pitch perfect and nowt's wrong with the world, and in the other one finds sort of clubs that Faye mentioned and that I've encountered. In my universe the folk clubs are going the way of the skiffle clubs, and - sad though it may be for those who actually like to sing and play - I think that's a good thing. There are too many talentless old bores who regard themselves as 'keepers of the holy flame of folk', and the sooner their cold dead hands are prized from the torch the better.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 12:19 PM

carve the amateurs out of the folk scene completely

Well, that's not what I said, nor do I think Chris implied it.
These "aspiring musicians" (who will become tomorrow's professionals) need to keep on practicing in the shower, their bedrooms and then in sessions / singarounds. In short, until they are good enough to stand up in front of a paying public.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Chris Green
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 12:15 PM

You're right, of course, Pip. There's space for everything. But the reason I decided to go down this particular route is that the local area already has lots of sessions, singarounds and folk clubs where you can go and see local singers and musicians, a lot of whom are excellent. What there wasn't was what I'll call for the sake of argument a 'concert club'.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 12:09 PM

Duelling Bouzouki's new venue is an example of the way to go.

Sounds great if you want to pay concert prices to see established acts. (That's not meant sarcastically - it does sound great, and I'd be happy to support a similar venture round here.) But it surely isn't the way to go, unless you wanted to carve the amateurs out of the folk scene completely - and if you did, where would the next lot of professionals come from?


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 12:02 PM

Virginia,
I was fascinated by your rant - perhaps you might advise.
How would you suggest we, as audience, react to a singer who can't hold a tune and can't remember words without holding a crib sheet, and so is incapable of interpreting a song because they have to read it?
What sets me on a rant are people who are determined to have their five-minutes-of-fame in spite of the effect is has on the audience, the club or the music - am I being 'exclusive'?
.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 11:52 AM

put off any new folkie who maybe "hacking through songs"

Good. So they should be deterred from practising in public. Don't play out till you can should be Rule No 1 out of respect for (a) the music and (b) the punters.

singing in a cover band to a paying audience is a completely different animal to the informal setting that is the Folk Club

No, it bloody isn't.

The mistake lies with that horrific,patronising word "folkie" (yeuk) in the first quote. Substitute "aspiring musician". Beginning to get it?
Duelling Bouzouki's new venue is an example of the way to go. Hope it turns out well.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: The Villan
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 11:48 AM

>>But we are not prepared to have some self-important pillock (or pillockless) tell us we are not good enough for them. It's not an exam. It's not a driving test.<<

Maybe not, but it is a judgement of you. Did you get an explanation why you were not good enough for them?
What people think of themselves, does not mean other people have to agree.

Normally, it boils down to the style of the performer not suiting the style of the club.

We alll know how so often people say that somebody is crap, but really mean "I don't like that style of singing or music or something like that"


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Gedi
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 11:47 AM

"No, participative music is not dead yet. And Simon Cowell will kill it before we do." - Well said Richard.

I live in Old Trafford, Manchester, and as Pip Radish has pointed out there is the Chorlton FC which has a very eclectic range of performers, some of whom are admittedly a bit dubious, but many of whom are very good.

Then there is the excellent Beech Singaround (again in Chorlton) where more traditional songs (and music) can be enjoyed to a generally high standard, and which has just celebrated its 1st Birthday.

And more recently there is the Sale FC which again has a wide range of musical types, much American material in evidence, again all to a fairly high standard. This club has been going for about 3 months or so now and is a good night out.

All these are within a couple of miles of where I live so as far as I'm concerned Folk Music (in it's widest sense) is certainly not dying, but thriving.

And long may it continue.....

I think that with Folk, as with many things in life, it pays to 'shop around'.

Ged


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 11:45 AM

Here in our area, a very few coffee houses may be found which encourage live music. Entertainers such as Jewel have sprung from the local coffee house scene, but one could hardly label them folk singers. Most of the folk music I have heard in the past few years has been at annual events, such as the Adams Avenue Roots Music Festival, where performers come from far and wide to sing and put on clinics and share stories and songs at several venues, indoors and out, in one of our older neighborhoods. Such festivals represent an endangered species, since money must be raised to continue support. Most of the music is free to the public.

I'm very much a product of the 1950's and early 1960's coffee house scene on the west coast. I loved the opportunity we had, then, to try and fail in front of mostly supportive and forgiving local audiences. Some of us pursued music more seriously and some of us even had some modest success on "the coffee house circuit." But, those days and those venues belong to another time. I still love the music, and the memories. But, as Thomas Wolfe has said, "You can't go home again."


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 11:39 AM

Thank you VT. I would add that both VT and I do (separately) practice, tune, seek to improve, research our respective songs and in some cases their history (and we are in no way associated save through acquaintance) and have been told that we are not too bad (indeed in some cases people have been kinder to us than that)

But we are not prepared to have some self-important pillock (or pillockless) tell us we are not good enough for them. It's not an exam. It's not a driving test.

Ironically, some of them are even worse than we are...


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: greg stephens
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 11:38 AM

Faye Roche: you say you perform professionally in folk clubs. Under the name Faye Roche, or do you have another name?


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Andy Jackson
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 11:32 AM

I am about to do what I hate others doing..... replying before reading all.
I read the first message and thought "well a bit strong but fairly accurate"
Then I read the first reply, and for me that says it all. We go to CLUBS, we are FRIENDS, we enjoy each others company. I get far more enjoyment from being in the company of a friend as they do their best as a less than perfect performer than I ever get watching a polished performance from a "stranger".

The Club I am helping with now, (Newport, Isle of Wight) is still in its infancy but we already have a strong Club feel. We don't charge entry or book stars but by heck we enjoy our evenings. All this under the banner of Traditional Folk and Sea songs.
Now I'll go and read the rest of the thread, see you later!!!!

Andy


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 11:28 AM

Guess I should mention that clubs fade away in part due to aging membership, but also due to pubs unwilling to cater to that aging clientele.

More and more pubs are turning into watering holes for Yoof, who only want popular music and a place to get stinking drunk. Who can blame the pub owners? They are in business to make money.

Since there are fewer folk clubs they are farther afield from would be members. Not stumbling home distance any more. So those who were once and would be still folking are not any longer. No designated drive, high petrol prices on pension or no bus service late on week nights. All these things contribute to the death of the folk club.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: manitas_at_work
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 11:27 AM

"Betsy - Why not try reducing (personally I'd ban them) the use of music stands and crib sheets by performers.
Perhaps it would assist in removing a certain type of performer who seems to upset some of the subscribers.

This is intolerance and exclusivity."

Of course it isn't anything like that! It's merely asking for a bit of respect for the audience who have also paid their dues.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: manitas_at_work
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 11:23 AM

"put off any new folkie who maybe "hacking through songs"

But don't forget folk music isn't just about the performers - it's also about the listeners.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Will Fly
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 11:14 AM

I've also been to just the sort of duff evening described by Faye - though composed totally of floor singers (£2 on the door) at a weekly club "not a million miles from me" - as I've said in other posts. I've also been to many excellent clubs.

The point is that the thread title is "Why folk clubs are dying" - and we've seen from the very varied replies that you can't draw a general conclusion from a particular example. Whatever they might be in terms of attitude, content and standards, they're certainly flourishing in many parts of the country.

The ironic fact is that in my oft-quoted example of the club "not a million miles from me", although I personally think the standard at this place is crap and the evenings often tedious in the extreme, it's packed out each week! Whether you think this to be a Good Thing or a Bad Thing, there it is - large as life.

Quod Erat is not necessarily Demonstrandum...


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 11:12 AM

BEGIN RANT

God this thread has my hackles up.

Faye - I am a new folkie and grateful for every experience I get. I appreciate even those who "hack" their way through songs. A pit into which I have fallen more than once and expect to do again.

I'll close with a personal message to any singer who thinks that it's OK to stand up in public and hack his/her way through a song without learning and rehearsing it properly first: YOU'RE WASTING MY TIME AND MY MONEY! GET IT RIGHT OR STAY IN THE AUDIENCE!

Well that statement (bellowed as it was in part) is enough to put off any new folkie who maybe "hacking through songs" for various reasons including nerves, or having come perfectly prepared to sing to see their planned pieces done by someone else before their turn comes and so are forced to go with less practised ones.

You mentioned age. So what if ability to remember lyrics is fading? You in your precocious 30's surely knows better than us dinosaurs, right? You wait! The time is coming when someone will be saying the same unkind things about you.

Before I took up folk music I sang with a pop covers band........... but I've never seen a band of this type stop halfway through "Dancing Queen" and ask the audience how the next verse goes.

Well good for you. A semi-professional and we all now bow to your expertise. But singing in a cover band to a paying audience is a completely different animal to the informal setting that is the Folk Club. If you have, as you say, been visiting clubs for a while now then you should have known what it might be like prepared your friends accordingly. Seems to me this rant is about you being embarrassed in front of your friends.

I have been reading on the Mudcat only a short time and the theme of ridiculous expectations placed on folk hobbyists is a surefire killer of the club. Kill the club and you will kill the music.

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.

Be careful you don't destroy the very thing you wish to nurture. Those expectaions may scare away the old and new folk.

Betsy - Why not try reducing (personally I'd ban them) the use of music stands and crib sheets by performers.
Perhaps it would assist in removing a certain type of performer who seems to upset some of the subscribers.


This is intolerance and exclusivity. Only perfect singers need apply! You must meet certain criteria to join this club. Might as well join a fundamental religion or extreme politcal party. Folk terrorists.

Yet the "standards" brigade tell us that we are killing the music.

Right on Richard Bridge.

END RANT!


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Marje
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 11:02 AM

I do know what you mean, Faye. I've seen the very type of embarrassing performance you describe. I've also been to club evenings where all the floor spots were of a good-to-excellent standard - it all depends largely on who turns up.

And that, of course, is at once the weakness and the strength of many UK folk clubs. They like to be "inclusive" and kind to people (this is the point you were making, Leadfingers) and this is why many of them tolerate second-rate or downright dreadful performers as well as those that are good or promising.

The trouble is, of course, that it may be perceived as being kind to Fred - with his feeble voice, his out-of-tune guitar and his music stand - to give him a spot, but it's NOT kind to the rest of the audience to expect them to sit through Fred mumbling his way through the same two songs, with the wrong chords, in a key he can't sing in, yet again. And before someone says that Fred has to start somewhere, I'll reply that "Fred" (apologies to any real Freds out there!) is typically about 55 and has been performing like this ever since he realised, about 20 years ago, that he wasn't going to make it as a rock singer.

I'm not sure it's even in Fred's best interests to allow him to continue like this - isn't it rather patronising to pretend it's OK when it's not? If might be kinder for someone to suggest a few ways in which he could polish up his performance, and encourage him to stop deluding himself. It would certainly be kinder to the audience.

I'm not talking about novice singers who are just a tad nervous. And I'm not talking about the occasional slip-up - we've all seen experienced professionals stumble on their words or do a quick key-change betwteen verses. I'm talking about consistently sloppy, lazy and inadequate performances from people who are old enough to know better.

So I think you've every right, Faye, to feel angry and embarrassed when a club lets you down in this way. I hope any club organisers reading your comments will perhaps look a bit more critically at what they're asking people to pay to hear, and be a bit more selective, particularly when there's a professional guest singer or band.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Chris Green
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 10:58 AM

Crossposted! Oops!


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Chris Green
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 10:58 AM

Hi Will

Good point and one that had crossed my mind! However, the club only runs once a month and a couple of the acts we've got don't want a support at all, so each band is only doing two or three supports a year, so hopefully it won't get too samey!

Thanks for the good wishes

Chris


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Will Fly
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 10:57 AM

Whoops - I see it's monthly!


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Will Fly
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 10:55 AM

Great stuff Chris - I wish you the very best for your venture. Anyone who tries to put on live music, of whatever kind, in a pub setting gets my vote. My only comment would be: you might want to try a little variety if you're going to recycle the same three bands on a weekly basis. But who am I to butt in - the best of luck, and I hope it goes well! Keep it live...


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Chris Green
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 10:32 AM

I've mentioned this in another thread, but since I think it's germane to the point that Folkiedave raised, I'll reiterate it here if no-one minds.

The lack of young (ie - under 40) organisers is something that's been raised several times on this forum. You can't throw a stick at festivals these days without hitting virtuoso teenagers (about which I'm certainly not complaining!) and as far as young performers go, I think there's an embarrassment of talent out there. What there isn't are people of a similar age running venues.

Accordingly I decided a couple of months ago to put my money where my mouth is and this week Maudslay Thursday opens its doors for the first time. Our policy is to put on the best artists we can afford and instead of the floor spots system we'll have three resident bands who will take it in turns to fill the support slot and who will also get paid for their efforts. The room seats up to 150 people, the pub does Bombardier, Pedigree and a couple of guest ales and there'll be proper light and sound. A couple of people have sniffed and said things along the lines of 'well, it's not a folk club if you don't have floor spots' but in my defence, all I've tried to do is put on some really good music in pleasant surroundings! I also happen to think that if you're charging £10 a ticket, it's an insult to your audience not to impose some kind of quality control over what you ask them to listen to.

All we need now, however, is that audience, so if you're stuck in Coventry with nothing to do on a Thursday night (a ghastly notion, I admit) then nip down and see if it's your bag. We're also having a raffle, the prize for which will be two free tickets to every concert in 2009.

Hope to see you there

Chris Green (aged 31)
Maudslay Thursday


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