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Why folk clubs are dying

Waddon Pete 15 Dec 08 - 04:45 AM
banjoman 15 Dec 08 - 05:00 AM
TheSnail 15 Dec 08 - 05:04 AM
theleveller 15 Dec 08 - 05:04 AM
TheSnail 15 Dec 08 - 05:07 AM
Folkiedave 15 Dec 08 - 06:01 AM
Jack Campin 15 Dec 08 - 07:15 AM
Betsy 15 Dec 08 - 07:16 AM
GUEST,Working Radish 15 Dec 08 - 07:25 AM
Leadfingers 15 Dec 08 - 07:26 AM
Folkiedave 15 Dec 08 - 07:30 AM
GUEST,Working Radish 15 Dec 08 - 07:31 AM
TheSnail 15 Dec 08 - 07:50 AM
Acorn4 15 Dec 08 - 07:56 AM
Dave Sutherland 15 Dec 08 - 07:58 AM
Dave Sutherland 15 Dec 08 - 08:03 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 15 Dec 08 - 08:13 AM
RamblinStu 15 Dec 08 - 08:15 AM
Folkiedave 15 Dec 08 - 08:16 AM
Joe G 15 Dec 08 - 08:18 AM
Ruth Archer 15 Dec 08 - 08:23 AM
Janice in NJ 15 Dec 08 - 08:33 AM
TheSnail 15 Dec 08 - 08:40 AM
GUEST,Essex Girl 15 Dec 08 - 09:10 AM
Jack Campin 15 Dec 08 - 09:17 AM
GUEST,LDT 15 Dec 08 - 09:31 AM
The Sandman 15 Dec 08 - 09:49 AM
GUEST,LDT 15 Dec 08 - 10:03 AM
Chris Green 15 Dec 08 - 10:32 AM
Will Fly 15 Dec 08 - 10:55 AM
Will Fly 15 Dec 08 - 10:57 AM
Chris Green 15 Dec 08 - 10:58 AM
Chris Green 15 Dec 08 - 10:58 AM
Marje 15 Dec 08 - 11:02 AM
VirginiaTam 15 Dec 08 - 11:12 AM
Will Fly 15 Dec 08 - 11:14 AM
manitas_at_work 15 Dec 08 - 11:23 AM
manitas_at_work 15 Dec 08 - 11:27 AM
VirginiaTam 15 Dec 08 - 11:28 AM
Andy Jackson 15 Dec 08 - 11:32 AM
greg stephens 15 Dec 08 - 11:38 AM
Richard Bridge 15 Dec 08 - 11:39 AM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 15 Dec 08 - 11:45 AM
Gedi 15 Dec 08 - 11:47 AM
The Villan 15 Dec 08 - 11:48 AM
The Borchester Echo 15 Dec 08 - 11:52 AM
Jim Carroll 15 Dec 08 - 12:02 PM
Phil Edwards 15 Dec 08 - 12:09 PM
Chris Green 15 Dec 08 - 12:15 PM
The Borchester Echo 15 Dec 08 - 12:19 PM
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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 04:45 AM

"No one has stated the obvious, which is that folk music is dead."

No it isn't.........


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: banjoman
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 05:00 AM

What most people dont understand is that Folk Music is probably the only gendre where the audience/supporters are allowed and often encouraged to actively take part rather than sit and listen. This will always mean that some who are not as good as others will accept the invitation. Imagine going to a Jazz club or the Ballet and seeing people from the audience get up and "perform" some might get away with it but very few.
Participation should always be encouraged in Folk Clubs, and if a particular artist doesn't want or need it then they should say so before thet start. My favourite Tom Paxton story is of seeing him at the Philharmonic Hall Liverpool many years ago when he made it clear that he would tell us when he wanted us to join in as people had paid good money to hear HIM. Otherwise he may as well go and sit in the pub across the road and let the organisers know by phone what the audience should sing next.

Folk Clubs are not dead nor will they die so long as there are people good or bad performers who support them

Keep singing
Pete


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: TheSnail
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 05:04 AM

Folkiedave

I am looking for the young organisers

Yes. People like Sam Lee and Ed Hicks who gave us a fantastic show on Saturday night. They run the
The Magpie's Nest and embrace traditional music while adding something of their own.

I think Matt Quinn and Dogan Mehmet who we've got booked on 27th December will be making huge contributions in years to come.

And Faye... if you think you know how it should be done, put your time and energy (and possibly your own money) where your mouth is and set up a folk club the way you think they should beFolkiedave

I am looking for the young organisers

Yes. People like Sam Lee and Ed Hicks who gave us a fantastic show on Saturday night. They run the
The Magpie's Nest and embrace traditional music while adding something of their own.

I think Matt Quinn and Dogan Mehmet who we've got booked on 27th December will be making huge contributions in years to come.

And Faye... if you think you know better, put your time and energy and possibly your own money) where your mouth is and set up a folk club the way you think they should be.
.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: theleveller
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 05:04 AM

These discussions never seem to lead anywhere except to a retrenchment of well-established positions. The reason there is no answer is probably that folk clubs are as diverse and eclectic as the people who frequent them, and the music itself. As a general rule, thought, people get the folk clubs they want. I used to frequent two folk clubs regularly but now don't go as often as they seem to have turned more into 60s and 70s pop revival sessions and, although polite and welcoming, the people tend not to 'get' what we do (mostly self-penned songs based on the local area with a strong traditional theme that are a bit heavy for some people). Nevertheless, I don't feel angry about this – many of the people who attend regularly are my friends and if they enjoy it, that's fine, and when we do go, maybe 4 or 5 times a year, we get a warm welcome.

The point is, though, that they certainly aren't dying. They are well-attended and have been for very many years. Whether they can be called 'folk' clubs is a different matter.


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

Sorry about that. Something went wrong with cut-and-paste.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Folkiedave
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 06:01 AM

Hi Snail.

I am well aware of the Magpie's Nest and of Sam.

There are a couple of others that exist too.

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)

There are some wonderful professional or semi-professional musicians around nowadays. But the way to see them at their best and not have to sit through the "here is a song I only wrote this morning so I may not sing it right" syndrome is in the small concert venue and the concert hall and festival and not the club.

If you want to sing a song you wrote that morning in front of other people by all means do so - but not in front of paying customers.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Jack Campin
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 07:15 AM

Which has increased more in the last few years?

- CD sales?
- Viewings of amateur performances on YouTube?

YouTube is effectively the biggest singaround in history. Its users go for the participatory aspect in the same way that the participants in a village folk club do. And most of the people posting comments are nice in the way Leadfingers described (until you trigger a dispute about Balkan or Caucasian nationalism, anyway). Nor are YouTube users all over 50.

I'd much rather have been at the gathering "romany man" was at than any professional's concert. And it looks like a few million people agree with me.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Betsy
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 07:16 AM

Oh dear! I find myself agreeing with bits of everyone's postings.
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.
How can anyone sing with emotion, passion, conviction or gusto when they're reading the words?
I am probably in a vast minority, but when I see music stands in a folk club it instils in me all sorts of negative thoughts about the performer.
Also, the people who stand up and recite (e.g.) Les Barker's poems (without mentioning that Les wrote them) and haven't got a clue where to place the humorous emphasis.
And the person who appears to know only 2 songs, and has been singing them badly every week for the last ten years.
And what about the people who have been playing the guitar / instrument for a relatively short time yet attempt songs and accompaniment which is FAR too complicated for them.
Most of us started at the "bottom" with 3-chord songs and worked our way up, why don't they learn to do the same.
Finally, I also being at the wrong end of the age scale, note with interest the warmth of subscribers in relation to the folk scene in the 60's & 70's which I share.
Please remember that (generally) two things were missing from a folk club in those days which now exist – microphones and music stands, both of which I believe have combined to form an unhealthy barrier between the performer and the audience.
Should we consider going back to purely acoustic nights for smaller clubs? although, naturally, I appreciate bigger clubs and concerts may still require them.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Working Radish
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 07:25 AM

they certainly aren't dying. They are well-attended and have been for very many years. Whether they can be called 'folk' clubs is a different matter.

When I first started going to Chorlton FC, there were five or six regulars singing to a room of about 12 or 15 people, mostly 50+. You'd get two songs in the first half and at least one - maybe two - in the second half; there were a couple of weeks when I got to do three plus two. Everyone worked hard on what they presented - it was pretty uncommon to see a crib sheet, and almost unknown for anyone to try to sing who basically couldn't - and about a quarter of what you heard was traditional.

These days anything from 15 to 20 acts get one song each all night (apart from whoever gets to finish the night - they get a couple). The place is regularly packed out, with a big contingent of the temporarily age-deprived. Crib sheets abound, the range of abilities is very wide indeed, and about one song in ten is traditional.

From comments by Will and theleveller, among others, I gather Chorlton's not the only club like this. It's certainly not dying - it's looking good for years to come. But if a stranger asked me where they could hear folk music around here, it wouldn't be the first place I'd mention.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Leadfingers
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 07:26 AM

Betsy - Even worse than the music stands is the A4 sheet of paper held up between the singer and the audience , so that the singer is singing to the word sheet and not to the rest of the room !


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Folkiedave
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 07:30 AM

this weekend i went to a real romany get together, with real romany singers and players, bum notes, out of tune singing

I'd much rather have been at the gathering "romany man" was at than any professional's concert. And it looks like a few million people agree with me

Jack let me ask you this, would this have been as much fun if they hadn't been romanies? Because I can find you plenty of places where singers and players can all do bum notes and out-of-tune singing. With ease. And what is more - they will be delighted if you do the same. IT makes them feel wanted.

And I have told you ten million times don't exaggerate.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Working Radish
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 07:31 AM

Just to clarify, the rise in amateurishness and the influx of younger people are two different things - the younger performers who've turned up recently range from 'good' up to 'give this man a recording contract'.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: TheSnail
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 07:50 AM

Folkiedave, folk clubs are folk clubs and concerts are concerts. Different things with different pleasures. Countless times I've heard someone in concert and thought "Very nice, but it would be so much nicer to hear them in a folk club." and then been proved right when we booked them.

the "here is a song I only wrote this morning so I may not sing it right" syndrome

and other mythical beasts like the "John Lennon impersonator", "the teenage diary singer" and "the song strangler" who apparently dominate all the folk clubs in the land except the ones I go to. OK, I'm sure they exist but perhaps they are the price you have to pay for hearing J who turns the interpretation of Child ballads into a labour of love and S who, in her sixties, sings like an angel and looks like a young girl as she does so. Then there's M who has only been singing in public for two or three years and, yes, he was a bit shaky when he first started and still has a limited repertoire but his voice has matured wonderfully. He had a cake at the club on his eightieth birthday. None of these have ever been near a concert stage.

And then there's the satisfaction of seeing the Folk Prom at the Albert Hall on the telly and thinking "We gave that bloke his first solo booking and I've seen that other chap perform a few feet in front of me with no PA in front of an audience of fifty."

Not to forget N who remembers the singers in his grandparents' Sussex pub when he was a child and now turns up with his eleven year old grandson who sings and plays banjo.

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to write this. It's helped me realise just how much I value folk clubs.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Acorn4
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 07:56 AM

With reference to the chap who reads Les Barker poems.

Les actually normally reads his own from the books, and is ,of course, hilarious.

I think this is a question of timing rather than whether you read from a sheet or not.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 07:58 AM

Ariving late at this thread I am alarmed that some posters (and by the identity of them)who are citing that the basic folk club rules, those employed by successful folk clubs since the movement began, are to blame for this vaunted demise. "Please regulate your visits to the bar or toilet to in between songs/tunes. Please do not talk while someone is singing/playing." simply come under the folk club manners debate. Surely no point is so academic that it can't wait until the end of the song and in the case of loud bands, where no order exists, only encourage those who feel this way to "whisper" all the louder. I had to battle to hear Edward 11 the other week against some gobshite who was intent on bellowing to his mate and their partners throughout part of the gig.
As a member of the organisation of a traditionally based folk club, which will celebrate its eighteenth birthday in February I would have been deeply embarrassed had any of our residents or regular performers presented themselves in the manner that Faye describes as we have all been around the scene long enough to know what standards are acceptable.
In my experience it has been they type of folk club that cares niether for good order or high standards that goes to the wall the quickest; hopefully those clubs who are interested in their audience and treat them and the music with the respect that it deserves will be the ones to survive as we old organisers get ever older.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 08:03 AM

sorry - the type of folk club.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 08:13 AM

"You know you're getting old when you start to say
I wonder what's the matter with the kids today."

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: RamblinStu
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 08:15 AM

Folk Clubs are in general run by well meaning well intentioned people who put a lot of time and effort into offering an invaluable service to Folk Music.

But

There are some clubs out there that are, to put it mildly, awful. These are the clubs, usually run by some blinkered old folkie who insists they know what "Real" folk music is, and often discourage other musical styles.
More importantly, these people have forgotten that they should be providing entertainment. An entertainment that should attract an audience, not a small collection of fellow performers, who sit in silence, listening to someone murder a song, again.. and again..and then praise them….

Folk clubs will die out if standards are poor and they fail to attract, and keep, a wider audience. It is no use clubs relying upon "names" to attract an audience. If that club can't provide the proper support for the "Name" then that audience is lost to the club.

Finally it is very easy for me to criticise, and I am the first to admit that I couldn't organise any function in a brewery, so I do have admiration for those who run folk clubs, but let's try to raise the standards and give folk music the status it truly deserves

Stuart Pendrill


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Folkiedave
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 08:16 AM

And sessions is sessions and singarounds are singarounds.

The OP went to a folk club to see a band and paid good money. She got as she described it:

First a selection of floor singers ambled on and after the usual false starts ("oops- a bit high; I'll try that again", etc.- haven't these people ever heard of pitch pipes?) a singer came on who stumbled to the end of the first verse of her chosen song, then forgot the rest and had to be helped through it by members of the audience. As she sat down, to cries of "Well done" and "We got there in the end", one of my friends whispered to me "People actually PAY to listen to this???" in astonishment

If that did not reperesent folk clubs I have been to then I would have contradicted her as Dick Miles has done and said generalising from the particular. I disagree with Dick, that descrition is far too common.

I am happy to give people chances; but I would prefer them to sing in tune and know the words to the songs they are singing. Especially when they have written them themselves.

Is that really too much to ask?


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Joe G
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 08:18 AM

Just to add my tuppenceworth (or slightly more than), the editor of our local folk magazine, Tykes News, asked a little while ago about the apparent decline of the folk club and I replied as follows:

This is an issue that concerns me as I am sure it does anyone who remembers the great days in the 70' & early 80's (and presumably before but I wasn't around then!) when clubs were full and the atmosphere was buzzing (at least it was in my native north east). We still have some great nights but all too often the enjoyment of a great performer or group is diluted by the fact that one has to sit through some dreadful (and I make no apologies for using the word) floor singers.
Don't get me wrong here, I believe the folk club is an essential place for young and/or inexperienced singers and musicians to get some exposure and build up confidence. I enjoy singarounds at festivals though I must confess I rarely attend these at clubs. I've heard some stars of the future make their first hesitant steps in clubs but I've also sat through renditions of tiresome songs by people who simply cannot sing and should have realised, or been told, by now. What I find inexcusable is that, having paid a reasonable sum to see a favourite artist, I have to listen to people who plainly have no talent at all for performance eating into the main artist's time on stage. I would dearly love to perform my own music in front of people but I am well aware that I have no aptitude for performing live, due to an appalling lack of sense of rhythm (just ask anyone who has danced with me!) and would not presume to foist myself upon an audience.
At a recent club night I attended, which heavily featured the aforesaid talentless floorsingers and a deeply drab venue, I suspect that there was there was nobody under the age of 40. Yet youth in abundance is evident at many relatively traditional festivals and at events such as the Demon Barber Sessions in Bradford. We need to get these people, and others, into the clubs. With the large number of other attractions on offer, particularly in the urban parts of our area, this is going to be an uphill task.
I believe, though I suspect there will be several who will disagree (!), that there needs to be a change in format of many clubs to have some form of quality control and limit on number of floor singers on guest nights. Maybe adopting the Topic's and other clubs' approach of having regular featured support acts is the answer. This would give you some confidence that, having dragged yourself away from the comfort of your CD collection, you are likely to have a good night out and not a rollercoaster ride from the sublime to the sometimes, frankly, ridiculous.


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

Dave - I agree that politeness and respect for the artists is very important. On this same visit there were two chaps stood chatting at the bar throughout the second set - now THAT was bloody annoying and wanted a telling off. But there's a certain kind of stultifying reverence that can be the opposite outcome, where even a few whispered words during tuning up are met by an OTT response from one or two of the "gatekeepers". Maybe it's something to do with so many folkies being school teachers (she said, tongue firmly in cheek...)


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Janice in NJ
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 08:33 AM

We have plenty of folk clubs here in North America, but with just a few exceptions they follow a very different model than in the United Kingdom. What North American clubs generally do is have entirely separate evenings for featured guest artists. These are actual concerts, and depending upon the size of the audience, they can be in someone's house, a church, a school auditorium, or even a small concert hall. There may be an opening act, possibly a talented club member, but there are usually not any floor singers as in the UK. The clubs then have other evenings for members, and these can be singarounds, pub sings, jam sessions, house parties, or whatnot. This separation addresses the issue raised aboved.


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

Folkiedave

I am happy to give people chances; but I would prefer them to sing in tune and know the words to the songs they are singing. Especially when they have written them themselves.

Is that really too much to ask?


Nope and in my experience, it's what you get. I think you may be going to the wrong clubs.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Essex Girl
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 09:10 AM

The club that I am involved in running will accept any singer/musician of any age (we have had some excellent young musicians recently), and/or talent. We have a great variety of music, not all to my taste but that would apply at any club folk or otherwise. However we do draw the line when we have a paid guest and only invite a couple of our regular floor singers who can sing/play reasonably well and will not forget the words. I have heard a few moans on these occasions (why can't we have a spot? etc etc) but we feel that a paying audience and the guest deserves the best we can supply.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Jack Campin
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 09:17 AM

Edinburgh Folk Club seems to have a pretty successful formula - no floor spots at all, instead there is a support act (or sometimes two) who have practiced a bit.   (The support act is usually a dreadfully dull singer-songwriter with a sidekick, but they are dependably competent and probably appeal to the sort of person who likes that sort of thing. At least they don't go on too long). Leith Folk Club does the same thing. They don't need to have floor spots since there are plenty of other session/singaround/open-mike venues in the area.

Their audience is about as old as those other posters are describing, though. Younger people go to a more heterogeneous range of venues - the session or open-mike scenes for participants, and for listeners, "alternative" clubs like Out of the Blue, the Bongo Club, the Forest Cafe. I'm not sure we have a generic name for those yet. Typically they don't run two successive events are in the same format and genre, though organizers may set up a series of events, like the regular "Balkanarama" things (Balkan concert with food and Balkan disco).


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,LDT
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 09:31 AM

No wonder its 'dying' As a young type person I don't even know exactly what a folk club is...or what its for... All I know is it gets a lot of debate on here.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 09:49 AM

hi LDT,just keep fingering your buttons and squeezing your box.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,LDT
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 10:03 AM

hi LDT,just keep fingering your buttons and squeezing your box.
oo-er! *shocked face*


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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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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: 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: 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: Chris Green
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 10:58 AM

Crossposted! Oops!


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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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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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