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Why folk clubs are dying

Gervase 15 Dec 08 - 12:20 PM
Chris Green 15 Dec 08 - 12:20 PM
Andy Jackson 15 Dec 08 - 12:22 PM
John Routledge 15 Dec 08 - 12:24 PM
Folkiedave 15 Dec 08 - 12:32 PM
The Borchester Echo 15 Dec 08 - 12:39 PM
Richard Bridge 15 Dec 08 - 12:43 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 15 Dec 08 - 12:48 PM
Gervase 15 Dec 08 - 12:49 PM
Gervase 15 Dec 08 - 12:50 PM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 15 Dec 08 - 12:55 PM
The Sandman 15 Dec 08 - 12:57 PM
goatfell 15 Dec 08 - 12:59 PM
Nick 15 Dec 08 - 01:02 PM
The Villan 15 Dec 08 - 01:25 PM
Musket 15 Dec 08 - 01:28 PM
Folkiedave 15 Dec 08 - 01:45 PM
The Sandman 15 Dec 08 - 02:10 PM
Lizzie Cornish 1 15 Dec 08 - 02:17 PM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 15 Dec 08 - 02:28 PM
Effsee 15 Dec 08 - 02:36 PM
Jim Carroll 15 Dec 08 - 02:36 PM
VirginiaTam 15 Dec 08 - 02:45 PM
Richard Bridge 15 Dec 08 - 02:52 PM
Ruth Archer 15 Dec 08 - 02:55 PM
Nick 15 Dec 08 - 02:58 PM
GUEST,Captain Swing 15 Dec 08 - 03:00 PM
The Borchester Echo 15 Dec 08 - 03:01 PM
Gervase 15 Dec 08 - 03:05 PM
Nick 15 Dec 08 - 03:09 PM
Art Thieme 15 Dec 08 - 03:12 PM
Sleepy Rosie 15 Dec 08 - 03:15 PM
Waddon Pete 15 Dec 08 - 03:28 PM
GUEST,Howard Jones 15 Dec 08 - 03:33 PM
VirginiaTam 15 Dec 08 - 03:41 PM
Folkiedave 15 Dec 08 - 03:42 PM
TheSnail 15 Dec 08 - 04:02 PM
Gervase 15 Dec 08 - 04:09 PM
The Borchester Echo 15 Dec 08 - 04:11 PM
Joybell 15 Dec 08 - 04:17 PM
GUEST,Howard Jones 15 Dec 08 - 04:20 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 15 Dec 08 - 04:26 PM
Jim Carroll 15 Dec 08 - 04:28 PM
VirginiaTam 15 Dec 08 - 04:34 PM
Andy Jackson 15 Dec 08 - 04:39 PM
Ruth Archer 15 Dec 08 - 04:42 PM
VirginiaTam 15 Dec 08 - 04:52 PM
GUEST,Howard Jones 15 Dec 08 - 04:56 PM
The Villan 15 Dec 08 - 05:02 PM
TheSnail 15 Dec 08 - 05:07 PM
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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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: Gervase
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 03:05 PM

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

Art


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

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

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

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


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

Music stands and crib sheets......

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

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

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

Peter


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

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

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

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

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


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

Diane

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

END OF RANT


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

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

It would be worth seeing just for the novelty value.


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

Many places outside Lewes, I should imagine.


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is there anything we can do?

Tom


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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Happy ******mas


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

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

Happy to be corrected. :)


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

Jim

I did answer your question how should we react.

I replied with patience and tolerance.

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

I would like to add something to this debate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope that all makes sense.


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

Gervase

Many places outside Lewes, I should imagine.

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

GUEST,Howard Jones

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

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

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

Ah, but is it luck?


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