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Why folk clubs are dying

Richard Bridge 16 Dec 08 - 11:51 AM
Jim Carroll 16 Dec 08 - 11:52 AM
Musket 16 Dec 08 - 11:58 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 16 Dec 08 - 11:59 AM
The Villan 16 Dec 08 - 12:06 PM
GUEST 16 Dec 08 - 12:12 PM
Marje 16 Dec 08 - 12:45 PM
Acorn4 16 Dec 08 - 01:16 PM
Acorn4 16 Dec 08 - 01:58 PM
BusyBee Paul 16 Dec 08 - 02:13 PM
VirginiaTam 16 Dec 08 - 02:17 PM
VirginiaTam 16 Dec 08 - 02:34 PM
Marje 17 Dec 08 - 04:24 AM
burntstump 17 Dec 08 - 06:29 AM
Banjiman 17 Dec 08 - 06:37 AM
Big Al Whittle 17 Dec 08 - 06:59 AM
Dave Sutherland 17 Dec 08 - 08:39 AM
Big Al Whittle 17 Dec 08 - 08:49 AM
Stringsinger 17 Dec 08 - 03:02 PM
GUEST,Ian Fyvie 17 Dec 08 - 03:03 PM
Faye Roche 17 Dec 08 - 03:30 PM
The Sandman 17 Dec 08 - 03:50 PM
GUEST,PeterC 17 Dec 08 - 04:06 PM
Dave the Gnome 17 Dec 08 - 05:20 PM
GUEST,Bruce Michael Baillie 17 Dec 08 - 05:44 PM
Faye Roche 17 Dec 08 - 05:47 PM
The Borchester Echo 17 Dec 08 - 05:52 PM
Faye Roche 17 Dec 08 - 06:16 PM
The Sandman 17 Dec 08 - 06:16 PM
The Sandman 17 Dec 08 - 06:22 PM
GUEST,Faye Roche 17 Dec 08 - 06:41 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 17 Dec 08 - 06:44 PM
Betsy 17 Dec 08 - 06:57 PM
The Sandman 17 Dec 08 - 07:02 PM
Phil Edwards 17 Dec 08 - 07:06 PM
GUEST 17 Dec 08 - 09:02 PM
Maryrrf 17 Dec 08 - 10:37 PM
Andy Jackson 18 Dec 08 - 12:45 AM
The Villan 18 Dec 08 - 02:11 AM
The Sandman 18 Dec 08 - 03:03 AM
Gervase 18 Dec 08 - 03:04 AM
Dave Sutherland 18 Dec 08 - 03:10 AM
Will Fly 18 Dec 08 - 03:57 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 18 Dec 08 - 04:24 AM
burntstump 18 Dec 08 - 04:28 AM
Waddon Pete 18 Dec 08 - 04:36 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 18 Dec 08 - 04:41 AM
Folkiedave 18 Dec 08 - 05:14 AM
Andy Jackson 18 Dec 08 - 05:19 AM
The Borchester Echo 18 Dec 08 - 05:41 AM
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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 16 Dec 08 - 11:51 AM

Wasn't there a piss-take of Tommy Roe's "the Folk Singer" called "the Floor singer"?

Folkie Dave - I'm with you! There is at least one person for whom I will leave the room, and indeed if I know she is going to be present I will not go at all.

But I won't try to stop her playing (fat chance, she thinks she is great and has her own ceilidh band!)


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Dec 08 - 11:52 AM

"a sandalled weirdbeard sticking his finger in his ear, crooning through every key known and then some, about the hardships of being a Norfolk reed cutter."
And it's generalised and offensive shite like this that will split us down the middle and continue to convince me that the average non-folk folkie couldn't find their collective arses with both hands.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Musket
Date: 16 Dec 08 - 11:58 AM

Must admit, yes, the young turks do not always play clubs, but they do play festivals and these are showcases that do still get people curious about folk clubs.

What got them interested? Ok, family ties with certain aforementioned, but not all. The interviews on Mike Harding's Folk on 2 suggest a resurgence.

Mind you, the folk clubs themselves have altered over the years. It must be a differing picture around the world, let alone across one county here the UK.

if a club is either not benefiting from a resurgence or the resurgence is happening in the club down the road, organisers need to ask themselves a few questions.

I was a vote back in 1982 to close a huge, nationally known, (the guest list always got national BBC plugs) folk club. We thought their time had ended.

Then came the resurgence (part 1.) The Pogues and the Irish connection (FECK?)
Resurgence (part 2) the young turks.

Let us hope if resurgence (part 3) is gifted to the movement, it is embraced with open arms, rather than rebuffed.

Dunno what that may be, but looking at politics, I am sure the protest song movement could use some "what goes round comes round" airing.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 16 Dec 08 - 11:59 AM

apart from the usual typos I meant to clarify this better:

"developing the skills and profile that only full commitment to the circuit can generate"

By skills, I don't mean musical ability, I mean sales and marketing skills, and some other survival skills which you don't find out about till you've been three months in the jungle!

Increasingly, artists are being expected to help to ensure that there will be a decent audience - in fact some clubs nowadays maintain that this is entirely the artist's responsibility. The skills required to do this, specially in the current climate, are not easy to come by - and only the totally committed are likely to give them their wholehearted attention (coming as they do on top of all the artistic things that artists have to do).

They include things like mailing list building and management, graphic design, finding and engaging with remote media outlets, developing web communication skills and so on.

To have even a chance of reaching out over the shoulders of your employers to potential punters (specially if those punters happen not to be fans of clubs) takes time and massive tenacity - something few musicians want to apply to anything other than music.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: The Villan
Date: 16 Dec 08 - 12:06 PM

>>in fact some clubs nowadays maintain that this is entirely the artist's responsibility<<

That is not acceptable.

If I book an artist, I consider it my job to promote it. Why put these artists on if you can't be arsed to promote it. Its a thankless task promoting, but its a job that has to be done.

If an artist has a website and mailing list situation, it does help as they can possibly generate extra income for themselves (if they are on a % of the door).


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Dec 08 - 12:12 PM

I'm astonished that some club members (e.g. RB and VT, above) seem to be demanding the right to sing or play, at whatever standard they please, at any club, without anyone's permission.

Folk club organiser make the decisions about many other issues - they decide what guests to book, how much to charge, how many people to admit, how to publicise the event, etc - why on earth should they not have the right to decide which singers should have floor spots?

If I thought that a club organiser who'd heard me sing previously decided that I wasn't good enough, or simply wasn't suitable, for a slot in a particular evening's entertainment, that's fine by me. I'd rather they didn't include me than let me be an embarrassment to the club, or deny slot a spot to someone better. The only thing that would annoy me would be if they overlooked me and then gave spots to other singers whom I thought were rubbish. As long as the spots they did include were of a high standard, I'd be happy to sit back and be entertained.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Marje
Date: 16 Dec 08 - 12:45 PM

Woops, that was me above. I've just changed from OE to Mozilla because of the security worries and seem to have mislaid my cookies. All sorted now.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Acorn4
Date: 16 Dec 08 - 01:16 PM

Are many young people not attracted because folk is not seen as "sexy", rather like politics isn't, so they won't vote.

Of course we all are, aren't we ?

Of course we all no folk music can be, but it is not probablyperceived as such.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Acorn4
Date: 16 Dec 08 - 01:58 PM

Sorry about typo "know" "no" - in a rush!


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: BusyBee Paul
Date: 16 Dec 08 - 02:13 PM

OP said: ".. 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."

You may not have all the facts - I know of one guy who, after years of sterling work running a folk club and being a regular floor singer, suffered severe ill-health. He now occasionally attends clubs, sings from sheets because he can't remember all the words and sometimes forgets the tunes BUT we would have no hesitation in joining in if need be to help him out and yes, we would shout Well Done! and We got there in the end!.

Folk is about Folk - and quite rightly so in my book.

Deirdre


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 16 Dec 08 - 02:17 PM

So difficult to keep up with this thread. Work life no balance.

Maybe the problem is that I have not had the experiences of many on this thread. After 40odd years never going anywhere or doing anything that wasn't child, church or work related, I feel so grateful for every chance to sing and listen. I am able to glean the good and say ah well to the not so good. I am able to listen beyond the lost key, missed verses and find what is good. But to be truthful, I have not had that many bad experiences.

I am in no position to tell a singer that song would have been really good if only you had memorised it perfectly and had some voice lessons and had stage presence and maybe sung it in another club where I wasn't. In fact I doubt there is anyone on this thread that would actually do that.

If I were confident and competent enough and had those precious commodities time and energy, I might offer and invite practice sessions at my home between folk club sessions. Maybe in my retirement, if I live that long.

In the meantime, I will go and enjoy all I am able to and try not complain when something or someone did not meet expectation.

Life is too short to waste dwelling on disapointment.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 16 Dec 08 - 02:34 PM

Marje

I am not demanding the right to sing for myself, especially in floor singers surrounding paid guest. A position to which I would never aspire.   I just don't think the OP should whinge about the quality of performance by floor singers (club members) where she paid to see a specific guest singer. She self admitted that she had been attending clubs for two years. She should have known what she might be in for. The whole thread has evolved or devolved into rights of club members and rights of paying audience.   

Maybe the word "right" is too strong. Maybe I should not have used it. One's throat can get cut on the Mudcat for smaller slips.

I just feel it was quite harsh of the OP to air her disappointment (embarrassment in front of her friends) so vociferously. It felt as though she just needed to offload.   

Re the devolution of the thread.... it seems there is a large contingent that believes it is OK to disallow "substandard" members singing/playing. RB and I don't believe this is right.

I really need to leave this thread now.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Marje
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 04:24 AM

If you're still there, Virginia - sorry if I misinterpreted what you (and Richard) said.

I can, though, understand how Faye felt when she took friends to a folk club. When you hold something (like folk music) very dear, and it's an important part of your life, you don't expect everyone to share your enthusiasm, but you'd like them to have some understanding of why you care about it so much. You really want to be able to be proud of your local club and local musicians in front of newcomers, and it's disappointing to be let down. I can see why Faye felt the need to explain to her friends that this was not representative of the music she loved, and that it could be so much better.

I don't often take my husband to folk clubs with me any more, for those reasons. He, like Faye's friend, has been heard to mutter, "I can't believe I'm paying to sit through this!" So I know how she feels. A club policy of uncritical "inclusiveness" does mean that the regulars may hesitate to bring friends along, and casual visitors are unlikely to come back, which is undeniably one of the reasons why some clubs are struggling.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: burntstump
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 06:29 AM

Interesting subject

Being an ex club organiser who came through the seventies when clubs and floor singers were not just good but the majority were very good, I now ask myself the question why don't I frequent the clubs that still run near to where I live in Nottingham in the UK.

I can only answer the question based on my own views of the problems faced by club organisers who had a duty to try and give a genuine and honest pounds worth of entertainment to the paying public, many of which sadly failed.

Sadly, over the years, those performers that were any good priced themselves out of the market and the budget of most folkies, this left the influx of the not so tallented, who thought they were good but in reality were no better than the average floor singer. I know the club organiser should vet any booked act prior to booking them, but the reality is that a demo tape can be somewhat misleading and tour schedules fabricated.

One club that I used to visit on a regular basis moved from a comfortable pub back room to a morbid upstairs attic, they stopped allowing the floor singers to get up and perform a set of songs and went to a singaround, everyone got to sing one song from where they sat and hopefully another later in the night.

Being a musician, I need one song to warm up and to get into my performance, so the singaround didn't help me to perform at my best,nor did the singaround encourage performers to practice and polish their act, they could sit at the back in some dark corner and perform from there, very often with a crib sheet because they hadn't really learned the song or the tune.Another point was the club was supposed to start at 20.30 but very often didn't start until 21.00. This meant a lot of sitting arround waiting for the evening to start encouraging people to turn up late. At my club we started at 20.15 regardless of the number in the audience.

A lot of the people I used to know from the folk scene are no longer with us, and yes we can all reminisce about the good old days, but on this occasion they genuinely were the good old days and I for one would not have missed it for the world!!

I still have my guitars, and who knows one day.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Banjiman
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 06:37 AM

Burntstump........ is there really a lowering in quality of "guests"?

You could see this at The Woodlark F.C. near Nottingham on January 5th.

Can you honestly tell me this is no good and the performers aren't talented?

Woodlark Folk Club.......next guest


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 06:59 AM

No its not a lowering of musical standards - although some of the unique talents that we lost were simply irreplaceable - Capstick, brimstone, Gerry Lockran.

The point always was that they would invariably be asked to finish off the evening - because yer actual 'serious' folk musicians couldn't follow them. They were entertainers. they had the 'big finish' - the thing that makes an audience discount the fact they could have home listening to cds with their feet up, and drinking at supermarket prices.

People think that just cos you've got something 'interesting' (yawn) to say about the origins of the song, or even if they just perform it brilliantly - its enough.

It ain't. It never was. And these 'serious' musicians are all that's left and they have pretty much emptied every venue entrusted to them.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 08:39 AM

Similarly, Burntstump, I could invite you to our club in Long Eaton. We run monthly and normally have a guest each month, however,due to the quantity and, dare I say,the quality of the floor singers it is unlikely that you'll get more than one song per visit.

www.tigerfolk.com


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 08:49 AM

Well that's true dave - there have always been the serious clubs, like your own.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Stringsinger
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 03:02 PM

folk clubs tend to be insular. They are sinecures for insiders. There are "favorites" and often those emperors have new clothes.

People tend to be clustered. When the circle becomes too small and outsiders are subjected to overdue scrutiny and criticism, then the circle dies.

Hence, folk clubs die.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Ian Fyvie
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 03:03 PM

We have a brilliant opportunity with the recession to rebuild folk clubs from the base.   People with reduced incomes might stay at home and consume more from the tele etc but there will be many more itching to get out - but spend on good value rather than overrated hypestars of the Music Industry.

So - in we come with Folk Clubs. Enjoy an evening of live music - FOLK - in a local pub - for the price of just your drinks. This could help save you local pub and pull more people into love music generally (There's a boom in Open Mic sessions locally by the way.)

The great thing is that it's a low risk adventure for people who had never thought of folk as entertainment before - and as long as it's a good atmosphere they should come back next time - with more recruits!

I'm not so bothered about the PayClub scene as I don't frequent it - but organisers here should obviously be promoting the benefits of seeing a "Folk Star" in an intimate club atmoshphere at a fraction of the price of a large impersonal concert hall.


Ian Fyvie


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Faye Roche
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 03:30 PM

Phew- what a hornets' nest. I don't have time to do more than skim through all these posts but here goes with my responses:

"A folk club now is just that....a "club" for people...a place where a few local people get together with their friends to relax and share in a common interest. If they have a more informal attitude to the music than you do, that may bother you, but if you want to be part of that scene then you either have to put up with it, or else BECOME the change you wish to see. In other words, YOU learn to play some stuff really well, without screwing up any of it, and get up there onstage and do that. It should give you much satisfaction, and it should entertain other people as well. You will be personally building the future for the kind of folk club you want."

That's what I do- perform to the best of my ability.

"You have to understand that after a certain age when friends get together with other friends they may become a lot less demanding of performance perfection than they were in the days of youthful ambition."

Fine- if it's just friends getting together with friends. But a music venue that charges the public for admission?

"Try going to a major folk festival in the summer. You will see some absolutely amazingly good performances there, I guarantee it."

I went to three festivals this summer, all of them excellent, including the "club" stages. That's how I'd like folk clubs to be. Does anyone disagree?

"Folk clubs will change, as they have over the years already."

I'm frequently told by people who were around when it was all happening of the golden age of folk when the clubs were packed and you had to audition to get a floor spot. That was before my time, but wouldn't everyone like it to be like that now? I would.

"Elvis Presley forgot the words to: are you lonesome tonight,the Beatles were frequently out of tune,when they played in Hamburg, as were The Rolling Stones on occasions in their early days,the Dave Clark Five, had a drummer who[well the less said the better],many pop groups of the sixties could not be heard live,because of the screaming[and a good job too]."

Yes, we all make mistakes, and there have been instances of artists in all fields going a long way on a little talent. However, I'm sure that all the people described above rehearsed and did their best. Anyway, you can't use the odd poor performance by one artist to justify atrocious singing by someone else.

"Many of the pop covers bands are playing crap [just my opinion]. I would rather hear folk music performed not very well, than a professional competent pop covers band."

I wouldn't. I don't like listening to crap singers who can't be bothered to learn a song before they try to perform it.

"But some clubs are thriving."

Yes, they are. I've visited about 20 clubs since I got involved in folk music and I'd say that about 5 of them are doing well. They're the ones who have good floor singers, thereby being able to book good guests, who bring in audiences, who pay money wo book more guests and keep the club going. Higher standard floorsingers also attract other singers of the same calibre; I've usually found that most of the singers in any venue are about the same level.

"Can't see where sing arounds/sessions come into it so lets start off by missing those out. Different animal. Faye never mentioned them."

I've had many an enjoyable night at a singaround, and one of the most thriving clubs that I attended has nothing but singarounds- it doesn't book guests. The standard there is mostly excellent. I accept that singarounds are different though I always rehearse a song to the same level regardless of where I sing it. They're a great place to start out, but there's no excuse for joining in one if you can't be bothered to rehearse what you sing. Why not do so anyway- do people who don't bother really have so little respect for their audience, the music and themselves?

"Don't give up on the music though because of one bad experience - there are far too many good ones to go around to compensate. Get into the festival scene - IMHO far more rewarding."

You're right about festivals- see my other comment. And I'm certainly not giving up! The sad thing about the demise of the clubs, though, is that for newcomers, festivals and other venues like arts centres are virtually impossible to get into as performers.

"It's a pretty simple riposte. If your friends are so great, why aren't they stars?"

Because they're not musicians. They are paying members of an audience. That gives them the right to form an opinion about what they're paying for. If I go and see the Royal Shakespeare Company I'm entitled to say whether I think they're good or bad- I don't have to be an actor myself to do so.

"Faye is generalising from the particular,a big mistake."

Never trust people who generalise! I was referring to a particular club, but I've seen this kind of thing all too often at other ones.

"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."

Why the hell should I? My point is that if you pay to be entertained anywhere (oops, the e-word just slipped in), you should not have to put up with unrehearsed crap. If there is a virtue in the sort of club that encourages people to drift on stage and sing any old half-remembered song that takes their fancy on the spur of the moment, you'll have to explain it to me, 'cos I'm *****d if I can see it.

To the various people who posted on the topic of crib sheet; I don't use them but I've no objection to those who do, if it helps. When I saw Bellowhead live most of them were reading from scores and it made not a whit of difference to the audience's appreciation.

I must go now- I'll come back to this when I can. Thanks to all of you for your views.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 03:50 PM

Faye, if you prefer to listen to cover bands playing crap well,your clearly concerned with form rather than content,why bother with the folk scene,why not earn a lot of money imitating Elvis.
when you quote me please have the decency to give the full quote.which was .
[it is really up to organisers to sort this out,and to give some thought to their presentation of floor singers,however I would still prefer a night of badly performed folk songs to an evening of competent Britney Spears imitators[or whatever FAYE used to imitate],I am not overkeen on either,but one is marginally preferable to the other,its a bit like a choice beteen cold tapioca and cold semolina].


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,PeterC
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 04:06 PM

Clubs dying?
If you define "folk club" strictly as the "booked guest every week" format then yes they are. When I first became interested in folk music in the late 60s there were four clubs meeting every week in my area, three booked a guest every week and one was a singers club with an open stage rather than singaround format. I never heard a pub session mentioned in the area at that time.

The same area now has three weekly and one monthly club with no more than occasional guests but there are a number of bar sessions and singarounds.

The end result seems far more introverted and less welcoming to strangers but judging by the posts here most people don't want to promote the music but prefer private little gatherings where nobody is bothered about their vocal shortcomings. Nothing wrong with that as long as you aren't promoting it as a public entertianment at the same time.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 05:20 PM

I've been on long shifts since this started but I am off on Friday and will get chance to have a peruse:-)

First impressions - good to see that some other people would like some folk clubs to get their act together and put on stuff that people would be happy to pay for!

I'll leave it at that for now. Another 16 hours tomorrow...

Cheers

DeG


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Bruce Michael Baillie
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 05:44 PM

Faye, what a wonderful woman you are, you'd get on really well with my wife who has on many occasion said everything you said at the beginning of this post. There is far too much shite out there which ends up being tolerated because of the 'we must include everyone, and be nice to everyone' policy.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Faye Roche
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 05:47 PM

"Faye, if you prefer to listen to cover bands playing crap"

Not what I said.

"well,your clearly concerned with form rather than content,why bother with the folk scene,why not earn a lot of money imitating Elvis."

It should have been clear from my last post that I am concerned with form AND content- that's why I respect this music so much. You obviously don't respect it- that's why you're happy to listen to crap singers.

"when you quote me please have the decency to give the full quote.which was .
[it is really up to organisers to sort this out,and to give some thought to their presentation of floor singers,however I would still prefer a night of badly performed folk songs to an evening of competent Britney Spears imitators[or whatever FAYE used to imitate]"

...and that was not the post that I quoted. I don't think that I had read that far.

And by the way, even when I used to sing covers I did NOT imitate anyone- I brought my own style to everything that I sang. It's possible to sing pop music well you know! And before you form the deckchairs in a circle to go off on another tangent, the reason I stopped singing pop is that I developed a LOVE for folk music as soon as I discovered it. That's why I play in scruffy pubs for nothing as opposed to singing in 4-star hotels for £200 each a night and a personal changing room.

And, much as I dislike everything I've heard from Britney, I'd rather hear her music (or anything else) done well than folk music (or anything else) done badly. Why is that so hard to understand? Is it a kind of inverted snobbery?


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 05:52 PM

I'd rather hear her {Britney's) music (or anything else) done well than folk music (or anything else) done badly

Indeed. Hurrah to that.
Both Jon Boden and Richard Thompson anyway cover Britney.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Faye Roche
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 06:16 PM

"From: greg stephens - PM
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 07:18 PM

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

No it isn't, and no I'm not, and have never claimed to be, though I do try to perform to a professional standard- sorry if that offends you. And this thread has kept itself going with very minimal input from me.

I'm not trolling anyone. I'm just passionate about upholding a music form that I love and which I'd like to share with as many as possible. If you can't see that it's your problem not mine.

There are several rather better-reasoned posts in this thread but it's time for bed- not being a professional folkie I have a job to go to in the morning.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 06:16 PM

It should have been clear from my last post that I am concerned with form AND content- that's why I respect this music so much. You obviously don't respect it- that's why you're happy to listen to crap singers.
for fuck sake read some of my posts,
I have never said I am happy to listen to crap singers,I said:[it is really up to organisers to sort this out,and to give some thought to their presentation of floor singers,however I would still prefer a night of badly performed folk songs to an evening of competent Britney Spears imitators[or whatever FAYE used to imitate],I am not overkeen on either,but one is marginally preferable to the other,its a bit like a choice beteen cold tapioca and cold semolina].
I AM NOT OVERKEEN ON EITHER,cant you read.
Diane,I dont care who covers Britney Spears music,I think it is crap.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 06:22 PM

Faye Roche,you have some cheek to say I dont respect this music.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Faye Roche
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 06:41 PM

And you have more than some cheek, Captain to swear at me.

Despite what I said about half and hour ago I stayed up to read the other posts in this thread. I think that it's all been said. Some of you, (Diane, Marje, Tom, and others) got my point.

I wonder how many other newcomers the folk world has lost this week?


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 06:44 PM

Faye,

As someone who's been going to folk clubs for over 40 years now, I have to agree with everything you say - there is too much crap around these days. Poor, unrehearsed, lazy singers clog up too many evenings, take up time which could be devoted to better, more enjoyable singers and alienate audiences.

As 'Marje' said above: "A club policy of uncritical "inclusiveness" does mean that the regulars may hesitate to bring friends along, and casual visitors are unlikely to come back, which is undeniably one of the reasons why some clubs are struggling."

"Inclusiveness" is another one of those good ideas, like political correctness, which has been turned into an unthinking dogma and ends up doing more harm than good. It has been assumed that everyone has a 'right' to sing but I maintain that that right should be accompanied by a RESPONSIBILITY to sing well and to do the material justice.

At this point someone will bang on about different abilities, "what about beginners?" etc., etc., etc. Well, frankly, if you don't think that you can sing well or do the material justice or are not prepared to put the work in then just shut up and stop wasting my time and everyone else's time!


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Betsy
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 06:57 PM

I don't think all the above subscribers would fit nicely into the same sort of Folk event - apart from a Good Festival.
We all seem to have different needs and levels of expectancy from a Folk club night, so,given that most of us have lots of experience in more than one club - can't we understand that someone visiting for the very first time and being asked to pay good money, and gets served up a load of tosh, surely this action contributes to the perceived "dying" process.
I'll go to see someone that I know , but, if I decide to drift along without knowing - I wouldn't dream of taking someone along who didn't know what might be served up - which is a sad thing to say.
Twickfolk seems to have thought this whole thing through and I congratulate him /her.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 07:02 PM

Faye ,if you read my posts properly ,you could have avoided all that.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 07:06 PM

I'd rather hear her music (or anything else) done well than folk music (or anything else) done badly

When I go to a folk club, I want to hear something new, something different, something surprising, something that doesn't sound just like everything else. Failing that, I want to hear folk music done well in unsurprising ways. But failing that, I want to hear folk music done not particularly well - even if it's a lousy performance, I might hear a new song or get a new angle on a familiar one. When I go to a folk club, I don't want to hear the same old pop music, however well it's done.

Back to the top:

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.

No, they don't. They pay to be a part of it, week in and week out, and they pay a bit more on guest nights.

I work hard on my own performances, try not to do anything everyone knows already and always try to make sure I know the words, start on the right note, etc. I put the effort in because I think it matters - and if I could wave a wand and make every floor singer perform to my exalted(!) standard, I would. I do think organisers can do a lot to encourage preparation and discourage p***-taking, but at the end of the day you've got to remember that a folk club isn't just an entertainment venue - it's a *club*, it's the sum of the regulars who turn out week in, week out. If some of those regulars have a burning desire to have a go, despite not really being up to it, the chances are they're going to have a go - and the chances are a lot of the other regulars will support them, because of who they are. And that's a feature, not a bug. (Keeping them away from the paying punters on a guest night might be a kindness all round, though.)

Apart from that, I don't agree with the premise - all the evidence available to me suggests that folk clubs aren't dying.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 09:02 PM

My last posting was hastily submitted whilst getting ready to go to a singaround.

Interesting comment from a couple of supporters who arrived a bit later was that they'd been around the city and passed many pubs with about one drinker - that included an open mic session with about one singer; and a supposedly rival session (cooler than ours? - the place to be?) - where NO singer/musician was in evidence - again just a solitary drinker and his dog!

So they ended up at our albeit small gathering and shared a few songs.

Being realistic, this is the run up to Christmas - things go a bit unpredicable this time of year; AND the recession is affecting numbers who go out to pubs at the moment - that's clearly coming back to us from all over.

But I repeat my original point - we now have a brilliant opportunity for folkies to get into the media - and tell people there is a whole world of low cost entertainment out there in folk clubs (singaround and guest clubs; free and PayClubs) where people can enjoy live British* based musical culture in an intimate atmosphere.

*if in Britain -I'm talking in a British context - but the point is the same wherever you live in the world.

The folk scene is an antidote to a parade of hyped "Stars" who are obviously competent but generally unremarkable - for which you may pay bloated amounts of Pounds/Dollars. And at most Folk Clubs/sessions I've been to it is not long before you see singers/performers/songwriters BETTER than than the so called Stars which you've been told are the best since... [add name as applicable]. It's purely a case of persuading people to recognise the multidollar hype for what it is and realise that good can be "local" - and people who live locally can be just as good as someone who's just "flown in".

Ian Fyvie


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Maryrrf
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 10:37 PM

I'm in the US, but visit folk clubs in Britain whenever I get the chance. So I'll throw in my two cents.

I can understand what Faye is talking about having seen some people who really didn't have any redeeming qualities about their singing do floorspots in folk clubs. I didn't enjoy it and I doubt if anyone did, and I agree that people who want to do floor spots ought to rehearse till they can sing the song competently if they want to perform in public. If I were a club organizer I'd try not to put known poor singers on when there was a guest night which would presumably attract people who were not members. It's a valid opinion. But I was very put off by haughty and imperious all caps YOU'RE WASTING MY TIME AND MY MONEY! GET IT RIGHT OR STAY IN THE AUDIENCE! Was that necessary?

If you are at all acquainted with the folk club scene, you know that, before the main act and during intermission there will be floor singers, most likely residents of the club, and that they're not professional performers. If you came to see the main performer, and had to sit through a couple of less than acceptable floor spots, you still got what you paid for, which was the booked act. There is rarely more than 15 or 20 minutes of floor singing in the beginning, and another 15 to 20 minutes at intermission - at least that was the case in the folk clubs I attended.

A folk club is a very particular type of venue. It's open to the public and there is a charge that is slightly more for non members. But it is still a club that is run for its members, and not a commercial venue. There is a sense of cameraderie and community among folk club regulars, and if the members choose to support and encourage somebody who is not a good singer/performer - that really is the club's decision.

Incidentally, a quick search revealed a "Faye Rochelle" on myspace described as Alternative/Acoustic/Folk. Might that be you?


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Andy Jackson
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 12:45 AM

Just a mild observation in the middle of an insomniac night.....
Is it just me that's almost allergic to the term "Punter". I'm afraid that any post refering to my friends and I as such, gets my hackles rising. Punters go to betting shops and frequent ladies of the night don't they?


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: The Villan
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 02:11 AM

I agree with you Miskin.
I don't like people using punter. Makes it sound like the audience is not important, when they are.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 03:03 AM

Apart from that, I don't agree with the premise - all the evidence available to me suggests that folk clubs aren't dying.
yes, thats my exprience too,I can rember people coming up with this line,25 years ago,and folk clubs are still here,furthermore when I was last on tour in England all the folk clubs I played at were, well attended,and had a high standard of floor singers.
here is why Fayes original post is an over simplification,if folk clubs are dying,there are several[not just one] contributory factors.
I.economic recession.
2,drink drive laws,and lack of available public transport[particularly in rural areas].
3.cost of travelling.
4.cost of entry
I agree that it is a good idea to try and raise standards of floor singing,but this is the prerogative of the folk club organiser[not us].
one way this can be done,is through workshops[ clubs like Lewes Elephant do this already]
he/she finances the club, he/she has the final say in who appears as a guest and as a floor singer,if an organiser wishes to let anyone sing or not sing regardless of standard that is his/ her right.
if people like faye dont like a particular club,they dont have to go.
Faye,I was playing this music professionally, before you were born,when you try to say I have no respect for the music,you are just showing how unknowing you are.I suggest you visit my myspace site,and visiut my you tube videos
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ItcBocS_x_M


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Gervase
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 03:04 AM

I'm completely with Faye. There seems to be an element of complacency from the club regulars that borders on the bizarre. It does, however, sum up why you rarely get new 'converts' at folk clubs and why few people do bring their friends.
(Cue 30 posts from outraged club organisers insisting that their club is near perfection and that there are a dozen new faces every week at their club, and anyway, how dare anyone criticise the folk club scene if they haven't paid their dues and served a decade as a floorsinger, and it's not for the public anyway so no-one has a right to criticise, and everyone has a right to perform, and it doesn't matter if people, sorry, punters, are paying to hear stuff, cos the material's not as important as the fragile ego of the fledgeling performer, and...)
Zzzzzzz.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 03:10 AM

40 years ago we on the committee of South Tyne Folk and Blues agreed not to use the word "punter" in relation to our audience. It sounded like they were gullible people ready to be ripped off!


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Will Fly
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 03:57 AM

Punters go to betting shops and frequent ladies of the night don't they?

Well, as often as I can, which isn't much these days...

Gervase, I can understand and accept your point of view about where you think clubs are or aren't, but you can't simply just pre-empt any ripostes to that viewpoint by saying things like Cue 30 posts from outraged club organisers insisting that their club is near perfection.... This doesn't bolster your argument.

The fact is that many clubs are doing OK, and you've had plenty of statements from posters to this thread who are saying just that - and I don't see any sense of outrage, just plain statements of fact. What seems to be emerging from this thread is that the state of folk clubs, in terms of vibrancy, simply varies from place to place. In some areas, for whatever reason, they appear to be doing well; in others, for whatever reason, they appear to be crap. I said early on in this thread that I'd recently been to clubs in Cheshire, Surrey and Sussex and that, without exception, they'd been very good experiences (and I'm not an uncritical person). Well - all I can do is pass comment on my experience, and I'm sorry if it buggers up part of your thesis - but there it is.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 04:24 AM

Perhaps part of the problem is that no one can agree what folk clubs are for or how they should be run, so no one is quite sure what to expect when they visit one.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: burntstump
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 04:28 AM

In response to the couple of comments made from my previous posting, a club that only opens once a month is somewhat different to a weekly venue, most clubs open every week and only have a guest on once a month so there is a need for floor singers. I tend to agree with weelittledrummer as much as the word entertainer should be considered.
If you can get away with only giving good floor singers just one song that's great, but open every week and I think your views would change. I for one would not travel 20 miles to perform one song.



The Woodlark at Lambley,I have been told is well worth a visit, I used to run the original folk club in Lambley back in the 70s.
I agree there are still some very talented professional folk acts and if you want to pay a lot of money to see them that's fine.
But please remember I am reflecting on the folk schene of the 70s and 80s, 99% of the so called professional artistes lasted no longer than an icicle in the Arabian desert.

Getting back to basics, when the folk clubs first started you were lucky to get a paid preformer twice a year.




A well run club must appeal to both the audience and the performers alike, if there is no audience you may as well stay at home and sing, likewise if there are no performers there isn't an audience anyway.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 04:36 AM

Well said, gentleman from Miskin!

IMHO if you refer to the people you are hoping to play to as "punters" this shows disrespect for them. (Could be that's why they are subjected to some questionable performances?)

Howard...quite right!

Let's have a thread defining......nah..let's not go there!


Best wishes,
Peter


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 04:41 AM

The word 'punter' is widely used in the entertainment business affectionately to mean 'consumer' and has no negative or pejorative connotations whatsoever.

I'm genuinely shocked to hear of folkies being offended by it.

My apologies to anyone I've upset. I'll try to remember to use 'paying customer' in future.

Tom Bliss


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Folkiedave
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 05:14 AM

Getting back to basics, when the folk clubs first started you were lucky to get a paid preformer twice a year.

Err........not where I was in the mid sixties.

We had an artist each week, singers club once a month.

Singers included Ian Manuel (Two records for Topic); Jim Eldon (who still has his own apppreciation society; John O'Hagan (Cockersdale and still singing floor spots as well as with Cockersdale). There were plenty of artists to go around. Many are still active if they are still alive.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Andy Jackson
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 05:19 AM

You'll have to work harder than that to upset me Tom. I just don't like the term,.
What a fascimnating thread this has been thouigh withsome very erudite chat. Only one outcome of course which we all already knew. Folk Clubs are as different as our definitions of what is Folk Music.

Perhaps that is the added spice of a new Club to visit. I don't suppose the music is very different in Discos around the country, or even Jazz clubs come to that. I consider us very lucky to have such a wide spectrum of interests and yes, talents.

Andy


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 05:41 AM

Ah, I see Tom has beaten me to it.

"Punters" are paying customers, that is to say those who come along to a venue (possibly for the first time) for a specific purpose (i.e. to see the booked performer), as opposed to the organiser and his / her mates who may or may not have handed over the door fee but, nevertheless, consider it their god-given right to do a floor spot usually without any preparation.

Punters are the very people that an organiser ought to be seeking to impress, provide them with their money's worth and encourage to come again. At a well-run club, that organiser MC is out there talking to faces, especially new ones, seeking feedback and gathering ideas on what else should be done to boost the venue's popularity.

As for the 60s / 70s, yes there was many a venue with headline acts booked each week, with the overflowing diaries of top performers showing over 300 gigs a year. Oddly enough, that same organiser I had in mind in the previous paragraph is the same one who was running a legendary club circa 1972. There's a tiny handful of them left, scattered around the countryside.


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