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Why folk clubs are dying

GUEST,Tom Bliss (wearily) 21 Dec 08 - 05:53 AM
greg stephens 21 Dec 08 - 06:05 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 21 Dec 08 - 06:15 AM
GUEST 21 Dec 08 - 06:16 AM
Richard Bridge 21 Dec 08 - 07:50 AM
Richard Bridge 21 Dec 08 - 07:51 AM
Dave the Gnome 21 Dec 08 - 08:41 AM
Ian Fyvie 21 Dec 08 - 09:25 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 21 Dec 08 - 09:56 AM
GUEST 21 Dec 08 - 01:53 PM
Richard Bridge 21 Dec 08 - 02:04 PM
The Villan 21 Dec 08 - 02:46 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 21 Dec 08 - 02:57 PM
Spleen Cringe 21 Dec 08 - 02:59 PM
Spleen Cringe 21 Dec 08 - 03:03 PM
Ian Fyvie 21 Dec 08 - 03:12 PM
VirginiaTam 21 Dec 08 - 03:27 PM
Waddon Pete 21 Dec 08 - 05:02 PM
Richard Bridge 21 Dec 08 - 05:07 PM
GUEST,Avatara 21 Dec 08 - 05:21 PM
Melissa 21 Dec 08 - 06:17 PM
Melissa 21 Dec 08 - 06:17 PM
Indrani Ananda 21 Dec 08 - 08:39 PM
GUEST,Howard Jones 22 Dec 08 - 05:19 AM
Faye Roche 22 Dec 08 - 05:22 AM
TheSnail 22 Dec 08 - 06:03 AM
GUEST 22 Dec 08 - 09:10 AM
Backwoodsman 22 Dec 08 - 11:59 AM
The Villan 22 Dec 08 - 12:30 PM
Ian Fyvie 22 Dec 08 - 02:53 PM
TheSnail 22 Dec 08 - 07:34 PM
Ian Fyvie 22 Dec 08 - 09:55 PM
Folkiedave 23 Dec 08 - 03:46 AM
Aeola 23 Dec 08 - 07:32 AM
Jim Carroll 23 Dec 08 - 07:41 AM
GUEST,Jim Knowledge 23 Dec 08 - 08:33 AM
GUEST,Avatara 23 Dec 08 - 06:28 PM
Melissa 23 Dec 08 - 06:46 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 23 Dec 08 - 07:09 PM
Maryrrf 23 Dec 08 - 07:36 PM
Ian Fyvie 23 Dec 08 - 10:15 PM
Melissa 23 Dec 08 - 10:29 PM
Will Fly 24 Dec 08 - 03:44 AM
Melissa 24 Dec 08 - 03:49 AM
Folkiedave 24 Dec 08 - 03:49 AM
Sooz 24 Dec 08 - 03:54 AM
Will Fly 24 Dec 08 - 03:56 AM
Melissa 24 Dec 08 - 03:58 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 24 Dec 08 - 04:19 AM
Melissa 24 Dec 08 - 04:23 AM
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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss (wearily)
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 05:53 AM

I'm sorry I'm don't know how to do bold and italic etc here so I'll put * by my replies.

"First: There's really no point in debating this with you Jim because it's obvious that your mind is closed". // Bit of arrogance here Tom - neither of us have given ground on our original stance - doesn't this indicate that if one mind is closed, both are?

* Fair point. Apologies for my arrogance. I was frustrated that this thread had reverted to the old debate and been taken off track by it.

"But I - and most artists, promoters, journalists etc who don't want only to converse with the converted"

* Not arrogance. A turn of phrase intended to suggest the outward-facing stance of those who seek to draw in new converts.

Funny word, 'academic', often used as an insult.

* Not intended as such.

However, the suggestion that it is 'academic to continue to use the term 'folk' in the way that is is used by the researchers, writers and collectors is pretty nonsensical (if a bit of an improvement on your earlier suggestion of 'a thing of the past).

* I meant that it's not a problem for those who wish to use that word in that way to do so (I've never said it was). It's only a problem when they attack innocent parties for using it, correctly, to mean the new definition.

"It also lies fully within the new popular definition, so there is no problem for those who know what they are talking about".

* See above.

So you know what you're talking about - but the rest of us (academics included) don't? - hmmm!)

* That's not what I said. Read my sentence again. The people who 'know what they are talking about' ARE the academics etc.

Perhaps you might be able to tell us who gave us this new "popular definition" - is it still the countless millions you originally cited or is it the "'Grammy' - or maybe 'Young Folk Awards'"

* It arrived slowly by media coverage and popular usage over 40 years, and is accepted in most online dictionaries (I've not bought a paper one for decades).

Wikipedia has: Folk music can have a number of different meanings, including:
        •        Traditional music: The original meaning of the term "folk music" was synonymous with the term "Traditional music", also often including World Music and Roots music; the term "Traditional music" was given its more specific meaning to distinguish it from the other definitions that "Folk music" is now considered to encompass.
        •        Folk music can also describe a particular kind of popular music which is based on traditional music. In contemporary times, this kind of folk music is often performed by professional musicians. Related genres include Folk rock and Progressive folk music.
        •        In American culture, folk music refers to the American folk music revival, music exemplified by such musicians as Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, Pete Seeger, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Tom Paxton, and Joan Baez, who popularized and encouraged the lyrical style in the 1950s and 1960s.

Here is another from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language:         
1.        Music originating among the common people of a nation or region and spread about or passed down orally, often with considerable variation.
        2.        Contemporary music in the style of traditional folk music.

"(Lord, how many times will I have to type these words)?"
Probably about as many times as I have to repeat; THERE IS NO POPULAR DEFINITION OUTSIDE THE GREENHOUSE ENVIRONMENT OF THE FOLK WORLD, at least not a commonly agreed one.

* Err, see above.

Throughout the time I have been involved with the music I have made a point of discussing it with workmates, family members, drinking companions, whoever.... whenever the opportunity has arisen. For me, your appeal for a survey has always been an essential part of what I do. The over-riding impression I am left with is one of total confusion, general ignorance and above all indifference.

* Have you spent much time around teenagers in a city like Leeds lately?

Where opinions have been offered they have ranged from the Sharp songs taught in schools, the Clancys, Dubliners, Robin Hall and Jimmy McGregor and The Spinners of the folk boom and Dylan (before he moved to the fresh fields and pastures new of the Pop world). It seems to me that all of these have far more of a foothold in 'folk' than your arbitrary application of the term to the the singer-songwriters who owe nothing whatever to real folk.

* It is not MY arbitrary application. It is many people's and it's not actually an application. It's an inclusion, along with all those you list, their ilk, and a lot of other stuff. And they're not being included WITHIN the old definition. The tin remains undiluted. The word from the tin has merely been stuck on the larder door.

If you are basing your claim on folk on "common parlance", I'm afraid you are building your house on sand.

* Err, ok. Let's meet in 100 years and see if it's still standing.

" most of us have replaced the academic word 'folk' with the word 'traditional.'"
Is not 'traditional' an 'academically conceived term?

* Yes. That's precisely why we use it. Because unlike 'folk' it's not been eroded. Yet.

"Second: I'm not sure that it's up to me to resolve the "copyright/public domain dilemma"
Didn't suggest it was up to you - Just think that you need to be aware of the financial burden you are imposing on the folk scene by your presenting your self written (and copyrighted - so it can never belong to 'the folk') material to folk clubs, thereby, as I said, opening the door to the PRS jackals.

* Fair enough. I'm sorry you see it that way. I hadn't realised that's what you felt - it does explain a lot. But don't worry, only 6 months to go then I'm a reformed character.

Maybe there is not much that an individual can do, apart from accepting responsibility.

* In that case, I do.

Putting the onus on us is rather like demanding that we wipe up your mess.

* I'm not sure I did that, I didn't mean to. But if you tell me where you keep the mop I'll take care of it at once.

Didn't understand your last point about standards and best practice, though, but then again, a good deal of what YOU say confuses ME.

* I have explained this before, Jim. As a board member of folkWISE I feel I have accepted a responsibility to help protect and develop opportunities for 'folk' musicians in the UK (but without damaging anything else in the process). That means making what contribution I can to debates around topics which impact on potential work for 'folk' musicians. But I also care about this music very much for itself, and, as an individual, would champion many of the values that you hold dear. There are some massive contradictions around, and I'd like to see more consensus and less conflict - which will require debate and open minds. I want to see a healthy 'folk' scene, at all levels, and believe that it operates as a kind of ecosystem, which requires all levels and species within it to be healthy for the system to flourish. Not many working musicians with a national remit feel able to engage publicly about things like fees and floor singers. I don't enjoy it, and frequently scare myself witless, but I believe passionately that our experience and knowledge needs to be in the mix along with that of experts like your good self, because I see some terrifying misconceptions around the very concept of the trade musician, which need to be redressed for the sanity of all. I'm also concerned that we may be about to loose a vital cog in the current system. Not soon, but within the next 15 years - with a major impact on the whole shebang, including the parts you care about. I have therefore spent a fair amount of time talking to people, setting up talking shops and writing, in a specific effort to seek out what works for people up and down the land - so we can maybe share those ideas (or 'best practice') for the potential good of all. That effort is the sole reason I engage in discussions like this. If you want to see one of the results of it, go here (I've posted links to it many many times, as have others - have you seen it?). See also my forthcoming article in Living Tradition.

(end of my bit)

I understand your own standards to be double ones

* I can't think why. I do try to avoid them, but no-one's perfect.

- "Jim and others are wrong to seek to apply any kind of quality threshold in this type of gathering."

* Err, actually would you retract that, please, Jim? That's a deliberate misquote. I asked Richard to confirm that he was "saying that at a free/cheap-entry folk singaround or folk singers club everyone should be free to have a go, and therefore JIm and others are wrong to seek to apply any kind of quality threshold in this type of gathering. (If so you seem to be in a majority here anyway)." I very carefully did not voice an opinion myself.

I have always believed that standards should apply equally to both guest and residents evenings; otherwise, you have a series of concerts and not a club and you are guilty of passing on shoddy goods to your regulars - always been the principle of the clubs I've been involved with I'm proud to say.

* I don't understand this part, but never mind. You don't like people like me playing in folk clubs, fair enough. I shall desist on the 17th of July at Gainsborough. Can you hold your breath till then?

Sorry to everyone else - but I hope you'll all agree that I did need to address this one.

Tom Bliss


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: greg stephens
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 06:05 AM

Tom Bliss, you are making life very complicated for yourself. Your suggestion that the old fogeys should retreat from the outer walls of "folk" and hid in the inner keep of "traditional" makes a sort of sense, but you blow it all by saying, apropos of the word "traditional":
"Yes. That's precisely why we use it. Because unlike 'folk' it's not been eroded. Yet."

Now, maybe I've got a longer memory than you Tom, but I remember well a couple of years back you were definitely a powerful member of the anti-Smoothops brigade, because of the classification of Seth Lakeman's White Hare as a "traditional folk song". And if that isn't an erosion of the word traditional, I don't know what is. The trouble with giving up your frontline and making a tactical retreat is that your new front line can become very shortly just like the old one: breached. Or, as Kipling put it in another way, once you have payed them the Danegeld, you never get rid of the Dane.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 06:15 AM

Touché Greg. Yes, it IS being eroded - hence my comment about trenches and the Grammys.

But at least there is still a sort of consensus on trad (though there are conflicting definitions even here).

Most here seem to think 54 folk is a lost cause. I wish there was a better solution. Maybe we'll find one, but trying to cram the genie back into the bottle ain't it. Nor is heaping opprobrium on younger people who learned the Wikipedia definition at their Mother's knees.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 06:16 AM

sorry 56


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 07:50 AM

I don't see why it is wrong to be right just because others are wrong.

If anti-racist campaigners can reclaim the word "black" and seek to reclaim the word "nigger" and if anti-homophobia campaigners can seek to reclaim the word "queer" I really don't see why those with an interest in folk music and song (and arts, etc) cannot seek to reclaim the word "folk". It's nothing like such a tainted brand as those others once were.

And I still say that it is not my place (or yours) to stop another singing or playing - but right now I'm off to the Good Intent (as linked to above) in the hopes it will be as good as yesterday. I'll probably do two or three contemporary songs (the protest songs we all used to know and love seem to have a new piquancy at present, and anent reclaiming the word "queer" one of the contemporary songs sung yesterday was the very fine "The Gipsy Boy and I") and four or five traditional (or -ish).

Folk music is dead? My Royle family!


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 07:51 AM

PS I will continue to heap opprobrium on those who learned to say "'ambag" in stead of "handbag" at their mother's knee too.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 08:41 AM

Isn't ambag the folk process, Richard:-D


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Ian Fyvie
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 09:25 AM

Tom - I'm winding back to before your recent marathon posting to answer a brief point or two:

*I'm not connected with the Fyvie folk club in any shape of form - i't's my real name!

*Re: your gig at Stonehaven - never been to a Club in Scotland but I heard complimentary comments from Rab about his local Stonehaven Club when Rab visited one of our singarounds several times during 2008. If he's at your gig - my regards!

*I will certainly look at your website when I get a chance. I don't intend to sleight any individual in what I post: so nothing personal when I'm criticising aspects of the Folk Scene that you may recognise. Despite differences in this thread it's obvious everyone (almost everyone perhaps...) is contributing because they care.

Ian Fyvie


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 09:56 AM

Hi Richard,

I've never told people they should not use the word folk for the 56 def. I have merely asked them please not to be nasty about others for using it differently. I've have also suggested that if they could substitute the word trad then the problem would largely evaporate.

If we could reclaim 'folk' for the 56 that would also solve the problem, and maybe we can. But I think it's easier for 'folkies' to go with the flow here, than try to mount a worl-wide PR campaign to people who are not really interested anyway.

I did read your linked post. I know a lot of those folks and I'm sure it was a grand night. But what was the average age of the group? Those of us who are concerned for the long term health of the club movement take this as a primary marker. And was it partially a gig with a main act and a door charge? This is the type of event where people have identified the potential problems being discussed in this thread.

"I still say that it is not my place (or yours) to stop another singing or playing"

I'm with you in spirit Richard, but you haven't answered my question. I do hope you will, because I think your view has much validity (I'm 100% with you in theory), but I'm unclear how it pans out in practice. I assume you'd not suggest that you or I should be allowed to turn up with our guitars at a U2 gig or Royal Philharmonic concert and insist we be allowed to perform. Equally obviously everyone must be allowed to make music in his own home. But in the folk world we have a sliding scale between the two extremes, and club organisers up and down the land struggle (we've seen posts here expressing their difficulties) to know where and how to draw a line.

As someone with passionate views who's not afraid to express them I think your advice on this could be very useful. So I'll repeat:
_____________________________________

You say no-one should be debarred from performing.

I'm curious to know how far you think that should go, because you've not said.

Does it only apply if the word folk is used in the title of the event?

I think you're saying that at a free/cheap-entry folk singaround or folk singers club everyone should be free to have a go, and therefore JIm and others are wrong to seek to apply any kind of quality threshold in this type of gathering. (If so you seem to be in a majority here anyway).

I think you're also saying that at any gathering labelled as a folk club, even when there is a booked guest and a door charge, everyone should have a turn that wants one, regardless of ability - because it's a folk club (is that right?). So policies such as booked supports, MC-led quality control or no-cribs rules are morally wrong. Is that right?

Are you also saying that folk concerts should not exist, because there's no participation in the mix? If so, would that apply to Arts Centres, or only to events that had the word folk in the title, namely festivals and clubs? How about places that are included in the folk listings, but avoid the word folk in their titles and use words like 'acoustic' or 'roots' or 'live' instead? Should there be unfettered participation offered in all of these?

I'm not having a go, I've just seen nothing from you apart from a very genuine championing of freedom of expression, and I'd like to know how far you would take it.

_________________________________________________________________

I once worked with a film editor who genuinely thought the word was 'hang bag' - and why not?!

Tom


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 01:53 PM

"...folk clubs are dying" - thank folk I manage to get to the other folk clubs then!


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 02:04 PM

The GI was not quite as good today - but not bad. VT was spectacular on a couple of songs, I have to say. There were maybe three real "tingle moments" today alone. Over the two days - there were a number of babies and toddlers seen - some of who seemed surprisingly interested, probably three under 20 present (maybe one was a little over) (none performed but one had guitar, declined invitation to have a go) probably no other under 40, four or five a little under or about 40, most of the rest 50 to 60 and a few who had reached the age of discretion. Over Sweeps festival one can expect up to 20 or 25 around 20s up to 30s in the room as well as us old farts, but it is vertical matchstick packing.


When I have been involved in running folk clubs (ie "clubs") if I have my way then if there are "floor singers" it's anyone who wants to sing goes on the list and if that takes it down to one song each without shortening the guest's slots so be it. I don't think I've ever been unable to get everyone on but if that were the situation I'd say "first come, first served" - but would entrench those I knew had come a particularly long way. I have been known to apply compere's privilege if someone I particularly want to hear turns up, but not regularly. By and large I don't put on people I prefer to hear and bump those I don't want to hear.

If on the other hand it is "booked guest, booked (even if unpaid) support" then there are no "floor spots" so the above rules do not apply.

As far as singarounds go, joining in is (I say) the norm (but I did donate some filthy looks today to a bodhran playen who had not spotted that a particular song was "free" (or as our leader says, in the time signature of "one") and a guitarist who thought that an unaccompanied song was in "B" when it was "Bb". I wasn't the chair of the song, but both stopped. Floor singers I'd expect to need to make it clear if they did NOT want joining in


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: The Villan
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 02:46 PM

Just to add water to the fire.

If it is a singaround folk club, then everybody is entitled to participate. Good or Bad.

If you put a performer on (guest) at a singaround club and charge an entrance fee, I think you owe it to the paying audience to put on the best quality you can. To put somebody on who is poor quality is only going to alieanate people who have paid to see the guest. they have an expectation and they don't want to listen to somebody who obviously cannot sing or play an instrument reasonably well. OK you would not expect them to have the stagecraft that a Guest is expected to have.

I went to Gainsborough Folk Club last week to see Hannah James & Sam Sweeney as guest, in what would normally be a singaround folk club. I knew who the 2 support acts were going to be and they would grace any folk club. They got it right. They made the complete evening a great pleasure. Unless you didn't like the style of music, you would have been very hard pushed to make any criticism.

I have been to other guest nights at other singaround folk clubs and wishing I wasn't there, becuase the support spots were pretty poor and soured my experience, to the point that I was finding it hard to enjoy the main guest. That is definately not good practice.

I think I can say the following without making this performer seeming full of their own importance. This man speaks words of wisdom and twice I have changed my approach to putting on Main Guests, becuase of his wise words of experience and my reflection on what he said.
He puts things in a very simple way.

I will mention his name becuase wherever he goes, he sells out. Vin Garbutt.

It was about 4 years ago I tried to book Vin for what is now known as Faldingworth Live. This was about a year before he became very ill.
I told him that I planned to put a support act on and was that OK. he said "People will be coming to see me, not the support act". At the time, I thought "You big headed bugger". However I went away and thought about it and realised that he was right. People who pay good money to see a main Guest are coming primarily to see that act. Anyway he became ill and the gig didn't go ahead.

Finally I managed to book him for Jan 17 2009. This time I asked if it would be alright to put a 30 minute floorspot on a what I considered good quality that would enhance the evening. I sent a song for him to listen to of the act. he approved it.
We discussed the layout of the room, and I mentioned that we liked to put tables out and that our max audience would be just over 60.
Vin being a man of business and knowing his trade, just said "If you look down on the floor, over one third of the room will be taken up with tables, when they could be taken up with audience, who you may well have turned away"
I went away thinking about that. From that day, we work on the basis of "if the audience looks as though its going over the 70 mark, then we do not put tables out."

All I can say is if you want to succeed, have a listen to what Vin says. He talks sense and by god he is right.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 02:57 PM

Thanks for that Richard. I'd got a totally different impression from your earlier posts, as you may have gathered. (And I hadn't realised you were visiting a festival this weekend - very different kettle of fish in my experience).

Yes Les - Vin talks a lot of sense. Touring with him in the early days gave my the game plan that I've stuck with ever since and has allowed be to survive and thrive this far. Re tables - I do a similar thing in village halls, and always wait until the night to see how many tickets have been pre-sold before deciding if it's rows or tables.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 02:59 PM

I really don't understand where this certainty comes from that there's a whole cohort of people out there who want to destroy village greens. I've googled it and can't find any evidence to back the myth up...

Even my little bit of Urban Northern has got one. Right next to where we have our traditional music singaround. People sit on it is summer and drink beer and play music and even juggle. Morris dancers have been spotted on occasion. Can I say that bit again? It's urban. It's northern ... and here it is


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 03:03 PM

Yikes! Wrong thread...


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Ian Fyvie
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 03:12 PM

Croneyism - the biggest killer of Folk Clubs (Guest/Pay Clubs) of all time? (re: Indrani 20 Dec).

It's only lightly touched upon - too close to home perhaps for a lot of orgamizers?

It amounts to an elite running things in their own exclusive and perpetuating image. It may work. There may be enough Punters (or their booking policy is effective) - that they pull in enough siimilar people who actually like a good middle class chortle.

The damage is done through those who's faces didn't fit. They may have tried Folk, concluded it was just a bunch of MCWs and joined the anti-folk brigade; purely through a bad experiece - or run of them.

Damage is also done through those quite happy with the Club as Punters, but observe the unfair treatment dished out to floorsingers who have been waiting for their promised spot most of the evening - to find a Chum of the Organizers (Johnny Famous - staying in town a few days with his dead grandmother) waltz in and get that instant spot ("Darling!", "Darling!". Sorry Floorsinger - can't fit you in.")

Yes the club sustains as long as its booking poilicy produces - but the Punter nevertheless talkes down the club from other angles.

Perhaps the successful croney club developed into the local festival....??

Ian Fyvie


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 03:27 PM

VT was spectacular on a couple of songs, I have to say

Thank you Richard... err if you really are Richard Bridge (some of us are wondering). That is high praise. Wonder if CAMRA will knock up some posters and coasters with your? pic and the caption... "have you seen this folkie?"

The young one carrying around the guitar did finally play Saturday night. I was gobsmacked. She has only been playing for a week. Ask Steve May? for a report. Amazing for only one week playing. I hope she does not give it up. I think she was there with her parents who were all that showed from the sadly flu infected Wolfshead and Vixen Morris Side.

I echo RB's opinion. If this weekend at the Good Intent is any indication, folk clubs are definitely not dying.

Same goes for the two I attend in and near Chelmsford. Both growing exponetially in membership, though a bit on the aged side.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 05:02 PM

Just a small, last post from me on this subject ad its related threads.

I wonder how many people we drive away from Mudcat by......nah...let's not go there!


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 05:07 PM

aR! It's those pagan rituals. One catches the lurgy, they all catch the lurgy!


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Avatara
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 05:21 PM

SpleenCringe is curious, is he - what kind of fantasy games does he think I play in folk clubs? By "slick-Dick" electronica I meant the mind-numbing pop cacophony blasting out from every shop, pub, club and even dentists and doctors' surgeries,   (in some instances!)

                                 People's brains are being addled beyond all hope by this awful din,
i.e. they are being/have been conditioned to crave this noise wherever they go. If they should happen to hear a folk song with a lovely melody, meaningful lyrics, simple guitar playing and a civilized voice singing it, their bass-pounded skulls can't cope with it. So,
comments of "not cool; too laid back; dirgey; wot's this crap?" are forthcoming.

                                 I don't know what the remedy is. It's a sad fact that hearts and minds are being blanked out at an alarming rate by all this button-pressing electronica; by the
X-Factor, or by young people obsessed with singing pop-covers at open mic sessions. Folk singing is being eclipsed by this, and clubs are being decimated because there are not enough of us left either to carry on the tradition or to appreciate those who do.

                                 I've just had a thought! Maybe if we could persuade the managers of supermarkets to play folk music while we shop in there instead of the horrid catawauling scramble of pop we're forced to endure, we might feel less aggressive when we come out!

                                 Just a suggestion,

                                                            AVATARA


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Melissa
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 06:17 PM

Waddon Pete,
This Folk stuff doesn't happen where I live. Our Music doesn't fit the category and I've been a little bit folk-curious for several years. It seemed to me that it might be something I'd fit in and like. I had been watching around for a chance to give it a whirl.

I was looking for something else when I ran across Mudcat but stayed around to read/learn...and now I would rather bite out my own eyes than put myself in a Folk situation.
Mudcat is my only experience with a group of folkies and having read these threads has put me off entirely.

The nit-picking, sneering, mean-spirited comments here are NOT good advertising. This site pops up in online searches. Strangers come here and look around..some of them are surely curious enough to go ahead and browse the threads while they're here. I'm certain plenty of people have gotten their impression of folkies here.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Melissa
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 06:17 PM

(sorry for being off-topic)


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Indrani Ananda
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 08:39 PM

There's one sort of club Tom Bliss apparently has not discovered - the kind where long supporting "low status" floor singers have to grovel to the organisers in hopeful attempts to bypass the cronies, (aforementioned).

                        Some of us have played in pubs and such like round here for nearly 25 years now, so we're well practised; but with the exception of three clubs, we're not welcome at any of the rest. Consequently after all this time, still no-one's heard of us. we've neither the time nor the money to organise a 'big name' folk concert just so that we can sing three songs to some sort of audience.

                        When I say 'low status' I do not mean this in a derogatory way - I mean unsigned and unsung (if you'll pardon the pun) players who are just as good as a lot of well-hyped singers, but still unknown. These are the ones who are competent, but they are used as seat fodder when guests get a poor turnout, and are only welcome when the organiser's chums fail to materialise.

                         Now how many more are there out there like this? We need more new names in festivals instead of the return of the same old names year after year stealing all the spots. Are they trying to save on printing posters, or what?

                         Variety is the spice of folk - fat chance the way things are here! And I've heard from friends who have gone to live elsewhere in the land - it's just the same where they are.

                           Indrani.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 22 Dec 08 - 05:19 AM

In the days when I was a regular floor singer, I never had any problems with being asked to give up my slot because "Johnny Famous" has turned up. If a visitor to the area turns up, and particularly if they are known performers, it would be madness to turn them away. I'll be back next week, the visitor won't, so by all means give them a spot.

The clubs which I do have difficulty with are those which seem to be run as an ego-trip by the organisers, who fill up the evening with themselves and their cronies and never give anyone else a chance.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Faye Roche
Date: 22 Dec 08 - 05:22 AM

Must be quick today- loads to do. I don't have time to read all the posts since my last, so sorry if I've overlooked anyone.

Apologies also to those whom I upset by shouting in my original post- I was well p*ssed off at the time. Won't do it again.

In reply to those who said that I should try running my own club, it hoped that it would be clear that I was not slagging off club organisers, who work hard and invest their own money in getting clube going and keeping them running.

Neither was I angry with singers who try hard but are less than perfect. The amateur nature of the club scene is part of its makeup and one expects to hear a mix of abilities.

My ire was directed against those who get up to sing without having bothered to learn or rehearse the song first. It seems from an earlier post that there is at least one club where people cram in to hear crap singing by people who can't be arsed, but this is the sort of thing that sends the good singers and discerning audiences away. It is, really; as I said earlier, the standard of singing in most clubs levels out- it's either mostly good or mostly awful. Yes, the good clubs thrive, but the bad ones are an insult to those who run them as well as those who pay their money to be entertained. (Sorry- there's the e-word again.)

If I ran a club I'd have a sign on the door; underneath the ones about not entering when someone's singing and turning off your mobile I'd have one that said: "Out of respect for the audience and club organisers, please rehearse your material before performing." If that caused a few crappos to slink away muttering about fascist dictatorships, that would be fine by me. Those of us who stayed would enjoy some good music.

Happy Christmas all.

BTW I'm not Faye Rochelle.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: TheSnail
Date: 22 Dec 08 - 06:03 AM

Faye Roche

In reply to those who said that I should try running my own club, it hoped that it would be clear that I was not slagging off club organisers, who work hard and invest their own money in getting clube going and keeping them running.

In your original post you said -

FFS- why can't club organisers impose some kind of quality control; ban crap singers from appearing again, or at least only invite known good singers on guest nights?

I answered that question in my post of 15 Dec 08 - 07:50 AM


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Dec 08 - 09:10 AM

We discussed the layout of the room, and I mentioned that we liked to put tables out and that our max audience would be just over 60.
Vin being a man of business and knowing his trade, just said "If you look down on the floor, over one third of the room will be taken up with tables, when they could be taken up with audience, who you may well have turned away"
I went away thinking about that. From that day, we work on the basis of "if the audience looks as though its going over the 70 mark, then we do not put tables out."

Making the extra cash while you can is fine, but folks may well feel the ambience of the venue is compromised by the absence of tables. One of our local clubs looks about to bite the dust after many successful years, and the demise is more than partly due to the practice of putting high profile guests on in a larger venue and setting out the room like a classroom from the 1950's.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 22 Dec 08 - 11:59 AM

I think the prospective paying customers would rather do without tables than be told they couldn't attend because tables were taking up space that their chairs could occupy.

And more attendees means you can keep the price of a ticket down.

It's not Rocket Science.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: The Villan
Date: 22 Dec 08 - 12:30 PM

Spot on Backwoodsman.

Poeple get so upset when I have to tell them we are full. What we do is allow sufficient space for all long legged people. That ios one thing I will not economise on. Poeple need to be able to stretch their legs out.

We are only allowed to have 100 people in the hall and we restrict it to 90 (which includes performers and the people running the event) for safety reasons.

One thing I will never do is have standing.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Ian Fyvie
Date: 22 Dec 08 - 02:53 PM

A bit off message but the Lewes Arms folk Club has featured in this thread a lot - and now has to move.

What a shame - it's a fantastic club room with a distinctive shape.

I'd add though that the format at a Fundraiser Event I played support for in the Summer (not connected with the Lewes Arms Folk Club) worked better than the format used by the Club by having the stage at the opposite end of the room to the Club night.

I'm sure The Folk Club also used to have the stage at the wider end in old days.....

Hope the new venue worked well.

Ian Fyvie


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: TheSnail
Date: 22 Dec 08 - 07:34 PM

Ian Fyvie

A bit off message but the Lewes Arms folk Club has featured in this thread a lot - and now has to move.

What a shame - it's a fantastic club room with a distinctive shape.


The same has been said of some of the residents.

Last night at The Arms on Saturday 27th December with Matt Quinn and Dogan Mehmet and as many as we can cram in. Let's make it a night to remember. First night at thr Elephant and Castle on 3rd January, an open night ironically on the theme Great Escapes which we honestly chose before we knew any of this.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Ian Fyvie
Date: 22 Dec 08 - 09:55 PM

Howard - re Johnny Famous.

If a well known singer showed up at our singaround, of course we'd want to recognise the fact he may not be in town again for a while and see if we could get them an extra song.

If they arrived late and unannounced however - they'd have to take their chances to a degree with anyone else arriving near the end of Club Night.

It would involve a quick consensus on fitting them in AND ALWAYS with the concent of anyone who had already been lined up to sing soon.

In practice things would work out. But one could imagine a singer rolling up who thought that they were more famous than they are, or had a "superior" attitude which simply generated resentment. Such visitors would be advised to try again next time they're in town - but ring first.

And Snail.....

Best wishes for Saturday's farewell at the Lewes Arms - I'll announce it at our Boxing Day Special Singaround. Your new venue. the Elephant and Castle also has excellent beer I seem to remember!

Ian Fyvie


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Folkiedave
Date: 23 Dec 08 - 03:46 AM

I am not sure which "well-known singers" you have around you way - but around here they are the most unpretentious bunch of lovely people you could ever wish to meet.

And would no more think of wanting to do a spot at a singers club in front of others than they can fly.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Aeola
Date: 23 Dec 08 - 07:32 AM

The beginning of this thread sais that '' the audience seemed to be aged 50 and over!'' I went to my first folk club in 1988 and the audience was exactly as quoted, however, I am still going and funnily enough the audience locally seems to be generally aged 50 and over!! Some things never change.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Dec 08 - 07:41 AM

Tom and all,
Sorry Tom, still have things to say if this thread is still alive in five days time (hope this doesn't spoil your holiday too much 'Tom wearily').
Am off to try out a bit of sun, sea and - malt whiskey (Edinburgh)
All the best to you all,
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Jim Knowledge
Date: 23 Dec 08 - 08:33 AM

I `ad a bloke in my cab the other day with a squeezebox.
`e said, "Would you take me up "The Old Maltshovel" please, its Folk Club Night?"
I said, " You got a gig there, then?"
`e said, " Nah. I`m just one of the "punters". We `ave a good old sing-around until they wheel out some tedious "gut-strangler" for the lions share, but it aint so bad. Gives us time to get our breath!!"

What`s `e like??


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Avatara
Date: 23 Dec 08 - 06:28 PM

Melissa, this is a digression but you seemed quite shocked! People do need to know the truth; I sincerely wish folk clubs could be all sweetness and light, but what you have to bear in mind is that, like it or not, artistic pursuits are competitive - especially the performing arts. You'll always get the prima donnas and organisers' favourites.
             If you really want to see the feathers fly and dodge the claws then go along to any local drama group. They are ten times worse!

                                                    AVATARA


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Melissa
Date: 23 Dec 08 - 06:46 PM

nah, I'm not shocked.
I just can't figure out why anyone would like being involved in something that's populated by such obnoxiousness..and if the repetitive threads here are in any way an accurate reflection of the way things are, I just don't see the charm.

I've spent plenty time around theatre folk. The competitive crap there made sense because there are limited parts available and they didn't pretend to hide their egotistic strutting and they didn't point hateful fingers at their audience to blame them for bad productions.
Music is not limited..there's enough for all of us.
Theatre is competitive.
Music can be cooperative.

Sneering with superiority at organizers, performers, audience and such doesn't shock me..it revolts me.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 23 Dec 08 - 07:09 PM

I've just come home from one of my regular "BULLSESSIONS" at the Bull in Snodland.

We had a mix of performers ranging from twenty to myself at sixty seven.

We had singer songwriters with material to make any folk club organiser want to hear more. We had traditional folk, sixties and seventies contemporary, and newly composed, in roughly even measure.

It was the best evening we have had, BAR NONE.

Folk clubs dying?.....B*****ks.

Our audience tonight (non singing) was in the region of thirty, most of whom had to stand all evening, due to limited space.

They loved all that we did INCLUDING TRADITIONAL MUSIC, and in fact we gained a new traditional singer who surprised us all, because he is a regular who has never performed in public before, but realised tonight that he WOULD be welcomed.

INCLUSIVITY works!!

Try it
Don T.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Maryrrf
Date: 23 Dec 08 - 07:36 PM

Hi Melissa,
I agree that if you just judge by these threads it sounds like the entire folk world is rotten, but that isn't the case. I have visited several folk clubs in the UK, both as a performer and as a 'punter'. The atmosphere has always been welcoming, the standard of performance in the floor spots varied but I can't recall any evening when I didn't hear singers I enjoyed. On occasions where I called the organizers ahead of time and said I was a visiting American folkie they invariably and graciously offered me a floor spot. Turning up as a stranger I was always warmly welcomed and I enjoyed every folk club I went to or performed at. I think there is a lot of venting going on in this thread and you're hearing about everybody's 'issues', but if you were to attend a folk club you probably wouldn't run into any of that. On the contrary at most of the folk clubs there seemed to be a lot of camaraderie and fellowship. A great deal of hard work goes into organizing a folk club. Not all organizers are perfect but I really think most of them make a concerted effort to provide great entertainment at a reasonable price for club members and anybody else who wants to drop in and pay the modest admission fee. They aren't in it for the money and I sincerely doubt that the performers are either - there really isn't a lot of money to be made on the folk club circuit. There's a good side to folk clubs too. I wouldn't stay away from folk clubs or venues based on these discussions.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Ian Fyvie
Date: 23 Dec 08 - 10:15 PM

FolkieDave

"I am not sure which "well-known singers" you have around you way - but...."

You're probably right in the vast majority of cases with well known singers.

The problem more likely stems from organizers who knew Johnny Famous was around - and said "Darling come along and sing for us any time you want". Johnny perhaps gets his parachute spot in all innocence (but of course with an 'oven ready' Resident's guitar neatly placed in his hands at an appropriate moment).

Where a club is run by a status driven clique then its going to happen more often; where they're trying to peck their way up the folk ladder - gaining favours and kudos wherever they can.

Last point whilst here!: another stunt to watch out for. He who fancies himself sits in the circle at the singaround - has his song - then launches straight into a second one. It's more aggro than its worth to stop him and get the next listed singer started - so he gets away with it.

Any answers to this except miss him out completely next time?

Ian Fyvie


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Melissa
Date: 23 Dec 08 - 10:29 PM

Ian:
Why can't the next person be primed and ready to start their song immediately when the too-long-turn guy finishes his first one..jumping before he has a chance to begin another?


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Will Fly
Date: 24 Dec 08 - 03:44 AM

Hi Melissa - it's always remembering that this is the internet - not real life! Many discussions forums are disputatious - many so much more than this - and one of the effects of cyberspace communication is that people are far more outspoken with each other than they perhaps would be in real life.

The fact is that many people in the folk/traditional world are passionate about what they do and what they believe in, and will defend their position vehemently - even to the point of personal rudeness - and you need a bit of passion sometimes. I've never yet been to a folk/traditional, be it a club, simgaround or session where I wasn't welcomed and made to feel at home - that's real life.

Anyway, does us good to have a real rant occasionally - before we're sent off to bed...


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Melissa
Date: 24 Dec 08 - 03:49 AM

I (mostly) agree Will...can you guess what my rant is?


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Folkiedave
Date: 24 Dec 08 - 03:49 AM

Or before the nurse comes.........


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Sooz
Date: 24 Dec 08 - 03:54 AM

We paid a visit to Louth Folk Club last night and were surprised to find the room already full when we arrived about half an hour before the start time. We had a cracking (if crowded) night.
The club was forced to find a new venue at short notice recently and on the first night a few of the pub regulars poked their noses around the door to see what was going on. They have been to every club night since!


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Will Fly
Date: 24 Dec 08 - 03:56 AM

Melissa:
I (mostly) agree Will...can you guess what my rant is?

This forum, I would guess... by the way - have you bitten your own eyes out yet?

Now THAT would be a show-stopper. ;-)


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Melissa
Date: 24 Dec 08 - 03:58 AM

Not yet, but I'm still thinking about it.
I might just try biting out one to start with..to sort of see how well it goes.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 24 Dec 08 - 04:19 AM

"Anyway, does us good to have a real rant occasionally - before we're sent off to bed..."

Hi Will - yes it probably does an individual good to have a rant, but it doesn't do us as a group much good, at least not when that rant rudely attacks other people's innocently held beliefs, or seeks to deny them some basic rights and freedoms.

I fear Melissa is in a minority, not in her revulsion at some of the things she reads here, but in her willingness to stay around long enough to tell us about it.

The internet may be all you say it is, but as you correctly say 99% of people involved in the music championed here are charming, inoffensive, reasonable, polite and broad-minded in real life.

Given the general state of things today, it would be good if people who care about this music could try to remember that whenever they drop into their chairs in front of the glowing screen.

"Hangman stay your hand..."

Tom


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Melissa
Date: 24 Dec 08 - 04:23 AM

That's my basic rant, Tom..I like to call it "This is Bad Advertising!"


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