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Why folk clubs are dying

GUEST,Ancient Briton 19 Dec 08 - 07:40 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 19 Dec 08 - 06:12 PM
Phil Edwards 19 Dec 08 - 04:58 PM
Stringsinger 19 Dec 08 - 04:27 PM
Jim Carroll 19 Dec 08 - 04:23 PM
GUEST,Warwick Slade 19 Dec 08 - 03:05 PM
BB 19 Dec 08 - 02:37 PM
The Borchester Echo 19 Dec 08 - 02:32 PM
The Sandman 19 Dec 08 - 02:15 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 19 Dec 08 - 01:53 PM
Richard Bridge 19 Dec 08 - 01:41 PM
GUEST,Joe G 19 Dec 08 - 01:17 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 19 Dec 08 - 12:47 PM
Ian Fyvie 19 Dec 08 - 11:39 AM
Acorn4 19 Dec 08 - 11:07 AM
evansakes 19 Dec 08 - 10:40 AM
Nick 19 Dec 08 - 10:27 AM
Spleen Cringe 19 Dec 08 - 09:44 AM
Will Fly 19 Dec 08 - 09:08 AM
GUEST,Ian Fyvie 19 Dec 08 - 09:03 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 19 Dec 08 - 08:40 AM
Will Fly 19 Dec 08 - 08:35 AM
VirginiaTam 19 Dec 08 - 08:29 AM
Richard Bridge 19 Dec 08 - 08:18 AM
Jim Carroll 19 Dec 08 - 08:15 AM
The Sandman 19 Dec 08 - 07:54 AM
Musket 19 Dec 08 - 07:34 AM
GUEST,Mr Oldbugger 19 Dec 08 - 07:22 AM
GUEST,Mr Oldbugger 19 Dec 08 - 06:56 AM
Will Fly 19 Dec 08 - 06:56 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 19 Dec 08 - 06:56 AM
The Borchester Echo 19 Dec 08 - 06:50 AM
GUEST,Black Hawk on Works PC 19 Dec 08 - 06:31 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 19 Dec 08 - 06:10 AM
GUEST,Black Hawk on Works PC 19 Dec 08 - 06:00 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 19 Dec 08 - 05:18 AM
Dave the Gnome 19 Dec 08 - 05:12 AM
Jim Carroll 19 Dec 08 - 05:02 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 19 Dec 08 - 04:57 AM
Richard Bridge 19 Dec 08 - 04:05 AM
Musket 19 Dec 08 - 03:41 AM
Will Fly 19 Dec 08 - 03:35 AM
Jim Carroll 19 Dec 08 - 03:31 AM
GUEST,Mr Oldbugger 19 Dec 08 - 12:38 AM
GUEST,My Oldbugger 19 Dec 08 - 12:28 AM
The Borchester Echo 18 Dec 08 - 11:21 PM
Spleen Cringe 18 Dec 08 - 06:30 PM
GUEST 18 Dec 08 - 06:09 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 18 Dec 08 - 06:04 PM
Murray MacLeod 18 Dec 08 - 06:00 PM
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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Ancient Briton
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 07:40 PM

In 1971 I began to ask myself the kind of questions that this debate has developed around, and formed my own view. I haven't attended a folk club since April 1972.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 06:12 PM

First: There's really no point in debating this with you Jim because it's obvious that your mind is closed. But my explanation would be that the definition in those books is an academic one which still has currency 'within the creed' so will continue to be used by that sector (for a while yet anyway). It also lies fully within the new popular definition, so there is no problem for those who know what they are talking about.

But I - and most artists, promoters, journalists etc who don't want only to converse with the converted - have to reach OUTSIDE the creed. And to be understood there we must use common parlance. The people we are talking to accept a wider genre to be described under that term - as do, I think a majority of people on this forum (Max, could we have a survey feature do you think?). To avoid confusion most of us have replaced the academic word 'folk' with the word 'traditional.' (Lord, how many times will I have to type these words)? We didn't do it - bigger boys came from America and made us.

I notice you never respond to my evidence for force majeure. From now on, when you bring this dispute into a discussion to which it is irrelevant I shall merely type the word 'Grammy' (or maybe 'Young Folk Awards' if the divil is in me) and leave it at that.

Second: I'm not sure that it's up to me to resolve the 'copyright/public domain dilemma' (I'm not actually sure which of the many dilemmas in that territory you're referring to)*. I'm flattered that you think I can have any influence, though. I have in fact raised various anomalies with PRS, and occasionally write to them urging change for fairness sake and further clarification, but there's not a lot one individual can do. Shouldn't you be leaning on EFDSS or someone with a bit more muscle?

*I do know you have the wrong end of the stick about some of it, and won't be handed the business end, but there's not a lot I can do about that either.

Three: I'm also confused as to why you weighed in so heavily abut the need for standards in the presentation of traditional music, yet attack me for seeking to find and promote best practice - but then a great deal of what you say confuses me.

Goodnight from Leeds.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 04:58 PM

The nearest there is to popular culture Clubs are the 'acoustic' clubs where the performers are invariably young singer/songwriters of a fairly high musical standard.

Chorlton FC, last night. Last club night before Christmas and it was buzzing. 13 acts on before the break and another 8 after; a couple of people reappeared in various combinations, but there were at least 20 individual performers, several of them younger than me. One song each; by my reckoning, between a third and a half of those 21 numbers were traditional, and most of those were from these islands. Most of the rest were covers (e.g. John Prine, Wynonie Harris); some singer/songwriter stuff (mostly very good), but not much of it. Two acts had music stands and one a discreet crib sheet.

So: not all clubs are dying; some are doing very nicely, thankyou.

And: not all the clubs that are doing well are succumbing to GEFF, or using the non-horse definition. (In the past I've thought Chorlton was doing both of these, but last night made me feel a lot better about the place.)


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Stringsinger
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 04:27 PM

the trouble with clubs is that they tend to be used to beat others over the head.

Or as Groucho used to say, "I wouldn't join any club that had me as a member."

Frank


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 04:23 PM

Tom:
"The books were, I presume, written a while ago."
Over the last few years we have added to our collection A History of European Folk Music (1997), the completed set of The Greig Duncan Folk Song collection (8 vols. - 1981-2002) and Folk song tradition, Revival and Re-creation (2004).
Shortly we will be receiving the latest copy of The Folk Music Journal from the English Folk Dance and Song Society (1899 - ongoing)
If anybody asked me for my definition of Folk music I would refer them to the 1954 one; if they wanted it in more detail I would give them the one from the Funk and Wagnall Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend; and if they wanted a fuller explanation I would hand them a copy of A L Lloyd's Folk Song in England. If I wished to put it into a social format I would give them David Buchan's The Ballad and The Folk. These are the circles you have to square to call yourself 'folk'.
I still don't know how you are going to resolve the copyright/public domain dilemma - or doesn't it concern you?
Q   "Why folk clubs are dying"
A   "if we can find two or three others of a like mind to sing and play together and not slag each other off for forgetting words or other seemingly unforgivable misdaminors."
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Warwick Slade
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 03:05 PM

The sad fact is that Folk Clubs are no longer relevant to the mass audiences of young or youngish people.We, who read and write on Mudcat, are a very small minority of the general population and, although our comments may have some bearing on the success or failure of our local club, we are not a significant force in popular culture.
The nearest there is to popular culture Clubs are the 'acoustic' clubs where the performers are invariably young singer/songwriters of a fairly high musical standard. The last one I heard sang a song by The Kings of Leon and the kids related to that.
We must accept that we have had our day and be thankful if we can find two or three others of a like mind to sing and play together and not slag each other off for forgetting words or other seemingly unforgivable misdaminors.
We are, and always were, an amature organisation and must accept we will die and take our place in the history of music.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: BB
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 02:37 PM

"I am all for, the improvements of standards,but the route to follow is the Snails,provision of workshops,so that people have the opportunity to improve."

Dick,I couldn't agree more, which is the very reason why on occasions we put on workshops - however, you can get a horse to water but you can't make it drink! There are times when I despair, because the very people I would like to see at the workshops, BECAUSE THEY NEED THEM, are often the same ones who don't come. The workshops that we put on, led by artists who will be 'in concert' later the same day, are not expensive, particularly when compared with the cost of the Lewes workshops, and we quite frequently have people coming from miles away to attend them, but so often the local performers who need to learn the skills to improve their performances don't come. They have the 'opportunity to improve' but frequently don't take it!

But we'll keep trying...

Barbara


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 02:32 PM

No, the OP didn't say that. She makes no reference to whether the other people there were having a good time or not. For all we know, they all (apart from the dire floorsingers) thought it was extremely naff waste of a night out but they haven't all come here to start threads about it. Now this is the role of a good organiser (such as referred to earlier) who spends the interval out there talking to the punters and asking what they like, what they'd like to see done differently, and so on. Then acting accordingly.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 02:15 PM

what everyone seems to be overlooking here,is that the people in the folk club,that FAYE alludes to were having a good time ,they were enjoying themselves[apart fromFaye and her friends],they were not in a church,they were enjoying themselves.
folk clubs [imo]should not be like a miserable church of england congregation,attending out of some sense of duty.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 01:53 PM

Thank you for that Richard. The point is, though, that I don't feel you are denigrating my ability - if you did I would say nothing for that is the risk I take in presenting myself as a performer. Rather, you seem at times to denigrate my motives and my integrity, with is far more difficult to ignore (though I probably should do so)!

I'm sorry if you find words like commerce and entertainment to be loaded in some way. I don't. Commercialism is word I find loaded, but I've never championed that. Folk music exists somewhere between the stage and the church. The church part could never be called entertainment, but the stage bit can - and the stage part is the part that will kill a folk clubs if not done properly. The church bit will survive - though it wouldn't get as many new hymns!

Tom


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 01:41 PM

I think it is encouraging (whatever else causes rows) to see so many agreed that the amateur and paid singers or players of folk music and song are driven by the will to try to interpret and convey the music as well as possible. I think most are. At the other end of the scale I don't think anyone wants to screw it up.

I don't think it would be good to have a general competitive aspect. I know of an excellent player and singer who used years ago to frequent the "soup" and who used then rather to resent a slighly older figure he often saw in the soup - for the latter never seemed impressed. The younger would go and learn say "Bluesleeves" and play a ripping version, but the older would not seem impressed. It later turned out that there was a reason, but my point is that it being a competition to impress is not the right reason either.

I wish that I could manage to stop giving the impression (as, it seems, I do) of in some way denigrating Tom's ability. That is not my intention. I still don't think that "entertainment" is the best descriptor. I find that that word implies an undesirable venality about the provision of music.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Joe G
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 01:17 PM

I wrote this last night but my server crashed - I think it is still relevant so here goes -

I'm perfectly happy to be one of Toms 'punters'. It is a financial transaction - you pay money to go to a concert and you hopefully (and in Tom's case, always) get a good performance in return - fair swap.

Though I also agree that for some artists music is a kind of calling - it must be for them to haul themselves round the country earning relatively little - it is still a service to those of us whose lives would be much poorer without their efforts - and for that I am glad to pay provided that I get what I have paid for and not an endless stream of incompetent floor 'singers' who simply seem to have their egos to feed and eat into the time allocated for the guest. Before I get jumped on, many floor singers are superb and complement the night's entertainment (for that is what it should be however serious the subject matter) but there are also many who have proved that they will never be able to perform well as they never improve from week to week. They do the whole folk scene a diservice and if they want to sing they should keep to those free events where no one has paid for entry and can thus feel short changed.

Sorry if that is a bit harsh but I know one club at least that I would never go to again because of the appalling standard of the floor singers and their dominance of the evening. And if I think that way as a folk fan of 30 years what would a young person think who chanced on such a club?


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 12:47 PM

I do hope, Ian, that you don't think I have been saying that only they who put on folk Concerts for, and take money from, Punters are running proper 'Folk Clubs.'

If you do, please go back and read all my posts MUCH more carefully.

I have merely been referring (using plenty of caveats in a vain attempt to avoid being misunderstood) to those aspects of those clubs which DO do those things.

Actually, I don't remember anyone esle saying anything of the sort on this thread either.

It is a massive tragedy that when some people see the word 'folk club' they think only of the model with which they are most familiar and then offer only that template to the argument in question - even when the point being raised concerns a very different kind of club, and that this has been pointed out firmly in. words. of. one. sill. a. bell.

I repeat. There are lots of kinds of club. All valid. All important. We need all those kinds, and freedom to move between them as we wish, for folk music to flourish.

But as has been pointed out many many times by many many people, this discussion was not initially about singing clubs or sessions, and merely talking about the issues that do affect Concert Clubs or Guest Clubs does not say we think they are more important than Singer Clubs. Singers Clubs are vital too and I agree most a lot of what you've said about those - but I don't think they're dying, so I've not been addressing them.

I agree with you about singer-songwriters who write because they have something to say too (but don't call them 'folk singer-songwriters' unless you want Jim to ask you to step outside!), but please don't assume that those of us who do have albums to fill are any less inspired, committed, driven, even.

I'm so driven I gave up my day job to do it!

And your phrase "a friendly sharing folk club than one based on commercialism" needs answering. These things are not mutually exclusive, you know.

Most friendly sharing clubs run on a sound financial footing, and do the many things necessary to maintain that footing. That's all commercialism means. Don't take the word to mean anything bad. It's not.

And just a final thought on this 'entertainment' lark.

Are people thinking that when I talk about being an entertainer I'm talking about dumbing down to some crass comedy level? If so, please reserve your judgement of me until you have seen me playing. That is not what the word implies. I may crack a few jokes and tell some funny/interesting stories, but to hold an audience spellbound with an ancient traditional song, to make 700 people cry with a topic story about child murder, to deal with issues like adoption, gay relationships, abortion - to stimulate thought without making everyone want to leave in despair means you have to put your soul on the line. Some of you have seen me do it, and I know scores of other performer (some who post here) who do the same. This is still entertainment. That is what it is called.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Ian Fyvie
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 11:39 AM

Re - Twickfolk's recent posting

Certainly run as many Folk Concerts as you can sustain - it all brings folk to the attention of a wider audience.

My whinge on this is those who tell us that only they who put on folk Concerts for; and take money from Punters are running proper 'Folk Clubs'.

As to my experiences of Punterfolk clubs etc; been there, as they say; dunnit - got bored with hearing more jokes than songs from many of the so called guest Folk "Singers".   Also got bored with monotonous clawhammer on expensive guitars in the hands of unemarkable bottom-rung middle class Residents!

But most nausiating of all was the "Johnny Famous" telling you that he has just written the next song - which invariably was the biggest load C**P you'd ever heard - but were you have the Host and Residents dutifuly singing along as if it had been written by a world class songwriter.

The joke is that one of these Old Hands is still being called one of the best folk songwriters around by our folk establishment - yet unlike the true top quiality folk writers (John Connelly, Dave Gouder, Leon Rosselson for example), I found this artist's songs totally unmemorable - despite seeing him three times!

Indeed an early observation when I first started getting about a bit around clubs was that the big names worshopped by the Club organisers were nearly always rubbish songwriters. I catch BBC Folk on Two sometimes and I see things havn't really changed - there have been some pretty dire tracks played recently "written" by Big Names of today - just like main stream pop music.

The brillaint songs to be heard in the folk scene, in my experience are by people who are not professional - don't want to be professional and not jostling to be the PunterClub Resident/Favourite floor singer who gets heard by the Star of the night waiting in the wings to come on.

These are the folk singer-songwriters who write because they've something to say - not because they've got to fill the next album or get more PRS income rolling in.   And you'll find these excellent writers more often at a friendly sharing folk club than one based on commercialism - in my view.

That's my view on Punter vs Singer clubs but good an anyone who can get their preferred model folk to more people.

And.... WILL FLY - Yes Tuesdays at the Round Georges with an extra unadvertised session in the same venue on Boxing Day evening. Look forward to seeing you!


Ian Fyvie


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Acorn4
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 11:07 AM

Streets of Blunder:-

This parody was written by a friend of mine called STEVE CUSACK. It seems to echo one or two of the postings on this thread.

1.Have you always thought
That you've not been blessed with talent?
Is it forever someone else, who always takes the stage?
Well, I've got good news for you,
There are places you can go,
Regardless of ability, intelligence or age.

CHORUS:_

So you think you're the only one who's tone deaf
No sense of rhythm or of rhyme
Let me bring you out tonight
And take you into any folk club
I can show you plenty
That will make you change your mind!

2. Have you been to the *******Arms,
Where we meet sometimes on Mondays,
All of us are hopeless,
And we do it for a laugh.
Singing awful ancient songs,
That were naff when they were written
Or rubbish like this parody,
That I though of in the bath

CHORUS

3. It does not matter if you're good or bad,
You need have no fear or shame,
The audience won't notice,
'cause the music's all the same.
And even if you practice hard,
To sing and play quite well,
Like the rest of us you'll end up sounding
Like bloody Ralph McTell

CHORUS

4. So, don't waste your life just wishing,
Feeling lonely and blue,
If they will listen to you,
They will listen to me.
So, step right up and do your best,
Your confidence will grow,
For if they notice that you're crap,
They will never let you know

CHORUS

Well, I guess what I am saying
Is that we can all do something,
All you need's the idea
And a little bit of nerve.
Remember that folk club audiences
Have very low expectations
You will always get the 'clap'
You so richly deserve.

CHORUS

So if you want to be a star,
Get a whistle or a jokebook
Or conjure up a poem, instrumental or a song
Take it to the folk club,
If you think it's worth a listen.
They're far too nice to tell you
That they all think you are wrong.

CHORUS


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: evansakes
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 10:40 AM

A couple of questions that I'm darned if I can begin to find answers for.

Why does the exchange of money in return for the provision of good music and song appear to be so undesirable (even evil) to some people in the folk fraternity?

Why do the people who like to attend free singarounds and singers nights appear to resent so much those who
a. like to promote well-run concerts
b. like to attend well-run concerts
c. like to perform at well-run concerts


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Nick
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 10:27 AM

Coming at this from a slightly different angle - why aren't FOLK CLUBS in their traditional, proper meaning opening up and flourishing in ever increasing numbers?

Every time I dip in to one of these threads I think of all the places that I have been to which had the word 'Folk' in the title and realise that pretty much none of them are Folk clubs by definition. I'll pop a list a bit further down and some of you may also have been to some and may view things differently.

So it strikes me that if there is such a huge demand for the pure, unadulterated, 100% folk club - why on earth is noone starting them? Or are they underground? Are they a secret that not even Mudcat is allowed to know about? Or perhaps it's just me moving in the wrong circles.

In a world which is increasingly segmented and narrow why aren't they opening and people create tiny specialised little niches and create commercial (or non commercial) things off the back of it - logic would suggest that this huge demand would rapidly fill this vacuum. I don't think it is happening.

Here's a list of some places I've been which come to mind quickly:

Flaxton
York Folk Club
Wigan Folk Club (Tues and Thurs)
Railway at Lymm when it was there
Swinton Folk Club
Malton Folk Club
Various venues at Sidmouth Folk Festival
Arran Folk Club
White Hart at Mickleby
Beverley Folk Club (when it was at Nellies)
Plough at Whitby
Guisborough Folk Club
Burneston Folk Club
Kirkby Fleetham Folk Club
Dunstable (can't remember name)
Stokesley Folk Club
Lots of organised sessions, and ad hoc things

Probably a few others. The ONLY one I would reckon was a proper folk club doing only folk was the Railway at Lymm - and that only on one of the nights. The White Hart at Mickleby is close but there is a lot of copyrighted material sang there rather than the solely traditional - I saw Toms Bliss and Napper there some while back and you got disqualified further up the thread, Tom, for being part of a puddle rather than the real waterway :) !!


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 09:44 AM

Ian Fyvie - good post, but this model automatically excludes those who have to punt because they can't sing or play. I am living proof of the existance of the latter.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Will Fly
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 09:08 AM

Ian - good post. Is your singers night the one in Kemptown in Brighton? If so, I shall try and get along!

Will


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Ian Fyvie
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 09:03 AM

I was attracted this thread because I disagreed with the premise.

A variety of folk club models operate successfully in our area - and there are lots of folk gatherings over weekly and monthly cycles.

The difficulty I had with some postings is the assumption that a Folk Club is an event you pay an entrance fee - and see a guest. I call these PayClubs to differentiate from the Singers' Clubs (which may also charge - but your going to share music rather than as the Punter* consuming the Star and perhaps some twee self-overrating Residents).

Singaround clubs are also valid Folk Clubs - and these are probably the nearest form of Folk to the original Folk gatherings -people getting together to share songs and each others' company - from before people started using the term Folk.

It is the Singaround Club and the Singers' Club which are best placed to weather the Recession.   That's because by their very nature they're open to people to participate rather than Punt - and at low cost/no cost; bar a drink or two. They give the chance to people who might have sung folky songs to themselves or after a few drinks at Parties - to get a bit more serious about the songs they like - and share them. They are a great forum for people who've grown out of Pop to try something more serious / meaningful.

Indeed my route into folk was as a bored cover band musician with a few songs thet were not appropriate for pop/rock - wrong timing 3/4, 6/8; wrong lyrics for my band; ie not about 'Love Lost in LA'. The local Singers' folk club was extremely welcoming - with other former pop/blues musicians who'd grown up!

But we need to make people aware we exist. Ther will be millions hitting the dole queue in the next few months and will be at a loss to afford commercial entertainment with their with their incomes slashed.   Here's the chance for the folk world to become popular again as it was in the sixties/seventies.

*Punter - sorry to offend some, but I use the word a lot to describe the expectation of people who run the West that the role of the majority of us is to work hard and spend it on what the advertisers tells us is good.

My experience in Folk has shown time and time again that the Stars peddled by the Music Industry (and it's Folk music wing) are not the best singers/songwriters/performers - on God's Earth.   You can see really excellent people in your own area at folk gettogether if you bother to look - free!

Ian Fyvie


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 08:40 AM

Richard:

"I think that treating it as "entertainment" for "punters" does great disrespect to the music"

Well I don't. Not in the least, so we'll have to agree to differ on that. I personally believe that treating music as "entertainment" (WHEN it's appropriate to do so) merely reduces the risk of being self-indulgent, and therefore disrespectful to the music. That's all. Maybe you have to have been there to understand.

Jim:

"It may be accepted by you Tom, but certainly not commonly so - go and look at the number of books with 'folk' in the title and try to square that particular circle. We've been here before, but your definition/non-definition exists only in your head and in those of your fellow singer-songwriters - it certainly is not 'common' and has no substance, therefore, no validity outside of your small puddle."

The books were, I presume, written a while ago. The Grammy nominations, the iTunes list of folk artists, the guest list at most folk festivals, the CDs listed under folk in HMV, and many other markers all suggest that NOW it is only a relatively small group of die-hards (I could have put 'puddle' but I'm a nice person ;-) who have it the other way about.

I have no idea what your quote about leeches and Guantanamo Bay may refer to, but I doubt I used either word. If I did I'm reasonably confident that I didn't mean anything like what I think you're saying above. (Sorry, it doesn't makes sense to me from either perspective).

You are completely wrong when you suggest that earning a living at something means that it cannot also be a calling (and a life-long one at that). Staggeringly wrong. But I know you'll never even try to understand, so I won't even try to explain. As with Richard, we shall have to agree to differ.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Will Fly
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 08:35 AM

No - we don't go into it for the money - but we should see to it that every performance we do is as professional as we can make it, paid or not. That's the point - and it's certainly not being disrespectful to either the music or the audience to have that attitude. All my paid work is in bands and I do solo spots at clubs, etc., for the hell of it - but I put everything I can into my floorspots, just a much as if I were being paid. There's no difference in my attitude.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 08:29 AM

it's a calling   Too right Jim and RB said just this a few posts above.

Wonder about ressurecting the Guild System to protect traditional and perpetuate new music. Any patrons out there? Michael Eavis? Maybe not.

Well it was a bad idea. Likely get subsidised by the BNP, then the music produced would be little more than thinly disguised parody of the patron.   How traditional is that?

Is there any hope? Yes so long as we have free exchange of ideas and opinions from people who feel passionately about what they believe in and are prepared to act in defense of it.

Best wishes to all who have posted on this thread and others. Go extend your "puddles" and make rings in others.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 08:18 AM

Paid performers should be properly paid. That does not make the audience "punters". I don't know of any professional performer of folk and similar music who went into it for the money - always AFAIK for the love of the music.   I think that treating it as "entertainment" for "punters" does great disrespect to the music.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 08:15 AM

"which is now commonly (and therefore reasonably) lumped under the term folk."
It may be accepted by you Tom, but certainly not commonly so - go and look at the number of books with 'folk' in the title and try to square that particular circle. We've been here before, but your definition/non-definition exists only in your head and in those of your fellow singer-songwriters - it certainly is not 'common' and has no substance, therefore, no validity outside of your small puddle.
It is very much part of the damage done and continuing to be done - not the least of which is the financial drain caused by lumping together public domain and copyrightable material.
I can't find the quote but at the risk of being accused of misquoting you, I'm pretty sure it was you who said you had tried persuading the leeches-that-be to separate the two, but they had refused for fear of letting some pennies slip through the net (rather like locking up innocents at Guantanamo for fear of letting a guilty terrorist escape) - so the leechs continue to leech.
Maybe it's time for a civil disobedience campaign were we get to tell the parasitic bodies such as IMRO and PRS to sling their hook and go and live off somebody else's back.
It may be a means of earning a living to you Tom, but to most of us it's a calling (and a life-long one at that).
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 07:54 AM

the point is that folk clubs are not dying.
because they are clubs where people socialise and play music.
despite the following adversities,lack of available rooms,drink drive laws,lack of public transport,the allowing of people regardless of standard a platform where they can sing.
I am all for, the improvements of standards,but the route to follow is the Snails,provision of workshops,so that people have the opportunity to improve.
I can only speak from my own experience,but at all the clubs at which I have been recently booked,the floorsingers were all good.
it is the organisers right to put on whoever he/she pleases,no one has a god given right to sing,a good organiser will have the sense to intersperse a weaker singer,with a better singer,that is the way most of the clubs ran when I first started going in 1965,and is MrPunch would say,that the way to do it.
if however an organiser decides to allow everyone to sing regardless of standard,that is his /her right,he/she is financing the club,nobody is forced to attend,if they dont like it they can toddle off somewhere else and start their own club.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Musket
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 07:34 AM

Hoist by your own petard eh?

If folk clubs are about tradition, then consider the following;

They have been called folk clubs for a long long time now, since before I was born apparently.

So they are TRADITIONALLY clubs where people sing, and overt the last 30 years, I have heard everything from reed cutting to Black Sabbath in clubs, played acoustically, electric, blah blah blah.

Whether anybody likes the idea or not, both sides of this debate fall into the category folk club.

It isn't what you set out to be, it is what you are perceived as that matters....


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Mr Oldbugger
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 07:22 AM

meant to say "[if the advertised 'Entertainer' merits it]"

Any 'pay for' Event organisers must surely meet some reasonable standards of responsibility and obligation
for provision of quality audience/consumer service,
to justify the cost and travel effort entailed in attending..

and perhaps more importantly.. re-attenting their venues
advertised 'entertainment events..


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Mr Oldbugger
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 06:56 AM

Actually, if as a member of an audience for any event
at any 'venue', [wherever it may be]
I'd pay good hard earned money to travel to,
pay to enter,
and possibly even as a last resort [if the 'Entertainer' merits it],
pay for overnight accomodation;
then surely, more than just a matter of mere opinion,
I'm reasonably entitled to regard that event as a 'gig /concert'
and have reasonable expectations of the quality
of the whole 'entertainment package' provided !!???


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Will Fly
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 06:56 AM

There are, of course, several differences between a guest night at a folk club and a full-scale concert in, say, a theatre or arts centre or whatever. There are all sorts of administrative and organisational differences, quite apart from the scale.

However - the basic principle of customers paying in good faith for a musical performance by a paid guest or artist is the same. It is down to the organiser of the event to do their best to ensure that the people who have paid get a decent "do" for their cash. So - Faye was quite right to feel pissed off when she and her friends got a bad deal.

The issue at hand is not whether she ought to have put up with it because it was a folk club (which she shouldn't), but whether "Folk clubs are dying" because of this. The fact is that clubs such as these, which don't have good standards of performance, often don't die - they might, perversely, be thriving. There's a club 30 minutes away from me where - apart from nights when they have a paid guest - the standard of support from the members/residents/floorsingers is utter crap, but the club is packed to the gills every week. The reason for this is that the club is friendly, welcoming, a little community in itself, tolerant, uncritical, slightly smug. It's that factor that makes the folk club world different from any other milieu in which I've played. I don't know of many other milieus, apart from pub open mic events, in which novice performers can cut their teeth - though it's sad that some of them can't or won't improve. Let's be thankful that this kind of platform exists and do our best as individual and experienced performers to try and make it better.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 06:56 AM

We have a sliding scale in the folk world. From 'pure' concerts at arts centres and festivals to near-concerts at larger clubs like Nettlebed and the Red LIon, to hybrid concert/guest spots at a some of folk clubs to pure guest spots at others to no concerts at Singaround clubs.

Maybe we need a different word for the 'concert' element in each case, but it'll do for me because the basic principles of an advertised performance for money (a concert) do apply to one extent or another in all but the last case.

It doesn't really matter what we call it, as long as everyone accepts that isues like value for money, promotion, viability, quality and sustainability will be relevant for the survival of this element of folk club phenomenon.

The OP made it clear it was the concert element which drew her and her friends to the club, and the non-concert element that gave them a problem.

This thread has been about striking a balance between the two, which also means getting both sides of the equation right. My contributions have largely been about the issues on the concert side, because that's where my personal experience lies, and getting that wrong can lead to the death of a club as easily as getting the community aspect wrong, or failing to strike a balance.


Tom


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 06:50 AM

Enter stage left loads of mythical winged creatures who proceed to dance on pinheads.

A club which books and pays guest artists and whose audience (the punters) pays to enter is a concert club. What the hell else can you call it? That a lamentably large number of them are shambolic and unprofessional and disrespectful to the music, to hired guests and to chance punters alike is what is under discussion. This was cited by the OP as a reason why this form of venue is on the way out. Some people are trying to pretend that the concept of singarounds and sessions are under attack. These are entirely different beasts and are not. Quite simple, really.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Black Hawk on Works PC
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 06:31 AM

Sorry Tom

If you think a guest night at a folk club is the same as a concert then you have a diffent view to anyone I know involved in organising clubs or putting on concerts.
You yourself have mentioned the different pricings for the different event 'styles'.
But you, like me, are entitled to your opinion & I respect that.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 06:10 AM

The OP referred to a concert at a folk club. Most Folk clubs do present concerts - for that is what a guest spot is. If there's a paid performer, and at least some of the audience have come and paid money to hear that performer, then it is de facto a concert. A hybrid, yes, but still a concert none the less, and therefore the issues we have been discussing do apply.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Black Hawk on Works PC
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 06:00 AM

This thread has always been about concerts.

Sorry Tom - This thread WAS about clubs.
Read the thread title.

I usually agree 100% in your postings but cant let that one pass!


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 05:18 AM

I agree that the confusion is unhelpful, but this discussion has been about the wider genre of music, and the presentation thereof, which is now commonly (and therefore reasonably) lumped under the term folk. We are not talking about purely traditional material presented only in an informal, non-commercial manner, and you do know that, so it's unreasonable to apply those standards to the discussion and pretend that we are trying to usurp or undermine those values. We are not. And I for one will defend those values just as strongly when necessary - and I will make it clear what I'm talking about when I do so. Tom


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 05:12 AM

OK - Off long days now and back to the normal slobbery. Sat here at 10am still in my pyjamas...

Lots of sense talked and crap expounded from the usual suspects as was bound to happen in a thread of this sort. I am NOT saying my views are either sense or crap, just my views. That's all:-)

Firstly, I think the type of folk club that Faye is talking about is dying, deservedly so, for the very reasons she mentions. What do we do about it though and how do we improve the situation?

Looking at the views of various people on umpteen threads over the course of the last few months we can get a distinct idea of what everyones views are but no-one has ever agreed a single thing. Maybe because everyone is partialy right and no one person has the whole picture? I am hopeless at the helicopter view, using managerial bollock-speak, but maybe we need to look at the following points -

Some folk clubs are no longer concerned with traditional folk music but have become a platform for anyone with an accoustic guitar and half a brain. Maybe these should no longer be called folk clubs.

Some folk clubs have excellent acts on who do not perform traditional folk music. Maybe these should not be called folk clubs.

Some folk clubs have a mix of traditional and contemporary music. Maybe they should advertise the type of music they are going to present.

Some singers of traditional songs believe that they do not need to sing in tune, practice or learn the words. Maybe they should stay at home until they improve.

Some singers of traditional songs are in tune, know their craft and can entertain people. Maybe we should help, encourage and, dare I say it, even pay them a living wage.

Some singers believe that everyone is interested in their teenage lost loves, dull childhood experiences and clever use of the diminished minor 4th inversion of A flat. Maybe they should get a life.

Some singers write and perform wonderful songs about injustice, lost loves and real life. Maybe they should be celebrated and enjoyed alongside the tales of times gone by.

What do we do about it? Hmmmm - I'll leave that one to people cleverer than me but I will tell you what I agree with

- Folk has become an abused term for a huge variety of music
- Perhaps it should either be dropped or re-defined
- Standards need to be high to maintain an audience
- Traditional music needs to be performed well, kept and celebrated
- Good contemporary singers and songwriters need to be supported
- Clubs need to be precise in what they advertise
- They need to be selective in what they present

Dunno if thes helps or hinders but at least I have had my two pen'urth:-)

Cheers

DeG


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 05:02 AM

Tom,
The problem for me has always been in confusing genuine folk material which is covered by public domain, and self-composed material, which is not.
It is this that has opened the door to the IMRO and PRS jackals, not your motivation for being in the music, which is irrelevant to the discussion.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 04:57 AM

Richard, you are being obtuse and unfair, and I think it's fair to say, insulting. Not just to me but to everyone who has ever taken money for a performance, who has ever facilitated a performance, or who has paid to enjoy one.

This thread has been, in part, about value for money in the sale of music. The point is of course not that money has been taken, but that it is a factor in whether audience and indeed performer will (can) be there - and therefore able to play and be played to.

At the clubs you frequent no doubt money is not as issue, and I'm as aware as anyone of that value system, where it comes from and what it's importance is. I call those gatherings singarounds, (though even that word is open to various definitions, some of them very different to the meaning I'm groping for), and I would never seriously use a word like punter to describe the participants thereof. I might as a kind of slang, just as I might call my spot a gig, but I wouldn't do it on a web forum where choice of words matters.

I've not been taking about singarounds when I've talked about gigs or punters or fees etc.

This thread has always been about concerts. Though that has not stopped people wongly and unfairly applying singaround values to comments made by others about concerts.

We do have folk concerts in this country. Legally. And you have no right to criticise us for doing so. We have true concerts and also hybrid singaround/concerts and in both cases an ELEMENT of commerce applies. Sometimes of major importance, sometimes of minor - but it is there, and it does matter, for the preformer but also for the promoter who is taking the financial risk and the audience who are giving time and money for what they hope is a good experience.

I have been addressing that element. Not to set it above other issues, but because that element needs to be done well if it's to be done at all, and we all have much to learn from each other concerning it.

What you have to understand is that concerts also have a long and honourable history in this country, and though it may not be obvious to people of your belief system, here, commercial theories do apply and always have done. Not one model, but many - for many different types of event. And each model will contain some element of commerce. And if the artists and promoters who apply those systems are no good at it, then the model will fail. And there will be no concert. And if they fail often enough neither will be involved in concerts in future. And if there were no concerts at all, a huge amount of the music that people who take a pride in dismissing concerts enjoy in other forms would simply not exist.

You have been careful what you say but your implication is clear. You have never seen me perform, or met me, so you may not be aware of my passion and commitment to music. If you were I hope you'd not keep chipping in with suggestions that imply that I'm only in it for the money.

I'm in it for the music. But the music we love won't survive if we don't do the business part well, and then we'd be left with just the stuff that IS purely a product made for consumption.

To resent this honest transaction is unreasonable and in the long term dangerous.

Thank you

Tom


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 04:05 AM

The proper importance of the audience is that they are there and listening - not that their money is being paid and taken. If the converse is the accepted view, I would not be in the least surprised if many resented it.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Musket
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 03:41 AM

Wow! Great! Somebody wrote a song about being a reed cutter! I promise to learn it and tell the sad tale...

So... Why did I pick on being a reed cutter when making a generalisation about people singing about activities that are not exactly indigenous?

Well, one of my friends in the old days was the singer Tom Brown. Tom was a Norfolk lad, from Caister originally. Many people may remember Tom and Bertha Brown on the circuit in the '70s and up to the mid '80s till Tom eventually passed away in 1989.

Tom used to sing a song called "The Reed Cutter's Daughter." He claimed he learned it at his mother's knee. Good enough for me. The only person I knew who you could listen to an unaccompanied song about reed cutting and feel a heritage was being lived out. (Ok, I met Fred Jordan a few times...)

To be fair, it was one of his longer songs, and once you were word perfect yourself, you envied those whose pint pot was empty and justifiable to go to the bar just before he started singing it...


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Will Fly
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 03:35 AM

For heaven's sake, let's not get all self-righteous about the term punter. I've been paying professionally and semi-professionally for over 40 years and the term "punter" for a paying customer has always been in use and is not at all pejorative. Every band I've ever played in has loved the music they've played, and been determined to give the audience - yes, the punters - their money's worth. Their entrance money for the gig has been our wages, and we always gave our best - even when playing for just a handful of souls at gigs where the promoter hadn't got the faintest clue. And we didn't just do the same old act, night in, night out - we took the measure of the audience, calculated (or tried to as best we could) what they would appreciate most, and varied our set to suit. Always appreciated - and the audience was always respected.

So let's not get precious about a term that's commonly used. If some people choose to use it in a patronising manner, that's unfortunate. To take a punt is to take a risk, a bet, a chance. And that's what paying customers do when they go to a gig. They're taking a chance that the gig will be good - our job is to make it good - so that their punt is a good'un.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 03:31 AM

"Punter",
According to Partidge's 'A Dictionary of Historical Slang' one of the definitions is "An auctioneer's decoy or mock-bidder" - not the same as, but pretty much in the spirit of those unscrupulous organisers who would lure us into folk clubs on the pretense that folk music is taking place there.
Never associated it with money when I've used it, but I suppose that comes into everything nowadays - must think more carefully before using it next time!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Mr Oldbugger
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 12:38 AM

"My Oldbugger"

bugger.. can't even spell my own name.. I am getting old !


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,My Oldbugger
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 12:28 AM

ok, if some over-sensitive folkies are a bit touchy about being referred
to quite fondly as 'punters'..


maybe they'd prefere the alternative expression
used just as much by many diverse event organisers..

"Bums on seats" !!!!???


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 11:21 PM

Well, well well.
So someone decides they have seen why I don't (allegedly) know what "f*lk" is. Because I refuse to employ such a blanket, meaningless term when there's a multiplicity of more accurately descriptive musical expressions, I suppose.
What I do know, unfortunately, far too much about is the extraordinary range of oddballs and weirdos the highly non-specific genre throws up.
That very same (highly experienced) organiser to whom I referred earlier got an email from a would-be floorspotter asking whether he'd get on that evening and thus justify a round trip of x hundred miles.
Said organiser replied that he'd not guarantee more than one, which prompted peeved person to start a thread on here about "unwelcoming" clubs.
Had this person (who knows who he is) turned up, he'd doubtless have expected not to pay at the door because, in his estimation, he wasn't a "punter" but a stalwart of what he calls "the f*lk scene".
Tough, mate. You're a punter in the music industry, just like anyone else.
And unless the cliquey club regular who thinks practicing is non-traditional and that pros have nothing to do in the daytime wakes up to this, the quicker the past sell-by "f*lk club" dies out and disappears, the better.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 06:30 PM

I am a punter. I pay to get into concerts and for my CDs. What's the problem? Please don't get self-righteously offended on my behalf or pretend Tom Bliss is saying something he isn't.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 06:09 PM

<quote>
Find me a performer who does not think the audience is important
</quote>

Seen a few, normally singing to their A4 folder.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 06:04 PM

Bother even this isn't clear enough:

"The idea was to have a noun which could refer specifically to people who are purchasing entertainment, as opposed to being involved for some other reason."

I mean "to refer to that part of the transaction with IS about purchasing entertainment, even if those individuals may also have other reasons for wanting to be involved."

Find me a performer who does not think the audience is important, or understand what they're there for, and I'll show you a man with no gigs.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 06:00 PM

Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Tim Leaning - PM
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 05:28 PM

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

Here here!


Tim , you have just stood on my most sensitive internet bunion.

IT ISN'T "HERE HERE" , FFS, IT IS "HEAR HEAR "


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