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Why folk clubs are dying

GUEST,Tom Bliss 25 Jan 09 - 09:33 AM
TheSnail 25 Jan 09 - 09:17 AM
Jim Carroll 25 Jan 09 - 09:08 AM
matt milton 25 Jan 09 - 08:23 AM
Phil Edwards 25 Jan 09 - 08:18 AM
matt milton 25 Jan 09 - 08:02 AM
matt milton 25 Jan 09 - 07:45 AM
Big Al Whittle 25 Jan 09 - 07:28 AM
TheSnail 25 Jan 09 - 06:57 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 25 Jan 09 - 05:14 AM
The Borchester Echo 25 Jan 09 - 04:48 AM
Jim Carroll 25 Jan 09 - 04:18 AM
Betsy 24 Jan 09 - 08:36 PM
Jack Campin 24 Jan 09 - 08:36 PM
Tootler 24 Jan 09 - 07:55 PM
TheSnail 24 Jan 09 - 01:59 PM
Jack Campin 24 Jan 09 - 01:18 PM
TheSnail 24 Jan 09 - 12:53 PM
Jim Carroll 24 Jan 09 - 12:26 PM
The Sandman 24 Jan 09 - 12:13 PM
Dave Earl 24 Jan 09 - 11:44 AM
TheSnail 24 Jan 09 - 06:42 AM
evansakes 24 Jan 09 - 06:28 AM
GUEST,PeterC 24 Jan 09 - 06:16 AM
Jim Carroll 24 Jan 09 - 05:49 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 24 Jan 09 - 05:38 AM
TheSnail 24 Jan 09 - 04:32 AM
The Borchester Echo 24 Jan 09 - 04:18 AM
Folkiedave 24 Jan 09 - 04:14 AM
Folkiedave 24 Jan 09 - 04:14 AM
Jim Carroll 24 Jan 09 - 03:08 AM
wyrdolafr 24 Jan 09 - 02:38 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 23 Jan 09 - 03:10 PM
GUEST,PeterC 23 Jan 09 - 02:15 PM
greg stephens 23 Jan 09 - 12:42 PM
Banjiman 23 Jan 09 - 12:37 PM
Phil Edwards 23 Jan 09 - 12:33 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 23 Jan 09 - 11:33 AM
mattkeen 23 Jan 09 - 11:25 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 23 Jan 09 - 11:00 AM
Jack Blandiver 23 Jan 09 - 11:00 AM
Big Al Whittle 23 Jan 09 - 10:47 AM
matt milton 23 Jan 09 - 07:35 AM
greg stephens 23 Jan 09 - 06:58 AM
Jim Carroll 23 Jan 09 - 06:56 AM
TheSnail 23 Jan 09 - 05:47 AM
Big Al Whittle 23 Jan 09 - 05:39 AM
Will Fly 23 Jan 09 - 03:16 AM
Jim Carroll 23 Jan 09 - 02:31 AM
Joe G 22 Jan 09 - 07:48 PM
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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 25 Jan 09 - 09:33 AM

Thanks for that extensive reply Matt. Duly retained for future reference!

Tom


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: TheSnail
Date: 25 Jan 09 - 09:17 AM

Jim Carroll

I do know several - not mentioning any names, but hands up if it rings bells - who believe that because their own club is thriving, then all is well with the world.

No, can't think of anyone who has said anything like that. I seem to recall some who have claimed that the entire UK folk scene is in terminal decline and refuse to accept any evidence to the contrary.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Jan 09 - 09:08 AM

"This will probably come over as smug to those who don't want to hear about clubs doing well"
Who are these people who don't want to hear about clubs doing well. I certainly don't know of any such individuals. Most people I know who are involved want ALL clubs to do well.
I do know several - not mentioning any names, but hands up if it rings bells - who believe that because their own club is thriving, then all is well with the world. I often think that their local night schools run courses in smugness - but maybe it's a natural talent!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: matt milton
Date: 25 Jan 09 - 08:23 AM

Yes, sorry. I re-read the message and did notice that. Chalk it down to my relative lack of attendance in that area...

I suspect that events at the Dulcimer are consderably less folk-oriented than those at the Local. And of course, you may well not have been at the Dulcimer on one of the Local's nights. But sure, Howard does put on a fair few proggy things too.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 25 Jan 09 - 08:18 AM

Cheers, Matt. Just one nitpick from this middle-aged* traddie...

Much as I love singalongs and sessions

Ugh. It's singarounds.

But thanks for that - some of them sound terrific (and none of them sound moribund!) I'll keep that list handy next time I'm heading for that London.

*Although I live in Chorlton, I've only ventured into Dulcimer once. I compared notes with a friend afterwards & found we'd both had the same experience - most of the music they played wasn't folk by any stretch of the imagination (some rather interesting grungey psych-beach-prog-garage when I was there, very like the stuff I remember Stan Chow playing at Night and Day) and all of it was turned up much, much too loud ("pointing at the bar pump to order" levels). We compared gripes for a while, then my friend said, "Then again, they probably aren't really aiming for the 50-year-olds." Speak for yourself, I retorted curtly**, some of us are only 48...

**This part may not have happened.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: matt milton
Date: 25 Jan 09 - 08:02 AM

just to clarify, of the places I mentioned above the ones that have an open mic element are: Magpie's Nest, Easycome and Lantern Society.

And I didn't mention entrance costs, which vary, but are all cheap. The only one that's free entry is Basket Club, though entry to the Gladstone pub, which I mentioned as an afterthought is always free.

Top tourist tip: if you're visiting Tate Modern late in the day on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday, it's worth going into the Gladstone afterwards for a pint. Chances are there'll be some post-Jansch fingerpicker who fancies themselves as the next Bob Dylan or Joni Mitchell. Though I concede that might well be a very good reason NOT to venture in there)


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: matt milton
Date: 25 Jan 09 - 07:45 AM

some more info on those London clubs I mentioned.

(By the way, I didn't mean to suggest that any healthiness or unhealthiness, of folk clubs in London is in any way representative of the rest of the UK. It's just that, being a Londoner who attends these things, it's the only thing I can really talk about with any insight. It does strike me that London is in rude health folkwise: I could go to something folky every night of the week if I wanted to. Then again, it's a big place...)

None of the places I mentioned are singalongs or sessions. Though, of course, a good deal of singing along often spontaneously occurs... Much as I love singalongs and sessions, my main personal interest is in performing, whether its original or traditional material. There are other people on this board who are much better placed to tell you about the best places in London for singalongs and sessions. (The Cellar Upstairs, as Diane pointed out, is one; Court Sessions at Tooting Constitutional is another; Walthamstow Folk et al...)

In decreasing order of traditional folkiness:

Magpie's Nest (www.themagpiesnest.co.uk)
Probably familiar to many on this board. Run by Sam Lee, who works at Cecil Sharp House, and others. Have a look at the website to see the sort of performers they book: right across the folk spectrum but are usually quite well known, and similar mix of ages. Format is always 1 or 2 established featured acts preceded by an hour of floorspots (which are open mic, not pre-booked). Almost always busy – I've hopeless at guessing numbers in rooms, but I'd say audience numbers vary between about 30–100ish. Magpie's Nest have also put on events in bigger venues than their Islington pub hub.

The Goose is Out (www.thegooseisout.com)
Similarish booking policy to Magpie's Nest really. Recent performers have included Martin Carthy, John Kirkpatrick, Chris Wood, Alasdair Roberts. They put on big name performers at Dulwich Hamlet Football Club, and smaller acts at local pubs. Always very well attended, almost miraculously so given that all events are in south london's East Dulwich, where there's no tube. Very well promoted, most tickets sold in advance via established online places like ticketmaster, wegottickets etc, many sell out in advance. Format is name performer with a couple of short sets from lesser-knowns. Again, broad mix of ages.

The Local (www.localism.org.uk)
Regular monthly events in the basement of the Kings Head in Crouch End. Howard Monk, the promoter, also puts on various other events elsewhere in London, and also puts on similar nights at the Dulcimer Club in Chorlton, Manchester. All pre-booked acts. It's very much a "Green Man Festival' sort of vibe: UK folk, Americana, psysch and often a distinctly 60s/70s whiff. (They run an annual festive fun event called Folk Idol, which in 2008 was won by a certain chap called Matt Milton.) Upcoming shows include Devon Sproule and Alela Diane. Their Kings Head regular night is always well attended and I'd say is about 150 capacity. Distinctly younger (for folk) audience.

Easycome Acoustic (myspace.com/easycome1)
Folk at the moon (myspace.com/folkatthemoon)
Basket Club (myspace.com/thebasketclub)
Lantern Society (http://www.trevormossandhannahlou.com/#/lanternsociety/4529301645)

Easycome Acoustic is a bit of a south london institution – it's been going about 15 years. Run by Andy from the alt.country band the Hankdogs, it packs on far too many acts onto a titchy stage above the Old Nuns Head in Nunhead every Wednesday. Format is booked guests plus open mic, but the lines get a bit blurred as the night goes on (as does the host's speech and vision). Audience (and performers) range from precocious teenagers to grizzled trad singers, with a few ageing punks in the middle: a median age in its early 30s I'd say. Chaotic anarchic but great - some of the best nights out I've had in the past few years.

The organizers of Folk at the Moon, Basket Club and Lantern Society all met at Easycome. A chap called Greg, who sings Dylanish, Townes Van Zandty orginal songs under the nom de stage of Harrisburg, tirelessly organises Folk At the Moon and Basket Club. Bigger names at FATM (at the Herne Hill Half Moon), with occasional guests from the US, while the his Basket Club in Brixton is a Monday night free-entry thing for up and coming, with donations requested for the "Basket" to pay em. All pre-booked acts; no floorspots.

Lantern Society is basically Easycome transposed to the Betsey Trotwood pub in Farringdon. As a performer, I prefer it to Easycome, as you're more likely to get a floorspot: in fact, unlike Easycome, it's entirely floorspots, although they do occasionally opportunistically invite acts to play full sets if anyone interesting is visiting London at the time. It's quite an off-radar night and I suspect Trevor and Hannah who organise it like it that way. Trev and Hannah perform themselves; used to be in the bluegrassy band Indigo Moss. The club is mostly sets by the diehard regulars. As the landlord is very sympathetic, the club sometimes goes on all night.

In fact, it's well worth checking out the Betsey Trotwood's website, because most of the music put on there tends towards folk, bluegrass and Americana. I think more people on the folk circuit should know about the Betsey, as I'm sure the landlord would be amenable to putting on a gig there as a London node on any tour: www.thebetsey.com/events

Those are my personal faves, which reflects my own predilections. I'll also mention in passing the Green Note in Camden, the Undercover Folk Club open mic that the Woodlarks do monthly in Brixton and the Gladstone pub in Borough. All are myspace-able and google-able.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 25 Jan 09 - 07:28 AM

I think you're a name Tom. I've heard of you. I know several people who've heard of you.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: TheSnail
Date: 25 Jan 09 - 06:57 AM

Great night last night at the Lewes Saturday Folk Club. Our first booked guest at the new venue, John Morgan from Kent. Traditional and in-the-tradition songs with a wonderful voice. I don't know why this chap isn't more well known; perhaps he just doesn't crave stardom. Everyone who wanted a floor spot got one and not a duff act.

This will probably come over as smug to those who don't want to hear about clubs doing well. I don't actually know of any struggling clubs.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 25 Jan 09 - 05:14 AM

Different clubs have different approaches for different reasons. When I (ok not a Name, but a regular guest) pop over to York (fc of the year) I never expect a floor spot. There are plenty of VERY good regulars/members, and they don't need me. If I did want to sing there I'd ring Roland first, and fully expect to be told no thanks.

Most other local clubs do usually ask me to chip in, but I don't expect it, and they don't always. They'll usualy want to strike a balance between the loyal people and someone like me who's probably playing there soon-ish and who they want to promote. There are even times when I'll have a quiet word and ask to be excused if I have a really good reason - but it's their call, not mine and I'll usually sing if they want me to. Truth is that though I feel 'at home' at three local clubs including York (and a couple of singaround/sessions), and a 'local' at another half dozen, I don't go to any of them often enough to count as a regular (I'm away too much).

There are so many different models, and those models are applied in so many different ways, in clubs that have a such different characters, born of different environments, personalities, philosophies and standards, that it's impossible to generalise. What works perfectly in one club rings the death knell in another, and vice versa.

I'm becoming more and more convinced that it's not what you do, it the way that you do it. That's what gets results!

Tom


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 25 Jan 09 - 04:48 AM

Another reason why established "names" shy away these days from just turning up as punters at their local club is that they get pounced on the minute their noses peek through the door and badgered to do a floor spot. Organisers need to be aware that a very important part of their role is stage management. They should have a running order in their heads and respond to a request from a late arrival (whether Eliza F Carthy or Josephine Bloggs) with "can you do 1 / 2 or "great to see you, but give us a ring next time before you come".

But just leaping on them in an expectation that their performance will lift the evening is not on and smacks of desperation. Long ago, we often had a better time in the downstairs bar at the Enterprise with those who couldn't get on than those up in the clubroom, though now it's just another trendy bar. Times change.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Jan 09 - 04:18 AM

That's exactly what I was referring to Jack, it was the "young and developing singers" who became the residents and were the constants of the clubs not the professionals.
The residents were the mainstays of the club - not 'visitating' stars; guests were the icing on an already well-baked cake. The expected standard of singing meant that we didn't have to hide our less skilled singers in a cupboard until the guests had gone (see earlier discussions).
Residents working as a team could put on a balanced evening of songs, work on accompaniments together, plan feature evenings and research local material. The London repertoire was floated on research done by the Critics Group, Singers Club Residents and audience members combined. The resident evenings were well run, skillfully performed and enjoyable in most of the clubs I visited - they stood or fell entirely on the efforts of their residents. Nor do I remember too much smugness towards clubs that were struggling by ones that were doing better, (as I said - "ding-ding, I'm on the bus").
Halcyon days indeed!
"Organisers want to show that THEY are in charge of proceedings,"
Organiser bloody well should be; it's their job - not to be forelock pullers to any 'star' who deigned to turn up.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Betsy
Date: 24 Jan 09 - 08:36 PM

Many less-than-average Joes (or Joans ) believe they are on the brink of stardom and they are unwittingly boring the tits off everyone.
There isn't the fun that used to be at a Folk Club meet - it can extemely tiresome - so why bother to make the effort to attend ?
The people who attend week-after-week are regarded as the stalwarts ,and indeed by definition I think they must be, but, the Folk club (of course I'm generalising ) has chosen the route of lowest common denominator instead of, highest commom factor.
If Vin Garbutt, Jez Lowe , the Wilsons ,Kathryn Tickell popped-in to the Folk club - I would expect the club to make a fuss of them , but NO, too many Organisers want to show that THEY are in charge of proceedings, and if such people wish to perform , they will need cow- tow in the same manner as all the duffers.   
Quite simply decent performers instead of attending Folk clubs would rather spend time at their locals - and having jam seesion in someomnes house afterwards.
Organisers, we ,you, me , have frightened them all away .


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Jack Campin
Date: 24 Jan 09 - 08:36 PM

They may be in agreement. The author of that piece implicitly states that the time things were better was in 1962. Maybe that's the time Jim has in mind as well.

I think he's got a point. If nobody in the audience takes active steps to learn to play or sing the sort of stuff you're doing as result of your activities, you may have succeeded as an an entertainer but you've failed as a folk musician.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Tootler
Date: 24 Jan 09 - 07:55 PM

Jim Carroll said "The regular singers always used to be the stars of the show before (apparently) the organisers decided that it was easier to use guests as a crutch"

See excerpt from: Folk Notes", issue 2, 1970 above

A case of "Years ago when everything was perfect"?


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: TheSnail
Date: 24 Jan 09 - 01:59 PM

Jack Campin

"Folk Notes", issue 2, 1970

Ah yes, back in those halcyon days that Jim remembers so fondly.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Jack Campin
Date: 24 Jan 09 - 01:18 PM

YOUR CLUB AND YOU

"The writing is on the wall" "The boom is over"

These, and similar comments, are now being heard in and around many of the folk song clubs of Britain. Many clubs are going through their worst season in years and many old clubs have closed their doors. Before it is too late let us take a serious look at the development of what has come to be unimaginatively called the 'folk scene' to see if an indication can be found towards the means to avert a sad and dismal tailing-off to obscurity of a once vigorous movement.

When the folk song club movement was in its initial stages there was a continual search for material on the part of the young and developing singers; there was a definite attempt by the majority of clubs to encourage members to sing; there was constant use of books and records available - and what was, infact, a decided - if somewhat - disorganised attempt to build what was to become the 'folk song revival'.

But now, with a sufficient number of singers to provide guests and residents for these clubs, the tendency has been for clubs to become weekly music-halls with the emphasis on folk or folk-styled music, with little or no contact between the organiser and the audience. This, in turn, has led to the establishing of 'stars' and crowd-pullers who often have little to contribute in developing - or, simply, continuing - a folk song revival which encourages an active and practical participation on the part of the audience. Consequently the trend has been for the audience to become passive and fill the role of the audience which we would normally associate with the cinema and the theatre.

The time has come for folk song clubs to reach their audiences; to offer more than weekly entertainment. Eight years ago dozens of people wanted to learn songs - and how to play a variety of instruments. Time has not changed this - but the form of the folk club has submerged any moves to meet this need.

The roots of the revival have been neglected for too long - let us look to them before the tree is starved. Let everyone who is interested and involved in the revivak and in folk music and song look to his contribution - and let us hope that it is a real and worthwhile contribution.


- "Folk Notes", issue 2, 1970 (editor: Andrew Moyes, published by the Glasgow Folk Centre)


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: TheSnail
Date: 24 Jan 09 - 12:53 PM

Glad to hear it, Jim.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Jan 09 - 12:26 PM

No,
It used to be "I'm all right Jack".
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Jan 09 - 12:13 PM

ding ding ,Im on the bus?
Is it an episode that stars Reg Varney, I cant find it on you tube ,at all.
I think its about time this bus stopped and we all got off.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Dave Earl
Date: 24 Jan 09 - 11:44 AM

I'm sure he'll tell you himself Bryan, but maybe he means he's "on board"

Dave


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: TheSnail
Date: 24 Jan 09 - 06:42 AM

Jim Carroll

Ding-ding - I'm on the bus

I'm a simple soul. What the £@#* does this mean?


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: evansakes
Date: 24 Jan 09 - 06:28 AM

Jim Carroll said "The regular singers always used to be the stars of the show before (apparently) the organisers decided that it was easier to use guests as a crutch"

I haven't looked at this thread for many weeks but (fool that I am) came back to it this morning....and ended up almost choking on my crunchy nut corn flakes when I read the above words. Guests as a crutch? I seriously think I've heard it all now!

Once again I ask myself why some people persist in criticising those who sell their souls in preferring to observe (and admire) musicians performing capably and professionally.

Feel free to make your own choices, Jim, but please don't be so condescending about others who think differently.

Gerry
pp TwickFolk (another not entirely unsuccessful London venue)


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,PeterC
Date: 24 Jan 09 - 06:16 AM

Jim, I didn't say that a change in format was good or bad, I just said that it was a change. If people expect "old format" and get "new format" they will see the club as "dying". If they prefer "new format" they will see it as "improved".

The test of any "club" is if it can keep renewing its membership when faced with the natural attrition of death, job changes, marriage etc.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Jan 09 - 05:49 AM

"Folk clubs are dying.... except where they aren't. "
Ding-ding - I'm on the bus
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 24 Jan 09 - 05:38 AM

Thanks Diane - yes, I know about those three. Fingers crossed for Damo (who was excellent with Mike Wilson last night at the Grove - and they're at the Cellar on the 31st as it happens) in the R2FAs. (Oh, and for ALL the other nominees too!) T


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: TheSnail
Date: 24 Jan 09 - 04:32 AM

Lewes population ~ 16,000. Two folk clubs, both thriving, both supporting what even Jim Carroll would call "folk" music.

Lewes Saturday Folk Club
Royal Oak, Lewes

Folk clubs are dying.... except where they aren't.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 24 Jan 09 - 04:18 AM

I've never heard of some of the places Mike Milton lists but I suspect they are open mics. He omitted some London venues that do describe themselves as "clubs" (a hangover from the previous PEL rules which forced them to be "private members clubs"). These include the unique Musical Traditions at the King & Queen, the Cellar Upstairs now at the Exmouth Arms which has an apparent aim of a residency at every pub in the borough of Camden, and Walthamstow at the Plough.

The first and last are close to the ideal trad music venue. MT speaks for itself with its now close on 20-year record of promoting source singers, an annual weekend festival and amazing resident bands. Walthamstow also has a resident band, a burgeoning monthly session and occasional Standing Room Only on a different night showcasing high-profile bands such as the Demon Barbers.

The key seems to be participation and multi-genre presentation. As a counter to the inevitable "London-centric" whinges, here's a mention for what is possibly the best venue in the land. The Ryburn Three Step. If only more were like that.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Folkiedave
Date: 24 Jan 09 - 04:14 AM

My first 600.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Folkiedave
Date: 24 Jan 09 - 04:14 AM

I think I would like to claim..........


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Jan 09 - 03:08 AM

". I do see a decline in audience numbers per venue and a move from booking guests to singarounds.
I interpret that trend as a switch from clubs intended to promote folk music to a wider public to clubs intended to provide their members with a place to sing"
Doesn't have to be a bad thing as long as the members are prepared to remove the digit and improve the general standard and as long as the organiser are prepared to encourage and help this to happen.
The regular singers always used to be the stars of the show before (apparently) the organisers decided that it was easier to use guests as a crutch.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: wyrdolafr
Date: 24 Jan 09 - 02:38 AM

matt milton wrote: "
I don't think folk clubs are dying. I'm a Londoner. In London we have: Magpie's Nest, The Goose Is Out, The Local (crouch end), The Basket Club (Brixton), Folk at the Moon (Herne Hill), Easycome Acoustic (Nunhead), Lantern Society (Farringdon), perennial activities at Cecil Sharp House, singers and guests nights in Islington, Tooting, Blackheath, Orpington...

thriving, if you ask me!"

That's a bit Londoncentric isn't it? Things are good in London so therefore must be ok? Because London is all that matters?


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 03:10 PM

Muddle over names ('brand confusion') is certainly an issue, and one that could be becoming critical. I'm interested to know how many of them offer a quiet environment, how many charge on the door, how many provide paid gigs, and how many are specifically interested in songs with a bit of History - as well as the demographic and door figures. There are some hotspots in the UK, but also huge swathes with very little. I'm always glad to hear of vibrant or new places, but am concerned to get an accurate picture of what's really happening across the country. It's not all good news, and things could go either way over the next 20 years depending on what we decide to do now.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,PeterC
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 02:15 PM

Matt's list includes a number of clubs that don't promote themselves as "folk" clubs. Maybe that is the key to their success.

When I count up the clubs in areas where I know the history I don't see a significant decline in numbers of venues. I do see a decline in audience numbers per venue and a move from booking guests to singarounds.

I interpret that trend as a switch from clubs intended to promote folk music to a wider public to clubs intended to provide their members with a place to sing. Both approaches are equally valid but the "problem" is that people go to one format expecting the other and are dissapointed.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: greg stephens
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 12:42 PM

That does look quite a long list for London, but on the other hand there are 10,000,000 people there aren't there? I fnacy in the rest of the country they do better than one folk club per million people.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Banjiman
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 12:37 PM

"never mind The Imaginary Village, what about the phenomenon of The Imaginary Folk Club! "

If it sounds half as good as (some of) The Imagined Village, I look forward to it!


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 12:33 PM

IF WE EVER FIND OURSELVES IN A SITUATION LIKE THAT,   WE GO.....! WE SAY TO THE GUY - YOU'VE GOT IT WRONG! YOU ONLY THINK YOU RUN A FOLK CLUB. THERE IS NO FOLK CLUB HERE.

Quite right too - but again, I've got to say I've never seen anything like that. The worst I can remember is one night in December - I think it might actually have been the week between Christmas and New Year - when there were about six of us at my local club at 9.30 (for a 9.00 start), and three of them were non-musicians. We'd all got drinks in, so we just sat around chatting for a bit. Then a bunch of people turned up around 10.00, and we were off. It was a good night in the end.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 11:33 AM

Oh yes, and I forgot to ask, and how many are

Open Mic (free entry, mics not necessarily present)


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: mattkeen
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 11:25 AM

Also matt:

Those club you list are predominantly newer style clubs and set up by younger people like Sam Lee and are a breath of fresh air and terrific as far as I am concerned.

They are an antidote to the dying clubs that some think don't exist!!!!


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 11:00 AM

Matt - could you do me a big favour and break those London clubs down for me, please?

Concert club (booked supports)
Guest club (floors singers on guest nights and also singers nights)
Singers club (no guests)
Session (tunes)

And could you hazard a guess at the average age and attendance figures for each?

That would be just brilliant - thanks!

Tom


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 11:00 AM

Bring back Dylan (Thomas, that is) I say

Steady there, Jim - I might be tempted to post my crwth-based (but otherwise emasculated) setting of The Force that Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower on YouTube...


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 10:47 AM

well somebody thinks they are dying, or they wouldn't have started the thread.

Sometimes you go to some clubs and you wonder, why couldn't it have died last week - before i got here?

i was in a duo with a guy once and we were going round doing floorspots - hustling for gigs (as one does!).

One night we came to this club and there was just this old bloke sitting there with his loose leaf folder full of song lyrics.

We walked in and he said , oh great some people! sometimes I have to sing to myself....and he proceded to sing three lugubrious ditties from his collection. Luckily his mate turned up and he sung three more(not quite so bad - but pretty bloody awful).

A couple more people turned up and then it was our turn. you could feel seething resentment in the room, we'd brought a guitar and electric guitar and we were playing stuff we could do in our sleep. we weren't forgetting the words or anything folky.

Anyway at the end of the night, this guy who was my playing partner said YOU WILL NEVER DO ANYTHING LIKE THAT TO ME AGAIN!

scuse me....?

IF WE EVER FIND OURSELVES IN A SITUATION LIKE THAT,   WE GO.....! WE SAY TO THE GUY - YOU'VE GOT IT WRONG! YOU ONLY THINK YOU RUN A FOLK CLUB. THERE IS NO FOLK CLUB HERE.

Perhaps he was right. The duo didn't last much longer. Still perhaps he was right. although I still see the folk club advertised.

never mind The Imaginary Village, what about the phenomenon of The Imaginary Folk Club!


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: matt milton
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 07:35 AM

I don't think folk clubs are dying. I'm a Londoner. In London we have: Magpie's Nest, The Goose Is Out, The Local (crouch end), The Basket Club (Brixton), Folk at the Moon (Herne Hill), Easycome Acoustic (Nunhead), Lantern Society (Farringdon), perennial activities at Cecil Sharp House, singers and guests nights in Islington, Tooting, Blackheath, Orpington...

thriving, if you ask me!


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: greg stephens
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 06:58 AM

If you look at a current thread entitled "Sea Shanty performers wanted! (London, Feb 2009)", you will hear about a club I mentioned earlier in this thread: a new club opening, run by (shock horror) young people. There is hope for the clubs yet!


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 06:56 AM

Bring back Dylan (Thomas, that is) I say
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: TheSnail
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 05:47 AM

Under Milk Wood would be a bit long for a floor spot but I've heard The Outing and A Child's Christmas in Wales.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 05:39 AM

Under milk Wood - okay not a folksong. But I'd want it in any club I was a member of.

stuff like that makes the entity stronger.


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Will Fly
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 03:16 AM

"'Twas organ, organ, organ...".


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 02:31 AM

"alas no morgan morgan"
Not to mention 'Organ Morgan' whose wife was a martyr to music.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Why folk clubs are dying
From: Joe G
Date: 22 Jan 09 - 07:48 PM

Well I am delighted to say that one folk club that is very far from dead is The Topic in Bradford. Tonight we had a packed house hear a very fine set by Pete Morton with some sterling support from the floor (especially Amy Atkinson & Midnight Special who are surely one of the bands to watch at the moment).

I'm just hoping we have as many for Katriona & Jamie at Raggalds tomorrow!


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