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Tom Bliss Article -So long and thanks

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Kampervan 07 Mar 09 - 10:22 AM
olddude 07 Mar 09 - 11:07 AM
John MacKenzie 07 Mar 09 - 12:05 PM
SunrayFC 07 Mar 09 - 02:21 PM
wysiwyg 07 Mar 09 - 03:05 PM
treewind 07 Mar 09 - 04:18 PM
Joe Offer 07 Mar 09 - 06:24 PM
Tattie Bogle 07 Mar 09 - 07:16 PM
The Villan 07 Mar 09 - 07:48 PM
BusyBee Paul 07 Mar 09 - 08:25 PM
Kampervan 08 Mar 09 - 05:20 AM
GUEST,Ian Bruce 08 Mar 09 - 06:19 AM
VirginiaTam 08 Mar 09 - 06:36 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 08 Mar 09 - 06:58 AM
John MacKenzie 08 Mar 09 - 07:18 AM
treewind 08 Mar 09 - 07:31 AM
Folkiedave 08 Mar 09 - 07:50 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 08 Mar 09 - 07:53 AM
Leadfingers 08 Mar 09 - 08:02 AM
BB 08 Mar 09 - 08:21 AM
The Villan 08 Mar 09 - 08:32 AM
John MacKenzie 08 Mar 09 - 08:35 AM
VirginiaTam 08 Mar 09 - 09:02 AM
Howard Jones 08 Mar 09 - 11:09 AM
GUEST,John from Kemsing 08 Mar 09 - 01:05 PM
The Sandman 08 Mar 09 - 02:34 PM
Peace 08 Mar 09 - 02:42 PM
Ian Fyvie 08 Mar 09 - 02:55 PM
Northerner 08 Mar 09 - 03:02 PM
Peace 08 Mar 09 - 03:03 PM
The Barden of England 08 Mar 09 - 05:12 PM
Linda Kelly 08 Mar 09 - 05:19 PM
melodeonboy 08 Mar 09 - 07:09 PM
the lemonade lady 08 Mar 09 - 07:14 PM
GUEST,Warpy 08 Mar 09 - 09:58 PM
GUEST,Mr Red 09 Mar 09 - 06:53 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 09 Mar 09 - 08:01 AM
SunrayFC 09 Mar 09 - 09:12 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 09 Mar 09 - 11:55 AM
DonMeixner 09 Mar 09 - 12:44 PM
SunrayFC 09 Mar 09 - 01:10 PM
henryclem 09 Mar 09 - 01:16 PM
GUEST,guest ifor 09 Mar 09 - 01:28 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 09 Mar 09 - 01:38 PM
Dave the Gnome 20 Mar 09 - 05:33 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 20 Mar 09 - 06:55 AM
GUEST,Rafflesbear on leave 20 Mar 09 - 08:36 AM
Joe G 20 Mar 09 - 09:44 AM
GUEST,Golightly 20 Mar 09 - 11:31 AM
Dave the Gnome 20 Mar 09 - 11:47 AM
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Subject: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: Kampervan
Date: 07 Mar 09 - 10:22 AM

Just read the article by Tom Bliss, in the latest Living Tradition, entitled 'So long and thanks for the gigs'.

On the face of it, I find it very sad that we haven't been able to build the infrastructure of suitable venues to support a viable body of professionals.
It's no good having a restricted number of big name headliners without a large pool of other good perfomers to provide the support.

I think that most of us mnkow that's it difficult to make a living from the folk circuit, but has it reached critical level?


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: olddude
Date: 07 Mar 09 - 11:07 AM

Until we can get the mainstream people listening again I am sad to think that you are right. What it will take I think is some hard exposure. Venures like Youtube, soundclick, myspace help to get the music out and people (especially the young) listening. If we can get people to listen again then radio stations will again start playing .. until then I think sadly as the years roll by the music is lost to living rooms and porches ...


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 07 Mar 09 - 12:05 PM

Less venues available, less money around, more administartive problems like PEL's
Price of drink?
Too many festivals?

By which I mean, if you are a gigging folkie, but not among the chosen few who get endless repeat bookings at festivals, it is a struggle to earn a living.


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: SunrayFC
Date: 07 Mar 09 - 02:21 PM

Well, when I started out (some time ago now) we had a choice of clubs every week. Now, with many closing, or turning into sessions and others moving to monthly, etc etc, it comes down to a lot less gigs available.
I do see the same names on the club gig list year in year out, so it gets tougher for people to break into. And in the end you have to have BOS people (bums on seats) Club organisers can not shoulder losses, and neither should they.

What the answer is, is probably too much to say in this little box.

But as club organisers we have to work hard to promote this genre.

As to the performers...with petrol, agents fees, etc etc it ain't easy.

BUT, lets keep working at it.

http://www.sunrayfolkclub.co.uk/


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: wysiwyg
Date: 07 Mar 09 - 03:05 PM

In the US a lot of folk music runs on coffee-- not alcohol. Perhaps a rethink on UK venues might find a few loopholes in the PELS stuff and the other financial stuff?

~S~


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: treewind
Date: 07 Mar 09 - 04:18 PM

Switching from alcohol to coffee won't solve any entertainment licensing problems, and as pubs will often let a club have a room for free (because of the extra drinks sales) I can't see it directly solving any financial problems either.

There is a case for moving away from pubs, but it's not about drink. Village halls and other community venues can have at least twice the capacity of a pub function room. A well run folk event in such a building could pay the booked artist much more than a old-style folk club would. I've spoken to two club organisers this year who are deliberately moving from a cheap anything-goes format to a concert format (higher prices, no floor spots) - one is doing very well, and the other hasn't had time to tell yet, but he knows that some of the audience have actually said they were discouraged from coming to the club because of poor quality floor spots. And all of the really dead clubs (tiny aging audiences) seem to be in pubs.

There's still a need for the informal session/singaround format, of course, and pubs are still good for that. There remains the problem of how a budding performer breaks though from session culture to the semi-pro concert, but that's the same with all kinds of music. In the case of the organisers I mentioned above, one runs a pub and has music and song sessions there, and he can spot talent from behind the bar...

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: Joe Offer
Date: 07 Mar 09 - 06:24 PM

Is the article online, Kampervan? I looked at the Living Tradition Website, but didn't find it - only Issue 80 is available online. Tom's article is apparently in Issue 82 - looks like the Website is a month or two behind.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 07 Mar 09 - 07:16 PM

My copy only arrived in the post this very morning, so give it a bit longer?
Tom is listed as coming to Ediburgh Folk Club on 6th May (with Tom Napper) so hope this is still on).


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: The Villan
Date: 07 Mar 09 - 07:48 PM

I am passionate about using Village Halls.
They are the centre of the community and IMHO are more stable than a pub these days.
At least at Faldingworth, we only get the people who want to come along and see the performers, in a friendly environment.
I am not sure yet how the recession will affect us, but at the moment it is very healthy. I believe we have a varied program, with good quality entertainment.
http://www.faldingworthlive.co.uk


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: BusyBee Paul
Date: 07 Mar 09 - 08:25 PM

Tattie Bogle - saw the Toms today at Queensbury - they are doing the tours so you should be fine for Edinburgh on 6th May.

Deirdre


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: Kampervan
Date: 08 Mar 09 - 05:20 AM

Joe
The article is indeed in Issue 82.
My copy arrived on Saturday 7th and it was the first thing I read. There's a good article from Sid kipper to look forward to as well.
I can't find it online, so I guess that you'll have to be patient for a few days yet.

Sorry..


Regards

K/van


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: GUEST,Ian Bruce
Date: 08 Mar 09 - 06:19 AM

Perhaps some of you waiting to read the article online (and it may be a few months behind for commercial reasons) should stump up a very reasonable subscription fee for 'The Living Tradition'. It is an excellent read and by supporting it you would also be supporting various other folk activities.
Ian


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 08 Mar 09 - 06:36 AM

The Villan is right about Village Halls. Very good idea. In some areas halls have been under threat by high utility bills, council taxes, lack of community use and drooling land developers.

The problem is in the planning, arranging, garnering talent, marketing events, printing and selling tickets. The little folk clubs I have visited in Essex aren't up to this much time, let alone money investment.

Seems to me, in the economic downturn, people are going to be looking out for value for money entertainment that is close to home. Fewer people can afford festivals, big concerts, shows in the big cities, etc. But they still want some culture. The financial crunch could be a bonanza for singer/sonwriters. Which could also fuel new interest in folk and traditional music.

So what is the best way to start organising these concerts? Needs advocates all over the country to push the project along.

Ok. climbing down off dream cloud now.


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 08 Mar 09 - 06:58 AM

Re Village Hall gigs, I seem to remember that there is or was an organisation based in Yorkshire (?) that does precisely that. They apparently have a network of halls around the country and organise tours. I think that they Vet the acts they use, so as to be suitable. Then they just push the artist in at one end of the tour and they come out two weeks later.
And because of the quality of artists booked, it became a must see event (weekly or monthly, not sure).
Fo people isolated in a small village, maybe no pub, no Post Office, it must have been a real lifeline.
I have no contact details, for all I know it might have ceased. Maybe Johnny Adams might know if he reads this.
Also many years ago, Andrew Cronshaw organised a tour of Village Churches off his own bat. Places I had never heard of! Obviously those of you who know Andrews music, it would be ideally suited to a tiny village church!

Just my 2 pennorth, but I would agree that touring Folk Clubs exclusively is getting harder and harder. I'm amazed that Tom has stuck it for so long. All those hours of phone calls unreturned, E Mails. Mail shots, etc etc.

Good luck Tom.

Ralph Jordan


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 08 Mar 09 - 07:18 AM

Coffee houses are noisy, and require amplification. Although many UK folk clubs do have this, traditionally they are unamplified, and require both the audience to listen, and the singer to project.
I have sung in pubs and cafés, and I don't like doing it. I prefer to try to encourage people listen to what I'm singing by vocal dexterity, not force them to, by electronic overpowerment.
Microphones etc have their place, but that place is to enable people to hear, when they WANT to listen.


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: treewind
Date: 08 Mar 09 - 07:31 AM

Ah - I've made this mistake before, confusing a "coffeehouse" with a café

I hope Jacey Bedford won't mind my quoting her in reply to me making the same mistake recently:

'coffeehouse'. This always causes confusion over here because the term is so close to 'coffee bar' and immediately gets us thinking of the sort of cappucino place in the town centre which is basically a daytime cafe. I'm thinking old fashioned Wimpy bar here - not even Starbucks. (Anybody remember the Aloha in Barnsley where all the cool kids hung out in 1968?)

In the USA and Canada a coffeehouse is an event not a place. Sometimes (rarely) they do take place in venues which are regular cafes but more often they happen in community halls and church basements (like church halls but usually underneath the church and occupying the same footprint - so it's a pretty big room - sometimes with a stage). Just to be perfectly clear these are not run by the church but they are community rooms for hire - often in Unitarian churches which are pretty free and easy.

So someone will decide to run a coffeehouse, get a committee together and run it just like a folk club except that since there is no bar there will usually be a catering committee and they provide (for sale) teas and coffees (wide variety and proper fresh brewed stuff) baked goods and sometimes fresh made sandwiches and a hot dish, too, like chilli or chowder. The committee arrives early, sets the room up (and PA if there is one - which there often is) and then quite often has a meal together with the artists (again courtesy of the catering committee or a delivered in pizza). Then there's a big clear up and the finishing polish to the set up before the audience arrives.

So a coffeehouse gig is definitely not to be confused with playing a gig in the local Starbucks or Burger King."

Anahata (quoting Jacey)


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: Folkiedave
Date: 08 Mar 09 - 07:50 AM

And being free of alchol has nothing to do with alcohol.

It is the event that needs a licence. Put on "regulated entertainment" and the event needs a licence.

Let me quote an obvious exanmple.

The "Flash Mob Happening" to film the T-Mobile advert at Liverpool St. Station (actually a carefully choreographed event) almost certainly needed a licence.

It was a performance, it came under the heading of regulated entertainment and it was to some extent to entertain the public. The fact that no charge was made is irrelevant.

So - I am sorry but moving from a pub will not help. And Ian Bruce is right - buy the magazine.


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 08 Mar 09 - 07:53 AM

Just to clarify, I do mention the village hall Rural Touring network (HQ based in York, yes, Ralph) which is an excellent scheme - I have 30 gigs through them this winter - and call for a big expansion (why should it be only rural halls that benefit.

However, in this area we are competing with other genres of music, drama, puppetry, storytelling, lectures, hypnotists, jugglers, drum ensembles, string and jazz quartets, novellists playing mandolins (yes, Louis does them too). The competition is fierce, with three 'sells' to conquer. 1) Getting into the rural scheme menu, 2) getting village the hall committees to buy, 3) getting the locals to turn up. It takes a LOT of work to set up a show with major publicity costs, and usually a lot more kit to install - so the end show fee for the night, after costs, is about the same as a medium club. (This is my current show Tales of Time and Tide)

So yes, village halls may be part of the solution, but no magic bullet. House concerts could be another - but both will take longer to develop that I have time to wait - though mayb e things will change is I wind up in, say, education, rather than as currently planned, TV

Tom

PS The ed has asked me not to post the article online for a while yet.


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: Leadfingers
Date: 08 Mar 09 - 08:02 AM

Its a constant source of confusion twixt UK and USA , the connection with Music (of ALL kinds) and Pubs . The Pub as a Social centre was until fairly recently vitually unknown in America , while it has traditionally been THE place for any kind of local gathering in UK.


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: BB
Date: 08 Mar 09 - 08:21 AM

The other thing about the Rural Touring circuit is that you have to deal with different Rural Touring schemes in different parts of the country. It's not just a matter of getting in with the Rural Touring Forum and getting a tour throughout the country - you have to persuade each individual scheme to put your show on their 'menu'.

Barbara


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: The Villan
Date: 08 Mar 09 - 08:32 AM

The rural arts scheme works very well if you don't plan your events too far ahead. We have used that scheme once for The New Rope String Band. Its a very good scheme.

However, there are some drawbacks.
Sometimes, 2 village halls maybe 5 miles from each other get the same gig in the same week. Result is that the organisers finish up fighting for the same audience (well thats what its like in Lincolnshire)

You have to say what acts you want a couple of months ahead, with no guarantee of getting what you want.

So if you have a well organised venue, that plans ahead, it basically doesn't work.


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 08 Mar 09 - 08:35 AM

Thankfully we have Highland Arts, otherwise we might never see people like Eric Bogle, up here in the wilderness.


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 08 Mar 09 - 09:02 AM

Fluvanna County High School, Virginia held what they called a Coffeehouse event in the school cafeteria way back in 1996 or 97. And again in early 2000's. Attracted both students and parents to perform as well as a good audience. Comprised of songs from 60's up to then current as well as poetry and dramatic readings, jazz trio, and sundry stuff.

Tom, it might be a pretty cool to put together a teaching show and send out to schools in the UK. Your story telling (song descriptions) ability is strong and engaging. Ever consider looking at QCA curriculum and teachernet and taking a bash at writing some lesson plans to go with your show? Or adapting your some of your descriptions to compliment current curriculum?

Just a couple of ideas.


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: Howard Jones
Date: 08 Mar 09 - 11:09 AM

Has anyone tried running house concerts in the UK under the new licensing laws? Perhaps I'm being pessimistic, but I have a nagging suspicion that it would be so overwhelmed by red tape, health and safety, noise limitation, fire regs etc that it would be an utter nightmare.


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: GUEST,John from Kemsing
Date: 08 Mar 09 - 01:05 PM

Howard, I fear you are right on. The H&S requirements alone for providing prepared food to the public are ,I understand, quite onerous to say the least.

    Regarding the "coffee house" event I attended in Amherst, Mass., it was just that. A coffee bar on the high street that allowed the students from the local Uni. to hold there club there. One of the acts was a shadow show illuminated by candles.


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Mar 09 - 02:34 PM

it is a sad day when any professional ,decides to give up .


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: Peace
Date: 08 Mar 09 - 02:42 PM

I am confused by this thread. Who's giving up music?


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: Ian Fyvie
Date: 08 Mar 09 - 02:55 PM

On 'value for money - close to home'.

Complex singaround club history and policy differences with our club's Vice President and our usual Hostess meant that I decided to try a new Club based exactly on what I thought a club should be.

This was two years ago before recessions but I decided to try a Club based on a 'local community' where I'd known various people through non-folk activities over the years.

Luckily there was a distinctive and very suitable away-from-the-city-centre pub on the edge of these streets of largely 'gentrified' terraced houses.

So I arranged five dates (Tuesdays) spread over 10 weeks with the Publican and advertised all these dates - by leafleting - the whole local area. It worked! We found lots of new singers and listeners - and very soon converted to 'every tuessday'.

The format, by the way, was free singaround - the same as our existing club nights, but this time went for the function room instead of saloon bars my colleagues were insisting on*.   

The audience turned out to be about 50-50 local residents and existing Club supporters; and two new local people who came along not knowing each quickly formed a duo and have already had a Guest spots at Payclubs and produced their own CD album (see Myspace//Heartree - excellent songwriters).

If you're worried about the health of your local club or the local folk scene generally, why not try as I did - take folk to a brand new audience?

Two thing I would say though are 1) advertise your new club to be a permanent event. It's no good putting lots of ifs and buts into your publicty. 2) If it doesn't work, you will probably have made a contact or two for the next time you try a new folk night.

The club? Its Brighton Cellarfolk Song Club and meets at the Round Georges pub in the city's Kemptown area - in Sutherland Road.

*As to my colleagues who were against a function room, our bar Club's Vice President is now a stalwart and regualar singers at Cellarfolk, but our Hostess from two years ago comes along very rarely - and not been along at all for a long time.

Hope this helps   (Cellarfolk includes a number of Mudcat contributers among its singers! - come and see us!!)


Ian Fyvie


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: Northerner
Date: 08 Mar 09 - 03:02 PM

Put some school gigs on the road Tom. Your shows must tick so many boxes when it comes to the National Curriculum. Our schools are desperate to find things that will stimulate children. You must be covering literacy, creative writing, music, history and geography.

Add a little bit of storytelling into that and you have the library ciruit too.


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: Peace
Date: 08 Mar 09 - 03:03 PM

Tom, when you have a moment, would you please message me? Thanks.

Bruce


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: The Barden of England
Date: 08 Mar 09 - 05:12 PM

I'm sad to hear this news. One of the nicest people I have met is throwing in the towel. I just hope you can continue on a semi-pro basis, otherwise we are the losers without a doubt. I for one will miss you Tom.
John Barden


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: Linda Kelly
Date: 08 Mar 09 - 05:19 PM

Its not jut venue and licensing its having people with the time and commitment to run the clubs in the first place.


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: melodeonboy
Date: 08 Mar 09 - 07:09 PM

I second John Barden's comments.


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: the lemonade lady
Date: 08 Mar 09 - 07:14 PM

I regularly go to this place and it's been going for years. Works really well in my neck of the woods.

sal


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: GUEST,Warpy
Date: 08 Mar 09 - 09:58 PM

I think Treewind has highlighted the real problem with the demise of folk clubs. Poor quality floor spots do not encourage a new audience to return to a folk club. We are too kind to the deluded self indulgent singer and musician that think they are good and in truth are awful.I would love to go more often to local clubs but each time I go its the same really dire stuff on. The local amateur scaring away the audience that would have supported the talented touring folk artist.


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: GUEST,Mr Red
Date: 09 Mar 09 - 06:53 AM

Folk is and was principally about folk. If they don't survive then folk music won't.

If the commercial end of the genre cannot be supported it is sad but not not the end of Folk World. We need a full spectrum for our enjoyment, not for survival. But even in hedonistic days of the "me generation" folk survived, and in the upshot of the hedonism, our glorious depression, people will discover the delights of actually doing things for themselves.

Though the twists and turns it takes as the influx of newbies come in with their new-fangled notions may be a shock to us. Make that - "will".


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 09 Mar 09 - 08:01 AM

Fair point Cresby, and a fair cop too. But it may not be quite as simple as that. Have you read the full article, and did you see this? Obviously I'm making a slightly different point there, but the second part, about the dissemination of material, post 'oral/aural process,' and the championing of folk music outside of the current silo, is relevant, I think.

Those of you who have read the article will have noted that I'm not only concerned about the reduction in guest bookings, but also the root cause of that; namely regulars choosing not to turn out for guests, specially those they've not seen before. This is perfectly reasonable, of course, but it's unfortunate for organisers and new artists (and ultimately the folk world, if you accept my argument above) as long as it remains difficult to get non-folk-club people through the door for reasons raised by others above.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: SunrayFC
Date: 09 Mar 09 - 09:12 AM

Deciding which floor singer one includes on a guest night is a judgement. I can only assume that when I started out I was probably dreadful (and some may say, still dreadful). But I was given a chance. And I think I have improved.

I admit I try to choose wisely at the Sunray as to which singer to include in the running order. And yes, some singers can be dreadful and risk turning off your hard-earned audience. But it is useful for people striving to improve and get somewhere to face a reasonably sized audience.

And it is up to the audience to tolerate such support singers. Blimey, at the Sunray there is no door charge- and they still complain!!!

Actually, 99.99% of our audience love the club and continue to support us. And it's a hard-earned audience, as I have said- they don't come easily.


http://www.sunrayfolkclub.co.uk/


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 09 Mar 09 - 11:55 AM

I'm sure Sunray's a great club, Bob, and I'm sorry I never got there, but I'm not talking about a few less able singers in an existing audience. I'm trying to encourage a really wide view, because I think I see a long term trend developing. The joining-in end of the folk movement is fine and healthy, and the pay-quite-a-bit-for-a-good show end is fine and healthy. But the wonderful compromise upon which the movement was founded, with its balance between participation and performance is, in places, creaking - and if it cracks, and the movement fragments, there could be long term detrimental effects at both ends.

This compromise, in which guest artists are welcomed by loyal club supporters who trust the organiser's judgement and turn out even if they won't get a sing, is still in great shape in many clubs. But not as many as once. And if every club becomes full of people who are not interested in guest nights, while they also remain unattractive to people who love folk music but don't like clubs (I have a few hundred on my mailing list for the record), then that compromise will die.

This may be inevitable, but if it is we'll need some other ideas to fill the gap and re-connect the two ends of the folk world - such as, perhaps, a bigger hall circuit, house concerts, fee-paying open mics, more folk on TV and lots of ideas we haven't had yet.

I'm want people to think hard about all of it.


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: DonMeixner
Date: 09 Mar 09 - 12:44 PM

As of right now the rest of this year will as good as any in the last 20 for the band I have played with. One bar we play in, Coleman's, in Syracuse NY books us on a yearly basis. Add to that the new band I am in and we have a busy schedule. This is a good thing for me as the jewelry business is just about down to stiffle. Here in Central New York State therr are more venues than there ever have been and live acoustic music is thriving. There have been a couple legit coffee house type joints that have opened here in the last few years.
( Seamus, contact Burritt's in Weedsport,NY)

I am by no way suggesting I live in the economic promised land for folk singers. This year won't tell the story. It will be in November we will the feast or the famine. But right now things aren't too bad.

Don


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: SunrayFC
Date: 09 Mar 09 - 01:10 PM

Tom- be careful. You wrote a very articulate article. The more you now say the less value it will have.

Trust me!


But its my opinion.

You wrote the article- stop there!


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: henryclem
Date: 09 Mar 09 - 01:16 PM

We always seem to arrive at this assertion that dreadful floor singers are driving away otherwise willing audiences. This has currency as an argument if numbers (listening rather than participating/performing) are significantly lower on singers' nights; but in my (admittedly localised) experience we get as many, if not more, non-performers on an ordinary club night as we do when there is a guest. And often (frustratingly) a really great singers night, when the room is packed out, is followed the next week with half the numbers!

The local hall circuit is definitely worth developing, though : there is a wider audience than would ever think of coming to a folk club which finds itself royally entertained by the likes of Tom with his show; and they do come back for more - I've seen Tom McConville a couple of times at a local Arts Centre - packed out both times -
where maybe a half-dozen were recognisably Folk Club habitues.

Pubs disappearing, or changing their side/upstairs rooms to restaurants etc, may signal the end of the traditional venue for participatory folk music. The danger is that it's not just the venue, but the music itself which is lost. I love the informality, the sociability, and the sharing which is still the very essence of a decent club. On guest nights as well!

At present, they're using Woody Guthrie and Dylan on TV ads; presumably because they enhance the appeal of the products being sold. Taking "our" music into different settings, finding out how far that wider appeal extends, is a challenge for all of us.

I'll see you, Tom, at the end of the month in Devizes - a special club for lots of reasons.

Henry


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: GUEST,guest ifor
Date: 09 Mar 09 - 01:28 PM

Tom will appearing at the Valley Folk Club in the Ivy Bush Pontardawe at 8.30 on friday the 20th March.All welcome!
ifor


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - So long and thanks
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 09 Mar 09 - 01:38 PM

Hi Henry, I think you'll find that the folk-loving people who are not keen on floor singing, and who therefore never go to clubs, are completely different individuals to those who come or don't come on singers or guest nights. So the issue is slightly more complex.

These No-club Folksters would in fact enjoy the floor singers if they came (they darned well should!) but they've either been disappointed in the past, or they've never get beyond the Old Stereotype image barriers.

I suspect that the issues for Club-loving Folksters around singers vs guest nights are more to do with A) atmosphere - singers nights are frequently (I'm sorry to admit) much more fun than guest nights, because even good guests can become boring after 90 minutes, so even clubs where standards are 'not an issue' can be worth a visit, and B) perhaps cash, in that singers nights are usually cheaper than guest nights.

Important distinction.

T

PS We're working on a new version of N&S with T taking the vocal. It's considerably better than my solo one.
    Threads combined. Messages below are from a new thread.
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: Tom Bliss - State of the nation address
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 05:33 AM

I'm sure Tom won't mind the tongue in cheek thread title:-)

There is an excelent article by Tom in The Living Tradition on various aspects of the 'folk scene' (How 60s of me!) and why he is packing in one of his parts in it. I am sure all will join me in wishing Tom all the best and I hope you will all read and inwardly digest. It is rather difficult to externaly digest anyway...

Feel free to discuss. Not that you need any encouragement!

DeG


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - State of the nation address
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 06:55 AM

Here's an alternative link to the online issue

http://content.yudu.com/Library/A14rpp/LivingTraditionMarch/resources/index.htm

I know this is something of a commercial (I have nothing personal to gain from it), but since Living Tradition is being generous enough to give us a whole magazine online for free (and a very good read it is, too) I think - as news - it's fair to pass on the following blurb from their newsletter. And kudos to Tom for such a valuable, thought-provoking, truth-illuminating article.


CURRENT ISSUE OF LIVING TRADITION NOW ONLINE
 
We are still experimenting with ways to make more material from the Living Tradition available for casual readers and to extend features for our subscribers.  We have again put the whole of the current issue online, plus an online version of our Festival Listing section (as published in Issue 82). You can read it, print out parts of it, and you can forward the links and invite friends to see it.   If you haven't seen the magazine recently, we hope that it will tempt you to subscribe.  Please pass this link on to any of your contacts who you think may be interested.  Please also encourage them to register for our free email newsletter so that we can keep them in touch with developments: www.folkmusic.net
 
There is a feature on the Living Tradition Summer Schools in the current issue of Living Tradition.  This is a major part of our work and something that we are sure that many of you would enjoy.  Can I encourage you to check out the article or the Summer Schools website.
 

http://www.livingtradition.org.uk/summerschools


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - State of the nation address
From: GUEST,Rafflesbear on leave
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 08:36 AM

every word rings true

one big block to new talent breaking through is a club policy of booking a year in advance - so you have to be ripe to appear at the time of booking but you will not get to appear until 12 months later - no flexibility at all


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - State of the nation address
From: Joe G
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 09:44 AM

An excellent article as one would expect from Tom - thanks for posting the link David- I didn't realise the magazine was on line.

Tom departing will leave a huge gap on the folk scene - I am just hoping he will still be able to do a few local gigs in the W.Yorks area and will continue to write & record such superb songs - I think the comments about Smooth Ops/BBC ring very true - I have frequently been driven to depair by the fact that artists like Tom seem to be ignored on R2 whilst some the Young Turks & Old Guard (as he defines them) are played repeatedly. Nothing against those artists at all of course but it would be nice if there was space for more of those who exist somewhere between.


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - State of the nation address
From: GUEST,Golightly
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 11:31 AM

Tom's article in Living Tradition is honest and comprehensive, but I don't think he's necessarily burned his bridges by 'coming out' with his views. I've always admired his willingness to contribute to Mudcat et al in his own name and I don't think he ever says anything unreasonable.

It's an old joke that the best asset a folk musician can have is a partner with a job. I just can't help thinking of gigs I could have gone to but didn't.

Good luck to Tom.


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Subject: RE: Tom Bliss - State of the nation address
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 11:47 AM

Out of interest our club is predominantly singers/local heroes to utilise Tom's phrase. I would dearly love to have more 'journeymen' there but with the audience being set in their ways and the other organisers unwilling to raise the admission I doubt if we could afford many:-( Oddly enough we have Johny Silvo on in early May (is he journeyman or old guard?) but that is now an annual tradition in itself! I have tried to get other evenings booked where I have booked such journeymen but they have sometimes failed due to what I now know is bad planning on my part! Thanks to Tom for the insight into how dificult it is to publicise someone who is not well known in the area and how easy it is for the organiser (me!) to assume the artist will 'bring their own audience'. I am far from making excuses - I agree with everything Tom says but how do we now turn this around? Or is it too late?

Cheers

DeG


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