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Guest Nights on the way out

GUEST,Bignige77 28 Sep 14 - 02:15 PM
Leadfingers 28 Sep 14 - 02:46 PM
GUEST,trews 28 Sep 14 - 03:47 PM
GUEST,John Foxen 28 Sep 14 - 04:06 PM
Richard Bridge 28 Sep 14 - 04:50 PM
GUEST 28 Sep 14 - 04:58 PM
Phil Edwards 28 Sep 14 - 06:01 PM
stallion 28 Sep 14 - 07:30 PM
Tattie Bogle 28 Sep 14 - 08:05 PM
Big Al Whittle 28 Sep 14 - 08:10 PM
GUEST,Anne Neilson 28 Sep 14 - 08:12 PM
GUEST 28 Sep 14 - 08:30 PM
Steve Shaw 28 Sep 14 - 09:04 PM
GUEST,FloraG 29 Sep 14 - 03:58 AM
Phil Edwards 29 Sep 14 - 04:33 AM
r.padgett 29 Sep 14 - 05:40 AM
GUEST,IainG 29 Sep 14 - 06:15 AM
Bounty Hound 29 Sep 14 - 06:27 AM
GUEST,Orson Trap 29 Sep 14 - 10:32 AM
GUEST 29 Sep 14 - 10:48 AM
GUEST 29 Sep 14 - 11:36 AM
r.padgett 29 Sep 14 - 01:06 PM
GUEST,Bizibod 29 Sep 14 - 05:28 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 29 Sep 14 - 05:48 PM
GUEST,Peter 29 Sep 14 - 06:14 PM
Jack Campin 29 Sep 14 - 06:41 PM
r.padgett 29 Sep 14 - 06:58 PM
Steve Shaw 29 Sep 14 - 08:33 PM
Phil Edwards 30 Sep 14 - 03:11 AM
Johnny J 30 Sep 14 - 03:14 AM
Teribus 30 Sep 14 - 04:21 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 30 Sep 14 - 05:52 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 30 Sep 14 - 06:23 AM
Bounty Hound 30 Sep 14 - 06:27 AM
Musket 30 Sep 14 - 06:51 AM
Mo the caller 30 Sep 14 - 06:58 AM
Bounty Hound 30 Sep 14 - 07:23 AM
Howard Jones 30 Sep 14 - 08:04 AM
r.padgett 30 Sep 14 - 08:10 AM
Les in Chorlton 30 Sep 14 - 08:21 AM
GUEST 30 Sep 14 - 12:17 PM
Musket 30 Sep 14 - 12:39 PM
r.padgett 30 Sep 14 - 01:05 PM
GUEST,Bignige 30 Sep 14 - 02:41 PM
Airymouse 30 Sep 14 - 04:29 PM
Steve Shaw 30 Sep 14 - 06:57 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 30 Sep 14 - 07:29 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 30 Sep 14 - 07:30 PM
Steve Shaw 30 Sep 14 - 07:57 PM
Bounty Hound 30 Sep 14 - 08:13 PM
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Subject: Review: Guest Nights on the way out
From: GUEST,Bignige77
Date: 28 Sep 14 - 02:15 PM

We are finding it more and more difficult to get people to attend our Guest Nights. We do ok at singarounds and sessions but the minute we ask people to pay they don't come. Is it just our club or is this happening generally.


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Subject: RE: Review: Guest Nights on the way out
From: Leadfingers
Date: 28 Sep 14 - 02:46 PM

What is your Charging system ? If all your singarounds and sessions are free , its hardly surprising people won't pay for guest nights , especially if its a lot of cash
Maidenhead charges a small fee for singaroundss which gives the funds a boost so that prices for guests are not excessive .


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Subject: RE: Review: Guest Nights on the way out
From: GUEST,trews
Date: 28 Sep 14 - 03:47 PM

We have found just the same over the last couple of years and now we don't book guests as attendance is so bad even tho we subsidised like Leadfingers. Yet they come in droves for the singaround.


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Subject: RE: Review: Guest Nights on the way out
From: GUEST,John Foxen
Date: 28 Sep 14 - 04:06 PM

Always amuses me when artists ask for 80 per cent of the door. They'd be very upset if that's what we gave them.
At HaverFolk where we charge £1.50 for singers nights which builds up a fund for a guest every two months. Even when we keep the prices down to £3 for members and £5 for non-members we still have smallish audiences even for John Conolly and Algar & Russell.
What infuriates me more than the people who stay away are those who turn up on a guest night then won't come in saying: "I only want to sing"
And some of these talent free buggers are the sort who should be paying treble to get people to listen to them.


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Subject: RE: Review: Guest Nights on the way out
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 28 Sep 14 - 04:50 PM

Ironic that many festivals seem to be going in the opposite direction with fewer and fewer opportunities for fringe singers.


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Subject: RE: Review: Guest Nights on the way out
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Sep 14 - 04:58 PM

"I only want to sing" says it all. With this attitude there would be no one to listen.


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Subject: RE: Review: Guest Nights on the way out
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 28 Sep 14 - 06:01 PM

I used to go to a club which had a core audience of 10-15 people and a core group of five or six floor singers (the MC very rarely bothered booking a guest). It was great; most weeks you'd get two songs in the first half and one in the second. Then something changed, more or less from one week to the next, and the club was inundated by young people with guitars. A typical night these days consists of 20+ floor singers doing one number each, to an audience consisting of other singers and their mates - plus that core audience of 10-15 people, most of whom are still there.

Of course, on a guest night there's no chance of 20 people getting a go - although even then the MC tries to squeeze in six or seven - so on those nights the audience consists of anyone who's actually come out for those acts in particular... plus those 10-15 loyal people. It's a bit of a shame.


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Subject: RE: Review: Guest Nights on the way out
From: stallion
Date: 28 Sep 14 - 07:30 PM

mmmmmm, er, yes, the answer, I think, lies in the quality of the performers, Roland at the Black Swan, York, is pretty tough and direct and manages very well. To get bums on seats one has to put a decent show on week in week out or turn it into a sing around or session with no paid guests and quite rightly everyone regardless of talent or expertise gets a go, it is very important that the genre remains inclusive but to get an audience one has to appeal to a wider section of society, I think most people are like myself, have quite an eclectic mix of musical tastes, a penchant for live music rather than recorded music, but if am listening I do like it played well.


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Subject: RE: Review: Guest Nights on the way out
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 28 Sep 14 - 08:05 PM

Two clubs I go to have session nights most weeks and guest nights less frequently, and yes, there is a bit of a problem getting some of the regulars at sessions to support the guest nights. We do have a small fee for session nights, which helps to subsidise the guest nights. At the one club we always pay an agreed fee, regardless of size of audience: when it has been very small, a couple of the artists have suggested that they would take a lower fee, but we have always refused this noble offer and paid what was agreed. There are a few floor spots at both of these clubs on guest nights so for those who "just want to sing" there is still a chance of one song if they get there early enough! On a busy session night you may only get one song anyway at one of these clubs.


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Subject: RE: Review: Guest Nights on the way out
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 28 Sep 14 - 08:10 PM

It comes down to the bloke running the club. if you have a core of decent singers - let them know they are valued; that their input is vital to leavening the evening, and shows the way to progress, for less experienced singers. i can think of a lot of good performers who stick out for a gig rather than lending their talents, because they feel exploited.

certainly it becomes all too easy to be regarded as the local idiot who pulls the irons out of the fire of local folk clubs, whilst the club organisers are having it large with loss making gigs with folk music 'greats'.

its down to respect. if you give it, you have some chance of getting it back.


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Subject: RE: Review: Guest Nights on the way out
From: GUEST,Anne Neilson
Date: 28 Sep 14 - 08:12 PM

We run a monthly (more or less) ballad workshop. When we do a teaching session, we have a set of charges which takes account of members, non-members and concessions -- the aim is to cover room hire charges and photocopying. And we also run a raffle at each event (homemade chutney or marmalade, donated books or CDs etc) to build up funds for guest events.

And then periodically we have these guest events, for which we charge more -- although on the same sliding scale.

We're now into our 5th year and are endlessly encouraged by the goodwill of our core support, who seem to appreciate the opportunity to explore the great narrative songs -- lots of discussion and argument around motive etc.

So maybe the answer is to have a very specific focus for your group?


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Subject: RE: Review: Guest Nights on the way out
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Sep 14 - 08:30 PM

"We do ok at singarounds and sessions but the minute we ask people to pay they don't come. Is it just our club or is this happening generally. "

There are people who prefer singers nights / singarounds and people who prefer guest nights. Different audiences that need different marketing strategies.

My experience as a club organiser was:
1. Holding down prices didn't attract people. If you go too far below the going rate for a gig it gives the impression of a lack of quality and discourages outsiders.
2. We needed a guest about once a month otherwise we ended up with the same people cycling through the same fairly limited set of songs far too quickly


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Subject: RE: Review: Guest Nights on the way out
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 28 Sep 14 - 09:04 PM

Cor, tricky one. Our folk club was at the Tree Inn in Stratton (Bude), run by the mighty John Maughan until about 1996, when it finally folded after a brief sojourn at the Globe Hotel, which proved to be a somewhat less than suitable venue. Well, actually, it didn't exactly fold as such, rather it evolved into a fortnightly pub session (definitely NOT of the singaround variety!) which is still going strong at The Tree - no guest nights now. The guests we had in the early to mid-90s read like a stellar list these days. We had Roy Bailey, Martin Carthy, Andy Irvine, Flook, the Poozies, Wood and Cutting, the House Band, Tom Paxton, Brian Peters (better not leave him out, as he's here!), Ron Kavana, John Kirkpatrick, Brendan Power, Show Of Hands, Liam O'Flynn... (sorry if I left you out). Loads of others, just as great. I recall that the guest night was every other Friday. The floor-spotters always got a bash on guest nights, but it was a bit of a push at times. There was a misfire every now and then when we'd have a poorly-attended guest night, and that probably got worse as the 1996 demise got nearer. A lot of those names seem like legends to me now. I wonder whether the modern batch have anything like the same charisma. Dunno. Just wondering. Not that charisma necessarily means good. But it may mean bums on seats!


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 29 Sep 14 - 03:58 AM

In North Kent we have 2 established folk clubs. One is a guest every week - with - mostly - the same floor singers. It has the advantage of very good beer. The same 50% of the audience go every week. In August it has smaller sing arounds. The other is more varied - singers nights and guests nights with a wide range of floor spots, and running sessions at local festivals.   

I think one thing the guests could do is find out and consider the type of club they are attending and revise what they do with more thought. eg If it's a join in type club then do plenty to join in with( rather than the latest new 6 songs from my CD). If its a listening club then change appropriately. Also, they could have the courtesy to listen to the floor spots, with the proviso they are tuned up and ready to go when asked.
FloraG.


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 29 Sep 14 - 04:33 AM

a fortnightly pub session (definitely NOT of the singaround variety!)

???


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: r.padgett
Date: 29 Sep 14 - 05:40 AM

Yes this is very interesting and can agree with much of what has been said

Barnsley folk and acoustic have been trying "hot spots" of 40 mins duration which has the benefit of leaving time for musicians and regular singers to perform ~ who would not want to come if they can't play or sing on the night

Full guest of 2 x 45 mins leaves little time for floor singers, some say a good job ~ we are a weekly club on a Monday night and suffer as has been outlined above!!

Yes 25 is a good figure for attendance, and it takes a long time to educate the "audience" to appreciate the skills and talents of guests ~ you can have the "wrong audience" if you are unlucky on the night

Ray


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: GUEST,IainG
Date: 29 Sep 14 - 06:15 AM

I haven't run a club for quite a few years now, however I always used to book the guests which the club regulars wanted to see. We always had as good a turn out for both guest and singers nights.

Not sure how it would work these days but if people are not coming it might be that the wrong people are being booked for your regulars.


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 29 Sep 14 - 06:27 AM

Seems to me there are so many variable factors as to what will make an audience turn out.

At The Milkmaid in Bury St Edmunds, we've recently changed our routine, and no longer have 'open' type nights, but have a main act and a support. Once a month is a 'nationally' known guest, once a month a quality local act as the main act, and more or less monthly americana nights.

There is now a seperate club, the Bury Folk Collective catering for those that want self entertainment, putting on an 'open night' monthly, 'mainly trad unacompanied round the room' again monthly, and an 'unplugged americana' monthly.

The Milkmaid has had a mixed bag in terms of numbers recently and it seems to me that it is more down to the draw of the individual act, and if they have a following in the local area. As a 'for instance' recent guests have included Brooks Williams, who although an American, lives just down the road in Cambridge and is well known both locally and nationally, and Wendy Arrowsmith, who made her first apperance at the Milkmaid a couple of months ago, but not her first apperance in Bury St Edmunds, and has built a bit of a local following here, both of those acts drew decent crowds of between 30-40. Just over a week ago, we had American act Beverley Smith and John Grimm, and a paying audience of 6! Earlier on in the year, Roy Bailey and Peter Knight's Gigspanner both had an almost full house. The nights with the quality local acts are generally fairly well attended, as it gives them an opportunity to showcase themselves with a full length concert, and of course they all encourage friends etc to come along.

Promotion is all important, we use facebook, posters in the town, the local press (if we can get them to do it, which can be a struggle!)leaflets at other events etc etc.

John


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: GUEST,Orson Trap
Date: 29 Sep 14 - 10:32 AM

What is annoying is when you attend a club on singers nights (free or not)and then pay to see a guest (not a problem), the same number of singers are also on. This means the guest artist is hardly on at all or else comes back on very late when you are getting ready to leave for home, especially for people who have travelled there by bus or train or, have to get up early next day for work.
It is best if the host just does a couple of songs before the 'artist' comes at the beginning of the night and maybe a nominated 'support' just doing a couple before the artist comes back on after the interval. Weekly clubs have an artist on once a month (or fortnight or as and when), don't singers/musicians have all night to themselves on singers nights?


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Sep 14 - 10:48 AM

A folk club near me always puts the guest on First, the. Afterwards the evening becomes a singers night!


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Sep 14 - 11:36 AM

"
A folk club near me always puts the guest on First, the. Afterwards the evening becomes a singers night! "

That's a format that I have heard of in "nu folk" venues but haven't come across in the classic folk scene.

There is no way you can give guest night floor spots to everybody who turns up on a singers night. The worst case I have known was an MC whose mates, who never supported singers nights, regularly rolled up on guest nights only after 10:00 and still got a spot with the paid guest doing about 20 minutes instead of 45

Singers clubs and guest booking clubs have different aims and mixing the two can lead to problems like the OP's. Separating into distinct "guest club" and "singaround" events seems beneficial as they can be promoted as separately and there no automatic expectation for the former to give floor spots to every singaround regular.


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: r.padgett
Date: 29 Sep 14 - 01:06 PM

Yes Fay and Jon Boden's club at Sheffield has guest on first

Booked guests however the night is arranged must have the alloted time!!

Ray


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: GUEST,Bizibod
Date: 29 Sep 14 - 05:28 PM

Poppy Folk Club in West Bridgford Nottingham always has the guest on first. Guests have very often chosen to stay on to join in with singaround which follows.Marvellous variety of guests whose presence is widely advertised by the club management has ensured very good turnouts, often selling out in advance.


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 29 Sep 14 - 05:48 PM

How do the guest-first clubs stop the wanna-sing-ers from just turning up late? Or is that a problem? I'm a long time out of the folk clubs, but this thread is a heartbreak read.


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: GUEST,Peter
Date: 29 Sep 14 - 06:14 PM

How do the guest-first clubs stop the wanna-sing-ers from just turning up late?
I haven't seen the guest-first format where I live but I would guess that the whole point is that they can. Better than having an MC who feels obliged to put them on before the guest when they turn up half way through the second set of floor spots.


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: Jack Campin
Date: 29 Sep 14 - 06:41 PM

Kelso (the last time I went there) did guest-first, or sometimes a *very* short floorspot and then the guest. The part that followed the guest could go on till the small hours with the average age of performers and listeners getting steadily younger. There was a usually a bunch of young people with guitars waiting outside for their chance.

I don't see a problem with that. The guest could get to bed at a reasonable hour if they wanted and more people got to play in a more loosened-up setting. Everybody was happy. One of the liveliest clubs I've met with.

This depends on appropriately flexible licencing rules and having no neighbours within earshot.


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: r.padgett
Date: 29 Sep 14 - 06:58 PM

Fay and Jon's club is packed out and prebooked altho it is true to say the room is quite small and standing room is at £5 normally (seated £10) there isa formula for the night with warm up songs before the guest, works well enough and some floor singers do turn up a bit late just for the late session

Ray


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 29 Sep 14 - 08:33 PM

a fortnightly pub session (definitely NOT of the singaround variety!)

???


Why the puzzlement? At least we kept traditional music going, which, without us, it wouldn't have done. I am very grateful to John Maughan and the Tree Inn Folk Club for getting me going. But it became more and more difficult to keep alive in Bude, a small, remote seaside town, with things moving on and more and more reliance on one bloke to keep the show on the road. I agree with Bonnie about this being a heartbreak thread, but we need to reflect on how rather stiff local traditions (I exempt John from that, actually, as he tried very hard to adapt) struggle to keep up with changing times.


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 30 Sep 14 - 03:11 AM

Just wondering what you meant by a pub session definitely NOT of the singaround variety - I would have thought that was the default.


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: Johnny J
Date: 30 Sep 14 - 03:14 AM

I wouldn't say that they are on the way out but, increasingly, booked guests and floor singers/musicians or sessions don't tend to mix very well. At least, not in our neck of the woods(Edinburgh and South Scotland generally)

There is now also a tendency for many performers to appear in small concert venues, arts centres, and so on rather than folk clubs. Some will even organise their own gigs and tours booking local function rooms, village halls and so on. This sort of arrangement can still be quite intimate but, of course, restricts the opportunities for aspiring and local musicians and singers to have a go.

The two main folk clubs in Edinburgh(EFC and Leith), apart from very occasional special nights, always run on the basis of having a paid or booked guest or band. There is usually a pre-arranged support spot which will feature either reliable local singers/musicians or an aspiring emerging artist or outfit seeking exposure. As you might expect, the quality varies greatly from night to night.
EFC still has occasional floor spots but these are usually "tried and tested" or recommended/known. There's no guarantee of "just turning up" and getting to play. The third city club "Wee Folk Club" still allows the odd floor spot or two but it is still guest oriented and, again, there is no guarantee of getting to sing or play.

The rural clubs in the area(Plus The World's Room in Edinburgh which claims to be a club too) are run somewhat differently and features mainly floor singers, spots etc plus occasional guests. Generally, these are favoured by singers as most tunesters prefer pub sessions of which there are many in the area.

In the latter type of club, the guest artist nights are often regarded as an inconvenience by the regulars who would rather just do their own turn. In my experience, even other floor singers and musicians are regarded as an inconvenience by some attendees as they'd rather have the limelight for themselves!

It's also the case that there are now so many amateur musicians and singers going around especially that it now seems acceptable to sing or play from pieces of paper and also because of all these classes and courses etc. Naturally, they want an opportunity to show off what they have learned.
So, many take the view that, unless a guest artist is exceptional, why spend good money to see someone who is only maginally better than themselves? Of course, in most cases, they are giving their minds a treat but it's natural to wish to be selective just the same.


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: Teribus
Date: 30 Sep 14 - 04:21 AM

Rather liked this from stallion {Date: 28 Sep 14 - 07:30 PM}

1: "the answer, I think, lies in the quality of the performers"

2: "To get bums on seats one has to put a decent show on week in week out"

3: "I think most people are like myself, have quite an eclectic mix of musical tastes, a penchant for live music rather than recorded music, but if am listening I do like it played well."

All statements of what I would assume most would view as being blindingly obvious, and I agree 100% with all of the above. However in "Folk Clubs" up and down the country, "Folk" music and song is rarely performed and the other option mentioned by stallion is adopted, i.e.

"turn it into a sing around or session with no paid guests and quite rightly everyone regardless of talent or expertise gets a go"

No it is not "finger-in-ear" performers and the "trousers-up-to-their-tits" crowd that are responsible for the demise of "Folk Clubs" it is the absolute dire performance of material of any type churned out each night that has to be dutifully endured by the rest of the audience at these "singarounds" that tends to kill the thing off. Daftest thing I have seen is a group asking to be allowed to sing, who then went into a huddle to decide what it was they were going to sing, then all pulled out "smartphones" to get the lyrics on screen then commence to "perform". Unfortunately none of them could hold a tune and all read their lyrics from varying sizes of screen at different speeds - F**kin' woeful was not the word for it. Mostly it is the sight of massively thick loose-leaf binders bulging with song lyrics that are only consulted after the person has been asked to sing - if you cannot be bothered to learn the song - you will not be able to sing it, you most certainly will not be able to perform it (Might as well read out a laundry or shopping list) - the other odd thing is that for all the material crammed into that bloody folder - it's always the same effin songs each week!!


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 30 Sep 14 - 05:52 AM

Gawd, this thread just goes on getting more and more depressing…

I always loved it when we were booked into "singaround" clubs - where everybody sat in a big circle and each person would sing or play one thing in turn, and when it came to the guest they'd do two or three numbers, and it just kept moving around the ring. The atmosphere was always so friendly and informal in those setups. Does anybody do that anymore? Would it even work these days?

#oldfogie


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 30 Sep 14 - 06:23 AM

Is there even a snowball's chance in hell of clubs imposing a rule that all material must be performed from memory? Or would it get the organisers lynched?


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 30 Sep 14 - 06:27 AM

Bonnie, there is a club in Great Bardfield, Essex that operates in that way, and seems to work. Their format is round the room, stopping twice for 20-30min performances from the booked guest. I've only been over there once, a little while ago (as the booked guest) but it is still going well.

We've stopped 'open nights' at The Milkmaid in Bury, and just have the format I described above. One issue we did find with 'open' nights was a crowded room at the start of the evening, and people disappearing after their allocated spot. Another major frustration was those people wanting to use the club as an outlet to perform themselves, but not supporting the club on guest nights. We now have a separate organisation in town, The Bury Folk Collective, who cater for those looking for self entertainment or to showcase themselves, but don't seem to want to listen to the professional performers.

At risk of depressing you further, I think this is one big issue with guest nights, that a lot of those interested in 'folk' want to perform themselves rather than enjoy a concert. Something perhaps to do with our celebrity obsessed culture today, everyone wants to be a star.

John


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: Musket
Date: 30 Sep 14 - 06:51 AM

I suppose that's how folk clubs have transformed. I had been going to many folk clubs for a number of years before I ever came across a sing around in the "go round this way" sense. They may be a default now, but there must have been a time when the switch happened.

Most of the clubs in South Yorkshire and The North Midlands up to the mid '80s when I started working away a lot tended to be "get up and stand in the corner / stage area when the M/C gave you the nod. Their job (my job for that matter..) being to ensure the night had a mixture of entertainment and opportunity with a broad selection of tastes.

Seeing people reading and leafing through song books whilst you are singing is still something I have problems getting my head around. I do support a few local clubs and have a good night out, but I don't in my mind compare them to what I recall as folk clubs, where one week we'd have Vin Garbutt, then Cilla Fisher and Artie Trezise, followed by Jake Thackray, then Strawhead....

Having helped run a large club years ago that booked big acts and an advertising budget to match, my advice would be that booking Gary and Vera Aspey puts the bank balance in the red for the last time...


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: Mo the caller
Date: 30 Sep 14 - 06:58 AM

Or maybe just the opposite of obsession with celebrity. The enjoyment of participating.
We enjoy going to 'not a singaround' sessions, mixed song & tunes. I assume that means people jump in whenever they mood takes them - perhaps one tune / song reminds of another. There is a snag with this format if someone hogs the session, while another needs a breathing space after one tune is finished to make sure the one they want to play is firmly in mind. But a few sensitive people who notice that x is getting ready to play or y hasn't sung yet, and points this out can help. Round the room can be intimidating if you are watching your turn getting nearer when you'd rather be joining in or listening. But I know some people find 'jump in' session nerve racking too.


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 30 Sep 14 - 07:23 AM

Mo, don't get me wrong, I was not knocking the enjoyment of participating, sessions, singarounds etc, whether they be round to room or all join in are great, and in my experience, those that go to that sort of event are generally modest types and not looking for self promotion. And of course participation in that type of evening is not about performance.

But the original question was whether guest nights are dying, so we are talking here about a more 'formal' concert situation, and there is (certainly in this part of the world, and I'm sure the same all over) a large group of people who are looking purely to perform and to promote themselves. My frustration is born out of those who want to put on their CV and proudly boast 'I've played The (insert name of your local club)' but never come and support that club on other occasions.

John


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: Howard Jones
Date: 30 Sep 14 - 08:04 AM

The problem seems to arise when a club doesn't have a clear idea what it wants to do or what sort of club it should be. Different types of clubs serve different purposes, and it doesn't do to mix them up.

If a club runs as a singaround, or with only local amateur guests, it will raise expectations among would-be performers that they will get to sing, and among audiences that the entrance fee will be low. It is then unsurprising that they are reluctant to pay more for an occasional professional guest - neither the higher entrance fee or the professional performance are what they want from that particular club. For a club of this nature the occasional professional guest night perhaps isn't appropriate - it may be better to put that on as an entirely separate one-off concert, possibly at a different venue and on a different night, rather than as something which doesn't fit in with the club's usual style.

The sort of club which Musket describes and which used to be commonplace, if not the default, encouraged high standards from both guests and floor singers. However there was a financial risk which I guess fewer organisers are willing to take on. Nevertheless I sense that the remaining clubs still using this format are doing well.


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: r.padgett
Date: 30 Sep 14 - 08:10 AM

I don't think there is one way which is the right way, clubs work often despite themselves and the characters which form them ~ sometimes overbaring members can cause anarchy of course as can the demon drink!!

Ray


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 30 Sep 14 - 08:21 AM

Something that probably needs to be recognised is that not many people want to go to a folk club evry week.


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Sep 14 - 12:17 PM

"The problem seems to arise when a club doesn't have a clear idea what it wants to do or what sort of club it should be. Different types of clubs serve different purposes, and it doesn't do to mix them up."

+1


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: Musket
Date: 30 Sep 14 - 12:39 PM

Howard, I fully agree about the risks of taking on a club booking big acts. I have the T shirt and divvied up overdraft when we folded one...

I was speaking with some friends who I used to be in a Lions club with, and I think there is a similar picture. Many people travel further and work longer hours or don't work any more. Neither scenario lends itself to weekly folk club attendance. The more inclusive and wider ranging of ability in many singaround clubs of today can also make the decision to stay at home much easier for many.

Many people love to have a collection of songs and cherish their folders as a hobby. Like many hobbies, you can get together with like minded collectors and compare your goods or you can put a stall on at the village fete, which is the difference between singaround clubs and the more concert orientated clubs.

Ray - the demon drink is indeed a common feature for failed cases such as yours truly. I learned the art of course, amongst other places at The Wheatsheaf....


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: r.padgett
Date: 30 Sep 14 - 01:05 PM

Yep Musket many of us spent years in the folk clubs under the influence

and not really caring, times are different now and the music and song

must take priority, but it is breaking the mould that is difficult,

however should folk clubs really be run as professional businesses?

Ray


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: GUEST,Bignige
Date: 30 Sep 14 - 02:41 PM

Some interesting views, we do not charge for what has become known as our "normal night", if we did I fear numbers would fall again. I know of several clubs in our area, (B'ham), who are having the same problem, and from where I sit there is no easy answer.


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: Airymouse
Date: 30 Sep 14 - 04:29 PM

If you want the traditional vernacular stuff I dare not name, then Bonnie Shaljean has the right format: "everybody sat in a big circle and each person would sing or play one thing in turn, and when it came to the guest they'd do two or three numbers, and it just kept moving around the ring." Also her requirement that everyone sings from memory is a good idea. Firstly, it removes those homogenized versions of songs found in certain books, and stifles unsuccessful attempts to duplicate well-known singers; e.g. Carter Family, Burl Ives, Joan Baez. Secondly, if you are singing a traditional song and are part of that tradition, then of course you sing the song from memory, because you have been singing it from memory for decades.


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 30 Sep 14 - 06:57 PM

We do seem to be focusing somewhat on singing here. There are people who just play tunes as well, you know. I could suggest that such people sometimes have rather less tolerance for sitting in a silent circle listening reverently to songs. I recall occasionally having a couple of tunes, as two bashes was generally the allowed ration, taking maybe five minutes, then having to listen to some bloke singing his ration of two which consisted of a couple of his own songs totalling twenty minutes or more. The original topic is about guest nights, which could mean singers, tunesmiths or both. The way the thread has drifted towards a discussion of "singarounds" might just hold some clues as to what's up with traditional music in English folk clubs.


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 30 Sep 14 - 07:29 PM

It seems the whole scene has drifted to singarounds, from what I can make out! So this thread would just be a reflection of what's happening out there in the wider world.

There's no difference between sitting in a silent circle and sitting in silent rows of seats, listening while someone else plays/sings. That's what audiences are. From what I read here, the problem seems to be (???) that no one wants to do that anymore.


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 30 Sep 14 - 07:30 PM

The original topic is about lack of guest nights.


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 30 Sep 14 - 07:57 PM

Well it isn't all singarounds. We have very lively sessions (that would probably appall purists, but hey-ho) that evolved from the folk club ethos. There's no sitting in circles and no reverential audiences and no taking turns. Though if someone wants do a song, they can do so and we'll cheerfully embrace that as well, and we do, often. I'm not saying it's better, not a bit of it. Each to his/her own and all that. But we've been at it for nearly twenty years, it's still traditional music, and we still get free beer!


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 30 Sep 14 - 08:13 PM

Getting back on topic, as Bonnie reminded us, this thread is about Guest nights, not sessions or singaround clubs, it's worth having a look at the Folk21 website.

For those that don't know, Folk21 was set up following conversations between John Richards and Damien Barber on this very topic, and is a 'mutual support group' for guest booking clubs. There are some good ideas on their website.

John


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