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Guest Nights on the way out

GUEST,Peter 02 Oct 14 - 06:44 PM
Ian Hendrie 02 Oct 14 - 09:40 AM
GUEST,Alan Day 02 Oct 14 - 08:30 AM
Jack Campin 02 Oct 14 - 07:43 AM
GUEST,Alan Day 02 Oct 14 - 06:20 AM
GUEST,pete from seven stars link 02 Oct 14 - 05:52 AM
GUEST,FloraG 02 Oct 14 - 03:53 AM
Betsy 01 Oct 14 - 07:19 PM
Leadfingers 01 Oct 14 - 06:34 PM
Jack Campin 01 Oct 14 - 05:24 PM
GUEST 01 Oct 14 - 02:58 PM
GUEST,BIgnige 01 Oct 14 - 02:39 PM
GUEST 01 Oct 14 - 02:26 PM
r.padgett 01 Oct 14 - 02:07 PM
GUEST,Desi C 01 Oct 14 - 01:46 PM
GUEST 01 Oct 14 - 11:30 AM
r.padgett 01 Oct 14 - 09:48 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 01 Oct 14 - 09:45 AM
GUEST,OldNicKilby 01 Oct 14 - 09:30 AM
GUEST,Bignige. 01 Oct 14 - 08:06 AM
Bounty Hound 01 Oct 14 - 06:56 AM
Mo the caller 01 Oct 14 - 06:51 AM
Johnny J 01 Oct 14 - 06:30 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 01 Oct 14 - 06:09 AM
GUEST,Bignige 01 Oct 14 - 06:04 AM
GUEST,Bignige 01 Oct 14 - 05:53 AM
GUEST,pete from seven stars link 01 Oct 14 - 05:34 AM
Musket 01 Oct 14 - 03:41 AM
Bounty Hound 30 Sep 14 - 08:13 PM
Steve Shaw 30 Sep 14 - 07:57 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 30 Sep 14 - 07:30 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 30 Sep 14 - 07:29 PM
Steve Shaw 30 Sep 14 - 06:57 PM
Airymouse 30 Sep 14 - 04:29 PM
GUEST,Bignige 30 Sep 14 - 02:41 PM
r.padgett 30 Sep 14 - 01:05 PM
Musket 30 Sep 14 - 12:39 PM
GUEST 30 Sep 14 - 12:17 PM
Les in Chorlton 30 Sep 14 - 08:21 AM
r.padgett 30 Sep 14 - 08:10 AM
Howard Jones 30 Sep 14 - 08:04 AM
Bounty Hound 30 Sep 14 - 07:23 AM
Mo the caller 30 Sep 14 - 06:58 AM
Musket 30 Sep 14 - 06:51 AM
Bounty Hound 30 Sep 14 - 06:27 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 30 Sep 14 - 06:23 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 30 Sep 14 - 05:52 AM
Teribus 30 Sep 14 - 04:21 AM
Johnny J 30 Sep 14 - 03:14 AM
Phil Edwards 30 Sep 14 - 03:11 AM
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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: GUEST,Peter
Date: 02 Oct 14 - 06:44 PM

Folk clubs are generally very poor at reaching outside the established folk scene. It takes a lot of leg work as Ian found and then you need to sit down, look at the results and decide where to advertise next time. When people come in off the street you need to talk to them, find out how they heard about the club. If a newcomer turns up on a singers night then take the trouble to explain how that differs from a guest night otherwise when you are trying to sell a gig with a major name they are telling their mates that you just run the musical equivalent of am-dram.


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: Ian Hendrie
Date: 02 Oct 14 - 09:40 AM

As someone who visited folk clubs in the Manchester area in the 70's when there was a plethora of clubs, I still prefer to pay to listen to 'professional' singers and musicians (or at least those skill levels might put them in that category if the economics of the 'folk music scene' allowed it). At my age I don't want to be enduring the 'this is one I wrote this afternoon' amateurism of some who see folk clubs as an easy avenue for self promotion.

Some clubs are content to remain singaround clubs with the same few attendees and who am I to say they are wrong. Hopefully they will be encouraging any young people who may attend as the average age of members is probably rather high.

Anyway, back to my point (if there is one?). The Manchester Evening News always had a folk column and events diary in the Friday issue. This was pre mobile phones, home computers, social media and so this was the main way in which I could hear about folk concerts. Others read the paper as well and I clearly remember queuing an hour before opening time to get into the Deanwater or the Golden Lion. I don't know if there is a folk column in the MEN any more as I, like many others, don't read it. So how do clubs publicise their concerts? Well, e-mail lists and social media play a big part but I'm not convinced they gather in many newcomers. Folk club websites are important and some of these are very good but they must be kept up-to-date and accurate. Facebook sites can spread the word to group members but some, myself included, are very wary of getting too involved in it. A year or so ago, I spent a couple of days publicising a concert to the local community, distributing upwards of 1000 printed leaflets. I sold 2 tickets as a result! Clearly when it comes to advertising I still have a lot to learn.

But I do think folk clubs who present guest nights need to be very proactive in promotion. It may not work but they have to try - and they must have a good website.

Here's the self promotion bit : An on-line guide to folk clubs in the Manchester UK area can be found at www.pyramidfolk.co.uk/. If there are any clubs in the area that want adding to it just let me know. If anyone is interested in setting up a similar site in other areas I'll do my best to help if I can.


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: GUEST,Alan Day
Date: 02 Oct 14 - 08:30 AM

Jack check out The Everyman Folk Club nearby ,always a top artist.
The Ship at Blaxall normally has something on during most weeks ,usually a session.Also singing Monday afternoon, after the local market.
Al


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: Jack Campin
Date: 02 Oct 14 - 07:43 AM

Thanks Alan!

I'll miss it by a week this time, maybe next year.


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: GUEST,Alan Day
Date: 02 Oct 14 - 06:20 AM

Re Sorrel Horse Shottisham nr Woodbridge Suffolk
2nd Monday in the Month Jack
Regards
Alan Day


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: GUEST,pete from seven stars link
Date: 02 Oct 14 - 05:52 AM

my regular club has been moved on twice over the years. the first to concentrate on the restaurant trade, which I don't think really took off, and the seven stars more recently for costly refurbishment. we moved round the corner to the social club, where the regulars, though sometimes noisy really appreciate us. seven stars is open again, but almost empty when I drive past. pub owners have to make hard decisions, but can often end up worse off. perhaps, if they were more enthusiastic about musicians in their pub they might find promoting these nights to their customers, other nights, might boost audience on folk nights. there is certainly nothing to lose in doing so.
if they had open mic they would be paying an organizer


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 02 Oct 14 - 03:53 AM

I do feel sorry for organisers of clubs - mostly unpaid - who put a lot of work in for not much recognition, in a difficult market.

I had a telephone message yesterday saying a monthly session - one with invited people rather than open - so they all knew more than 3 chords - with 10/15 players each time + some audience - could no longer occur as the landlady thought she was not making enough on the Sunday evening do. I think in reality the landlady did not like the music much, as other similar pubs I pass to get there look fairly empty on a Sunday night.   

On the +ve side Tom Lewis was at Faversham last night - did a very nice set - with reasonable and varied floor singers. He had been at Dartford the night before and is at Tenterden this weekend. He wanted to spend 2 days at the Chatham dockyard which he thought not enough as there is now so much there of interest. Someone got the Geography right.   
FloraG


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: Betsy
Date: 01 Oct 14 - 07:19 PM

Great thread and I keep agreeing with Bonnie
It REALLY isn't easy trying to be a full time singer.
I was talking to "someone" who has a small group.
You'll all know him /them but let me try to be confidential.
I met him at Ron Angel's funeral om Monday.
He was telling me he was knackered after travelling up to Edinburgh on Saturday night with the group (digs required), then needing to be at Bognor Regis for an afternoon gig on Sunday - then home again to the North East of Endland to drop of the Band.
Believe me - these people are working their bollocks off , as are a few others - it's a hard life no ifs / buts.
Some of these "Agents" don't appear to have a clue about geography, coupled with the need for performers to keep working.
There are lots of other people reaching a strange age - some buy open-top sports cars , some re-live their youth buying Harleys or other bikes - but we're stuck with 3 chord merchants who have just acquired their Taylor, Lowden, Martin, or other. THAY WANT TO PLAY and I undertand THAT - but they're not going to come along when a Guest is on and they can't havea play.
It must be a nightmare for Organisers.
Padgett knows the score and should be a source of guidance in this matter

Cheers

Betsy


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: Leadfingers
Date: 01 Oct 14 - 06:34 PM

Sadly , "Professional" still tends to be a dirty word in Folk circles

I find it depresssing that the Music Stand has become so important in Clubs , though age can so easily affect memory .

IF a club has a 'Paid Guest' , it is the MC's responsibility to ensure the guest has reasonable time to perform - After all , its the guest MOST of the paying punters want to hear , not some local ego tripper . More 'Professsionalism in MC's matters

If I muck a song up when doing a floor spot , I am FAR more likely to
get off rather than waste time starting again and give the guest adequate time - I DO get annoyed at Time Wasters myself !


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: Jack Campin
Date: 01 Oct 14 - 05:24 PM

I ran a little folk club in Shottisham nr Woodbridge for nearly two years. [...] The club is still running now and as far as know still successfully.

Perhaps they could tell us or Google when they meet? I can't find any current listings. (I will be visiting Woodbridge in mid-November).


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Oct 14 - 02:58 PM

Back in the 60s I went to folk clubs to listen to the music and was caught by the "participative vibe". Without quality guests and residents I wouldn't have been caught.


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: GUEST,BIgnige
Date: 01 Oct 14 - 02:39 PM

To R Padgett, we know what the trick is, thats the problem its stopped working.                                                                Folk 21 are trying but if you look at their Regional Days same names crop up.                                                                GUEST, above makes a number of practical observations. The future to me is looking very different from the past, and maybe thats a good thing.


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Oct 14 - 02:26 PM

I ran a little folk club in Shottisham nr Woodbridge for nearly two years.The pub sadly did not lend itself to charging admission so during the evening we took the hat round and whatever we raised went to the guest artists.The sum raised on average was about £50 ,but towards the end of my time there it was around £100, The artists appeared on the basis of what we raised, they got, we always had regular members who got a spot and visiting holiday performers.A sit down audience watching folk is not common and many proffered the audience concentration rather than singing to a pub crowd, part talking and drinking, whilst they were performing.By the time I left from a slow start it was fairly successful,there were no problems getting artists,as we were being totally honest with them. The club is still running now and as far as know still successfully.
Al


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: r.padgett
Date: 01 Oct 14 - 02:07 PM

Well far be it for me to support Folk21 but they have a lot in common with Desi c in wishing to have new names booked in Concert and Folk clubs which book artists

Agree lot of names been around for many years ~ the trick is getting audiences to support the booking policy, that is paying "bum on seats" who do not wish to sing or perform themselves

Ray


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 01 Oct 14 - 01:46 PM

I've said this a few tims on here re various threads on this subject. I bought Folk Monthly type mags every week when I got into Folk in the 70's, and still have Folk Monthly each issue. Once or twice I've picked up a 70's issue, then a current issue, and noticed that many of the names on Guest nights are just the same! I'm all for the classic names still being booked and many are great class. But, there are so few NEW names being booked, and at the same time more and more people are learning music, the internet largely responsible for that. Hence Singers/open mic nights are increasing in popularity. Guest clubs really need a fresh approach. Festivals are getting it right but I fear many guest clubs are stuck in the same age as most of their guests!


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Oct 14 - 11:30 AM

How about the following factors?
•        Folk club audience numbers on all nights are smaller than they used to be.
•        The audiences are older and are much more likely to have been involved in singing/playing themselves even if only in the past.
•        Partly in consequence of the smaller audience size, folk clubs are held in smaller venues (and finding any venue at all is getting harder).
•        Concert tickets for "top" artists sell at £15-20.
•        Many singaround/club regulars are unwilling/unable to pay this amount out on a regular basis – they're past the age when they'll pay regardless.
•        Even if "regulars" still buy tickets there aren't enough of them to keep a concert-style club going indefinitely.
•        Even if club organisers fill their (smaller) venues it can be hard to break even given the booking fees "top" artists need. (I'm guessing the days when even your most well known stars would sleep on a couch or floor are over.)

(Concerts in larger venues and festivals can still work because they are big enough to be cost effective, infrequent enough to be viable "treats", and don't have to rely on just a central core of loyal regulars.)

On the concert v singaround topic; most singaround/session participants aren't in it for their 15 minutes of fame but the pleasure of sharing and doing something with others. I've found that, luckily, those who just want a platform to show off on are likely to stick to open mics and a minority of acoustic clubs where they can get up at the front and then leave when they've done their bit. Singarounds don't suit their style – no time for long introductions about your life journey, no PA to hide behind, one song and then move on and usually stay in your seat in the circle. I think the reason many singaround regulars don't go to concerts is not that they miss their 5 minutes of fame; what they miss is being an active part of a group activity.


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: r.padgett
Date: 01 Oct 14 - 09:48 AM

I have recently had a long fb argument re Folk21 which I will not start here!

However we have now got Concert clubs booking guests regularly weekly or monthly etc with quality guests costing money and needing audiences

Folk clubs are different and may book say once a month guest doing say 2 x 45 mins and other weeks with a singaround sort of set up and some who will not go when a guest is booked as they want to play/sing etc or Hot Spots of say 40 mins

Voices singarounds which meet say once a month (like Birstall and Lincoln) no instruments singarounds

Sessions which are music only (Celtic sessions) for example

Mixed sessions catering for song/instruments and accompanied and unaccompanied

Fragmentation, but the scene could be said to be the better for it, (or not!!)

Ray


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 01 Oct 14 - 09:45 AM

Hear, hear


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: GUEST,OldNicKilby
Date: 01 Oct 14 - 09:30 AM

Yes, they probably are. It needs a viable core of enthusiastic participants that are prepared to support Guest Nights, or even as I have done to sponsor them If the local Gig Guide stops being up-dated then who the Hell knows what is on? Many of the Guests, in my opinion, tend to be well and truly "Hyped" and the resulting performances can fall well short of what should be expected. No I do not want to hear of the Degree Course performances or the well rehearsed ad-libs, nor do I want to listen to cover versions. . If the lack of a good Gig Guide results in say 4 people missing a Guest then almost certainly this will be a reduction of perhaps 10 % to 20 %in the door take. Floor Singers MUST be of an adequate standard , please save me from the Music Stand and Mudcat Tome. Even worse was one I heard recently "I'm going to do a 'Peter, Paul and Mary ' number " AARGH. We need good Guests to lift the standard of Singers by exposing them to accomplished performers. May guest nights survive and prevail please please


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: GUEST,Bignige.
Date: 01 Oct 14 - 08:06 AM

Howard, I think thats the problem Folk Clubs are not sustainable businesses if they rely exclusively on Guests. Its quite likely our club will cease booking guests as it's pretty clear from the numbers we get it isn't working. The only sustainable element is the Singaround coupled to either an entry fee, or a raffle. Most clubs in our area are suffering the same problem.


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 01 Oct 14 - 06:56 AM

Bignige, I'd like to think that the emphasis of Folk21 is the survival of folk clubs as concert venues, rather than to 'enable a few people to make a living' The majority of 'professional' acts you'll see on the club circuit have no illusions about being able to make a living from it.

You are absolutely right that everyone seems to regard themselves as a performer these days, as I said earlier, perhaps something to do with our celebrity obcessed culture these days. We found at The Milkmaid when we used to do 'open' nights, that a lot of these 'performers' don't even want to listen to their peers, never mind pay to see a quality guest, as they would do their spot, then pack up and leave, which I think is simply rude!

Personally, I take a different view, much as I love performing, both in clubs and festival stages, I want to be entertained and fed as well, and unless I'm booked to perform myself, you'll always find me at The Milkmaid on a Friday evening.

John


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: Mo the caller
Date: 01 Oct 14 - 06:51 AM

From: GUEST,Bignige
Personally, I don't mind if Guest Nights survive or not, as long as people with a common musical interest get together regularly and enjoy themselves.

Yes indeed.

Is there a difference between what people do every week and what they do 'on holiday'? I know there is for us. Our regular evenings out are to dance or play in sessions. Not enough days in the week for folk clubs as well. At Festivals we still want to do that quite a lot but also hear some of the Guests.

Back at the turn of the century we spent a lot of time in Beverley. And went to the folk club that was then run by Richard at Nellies. I think he had the mix right. On singers nights he had many talented people to call on, he made sure that everyone who wanted a turn got one, encouraged people to learn their material but didn't forbid pieces of paper. Guest night tickets (I think prices varied according to fee charged) were sold in advance, and at other local clubs. If we liked the guest we bought a ticket.


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: Johnny J
Date: 01 Oct 14 - 06:30 AM

Bignige,

I agree that enjoyment of the music is the most important thing but the fact is that many of those who "regard themselves as a performer" want to be guests themselves and play for audiences whether or not making a living is the prime motive. However, there are just not enough outlets, audiences, or interest in them.

This is particularly obvious during The Edinburgh Fringe where every would be folk singer/musician and his dog seems to want to put on their own show. At other times of the year, many of them would be lucky to get a gig or even a support slot.
Of course, I'm not suggesting that most of these performers are unworthy albeit some certainly do have an overestimated view of their talent and potential pulling power. However, for the great majority, a career in folk music even at a more amateur level is, perhaps, an unrealistic notion.

So, while I'm all for encouraging people to sing and play music and even in public, I don't believe that it always necessary to be a "performer" and sharing the music is ultimately more important. For me, music is something you can sing and play WITH people and not AT people.

There will and should always be a place for good guest artists and performers in the appropriate type of club or venue. If they are good enough, they continue to attract audiences too but we can't all be regular full time performers.


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 01 Oct 14 - 06:09 AM

I don't see why clubs shouldn't be run as professional businesses. They should certainly be run in a professional manner. That is not inconsistent with operating as not-for-profit businesses, although if someone can run a club as a sustainable business, providing good entertainment, paying professional guests a proper fee, reinvesting in the business and making a profit as well, good luck to them.

Whilst people seem to be reluctant to fork out a few quid to see someone in a folk club, they do seem to be willing to pay considerably more to see a well-known performer in a concert setting. The larger capacity makes this financially viable, but you lose the intimacy of a folk club.


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: GUEST,Bignige
Date: 01 Oct 14 - 06:04 AM

Just read Petefrom seven stars post, and agree with him more or less 100%. Our experience shows that if it wasn't for profits from raffles on singaround nights we would not be able to afford any Guests. I also find it intriguing how all these self appointed experts start inventing rules surrounding what you can and can't do at a Folk Club.


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: GUEST,Bignige
Date: 01 Oct 14 - 05:53 AM

When I first started going to folk clubs way back in the sixties the music was almost exclusively provided by the Guests, It now seems that everyone regards themselves as a performer, with or without crib sheets. So now sitting and listening to a Guest doesn't cut it anymore for a lot of people, hence they only turn up when they can perform. I have looked at the Folk 21 site and it seems to me they are more concerned with the survival of the Guest format to enable a few people to earn their living from performing at Folk Clubs. Personally, I don't mind if Guest Nights survive or not, as long as people with a common musical interest get together regularly and enjoy themselves.


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: GUEST,pete from seven stars link
Date: 01 Oct 14 - 05:34 AM

if people are in folk clubs because they want to sing/play [and hopefully listen to others also], why would they want to pay to have less opportunity to do so, unless, perhaps, they are short on options ?. much has been said by those impatient with amateurs, but in fact, there are often performers at singarounds that [ imo] are often more talented than the paid performers. and as flora inferred ,some of those paid performers lack the grace to listen to others contributions. an organizer might want to have paid acts, but they might be better at a separate event....if they can make it pay .
and if a club wants to insist on a ban on music stands/books/sheets, they are entitled to do so, but I suspect that a decrease in attendees may result. you never know though, such an approach might corner the market of the confidant and elite performer !


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Subject: RE: Guest Nights on the way out
From: Musket
Date: 01 Oct 14 - 03:41 AM

To pick up on Mr Padgett's point about the need to take the music more seriously now and less of seeing folk clubs as drinking pits..

I see your point Ray, but in the day's of holding Capstick steady to stop him falling down, and mad scramble to the bar in beer break, the music was indeed important. It was someone with an interpretation of a trad ballad followed by a couple doing harmony, then a monologue, a fiddle with Shetland reels followed by giving Tony smelling salts so we could hear his "Bonny Bunch of Roses."

If it is more about the music now, why do so many "clubs" comprise of people putting their reading glasses on and singing Fields of Athenry, pausing to turn the page?

Folk clubs as outlets for people to make a living have drifted somewhat and there are less. Yet the people who encouraged them to risk everything in the first place claim the concerts at festivals, (where they ply their trade) are too something or other and make a point of setting up fringes as they call them.

Weird, truly weird.


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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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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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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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