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The current state of folk music in UK

Howard Jones 17 Nov 19 - 11:29 AM
GUEST,Joe G 17 Nov 19 - 09:42 AM
Jim Carroll 17 Nov 19 - 09:29 AM
Vic Smith 17 Nov 19 - 09:29 AM
Dave the Gnome 17 Nov 19 - 08:27 AM
Jim Carroll 17 Nov 19 - 08:16 AM
GUEST,Jack Campin 17 Nov 19 - 07:38 AM
Jim Carroll 17 Nov 19 - 07:22 AM
GUEST,JoeG 17 Nov 19 - 07:02 AM
r.padgett 17 Nov 19 - 06:53 AM
r.padgett 17 Nov 19 - 06:51 AM
GUEST,JoeG 17 Nov 19 - 05:30 AM
Jim Carroll 17 Nov 19 - 05:25 AM
GUEST,Joe G 17 Nov 19 - 05:24 AM
Iains 17 Nov 19 - 05:18 AM
GUEST,JoeG 17 Nov 19 - 05:16 AM
GUEST,Joe G 17 Nov 19 - 04:54 AM
Dave the Gnome 17 Nov 19 - 04:50 AM
GUEST,JoeG 17 Nov 19 - 04:49 AM
Big Al Whittle 17 Nov 19 - 03:59 AM
Jim Carroll 17 Nov 19 - 03:49 AM
The Sandman 17 Nov 19 - 03:27 AM
r.padgett 17 Nov 19 - 03:21 AM
Dave the Gnome 17 Nov 19 - 02:43 AM
Brian Peters 16 Nov 19 - 11:09 PM
GUEST,Nemisis 16 Nov 19 - 07:02 PM
Jim Carroll 16 Nov 19 - 03:12 PM
Vic Smith 16 Nov 19 - 03:07 PM
Vic Smith 16 Nov 19 - 02:52 PM
The Sandman 16 Nov 19 - 02:47 PM
GUEST,Joe G 16 Nov 19 - 02:16 PM
GUEST,Roderick A Warner 16 Nov 19 - 02:00 PM
Raggytash 16 Nov 19 - 01:48 PM
r.padgett 16 Nov 19 - 01:48 PM
Jim Carroll 16 Nov 19 - 01:43 PM
GUEST,Nick Dow 16 Nov 19 - 01:42 PM
Brian Peters 16 Nov 19 - 01:38 PM
Raggytash 16 Nov 19 - 01:34 PM
GUEST,Joe G 16 Nov 19 - 01:26 PM
Jim Carroll 16 Nov 19 - 01:22 PM
Brian Peters 16 Nov 19 - 01:19 PM
Raggytash 16 Nov 19 - 01:02 PM
Vic Smith 16 Nov 19 - 12:56 PM
Jim Carroll 16 Nov 19 - 12:45 PM
Brian Peters 16 Nov 19 - 12:36 PM
Brian Peters 16 Nov 19 - 12:29 PM
GUEST,Joe G 16 Nov 19 - 12:04 PM
GUEST,Joe G 16 Nov 19 - 12:02 PM
Jim Carroll 16 Nov 19 - 11:58 AM
Dave the Gnome 16 Nov 19 - 11:58 AM
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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Howard Jones
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 11:29 AM

Jim says, "There weer several thousand clubs where basically was the only place to listen to folk song - no sessions - and a scattering of annual festivals"

Now there are still at least several hundred clubs, but in addition there are lots of sessions and singarounds, and a festival most weekends throughout throughout the year (often a choice of several). There are also house concerts, which bring the music back into people's homes. The balance has changed, and to dwell only on folk clubs is to disregard the nature of the folk scene today.

Would I sing a 20 verse ballad at a session? It depends on the session, I can certainly think of some where that wouldn't be unwelcome. On the other hand I can think of some folk clubs where it would, as Jas complained about only too often.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,Joe G
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 09:42 AM

Going back to some of the incredible young (and not so young!) talent we are lucky enough to have on the folk scene today I have just been listening to Kitty Macfarlane to decide whether to go to her upcoming Black Swan Folk club gig at the National Centre of Early Music here in York. I've decided it is definitely not one to miss! Absolutely beautiful voice and songs IMO

Just one example - lots more on You Tube

Kitty Macfarlane - Namer of Clouds


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 09:29 AM

Clubs were all we had to sing long ballads Dave
Taking these songs out of people's homes, which was largely were they were sung was artificial - I have said the clubs were a compromise
Would you be prepared to sing a twenty verse ballad in a pub session - I wouldn't !!
The clubs proved perfect venues for us urban dwellers and when they went the scene began to go up the Swanee
How would your develop a young singer who wanted to have a go now - knock on his/her door and offer your services ?
Can we cut out this "white-collar" shit
I was working on the docks when I went to my first folk club and I spent my working life climbing into people's lofts and crawling under their floorboards - many of my fellow-folkies did similar - bit difficult to keep your collar "wite" under those conditions
One of the finest singers of traditional songs I know spent his life painting industrial chimneys from a crane
When some managed to break our of the slog and go to Uni, we envied them for their good luck and when some became teachers we weer over the moon
Jim


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Vic Smith
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 09:29 AM

Dave wrote: -
Was it agricultural labourers back from toiling in the fields or was it white collar townies who felt the need to get back to their roots?
Spot-on, Dave! Teachers, social workers, librarians, local government officers and the like must have been the organisers at practically every club I went to. Often they were that post-war first one of their family (self-included) to be selected for by that iniquitous 11-plus exam for grammar school and many to subsequent further education. Nearly all were inclined to the left politically though they did look a bit incongruous in their heavy corduroy trousers. collarless shirts and beards (especially the women).


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 08:27 AM

Folk clubs were fine and still are but they are a false construct. Folk music existed well before clubs and will continue to exist long after the last 1960s style club has closed its doors. You really need to look at who started and ran folk clubs. Was it agricultural labourers back from toiling in the fields or was it white collar townies who felt the need to get back to their roots?


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 08:16 AM

What else was there Jack
There weer several thousand clubs where basically was the only place to listen to folk song - no sessions - and a scattering of annual festivals
I've listed the clubs in one street in London - I could name a dozen in Manchester
Jim


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,Jack Campin
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 07:38 AM

If the clubs pro=vied the lifeblood for our music they are essential and need discussing
If they are not, someone needs to come up with an alternative rather the alienated internet


Alternatives were never needed because the folk scene was never primarily about folk clubs at any time.

If you'd looked around while you were living in the UK you'd have seen that. And there's very little point in suggesting you come back to the UK and look for yourself, as some here have suggested, because you've shown yourself incapable of seeing what you don't want to see.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 07:22 AM

"I see the point regarding folk clubs, but they are diminishing and lots of knowledgeable singers are no longer getting to sing at them "
At last - agreement
Our folk music has always been a social activity - the tradition was just that and the clubs became a perfect compromise for many years
What happened at club nights often spilled ou into the other six days, workshops, rehearsals, lectures, classes, local research sorties into the libraries, searches for local singers..
We would spend at least three nighs a week visiting Traveller sites and many weekends were spent in Norfolk
All this added to our knowledge and enjoyment of the music and thre masses aof new material and information into the public domain
Malcolm Talor, gawd luv 'im, organised regular Library lectures on his own initiative and set up a cassette series despite the lead weight of his employers hanging around his neck
Folk music in England is getting to be, as someone once described Comhaltas in Ireland, a pursuit with a great future behind it.
I argue here as I do because I believe that situation to be reversible (just about)
It is not the argument and opposition that depresses me, I welcome that in a masochistic way) - it is the "my club's doing well so everything in the garden's lovely" complacency
Sorry if people regard that a "rant" - that's how I feel
Jim


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,JoeG
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 07:02 AM

Tried to Ray but appear to have lost sign in details so asked Joe to set me up with a new account :-)

New accounts are confusing. Joe will probably simply set you up a new password. Look forward to seeing you on the other side. :-)


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: r.padgett
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 06:53 AM

Joe G ~~ why not sign in??

Ray


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: r.padgett
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 06:51 AM

I see the point regarding folk clubs, but they are diminishing and lots of knowledgeable singers are no longer getting to sing at them ~ frequency and old age ~ younger singers are looking to be professionals from word go ~ yes there are some brilliant new stars like Cohen Braithwaite ~ Kilcoyne (google him) and some who we think are new but have been making a living some years now [Hanna James]

The Pitmen Poets use all manner of sources to sing Working class songs and highlight the views of many of a Socialist out look

Traditional songs and singers do exist and performers arrangements as well as very many unaccompanied singers certainly figure in sessions

Ray


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,JoeG
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 05:30 AM

Absolutely happy to discuss clubs of course - but please let's keep the focus on people's practical experience of how they are now from guest performers', audience, organisers' floor singers' viewpoints


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 05:25 AM

If the clubs pro=vied the lifeblood for our music they are essential and need discussing
If they are not, someone needs to come up with an alternative rather the alienated internet
It is self-harm if people just side-step the issue
Jim


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,Joe G
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 05:24 AM

I agree - I would rather discuss what is actually happening out there now as we were doing quite successfully yesterday


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Iains
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 05:18 AM

The numbers of clubs are all over the place as venues close or clubs transfer. No figures are definitive, but the WIKI figures seem way too low. There are numerous lists of clubs on the internet. The one I just pasted venues into a spreadsheet came up with around 300.

http://www.englishfolkinfo.org.uk/regional.html?LMCL=pzRiPa&LMCL=ST_i91

This discussion seems to be revolving around a minority looking at life through a glass half empty and a majority looking at a glass half full.
It is time to move on.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,JoeG
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 05:16 AM

The point to make about the loss of pubs (and other venues) is absolutely critical, Dave. The Topic has only been able to survive through the hard work of the Committee sourcing new venues as others have closed. There are very few options remaining now though


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,Joe G
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 04:54 AM

Ok can we draw a line under the argument about number of clubs left - the truth is no one knows. As I mentioned yesterday there are around 200 folk clubs, sessions , music nights in West Yorkshire and just beyond and that seems pretty healthy to me


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 04:50 AM

That is not the Wiki you first put up Dave

Yes it is, Jim. That is the exact link I have always referred to. If you think otherwise you are, once again, mixing me up with someone else. If you have evidence that it was a different one I will be more than happy to apologise. If you have not, please stop making these things up.

Since you seem to have some sort of fetish about the numbers let us put them in context. I have no idea where the figures came from and suspect it is some sort of official register but presuming that the Wiki article used the same source for both it does show an interesting trend. From the article, "By the mid-1960s there were probably over 300 in Britain" followed by "there are now over 160 folk clubs in the United Kingdom". That is almost a 50% reduction. Hardly surprising as we have lost about half our pubs in the same period!


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,JoeG
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 04:49 AM

Until now I have had no problems as a guest. I do have a member login but I think it may have been lost in time



You can send an email to joe@mudcat.com and ask him to help you with that password.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 03:59 AM

They werre written by somebody. And the somebodies who wrote them were very talented songwriters.

And that's more than you can say for the performers who performed them in such a way that they virtually disappeared. Or has that never occurred to you?


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 03:49 AM

That is not the Wiki you first put up Dave
The one you diod was full of electric music and superstars
Of course the numbers are relevant - the clubs are our music's public communal face - what you get on the internet is individuals doing it for themselves and by and large it is pretty poor stuff, in my opinion
'See "Rock with the shepherd" for a prime example
The club scene seems to have imploded - a pale shadow of its former self
It's not too long ago that there were mor clubs in the London area than there now are nationally
You can even reduce that by another quarter - our clubs were weekly
We were talking about it last night - four weekly clubs catering for real folk music on Upper Steet, Islington alone - The Fox, The Empress of Russia, The Kings Head (and another we couldn't remember) - four nights of folk music well performed by residents in one week
THat is what the scen has lost
Electronic peformances on the net are an anathema to that

I don't say I don't care for fold clubs - I don't care for what they have become is what I meant
The clubs are the veins through which our music should be transmitted to the wider world - the better the muis is performed the healthier it will be
You have a disturbing habit of taking what I say out of context - real all of it
And perhaps we can lay off the sneaky, behind the hand stuff please !

You've (all of you) have given me a great deal to think about here - one of the outcomes has been for me to step up my passing on what we have to those I hope will use it - and it's working a charm - so far, mainly in Ireland
When I was involved fully in the scene, it was communal - not people reaching for the high ground but groups co-operating to help each other and clubs regurly communicating
That seems to have gone now
When MacColl set up the Critics group, smaller ones sprang up in places over Britain
When I set up one in Manchester Peggy sent me a list of over a dozen names of people and groups that could help (I still have it somewhere)
A week after I moved into my bed sit, Dick Snell came knocking on my front door asking if he could bring me up to speed with Group work
No doubt E and P put him up to it, but we bacame friends and jaysus - did it help my singing
We set up a smell archive for London Singers Workshop and appealed for material - it came flooding in from England, Scotland and Ireland
We now probably have the largest privately held archive of folk music in Britain - and nobody wants to use it there
That's an indication of how "healthy" the scene is as far as I'm concerned

When the Willie Clancy Summer School and the Irish Traditional Music Archive was set up, teaching became the thing here
The early pupils became teachers and their pupils in their turn are now doing the same - passing it on is spreading like an infection
Ieland has now guaranteed that traditional music will be a feature of community life for several generations
When you can say you are even considering moving in that direction, you can claim that you might have a future in the forseeable future (if it's not too late)
You can stick your superstars - what's happening in the real world and is there enough of it to make a difference is what counts
Jim


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 03:27 AM

Jim lives in county clare which is a stronghold for irish tradtional tunes,played to a very high standard in that respect he is very fortunate


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: r.padgett
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 03:21 AM

The industrial songs of Keith Marsden always seem to be present at many of the sessions I attend ~ or even mcee


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 02:43 AM

Dave put up the number of clubs as proof that the scene was thriving (186) not me - it transpires tat this has dropped to 136 since he first put this up

Good grief, Jim. How often do I need to correct you on this? I did no such thing. Read the article linked here loose

The numbers, which you have wrong again, are not relevant. The point is that it states that the number of clubs began to decline in the 1980s and that decline stabilised in the mid 90s. It also gives the reason for the decline as changing musical and social trends. A far more logical reason than the one you constantly spout.

You say that you do not attend or care about folk clubs and you now demonstrate, once again, that you cannot comprehend what is currently happening on the English Folk scene. Your proclamations are demonstrably so out of touch that they can safely be ignored. But as long as you continue twisting the same points, I shall keep pointing out your folly.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Brian Peters
Date: 16 Nov 19 - 11:09 PM

Re Michael Marra: His songs aren't particularly 'folk' in style, but when Barbara Dymock - who's one of the best Scots ballad singers around IMO - sings 'Muggie Shaw' it fits right in with her traditional repertoire.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,Nemisis
Date: 16 Nov 19 - 07:02 PM

"Things are looking bad, aren't they !!
Jim"

Not from the UK based lovers of Folk music.

I take it from your comment that being an optimist is what keeps you going


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Nov 19 - 03:12 PM

"There are scores of great writers,"
"great" "great" is a subjective term - do they sound like folk si what I thought we were talking about
Some on your list have been writing for decades - I was asked about new songwriters
Are there really only scores - something else that has bombed then
Peggy Seeger published an occasional song book, New City Songster, that ran to twenty volumes and include several hundred new writers - I dare say some are still around
Frankie Armstrong, Phil Colclough Jack Warshaw Sandra Kerr, Brian Pearson, Dick Snell, Doniell Kennedy and Denis Turner were songwriters in The Critics Group - and Ewan and Peggy of course - some of those were among the greatest in Britain, Jack Warshaw in particular
John Pole was associated with the group and earlier on so wer Enoch Kent, Gordon McCulloch Tom Paley and Bobby Campbell
The Critics had regular songwriting evenings and produced some stunning stuff
The Grey Cock in Birmingham was producing its own school of songmakers
Writers like Graem Miles, Eric Bogle, Ed Pickford, Pete Smith and a load from Australia the US, Ireland and America all ..... and many more contributed to   
One of my own personal favourites up to the present is Glaswegian Adam McNoughton

The Critics took songwriting a stage further when they produced half a dozen annual 'Living Newspaper' theatrical events at the end of the year which were made up of newly written songs and sketches
They also wrote and performed a Radio Ballads for Schools based on Romeo and Juliet and set in London's East End
The criteria for all these songs as far as I was concerned was that they didn't stick out like a dose of clap in a seminary during an evening of folk songs

Only scores, you say..... hm
Bit of a come down and I'll bet at least half of them have sfa todo with folk song
Things are looking bad, aren't they !!
Jim


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Vic Smith
Date: 16 Nov 19 - 03:07 PM

Dick wrote: -
places where like minded pewople can get to know each other

I was at it a long time, of course, but I could point him to a number of happily married couples who delight in telling me that they met at our folk club.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Vic Smith
Date: 16 Nov 19 - 02:52 PM

I love the songs that the late Michael Marra wrote. You would never call him a folk singer but he was clearly able to capture the voice of the Scottish working man in his songs and he could be very funny. I booked him quite a number of times. When I interviewed him for an article, he talked about the wide variety of work that made up his performing career - concerts, theatre shows, television and radio, mainstream and folk festivals.
I asked him what sort of venue he liked best. Without hesitation, he said "Folk Clubs! You get the highest quality of listener there and even if it's not what they are used to you always have a totally attentive audience. They are so intimate and there are always people wanting to talk to you at the end. They don't want to just say 'Great' or 'Lovely evening'; they ask really sensible and searching questions. I love that!"

I don't think the subject of audience quality has come up in this long thread before.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Nov 19 - 02:47 PM

vic has made an important point folk clubs can be clubs places where like minded pewople can get to know each other, an aspect that is often neglected but can be a way of building up a support that does not necessarily rely on big stars pulling in crowds


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,Joe G
Date: 16 Nov 19 - 02:16 PM

Thanks for the last few posts. Very interesting and let's try to continue in this productive manner

I'll post more later as posting on the phone is a bit of a pain. I'll list some of those songwriters who I believe write in the folk tradition - I'm happy with that description if it keeps us out of arguments :-)


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,Roderick A Warner
Date: 16 Nov 19 - 02:00 PM

I am going to attempt to reply to the topic of the current state of folk music in the UK but firstly I would like to give a rough introduction before modulating, as it were...
    Checking the Leicestershire Folk Diary, I can see several clubs that are longstanding, prominently feature 'traditional' music, some weekly, some monthly, with booked artists backed by locals. A plethora of singarounds which have seemingly open policies (a couple which I know personally do not have any problems fitting in traditional styles alongside a wide range of interlocking genres), plus various one-off gigs and, under the radar, house concerts, one of which I was invited to a couple of weeks back.
    When I first encountered folk music in my teens, it seemed to fit alongside my interest in jazz and to a lesser extent rock. Gateways: an Alex Campbell early record/Dylan/live exposure to the McPeake family in the club just founded locally, circa 1962-3, plus Anne Briggs who mightily impressed me (in Nottingham and later in London). Interest in folk music also made me rethink my somewhat dismissive attitude to country blues compared to the jazz of the time I was listening to.
    I've just checked an old copy of Singabout, dated 1987 which was a local zine focused on the area, edited by the late Roy Harris. A cursory count of clubs moves it upwards from those early 60's venues and I would guess that the apparent contraction that many allude to follows although this doesn't quite fit the narrative of a scene in the 80's killed off by - choose your poison. But I would accept there was a drop in the number of clubs over the years. Given the expanded variety of outlets for all musics of whatever genre in the twenty first century, cheap technology and the ease of producing recordings for cd/download etc, I would argue that these factors balance to a certain extent those contractions. Guesswork, of course, but my impression. Fwiw.
    For creative musicians, labels tend to be unhelpful and often ignored. They were back in the old days, certainly. I know, I was around, from the provinces to London round 1965 and onwards. Similarly, young musicians today have no problem ranging across artificial boundaries and alongside of their contemporary creativity I've noticed a growing interest in older artists like Shirley Collins, whose 'traditional' credentials would, I assume, be unchallenged except by the more rigid retro-ideologues. A big feature in The Wire magazine and a long and favourable review of her last album provides some evidence of this. This publication, which started in the 1982 to focus on experimental jazz and evolved to cover a much wider range of challenging musics provides an interesting example of how music, art and artists evolve. It has also covered and reviewed many folk artists. If people want to see a 'tradition' frozen into said retro-ideologues' purist abstractions, which, in my experience, musicians don't waste their energy on debating, good luck to them. Similarly, if people want to embrace the generosity of spirit that my early folk heroes such as Alex Campbell, Anne Briggs, Shirley Collins exemplified and which I witness in the musics of today, they may, perhaps see that the old songs can still have meaning and audience. The 'tradition' survived the retro-ideologues, after all. So perhaps the scene - or scenes - might be in ruder health than narrow partisan interests continually and repetitively state. Imo. Fewer folk clubs? Who cares?There was one in my home town in 1963. There are still local venues where you can find traditional song as stated above.
    Overall, I see two main differences over the years are the older age demographic and the different platforms now available to musicians beyond the 'folk club' and these can well contain enough spaces for traditions to be explored in a variety of ways. Creative musicians will continue to do so, I suspect.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Raggytash
Date: 16 Nov 19 - 01:48 PM

There are scores of great writers, Dave Wilson has been mentioned, Jes Lowe, Leon Rosselson, Paul Metsers, Julie Matthews, Linda Kelly, Ted Edwards, Peter Bond, Mike Canavan, Anthony John Clarke, Steve Knightly, Marilyn Middleton Pollock, spring to mind immediately.

I could go on .......... and on .......... and on.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: r.padgett
Date: 16 Nov 19 - 01:48 PM

Dare I say it we may be getting somewhere ~ nicely

Ray


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Nov 19 - 01:43 PM

"who do you not consider to be folk artists?"
I tend to avoid terms like 'artist'
People who sing folk songs are folk singers (in the revival sense)
The old crowd are Tradition bearers or traditional folk singers
I am out of touch with current song writers but those who are using the tradition to make their songs are welcome an far as I'm concerned
Nobody writes a folk song - folk songs evolve (or do not if there is no tradition for them to do so in - that is not my "rule" it is common sense
If the most respected and prolific of composer of folk-like songs can say that nothing he ever wrote can be described as 'a folk song' who are we to argue?
No me
Jim


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 16 Nov 19 - 01:42 PM

To answer Vics post.
I have never been so busy. This year I did eleven festivals and next year I am booked at about the same number. I am now tending to put my club bookings in the first and last three months of the year.
The workshops I have been doing are mainly to do with my interest in the Hammond Manuscripts and of course Gypsy Songs life and culture with my lady wife. I also love Chichester Folk Club and play it when asked.
My audience numbers rang from about 20 to 300 although I'm not sure I would pull that number in on my own. That said time and again in clubs mainly I meet the same reaction. 'It's so nice to have a guest who sings Traditional Folk Songs all night.' Some like the stories of the songs and the life some say less chat more singing.
In Lancashire we have numerous singers clubs all of a reasonably good standard. One in particular is well to my taste and run by Tom Walsh and Dave Peters. 30 minutes of excellent tunes, then selected singers round the room. I would be quite happy to go if I were not a singer.
We also have the thriving 'Off the rails' sessions in a different Lancashire Pub each month, on a Monday afternoon. Sid Calderbank calls them a retired Gentleman's binge drinking club! The standard is excellent and has attracted singers like Caffrey McGurk and Madge and Will Noble.
Add to that the excellent 'Glad for Trad festival' a singers festival by invitation in Hebden Bridge. We regularly see Brian Peters and Will Duke here together with Kevin Mitchell and Judy Cook when she is over. I have no complaints about the Folk Scene. Finally I do not find myself at odds with Jim Carroll on his definition of Folk and non Folk music. There have always been contemporary songs in Folk Clubs sitting happily alongside Traditional Folk Songs. No need to try and pretend one is the same as the other, just enjoy both. By the way Jim I was quoting Bert as if it was my own turn of phrase. Can't fool you! Curses! I'm rumbled!


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Brian Peters
Date: 16 Nov 19 - 01:38 PM

Well, Joe, for a start here's one songwriter who doesn't fit in to any convenient pigeon-hole: Leon Rosselson.
His songs don't (to my ears) owe much at all to traditional models, yet he's become the Go To songwriter for artists who perform traditional songs. How can this be? Is it just that the songs are so good they defy any rules?


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Raggytash
Date: 16 Nov 19 - 01:34 PM

Tell you what Jim, when you can type coherently have another go because I can be bothered trying to compehend your last post.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,Joe G
Date: 16 Nov 19 - 01:26 PM

'" singer/songwriters do not pass YOUR litmus test."
And very many do'

That has led me to asking a question that I have been considering asking for a while. Which current songwriters do you consider to write folk songs (or at least songs in the folk idiom), Jim? Possibly more importantly who do you not consider to be folk artists?

I think that would help an understanding of what type of songs you consider to be acceptable as folk which I think would help the discussion


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Nov 19 - 01:22 PM

"It is a VERY accurate assessment of your view of folk music."
No it isn't - please identify my "rule book" as distinnts from an identification of folk song taht has xisted for over a century
You imply I have made something up when , in fact' it is you who has arbitarlily decided that the current definition is no longer relevant because it i inconvenient and hve abandoned any form of definition
You know you have no argument, which is why you resort to sneakily whispering behind your hands
Dave put up the number of clubs as proof that the scene was thriving (186) not me - it transpires tat this has dropped to 136 since he first put this up

" singer/songwriters do not pass YOUR litmus test."
And very many do -
The ones tat do bear no resemblance to those that don't so where is the criterion that makes them the same ?
Mine is that they need to be related to what is agreed folk somg because that's what the audiences at folk clubs are entitled to expect - common sense - not "litmus test"
The clubs survived for four decads on that policy - when it was abandoned, they bombed
Again, it is dishoneds tto describe it as "mine" - that is how it was long befre I came on the scene
You are not striving to keep folk music alive - you are incapable of defining what folk song is so how can you possibly make such a clam
Jim


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Brian Peters
Date: 16 Nov 19 - 01:19 PM

Vic, we're in agreement here. Way back up the thread I mentioned an unaccompanied singing session at the Gaslamp in Manchester. I regard the regulars there as 'friends', but the truth is that we sing all night and I've never had a real-life conversation with most of them. So I like the idea of social events (our old club in Glossop used to put on a Mummers'play, and sing carols at the local care home before retiring to the pub), but I'm also aware that a public music event at which nearly everyone knows one another can feel intimidating or cliquey to the casual visitor. Ah well, we did our best...


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Raggytash
Date: 16 Nov 19 - 01:02 PM

No Jim.

It is a VERY accurate assessment of your view of folk music.

The vast majority of here recognise that folk is alive, well, flourishing even, in the UK.

Today there have been two post detailing the number of clubs in Sussex and West/ parts of North Yorkshire.

In the latter the number alone exceeds those listed on Wikipedia.

But of course YOU know better. You who hasn't set foot in a folk club for years let alone set foot in one in the UK.

You decide, in your own mind, what is and what isn't folk music.

Many, many scores if not hundreds of singer/songwriters do not pass YOUR litmus test.

However to the rest of us they are wonderful, creative and talented people striving to keep folk music alive.

It is YOU who do not recognise this, and worse castigate these very people.

You say you love the genre but seek to destroy it with your every post.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Vic Smith
Date: 16 Nov 19 - 12:56 PM

I agree fully with what you say, Brian, but I think all the extra things that they do in Chichester mean that they all know one another better and that improves the excellent atmosphere that they are able to create. Let's face it, folk clubs because of their nature are quiet listening places so you often know little about the person that you are sitting next to and there are so many things to do with the evening to talk about and arrange when you are organiser/compere. I didn't know that one of our regular floor singers was a nationally known sculptor until I was invited to her garden party - more than a decade after we had met.

At one time in the 1970s, I organised monthly dances for our folk song club regulars so that they could get more of a chance to socialise. I think that helped - though perhaps nor for me, I was playing in the band or calling dances.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Nov 19 - 12:45 PM

"Rule 1.
Rule 2."
As this applied to a dishonest assessment of where I am supposed to stand, can I re-iterate that I have no "rule book" - this has become the last resort of the flummoxed
It is not a rule to agree on an already agreed dscription on a type of music - it is a greed name in order to continue to communicate with each other
It is totally dishonest and somewhat cowardly to claim it as being anybody's rule and somewhat distasteful that it is referred to other than presented openly, rather like schoolchildren whispering to each other behind their hands
Come on lads - don't make this any more unpleasant that it already is
Jim


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Brian Peters
Date: 16 Nov 19 - 12:36 PM

Re Chichester, it's definitely a Proper Folk Club with a strong (and quite eclectic) guest list, good residents and a musicians session before the club starts. They do like their social events too, but isn't that part of being a 'club' rather than just a music venue? One of the places I really like playing.


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Brian Peters
Date: 16 Nov 19 - 12:29 PM

Good post from Vic Smith. My own experience is that there are far fewer clubs on the circuit than there were in the late 1980s when I went pro, and even then I was being told by old hands that there had been a catastrophic decline since the 1960s, when every town allegedly had half a dozen clubs pulling in two hundred people every week. There are many more festivals of course, though my kind of music tends to find favour with the older-established ones like Whitby, Sidmouth, Chippenham etc.

Workshops and teaching have made up an increasingly importantly part of my professional career for several years now, first with melodeon / concertina weekends and more recently ballad and song events. Having themed projects like Peterloo, Cecil Sharp in Appalachia, etc are pretty important these days in getting festival work. There are a lots of very good acts around, competition is fierce, and bands - especially younger ones - are what's popular. I still get by, though...


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,Joe G
Date: 16 Nov 19 - 12:04 PM

Thanks Raggy - I was going to mention your rule a few posts ago :-)


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: GUEST,Joe G
Date: 16 Nov 19 - 12:02 PM

I know Dave - I really should give up!

Thanks Vic that's an interesting report from Sussex. You inspired me to have a look in a recent edition of Tykes News, the folk magazine for West Yorkshire and some of the southern part of North Yorkshire. That revealed that there are around 200 folk song and dance clubs and sessions in that area alone and I believe that there are a few sessions missing from the list.

Without doing a more detailed analysis I can't say how many of these are folk clubs and how frequently they run but it is clear that the 129 clubs nationally is a vast underestimate.

Add to this the number of folk events in other venues eg Arts Centres, theatres, the Early Music Centre and The Crescent here in York, for example, then I think there is justification in the relatively positive view many of us have.

Yes many clubs have gone but to be honest some (not all) of those aren't really missed

Like you I'd be interested to hear from touring musicians


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Nov 19 - 11:58 AM

"oe, have you not realised yet that it is not folk unless Jim says it is?"
Nuffin to do with me despite your mantraic claim that it is Dave
The version I incline to is the one I can find in hundreds of collections labeled 'folk song'
Why do you frequently imply that I have invented a genre of songs and claimed them as "folk"
I won't bother asking you to define yours and where they come from because I know it is a waste of time

So you are now challwenge=ishg the pioneers Vic
Seems par for the course of today's reearchers
I wonder where some of the stuff being presented here fits into the new definition
The fact is that until folk song is re-defined and that redefinition agreed upon, all the stones in the world won't shift the definition that has served well since the 183os
Jim


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Subject: RE: The current state of folk music in UK
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 16 Nov 19 - 11:58 AM

:-D


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