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womens role in folk clubs

Grab 01 Apr 03 - 02:00 PM
harvey andrews 01 Apr 03 - 02:05 PM
Abby Sale 01 Apr 03 - 02:55 PM
JudeL 01 Apr 03 - 03:17 PM
Padre 01 Apr 03 - 03:32 PM
Abby Sale 01 Apr 03 - 03:43 PM
breezy 01 Apr 03 - 04:01 PM
harpgirl 01 Apr 03 - 05:46 PM
GUEST,Yodelady@stny.rr.com 01 Apr 03 - 06:13 PM
Abby Sale 01 Apr 03 - 06:55 PM
Malcolm Douglas 01 Apr 03 - 07:29 PM
harpgirl 01 Apr 03 - 08:58 PM
Abby Sale 01 Apr 03 - 10:51 PM
Fay 02 Apr 03 - 07:11 AM
GUEST,Mary Humphreys 02 Apr 03 - 08:00 AM
Fay 02 Apr 03 - 08:14 AM
Rapparee 02 Apr 03 - 09:22 AM
JennyO 02 Apr 03 - 09:46 AM
harpgirl 02 Apr 03 - 09:54 AM
JudeL 02 Apr 03 - 10:10 AM
Abby Sale 02 Apr 03 - 01:19 PM
Abby Sale 02 Apr 03 - 02:05 PM
open mike 02 Apr 03 - 02:38 PM
GUEST,joe 02 Apr 03 - 03:49 PM
Marje 02 Apr 03 - 04:17 PM
GUEST,Benbow 02 Apr 03 - 05:33 PM
Bernard 02 Apr 03 - 06:32 PM
alison 02 Apr 03 - 07:35 PM
GUEST,joe 02 Apr 03 - 08:09 PM
Little Hawk 02 Apr 03 - 11:08 PM
Dave Bryant 03 Apr 03 - 10:09 AM
Dave Bryant 03 Apr 03 - 10:29 AM
JennyO 03 Apr 03 - 11:47 AM
Fay 03 Apr 03 - 01:14 PM
Gurney 04 Apr 03 - 03:23 AM
GUEST,noddy 04 Apr 03 - 10:12 AM
Ely 04 Apr 03 - 05:01 PM
Abby Sale 04 Apr 03 - 11:39 PM
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Subject: RE: womens role in folk clubs
From: Grab
Date: 01 Apr 03 - 02:00 PM

Not that I can claim a wide or deep knowledge. But round our way, women seem to be more likely to be the singers, and men seem more likely to be the musicians. So women performing will often be accompanied by a man, whereas the bloke will often be performing solo. Maybe because it's kind of easier to get away with being a bad singer behind a good guitar (cf. Bob Dylan et al) than to be a good singer behind a bad guitar, and even more so than singing unaccompanied which really takes balls (or the female equivalent ;-)

Graham.


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Subject: RE: womens role in folk clubs
From: harvey andrews
Date: 01 Apr 03 - 02:05 PM

Mike of Northumbria makes valid points.Back in the 60's women didn't play guitars, it was still largely a male instrument. In England Joan Baez became a role model, then Julie Felix and women began to get up and sing and play.I remember Malvina Reynolds, Shirley Collins, Jeannie Robertson, Ma Campbell, the young Watersons,Dorris Henderson, Nadia Cattouse,Heather of the Young Tradition;(and others) all guesting at the Jug o Punch in the 60's. I ran a club for a few years in Birmingham in the 70's and we had a couple of floor singers who were female.One was in a duo "Hugh and Ros"...he's now an actor, Hugh Fraser, Poirot's sidekick Hastings!
In my 40 years of clubs I've only seen women encouraged and advancing until now I think there's probably as many female pros, semi-pros and pleasure singers as men. In audience terms it's always seemed 50/50 to me. Back then it was a darned good reason to go to a folk club.That's where you met the members of your tribe!!


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Subject: RE: womens role in folk clubs
From: Abby Sale
Date: 01 Apr 03 - 02:55 PM

Blackcatter: Likely you're exactly right but (and I also 'but' Dani-C and Watson) of the current and past club organizers - you might as well claim that marriage partners tend to be equally divided among the sexes, and for similar reasons - Which sex tends to handle announcements and singing and which food (and other "housekeeping") functions? Division of labo(u)r, role modeling, genetic predisposition & all that.

Re singing in the past era, I have experience of mid-60's Edinburgh where women certainly held their own. But there was and is still a strong tradition of female ballad-singing in Scotland. This leaked over into the clubs.

As to most of the names cited above, most are just pop, commercial singers with an acoustic label stuck on them. Their popularity depends on the same factors as any other pop singers - emotional impact and sexy presentation. This is not an definition of "folk" just a description of the presentation in an urban, commercial setting as opposed to a more traditional one (say, a country pub or kitchen table.)

Could be that the more commercial and/or demanding the 'act,' the more likely men are to be in successful at it and, therefore, in demand - same for philosophers, sports figures, actors, etc.


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Subject: RE: womens role in folk clubs
From: JudeL
Date: 01 Apr 03 - 03:17 PM

Thank you dear Abbey the thought of Norma Waterson, Annie Fentiman or Hilary Spenser being thought of as "pop" singers who depend on "sexy presentation" for their popularity, that will keep bringing a smile to my face while I'm working tonight.


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Subject: RE: womens role in folk clubs
From: Padre
Date: 01 Apr 03 - 03:32 PM

During the 1980s, I sang with The Boarding Party and Rock Creek. One of our favorite clubs was the Branford (CT) club, which was run by Deborah Winograd. She was professional in every respect, and did a good job of bringing a wide variety of music to Branford.


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Subject: RE: womens role in folk clubs
From: Abby Sale
Date: 01 Apr 03 - 03:43 PM

How about sexy Jeanie Robertson? No, I wrote "most."   Actually, listening to Jeanie (or most of the Blair clan) or Norma W, there really often is a deep sexiness - a true Female earthiness to the singing & the song. Something that makes low-class strumpets of the rock singers.

Who's Hilary Spenser?   Never heard of her. Is she a ballad singer?


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Subject: RE: womens role in folk clubs
From: breezy
Date: 01 Apr 03 - 04:01 PM

so Fay ,does Jenny Scott enjoy her retirement?
give her my regards and tell her theres no more folk at the well park, so we'll session on the Quay come this Whitsun.
Say hello to Jim and Jenny.
Tell em me clubs doing O K., Tilston for October.
get em to read the mudcat and join the chit chat.


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Subject: RE: womens role in folk clubs
From: harpgirl
Date: 01 Apr 03 - 05:46 PM

April Fool to you too Abby Sale!


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Subject: RE: womens role in folk clubs
From: GUEST,Yodelady@stny.rr.com
Date: 01 Apr 03 - 06:13 PM

Many have speculated why there seem to be fewer female guitar players in history. It's hard to practice a fiddle or guitar with a baby on your lap, etc, etc.

I (a female) booked the Fo'c'sle in Southampton for 3 years in the 1990's. There seemed, at that time to be more male (white male with guitar) acts to choose from, but I consciously tried to vary the programme. There were also more men asking for floor spots. On singer nights (We were the first to call them "Anything Goes") women were always encouraged to participate. So, it wan't an issue, because all people were valued.

It has been my experience on both sides of the Atlantic that there are often more male musicians, especially in bluegrass. However, I have usually met with encouragement from most places, once they found out that I could sing. Except for those good at singing unaccompanied, it is a bit tricky to be so dependent on others to play the instruments for those who don't play. I wonder if there would be fewer men used to being dependent on others in that way, whereas throughtout history, women have been dependent on men. I have been spending more time practicing guitar lately, now that my children are growing, so I can more easily bring out a new song without worrying about who can back me up.

I guess we should talk about this in another 20 years and ask the next generation of folkies how they view things. A friend of mine's 11 year old girl could not beleive that just a few generation ago, women could be not be any prefession they chose. Things are changing for the better.

Debra


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Subject: RE: womens role in folk clubs
From: Abby Sale
Date: 01 Apr 03 - 06:55 PM

springhopper: No, it's true - I really don't know who Hilary Spenser is.


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Subject: RE: womens role in folk clubs
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 01 Apr 03 - 07:29 PM

She's a Yorkshire singer:

http://www.hilaryspencer.com/

She sings mostly modern material. Beware of the website; she's made the mistake of using absolute positioning, and it will probably look like crap if your display is set to an above-average resolution.


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Subject: RE: womens role in folk clubs
From: harpgirl
Date: 01 Apr 03 - 08:58 PM

Abby, I was talking about your first post. You said women did the food and men did the finances...it's always worked better that way...I thought that was a very good April Fool's joke because surely you don't actually believe that!

Let me be the treasurer of your folk club and I will quadruple your treasury in one year! Of course, folk clubs never have more than $5 in their accounts, so it shouldn't be too difficult! hehehe


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Subject: RE: womens role in folk clubs
From: Abby Sale
Date: 01 Apr 03 - 10:51 PM

Well, I won't go into sexocalendarological cycles at this time. But next time I go to Blackcatter's club I know who will serve the potato chips and who will introduce singers.   

But I'll tell a nice story. One day in 1966 or 7 the Edin U Folk Soc (revivified now according to the website) decided it ought to elect some officers. I mentioned wistfully that I'd always wanted to be treasurer in primary school but nobody would ever elect me - they just didn't trust me. As it happened, as soon as the next meeting I didn't get to attend, they made me treasurer. (I think it was to spite me.) I can claim that I helped (with the energetic involvement of everyone else) turn the $5 account into many hundreds. We started a concert series which made a very little (on purpose) and a nightly folk show at the Fringe that earned piles no matter what.   That was great - we were able to bring in class acts, put all our best (not me) on stage, pay every folkie in town to do a few songs an drink as much beer as Edinburgh could provide. President Taylor did a marvelous job. There was enough money left over to pay (small amounts) to local singers regularly for the rest of the year at our weekly meetings. Many of those singers happily frequented our meetings and sang for free but we were then able to not only showcase put also a few quid in the pockets of some people who were trying to make it as singers. This great wealth was new and surprising to us all but I'm proud to say I would remind people (no objections by them) that our function was to "support and promote folk music" and we should shift as much as possible to the "non-us" singers. It was a pleasure to be able to. After, of course, a few beers.

But to the best of my rememory, there were only two non-us female singers. One of them played guitar. Lots of women played guitar in Philadelphia and NY and Cambridge (Mass) in the late 50's- early 60's.   Just not as well as the men. Basic strum, wimpy stuff.


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Subject: RE: womens role in folk clubs
From: Fay
Date: 02 Apr 03 - 07:11 AM

So, the main gist of what we've got so far,

There isn't/wasn't an imbalance.

More women are involved in playing/singing due to encouragement than they used to be.

Women aren't as good as men generally, why should it be different in singing?

Women are/were culturally trained to be more reserved than men so don't push themseleves forward as easily.

Women more prolific in the singing scene than the pub session scene. Poss. due to a social statement surrounding women going into pubs alone.

Women tend to be in a supportive role, doing the food/posters etc..

Women have a different repertoire which doesn't fit with the folk club scene.

The 'big' women in folk are of the sexy pop variety, not real folk singers.

Women don't/didn't play guitar as commonly as men so had to rely on accompaniment (usually by a man) or appear unaccompanied.

Women had to stay home and look after the house and kids.

Women's voices sound worse than men's when singing badly.

A lot of clubs were connected to colleges/universities which had a higher percentage of male students.

More men than women want to go out and sing in the evenings.

Any more for any more? what about the 'tone' of the evenings? were there male dominated conversations? political connotations which women weren't involved/interested in


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Subject: RE: womens role in folk clubs
From: GUEST,Mary Humphreys
Date: 02 Apr 03 - 08:00 AM

To answer Fay's summary of points made so far:

There was an imbalance in the 60s & 70s in Manchester. More men than women were involved in running clubs, singing & playing music. Not any more, as far as I can tell.

More women are involved in playing/singing due to encouragement than they used to be.
Not sure it is due to encouragement in most cases.Women feel freer to go into pubs and clubs on their own now. That gives them the choice of participating in the singing/music.

Women aren't as good as men generally, why should it be different in singing?
Where did you get that generalisation from? I would dispute that totally.

Women are/were culturally trained to be more reserved than men so don't push themselves forward as easily.
I won't argue with that one.

Women more prolific in the singing scene than the pub session scene. Poss. due to a social statement surrounding women going into pubs alone.
Possibly.I still don't like going into pubs alone, unless I am sure there will be someone I know in there.

Women tend to be in a supportive role, doing the food/posters etc..
Not that I am aware of.

Women have a different repertoire which doesn't fit with the folk club scene.
That is not true. There are many individual women singers who can entertain a club audience as well as any man. Janet Russell, Maggie Boyle, Ellen Mitchell, Alison MacMorland,Eliza Carthy, Isla St Clair, Peta Webb, Chris Coe, Sandra Kerr ... the list goes on.

The 'big' women in folk are of the sexy pop variety, not real folk singers.
Rubbish. Who are you talking about? See list above.

Women don't/didn't play guitar as commonly as men so had to rely on accompaniment (usually by a man) or appear unaccompanied.
Most of the women named above don't use a guitar for accompaniment. They play other instruments if they use accompaniment at all. The guitar is not a sine qua non of the folk performer.

Women had to stay home and look after the house and kids.
Good opportunity for trying out repertoire on kids and family. Many restrictions in life can have some positive outcomes.

Women's voices sound worse than men's when singing badly.
No. They sound as bad as each other.

A lot of clubs were connected to colleges/universities which had a higher percentage of male students.
True in the past. Not so sure now.

More men than women want to go out and sing in the evenings.
Pass.

Any more for any more? what about the 'tone' of the evenings? were there male dominated conversations? political connotations which women weren't involved/interested in
Why shouldn't women be involved/interested in political discussion? The state of the nation is as important to women as it is to men.
Most of my early years in folk music were based in and around highly politically active and motivated singers. Their enthusiasm communicated itself to me and their audiences. I didn't notice women complaining then. They don't now, in my experience.


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Subject: RE: womens role in folk clubs
From: Fay
Date: 02 Apr 03 - 08:14 AM

Just to make it clear...

The summary I put up above are not neccessarily my beleifs, just a summery of the points made by people so far.

Some of the more dramatic ones mainly came from Abby Sale, please revert to her postings for full(er) explanation.


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Subject: RE: womens role in folk clubs
From: Rapparee
Date: 02 Apr 03 - 09:22 AM

"Just reading the thread title made me bristle." -- JennieO

Quite. And rightly so. I never thought that the roles were different in anything, but then I was brought up by a mother and great-great aunt (my father died when I was 5) who could wrestle a lumberjack and win while cooking dinner with the other hand and changing a diaper with their feet.

"Well, TRY it! You don't know if you can do it unless you try it!" -- My mother.


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Subject: RE: womens role in folk clubs
From: JennyO
Date: 02 Apr 03 - 09:46 AM

Rapaire, I like the sound of your mother!

Never changed a diaper with my feet, though.

Jenny


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Subject: RE: womens role in folk clubs
From: harpgirl
Date: 02 Apr 03 - 09:54 AM

...for those of you who don't know Abby Sale is an old man with white hair and a craggy voice. Also, our dear Abby is quite sexist, it turns out. But we love him anyway.

Evidently his senses are failing, because he can neither hear nor see all the terrific female musicians on the folk scene today. But he was raised in the early part of this century, so let's give him a break. He can't rise above his raising'...LOL harpgirl


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Subject: RE: womens role in folk clubs
From: JudeL
Date: 02 Apr 03 - 10:10 AM

Mary, most of my objections to the list Fay put up you have already covered. The one point on which although I disagree with the implication that Fay draws from the point I would say is so, is that I believe that in general, there is a broad tendency for differences in the type of songs sung by women and men. I vehemently do NOT agree that this makes women singers less acceptable on the folk scene. Different does not mean inferior! Differences are what make life interesting. Another point I would throw into the pot is that perceptions of the status quo are coloured by a person's own internal view of the world which is affected by things like where and when they were young. A person who is old enough to be participating in the folk scene in the 60's is likely to see things in different terms than someone who was born in the 60's and the perspective of someone born in the 80's will be different again. The impact of involvement of different age groups is sometimes obvious but other times very subtle.


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Subject: RE: womens role in folk clubs
From: Abby Sale
Date: 02 Apr 03 - 01:19 PM

I do not have white hair!


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Subject: RE: womens role in folk clubs
From: Abby Sale
Date: 02 Apr 03 - 02:05 PM

Considering the best of all the world's ballad singers, there's a thread at Clicky on Scottish favorites. Note that male votes significantly outnumber votes for females. Nothing to do with me. Other's votes. Lotsa of votes for Jeanie there but the website collecting the tally doesn't even have her listed among the contenders. And not a single vote for Ray Fisher!

What more proof would you have?


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Subject: RE: womens role in folk clubs
From: open mike
Date: 02 Apr 03 - 02:38 PM

would someone please explain what a floor singer is?


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Subject: RE: womens role in folk clubs
From: GUEST,joe
Date: 02 Apr 03 - 03:49 PM

that's my harmonica case in my pocket, but i AM glad to see ya.


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Subject: RE: womens role in folk clubs
From: Marje
Date: 02 Apr 03 - 04:17 PM

Interesting thread, I've only just found it. My two-cents worth (not US, I'm getting ready for the euro)....

In music (tune) sessions, men still dominate by at least 4 to 1, sometimes 10 to 1. But I run a music session and my husband does the raffle, so the stereotype doesn't always hold. I also sing, so I can offer the following observations:

In "acoustic", contemporary clubs, (I'm talking of the UK here, can't speak for the US) the standard act is man-with-guitar. Women are very much outnumbered, and not taken seriously if they don't have a guitar (which most of them don't).

In traditional song clubs and singarounds where unaccompanied song is welcomed, women sing as much as men do. Women are often among the best singers - and, I have to say, the worst.

If you get a duo, it's much more likely that he plays and she sings than vice versa.

And (here's the most sexist bit...) - women are the ones who will keep the wheels running: they send e-mails, phone people up to remind them what's on, share words and tunes, make and circulate lists and calendars. Most of that stuff in our area is done by women - not women who are "servicing" male performers, but women who run things, promote things, offer lifts to gigs, perform in their own right, and make things happen. Even the mailshots etc. signed by males are often facilitated (or written) by females. The whole scene would collapse very quickly without women's contribution.


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Subject: RE: womens role in folk clubs
From: GUEST,Benbow
Date: 02 Apr 03 - 05:33 PM

All very relevant comments by Mary Humphreys and I saw the same in Manchester in the 70s for sure.

Im guilty of not attending clubs and sessions enough nowadys so cant make a good contrast to things today but surely the balance is better and on the professional side the women are clearly strong.

A comment about the 60s 70s   I always felt that too many women singers restricted their repertoire too much towards the feminist cause. Im not saying they were wrong or right but always felt a good varied session with a few pointed strong 'message' songs worked better than a session all on the same theme and I saw too many where the women theme was overplayed. Its better now that sessions/clubs arent hijacked by a narrow interest group and good to see a better balance. Doesnt stop a message being put across.

Another comment when was the last thread that got so much input in such a shoer space of time ? It seems to have captured the imagination.


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Subject: RE: womens role in folk clubs
From: Bernard
Date: 02 Apr 03 - 06:32 PM

Open Mike: We tend to refer to any singer who is not the booked 'guest' or a club 'resident' as a 'floor singer' - a singer from the floor (because they often sound that way - miaow!).

Anyway, what about:
Jane and Amanda Threlfall
Emily Slade
Judy Dinning
Elizabeth van de Waal (sings with Anthony John Clarke)
Cathryn Craig
Sara Grey
Marie Little

The list goes on and on... we've plenty of fine singers (and instrumentalists) among the ladies. These days women aren't prepared to 'take a back seat' as they tended to in the past!

That said, folk club audiences do tend to be skewed more towards the single male, at least up here around Manchester UK. It's relatively rare to find women at a folk club who have no 'significant other'. In the 60s and early 70s the folk club was a place to go 'on the pull'. Not these days... and I should know... :-(


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Subject: RE: womens role in folk clubs
From: alison
Date: 02 Apr 03 - 07:35 PM

you forgot about me JennyO.... actually most of the Sydney clubs are either run or co-run by women

I run Toongabbie Music Club

we usually have more men than women, but if we all turned up on the same night it would make the numbers more even.......

slainte

alison


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Subject: RE: womens role in folk clubs
From: GUEST,joe
Date: 02 Apr 03 - 08:09 PM

the role of women in folk music is the same as that of men, ie. to play the music & deliver the lyrics. yes, the guys get rough & butt heads & the girls maneuver, but it should be fun or there's no point. music, like the other arts, is sexually charged & it harmonizes our animal, spiritual & emotional instincts better than any other activity i know. so show us how to harmonize & the event has served its purpose.


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Subject: RE: womens role in folk clubs
From: Little Hawk
Date: 02 Apr 03 - 11:08 PM

I noticed over 30 years ago that the serious female songwriters could write material that left most male songwriters totally in the dust (with the exception of the odd standout, like Dylan or Cohen or Al Stewart or a few others I could mention). Joni Mitchell and Buffy Sainte-Marie were 2 of the early female singer-songwriters I would point to as absolute masters of the craft, and there has been an avalance of them since.

In the younger set that are playing the folk festivals now, I would say that the finest writers are more often females than males. The females write on a far wide variety of themes, with far more depth and subtlety, far better lyrics, far better just about everything. I find that a lot of men are capable of writing on about 3 or 4 well-worn paths (if that), and that's pretty well where it stops. The ladies don't usually have that problem. They're more mature in their grasp of life, and they write more mature material.

Of the 3 folk clubs in this area, I would say that females are predominant in the management of 2 of them, males in the case of the 3rd.

I've heard some comments in this thread that make me laugh out loud. cos they were out of date decades ago. Where, oh where have you been, O time-warped lads? The music business used to be dominated by the "old boy's club" and by male acts and male management. That's been steadily changing to an equal share for both genders, and it's a damned good thing.

By the way...I am a male songwriter and folksinger, and proud of it. Chew on that, you John Wayne anachronisms. You just don't know a good thing when you hear it.

- LH


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Subject: RE: womens role in folk clubs
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 03 Apr 03 - 10:09 AM

Possibly one factor that used to make some difference in the past, was that less women had their own transport and so getting to some of the more out of the way clubs could be tricky without a lift. Many women also don't like going into pubs on their own, and in the UK at least most folk clubs tend to run on licensed premises. Mind you for some women, folk clubs were attractive because it provided them with an excuse to go into pubs.

When I ran Blackheath Folk Club in SE London, I was always keen both to book female guests and would always try and make sure that any ladies got a floor spot.

BTW Breezy - Sheila used to go to the very early London Folk Clubs in the Folk & Skiffle days, and used to collect the money on the door of clubs like "The Enterprise". Her sister Simone, used to do the same at Catford Folk Club (Phoebus Awakes) which we both have happy memories of.

The 'big' women in folk are of the sexy pop variety, not real folk singers. Few if any of the ladies on the list which I gave, could be described in those terms (please don't take any offence girls). Several of them are/were source singers and many of their songs could rank as definitive versions.


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Subject: RE: womens role in folk clubs
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 03 Apr 03 - 10:29 AM

Addendum to above.

Many Club and Session organisers are female - sometimes working in partnership with men ie

Orpington Friday Folk
Polehill Arms
Sharps
Rainham
Dartford
Tudor Barn
The Anchor, Lewisham
The Cellar Upstairs
Musical Traditions


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Subject: RE: womens role in folk clubs
From: JennyO
Date: 03 Apr 03 - 11:47 AM

Sorry, Alison, didn't mean to leave you out. I was just seeing red at the time and posted quickly. Not just a folk club in your case, either. Festivals too! Yes, I would say that in Sydney, if it wasn't for us women, a whole lot of the folk scene would not be happening. I suspect we are particularly good at organising and taking care of the details, as well as our other obvious talents ;-)

Jenny


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Subject: RE: womens role in folk clubs
From: Fay
Date: 03 Apr 03 - 01:14 PM

I'm glad this has taken off as such a well visited thread, and there are lots of different perspectives too.

Just goes to show what a mixed bunch this family of mudcatters are, and what differing memories or opinions of the same scene we all have.

Long live diversity - respect to all xx


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Subject: RE: womens role in folk clubs
From: Gurney
Date: 04 Apr 03 - 03:23 AM

A couple of de-motivators that have been mentioned to me by ladies:

Hecklers. OK, it is usually goodnatured and between mates/buddies, but some ladies are apprehensive of it.

Learning the trade. It takes time to be known, and it can be a hungry time, sleeping on settees and saving pennies.

Constant travelling. Away from families and kids and friends.

Certainly, these apply to everyone making their way as a professional, but it may be that the gentle sex feels them more, generally. Do they, typically?


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Subject: RE: womens role in folk clubs
From: GUEST,noddy
Date: 04 Apr 03 - 10:12 AM

More women in folk .
but not more folking women.

Sounds better when you say it!


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Subject: RE: womens role in folk clubs
From: Ely
Date: 04 Apr 03 - 05:01 PM

I suppose this depends partly on who are one's associates. The people I play with here (Houston, Texas, USA) include probably 60% women, depending on the venue (more for old-time music, less for Irish). The men tend to be better guitarists and mandolin-ists but the women frequently blow them away on most other instruments (harp, autoharp, both kinds of dulcimers, upright bass, Chinese pipa, etc). Banjo-players, fiddlers, and singers are about split down the middle. We don't have a problem with the "eye candy" syndrome--we're all pretty much equally unsexy. Women also play a huge part in starting and maintaining the organizations that promote traditional music. Most women musicians I know of write (or research) their own songs and play instruments well.

Of course, even those of us who pursue music professionally are not nationally-known, for the most part.

As far as club performances go, I would say it varies greatly with different individual clubs and different genres of music. Some of the barbecue joints and kicker bars in my neighborhood rarely, if ever, feature women performers. On the other hand, a lot of them do. It probably depends on what interests the clientele. The best pub in town features plenty of women and a big range of types of music. The smaller establishments feature whoever they can get just to draw in customers (and yes, some of them, men and women alike, suck).


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Subject: RE: womens role in folk clubs
From: Abby Sale
Date: 04 Apr 03 - 11:39 PM

Fay:

I think your recaps/summaries are excellent. I think that, since you raised the question, if you're satisfied with your understanding of the answers, then that's that. Clearly, there is much diversity and there was more in the 60's/70's. Also, clearly, the roles of the sexes have changed.

Recalling that our form of folk club only dates from the 1950's, there's been quite a lot of change. This is a natural evolution. Ebb & flow. Over the years-centuries-millennia the composition (demographics) of participants of many occupations & avocations has often changed. Street roller skaters are far more likely to be adults than children. Telephone operators were once 100% male; then 100% female; now, I suppose, 90% computers. Further, women take a more assertive role in much of life at this particular moment of time than they did 30 years ago. Generally there has always been a distinction of the tasks normal to each sex. The specific tasks have changed, though.

A hard answer for folk clubs could only be achieved with an extensive sociological study around the world of what men & women actually do in clubs as well as what they are perceived by other club members to be doing. Probably not worth it.

I was actually a respondent in a similar study several years ago. They were examining the breakdown of household decision-making in America. I thought our own household was pretty standard and I said so. I explained that my wife handled the day-to-day, routine household decisions and I had to take care of the important ones.   Well, they asked just which ones my wife handled.   I explained, you know, the easy routine ones - where to live, how many children to have, what kind of job I should take, how to handle our retirement planning - that stuff, the day-to-day things.   So they asked what decisions I made and I told them - the important ones. What sort? Well, who should be president, what should be taught in schools, whether to go to war, who should be in the European Union - that sort of thing.


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