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What a fringe contributes to a festival

GUEST,Sir Roger at work 20 Jun 06 - 03:56 AM
Richard Bridge 20 Jun 06 - 04:17 AM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 20 Jun 06 - 06:01 AM
GUEST,padgett 20 Jun 06 - 06:09 AM
Liz the Squeak 20 Jun 06 - 06:12 AM
Cllr 20 Jun 06 - 06:31 AM
The Shambles 20 Jun 06 - 06:57 AM
GUEST,MC Fat 20 Jun 06 - 08:27 AM
Essex Girl 20 Jun 06 - 08:44 AM
Vixen 20 Jun 06 - 08:48 AM
fiddler 20 Jun 06 - 08:58 AM
GUEST,skipy 20 Jun 06 - 09:08 AM
breezy 20 Jun 06 - 10:51 AM
Fidjit 20 Jun 06 - 11:07 AM
open mike 20 Jun 06 - 11:39 AM
Dave Roberts 20 Jun 06 - 11:46 AM
Vixen 20 Jun 06 - 01:29 PM
Les from Hull 20 Jun 06 - 02:05 PM
The Shambles 20 Jun 06 - 02:27 PM
Les from Hull 20 Jun 06 - 02:32 PM
oombanjo 20 Jun 06 - 02:50 PM
greg stephens 20 Jun 06 - 02:57 PM
Les from Hull 20 Jun 06 - 04:04 PM
Mrs.Duck 20 Jun 06 - 05:20 PM
Hand-Pulled Boy 20 Jun 06 - 07:25 PM
Dave Roberts 20 Jun 06 - 08:31 PM
Mo the caller 21 Jun 06 - 03:41 AM
Folkiedave 21 Jun 06 - 04:31 AM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 21 Jun 06 - 05:30 AM
Carol 21 Jun 06 - 06:20 AM
GUEST,Blowz at work 21 Jun 06 - 08:04 AM
GUEST,neovo 21 Jun 06 - 08:23 AM
Big Al Whittle 21 Jun 06 - 09:12 AM
Snuffy 21 Jun 06 - 09:19 AM
The Barden of England 21 Jun 06 - 09:25 AM
Les from Hull 21 Jun 06 - 10:04 AM
Carol 21 Jun 06 - 10:18 AM
Sir Roger de Beverley 21 Jun 06 - 11:53 AM
Sir Roger de Beverley 21 Jun 06 - 11:57 AM
The Shambles 21 Jun 06 - 12:45 PM
Carol 21 Jun 06 - 12:59 PM
Blowzabella 21 Jun 06 - 01:32 PM
Sir Roger de Beverley 21 Jun 06 - 01:39 PM
Blowzabella 21 Jun 06 - 02:47 PM
oombanjo 21 Jun 06 - 03:06 PM
BB 21 Jun 06 - 03:55 PM
The Shambles 21 Jun 06 - 04:43 PM
s&r 21 Jun 06 - 04:50 PM
Herga Kitty 21 Jun 06 - 05:20 PM
Blowzabella 21 Jun 06 - 06:17 PM
Soldier boy 21 Jun 06 - 10:30 PM
Folkiedave 22 Jun 06 - 01:54 AM
The Shambles 22 Jun 06 - 02:07 AM
Blowzabella 22 Jun 06 - 03:33 AM
Carol 22 Jun 06 - 03:39 AM
The Shambles 22 Jun 06 - 05:33 AM
Dave Roberts 22 Jun 06 - 06:23 AM
Mo the caller 22 Jun 06 - 07:25 AM
GUEST,MC Fat 22 Jun 06 - 07:25 AM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 22 Jun 06 - 08:22 AM
Snuffy 22 Jun 06 - 10:02 AM
Sir Roger de Beverley 22 Jun 06 - 12:15 PM
Carol 22 Jun 06 - 01:11 PM
The Shambles 22 Jun 06 - 01:16 PM
Fidjit 22 Jun 06 - 02:08 PM
oombanjo 22 Jun 06 - 02:52 PM
BB 22 Jun 06 - 03:12 PM
Les from Hull 22 Jun 06 - 03:45 PM
BB 22 Jun 06 - 03:54 PM
Carol 23 Jun 06 - 04:01 AM
Carol 23 Jun 06 - 04:02 AM
jojofolkagogo 23 Jun 06 - 08:45 AM
Snuffy 23 Jun 06 - 09:01 AM
Big Al Whittle 23 Jun 06 - 10:23 AM
GUEST 23 Jun 06 - 10:46 AM
GUEST,Blowzabella at work 23 Jun 06 - 10:46 AM
GUEST,MikeofNorthumbria (off base) 23 Jun 06 - 11:04 AM
The Shambles 23 Jun 06 - 05:20 PM
Blowzabella 23 Jun 06 - 10:26 PM
The Shambles 24 Jun 06 - 02:17 AM
Mo the caller 24 Jun 06 - 04:45 AM
Les from Hull 24 Jun 06 - 08:07 AM
BB 24 Jun 06 - 11:44 AM
The Shambles 24 Jun 06 - 06:49 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 24 Jun 06 - 07:33 PM
Mo the caller 25 Jun 06 - 04:48 AM
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Subject: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: GUEST,Sir Roger at work
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 03:56 AM

Having just completed a weekend of compering fringe events at Beverley Festival I have a few personal reflections on what a fringe contributes to a festival:

I had three friends from a different part of the country staying with me for the festival. They came principally to play with me in fringe events but all of them paid entrance into mainstream festival events on an individual basis.

All four of us visited the craft fair and gave our custom to more than one stall. In addition we bought coffees and sandwiches from the food stall at various times over the weekend. My friends also toured Beverley town and bought items from bookshops and market stalls. Whilst taking part in fringe events we all bought drinks and snacks in pubs.

I haven't yet mentioned actually doing any performing but we played, sang and recited for around fifteen hours in various sessions thereby contributing to the overall atmosphere of the festival and the town.

Whilst I am a great fan and supporter of festivals, they can seem specialised and cliquey to the general public and the fringe events are often the only part of the festival that the people of the town get to see and hear (dance teams too of course) – so we are often the public face of the festival. I know for a fact that several of my neighbours and work colleagues (who are not folkies) visited fringe venues and were impressed with the atmosphere and the standard of performers.

If you multiply my personal experience by those of other fringe performers you can see that we:
·        Boost the income of festival events
·        Support the ancillary services such as food concessions and craft stalls
·        Increase the revenue for businesses in the town
·        Contribute to the overall festival ambience and
·        Act as goodwill ambassadors to the town residents

So, I think that the festival proper and the fringe are mutually supportive and together make up what is regarded as a great, friendly festival that is an asset to the town.

Roger


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 04:17 AM

I agree


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 06:01 AM

Yep, that just about says it all.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: GUEST,padgett
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 06:09 AM

Few events which include consumption of alcohol are as trouble free as UK folk festivals!


Fringe events which are held in and around pubs in towns like Beverley and Holmfirth are highly popular and long may they be so

My comments are curtailed there!


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 06:12 AM

So why do certain festival organisers seem so intent on destroying the fringe events in a bid to make more money at the main festival (MF)?

I have attended many festivals where it's only been the fringe events (FEs) that I could a) afford to visit, not wanting to pay multiple £s for the pleasure of walking through a quagmire to see yet another rainbow windchime or rude native carving; or b) take a small child because the MF has no facilites for an active child with the attention span of a gnat. Most FEs seem to be in pubs where there is a much more relaxed atmosphere and usually a pub garden/play area. MFs are getting better at entertaining little children but now mine is at the difficult age where most Childrens' events are too young for her and the Youth activities too old. The FEs have always been, and probably always will be the thing that attracts me personally, to a festival.

LTS


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Cllr
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 06:31 AM

IMHO
1)fringe cant happen (by definition) without main festival occuring. -it it does, it then becomes the main festival.

2) festival organisers have to consider the finacial viabilty of the festival (unless they are very lucky)

3) to book in advance the usual, acts, toilets and other associated facilities an orgainser must know what his income streams are.

4) a lot of the wonderful benefits that FE bring to a festival are not directly financially obvious to the organiser as they are in general more qualitative than quantative.

if people go to fringe rather than mainstream this actually decreases the revenue an organiser may expect ( with the exception of thse who wouldnt go at all with out fringe events)

Roger makes a succint point say they are mutaully supportive which is as it should be but it should not be forgotten that the main festival is the environment which allows the fringe event to happen.
Cllr


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: The Shambles
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 06:57 AM

Yes but a Mohican haircut contributes a lot more.


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: GUEST,MC Fat
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 08:27 AM

One point a fringe can happen without a main festival, we actually did that with the People's Voice a few year's ago and that became the blueprint for the 'official' festival taking the fringe seriously. As an organiser and a performer I see the value of a fringe. At Whitby Folk Week I can count on the finger of one hand how many official events i've attended in 10 years !!! However i sing every day at the 'fringe'. At Sheffield Folk Festival the fringe is an important part of the whole event it provides the pubs who support us with income and entertainment and provides a platform for the wide ranges and tastes in folk music. There are also people who don't want to pay for or sit in concerts they just want to perform


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Essex Girl
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 08:44 AM

For many years I took my son to festivals, both with a ticket or just for the fringe. Broadstairs, Warwick & Whitby have terrific clubs and workshops for kids, & also have the added bonus of the beach (Whitby & Broadstairs) and the swimming pool at Warwick. I rarely spent much time in the concert venue at Broadstairs as it was totally unsuitable for children and was very claustrophobic. Alas by the time he was 12 he had grown out of kids events and there was not a lot for him so now he stays at home and I spend more time on the fringe or at performer orientated events without him. At least your daughter is musical Liz, she could get involved in workshops.


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Vixen
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 08:48 AM

Last summer Reynaud and I attended Middlewich. We saw some Main Festival acts and bought food and souvenirs--terrific. The fringe, however, was an utterly new phenomenon in our experience, and was wonderful. The closest thing we could compare it to is the "after-hours" jamming that occurs at most US festivals. We left Middlewich with the impression that the whole town became the festival, all day, every day. We've been wondering if any festivals over here have managed to create a "fringe" in their communities. The festivals we go to tend to be geographically contained on the site where they are held--you pay to get in, and you're there for the duration.

If I were an organizer of such things, I'd want a fringe, and I'd go out of my way to encourage any and all businesses in the town to participate in the festival. I'd structure my income stream to reflect not just the main gate, but the income from the entire event.

The Fringe Festival adds so much to the experience!

Just my $0.02...fwiw

V


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: fiddler
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 08:58 AM

Symbiosis!

The Fringe without the Main Festival is not a fringe it is the main festival.

A Main Festival without a fringe can become soulless.

Each must recognise the benefits of each to the other but the fringe by its very nature is generally is smaller and less formal.

That said what happens at most festivals as fringe is incorporated in to some festivals as part of the main event.

There is no answer other than don't over or underestimate the importance of either.

Teh festivla format the integration in to the town there are many factors - take one element out and the recipe may fail!

My twopence.

Andy


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: GUEST,skipy
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 09:08 AM

I have just measured my head from the back hair line over the crown to the lower edge of my pupils, distance is 18", the distance from my brow hairline to the lower edge of my pupils is 4" there is therefor a ratio of 4.5 : 1.
As an organised when the fringe reaches or exceeds this ratio I cannot see what is going on at the festival & thus we are all in danger.
Skipy


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: breezy
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 10:51 AM

If fringe events occur whilst main events are taking place then you can understand organisers regarding the fringe events as being counter productive to the festival

perhaps the fringe events are taking more than they think they are actually contributing, though contribute they can.

introducing Jo public to 'folk' is an argument but sometimes the quality can be off putting too.

It is an interesting balance, but by not actually contributing to the financial well being of the festival is not one being selfish ? and if audience is drawn away from paying events, well that will surely rankle organisers.


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Fidjit
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 11:07 AM

The so called "Big" Festivals are becoming out of reach, pocketwise. Therefore the "Fringe" is fine. You can take part and you feel as if you are part of it, so to speak.

Chas


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: open mike
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 11:39 AM

give me a surrey with a fringe on top

it sounds like you are talking about an event
where you have to pay to get in

surrounded by other smaller events/venues
that are free?

The thing that comes to mind is the Folk Alliance Conference
where many bands are show cased and many available venues
become the performance area. The conference is an opportunity
for artists, recording labels, venues and organizers have the
chance to meet, greet and plan.

the other event i can think of is the South By South West
http://2006.sxsw.com/ where bands, films and web sites are
featured....
both of these events are centered around entertainment, but
are expos and workshops and more focussed on promoting and
the business aspects of the arts. Do we have "fringe" events
here in U.S.?


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Dave Roberts
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 11:46 AM

Vixen,

What is not, I think, generally known is that Middlewich's 'fringe' events are actually part of the main festival i.e. acts are booked by the Folk & Boat Festival itself and terms negotiated with the fringe venues - mostly pubs - in the town to help pay for them. Thus, it might be argued, Middlewich's fringe is not really a 'fringe' at all as there are no 'unofficial' events in Middlewich over the festival weekend.
This can, not unnaturally, lead to confusion. People often look at me askance when, if asked for information on 'fringe' events, I refer them back to the main festival organising committee.


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Vixen
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 01:29 PM

AHA!!! Thanks for the info, Dave!

Middlewich, then, (seems to me), could be an example of how to make a fringe and main festival work to each others' advantage successfully. If "the usual" fringe is not so well integrated, I can see where there would be opportunities for conflict.

Middlewich was simply fabulous--we bought individual tickets for the main festival acts we wanted to see, and went to fringe things for everything else. Interspersed in partaking of the fringe was all the wandering round the streets of Middlewich from venue to venue, following the sounds of music.

Probably the closest thing to a Middlewich-type event over here is "first night" celebrations at New Year's where all the businesses in a town collaborate to stay open and chip in toward entertainment all over the place--some musicians in venues, street entertainers, etc. You pay for a pass and get free admission to all the events all night long. They're lots of fun if you get a mild evening (say, just around freezing). Otherwise, people tend to get into one place and stay there, out of the cold.

Just $0.02 more...

V


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Les from Hull
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 02:05 PM

Festival ticket holders probably include more 'listeners', and will use their tickets to listen to quality professional artists booked by the festival. People who attend fringe events do so because they sing and/or play and are happy to do just that in the company of like-minded others.

Season ticket holders may pop into fringe events at the times when there's no main festival event to go to. Fringe events also provide a useful role in providing a bit of entertainment for festival stewards and dance team members in between duties.

Fringe people will sometimes go to individual events (workshops and concerts mainly) but usually they will be out of the way in pubs singins and playing. We shouldn't underestimate the role they have in providing free entertainment for local residents who may not want to pay for main festival events. Many festivals are partly sponsored by Local Authorities, say this is quite an important issue too.

The festivals that I've had experience of don't suffer financially in any way by having a strong fringe, quite the opposite, in fact.


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: The Shambles
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 02:27 PM

Whether I pay to attend any of the official events - I always make a point of supporting the festival in all the ways I can - like always buying the programme etc. As mainly an active participant in fringe activities - it is not very pleasing to see some of the attitudes shown towards fringe events, as if the relationship was a parasitic one which in some will threaten the host. I suggest the aim should always to obtain a symbotic one, where both parties benefit.

The best attitude is one where the official organisers recognise that a healthly fringe is likely to result in a healthy event. And the result of those organisers who seem to see it as a battle with fringe events - is a festival that will turn out to be a unhealthy and doomed one.

So perhaps it is better to think of any official events adding to and supporting the 'fringe' merry-making rather than the other way around?


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Les from Hull
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 02:32 PM

And at Beverley last weekend by buying your programme you would have seen the page that the main festival includes that identifies all the fringe events.


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: oombanjo
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 02:50 PM

All the point raised above have value and must be considered. At Beverley we have the Main festival, the P.V.Festival was only brought into being when the main festival had a problem, and could not happen. A small group of people (some of those above) stepped in and offered to assist in the birthing of a holding fest, PVF. The result of this was widely accepted to be a success, with artists such as John Harrison ex Waterson giving time freely, (he will not be forgotten.) and the rest being hosted in the local pubs and the main dance night at the local hall sponcered by the local council, the sponcership money for this we then give year on year to the main festival, The result of this was that lots of local people found an interest in the music which carries on to this day. The local council were so impressed that they gave the Fringe 24 spaces for all future festivals, these spaces were for those artists like Roger and Jim (You were missed) that spend 15 to 30 hours hosting and keeping order in the sessions. Over the following years it was obvious that although it was a bonus to have these spaces it was at the expense of the festival proper, and we cut these down to 14. 7 pubs with 2 hosts/ pub thus giving each other a break. Not one of these host spaces gets free access into any of the Main events but the majority will pay to see at least one act and support the final night. The comment as to whether the fringe becomes the main, if the main does not exist I agree it does, the only consideration on this is that with PVF it was free to and for all, and if ever called on again, my hope is that it will continue to be so. cheers Oombanjo


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: greg stephens
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 02:57 PM

Middlewich fringe came into its own in thew foot and mouth year when the main festival cancelled(2001). A lot of people(myself included) thought we'd have a festival anyway(the foot and mouth had finished by festival time). So we went ahead and it was great. Loads of people came, the pubs were full of music as usaul, there just wasnt any festival in the middle. Not a model that could be followed indefinitely, but it was a very interesting experience for all.
    Middlewich is being held up as a model for fringes here. My personal impression is that the fringe is now becoming too orgainised, in that there are more and more amplified acts filling the pubs that once had acoustic sessions in. So, yesy you can walk about town and find music evertwhere, but I think it is perhaps becoming marginally harder to find a good session easily near the middle of things. Which, in the long run, will hurt the festival: not next year maybe, but soon.
    Bromyard used to have a fantastic fringe scene. There were half a dozen sessions in the pubs in town, and I've down there for a weekend a time or two to play with friens, and never been near the main festival site. It may be still like that, I dont know, I've not been for quite a while.
It's worth remembering, in these days of expensive season tickets, that a lot of festivals started off as free get-togethers. And were great!


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Les from Hull
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 04:04 PM

Good point about amplified acts in pubs. My own view is that the heart of a good fringe is the opportunity to join in singing and playing, the way we seem to be able to at Beverley and the Whitby festivals (to mention but three) with an active fringe that has been well-established over very many years.


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Mrs.Duck
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 05:20 PM

The cost of main festival tickets has risen sharply over the last few years and as we, like Liz, have children who do not always allow us to watch a whole event we often find the fringe events to be far more suited to our tastes. We are also in the position of having little income at present but still want to be part of the folk scene. At sometime in the future when the kids are older and we have jobs (hopefully) we will probably start buying more tickets but for now the fringe is our only way of keeping going.


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Hand-Pulled Boy
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 07:25 PM

Beverley town was the overall winner last weekend unlike my fringe which I lost years ago.


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Dave Roberts
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 08:31 PM

Greg,

My explanation of how the so-called Middlewich Festival 'fringe' works was not intended as an endorsement.
I would never hold up Middlewich as a 'model' for how festival fringes 'should' work. The very opposite in fact.


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Mo the caller
Date: 21 Jun 06 - 03:41 AM

We were at the Middlewich fringe too. Yes, there were a lot of amplified events in pubs. Once we had worked out where to get a programme (the one we bought from the news-agent didn't include fringe events, but then we found the main site) we found there we 3 'official' sessions/ day. At least one of the musicians we spoke to would have liked the sessions to more specific. They were all of the 'see who turns up and sings/plays/recites' type not the 'English tunes in the Rose & Crown' / 'Irish in the Angel' / 'French in a secret location that few know about' type (well, maybe there was a secret session somewhere)
Colin Matthews , Helen and friends did an excellent job keeping a good balance in the Golden Lion in the first Sunday session.


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Folkiedave
Date: 21 Jun 06 - 04:31 AM

Some festivals are very succesful (in terms of ticket sales/artistic merit)with no fringe whatsoever. There seems to be little fringe at Warwick and Bromyard for example and they have been great festivals when I have been to them. Brampton Live! has had terrific artists over the years, reduced prices for kids and youths with activities for them, etc. Sells out each year. No fringe at all when I went a couple of years ago. And it was hardly a sterile event.

The fact is that there is rarely a festival fringe (F and M years excepted) without a festival. And Cllr makes all the correct points that someone has to buy a season ticket and visit concerts etc. otherwise festival do not happen. Some festivals pay people (if only in kind with a season ticket for example) to ensure sessions happen in particular pubs and are organised.

Many festivals do supply Children´s entertainment within a ticket and many also have workshops for the slightly older child escaping from parents. These have got bigger and better over the years at many festivals and introduced many a young person to folk music.

There are people who love to see the great acts of the folk world live and on stage - Vin Garbutt being a great example of that sort of thing - as folk clubs seem to be replaced by sessions. But my own tastes also include Susanna Seivane and Kepa Junkera for example, I am unlikley to be able to see them anywhere except at major festivals.

Can I just go back to the orginal poster who said he had been "compering fringe events". I am wondering (having not been to Beverley for a number of years) how come fringe events need compering? I can understand people organising sing arounds to enasure people get a chance to perform - but "compering?" and "fringe" are not normally words I would associate together.

As for festivals appearing cliquey to people, of course they are. But so long as complaints are few/non existent, does it matter? I´ll be going to Bradfield Traditional Music Festival in August. (Blatant plug). To my own tastes it is superb. Just the kind of music I like. How do you make that particular festival non-cliquey? And would you want to?


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 21 Jun 06 - 05:30 AM

"Can I just go back to the orginal poster who said he had been "compering fringe events". I am wondering (having not been to Beverley for a number of years) how come fringe events need compering? I can understand people organising sing arounds to enasure people get a chance to perform - but "compering?" and "fringe" are not normally words I would associate together."

I think the answer to this is that in a situation where there are many wanting to perform, some degree of very low key guidance may be useful in ensuring that the session is not taken over by a few more forceful contributors, to the detriment of those who are somewhat diffident about putting themselves forward to perform.

The best example of this is the Bedford sessions at Sidmouth, led by John Barden (The Barden of England). You hardly know he's there until someone tries to hog the session, but when that happens you quickly become aware of who is in charge. The balance of his sessions is a delight, with even the most timid performer getting a fair share.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Carol
Date: 21 Jun 06 - 06:20 AM

Don't know about Sidmouth being so good, the last time I went there was 1991 and remember going into a pub on a lunchtime session, people either side of me (who came in after me)were asked to sing and after about 2 hours I left without getting to sing.
Yes, Bradfield weekend sounds good and I've printed the booking form for this year, must get it sent off.
However although I do agree that the term compering in a singaround is a bit over the top when you are in a 'public' room/bar or even garden of a pub you do need someone to 'keep things going'. Including keeping the audience quiet as they probably don't realise they're the audience!
I have great memories of singarounds at Warwick, even started one up myself many years ago in a pub garden.
Another gripe that I have is that festival organisers schedule a singaround on the Friday evening and then you don't get another one in the programme until the Sunday.
I do object to people saying they are working when they run singarounds - it's something you enjoy doing - not work!!! And to be honest if you don't enjoy doing it then give someone else a chance! I only look for singaround type festivals these days and manage to spend quite a few weekends away during a year. I think I'd better finish now!!!!


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: GUEST,Blowz at work
Date: 21 Jun 06 - 08:04 AM

I think there's a bit of confusion still here about what is meant by a 'fringe' event.

Most people's concept of a fringe is 'low key events, which have sprung up spontaneously around the main festival'. I suppose, by definition, these are usually singarounds or sessions - or mixed ad hoc performances by members of the public / festivalgoers plus the odd performer who is passing by, possibly. My thoughts would be that these wouldn't normally be MCd - but might end up being 'run' by someone, who looks to make sure anyone who wants to becomes involed.

As has been mentioned above, the 'fringe' at Middlwich isn't really the same beast - from what I can glean, it is only a 'fringe' in that the events are free of charge and not full formal concerts - they are, however, semi-formal. It is organised by the same people who put the 'main' festival together and consists of particular performers (some, if not all, being paid) being on at a certain venue for a certain duration - not like a singaround or session. Part of the afternoon / evening may involve ad hoc performances from the floor, or these may continue once the programmed acts have finished.

I visited Middlewich for the first time on Sunday, primarily to pick up some boxes of promo material from a mate of mine, who was performing there. Because of the nature of my visit, I didn't have a festival ticket, but was more than pleasantly surprised at what was available without one. Having the likes of Tom Lewis and Tim Laycock along with many others, as 'fringe' performers, seemed a bit of a mis-nomer, but it was very enjoyable and, after all, what's in a name? I suppose, in discussions such as this, definitions can be confusing.   

I will certainly seriously consider making a weekend of Middlewich next year - if I can figure out how to make it viable for my young, enthusiastic border collie - who likes lots of exercise and doesn't really like crowds very much (sensitive, nervy creature that he is!)


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: GUEST,neovo
Date: 21 Jun 06 - 08:23 AM

As a regular Bromyarder I'm surprised at Folkiedave's suggestion that there's not much in the way of a fringe. If you take fringe to mean spontaneous events not officially organised by the festival there's plenty. There's nearly always something happening at the Rose and Lion, both in the back bar and outside (morris dancers permitting). The Bay Horse is usually inhabited by the bluegrass crowd (and very good they are too)and the Crown and Sceptre is usually packed with singers and musicians. The other pubs move in and out of favour but there's always somewhere to start something if what is happening elsewhere is not to your musical tastes.


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 21 Jun 06 - 09:12 AM

Can never understand festival booking policies.

For example Weymouth doesn't book the Yetties - but a lot people really identify Dorset Folk Music with Bonny and the lads. In fact I feel a bit cheated if I go down all that way south without seeing them.

Similarly Jack Hudson never plays the local festivals here in Derby and Notts - despite there beng people who obviously associate him with this part of the world

the fringe things like the workshops are the best bit - you meet people you've really admired and get a chance to ask them questions. with the big events you have another factor come into it - namely the sound man. I've got nothing against these people (the PA man at The Vernon Arms, Keith is a good bloke), but even their greatest fans would admit they are of variable quality.


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Snuffy
Date: 21 Jun 06 - 09:19 AM

Always plenty going on in the Bromyard pubs and it all appears to be spontaneous. Upton and Alcester have a similarly lively pub scene but with a bit of "behind the scenes" help from the main festival to ensure that the fringe does take place.

At Warwick free participatory singarounds and sessions are programmed by the festival for those pubs which support the festival, whereas at Bridgnorth the "fringe" seemed to be amplified booked artists performing in pubs.


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: The Barden of England
Date: 21 Jun 06 - 09:25 AM

Thanks for the comliment Don, it's appreciated as is your help when I'm refreshing. As Carol mentioned it's not 'work' is it, it's fun and you do get to hear some brilliant playing and singing as a bonus.
John Barden


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Les from Hull
Date: 21 Jun 06 - 10:04 AM

I think that the best main festival/fringe arrangement happens at Whitby Moor and Coast Festival and at Hull Shanty Festival where the main festival not only provides an 'organiser' for a free pub singaround, but also sends the booked festival guests in to do 10-15 minute spots every 30 minutes or so. So not only do us impecunious fringe singers get to have a go ourselves but we get to hear quality stuff from 'proper' artists. Hopefully the artists get to sell a few extra CDs and listeners who want to hear more from particular artists may fork out for a concert featuring them.

Does this happen anywhere else?


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Carol
Date: 21 Jun 06 - 10:18 AM

Hi Les
10 - 15 minutes every 30 minutes or so? Doesn't leave much time for the poor floor singer who's been sat there for for a couple of hours!
Seriously I much prefer that if an artist wants to come into a SAR then they get their turn the same as everyone else perfect example was Si Khan the other evening. I usually manage to avoid the type with pre-booked guests spots, to be honest that's not why I go to SARs it's to listen to everyone and to join in myself.


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Sir Roger de Beverley
Date: 21 Jun 06 - 11:53 AM

Since my original post where I used the word "compering" I have been thinking that it wasn't the right word for what we do. Perhaps "hosting" would fit the bill better

R


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Sir Roger de Beverley
Date: 21 Jun 06 - 11:57 AM

Speaking of which:

I will be hosting our regular Sunday session the The Sun this Sunday from 4pm

R


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: The Shambles
Date: 21 Jun 06 - 12:45 PM

This has moved to one of my pet subjects. The use of pubs for perfomances by booked festival acts. There are better venues for such things that do not affect informal music making.

For pubs are the ideal place for informal music making at festivals but where an official festival act is using these - informal festival music making is inhibited and prevented in the limited number of suitable venues available.


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Carol
Date: 21 Jun 06 - 12:59 PM

Sorry to miss your Sunday session Roger but will be at the Four Fools festival this weeekend.
Couldn't agree more with The Shambles comments - I was a bit wary of remarking about festival organisers sending 'artists' out to SARs to give them something to do but sometimes that does seem to be the case.


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Blowzabella
Date: 21 Jun 06 - 01:32 PM

Roger - you say that there are better venues than pubs for booked acts. What do you suggest these are?

If a festival wants to have a range of different venues - from large, formal concerts, to smaller, more intimate sets, pubs are ideal. Furthermore, the building is already there and, often th elandlord will contribute to the festival budget by chipping in some dosh. Much better than having to hire a marquee and security!

I do know where you are 'coming from' but surely a pub can be 'shared' - the informal music making can either be in a different pub, or can take place at different times to the (only slightly) more formal events.


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Sir Roger de Beverley
Date: 21 Jun 06 - 01:39 PM

Not me - I didn't say that - you have confused postings

R


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Blowzabella
Date: 21 Jun 06 - 02:47 PM

Sorry Roger de beverley - I dodn't mean you, I meant Shambles - another Roger, I believe - apologies for confusion


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: oombanjo
Date: 21 Jun 06 - 03:06 PM

How much do you get out of a session / sing around. We all hear and learn new tunes and songs from other areas that we may never visit. At the fringe we have the chance to talk about these, and find the history, this may lead into friendships that may never have occurred. One of the things that I found touching at Beverley fringe this year was to see Si Khan and his wife sitting through the sing around he was not bothered that he was not called on to sing, he said that he listened to the new songs and loved the harmonies, especially Linda and Hazel "Hissyfit" and took their Cd home with him and when he was asked to sing was amazed when the whole session joined in on the chorus. To me these things are contributions not comparisons, as the thread seems to have developed into.


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: BB
Date: 21 Jun 06 - 03:55 PM

If one is booked at a festival and part of what you are asked to do is to run a singaround or session, it is not unreasonable to refer to it as 'work', especially if you are a full-time pro. artist. That doesn't mean that you don't find it enjoyable - none of us would be pro. artists if we didn't find what we do to earn our living anything but enjoyable. There are easier ways to make enough money to live on, believe me!

The other reason for referring to it as 'work' is your attitude towards the responsibility involved in running a good singaround. To my mind, it requires constant concentration, and the odd appropriate comment to keep the momentum going, or to lighten things when they get too doomy, or keep things positive when a performer is not too good for whatever reason - all sorts of things, but if you let your concentration slacken, it can mean the difference between everyone feeling they've had a good time, or - not! And as the host of a singaround, that's what my job is.

Personally, much as I love doing it, after a solid three and a half hours, I am pretty exhausted - and Carol and John, I'm really sorry if your work isn't as enjoyable and fun as mine is!

Barbara


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: The Shambles
Date: 21 Jun 06 - 04:43 PM

I do know where you are 'coming from' but surely a pub can be 'shared' - the informal music making can either be in a different pub, or can take place at different times to the (only slightly) more formal events.

There are church halls, town halls, arts centres, schools, marquees etc, where conventional festival performance is best suited and can take place without affecting informal pub sessions etc.

Pubs can be shared as you suggest but as so few people really understand the subtle differences between performance and social music making - the former is seen as more important and will always tend to take-over. Not because it is more important but because this is better understood, especially by organisers, licensees and other customers.

Some of my most frustrating festival experiences have been wandering about with lots of fellow musicians and singers who are more than willing to play, trying to find a pub where they can. When there was no shortage of pubs but all the suitable ones were already being used as venues for official festival performances. Or of having a really good informal pub gathering stopped or it nature altered to enable a scheduled performance to start.

There is room for all kinds of festival events I just think that wherever possible - organisers should try to ensure that one form is never prevented or inhibited to enable another. That enough suitable venues are found. And where these are limited and pubs are used for festival performances, that some are set aside to enable informal musical gatherings to take place.


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: s&r
Date: 21 Jun 06 - 04:50 PM

At Fylde we include the fringe as part of the Festival, and include hosts to run singarounds etc. Many booked artists will appear in free sessions: our hope is that people are encouraged to buy tickets. Where the Festival provides the nucleus for a fringe event there is a collecting tin to help Festival funds, but no pressure. Alan has always regarded the mission of the Festival to take music to the people.

Stu


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 21 Jun 06 - 05:20 PM

I reckon that fringe events are ones you can get into without buying a ticket - except that there is an overlap with programmed and hosted events where there is a collecting tin that you can contribute to if you want to (like the singarounds I run with Tim Edwards in the Theatre Bar at Sidmouth). Some of the best ones are the ones (like the Theatre Bar and the Anchor Middle Bar) where the booked guests drop in and sing just because they feel like it.

I am booked at Sidmouth and Chippenham to run singarounds and I agree with Barbara that it's work in the sense that you are responsible for making it work. I also get one or two booked artists programmed in to my Chippenham singarounds and they are generally great about being flexible about how much time they have so that everyone who wants to sing gets a chance to.

Kitty


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Blowzabella
Date: 21 Jun 06 - 06:17 PM

I understand what you are saying, Shambles, but I do still believe that some kinds of performance are more suited to a quiet, well-managed pub than anywhere else - I much prefer to sit in a small room , with a pint, and enjoy what is a rare experience these days - the opportunity to see a professional performer - one who has honed skills in presentation, who tells me about the background to the song or tune I am about to hear - who has the panache to know how to handle an audience etc - and to hear that in a small, relaxed environment, without PA or theatre style seating.

Why? For the same reasons that you would prefer your sessions to be held there rather than in some soul-less room in a school or village hall (equally appropriate for sessions, as for informal concerts i would submit). It is a relaxed, comfortable environment.

Middlewich are fortunate in having the Boar's Head - a large Victorian, towncentre pub, with several rooms. At the weekend they were having a session in the bar, and two function rooms were hosting different types of informal concerts - one more raucous than the other. They all managed to co-exist, except for one spot where (if one was at the bar waiting to be served) two songs / tunes met, somewhat discordantly. With a bit of proper planning, they could have managed to get both rooms doing the same tune in the same key! (Joke)


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Soldier boy
Date: 21 Jun 06 - 10:30 PM

I've only just stumbled upon this thread but what a good thread!

All comments are thoughtful and well considered and it's a subject close to my heart.

The Holmfirth Festival of Folk this year was a perfect example of the "fringe" and the main concerts working together to produce the perfectly balanced festival. Previous organisers opted to let this years festival go 'fallow' this year but local volunteers stepped in to fill the gap and successfully involved the whole business and folk community. Local businesses (pubs,hotels,schools,eateries etc etc) sponsored the event and joined the organising committee and it worked!

* Pubs etc with fringe events and all the extra custom should put their hands in their pockets and sponsor the festival by taking out adverts in the festival programme or making other financial contributions or helping to organise the event. This is precisely what happened at this years Holmfirth Festival of Folk.

*Concert goers and the "fringe" are completely interdependant on each other in the food chain that makes the evolution of 'Folk' work.
Both parties benefit equally and you should not try to seperate them.

*Much young/new talent is spawned from the fringe sessions at festivals. Where else are they going to learn their craft?
Many find folk clubs etc too formal,stuffy and intimidating to them so they grow and develop their confidence in the seed-bed of the fringe community. This is where they 'catch the bug' and go on to be succesfull. Tommorows stars and headliners start here.
Very often they do need events that are hosted/compered to organise the session and provide feed-back and encouragement.

*The fringe does definately contribute to the financial well-being of a festival. Unless it's a self-contained green field site the whole community needs to be involved. With pubs, clubs, hotels, eateries, morris dancers, street entertainers, childrens events, workshops etc all included it's great to enthrall Joe public who will want to make a day of it and be sufficiently excited to see a concert or two as well. If nothing else it's smashing for the public to enjoy the atmosphere without having to pay out loads of cash.

I don't want to get contraversial BUT it seems to me that die hard concert goers in general are getting much older,take it all far too seriously, can be quite boring and drink very little.
So what's the future in that? There is little contribution to the host community and very little young blood being injected to make sure that the folk tradition in this country survives and prospers.

I rest my case.


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Folkiedave
Date: 22 Jun 06 - 01:54 AM

I may be getting old - possibly getting boring - but I do take exception to the remark that I drink very little. Please be kind enough to be more careful with your stereotypes.

And it is great to see young people getting their skills honed at sessions and fringe events as people are suggesting. And then.............? Surely at least some of them would want to appear on a stage in front of a bigger audience??

And I am happy to go along with people who suggest that the sessions at Bromayrd and Warwick are more widespread than I saw. But am I correct also in suggesting that these would be mainly season ticket holders, or people from the nearby area because camping at both those festivals is limited to season ticket holders?


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: The Shambles
Date: 22 Jun 06 - 02:07 AM

Why? For the same reasons that you would prefer your sessions to be held there rather than in some soul-less room in a school or village hall (equally appropriate for sessions, as for informal concerts i would submit). It is a relaxed, comfortable environment.

The points are valid but these are not the reasons why I would prefer sessions to be held in pubs. There are many venues (most in fact) that do lack an atmosphere of their own but the challenge is for the performer to create one in such venues where the audience that has decided to turn up (and pay) to see them perform.

The difference that has to be recognised is that pubs are firstly and mainly places that are open to the public and where no customer has any more right than the next. The conventional paid performance in the main body of pubs, that we see now mainly on week-ends, is a fairly new and to my mind, not a totally successful move. It often results in regular customers not attending on the nights when the pubs become crowded with strangers and (often loud) music that may not to their taste.

As such, any organised festival performance in pubs (loud or not) is intrusive to the extent that should a pub customer not like the performance the onus is on them to leave and find somewhere that does suit. Or stay and not really understand or add to any folk performer who may be trying to create an atmosphere with an audience who have not all decided to be there to see them perform.


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Blowzabella
Date: 22 Jun 06 - 03:33 AM

I think we're trying to describe apples and pears here, Shambles - what you have pictured in your mind and what I have pictured in mine are quite different.

My picture is something akin to having Tim Laycock / Dave Webber & Anni Fentiman / Cyril Tawney (when he was with us) playing to a small but attentive audience in a side or small function room, with no PA. People probably seeing them for free and able to come and go as they wish - between songs but preferably not during them. That is the sort of festival 'concert' I think fits in pubs - or an afternoon or evening with performers of that class and type scheduled at different times. Many traditional performers much prefer to perform completely acoustically and I, fo rone, much prefer to see them perform that way. It leads to a real intimacy - as soon as you put a mike stand in front of a performer, there is a certain barrier between them and the audience. It takes away, to an extent, the sense of sharing. I, personally, think that is a great shame and why I think I will always prefer the smaller gig (more akin to a folk club size audience) than a large concert stage in a marquee, with hundreds and hundreds of people.


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Carol
Date: 22 Jun 06 - 03:39 AM

Being a 'lady of leisure' - hope that is the correct term - these days, I would enjoy being asked to run/host any singaround and would enjoy it, although I have run some that have been something of a challenge! I do not think of it as work but would agree that a SAR can be balanced etc. by the way it's run. On the other hand a lot of SARs would run themselves quite happily.
I get annoyed when people that come into SARs late are asked to sing almost as they arrive, when people have been sat in the SAR for 2/3 hours and have still only sang one song - and then when artists come in they are then asked to do 3/4 or sometimes even 5 songs!!!
I've organised a few 'song weekends' over the years and always try to ring the changes in asking people to run sessions as no-one's indispensable!!


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: The Shambles
Date: 22 Jun 06 - 05:33 AM

My picture is something akin to having Tim Laycock / Dave Webber & Anni Fentiman / Cyril Tawney (when he was with us) playing to a small but attentive audience in a side or small function room, with no PA. People probably seeing them for free and able to come and go as they wish - between songs but preferably not during them. That is the sort of festival 'concert' I think fits in pubs - or an afternoon or evening with performers of that class and type scheduled at different times.

Certainly many of our larger pubs/hotels do have side rooms that would enable the sort of affair that you describe to take place without affecting affecting any other informal gathering and where many different types of informal music making could take place at the same time. There are many examples of that. So that is fine, I am only concerned where one form of music making (in an unsuitable venue) is preventing another (more suited to the venue).

For many of our small pubs only have one area available for any form of music making. My view is that where possible during festivals such places should be made available for informal music making and where any festival guests who may wish to join in with what is taking place, can be made as welcome to do so as any other participant.


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Dave Roberts
Date: 22 Jun 06 - 06:23 AM

In my opinion Middlewich Folk and Boat Festival would benefit from some 'true' fringe events - i.e. events which are not organised by the festival's committee and are independent of it. And I speak as one of the 'founder members' of the festival.


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Mo the caller
Date: 22 Jun 06 - 07:25 AM

I'm with Shambles in having reservations about amplified acts in pubs. The one that worked well at Middlewich was the marquee (stage) OUTSIDE the pub by the canal. Enjoyed by customers in the pub garden, and passers-by sat on the grass on the towpath across the canal.

Sorry Soldier boy, you will get old too. And I see nothing wrong with drinking little (the White Horse did a better mug of tea than the Boar's Head)


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: GUEST,MC Fat
Date: 22 Jun 06 - 07:25 AM

Interesting how and where this discussion has developed. Bromyard does still have some great fringe events as mentioned my fave being the Rose and Lion wonderfull beer in a classic pub. Warwick which for years has been my favourite Fest has struggled to find a singaround venue certainly since the Oddfellows closed. There just doesn't seem to be the right pubs there and when one becomes available it sometimes gets nabbed for an official event because of the lack of venues in the town.


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 22 Jun 06 - 08:22 AM

Seeing professionals at SARs does not always mean their being booked to attend on a formal basis.

Two cases in point:-

Sidmouth 2005 saw Duncan McFarlane taking a turn at the Dukes open mike sessions...... a pure delight.

At the Bedford in 2004, on the Monday afternoon, Dougie McLean dropped in and sang all the choruses with us for over two hours. When he was invited to take a turn, he borrowed a violin and treated us to ten minutes of virtuoso action. He heard me sing a couple of my own songs, and before leaving, bought a copy of MY CD (I was stunned).

These are just two examples of what is a very regular occurrence at sessions around the town.

The point is that, far from detracting from the proceedings, informal visits can make a good session great, and who knows, one might hear one's own creation being given the pro treatment at some time. You can bet I gave Dougie permission to use anything of mine that took his fancy. What a boost for a local folkie!

Don T.


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Snuffy
Date: 22 Jun 06 - 10:02 AM

Booked artists joining in SARs and taking their turn with everyone else is a wonderful bonus which I'm sure all participants would appreciate.

Some booked artists make excellent SAR hosts, but many are rubbish at it.

Booked artists "taking over" a SAR for a 30 minute spot is totally against the spirit of singarounds, and pisses lots of people off. If I want to see a "spot" I'll go to a concert: if I deliberately choose to go to a non-concert event instead, I feel I'm being swindled if I then have a "turn" forced upon me.


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Sir Roger de Beverley
Date: 22 Jun 06 - 12:15 PM

I'm really glad that I started this thread. Thanks to all who have contributed so far - the quality of the discussion is as high as any that I have read on Mudcat or anywhere else.

Clearly we have different experiences that have shaped our varying views but the opinions have been expressed in such a non-confrontational and educational way that the whole thing is beginning to feel like a fringe event in itself!

More - please

Roger


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Carol
Date: 22 Jun 06 - 01:11 PM

Interesting isn't it Roger? I'm totally with Snuffy regarding booked guests spots in SARs but didn't like to be so forthright - roll on Snuffy you're braver than I.


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: The Shambles
Date: 22 Jun 06 - 01:16 PM

If I want to see a "spot" I'll go to a concert: if I deliberately choose to go to a non-concert event instead, I feel I'm being swindled if I then have a "turn" forced upon me.

I suggest that is how a lot of people think about festival gigs in pubs and applies to both festival attendees and locals.

It is not as if an experienced performer could not turn the customers who just happened to be there into an apprecative audience and that some may welcome the challenge. It is just a little unfair on them and others when this happens.


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Fidjit
Date: 22 Jun 06 - 02:08 PM

Well said Snuffy. (Keep eating those bacon rolls).
One song a turn is enough. Get in the queue, like the rest of us.
Chas


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: oombanjo
Date: 22 Jun 06 - 02:52 PM

Young up and comings! JIM amongst the haze do you remember back to 93 & 94. Last nights fun, Denny and I and Dave were trotting around the pubs in Beverley playing on the fringe, and they doing the odd spots at the folk clubs, they signed on to the festivals the following year after being recommended all who saw their talent. 96 Denny phoned me and asked for a job for the summer as he was undecided which profession to follow, Thankfully, and although he proved to put as much work into work, as he does his music, he chose the latter. I am sure that there are many many more who started this way. And lets hope it continues.


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: BB
Date: 22 Jun 06 - 03:12 PM

There is a difference between someone being booked to *run* a singaround, and professional artists coming in and taking more than their fair share of the singing time. If I'm running one or just calling in to one, I take my turn like anyone else. If I have other booked artists who have been booked to come in to the singaround, they get maybe two songs to everyone else's one, with a maximum of six during the session (depending on how long the session is). If a booked artist calls into the singaround I'm running, and I know they've been working elsewhere earlier, then I *may* ask them to contribute a song because I know they've been unable to get there for the whole session.

"Some booked artists make excellent SAR hosts, but many are rubbish at it." I agree, Snuffy, and I wish more festival organisers would recognize that fact, rather than thinking that anyone can run one.

"I get annoyed when people that come into SARs late are asked to sing almost as they arrive, when people have been sat in the SAR for 2/3 hours and have still only sang one song." I agree in principle, Carol, but perceptions are not always accurate. If an event is being run as a 'singaround', rather than a 'sing', then personally I am strict about the 'singaround' bit, and will stick to the 'round the room' format. This may mean that someone will sing almost as soon as they arrive, if that's where we've got to in the circle, but there are not many singarounds which will go round for 2-3 hours and in which people will not get their fair share. Now there are situations where people will abuse this and, when coming in part way through the evening, make sure they sit just in advance of where we've got to in the circle, but equally some lose out if they don't know where we've got to, and sit just behind that critical point, and therefore, if they come in late, end up not singing at all! As the host, I've been abused for both those situations - in which case, I'm inclined to mentally shrug my shoulders and decide that I just can't win! If in either of those situations, you break the circle to leave someone out or to fit someone in, you're still going to be in the wrong with someone, so I just stay strict and hopefully most people see it as fair.

Barbara


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Les from Hull
Date: 22 Jun 06 - 03:45 PM

The point I made earlier about booked festival guests in singarounds referred to them being booked to do 2 or 3 song sets, with everyone knowing that's what happens because it's in the programme. Don't forget that these events include plenty of people who are just there to listen.

If festival guests attend a fringe singaround, they should know enough to take their turn, as did Si Kahn at the Beverley Friday night singaround Maggie and I ran.

I think there will be problems if you stick to a strict round the room order in a big singaround. You shouldn't let someone sing as soon as they come into a room if there are people who have been waiting for 2 hours. I've been in singarounds where that has happened and it does lead to bad feeling. But there have been other threads about running singarounds.


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: BB
Date: 22 Jun 06 - 03:54 PM

I consider my hand slapped with that last comment, Les. I simply responded to earlier comments, but perhaps at too much length.

Barbara


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Carol
Date: 23 Jun 06 - 04:01 AM

I foten go to singarounds that take at least 2 hours to go around, it's not unusual   - to be loved by anyone ----


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Carol
Date: 23 Jun 06 - 04:02 AM

Sorry that should read often, don't know what foten is but I'm sure it'll mean something


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: jojofolkagogo
Date: 23 Jun 06 - 08:45 AM

Well my twopennarth ...

HURRAH FOR FRINGE !!!

If fringe takes away from main events, what does that say about the main events? Are they no good ? too expensive? (or both!)

The point made early on in this thread about the JO PUBLIC (Hey, dont take my name in vain!!) getting to see stuff is extremely valid ...
if there was absolutely NOTHING going on in the town no-one who just passes by would ever find out that there is actually a FESTIVAL hapening - so I think it VERY important that there is a fringe with public dance displays etc going on, as this encourages Jo Public to find out about folk (which they may never have heard/seen before !).

Cleethorpes a case in point. The venue was "closed" to everyone except ticket holders, who could not even go in to see the musical instruments which were up for sale ... how does the holder of that stall feel about that I wonder? Surey they would wish all and everyone to see their wares ...

HURRAH FOR FRINGE !!

jO-jO


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Snuffy
Date: 23 Jun 06 - 09:01 AM

Rule 1 should be that everybody who was there from the start gets a turn in preference to later arrivals.

But it can be very difficult with singarounds at festivals, especially where the time is strictly limited. I've seen plenty where you don't get once round in 3 hours. A knowledgeable host should be able to spot (and not call) those who've been to another simultaneous SAR, had a turn and then come to yours for a second helping.

I've no sympathy for artists who'll turn up, expect to sing immediately and then leave, but I think it's fair that artists (and stewards and even morris dancers) should be moved up the order a bit if they are booked to be elsewhere soon, so long as they have spent a reasonable time in the SAR waiting their turn with everybody else.


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 23 Jun 06 - 10:23 AM

Evrybody seems to interpreting 'fringe' as Singarounds, which are quite fun but they are of necessity mixed allsorts. Two or three crap floorsingers in a row can send everybody out, desperate to inspect the corn dollies.

I really enjoyed the songwriting workshops and celtic style rhthym guitar seminars at Sheffield, Ken Nicol's guitar workshop at Fylde, and derek brimstone, Bob Fox and Jez Hall's Meet the artist sessions at Weymouth - all of which were non particpatory.

These little intimate gatherings are much more fun than the big concerts. I suppose they are extra work for the artists however. I didn't really ask them if they felt they were being imposed upon - having to do more than their regular gig.


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Jun 06 - 10:46 AM

I wouldn't count workshops as 'fringe' - or indeed, anything else which was organised as a part of the Festival. I think a Festival is made up of much more than concerts - it includes outdoor dance, indoor dance, organised singarounds, organised particpatory musicians sessions, tents with crafts in + anything else the organisers have laid on.

The fringe is anything above and beyond that which is taking place in similar vein, I suppose, to complement the organised activities - presumably 'started' rather than organised by festival attenders or residents of the locale.

If artists are involved in Meet the artist sessions, it will (usually) all have been discussed and arranged - either directly with the artist, or via their agent - before the event. I wouldn't consider these to be 'fringe' - just events of a smaller, more intimate nature.


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: GUEST,Blowzabella at work
Date: 23 Jun 06 - 10:46 AM

sorry - that was me


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: GUEST,MikeofNorthumbria (off base)
Date: 23 Jun 06 - 11:04 AM

Hi Folks,

Two brief observations:

1) I love festival fringe events. They can be variable in quality, but at their best they can do more to delight, surprise and enlighten the unwary listener than some of the polished but predictable offerings on the official programme.

2) A method of ensuring relative equity in singarounds has been tried at Whitby in the past. A volunteer at the door gives out raffle or cloakroom tickets to all entrants who wish to sing. The MC then calls the numbers in strict rotation.

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: The Shambles
Date: 23 Jun 06 - 05:20 PM

2) A method of ensuring relative equity in singarounds has been tried at Whitby in the past. A volunteer at the door gives out raffle or cloakroom tickets to all entrants who wish to sing. The MC then calls the numbers in strict rotation.

From what I have seen at festivals, the best way to not only ensure you get to sing and often ensure that you are the only one who does, is not to attend singarounds or events set up for singing at all, but to insist on being the one to inflict songs on those who are gathered quite happily to play at what are set up to be tune sessions.


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Blowzabella
Date: 23 Jun 06 - 10:26 PM

Must admit, I have never understood why a session can't accommodate both singing and tunes - I don't generally go to eithe, so have no personal interest - it just astonishes me that musicians wouldn't want to hear a song and singers might like tunes...obviously not???


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: The Shambles
Date: 24 Jun 06 - 02:17 AM

Must admit, I have never understood why a session can't accommodate both singing and tunes - I don't generally go to eithe, so have no personal interest - it just astonishes me that musicians wouldn't want to hear a song and singers might like tunes...obviously not???

You may like jam and garlic bread but possibly not enjoy eating a sandwich made from them both. There are subtle but vital distinctions between those informal gatherings for song and those for tunes. As both a singer and a keen tune session participant - perhaps I could try and offer an explanation?

Singarounds etc are essentially more like conventional performance in that although there may be opportunities for everyone to join in with chorus songs - they require some form of audience to sing to. Even when this audience is mainly mainly made-up of those waiting for their turn to sing or has not gathered for that purpose.

Tune sessions (the best ones anyway) enable any musician who wants to - to join in with every tune played and the participants do not require any form of audience (or songs) in order for the event to be thought a success.

It is pretty obvous from this thread that the main problem participants find with informal singarounds etc - is a question of fairness and the time spent waiting for one's tune to sing. In a tune session, this is not an issue as - if you know the tune - you are welcome or expected to join in. You do expect to have to wait at all - unless it is just trying to get in and get a seat.

At tune sessions - the only time you don't play is when you don't know or can't add anything to the tune being played and of course natural breaks. Or when someone feels the session needs a song and additionally feels that they (out of all those present who could sing but choose not to) are the one that must provide it (and the next song).

This rudeness and presumption effectivly turns all the participants into an audience and often with the added irony of those who have talked and shouted through most of the tunes, 'shushing' loudly, so that the univited singer can be heard. This irony is added to when the singer (out of a combination of reasons) always obtains a loud round of applause, and is encouraged to sing again. This also encourages others to insist on also giving the session another song and so on. Even one song inflicted like this is often enough to ruin any natural momentum that has been built up and often kills the session altogether.

Mixed sessions do occur and some of my best festival memories are of some of those, but when an informal gathering is set up and working for either songs or tunes - perhaps it is better to fit in and leave it at that and not try to change them - mainly just to satisfy one's ego.?


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Mo the caller
Date: 24 Jun 06 - 04:45 AM

Mixed sessions with all the musicians playing along with the song can be nice.
Before I started going to sessions I thought, from what I'd read, that they were tunes only, but around here (Cheshire) they are often a mixture.
This is good for beginner musicians as the songs are often easier to play by ear. And the singer often allows a musical 'take it away' interlude. OTOH they are in a key that suits the singers voice (or somewhere in between that an unaccompanied singer starts in).
But too many guitars playing songs of the 60s, or Country & Western can swamp a session.


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Les from Hull
Date: 24 Jun 06 - 08:07 AM

Mixed sessions are my favourite too, Mo. I'm happiest accompanying songs and singing harmonies, although quite content with tunes and unaccompanied song. We get that sort of session over in Beverley. Often fringe sessions are singing only or tunes only, and that's fine if that's what people want.

Ideally what you want is tune players who sing a bit, and who know how to accompany songs (other than by just playing the tune the singer has). And not the kind of players who insist in accompanying everything by dragging it into an adjacent key. And if the songs can be interspersed with a neat set of tunes, that's great.


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: BB
Date: 24 Jun 06 - 11:44 AM

I very much enjoy listening to tunes in a mixed session, not necessarily with other musicians joining in - to my mind, in an 'anything-around' that should be at the discretion of the musician whose turn it is. But likewise, a song shouldn't be accompanied unless the singer wants it to be so, as adding an accompaniment can significantly change the style in which a song is sung, unless one has *very* sensitive accompanists, or a very confident singer who is prepared to battle with those who wish to play along. But it's good to listen to players, as well as singers, and that in itself can be a new experience for some musicians!

Barbara


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: The Shambles
Date: 24 Jun 06 - 06:49 PM

The thread seems to have moved away a bit.

My points are less concerned with any regular events but with the sessions, singarounds and open mics - that happen as part of a festival (and more often than not involve those who will only ever make music together at these festivals).

My concern is the best way of involving all festival attendees in finding the most effective and satisfying ways of making informal music together and the best use of available venues for this. It is not to try and make a case for one being more valuable than another.

Probably the best way to do this is to first try and reach some understanding of the various and different requirements for these temporary affairs and to try and ensure that none are disadvantaged by others, mainly through a lack of knowledge of these different requirements.


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 24 Jun 06 - 07:33 PM

Sorry to keep injecting comment about that festival (Sidmouth) which seems to have acquired a sort of superstitious "don't mention the Scottish Play by name" quality, but it does seem to answer the needs of the whole gamut of recent posters.

Sessions and singarounds:-

1 The Radway. Tune sessions where almost all who attend realise that playing a guitar to accompany a song is NOT the way to go.

2. The Anchor A singers only venue, where guitars are welcome only as footrests. The famous Middle Bar singaround.

3. The New Tavern A singaround session venue, with solo musicians performing tunes, but few, if any, groups playing tune sets. Very well hosted by Leadfingers and friends.

4. The Volunteer. A first night of the festival singaround where any kind of singing or playing is equally welcome. Run in singaround style by, among others, the lovely MBS Lynne.

5 The Festival Folk Club In 2005 at the Arts Centre (don't know yet about this year). Run as a folk club with floor spots and guest artists.

6 The Swan Mixed tune and song sessions in two covered garden areas, and a virtually nonstop tunes session in the bar area. Run on the "jump in when they stop to breathe" principle.

7 The Bedford Hotel front bar Another mixed session run, as I have said before, by the formidable (musically) John Barden, also on the jump in format.

8 Dukes Wine Bar An open mike venue, where all are welcome to sign in and do a two or three song spot.

In all of the above it is very rare for anyone to either perform outside the venue format, or try to hog the proceedings in the jump in sessions. In fact, it is necessary sometimes for the session host to remind a performer that he/she hasn't been heard from for too long.

Add to those the Black Horse, The Dove, and probably others whose format I don't know (well you only have a week there), and it is obvious that you can find exactly what suits your taste.

Every year I visit all of the first eight according to the mood of the moment, and enjoy them equally. This year I plan to try the others as well........busy, busy!

Don T.


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Subject: RE: What a fringe contributes to a festival
From: Mo the caller
Date: 25 Jun 06 - 04:48 AM

That brings me back to a perennial plea. Festival organisers, Please,please,please give plenty of information in your programme so that we don't waste our time going to 'Childe Ballads' when we wanted 'children's songs' or 'NW clog' and finding Morris when we wanted stepping. With so much going on it wastes our time and can spoil an event for the majority. I remember an occasion at Bromyard when one woman was almost in tears because she didn't understand the caller - what could the caller do, the room was full of experienced dancers so although she slowed down and explained carefully she was still calling hard dances.
As for the fringe I suppose it's up to people to fit in with what's happening.


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