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Playing your own stuff at folk clubs

GUEST,Dg 09 Sep 06 - 10:01 AM
Les from Hull 09 Sep 06 - 10:10 AM
GUEST,Jon 09 Sep 06 - 10:15 AM
The Shambles 09 Sep 06 - 10:24 AM
Dave Earl 09 Sep 06 - 10:56 AM
Alaska Mike 09 Sep 06 - 11:35 AM
Rusty Dobro 09 Sep 06 - 11:45 AM
Leadfingers 09 Sep 06 - 11:52 AM
Dave the Gnome 09 Sep 06 - 12:21 PM
Clinton Hammond 09 Sep 06 - 12:58 PM
The Sandman 09 Sep 06 - 01:07 PM
kendall 09 Sep 06 - 01:45 PM
Clinton Hammond 09 Sep 06 - 01:49 PM
The Sandman 09 Sep 06 - 01:55 PM
Richard Bridge 09 Sep 06 - 02:01 PM
GUEST,Tunesmith 09 Sep 06 - 02:05 PM
Clinton Hammond 09 Sep 06 - 02:05 PM
GUEST,Dg 09 Sep 06 - 02:06 PM
Clinton Hammond 09 Sep 06 - 02:11 PM
Richard Bridge 09 Sep 06 - 04:08 PM
Bert 09 Sep 06 - 04:15 PM
GUEST,Jon 09 Sep 06 - 04:30 PM
GUEST 09 Sep 06 - 04:31 PM
The Sandman 09 Sep 06 - 04:49 PM
GUEST 09 Sep 06 - 04:54 PM
kendall 09 Sep 06 - 05:05 PM
Scoville 09 Sep 06 - 05:38 PM
Santa 09 Sep 06 - 05:42 PM
JamesHenry 09 Sep 06 - 06:09 PM
Richard Bridge 09 Sep 06 - 06:15 PM
GUEST,Dg 09 Sep 06 - 06:37 PM
Richard Bridge 10 Sep 06 - 03:24 AM
Roughyed 10 Sep 06 - 05:46 AM
GUEST,Dg 10 Sep 06 - 06:19 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 10 Sep 06 - 06:40 AM
Leadfingers 10 Sep 06 - 07:01 AM
Duke 10 Sep 06 - 09:03 AM
kendall 10 Sep 06 - 12:41 PM
GUEST 10 Sep 06 - 03:45 PM
kendall 10 Sep 06 - 04:19 PM
Pistachio 10 Sep 06 - 06:01 PM
GUEST 10 Sep 06 - 06:21 PM
Charley Noble 10 Sep 06 - 09:33 PM
GUEST,Bruce Baillie 11 Sep 06 - 01:27 AM
alanabit 11 Sep 06 - 01:36 AM
Liz the Squeak 11 Sep 06 - 03:24 AM
The Villan 11 Sep 06 - 04:37 AM
Liz the Squeak 11 Sep 06 - 05:03 AM
GUEST 11 Sep 06 - 05:11 AM
The Shambles 11 Sep 06 - 01:29 PM
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Subject: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: GUEST,Dg
Date: 09 Sep 06 - 10:01 AM

Hello everyone,

I just thought I'd raise this and see what the consensus is...

How do you feel about people playing their own songs at folk clubs?

I really want to start playing in folk clubs, but am worried that by playing my own stuff (I also play a few trad. songs as well) I'll be looked down upon.

Any opinions would be much appreciated!

Cheers,

-Dg


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: Les from Hull
Date: 09 Sep 06 - 10:10 AM

Of course it all depends if your own stuff is any good!

Folk club audiences are normally very tolerant. But they have been subjected to lots of self indulgent 'singer-songwriters' over the years and might be quite wary. If you are doing a floor spot, try a traditional (or better-known) song first and then ask the audience if you can do one of your own songs (of course they'll say yes, they're a folk club audience). And then give them your best shot. You should get a reaction from this that should tell you whether your next song should be one of your own or not (if it's a three song spot). Also choose your clubs well. If a club is known only for its traditional outlook they may be against you to start with!

At the break or the end ask for criticism from the organiser or members of the audience.

Good luck!
Les


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 09 Sep 06 - 10:15 AM

I don't know how things are now but some clubs used to be more traditional that others...

Other that that, I'd say be sure that the stuff is original (see below) and that you could actualy imagine another person wanting to sing it.

I used to cringe when some people announced they were going to do their own song. I had a pretty good idea what it was coming - I've heard it 100s of times over with slight variation. It's nearly always sang in "tortured style", reflects their own woes inculing adolesence, girlfriends, etc. and it sends everyone else in the audience to sleep, that's if they haven't either gone to the bar or come in ready prepared with a razor blade.

If you can avoid that, I think all well and good, and good luck to you.


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: The Shambles
Date: 09 Sep 06 - 10:24 AM

Don't tell them but just keep on singing them.

If anyone should ask - tell them they are obscure songs by well-known writers.

If everyone starts singing along or wants to sing them also - you can then tell them they are original.


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: Dave Earl
Date: 09 Sep 06 - 10:56 AM

I disagrre Shambles.

Be honest and upfront about it all.

If you get heard and your stuff is worth listening to you know where you stand.


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: Alaska Mike
Date: 09 Sep 06 - 11:35 AM

I sing almost all original songs. My audiences seem to enjoy them and usually sing along with the choruses. Sometimes they even request their favorite of my originals. As stated above, make sure your songs are interesting to listen to and avoid the "navel gazing". Good luck,

Mike


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: Rusty Dobro
Date: 09 Sep 06 - 11:45 AM

I think it's probably safer to sing your own stuff, as witness the slice of autobiography below:



AS I WAS A-PRACTICING…                  Tune: 'Streets of Laredo'

As I was a-practicing 'Stairway to Heaven',
As I was a-practicing Zeppelin one day,
I turned up the volume to way past eleven,
Plugged in my old Fender and started to play.

Then forty bars in, I came to my senses,
Playing this stuff is a bit of a joke,
I ought to be out in a pub in the country,
I know I'll be happier playing some folk.

So I sold my electric and bought an acoustic,
Learned some new chords, C, G7, A,
I listened to records by Carthy and Swarbrick,
And found an old folk song I wanted to play.

So I learnt all the words of this famous old folk song,
All about fishermen out on the sea,
Then proudly I carried my nice new acoustic,
To a pub where the music was legendary.

I sat down by the fire with the rest of the players,
Suddenly everyone's glaring at me,
'You can't have that chair, it's reserved for old Charley,
He's sat there each night since 1903.'

So I sat down again at the end of the bar-room,
Waited my time to join in and play,
It got to my turn so I got up and started
My song about fishermen out in the bay.

I finished my song and I sat down to silence,
Somebody said, 'Can't you play it in A?
In the seventeenth verse you sang 'nets', we sing 'rigging',
And we play it slower 'cos we like it that way.'

And the chorus we play is a little bit different,
But ours is the right one, and yours is just wrong,
You can't come in here with your brand new acoustic,
And make such a mess of our favourite song.

Well I never went back to that pub in the country,
The pub where the music is precious and rare,
I found me a pub where there's squit on a Thursday,   
Where I can play rubbish, and I don't effing care.


(In Suffolk, 'squit' = 'rubbish')


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: Leadfingers
Date: 09 Sep 06 - 11:52 AM

Where did Ralph McTell , Tom Paxton and George Papavgeris start ?


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 09 Sep 06 - 12:21 PM

As long as you are entertaining, people will enjoy it. There are those songwriters who take everything far to seriously and think everyone else should do the same. OK - Your songs may be deep and meaningful to you but the audience may not understand them. Throw in a couple of lighter ones. Laugh at yourself once in a while and people will forgive you most things.

Good luck

DtG


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 09 Sep 06 - 12:58 PM

I'd MUCH rather hear people sing good original songs, that tired old trad stuff that's been done and done and done the exact same way for 100+ years....


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Sep 06 - 01:07 PM

to lead fingers, Ralph mctell started as r Ralph May, doing Blind Blake imitations, in fact i saw him do a support act to Joe stead at Downe folk club in 1964, Downe folk club used to have as their resident singer Jeff Dale a great twelve string guitarist and blues singer.


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: kendall
Date: 09 Sep 06 - 01:45 PM

Sandy Paton had a good description of the self indulgent pap, "Teenage philosophers moaning out their diary entries." Beautiful.


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 09 Sep 06 - 01:49 PM

"Teenage philosophers moaning out their diary entries."

Sounds like Mudcats own 'Little Hawk'.


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Sep 06 - 01:55 PM

little hawk seems very well informed and helpful.


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 09 Sep 06 - 02:01 PM

Just play the relevant songs a few times. If everyone is joining in the chorus, adn some are askig for them, then tell them they are yours. THat way you get an unbiased opinion.


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 09 Sep 06 - 02:05 PM

When folk club members start requesting your compositions - that's good, but when other performers - even floor singers - start "covering" your material - that's really good!!


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 09 Sep 06 - 02:05 PM

You're still new here C.B-eye...

You'll see soon enough, I'm sure, just what an omphaloskeptic whiner he really is


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: GUEST,Dg
Date: 09 Sep 06 - 02:06 PM

Hi again,

Thanks for the comments, really informing stuff.

"I'd MUCH rather hear people sing good original songs, that tired old trad stuff that's been done and done and done the exact same way for 100+ years...." - That's a great thing to hear.

I would say my stuff is quite bluesy, most people who hear my stuff compare it to Bert Jansch (or Nick Drake if they don't know Jansch) - and it is definately not "Teenage philosophers moaning out their diary entries"!!

Anyway, I'll sign up and get an account here at Mudcat, so I can PM people my myspace page and hopefully get some feedback.

Cheers everyone.

Also, the closest FC to me is the Islington Folk Club - does anyone know anything about this one?


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 09 Sep 06 - 02:11 PM

What Tunesmith said!!

"when other performers - even floor singers - start "covering" your material - that's really good!!"

Hear hear!

"so I can PM people my myspace page"
Why not just post it here for everyone to see?


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 09 Sep 06 - 04:08 PM

Jansch neat. Needle of Death, Dancing in the Sky, Route National 7.

Drake self indulgent schmaltz.


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: Bert
Date: 09 Sep 06 - 04:15 PM

I've always asked if it was alright.


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 09 Sep 06 - 04:30 PM

Teenage philosophers moaning out their diary entries

I love it, Kendall.


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Sep 06 - 04:31 PM

Many of the trad writers were teenage philosophers moaning out their diary entries. Funny how that works.

As to performing your own material, try it. See what happens.


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Sep 06 - 04:49 PM

TO GUEST DG            The Islington folk club, is that the one that Bob Davenport, is involved with or used to be. Well I have to be careful what I say. It is probably if it hasnt changed, got a high standard of residents etc.[ they may not be as good as you[[ I havent heard your material]]. But they may or may not be welcoming to you or your songs. if they are not I wouldnt take it personally. It is some years since I have been there, and it may be totally different now.
    But in their own idiosyncratic fashion they have very definite ideas about what they like to hear, and singer songwriters in the mould of Nick Drake, I dont think is their cup of tea.


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Sep 06 - 04:54 PM

DG: Visit the club first as an audience member. See the way it works. You'll know from that I'd think.


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: kendall
Date: 09 Sep 06 - 05:05 PM

Just be sensitive to the reaction of the audience. If you know how to read them, you will do ok.


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: Scoville
Date: 09 Sep 06 - 05:38 PM

I can even handle some teenage philosophers as long as they don't hog the singing time and whatever they moan, they moan with good tune and lyrics. Lots of good song ideas sunk by lack of melody and boring and/or contrived words. (Meant as a general statement, not aimed at Dg specifically.)

But, yeah, I agree--watch your audience response and go from there.


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: Santa
Date: 09 Sep 06 - 05:42 PM

Don't ask us, ask the organiser at your nearest club. Even if he says the club wouldn't like your stuff (blues-influenced? Ohhhhh dear) he will be able to point you in the direction of another club that will. But I'd have thought most clubs would be willing to give you at least one try, though you might have to wait for a singers' night, depending upon the club.


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: JamesHenry
Date: 09 Sep 06 - 06:09 PM

Rule No.1 Dg - never ask for a concensus.

Reading through the responses you have received, you have either been put off entirely as far as performing your original material in front of a folk audience is concearned or at best have decided to postpone the event until you have done some market research. It's you who has to have faith in your material. If you do then perform it and stand by the courage of your convictions. Listen to others' opinion of your work and learn from it.


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 09 Sep 06 - 06:15 PM

Play it: just do not pre-empt reactions by saying who it's by.


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: GUEST,Dg
Date: 09 Sep 06 - 06:37 PM

Thanks again for the responses.

Just a couple of things - I was intending to visit the Islington club as an audience member first, to check what it's like.

Also, after playing quite a few 'open mics' and various 'acoustic nights' (both paid and unpaid gigs), I've decided I would much prefer to play in a folk club environment (ie, without a PA and to an audience that has actually come along to listen to the music), which is why I asked here.

I haven't really been put off by any responses, as I mentioned - I do play a fair few traditional numbers and my stuff is certainly as 'folky' as anything I heard in the club tent at Cambridge this year.

I just wanted to guage what the overall view was - my first ever foray into playing live was at a folk club run by my Dad! But I haven't had much experiences of folk clubs for a few years.

Anyway, any more thoughts would be much appreciated, and this thread is certainly interesting for everyone's views...


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 10 Sep 06 - 03:24 AM

Oh, heck, don't assume Cambridge has been anything to do with folk music for decades!


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: Roughyed
Date: 10 Sep 06 - 05:46 AM

I was asked this year if I wrote my own songs and said that I did but I didn't think they were very good. The reply I got was "What the hell's it got to do with you?" Brilliant! Try them out. If the audience like them, great. If they don't, improve them. Most clubs I know are very tolerant and encourage new talent. If they don't, try another one or start your own. You'll find a musical home somewhere.


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: GUEST,Dg
Date: 10 Sep 06 - 06:19 AM

"Oh, heck, don't assume Cambridge has been anything to do with folk music for decades!"

I knew someone was going to say that!


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 10 Sep 06 - 06:40 AM

Whatever you do don't hog the stage with some 10 minute epic and then, just when everyone has lost the will to live, REPEAT THE LAST F...KING VERSE!!!!!

Seriously though, please get some honest feedback on what you're doing. For years I've attended singers' workshops and I am convinced that good, honest, positive criticism makes for better singers and, ultimately, more enjoyable nights at the folk club.


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: Leadfingers
Date: 10 Sep 06 - 07:01 AM

Dg - As Roughyed said , most clubs are welcoming though in my opiniuon sometimes a little too sympathetic to new performers ! But fortunately , the 'You cant bring a guitar in here , this is a FOLK club' attitude that some 'traddy' clubs used to have is now a thing of the past , and in my experience ANY form of acoustic music that is well presented will be at least listened to ! And if Islington is your nearest club , you have a fair few others within easy reach by Public Transport !


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: Duke
Date: 10 Sep 06 - 09:03 AM

Just play your music. A good song is a good song no matter who wrote it. I must admit that I find it hard to listen to youngsters singing about the woes of life before they have even lived it.


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: kendall
Date: 10 Sep 06 - 12:41 PM

The tired old traditional stuff is still around because it is good. The jury is still out on the new stuff. If it's good, it will survive. Otherwise it will die.


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Sep 06 - 03:45 PM

If they like your songs you will get great applause. If not, mild applause. When I performed, I did write many of the songs I sang. However, I always made room in various sets for some traditional music that I liked and owed homage to. Even when I reached a point in some places that people would come to hear the songs I'd written, I always found it important to include other folks' material and stuff from bygone eras. That included things the audience could sing along with, and on occasion do the whole song with only guitar input from me. Go sing your songs. You'll find out the way we all find this stuff out: experience. Best of it all to you.


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: kendall
Date: 10 Sep 06 - 04:19 PM

Just don't forget why they are called Folk Clubs.


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: Pistachio
Date: 10 Sep 06 - 06:01 PM

I attended a 'local' event last night and recognised some of the comments made above - if you sing your own song(s) it really helps if you consider a brief explanation of the song/story and remember to sing clearly so your audience can understand your words and the sentiment of the song. A nervous performer played his guitar well but unfortunately mumbled his way through words and made me jump when, at the end of the song he used the 'mike' to say a very loud 'thankyou'. Had he only used the mike and clear diction I'm sure I would have enjoyed his performance more. Audiences are 'forgiving' and recognise newcomers nerves but like Shimrod said above, don't make it go on and on.
Whatever you do Dg, enjoy your performances.


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Sep 06 - 06:21 PM

"Just don't forget why they are called Folk Clubs."

Kendall is right. There's folk in there and they want to be entertained and get away from many of their cares and worries for an evening. YOU can help them do that. If you do, they will become 'fans' of you and your music. And one more remark from me before I leave this thread: NO ONE ever died from a bad performance. They are part of the business, part of the learning and part of the process. GO DO. And above all, have fun.


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: Charley Noble
Date: 10 Sep 06 - 09:33 PM

I think Dg's gonna do just fine, and may even compose a song based on some of these posts.

Reconnaisance is essential, via Mudcat but best by direct observation (wearing dark trenchcoat with the collar turned up and your hat brim tilted low over your eyes).

ClintonH- ;~) Where can we get a chance to hear you sing?

Good luck!
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: GUEST,Bruce Baillie
Date: 11 Sep 06 - 01:27 AM

...From what I've seen of the folk circuit these days there aren't many people who don't do their own stuff!


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: alanabit
Date: 11 Sep 06 - 01:36 AM

I would have to plead guilty to most of the charges, which are laid against the beginner singer songwriters, when I started out. A bit of busking and several years of Irish Pubs cured me of those habits. I like to say: The audience is there to forget about their troubles -not to hear about yours. It has been my motto for some time. I think in folk clubs, essentially people want songs which add to the sum of stories and characters, whom they can hear about.
At one time, back in the seventies, there was very much a vogue for the personal, confessional song. I think that was more a pop music thing though. Oddly enough,although a lot of those writers felt they were being very original - and the critics did at the time too - they now all sound remarkably like the same self obsessed person.
Folk club audiences are usually very generous. If you are trying to improve, they will give their best to support you.


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 11 Sep 06 - 03:24 AM

The absolute best compliment is when someone steals your song and then it goes the rounds, coming back to you at another event where it gets introduced as a 'trad' song! (I'm not naming names but it happened!)

If Islington is on your beat, then why not go a little further along the Euston Rd and up to Cecil Sharp House on a Tuesday. Despite the stuffy image of the club derived over the years, it's not at all like that.

LTS


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: The Villan
Date: 11 Sep 06 - 04:37 AM

>.where it gets introduced as a 'trad' song! (I'm not naming names but it happened!)
<<

Like Fiddlers Green from John Conolly


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 11 Sep 06 - 05:03 AM

Or as Les Barker says, 'here's a traditional one what I wrote'....

LTS


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Sep 06 - 05:11 AM

There seems to be an attitude from some quarters that 'folk' songs emerged from the ether many centuries ago and were not actually written by anyone. That or they have been subject to the 'folk tradition', which to my mind means badly misheard by some member of the audience, who then rewrites the song and passes it off as his/her own. I sing 'trad arr.' as well as my own stuff. A good song is a good song, an old song isn't always....


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Subject: RE: Playing your own stuff at folk clubs
From: The Shambles
Date: 11 Sep 06 - 01:29 PM

The tired old traditional stuff is still around because it is good. The jury is still out on the new stuff. If it's good, it will survive. Otherwise it will die.

The bottom line is that if you don't sing your own songs - no one else is going to - are they? So if you don't sing them - they will die before they are born. Should there be any real chance that having gone to the trouble of writing them that you are not going to sing them.

The reason I suggest that you just sing the songs but don't tell the audience that they are your originals - is because that is about the only way you will ever get an honest opinion and be able to gauge the strength of the song.

For as demonstrated to an extent here - rather than encouraging it - there often appears to be a lot of jealousy involved towards new performers singing their own material. Sometimes to the extent that a good original song will meet with a less than honest and sometimes a hostile response - from those who perhaps may secretly wish that they had been able to write it. It is difficult to understand this approach but it would be foolish to pretend that it was not there.

To my mind, an honest introspective navel-gazing self-penned effort is often more entertaining than a safe but uninspired rendition of a well-tried classic. The main point to remember is that it is the song and the performance that is more important than boosting the ego of whoever may be singing it.


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