Very interesting points above, by many posters, guests and otherwise.
Someone, sorry not to remember who, pointed out that if these clubs charge the public admission, they should ensure the entertainment is of a suitable standard to satisfy the paying punter. Which was exactly my problem with my couple of visits to Orpington Folk Club...had I been in someones sitting room, and one of the performers had picked up the accoustic and started to sing, I would have been appreciative of their talent and their capacity to share it. However if the same person took the floor infront of a fee paying audience, then they are as open to criticism as any performer. Is there another genre of music where the musicians are paid to practise infront of an audience in the local pub, and expect to be applauded for doing so. I know we all have to start somewhere, but I have never had my Sunday Lunchtime drink interrupted by someone murdering a violin.
I have found that by paying that bit extra to see quality acts at respected venues, I am rarely dissappointed. I know beforehand the calibre of the artist, and on the occasions that I have not heard of them, I am ressured by the fact that for a particular venue to give them a spot, means they have proved their worth somewhere.
It is a shame that this may mean some excellent unknowns will fall by the wayside, because others like myself will not take the chance on seeing unknowns? No answer to that one really except, the good usually come to the fore.
From the publican's point of view, the space they occupied in Orpington was not suitable for "regular drinkers"....ie upstairs, cold and lacking ventilation. So at least he gets some payment for the otherwise d actsunused floorspace.