Despite the various locations this for me is developing into a very interesting thread and some important points are being raised. Until relatively recently I had not been into an English Folk club for many years. I had been put off by a lack of excitement, a sense of staleness, and dare I say it, a sense that songs had to be done in a certain way, otherwise they weren't "folk."
My interest in this genre of music was revived when I ended up living in the Highlands of Scotland, where Celtic and Gaelic Music were thriving. (Some might say sh*t kicking) It was like being hit by 1000 volts. It was vibrant, new, inventive exciting, but still firmly rooted in a tradition going back a thousand years, (and now scattered over the globe.) I've no doubt that some south of the border would not consider it as folk music. To them I would say surely a tradition is a living and continually developing thing. It is about people and their sense of identity. It's got nothing to do with 'preserving' anything, the older ways of doing songs serve as a reference point for new generations and ideas. The most glorious thing about this apparent renaissance is that it is led by young musicians, who very obviously 'connect' to their heritage. I'm sure some here might be appalled that dancing, drinking, socialising, and very loud amplification are all part of the mix, as much as unaccompanied songs. (Why should folk music stop being folk music if it is amplified?)
I'm off to Celtic Connections in January. If anyone's interest in "folk" music is on the wane, I recommend a trip to Glasgow. If you don't come back on a high then you're probably brain dead.
I attach a link on the subject of "traditional and Gaelic music" from a letter sent to the West Highland Free Press. It seems to me to address some of the issues raised here. (Yes they even discuss traditional music in the papers up there!) The music is now seen and valued differently as a result of revived interest.. The Scottish Arts Council is sponsoring Capercaillie's tour of the Highlands and Islands this coming Spring. They certainly seem to have got something right and they're not sitting back on their laurels!.
I feel this is a good and very worthwhile discussion, and one I'm sure concerns quite a number of us that value the music. What lured me back to an English club? Someone I'd worked with some years back turned up as guest at a local club, and I came across this bunch people singing some bloody good songs. El Greco was one of them.
If you asked me what English folk clubs need, it would be some passion, anger, and a dollop of radicalism. The things many of us had when we were younger and that the music provided an expression and an outlet for. I suspect many youngsters view folk music today much as I used to view the music hall songs my grand parents used to sing. Wouldn't be seen dead…..