First let me say that I'm not implying any criticisms of the different ways that clubs are run. I'm interested in how people view the future of folk clubs.
I've made the point before that the old-school clubs are bound to die out eventually, if only by virtue of the fact that most of their audiences are aged around 50+ and there are few younger people coming into them. Please don't argue that your particular club is thriving- we've been there and I agree that there are many good clubs that have a full attendance every night. But it can only be a matter of 30 or so years before all the members have passed on. Where does that leave these clubs?
I've recently moved to live and work near London and have visited some London clubs. There is a phenomena in London that I haven't seen elsewhere. I went to a club called the Magpie's Nest in Islington and, whereas it was good in every other respect (nice room, good guest, good floor singers, good pa, etc.) the evening was marred by the behaviour of the audience, who spent the evening chatting and making and receiving mobile phone calls while the musicians were performing. I left before the end as the volume of the audience was louder than the band on stage.
The audience were all at the other end of the age spectrum- around 25 to 30-ish. It's obviously a successful club as it was packed out, and I see that the organisers have now opened two new venues, presumably (correct me if I'm wrong) on the same lines.
OK- first I'll let you know where I stand. If I go to a bar or restaurant I like to hear live music played as background. I can enjoy an informal pub session. But- if I pay to go to any kind of concert, whatever the music is, I like to be able to listen to it properly.
I can accept that in a club situation there may be a bit of background noise from people buying drinks, etc., but imo a noisy bar is not the environment for folk music- you can't appreciate the subtleties of a singer if someone is barking down a phone three feet away.
So this kind of club is not for me. Just my opinion- no offence intended. But what do the rest of us think? As it's dragging in an audience in large numbers, is it the way forward for UK folk music? What's the view of performers at this kind of venue?