I'm glad to hear that there are still people around singing the longer ballads - I don't usually get to meet many of them! I absolutely love singing and hearing them (and await eagerly the arrival of the Child ballad reprints on my bookshelves!) but I'm often unsure about when it is appropriate to launch into a ballad. I've often been saddened at comments like 'oh no, not a long song' or (worst of all) 'don't you know anything cheerful?', which can be off-putting. But then I often notice the same people doing ten-minute long Al Stewart songs (why is this any different attention-span wise?) - in which case that's an ideal time to launch into 'Lord Thomas and Fair Ellender', come what may!
I will look forward to attending the ballad sessions at Whitby next year.