I'm 24, have been attending traditional music events (mostly in the U.S., but occasionally abroad) since age 18, and am used to being the only person in the room with their original hair color. Here are some quick thoughts about how I decide to attend an event (and keep coming back) when I know everyone else in attendance will have a few decades on me:
- Is the level of artistry likely to be high? This is not necessarily the same as skilled musicianship. I want to hear versions of traditional songs that demonstrate that the singer has spent time contemplating the material but still holds to traditional styles and conventions. (Guitars, be gone!) I'd much rather hear a unique version of a song sung by a less able singer than someone with considerable talent regurgitating the work of another artist note for note.
- Am I interested in the repertoire on display? I want to hear old songs in old styles. I don't want to hear the same songs every month, the work of singer-songwriters, people's own compositions, versions of songs made popular by well-known recording artists, or "It's not a folk song, but . . ."
- Are the regulars friendly? I don't want to be preached at about the way things used to be or should be done, but nor do I want my age to cause me to be treated like a precious commodity. I'm probably at your event because we like the same things; let's talk about them like you would with anyone else.
- Can I get a beer there? I want to toss back a pint or two while listening/mingling/singing; dry events at venues like church halls are considerably less attractive.
If the answer to some of these questions is affirmative, I don't really care how old anyone else in the room is. My personal tastes are probably *not* representative (re: musicianship v. artistry; concerns about traditionalism), though, so take some of the above with a grain of salt.
Overall, members of my generation *do* like traditional music. With some exceptions (see Youth Traditional Song Weekend, which by the way, is a blast), I think we are more likely to consume or play it in less structured settings (for instance, swapping songs or jamming with friends over dinner at someone's house). I'm not an instrumentalist, so this is only a hunch, but I'd also guess that we generally prefer playing tunes to singing songs, which is perhaps an activity best enjoyed in more intimate settings.