The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #77143   Message #1378595
Posted By: GUEST,Mikeof Northumbria (Off Base)
13-Jan-05 - 07:18 PM
Thread Name: Folk music in England.
Subject: RE: Folk music in England.
Hi Everybody,

Sidewinder's last posting suggested another angle on the problem we're all struggling with. Bear with me for a while, and I'll try to explain.

There are lots of music clubs around the country besides the folk ones we all know and love. For example, there are a number of thriving classical guitar societies, who put on concerts by professional performers whenever they can afford it. And when they can't afford it, members who can play well enough have to contribute something to the evening when their turn comes around.

Now suppose that somebody turns up to an open evening at their local classical guitar society with a Strat and a Marshal stack, and says "When my turn comes around, I'd like to do a 20 minute improvisation on 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'. With the volume turned up to 11."   My guess is that quite a lot of the regular members would say "Hang about – this isn't what we signed up for! We'd prefer a Bach chaconne, a Roderigo fantasia, or a Dowland galliard"

The Fender-wielding Nirvana fan might then say: "But this is the music I love, and I can't find anywhere else to play it." Some club members might feel sympathetic – but a majority would probably say: "Hard luck – we were here first. Go and find a venue of your own." Does this situation sound familiar?

The fundamental problem is that there are a lot of young performers who are unable to find a suitable platform where they can strut their stuff. So, as a second best, they go to their local folk club and try to get a hearing there. At clubs where the audience is fairly broad-minded, they may be welcomed into the family. (This really does happen sometimes – I have witnessed it). But if most of the club's regular members have a fairly rigid definition of "folk", any such newcomers will probably get a frosty reception.

To solve this problem, we don't need to compel all the traditional folk clubs to open their doors – and their hearts - to fiery young guitar-slingers or angst-ridden young poets. What we do need are more open-mike venues, where budding non-folk performers can practice their stagecraft, and start building up a following. Then the folk clubs that don't want to change can be left to enjoy "their" music in peace - just like the George Formby Appreciation Society, the Vera Lynn Fan Club, the Friends of Django Reinhardt, Dixieland Jazz Lovers Anonymous, or any other group of enthusisasts.

And what of the folk clubs that are open to change? Well, they too be allowed to decide for themselves what they want to listen to, without being accused of bigotry, cronyism, or terminal naffness by non-folk musicians who are desperate to find an audience, and who see their local folk-club as the only available option.