The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #95092   Message #1846510
Posted By: Sailargh
29-Sep-06 - 10:11 PM
Thread Name: Compering/ MCing at a folk club
Subject: RE: Compering/ MCing at a folk club
Hullo All

I had read all posts in the thread however after I wrote the following I re-read before posting to find I'd made many of the same points, and at great length. I might just say, "Yup, agree with all of you". Ah well, here it is anyway. :{)
Our club is volunteer operated and we used to have the Host position as an open/free position on our volunteer sign-up sheet. Some seven or eight years ago we were seemingly stagnating or at least not feeling like we were offering the same kind of environment we had in the past.

Timings were off, evenings went too late for all to enjoy the Feature which typically followed an Open Stage. Potential performers were giving up attempting to sign up for the Open Stage due to monopolisation of the process.

Open faciliated discussions were conducted and an ad hoc committee was formed for a time to implement suggestions. A Program Committee was formed to back up the person booking acts. Several changes were made including the clarification of open-stage opportunities (to minimise monopolisation by a few) and to give the Host known freedom to arrange the open stage portion of the evening. The Host was removed from the open sign up sheet to allow for a period of familiarisation for those interested. A fundamental set of Club supported guidelines was briefed to any and all interested in hosting. I coordinated the hosting for about a year and half after that, doing a fair bit of actual hosting in the process.

Now anyone interested in hosting may receive a briefing by the current hosting coordinator and is added to the list. For a club where announcements and even the host's introduction receive applause we're at a good place.

The chief points in our hosting guidelines are:
-The Host is in charge and may modify the plan, break from the status quo and has the last say for producing the 'pot luck' of the Open Stage. We've had some good fun with this.
-This includes the arrangement of acts to minimise a clumping of like performers/styles/instruments, delivers variety.
-Timings are important. As a Sunday-evening club our folks need to get away for sleep before jobs or school and we don't want them to miss the Feature (or their bus after). We allow up to ten minutes for the usual Open Stage slot: one may yak on with introductions or tune one's instrument for nine minutes then have one minute left for other performing, do ten one minute songs, whatever. This removed the older 'three songs' which could really get out of hand. We're a weekly club so it's not really a burden to anyone.
-Announcements are important yet not more important than the performances: other folks doing them need to advise the Host and they're worked into the plan along with the acts. We avoid too many by directing attention to the usual table with flyers/handbills, the newsletter/web site or having the Host mention a few and directing the audiences' attention to individuals for further information.
-The Host _may_ play/sing with someone else or may fill up some performance time usefully if there are gaps however should definitely not monopolise the available time. They may lead (often do) a song on the 'Ad Hoc' ensemble which often kicks off the evening.
-Our Host should find out about the performers ahead of time for insight re programming and introductions. Not assume a person will perform in a style they may be known for and accidently use that in the intro, ask or at least listen to offered info.
-Don't encourage extra/false applause or accidentally/unfairly endorse someone just to be polite. Someone stunningly good? Go ahead, applaud yourself. It's obvious. Adding extra applause by extro-ing each act in a non-functional way is socially tiring and adds unecessarily to the time. Certainly thank each act. We have an excessively polite club as it is. :{)
-Further, since it's part of it, the Host applies the club policy of working in/giving priority to new performers (anyone who has not performed before) and performers from out of town. Others may sign up to the extent of the available time slots _if_ they haven't performed yet that calendar month _or_ if there are not enough acts to fill the available time slots prior to the Host's programming cut off.
-Be loud enough, be clear enough, be friendly, stay focused on why you're filling the position/time and why folks are there in front of you. Don't trip out on yourself.
-The audience is there to see/hear performers/performances not the host.
-Get off the stage.

There's a bit more however that's more than enough. Most of the folks who host perform to some extent though not necessarily. Some host/produce folk radio shows on the local campus/community station.

Nuff and cheers, John