The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #106684   Message #2422526
Posted By: Acorn4
26-Aug-08 - 12:12 PM
Thread Name: Shrewsbury Folk Festival 2008
Subject: RE: Shrewsbury Folk Festival 2008

On the question of the open mike, I had the same experience as you the last two years as we were B and B ing some distance from Shrewsbury and I wasn't able to get to the site in time to sign up. This was partly due to having a wife that "doesn't do time", but that's another issue.

Having now got a caravan, I was determined to get a slot and arrived well before 10 o' clock on the Saturday. The queue had built up by the time the list opened and about two thirds of the slots both for Saturday and Sunday had gone by the time I left. There was almost a mini rugby scrum as people were not only determined to bag a slot but often had a specific one in mind due to other festival commitments. Colin Squire, who was there to supervise the signing on said that there were a number of concerns about the procedure and it had been discussed at some length.

To me, the most obvious point is that it is down to supply and demand and there are just not enough slots. Over the two days there are 24 slots available and there are how many people at the festival?
The problem is that the Sabrina has to be shared with other events like workshops and concerts, and there is always the constraint of time. I've suggested on the survey that I filled in that there should be a dedicated venue for the open mike which could operate on a rolling system. The site is big enough to accomodate this with ease I would have thought. It would also increase the competition.

I was a bit wary when the competitive element was introduced, and it does seem to have put a bit of an edge on it as far as the open stagers are concerned; I think a lot of people would previously go on in the hope of conquering stage nerves, or in my case, getting experience with PA. On the other hand this is probably quite good for the watchers and I like the touch of each of the MCs having their own candidate - a nice little tongue in cheek nod to the X Factor

I was actually lucky enough to get through to the final despite the mikes failing during the second act of our session( its just one of these things that happen at folk festivals!) thus felt a bit of a fraud having got to an open mike final without actually using a mike.

The time pressure actually affected the final as well unfortunately. The young singer/guitarist who went on before me won over the audience in the first twenty seconds and delivered his first song brilliantly but then unfortunatly broke a string. We were told that we had about twelve minutes - break a string in a twenty minute set and it's recoverable but it takes about the length of a song to do it in a 12 minute slot - he understandably went into panic mode and the MC tried to change a string while he did an acapella song. In the end I lent him my guitar, which had unfortunately gone a bit out of tune in the cold weather. He actually made a very good recovery from this and could easily win the competition another year.I would have thought that a twenty minute spot would have been fair for the finalists - if you've got that far you can hold an audience for 20 minutes. Once again constraints of time on the marquee. 12 minute slots are fine for the initial slots because (how to put this tactfully?) a minority of entrants might not actually be truly listenable for longer and the person who goes on after ends up performing in front of one man and his dog.

Having said all this, it's a great idea and , and is in a way a victim of its own popularity. The element of luck also adds an extra dimension - most of us pray for rain so you get a big audience! I hope all this rather long post is taken in terms of useful suggestions and if I'm grinding axes they are other people's rather than mine.

I thought the winner was fantastic! Went to see her slot in Marquee 2 and she went down really well. A star in the making!

I also thought the young people who did the CD recording from Birmingham University were brilliant and was once again lucky enough to be one of the early birds that got a slot. I imagine there were a lot of people disappointed not to get on here as well especially as the Sunday session had to be abandoned dur to the fire.

They assure me they will be back next year.