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The Future of Folk Clubs

Brendy 15 Nov 07 - 09:55 PM
IanC 16 Nov 07 - 03:15 AM
Folkiedave 16 Nov 07 - 03:22 AM
Mr Happy 16 Nov 07 - 04:24 AM
GUEST,sparticus 16 Nov 07 - 04:39 AM
Big Al Whittle 16 Nov 07 - 05:02 AM
redsnapper 16 Nov 07 - 05:06 AM
Banjiman 16 Nov 07 - 05:18 AM
greg stephens 16 Nov 07 - 05:21 AM
synbyn 16 Nov 07 - 05:29 AM
The Villan 16 Nov 07 - 05:35 AM
joseph 16 Nov 07 - 05:38 AM
greg stephens 16 Nov 07 - 05:42 AM
GUEST,Santa 16 Nov 07 - 06:16 AM
The Sandman 16 Nov 07 - 08:01 AM
The Sandman 16 Nov 07 - 10:00 AM
treewind 16 Nov 07 - 10:35 AM
Folkiedave 16 Nov 07 - 10:43 AM
The Sandman 16 Nov 07 - 12:42 PM
synbyn 17 Nov 07 - 05:56 AM
The Villan 17 Nov 07 - 06:14 AM
greg stephens 17 Nov 07 - 06:35 AM
Banjiman 17 Nov 07 - 06:37 AM
The Villan 17 Nov 07 - 07:07 AM
The Villan 17 Nov 07 - 07:15 AM
Big Al Whittle 17 Nov 07 - 07:17 AM
Lowden Jameswright 17 Nov 07 - 09:33 AM
Les in Chorlton 17 Nov 07 - 09:46 AM
Banjiman 17 Nov 07 - 09:46 AM
The Villan 17 Nov 07 - 02:41 PM
Lowden Jameswright 18 Nov 07 - 07:05 AM
Lowden Jameswright 18 Nov 07 - 07:08 AM
Linda Kelly 18 Nov 07 - 07:39 AM
Lowden Jameswright 18 Nov 07 - 07:44 AM
Banjiman 18 Nov 07 - 08:11 AM
TheSnail 18 Nov 07 - 08:14 AM
Mikefule 18 Nov 07 - 08:30 AM
Banjiman 18 Nov 07 - 08:40 AM
The Villan 18 Nov 07 - 09:20 AM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Nov 07 - 11:23 AM
Mikefule 18 Nov 07 - 11:25 AM
Santa 18 Nov 07 - 12:21 PM
The Villan 18 Nov 07 - 12:41 PM
Linda Kelly 18 Nov 07 - 01:14 PM
The Villan 18 Nov 07 - 01:20 PM
TheSnail 18 Nov 07 - 02:25 PM
Banjiman 18 Nov 07 - 02:36 PM
Linda Kelly 18 Nov 07 - 03:00 PM
SimonS 18 Nov 07 - 03:06 PM
Mikefule 18 Nov 07 - 04:09 PM
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Subject: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: Brendy
Date: 15 Nov 07 - 09:55 PM

Right....
Let's start off with a few common denominators.

Everyone reading and contributing to this thread loves our respective folk traditions, whether that be English, Irish, Scottish, American, etc. Some (like myself) love folk tradition no matter where it's from, because for me, unlike language, it lets you into the soul of a Nation, and thus it brings people together all the quicker.
I think we all agree, too, that nobody owns the tradition; we got it handed to us on our lap.
I would imagine also that we all wish to bequeath a healthy folk scene to our children & grandchildren, because we know that if the tradition isn't passed down, the tradition gets lost...., and there goes the soul of a Nation.

Audiences seem to be dwindling, folks.
Folk Clubs ain't what they used to be.
Then we only had to deal with the 'The Two Ronnies' on telly as the competition on any Thursday night.
.. yeah, well that was the '70's

Now 'Happy Hours' last all day. If there's a Champion's League game on the box somewhere, guaranteed there'll be a shower of people in the pub that's showing those matches.
Now it's all BUISNESS

To say that a Folk Club is not a 'business', I think, is to overlook certain criteria that is essential to making anything tick over properly, when all around you, your 'competition' is extremely business-like, given the ever-decreasing circles the Service and Entertainment industries have to run in these days.
To call a Folk Club a 'business' does not detract from the intrinsic nature of the Club. Its' integrity remains.
All it does is to open up a way of thinking in the minds of the Club's committee that is constantly focussed on getting your place full every night you have music on, irrespective of who's on the bill.

Getting the word out there and getting people enthused is vital, not for the performer necessarily first and foremost, but for The Club.
The committee should not think of itself as a vehicle to bring artist to audience, in the main.
It should think of itself as a vehicle to bring that audience to The Club

Otherwise the dependency line breaks.
The Club needs to survive, first and foremost.
It needs a fair spattering of 'a cut above average' musicians playing there in order to attract any sort of interest from 'the general public'.
The Club also needs a loyal core of members that will turn out every week, even if it's only to fill the place up a little in case any 'real people' come in.
The Club needs engagement and enthusiasm from the committee, because they are the people on whose shoulders the tradition has come to rest, and it is they who took that upon themselves the day they made the Charter for the Club.
Whether they would realise that or not at the time, is entirely down to them.
But that is the responsibility everyone who takes on a Folk Club bears.

You can nurture it... or you can crush it.

To compete in the ever decreasing circles is getting harder.
Pubs will close in the wake of the smoking ban, and it will remain that downward way for a while, until the tide will turn and people will get used to it.
I've seen it in happen in Norway and Ireland, and it does come right again.

But there will be less pubs around, though by the time it's all levelled out.
And it might take a few Clubs with it before it does level out.
Now is the time to look at what's coming, and re-evaluate the business model.

And if you're not getting the bums on the seats, remember that 90% is your fault.

There's two old men in Mexico; the last survivors of a race of people, and they have their own language.
These two men have stopped talking to each other, and the experts who have been studying the language are afraid that if they don't start talking again soon, the language may be lost.
... now there's a metaphor....

When the last of the folk singers sings the last song, what then?

B.


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: IanC
Date: 16 Nov 07 - 03:15 AM

Sorry, but I'm really not sure that Folk Clubs have that much to do with Folk Traditions. These things continue very well, in general, without much help from Folk Clubs.

I know this thread's about Folk Clubs, but I don't think that their survival should be in any way confused with the survival of the Folk Tradition.

Ian


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: Folkiedave
Date: 16 Nov 07 - 03:22 AM

Far more folk music about now when there was at the height of the folk club boom.

Sessions and festivals maybe and not folk clubs - but it is there. The death of folk music has been predicted a number of times. They all got it wrong so far and I am positive that your prediction - if it is indeed a prediction - will be amongst them.


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: Mr Happy
Date: 16 Nov 07 - 04:24 AM

It's been my impression, in my immediate local area, that formal 'old style' folk clubs have been on the decline since their heyday in the 1970s & 80s.

This is not to say that folky events have died away, but rather have evolved into more participatory singaround/music session type gatherings.


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: GUEST,sparticus
Date: 16 Nov 07 - 04:39 AM

Banjiman seems to be following your model Brendy. I'm sure that he's reading your posts with great interest - they're good.


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 16 Nov 07 - 05:02 AM

Brendy is absolutely cock on with one thing - its the mean spiritnedness that has holed the operation below the waterline.

You get detractors in whatever you do in life. But the guys (and ladies) who run folk clubs seem to raise a really virulent form of bile from the viscera of their fellow folkies.

The ability to run a successful club - okay,(I hear the critics hitting the drone pipe already) some of it may be fortuitous in choosing a good location etc. - but,to me is a very special talent and one that isn't lauded highly enough. It is a rare quality, quite as wonderful as anything the guest singer may bring to the table.

The folk clubs are precisely where people who care about the real tradition are to be found. The real folk tradition is the property of the people. In olden days when social mobility was much less - stable communities had generations create and refine traditions.

Nowadays society is much more amorphous in nature - only this week we had someone in Chicago in mudcat trying to put together and English folkmusic band. The folk club movement is an embodiment of a conscious desire that we do have a living folkmusic.

If the tradtion to you is just a load of stuff that Cecil Sharp got from societies that were on their way out anyway, then your vision of folk music is indeed facing a doomsday scenario, only fit for academia to browse over in libraries. But if you feel there is something of yourself in the music that you want to express - take it to a folk club. What a modern audience does to your music (and it does impose conditions!) may not leave it as it was in the 18th century. But who really knows how they sang - surely whats important is the way WE relate to the music.


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: redsnapper
Date: 16 Nov 07 - 05:06 AM

Brendy, as always, talks a lot of sense.

Part of the problem, as I see it, is an internal one to the community...

What is a folk club?
What is a folk tradition?
What is a folk singer?
What is a folksong singer?
Are a folk singer and a folksong singer the same thing?
Does all of this comply with the 1954 definition?
Is AniDiFranco a folk singer or is she a folksong or is she neither or both?
Is the term (add genre or category here) just used for marketing purposes?
Can traditional and singer songwriter genres both be considered folk?
And the big one... What is folk?
And on and on (ad nauseam)...

All of this, and the stridency of the various protagonists, almost tempted me to abandon the Mudcat after more than eight years.

But I love my music (several genres) far too much for that and so do a lot of other people so I think folk clubs (whatever they are or will become) have a good future.

RS


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: Banjiman
Date: 16 Nov 07 - 05:18 AM

I have exchanged views with Brendy on the "stealing gigs" thread...and though I don't agree with everything he says, his posts are well thought out a well as thought provoking.

From a previous thread, Brendy's main interest seems to be how to maintain the opportunity for "professional" performance......which given that he is a professional musician is understandable!

Therefore I think this thread is very much orientated to this take on the "folk club".

Sparticus is correct...I am going to give a "performance" club a whirl. Though we will also be singing around into the wee small hours following "the performance", where possible and reasonable I will expect the main acts to stay for at least part of this.

The "performances" therefore provides a focus...but is certainly not the only aspect to the club......as we are fairly remote from large conurbations we are likely to get (and need)to attract a number of overnighters, therefore I want to try and create a mini-festival each month. Singarounds/ sessions can be extended to Sunday breakfast/ lunch if people want this.

My view is that the "professional" performer has an important role to play in the development of the folk "market (i.e. people who listen to folk music) as well as preservation of the heritage.

I also enjoy watching "good" performance in a fairly informal atmosphere (i.e. pubs or similar). I find arts centres/theatres a little impersonal.....I also like to have the opportunity (as I think others do) to be able to exchange a few words with the "pro's"....

I guess I am trying to create something I would like to go to once a month......

and hope it strikes a chord with others too.

Kirkby Fleetham Folk Club web site

KFFC Mudcat Thread


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: greg stephens
Date: 16 Nov 07 - 05:21 AM

I think IanC and others have a point. Folk Clubs are not exactly central to folk music nowadays. They had a crucial and central role in the folk revival of the 50's and 60's but but progressively less so since. They are wonderful institutions, but not the core of the music. And as IanC said, they were never anything much to do with "the tradition"(however you understand that term) in any case."The tradition" was the social force that made the songs and tunes, the folk clubs were meetings for people who liked the music that the tradition had produced, so we had get-togethers where we could perform and listen in a safe environment. I don't think anybody imagined the clubs were to be the centre of anything, they were seen more as incubators/seedbeds where music could be nurtured before re-release into the wild. The clubs also became a very good place for singer-songwriters to try out their stuff, but that is another story.
   I thought a bit of a statistical look might be interesting. I am actively involved as a professional musician in the palying and teaching of traditional folk music, and have been for forty something years, so I am probably a reasonable bit of litmus paper to locate where the folk action is. I've just done a bit of a classification of the last twenty gigs I've played with the Boat Band, and it makes interesting reading in the context of this discussion. They break down as follows.
4 pubs
3 Private functions(birthdays/weddings)
3 Community events
3 Folk festivals
2 Other festivals
2 dances
2 Unclassifiable arts events
1 Folk club

That seems to me to show that we (and therefore the folk music we play) are getting to quite a broad range of gigs.It also shows that only one gig out of the twenty is a folk club, which suggests that the clubs are not that crucial a part of the general folk scene nowadays. A significant part, certainly, but minor. I live in a medium sized city at the moment(Stoke-on-Trent), and to the best of my belief there is only one folk club here, but there are loads of other outlets for folk music.The conclusion is inescapable: I am absolutely sure the folk clubs were the main purveyors of folk in say 1967, but they aren't in 2007.


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: synbyn
Date: 16 Nov 07 - 05:29 AM

Round here you can, if prepared to travel 40 miles, be out every day of the week at a folkclub. Mostly they survive on singers nights with a fortnightly or monthly guest, but principally they survive on participation. But which is a club and which a session?

Agree with the point about sessions- I think more people now go out to perform and fewer solely to listen- and once a session reaches a critical point, about 15-20, they don't get their go often enough and decide to start their own session, likewise if they feel the emphasis has become a genre which they don't want to play all evening. Sometimes it's ego, let's be honest! OK, so hardly any of us are ploughboys, but we sing and play for the same reasons: to bring a bit of joy into our lives.

We've discussed all the ins and outs of the professional scene on a couple of other threads. I agree with the postings above. Folk music is a world apart from commercial use of folk music. Once you think 'club' you have committees and accounts, these days you have to tread carefully through licensing laws and avaricious 'bar managers'- small wonder that professionals are finding that fewer venues exist which can sustain them.The future of folk clubs would be greatly enhanced by making the process less draconian- but of course this would mean the big interests who want to shut down the minnows would have less control. Or am I too cynical?

All the best from the fishpond


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: The Villan
Date: 16 Nov 07 - 05:35 AM

Village Halls play a major part these days.


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: joseph
Date: 16 Nov 07 - 05:38 AM

As long as we have musicians encouraging young people to play and singers encouraging the youth to sing folk will never die. However over here in Ireland in my home town of Lurgan in the Count Armagh there are many sessions combined with traditional music. You have to have both to survive. It's amazing the number of talented musicians
and singers out there. They get together weekley and monthly at sessions and are always encouragin people to play


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: greg stephens
Date: 16 Nov 07 - 05:42 AM

Absolutely agree with what the Villan says above. I'm playing in four village halls next week: I've never played four folk club gigs in a week in my life!


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: GUEST,Santa
Date: 16 Nov 07 - 06:16 AM

The British have a tradition of forming clubs. Whether this is for folk music or steam railway enthusiasts or plastic model aeroplanes or knitting or book reading or whatever. There were a lot of folk music clubs in the 60s/70s when folk music was genuinely widely popular because it overlapped with popular music. There are fewer nowadays because it doesn't, and it is often thought "untrendy". There are fewer shops selling plastic model aircraft too, partly for similar reasons.

But model clubs still exist, even thrive. Folk clubs still exist, even thrive. Music clubs differ from most, however. No-one is going to go regularly to a knitting circle unless they knit. In music clubs, not everyone who attends is a performer, or necessarily wants to be a performer, or play an instrument, or sing themselves. They just like folk music, and the club is the only place where they can regularly go and hear the music, and meet with fellow enthusiasts. Concerts are not social, and are more expensive. Local sessions and singarounds just do not fill this social gap. The internet may be weakening this dependence on the club, with music stations and social networks such as Mudcat, but has a long way to go. The growth of sessions may be weakening the clubs by drawing away talent, but they are basically restricted to performers and cannot play the same role. The number of festivals may be weakening the clubs, as the more enthusiastic can travel to different festivals each weekend, but that is limited to the socially and/or financially mobile.

Until folk music becomes restricted to performers talking only to themselves, there will be a place for clubs. The exact format may well differ from the classic 1970s style.   Locally there are as many clubs as there were 30 years ago, but I see much less emphasis on guest performers. The role of the club in encouraging and supporting professionals clearly has shrunk. I don't see the answer in better publicity: that might well help a few marginal clubs but can only have small and local effects. If you want a return to sufficient healthy folk clubs to provide good wages for large numbers of professional artists, the answer lies in folk music becoming popular again.

And that can only come from the performers. If professionals want to make more money they must make more popular music. If folk music doesn't sell, then by all means play in theme pubs, the music people want. If you can bend their tastes in the direction of folk, so much the better. If that means melding the more traditional folk with more popular music forms, so much the better. It was done in the 60s. People didn't flock to folk clubs because they took a sudden liking to purist traditional folk. They went because protest folk was popular with the young, and folk rock was popular, and there were artists who fed off this popularity.

Those who attend modern folk clubs are rarely hard core traditionalists. They are people who heard Dylan and Steeleye Span when they were young, and grew to appreciate the roots of the songs those artists used. We've had a generation without (or nearly without) such popular support: where "folk" became identified with comedians such as Capstick, Carrot and Connolly rather than the music. We've had a generation where political protest was marginalised. There are signs that the scene is improving - let's hope so. But it isn't going to expand again without popular support. More of the same, however good, just isn't going to do it.

Regardless, the clubs will continue: smaller maybe, cheaper maybe, but they aren't going to stop as long as people like gathering together to hear folk music. Not to play, not to sing, but simply to hear.


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Nov 07 - 08:01 AM

perhaps as you are all so good at predictions,tell us the winning horse at cheltenham 2 30 today,Spot The Difference.


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Nov 07 - 10:00 AM

yes ,good old spot.


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: treewind
Date: 16 Nov 07 - 10:35 AM

To be fair Greg, as a band that plays a lot of dance music the Boat Band is not a typical folk club guest. Most clubs can't afford bands anyway, and as a band you are more likely than a singer or duo to get pub and community event bookings.

Nevertheless you make a good point by listing many examples of places where folk music is being played to the public outside of clubs. I suspect that you actively seek bookings in such places (and very commendable that is too), and that's reflected in your figures.

We mostly play at folk clubs and festivals as a duo, but we're also in a ceilidh band that never plays at folk clubs...

Anahata


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: Folkiedave
Date: 16 Nov 07 - 10:43 AM

Bloody hell Dick, why you bother with singing with tips like that?


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Nov 07 - 12:42 PM

Folkie Dave,
I hope you had something on it,
you know how once you get the bug for playing music ,you cant stop.
Inever made much money[but Iknew that before Istarted]enough to get by on it,but I have had some good times, met some lovely women,and sampled some excellent pints.


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: synbyn
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 05:56 AM

Wow, this thread isn't drifting and everyone, especially Santa,'s talking sense... come on guys!


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: The Villan
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 06:14 AM

I think everybody should be supporting the Village Halls. They are not commercial and if people don't use them, they will lose them.
That would be a great shame.
Most Village Halls will if they can see that somebody is going to use the hall regularly, will hire it out at a very reasonable rate.

Having said that, there are some stupid arseholes that run village halls who becuase they see it probably being the only thing that makes some money, put the price up thinking they will make more money.

Having gone through that twice, third time lucky. Faldingworth memorial Hall are great and have kept to their promises.


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: greg stephens
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 06:35 AM

treewind/anahata makes an interesting point thatthe Boat Band probably seeks out gigs outside the folk scene. I'm not sure about that, but we have certainly developed ouselves in ways that are obviously more attractive outside than inside the scene, as is obvious in our patterns of bookings.
Having made the effort to analyse the last twenty times I've played, it made quite an interesting read. Anahata says he plays more clubs than we do: would he, and anyone else interested, care to post on this thread a breakdown of the last twenty places you've played, clasified by types of event? This would give a very interesting snapshot of where the folk is going on at this precise moment in time. Get your calendars out and start classifying!


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: Banjiman
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 06:37 AM

Village Halls are great for some types of events....we have run workshops and had some gigs in our local Village Hall and these have been successful on all levels....we will do so again as well. However, there is something about the coziness of a pub, especially in winter that just can't be beaten. Especially an oldy worldy pub with beams and an open fire!

We are using the our Village Hall at the KFFC Winter Warmer Weekend for indoor camping, the agreement with the Village Hall committee is that they will just keep any money raised. I feel good about this as we are putting something back into our local community......we will also make a donation to the school (if we sell enough tickets!!) and borrow their staging as well. Village life huh!

Paul


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: The Villan
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 07:07 AM

>>Village life huh<<

You can't beat it.


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: The Villan
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 07:15 AM

>>Get your calendars out and start classifying! <<

Thats got them all busily scurrying away LOL

Very interesting there Greg


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 07:17 AM

They bring their own challeges. A few years ago, Derek Brimstone asked to do the PA for him at the catholic club in Buxton.

Anyway - this hall - the room doubled as a church.

If you know Derek's act, you know that he uses facial expression a lot, so there I was setting the microphone up.

This caretaker bloke comes up and says - you can't do that!

I said I'm putting the microphone on the stage is all I'm doing.

he says, that is not a stage - that is an altar - you keep off that!

So, there I am thinking, this guy's crackers. But I just said, well people won't see him, he's only a little guy.

He said, your're not using that altar and that's final. he stands down there on the floor

And sure enough most of the audience couldn't see Del, just this disembodied voice coming from the front. Wasn't one of his best gigs.


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: Lowden Jameswright
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 09:33 AM

"Round here you can, if prepared to travel 40 miles, be out every day of the week at a folkclub"

Round here it's only about 5 miles in any direction. There's not a problem, other than deciding where you want to go, and that depends simply on what type of music night you're looking for. Seems to me that the "Folk Clubs" of the 60's and 70's have morphed into a myriad of folk music venues catering for every possible taste.

As far as folk clubs catering for the pro performers are concerned, maybe there aren't as many as there used to be, but there's no shortage of work out there if the "product" on offer is marketable.


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 09:46 AM

"but there's no shortage of work out there if the "product" on offer is marketable."

He he ....................


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: Banjiman
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 09:46 AM

Villan,

>>Village life huh<<

You can't beat it.

Gets my vote too!

There's an interesting angle here that probably bears some discussion...is there any difference between the folk scene in rural villages and larger conurbations. Are folk clubs in one or the other more likely to survive or prosper?


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: The Villan
Date: 17 Nov 07 - 02:41 PM

Well I think you have to be more careful who you book and work harder as an organiser in the rural areas if you are going to succeed.


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: Lowden Jameswright
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 07:05 AM

Saw Jon Strong at the Wortley Folk - Black Bull, Ecclesfield, last night. The place was packed out - folk clubs still going strong apparently.......


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: Lowden Jameswright
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 07:08 AM

... and as for Jon Strong, to all club organisers - this message (as the saying goes):

"Book him Danno"


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: Linda Kelly
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 07:39 AM

I don't think we should forget that it is the audience who decides what sort of acts are put on at a folk club, and a good organisers job to know which acts will put bums on seats or which are affordable within the criteria the members set out. The club belongs to the members, it is the organisers job to present as much affordabe entertainment as possible, familiar acts, new acts, groups, comedy. Organisers are subject to bombardment and I regret some bullying by acts on a daily basis from 'you've never hear of me but I would be great for your club even though I have never been there' to 'We played there 18 months ago and it is time we had another booking" or agents saying they have arranged a tour and can do our club on the 18th can we confirm.excuse me?
Our folk clubs are social gatherings for music lovers who enjoy music and each others company, not a slots in a diary for musicians. and yes I like Jon Strong too.


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: Lowden Jameswright
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 07:44 AM

"I don't think we should forget that it is the audience who decides what sort of acts are put on at a folk club"

Unfortunately, it doesn't always work like this. Some organisers book according to personal preference, or who they think the audience should see, and then wonder why there's an abundance of empty seats.


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: Banjiman
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 08:11 AM

Linda Kelly, Lowden Jameswright....so what does that tell us about the future of Folk Clubs?

How does an organiser ensure that they are providing what the audience wants....how do new acts get heard?

I too am starting to get bombarded...I don't mind as long as acts are realistic......I can't book somebody unheard of or with no local profile as a main guest(however good they are).

I will offer them an expenses only support slot (if I like the sound of their demo etc- chance to build a local profile), I always think the response to this offer from an act tells you a lot about the size of their ego! No response is REALLY, REALLY annoying........

With the boot on the other foot...when I am trying to get gigs from other clubs, it REALLY, REALLY annoys me when organisers don't reply. I don't mind any kind of (polite!) response but when people just ignore an email, letter, phone message etc it is just bad manners!

What does this tell us about the future of folk clubs? Maybe that it is a buyers market....which drives impolite behaviour from "bombarded" club organisers....


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: TheSnail
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 08:14 AM

Lowden, I'm sure the organisers of you local club would welcome suggestions or recommendations. You could even offer to help.


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: Mikefule
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 08:30 AM

Folk music has only little to do with style or content, and very much to do with context. A few friends in a pub singing for their own entertainment is folk music. A superstar performing the same song on stage to a paying audience is something different. Much as I like it, Thin Lizzy singing "Whiskey in the Jar" was not folk music. On the other hand, a few mates singing "Why Why Why Delilah" in the pub is something like folk music.

Much of the traditional *material* is saved forever. It is written down, recorded, and on CD and video. Anyone with a basic knowledge of music, some enthusiasm and some time, could go and learn "The Seeds of Love" from permanent resources.

But the context is more fragile. When we stop thinking of "folk" as something we do, and start thinking of it only as something we buy, the battle will be lost. Tradition is an activity, not a product.

Folk clubs have a role in preserving the context. They are artificial, compared to an informal session, but they do provide a context for a range of performers to perform among friends for each others' enjoyment.

So folk clubs have to be fun, and both inviting and welcoming. I am regularly one of the youngest people present, at 45. We don't necessarily need an input of young people, but we certainly need an input of **younger** people. If they don't enjoy their first visit, there may be no second visit.

So next time you go to your folk club, look around the room. how would you see it if it was your first visit, and you knew no one there? Look at it as an outsider. Is it cliquey? Do the people look bored? Is there laughter?

Next time you go, think about your own song or tune: does it suit your voice and style? Do you know it well? Are you performing it properly, or just battling bravely to the end of it? Does it leave people clapping politely, or smiling and applauding? Was it suitable? Was a perfect performance of a 10 verse ballad appropriate to that part of the evening?

Folk club organisers are of course volunteers, but should not be immune to "critique" - which is slightly different from "criticism".

Do you carefully choose what order to put floor singers on? or do you favour your mates? Do you know when to ask "Big Dave" to liven things up after two or three dirges? Or do you just pass the "conch shell" around the room clockwise, regardless of who comes up next? If there is a new visitor, do you speak to them in the interval? Do you include them in the banter? Introduce them to someone?

Does your club have a website, and advertise outside the "folky community"?


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: Banjiman
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 08:40 AM

Mike.....Beat you I'm 42!

I was at The Pot House Folk Club in Hartlepool on Friday evening...it is run by TThe Young 'uns
....3 lads in their early 20's. It was vibrant, funny and eclectic. Sean & Mike from the Young 'uns made a very good job at getting around the room and talking to everyone.

This is a "singaround" club not a "performance" club.....I do think we need opportunities for both though. There have always been paid musicians, they are as much part of the tradition as an informal sing.

Paul


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: The Villan
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 09:20 AM

Meeting and greeting and making people feel at home is very very important. If you don't do that you have failed. That apploes to the performers, new people or existing audience.

The first visit I made to a folk club in Lincolnshire was at Gainsborough Folk Club. Mr & Mrs Sooz conned me into going LOL :-) and then threw Busy Bee Paul at me to look after me for the night (phew that was an experience he he :-) ) and it all had a very profound effect on me and 5 years later I still cant get away from this bloody Folk thing :-)
Say they hadn't done that,I would have been living in luxury and listening to Little Richard, Jerry Lee lewis, Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, Eddy Cochran - anybody but that bloody folk world. I would also be sane. chuckle chuckle grin grin..


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 11:23 AM

The most likley thing is that they'll die off, apart from a few indestructibles - and then there'll be a rediscovery and revival by a new generation.


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: Mikefule
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 11:25 AM

Nothing wrong with Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly, or Eddie Cochran.

I saw Jerry Lee Lewis perform a few years ago. Despite age, infirmity and various addictions, a great performer - although clearly perplexed and irritated by his UK audience still seeing him exclusively as a red hot rock and roller, when he has been playing country, blues, gospel and other "grown up" stuff for a quarter of a century.

I missed Buddy Holly by a few years, but did see The Crickets once. The new singer had a hard act to follow, but did his best.

I missed Eddie Cochran by a few years, too. A huge talent with a fine eye for detail when writing songs. Had he lived, he may have matured into one of the very best singer songwriters.


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: Santa
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 12:21 PM

Lowden: I don't see these as alternatives, but complementary. Yes, the organiser has to issue return invitations to popular acts, but this doesn't rule out trying some previously-unseen act on another night. I don't see how you can avoid the organiser's own tastes coming into the matter, we're all human after all, but a wise organiser listens to what the regulars say. After their first appearance at Fylde, our organiser was bombarded with comments from clubmembers - you've got to book Cloudstreet! They were booked.

I also feel that organisers do have some obligation - morally - to try new acts even without personal recomendation from within the club. That has to be dependent upon the organiser's own judgement. How else can it be? Then there are the times when a planned programme just isn't working - maybe Jez Lowe is in Australia, Les Barker's in America, so-and-so is asking too much money, whatever....and a gap has to be filled, so let's give X a try.


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: The Villan
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 12:41 PM

Mikefule
>>Nothing wrong with Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly, or Eddie Cochran.
<<

Indeed and I am sure Lowden Jameswright would agree as well.
Rock & Roll remains the very tops on my list.
I think its really nice when somebody slips an old song in from that Genre into the middle of their folk gig.


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: Linda Kelly
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 01:14 PM

an organizer ensures that its audience gets what it wants by er talking to the audience -dispensing promo CD's for review asking them to listen to You tube, getting them to let you know what acts they have liked and what they haven't, invite people for support; I have issued questionnaires to ask what type of acts they want, have special theme nights to encourage people to participate and do different types of material - we have a great time great singers and songwriters, many of whom should be professional and we do not label ourselves a folk club -whatever we have at our club it works, but we are not large, we save like mad to afford larger groups and rely upon dedicated people to keep it going. The future of folkclubs is down to hardwork and teamwork


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: The Villan
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 01:20 PM

Linda
>>I have issued questionnaires to ask what type of acts they want,<<

Thats all very well until somebody asks for Shirley Bassey LOL

Agree with your comments.

Les


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: TheSnail
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 02:25 PM

I could give you the contact details for a Shirley Bassey impersonator. Not sure of his availability.


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: Banjiman
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 02:36 PM

Shirley Bassey....I think my granny told me about her!


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: Linda Kelly
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 03:00 PM

erm -I like Shirley Bassey and she topped the bill at Glastonbury!


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: SimonS
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 03:06 PM

Do you not think you're all confusing 'folk clubs' with 'tradition'. A folk club is no more traditional than rock and roll, both having been invented sometime in the middle of last century. The tradition won't die out with clubs - it managed just fine for hundreds of years before that.

I think the folk club network is ailing for a number of reasons, but if people at large are interested it'll survive, if not they won't. If it doesn't survive it won't be that great a tragedy because something else will take its place. Due to the state of the mainstream recorded music industry, the live music industry is booming at the moment and an extension of that is that people will always want to participate in music as well as watch. The traditions of England are safe, but they might re-emerge where least expected... Thats the most exciting thing.


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Subject: RE: The Future of Folk Clubs
From: Mikefule
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 04:09 PM

I agree that folk clubs are a recent cultural phenomenon, but they developed because the tradition had become marginalised and people needed someowhere to go to "find" folk music. That was also a recent phenomenon.

Around the world in all civilisations, traditional culture soon dissolves in the face of mass marketing and consumerism. Well, either it dissolves, or it becomes mass marketed to consumers!

The club phenomenon now exists, and although it may not be the only answer, or even the best answer, it is *an* answer to how we keep the flame burning.

We live in a society where for most people the ideal is to avoid making any effort, ever. Status is achieved and displayed through possessions and brands, rather than through personal achievements and skills. "I want it now, not next week."

Folk music isn't competing on equal terms with rock and pop music. In some ways, it has more in common with model engineering or judo: it is mainly kept going by a tiny minority of people who still want to invest effort in a craft.

Even in this forum, there is a thread asking which is an easy instrument to learn...


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