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How bad/good- measuring quality of performers

GUEST,Snookums 09 Jan 08 - 01:41 PM
Big Al Whittle 09 Jan 08 - 02:27 PM
Peace 09 Jan 08 - 02:28 PM
Amos 09 Jan 08 - 02:49 PM
Maryrrf 09 Jan 08 - 03:07 PM
George Papavgeris 09 Jan 08 - 03:10 PM
PoppaGator 09 Jan 08 - 03:11 PM
M.Ted 09 Jan 08 - 03:14 PM
Leadfingers 09 Jan 08 - 03:31 PM
GUEST,snookums 09 Jan 08 - 03:36 PM
Giant Folk Eyeball (inactive) 09 Jan 08 - 04:10 PM
Bernard 09 Jan 08 - 04:29 PM
Maryrrf 09 Jan 08 - 04:41 PM
Waddon Pete 09 Jan 08 - 04:48 PM
treewind 09 Jan 08 - 04:48 PM
Big Al Whittle 09 Jan 08 - 04:50 PM
TheSnail 09 Jan 08 - 05:37 PM
Richard Bridge 09 Jan 08 - 05:41 PM
Betsy 09 Jan 08 - 05:44 PM
M.Ted 09 Jan 08 - 05:47 PM
Jack Campin 09 Jan 08 - 05:49 PM
Brendy 09 Jan 08 - 05:50 PM
Big Al Whittle 09 Jan 08 - 06:00 PM
TheSnail 09 Jan 08 - 06:05 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 09 Jan 08 - 06:07 PM
Big Al Whittle 09 Jan 08 - 06:26 PM
Brendy 09 Jan 08 - 06:50 PM
Folkiedave 09 Jan 08 - 07:20 PM
GUEST,Bob Ryszkiewicz 09 Jan 08 - 07:26 PM
TheSnail 09 Jan 08 - 08:12 PM
GUEST,Flatpick 09 Jan 08 - 08:42 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 10 Jan 08 - 05:33 AM
Big Al Whittle 10 Jan 08 - 09:35 AM
Maryrrf 10 Jan 08 - 11:45 AM
The Sandman 10 Jan 08 - 12:48 PM
Banjiman 10 Jan 08 - 12:53 PM
Maryrrf 10 Jan 08 - 12:57 PM
Lowden Jameswright 10 Jan 08 - 01:12 PM
The Sandman 10 Jan 08 - 02:23 PM
Tootler 10 Jan 08 - 02:37 PM
GUEST,Winger 10 Jan 08 - 03:17 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 10 Jan 08 - 03:33 PM
Murray MacLeod 10 Jan 08 - 03:51 PM
GUEST,Balladeer 11 Jan 08 - 04:23 PM
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Subject: How bad/good
From: GUEST,Snookums
Date: 09 Jan 08 - 01:41 PM

As a matter of interest, how do you measure quality of singers/musicians before letting them perform at a folk club? Does it matter?


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Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 09 Jan 08 - 02:27 PM

less than fifteen stone, they can bugger off....


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Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: Peace
Date: 09 Jan 08 - 02:28 PM

And that goes for their cat, too!


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Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: Amos
Date: 09 Jan 08 - 02:49 PM

AND the horse they rode in on.


FOrtunately this is a task I do not have; if I did I would observe their comfort before strangers, their ability to speak extemporaneously, and their basic competency. Above all, an audience wants to be communicated to.


A


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Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: Maryrrf
Date: 09 Jan 08 - 03:07 PM

If at all possible I would try to see them live and my decision would be influenced by several factors:

- Their appearance (NOT their looks, but whether or not they were dressed neatly and appropriately, conveying respect for the venue and the audience)
- Did they start the show on time or were they late getting on stage and fussing around for far too long with equipment, tuning, etc.?
- Did they 'relate' well to the audience - was there a connection?
- Was the music itself good and, for my particular concert venue, was it traditional?
- Did they look like they were enjoying themselves while on stage?

None of the above is set in stone - if they were late because a plane was delayed, or if the sound engineer was ill, or other extenuating circumstances I wouldn't hold that against them.

I have booked people without seeing them live and I would base the decision on hearing song samples either on the net or via CD, looking on their website to see what they say about their music, and checking their schedules to see what type of venues they usually play at.

If I knew anyone who had seen them live I'd ask for their opinion, too.

Other factors not really connected to the audience would be the 'mix' I wanted for the concert series - and whether or not their type of act fit in.


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Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 09 Jan 08 - 03:10 PM

Take a piece of string....


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Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: PoppaGator
Date: 09 Jan 08 - 03:11 PM

Like Amos, I am happy not to be burdened with such a duty.

On the other hand, I have been subjected to such scrutiny, just once in recent years (and successfully, I might add), but much more frequently, and with mixed results, many years ago.

How can such a judgement be anything but completely subjective? It'll be either one person's quirky taste, or perhaps the joint decision of a small group of folks.

Every venue will have a different degree of strictness, and supply-and-demand has to be part of the equation. I am currently playing "regularly" ~ one one-hour set, once a month ~ at a coffeehouse that presents more than 100 acts per month: three or four scheduled performers per night, six nights a week, plus open mike on Sundays. The bar is obviously not set terribly high in this situation. To fail to meet the standard would be pretty embarrassing, really.

Another situation might be entirely different: say, a monthly event where a travelling pro generally appears and no more than two or three local semi-pros open the proceedings. One would have to have proven oneself as fairly outstanding to merit one of those spots.


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Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: M.Ted
Date: 09 Jan 08 - 03:14 PM

I think you have to see them in front of an audience.

Like most musicians, I have a fairly discerning ear, but it just tells me what I like and don't like--there are lots of performers that do nothing for me, but that audiences love. And the opposite--the ones I love, the wider audiences don't--(If I was a booker, maybe I'd do best to simply pick the acts I didn't like;-))


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Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: Leadfingers
Date: 09 Jan 08 - 03:31 PM

From the viewpoint of the UK Club scene , Floor singers are an important part of an evening , as the 'Guest' will normally not do more than two 40/45 minute sets . SOME clubs have far too many competent local singers on a guest night , so trying to 'Audition' floor spots is impossible ,so its a case of "Take your pick and hope for the best" with new singers at the club . Personally , I am happy to put the 'Not So Competent' singers on , as , if nothing else , the
audience can be inspired to have a go - "I could do as good a job as HIM!" And we all know that new blood is vital to keep ANY thing going . By the same token , I would NOT book (and PAY)anyone who in MY opinion would not entertain my audience .


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Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: GUEST,snookums
Date: 09 Jan 08 - 03:36 PM

Thanks for the feedback. It was mainly floor singers I was thinking of. ie. do you keep putting on the person who sends everyone to the bar/toilet. I personnally do not book guests unless I have heard them in person.


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Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: Giant Folk Eyeball (inactive)
Date: 09 Jan 08 - 04:10 PM

Mary, I aboslutely agree with most of what you say in your post and luckily it's a job I don't have to do, but:

"Their appearance (NOT their looks, but whether or not they were dressed neatly and appropriately, conveying respect for the venue and the audience)"

Are we talking smart but casual (slacks, sports jackets and cravats) or lounge suits and the full works? And ballgowns and tiaras for the ladies? I want to come to your club - sounds like I'll get to fulfil all my Great Gatsby fantasies... Have to get myself a short back and sides first, obviously... :^)

Only messin'...

Cheers

Nigel


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Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: Bernard
Date: 09 Jan 08 - 04:29 PM

Well, I measure floor singers entirely by the way everyone else reacts to them. The end spot often, but not always, goes to the singer/duo/group who stirred the audience the most. Otherwise the last spot is me.

Enthusiasm can be more infectious than quality, and pseudo-sincerity can be a big turn-off...


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Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: Maryrrf
Date: 09 Jan 08 - 04:41 PM

LOL not at all - although we had one group who appeared in full Civil War costumes - Confederate dress uniforms and hoop skirts for the ladies (but that went along with their theme - "Music of the Civil War" - the American Civil war, that is.

Jeans and T shirts are fine by me for a folk act, but I don't like it when the performers turn up looking like they've just got done from a hard day of working in their garden and couldn't be bothered to shower and change. The jeans and t-shirts should be clean and not a mass of wrinkles, with minimum rips and tears. Casual is good, I just don't like ratty and unkempt. In some cases I think it's nice when the performers 'dress the part' When Chance and Susette Shiver
performed at our concert series a few small touches in their wardrobe really enhanced the 'old timey' ambiance without being hokey.


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Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 09 Jan 08 - 04:48 PM

Whwn you sing for an audience sometimes you fly.....and sometimes you go down like a lead balloon.

Often it is the times when you think you have bombed that some-one in the audience gives you a lift by asking after the music, offering a chance to play elsewhere or by paying you a compliment.

Often when you think you have gone down a storm....none of the above happens!

Best wishes,

Peter


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Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: treewind
Date: 09 Jan 08 - 04:48 PM

"do you keep putting on the person who sends everyone to the bar/toilet" (re floor singers)

That answers your question- the audience are doing your quality control for you, but you should try to pre-empt them if you can, or they won't come back to the club at all!

Anahata


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Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 09 Jan 08 - 04:50 PM

As you all know, I'm fairly broad minded - but if he or she starts singing those bloody English folksongs, and playing jigs and reels - you know the sort of thing - expecting everybody to clap along and sing in the choruses.....

well you have to draw the line somewhere   Sheffield to the North and Northampton to the south. I think that leaves most of the civilised world as we know it.

Seriously though mate, if someone's getting on your tits....tip him the black spot, its your club. It's a folk club, not Care in the Community.


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Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: TheSnail
Date: 09 Jan 08 - 05:37 PM

"Folk" is a folksy sort of word for people. At our club, every member of the audience is a potential floor singer. If you want to sing (play, recite, juggle, do tricks with string,...) you get a floor spot if there's time. The residents will give up their spot to make room. (FHB = Family Hold Back)

No auditions, you just have to want to do it. As far as I am concerned, that is what folk music means.


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Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 09 Jan 08 - 05:41 PM

Well said snail


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Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: Betsy
Date: 09 Jan 08 - 05:44 PM

Beauty is in the lughole of the beholer - I'm with Greko and Waddon Pete


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Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: M.Ted
Date: 09 Jan 08 - 05:47 PM

People have to go to both the toilet and the bar--so the act that sends people to both of these places actually fills as important function as the act that rivets them to their seats.

I am reminded that, in the days that movie theatres showed short subjects and cartoons along with their features, it was common practice to show something uninteresting after the feature, to clear the theatre.

I suspect that some of the groups that I've played with were booked chiefly on this theory.


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Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: Jack Campin
Date: 09 Jan 08 - 05:49 PM

The OP wanted to know how you *measure* them.

The standard unit of awfulness in folk acts is the millidylan.


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Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: Brendy
Date: 09 Jan 08 - 05:50 PM

"No auditions, you just have to want to do it. As far as I am concerned, that is what folk music means"

In a nutshell!

Good/Bad are subjective terms, and I hate applying them to someone's music. Whatever it is, it is their expression of their own soul.
'Good' and 'bad' are not the criteria that should be used when 'judging' it.

Technical excellence, or otherwise is a different fettle of kish, altogether... but that is only really relevant if you're paying them money to be 'good'

'Floor singing' is many peoples' entry into the 'performing in public' area, and it frightens the s**t out of many people at the start.

Let them in....

B.


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Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 09 Jan 08 - 06:00 PM

Well yes, but its best to avert threats of violence and acts of terrorism before they take place, and THERE are some odd people about.

When I was a kid I was taken to Quaker meetings - and the idea is that anyone can get up and say something they help will help the act of prayer. In the little country town where I lived it was fine, but when we moved to the big city you heard some very odd testimony indeed.

Folk clubs are a bit different, because evrybody can't be trusted to try and get their minds onto a spiritually higher plain. In fact some people need protecting from the ire that their performances can stir up.

I can't believe I am the only person who has witnessed this sort of thing. I presume the original questioner has something like this going on.

Be as tactful as you can, but it all comes down to the same thing - the black spot....deposed, by the powers! Arrrgh!


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Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: TheSnail
Date: 09 Jan 08 - 06:05 PM

weelittledrummer

THERE are some odd people about.

Very true WLD, very true indeed.


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Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 09 Jan 08 - 06:07 PM

I tend to judge them by whether or not they sing folk songs -
for a start.

Then, perhaps, whether or not their performance style is appropriate for their choice of material, and do they display sympathy for, and understanding of, that material?

Do they bring some originality to their performances - or are they just a 'clone' of some other folk world 'star'?

Do I get to hear some songs which are new to me, learn something new about folk music, and/or do I get to see a song (or songs), that I thought that I was familiar with, in a new light?

Finally, at some point in the evening, do the hairs rise on the back of my neck?


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Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 09 Jan 08 - 06:26 PM

You ask a lot Shimrod: hair levitation, purity of heart in the folk sense; originality...

To paraphrase the words of JFK, ask not what can the floorsinger do for me - rather say, what can I do for the floorsinger.

You could stop rattling your crisp packet, stop singing a different (the proper) version of the song, you could buy him a pint.......


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Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: Brendy
Date: 09 Jan 08 - 06:50 PM

Nah, you're right enough, wld.... I'm typing purely on an idealistic plane....
I've experienced the exhibitionists, alright.

Tact, indeed....

B.


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Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: Folkiedave
Date: 09 Jan 08 - 07:20 PM

Do they bring some originality to their performances - or are they just a 'clone' of some other folk world 'star'?

Do I get to hear some songs which are new to me, learn something new about folk music, and/or do I get to see a song (or songs), that I thought that I was familiar with, in a new light?

Finally, at some point in the evening, do the hairs rise on the back of my neck?


Well - I do think you are asking a bit much. I saw the first performance in public of Kate Rusby, and she did none of those things - for example.

I saw Mike Waterson the first time he sang Tam Lyn in public - hairs on the back of the neck was not in it.


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Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: GUEST,Bob Ryszkiewicz
Date: 09 Jan 08 - 07:26 PM

Hi Kids: You should always check the expiration date on their containers, be sure to buy from a reputable shop, and quality always surpasses quantity.
That's why, I always make sure I carry my Digital Quality Tester from Fukajika Electronics in Taiwan. Not only does this cyber-age marvel give me a choice of digital or analogue read-out, but the tasteful sound that emanates from the device in over 1000 configurations gives me that ACCURATE crosshair info. that today's consumer demands. Belt-loop & earphones included! That way, I know that I will always have proof-positive of the quality of performer that I choose to measure...Thank You...
bob


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Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: TheSnail
Date: 09 Jan 08 - 08:12 PM

Are YOU enjoying what they are doing? Are THEY enjoying what they are doing?


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Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: GUEST,Flatpick
Date: 09 Jan 08 - 08:42 PM

{1} Can they play their instruments ok, were they in tune before they got on stage, did they have their instrument ready prior to playing, did you tell them when you expected them on stage ?
{2} Do they sing well? They don't have to read the lyrics off a sheet?
{3} Have they got entertainment value? This is the important one - your adience deserves a good act.
It's about that simple as far as I'm concerned - If they do all these things, ok, think about it and get your diary,check they can do a full night's entertainment & book 'em.
40 years and 9 records of experience talking at this point.


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Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 10 Jan 08 - 05:33 AM

Why am I asking a lot?

Oh, I see - it's only folk music - any old rubbish will do!


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Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 10 Jan 08 - 09:35 AM

Lighten up Shimrod!

I ask myself, is it really folk music? We've established over several years that none of us agree here what folk music is, and absolutely nobody agrees with the people who claim to KNOW ABSOLUTELY what folk music is.

I ask myself does it make my hair in unseen regions stand on end?

Are they just some meretricious copy of some trashy music?

Do I like the cut of their gib?

The answer in nine out of ten cases is probably no, but cheer up Shimrod, old pal! You might win the raffle!

And most of us give it our best, but there will be someone out there who thinks its rubbish. Goes with the territory, and whatever you do its still better to have a go, than do nothing.


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Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: Maryrrf
Date: 10 Jan 08 - 11:45 AM

Waddon Pete said:

"Whewn you sing for an audience sometimes you fly.....and sometimes you go down like a lead balloon.

Often it is the times when you think you have bombed that some-one in the audience gives you a lift by asking after the music, offering a chance to play elsewhere or by paying you a compliment."

This is true! It has happened to me as a performer, where I thought nobody was listening but was approached afterwards and offered a gig, and conversely as a sometimes booker I have done the same. Sometimes the audience is just not 'into' it, the venue isn't right, etc. but if the quality of the performer really impresses me and I think he/she will fit well into my venue then I would consider booking them even if they were not quite managing to 'bridge the gap' with the audience in question.

It is bound to be somewhat subjective whatever the case, and a balancing act for whoever is doing the booking - what they like weighted against what they think the audience will like. It isn't always the same thing.

Now that I see the topic was originally about floor singers I realize the above was bit of a thread drift....on the subject of floor singers I basically think everybody should be allowed to have a go, but in my forays to the UK folk clubs I have witnessed some floor singers who obviously WERE a problem and didn't know it. A very tough call !


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Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Jan 08 - 12:48 PM

Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: Maryrrf - PM
Date: 09 Jan 08 - 03:07 PM

If at all possible I would try to see them live and my decision would be influenced by several factors:

- Their appearance (NOT their looks, but whether or not they were dressed neatly and appropriately, conveying respect for the venue and the audience)
- Did they start the show on time or were they late getting on stage and fussing around for far too long with equipment, tuning, etc.?
- Did they 'relate' well to the audience - was there a connection?
- Was the music itself good and, for my particular concert venue, was it traditional?
- Did they look like they were enjoying themselves while on stage?

None of the above is set in stone - if they were late because a plane was delayed, or if the sound engineer was ill, or other extenuating circumstances I wouldn't hold that against them.

I have booked people without seeing them live and I would base the decision on hearing song samples either on the net or via CD, looking on their website to see what they say about their music, and checking their schedules to see what type of venues they usually play at.
so spoke Maryff.
supposing they were not dressed neatly[as many folk performers of the sixties and seventies were not]but they performed excellently,would you book them or not?
Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: Banjiman
Date: 10 Jan 08 - 12:53 PM

erm....you just know....if you've seen them.

More difficult if you haven't!

Paul


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Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: Maryrrf
Date: 10 Jan 08 - 12:57 PM

Dick, the answer is maybe, as I said the list isn't set in stone, it's just things I notice and take into account when deciding who to book for our concert series.


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Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: Lowden Jameswright
Date: 10 Jan 08 - 01:12 PM

"THERE are some odd people about."

I thought that was one of the things that attracted us to folk clubs - they would all be very boring without the eccentrics.


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Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Jan 08 - 02:23 PM

Maryrrf,well, as I normally wear a kilt , a bowler hat, a bikers jacket, and a pink wig ,I shouldnt have any problems then.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: Tootler
Date: 10 Jan 08 - 02:37 PM

Shimrod said;

Why am I asking a lot?

Oh, I see - it's only folk music - any old rubbish will do!


I don't think anyone is saying that. What is being said is that anyone one who wants should be allowed to have a go. An entirely different matter and is the basis on which a lot of folk clubs are run.

On a guest night, when there are more than the usual number of people there purely to listen, the organiser may want to do a bit of filtering. However, he/she has a difficult balancing act as you do not want to upset club regulars who turn up and support the club every week.


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Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: GUEST,Winger
Date: 10 Jan 08 - 03:17 PM

Since I first got involved in running folk clubs, organising concerts, festivals, etc., I have never once considered "looks" as a criterion in booking a performer.

If I had, I would probably have been forced to excluded some of the icons of folk/traditional music.

On the other hand, of course, I've seen some traditional musicians turn up in a suit and tie (Seamus Ennis, comes to mind.

I think one of the things that drew people to folk clubs (particularly in the 60s) was this sense of an underground/alternative culture which was at odds with the conventional music venues. You didn't need a mohair suit or bee-hive hair-do to sing a song.

I recall one singer of traditional songs (he was a full-time professional) laughingly tell me that he claimed expenses for "stage clothes" on his tax returns. Never saw him in anything other than jeans and a t-shirt.


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Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 10 Jan 08 - 03:33 PM

Lighten up?

Outwardly, I'm like thistledown (You at the back! Stop sniggering! I'm talking metaphorically!). I would never put anyone down - either publicly or privately; and, over the last 40 years or so, I have sat through some rubbish. Even when it gets really dire I try to keep a polite expression on my face and refrain from emitting groaning noises (well, most of the time!). But you can't censor what's going on in my head!

On the other hand I do make an effort to tell people if they've done that old 'hair-raising' trick.

As far as floor singing goes, I've always valued the workshop thing. Mainly because people can support and encourage each other - which, in my experience tends to lead to a better standard of singing.
Also I don't have to sit there in silent 'judgement', biting my tongue. And as I usually participate, people can have a 'pop' at me if they like!


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Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 10 Jan 08 - 03:51 PM

..."I recall one singer of traditional songs (he was a full-time professional) laughingly tell me that he claimed expenses for "stage clothes" on his tax returns. Never saw him in anything other than jeans and a t-shirt" ...

Brian Peters is indeed very shrewd, and good luck to him :-) ...


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Subject: RE: How bad/good- measuring quality of performers
From: GUEST,Balladeer
Date: 11 Jan 08 - 04:23 PM

I think there has to be a ballance between the number of good singers/musicians and the not so good. Otherwise all the good ones will leave and all you have left are the not so good and then you do not have a club at all.


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