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Can folk clubs get any better?

Banjiman 03 Jul 08 - 07:34 AM
Richard Bridge 03 Jul 08 - 08:02 AM
Banjiman 03 Jul 08 - 08:09 AM
muppitz 03 Jul 08 - 08:13 AM
Waddon Pete 03 Jul 08 - 08:15 AM
theleveller 03 Jul 08 - 08:16 AM
Mr Happy 03 Jul 08 - 08:30 AM
GUEST,Betsy at work 03 Jul 08 - 08:33 AM
Big Al Whittle 03 Jul 08 - 08:38 AM
Spleen Cringe 03 Jul 08 - 08:45 AM
TheSnail 03 Jul 08 - 08:54 AM
Midchuck 03 Jul 08 - 08:55 AM
GUEST,Betsy at Work 03 Jul 08 - 09:25 AM
Richard Bridge 03 Jul 08 - 09:26 AM
mattkeen 03 Jul 08 - 09:29 AM
Mr Happy 03 Jul 08 - 09:34 AM
Spleen Cringe 03 Jul 08 - 09:36 AM
GUEST,No Fixed Abode 03 Jul 08 - 10:17 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 03 Jul 08 - 10:41 AM
Banjiman 03 Jul 08 - 10:41 AM
GUEST 03 Jul 08 - 11:35 AM
GUEST,Maud Karpeles owes me a fiver 03 Jul 08 - 11:41 AM
Spleen Cringe 03 Jul 08 - 11:45 AM
Waddon Pete 03 Jul 08 - 11:45 AM
Banjiman 03 Jul 08 - 11:49 AM
GUEST,No Fixed Abode 03 Jul 08 - 11:57 AM
GUEST,No Fixed Abode 03 Jul 08 - 12:01 PM
Banjiman 03 Jul 08 - 12:03 PM
GUEST,No Fixeed Abode 03 Jul 08 - 12:17 PM
Richard Bridge 03 Jul 08 - 12:20 PM
The Villan 03 Jul 08 - 12:53 PM
Banjiman 03 Jul 08 - 02:03 PM
The Villan 03 Jul 08 - 02:22 PM
Big Al Whittle 03 Jul 08 - 02:32 PM
GUEST,PeterC 03 Jul 08 - 03:02 PM
Linda Kelly 03 Jul 08 - 03:51 PM
Banjiman 03 Jul 08 - 03:56 PM
Banjiman 03 Jul 08 - 03:58 PM
GUEST,No Fixed Abode 03 Jul 08 - 04:09 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 03 Jul 08 - 04:20 PM
GUEST,Ed 03 Jul 08 - 04:42 PM
GUEST,Ed 03 Jul 08 - 04:48 PM
Betsy 03 Jul 08 - 05:51 PM
Kampervan 03 Jul 08 - 06:03 PM
Linda Kelly 03 Jul 08 - 06:51 PM
Richard Bridge 03 Jul 08 - 09:08 PM
Richard Bridge 03 Jul 08 - 09:10 PM
Jim Carroll 04 Jul 08 - 02:31 AM
The Fooles Troupe 04 Jul 08 - 02:45 AM
The Villan 04 Jul 08 - 02:49 AM
Banjiman 04 Jul 08 - 03:32 AM
Banjiman 04 Jul 08 - 03:34 AM
TheSnail 04 Jul 08 - 04:50 AM
Waddon Pete 04 Jul 08 - 06:01 AM
The Villan 04 Jul 08 - 06:14 AM
theleveller 04 Jul 08 - 06:20 AM
mattkeen 04 Jul 08 - 06:20 AM
mattkeen 04 Jul 08 - 06:22 AM
GUEST,James H 04 Jul 08 - 07:07 AM
Richard Bridge 04 Jul 08 - 07:49 AM
TheSnail 04 Jul 08 - 07:59 AM
Banjiman 04 Jul 08 - 09:11 AM
theleveller 04 Jul 08 - 09:16 AM
The Fooles Troupe 04 Jul 08 - 09:37 AM
Richard Bridge 04 Jul 08 - 09:52 AM
Banjiman 04 Jul 08 - 09:59 AM
Dave the Gnome 04 Jul 08 - 10:18 AM
GUEST,David McB 04 Jul 08 - 01:11 PM
Sooz 04 Jul 08 - 01:43 PM
Jim Carroll 04 Jul 08 - 02:18 PM
The Fooles Troupe 04 Jul 08 - 10:17 PM
Big Al Whittle 05 Jul 08 - 05:46 AM
GUEST 05 Jul 08 - 06:11 AM
Howard Jones 05 Jul 08 - 06:13 AM
Spleen Cringe 05 Jul 08 - 06:13 AM
Big Al Whittle 05 Jul 08 - 06:41 AM
Richard Bridge 05 Jul 08 - 07:08 AM
TheSnail 05 Jul 08 - 07:51 AM
The Fooles Troupe 05 Jul 08 - 08:56 AM
GUEST,Jon 05 Jul 08 - 08:56 AM
Big Al Whittle 05 Jul 08 - 09:13 AM
TheSnail 05 Jul 08 - 10:21 AM
The Sandman 05 Jul 08 - 12:51 PM
Jim Carroll 05 Jul 08 - 12:54 PM
Spleen Cringe 05 Jul 08 - 02:04 PM
Big Al Whittle 05 Jul 08 - 02:57 PM
The Sandman 05 Jul 08 - 03:30 PM
Big Al Whittle 05 Jul 08 - 04:31 PM
Lord Batman's Kitchener 05 Jul 08 - 04:48 PM
Folknacious 05 Jul 08 - 06:11 PM
Folkiedave 05 Jul 08 - 06:31 PM
GUEST,Jon 05 Jul 08 - 07:26 PM
TheSnail 05 Jul 08 - 08:37 PM
TheSnail 05 Jul 08 - 08:40 PM
Jim Carroll 06 Jul 08 - 03:02 AM
Spleen Cringe 06 Jul 08 - 03:46 AM
GUEST,The Bastard Son Of Marty Feldman 06 Jul 08 - 04:32 AM
kerry and Mandy 06 Jul 08 - 05:54 AM
Jim Carroll 06 Jul 08 - 06:16 AM
Linda Kelly 06 Jul 08 - 07:25 AM
Waddon Pete 06 Jul 08 - 07:46 AM
Jim Carroll 06 Jul 08 - 08:58 AM
GUEST,pttp 06 Jul 08 - 09:20 AM
GUEST 06 Jul 08 - 10:15 AM
GUEST,Silas 06 Jul 08 - 10:16 AM
GUEST 06 Jul 08 - 11:29 AM
GUEST,the Bastard Son Of Marty Feldman 06 Jul 08 - 12:53 PM
GUEST,The Bastard Son Of Marty Feldman 06 Jul 08 - 12:57 PM
GUEST,The Bastard Son Of marty Feldman 06 Jul 08 - 01:09 PM
Dave Earl 06 Jul 08 - 01:33 PM
Jim Carroll 06 Jul 08 - 02:44 PM
Gene Burton 06 Jul 08 - 03:30 PM
Banjiman 06 Jul 08 - 03:54 PM
Banjiman 06 Jul 08 - 04:00 PM
Richard Bridge 06 Jul 08 - 04:45 PM
GUEST,The Bastard Son Of Marty Feldman 06 Jul 08 - 05:30 PM
Gene Burton 06 Jul 08 - 05:47 PM
TheSnail 06 Jul 08 - 05:47 PM
Gene Burton 06 Jul 08 - 05:48 PM
Folkiedave 06 Jul 08 - 05:49 PM
TheSnail 06 Jul 08 - 06:24 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 06 Jul 08 - 06:26 PM
GUEST,Jon 06 Jul 08 - 06:48 PM
kerry and Mandy 06 Jul 08 - 06:49 PM
Banjiman 07 Jul 08 - 02:28 AM
theleveller 07 Jul 08 - 03:33 AM
kerry and Mandy 07 Jul 08 - 03:39 AM
theleveller 07 Jul 08 - 04:51 AM
Harmonium Hero 07 Jul 08 - 01:01 PM
GUEST,Dennis Murphy 07 Jul 08 - 01:31 PM
Banjiman 07 Jul 08 - 02:11 PM
GUEST,The Bastard Son Of Marty Feldman 07 Jul 08 - 07:53 PM
Jim Carroll 09 Jul 08 - 03:10 AM
Banjiman 09 Jul 08 - 03:26 AM
TheSnail 09 Jul 08 - 08:28 AM
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Subject: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Banjiman
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 07:34 AM

There has been quite a discussion on the "earning a living from folk" thread as to the merits (or not) of the current folk club scene (specifically in the UK, but I am very interested in what works well in other countries too) and how clubs currently operate.

As a folk club organiser I am keen to learn what it is that people like about the current approaches and explore what could be done to increase attendances where they are poor.

I am especially interested in the perception that guest nights are generally less well attended than they were "back in the day" ....... what can be done (if anything) to reverse this trend?

A personal plea to keep this positive with constructive thoughts and shining examples especially welcome.

Thanks

Paul


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 08:02 AM

Shall I stick my neck out and say that folk music would be nice, but that no-one should be excluded?


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Banjiman
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 08:09 AM

Thank you Richard.... any other aspects that you could comment on.... ambience, facilities, venues etc?

The type of "folk music" on offer is of course central but from what I've seen (about 20+ performance clubs in the last year + many singarounds & sessions) it is not the only important aspect of having a good experience at a Folk Club. But then I'm pretty eclectic in my tastes, excellence in performance and/or musicianship I would rate as very important though.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: muppitz
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 08:13 AM

I co-run a folk club and possibly the only thing we got wrong in the instigation of it was calling it a FOLK club, the word seems to scare people off and we're not exclusive to folk either so with the benefit of hindsight, we maybe should have called ourselves something else!
Our closest club, which has been going for over 30 years and is also called a FOLK club is well attended every week but has a reputation for better attended singers nights than guest nights, depending on the guest(s).

Our attendance is as changeable as the weather, it's possible the weather is a factor as where the club is was evacuated during the heavy rains in the UK last year, there is also the fact that we don't operate every week and unless you have our publicity or you've committed our schedule to memory then there would be some confusion as to our club nights.
We've only been going for a year and a bit so we're in our infancy but we're not bankrupt yet so we're keeping positive!

muppitz
x


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 08:15 AM

Hello Paul,

A very wide ranging topic...but a three-pennyworth from me!

Access is important e.g. easy to get to and with good car parking. It should also be in an area where your patrons do not have to run the gauntlet of those who care to spend their evenings in less agreeable pursuits(!)

Ethos is more important that ambiance (did I spell that right?).

Make sure the guest list reflects the considered views of the audience...not the personal likes and dislikes of the organiser(s).

Have resident singers who are disciplined enough to only do the bare minimum on a guest night.

Only have amplification as a last resort.

How's that for starters?

Best wishes,

Peter


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: theleveller
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 08:16 AM

I have to concur with what Richard says: I want folk music (albeit in its broadest sense). The problem I've encountered with the two monthly folk clubs around my area that I've been going to for some years is that they've gradually turned into acoustic clubs. Now I don't mind singing along to the odd Squeeze, early Kinks or Beatles song but when someone decided to do a really bad version of Comfortable Numb….need I say more? Also people seem less inclined to want to listen to 'real' folk music and by the tenth verse of Bonnie Annie you could see the eyes glazing over and one or two muttering about singing something a bit more cheeful. Now, I really like the people who go there but it's a vicious circle and the less folk music there is, the less folk musicians go – me included. Don't get me wrong, there are always plenty of performers (often 15 or 20) but very few listeners, if you see what I mean

Without trying to be an a**e-licker, Paul, the one time we ventured up the Great North Road to KFFC, it was a real joy. We felt right at home, not just with the really friendly people but with the style and choice of music. We even found two of the folkies who used to go to our clubs there! Ha, seems the Howden lot are migrating north. This is why it's such a shame that your pub has shut, although the village hall atmosphere was great (and it's cheaper as you can bring your own drink).

You seem to have the advantage of operating in a vibrant folk community in an area where there are quite a few excellent performers and like-minded people. I can understand that your location might be a disadvantage in attracting large numbers out on a cold winter night, which might make it a struggle to cover the cost of your guests but, as a general rule, the 'better mousetrap' analogy would seem to apply especially if, as you do so well, you publicise to the widest audience possible as well. Also, I think you're wise to have it on a Saturday; we almost never go out during the week because of work and family.

How could you make it better? Move closer to where we live. Apart from that I've no helpful tips whatsoever.Sorry!


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 08:30 AM

In my area [Cheshire/ N.Wales etc] folk clubs per se are on the wane.

Its sinarounds/acoustic sesshes on the increase.

I run a weakly one of this kind & attendances fluctuate but a steady 6-10 participants + audients come regularly, & from time to time get a roomful.

I too have shied away from the dreaded 'folk' label for our get together, instead calling it a 'Come All Ye'


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: GUEST,Betsy at work
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 08:33 AM

Some good posts so far and most have hinted on an element which I don't feel like mentioning just yet as I need to formulate my views / words in order to not upset too many people, but Waddon Pete has stimulated me with his use of "resident singers who are disciplined " which I find quite agreeable.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 08:38 AM

Access is as you say very important. many folk clubs are in the upstairs rooms of pubs. Which is okay when only young students want them. but we're all old now. I get short of breath. My wife's got arthritis.

Also there is such a thing as the the disabled dollar - why choose places that exclude disabled people.

Parking is also important. My favourie is the Vernon in Derby - although the parking is lousy there.

Its mainly a singers club, and there is a buffet in the interval. Although there is a guest once a month. Its run by a committee.
Attendance is usually very good and the room is clean and not unpleasant.

I think, looking back, I used to go to real dumps - very uncomfortable and dirty and we were stupid for putting up with it.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 08:45 AM

Resident singers who are disciplined

And does everyone else get to take it in turns doing the disciplining? I have a whip in my valise...

Only joking.

I'll come back in a bit with construcive comments, and I promise they will be constructive... however I must indulge myself in my new policy of reflecting on my comments before rarther than after posting them. So for now I'll join Betsy in the formulation suite.

I also think it would be useful for people like Paul who run a club widely acknowedged as a good example of how to do it right to tell us what they think they're currently doing that's right.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: TheSnail
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 08:54 AM

Something I posted on the Earning money thread might be more relevant her so I'll just post a link -

thread.cfm?threadid=112267&messages=227#2379527


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Midchuck
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 08:55 AM

Hey, you Brits don't know how good you have it.

Whatever goes wrong, at least you can get folk music and beer (and usually good beer at that), at the same time.

%*^#^* Coffeehouses!

Peter


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: GUEST,Betsy at Work
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 09:25 AM

Hi Midchuck, Thanks for those words of sanity - you're absolutely correct.You must think we're a right load of moaning bastards on this side of the pond.
I must show my colours and say that I wouldn't attend a session, concert or whatever which was Tee Total.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 09:26 AM

One needs: -
suitable music policy
parking
public transport
drinkable beer
suitable greeter
suitable name (I like "folk" so that works for me)
suitable mix of guest nights and non-guest nights
pub that is not home to all the local crims (lots of folkies are social workers, teachers, and prison officers)
heating in winter
low noise penetration (both ways)
stability
a suitable "FHB" rule for busy nights

Oh, and can someone repeal the breathaliser legislation please?


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: mattkeen
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 09:29 AM

Hold the club someehere that doesn't look like its the sort of sticky carpey pub that used to hold Social Worker Party meetings - nothing against SWP I attended their meeings but that was 1975.

Do the place up so that it looks like we are going to have a really good time

DO us very good quality amplification unless in a very small room


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 09:34 AM

"FHB" rule ??


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 09:36 AM

Folking huge bottoms?


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: GUEST,No Fixed Abode
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 10:17 AM

I agree with Richards "one needs list" One thing that I feel should be explored is this idea that once you have set up a club the people will "come" sorry but I see very little marketing by folk clubs (ok I am sure there ARE clubs that market very well...so please share with us here how you do it!) outside of the obvious marketing at festivals and local folk mags. What DO folk clubs do to encourage no folkies into there clubs. I know from experience that if you go into ANY tourist information office you will not find any leaflets about the local folk clubs…… again sadly we talk to local people around us re folk clubs and people are surprised that there is one!
Having just thought about it here are a few questions I guess I need answers to before passing further comment
1        Do folk clubs want/encourage performers/singers only
2         Would folk clubs be happy to see for want of a better term "non folkie punters" coming to their clubs to listen/perform
3        How many clubs have leafleted there local area promoting the folk club ( by leafleting I mean 2-3k flyers delivered through local peoples letter boxes)
4        Do Folk clubs have mailing lists
5        Do folk clubs use social networking sites like Myspace to advertise there club and guests (acoustic clubs and open mics are all over myspace)
6        Why is there no association of folk clubs as there is the association of festival organisers is there a need for one?


One final point…..sound reinforcement (p.a.) Having spoken to a lot of fellow performers a good sound reinforcement system (note I do not use the phrase amplification as that is TOTALLY different and unfortunately too many people do not understand the difference) is actually beneficial as it allows a lot more subtly to be used and all the performers I have talked to appreciate a GOOD sound reinforcement system.

I hope I have not been to "negative" and I also hope that people understand that I am trying to understand and help if I can.

Thanks

Tony


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 10:41 AM

1) some do some don't

2) most would, I think

3) not so many do letter boxes, but other clubs, libraries etc is common

4) Yes, but not all

5) Yes, quite a few do.

6) Watch this space

This page touches on many relevant issues

I may add some more ideas from this thread if no-one has any objections.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Banjiman
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 10:41 AM

Tony,

I didn't read any of your post as negative.

I am very keen to encourage "non-folkies" into our club, but have met with very limited success. We do leaflet the local area (not 2 or 3k but about 300, around the local villages). We managed to bring in some of the "locals" when we had Jez Lowe on and when we had my other half (she's massive in Kirkby Fleetham, shame about the rest of the universe!) on as main guests. Apart from that, very little support outside of the "folk community".

Rightly or wrongly I have a theory that "floorsingers" put off non "hardcore folkies" and have resisted putting them on. We do have a singaround (that in the future will run from 6.00pm to 8.15pm) before the "concert". I hasten to add that I enjoy singarounds and informal music making, our club works hand in hand and shares a lot of membership with Burneston Folk Club which is purely a weekly singaround.

Once the evening proper starts at 8,30pm we have 1 or 2 booked support acts and a main act. We do use "sound re-inforcement", OK a P.A. and I insist on using stage lights and candles to create an ambiance (I'm a big girly at heart). Attendances have varied between 23 and 95 with the usual around 35...... my aim (and part of the motivation for the thread) is to try and double this.

Music styles have varied from Traditional unaccompanied (as support, I confess)through the Duncan McFarlane Electric band to folky singer songwriters. Our usual guest material is usually the latter, who will probably do some traditional material as well as part of their set. We have also run blues specials (well attended by locals) and a bluegrass special, which given that it was on a Monday night (we usually do Saturdays) was also well attended. Strangely we have had quite a few banjoists on as well!

There's probably more to say but that will do for now!

Paul


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 11:35 AM

Hello Paul,

Me again....only twopennyworth this time!

"Sound re-inforcement" ... sounds like one of those ads for a certain make of stair lift! Sorry, inter-floor perambulating device!

I would pose this question. "Why would some-one unused to Folk Music want to come to your folk club?"

And as a compliment to this, "Why would a folk fan want to come to your folk club?"

Answers on the back of a £5 note, please!

Best wishes,

Peter


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: GUEST,Maud Karpeles owes me a fiver
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 11:41 AM

Midchuck, the whole English thing about beer and folk music long ago became a bit of a cliche, a living one at that, and it still prevails to this day.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 11:45 AM

That last guest is nothing to do with me, by the way.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 11:45 AM

Sorry...that poster with the questions was me....I had a coffee and ate my cookie!

Peter


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Banjiman
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 11:49 AM

Peter,

Those are good questions, I will ponder on them awhile.

Thanks

Paul


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: GUEST,No Fixed Abode
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 11:57 AM

Thanks for the replies Paul and Tom,
Paul your first paragraph is interesting; I guess a good way to introduce non folkies is at a guest night. 200-300 leaflets is not much, no offence but marketing people will tell you that with direct mailing (the posh term for leafleting!) normally gives a return of 1-3% so if you delivered 1000 leaflets expect to get between10-30 people. I also know that how you word and present the flier has an impact on the percentage you will see. I do not want to tell people how to "suck eggs" but posters in shop windows leaflets in dellies, coffee shops, tourist information offices, hotels, B&B's, Libraries, churches and gyms/leisure centres may help.

I guess putting on flour singers is an issue. Personally I would want to put on anyone who can "Entertain" if that is a floor singer poet or baron player so be it! Especially if there are a lot of new faces/ non folkies. I guess that would be difficult as it may mean putting someone's nose out of joint (quaint northern expression) love the candles and lights thing…..creating an atmosphere or a sense of occasion is really important. (And it can also hide a multitude of sins!)

Tom points 1&2 ok….. point 3 I guess the bee in my bonnet is that leafleting other clubs just means that you are hoping people will come from that club and by definition the same people will be going round in one big folk circle. We are always looking for new gigs and venues to perform at and the way we explain it is like the bucket with a hole in it, you have to top up with more water than you loose through the hole. Folk clubs need to try and top up with new people if they can, to do that I guess finding people who will come to the club is a priority and then maybe educating them about folk music SLOWLY may mean they become regulars.

Point 4 if a folk club dose not have a mailing list I guess it is just a gathering of friends……

Point 5 I have a number of folk clubs as friends on our myspace page and what surprises me is that I get NO messages or comments from them. I guess you have to understand how to use myspace but if you have gone to the trouble of setting up the page and then NOT using the bulletin /messaging feature/ event invitation feature then I would recommend someone learns how to do so. Remember you can put video footage on there as well.

Point 6 I guess you are ahead of me there Tom………..


Thanks

Tony


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: GUEST,No Fixed Abode
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 12:01 PM

Sorry should read "Bodhran" player..........Una had hit me.......... further punishment will be delivered later...................


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Banjiman
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 12:03 PM

Tony,

"if you delivered 1000 leaflets".........feel free to come and help! That's a big, big time commitment..... which is always one of the challenges of course.

I am aware of the returns for direct marketing, you have reminded me of the the size of the task in hand.......thanks (I think!).

Paul


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: GUEST,No Fixeed Abode
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 12:17 PM

Paul,
    If you don't wish to do it yourself there are leaflet gangs....not sure how you find them but I worked in one during summer hols as a teenager and a gang of four can shift 3k in a day. think of the health benifits!!



Why not offer the job to the local weight watchers club!!!

(he he)

Tony


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 12:20 PM

Candles can adversely affect the breathing impaired - and if you do a "risk assessment" are a major negative. Sure, they look pretty, but can you chance it?

Flyers and mailing lists soon create a significant overhead. Fine I guess for concerts with stars, but a significant risk of downside otherwise.

Oh, and why would we want people who do not like folk and similar (stretching it as far as country for this purpose) music to come anyway? Would a metal night want a bunch of grannies knitting at the back? If the answer is just money I will start chuntering about prostitution again.

Myspace, however is good. Muppitz' club site I sometimes go and work out from to see who is playing what. And I like that she calls it a folk club.

FHB means "family hold back". In this context it means that if there are more than enough floor singers for the available floor spots it is the residents who start to drop out, rather than doing N songs each and then saying "Oh, no time for floor singers". I've seen it.

No PA or SR is best, if possible.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: The Villan
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 12:53 PM

They can always get better. The day you sit back and relax and think that the audience will turn up is the day you get a nasty shock. There is always room for improvement.

I changed the name from Market Rasen Folk Club to Faldingworth Live to better identify it as a concert venue.

I also try to steer away from referring to performers as folk singers as that drives away the locals who when they hear that word, run a mile.

Operating in a rural area and in a Village Hall with a community of about 300 aging residents means that it would not survive if they were the only people attending.

We tend to get between 60 to 90 attendees for each concert. Of that about 30% represent the villagers and 70 % from other areas.

The 30% have never heard of the performers before, whereas the 70% are into the folk world so know who has been booked.

To keep the audience up to a level that pays the bills, we advertise in the papers, on radio, by website Faldingworth Live including myspace and diary websites such as Folktalk, Display posters, hand out diaries and word of mouth including phoning people who want to go but have a tendency to forget (must be the aging process). There is little point putting artists on and not promoting. We also rely on artists promoting their gigs at Faldingworth by notifying their fans.

We try to make everybody welcome and have a bar on most nights.

Barring unforeseeable problems we start on time. A very important point in my opinion.

We are on one level and have disability parking and disability toilet facilities.

We try to keep the prices as affordable as possible.

We have our own PA system and portable stage. We have a very good couple called Gwenda & Terry Cater who do a wonderful job as PA technicians. We have 3 people who work very hard from the village in relation to the hall and bar.

We are definitely not a folk club but in all honesty, most of the performers are well known in the folk world.

To see pictures of the hall http://www.faldingworthlive.co.uk/faldingworth_live_photo's.htm

Yes we can make improvements and over time that is what we have tried to do.

I like to think we are successful, but we are well aware that things could go pear-shaped overnight.

Having said all that, one of the best Inclusive Singaround folkclubs in Lincolnshire is Gainsborough Folk Club. However I will leave somebody from there if they so wish, to explain why they are so good.

I have posted to give an idea of how we do it. I strongly believe that it up to each place to decide what they think works best and stick to it. Yes you will get the whingers who never get off their arse to help, but know how to do things better. That's life.

Above all I have to say that as a group overall, I think that folkies are the nicest people in the world.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Banjiman
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 02:03 PM

"Oh, and why would we want people who do not like folk and similar (stretching it as far as country for this purpose) music to come anyway? Would a metal night want a bunch of grannies knitting at the back? If the answer is just money I will start chuntering about prostitution again."

Richard, that's not what I said......I said non-folkies. My hypothesis here is that most people would like some (you know folky stuff, non '54 definition) of what we put on if we could get them through the door.

I can't see us putting much "country" music on.... Bluegrass and Old Time definitely, but you'll not see many lap steels around here. Would you like to define "Country"..... actually, please don't!

Paul


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: The Villan
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 02:22 PM

It really doesn't matter what you put on Paul. You organise it and it is your call.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 02:32 PM

Prostitution again.......!

you tried that at your club and it still didn't work!

perhaps you need better raffle prizes.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: GUEST,PeterC
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 03:02 PM

The day you sit back and relax and think that the audience will turn up is the day you get a nasty shock.

I can think of quite a few organisers who had that nasty shock in their wallets over the years.

Getting the punters in takes a lot of graft but isn't complicated. The hard part is getting them to come back. It just takes just one little thing to put a newcomer off for ever.

The main points have been covered here and there are well established sites on the web discussing these issues as well. One little thing that I always valued when I ran a club was the raffle. It was something I tried to do myself as it meant that I had a natural icebreaker for talking to every customer in the room. The extra money was nice too of course.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Linda Kelly
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 03:51 PM

Cottingham Live has a :
website,
quarterly flyers,
adverts in folk magazines
folk website listings,
diaries for club members for the following season
press interviews with local papers.
Good relations with other local folk clubs
an extremely bossy organiser who isn't afraid to tell people to get on with it on busy nights (that's me that it!)
guests every three weeks -well attended
a mixed audience of performers and listeners
a wonderful pa system
a great room with comfy seats
xmas Party
themed nights
Reasonable door prices for guest nights
a raffle with a famous mystery prize
a resident sheepdog
Fundraising for charity
a large proportion of members who are professionals singers/musicians
a great compere (not me)
And if people think these things just'happen' they are very very wrong.

Tom Bliss is about to find out if any or all of these things are true- come and see him at Cottingham Live on Wednesday 16 July!!!


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Banjiman
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 03:56 PM

Would it be rude of me to encourage more "ordinary" punters to express their views around what they want from a club especially those under 45.....if there are any out there? (Not to exclude anyones views.... very interested to hear from everyone).

Les, thanks for your input ........ I like the model you have and I can't wait to visit in November and see it in the flesh so to speak. I do want to try and keep the flexibility of booking lesser known (but high quality) acts as well as those who are more established. I guess that means it will be tougher to hit your heady attendance figures.....though that is the target.

NFA, you'll be pleased to know that I have just ordered 1100 flyers for our September event (£75!!!!!).....I've deliberately kept the word "folk" low key.... though it is in the small print! I've not tried to avoid the "F" word before, I'll see if it makes a difference. I'll be sorting out posters as well in the next few days.... and I've organised a ticket outlet in "Town" (The metropolis that is Northallerton!). Need to try and organise some radio coverage (not easy as we kind of fall between BBC Radio York and Tees).... any ideas?

By the way we do have a MySpace KFFC and a website (in need of slight updating)
KFFC website . I have an emailing list (about 120 contacts) and use MySpace pretty mercilessly..... ask my "friends"!

Thanks for all you input so far.....anyone else learning anything?

Cheers

Paul


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Banjiman
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 03:58 PM

Linda.... what is your average attendance like for a guest night?

Thanks

Paul


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: GUEST,No Fixed Abode
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 04:09 PM

Paul try jerry scott..he has interviewed us and supports live music. He broadcasts from a studio in Scarbrough. Late night show but may help, find him in the dj list for BBC radio York. Just a thought...... is the gig on your local BBC radio stations gig guide page. Also Tom uses the radio two notice board thing, Tom can you advertise gigs on this?

tony


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 04:20 PM

Yes... but you have to be careful how you word it. They pull anything that looks like direct advertising. I do mail them all my gigs for the R2 listings, but they don't always put them up (in fact I think they're dropping it/have dropped it)? If I think there's going to be a problem gig (low turnout risk for some reason) I do post both here and there (and uk.music.folk - and Footstompin if it's in Scotland), but not every gig, as it would annoy people. If I was a member here I'd have a permathread like Mary and Treewind, but I'm not a member for reasons explained elsewhere. First time at Cottingham - wow that's a brilliant list Linda. Just proves how hard many (most - nearly all?) FCOs work! Couple of extras there for the folkWISE tips page too. T


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 04:42 PM

Banjiman said:

Would it be rude of me to encourage more "ordinary" punters to express their views around what they want from a club especially those under 45.....if there are any out there?

Hello Paul,

It certainly isn't rude...

I guess that I'm an "ordinary" punter (whatever that means!). As such, I much prefer to here a decent artist (e.g. one who can sing and play well) do a set rather than the, frankly awful, stuff you often get at singarounds.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 04:48 PM

BTW, I'm 41 if that helps....


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Betsy
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 05:51 PM

BTW I'm 60 and I'm having a hard time putting words together that will not upset people, but I am struggling because I believe there is a malaise (coupled with many good things) in quite a few clubs, but I will put on my thinking cap, and see how I can write the least offensive précis.
Thinks, thinks !!!!
        
Cheers Betsy


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Kampervan
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 06:03 PM

This is a really difficult question.

To try to define what makes a good folk club is virtually impossible, it depends so much on the the locality. What works in one place, (and one time), is not necessarily transferrable.

But all of the folk clubs that I've enjoyed being aprt of over the last 40 years have had a few things in common,they've been:-

Friendly

Welcoming to newcomers

Non-judgmental - no matter what the performance content or quality

Well-organised - even though things sometimes do go wrong!

Possessed of a core of dedicated, regular performers to keep even the quietest 'singers nights' going.

Outgoing enough to book and present a range of established and up/coming guest performers

Lucky enough to get supportive audiences and floor singers.

So - all it takes is a group of dedicated people who decide to run a successful folk club cos running the world would not be so much of a challenge.

Long may we appreciate them.

K/van


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Linda Kelly
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 06:51 PM

Depends but we average 35 to 45 On a singers night slightly less on a guest night many more and we would struggle with room size


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 09:08 PM


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 03 Jul 08 - 09:10 PM

Oops!   was going to say that I thought the "EFS" (extended floor spot) was a useful method of bridging (no pun intended) the gap between the wholly amateur (as distinct from amateurish) and the loal semipros.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Jul 08 - 02:31 AM

What a strange thread!
If you want to run a FOLK club - put on an evening of well performed FOLK music - if you don't like Folk music - don't call it a FOLK club and don't.
If you just want to put bums on seats - save your pennies and book Kylie Minogue!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 04 Jul 08 - 02:45 AM

I just have to ask "Could they get any worse?"...


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: The Villan
Date: 04 Jul 08 - 02:49 AM

>>If you just want to put bums on seats - save your pennies and book Kylie Minogue!
<<
How many years would you have to save for that then.
Thoughts of catch you on the way down, springs to mind :-)


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Banjiman
Date: 04 Jul 08 - 03:32 AM

"If you want to run a FOLK club - put on an evening of well performed FOLK music - if you don't like Folk music - don't call it a FOLK club and don't."

Jim, Thanks for your constructive input, I learned so much from that post!

Paul


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Banjiman
Date: 04 Jul 08 - 03:34 AM

"I just have to ask "Could they get any worse?"..."

Foolestroupe, so what needs improving then? That is after all the whole point of the thread. I'm sure if you try hard you could come up with some positive suggestions.

Paul


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: TheSnail
Date: 04 Jul 08 - 04:50 AM

There's a lot of excellent stuff which I'd like to respond to but a couple of lines caught my attention -

Make sure the guest list reflects the considered views of the audience...not the personal likes and dislikes of the organiser(s).
Waddon Pete

It really doesn't matter what you put on Paul. You organise it and it is your call.
The Villan

We should never forget that, for the most part, folk club organisers are volunteers doing a lot of hard work for the love of it. What's more, they are part of the audience.
Of course they should take suggestions from the audience but having to put on guests you don't like to put bums on seats is likely to make you wonder why you're doing it.

I'm with The Villan on this one.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 04 Jul 08 - 06:01 AM

Thanks for your post Snail.

My point was, if you don't take your audience into consideration, will you actually have one?

Not that it is as easy as that......or is it?

Best wishes,

Peter


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: The Villan
Date: 04 Jul 08 - 06:14 AM

You try to take your audience into consideration. However, as you well know, you can't and won't please everybody. Thats the way the cookie crumbles.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: theleveller
Date: 04 Jul 08 - 06:20 AM

Paul, thinking about what you've said, there seems to be two issues: how you can make the club better and how you can make the club better-known.

On the first, I've nothing to add – you have a great club that ticks all the boxes for me.

On the second, though, maybe it would be helpful to approach this as a marketing brief (which, as I may have mentioned, is what I do for a living). A few years ago an advertising agency might have taken this on as a 'chip shop' account (that means one that's taken on for the prestige of doing great creative work rather than making money and originated when a Manchester agency decided to promote their local chip shop and won loads of awards for the work). Unfortunately, in today's economic climate, few agencies are prepared to do this now. If you wish I can, however, give the problem some thought and maybe pick the brains of colleagues to see if they have any bright ideas.

Two things spring immediately to mind:

1.        Your current approach appears to have been successful – what it amount to is viral marketing. There may be ways of extending this and the advantage is that it's cheap and, especially in the music industry, has on occasions been spectacularly successful. It's an approach that more and more mainstream advertisers are looking into. At the very least, you should be building your email database by adding as many email addresses as possible (get everyone's who comes to the club, if possible). There are some data protection issues you'll have to address but nothing that should be a problem.
2.        I understand that you want to attract younger people, but that might amount to pushing water uphill by going against the prevailing demographics. The 50+ sector is the only one that is growing in the UK and it's growing exponentially (the agency I work for specialises in this market and is now the biggest agency in Yorkshire). Also, this age group comprises a big percentage of the 'folkie' genre (just look around at festivals and folk clubs). I'm not saying that you should ignore the younger sector but ensure that, at the very least, you produce 'ageless' marketing.

As I said, if you want me to, I'll have a think about this and maybe talk to you again about it at Pickering. (Hey, it's not often I can wear my marketing hat and my folkie hat at the same time!)

See you there.

Pete


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: mattkeen
Date: 04 Jul 08 - 06:20 AM

What about the new clubs that are already springing up?
What can be learnt from them?
They are doing it differently but putting on an excellent range of artists (IMO)

This is a link to the one Sam Lee and others got going in London, and it attracts lots of young and non folk people.

Magpies Nest


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: mattkeen
Date: 04 Jul 08 - 06:22 AM

Better still link to thier website direct


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: GUEST,James H
Date: 04 Jul 08 - 07:07 AM

I'm not sure I'm a typical 31 year old but my 10p worth on what would make me go to a club and what would not...(assuming it is a concert type club or guest night)

1) quality performers who can play/sing well and can also interact with an audience
2)... who play the type of stuff I like. I'm being honest here - I'm unlikely to pay to go and see somebody I haven't heard of unless they come with a personal recommendation from somebody I know and trust who thinks I'll love it. I know that makes me unadventurous but my nights off are precious to me as are my pennies. I don't think I'm alone in this. I'm far more likely to go and see somebody I've not heard of at a festival where I've already got a ticket and can dip in & out….
3) slick organisation – starts when it says it will, finishes when it says it will, clear signage outside the building and inside so I know I'm in the right place.
4) self indulgence is probably going to put me off, whether that is residents and floor singers who overrun or organisers who book their mates even if they're not very good.
5) feeling personally welcomed makes a big difference. I play and sing myself, but am quite shy about it. If there are floor singers but I don't get asked whether I play or sing then it makes me feel left out. I know not everybody can get the chance because of time and that you can't expect, as a new face, to be asked to play by an organiser who already has a list as long as your arm of people who they know would like to do a floor spot, but if nobody ever asks whether I play then I'm not going to get the chance at all, am I? Unless I force myself to be brave enough to ask, which is a fairly big deal to a shy person.


as an aside - I have lots of friends in their 20s and 30s who are into folk music, will go to festivals, buy CDs, go to sessions and join in, but won't go to local folk clubs. I think their perception is that they're all run by people they don't have anything in common with, and that in order to see the main act you'd have to sit through a large amount of poor quality and very samey 'beardy retired men with guitars'. I'm not saying that is always the case or that having a beard or being retired is a bad thing, just that plenty of people like to hang out with people they see as similar to themselves, and its a catch 22 - (some) clubs are worried about falling numbers and failure to attract a younger audience but they can't precisely because they don't have one.
...er... not sure I can think of a solution though...


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 04 Jul 08 - 07:49 AM

Interesting point about age that. It had not accurred to me. Saga has made its fortune specifically catering for the less young (!) and there are other organisations running the lower age limit down from 50 to 45 in great economic hope.

Maybe we just got there first and the rest of the world is now catching up. If so we don't want to be looking for younger audiences or participants - all we do is wait and they will be the right age soon.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: TheSnail
Date: 04 Jul 08 - 07:59 AM

Waddon Pete

My point was, if you don't take your audience into consideration, will you actually have one?

Well, we've got one. Sometimes a bit variable for reasons which can be hard to fathom but enough to make it worthwhile. We're always open to suggestions but we don't always follow them up.

My point is that if the audience decide they want wall-to-wall Squeeze, early Kinks or Beatles songs or Comfortable Numb as theleveller has experienced, they can get somebody else to run the club.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Banjiman
Date: 04 Jul 08 - 09:11 AM

Leveller,

Thanks, some really useful insights and thanks for your comments re the "product". In terms of the "message", I'll definitely take you up on your offer of input. Your thoughts about demographics are especially useful.

I'm really under it at work this afternoon and then away for the weekend, can I call you for a chat early next week? I'm not sure we'll be in the right frame of mind at Pickering (hic!) to do it justice.

Thanks again everyone else who has made constructive suggestions, don't you love Mudcat when it stays positive? There's obviously a wealth of great minds out there!

Paul


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: theleveller
Date: 04 Jul 08 - 09:16 AM

No problem. Paul


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 04 Jul 08 - 09:37 AM

I was serious!

If you wonder if they can get any better, a logicaly good point to start with is the inverse - "can they get any worse?"

Once you have decided what WOULD make then worse, you are part way to SOME things that would make them better.

I'm not just making this up as I go along you know - this thinking mode has served my creativity very well.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 04 Jul 08 - 09:52 AM

Ah, but would a reasonable person reading just your line, without context or knowledge of the subject matter, maybe have thought it implied that the clubs were so bad that they could not get any worse? If so should we become indignant at your anti-wossname?


Note: if you have not been following the "Lord of the Dance" thread, it drove me to the above!


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Banjiman
Date: 04 Jul 08 - 09:59 AM

Hi Foolestroupe,

Thanks for the clarification. I understand now, a problem solving technique, not a damning indictment of all folk clubs.

I'll try it then!

Cheers

Paul


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 04 Jul 08 - 10:18 AM

Yes.

Dave.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: GUEST,David McB
Date: 04 Jul 08 - 01:11 PM

My local folk club alternates guest nights with singarounds.

I'd certainly go to the club more often on guest nights if I didn't have to endure the same old residents, doing the same old songs, before each of the guest's two sets. Some of them are fine but others really aren't up to "resident standard" and it is simply indulgent for them to force their stuff on us week-in, week-out.

If I'm weighing up whether to go along on a Sunday night to hear an unfamiliar guest or not it's usually the ghastly thought of the seemingly interminable residents' spots that kill it for me. It's also rather embarrassing for the guest artist to have to sit through some of them...


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Sooz
Date: 04 Jul 08 - 01:43 PM

We got round that problem by having only two floor spots on a guest night. We rotate these around our members and they get a couple of weeks notice to prepare 3 songs. This means that we get to the guest set much more quickly than we used to and don't eat into their time.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Jul 08 - 02:18 PM

"Jim, Thanks for your constructive input, I learned so much from that post!"
Banjiman,
What's not to understand- we argued these points not so long ago and things haven't changed - or have they?
As long as folk clubs become the dumping ground for anything that won't fit into another convenient definition so the punters have no idea what to expect should they chance into a 'folk club', as long as the clubs are run by people who neither like folk song, or understand the term (and winge interminably about long ballads), as long as the standards remain low in many clubs (often, as has been argued on this forum in the past, deliberately so for fear of scaring off indifferent performers), the club scene will remain in the doldrums, and deserve its place there.
These threads usually blame poor premises, an indifferent public, high petrol prices, the locality, poor publicity....... anything but the music that is presented at the clubs and how well it is performed.
The last time but one I was in London I attended a folk club and thought I had blundered into a wake - nobody even pretended to be enjoying what was going on - I I didn't blame them. The high point was a passably sung ballad in a pseudo-American accent; the nadir was a lady hesitantly singing Danny Boy from a crib-sheet - this in a long-established club.
The last time I was in London I went to the pictures.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 04 Jul 08 - 10:17 PM

"it's usually the ghastly thought of the seemingly interminable residents' spots that kill it for me"

What would make it worse?

MORE OF THS? AGGGHHHHH!

Ok, now we can start somewhere useful for that particular club... :-)


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 05 Jul 08 - 05:46 AM

'the nadir was a lady hesitantly singing Danny Boy from a crib-sheet'

Yes indeed. What drives people to these ends? What incident in childhood?

Perhaps they had a sort of Mrs Bates mother who said to visitors, this is Myrtle, she'll always be be ugly and no one will want sex with her, she'll never have a boyfriend - if you want a laugh - ask her to sing danny Boy!

and they're trying to exorcise this..........

Not everyone in London is like that Jim. the queen's not like that for a start. Prince charles would need crib sheet - he looks the type.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Jul 08 - 06:11 AM

My example comes from outside of the folk club world. Here in Manchester we have a fair few acoustic/nu-folk (or whatever you want to call it this week) nights. They are of variable quality, but one such night, Hedge, a monthly do at the Carlton Club in Whalley Range, really is pretty good (and nearly always gets a good turn out - usually a mixture of regulars, people who like the particular guest on offer and the randomly curious).

The venue, affectionate though we all feel to it, is a bit of a rotting hulk, so in order to improve the ambience (which whatever people might say, makes a difference - I've been to some rubbish venues in my time that I wouldn't rush back to...), the organiser covers the formica topped tables with paper table cloths; puts a tea light in a lantern-type holder and a flower in a painted beer bottle on each table (punters sit round tables rather than in school assemby style rows); hangs a large dark coloured backdrop with sparkles behind the stage area; douses most of the harsh, overhead lights and lights the stage area with spotlights. It creates a really nice atmosphere and sets the scene for a good night out because it's possible to see the care and attention to detail being lavished on you as the punter. A lot of local singers and musicians turn up - as punters - but equally a lot of non-musicians. The people on the door are friendly, smiley, welcoming and talkative as is the host/MC. When there are 'floorsingers' (though they are not called that) they perform early on so people who are less tolerant to that sort of thing can turn up a bit later. Between sets there is a DJ playing folkiedokie music for a bit of continuity and background ambience. There is no resident band, but at one point the host's band, Cortina Deluxx, fulfilled this function - but they always went on early and always kept their set short. Oh and the support as well as main act are guests.

Essentially its a concert club that has borrowed elements from the folk club. It wouldn't necessarily be for everyone (hardliners certainly wouldn't find it folky enough, not that it makes any claims to be) but I think they have a pretty good model and one that clearly works.

Not that it matters, but did I mention that the majority of the performers and audience (and the organisers) are in their twenties and thirties? At forty four I'm usually one of the oldest there.

Don't know if this helps the discussion any, but I thought I'd throw it into the pot and see what people thought.

Here's their Myspace if you'd like to take a closer look: Hedge


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 05 Jul 08 - 06:13 AM

Reading this, not only does it appear that people want different things from folk clubs, but the things they want are diametrically opposed.

For some, the strength of folk clubs is their inclusivity, that they allow everyone the opportunity to perform and be accepted. For others, it is the thought of having to sit through hours of dire floorsingers while waiting to hear the guest that puts them off.

Both points of view are right - the strength of folk clubs can at the same time be their weakness. Some clubs are fortunate enough to attract a high standard of floor singer. What the rest often lack is any form of quality control.

Folk clubs provide an opportunity for performers to hone their skills. Unfortunately, being in the audience while the honing is going on can be pretty dire. Some performers don't seem to be interested in honing their skills, and some frankly don't have any skills to hone, but that doesn't stop them from getting up every week.

I think clubs do need to decide whether they are going to be singers clubs/singarounds (and some of these can be very high standard) or concert-type clubs with guests. If you are putting on a quality guest then you owe it to them and the audience to maintain the standard throughout the evening by only putting on floorsingers who are at least competent.

This poses a number of problems - most club organisers (and performers for that matter) are doing this in their spare time, and it is not realistic to hold auditions before giving them a floor spot. Some are too nice to tell their regulars "Sorry, you're just not good enough to be given a floor spot tonight". And many will feel that this goes against the spirit and ethos of folk clubs.

And therein lies the problem. How do we reconcile the participative, supportive, involving nature of folk clubs with the need to provide commercially-viable (in the sense of at least breaking-even over the longer term) entertainment?


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 05 Jul 08 - 06:13 AM

Sorry that anomynous guest was me. My clean up thing ate my cookies.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 05 Jul 08 - 06:41 AM

Personally, I'm on the side of the Myrtle's. the care in the community types. I think it adds a bit of local colour.

after all that's what its all about - folk! the people as well as the music. Its what folk radio is missing. A bit of bloody hummour.

you sit there and you think - well , if I wanted to hear a decent version of this, I'd get so and so's album out. And bloody hell! Old Fred down the pub plays this better than this lot.

And sometimes you think - he's playing this bugger wrong.

and doesn't he know anyone who plays it better than this!


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 05 Jul 08 - 07:08 AM

Got the tolerant hat on today Al? Can I sing a folksong, or would that ruin it?


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: TheSnail
Date: 05 Jul 08 - 07:51 AM

Howard Jones

Reading this, not only does it appear that people want different things from folk clubs, but the things they want are diametrically opposed.

This has pre-empted something I was working up to saying. I think "diametrically opposed" might be putting it a bit strong but there are conflicts of interest.

Some want the chance to sing, Some don't want "to sit through hours of dire floorsingers". (Slight exageration there, I think.) Some only want to sit in neat rows listening to the top professionals. Some want to sit round little tables with candles and floral arrangements and waitresses serving the drinks.

And what do you want to hear/sing? Folk according to the 1954 definition? The Wild Rover, Fields of Athenry and the Black Velvet Band? Dylan? The Beatles? Nu-folk? (Whatever that may be.) Wall-to-wall Irish diddly-diddly? Blues? Bluegrass?....

No club can hope to do all of those things at once and if it tries to do them all in succession it's hardly going to build up a loyal core audience.

Obviously what we need is more (and more varied) folk clubs and to do that, we need more organisers. Let them run their club according to their likes and dislikes and they will attract a like minded audience. The club down the road can do it differently and attract a different (although probably overlapping audience).


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 05 Jul 08 - 08:56 AM

"Some are too nice to tell their regulars "Sorry, you're just not good enough to be given a floor spot tonight"."

Just put your hand in this bucket and draw out a number... oh sorry, you missed out...


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 05 Jul 08 - 08:56 AM

That pretty much sums up my feelings, Snail.

A related comment made elsewhere (BBC I think) was that some clubs could describe/advertise themselves more accurately. I don't see it as a "fix all" solution but I did agree that it could help avoid some disappointments and impressions of all folk clubs formed by visiting just one.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 05 Jul 08 - 09:13 AM

'The Wild Rover, Fields of Athenry and the Black Velvet Band? Dylan? The Beatles? Nu-folk? (Whatever that may be.) Wall-to-wall Irish diddly-diddly? Blues? Bluegrass?....'

sounds like a decent sort of night to me!


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: TheSnail
Date: 05 Jul 08 - 10:21 AM

weelittledrummer

sounds like a decent sort of night to me!

I think finding one club that could cater for all of that might be a bit tricky and you might find you were the only bum on the seats.

(Does that mean you know what Nu-folk is? Sounds a bit rude to me.)


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Jul 08 - 12:51 PM

clubs are clubs, places where people go to socialise.
I think this is something that gets forgotten by some organisers.the organisers should be friendly.
the best clubs I have known,have organised club holidays etc canal holidays rambling holidays,so that club members get to know each other better.
Carrington folk club,Nottingham,was an example of this,a good club with real ale and real curry,and a friendly atmosphere.
WlD,This club would be right up your street,broad booking policy,eccentric Grenville Blattherwick organiser,general feeling of fun and irreverence.good music atmosphere of fun,but none of the feeling that it is in a church.
Dick Miles[egotistical twat according to Joe Offer]


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Jul 08 - 12:54 PM

Folk clubs are places where people go to listen to folk music - allegedly
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 05 Jul 08 - 02:04 PM

The Snail, referring to my earlier post: Some want to sit round little tables with candles and floral arrangements.

May I just take this opportunity to point out that said floral arrangements are placed on the tables for ambience rather than as tapas for any visiting gastropods?


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 05 Jul 08 - 02:57 PM

I only went to the Carrington once. Well Twice, But that was about about twenty years ago.

I went about two years ago one winter night. Froze my nuts off. about five people there. One of whom had the sheet music and played the tin whistle. It was so cold there was steam coming out of her nose when she exhaled. It was an Irish song - The Galway shawl perhaps.

might be another eighteen years.......I don't think I was really their cup of tea.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Jul 08 - 03:30 PM

Folk clubs are places where people go to listen to folk music - allegedly
Jim Carroll ,
correct jim,
but they can also socialise too, have fun, enjoy themselves,its not a religion,its a club not a sunday school or a church. or a place where po faced pricks pontificate,about the way Denis Murphy played a certain twiddle in 1954,.that sort of thing is best left to internet forums .
when I first went to clubs,it was to listen to the music,pick up a few songs , pick up a girl,in most clubs now you couldnt even pick up a dose of clap,in fact your lucky to pick up a zimmer frame. Dick Miles.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 05 Jul 08 - 04:31 PM

I remember - it wasn't The galway shawl, it was the Galtee mountain boy.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Lord Batman's Kitchener
Date: 05 Jul 08 - 04:48 PM

If someone, who had never been in a 'folk club' in their lives, came upon this thread, I think they'd be put right off ever going.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Folknacious
Date: 05 Jul 08 - 06:11 PM

Who'd have thought one could spend Saturday night in a time machine. I'm sure I read this thread before - wasn't it in the pages of Folk Review in the 1970s or Folk Roots in the 1980s? The only difference now is that people in their 30s and 40s are thought of as the welcome young ones, whereas back then they were the geriatric problem. All of the stuff about venues, floor singers, PA systems, in-crowds, blokes with beards, nothing has changed. Groundhog day. Solutions offered - the same ones, but presumably nobody listened much.

The only difference nowadays: 1) we have hundreds of festivals where people get to find out how good the music can be, especially played by the newer generation, so become less tolerant of the shoddy, 2) arts centres, where people get to find out how pleasant it can be to experience music in a decent listening environment with reasonable professional organisation, so become less tolerant of the shoddy.

I ran successfull folk clubs in the 60s, 70s and early 80s but wouldn't dream of attempting it now. Much appreciation for those who continue to do it well: audiences' expectations are so much higher. The old way is often not good enough any more. Many of the 'singers clubs' would be better off - in almost all ways - as private house concerts/ sessions where they would maintain almost all their positive attributes without running the risk of the general public encountering them and being dismayed.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 05 Jul 08 - 06:31 PM

The only difference nowadays: 1) we have hundreds of festivals where people get to find out how good the music can be, especially played by the newer generation, so become less tolerant of the shoddy, 2) arts centres, where people get to find out how pleasant it can be to experience music in a decent listening environment with reasonable professional organisation, so become less tolerant of the shoddy.

Excellent post. I wish I had said that - indeed I probably will.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 05 Jul 08 - 07:26 PM

1. The "eyeopener" to me was hearing Planxty. I've not heard anything since then that's really seemed to me to be a step up from there.

Learning that things could be done "better" did nothing to alter my appreciation of performances at all levels (at least providing the person is trying).

2. I'm far more comfortable in a pub venue than an Arts Centre.

without running the risk of the general public encountering them and being dismayed.

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: TheSnail
Date: 05 Jul 08 - 08:37 PM

Cecil Sharp Ate My Hamster

May I just take this opportunity to point out that said floral arrangements are placed on the tables for ambience rather than as tapas for any visiting gastropods?

Always take time in life's journey to pause and eat the roses.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: TheSnail
Date: 05 Jul 08 - 08:40 PM

Captain Birdseye

clubs are clubs, places where people go to socialise.

Jim Carroll

Folk clubs are places where people go to listen to folk music - allegedly

Isn't folk music, by definition, a social activity?


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Jul 08 - 03:02 AM

"but they can also socialise too, have fun, enjoy themselves,its not a religion,its a club not a sunday school or a church. or a place where po faced pricks pontificate,about the way Denis Murphy played a certain twiddle in 1954,.that sort of thing is best left to internet forums."
Clubs are were you (used to) go to listen to folk music - simple as that. that is (or should be) their main aim.
Of course there is no restrictions to prevent socialising down in the bar while you are there - as long as it doesn't interfere with the main purpose of the evening.
Nor should there be any restriction as to what form that socialising takes (within practical... etc constrictions). I don't really believe that you are proposing to censor the subject matter of a club audience's discussions and taking it upon yourself to decide what should or should not be talked about at the bar...... or are you?
I suggest you re-read what you have just written and bring it back to the class when you have got it right!   
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 06 Jul 08 - 03:46 AM

FOLKNACIOUS: The only difference nowadays: 1) we have hundreds of festivals where people get to find out how good the music can be, especially played by the newer generation, so become less tolerant of the shoddy, 2) arts centres, where people get to find out how pleasant it can be to experience music in a decent listening environment with reasonable professional organisation, so become less tolerant of the shoddy.

Whilst I largely agree with these sentiments (though disagreeing with your other ones about singarounds happening behind locked doors!) I think the problem with this is that you can only go to so many festivals, so what do you do for your fix in between? Also, not everywhere has concert type venues already putting on folk acts. In Manchester you can see well known people like Waterson Carthy, Seth Lakeman, Kate Rusby etc, but none of the smaller concert venues seem to want to touch folk with a barge pole.

This is where there is a possible role for a decent, well run folk club who fancy taking it on. Drawing a parallel with the world outside folk for a minute, for many years in Manchester if you wanted to see alt. country, americana, post rock, pychedelia and so forth (usually by newish, not-well-established, non-mainstream artists) you could only do so because of the enthusiastic efforts of one man - Nick Georgiou - an amateur gig organiser, who did it so he could bring the acts he wanted to see to Manchester when no-one else was. He's now 'retired', but inspired and in some cases 'trained up' by him, others have leaped into the breech. The point for folk is that even if standard folk clubs aren't doing it, it still often needs the equivalent of a folk club organiser to make folk concerts happen. Just like with other forms of music, you haven't made it, as far as professional promoters are concerned, unless you are on their radar. The role of the talented amateur enthusiast therefore remains paramount.

Disclaimer: This may not be true of everywhere.

Captain Birdseye: Whilst I accept that folk clubs are also social clubs for those who regularly attend, can you not also see that if you are not one of those regulars (who have often been attending for years) that very clubbishness can often be offputting? I'm sure the regulars would be horrified to think that might be the case, because presumably they are usually decent people, but unless you're the type to stride up and force yourself on strangers (which I'm not, except on-line!) you can feel a bit like you're crashing someone else's party, which is not necessarily conducive to a good night out. Especially if you've gone on your own because none of your pals like folk... (sob), but that's for another thread: "TECH: None of my friends like folk - should I have them thrashed?"


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: GUEST,The Bastard Son Of Marty Feldman
Date: 06 Jul 08 - 04:32 AM

Great thread Paul. I have several views which are obviously debatable. Firstly, folk clubs have not evolved in 50 years. Numbers have dwindled since the heyday and look as if they won't recover any time soon. I put this down to a lack of foresight by many organisers. Many traditionalists will not embrace change or the advent of youth. Clubs will only survive when the next generation are encouraged to come along and partake or listen. The only way to do this is to dangle the carrot and tease them in. After all, it's not as though the youth of today aren't interested in the music. How many teenagers do you see at festivals? I'd say its an awful lot. But how many of those kids do you see in folk clubs? Virtually none. I doubt we'll see the Damien Rice, David Gray, Kate Rusby crew stepping foot through the doorway of some dreary rundown building that offers a singaround and a raffle as the evening's entertainment. We have to give them something. Many clubs are now run in Arts Centres as we know. These clubs are some of the more successful clubs around. They put on a quality guest virtually every time and brand themselves as an acoustic or music club. Now, there's nothing wrong with calling it a folk club but organisers must accept that they really aren't going to tempt very many of the crossover/curious types through the door. Folk music, generally, in the face of the public, is still a laughing stock. Something to do with Aran sweaters, pewter tankards and beards. Oh, and the finger in the ear of course. We have to re-brand folk music as trendy, cool and , above all, very good indeed and worth listening to. If we don't want that and we are happy with the current format then we can't complain that nobody is going to them. If we prefer to stay as traditionalists then that's fine. We can continue to call them folk clubs and hold our raffles but we only have ourselves to blame when it all goes tits up! Let's invite younger local performers to do 10 minutes before the guest comes on. They'll bring a) their parents b) their mates c) their parents' mates. Now that would be good. Lots of new faces that are drifting into the unknown. Who knows? They may even have a good time!


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: kerry and Mandy
Date: 06 Jul 08 - 05:54 AM

hi all
we run a club on the second tuseday of the month, at the Star Inn, St Mary in the Marsh. it's a pub in the middle of no where, so we thought it would be a quite venue.WRONG.
we dont call it a folk club, although the music is predomantly folk, there is a lot of variety.we reguly have 14 to 16 acts, and pack in 60 to 70 people every month. the people who come to listen are very very good, quiet and attentive when people are performing and the audience side is increasing all the time.
it is actualy in the main bar, and it is accoustic, any one is welcome and we have some really good up and comeing youngsters, one of which is ayoung man called Chris mellor, look out for him he's very good, and only 15 years old.
we have guest night but make then a seperate night 4 times a year, we have had Johhny Collins, Greame Knights, Paul Sirman, and in september we have Derek Gifford, and when Hughie Jones has recovered from his illness he will be comeing as well.
dont know what the secret is but Brian and Barb's the landlords are 100% be hind us, and supply free nibbles for all.
we always have agood 20 to 30 minuet break, for the social side and to let people chat.
we gave up trying to work out why it works and now just accept it is what it is and enjoy every moment.
thank you all who attend and make it such a magical night.
best wishes
kerry and mandy


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Jul 08 - 06:16 AM

Bastard son (can't be bothered with the rest)
What a pile of clichéd cobblers.
A club should be a means to an end, not an end in itself.
If it fails to present the music it claims to, if the performers are crap (as many of them are), if it doesn't give me pleasure and satisfy me aesthetically it is of no use to me.
If I don't find what I want at a club, your solution appears to be 'lower my standards and look for something else' - arrogant crap ("sorry, we haven't got any cheese - try bananas")!
My musical tastes are wide and varied - I know where to go to find jazz, classical music, blues, opera.... in my latter years in the UK I found it virtually impossible to find good folk music.
Why should I adapt my tastes to accept - now who was it "Damien Rice, David Gray, Kate Rusby" - sorry - tried them all and found them falling very short of what I consider good folk singing, and if your concept of a folk club is "a dreary rundown building that offers a singaround and a raffle" - that may be what folk clubs have become, but I can only say you missed the best of it.
To repeat - arrogant crap.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Linda Kelly
Date: 06 Jul 08 - 07:25 AM

I think the arrogance is yours Jim Carroll, assumng your standards are much better than our own-that's the arrogance! By the way -our raffle pays for the PRS license charge which in our case is £30.00 per week -they are means to an end not some cosy accompaniment to a sing song to entertain those who know no better.The next time a professional artist comes and the audience is a bit thin I will tell him I've weeded out the ones who don't know much about music but enjoyed the atmosphere , and we've turned away those who aren't really folk music but entertained us anyway and whose money help paid for the fee - I don't think you live in the real world Mr Carroll.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 06 Jul 08 - 07:46 AM

Folknacious is right to say we have had this discussion before. In the 70's, 80's etc. But it is also true that when traditional singers were "discovered" by collectors they felt that no one was interested in their style of music any more!

Each club evolves or dies...they come and they go and the successful ones last for ever (e.g.Lewes, Croydon, Dartford to name 3 in the south.)

You can find as many different reasons for not going to a folk club as you can for going to one!

For those who find that the diet of folk music locally is not to their liking, the answer to their dilemma is in this thread. Go out and start your own! There is enough sage advice here to get you started! The rest is up to you.

Best wishes,

Peter


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Jul 08 - 08:58 AM

Linda,
No arrogance on my part - I've listened to the arguments that have been put at various times on this forum - perhaps you'd like me to take you to the one that suggests (by somebody whose opinion I otherwise respect) that good singing is not only not necessary in clubs, but in fact detrimental as it puts off mediocre and inexperienced singers.
My whole experience in folk clubs has been a battle against the 'near enough for folk music' garbage.
Until the clubs take the music seriously (and not treat seriousness and enjoyment as opposites) - as far as I'm concerned, they will continue to decline.
The "dreary rundown building that offers a singaround and a raffle as the evening's entertainment", was not my statement, it was 'Bastard's' - I have nowt against raffles - wish I had all the money I've taken selling tickets!
And by the way - the PRS licence is down to the fact that the clubs are largely presenting non-folk material which is not in the public domain.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: GUEST,pttp
Date: 06 Jul 08 - 09:20 AM

Aye oor wan which is called the Irvine Folk Club in Scotland, aye ifwe got rod of Joyce Hodge because she as an organiser is rubbish.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Jul 08 - 10:15 AM

"Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: GUEST,pttp
Date: 06 Jul 08 - 09:20 AM

Aye oor wan which is called the Irvine Folk Club in Scotland, aye ifwe got rod of Joyce Hodge because she as an organiser is rubbish."



Can't argue with that!


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: GUEST,Silas
Date: 06 Jul 08 - 10:16 AM

Ooops - sorry, that was me!


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Jul 08 - 11:29 AM

"They'll bring a) their parents b) their mates c) their parents' mates."

TBSOMF, isn't it the other way round? Their parents are the ones who are already there - they just need to persuade their kids to come.My 17-year old wouldn't be seen dead in a folk club but my 8-year old loves it. Hmmmm... kids!


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: GUEST,the Bastard Son Of Marty Feldman
Date: 06 Jul 08 - 12:53 PM

So it's arrogance is it Jim? And there was me thinking that it was MY solution to the problem. Oh well, I bow to your obviously superior knowledge your magnificence!

"If it fails to present the music it claims to, if the performers are crap (as many of them are), if it doesn't give me pleasure and satisfy me aesthetically it is of no use to me.
If I don't find what I want at a club, your solution appears to be 'lower my standards and look for something else' - arrogant crap"

It also appears that you are another of the reasons that people won't visit folk clubs. Supercilious wankers that bore the f***ing pants off everyone.

Sorry for having an opinion that differs from yours!


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: GUEST,The Bastard Son Of Marty Feldman
Date: 06 Jul 08 - 12:57 PM

"A personal plea to keep this positive with constructive thoughts and shining examples especially welcome.

Thanks

Paul"

Sorry Paul but people like him get right up my nose. Who the f**k does he think he is?


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: GUEST,The Bastard Son Of marty Feldman
Date: 06 Jul 08 - 01:09 PM

Guest - But their parents are NOT already there. In fact very few people are. I'm simply saying that the next generation of folkies are the ones that should be made to feel as though they would belong in a folk club. Raffles, shit singarounds and inadequate performance ain't gonna be driving them through the door. Maybe a few decent new singer/songwriters and quality musicians will though. I guess it brings back that boring old argument of "what is folk music". As far as I'm concerned, David Gray, Damien Rice and Kate Rusby are folk singers. And I've arrived at that conclusion because I've seen them at folk clubs. I know that's contraversial and how dare those organisers bring such a dearth of non-folk trash into the scene but there you have it! Some people will be very naughty indeed.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Dave Earl
Date: 06 Jul 08 - 01:33 PM

Er there is something about the style and content of the posts by GUEST,The Bastard Son Of marty Feldmant that seems awfully familiar. If it's who I think it our paths and swords have crossed before

But to answer the question, Yes there is always room for improvement but the club is yours Mr Organiser and you must run it as you see fit.

What's saying about whatever it is being in the eye of the beholder.

Dave


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Jul 08 - 02:44 PM

"Sorry Paul but people like him get right up my nose. Who the f**k does he think he is?"
Just somebody who recognises arrogant crap when he sees it.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Gene Burton
Date: 06 Jul 08 - 03:30 PM

I've been following this thread with some interest, and not a little deja-vu:>) Not pitched in before because I've said pretty much everything useful I might have to contribute on the subject elsewhere.

However, I've got to say I'd be absolutely dismayed if I was to turn up say at the Black Diamond in Birmingham (the one FC I've attended with any regularity of late) to find a roomful of people singing Damian Rice and David Gray songs! I hear quite enough of that kind of thing at open mics and it's not what I go to a folk club either to hear or perform. I don't think that WOULD attract more young people, either; again, if they want to listen to that kind of thing there are any number of indie-toilet-venues around where they can hear it; AND be guaranteed of company and a social scene dominated by their own age group. If you want to attract youth into folk clubs, you have to concentrate on people who actually LIKE folk ( traditional folk and GENUINE contemporary folk) to begin with.

Can I just say, too (in response to one or two posters who've derided it) that I think the singaround format has considerable merit and I for one would be very sorry if it was allowed to become extinct. There are plenty of singarounds around which can boast some extremely talented regulars (the ones @ Black Diamond being one prime example IMO- and not just because I go there!); and my own musical experience would be much the poorer without them- most of the trad songs I perform I picked up at singarounds; most of the best traditional singers I've heard, I've heard at singarounds. It resonates with me in the main because its a mutually participatory experience- not about standing on a stage being the "star", or about sitting around on your arse, passively being entertained- and people (young or otherwise) need that more than ever in an age when mass culture is becoming ever more about being a passive, receptive consumer thereof.

So, all that being said, er, how DO we attract more young people into folk clubs whilst retaining the folk brand? Dunno...:^(


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Banjiman
Date: 06 Jul 08 - 03:54 PM

Jim, You kill me you really do. Do you really think that JUST by putting on 1954 definition "FOLK" that we'll suddenly double the attendance at our club. That is frankly ridiculous and seems to be your only contribution.

Do you have any practical named examples of where this has worked in the UK?

I also find that the confrontational style of your posts on here often brings out the worst in me (and it seems others too). You can almost smell the axes grinding as you approach your keyboard!

BSOMF. You know, I might just try your idea of putting on some of the local "young" acoustic bands for short slots at the start of an evening...... they'll have to come up to standard and have enough "folkiness" about them to make it work though.

Gene, the singaround situation I've covered above, we are well catered for locally in this department, which is a good thing.

It may be worth saying that I guess I'm really looking for tips and thoughts on how to run successful guest nights.....

Thanks, I've genuinely found most peoples contributions useful and interesting, even if I don't agree with all that's been said.

Cheers

Paul


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Banjiman
Date: 06 Jul 08 - 04:00 PM

Sorry that first line should have read

"Do you really think that JUST by putting on ONLY 1954 definition "FOLK"

Apologies

Paul


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 06 Jul 08 - 04:45 PM

It might interest some posters to read some trade mark lawyers' essays and paoers on so-called "brand dilution" and the alleged harm that it can do to markets.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: GUEST,The Bastard Son Of Marty Feldman
Date: 06 Jul 08 - 05:30 PM

If you knew me Jim you would know that I'm the least arrogant person that you could know. I love healthy debate on subjects that I love and folk music is right up there. I'll argue the toss over something that I firmly believe in but I won't be insulted or spoken down to by the likes of you Jim. By the way, when was "the best of it?". I'm intrigued. If I'd have known that the stuff I've been listening to was shit then I wouldn't have bothered. I take it that your most recent post is the sum of your contribution to this thread. It would appear that Jim is right and the rest of us needn't bother posting. Me - Arrogant? I hope that we meet one day Jim. I, for one, would be delighted to throw down the gauntlet.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Gene Burton
Date: 06 Jul 08 - 05:47 PM

Actually, FYI, I'M the least arrogant person in the world. And nobody'd better dare suggest otherwise.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: TheSnail
Date: 06 Jul 08 - 05:47 PM

...and it was all going so well.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Gene Burton
Date: 06 Jul 08 - 05:48 PM

(I'm rather proud of my humility, as well.)


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 06 Jul 08 - 05:49 PM

The post that has been ignored recently on this thread is that of Kerry and Mandy; I get the impression that they are young. Because if there is one thing that folk lacks at the moment (IMHO) is young organisers.

There are some young organsers - but not enough. What I think we older/experienced people do our very best to try and stop people re-inventing the wheel wherever possible, and offering any advice from our own experience wherever possible. And leave them alone - wherever possible. I bet there are plenty of well-known artists who will support a club organised by young people. Don't be afraid to ask.

Don't ask me what works, I am a bit old. Ok A lot old.

But do go and ask people like Sam Lee and Lauren McCormick.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: TheSnail
Date: 06 Jul 08 - 06:24 PM

I'd just like to mention that we have Sam Lee booked sometime next year and that he's on at the Royal Oak in September this year.

Could I just add that it might be worth talking to some of the older organisers as well; they might just have some useful experience to pass on. Don't be afraid to ask.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 06 Jul 08 - 06:26 PM

And in case it's got lost in all the skirmishing, there are scores of creative ideas on how to solve many of the problems raised above (not solutions - just ideas, here ok?).

It really IS worth a look (they tell me).

Tom


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 06 Jul 08 - 06:48 PM

The post that has been ignored recently on this thread is that of Kerry and Mandy

Or perhaps not controversial enough to attract comments.

I'm pleased to read they have a formula that works well for them and pleased to read Derrek Gifford is on the list of their artists - not a young one at all (thinking of other people's posts) but IMO, a fine solid performer.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: kerry and Mandy
Date: 06 Jul 08 - 06:49 PM

well it's been a while since i have been called young but i(kerry, 47, and mandy wont let me tell you her age), are flattered none the less.
we are just lucky i think with our choise of venue and the support we recive from our perfomers, guests and audienece, that make the club the success it seems to be.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Banjiman
Date: 07 Jul 08 - 02:28 AM

Folkiedave, it looks like we better carefully define young!

Hi Kerry and Mandy, excuse my ignorance but where is St Mary In The Marsh (except like KFFC in the middle of nowhere!). I'd like to try and visit sometime.

Thanks

Paul


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: theleveller
Date: 07 Jul 08 - 03:33 AM

"Guest - But their parents are NOT already there. In fact very few people are. I'm simply saying that the next generation of folkies are the ones that should be made to feel as though they would belong in a folk club. Raffles, shit singarounds and inadequate performance ain't gonna be driving them through the door. Maybe a few decent new singer/songwriters and quality musicians will though. "

TBSOMF - anonymous guest was me - sorry. I'm not as pessimistic as you about this. I stopped going to folk clubs when I moved to London in the late 1960s - after Yorkshire I found them very unfriendly - and didn't start going again until about six years ago. Amazingly, the clubs were still there, albeit the people were older. Wouldn't you say that the folk scene in general is more vibrant than it's ever been - lots of new (young) bands and singer/songwriters who appeal right across the age spectrum and they ARE appearing at clubs (Paul's club is a good example - Doghouse Roses; brilliant!)? So why aren't the youngsters coming to folk clubs? Maybe they just don't want to be seen out with their parents. mrsleveller suggested that we should be getting schools involved in some way; there was a fantastic group of kids performing at Beverley FF last year, recruited from schools in the area.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: kerry and Mandy
Date: 07 Jul 08 - 03:39 AM

Hi Banjiman

St Mary in the Marsh is in the deepest dark Romney Marsh in South East Kent. If you're ever down our way it would be great to see you.

Kerry and Mandy


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: theleveller
Date: 07 Jul 08 - 04:51 AM

To emphasise the point about kids not wanting to be seen out with their parents, my son's been asked to play drums with a local band and when I said that I might come along to a gig I was told, in no uncertain terms, to b****r off (so disrepectful, kids these days).


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 07 Jul 08 - 01:01 PM

Been away over the weekend, and come back to all this. I've just ploughed through it all, and, finding that I was losing the will to survive, I had to go away and cheer myself up singing a few songs about drowned sailors and stuff. But since this is a topic I'm concerned about, here goes....
It's reassuring to find some people - punters especially - backing up what I've said elsewhere (most recently on the 'Earning a Living in Folk' thread). But while I agree with quite a few comments, I would like to respond to some.
The 'F Word': I suspect that this is dreaded more by some of us than by Joe Public. If you want to run a folk club, you should have the strength of your convictions and call it a folk club. If you start by apologising for folk, then how can you expect anybody to believe in it? And if you call it something else, then you're likely to end up with something that isn't a folk club, and that's likely to discourage the folk fans. And there now seems to be a plethora of alternative names; how is this helping? I think that if you want to encourage more 'non-folkies' to give us a hearing, you need to do it by example; be positive, stop being ashamed of folk music, and let them see that they are missing something.
Maintaining standards: (Sounds of man mounting hobby-horse...) I've already wittered on about proper resident groups, rather than lists of regulars doing one or two songs each, with the nights being run on a rota basis: a competent semi-pro resident doing a proper 'turn' fulfils this function.
Style of music the punters can expect: see above comment. In the olden days, the resident group was the basis of the club, and gave the club its style. That didn't stop other elements from being represented, but it did tend to keep things within certain boundaries, and give the club an identity.
Getting the 'yoof' in: this problem seems to be specific to the clubs, rather than concerts/ceilidhs/festivals. I mentioned on the 'earning a living' thread, and it's been touched on here, that part of this problem is that there seem to be very few young folkies running clubs. If we knew why, then perhaps we could do something about it. (Any young folkies reading this? Got any suggestions?). But I think that any ideas about making folk 'trendy' or 'cool' are seriously misguided; shades of Trendy Vicars thinking they can get the young people in if they introduce the guitar into church services. If you want to interest the young, don't start by patronising them. Folk was never an age-related music; personally, I don't believe any music should be, but then I'm bonkers; well documented fact. The trouble is, there is a generation missing, which means that young people venturing into the clubs are immediately conscious of that gap, and feel as if they don't belong. If enough of them do come in, then the effect will be diminished. It's a problem, but one that will pass with time, if we can just keep things going long enough. One thing I find reassuring: we've already acknowleged that there are plenty of talented young performers, but surely this implies that they are expecting there to be an audience. In other words, their expectations are much the same as ours were forty or fifty years ago. And they are having those expectations fulfilled in the shape of concerts/festivals/ceilidhs and CD sales. We just need to encourage more of them (they are not entirely absent) to try the more intimate experience of the folk clubs. And as I said, we need to lead by example. Stop dithering about and be positive.
Oh, and Betsy, trying not to upset people: this is Mudcat. It's the only pleasure some of these poor sods get.
Getting me coat on as we speak...   John Kelly.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: GUEST,Dennis Murphy
Date: 07 Jul 08 - 01:31 PM

Heh heh heh

Birdseyes backs up bechause he was proved to be an igonorant gobbshite on another sight!!!


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Banjiman
Date: 07 Jul 08 - 02:11 PM

Hi Kerry & Mandy,

My wife has a couple of bookings in Kent next May but I don't think they coincide with the 2nd Tuesday unfortunately. We have to tie them up with half term as we are young enough to have children still at infant/ junior school!

John, I've always boldly called it a "Folk Club" but this has undoubtedly put some people off.....I'm going to try being more subtle for my next round of advertising and see if this makes any difference (though it is still there in the small print)..... I do take your point though.

Paul


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: GUEST,The Bastard Son Of Marty Feldman
Date: 07 Jul 08 - 07:53 PM

One way of getting schools to get involved Leveller is to maybe suggest that the kids play other instruments from an early age. It was the recorder in 1962 and still is! Would they put up with it in Ireland? The music and dance scene over there is vibrant because the kids are taught the tradition from toddler age and taught to play a range of instruments from a young age too. We can't teach the tradition over here because so very few teachers know what it is. It's a pity.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Jul 08 - 03:10 AM

TBSMF
I appears we got off on the wrong foot – certainly my fault for over-reacting to phrases like 'finger-in-ear' which is guaranteed to send my blood pressure soaring – for which I apologise. I really live for the day when we graduate beyond juvenile name-calling.
As I said, I've listened to all those you mentioned, plus many more, and they certainly don't come anywhere near my idea of good – or even fair, performers of folk song; nor will they attract new blood into the clubs – if that is the main aim. Tweaking and adapting the music to draw in new people has never worked and has usually done far more damage than good.
"We have to re-brand folk music as trendy (and) cool "
Why? In my experience, adults, particularly middle-aged ones who try to be 'trendy and cool' usually end up as an embarrassment. Young people (or anybody) will be drawn (or not) to folk music for what it is, not for how it is packaged - kids have an alarming ability to see through bullshit!. Anyway, it's adults, not just young people who need to be drawn in and making it "trendy and cool" is far more likely to put them off rather than attract them.
For me, Harmonium Hero's posting came as a hurricane of fresh air:
"If you want to run a folk club, you should have the strength of your convictions and call it a folk club. If you start by apologising for folk, then how can you expect anybody to believe in it? And if you call it something else, then you're likely to end up with something that isn't a folk club, and that's likely to discourage the folk fans."
That is what it should be about; nothing short of giving the music you believe to be important to as many people as possible by presenting it at its best – as things stand at present, anything else is re-arranging the deck-chairs on the Titanic rather than looking for the hole!
The clubs didn't gradually lose their audiences; the bulk of the losses came when they stopped presenting folk song – when it was possible to come away from a club without hearing one; when they moved away from their source and their output became undefinable – we simply didn't know what we were going to be given when we walked through the door, so we went away. All this can be fairly well dated by the 'Crap Begets Crap' debate that took place at the time in the pages of 'Folk Review' and elsewhere, and what immediately followed.
It's a myth that Irish children are taught from an early age – a few are, and up to fairly recently, the vast majority of them abandoned it a soon as they got out from under parental control. What has happened here is that persistence (not compromise) on the part of a dedicated few has turned the situation round and, certainly here in the West, youngsters are flocking to the music, guaranteeing that it will continue for at least another generation.
We have the choice of sessions here four nights a week and it can be heard and viewed on a regular basis on radio and t.v. - in performance and in documentary and discussion form.
There are two magnificent national archives of folk material and numerous regional ones. Here in Clare we have recently purchased premises and are in the process of setting up a local archive/visitors centre. All this on top of a theatre, Glór, in the county town of Ennis, which came into existence in order to present traditional music.
All this is a stark contrast to the situation a few years ago when the music was treated by the establishment with just as much contempt (diddley-di music) as in the UK.
None of this has been achieved by watering down the product, sexing it up or treating it as a poor relation to the pop industry; groups like The Bothy Band, Moving Hearts, and Planxty came and went without making one iota of difference outside of the immediate folk scene. In the main the music being played now is unadulterated folk played by people, young and old who take it seriously, enjoy it and value and respect it – that is what has made the difference.
"Jim. By the way, when was "the best of it?"
The best of it was when you could go out three or four nights a week to listen to folk music ranging from reasonable to excellent; when you walked your fingers down the columns of Melody maker to choose where to go that night; when you quite often had to queue to get in; when you left a club walking a foot above the pavement because of what you had just heard - but most of all, when you came away having heard a night of FOLK song (long ballads, short ones, transportation songs, rural love songs, urban ones, comic songs, bawdy songs, erotic songs sea songs..... and newly-written songs that were identifiable as having been based on folk styles and forms) - they were the good days!   
Banjiman
I don't believe that the 1954 – or any definition will draw in one single person, I don't have a solution to that one; nor does anybody else from this, or any other threads I've seen on the subject. Nor do I believe that adhering to this or any definition in the running of a club is either possible or desirable; without new songs, the clubs will become museums. The definition merely makes a fair stab at summing up what I believe to be folk music; it is a reference point to what our music is. In the absence of another, it'll do for the time being.
Jim Carroll
Sorry about the delay in responding; we're in the middle of a week-long traditional music school here, where the main problem has been which session to squeeze into to listen to the best of Irish music and singing.


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: Banjiman
Date: 09 Jul 08 - 03:26 AM

Jim,

Thank you for your measured and informative post. There is some real food for thought here.

"Nor do I believe that adhering to this or any definition in the running of a club is either possible or desirable; without new songs, the clubs will become museums. The definition merely makes a fair stab at summing up what I believe to be folk music; it is a reference point to what our music is. In the absence of another, it'll do for the time being."

This I agree with wholeheartedly, I think the 1954 definition is useful as a reference BUT there is something about the STYLE of "folk like" music which we have so far failed to define, though I think most of us know it when we hear it.

Getting more people through the doors can only be down to better marketing and improved presentation (performance & venue). The product defines itself to a large degree as you have observed.

Paul


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Subject: RE: Can folk clubs get any better?
From: TheSnail
Date: 09 Jul 08 - 08:28 AM

I'm somewhat surprised to find myself in agreement with a lot of what Jim Carroll says.

The trouble with "trendy and cool" is that by next week it will be "so last year". Folk music needs to take the long view.

The line that really surprised me was -

Nor do I believe that adhering to this or any definition in the running of a club is either possible or desirable; without new songs, the clubs will become museums.

But those new songs aren't (yet) folk songs under the 1954 definition and therefore shouldn't be sung in "folk" clubs. Bit of a Catch 22.

The best of it was when you could go out three or four nights a week to listen to folk music ranging from reasonable to excellent....

Sounds like a normal week. Come on down to Sussex.


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