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A question for folk club organisers

GUEST,Faye 07 Nov 08 - 04:00 AM
Colin Randall 07 Nov 08 - 05:01 AM
Banjiman 07 Nov 08 - 05:06 AM
Waddon Pete 07 Nov 08 - 05:08 AM
Banjiman 07 Nov 08 - 05:15 AM
The Villan 07 Nov 08 - 05:58 AM
Dave the Gnome 07 Nov 08 - 06:47 AM
Mo the caller 07 Nov 08 - 07:24 AM
Mark Dowding 07 Nov 08 - 08:09 AM
Mark Dowding 07 Nov 08 - 08:13 AM
GUEST,Faye 07 Nov 08 - 01:57 PM
The Villan 07 Nov 08 - 02:02 PM
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Subject: A question for folk club organisers
From: GUEST,Faye
Date: 07 Nov 08 - 04:00 AM

Hi. I'm quite new to the British folk scene and have just completed my first (dare I say it- successful!) solo folk club gig. I got it by accident; I did a floor spot at a nearby club and the organiser offered me a booking! Having been lead to believe that getting onto the folk club circuit is only marginally easier than joining the House of Lords, I was pleasantly suprised, and, as the gig went well, I'd like to progress further.

I'm not out for world domination, or even to do this for a living; I just love singing and playing and getting paid to do 3 or 4 gigs a month would be Nirvana!

The question is: what's the protocol for getting booked into clubs? Is it the done thing just to phone organisers and ask them, or should you make a personal appearance at each club? If it's the latter, how can you expect to get booked in clubs outside your own area?

How do organisers feel about being disturbed at home on a Sunday afternoon by someone phoning and asking for a booking? (I know how I'd feel- there's more than one telephone salesperson who has felt the extent of my wrath at having my precious free time interrupted!)

I know that quite a few club organisers post on this board, so I'd be interested to read what you have to say. (And if you happen to mention which clubs you run, you might even get a call from me!)


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Subject: RE: A question for folk club organisers
From: Colin Randall
Date: 07 Nov 08 - 05:01 AM

Faye

My time as a folk club organiser was long ago, but while methods of communication have changed, the principles probably haven't.

Best of all would be to get around whatever clubs there are in your area and volunteer to do floor spots. If it goes well, then leave a card or contact details with the organiser. Also, there used to be an annual Folk Directory - other Mudcat folk will know if it still exists - and I imagine quite a few clubs are listed.

Cold calling probably not a good idea unless you're super confident and/or would be a familiar voice/name.

If you make the personal contact described above, make sure you're both sober when you exchange info, especially if the conversation leads to an instant booking. The only time I was bothered on a Sunday afternoon was when Christy Moore rang from the bus station at Darlington to say he'd arrived for that night's folk club meeting at Bishop Auckland and would I come to pick him up. The one snag was that he'd been due the week before, according to my diary (his diary inevitably told a different story - the booking had been made when we met at another club and had both had a bit to drink).

We came to a deal: I'd double the entrance price and anything after the brilliant Tony Capstick's fee would be his. Best night the club ever had and he got all his money (plus the contents of my dad's drinks cabinet, which he and Tony drank dry).

Colin Randall

Salut! Live


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Subject: RE: A question for folk club organisers
From: Banjiman
Date: 07 Nov 08 - 05:06 AM

Tough one to answer. We have experience as both Folk Club organisers and as an act(s) looking for Folk Club gigs.

I think the first thing you have to remember is that Folk Club organisers tend to be swamped with requests from (generally) extremely competent acts. It is very tough to decide who to put on. At KFFC we like to have a mix of established and some newer acts, however any new(ish) act is always a risk...... especially when you haven't seen them live or had feedback from someone (who's judgement you trust) who has.

I do tend to book acts I have seen, but I do get around quite a bit so see quite a few. This does give the club a localish (Yorks & Northeast) bias (for newer acts)....but I don't think that is so unusual.

I will take slightly more risk on the 1 or 2 support acts that we have on each month and also some of the acts that we book for the 2 weekends we run each year.

So, how to approach me as a newcomer to the folk scene? The best bet is to be on at an event that I am going to! Failing that either come and join our local singaround at Burneston Folk Club or come to a KFFC club night and play a couple in the after show singaround (we'll even try and give you accomodation if you are travelling a distance, but will expect you to pay your £5 entrance fee).

If you are too far away, you can try sending me a demo CD or emailing me a link to your MySpace..... but make sure this is reflective of the act you are asking me to book..... i.e. if you are a solo performer, please don't suggest that I listen to a fully produced 5 piece backing band that you have no intention of using live. I won't book you or listen beyond the 1st track. Your music will need to really stand out.... I get at least 5 enquiries a week and only book about 20 acts a year.... do the maths!

Don't phone me though, I request that all acts initially contact me via email. My phone number is given on the website, but this is for ticket/ audience enquiries.

I do try to respond to all serious queries from individuals but I don't have time to pay agents the same respect. (My thinking is that as paid professionals they should have thicker skin!).

Having said all this, this is only our club..... our experience of trying to persuade other clubs to give us a booking is another lengthy story!

Our main approach is just to get out and play whenever or wherever we can, paid ot not...... thoroughly enjoyable too!

Paul


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Subject: RE: A question for folk club organisers
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 07 Nov 08 - 05:08 AM

Hello Faye,

Colin has it right. A personal appearance at a club to do a floor spot is always the best approach when you are starting out. It gets your name known, and people then know what to expect from an evening with you and your music. Advertising is helpful, cold calling is often counter-productive!

Have fun!

Peter


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Subject: RE: A question for folk club organisers
From: Banjiman
Date: 07 Nov 08 - 05:15 AM

....just a slight refinement, don't send me a "general" email as part of a list that you are sending to all the folk clubs you have found on the web. I am unlikely to respond.

Do your homework, find out who I am and where the club is..... and check the sort of acts (pretty eclectic, but no piano based singer/songwriters!) that we have had on previously. This will take you all of 5 minutes!

Paul


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Subject: RE: A question for folk club organisers
From: The Villan
Date: 07 Nov 08 - 05:58 AM

My first point of contact is by seeing somebody live or looking at a myspace account.
This is a good example of a myspace account that would help me to see if I wanted to book somebody or not.
The link is to a Local band and it tells me pretty much what I want to know. Songs/video of them on stage and who the band members are and a short Biog with some short acknowledgements of their prior gigs.
I don't see any bullshit on this website.

http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=105978061

From such a website I can get all I need and respond accordingly to an e-mail requesting a gig from a performer.

The e-mail should not be a spamming job, where you send one e-mail out to all organisers.

The e-mail should be short and too the point, requesting the possibility of a gig and a link to your Myspace account.

I hate getting all the mail sent to me with Cd's and promo material. It fills my house up and is not good for the world.

Don't cold call unless you are very good at selling yourself. Its embarrassing for you and the organiser.

Otherwise very much like Banjiman says.


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Subject: RE: A question for folk club organisers
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 07 Nov 08 - 06:47 AM

Definitely turn up at a singers night at Swinton. Guests usualy 1st and 3rd Mondays - All others are singers nights. Details here.

Good luck.

DeG


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Subject: RE: A question for folk club organisers
From: Mo the caller
Date: 07 Nov 08 - 07:24 AM

Some folk festivals have 'hiring fairs' etc. And a festival may be an opportunity to be seen by people from further afield. My daughter and friend were offered a gig while playing in a session at Whitby. Unfortunately it was too far away for a midweek night with work before and after.

If you are prepared to do gigs at parties etc. as well as clubs it may be worth listing yourself in BT's yellow pages and Thompson's dirrectory. They go into every house in your area. You get a free entry with your business name, so you need to think of a name that summarises what you do. You'll get more calls you don't want than bookings, of course. People trying to sell expensive advertising mostly. And people wanting you to entertain 50 3 yr olds.

And always carry cards to hand out. I got mine free (apart from postage cost) from vistaprint


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Subject: RE: A question for folk club organisers
From: Mark Dowding
Date: 07 Nov 08 - 08:09 AM

I think if you're phoning an organiser and you're not well known, it's better to ask about the club and if it's possible to arrange an extended floor spot with a view to a booking. If clubs have a busy singers night you may be lucky to get more than 2 songs which won't do you justice if you just turn up on the night. We all have our "party pieces" which we trot out but you need to demonstrate that you can put three or four songs together with some interesting (but not necessarily funny) chatter between them to keep the audience with you.
The club I run is generally a singers club with no booked guests and I get the odd phone call asking about bookings at which point I tell them how we run and so as not to waste their time or mine I usually say if you're in the area then please pop in if you're free but it won't be for a booking "audition". Very occasionally I've had someone on for half a night - the most recent being in October when Bryony asked if they could do 4 in each half as they had a free night during a run of proper bookings in the area. We agreed a reduced fee and I actually gave them more in the end because we had a good night but they are few and far between.

Good luck anyway Faye with your quest for fame and fortune on the British Folk Club scene - well fame anyway! Whereabouts are you based by the way?

Cheers
Mark


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Subject: RE: A question for folk club organisers
From: Mark Dowding
Date: 07 Nov 08 - 08:13 AM

"We agreed a reduced fee and I actually gave them more in the end because we had a good night but they are few and far between."

I don't mean the good nights are few and far between - the nights when we have paid guests are few and far between! Should read what I write before submitting - Doh!

Cheers
Mark


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Subject: RE: A question for folk club organisers
From: GUEST,Faye
Date: 07 Nov 08 - 01:57 PM

Thanks, all of you, for your helpful comments.

In answer to your question, Mark, I live in Newark, Notts.


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Subject: RE: A question for folk club organisers
From: The Villan
Date: 07 Nov 08 - 02:02 PM

Not far from Faldingworth Live then Faye :-)
http://www.faldingworthlive.co.uk


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