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What sort of folk club is yours?

Dave the Gnome 29 Nov 08 - 05:45 AM
Will Fly 29 Nov 08 - 05:52 AM
Terry McDonald 29 Nov 08 - 06:07 AM
VirginiaTam 29 Nov 08 - 06:14 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 29 Nov 08 - 06:15 AM
Will Fly 29 Nov 08 - 06:28 AM
greg stephens 29 Nov 08 - 06:42 AM
Phil Edwards 29 Nov 08 - 06:43 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 29 Nov 08 - 06:53 AM
Phil Edwards 30 Nov 08 - 09:42 AM
Dave the Gnome 30 Nov 08 - 10:04 AM
Leadfingers 30 Nov 08 - 10:06 AM
Jack Campin 30 Nov 08 - 05:16 PM
Sandra in Sydney 30 Nov 08 - 05:17 PM
Sandra in Sydney 30 Nov 08 - 05:21 PM
The Sandman 30 Nov 08 - 05:25 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 30 Nov 08 - 05:34 PM
Herga Kitty 30 Nov 08 - 05:48 PM
GUEST 30 Nov 08 - 07:49 PM
Big Al Whittle 30 Nov 08 - 07:49 PM
Will Fly 01 Dec 08 - 03:34 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 01 Dec 08 - 04:33 AM
Acorn4 01 Dec 08 - 04:34 AM
GUEST,Lesb (on laptop) 01 Dec 08 - 04:48 AM
Sooz 01 Dec 08 - 05:31 AM
Chris Green 01 Dec 08 - 05:56 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 01 Dec 08 - 06:20 AM
Banjiman 01 Dec 08 - 06:28 AM
henryclem 01 Dec 08 - 06:42 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 01 Dec 08 - 06:59 AM
GUEST,Warwick Slade 01 Dec 08 - 08:50 AM
Mrs Scarecrow 01 Dec 08 - 09:13 AM
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Harmonium Hero 01 Dec 08 - 09:30 AM
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henryclem 01 Dec 08 - 10:26 AM
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Joe Offer 01 Dec 08 - 05:52 PM
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Phil Edwards 01 Dec 08 - 07:08 PM
Dave the Gnome 01 Dec 08 - 07:32 PM
Big Al Whittle 01 Dec 08 - 07:57 PM
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Jim Carroll 02 Dec 08 - 03:43 AM
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GUEST,Tom Bliss 02 Dec 08 - 04:31 AM
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Will Fly 02 Dec 08 - 04:40 AM
Dave the Gnome 02 Dec 08 - 06:05 AM
mattkeen 02 Dec 08 - 06:14 AM
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Jim Carroll 02 Dec 08 - 02:08 PM
BB 02 Dec 08 - 03:26 PM
Richard Bridge 02 Dec 08 - 06:22 PM
Will Fly 02 Dec 08 - 06:29 PM
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Linda Kelly 02 Dec 08 - 07:12 PM
Dave the Gnome 03 Dec 08 - 05:09 AM
Dave the Gnome 03 Dec 08 - 05:10 AM
Big Al Whittle 03 Dec 08 - 05:37 AM
Dave the Gnome 03 Dec 08 - 06:05 AM
Will Fly 03 Dec 08 - 06:14 AM
Dave the Gnome 03 Dec 08 - 06:24 AM
Nigel Parsons 03 Dec 08 - 08:59 AM
Jim Carroll 03 Dec 08 - 09:36 AM
Will Fly 03 Dec 08 - 09:46 AM
Dave the Gnome 03 Dec 08 - 10:06 AM
GUEST,Not a definition again 03 Dec 08 - 10:45 AM
Tyke 03 Dec 08 - 11:12 AM
Nigel Parsons 03 Dec 08 - 11:21 AM
Tyke 03 Dec 08 - 12:01 PM
Dave the Gnome 03 Dec 08 - 12:11 PM
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Aeola 03 Dec 08 - 03:55 PM
GUEST,! 03 Dec 08 - 08:06 PM
GUEST,ian Fyvie 03 Dec 08 - 08:15 PM
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BB 04 Dec 08 - 05:19 AM
Dave the Gnome 04 Dec 08 - 10:43 AM
Tyke 04 Dec 08 - 12:46 PM
Will Fly 04 Dec 08 - 01:57 PM
Mysha 04 Dec 08 - 05:36 PM
GUEST,DeG sans biscuit 04 Dec 08 - 06:38 PM
Will Fly 05 Dec 08 - 03:26 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 05 Dec 08 - 04:45 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 05 Dec 08 - 04:47 AM
Dave the Gnome 05 Dec 08 - 06:11 AM
Will Fly 05 Dec 08 - 06:15 AM
Dave the Gnome 05 Dec 08 - 06:33 AM
Will Fly 05 Dec 08 - 06:52 AM
Big Al Whittle 05 Dec 08 - 09:18 AM
Will Fly 05 Dec 08 - 09:24 AM
GUEST,John from Kemsing 05 Dec 08 - 10:15 AM
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Nick 05 Dec 08 - 12:46 PM
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Tyke 06 Dec 08 - 11:30 AM
Big Al Whittle 06 Dec 08 - 01:14 PM
SunrayFC 06 Dec 08 - 01:37 PM
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peregrina 06 Dec 08 - 04:00 PM
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Lowden Jameswright 07 Dec 08 - 12:27 PM
Mysha 07 Dec 08 - 03:19 PM
Tyke 07 Dec 08 - 07:42 PM
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Subject: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 29 Nov 08 - 05:45 AM

Stemming from another thread I got to thinking about the spread between 'concert' clubs and 'singers' clubs and the ones in between. I suspect this is most relevant in the UK but I am sure there will be some good input from the US as well. I don't count 'sessions' in amongst clubs unless you have a club that is part session and part singers!

Basicaly I believe there are three types of clubs -

1. The concert club. Paid guests every week. One or two support acts, usualy the residents. Pay reasonable amount to get in.

2. Singers clubs. No paid guests. Residents run it. Anyone can get up and do a spot. Pay little or nothing to get in.

3. A mixture of the two where the club has some guest nights and some singers nights.

I am sure you can think of some other variation but this is probably a good starting point.

Ours (White Lion, Swinton) is firmly in category 3 and what set me off thinking about was a comment by someone about most of their audience being singers. Funny thing is we are now finding that as well as two different types of night we have two different types of audience!

On a singers night that is definitely true. Probably 70% or more of the audience can and will do a spot. We are finding though that on a guest night that can drop by a substantial amount. So, what we end up with is two audiences as well!

There is probably a core of 50% or so, including residents and organisers, who turn up every week. This means 50% can change. Although it is true that most people will go the occasional 'wrong' night, there are a few people who go to the club on either guest nights or singers nights who will never meet each other!

As well as this we do find that singers nights are busier than guest nights and do usualy run well over time. In addition, because there are so many singers, we can often only get a couple of songs from each singer and the planning and running of the night is far more difficult than that of a guest night. Singers nights are free to get in but we do run a raffle.

Has anyone else found this happening? If so, what do you think it is? Are people becoming more discerning about how they spend their time?

I must state that there is no right or wrong way to run a club. We all have our own way and find some measure of sucess, or we would not do it. I'm just interested in other peoples experiences and, particularly form an organisers point of view, what direction do we go in for the futue?

Big subject. Get your thinking caps on:-)

Cheers

DeG


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Will Fly
Date: 29 Nov 08 - 05:52 AM

Morning, El Senor Gnomo. Most of the clubs I've been to lately seem to be all around your number 3 - sometimes alternating between guest/floorsinger weeks and open-stage weeks, or sometimes where the open-stage nights are less frequent. I was up at the Sandbach club in Cheshire this week, and they appear to run on the alternating basis. There is one notable exception locally (Sussex), the fortnightly Six Bells Folk and Blues at Chiddingly, which rarely has guests but has a regular open-stage - and attracts some good performers most sessions. I like both types myself - and the open-stage nights with a small charge on the door obviously help to pay for the guests.


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Terry McDonald
Date: 29 Nov 08 - 06:07 AM

Wimborne is a type 2 club. We meet every Thursday at the British Legion and there is no entrance fee. However, as we get the room for nothing, we pass the collection tin around and everyone puts something in, usually £1 or so. When it's full we give the money to the Legion.

It's run on a singaround basis and usually everyone gets to do two songs, one in each half. Joining in is usually welcome - people simply know when not to. Compering is on a rotational basis and the numbers present range from 20 to 40, nearly all singers/musicians. www.warwickslade.co.uk and click on 'the wimborne sessions' will reveal all!

Some of us would prefer that it was run on the way clubs were when we were young, i.e. you get up in front of the audience and do your two or three songs from the stage, but we also know that it would mean some people dropping out. There are those who say they could never do that, so we stick with the singaround format. It's not a contentious issue, anyway.


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 29 Nov 08 - 06:14 AM

Is this thread for club organisers only or may club residents reply? Don't want to step on LanFranc's toes re Blackmore (in Exile).


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 29 Nov 08 - 06:15 AM

I don't run a club but for what it's worth I'd say there is currently a slow but steady national shift in the UK away from guest/concert formats towards singers-only formats. Certainly I often hear about clubs getting larger audiences on singers nights than guest nights, and also of clubs reducing or even closing down their guest nights. Its one of the main reasons I'm giving up trying to work as a professional guest - I just can't get enough gigs to pay the bills (well I might if I did millions of freebies to get into the clubs which don't know me and in front of the punters who choose not to come to my gigs because they don't know me, but then I'd have no bills, as I'd have no home or family)!

I've mentioned this in the past and been jumped on as though I'd said this is a bad thing. It's not a bad thing for folk music or for folk-loving communities. It's just not great for people like me who, erroneously perhaps, hoped to fund a dream life-style, and it remains to be seen what it'll mean for festivals and concert (i.e. non-Folk Club folky gigs) circuit.

At the moment, touring guests make a big contribution to the folk scene in terms of making new material, and spreading material around (through gigs and CDs), helping to drive up standards through solid performances, workshops, teaching and general advice.

There are plenty of even more highly skilled people who do not want to tour, of course, but these will have a lesser impact and value nationally if they choose to remain local. And if the touring circuit ceases to be viable for new faces (as I personally believe it has now become) there must be an eventual stagnation and decline. The current stars (who can still make the circuit work thanks to reputations built in better times) will keep it going for a while yet, but eventually even they must retire.

Maybe the younger generation will, as some predict, start up more folk clubs, and refine the new crop of open mics to something of more value to the folk repertoire and philosophy, but it might take a while and we might see some big changes in the interim.

Colin Irwin was talking at the AFO conference about the way he feels the folk movement developed a bunker mentality in the 80s and 90s (I wasn't there having been one of those who moved away for various reasons), with different groups going to ground, taking their values and philosophies with them. I believe that much of the conflict we see here and elsewhere is down to the way these separated groups found themselves meeting up again in the naughties through the internet and blossoming festival scene, and finding they now had very different and conflicting values.

But understanding did grow and the variety was healthy. For a while back there the future looked very good (which is why I decided to dive in when I did).

I'm not sure what the future holds now. The BBC, according to Ian Anderson in the same seminar) may be starting to recognise that folk is great TV after all, and if so we could see growth in the top echelons of the business and in the 'supported' sectors (new faces with industry backing of one type or another). And the growth at the participation end of the scale looks set to continue too, which must be good.

But the lonely journeyman in his campervan may soon become extinct, and it remains to be seen what impact, if any, this may have on the whole set-up.

Tom


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Will Fly
Date: 29 Nov 08 - 06:28 AM

Hi Tom - I understand the dilemma you're talking about. I don't think it's ever been easy to be a solo act, in the folk circuit or any other. However, a lot of performers in fields other than folk (social clubs, trades & labour clubs, etc.) often get work through an agency, which can be a slog sometimes but does get you work. Many performers in the folk field act as their own agent - i.e. they don't have one - and find it difficult to break in. Futhermore, it's rarer to get bookings at functions (weddings, 60th birthdays) as a folk performer than, say, being in a jazz band or a covers band.

It's perhaps better to try a mixed economy as a performer - by which I mean being in a duo or trio part of the time, creating a profile on YouTube and MySpace, and perhaps selling CDs and DVDs that way. Spiers and Boden still go out as Spiers and Boden, and Benjy Fitzpatrick has a solo side to his career - and they all perform in Bellowhead and other bands.

The world - including folk clubs - changes and we have to adapt. My sympathies are with you!


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: greg stephens
Date: 29 Nov 08 - 06:42 AM

In contrast to Will Fly's observations above: I play in band(the Boat Band) with 99% trad folk repertoire, and our bread and butter work is all private parties, weddings, birthdays, organisations' piss-ups etc etc. Unfortunately, however good you are at doing these gigs, it will have no impact on your work on the folk scene, as you won't get written up in fRoots as a good wedding band! English folk journailsts, by and large, go to watch the jolly locals having fun in the local shebeens abroad, but at home they strictly write up what is put in front of them by the larger festivals and the BBC.
   To get a bit more on-topic on the thread: the clubs are changing rapidly. A huge amount of new blood is coming into the folk scene at the moment: or, perhaps to be more accurate, a lot of new blood is calling itself folk, and inventing a whole new scene. Whether any of us old-timers can make interesting contact with the Young Turks remains to be seen.There will soon be a lot more categories than David El Gnomo's initial three suggestions.


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 29 Nov 08 - 06:43 AM

"the lonely journeyman in his campervan may soon become extinct"

I feel a song coming on...

Campervan, oh, campervan,
Who's got a berth for a campervan?
Sing you a song of a world gone wrong
And they've got no room for a journeyman in a campervan...


Hmm. Needs work.

Seriously, I think this is a real problem, but I've no idea what the solution is. I remember one night Chorlton FC booked Bandersnatch; they drew a good crowd, but when I looked round the room I didn't see anyone I knew (and if I'm honest I probably wouldn't have gone myself if I'd realised it was a guest night). The way it works these days seems to be that floor spots are the norm - the 'audience' for singers' nights, consisting mainly of singers, turns out in droves when they have a chance of getting a spot, and otherwise stays at home. The exception (from my experience) is when someone does a floor spot that's so good you immediately want to hear a set from them; I've had that experience three or four times. But 'professional guests' are looked on a bit askance, and sometimes only bring in their existing fans in the area.

I think this relates to the question of standards (unfortunately!) - and that word 'open'. The Beech singaround (which has its first birthday next Wednesday) is friendly and welcoming, but the general standard of singing and knowledge is pretty high - I don't think a newcomer could miss that. If you throw the stage wide open - if the only criterion, explicit or implicit, is wanting to have a go - then I think you do end up with an audience who aren't that interested in hearing really great performances, because that's not what they're turning out for in the first place.


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 29 Nov 08 - 06:53 AM

You're right, Will, but it's not as simple at that. I've tried having an agent a number of times in the past - they never get you enough work (or any, actually, usually) because they can't earn enough from the low fees you can earn. Folk agents can do two things - manage tours for overseas acts and manage demand for already-successful people with existing profiles. Only you can develop your own career to the point where it's viable.

I happen to be a damn good salesman - as many here will testify. I also brought all my skills running a production company to this business - most of the other pros here will, I hope, admit that I'm considered to be one of the best when it comes to getting gigs self-promotion, marketing, e-marketing, and promotion generally.

I started out(and still do) working with a time-served pro (Tom Napper) who has a fantastic and well-deserved national reputation - and then we made a band with two other great performers (Tony Taffinder and Chris Parkinson).

And I gave it everything. I didn't charge a fortune, just the going rate, and I was nice as pie to everyone (almost)! Every night I wasn't playing I was on the phone and email. I made a website that soon started getting 1-2 thousand hits a week. I got great reviews in all the mags for all my 8 CDs (Mojo today, incidentally), and I've built up a big fan base.

And I've had massive support and encouragement from other touring pros, club bookers and the folk world in general.

(I'm not interested in doing the other kind of gigs you mention - my tightly-drawn story songs need a silent, attentive audience open to the game developed my Mesmer).

Yet I can't make a living. Well I can, but not enough to justify being away from home 60% of the time, and burning a huge hole in the atmosphere with my exhaust fumes.

Now the usual suspects will jump in telling me not to winge.

I'm not actually winging. I accept my 'failure' happily. I have other things I can do and I'll look back with enormous pride and happiness on my 8 years in folk - because in artistic terms I succeeded way beyond my wildest dreams.

No, I'm sharing this because the folk world needs to discuss this issue properly, from informed positions (which is why I'm writing a cover article for Living Tradition as we speak).

It affects things like club booking policy. The folk awards. Broadcasting policy - everything. Most artists can't speak completely openly because they still have careers to develop. I don't. I have a full diary until Cleckheaton festival 09, then I'm gone, man.

(I may come back, but it all depends on what happens next).

Exciting, innt?


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 30 Nov 08 - 09:42 AM

Tom - that's a sad story with worrying implications. Problem's bigger than I thought. Oh, and 'refresh'.


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 30 Nov 08 - 10:04 AM

In answer to Virginia Tams question - Anyone and everyone is welcome to comment. Please ferel free:-)


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 30 Nov 08 - 10:06 AM

Having been in ALL sides of the Racket - Club Organiser , Gigging Folkie , Ceilidh Band member and currently Jobbing Musician come Entertainer , I feel I am qualified to comment .
My 'local' club is twenty miles away (There ARE closer , but they are not to my taste all the time) and runs Guest nights and singers nights , with the small fee for singers nights subsidising the NOT large fee on Guest nights . Room is excellent with superb acoustics and decent beer , PLUS adequate parking
The difficulty with Booked Guests is that a lot of worthwhile acts DONT put Bums On Seats in sufficient numbers to pay what the acts are really worth , and a lot of 'Name' acts are too pricy for a small club .


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 30 Nov 08 - 05:16 PM

you won't get written up in fRoots as a good wedding band! English folk journailsts, by and large, go to watch the jolly locals having fun in the local shebeens abroad, but at home they strictly write up what is put in front of them by the larger festivals and the BBC.

I don't think they do anything different abroad. I'd love to have more information about the equivalent of the session or singaround scenes in other countries, but I've never found fRoots or the Rough Guide to World Music any help at all. They focus exclusively on commercially marketed recordings and commercially promoted concerts: amateurs and the local equivalent of the ceilidh band never get a look in. When I've needed grassroots info I've always had to use local sources in the local language, and the sources I've used have never even been referenced by any publication of an English journo.

Who needs fRoots when we've got Google?


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 30 Nov 08 - 05:17 PM

Here in Oz we have session clubs like Alison's, & floorspot/booked performer clubs like mine.

We start with 2 or 3 floorspots of 10 minutes each, some folks contact me beforehand asking for a floorspot, others are tapped on the shoulder as they arrive. Some I know or know of, others are strangers, sometimes supplying a website with sound as a reference. Others I have no idea what they do, beyond what they tell me about themselves (singer/songwriter) Some get bookings for supports or mains, others don't fit the club's style (traditional & traditional style like the works of our very own John Warner)

Our usual format is 30 min support, then 2 brackets (30 + 60) for main act, tho some nights are shared bill of 2 x 60 mins, or 2 x 30 + 30)

Acts are local, interstate of international (Martyn Wyndham Read will be back next year YAH!)

The Dog audience is famous for it's singing & the venue is a 19th century Town Hall (sandstone & wood) with perfect acoustics so we never need amplification.

sandra

Review of Brian Peters @ The Dog


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 30 Nov 08 - 05:21 PM

by-the-by, Brian will be back at the Dog in 2010 if (WHEN!) he gets a gig at the National Folk Festival & does his next Oz tour.

sandra


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Nov 08 - 05:25 PM

Believe it or not,I do not have an axe to grind with Folk Roots,the last time they reviewd an album of mine it was a favourable review,however I take strong exception,to Ian Anderson suggesting I am on drugs.
Colin Irwin was talking at the AFO conference about the way he feels the folk movement developed a bunker mentality in the 80s and 90s (I wasn't there having been one of those who moved away for various reasons), with different groups going to ground, taking their values and philosophies with them. I believe that much of the conflict we see here and elsewhere is down to the way these separated groups found themselves meeting up again in the naughties through the internet and blossoming festival scene, and finding they now had very different and conflicting values[qoute from Tom Bliss]
well I was doing a lot of gigs in the eighties and nineties,and I dont know what the hell he is talking about,but then I dont take seriously any folk journalists,if he means bunk up mentality,then there was a bit of that alright [but not enough].
Bunker mentality: what does this mean,were we all supposed to be dressing up like Hitler,and taking cyanide tablets?


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 30 Nov 08 - 05:34 PM

Hi Leadfingers,

I think you are saying the same thing as me. There is a gap opening up within the pro market, between the few well-known names who bring people to a club and the rest who don't - even if they are good acts.

If you're running the kind of club where the guests are just that, guests - purely there for the entertainment of the members (rather than folk-fans in your area), then that's not a problem for your club (though it might be a problem for the folk movement as a whole, in time, but it's too early to say yet).

If you're running a concert club, again that's not a problem as long as you can find 12 (or however many) guests a year to keep you going with full houses. Or at least it isn't as long as those existing, pulling guests are available.

But if you're in the middle - as a majority are, doing that difficult pro/am balancing act which is the very substance of the English folk club, you may be having difficulties.

If a club hits this problem hard enough, and ceases to be viable on whatever pro/am model they're running, then they can choose to go pro (concerts only), am (singers only) or give up.

But if every club did one of those three things, we'd loose something important - and soon the effects would be felt by festivals and larger gigs (when there were no new good, time-served acts coming through) and also singarounds (which would be without the influence of musical travelling tradespeople, who contribute a lot if you stop and examine the equation closely).

So how to stop this happening?

Well, sticking with me as an example - I'm going to leave my modesty behind for a moment because we need some evidence right now.

Let me quickly stress my tone of voice here - lest this read like a monumental moan. I'm not moaning - I'm resigned, even content with the situation I'm in, and feel no frustration or disappointment, ok? But I do think a mature wide-ranging debate is essential right now.

So here goes.

Let's look at my situation critically. Why - when it happens - have I not put bums on Leadfingers and others like him's seats?

Well, obviously I can't please all the people all the time. I have act which must put some people people's backs up, plus I have an odd sort of voice which is not everyone's cup of marmite. Oh and there'd the bloody 'Steve Knightly' syndrome - in which people assume I'll be rubbish without Phil - sorry.. Tom, until they actually see me do a gig.

But.

But but but. I can and do fill clubs regularly. Not rammed, maybe, but enough to keep my employers happy. Last week's trip was 6 on the trot nicely quorate. And I'm not an unknown. I've done most of the festivals, many two, three or even four times, and I've played well over half the clubs in the UK - many two, three or even four times too. And I usually delivered a half-decent show - I hope.

Furthermore I'm known as someone who appeals to both traditionalist and contemporist - something I've worked hard at and am particularly proud of. Herga and Sheppey, for example - at opposite ends of the genre spectrum - both seemed equally content with my offering.

I have a 700-strong fan list, which I use ruthlessly, and I promote myself here and on the other folk forums. I mail out to the media on a regular basis. I offer downloadable posters and fliers, and have an informal contract which sets out what I hope the promoter may do for his side of the bargain.

Yet I still get FAR too many gigs where the room is nowhere near full, and eveyone is miserable. (And this is sometimes at clubs which typically have twice as many on singers nights).

Why? Is it because I am actually crap after all? Is it that people have heard me elsewhere and don't like it? Is it because the club has not successfully explained to their regulars what I do, so they assume I'll be rubbish? Is it because too many guests have disappointed in the past and people have lost faith in the booker? Is it because the club has not promoted the gig widely enough? Is it because I myself haven't promoted the gig well enough? Is it that a majority of folkies are no longer willing to try something new? Is it because the people who DO like what I do are not so keen on certain types of club (so will only turn out when I play venues they like)? Is it that those poorly-turned-out gigs are actually typically poorly-turned-out these days - for reasons that have nothing to do with me, such as age of core market, pub dying on its feet, poor lighting, poor parking etc? (Not the ones where the singarounds are full, though)! Or is the participation ethos now superseding the presentation ethos right across the movement, attracting people who put the have-a-go philosophy first and in so doing then drive away the value-for-money types?

I don't know.

But I do know I'm not alone. Candid conversations with other touring guests reveal an equal level of perplexity - for they too encounter this phenomenon regularly these days - even some quite big names. Very big names, actually. And after-gig chats with confused club organiser chums reveal the same picture solarised.

Maybe all this doesn't matter - but I might be fun to discuss it (as long as we can keep it general)

Tom

PS Sorry to go on so long - I have time to think while the Cat was out. I'm probably 20 posts below you Lead - apologies.


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 30 Nov 08 - 05:48 PM

Herga is a type 3 club - when I joined (and John Heydon was running the club) we'd alternate Guest and Open Evenings (with performers doing spots up front), but now we generally have guests once a month and singers' nights, performing from wherever you feel comfortable, on other Mondays.

Kitty


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Nov 08 - 07:49 PM

Tom,

We know Pete Morton quite well, and the way he does it is to do a lot of work abroad. Obviously, if you've got family commitments this is not practical.

You can get a very comfortable living as a crap accountant, but struggle as an excellent musician -just a sign of the times we live in. Quite a few prominent and very talented people on the scene have to have "proper jobs" to keep them going.

We've just been to Bedworth and they were playing your CD as the introduction to the guests. Really impressive!


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 30 Nov 08 - 07:49 PM

The club I support is the Vernon in Derby.

They have a guest every month. Sometimes we get a lot more in for the guests - sometimes not. jack hudson filled the place last week.

What makes it work is that there are loads of great floorsingers. the floorsingers keep developing and trying different stuff and we're all interested in each other, and we all like each other. Even if we don't like each others music we are polite. we listen attentively to their two song spot. We applaud. We lend support.

Theres no bitchiness and no sense of superiority from those who have a few years on the clock and have been able to devote time to developing what we do.

there is a hot buffet in the middle.

gary, Terry and branca always do a great job introducing people and welcoming them and if thereis someone new - they get talked to and welcomed.

contrast this with all the shit attitudes - 'I know all about folkmusic and what it is' that you get on mudcat. basically some clubs are on their arse because they are miserable , the room is cold and uncomfortable, no one speaks to you, they glare at you in an unfriendly manner if you've bothered to learn the words.

I can understand why ian Andrson sees him and the BBC gang as being the great arbiters of a superleague of folksingers. to be homnest - they gave themselves that job a long time ago and they've picked one boring bummer after another for the BBC2 folk concert slots.

Frankly I don't think they have the talent and/or aptitude for the role.


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Will Fly
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 03:34 AM

It would be interesting to find out what is the indefinable "something" - or combination of "somethings" that gets you regular work in the clubs. Coincidentally, I was talking on the 'phone some days ago to a guitarist who, in my and other people's estimation, is one of the greatest fingerstyle players anywhere - folk, swing, jazz. He cuts it. He's made several albums, teaching videos, etc.

The original theme of the chat was to see whether there might be a possibility of organising a guitar workshop in the Sussex area. During the conversation it transpired that this guitarist has very little work coming in - nothing until next spring (at the time of talking) - and, I have to say, I was shocked and amazed. I thought to myself, "If this bloke can't crack it, there's not much hope..." I know that there are particular circumstances to this guitarist's dilemma but, if I saw his name on a poster in my area, I'd be there like a shot.

So, I'm going to have a shot at doing what I can to get a workshop organised down here. If I can't get one going, then I shall go up to his house for a couple of hours of personal tuition and workout - it'll be worth it.


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 04:33 AM

Sorry all - I didn't mean to turn this thread into a 'why can't some musicians make a living in folk clubs discussion.' Obviously there are other ways that someone wanting to play clubs can make a living - both inside and outside music, and there will always be some people happy to do that, so therefore always some people available to clubs as guests.

What I was wanting to drill down on was the implications behind DtG's original post and his question; "Has anyone else found this happening? If so, what do you think it is? Are people becoming more discerning about how they spend their time?"

Swinton (which I've not visited myself) seems to be slap bang in the middle of Dave's category 3. In other words right now they are getting the balance right - for what they want to achieve, that is. But we know from the OP and other threads that Dave (and many others like him) have concerns for the future.

Are there some fundamental changes happening? And if so what are the long term implications?

I think there are a number of factors at work...

1) Demographic change. The core folk market is ageing. When I started the average age of the folk club regular might have been 60 somthing. Ten years later it's 70-something. (Maybe it's ten years less, but you see what I mean. At 70 something we're less likely to go out on a chilly evening, to spend precious money on something we might possibly not enjoy as much as all that. Etc.

2) Pub changes. Drink driving laws started to impact on pub attendance years ago. Since the smoking ban many pubs are dying before our eyes - and that's impacting on clubs within them. The club might still be jumping, but the rest of the place is a morgue, and visitors have to run the gauntlet of depressed staff, cold uncleaned rooms, dark empty corners, only hard-core drinkers around and smokers loitering at the door.

3) Changes in the economy. Fuel prices (thankfully not as bad as they were - I made my decision to retire when they were shooting up, by the way), credit crunchy bars etc, all having an impact.

4) Long terms changes in the dominant philosophy of folk music as discussed elsewhere.

Add any of these together, and you have a difficult situation for any club organiser. Solutions exist - better promotion, more careful attention to issues like the welcome, balance of quality issues, introduction of new ideas like food, workshops, open mic nights etc.

But these are mostly under consideration by committees, not the folk public - and often in isolation (though thankfully we now have the Folk Club Organisers Forum, which can help a bit).

But here we have a chance to hear from members, floor singers, artists pro and am, passing trade, the disaffected, the 'festival only's the 'concert only's- the works.

What do people think?

Without going and counting again - I think my database (I'm not going there these days as I'm not gig-finding any more) contains about 400 clubs in the UK. About 100 only book guests and supports (DtG's no 1), about 100 never book guests (no 2) and about 200 are in the middle (no 3), with a challenging time ahead.

What do the 3s do? Change to 1, change to 2, give up, or slog on. And if they don't slog on, what are the long term implications for 1, 2 and the festivals etc?

Tom


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Acorn4
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 04:34 AM

I think the only answer for a musician is to diversify.

One muso we know locally does a combination of solo/band gigs/guitar lessons, playong bars in Portugal, buying and selling guitars and running a recording studio. He's never going to earn a fortune and probably not going to able to retire, but then he probably doesn't want to, because he's doing what he wants.

He has, however, stopped doing pub gigs.


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: GUEST,Lesb (on laptop)
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 04:48 AM

There are a lot of excellent singers & musicians out there, but unless they can 'put it across' it doesn't put bums on seats. (by the way Tom is an excellent communicator as well as being a great singer/songwriter/musician).
I've sat through some worthy singers, excellent musicians and still been bored to tears, because they either dont have charisma or havn't developed a good stage act.
Back to the question in point ours would be a Cat 3 type club & I tend to agree with David's observation about the audience split on guest/singers night. On singers nights there are always one or two singers who we only ever see when they want an ego boost, and on guest nights there are a few who only come to see guests.
I might add that our club thrives under the model we use & have a panel of excellent resident singers who provide warm up for the guests we have on fortnightly & provide a backbone for the singers nights.
Cheers Les


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Sooz
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 05:31 AM

Gainsborough is a category 3 club and we used to have a problem with many of our regulars not turning out for guest nights. We seem to be over that now. One thing we have done which seems to help is a "half guest" night. (Singaround for first half followed by less well known guest for second half). Our regulars now seem to have confidence in our choice of guests!
Our main problem now is the increasing age and level of ill health of our regulars. If anyone has a solution for that one I'm all ears!


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Chris Green
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 05:56 AM

I think another factor is that although there are a lot of people my age (31) coming through as performers, most club organisers and audiences are generally the far side of 50. In other words, there's young blood on stage but not in the audience. Accordingly, I've decided to put my money where my mouth is and start a new type 1 club in Coventry, the URL for which can be found here. Coventry and Warwickshire have a lot of type 2 clubs/sessions and a smattering of type 3 clubs, but the nearest type 1 is in Birmingham.

If you look at the guest list, they're all 'names' or mates further down the food chain who I've persuaded to play for a flat percentage, the finest balti in the city, some beer and a bed for the night! I went with the type 1 for a variety of reasons; the first and most obvious being that 'names' will hopefully pack the place and ensure its survival. Then maybe in 2010 I can use the resulting filthy lucre to put on some less well-known acts and pay them a decent fee even if no bugger shows up. Having being in a couple of situations with Isambarde where we've driven two hours to get to a gig on a working night (for like a lot of bands, we still very much have day jobs!) only to find ourselves playing to the organiser and his dog for a percentage of the door, I feel this is important!

We'll have three resident bands, who will share the supports between depending on availabity and suitability (and yes, one of them is my own band, for I'm not as dopey as I look!) I'll publicise the place to the nth degree with flyers, the net, local press and radio and word of mouth. There will be in-house PA and lighting, a separate dressing room and a designated CD stand for the artist's use plus a member of the club team at their disposal to help with sales if they want it.

What I've promised myself however is that if I ever find myself at the end of a night saying 'Please continue to support us', then I will instantly fold the whole venture. We're charging money on the door (a reasonable amount, but still money) and are therefore entering into a contract with the audience to entertain them. We're not a charity and shouldn't have to rely on anyone's support.

So I've made a decision about the kind of club that I'll be running. I hope it works. If it does, no-one will be more chuffed than me, as I get to go and see a really good concert every month at a venue ten minutes walk away from my house! If it doesn't, well, I'll have tried.

And Tom, I'm really sorry to hear about your decision. But if you've managed to make any sort of a living for 8 years out of being a full-time folkie, my hat, sir, is off to you!


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 06:20 AM

Hi Chris - good on you! You've seen the folkWISE notes on starting a club, I assume? Why not join the club organisers forum? Mail on folkclubs-subscribe@yahoogroups.com - we need young blood!

Tom

That goes for any other organisers too by the way.


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Banjiman
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 06:28 AM

KFFC is very similar but with probably less well known, but very good quality acts. Very much a type 1 (but with a singaround/ session AFTER the main acts for an hour or so). Runs monthly on a Saturday night.

Again acts are generally paid on a percentage and we have one or two support acts, though these are not always local.... though Blind Summat!/ Wendy Arrowsmith/ Rebekah Findlay (and their new duo "With One Stone") will also appear on a pretty regular basis as we're not dopey either!

We've been running for a year and have kept our heads above water with only one event to date failing to pay for itself. We also run 2 weekends a year which fall much more into the type 3 category with 50%ish singaround and 50% performance from a mixture of local and national acts. The weekends in particular have proved very popular with a much wider catchment than the club nights...... after all we are in the middle of nowhere.

By the way, I'm also the "right" side of 50 (though not as far to the right side as Duelling Bouzoukis!). Audience varies from 15-82 y/o, (as do the acts) probably averaging early to mid 50's.

Tom, when you get yourself settled let me know if you still want a Saturday night gig within easy distance of Leeds.

Paul


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: henryclem
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 06:42 AM

Generally speaking, the clubs I go to have singers nights 3 weeks out of 4, with 1 guest night per month. 1 song for individuals, 2 for duos/groups; you'd expect to get round once in each half on a singer's night (not always; and rarely, a third go-round). Guest nights usually 4 or 5 (maybe more) floor spots (1 song each - 2 for duos) in each half, before the guest comes on. No "residents first" bias is ever apparent in my experience; I'm not fazed if I don't get a spot on guest night because of the length of the singers list.

But there is a clear trend even with the most successful clubs - yes, singers nights are often better attended than guest nights, to the extent that nowadays far from not getting 1 song then, I sometimes get 2 because it is the regular singers and musicians who have stayed away.

Our club at Corsham runs monthly spotlight nights, where everyone performs from the stage, and these are the most successful of all in terms of numbers (audience and performers). There has also been a move, across the region, to feature local artists and club regulars and this has undoubtedly impacted on the frequency of bookings for the full-time musicians who tour the clubs.

None of the nights are free - you pay £1, £2, £3 for a singers/spotlight night, £4 - £6 (sometimes more) for a guest night and undoubtedly the guest nights are subsidised by the other weeks' door takings/raffles.

I happen to think the clubs I go to, and the people who run them, are worth supporting because they do provide regular opportunities even now to meet and see perform some remarkably talented and creative performers. It's not altruism, it's enlightened self-interest which gets me driving 30 miles to Devizes on a Monday night.
If any of those clubs were to close through lack of support it would be a serious loss - for me, I'd lose the community of friends, the experience of sharing our songs, the pleasure of discovering new and exciting music. And I really value the interaction with top-class professional artists (such as Tom) which gives me encouragement to develop and improve both as a performer and a writer. At the same time, if the traditional guest-night format were to continue its decline then this would have the effect of narrowing the song-base for the professional folk musician, deprived of a significant source of new material from "amateur" writers/performers.

I am really sorry Tom is giving up - I know how hard he has worked, reaching out to the wider community with his shows without ever compromising the integrity of his musicianship and creativity. What about a "Tom Bliss - The Farewell Tour" documentary for BBC4 ?

Henry


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 06:59 AM

"narrowing the song-base for the professional folk musician" - yes VERY good point I'd missed, Henry! I'd never have heard and recorded needle and Thread - and none of your other songs would have been taken up by the big names who do them. T


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: GUEST,Warwick Slade
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 08:50 AM

It is a sad fact that people do not attend guests but do attend singers nights, as quote by Henryclem. I have also noticed a trend in 'spotlight' clubs where singers only arrive just in time to do their songs and then greet all their mates after their set, talking loudly and generally being disruptive.
The sad fact is people seem to only go to clubs to project there own egos and have little or no interest in others, particularly if they are percived to be better!
This is not so much the case at type 2 clubs where most people leave their egos at home and encourage others to have a go.
As for me, I am happy to sit and listen to others as long as I get my chance to inflate my ego.


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Mrs Scarecrow
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 09:13 AM

I am a singer so like to go to singers nights and clubs for that reason, but I also go to listen and enjoy other singers. At festivals I will regularly miss big acts to stay in a good singaround. Why ? Partly the variety, and even if some one is not very good their spot does not last that long, if a well known performer has an off night it lasts all evening, likewise if you go to see an act you dont know they may not be to ypur taste. Also there are some simply outstanding singers and songwriters who go to sing arounds, I want to hear them sing. The problem is that there are so many who can sing well at the mid range sort of level that it is a safer bet to hear them in a sing around than going to a concert. A good singaround with everyone joining in also creates an atmosphere of togetherness that simplycan not be replicated by a performer playing to an audience.


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 09:29 AM

Good points and very well made Mrs S. I understand completely. Could I perhaps though just ask you this for the sake of the discussion?

If it emerged that your views were in the ascendant, so that eventually concerts at folk clubs and festivals did become non-viable (leaving aside concert venues who don't try to straddle the pro/am see-saw) would that be a loss for the folk world as a whole, or would it not really matter much? Not a trick question, I curious to know what people feel about this.

Tom


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 09:30 AM

I agree with much of what's been said, and have put in my two-penn'orth on the subject on other threads to the extent that it's beginning to sound like a cracked record. Going back to Dave's original post, I would say that type 3 is a folk club; the other two are not. Type 1 is a small-scale concert, and type 2 is a gathering. Type 3 isn't 'a mixture'; the other two are develpoments of parts of type 3. there were always gatherings, of course, before folk clubs, but they happened on an occasional and informal basis (still do), in people's houses, and with no entrance fee.
I am currently doing what Tom Bliss mentioned - 'millions of freebies...', and it's hard work, but it's getting me known, and getting me some dates. I'm also finding that a lot of people come and talk to me afterwards, and I get some interesting comments. One recent comment seems pertinent; a lady came over to me at the end of one singaround, and said "I've heard 'Lakes of Ponchartrain' sung badly so many times that I thought I never wanted to hear it again, but you've restored it. Thank you." I treasure comments like that, but I'm not quoting it for egotistical reasons; I know exactly what she meant, and it's an unfortunate thing, but much of what's heard in singarounds is - I'm sorry, but it has to be said - pretty dire. Of course, some amateurs are brilliant, others are not (and yes - the same can be said of professionals!) and you take the rough with the smooth, but it seems that when everybody in the room is having a go, the balance shifts towards the 'dire' end of the spectrum. And I can't help feeling that this is a factor that is putting people off the folk clubs. If an 'outsider' is persuaded into a club, only to hear one song after another being slaughtered - and increasingly this is being done by people who don't even know the words - why would they come back? And if folk club regulars no longer want to hear well-loved songs like 'Ponchartrain' due to bad performances, what good is that doing to folk music? I know it's dangerous for me to make such comments and - this being Mudcat - there will be those who will misinterpret my intentions and start the sniping, but I love this music, and want to see it survive.
To answer Dave's final question about the way ahead, I would say that whatever can be done to restore some sort of balance that helps the music, rather than the desires of everyone who wants to 'have a go' would be a good start.
John Kelly.


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Fidjit
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 10:04 AM

I can understand Tom giving it up. Although I've never heard him. Or heard of him. It's a hard slug to get gigs for anyone who's tried. It's Prostitution really. There's a lot hanging around the feeding trough. And as you get older you get choosy.

Quote Anne, "Also there are some simply outstanding singers and songwriters who go to singarounds, I want to hear them sing. The problem is that there are so many who can sing well . . . ."

Which is why I'd rather do the fringe at a festival than get bored on a high price concert seat.

I gave up doing Pub gigs in the 70's I got annoyed at singing to drunks for a pittance.

Plus the Kilgarry mpotain type of song was all they wanted.
I can do more than just that. There's much, much more, but it's the type that has to be listened to.

I do other things, like playing with a local folk dance band for the dancers. It's so much fun that I do it for nowt.

CHas


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Banjiman
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 10:11 AM

In support of what John Kelly is saying.

There is another folk club that is not far from here that we attend on a pretty regulat basis. It is a pure type 2.....no paid guests, a weekly singaround.

This club has definitely served as a very useful learning ground for a number of up & coming acts and really brought other people on. There is a mixture of standards from the dire to the superb.....all of whom clearly have a right to sing/ play.

However......a large proportion of the the pub locals hate it. And this is getting worse. It has got to the stage where on most folk club nights the rest of the pub is deserted, the Landlord is now considering the future of the folk club as his regulars drink more than the folk club crowd (it is in a medium sized village with no public transport links). This representation of "folk" music cannot being doing any of us any good.

The landlord has, in the last few months, started booking bands every few weeks on a Friday or Saturday night, including a local folk band, most of whose members also attend the folk club. Initially the locals were put off thinking it would be like the singaround folk club. However, they've slowly been converted either by word of mouth or by "accidently" catching a bit of the band. The feedback from the latest "gig" was really, really positive and obviously shows "folk" music in a far better light than the singaround club.

Interestingly not that many of the regulars from the singaound club have supported the "band" nights.....but a new section of local folk "listeners" has been discovered in addition to the pub locals (i.e. paople prepared to travel in from a bit of a distance).... so the landlord is happy. (They are also now starting to attend KFFC....which is also very good news as they understand that they will see "professional" standard acts there as well without having to run the gauntlet of floor singers who may or may not be acceptable TO THE AUDIENCE!)

I'm not sure what the conclusion is that can be drawn from this but it is a factual account of what is happening locally.

Just to make it clear, I really enjoy singarounds and happily take part and listen to others...... however there is an audience out there for "folk" and related music that clearly doesn't.

Paul


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 10:14 AM

Me, I've got a Virtual Folk Club.

No problems at all.



As Spike Milligan said - "It's all in the mind, you know!"


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: henryclem
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 10:26 AM

Maybe I'm lucky with the places I frequent, but I don't have an issue with the quality of performer at a typical club night.

It is observable, though, that not many people bring cheap guitars - they have serious-money instruments (and a choice ...) which indicates that they do have a serious approach to music-making. Unless it's an extension of the designer label snobbery which leads to bullying in schools over the wrong kitbag or trainers. When you work behind a bar, as I do regularly, you get used to people testing and balancing and bouncing pool cues as if their lives depended on it, when you know that a decent player would beat them (not literally) with a broomstick. Without labouring the point (much) I feel that this choice of instrument may well be a manifestation of the pride/ego thing which leads to their attending the local club only when they are not going to be upstaged by someone of greater accomplishment.

That's a generalisation - I wouldn't apply it to our regulars, many of whom are semi-pro anyway, and good enough to utilise the extra edge their choice of instrument gives them. But as people become more conscious of their own performance, they may become less tolerant at one level and less willing to listen at another ...

I would hate to see the type 3 club go because to me, when it works, it serves the whole community of folk music better than any other model. I'd hate to think that society, and our aspirations, had changed so much that it no longer has a future.

I blame Thatcher

Henry


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 10:36 AM

Hi Tom. Sad you're jacking it in. Can't blame you though. It's a tough old world out there nowadays. Hope to catch you before you stop.
Am reminded of John Kirkpatricks song "What do you do in the day?" Seems like it was always so.
Best wishes Ralphie.


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 10:42 AM

I don't think you can have it all ways John. I have noticed that many people are attracted to really difficult music. they seem to have no conception of how hard it is , just to play and how much harder than that it is to perform.

In trad music something like Pontchartrain - well you really would think that even an idiot could see that it takes dedication to know and try to express those lines. there are simple traditional songs - but everyone seems to want to do the hard stuff.

In contemporary music - it can also be bad. You get people who choose arrangements that would fox an LA session man and keep the drop in button really busy.

i must confess, I was just trying to be helpful to this woman,and I said a few weeks ago - why don't you simplify this music. Do it with less chords, and then you could concentrate on singing and the club wouldn't be listening to you struggling and getting it nearly right. The reason blokes like Jack Hudson and me can concentrate on adding and subtracting twiddly bits is cos we keep it down to three or four chords. Anyway - we haven't seen her since. I expect I offended her, just trying to give some helpful advice.

I hate it particularly when traddies sneer at John Denver songs and stuff like Me and Bobby McGhee. they are at least do-able by people who aren't experts and indeed if you whip the basics, you can start to achieve individuality.

Also there is the oft stated point of view (on mudcat) that even if you are putting the audience through purgatory - if you are singing a traditional song - you are making a contribution to the tradition.


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: evansakes
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 10:45 AM

The trouble with the whole folk club movement is that everyone thinks they have a divine right to participate at every level. Performing in any environment should be seen as a privilege not a right. In a perfect world everyone would know what standard of preparedness/talent they are at and whether they should in fact be performing in any given setting.

Sadly probably 95% don't. If people are able to stand up in a singaround and crucify a well-known and well-loved song to such a cringeworthy extent that most people disappear to the bar/loo/go outside for a smoke there is something wrong. That's bad enough....however they then think they are just as entitled as anyone else to stand up and parade the same wares by opening the evening for an Award-winning professional that people have paid £12 or more to see.

It's hard to say no to these people especially when (at an earlier stage in a club's evolution) they could easily get a spot whenever they wanted one. Worse still is when they refuse to support you if you have the temerity to turn them down for a spot (or refuse them free entry). That's happened several times to us. So people who shouldn't even have the opportunity (or audacity) to perform in public are then denying themselves the opportunity to experience people who can do it properly (and who they would inevitably learn an awful lot from) for the simple reason that they consider themselves above putting in a few quid at the door.

So, Tom, if you think artists can get brassed off and disillusioned at times please spare a thought for the event organisers who have to deal with and fend off all these vain time-wasters! We can get just as disillusioned at times!


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 10:56 AM

Gerry old mate - I think about you all the time! I'm actually astonished at the tact and subtlety employed on a weekly basis by organisers up and down the land - and how frequently it does all work very well indeed. I just can't help feeling there may be some long terms trends afoot, and hope that by talking frankly now we may make progress towards strength in future. T


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Chris Green
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 11:04 AM

Hi all

Just a couple of thoughts as I feel I may have been misconstrued. I'm not in any way knocking Type 2 or 3 clubs. I owe both types a great debt as without them I wouldn't have had the chances to hone the skills that I now (hopefully!) have. The reason I went for a type 1 club, or concert club if you will, is that the local area is already well-served with venues and events of the other kind. And I still feel that if you're charging £10 on the door, putting floor spots of variable (and in some cases completely unknown) quality is rather unfair to your audience.

To give you an extreme example, I did a gig at a club a few years ago now. We were booked to do two 45s and were told to come off at 10.30 sharp as the venue hadn't got a licence past that time (this was prior to the new licensing laws.) It was a type 3 club so instead of a support there were a series of floor singers, some of who were good and some of whom were shall we say less than good.

We went on to do our first set at 9pm and came off at 9.35. I'd decided as it was a late start we'd chop a couple of songs from our set and explained this to the audience, around half of whom had come specifically because we were playing (ie - they weren't singers or regulars). I assumed we'd take a 10 minute break and be back on at 9.45ish, and was aghast when the organiser announced that we still had a few more floor spots to get through. Quite a few, as it turned out! People started leaving once it became clear that our last set was going to be drastically shortened and by the time we went back on at 10.10 to play our twenty minute set half the audience had left. The other half left shortly after we finished playing.

I asked the organiser why he'd let the other floor spots go on and cut our set. He replied "We have a policy of not turning anyone away who wants to sing." I pointed out that a sizeable chunk of the audience had come to listen and not to sing and indeed had paid £6 for the privilege, but he accused me of being elitist. At which point we left.

It's an extreme example, but the point I'm trying to make is that singers nights and guest nights are two very different things. Both of them are equally important in my view, but if you're going to mix the two you need to get the balance right. And heresy though it may be, if you're charging door money for people to see a specific guest, I think it's only polite to your audience to exercise some basic quality control over who you have as support/floor singers.


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Chris Green
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 11:06 AM

It took me so long to write that four posts happened while I was doing it!


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 11:09 AM

it seems that when everybody in the room is having a go, the balance shifts towards the 'dire' end of the spectrum

I think it depends who's in the room. I've heard a lot more GEFF and practising-in-public at my local 'open stage'* club than at any of the singarounds I've been to. This may sound silly, but I think there's something about getting up in front of people that attracts performers whose enthusiasm outstrips their talent - it's your fifteen minutes of localised fame.

*Not an 'open mike' club as no PA.


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: evansakes
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 11:32 AM

"We have a policy of not turning anyone away who wants to sing"

They should carve those words on the gravestone when that club finally dies.


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Acorn4
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 11:41 AM

This is drifting rather ominously towards the "Folk Club Manners" threat at times, and I agree if folk club manners are sometimes a bit lacking "Open Mike Manners" will perhaps eventually stretch to 2,000 posts and rival "War and Peace".

Congratulations to JK on the rescue job on "Ponchartain" - I think "Ride On" might be beyond redemption,though!


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Chris Green
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 12:03 PM

Twick Folk - it already has!


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Northerner
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 01:30 PM

I go to two folk clubs regularly. They both have the same format - they alternate a singaround night (tiny entry fee) with a guest night (modest entry fee). There are raffles every week. On guest nights the guest performs for about an hour and a a half and is supported by floor singers. There isn't enough time for all of our local floor singers to perform on guest nights but on singaround nights generally all of the performers can get a spot. There are occasional evenings when not everybody can perform on a singaround night - we can get twenty or so regulars up performing. A lot of talent round here (Tees Valley). Luckily there are other clubs in the area. Some of the smaller clubs are mainly singaround clubs with only occasional guests. It is a very active area - new clubs start up. The Young 'Uns started club in Hartlepool not so long ago and I've started a storytelling circle this autumn. As a storyteller and singer I go to folk clubs plus the storytelling circle plus open mics at literature events (the literature events have given me a warm welcome).


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 01:34 PM

Hi Northerner, And do those two clubs reliably get full houses on guest nights, or is it like elsewhere, and only reliably full for Names? Thanks, Tom


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Mrs Scarecrow
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 02:09 PM

May be I'm lucky inthe quality (mostly) of our local sing arounds.
To Answer Tom I would not want to see the end of concerts as I know many people who are not like me and who would not dream of getting up and performing but who love folk music. I do see that there is a difficulty for middle range performers who may not be well known enough out side their own areas to attract as audience. What the answer to this is I really dont know.


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 02:13 PM

Mmmmm - Lots of food for thought there people - Thanks! I am pretty sure that John has the right idea. Lets see a balance that helps see music and entertainment restored. I would also like to see, as in Banjimans club, more 'out there', in the bars and pubs but to perfectly honest I wouldn't dare bring one or two of our 'folk performers' out of their nice little club cocoons. Not entirely on a 'quality' basis either. I know some no more than copmpetant musicians who are extemely entertaining (seeing two tonight - I know you won't take any offence Ron or Mike :-) ) and some technical brilliant ones who could bore the pants off a statue of Queen Vic!

Al is right as well. Let us see all sorts of music. There is no reason, other than snobbery as far as I can see, why John Denver and Bobby McGee should not have their place in folk clubs alongside Patrick Spens and Shirley Collins. (See what I did there? Clever, eh? Eh? :-P ) As long as they are all performed in a manner that people enjoy there should be no reason why clubs should not come out of the closet and go into the front room. Maybe it is the kick start pubs have been waiting for? Oh - Like the hot buffet as well, Al:-)

Anyway, where was I...

Oh aye. I hope that at Swinton we can see the format continue with some minor tweaks. Maybe move to an 'open mike' in the pub on occasions? Maybe we can subsidise artists, so we don't see the like of Tom 'fall by the wayside'. (Maybe I should post the same question on Yahoo - Whatcher think, Tom?)

I still don't know what to think but there are some ideas spreading like a fungus under this old gnome hat... Hmmmmm. Keep 'em coming!

BTW - I am after a career change. Anyone know who would pay me to do this sort of stuff and come up with ideas? ;-)

Cheers

DeG


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Northerner
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 02:14 PM

Well yes, the audience is probably bigger for "names". Depends on what you call a name probably.


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Acorn4
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 02:32 PM

A club we go to quite a lot is a good example of a "type 2" - the whole thing depends on the dedication of one organiser withou whom it would have folded long ago, who is now about £3,000 personally in debt as a result of booking good guests - just one bad night can set you well back!

Both organisers and artists are stuggling as it is at the moment.


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 02:54 PM

"This is drifting rather ominously towards the "Folk Club Manners" threat at times,"
"Folk club" has to be about what you put on and how well it's done - otherwise , what's the point?
John Denver and Bobby McGee my arse!!!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 02:57 PM

Thanks for those answers chaps and chapesses.

I guess the big issue re quality is that the benchmark is not universal - and what one group of people think is 'very good' might be considered 'very dire' by others, specially newcomers who have not had their ears trained properly yet. (Though some will love it from first hearing, of course).

Certainly folk music can be strong meat to those with a sensitive palette. And as others have said, it's not just abut people being in tune or in time (or not), because by some folk criteria these are less important than other totally different qualities such as story-communication, provenance or personal growth.

Maybe we could say that the things that go on in folk clubs these days can be defined by a number of different and at time conflicting philosophies - with perhaps three that are key; participation, repertoire and style. You even could call these the X,Y and Z axes of folk if you wanted, and then every individual, and to a certain extent every club, could be plotted onto a 3D graph according to how important they rate each of these philosophies.

Acorn 4 mentioned the 'Manners threat' (love the Freudian typo, Acorn!) and though it became impossible for me to contribute to that one I did read it with a great deal of interest. We saw adherents to each of those three philosophies in that thread and their commitment was compelling. I found myself agreeing passionately with people who were in irredeemable conflict with eachother!

Certainly I feel there's room for everything as long as there's a live and let live approach - and clear labelling.

In the past I've suggested that the chief challenge facing folk clubs (in fact the whole folk movement) is not one of quality or promotion or conservation or originality - it's merely about branding. Or to use a less contentious word, language.

If there were universally understood and different, non-confusable terms for Dave's 1 2 and 3 - (and, ideally, terms for the main sub-sets of 3 too - booked/vetted supports against floor singers, for example) most of the problem would disappear. (Hey - maybe we should use XYZ co-ordinates in all publicity to warn people where we stand)!!

But as long as we use the words 'folk club' to describe such massively different types of event, the endless skirmishes of our civil war will continue, and we'll go on confusing the pants off the rest of society.

It wouldn't solve the problem of regulars/members expecting guests to be poor, but maybe if we fixed the big problem of branding we'd have a LOT more clubs and more people could find the right level and outlet for their talents.

Who knows

Tom


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 03:00 PM

Oh dear. Here we go again. Jim - just forget that they're talking about something called a 'folk club.' Pretend it's called a Groonty Club. See? No problem! T


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 03:25 PM

You takin' lessons from Jim Royal, Jim:-)

Lets not get into either Folk Club Manners OR what is folk music!

D.

(BTW - JD and BMcG must be folky - they are both dead:-D )


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 03:30 PM

OK - I'll rephrase before someone tells me I'm talking bollocks. One is dead and one does not exist. Same difference:-P


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 03:36 PM

"You even could call these the X,Y and Z axes"

But Tom, whose going to grind them???


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 03:43 PM

"Groonty Club"
Then I'd expect to hear 'grootny' music Tom - if that's what it says on the tin.
If you haven't learned from the fact that you've lost over three quarters of your clubs and audiences and why the 'folk' scene is living a hand-to-mouth existence - I suggest you try to find out. Crap performances of an undefined music might be a good starting point.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 04:26 PM

"You even could call these the X,Y and Z axes of folk if you wanted"

Nice one, Tom. If you wait long enough you'll probably find someone offering to grind them...


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 05:20 PM

Jim that's exactly what I'm doing. Trying to find out. But in a non-confrontational way, so that people will feel able to voice opinions even when they disagree with me. So that we might all slowly grope towards some mutual understanding, assuming we're willing to listen and learn. I respect your pedigree, I admire your forthrightness and can see much merit in your argument. But I also respect those who feel that folk music is all about participation, that repertoire is not the chief criterion, and/or believe that no-one should be denied the joy of making music - even if they're not very good at it. And I also respect the Z axis too - those who are passionate about new musical directions and new ideas flowering from old roots. I won't ask you to change your beliefs, but might I cordially request that you express them without recourse to insult? We really do have a job to do here, and a lot of people are taking this very difficult challenge seriously. I'm not going to restart our very interesting former debate about larders and tins and grills and jazz and all of that. But you must understand that words always and only mean what people choose them to mean, not what academics define (that follows common usage, it does not drive it), and we have to start from where we are at the end of 2008, not where we were in 1956. John Denver is understood as folk music by millions of people, and they have every right to that understanding. If we want to make progress we have to start with an acceptance of that status quo, not rail against the moon and frighten the horses. I do hope you can take that on board and maybe come up with some practical ideas on how to work through this problem. Thanks

Tom


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 05:52 PM

This could be an interesting discussion. See if you can carry it on without animostity.
Thanks.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Acorn4
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 06:07 PM

I've just looked at the local diary in the Leicester area - for tonight there are six clubs we could possibly go to -that is within a drive of about 40 minutes or less. There are also other clubs which run on ,say for example the second Monday of the month. they are a good mixture of the three types quoted. I think all of those clubs would be packed if everyone who ever came went on the same week.

Five of these are clubs we've visited and would definitely like to support but we can't do them all, and would like to investigate no 6 somewhen. With the occasional Monday when other things crop up, it means that we can probably only get to each one every six weeks. Sundays is a simlar crowded schedule.

In the Midlands it would seem that we're a bit thinly spread, but it doesn't mean that there aren't a lot of people who go to clubs.

There's also the question of "non-folk" people in venues -we've got a range of bits and pieces we do that branch over into country and pop, so that we can adapt (our duo name is "On the Fence"!) although folk song is probably our favourite genre. We were playing in a pub singaround once when the punters became really enthusiastic about the music being played which was mainly folkish - Julia commented afterwards:-

"You don't expect normal people to like folk music do you?"

I suppose she was right in the sense that you do start to feel a bit conscious that you might be "inflicting" your tastes on other people.

Interesting experience at Bedworth this weekend. There was a new landlord in the White Swan who had agreed to host parts of the festival. On Saturday night the singaround went over time, and the canned music was unceremoniously switched on (in the middle of someone's song) -obviously the landlord, who was quite new, didn't want to lose his normal Saturday night trade for the sake of one week. We obviously feared bad vibes!

On Sunday, the singaround/session was supposed to finish at 4.30 but we decided to carry on to see what would happen, quite prepared for the fact we might be booted out. By about 5.30 the landlord was leaning on the bar, listening and laughing out loud at some of the "craic" going on, really getting "on board" with it all, and at the end, saying he was definitely going to be involved in the festival next year "if I'm still here!"

It's a symbiotic relationship between performers, punters , organisers, audience and landlords which has to gel to work. We can't exist in a bubble!

Perhaps "can normal people like folk music could be a thread title!"


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 07:08 PM

I like the three axes, but I don't think there can be as much variation on the 'repertoire' axis as on the other two. I don't think the word 'folk' can ever be reclaimed for the 1956 definition, but I don't think that's the most important part of what Jim Carroll's saying (apologies to Jim if he thinks otherwise!) The question to my mind is whether the 1956 definition describes anything, and if so whether it's something valuable. Obviously(?) I answer Yes to both of those.

That leads to the question of whether this valuable thing has anything to do with the wellbeing of folk clubs, and if so what. According to Jim, moving away from traditional repertoires killed the folk clubs; according to Al, it was traditional purism that killed them. To me what matters is that 'folk' venues and events are the only places where you'll hear traditional music; you may hear a lot of other stuff there, but none of it is stuff that you can't hear anywhere else. That to me suggest that something's going wrong if the clubs aren't providing a home for traditional music, however well they're doing. A flourishing folk club is one that puts on traditional music and packs 'em in.

That's the view from my perch on the X axis, anyway.


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 07:32 PM

Thanks, Joe. I am sure we all can but if it looks a little hostile at times don't worry too much - It could well be the boisterous Brits at it again. We don't usualy mean anything by the banter. Well, most of us don't;-)

Crap performances of an undefined music might be a good starting point.

I agree, Jim, as you know. Crap music of ANY genre is a put off to most people but we realy do need to steer away from the 'what is folk' argument. I know there is the 1950-odd definition but we have had Bob Dylan, Steeleye Span and Ziggy Marley with the Chieftans since then. Like Tom says, to most people, Folk IS John Denver. No-one would ever dream of attending a rock concert without knowing something about he band(s), they were going to see. Is it classic ballad rock? Metal? Indie? Goth? Why should it be assumed that Folk is a narrower river than other music genres?

Out of interest, I heard Dougie MacLeans 'Caledonia' again tonight. A contemporary song that defies the 50-whatever definition. But I would put money on the fact that if 100 people listened to it for the first time more than 90 would call it Folk!

I don't like the idea of genres and sub-genres but if it makes people happy to categorise into traditional or contemporary Folk and then still further into traditional by country, region and town or contemporary by Dylanesque, in the traditional idiom or just plain wrist slashers then please feel free to do so. It won't help Folk clubs but it will help people to know what to expect! Or will it?

If anyone feels that Folk clubs will thrive again by going back to what was happening in the 60s then they are more than welcome to open a club in that style. I, for one, don't believe in going backwards and look forward to what comes out of the current Folk revival:-)

Cheers

DeG


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 07:57 PM

' I, for one, don't believe in going backwards and look forward to what comes out of the current Folk revival'

don't understand that bit Dave. And the three axes. supposing theres four axes or six. I mean lets face it, there are any number of determinants in this equation

'according to Al, it was traditional purism that killed them'

no Pip I never said that. I said it was people willing to bore the audience shitless. there were contemporary bores as well as traditional ones. The contemporary ones were just stupid though. whereas the the traddies had a certain sadistic relish - I detected a twinkle in the eye every time I was driven from the room.
Aha! another ignoramus who couldn't withstand my dazzling insight into folksong! I bet he watches coronation street and has millions of kids and lives in a council house.


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Acorn4
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 08:04 PM

Crap music of ANY genre is a put off to most people .

a questionable statement?


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 08:10 PM

One of the things I remember from the early days of UK Folk Clubs was
the wonderful variety of music that was performed and enjoyed in the clubs that were NOT trying SO hard to be either Purist Trad or Purist Contemporary . The clubs that always seemed to have Bums On Seats had Traddies , Songwriters , Music Hall . Jug Bands , and even Hard Line Blues , both as Guests AND Floor Singers .


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: GUEST,Ian Fyvie
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 10:06 PM

Back to the original question......

Cellarfolk (Brighton) is a singaround in a function room, which books very occasional guests drawn from peolple who have visited us on a normal singers' night. It works well, with 15 to 30 people coming along on the normal sinaround nights.   

Yes guest nights are variable. Because regulars have seen guests as ordinary circle singers first then there have been no disasters - but one very good performer who we see quite often at a normal singaround was very disappointed that quite a few regulars were missing on his guest night.

A bit of history - Cellarfolk was started in May 2007 to address problems we'd encounted in our twice weekly bar singarounds (Brighton Singers' Club). While we had an excellent public bar for our Sundays, it relied upon folk club etiquet to be honoured by all those in the bar to allow for a good night (and many of the nights over the years were amazing!). However in later years we found an increasing number of people/singers coming along who were happy to talk over other singers (their right in a Public Bar) and generally only listened to their chums - so the atmosphere was destroyed.

We reluctantly abandoned Public Bar sessions and shifted Brighton Singers' Club to the Function Room of a nearby pub (Crown and Anchor, Preston Village) where the evenings have developed into a very different (but far more satisfying) singaround with chat (average about 9 people both for Wednesdays and Sundays).

AND we have the lovely Cellarfolk sessions as a bonus from the experiment to solve the problems of the long running Brighton Singers Club.

Ian Fyvie


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 02 Dec 08 - 02:29 AM

Sooz
Sack the malingerers and move closer to Grimsby!
Nah!
I was only joking.


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Acorn4
Date: 02 Dec 08 - 03:23 AM

Ian,

I am a Suswegian by birth and some of my earliest folk memories are of a club in Preston Circus where the excellent Miles Wooten used to perform. Good to hear things are still going well down there.


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Dec 08 - 03:43 AM

Tom,
As usual, from my point of view, and I know from past experience, not from yours, no confrontation intended, frustration maybe (hand on heart Joe).
I believe that the success or failure of the music depends on being clear of what you are trying to present and presenting it in an honest and open manner and to the best of your ability so that it can be appreciated and enjoyed at its best (and stand or fall) for what it is. This does not preclude experimentation, adaptation, changes, whatever... in the music, as long as it is recognised that, whatever its origins, once those changes go beyond a certain point and it loses its function, it ceases to be folk. Experimentation can only work if the end result doesn't choke the life out of the mother plant, as I believe has happened here. If you want evidence of this, look through the threads and seek out those who find an evening of folk music 'boring', or whinge about 'long ballads' (we even had an organiser of a 'respected' club proposing a three-minute moratorium on the length of songs performed, thereby wiping out virtually all of the ballad repertoire).   
"John Denver is understood as folk music by millions of people,"
You continue to say this (I think the figure you gave last time about the misconception of what is and is not 'folk' was in the region of 6o million) without presenting any evidence. If a minuscule fraction of this figure knew, thought they knew, or even cared what folk music was we'd be in a different ball game. The fact is that all but a tiny handful of people even have an opinion on the matter, that tiny handful continues to shrink at an alarming rate, and will go on doing so until we get our act together.
The decision of what is presented as folk music (or any music) has to be made by those who, by calling their music 'folk' take responsibility for it.
Far from Al's point that it was the 'purists' who did the damage (they were always far too much of a tiny minority to have an effect on anything) it was at the point when it became possible to spend the night in a folk club without hearing a folk song that the mass-exodus took place; the final crunch came with the abandoning of standards - I really was there at the time it happened, took some part in the debate and finally went off and worked on another aspect of the music. Over the time I have been involved I witnessed the rise, the limited success and the decline of the music - just as, more recently, here in Ireland I have seen the rise and what I believe to be its long-term establishment as an art form.
I have no intention of attempting to dominate this thread, but I felt I couldn't let it pass without restating my opinion on what has gone wrong in the clubs - to me, all this is just resiting the deck-chairs, not finding the leak and blocking it.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Acorn4
Date: 02 Dec 08 - 04:10 AM

Actually, I would have thought that the majority of people think John Denver is country music.

Tom,

We used to put up Paul Metsers many years ago when he was touring and he eventually seemed to reach the same watershed as yourself. What finished Paul off was touring with a band, having just scraped by as a solo artist, so the situation is not just a recent one.

Like yourself, Paul produced what was, in my opinion, his best work just before the decision. People still do his songs, and he does seem to be making tentative steps towards a comeback.


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 02 Dec 08 - 04:14 AM

I can't say it actually bothers me Jim, if I DON'T hear a tradtional folksong all night. As long as people are singing in folk clubs - the possibility of folksong is there.

I'm sorry if our analyses of the great decline are different. But we were both there. I was chatting with Derek Brimstone only last week - and he must have played nearly every folk club in England. More than both of us. His memory of the actual events pretty much mirrors mine.

I'm glad you've found an oasis of tradtional music to retire to. To some of us folksong is a long established artform in England and it renews itself without consciously aping the archaic and esoteric forms of the past.


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 02 Dec 08 - 04:31 AM

Jim I agree that the forces you cite have certainly been at work. And I admit that I plucked my 60m figure from thin air - but I was basing on a world view. That world view has been coloured by a decision made in the US (where roots, not being so deep in local soil, perhaps, are seen differently, and where clearly indigenous art is celebrated whatever its age) in the 1950s and 60s to accept contemporary songwriters who present in a particular style as folk musicians. The route between UStrad, Guthrie, Dylan and Denver is well travelled, and whatever we may think of the wisdom of applying the same criteria on this side of the pond too; it happened. I'm sorry that you can't accept it but the broad, confusing, annoying, misleading application of that word across the English-speaking world IS a fact of life - and we'll get nowhere until we take that fact on board.

Yes we must decide how we're going to deal with the problem, because this ill definition lies at the root of the issue we're discussing here - confused 'brand' identity. Because you're completely right when you say "success or failure of the music depends on being clear on what you are trying to present."

If we didn;t use the saem word to describe all of Dave three types of club, you'd not have a problem (as long as the word folk was only applied to the type which fidded your understanding of the word. But it's not your word. It belongs just as much to those who use it to describe a community activity as a repertoire. The clubs where any kind of music goes as long as it's presented in a particular way, and accepted by that group.

A world dictator needing to solve this problem might be tempted to insist of different words for each type of club - and there are clearly more than 3. I just tried jotting down all the different permutations and gave up at 15.

Yet all these permutations can and do go under the title of 'folk club' - and even those who carefully avoid one or both of those words are called folk clubs at times.

So we have two challenges.

1) How more accurately to brand the gatherings we host in the UK, so that people who come to the door will know what to expect and not be disappointed.

2) How to stop everyone laying claim to the same two or three words while applying completely different meanings to them. Because without 2 we're surely never going to achieve 1).

We are not re-siting deck-chairs. We're down in the bilges fighting to the death over who owns the bloomin bung!

Tom


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Fidjit
Date: 02 Dec 08 - 04:34 AM

Ah! Now you're talking Tom!

Chas


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Will Fly
Date: 02 Dec 08 - 04:40 AM

There was an interesting article on the 1956 definition in a scholarly Boston journal, whose title and author unfortunately escape my ageing brain (Malcolm Gebhart, possibly?). In it, he commented that the never ending wrangles over the 1956 definition ("what is folk music?", etc.) invariably revolve around the origins of the music - as opposed to the purpose of the music.

I've often thought that the music, as defined by that definition, was pickled and packaged when Sharp, RVW and others started the collecting process by noting it all down, and when people like the Lomaxes and Bob Copper went out with their recording equipment and captured it on wax and tape. There may be vestiges of the oral tradition left in the Western world, but I'll bet there aren't many 'Catters (for example) who didn't get the greater part of their repertoire, in the main, from recordings or from books. Jim Copper wrote down all the songs he'd known - in his songbook. Thereby saving them, and "freezing" them for subsequent generations.

If you accept that this is true - and you don't have to (!) - then comes the question: what is the purpose of the clubs? To sing the stuff in a way that (we assume, but we don't know) it's always been sung? To rework the material in an individual way - and, if so - by how much? To add to it by individual composition - within the traditional style - without that style? Is it, for example, an art form to sing something beautifully in a strictly "traditional" fashion, following the precepts and style of older generations? Or is an art form something that inevitably develops - and, in fact, can't help but develop?

For me, the beauty of the best folk clubs is in clubs where you can hear a rich mixture of old and new music - entertain and be entertained. Clubs which are warm and welcoming, and have a communal and community spirit. Where friends and strangers can meet to make music. It also goes without saying - and this is a purely personal view - that performers in those clubs, whatever they do, should do it to the best of their ability. But's another thread!


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 02 Dec 08 - 06:05 AM

Al - 'I, for one, don't believe in going backwards and look forward to what comes out of the current Folk revival'.

For the first bit - I would not like to go back to the Folk club models of the 60s or 70s just as I would not like to wear flairs and satin shirts. Been there, done that. Want something new:-)

Second bit - There seems to be a huge boost in Folk at the moment with all sorts of main stream events and media coverage. Lots of young performers coming out of it as well, both traditional and contemporary. I am realy looking forward to seeing how this will resolve at grass rotts level. New and young people finding they want more? Starting new Folk clubs under a different name? I dunno - It's exciting to see if and how it will develop.

Any clearer?

Cheers

DeG


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: mattkeen
Date: 02 Dec 08 - 06:14 AM

I think new names for a folk club is essential if you want a younger crowd
I hope it works in Coventry
Its working for Sam Lee at the Magpie's Nest in London

Might be an idea to ask the young performers what sort of club/night where their peers might turn up to?


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: mattkeen
Date: 02 Dec 08 - 06:15 AM

Sorry for the typos - I am supposed to be working!


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Dec 08 - 02:08 PM

Tom,
Thinking on your point further (thanks for that).... I would have thought that, certainly in the UK anyway, any concept of the term 'folk' from outside the clubs, (if not from Miss Pringle jangling out 'Jackie Boy-Master on the school upright) would rather be drawn from the 'folk boom' era, taking in such performers as The Dubliners, The Clancys and The Spinners, rather than John Denver.
The Spinners were still producing top selling albums decades after the boom subsided.
All of these groups were producing sounds that were light years closer to the real thing than virtually everything that passes for 'folk' nowadays.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: BB
Date: 02 Dec 08 - 03:26 PM

"If anyone feels that Folk clubs will thrive again by going back to what was happening in the 60s then they are more than welcome to open a club in that style."

In one sense, I think that's exactly what we're doing at our club - and I'm not sure what you don't like about that, David. Leadfingers' thought on it was the same as mine - it was the sheer diversity of styles which created the richness of the experience.

As I've said before, once a month ours operates in singaround style, and once a month as, effectively, a concert with pre-booked local performers and a main guest. The only differences from the '60s on that night is that the local performers are pre-booked, and the guest does 2 x 45 mins. instead of 2 x 30 mins. We have a wide range of music within what might be called the 'folk canon' - we haven't quite got to the Jug Band yet (only because we haven't found one), nor are there many guest acts doing Music Hall these days, but we wouldn't rule them out.

We don't call it a folk club (not wanting to mislead the likes of Jim C!), but Shammick Acoustic (thus not calling it a club either). Although the singaround nights have been going for some years, the concerts have only been going for 18 months, and it seems finally that numbers might be rising as word is going around our (quite large) village that these concerts are pretty good entertainment. Interestingly though, they appear to be calling it 'folk' even though we don't!

Hopefully, people are hearing a fair amount of traditional music and song in amongst other things, and won't think of it as anything rare or strange as many of Joe Public seem to do. What I hope we provide is good quality acoustic music and song without too much labelling.

Barbara


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 02 Dec 08 - 06:22 PM

Bob Copper - his recording equipment???


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Will Fly
Date: 02 Dec 08 - 06:29 PM

Bob Copper was asked to go out and about by the BBC with a portable tape recorder in the '60s (read his book "Songs and Southern Breezes") to collect songs from singers in rural communities, mainly in the south of England. His short time as the landlord of a pub in Kent stemmed from his travels on his recording activity. The book describes it very fully. I can't recall exactly what the equipment was - but it would have been the standard, radio reporter's portable kit of the period.


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Will Fly
Date: 02 Dec 08 - 06:33 PM

Correction to that last post: "Kent" should have been "Hampshire" - I sent Bob off in the wrong directon! :-)


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Linda Kelly
Date: 02 Dec 08 - 07:12 PM

I organise a club on the basis of 2 singers/musicians nights then one guest night. Without exception our guests have been entertaining and I ask for feedback after everyone (yours was particularly good Mr Bliss although I sadly missed your performance) - we pay the fee requested, provide accomodation when asked and have good attendances. Our singers nights are also very well attended with a diverse range of traditional and contemporary muscians and singers - we don't have any bad performances but we do have people who improve with every performance they give. We keep our prices reasonable, pay a hefty PRS fee but have a great room and landlord who can outplay most people I know. IF it was any different why would I want to spend hours every night answering emails listening to demos and doing publicity? I worry for folk performers simply because of the sheer volume of them out there and because most clubs have budget constraints.Folk clubs are a sum of their parts and I am grateful for the members of our club which create its success.


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 03 Dec 08 - 05:09 AM

Of 60s style clubs, Barbara asks >i>and I'm not sure what you don't like about that, David.

I have never said I don't like anything about them, Barbara. What makes you say I don't? I just said I would not, personaly, do it myself. I am more than happy for people to run any kind of club they want and I have said over and over and over no single type of club is better than another. Rest assured that if your club were closer to me I would be there regularly:-)

Cheers

DeG


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 03 Dec 08 - 05:10 AM

Whoops - HTML cock up but I am sure you get the gist:-)


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 03 Dec 08 - 05:37 AM

definitions are odious and unhelpful.

i remember being shocked when |I heard Quincy Jones refer to Saturday Night Fever as R and B.

Rand B had always meant Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy and Chuck Berry (at a stretch0.

Nowadays R and B means some girl band whispering sweet nothings to a disco beat.

folk, Schmolk...who cares. we know what we mean.


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 03 Dec 08 - 06:05 AM

I'm not sure about definitions being unhelpful, Al. Agree absolutely about the R&B thing - just when the hell DID that happen btw? I like to have a general idea of what I am letting myself in for though and without some sort of definition how would I know if I was going to a festival of accoustic music or a techno rave?

Cheers

DeG


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Will Fly
Date: 03 Dec 08 - 06:14 AM

I was recently reminding myself of what acoustic sessions were on in my area via Traditional Music Sessions in Sussex and Surrey. Very useful definitions of what goes on at each session. I'd be wary of just turning up at some without a clear idea of what I was letting myself in for!


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 03 Dec 08 - 06:24 AM

What a good idea, Will. Could be expanded into the context of where folk clubs go and satisy even the most ardent critic. If we call the folk club a 'music night' with definitions like yours maybe we can atract more while ensuring that people know what they are getting in advance.

Cheers

Dave


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 03 Dec 08 - 08:59 AM

BB:
We don't call it a folk club (not wanting to mislead the likes of Jim C!), but Shammick Acoustic (thus not calling it a club either).
Of course, that may slow down people like me who visit areas at short notice & do a quick check on the web for any 'folk club' in the area. If you are not listing under that term you may miss quite a few 'walk-ins'

Cheers
Nigel


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Dec 08 - 09:36 AM

There is no extensive folk club network in Ireland - most of the singing takes place at singing week-ends throughout the year.
There are a number of 'Singing Circles' springing up, covering the whole repertoire, (any bias towards a particular genre depending on the organisers).
"definitions are odious and unhelpful."
I know wht you mean Al - I've started ripping the labels off the cans in our cupboards - makes mealtimes far more interesting!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Will Fly
Date: 03 Dec 08 - 09:46 AM

DeG:
What a good idea, Will. Could be expanded into the context of where folk clubs go and satisy even the most ardent critic. If we call the folk club a 'music night' with definitions like yours maybe we can atract more while ensuring that people know what they are getting in advance.

The list I linked to is edited by Bryan on a regular basis, and with (I believe) a little IT wizadry regarding dates?). It certainly is useful. I'd certainly dare to drop in to the sessions at The Bull in Ditchling - but The Pond in Brighton is pure Irish - with fiddlers like Ben Paley on tap. Scary!


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 03 Dec 08 - 10:06 AM

I would have asked Bryan for help directly Will, but he has fell out with me! Better not get into that:-( But, yes - I can see how useful it can be. Thanks again and I will have a go at developing the idea to suit our club.

Cheers

Dave


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: GUEST,Not a definition again
Date: 03 Dec 08 - 10:45 AM

Labels on our cans don't have definitions on - only name of contents.
Frinstance - a tin of baked beans.
But - those beans could be spicy, barbecue or plain.
And I choose which I want to eat.
But you wont find a botanical definition of what the bean is!


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Tyke
Date: 03 Dec 08 - 11:12 AM

Sad one!


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 03 Dec 08 - 11:21 AM

But you wont find a botanical definition of what the bean is!

I'll get me haricot!!


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Tyke
Date: 03 Dec 08 - 12:01 PM

Do not belive everything you read on the cans! They often tell you that they are Open Other End and they never are!


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 03 Dec 08 - 12:11 PM

Open can and stand in boling water for 15 minutes. Couldn't walk for 6 months...

:D (eG)


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Dec 08 - 12:27 PM

It's no joke! Lord Franklin and his entire crew died from Bake Bean Poisoning. However to be more precise (Truthful) it was Lead Poisoning from sealing the cans with lead solder as they did in those day's that did it!

Please don't blow raspberries when someone starts singing the First Verse!


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Acorn4
Date: 03 Dec 08 - 02:17 PM

I think they trusted too much in their satnav!


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Tyke
Date: 03 Dec 08 - 03:20 PM

You mean they ended up where they should not have Bean!


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: GUEST,Le Petamain
Date: 03 Dec 08 - 03:25 PM

What have Beans got to do with music I never had to use Beans!


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Aeola
Date: 03 Dec 08 - 03:55 PM

It's all those references to the 1950's!!! hasbeans!!!


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: GUEST,!
Date: 03 Dec 08 - 08:06 PM

48 hours ago I was getting worried. Our Singaround-with-occasional-Guest had the next guest night arranged for that evening. What with discussion about these occasional guest nights at singaround clubs getting less support I had visions of me and the guest sitting there and no-one else!
However... despite several apologies from regulars, we more than made up for their presence by new people coming along and we had an excellent night.

The guests by the way were Rattlebag - a five piece harmony group from Hastings. I thoroughly recommend them - they're brilliant


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: GUEST,ian Fyvie
Date: 03 Dec 08 - 08:15 PM

Just lost a contribution in the ether - so try two

Had a brilliant guest night at our singaround-with-occasional-guest-nights club last tuesday.

I mention it because, after reading this thread the previous morning I was fearing the worst - ie guest nights at singaround clubs were attracting poor support.

We had a few apologies from regulars in advance which increased the worry, but new and occasional supporters more than made up for those ill or who don't really like guest nights, particularly when guests are unknown.

The group by the way, was Rattlebag - a five piece harmony band from Hastings - really excellent!

Ian Fyvie


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: GUEST,Ian Fyvie
Date: 03 Dec 08 - 08:18 PM

Well my original made it as well - must have pressed the right button - but too soon!

Ian Fyvie


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: BB
Date: 04 Dec 08 - 05:19 AM

Nigel, you're probably right, but you would find Shammick Acoustic in folk listings in the area, which would, hopefully, direct you to our website where it would soon be evident what sort of music goes on there.

In fact, I've just checked by googling "folk club" Devon, and you would indeed find us.

So when are you coming to see us? :-)

Barbara


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 04 Dec 08 - 10:43 AM

What have Beans got to do with music

You CAN't be serious! :-)

Beans, beans, the musical fruit
The more you eat the more you toot...

:D (eG)

PS - Glad to hear there are Guests getting good audiences. We are hoping for a belter on the 15th when Gary and Vera Aspey are on. Bit thin on the ground last week for Micron but a good time was had by all anyway:-)

D.


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Tyke
Date: 04 Dec 08 - 12:46 PM

Sorry my Dyslexic Brain has kicked in and changed Bean to Bin!
As in
"Where's tha bin."
Answer to the refuse worker "I bin on me Holiday's"
"No where's tha bin!"
"Oh I've bin to Honkong"
"No where's tha wheelie bin"
"I've really bin to Honkong"

Heard that at my Folk Club!
Sorry my Dyslexic Brain has kicked in and changed Bean to Bin!
As in
"Where's tha bin."
Answer to the refuse worker "I bin on me Holiday's"
"No where's tha bin!"
"Oh I've bin to Honkong"
"No where's tha wheelie bin"
"I've really bin to Honkong"

Heard that at my Folk Club! and I've Bean since!


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Will Fly
Date: 04 Dec 08 - 01:57 PM

"'Ast' bin men bin?"
"Dost' mean dustbin men?"
"Aye."
"No."

Some Lancashire humour...


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Mysha
Date: 04 Dec 08 - 05:36 PM

Hi,

The occasion I frequent would fall under type 0, I guess. That is, it's of the type mentioned before type 1; it's a session. I do mention it anyway, because I wonder whether this falls under the confusion of terms mentioned later. To us, "a session" means most of all that anyone who can participate in the performance is free to join in. That doesn't make a distinction between instruments or voices, and indeed we don't. The criterion "I don't count 'sessions' in amongst clubs unless you have a club that is part session and part singers!", you will understand, makes no sense to me at all.

Regarding the problem of more professional performers drawing less of a crowd, I have to add the quality perspective: Last summer I was in England, plus just far enough across the Scottish border to take the photograph, and it so happened that I did go to a folk evening with main performers. These performers were two charming ladies who unfortunately had made it a hobby to use a different tuning of their instruments for each tune or song. Their show therefore consisted of tuning, which they didn't seem particular adept at, with music in-between. The two sets of floor spots were quite enjoyable, but I'm not sure I would have come had I know the character of the main act beforehand. So if the main performers don't draw, is that really either their style of music, or the image of folk in general, or could it sometimes simply be performance?

BTW, I'd say Caledonia is easily within the 54 definition. It's based on the tradition, and anyone who knows how Dougie MacLeans found out he had a hit, will agree that it had been absorbed by the community.

                                                                Mysha


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: GUEST,DeG sans biscuit
Date: 04 Dec 08 - 06:38 PM

You only got part of it, Will

"Ast bin man bin mam?'

:D


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Will Fly
Date: 05 Dec 08 - 03:26 AM

D'you know - I've never heard it with "mam" on the end of the line. Well, I'll go to the foot of our stairs! :D


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 05 Dec 08 - 04:45 AM

Without wanting to re-open what was anyway a side-debate on this thread, I can't help noticing on the fRoots forum that the Grammy nominations this year include:

Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album
Joan Baez - Day After Tomorrow [Bobolink/Razor & Tie]
Ry Cooder - I, Flathead [Nonesuch Records]
Rodney Crowell - Sex & Gasoline [Work Song/Yep Roc Records]
Emmylou Harris - All I Intended To Be [Nonesuch Records]
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss - Raising Sand [Rounder Records]

Best Traditional Folk Album (!)
Kathy Mattea - Coal [Captain Potato Records]
Tom Paxton -Comedians & Angels [Appleseed Recordings]
Peggy Seeger- Bring Me Home [Appleseed Recordings]
Pete Seeger - At 89 [Appleseed Recordings]
Rosalie Sorrels - Strangers In Another Country [Red House Records]

I mention it only because I think it explains why we have such a problem with expressions like Traditional and Contemporary over here. I, myself, don't mind using the word 'folk' to describe all of the above (though I know where are plenty who would reject them all with passion), but even I'm struggling to allow the application of the the word 'traditional' to the second group.

Does the word not have the same meaning in US law as it does (just one of its definitions) in the UK; 'in public ownership?'

Tom


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 05 Dec 08 - 04:47 AM

sorry - "second group" - Seegers excepted, of course.


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 05 Dec 08 - 06:11 AM

I always used

"Bin man bin mam?"

"Dust mean Dust man?"

"Aye"

"No"

Cheers

DeG
(back with crumbs round his mouth)


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Will Fly
Date: 05 Dec 08 - 06:15 AM

Have you been eating toast? (he asks accusingly). Or was this a mid-morning snack?


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 05 Dec 08 - 06:33 AM

I wish - Toast was during the pre-diet days! Nah - It was just that someone had eaten my cookie last night but I have now got it back:-)

Crossword clue - To egg on, 5 letters

Answer. Toast...

D


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Will Fly
Date: 05 Dec 08 - 06:52 AM

That wouldn't be the Mudcat cookie, would it?


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 05 Dec 08 - 09:18 AM

Wouldn't it be great to locate the sort of folk club your parents warned you about - with all kinds of depravity and loose living going on?

Did they ever exist, one wonders, apart from in Norman Tebbit and Mary Whitehouse's imagination?


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Will Fly
Date: 05 Dec 08 - 09:24 AM

I wish they had existed. The first one I ever went to - around 1964 or so - was the mortal remains of a folk song and dance society, run by an elderly lady called Mrs. Parkinson, and with a resident trio that looked like Peter, Paul and Mary.

When I went down to the Cousins in Greek Street - around '65/'66 or so, for the allniter - everyone was snoozing on the floor by around 2 in the morning and coffee was the strongest thing in sight. Mind you, the night Alexis Korner and Duffy Power were in, there all sorts of little pill boxes were being passed around and, for some reason, people were awake longer...

"Depravity and loose living" - that came much later - and not in folk clubs!


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: GUEST,John from Kemsing
Date: 05 Dec 08 - 10:15 AM

During 63/66 we ran a number of folk clubs around SE London(Catford, Sydenham, Selhurst Park area)and on one particular occasion we booked Bert Jansch. I, for my sins, smoked "roll-your-own" at the time and my choice of tobacco then was "Old Holborn". Bert saw me rolling one and asked me if I could kindly roll one for him which I willingly did. I don`t know to this day what Bert thought he was going to get??


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 05 Dec 08 - 11:45 AM

While we're on the Lanky humour thing:
Bloke goes into 't vet. 'E says "I want t'ave me cat neutered". Vet says "Is it a Tom". Bloke says "No - I've fetched it along".
JK.


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 05 Dec 08 - 11:53 AM

Going back to my original contention that only type 3 is a folk club: what does the word 'club' mean? Type 3, which one would traditionally assume to have a regular audience, can be argued to consist of a number of people 'clubbing together' to book guest performers. A session is a group of people, not necessarily regulars, getting together to play, as a joint activity. You don't pay to join in. How is it a club?
John Kelly.


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Nick
Date: 05 Dec 08 - 12:46 PM

John From K

If it had been John Martyn I think he would have been disappointed. When I saw him a lot of years ago he was quite good at offering his own particular brand of roll-your-owns to the audience on occasions.


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Dec 08 - 03:01 PM

Can anybody in the States throw any light on the story circulating here that a panel setting up a 'traditional' singing festival refused to book artists who didn't write their own material?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Tyke
Date: 06 Dec 08 - 11:30 AM

Me, in a serious mode, trying to get back to the subject What kind of a Folk Club is Yours, Is your club the kind you miss when it's shut over the Christmas Holiday's?


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 06 Dec 08 - 01:14 PM

not on christmas day, or boxing day- othwise we tend to stay open and meet up in other places...It not really like a location. More like the Pickwick Club, a group of rather eccentric friends, who burst into song spontaneously and have adventures.


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: SunrayFC
Date: 06 Dec 08 - 01:37 PM

Our club is successful.


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Tyke
Date: 06 Dec 08 - 04:00 PM

welittledrummer do you mean that your club is not the venue itself but a group of friends who get together to enjoy the same things?


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: peregrina
Date: 06 Dec 08 - 04:00 PM

a terrific one, but it seems to have just become a migratory bird like its name.


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 06 Dec 08 - 05:03 PM

yeh I think so. we meet other places. last week I did a gig with a poet and a singer from the club. two or three other members turned up. and on the weekend most of the gang was at a birthday party of one of the members


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Lowden Jameswright
Date: 07 Dec 08 - 12:27 PM

Poster on the door says "Beginners Especially Welcome"
The club's full most nights.


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Mysha
Date: 07 Dec 08 - 03:19 PM

Hi,

John, "club" means a bunch of people sticking together by choice. (Compare: "Clump".) There doesn't have to be money involved, or organisation, though in the case of music usually a minimum of both is required to keep the elements out of the elements. The essense is the in-crowd, the regulars; all four types can have those.

Tyke: We don't "close down". We've moved it up to Midwinter's Day so we don't have to lose a session at Christmas. But, having been going on for a few years now, I find it's getting harder to get through the session-less summer season. Does that answer your question?

Bye,
                                                                  Mysha


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Tyke
Date: 07 Dec 08 - 07:42 PM

My question was meant to clarify a type of Club. We don't close down answer because we move the date's say's what? You don't shut because you need the money or are you a we want to see our friends each week type of club.


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Mysha
Date: 08 Dec 08 - 03:01 PM

Hi,

Tyke, my mistake: I thought the question was by a gentle soul asking about Christmas spirit and I told him the disaster he foresaw wouldn't actually come to pass since we found a solution for that. But now I found I was wrong I can tell you the elaboration you require is since there's no money to be missed by not keeping our session I'd have to go for option 2-alt we're a we want to see eachother each month type of session.

                                                                  Mysha


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: Tyke
Date: 08 Dec 08 - 05:01 PM

Awaaaaaaaa!


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Subject: RE: What sort of folk club is yours?
From: GUEST,Ian Fyvie
Date: 15 Dec 08 - 10:04 AM

I was pleased to see the club saying 'beginners particularly welcome' is a great success.

The ageing elitists still dominant in some areas/folk scenes will be backing out soon. Should they have controlled the every nook and cranny of the folk scene folk would be dying out with them as they've generally failed to encourage a new generation (bar the odd child "star") - and been less than welcoming new groups who might be at the age of growing out of Rock-Pop and want something more intellegent (except the odd one who has obviously spent a year in her/his bedroom practising their new folky instrument in front of the mirror!)

Luckily many excluded folkies over the years have refused to be scared away by the stand-offish and marginalising attitudes of the elite to those who whose face doesnt fit - and folk has a future despite the elites!

At our singaround last night I was the oldest person there bar one. We had a10 year old lad along with his parents for the first time, investigating what we do at our club. All three want to come along to the club again - and play next visit.

Ian Fyvie


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