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Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.

Faye Roche 06 Apr 09 - 10:15 AM
Banjiman 06 Apr 09 - 10:29 AM
Leadfingers 06 Apr 09 - 10:40 AM
Linda Kelly 06 Apr 09 - 10:47 AM
Banjiman 06 Apr 09 - 10:53 AM
Banjiman 06 Apr 09 - 10:55 AM
The Villan 06 Apr 09 - 03:10 PM
The Villan 06 Apr 09 - 06:23 PM
The Villan 06 Apr 09 - 06:56 PM
Spleen Cringe 06 Apr 09 - 07:39 PM
the lemonade lady 06 Apr 09 - 08:00 PM
Folknacious 06 Apr 09 - 08:01 PM
Peace 06 Apr 09 - 08:05 PM
Spleen Cringe 06 Apr 09 - 08:06 PM
GUEST,Neovo 07 Apr 09 - 03:39 AM
Banjiman 07 Apr 09 - 03:42 AM
GUEST,aw 07 Apr 09 - 03:56 AM
Valmai Goodyear 07 Apr 09 - 04:23 AM
theleveller 07 Apr 09 - 04:34 AM
TheSnail 07 Apr 09 - 04:40 AM
GUEST,Golightly 07 Apr 09 - 05:47 AM
The Villan 07 Apr 09 - 06:00 AM
Les in Chorlton 07 Apr 09 - 10:20 AM
Will Fly 07 Apr 09 - 10:33 AM
The Villan 07 Apr 09 - 10:59 AM
Mitch2 07 Apr 09 - 12:18 PM
johncharles 07 Apr 09 - 01:24 PM
The Villan 07 Apr 09 - 01:32 PM
johncharles 07 Apr 09 - 01:42 PM
Spleen Cringe 07 Apr 09 - 03:11 PM
The Villan 07 Apr 09 - 03:39 PM
Linda Kelly 07 Apr 09 - 05:40 PM
GUEST,tom bliss 08 Apr 09 - 03:19 AM
treewind 08 Apr 09 - 05:34 AM
folkwaller 08 Apr 09 - 07:50 AM
Mr Happy 08 Apr 09 - 07:56 AM
evansakes 08 Apr 09 - 08:40 AM
Les in Chorlton 08 Apr 09 - 08:55 AM
KirstyGardner 08 Apr 09 - 10:01 AM
GUEST,Mitch2 08 Apr 09 - 12:14 PM
GUEST,Mitch2 08 Apr 09 - 12:23 PM
johncharles 08 Apr 09 - 01:07 PM
Lowden Jameswright 08 Apr 09 - 01:32 PM
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Subject: Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.
From: Faye Roche
Date: 06 Apr 09 - 10:15 AM

There has been much talk on here lately about problems afflicting the UK folk scene, particularly the discussion prompted by Tom Bliss's very apt article in Living Tradition.

Now before I go on- this is not a critique of clubs or their organisers; it's just my reflection on how things are, with a few ideas thrown in. So no accusations of trolling please!

May I add a few thoughts as someone who has only come onto the scene quite recently (2 years ago)?

Until then I had been singing with cover/funtion-type bands for nearly ten years, on and off. My last band was about as close to the top of the tree as you can go with this type of outfit and we were doing pretty well. I left both it and that kind of band in general as I had become more put off by the lack of musical satisfaction- OK we were appreciated, but not for being individuals, rather for being just a good copy of whoever's songs we were covering.

I got into folk music through a friend of a friend who plays with a folk band, and have been hooked ever since, though I don't wish to make a career of it (which seems impossible anyway- if Tom Bliss can't do it who can?) One of the first things that struck me is how fragmented the folk scene is. As a performer you can develop a good reputation in your own area whilst being unknown twenty miles down the road. Building up a name means driving all over the place doing floor spots and it must take years to become recognised nationally.

To compare it to the entertainment scene: if you're in a band like my old one, you learn and rehearse your material and get an agent. The agent gets you work, in our case nationwide and for quite a lot of money, but, if you're just starting out, locally and for enough to make it worth doing. So for the musicians it's easy- all you have to do is be good at what you're doing, be reliable and easy to get on with, and you're made.

Why can't the folk scene work like that?

I accept that clubs like to have singarounds because people like to go to share songs. But I've been to clubs that have said that they'd like to have more guests and bring in a bigger audience, but they can't afford the guests, so they don't get the audiences, so they can't afford...

Clubs apparently don't always like to deal with agents. Why is that? If the agent's fee was absorbed by the artist would that make any difference?

Suppose I ran an agency that offered (with an acknowledgement of Tom Bliss's article):

1. Good local bands or soloists who were prepared to work within, say fifty miles of their home for a basic fee or expenses because they're just in it for fun. They'd offer a good evening's performance, between the level of an above-average floorsinger and a professional band.

2. Up-and-coming bands/artists who are more serious- i.e. they're more rehearsed, more original, and not just doing it for a hobby- and would travel more widely but again, not ask for more than a nominal fee to cover expenses. There are, I'm sure, lots of performers who would do this in order to gain the exposure.

3. Professional (by which I mean experienced performers who make all or part of their living from playing) artists who will travel anywhere but for a realistic fee.

Option 1 would offer clubs access to varied, inexpensive and good quality guests and a foot in the door for new musicians. Those who started at level 1 could, if they have the talent and want to make a go of it, then progress through level 2 to level 3.

Could it be that, by offering regular guests at a low admission price, clubs could entice larger audiences, at the same time stimulating the input of new blood by helping to introduce new artists who, themselves, would build up a bigger audience?

I'm sure that many artists would be interested in this (don't all e-mail me at once!) but would the clubs be?

Although I'm giving this idea serious thought, I need to market-research it thoroughly first, so any opinions from club organisers would be welcome.

I should also add that I've temporarily retired from the club scene myself this season, owing to my starting a demanding new job in January. If I do get something like this going it wouldn't be until later this year, so if you're a performer looking for an agent don't contact me just yet!

Club organisers- over to you...


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Subject: RE: Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.
From: Banjiman
Date: 06 Apr 09 - 10:29 AM

Possibly?..... but, it is a buyers market largely, there are loads of really good quality acts out there gagging for gigs, why do I need to go through a middle (wo)man? I get 5-10 enquiries a week of which at least half I would probably put on if I didn't only run a monthly night.

What would the artists get out of being on your books...... they can contact me directly? and save 15%?

I have no objection in principle to dealing with agents, I do for the bigger names I book. But these acts tend to have agents to negotiate them the best deal possible and because they are now too busy to go after gigs themselves.


Now....... if you were offering a service to find and bus in audience I would gladly pay you £1 a head!!!


See the problem?


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Subject: RE: Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.
From: Leadfingers
Date: 06 Apr 09 - 10:40 AM

Agents in general are NOT familiar with the Folk Club scene , but DO know Arts Centres and Festivals who geneerally have a LOT more money than Clubs . Hence , the prices quote by Agents tend to be on the assumption of a 300 seater venue rather than a 40 or fifty seater .
What SMALL folk Club can afford £1200 pounds (We were quoted that fee for a fairly local group) .


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Subject: RE: Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.
From: Linda Kelly
Date: 06 Apr 09 - 10:47 AM

I think that there is a supposition that clubs are run for the benefit of professional performers when in many instances that is not the case -clubs are often more successful on singers and musician nights because the club members enjoy the participation. Our non guest nights are hugely popular because they are great fun and not just about the singing.Some simply do not come to paid performers nights because it does not feel like a club night and they want a variety of performers with whom they are familiar. I run a club, pay the going rate to professionals, book a variety of old acts and new and charge a fair amount on the door. I contact websites advertise in folk magazines and local press. We have our own website and do practically anything and everything to publicise the club -I don't get paid for this and don't expect to, I also work full time and try to do some singing in between -I am getting pretty tired of various threads knocking clubs and organisers for doing a job no one else in their right mind would do. PS I don't mind agents -I just object to the barrage of phone calls,emails and pushing that is done and the assumption that although I run a club I have no idea what music is out there -whereas I think I do,and have a 'wish list' as long as my arm. Sorry I am not having a go, but clubs and organisers are relentlessly patronised on this site, as if we dont know what we are doing and need help. I don't think we do.


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Subject: RE: Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.
From: Banjiman
Date: 06 Apr 09 - 10:53 AM

Having said that, the last 2 club nights I've been involved in were pretty healthy. Last night my wife was guesting at Guisborough FC, there were 50 in. The previous Saturday at KFFC we had 60 in for The Young 'uns.

I guess Guest nights are perfectly viable on these sorts of numbers.


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Subject: RE: Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.
From: Banjiman
Date: 06 Apr 09 - 10:55 AM

....amen Linda!


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Subject: RE: Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.
From: The Villan
Date: 06 Apr 09 - 03:10 PM

Well Faye, if I want to book somebody, I do my research first. If I like the style of the performer and I think it suits our audience, I book them.

In my case, I don't think what you did, would make any difference to me.

A point you are missing is that Singaround Folk Clubs, enjoy meeting and performing together, and many people travel some distance to join in singarounds. Generally if you put a guest on, you tend to find that people who go to the singaround are not always interested in attending guest nights, unless its somebody they really want to listen to. They go to a singaround to be included.


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Subject: RE: Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.
From: The Villan
Date: 06 Apr 09 - 06:23 PM

I just read Linda Kelly's post and although my club is a concert event venue and I don't work, I agree with her entirely as its the same for me.

Maybe Faye, you would be better running a club, using your own free time and expense as well as risk and providing a new venue for everybody to play at. The more clubs, the more chance of performers getting more gigs. You certainly seem to know what performers need. Go Girl.


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Subject: RE: Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.
From: The Villan
Date: 06 Apr 09 - 06:56 PM

Oh maybe I should also add that half of my audience that ranges between 70 to 90, don't even know who the performers are. So its up to the organisers to promote them and hope they can attract an audience that will cover the costs. I always book very good performers, but they do not always appeal to everybody. You can't sit on your arse expecting people to come along, you have to get the word out into the market.

You can do all you like getting performers bookings, but if the audience doesn't like them, the organiser takes the rap, next time when the audience vote with their feet and stay away.

One bad performer can kill it for an organiser. However they don't get return bookings. Sometimes its purely becuase the style of the performer does not suit the style of the club and the audience invaribly let the organiser know.

So basically Faye, we don't need you, we are intelligent enough to know who we want and will go out and book them. My diary is fully booked until 2011 with people I want. Not what the agent tells me I want.


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Subject: RE: Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 06 Apr 09 - 07:39 PM

Hey, Faye - why bother with folk clubs? You'll be caught between the devil of those who don't want you and the deep blue sea of those who don't need you. The sense I get is that, for better or worse, most folk clubs are satisfied with how they are. More than that, suggestions, ideas, comments and so on are sometimes taken as "evidence" of an anti-folk club agenda (my own agenda is parallel rather than anti - I like singarounds/singers nights but would rather see a paying gig in a mainstream venue rather than a club). The folk club scene is probably about where it can be and where it wants to be. The service to musicians might be in finding/building up a network of non-folk club nights for them to play at. This is not said with any antipathy towards clubs, but in recognition that not all of them want to put on guests and those who do sometimes seem to want to stick to what they are already familiar with. With the usual exceptions, of course, before anyone shouts at me...


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Subject: RE: Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.
From: the lemonade lady
Date: 06 Apr 09 - 08:00 PM

Some good ale is always a good start.

sal


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Subject: RE: Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.
From: Folknacious
Date: 06 Apr 09 - 08:01 PM

I recently unearthed a pile of copies of local folk magazines from 25 years back. At a guess I'd say that around 60% of the artists on the club and festival guest lists are the same names getting booked now. More than half the rest are already nationally known names from the next generation of traditionalish artists, mostly children of folky families from before. From that evidence and what has already been written here, I'd imagine convincing the promoters to book anybody new or without a folky pedigree would be next to impossible. If the Villan's club is typical with half its audience aged between 70 & 90, they're going to be pretty resistant to change too. I'd say the existing clubs are very good at preserving themselves (in the formaldehyde sense), and most likely automatically hostile to incomers or anybody who might suggest change. Why not start a new one, that would be a better idea.


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Subject: RE: Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.
From: Peace
Date: 06 Apr 09 - 08:05 PM

Have you considered having different nights to find out what works and what doesn't?

Sinalong Trad
Songwriters in trad tradition
Free-form songwriters--acoustic only
Modern songs
American/Canadian/Australian
Protest


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Subject: RE: Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 06 Apr 09 - 08:06 PM

I think 70 - 90 was the size - rather than the age - of the audience...


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Subject: RE: Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.
From: GUEST,Neovo
Date: 07 Apr 09 - 03:39 AM

If they're declining let them go I say. Nothing worse or more disheartening than keeping going for the sake of it and not enjoying yourself. Revive when times are more conducive? Amalgamate?


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Subject: RE: Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.
From: Banjiman
Date: 07 Apr 09 - 03:42 AM

Folknacious said:

"At a guess I'd say that around 60% of the artists on the club and festival guest lists are the same names getting booked now. More than half the rest are already nationally known names from the next generation of traditionalish artists, mostly children of folky families from before. From that evidence and what has already been written here, I'd imagine convincing the promoters to book anybody new or without a folky pedigree would be next to impossible."

erm..... no, basically.

We have had the odd star from the 60s/70s but the majority of the acts we have booked since we started 18 months ago are newish... certainly having a "folk pedigree" wouldn't always get you a gig here.

If you look at most club listings this is also the case. As the husband of a budding pro I know it can be a challenge getting gigs but certainly not all folk clubs are a closed door for newcomers. Her first main guest gig at a folk club was October 2007.

This year (and into next) she has plenty of main guest bookings from Aberdeen to Kent...... she's had to work hard to achieve this but it really reflects a very different world to the one you describe. I really don't see the "closed shop" that you are describing.

I guess there are some folk club (and concert/ festival) organisers who won't look at new blood (I could name only a couple) but most understand the importance of bringing talented new blood through. Some of the newcomers provide the very best of nights as well!

Cheers

Paul


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Subject: RE: Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.
From: GUEST,aw
Date: 07 Apr 09 - 03:56 AM

Why is it always the people who want to promote either themselves or others who insist (however gently) on knocking the folk club system? I found the choice of the word 'preserving' in the thread title quite uncomfortable, opened the thread to see why the word was used, and found roughly what I expected, except that this time other contributors were quicker to defend the clubs that they enjoy so much.

No one wants to stop 'new', 'exciting', 'young', 'talented' performers from getting more gigs, earning more money or getting more national exposure. But neither is a desire to progress this way a necessary or even beneficial trait in a singer of traditional or traditional based songs. A love of the music, its history, its place in society now and previously, and a desire to share that music and research into all its facets with people who are in empathy with the respect that our 'tradition bearers' bring to it can count for far more. The consequence being that it can take something more than proficiency or innovation to create a performer who will be well received by and appropriate for many of our folk clubs.

Yes - some of todays guests will be the same ones that were guesting 20/30/40 years ago. Thank goodness for that - it only goes to prove that, despite the scaremongers, folk music and clubs are sustainable, and furthermore will respect and support those with a genuine love of the genre. And there is a constant feed of 'new blood' too, although some people try to say there's not. There has been since folk clubs started. I spent last night watching 3 guys in their early 20s give a smashing night at a local club, which was full. But only a small percentage of the newcomers will have the right mix of talent, deep interest and respect. The club organisers and audience recognise them when they see them. Honest. They know how to contact them, and they know what their audience will like. I've never spoken to a single club organiser who has said ' I wish I could think of someone to book' but plenty have said words to the effect of 'I wish people who stop telling me how to run my club when they've never even set foot in it' at some point!

I don't mean to be negative to Faye, but, like other contributors, I am tired of people knocking folk clubs simply because they are not making the headway they personally desire. Folk clubs are just what the people who go to them want. There are lots of different ones but they all suit their own niche. They've evolved that way!


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Subject: RE: Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.
From: Valmai Goodyear
Date: 07 Apr 09 - 04:23 AM

Thanks for that, Guest aw. I usually keep out of these threads, but that post is so well-expressed I can't forbear to cheer.

Valmai Goodyear
Committee member, Lewes Saturday Folk Club


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Subject: RE: Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.
From: theleveller
Date: 07 Apr 09 - 04:34 AM

I think that the basic mistake Faye is making is assuming that what works for one type of music will work for another. If, as she suggests, the cover bands are booked maiunly for weddings/partries/functions, that simply doesn't translate into the folk scheme which is, as others have pointed out, much more participatory and, unlike the cover band scheme, which is essentially providing background music, is concerned with originality of performance and material.

Faye says that in the cover band scheme "for the musicians it's easy- all you have to do is be good at what you're doing, be reliable and easy to get on with, and you're made." It's a hell of a lot more demanding in the folk scene.


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Subject: RE: Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.
From: TheSnail
Date: 07 Apr 09 - 04:40 AM

Faye mentions Tom Bliss's articl in the Living Tradition. In this thread, Tom calls for a volunteer to do the research into the state of folk clubs that would back up his argument. Prhaps Faye could take on this task as she will obviously need to do extensive market research to put her scheme into operation.


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Subject: RE: Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.
From: GUEST,Golightly
Date: 07 Apr 09 - 05:47 AM

Sorry Faye, but you talk like a management consultant brought in to restructure the NHS or something.

As you've said, the music scene you've been involved in so far is one where audiences are there for a night out, or for reasons other than the music itself. Those agents sell bands to fit that night out and often the customer doesn't care who they get.

Folk clubs, on the other hand, exist specifically because of the music. The folk club scene isn't a like a chain of shops or a franchised food brand. Yes, it's fragmented. That's because it's lots and lots of individual clubs started and run by music lovers, almost always volunteers. Each club has developed along its own lines, to its own tastes. Why should any of those clubs change if they don't want to?

To my mind the other side of the folk scene, the folk festivals, works well at pulling together the clubgoers, the agents, the organisers, the performers, and the non-club audiences. In effect, they function rather like folk music's annual conferences.

The fact is, anyone can try to do what the current club organisers have done and start new clubs from scratch to cater for their own preferences. Anyone can have a go at being an agent. If people want what you offer, great. If not, you've probably misunderstood the market.

Incidentally, most professional folk performers do use agents to book their gigs and tours, even in folk clubs, and pay the agent's fee themselves.


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Subject: RE: Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.
From: The Villan
Date: 07 Apr 09 - 06:00 AM

Folknacious LOL

>>If the Villan's club is typical with half its audience aged between 70 & 90<<

Thats the number of people we get at each event.

This is my list to the end of 2010, which I think is pretty varied.

Dates of Concerts (Saturdays)

April 18th 2009
Mawkin:Causley

May 16th 2009
Real Time

June 13th 2009
Wild Willy Barrett Bad Boys & Mary Holland

June 20th 2009
Session for all comers Ring 01673 843036
Plus
An Accoustic Evening (No PA) With
Gwenda & Terry Cater, John Blanks, Simon Johnson
Dave & Julie Evardson, Karen & Colin Thompson, Rebekah Findlay

June 27th 2009
Tanglefoot (last tour in England)

August 29th 2009
Anne Lister + Better Late Than Naked

September 12th 2009
Duncan McFarlane Acc. Band

October 3rd 2009
The Churchfitters

October 24th 2009
Anthony John Clarke

November 14th 2009
WinterWilson + His Worship & The Pig

December 12th 2009
Paul Leegan & The Legends

January 9th 2010
Mary Humphreys & Anahata + Ember

February 13th 2010
Jez Lowe & The Bad Pennies

March 13th 2010
Bill Whaley/Dave Fletcher + John Conolly/Bill Meek

April 17th 2010
Marie Little + Cara

May15th 2010
Flossie Malavialle + Richard Grainger

June 19th 2010
Shep Woolley

September 11th 2010
Reg Meuross + No Fixed Abode

October 2nd 2010
Chris While & Julie Matthews

October 23rd 2010
Fred Wedlock + Barron Brady

November 13th 2010
Allan Taylor

December 4th 2010
Bernard Wrigley + Lester Simpson

December 18th 2010
Malinky


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Subject: RE: Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 07 Apr 09 - 10:20 AM

To die for I'd say.

Do we still need to stick pieces of paper up on noticeboards or can we do just as well or better with e-mail and websites?

Cheers

L in C


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Subject: RE: Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.
From: Will Fly
Date: 07 Apr 09 - 10:33 AM

Les - combination of both I'd say. I put flyers for my recent concert in every folk club, bookshop, guitar shop, tourist information bureau and record shop in the area - and in some local pubs as well. Plus walking th streets a couple of Saturday mornings and handing out flyers. I also advertised on the net - I reckon I got far more tickets sold from the printed publicity than the internet. Just a recent experience...


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Subject: RE: Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.
From: The Villan
Date: 07 Apr 09 - 10:59 AM

I put posters up (about 6) and they go in relevant places. We do our own and they are high quality and give more info about the atrist(s) appearing. We do not use the artists posters etc.

I hand diaries out at each event

I have the website and that is always kept up to date.

It appears on numerous websites including Mudcat Facebook and Myspace.

We have a couple of local diaries called Folktalk and Fizzgig and they go in those.

Each event is always announced on Folkwaves and Radio Lincolnshires Folk program.

It goes into the local newspapers around the Lincolnshire area.

Lets not forget that the artists themselves notify their fans and put it on their websites.

As we adopt a policy of reserve now, pay on the door, a large proportion of tickets sold occur on the night of an event, for the next night.
However I still pick up additional ticket sales from all the other forms mentioned above.


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Subject: RE: Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.
From: Mitch2
Date: 07 Apr 09 - 12:18 PM

Excellent idea Faye. But it won't work.

Look at the number of posters who automaticlly assumed that you're criticising the clubs when you explicitly say that you're not. Most of them seem to have missed your point, which is that singarounds, etc., are fine, but the circuit needs to have professional performers (I'll come back to a definition of that word in a minute) in order to keep standards up and attract new audiences.

I ran a club in the '80s. I had to close it when I moved to another town because of my work. There was already a thriving club in the new place so it would have been pointless opening another.

We couldn't afford many "name" artists so I booked mostly what Tom Bliss would call "local heroes"- good local musicians who were prepared to play in return for whatever we took on the door (which was sometimes quite a good amount.) They were drawn from the ranks of my mates, the better floor singers who turned up, or floor singers that I met at other clubs. I can't remember any duff ones and we never had a bad night.

If you'd come along to me than with a list of local heroes from, say a fifty-mile radius, I'd have had a listen and booked those that I thought were right for the club. This is not being "force-fed" your choice- it's just an extension of my finding singers by visiting other clubs.

We did have singers' nights- about twice a season. There's nothing wrong with a singaround club- I enjoy singarounds myself- but not every week. (Just my feelings- no need to to contradict me publicly if you don't agree!) Our booking policy ensured that we put on evenings that were varied and enjoyable for the audience (we nearly always had a full house) and we provided a place to play for new musicians and bands.

For me this is the way that a club should run. Once again- singaround clubs are fine, but without a national network of performance venues, the music will suffer.

Professionals: not necessarily people who play music for a living, but those who get paid for what they do and take it seriously. As such, they're more likely to lift the standard and present a kind of shop window to newcomers to the folk scene. I don't see singarounds doing that.

Just take the tomatoes out of the tins before you throw them...


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Subject: RE: Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.
From: johncharles
Date: 07 Apr 09 - 01:24 PM

I attend Barnsley folk club every monday night. As you can see on our website - http://www.sandlizard.f9.co.uk/barnsleyfolk/
we offer a music session,singaround and guest nights plus occasional concert nights featuring more well known artists recent examples being Dick Gaughan, Wizz Jones and Archie fisher.
Most people who attend want to play or sing, they also contribute the funds to allow us to pay for the club guests and the concert guests.
It may not be everyone's cup of tea but we enjoy it. The club does not exist to employ musicians but to provide what the participants want.
john


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Subject: RE: Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.
From: The Villan
Date: 07 Apr 09 - 01:32 PM

Thats fair comment John. Here is the link to your club

http://www.sandlizard.f9.co.uk/barnsleyfolk/


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Subject: RE: Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.
From: johncharles
Date: 07 Apr 09 - 01:42 PM

thanks I will have to learn how to do those link things.


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Subject: RE: Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 07 Apr 09 - 03:11 PM

John Charles - What I like about your website is the "what to expect" page. It sets out your stall as a club clearly and succinctly. That kind of thing is really helpful.

I wonder if Mudcat needs a folk club links thread (or does Villan's "what's on" thread include this?)


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Subject: RE: Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.
From: The Villan
Date: 07 Apr 09 - 03:39 PM

Yes it does Spleen Cringe, so if people post the link to their folk club on that thread, I will include it.

it needs to be in the full format of this example each item on seperate lines, so that I can copy and paste into the tables.

Type of Club
Concert or Session or Singaround
Website
http://www.faldingworthlive.co.uk
Name of Club
Faldingworth Live

Cheers
Les


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Subject: RE: Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.
From: Linda Kelly
Date: 07 Apr 09 - 05:40 PM

Mitch2 -I do not believe we are being unfair to Faye -she says she has only been in folk for 2 years then announces 'this is how it is'. We are pointing out that this is not how it is where we are. Nothing wrong in that. Good luck if she wants to be an agent, but its funny that she doesn't want to run a club to provide a platform for the acts she wants to see - perhaps she should pursue this angle instead. In the meantime club organisers are again having to state that reports of our demise are exaggerated.


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Subject: RE: Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.
From: GUEST,tom bliss
Date: 08 Apr 09 - 03:19 AM

Just popping in for the habitual correction. the purpose of a survey would not be to back up my and other artists' observations and opinions of long term trends, it would be to find out what IS actually happening, and to present findings in terms that could be used as the festival survey is now used.

There is absolutely no criticism of organisers in my article, and you'll never hear any from me - I'm well aware of what it takes to run a club, and as ever 'doff with due decorum'.

I have offered collated advice and support elsewhere for any who might be struggling, but that's help - not criticism.

My objective has never been to change or influence clubs in one way or another - whatever some might say - just to try to present an overveiw for those for whom one might be of value. Individual clubs do not need to see this as some kind of artists plot to force more guests on unwilling singers :-)!

I think we should all try to be aware of the 'wet paint syndrome' (© Jim Moray) - wherein The Queen thinks the world smells of it. (For the record he doesn't agree with my conclusions, however).

I have in fact had a lot of messages from organisers who agree with my snapshot (which is only my best guess after all - presented at the editor's request, not my own suggestion).

Many artists, who like me talk to hundreds of clubs on a regular basis, share my hunches, and are relived that someone has been willing to go on the record.

I'm not sure who is better placed to comment on the national picture and trend over the past and next ten years than us, so if we don't feed back our findings who will?

(Until we have a proper study, of course)!

Meanwhile I can confirm that Linda's club is indeed as good as it gets.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.
From: treewind
Date: 08 Apr 09 - 05:34 AM

"To compare it to the entertainment scene... The agent gets you work, in our case nationwide and for quite a lot of money, but, if you're just starting out, locally and for enough to make it worth doing...
Why can't the folk scene work like that?"


In a nutshell, it's all about the size of the numbers - the money the audience are prepared to pay, the numbers that turn out to the gig, the fees paid to the performers, the general level of public interest in folk music vs. pop music.

Because of that, most clubs run on a shoestring and so do performers. Neither can afford to pay agent's fees, and agents aren't interested in the folk scene because all the numbers are too small, with the exception of a few acts that operate in a different market and which most folk clubs can't afford.

How many folk performers get regular bookings in real commercial entertainment? The occasional ceilidh band, maybe. Look at a corporate entertainment agents website. The price categories start at "under £1000" and go to "under £25000" ranging from after dinner speakers and comedians through jazz and cover bands to orchestras and exotic dance groups. It's a totally different world.

Part of the answer is to get a lot more people interested in folk music than are at present, and that means finding places outside the established folk scene to get those people in. On the other hand, if you are running a folk club and want it to work more like Faye's description, I suspect it's a combination of much harder work that you might think on the publicity and bookings policy, and a thick skin when it comes to quality control of your local support performers. Les is getting it right at Faldingworth and I know it hasn't been easy for him.

There are singer's clubs, of course, and there's a need for those, and singarounds and open mic sessions and all that, and there's a real need for those too, but you have to be very careful about mixing the all-encompassing "anyone can have a go" side of folk music with an event that's designed to get Joe Public coming in and paying good money for an evening's entertainment.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.
From: folkwaller
Date: 08 Apr 09 - 07:50 AM

Refreshing for Steve and Terry.


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Subject: RE: Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.
From: Mr Happy
Date: 08 Apr 09 - 07:56 AM

Formaldehyde?


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Subject: RE: Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.
From: evansakes
Date: 08 Apr 09 - 08:40 AM

"Preserving" is an entirely inappropriate word, Faye.

"Sustaining" would have been more apposite and likely to have brought about a more constructive debate.

There are problems though and certain things could do with a little tinkering. The biggest one in my opinion is touched on above by Anahata. Namely the "anything goes" culture which may have been fine for the burgeoning 1960's folk scene and a generation of young folks seduced into the folk scene by hearing the Radio Ballads or watching the Spinners on BBC1.

There'll always be people who deny there's anything wrong because their club is still pulling in the crowds. Have they evolved in any way though and has the average age of the members lowered at any point in the last thirty years? These are the most important considerations that need to be addressed....before it's too late.

I haven't got any answers. I rather fear the youngsters today haven't got the attention span to sit and listen to anything for any length of time without fidgeting or reaching to text on their mobiles. They can't even sit down and listen to an album in it's entirety from beginning to end without flicking across tracks. The clubs that reach out for (and attract) younger people (like The Magpie's Nest in London) have got problems with noise during performances. The discipline of polite silence is missing as much at gigs as it is (apparently) in the classroom and lecture theatre.


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Subject: RE: Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 08 Apr 09 - 08:55 AM

Grump, grump, grump, grump

L in C


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Subject: RE: Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.
From: KirstyGardner
Date: 08 Apr 09 - 10:01 AM

I have been attending folk clubs for 10 years or so, I must admit some of them are good and some are bad. That is the case with all music genres not just folk. Jazz clubs can be notoriously stuffy but also some are laid back and great fun. The point is to not have a formula and work out a way that works for your community and build on that.

kx


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Subject: RE: Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.
From: GUEST,Mitch2
Date: 08 Apr 09 - 12:14 PM

Sorry- no time to log in as I'm a bit pushed just now.

No-one, not Faye Roche, Tom Bliss or I is criticising singarounds. If you run your club as a singaround venue, fine. Keep it up if that's what your members want.

As Tom's article said, the folk "scene" (I don't like to use that word but can't think of any other) needs professional performers in order to present the music to outsiders and newcomers. Without them it will revert to being ONLY disparate groups of people who get together to sing to each other. And when they all die out, the music will go with them. In another post Tom gave the club circuit another ten years. It might be more than that, but certainly it ain't going to be around twenty years from now. Can you imagine groups of people in their 80's coming out to their local singaround each week? (And I don't mean the octagerarian who comes to YOUR club every month- I'm talking nationally!)

Yes, the clubs are run for the benefit of their members. But SOME clubs have to introduce new musicians if we are going to keep the tradition alive. Otherwise it will stagnate. (Yes I know that your club is fine and well- please don't write and tell me again!)

My definition of a pro differs from Tom's, as it's impractical to make your living from the folk circuit but we do need performers of tprofessional standard. BTW Tom; if you read this, why don't you just continue on a semi-pro basis?

Look at it this way- what is more likely to attract new audiences into folk music; a concert by on of the newer young bands like Isambarde (no, I'm neither a member nor a friend of theirs!) or any of the other talented young bands, or sitting in a dingy pub room listening to a bunch of people the age of their grandparents, singing to each other with (I'll put this politely) varying standards of competence? (All right- I know that you have some good singers in YOUR club- don't remind me! And I'm not being ageist- to attract younger audiences you have to be seen as relevant to them, which partly means putting on artists in their age group.)

I'd like to see an organisation like the one Faye proposes to introduce- not force- just make available- new performers onto the circuit SO THAT AUDIENCES CAN ENJOY THEM! Those clubs that want to preserve themselves as enclosed singarounds could carry on as they are, but it would be a wonderful way for new musicians to get started and for clubs to bring in some new people at zero cost. Perhaps they just don't want to do that?

My club was exciting. People didn't go just to hear the guest- most of the time the guests were unknown locals, though we did invite them back when they went down well. Our audience went because they wanted to hear what this new singer/band sounded like, AND to enjoy the rest of the evening (singers, resident band, convivial atmosphere, etc.) So by providing a platform for the musicians, I was also giving the audience what they wanted.


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Subject: RE: Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.
From: GUEST,Mitch2
Date: 08 Apr 09 - 12:23 PM

BTW I don't know of any folk performers who are in it for celebrity status, though I could name at least one former R2 award-winner and a certain magazine editor who seem to be!

Anyone who goes into any kind of music normally does so out of love for the music. Those few of the type who go onto the X Factor in search of instant fame and fortune probably give up when they realise that they need talent and it's b****y hard work. (Unless they were lucky enough to join the Spice Girls.)

What I see in Faye and Tom, though I don't know them personally, (and I also see it in myself) is a love of the music and a desire to keep it going. At least Faye has offered to get up and do something instead of just moaning about the situation. Could club organisers who respond to this thread bear that in mind?

Oh yes, and the standard response "if you feel like that why not start your own club" is a bit silly. I'd like to start my own club again; I won't as I'd just be competing with the other well-established venues in the area.


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Subject: RE: Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.
From: johncharles
Date: 08 Apr 09 - 01:07 PM

the concepts of competence and better than, can be wildly subjective.
I have seen young technically brilliant musicians who I have found tedious. I have also seen people who although not good singers by their own admission bring other things to the performance which makes it fascinating. The best example for me being the night Graham Miles popped into our club and gave us a couple of his songs. Not a great singer but an almost legendary songwriter - wonderful!
john


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Subject: RE: Preserving folk clubs- some ideas.
From: Lowden Jameswright
Date: 08 Apr 09 - 01:32 PM

I suspect one of the problems for established folk performers landing sufficient gigs these days is the competition they now face from an ever-growing army of amateurs working hard on their craft and pushing them to the sidelines.


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