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Devon & S.W. Folk - Floor Singers.

teller 03 Aug 99 - 03:53 PM
Tony Burns 03 Aug 99 - 04:07 PM
Wotcha 04 Aug 99 - 11:58 AM
Legal Eagle 04 Aug 99 - 12:03 PM
teller 05 Aug 99 - 11:44 AM
Richard Bridge 05 Aug 99 - 03:21 PM
Tony Burns 05 Aug 99 - 05:51 PM
Jo Taylor 05 Aug 99 - 08:12 PM
teller 06 Aug 99 - 01:16 PM
Legal Eagle 06 Aug 99 - 04:55 PM
Legal Eagle 06 Aug 99 - 05:01 PM
Jo Taylor 06 Aug 99 - 07:18 PM
teller 07 Aug 99 - 10:42 AM
A Friend 07 Aug 99 - 02:47 PM
teller 07 Aug 99 - 06:25 PM
teller 08 Aug 99 - 10:59 AM
teller 08 Aug 99 - 11:07 AM
teller 08 Aug 99 - 11:09 AM
Bill - NE Scotland 09 Aug 99 - 04:43 AM
The_one_and_only_Dai 09 Aug 99 - 11:19 AM
teller 09 Aug 99 - 03:28 PM
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Subject: Devon & S.W. Folk - Floor Singers.
From: teller
Date: 03 Aug 99 - 03:53 PM

I'm desperately trying to keep our local folk night alive - unfortunatley, it's the 'locals' who seem to have succumbed to the dreaded 'apathy bug'! Trying to get them to support us, even when there's no charge for excellent artists like Tom and Barbara Brown, Mike O'Connor, Pat Kilbride (coming soon!), is difficult enough, but trying to get them to come out the woodwork when there's a 'Come All Ye' is proving well nigh impossible! So, anybody out there with any suggestions ( other than give up ) as to how to get them interested, give us a clue......please!!! AND, if you're in the vicinity, come and see us and bring your voices/instruments. We're in a village just off the A38, in Devon, called Chudleigh and we're in the Bishop Lacy pub. Next one is a C.A.Y. on this Sunday, 8th August. Thanks in anticipation.


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Subject: RE: Devon & S.W. Folk - Floor Singers.
From: Tony Burns
Date: 03 Aug 99 - 04:07 PM

Give us some information about the current format. What day(s) and time(s)? How regularly? How much variety of artist, format, type of entertainment? Did you ever have large crowds? How long ago?

Maybe just writing this down will help find the problem. Maybe the crowd is bored with something and you need to provide some more variety or not hold as many events or ...

Is this a performance venue? Is it participatory? Song/perfomance circle? Concert series? Do you charge admission? Is there a conflict with another popular event?


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Subject: RE: Devon & S.W. Folk - Floor Singers.
From: Wotcha
Date: 04 Aug 99 - 11:58 AM

I am trying to get back to Cornwall in late October, but will pass thru Devon -- let me know if you have a sing planned: I'll bring you some shanties!

Cheers, Alhamdalla, Brian


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Subject: RE: Devon & S.W. Folk - Floor Singers.
From: Legal Eagle
Date: 04 Aug 99 - 12:03 PM

I think my trouble and strife may be visiting friends down there soon. I'll suggest she pops by. Your August date is too close to Sidmouth. Everyone will be there!

Up here in Kent the opposite seems to be true. Everyone wants to sing and the guest nights are underwhelmed - 12 people for Keith Christmas, 15 for Geoff Higginbotham.


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Subject: RE: Devon & S.W. Folk - Floor Singers.
From: teller
Date: 05 Aug 99 - 11:44 AM

I know that there are any number of people in and around the town who are more than a little interested in listening to/performing folk. For example: we recently had a visit from Phil Beer and his band at the local community hall, which was very well attended - over 100 people. Phil kindly plugged the folk night and, to date, I've yet to see ONE person who was at his gig actually put their faces round the door, let alone stop and listen or play! As to format, on the nights we have a C.A.Y., obviously, anyone who turns up can play - and depending upon how many people there are, we'll either sit round in the proverbial circle, or get up and entertain in turn. When we have guests, if there are any floor singers, they 'n' me'll open up, then the guests do their stuff, have a break ( time for more floor spots ), then the guests will finish off. We only have the evening twice a month, on the second and fourth Sundays, it clashes with no other clubs, locally, of which I am aware, and it costs absolutley NOTHING to get in, being as it's subsidised by the landlord, who pays for the guests every other folk night and gives me pretty free reign in terms of who I book - all I do is check that the price is okay! SO - you tell me!!! The content is varied, within the folk field ( and here we could get into a whole different ball game as to various peoples interpretation of 'what is folk' ), but we've had guests who play the more contemporary stuff ( Cohen, McTell, Bragg et al ) to the real traditionalists that I mentioned in my original posting. That being said, the few who do turn up always seem to have a good time and people usually tell, one way or the other, about the guests. Keep the help coming, or drop in and see us, I've no doubt I shall still there, massaging my forehead with the bricks around the charmingly quaint 13th Century fireplace! Cheers! Teller.


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Subject: RE: Devon & S.W. Folk - Floor Singers.
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 05 Aug 99 - 03:21 PM

I've sent the thread url to a friend who used to live in Venn Ottery and is now a bit further down the road. Perhaps he can muster up some mates.


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Subject: RE: Devon & S.W. Folk - Floor Singers.
From: Tony Burns
Date: 05 Aug 99 - 05:51 PM

Hi Teller, Thanks for the details on your events. Here's some quick thoughts/comments.

Depending on the size of the community twice a month may be too often. Is that twice a month all year? At our club we book shows once a month from September to May. That's only 9 shows a year and if they were more often I think we would suffer. You can be taken for granted.

Sunday night? I do attend Sunday night concerts but only if they start and end relatively early. Any night except Friday or Saturday is going to have the same problem with me personally as I have to work the next day.

When you do have guests are they well known?

What kind of advertizing do you do? Even with our 9 shows a year we have to be sure to make the local community papers aware of the shows, put up posters and send out reminders to our email list. You can't rely only on regulars and word of mouth. We get a very high repeat rate but you always have to be trying to attract those who haven't been to the venue before or haven't been out for a while. Not all people have the same motivation.

Hope this helps. Good luck.


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Subject: RE: Devon & S.W. Folk - Floor Singers.
From: Jo Taylor
Date: 05 Aug 99 - 08:12 PM

Hi Teller - who are you? I used to live in Chudleigh & ran a club at the Ship - did OK for a while but the apathy set in after a while. I was also in the band Flash Company, we often did ceilidhs in the Community Hall, had a terrific support. Ray Frost tells me (not you is it?) that the whole of Chudleigh was out on the last night of the Carnival. If you don't want to divulge your identity in public send me a Mudcat Personal Message... Does Ben van Weede still live there?
Jo Taylor


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Subject: RE: Devon & S.W. Folk - Floor Singers.
From: teller
Date: 06 Aug 99 - 01:16 PM

Thanks to one and all who has responded to the thread - definitely some things to ponder - particularly the regularity thing. The original thinking behind going through the summer was to try and attract some of the visitors from nearby Finlake/Holman's Wood holiday places. Doesn't seem to be working. As to advertising, we do what we ( I ) can in terms of local stuff. I use the newsgroups and have stuff posted on local websites (Dartington Morris etc ) with links to our website, which I try to update on a regular basis. So I don't THINK it's for lack of information. I shall ponder and say thanks again....and if you're around.....? Jo, I'll drop you a personal message and we can trade the 'gos ' on the iniquitous cauldron that is Chudleigh.......that's got 'em thinking !! Thanks again. Teller.


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Subject: RE: Devon & S.W. Folk - Floor Singers.
From: Legal Eagle
Date: 06 Aug 99 - 04:55 PM

Online publicity is premature in the UK. When you have someone really famous, send a publicity pic (agent will supply) and blurb to the local papers. Put posters up in local campsites, hotels, etc. Is there a tourists' "What's on"?. Flypost (or pamphlet) - other pubs, shopping malls, music shops. Offer local radio a live performance at the studio. If you have a family band with an eight year old singer, call the local TV station (don't laugh, it got my daughter in the Cambridge festival specials on Anglia one year. Network other clubs inthe area - you are not competition because they are on other nights. Send people to the Bedford Hotel, Sidmouth and announce!


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Subject: RE: Devon & S.W. Folk - Floor Singers.
From: Legal Eagle
Date: 06 Aug 99 - 05:01 PM

Oh yeah, offer free drinks/expenses to local talent you select to offer an "extended floor spot" (about twice the length of a normal one) - they will bring all their friends to see them getting famous.

And most importantly - get the landlord to keep background noise/conversations under control, and the pool team out that night.


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Subject: RE: Devon & S.W. Folk - Floor Singers.
From: Jo Taylor
Date: 06 Aug 99 - 07:18 PM

Just sent Teller a Personal Reply, but since that have read his message above (we don't know each other!), had a thought about the regularity thing - always found fortnightly clubs/sessions didn't work because people don't remember which ones they are - weekly or monthly work better - every Sunday or first Sunday of the month for instance.
I was a musician for Dartington Morris too!
Keeping going throughout the summer always worked in Devon - holiday area.
Does 'Event' magazine still exist? That was always good for free ads, publicity pics of guests etc.
Jo


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Subject: RE: Devon & S.W. Folk - Floor Singers.
From: teller
Date: 07 Aug 99 - 10:42 AM

Thanks again to one and all for the advice. I'm hoping that tomorrow, Sunday, when we have our next C.A.Y., that we'll see a few of the stragglers from Sidmouth turning up, those that I've been able to get in touch with. I'm already planning a bit of an advertising splurdge for September, when we have a special happening, PAT KILBRIDE will playing on the 18th; it's a Saturday, between normal sessions, but we're hoping for a good response. I'm going to try some of the ideas put forward,after our last official booking in October, Jon Heslop and Kathy Wallis, so I'll keep you informed of events. Thanks again, and hope to see you some time!! Teller.


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Subject: RE: Devon & S.W. Folk - Floor Singers.
From: A Friend
Date: 07 Aug 99 - 02:47 PM

OK, time for the unvarnished truth.

I have read with interest the comments of Richard Bridge and Legal Eagle.

I apologise in advance, teller, 'cos you ain't going to like this. NOI, no personal animus, but you asked why it wasn't going well. I live the other side of the country and have not been. But my wife has, once herself and once with my daughter. Two different years. Same comments First time she accompanied daughter. Second time she played and sang herself. Guitarist/recorder player. I asked them and they told me. This information is one/two years old and may be out of date, but here goes.

The event is not well run. The residents are a sort of band, with a big african drum, and a violinist of limited ability. (Generally drummers (of all kinds) and banjo players and fiddle players all need keeping in order. They are noisy. Likewise squeezers.) The band play sort of something like reggae, nothing like folk. This makes a difficult gear-change to get folk singers on. The instruments are amplified but the voice is not, so the voice is inaudible (unless you have my daughter's voice, which can take down the walls of Jericho at the range of 3 miles). The band takes ages between songs and no-one tells the audience what is going on - so the locals talk. No-one comperes, no-one keeps the locals in order, no-one shushes them for performers to get started. No wonder performers feel unwelcome.

The times daughter/wife played, they just about managed to start to get some people listening -daughter perhaps more so than mother, but then talking louder than daughter's singing is difficult - then they were hauled off (perhaps a touch of greeneye?), and it took ages to get the "band" going again, so by the time it started, everyone had started talking again. Another singer who also did fairly traditional material also found the audience less than welcoming and advised going to another local club (Torrington) instead. Check what Torrington do that is different.

If you want local performers, make them welcome. Talk to them in the interval and at the end. Make sure they don't have to push in to get a song or two. Residents are hosts. They have to take second place to the floorsingers, who are guests. If visitors ask to borrow an instrument, chances are they know how to play it, so make it a decent one and make sure it is in tune in advance. (Wife's comments on instrument she was lent fairly unprintable). You should know your own instrument best so tune it yourself, in advance, for the borrower. Tell them they can tune it if they feel it is or has gone out. If they are using PA make sure it is right for them - don't just leave them to try to set the mics on unfamiliar stands. If you are mic-ing guitars get the mic where it can do the job, and is not in the way. Make sure any monitors are well set. Make sure there is applause to greet the floorsingers, and when they finish. Say something nice about them. Even if they play banjo keep the banjo jokes good humoured.

Make the listeners hear what is about to be going on - let them know. Don't leave long gaps. If there is noisy conversation, deal with it. One of you is bound to be the best compere. Find out who, and why, and play to strengths if necessary. Inform, entertain, and keep the show going.

I should admit that we are not infallible. Wife and I have had a closed club (as distinct from a moved one) - but we know exactly the problem - noise, and a landlord who was noisiest of all, and would not offend his pool team by shutting them up. Singers voted with their feet. Why should they have to struggle to be heard? This, I think, is not the same problem as you have.


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Subject: RE: Devon & S.W. Folk - Floor Singers.
From: teller
Date: 07 Aug 99 - 06:25 PM

I remember with fondness your lady wife and daughter when they visited the Bish and you're absolutely right about many of the things you say in relation to the 'band'..... now ousted because, in the words of one of the 'musicians' '...they weren't appreciated....' ( !!?? ). All change. At the time of their dominance, I was on the periphery of things and had little to do with the 'organisation', such as it was. It was at the landlady's suggestion and request that I tried to do things differently. I have, in the past six or so months, tried to put things together in the way you describe, i.e. compere, keep the whole thing flowing as much as is possible and have an evening that goes with the artisits who are there....if it warrants an evening 'in the round' as it were then that is what we do, and as 'organniser', if there are people who come to sing/play, then I am only too happy to step out of the way and let them take the floor. People are always made welcome (at least I believe I do my best by them) and when we have guests, whether they be of the paid variety or floor singers, I do my damndest to make sure they are accorded a modicum of respect. I appreciate your comments as to wife's experience and can only apologise and say if you're ever this way again, please drop by and let me know it's you....I think you'll notice the difference! And you're dead right about your daughters voice, absolutely spell-binding ! Thanks for your honesty and I shall re-read your posting and give it some more thought.....and Torrington, in relation to our place is not particularly 'local'. Hope to see you some time. Teller.


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Subject: RE: Devon & S.W. Folk - Floor Singers.
From: teller
Date: 08 Aug 99 - 10:59 AM

In continuance from my previous posting: I've been back and had a look at my diaries, and the lady and her daughter are mentioned therein, primarily because of their friendliness and their talent, particularly the wonderful voice!! The 'club', at that point, was happening on a Wednesday night and, as such, had no pretensions toward a 'folk' theme - although, it has to be said I argued for the cause! It was billed, in as much as it was advertised at all, as a music night, when all and sundry were welcome to and take over the bar and play what they felt like playing......it's the closest I've ever come to experiencing absolute anarchy!! The main point of my original thread, though, still holds true....it's immensely difficult to persuade people to 'come out to play', which is why, as mentioned previously, I've adopted some of 'A.Friend's' suggestions in the time that I have been running the evening. When I took over the organisation, it was on the understanding that it would become a more 'traditional' type of evening, although if people wanted to be more contemporary, then that was fine too!! THE DRUMS IS GONE!!!!! Not to say that if a group of players arrived and wanted to do a bit of drumming, I'd turn them away!! I have shown the Landlady a copy of 'A.Friend's' posting, and she was, to say the least, horrified that ANYBODY should fgeel that unwelcome in her pub. She has extended an open invitation to the ladies in question to come and pay us a visit, and sample the REAL hospitality of the Bish. 'A.Friend': drop me a personal message, it's in the 'Cat' somewhere, and I'll give you the details. In closing, I'd like to say that, although we do have a small P.A., it is rarely plugged in these days, but is certainly available for use, should anybody wish to avail themselves; we are no longer happening on a Wednesday, but every 2nd and 4th Sunday. Plug over!!! Please, if you're around, drop by, we'd be only too happy to see you. Thank's to 'A.Firend' for his comments and to everyone else for their contributions. TELLER.


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Subject: RE: Devon & S.W. Folk - Floor Singers.
From: teller
Date: 08 Aug 99 - 11:07 AM

In continuance from my previous posting: I've been back and had a look at my diaries, and the lady and her daughter are mentioned therein, primarily because of their friendliness and their talent, particularly the wonderful voice!! The 'club', at that point, was happening on a Wednesday night and, as such, had no pretensions toward a 'folk' theme - although, it has to be said I argued for the cause! It was billed, in as much as it was advertised at all, as a music night, when all and sundry were welcome to and take over the bar and play what they felt like playing......it's the closest I've ever come to experiencing absolute anarchy!! The main point of my original thread, though, still holds true....it's immensely difficult to persuade people to 'come out to play', which is why, as mentioned previously, I've adopted some of 'A.Friend's' suggestions in the time that I have been running the evening. When I took over the organisation, it was on the understanding that it would become a more 'traditional' type of evening, although if people wanted to be more contemporary, then that was fine too!! THE DRUMS IS GONE!!!!! Not to say that if a group of players arrived and wanted to do a bit of drumming, I'd turn them away!! I have shown the Landlady a copy of 'A.Friend's' posting, and she was, to say the least, horrified that ANYBODY should fgeel that unwelcome in her pub. She has extended an open invitation to the ladies in question to come and pay us a visit, and sample the REAL hospitality of the Bish. 'A.Friend': drop me a personal message, it's in the 'Cat' somewhere, and I'll give you the details. In closing, I'd like to say that, although we do have a small P.A., it is rarely plugged in these days, but is certainly available for use, should anybody wish to avail themselves; we are no longer happening on a Wednesday, but every 2nd and 4th Sunday. Plug over!!! Please, if you're around, drop by, we'd be only too happy to see you. Thank's to 'A.Firend' for his comments and to everyone else for their contributions. TELLER.


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Subject: RE: Devon & S.W. Folk - Floor Singers.
From: teller
Date: 08 Aug 99 - 11:09 AM

Sorry!!!!! Pucnhed the button twice and can't find out how to delete the perishing thing!! Teller.


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Subject: RE: Devon & S.W. Folk - Floor Singers.
From: Bill - NE Scotland
Date: 09 Aug 99 - 04:43 AM

Hi Teller, We up here at the Ugie Folk Club couldn't be much further from yourselves, geographically speaking but have suffered similar problems in the past. Originally we met 3rd Friday of each month in a nearby village. Like you, if we had anything special, we could expect a decent turn out but club nights were dead. We had a circle/session format and we were just playing & singing to each other really. We decided that it must be the venue and moved to another village 4 miles away. Similar schedule and format, the club nights were well attended to start with but within a year had tailed off to very few turning up. I am speaking about audiences here rather than players/singers although the numbers of those did reduce too. You would be forgiven for thinking maybe it was the artists who were crap and not worth coming out to see. I honestly don't think that, as many of them were/are frequently asked to appear at concerts and other folk clubs in the area. It must be the venue (the committee decided again) so we moved to yet another village this time about 8 miles away. However we spoke it through prior to our move and decided to try some changes in how the folk culb held it's club nights. First we decided to change to the 1st Friday in the month as some people had said that the 3rd was too difficult to remember!!!! Secondly we changed from the session/circle format to doing floor sets. Since moving we are playing to a packed house each month. Also we are attracting more and more artists from round about who never came near us before. I don't say that it's any one thing that made the difference but perhaps a combination of some or all. I think that the audience prefer to be entertained rather than sitting in on a musician's circle. In these circumstances I would rather sing and play to a listening audience rather than compete with all and sundry in a circle. I don't know of many songs written for 6 guitars, 3 whistles, a fiddle, accordian, 2 bodhrans etc. etc. Sorry this is long winded, but I know how frustrating it gets. Hope this may be of some interest to you and good luck. PS Ugie Folk Club Muckle Mingle Festival 1999 is this weekend. All welcome.


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Subject: RE: Devon & S.W. Folk - Floor Singers.
From: The_one_and_only_Dai
Date: 09 Aug 99 - 11:19 AM

Hiya Teller. Sounds like you're having some real problems down there... I've never been to your club, and neither has anyone I know. But remember that a satisfied customer won't tell anybody, and a dissatisfied one will tell ten all their relatives, post your name and address on newsgroups, put ads in the local paper etc. etc..

It would seem to me (this really is an unqualified ha'p'orth) that you're suffering from the legacy of several years' past. Maybe you should change venue for a short while - or, better still, add one.

Where I live, we have a weekly CAY on a Sunday lunchtime which is extremely well attended, and a monthly Tuesday night CAY. This in addition to Friday Club Nights (which we pay for) and several pubs doing free (quality) music. The three events are held in different establishments - some people have long memories and don't like one or two (for reasons no longer valid) but are bound to find the third acceptable. Sooner or later they all come to all of them anyway.

If ever I'm down there, I'll drop in. Please feel free to do the same to us.


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Subject: RE: Devon & S.W. Folk - Floor Singers.
From: teller
Date: 09 Aug 99 - 03:28 PM

If you read the posting from a friend, you'll know the sort of heritage we have in terms of 'friends past'. the idea of running other sessions had occured, but it seems a little churlish, being as the guv'nor pays up and never complains.......and as for Sunday lunchtimes, well, I'm afraid that NOTHING must interupt the holy game of football; you wouldn't believe the trouble we had when one of our sessions was due to start during a match post-mortem......or maybe you would. Thanks for the tips, I think you may have something. Teller


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