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folk club decline uk

glueman 06 Jun 10 - 07:58 PM
The Sandman 06 Jun 10 - 04:57 PM
The Borchester Echo 06 Jun 10 - 03:44 PM
evansakes 07 May 10 - 03:19 PM
Howard Jones 07 May 10 - 05:30 AM
GUEST,The Smiler 06 May 10 - 04:04 PM
GUEST,Aeola 06 May 10 - 01:06 PM
GUEST 05 May 10 - 04:06 PM
Dave the Gnome 05 May 10 - 04:23 AM
Tootler 05 May 10 - 04:11 AM
Will Fly 05 May 10 - 04:11 AM
Tim Leaning 05 May 10 - 03:47 AM
Valmai Goodyear 05 May 10 - 01:49 AM
Betsy 04 May 10 - 07:57 PM
MikeL2 04 May 10 - 02:45 PM
Will Fly 04 May 10 - 01:51 PM
Dave the Gnome 04 May 10 - 11:21 AM
Will Fly 04 May 10 - 11:14 AM
Dave the Gnome 04 May 10 - 11:07 AM
Ian Hendrie 04 May 10 - 10:57 AM
Marje 04 May 10 - 10:50 AM
Howard Jones 04 May 10 - 08:27 AM
GUEST,Essex girl 04 May 10 - 06:33 AM
Marje 04 May 10 - 05:33 AM
Jim Carroll 04 May 10 - 05:12 AM
Tim Leaning 04 May 10 - 04:44 AM
Tootler 03 May 10 - 07:03 PM
Tim Leaning 03 May 10 - 05:20 PM
Will Fly 03 May 10 - 05:03 PM
Jim Carroll 03 May 10 - 04:55 PM
Will Fly 03 May 10 - 04:28 PM
Jim Carroll 03 May 10 - 02:56 PM
Marje 03 May 10 - 02:30 PM
Jim Carroll 03 May 10 - 12:57 PM
buzzer64 03 May 10 - 12:51 PM
The Sandman 03 May 10 - 12:02 PM
Folknacious 03 May 10 - 11:42 AM
Jim Carroll 03 May 10 - 10:29 AM
Jim Carroll 03 May 10 - 09:31 AM
Folknacious 03 May 10 - 09:07 AM
GUEST,Allan 02 May 10 - 07:04 PM
GUEST,PeterC 02 May 10 - 10:48 AM
Will Fly 01 May 10 - 01:17 PM
Marje 01 May 10 - 12:19 PM
GUEST,romanyman 30 Apr 10 - 01:01 PM
theleveller 30 Apr 10 - 11:09 AM
Marje 30 Apr 10 - 11:05 AM
The Sandman 30 Apr 10 - 09:44 AM
MikeL2 30 Apr 10 - 09:19 AM
Banjiman 30 Apr 10 - 09:16 AM
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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: glueman
Date: 06 Jun 10 - 07:58 PM

I fail to see how a folk club is any more authentic than a festival. Neither have anything to do with the way folk music was originally generated and partaken of.
This thread has more in common with keeping the 60s and 70s alive than traditional music, which is in rude good health considering the onslaught of other forms.


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Jun 10 - 04:57 PM

"a commie rag",
Ralphie showering the Morning Star with praise.
That phrase is reminiscent of Macarthyism.


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 06 Jun 10 - 03:44 PM

Late again, but never mind . . .


The Morning Star is (was) the paper of the Communist Party


No it wasn't (isn't). It was produced by a co-operative society (the Morning Star Co-operative Society, to be original). It sponsored a club, and sessions at the Metropolitan, the site of which I pointed out to visiting performers on the way to Islington Folk Club last week. For most of the time that I was a journalist there (including the seven years during which I compiled the folk column) I was a Labour Party member. When I was leaving to go back to university, Karl Dallas, who had agreed to replace me, wandered down to CP headquarters to rejoin (having been expelled for Maoist tendencies). He said they didn't really seem to care whether he joined or not but were glad enough to take his subscription. It is interesting (or maybe not) that the route from my house to The Horseshoe passes all the venues that I can remember where Islington Folk Club ever stood. And many others, all now bereft of any live music whatsoever. Indeed, along the length of Upper Street it was once possible to stagger from bar to bar and do a song. It is not, however, necessarily a Bad Thing that this is no longer the case. Quality control is winning out. Just.


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: evansakes
Date: 07 May 10 - 03:19 PM

"most performers (admittedly not all!) are self-aware enough to recognise when they are not quite up to the required standard"

How I wish that were the case, Howard....I have to tell you it's far from our experience. The vast majority of people who climb onstage in any capacity seem to think that they're worth a headline gig or (at worst) a support/showcase spot.


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: Howard Jones
Date: 07 May 10 - 05:30 AM

Sorry, Smiler, I disagree. Of course the situation varies from one area to another, and there are some places (such as Lewes) which are very well served. However my experience is that folk clubs have declined, both in number and quality of music. In my area there are fewer clubs overall than there used to be, and far fewer clubs which put on professional guests (and then only occasionally) - there used to be several which booked professional guests most weeks.

If people want to get together for a singaround without a guest that's absolutely fine, and it can produce some very enjoyable evenings. However without being elitist, a bunch of amateur performers are never going to achieve the same musical standards as a professional guest - while they may have one or two who can come close, the majority will not. They may still be good amateurs, but taken as a whole the highest musical quality comes from the professionals and the better semi-professionals.

You are right to say that if a folk club books a guest, they owe it to the paying public to put on only the best support acts. In my experience, that was what usually happened. It was usually done tactfully, and most performers (admittedly not all!) are self-aware enough to recognise when they are not quite up to the required standard. I never knew anyone take offence at not being given a floor spot on guest nights, and never took it for granted that I would get one myself.


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: GUEST,The Smiler
Date: 06 May 10 - 04:04 PM

I don't beleive there is a folk club decline.

Most folk clubs, support people to song and play. Very often, having a guest on is not what folk clubs want, as they want to do singarounds.

Consequently, people who go along to sing or play, do not necessarily want to listen to a guest unless they are really good.

If a folk club puts a guest on, they owe it to the paying public to put only the best support acts on. Anything less than that will stop the future audience coming along in the future. They do not want to listen to people who are unable to sing or play.


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: GUEST,Aeola
Date: 06 May 10 - 01:06 PM

Sorry to Joe Offer, hadn't realised my name had disappeared!!


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: GUEST
Date: 05 May 10 - 04:06 PM

Such a lot to take in!! I agree with much of what has been said, but it does strike me that a person's point of view is limited to the area which they have visited. I know the UK is only small but I haven't seen half of it yet and I'm sure there are some really good clubs I will never get to! Does this apply to anyone else. Locally we have a different club every night, all within easy reach. They all offer something slightly different but I enjoy them all.
    Please note that anonymous posting is no longer allowed at Mudcat. Use a consistent name [in the 'from' box] when you post, or your messages risk being deleted.
    Thanks.
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 05 May 10 - 04:23 AM

We have a very easy policy of determining who sings when we have a guest on no matter how many singers turn up - There are only 3 floor spots! Probably why not all the singers turn up on guest nights but people who do not want to see non-paid singers, do come:-) Firsct come first served or pre-book if ever you want a spot on guest night.

DeG


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: Tootler
Date: 05 May 10 - 04:11 AM

Locally to me, the showcase or spotlight spots are often known as hotspots, but serve much the same function of giving local folk club regulars an extended spot without a full booking.


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: Will Fly
Date: 05 May 10 - 04:11 AM

In a way, it's the same problem if you get a lot of floor singers turning up at a guest night. Time has to be allocated to the paid guest(s) and therefore you can only fit so many floor singers in. Most club MCs/organisers will do their best to give each floor singer a turn but it may just not be possible. In which case, there have to be some criteria for not picking people - and this will vary from club to club. In some cases, it may be ability.

If I go to a "strange" club, i.e. one out of my usual range, to see a guest act, I never assume I'll get a guest spot - even if the club website assures me that visitors are welcome - and always email to see if a spot is acceptable. I have to report that these clubs have been very accommodating - like the Ram Club last week where residents and local regulars weren't able to play because Alan and I were one of only three floor spot performers. We very much appreciated this, and I would assume/hope that those locals or regulars who didn't get a spot that night understood the decisions.

If a club has a regular community of singers and local performers, then it's not impossible to arrange a showcase night to everyone's satisfaction. I think, if I were in the position of organising such evenings and a local 'beginner' asked for a long showcase spot, I think there would have to be some tactful conversation about readiness to perform, etc. Not an easy job, I grant you - but the lure of such a spot in the future might energise and inspire the fledgling performer on to greater efforts. I've certainly seen some new performers at the Willows (for example) come on in leaps and bounds in a few months by being given short floor spots.

In the 60s and 70s, the clubs I went to were all place where you could cut your performance teeth in a friendly and welcoming atmosphere - and I also recall that most of the organisers would give very direct and honest feedback if they thought you could do better. I remember playing a rather poor attempt at "Angi" at Leeds University Folk Club around 1965. At the end of the evening, the organiser remarked to me with a slight smile, "Well, you got away with that one, didn't you?" I felt both chastened and determined to do better! Of course it was also my misfortune to be playing on the same night as another floor singer called Stefan Sobell...


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 05 May 10 - 03:47 AM

"I'm not sure why people's egos should get dented as there's always an opportunity to be chosen in the future"

Sounds fair enough at your gathering VG.
Maybe its not the same at other places?


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: Valmai Goodyear
Date: 05 May 10 - 01:49 AM

We've had a few showcase or spotlight nights at the Lewes Saturday Folk Club for good local singers as well: people who aren't likely to want a full booking of 2 x 45 minute sets, but are well-liked and have earned some extra time by the quality of their performances. It's working nicely. I'm not sure why people's egos should get dented as there's always an opportunity to be chosen in the future.

Valmai (Lewes)


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: Betsy
Date: 04 May 10 - 07:57 PM

I'll throw the observation into a different direction. When I was a kid almost 60 years ago my Nanna used to go to something called a Darby and Joan club. I understood that she met-up with people of her own age /peer group and various people bashed-out songs on the piano - songs that they all knew and could join in with i.e. a good sing-song.
I have no way of knowing whether youngsters think we have gone down a similar path albeit with expensive guitars & instuments (replacing the piano).
"Everyone" could play the piano then, much as today when "everyone" can knock out a song on a guitar .
Are we all just drifting away as something to be distantly recalled as I have just done with the Darby and Joan reference ?
A slightly depressing thought , but we perhaps we didn't ( or couldn't - with the advent of the electonic /computer age ) do enough to encourage youngsters to join in with our music.
Time will tell but I feel that this cycle is unstoppable - and will need to be completely resurrected in later years .
At least there is enough source material been left in our tracks , to enable a new wave to be quickly on its' feet without doing the scrounging and searching for songs which many of us have tried to do in the post 50's /60's revival.
Good luck to 'em


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: MikeL2
Date: 04 May 10 - 02:45 PM

Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: David el Gnomo - PM
Date: 04 May 10 - 11:07 AM

<" Can you imagine the upset it would cause if someone who believed they should get an extended spot didn't? ">

Hi DNG

As I said earlier we ran guest nights at least 3 weeks in every four.
In those days floor singers knew which guests pulled in the biggest crowds and they all came for those nights.

So we/I had to allocate spots almost every time. Most times we had to disappoint somebody. It was difficult to be completely fair to everyone but we must have been reasonably good at it because we didn't have any real problems.

The worst problem was that some of our regular singers were not as good as the ones who came for the best guest nights. But I always tried to encourage the regulars. In some cases I gave them my spots.

Interesting to see that now-a-days the problem appears to be the other way round.

Cheers

MikeL2


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: Will Fly
Date: 04 May 10 - 01:51 PM

DeG - the contact at the Willows is Chris Davies - good guy - chris@willowsfolkclub.org

Cheers!


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 04 May 10 - 11:21 AM

Thanks Will - We will re-visit the idea then!


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: Will Fly
Date: 04 May 10 - 11:14 AM

DeG - interestingly, the Willows Folk Club in Arundel has started including "showcase" evenings, when a local regular or a couple of local regulars will get, say, 20-25 minutes of their own on a singers' night (singers' nights alternate with paid guest nights) to do a mini guest spot. So it can work. Obviously the organisers have to be fairly tactful as to how they do it, but they get a regular full house and a regular good crowd each week, so it appears to be working OK without stirring up jealousies. The local Washington Music Club, which meets fortnightly, has started doing the same.


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 04 May 10 - 11:07 AM

I wonder whether these are the same people someone else mentioned who stay away from the club on guest nights.

In some cases, yes! In my limited experience (I only help run 1 folk club) there are people who are not interested in coming when there is a guest on. These are generaly

1. Those who only want to perform
2. Those who cannot (or will not) pay the price when a guest is on and
3. Those who like the more relaxed atmosphere of a singers night

I would never say if they are right or wrong - Just different from the 'core' who attend whatever is happening.

There is also the converse - Those who will only attend guest nights. Again there may be number of reasons for this but the one I hear most often is that they prefer a 'professional' performance by a paid guest.

We did toy with the idea singers nights featuring some of the more 'professional' floor singers doing extended spots, but decided it would be too difficult. Can you imagine the upset it would cause if someone who believed they should get an extended spot didn't? We had to settle on a policy of full guest night or full singers night for the peace of the club!

There are, however, some people that are regular singers at our club that we have also booked as guests. These tend to be those who have already had some sucess performing guest spots at other clubs or who occasionaly come to our place as floor singers as well - Coming back to Dick's point that the pro's and semi-pro's can occasionaly do small clubs a favour by appearing as floor singers. We do not expect it by any means but we always welcome such a visit:-)

Cheers

DeG


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: Ian Hendrie
Date: 04 May 10 - 10:57 AM

I think I'm the 'someone else' in Howard's previous comment. I went to a local club last night to see a well-known act (a wow at festivals so their web-site says) and they were fantastic. However, there were only two dozen (or less!) in the audience and I had to sit through four songs by a singer who regularly attends the singaround sessions. I didn't pay to listen to him and two songs would have been quite enough. And he seemed to have disappeared before the evening was over as he wasn't there when the artists were thanked at the end. Also there were few other regular singers in attendance.

I don't necessarily agree with Howard that these people are 'less interested in the music'. I tend to think that some of them are more interested in what they are doing and concerned about massaging their egos.


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: Marje
Date: 04 May 10 - 10:50 AM

I know I'm speculating somewhat, Howard, but my recollection of clubs in the past (and some pub folk band evenings) is that there was quite a bit of chorus-singing and joining-in. People could start like that, and then, when ready, move on to singing solo. Such people now have the alternative of joining a choir where they get lots of opportunity to sing along with others (in some cases, they're doing arrangements of folk/traditional/world material), and that's maybe what suits them best.

And I suppose that does still leave all those who want to perform, and possibly (relatively) fewer who want to join in choruses etc. I'm not convinced that singarounds are proliferating now, but there are now "acoustic" and "open mic" clubs where some of these singers will go. And as you suggest, a number of these are people who aren't really interested in guest nights, they just want to do what they do.

And at the other extreme there are also large numbers of non-participant folkies - people who will attend and enjoy folk concerts or guest nights, but purely as audience - they'd run a mile if asked to sing something thelselves, or (in many cases) even join in a chorus.

I's still not saying which of these changes I welcome, I'm simply saying that there are lots of valid ways of making and enjoying folk/traditional music that were either unavailable or less accessible a generation ago.

Marje


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: Howard Jones
Date: 04 May 10 - 08:27 AM

I'm interested in what Marje has to say about community choirs. When I was active in folk clubs in the 70s and 80s I don't recall many people going to folk clubs in order to find "a non-threatening, friendly environment where they can sing with others". Most of them went, so far as I could tell, because they enjoyed listening to, and in some cases playing and singing, folk music.

It seems possible that over time the clubs came to be taken over by people whose motivation was to find somewhere they could perform, and who were less interested in the music itself. Hence the proliferation of singarounds. I wonder whether these are the same people someone else mentioned who stay away from the club on guest nights.


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: GUEST,Essex girl
Date: 04 May 10 - 06:33 AM

Two reason clubs are in deline : Drink Drive Laws. I have to travel at least 15 miles to club or session (no public transport in the ev
enings).
No job, so now only visit a club when an artist is one I want to see badly enough to pay the admitance fee/raffle ticket/ parking ect.


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: Marje
Date: 04 May 10 - 05:33 AM

I agree completely with Jim (if you're still there, Jim!) about the standard of singing. But we still need to find the good singers. Younger people are much more likely to play insturments and much less likely to sing than their parent's generation were, so song clubs tend to be attended mainly by the over-50s. This may be because there's a lot less singing in schools now, certainly once you get to secondary age.

I think another thing that has contributed to the decline in singing in clubs is the number of community and folk-based choirs around. This new wave of choirs tends not to have auditions, and many don't require the members to read music, so they're much more accessible than many of the more conventional choral socieities.

Lots of people who want to find a non-threatening, friendly environment where they can sing with others are now joining such choirs rather than looking to folk clubs, as some of them might have done in the past, and so they never get to the point where they want to sing solo or "perform" alone.

For the moment I'm not commenting on how much of all this is desirable, or whether the situation is better or worse than 30 years ago. I'm just giving another couple of reason why song clubs are struggling and less numerous than in the past.

Marje


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 May 10 - 05:12 AM

Will,
Sorry - I always do this - get involved in an interesting discussion which I can't finish (off across the Shannon for a couple of days break shortly).
Yes, my experience was mainly in London, where there was a great mix of all sorts. I know there were session type clubs elsewhere, but I can't speak with any experience how many, which is why I asked the question.
I have to say I am a bit ambivilent about these as, while I enjoy them greatly (when the singing is good), I feel that the future of the clubs lie entirely in lifting singing standards - you will not maintain and build your audience levels with poor singing, no matter how good the material at hand. It takes at least three well-sung songs to lift the evening after a poorly sung one.
While I want to see new singers flood the scene, I am totally against the clubs being used as rehersal platforms, which, sometimes they are.
I felt that the clubs I was involved in encouraged new singers by running workshops where they could develop rather than put them in front of audiences before they were able.
I don't think you judge the success of the music by a specific club, some clubs can be doing well while the whole scene can be bombing: the litmus test has to be how well all the clubs are doing and how many of them there are.
If they are getting less and less (as I get the impression they are) and the standard is dropping rather than improving, you are in freefall and need to get a grip, and the first step is to assess where you are honestly, not through rose-coloured glasses (you can get them in Specsaver).
Sorry, a bit garbled.
I'm off,
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 04 May 10 - 04:44 AM

Tootler
Enjoyed that perspective above.

reading a lot of these threads of similar subject I get a feeling that the Audience only,thread participants, are a lot more demanding and less tolerant than the musicians /Singers.
Have I misunderstood the gist of it?


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: Tootler
Date: 03 May 10 - 07:03 PM

This talk of floor singers and residents and audiences and guests was all very fine, but it wasn't like that everywhere.

I belonged for a while to a folk club in a remote part of the UK. The local population was small so the membership was small, about 15 - 20 I would think. There was no way we could have guests, we were too far from anywhere and the cost would have been prohibitive. I don't think we even thought about it. There were no residents as such and no floor singers or audience in the way it is described elsewhere. We were all residents/floor singers and we were all audience. Essentially we entertained each other and had great fun doing it.

When I started going to folk clubs again recently, what I came across was mainly singarounds and it was not that different from what I knew back in the 1960's. Most clubs locally seem to be a mixture of singarounds with periodic guest nights, some on alternate weeks others have a guest less frequently, typically once a month. There are plenty of clubs locally and I could certainly be somewhere every night.

Festivals are something I hadn't come across and there are certainly plenty of them and I know people who seem to spend the summer in their campervans going from festival to festival. It seems that, as others have said, that it's the festivals rather than the clubs where a lot of the younger folk musicians "cut their teeth". With the number of festivals around, it should be possible for newcomers to get gigs at the smaller festivals if they are sufficiently determined and develop their skills and build their name from there. There are clubs that book younger performers, so it's probably a mix. Something else that needs to be recognised is that it's not only folk musicians that struggle to make a living from performing. It's true in all musical genres. The daughter of a friend of ours is a cellist and has been through the music school system, but she still has to make her living by a bit of this and a bit of that. She once said to me that she has to "sell her soul" to earn a living.

Overall, although folk music does not have the high profile it had in the 1960's, there is certainly plenty of activity. Yes things have changed and you have to accept that. Not all changes are necessarily for the better, but neither are they necessarily for the worse. Change happens and things move on and we cannot bring back the past. Nevertheless, there are plenty of people playing traditional tunes and singing traditional songs and that can only be a good thing.


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 03 May 10 - 05:20 PM

"if every professional and semi pro singer of pro standard,went out once a week and did one floor spot in a local folk club,the standard of singing would improve immediately.
if folk clubs are a place where we earn our living,it seems sensible to try and keep the standard high,by puutting a little effort into supporting folk clubs,by doing a weekly floor spot to help them thrive."
Well said that chap.


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: Will Fly
Date: 03 May 10 - 05:03 PM

Jim - were you based in or around London at the time of which you speak? I can recall several sessions there in the late 60s (particularly "hard-core" Irish!) which would bear out your view. I've no idea what the session was like in say, Liverpool or Manchester at that same time.


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 May 10 - 04:55 PM

Will,
Not disputing for a minute that there are plenty of sessions now - just the suggestion that they are more abundant than in the past - I never had any problem finding them when/if I wanted them.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: Will Fly
Date: 03 May 10 - 04:28 PM

JC:
"but sessions are thriving, and far more abundant than a few decades ago." Is this true, do you think?

Jim - undoubtedly true in many areas, certainly very true in my area. The Lewes Saturday Club session list has 24 entries - nearly all in Sussex with one or two in adjoining Kent and Hampshire areas. Very many of them are English tune sessions, but you'll also find some Irish and French sessions listed. There are also other quasi-sessions which aren't in this list, but which make excellent music. For example, drop into the Snowdrop in Lewes on a Wednesday evening to hear fiddler Ben Paley and guitarist Tab Hunter play a riveting set of Irish, Old-time and Swedish music with friends turning up to join in.

Now, I can't speak for all areas of England, but this level of session activity is much higher round here than it was - to quote you: "a few decades ago". My problem at the moment is getting a grip on my time and resisting the temptation to be out every night of the week at a club or a session. Here's my choice of clubs and sessions for next week - all within reasonable striking distance of my house:

Monday 10th May: Trevor Arms, Glynde - English tunes session; White Horse, Bodle Street Green (singers' night)

Tuesday 11th May: Elephant & Castle, Lewes - concertinas session; Amberley Folk Club (guest: Sarah MacDougall); Six Bells Folk'n Blues Club, Chiddingly (singers' night); Cellarfolk Song Club, Round Georges, Brighton

Wednesday 12th May: Black Horse, Lewes - Appalachian string band traditional session; Snowdrop, Lewes - Ben Paley & Tab Hunter & friends; Willows Folk Club, Arundel (singers' night); Mid-Sussex Folk Singers Chorus & Harmony Night - The Fountain Inn, Ashurst; Brighton Singers Club, The Pond, Brighton

Thursday 13th May: Royal Oak, Lewes (guest: Paul Burgess)

Friday 14th May: Seaford Folk Club (guest: Hilary Spencer & Grant Baynam); Black Horse, Lewes - Appalachian string band traditional session

Saturday 15th May: Lewes Saturday Folk Club (guest: John Joseph); A Playford Dance - Sussex Folk Association, Danny House, Hurstpierpoint

Sunday 16th May: Horsham Folk Club (song & dance session with ceilidh band)

The scene is bustling with activity. There's a huge number of dedicated and talented performers in attendance - playing and singing traditional music.


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 May 10 - 02:56 PM

Marje,
I see no reason why clubs and festivals can't exist side by side - they always did. I heard some of the legendary singers at Keele, Loughborough, Sutton Bonnington, Whitby - et al, but, while the performances were great, they were oh so impersonal - a long week-end of concerts with a few singarounds thrown in - and they might as well have been held on Saturn for all the local input we got.
"they now serve a "folk community" whatever that means. I think the last thing folk needs at the moment is a bunch of folkies who "Vant to be alone" - or at least, among their own kind. If the folk music scene is ailing, as I believe it to be, the last thing it needs is isolation from the world in general (unless it has contacted cholera,).
I've never been to any of the Wren Trust knees-ups, but I know and respect some of the people involved and know their links with the local community - not the feed-back I am getting from some of the comments here.
"but sessions are thriving, and far more abundant than a few decades ago."
Is this true, do you think? I was involved in singaround-type clubs a few decades ago. I preferred the more structured ones, but that's me.
I believe a well-run club with residents who don't fall below a set (not unreachable) standard will achieve more in one night than all your festivals and star guests rolled into one - and it's far more satisfying to make something work yourself rather than get somebody in to do it for you, or swan off once a year to be with annually familiar faces.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: Marje
Date: 03 May 10 - 02:30 PM

I don't think there's any cause for complacency, but at the same time it's important to appreciate that some of the good stuff that originated in clubs now takes place in other settings.

For instance, researching and presenting local material: the Baring-Gould Song School, run by the Wren trust, takes place for a week each autumn in Devon to do exactly that. The results are presented, along with much other local material, at the weekend festival that follows it. I dare say other regional organisations such as Folkworks and Folk South West have similar initiatives.

There's now a degree in Folk and Traditional music at Newcastle University, offering opportunities for serious study and research that were undreamed-of in the 1970s.

Clubs are less numerous and less popular, but sessions are thriving, and far more abundant that a few decades ago.

And although festivals may not have much in the way of roots in the local community, they now serve a "folk community" from across the country. Anyone who goes to festivals even once or twice a year knows that they'll renew contacts and musical links with old friends and fellow musicians/singers. There's a strong folk-interest national network which is supported by both festivals and the internet in a way that simply wasn't possible when local clubs were the focus of most folk activity.

So it's fair comment to say that folk clubs have decreased in importance, but it's a mistake to assume that all the things that clubs used to do have declined in similar measure: much of the activity and interest continues, but in different forms.

Marje


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 May 10 - 12:57 PM

Festivals are not clubs (which I thought this thread was about).
If you see the future of the club scene disapating into festivals - well - we have very different ideas.
The folk revival was launched through the clubs; what success we had came from that fact. A good club drew in local people as audience, singers and dogsbodies, and -if it was outgoing enough, researched and performed local material - you won't get that with festivals. Our roots were in the communities where we ran the clubs - no roots to be had in festivals (unless you want to run them weekly - or monthly, at a stretch).
Hundreds of record labels my arse - performers are putting out their own material under their own logo and at their own expense and distribution, usually as 'vanity publications' - is that what you are referring to? The old performers (the ones we cut our teeth on) would not have had a look in (nor would any other performer for that matter).
The strength of the revival lay totally in a good, welcoming club with good residents (where guests were an option not a necessity). There was never any talk, as there has been on some threads, of not letting some of the lesser experienced local singers performing on a guest night, as has been suggested elsewhere.
"thriving national news stand specialist magazines (none back then)".
Really - did I imagine picking up folk review from my local newsagent (didn't bother with Dallas's Folk News; thought it was rubbish. The rest you could subscibe to or pick up at your local club (rather than wait till next years festival came along).   
"strong web presences (none back then)"
Can't have web presence without a web; whether we have made the best use of what we have is another question which probably needs another thread.
One thing that the clubs did produce was a group of exeptional researchers Vic Gammon, Bob Thomson, George Deacon, Roy Palmer, Peter Hall.... all adding invaluable information and material to our enjoyment and understanding of our music.
I notice that you haven't commented on the fact that the clubs and supporters of the music have reached anorexic proportions, so I presume you accept that point.
As for our media presence - gone, and never called me mother!
I had no intention of getting involved in this thread but the smug complacency finally got to me.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: buzzer64
Date: 03 May 10 - 12:51 PM

I was on extended holiday last year in Kent...After two weeks I got brassed off with playing and singing to myself in the awning of our caravan.
Realising that I was suffering from "Folk club withdrawal syndrome", I googled folk clubs in Kent and found that I had a choice. Consequently I spent six very pleasant Wednesday evenings at a very friendly club in Faversham at the Chimbney Boy.

The moral to this happy tale is "If you want a folk club, don't sit there wondering if they are they in decline. GO FIND ONE!

For goodness sake!


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 May 10 - 12:02 PM

folknacious,
the important point[ imo],is that folk clubs have an important part to play,being a useful stepping stone for performers,from an informal singers club to a concert situation.
many of the top concert folk performers learned the art of performing in folk clubs.
singers clubs, while useful in that they help beginners who lack confidence will never have the same role.
Folk clubs are important for a number of reasons,some of the reasons I have mentioned before,but they are particularly important for aspiring musicians as a step between singers clubs and big concert venues.
performance arts can be taught,but really the best way to get practical experience is in the more initimate atmosphere of a folk club.
http://www.dickmiles.com


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: Folknacious
Date: 03 May 10 - 11:42 AM

we had four times the number of clubs (at least), ten times the number of enthusiasts and singers (at least) our own labels by the dozen. ditto of magazines and journals and ten times the media presence than we have now.

Oh come on: we must have ten times the number of festivals now with the participation of much larger numbers of people. We have loads of informal sessions, whilst at the same time we have many arts centres putting on professional productions with good sound and lighting. As for record labels, there are hundreds rather than a handful now that artists have the possibility of running their own independent ones, with much higher production standards. We have a number of thriving national news stand specialist magazines (none back then), strong web presences (none back then) and far more sensible general media coverage where the music is treated fairly, even if still not enough. Against that we have a decline in folk clubs. But overall it's immensely better for the music and lots of the music is immensely better. Surely only somebody who lives a fairly sheltered life can't see that?


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 May 10 - 10:29 AM

PS F.n.
Your dating is a little amiss as well - the clubs were a force to be reckoned with right into the mid-80s.
I know I tend to be pessimistic, largely thanks to the shitty nights I've had a some clubs, but complacency is irresponsible.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 May 10 - 09:31 AM

"but discussions about "the decline of folk clubs" have been going on since the late 1970s"
When we had four times the number of clubs (at least), ten times the number of enthusiasts and singers (at least) our own labels by the dozen. ditto of magazines and journals and ten times the media presence than we have now. Was it one of the Princes of Wales whose last words were "I think I'm feeling a little better this morning"?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: Folknacious
Date: 03 May 10 - 09:07 AM

Pardon me for stating the obvious, but discussions about "the decline of folk clubs" have been going on since the late 1970s - just dig out a few copies of Melody Maker and Folk Review from that era. The only surprising thing about these hand-wringings still going on is that in spite of this very long-term "decline" (for much longer now than the brief period in which folk clubs were truly popular), the quality of music and the interest/ participation of young people in it at the moment is, by general acclaim, the highest that many can remember. So you could say that folk clubs were just an enjoyable but short term historical blip on the evolution of the music: a passing fad, a brief catalyst.

Although it's sad for those who remember the 1960s heyday of folk clubs and would like to be able to re-live them, and for long-time pro and semi-pro performers who have been unable to adapt to changing timess, it's nowhere near as desperate a situation for the music itself as some claim.

One could just as well argue for the return of the earlier BMG societies . . .


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: GUEST,Allan
Date: 02 May 10 - 07:04 PM

"On the other hand there are a variety of sessions and singarounds within driving distance and that circuit simply didn't exist back in the 60s."

I think for smaller clubs that can maybe be the conflict sometimes. At Kelso we have weekly singaround sessions every Friday but also like to get visiting acts too on some occassions. However the club is somewhat split on those who like the guest nights and those who only want the singarounds. We've compromised by restricting it to just 4 Friday night guest nights per annum. But even at that quite a few of the regulars just don't come on the evenings we have a guest. Obviously as a small club we have to get others through the door to make up the numbers as we do often lose money on these nights but we like to minimise that loss. This year so far we have had Lyra Celtica and just on Friday we had Allan Taylor - so we are getting good quality acts and putting them on for low entrance fees. In fact we even made Lyra Celtica free at the door (making cash off the raffle and voluntary donations) and Allan was only £5 and £3 for concessions - and yet still many of the regulars don't appear!


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: GUEST,PeterC
Date: 02 May 10 - 10:48 AM

The clubs that still manage to book a guest every week are good because they have had to be good to survive. There has been a long decline in this format but the situation seems stable now.

If I look back at when I first started going to clubs as a teenager there were two a week accessible by public transport which meant that I could see two decent pro or semi pro performers a week. From my parent's house there are still two (different) weekly clubs accessible by public transport but each only runs about 1 guest night a month.

On the other hand there are a variety of sessions and singarounds within driving distance and that circuit simply didn't exist back in the 60s.


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: Will Fly
Date: 01 May 10 - 01:17 PM

Alan Day and I popped up to the Ram Club in Thames Ditton yesterday evening to do a floor spot and enjoy the music of Chris Sherburn and Denny Bartley. Very fine it was - but what was also fine was the excellent venue (The Old Cranleighan Club), the comfortable and welcoming club room, the thorough organisation and hard work to make it look and feel inviting, the good beer in the clubhouse bar, decent lighting, an excellent PA (if you wanted it), good resident singers and MC - and an audience who not only packed the place to the gills and showed their appreciation of the music in no uncertain terms, but whose age range was the whole spectrum from late teens/early twenties to granddads like me and Al.

No sign of a declining club there, I'm happy to report!


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: Marje
Date: 01 May 10 - 12:19 PM

I agree, six sets of pipes were probably best confined to a back room, and might have been a bit much for the public bar. They weren't all being played at once, though - most pipers seem to play at least one other instrument, so they kind of took turns to play. That was just as well, because they probably couldn't all have played in the same key.

Marje


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: GUEST,romanyman
Date: 30 Apr 10 - 01:01 PM

six sets of pipes yum yum


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: theleveller
Date: 30 Apr 10 - 11:09 AM

"Unless the music actually drove people away from the pub"

SIX sets of bagpipes? Hmmmm....;-)


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: Marje
Date: 30 Apr 10 - 11:05 AM

I was at a pub session last night consisting of 16 musicians. Nobody else was listening to us, because the pub had holidaymakers in for meals and there wasn't enough room in the main bar, so we moved to an unused function room which we had to ourselves. (There were a couple of guys who wandered in, curious about the 6 different sets of bagpipes that were included in the line-up, but otherwise there was no audience.)

We were all buying drinks until closing time, long after the meals customers had left. The landlord would have been a fool not to appreciate that the session probably brought in 16 customers who wouldn't otherwise have been there. Unless the music actually drove people away from the pub, why would any landlord not want it?

Marje


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Apr 10 - 09:44 AM

"It's the same with sessions - they're primarily intended to entertain the musicians and others who go for the music. If other people enjoy it too that's fine, but the session will take place whether or not there's an audience."
ha ha,no it wont,the pub is owned by someone else,not you Howard,that person depends upon selling beer for his livelihood,if your session doesnt bring in enough people the landlord will get a karaoake night instead.


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: MikeL2
Date: 30 Apr 10 - 09:19 AM

Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: Ian Hendrie - PM
Date: 29 Apr 10 - 09:52 AM

< " they seem to operate on the regular Singers' Night with occasional (perhaps monthly guests).
Though the guests tend to be well-known names I am very surprised with the low attendances (perhaps 30) for these events. What's more, many of the regulars at the Singers' Nights don't turn up for the guests! ">

hi Ian

I have not been around folk clubs much recently due to a number of health and domestic problems.

Since I was involved it appears from your comment ( backed up by David) that things have changed.

When I ran folk nights at my clubs we had guests most weeks. Only occasionally did we not invite at least one guest.
We had several regular "floor singers etc" who appeared and did spots when we could fit them in. The bigger the name of the guest the more singers would turn up. It was a headache in those days to try to be fair to every singer in providing spots for them.

There are some folk clubs around where I now live but not pariticularly close, and as you say they are mainly singers nights. I am not sure what quality of musicians go. I must turn out and see for myself.

cheers

MikeL2


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Subject: RE: folk club decline uk
From: Banjiman
Date: 30 Apr 10 - 09:16 AM

"Any relation to Richard the Box?"

Not as far as I can work out.

Wendy is doing a music teaching course (of sorts) with his partner in crime in Sheffield at the moment though. Not that this makes any of us related!


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