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Is it OK to raise performance standards?

thecoombes 06 Nov 10 - 05:47 AM
Steve Hunt 06 Nov 10 - 06:02 AM
Leadfingers 06 Nov 10 - 06:29 AM
Arthur_itus 06 Nov 10 - 06:54 AM
Jim Carroll 06 Nov 10 - 07:07 AM
Young Buchan 06 Nov 10 - 07:15 AM
Crowhugger 06 Nov 10 - 07:25 AM
Jim Carroll 06 Nov 10 - 07:31 AM
Georgiansilver 06 Nov 10 - 08:02 AM
johncharles 06 Nov 10 - 08:13 AM
Sooz 06 Nov 10 - 08:24 AM
Leadfingers 06 Nov 10 - 08:50 AM
johncharles 06 Nov 10 - 08:52 AM
The Sandman 06 Nov 10 - 08:55 AM
autoharpbob 06 Nov 10 - 09:17 AM
thecoombes 06 Nov 10 - 09:31 AM
John Routledge 06 Nov 10 - 09:39 AM
Richard Bridge 06 Nov 10 - 09:50 AM
Crowhugger 06 Nov 10 - 09:51 AM
Jack Campin 06 Nov 10 - 09:53 AM
GUEST,Jim Knowledge 06 Nov 10 - 11:22 AM
Fred McCormick 06 Nov 10 - 11:47 AM
Richard Bridge 06 Nov 10 - 12:38 PM
Fred McCormick 06 Nov 10 - 01:09 PM
The Sandman 06 Nov 10 - 01:16 PM
Old Vermin 06 Nov 10 - 01:21 PM
GUEST,Russ 06 Nov 10 - 01:30 PM
GUEST,Guest from Sanity 06 Nov 10 - 01:39 PM
GUEST 06 Nov 10 - 01:48 PM
GUEST,999 06 Nov 10 - 01:58 PM
GUEST,Guest from Sanity 06 Nov 10 - 02:09 PM
GUEST,999 06 Nov 10 - 02:13 PM
GUEST,kenny 06 Nov 10 - 03:32 PM
GUEST,kenny 06 Nov 10 - 03:32 PM
johncharles 06 Nov 10 - 03:55 PM
Hesk 06 Nov 10 - 04:45 PM
GUEST,Linda Kelly 06 Nov 10 - 05:20 PM
Gervase 06 Nov 10 - 05:30 PM
Hesk 06 Nov 10 - 06:14 PM
Hesk 06 Nov 10 - 06:17 PM
thecoombes 06 Nov 10 - 06:22 PM
GUEST,Desi C 07 Nov 10 - 04:08 AM
acegardener 07 Nov 10 - 05:08 AM
GUEST,FloraG 07 Nov 10 - 05:36 AM
GUEST, Fido 07 Nov 10 - 05:56 AM
Mo the caller 07 Nov 10 - 06:16 AM
GUEST,Desi C 07 Nov 10 - 06:43 AM
Will Fly 07 Nov 10 - 07:12 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Nov 10 - 07:13 AM
GUEST,Wuzzle 07 Nov 10 - 07:27 AM
GUEST,FloraG 07 Nov 10 - 07:31 AM
johncharles 07 Nov 10 - 07:34 AM
Will Fly 07 Nov 10 - 07:46 AM
GUEST, Fido 07 Nov 10 - 08:13 AM
Will Fly 07 Nov 10 - 08:37 AM
GUEST,Girl Friday 07 Nov 10 - 09:20 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Nov 10 - 12:18 PM
Goose Gander 07 Nov 10 - 01:03 PM
Joe_F 07 Nov 10 - 05:50 PM
thecoombes 07 Nov 10 - 06:09 PM
Howard Jones 08 Nov 10 - 03:26 AM
johncharles 08 Nov 10 - 03:57 AM
Leadfingers 08 Nov 10 - 04:53 AM
Hesk 08 Nov 10 - 06:08 AM
Jim Carroll 08 Nov 10 - 06:25 AM
BobKnight 08 Nov 10 - 06:49 AM
johncharles 08 Nov 10 - 07:08 AM
John Routledge 08 Nov 10 - 07:09 AM
MikeofNorthumbria 08 Nov 10 - 07:09 AM
Jim Carroll 08 Nov 10 - 07:45 AM
GUEST,crowsister 08 Nov 10 - 08:01 AM
johncharles 08 Nov 10 - 08:02 AM
GUEST,Desi C 08 Nov 10 - 08:05 AM
GUEST,crowister 08 Nov 10 - 08:20 AM
Jim Carroll 08 Nov 10 - 08:44 AM
Richard Bridge 08 Nov 10 - 09:02 AM
johncharles 08 Nov 10 - 09:18 AM
GUEST,crowsister 08 Nov 10 - 09:27 AM
GUEST,Crowsister 08 Nov 10 - 09:33 AM
Tim Leaning 08 Nov 10 - 09:42 AM
olddude 08 Nov 10 - 09:47 AM
GUEST,Banjiman 08 Nov 10 - 10:03 AM
Jim Carroll 08 Nov 10 - 10:05 AM
Dave MacKenzie 08 Nov 10 - 10:11 AM
Richard Bridge 08 Nov 10 - 10:24 AM
Howard Jones 08 Nov 10 - 10:43 AM
GUEST,crowsie 08 Nov 10 - 10:46 AM
olddude 08 Nov 10 - 10:48 AM
Leadfingers 08 Nov 10 - 10:59 AM
Jim Carroll 08 Nov 10 - 11:39 AM
Jack Campin 08 Nov 10 - 12:32 PM
Jim Carroll 08 Nov 10 - 12:46 PM
GUEST,FloraG 08 Nov 10 - 12:52 PM
The Sandman 08 Nov 10 - 01:24 PM
Will Fly 08 Nov 10 - 01:35 PM
Howard Jones 08 Nov 10 - 01:37 PM
Tim Leaning 08 Nov 10 - 01:44 PM
GUEST,FloraG 08 Nov 10 - 02:03 PM
Tim Leaning 08 Nov 10 - 02:06 PM
Jim Carroll 08 Nov 10 - 02:42 PM
Crowhugger 08 Nov 10 - 03:08 PM
Tim Leaning 08 Nov 10 - 03:11 PM
MikeL2 08 Nov 10 - 03:50 PM
GUEST,Graham Pirt 08 Nov 10 - 04:04 PM
Tim Leaning 08 Nov 10 - 04:06 PM
DebC 08 Nov 10 - 04:07 PM
Jack Campin 08 Nov 10 - 04:51 PM
Howard Jones 08 Nov 10 - 05:11 PM
Dave MacKenzie 08 Nov 10 - 06:16 PM
Crowhugger 09 Nov 10 - 01:14 AM
thecoombes 09 Nov 10 - 04:01 PM
Graham_Pirt 09 Nov 10 - 05:17 PM
Crowhugger 09 Nov 10 - 11:57 PM
GUEST,FloraG 10 Nov 10 - 05:00 AM
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Subject: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: thecoombes
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 05:47 AM

Is it OK to raise performance standards by being selective about who gets a floor spot ?
I'd like to provoke a discussion about raising the bar on floor spots. There are plenty of folk clubs that I enjoy, and will continue to do so (if they still let me in after this) where everyone gets a go. I'm not suggesting that they've got it wrong but it can be quite dismal when the standard is not very high and some people keep away because of it. I want to encourage a higher standard of performance at Loughton as one of the club's attractions. So when the room is full I propose to be selective when it comes to floor spots in favour of those I know are good (not just those I like!) and those I haven't seen before (or can't remember!). I recognise and accept that some people might be put off. That's not my intention, I'd really like to raise the bar if I can.
It may not work of course.
So – the question is – what do you think? Is it unthinkable to behave like this ?


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Steve Hunt
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 06:02 AM

If you're charging the audience an admission fee, exercising a little quality control is a duty of care, rather than "unthinkable" behaviour! True, one of the great joys of Folk Club "open house" nights is that anyone can perform, and it's those nights that I operate a "come all ye" policy. On guest nights, I operate a far stricter system - basically I'll ask a good local performer/s to play a support set in exchange for free admission, and that's it. I've actually lost count of the number of people who've said to me that they went to __________ folk club/s to see a particular guest performer and had to sit through interminable awful floor singers, so won't go again in a hurry...


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 06:29 AM

MC's Perogative is the rule at Maidenhead - There are usually FAR too many singers on Guest nights so it is down to whoever is running the evening to get a good balance of singers - Often the regulars dont get on if there are too many new singers , or old friends we havent seen for a while .
On Singers/Musician nights , its All Comers , and then we often dont get twice round , though rarely do we NOT get everyone on who DOES want to perform .


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Arthur_itus
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 06:54 AM

Exactly what Steve Hunt has said.

"I've actually lost count of the number of people who've said to me that they went to __________ folk club/s to see a particular guest performer and had to sit through interminable awful floor singers, so won't go again in a hurry... "

Wish I had a quid for everybody that said that Steve. :-)


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 07:07 AM

Not only OK, but essential if the music is to survive.
Jim Caroll


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Young Buchan
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 07:15 AM

But is performance standard to be measured solely by vocal ability?

If anyone were daft enough to put me in charge of a folk club and tell me that I had to exercise discretion as to whom I put on, my first decision would be to ignore those who haven't taken the trouble to learn a song, and have to sing from a sheet.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Crowhugger
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 07:25 AM

thecoombes, might you list specifics about what you would like to rule in/rule out?

For example, I find out-of-tune guitars unbearable, equally so performers who spend an inordinate amount of time attempting to fix a tuning problem. (I've never heard an out-of-tune fiddle; banjos, well, that's another thing isn't it?) Nor do I enjoy out-of-tune singing, but if the song is well delivered, a good story told with heart and soul, off-pitch notes become less troubling. But those things don't bother a lot of people to the extent they bother me.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 07:31 AM

"But is performance standard to be measured solely by vocal ability?"
No - but unless you set a basic technical standard (singing in tune, remembering words and having a basic understanding of the song), tyou will turn any potanetial audiences away.
Putting singers in front of an audience just because "they want to sing" just doesn't hack it.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Georgiansilver
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 08:02 AM

Why don't you try varying the nights... Guest performer and support one evening.... singaround for all comers another evening where all sit round the room and sing from the seat they are in..... Open Mic night where the performers have to take stage at one end to perform in front of the crowd........ Why make your Folk Club nights exclusive altogether to some.... after a while of varied nights you can judge which nights are bringing most people in/causing most interest and maybe increase the number of those nights.... Just don't rush into anything you might regret. Best wishes, Mike.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: johncharles
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 08:13 AM

It probably needs to be made clear in the way in which you advertise the club that some restrictions may apply. quality is always going to be a subjective issue. I like to think my singing is OK but self criticism is often quite difficult. Here is a link to me singing with a couple of friends who I play with on a regular basis at local clubs.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FysVZlW1iMc&feature=related
Would this be above or below par for your club. How would it rate in other clubs? In my experience clubs vary widely in performance standards and ultimately I think some form of self selection is probably in operation.
john
p.s. not got the hang of blue clicky things


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Sooz
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 08:24 AM

At Gainsborough Folk Club on a singers night, everyone who comes is invited to sing. When we have a booked guest, we have two prearranged floor spots so the guest gets a fair amount of time and I'm not stressed out trying to calculate if we can fit everyone in. The performers who are doing the floor spots prepare a three song set and make a very good job of it! This works very well for us.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 08:50 AM

You sound OK to me johncharles - Have a Clicky


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: johncharles
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 08:52 AM

Thanks leadfinger for the clicky and the comment.
john


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 08:55 AM

when i first went to a Folk club in 1965,floor singers did not always get on.
To guarantee getting a spot every week singers would have to know their words, AND sing and play in tune.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: autoharpbob
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 09:17 AM

I know what you mean. I have sat through some dire performances, including one who introduced a song as being "his version" and went on to sing from a sheet, out of tune, out of time, as though he had never heard the song before. I also have to remember that I sounded not far off that once. It is all very well saying you need to practice on your own until you are competent - but that competence then goes straight out the window for a lot of people when they have to face the public. I agree with the idea that different nights should serve different purposes - sing-arounds for all, guest spots for chosen performers, and when the club is crowded, up to the MC - some of whom will do a first come policy, some will do who haven't we seen in a while, some will do their mates, and some will do who is any good. The other approach is that in my area there are enough clubs that I can almost guarantee the kind of night I will get at each club. One club is frankly scary in the quality of the regulars, and anyone who went there for the singaround who wasn't any good would probably not go back. Another club is extremely egalitarian, and some of the regulars are frankly awful - I have tended not to go to that one very often. The club tends to get the clientele it caters for.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: thecoombes
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 09:31 AM

Thank you all - I'm enjoying your responses. I'm actually not looking for advice on this (much as it is certainly welcome), more to get a feel for how people felt about the issue - is it right or wrong ?

I'd particularly like to hear from those who think it isn't right to do this.

Please keep posting.
Cheers
Jim


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: John Routledge
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 09:39 AM

Can we we now close this so far excellent thread :0)


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 09:50 AM

I remember the "Oh, you'll have to audition if you want a slot at our club, and we'll decide if you're good enough" from the 70s. I can fairly safely say that I have never knowingly returned to a club operating that policy.

I know of persons exercising the power of selection who have totally cloth ears, I know of persons having that power who will have excessive regard to the Disability Discrimination Act. I know bullying cliques who will blacklist those out of favour with them. I know of one club where the "residents" turned out lots of sub-Americana, the in-crowd got a short go, and even visiting semipros often did not get on. I can think of one chap who was laughable when he started but is now asked to do support slots. I can think of one semipro duo who would not pass a "How well do they play and sing" test by a street.   But they have a fan base. If people had to be able to play or sing where would that have left Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, the Pogues, or Lemmy? Far too dangerous to trust people with the power of selection.

If you want to run "Guest and booked support" - by all means do so.

If you have "floor spots" or "singaround" it's the people's music. Let the people make it.


By the way, this topic has been done to death on here.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Crowhugger
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 09:51 AM

It's sort of a common courtesy, what w/ johncharles' points out about making known whatever one's tacit or published standards may be. Doing so would likely create a lot of self selection. If many performers back away one may make invitations, rethink the standard or let well enough alone if the public is happily paying.

My mother used to perform at the now-gone Rasputin's in Ottawa. The owner there had a clear plan and standard for each night of the week. I don't recall exactly which was which night and may have some of the details wrong but essentially Mon-Thurs were one of (not in this order):
...celtic jam, not sure how this one went or the skill levels.
...everyone-gets-a-turn song circle (jam at the option of each singer)
...IIRC, perform by invitation the shorter of 3 songs or 10 minutes
...wide open sign-up-to-perform (I don't recall how much jamming if any)

Fri-Sat had pretty polished hired acts with fairly polished warm-up act(s). Sundays, well memory fails me somewhat but it was something like 30 minute sets by invitation maybe a small cover charge went to the performers.

In that venue, with that owner's personality & rules of etiquette, performers self-selected pretty well, and audiences knew what to expect.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 09:53 AM

The way the original proposal was phrased seemed rather autocratic. Is the "club" actually a one-man entrepreneurial business, so it makes sense for the MC to decide policy like that?

If not, the members and regulars need to be consulted. Not much point in raising standards of performance if it involves lowering standards of democratic accountability and community responsibility and making the place simply far less fun than the way it is now.

If anybody involved knows something about market research, they might have something useful to contribute about how to gauge opinion.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: GUEST,Jim Knowledge
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 11:22 AM

I `ad that "thecoombes" in my cab the other day. `e was well engrossed in a pile of papers and appeared to be ticking off names or something.
I said` "What`s up Coombesey?. You going through your Christmas card list or something?
`e said, " Nah Jim. I`ve gotta run the "The Old Pig & Whistle" folk club tonight and the old problem of `oo can and `oo can`t do a floor spot `as raised it`s ugly `ead. Performance is key nowadays in the clubs, y`know."
I said, "Why don`t you `ave a special "no `opers night" then?. That ought`a suit everybody."
`e said, "Nice one, Jim, but there wouldn`t be enough room for `em all!!"

Whaddam I Like??


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 11:47 AM

I've no idea, but a certain festival organiser of my acquaintance used to include a marathon singing session as part of the programme. This marathon singing session, which was free naturally, used to draw tuneless wozzacks out of the woodwork in a manner which resembled the strongest concoction of derris dust ever prepared anywhere on the planet.

When asked why he kept the thing going, despite the fact that it brought no money in, he retorted, "It keeps all the wankers in one place".

There is a need to be charitable here. If you're new to singing and you haven't found your voice yet, and you want to stretch your vocal and musical abilities (and your repertoire), a folk club floor spot is the ideal medium. You will find a willing supporter in me every time, even if the end result hasn't a hope in hell of setting the Thames on fire.

But if you're one of these t**ts who just likes to get up and make a complete pillock of himself, with no regard whatever for performance standards, or the tolerance levels of the audience, or the abuse being wreaked on the material, please go and stick your head in a tank of water and see how long you can hold your breath.

About four and a half minutes should be sufficient to improve the world beyond all recognition.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 12:38 PM

Actually, Fred, at an event not long ago, a duo announced that they liked to hold the last note of a particular line until the first person keeled over. A cry of "Challenge" went up. Taking breath just before that note was allowed, taking breath during the note was cheating. The last man standing was till going when many who had cheated had dropped out! I don't think it was four and a half minutes though.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 01:09 PM

No, the idea is for the said tosser to hold his or her head under water until all signs of aspiration and other indicators of life have ceased. Tosser can then be interred in a grave somewhere with a suitable inscription on the headstone. EG.,

"Here lies one of a tuneless race,
Who left this world a more harmonious place."

Yes, I know it doesn't scan, but neither do the efforts of some of the people who abuse folk club floor spots.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 01:16 PM

"Here lies one of a tuneless race,
Who left this world a more harmonious place."
in memory of mcgonagle, wheres WAV when he is needed?


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Old Vermin
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 01:21 PM

Might I suggest being more choosy on a paid guest night than on a open floor evening?


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 01:30 PM

Jim,

if you want to be the floor spot czar, it seems to me that the devil will be in the details.

The selection process, whatever it involves, might require a serious investment of time and energy. Or not.

My guess is that no matter what criteria you profess to use, you will be perceived as a member of a clique whose job it is to make sure that the other members get floor spots.

Russ (Permanent GUEST)


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 01:39 PM

Practice, Practice, Practice!!...if you really want to raise 'performance standards'!!

The rest will come, even an elevated stage!(Pun intended?)

GfS


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 01:48 PM

``Practice, Practice, Practice!!...if you really want to raise 'performance standards'!!``

And stupid me thought that`s how ya get to Carnegie Hall! (Drum roll.)
    Guest identified as 999. -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 01:58 PM

That post was me, but since ya don`t need to use a name in music, I didn`t slap my hand this time.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 02:09 PM

Guest 999: "That post was me, but since ya don`t need to use a name in music, I didn`t slap my hand this time."

How come everybody wants one, then??

Wink,

GfS


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 02:13 PM

LOL


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: GUEST,kenny
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 03:32 PM

Jim Carroll beat me to it.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: GUEST,kenny
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 03:32 PM

and actually, why would it not be ?


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: johncharles
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 03:55 PM

if you have a couple of quiet nights where everyone regardless of skill gets to sing followed by a busy night where performance standards are used as a criteria for a spot, you will have to handle it with some sensitivity, as not many people like being told they are not good enough. John


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Hesk
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 04:45 PM

If you have a full club, maybe, you have got a good mix already.

If you allow everyone to have a go, you engender a feeling of togetherness and social interaction, These are the best kinds of evenings, as far as I am concerned.
If, however, you pick and choose, you introduce a form of control based on one person's opinion. This will always bring about disagreement and disharmony, in my experience.
In effect, you affirm the superiority of some, at the expense of others.
Personally, I would prefer not to belong to a club such as that.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: GUEST,Linda Kelly
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 05:20 PM

I agree with Hesk-we have a club which fortunately has a very high percentage of good performers-nearly all in fact. We have a people come just because they like the atmosphere and the sense of well being it leaves them with. We have seen huge improvements in some novice performers given the encouragement of a friendly and supportive audience even if their initial efforts were not that good. On a guest night we limit support to 2 club members and the expectation is they will come prepared. Whether they have a songsheet to my mind is irrelevant. If you don't like song sheets close your eyes. I used a songsheet for years and still do on occasion because I don't always want to sing a song from my gig list. If people murder a song-which is rare we have the good grace to laugh it off and look forward to the next singer!


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Gervase
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 05:30 PM

FWIW, a club where everyone, however special needs, gets a turn every time is one from which I'd run screaming.
OK, on non-guest nights, when it's a come-all-ye and it's been advertised as such to warn would-be punters, then let loose the shaky eggs, the 20-minute-tuners, the performance poets and the dub-balladeers. Otherwise, lock 'em up and don't frighten the horses. I'm now of an age where, should I have to sit through yet another shite performance of someone singing in a quavery voice with their chin buried in a crib sheet, I might well want to swap my ten minutes of wasted life for theirs. With extreme prejudice.
But this is a subject which has been done to death. There are bastards like me, who rarely go to folk clubs now because of the red mist problem, and any number of touchy-feely lovelies sitting in doomed folk clubs. Just be grateful that we don't meet often.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Hesk
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 06:14 PM

Gervase,

Your thread may be critical, but it's got style!
All I can say is you're not really a singaround type of person, are you.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Hesk
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 06:17 PM

Gervase,

Sorry, not thread, post.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: thecoombes
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 06:22 PM

Thank you very much everyone.

There is such a variety of opinion and passions here that I've decided to print it off and hand it to anyone who's unhappy with my decisions and ask them to read it. That should give me enough to get home safely and pour a nightcap :-)

Time we called it a day I think

Cheers
Jim Coombes


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 07 Nov 10 - 04:08 AM

I'd say it's a bad idea, unless you're having a guest night then it's ok to give a few of your better performers support spots as we do. But on our Singers nights, also Singarounds it's a policy of anyone willing get's the obligatory two songs or more if time allows. About 30 years back far too many Folk Clubs operated an elitist floor spot policy where only who the hosts regarded as 'good enough' got all or, all the best spots, and it drove away people like myself, then a hopeful newcomer, as it was too hard to get a spot and hence learn enough
Remember also, who decides if they're good enough, it's still the case some clubs have their 'favourites' who get all the best spots and suport spots, but though the may be technically very good they aint neccessarily entertaining or popular! Ok we sometimes have to endure one or two worfully of key performers, but as a host I'd much rather people said "try the Circle club, they welcome newcomers, than "oh you best not go there, it's top players only. I'm sure we'd lose members if we adopted that kind of policy. We've more than doubled our attendances since taking over from a previous club

Desi C
The Circle Folk
Coseley UK
INFO- crc778@aol.com


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: acegardener
Date: 07 Nov 10 - 05:08 AM

I like to get a pint in at a singaround, when will I be able to if all the performers are faultless. Beginners need to boost their confidence, but a regular exercise book singer should be encouraged to learn his words, a mass exit to the bar gives out the right message. It was frowned upon in my early days to crib the words, you could get away with a few la,la,la's. Chords sequence stuck to a guitar was allowed.

Hard to police nowadays without losing potential performers.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 07 Nov 10 - 05:36 AM

I was once at a folk club where the first half hour was collective playing. I thought this was an interesting idea as then just about everybody could participate- shakey eggers to serious players.
FloraG


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: GUEST, Fido
Date: 07 Nov 10 - 05:56 AM

Some people, naming no names, and nothing to be inferred from proximity, ought to be careful when the issue of poor selection is under discussion, in that they have been said in the past by some others to be part of the problem rather than the solution.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Mo the caller
Date: 07 Nov 10 - 06:16 AM

Is there a compromise possible? Include everyone if possible but arrange the order so that if anyone is dire there is something better to follow. And second turns to the better players if there is time.
When I had to stay in Beverley I sometimes went to Nellie's. It was very inclusive but Richard was always encouraging people to raise standards by muttering about learning the words (though there wasn't an absolute ban), and having an occassional 'themed' night to persuade people to learn something new. Great atmosphere, and I thought most of the people who sang or played there would be fine on the stage at a festival.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 07 Nov 10 - 06:43 AM

As one who still often needs the words in front of me. It's worth pointing out that many seasoned, and well known performers I've seen, regularly forget words, often start again despite being over half way thrugh and it takes up quite a lot of time, the same types are also usually the ones taking up yet more time with endless tuning. I always have my guitar tuned and ready before we start. Often these types haven't even taken their instrument out of the case and rarely apologise for the time they take up. I can remember more than a few occasions when these so called word perfect 'better performers' have taken a full half hour to get through a couple of numbers!

And while I'm having a whinge, I must also mention those, who on very busy nights (as most are in our club I'm glad to say) When you're struggling to get everyone on before closing time, will get up and do some great long epic number preceded by the dreaded tuning ritual. So Performers, try have one or two quick songs/tunes ready for those nights, your host will be so pleased AND remember you next time and you'll not be the one asked to drop out when it's too busy a night (buying the host a pint can be useful too!)


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Will Fly
Date: 07 Nov 10 - 07:12 AM

Here's my 10-penn'orth, for it's worth, and which I've said before in other threads.

If you go to a folk-club singers'/open stage night - i.e. an evening full of floor singing - then you should respect your audience and go prepared. If the club is popular and well-attended, it's odds-on that you'll get one, two or possibly three songs/tunes at most. You'll surely know that, and you owe it to your audience and to the success of the night to be absolutely prepared to perform your material to the absolute best of your ability.

This means taking the trouble, before you get to the club, to learn your material thoroughly, to practice, practice and practice yet again - thoroughly - so that you can dispense with the bloody music stand - so that you can look the audience in the eye - so that you can give a confident performance. And, yes, of course there will be times when even the most seasoned of performers will screw the words or the chords up - I've had brain fade myself recently. We're only human, after all! And I also understand the need for a prompt sheet if words happen to be a real problem for you. And, yes, I know it's all supposed to be a bit of fun and friendship, but I've sometimes lost the will to live during a whole evening of dreary paper shuffling and mumbling, and I know others who feel the same way.

The problem is that some beginner performers - and even some experienced ones - in my view totally underestimate the amount of time it takes before a song or a tune is absolutely embedded in the brain. I appreciate that everyone learns at a different pace, but there is absolutely no substitute for hard work - and no excuse for not putting it in. I cannot personally recall a single folk club I attended back in the '60s or early '70s where a singer used a music stand or a book. In some clubs (which I now don't attend), almost every other performer comes up with a huge book or folder of material, sticks it on a music stand, spends time shuffling through it to pick a song, tunes up badly and screws up the song while staring at it and making no eye contact with their audience.

I understand that folk clubs are a platform for learners and beginners to gain experience - I used them myself 40 years ago just for that very purpose - and it's good that there are opportunities for people starting out to get a feel for performance and for playing and singing in public. But that liberality should be repaid by trying to give your very best. I have never performed at a folk club with a music stand or a crib sheet, whether doing a two-song floor spot or two paid 45 minute guest spots. I just prefer to bore my family rigid by practising the same tune all day for days or weeks if need be - just to get it right.

End of rant for the moment!


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Nov 10 - 07:13 AM

"Oh, you'll have to audition if you want a slot at our club,"
Sorry to take up a point made some toime ago - attending a local singing week-end where the standard is excellent, including a number of superb young singers barely out of their teens.
I don't see any suggestion whaatever of 'auditions' here; this seems to me to be a much-dragged-out red herring to excuse allowing singers to practice in public, which is highly unfair on both audiences and singers who have done the basic work.
It isn't rocket science for any half-awake compare to spot somebody who can't sing in tune or is reading a text from a printed sheet (no - not having words available just in case - we've all done that).
If you are allowing members of the public in there needs to be a standard below which you do not fall, otherwise you are selling the music and the public short.
If a club is serious about assisting new singers, set up a workshop for beginnners, or at least create a situation where the more experienced singers can make themselves available to offer help.
Unless there is something physically wrong, anybody with the desire to do so can sing - the harder you work, the better you become.
The pleasure of singing in public lies in making the song work, for you and for the listener.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: GUEST,Wuzzle
Date: 07 Nov 10 - 07:27 AM

I wonder if the likes of Bob Copper and many of those wonderful people of old would manage to get a floor spot in your club.
What a sad loss for the world   if his wonderful songs and singing and many like him wasn't in it, do you want the modern idea of manufactured music it is all very perfect. But has no soul
Isn't the beauty of folk   just that, real people real life
What happens if everybody doesn't have the same taste in what a performer is, does it make them substandard?

And what happens to people like me who wouldn't dare come to your club in case they weren't good enough, you might end up with to many empty chairs and then another club closes..........


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 07 Nov 10 - 07:31 AM

Mo - I'm not sure there is an easy compromise. Folk clubs differ so much.

Of the folk clubs I know best the dartford club has a guest every week. They have a core of people who turn up regardless of who is on. Who can blame them - excellent range of beer and a good choice of main artists. It was Bob Fox last week. They fail to attract many floor spots. Support is done by residents who take it in turn to compare and do the whole evening.

The cambridge folk club have a different audience according to who the main guest is, and they usually have a semi pro act as support for guest nights. They alternate guest nights with open stage and showcase nights. This means quite a lot of work for the organisers as you can not guarentee an audience and covering costs, but they have given an outlet for a number of local and new young acts.

The Rainham ( kent) clubs run on mostly floor singers with the occasional guests. I have not noticed any overt selection at these clubs.

Two of the clubs have had the same people running them for over 30 years. All of the clubs are of some vintage. The pattern obviously works for them, even though the appraoch is quite different.

I have serious concerns about the future of folk clubs in general - (not enough young people prepared to perform or help run them )- but I'm not sure how much this is to do with performer policy or changing attitudes, and I'm not convinced that a change in policy toward floor singers would alter this.

Sorry to be such a pessimist, Mo.
FloraG


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: johncharles
Date: 07 Nov 10 - 07:34 AM

In my area there are a range of clubs. Some book a big guest every week with selected support and no floor singers,some are clearly selective, some are participative music sessions, and some are esentially singarounds open to all.
If you want high quality music you attend the concert type club if you want a more interactive social event you attend one of the latter.
One club is never likely to cater for all tastes. If people don't like what is on offer they can go elsewhere or as I and a few friends have done start your own session/club.
john


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Will Fly
Date: 07 Nov 10 - 07:46 AM

GUEST, Wuzzle:
I wonder if the likes of Bob Copper and many of those wonderful people of old would manage to get a floor spot in your club.
What a sad loss for the world   if his wonderful songs and singing and many like him wasn't in it, do you want the modern idea of manufactured music it is all very perfect. But has no soul
Isn't the beauty of folk   just that, real people real life
What happens if everybody doesn't have the same taste in what a performer is, does it make them substandard?

And what happens to people like me who wouldn't dare come to your club in case they weren't good enough, you might end up with to many empty chairs and then another club closes..........


I saw Bob Copper many years ago on several occasions at his club in Peacehaven, and he was always on good form. If you've read about the Copper family life in "A Song For Every Season", you'll have known that the family sang the same songs regularly - at work, at home, in the pub. So they were totally familiar with their music. I'm not making a distinction between amateur or professional or anything in between. Working hard at your music and giving people real pleasure is not making it manufactured - or losing it's soul - while doing it. It's also worth remembering that you don't have to go to a club to sing - you can also go to listen. So, if you don't feel up to performing to the standard set by (consciously or unconsciously) a club for performing, then just go along and enjoy the club anyway.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: GUEST, Fido
Date: 07 Nov 10 - 08:13 AM

It must be wonderful to be so cocksure that you are good enough that you will always make the cut. Some of the time I am good enough. Other times I have royally screwed one (or another) of my best songs.

Some, I am sure, who are cocksure of their virtue are actually much avoided.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Will Fly
Date: 07 Nov 10 - 08:37 AM

Everybody screws a performance - because none of us is perfect! I've never yet done a club performance where I was satisfied with everything I played or sang; and the quest to get it right or make it better never ends. I know very few good musicians in any genre of music who think they get it absolutely right every time.

What I'm ranting against is the concept that not trying hard and not working at your music doesn't matter, and that any old thing will do. I honestly don't believe that and, when I was working professionally in bands outside the slightly cosy world of folk music, we worked bloody hard to make our music good and acceptable - danceable to and listenable. We were taking peoples' hard earned cash and were determined to earn it.

I'm not saying that the world of folk clubs should be as hard-nosed as that, but the applause that you get from giving a good performance in a club, plus the enjoyment you give to other people is, to me, a worthwhile aim. And if you do screw up, well, at least you know you've honestly given it your best shot and that it's not through lack of hard work.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: GUEST,Girl Friday
Date: 07 Nov 10 - 09:20 AM

I will not take up too much of your time, as this thread is so long, and, in cases, repetative of others. The poor s*d who started it, wants to finish. Thanks to Linda Kelly who said "close your eyes if you don't like users of song sheets". and Desic who raised the point of keeping songs short on busy nights. When we go and play at venues that haven't heard us, we bring out the stuff we know by heart. The only way we ageing people can learn a song well enough to do that is to do it hundreds of times with the words. My singing partner's recent memory is nbg, and he has to learn stuff by osmosis. Therefore, where sheets are acceptable, we will play more often.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Nov 10 - 12:18 PM

"I wonder if the likes of Bob Copper and many of those wonderful people of old would manage to get a floor spot in your club."
Bob Copper always managed to sing in tune - what's your point?
"It must be wonderful to be so cocksure that you are good enough that you will always make the cut."
Off-form performances have nothing whatever to do with this question; it is simply a matter of whether an aspiring singer has put in enough work to sing the tune and remember the words - are you suggesting that they be given a spot if they are unable to do either or both?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 07 Nov 10 - 01:03 PM

"Is it OK to raise performance standards?"

What are you, some kind of folk fascist?


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Joe_F
Date: 07 Nov 10 - 05:50 PM

I found the generality of the subject line breathtaking.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: thecoombes
Date: 07 Nov 10 - 06:09 PM

Final words from the poor s*d!

I have no intention to ban those who forget their lines or use music stands, even those with poor rhythm and have trouble singing in tune can still be entertaining. Nor will I see that everyone gets a go - there are other clubs where that happens. It is not an open mic club. Everyone is welcome and I'll try to make the best of the people that turn up.

For those of you opposed to selection please consider - where there are more performers than spots available what is the most appropriate way to decide who gets one ?

Whichever method chosen will be unfair, even first come firt served. Choosing those perceived as better entertainers and those who have not been seen before at least offers more interest for the listener.

Many seem to think that a club must be there primarily for the performers but aren't listeners at least as important ?

Let's all agree to enjoy the music anyway, whatever our differences.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 03:26 AM

thecoombes has put his finger on it - a concert club should primarily be run for the benefit of the audience, not the performers. Singers' clubs and singarounds are the reverse, and there it is entirely appropriate to encourage novice singers, but anyone aspiring to play support to a professional guest should have reached a certain level of competence. I think he has the right approach, for the type of club he is running.

I also welcome that he is prepared to give visitors priority over regular performers. So many clubs feel they have to let their regulars sing and will only fit in a visitor if there's time left over. As an audience member I would prefer to take a chance on a visitor than listen to a regular (no matter how good) who I heard last week and will hear again next week. As a regular floorsinger, I was always willing to stand aside in the knowledge that I could get a spot next time.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: johncharles
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 03:57 AM

If you are getting enough people to have to make selections then you are probably doing OK, given the limited attendance at many clubs.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 04:53 AM

If ANY Club is booking Main Guests on a regular basis , the Main Guest deserves a reasonable length of time to present themselves ! On that basis , it is usually impossible to give EVERY possible Floorsinger a spot ! I have beeen(ONLY ONCE) to a club that fitted in EVERY Floor singer , and then asked the paid guest to only do ten minutes to finish the evening !
At Maidenhead on a Guest Night the MC regularly has to apologise to several hopefuls who it wasnt possible to fit in - Please come back on a Singers night , then you WILL get a sing !
As I ssid earler = MC's Perogative rules


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Hesk
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 06:08 AM

I agree with Leadfingers, but I am not sure that the original thread is asking about nights with paid guests.
It would seem that this club is crowded with normal punters. and, therefore, the question is, should the organisor be selective as to who has a spot.
My answer would be to encourage a quick first round, and then be selective in the second.
Then, new visitors have a second go, musicians, or singers, combine in a way suggested by the compere, a strong finisher is chosen and apologies are given to those that time couldn't fit in.
In other words, the second half is stage managed to create an entertainment, and the first half is strictly by rotation.
I must stress that I am only referring to a club that has too many members to fit in two spots each.( Nice problem to have!)


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 06:25 AM

"Singers' clubs and singarounds are the reverse, and there it is entirely appropriate to encourage novice singers,"
While I appreciate Howard's point, it seems to me that UK folk clubs have to tackle the somewhat eccentric image of people sitting round listening to singers who simply can't sing.
The practice has, and will continue to drive off potential audiences, and it certainly won't attract youngsters, who, whatever I might think of their music, can spot a naff musician a mile off.
The new blood here has come into the music because it now has set itself a standard, and the newbies thrown down the gauntlet by raising that standard even higher.
It is deeply patronising to suggest that setting standards drive people away.
In opening your doors to the public you have committed yourselves to presenting something worthwhile to listen to.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: BobKnight
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 06:49 AM

Let's turn that around - can we afford to let standards get lower? If so, how low does it have to go before people stop coming? Surely we should be trying to raise the performance standards at ALL times.
Even if only for personal satisfaction.

We all go on about attracting new people, but the younger generation are used to hearing the finest sound production in all genres of music, thanks to CD's etc. So, imagine the shock when they go along to a club, and someone, totally unprepared, although it's obviously their turn next, takes ten minutes to get their instrument out of its case, tune it, and leaf through a pile of papers looking ominously like the Dead Sea Scrolls. Next they thrash away at their guitar, banjo, with their chin "glued" to their chest, thus ensuring the words are incomprehensible and inaudable. It's a simple matter to learn words - repetition, or as we call it in the musical world, practice, or rehearsal. That will do it every time. We don't accept poor standards in everyday life, why should we accept it in folk music. You don't have to be professional to have professional standards.

Imagine going into a restaurant - "Hey your meal's not properly cooked yet, but it won't really matter, will it, because we can't be bothered cooking it until it's just right."


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: johncharles
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 07:08 AM

A key word is "club" which can be defined as "An organization composed of people who voluntarily meet on a regular basis for a mutual purpose" Each club will do what suits its members. If the club is not meeting the members needs it will close. If the club thrives irrespective of the standards of musicianship it is meeting the members needs. Live and let live.
john


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: John Routledge
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 07:09 AM

Love your final image Bob.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: MikeofNorthumbria
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 07:09 AM

I've said this before on other threads, but for the benefit of those who missed it then ...

IMHO, there is folk music/song on the one hand, and showbiz on the other. And what distinguishes t'other from which is NOT the source of the music/song, nor yet the style in which it is performed.

Showbiz is what happens when some people are paid for performing and other people pay to hear them. This definition applies even if what is being performed is 100% "traditional".

Folk music/song is what happens when people play/sing to entertain themselves - and anyone else who happens to be around. Nobody pays to listen, and nobody is paid for performing. (Though sometimes non-performing listeners may buy drinks for performers to show their appreciation.) This definition applies even if what is being performed is 100% non-traditional.

So, to the original poster I would say this: if your folk club charges for admission, then you are in showbiz, and showbiz rules apply. People who have paid to come in and listen are entitled to hear the best that you can provide them with. Furthemore, performers who are respected enough to attract paying customers deserve a fair share of the gate money. Performers who are good enough to merit a hearing, but not yet well-known enough to pull in an audience, may get a brief opportunity to display their wares if there's time to fit them in. And for the rest ...

For the nervous newbies who are still learning their trade (and for the enthusiastic no-hopers who will never learn) you may choose to run an open session on another night, with free admission for all.   And if you (and any listeners who may drop by) are really lucky, then some accomplished performes may also come along and participate, just for the fun of it. This will be folk music.

End of sermon.

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 07:45 AM

"Each club will do what suits its members"
In which case, run a 'members only' club and don't disgrace our music by showing it at its worst to anybody who might walk in off the street; and certainly don't ask visitors for money to listen to tunelass droning read from a crib-sheet.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: GUEST,crowsister
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 08:01 AM

I wouldn't return to a session I find a drag. The fun of waiting for someone to work their way through several halting minutes of this or that chord, oops no hold on a moment it's that one, after pleasantly announcing they haven't played the song for twenty years, really isn't. I know several guitarists socially, so if I wanted to listen to someone practicing the chords to something from "Ten Rock'n'Roll Favourites" or some-such, I can always invite myself over to their pad when they do so.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: johncharles
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 08:02 AM

Some interesting points. Who is the "our", how bad does it have to be to be a disgrace and who decides.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 08:05 AM

Some very good points made. On the subject of music stands I must defend them. Firstly any good music teacher will advise learners to use a stand, and many top pro's request or bring a music stand on guest nights. A music stand properly used should make mo difference to your enjoyment of an open mic night. But as a few people have pointed out plonking big folders on it and then searching for the right piece does take time and annoy people, including hosts like myself. Also much as I agree it's the onus of the performer to be well practised and have the right music, if needed, ready and be tuned up etc, but as a host we can 't know beforehand if someone hasn't had the sense to know all that. Personally we do try to advise people like that once we've seen it, to be better prepared.

But before you go blaming all this on 'newcomers' we have a few professional performers at our club, who variously do not have their guitar out of it's case, then spend valuable minutes tuning it, often retuning again between songs, one duo hardly ever have the right music ready and waste time again on that. And we really can't do mich about that without riskng offending some delicate egos! As I said to a visiting host from another Club recently "it really is like trying to keep a classroom of 5 year olds happy at times"

It's not the glamour and fun it might appear to be running a busy folk club, I do it because I love it but it is hard work. So on behalf of us who often get the blame, I appeal for performers to come as ready prepared as possible, an average two song spot really shouldn't take more than 8 minutes, you'd be surprised how many 'good' performers go way over that! Perhaps Folk Clubs need to become a bit more professional, but would that still be 'folk' ?


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: GUEST,crowister
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 08:20 AM

A friendly "Okay it's Sue & Bill - oh I see you're getting prepared, we'll come to you next then. John, are you ready?", seems to work.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 08:44 AM

"Who is the "our",
Traditional music is part of "our" heritage and deserves more than the kicking some people seem to be prepared to stand by and watch it getting.
"how bad does it have to be to be a disgrace"
Tuneless, unlearned unrhearsed and misunderstood. Guest crowsister offers a fairly typical description of how bad it can get (and what is argued for and defended on threads like this)
"and who decides."
Nobody has to decide when it gets that bad, it becomes obvious to anybody without cloth-ears
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 09:02 AM

I get very annoyed by the conceit of those who decide that they are good enough but others are not. I know of at least one person of whom the truth is the reverse.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: johncharles
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 09:18 AM

Only one?


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: GUEST,crowsister
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 09:27 AM

"those who decide that they are good enough but others are not."

Richard, I find it hard to believe that anyone, including you, would fancy regularly attending a session where contributors don't practice their pieces before performing them. The "I haven't played this for twenty years" quote was from life. Last I heard, that session needed more people..

I don't take issue with people running sessions in any way they want to, it's a free world, but if there are a small core of regulars who can't be jogged into at least practicing their pieces first, then those sessions will obviously die because they will be the only people who do attend. And that is a loss for everyone, including those who have devoted their time and effort to establish the session in the first place.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: GUEST,Crowsister
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 09:33 AM

"where contributors don't practice their pieces before performing them."

Make that: "don't LEARN their pieces"

I'm sure plenty of people can get along just fine with a piece learned yonks ago.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 09:42 AM

I would like to think the general movement of my standard of playing is upward.
Possibly a little worse now for not being out and doing it.
Have always been lucky in having kind people around who if they point tout a problem do it in a kindly way and even with help to overcome it.
Every one should be allowed the courtesy of an opinion as to whether they like what you play or not..There are others though...
I have handed my guitar to a few knowledgeable gob shites hoping for a practical demonstration but very rarely received any enlightenment.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: olddude
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 09:47 AM

OK but what about an open mike, I been to some where the same person keeps performing and very sadly is quite awful and the crowd shows it ... I don't think folks have the heart to ban him but the half hour slot he takes is pretty brutal .. should the owner have standards for an "Open Mike also"

I don't care either way, I submit the question that is all


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: GUEST,Banjiman
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 10:03 AM

We only run concert nights as a general rule with one or two (usually local) support acts.

I have the priveledge of choosing these acts....... we've had quite a few people for who this is their first "gig", but I wouldn't put them on stage if I didn't think there was something about them that the audience can tune into. It wouldn't be fair on the audience or the act.

They're often quite nervous but I can't think of anyone in this category who has let themselves or the club down. Maybe a few fumbles, but this doesn't have to spoil a performance if there is at least a modicum of talent there.

There have been occaisions when newer acts have used crib sheets, which I'd rather not see on stage...... but as long as they can still put their material across I can't get too excited about this.

I like to think that by giving people this experience, we are giving them the opportunity to raise their standards.... we tend to use a stage, lights and often a P.A. Feeling comfortable in this environment is a whole new experience compared with a cosy singaround!

I suppose the general rule is I'm likely to consider someone for a stage spot if they are better than I am..... so the bar is not too high! (p.s. I've never booked myself solo!)

Paul


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 10:05 AM

"I get very annoyed by the conceit of those who decide that they are good enough but others are not. I know of at least one person of whom the truth is the reverse."
You have claimed this in the past Richard - and received an answer, which you apparently choose to ignore.
Perhaps you could name anybody on this thread who is unable to sing in tune or remember words, and is calling for basic standards to be set
You once stated that higher standards not only should not be set, but should be positively discouraged as they put off the inexperienced singers - perhaps you might find the bottle to repeat it here?
THIS IS NOT ABOUT ANYBODY BEING BETTER THAN ANYBODY ELSE, BUT RATHER, ABOUT NOT LETTING PEOPLE WHO CAN'T SING LOOSE ON A CLUB AUDIENCE.
YOU MAY NOT THINK FOLK SONG IS WORTH SETTING STANDARDS FOR - OTHERS HERE APPARENTLY THINK IT IS.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 10:11 AM

There are people who think that Bert Lloyd and Peter Bellamy (to name but rwo) couldn't sing!


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 10:24 AM

JIm - I've PM'd you the name of the worst culprit.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 10:43 AM

I'm surprised at Desi C's comment that "many top pros request or bring a music stand on guest nights". So far as I can recall I've never seen a pro use a music stand for their usual performance - the only exceptions I can think of have been for special projects, especially where there is a script to follow, or for particularly complex band arrangements.

The problem is not with stands per se but with people relying on reading from them. In all cases where I have seen a pro using music it's been as an aide memoire - unfortunately the same cannot be said for some amateurs. It is very difficult for this not to both form a barrier with the audience and inhibit the performance.

To pick up a point made by another poster, ageing has nothing to do with the need to repeat a song many times. It demands repeated practice to learn a song, and further practice to keep it ready for performance. In my opinion, knowing you have the words or music to fall back on are an obstacle to getting the song learned properly.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: GUEST,crowsie
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 10:46 AM

"should the owner have standards for an "Open Mike"

I think that has to be the call of the landlord. Likewise any event on his premises. If half an hour of 'orrible drives custom away, he should probably have a word.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: olddude
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 10:48 AM

Hey Tim
we should all be as "a little worse" as you" ...
You are amazing ... don't ever think otherwise !!


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 10:59 AM

An Amateur practices a song till he knows it , a Semi-Professional practices until he plays it 'Right' and a Professional practices til he CANT play it wrong !
I wont say a thing about prople who dont learn a song at all !!


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 11:39 AM

"There are people who think that Bert Lloyd and Peter Bellamy (to name but two) couldn't sing!"
Both could hold a tune and remember the words (sometimes Bert dried, especially towards the end of his life), but I never saw either of them resort to a crib sheet.
I really think we are talking about people who use the platform to practice - again I find myself totally agreeing with Howard.
IMO those who turn up to sing before they have mastered the basics, and those who are prepared to accept this as acceptible, display a contempt for the music and a disregard for audiences who have made the effort to attend your club - they have a right to be given something reasonable.
Also, singers who have worked at their songs should not be expected to pick up the pieces after intolerably bad singing has naused up the evening.
If organisers are genuinely concerned about helping struggling singers who want to improve, start a workshop, or offer some other sort of practical help.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 12:32 PM

IMO those who turn up to sing before they have mastered the basics, and those who are prepared to accept this as acceptible, display a contempt for the music and a disregard for audiences who have made the effort to attend your club

They quite likely ARE the audience and ARE the club.

Anybody who talks about folk club regulars in terms like that is displaying their contempt for their fellow human beings, which matters rather a lot more than attitudes to pieces of music.

Autocratic crap like that from MCs is totally out of line.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 12:46 PM

Sorry Jack - people turn up at folk clubs regularly or occasionally, do so to be entertained, and people who run clubs take on the responsibility of ensuring that they get what they pay for.
If a group of people get together and are happy to listen to each other's bad singing they are entitled to do so, as long as they do so in the privacy of their own clubs.
Once they start charging at the door they make a committment to whoever might come in looking for a pleasurable evening.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 12:52 PM

I think part of the problem is that many clubs have to hire a room these days so have to charge admission - usually a £1 or £2 - to both singers and audience on singers nights, to cover the rent. If you then have a guest who charges £200 and your room only takes 30 then you are looking at the best part of £10 for admission.

Do audiences expect a better quality of floor singers as the amount they have to pay rises?
FloraG


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 01:24 PM

No, why cant people be allowed to play unrehearsed forget their words sing out of tune and make fools of them selves, after all alot of pop singers are crap ,mime to their songs and have no sense of rythym[ dave clark.
the rolling stones were out of tune when they first started.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Will Fly
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 01:35 PM

Do audiences expect a better quality of floor singers as the amount they have to pay rises?

I was discussing this very point with the organiser of a local club just recently. The organiser was adamant that, if the audience at a guest night was paying in the region of £8 to £10 each for an evenings's entertainment, then the right thing to do was to ensure that the whole evening was of value by putting on a few, good quality floor singers as support. At singers' nights at that same club, the same organiser endeavours to get as many performers as possible a spot.

This seems to me to be a sensible and sound practice.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 01:37 PM

Jack, it all depends on the type of club, or perhaps even the nature of that particular event, since many clubs operate both singers nights and guest nights. If it's a singers' night, singaround, open mic, come-all-ye, call it what you will, then it should be open to all-comers, with the risk that some of them may not be of very high standard - but if the atmosphere of the club is right that may not matter. If it's a concert night then being asked to perform, whether as a paid guest or a floorspot, should be seen as a privilege, not a right.

It's also important that the club is correctly publicised, so that the audience doesn't have mistaken expectations of what is on offer.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 01:44 PM

"No, why cant people be allowed to play unrehearsed forget their words sing out of tune and make fools of them selves, after all a lot of pop singers are crap ,mime to their songs and have no sense of rythym[ dave clark.
the rolling stones were out of tune when they first started."

GSS
Had alot of bad news today.
Thanks for the smiles mate.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 02:03 PM

Anyone been to a club where the support act was better than the paid guest?
FloraG


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 02:06 PM

Once or twice Flora but it was probably more to do with my taste for shanties than anything else.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 02:42 PM

"Anyone been to a club where the support act was better than the paid guest?"
Didn't always work out by any means, but I've always tended towards the clubs where guests provided a new face rather than an improvement.
I believe the backbone of any club should lie with a strong residents team and a means of helping new singers develop.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Crowhugger
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 03:08 PM

It sounds to me like much of the disagreement it is rooted in the fact that different people & cultures have different definitions of "folk club" and "audience." Both words have degrees of meaning depending on context. So it looks to me as if all the nyich nyich will continue ad infinitum, or at least ad definitum (hmm, is that a word?). Thanks to those who explained to which situation their view applies. The OP didn't describe what context s/he had in mind for "folk club," giving plenty of room for argument over I-can't-tell-exactly-what. Interesting reading, when the discussion isn't going in circles.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 03:11 PM

Did cow hugger nearly ask what is meant by Folk Club?


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: MikeL2
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 03:50 PM

< "Anyone been to a club where the support act was better than the paid guest?" >

Yes many times. In the years when I was organising clubs and events, I found that different people asked for different fees.

Agreeing fees with artistes was always a bit of a haggling match. Some acts were better at this than others and tended to negotiate a better rate.

In the folk scene I found that many very good musicians were not in it purely for the money.

So it was not unusual to have say three acts all on different asking rates, and it certainly was not always the best ones that got paid the best.

I agree with Jim what you need are good resident band and local musicians who you know well. On occasions these will actually be better than the booked artist(s).

As a host I always tried to be fair in my bookings but the above type of differences did occur.
I would also say that many of the acts we booked were often more than fair with us. If they saw that we were struggling for cash they would not push for high rates. It was a reciprochal agreement. It worked for us.

As to how did I grade them -

By trying to watch as many as I could and form my own impression of their ability to interest and entertain the audiences that we attracted.
By watching and talking to the audiences to find out their views.
By involving people I respected and trusted and listening to their opinions.

This is not a finite thing, subjectivity comes in to it too. In the same audience you have very different points of view as to which acts are the best/worst.

I saw acts who were brilliant in a venue and booked them and they were poor when they came to us. We are all human we have good nights and bad ones.

cheers

MikeL2


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: GUEST,Graham Pirt
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 04:04 PM

Many years ago when Malcolm Storey ran Folk Union One in Hull and I was the MC we used to run a session an hour before the club opened. In this session we helped members, who wanted to do a floor spot, to choose songs, give them confidence, help them with the best key for their own voice, examine the song to see how they wanted to perform it and generally make themselves feel better when performing. It wasn't about putting our 'spin' on the song or the singer but to let them do justice to their own performance. It led to many people doing floor spots that were a pleasure to listen to.

I'm not sure you would call that raising standards but it did increase the enjoyment of both the singer and the listener.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 04:06 PM

"I'm not sure you would call that raising standards but it did increase the enjoyment of both the singer and the listener."

Seems alot better than the you're crap sod off approach.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: DebC
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 04:07 PM

< "Anyone been to a club where the support act was better than the paid guest?" >

The late Rick Fielding and his lovely wife, Heather, drove over 14 hours to do an opener (support) slot for a very well known, well-established, high profile folk musician.

Rick got a standing ovation. The headliner performed as if he were bored with the whole thing and IMO, did not give a great performance.

It was Rick's finest hour.

Debra Cowan


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 04:51 PM

The OP didn't describe what context s/he had in mind for "folk club," giving plenty of room for argument over I-can't-tell-exactly-what.

Or what their own role in it was. It doesn't seem likely that they were appointed by universal consensus to become the sole arbiter of what was acceptable on club nights, but if they aren't going to tell us, what can we say?


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 05:11 PM

A few "folk clubs" are real clubs, with a voting membership. However most in my experience are more or less benign dictatorships, run by individuals or a group of people who decided to get off their arses and actually do something. It seems to me that it is those people, who put in the work and risk their own money, who have the right to decide the nature of the club and how it should be run. If the "members" don't like it they can vote with their feet, and maybe set up their own club run on lines which are more to their liking.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 06:16 PM

"Anyone been to a club where the support act was better than the paid guest?"

I've frequently been to a folk club (some time ago, admitedly) where the audience usually repaired to the pub once the floor spots were finished and the paid guest came on - I suppose the rationale was that seeing the guest was being paid he or she didn't need an audience.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Crowhugger
Date: 09 Nov 10 - 01:14 AM

Whew, GUEST,Graham Pirt, you did all that in only 1 hour? Impressive.

That pre-floorspot planning & support you did sounds like a superb subject for a workshop, maybe done like an apprenticeship at an open stage at a festival.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: thecoombes
Date: 09 Nov 10 - 04:01 PM

Since this topic is still lively I'd like to explain about the club that sparked it off.

It's a new club in Loughton, Essex UK (It's on the tube - do drop in)and is just coming up to its' third weekly session this Thursday.
Althought it is called a "folk club" I am happy for any style of music to be played as long as it is acoustic. And although it is a "club" there are no members - it is open to the public, "Loughton Acoustic Music Thing" doesn't sound right so it is called "Loughton Folk Club". There is a small entrance charge which is to cover the use of the room and to go towards modest expenses.

I wanted to do something different. There are several clubs not too far away where everyone gets a go. They're great clubs and I enjoy them, but I recognised that a number of people are driven away when much of the perfermance is limp.

So I've decided to shift the emphasis a bit. We have 15 minute tune sessions, ukulele sessions and chorus song sessions and about 2 hours of "hosted" floor spots. They are like mini "features" where a local competent performer does about 3 of their own numbers and introduces 3 single-song floor spots. The idea is to promote the best locals and have popular performance spread throughout the evening. It also naturally reduces the numnber of floor spots to about 12. The question is how to select those 12. I prefer not to just take the first 12 - not everyone can make it to the start of the evening anyway. So I want to favour competent performers (they may agree to become "hosts" later) and people I haven't seen before.

So this is the context in which I made the original post. So given that I am running it in this way, how would you chooses those 12 ? (if you can still bear it after all this dialogue)
Cheers


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Graham_Pirt
Date: 09 Nov 10 - 05:17 PM

Crowhugger - don't really have to explain that it wasn't all done in one hour! We ran these every fortnight and were very well received.

As far as workshops are concerned I've done these for many years both with the group Cockersdale and for Folkworks at their summer schools and weekends.

It's not a case of lecturing people - it's more to do with helping people to discover the range they have which they often don't even realise.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: Crowhugger
Date: 09 Nov 10 - 11:57 PM

Graham, you're quite right about not really having to explain, perhaps a small bit of tongue lodged in cheek. I love the notion of grooming people to groom talent, it's such a valuable thing to do.


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Subject: RE: Is it OK to raise performance standards?
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 10 Nov 10 - 05:00 AM

thecoombes

I would worry about you falling between 2 stools. Why would an audience come to see average grade performers when they can pay a bit more and see really good ones? ( even if there are no duf ones). Why would performers come if they are not likely to be asked to play?   I'm sorry if this sounds negative - it not. Its great to have a new venue.

Would a second half 1.5 hr showcase work better with 2 chosen performers?

How to choose - those that bring in the most audience. Some young groups come with their own friends; they seem to go round in packs. Book them again. Those that involve the audience - collective singing or manner. Those that you yourself want to hear again - its you doing the work.

Good luck with your new venue.
FloraG


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