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Folk Festivals and Folk Clubs

The Sandman 26 May 11 - 06:30 AM
Sailor Ron 26 May 11 - 06:51 AM
Alan Day 26 May 11 - 07:13 AM
GUEST,Desi C 26 May 11 - 07:25 AM
The Sandman 26 May 11 - 07:34 AM
The Sandman 26 May 11 - 07:35 AM
Mavis Enderby 26 May 11 - 08:02 AM
Alan Day 26 May 11 - 08:14 AM
Valmai Goodyear 26 May 11 - 08:34 AM
The Sandman 26 May 11 - 08:40 AM
The Sandman 26 May 11 - 08:42 AM
GUEST, Tom Bliss 26 May 11 - 09:03 AM
The Sandman 26 May 11 - 09:38 AM
GUEST, Tom Bliss 26 May 11 - 10:17 AM
Musket 26 May 11 - 10:19 AM
GUEST,Banjiman 26 May 11 - 10:34 AM
Alan Day 26 May 11 - 11:29 AM
MGM·Lion 26 May 11 - 12:45 PM
Deckman 26 May 11 - 12:57 PM
growler 26 May 11 - 04:38 PM
GUEST 26 May 11 - 05:06 PM
ripov 26 May 11 - 06:33 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 27 May 11 - 03:21 PM
Alan Day 27 May 11 - 05:42 PM
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Subject: Folk Festivals and Folk Clubs
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 May 11 - 06:30 AM

Folk club organisers do a great job, most of them are amateurs, but run the club in a professional manner, most of them manage to find the agreed artists fee, whether its by arts council funding or some other way does not really matter, providing they find the artists fee.
I have been working in folk clubs for 35 years[ and it dont seem a day too long]
I believe that folk clubs have an equally important, POSSIBLY MORE IMPORTANT BUT DIFFERENT role to folk festivals.
no one tries to tell folk festival organisers how to manage their festivals, yet some people on the folk roots scene believe it is incumbent upon them to periodically criticise folk clubs and indulge in folk club bashing, and try and tell folk club organisers what they should be doing and how they should do it.
do some of these people have an agenda, i suspect they do, bcause they do not criticise folk festivals in the same way,Dick Miles
http://www.dickmiles.com


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Subject: RE: Folk Festivals and Folk Clubs
From: Sailor Ron
Date: 26 May 11 - 06:51 AM

Having run a folk club for some 16 years, and for the past 39 years on a folk festival commitee I agree completly with Dick .


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Subject: RE: Folk Festivals and Folk Clubs
From: Alan Day
Date: 26 May 11 - 07:13 AM

The only ones that are criticised are those that are not run in a professional manner, there are some excellent folk clubs out there and I am going to one tonight at Lewes.
Al


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Subject: RE: Folk Festivals and Folk Clubs
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 26 May 11 - 07:25 AM

ood to see this point brought up. I co run a bus folk club. I won't say it's a thankless task, I'm pleased that our member often thank us and compliment us. But it is a lot more hark work that many people think. I don't kn ow of any hosts who do it for a living or make any money at all out of it, in fact you're often reaching in to your own pocket. In fact running the club on the night is not the hardest part. The preperation is though, I always make sure the room is fully set up and welcoming before anyone steps through the door, Folk come to enjoy the music, meet friends, relax and have fun, and they should leave feeling they've had that im ample measure. Of course there is always the odd person feels they could do better and like to tell you how! But if you're doing a good job that should be quite a rare thing. We aim to treat all members fairly and give all the same amount of time, I see many clubs cater far too much for a clique of 'better' performers, that's bad


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Subject: RE: Folk Festivals and Folk Clubs
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 May 11 - 07:34 AM

Alan, 98 per cent are professionally run, I talk from experience, I have been doing bookings since 1976.
There was an interersting discussion on MUDCAT some while ago, about a festival in Yorkshire that cancelled many artists and didnt refund most of those that paid in advance, was it discussed on Froots board too?
I dont think a folk club organiser[to my recollection] has ever done such a thing, folk club oreganisers put in alot of hard work and are honest people, and the uk folkscene is indebted to people such as vic smith, ted/ivy poole and others some of whom have organised folk clubs for over 40 years, and in some cases 50 years.
how many festivals survive that long?.


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Subject: RE: Folk Festivals and Folk Clubs
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 May 11 - 07:35 AM

my apologies vic and tina smith, typing in a hurry


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Subject: RE: Folk Festivals and Folk Clubs
From: Mavis Enderby
Date: 26 May 11 - 08:02 AM

"no one tries to tell folk festival organisers how to manage their festivals"

You must be joking! Have a look at this current thread for starters!


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Subject: RE: Folk Festivals and Folk Clubs
From: Alan Day
Date: 26 May 11 - 08:14 AM

Well I talk as mainly a visitor to clubs and I have attended many.Will and I do a few bookings, we do not advertise for work. We do however as a duo, or solo, be a guest artist and support clubs. We travelled a long way to one club to support it only to get one tune only to play.This is fair enough if there care a large number of other artists.The organiser then started the evening doing three tunes, did another tune after the interval and then did two to finish. That is my idea of a piss poor organiser running a club for himself.
Al


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Subject: RE: Folk Festivals and Folk Clubs
From: Valmai Goodyear
Date: 26 May 11 - 08:34 AM

A good point, Dick. People don't appear to grumble about festivals on public internet forums as often as they do about folk clubs.

One big difference if that if you turn up to a festival and don't like what's on offer in one place at one time, you can generally find something you do like elsewhere or later on. If all else fails you can find a handy pub and start something yourself.

If you turn up at a folk club and don't like it, there is no other choice for that evening. There is another choice for later on: start something yourself, or give practical assistance to existing organisers to help them improve. Like shifting a ton of coal, it's not difficult; it just takes a lot of slog.

(I'm using 'you' in the sense of 'one', not replying to any individuals here.)

Valmai (Lewes Saturday Folk Club)


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Subject: RE: Folk Festivals and Folk Clubs
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 May 11 - 08:40 AM

here is a fundamental difference between festivals/ concerts and clubs, clubs are a place where people socialise on a regular basis[very often weekly]the visitors/members are often drawn from a fairly local radius, and are at their best part of a local community., the members of that community share an interest in the same kind of music
so as well as being folk music clubs they are social and community based clubs.
concerts[ generally] are less frequent than clubs and aim to attract people from further afield.
FESTIVALS can involve the local community but generally only on an annual basis.
and most of the customers/ folk enthusiasts are from greater distances, and while they meet up with friends, those friends are people who often do not live in the same area.


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Subject: RE: Folk Festivals and Folk Clubs
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 May 11 - 08:42 AM

and some of the best clubs, like festivals, run workshops too, for example, Lewes Saturday club.


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Subject: RE: Folk Festivals and Folk Clubs
From: GUEST, Tom Bliss
Date: 26 May 11 - 09:03 AM

"do some of these people have an agenda, i suspect they do, bcause they do not criticise folk festivals in the same way,Dick Miles"

Fairly possibly Dick, you are just trying to get a good old ding-dong going, but just in case you really do want answers...

As one of the people who could be misunderstood to be trying to 'tell folk club organisers what they should be doing and how they should do it' I will do my best to enlighten you.

My Club Tips were a direct result of conversations late into the night with club organisers who were facing dwindling numbers, or who had taken over a dwindling club, or who were tearing their hair out in one way of another, to whom I frequently found myself saying '"well in Such and Such Club, they do this...." These conversations also took place on the Folk Club Organisers forum, of which I was founder/moderator (and maybe it is going on still, I'm not a member any more).

The idea emerged that some practices tended - in general - to work better than others, but much more importantly, it emerged that some organisers had never even thought about many of the tricks and techniques that their colleagues elsewhere were up to. Some were in fact doing the sorts of negative things that Alan Day refers to, yet had no idea that they were actually driving people away.

On the whole, festivals tend to be run by people who really wanted to run a festival. Clubs are sometimes run by people who didn't really want to, but have kindly taken over the reins to keep the club going, without much (any?) training from their predecessors. This does happen at festivals, but it's not so common.

Hence the idea of a 'best practice' list or perhaps more accurately a 'list of practices and some of their consequences as observed by artists, organisers and participants across the whole of the UK' list.

Was there an agenda? Yes. 1) The survival/thrivation of as many clubs/small-acoustic-venues as possible, 2) The potential strengthening of the political clout of the movement through collaboration (I called for a Folk Club Association, and I'm delighted that moves towards one seem to be progressing) towards engaging with government, PRS and others on the major issues currently affecting the folk scene.

Why did I not make an equivalent for Festivals? Because there already was the excellent Association of Festival Organisers, with their own forum, conference and (very successful) agenda.

You are wrong, however, to suggest that festivals are not criticised.

There is plenty of debate about festivals on this and other forums, and I have been knows to 'reflect back' my experiences to festivals teams in the office. Many artists don't care to, but I know from my work as a business consultant that organisations do need and often want to know when things are going wrong.

It is much harder to have those conversations with a club organiser after a club gig, as it was only your performance that night (and your name that did, or didn't, draw a crowd), and you are probably a guest in their house.

I'm sure festivals get lots of feedback, positive and negative from visitors - there's a lot of money changing hands and people will react as they would to an hotel or theme park management.

Club audience feedback is very different. Most just vote with their feet, and the team never find out why.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Folk Festivals and Folk Clubs
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 May 11 - 09:38 AM

Tom, can you think of one folk club organiser, who has made off with peoples money.
have those people who paid for tickets at a certain yorkshire festival been refunded their money, that is the sort of thing that produces distrust and casts a bad light on folk festivals and fbesmirches the good name of folk music,
Festivals[ IN MY EXPERIENCE] do not come under as much criticism ON THE INTERNET as folk clubs, and yet folk clubs are 98 per cent of the time run in a honest professional manner, and do much to encourage beginners to perform and have been great training grounds for many professional performers, some of whom have become popular music performers,one club[Lewes Sat] runs extremely well organised workshops.


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Subject: RE: Folk Festivals and Folk Clubs
From: GUEST, Tom Bliss
Date: 26 May 11 - 10:17 AM

I know of only one club that was, reputedly, once run for personal profit and not always honestly. Non-payment by clubs is exceeding rare I suspect, but I've had trouble myself at a festival. I'm not sure what your point is.

As I'm sure you know, dissatisfaction is caused by unmet expectations. When people go to a festival they usually know what they'll get, and they usually do get it. Festivals are broadly similar, with three or four models at different scales.

Clubs can be a different as chalk, cheese, pea soup, polar bears or chessmen carved from carrots. It's easy to go to the wrong type and be dissatisfied.

Workshops are extremely rare at clubs, and few could or would be able to run them, so I'm not sure how that's relevant. Yes, clubs encourage beginners, and festivals also showcase new talent.

Numerically, people would perhaps go to a festival 3-5 times in a year, but a club 52 times, or more if they frequent two or more clubs. Perhaps that's the reason the difference in online comment.


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Subject: RE: Folk Festivals and Folk Clubs
From: Musket
Date: 26 May 11 - 10:19 AM

I have organised both in my time. Folk clubs as a labour of love and festivals as a way of shortening my life expectancy.

I suppose some of us are more prone to tell whingers to f*ck off than others? In my experience, you lose less custom by nipping bad blood in the bud.

That said, I don't do either these days, just turn up and enjoy the fruits of the hard work of others. And I like many of us are both grateful and supportive of the work organisers put into enjoying this particular form (s) of entertainment.


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Subject: RE: Folk Festivals and Folk Clubs
From: GUEST,Banjiman
Date: 26 May 11 - 10:34 AM

I think a constructive debate/ sharing best practice around the running of Folk Clubs can only be a good thing.

The Facebook UK Folk Club forum that I assume you are referring to seems to be doing a good job at getting this debate going.

As a relative newcomer (3.5 years) to running a folk club/ village hall concert venue I'm happy to take all the advice I can get. And I don't mind being constructively criticised by those who have something to share.

Your original point is a none-issue as far as I am concerned.


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Subject: RE: Folk Festivals and Folk Clubs
From: Alan Day
Date: 26 May 11 - 11:29 AM

You mention The Lewes Saturday Club Valmai and The Snail do a fine job.
I can remember many a moan about Festivals, some of it here on Mudcat.
I think most artists just like to feel welcome, not interrupting a private party for the organiser and the residents. Most will fully understand that where a number of guests turn up then spot time is limited. It is also for guests to understand that a ten minute song introduction is not fair to the other performers.
Al


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Subject: RE: Folk Festivals and Folk Clubs
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 26 May 11 - 12:45 PM

... a festival in Yorkshire that cancelled many artists and didnt refund most of those that paid in advance
I dont think a folk club organiser[to my recollection] has ever done such a thing...


I think you have made this point more than once here Dick; & I take it. However, it more than once happened to me, back in the lang-syne when I did FC gigs, that the organiser asked if I would work just for expenses this time, as the turnout was less than usual ~~ a popular movie on telly or whatever, and the door wouldn't cover it. I invariably replied, sorry, his problems were not mine ~~ which were driving all that way with a day job to go back to next day; and I couldn't afford to do that just for fun or ego-trip: whereupon I would produce my copy of the contract I had always made sure to have had signed in two copies, one for each of us. So I would always get the money, but not always with the best of grace.

In my own club, I invariably had the agreed fee ready in an envelope in advance, and handed it to the guest before he had even begun the set. If the door happened not to cover it, that was my problem, not his, & I should have scorned even to mention it.

This is all going back 30-40+ years; but I expect some such still occurs occasionally in some clubs???

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Folk Festivals and Folk Clubs
From: Deckman
Date: 26 May 11 - 12:57 PM

I'll dare to make one comment over here on my side of the pond. I've noticed that many of the complaints about folk festivals in America come from folkies that did not get invited to perform. I solved my frustrations with the Pacific NW folkfestival when I stopped attending. I'm noticing that more and more of my folkie friends are doing the same. As a matter of fact, I have never enjoyed that festival so much as I have over the last few years ... since I stopped attending. Really pretty simple ... eh? bob(deckman)nelson


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Subject: RE: Folk Festivals and Folk Clubs
From: growler
Date: 26 May 11 - 04:38 PM

I run the Good Intent Folk Club in Rochester Kent. We do not charge, but put a charity box round in the break. It is not run for profit, but to support a superb Landlord and Lady that activly encourage live music


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Subject: RE: Folk Festivals and Folk Clubs
From: GUEST
Date: 26 May 11 - 05:06 PM

Just to set it straight, the dispute in the thread mentioned above (not the thread itself, it's just drifted a bit) is not musicians complaining about festivals, it is about a guest criticising musicians, and the musicians answering the criticisms, possibly (sorry) not in a way that one should address a visitor.


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Subject: RE: Folk Festivals and Folk Clubs
From: ripov
Date: 26 May 11 - 06:33 PM

sorry that was me, trying out Firefox, and just realised I needed a fresh cookie|


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Subject: RE: Folk Festivals and Folk Clubs
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 27 May 11 - 03:21 PM

I'm one of those Dick referred to as having been organising folk venues, both club and session/singaround, for over fifty years.

I retired from that activity about six years ago, and missed it so much that I am back in harness running a monthly session, which is now entering its fifth year.

Until the late eighties, I never had a contract signed with any of the artists I booked (including Dick Miles on at least two occasions). The contract was my verbal agreement to a pre-fixed fee, and no artist ever left a club of mine with less, though some (who had agreed a low fee, then sold out the venue) left with more.

Likewise, performers were not permitted to leave dissatisfied with the reception they got.

I chose residents who were of good quality, but always on the understanding that, when performers attended who came from some distance, they would be given a rather more generous slot, and if time was tight I would drop first myself, and then my residents, as necessary.

I always made it up to those I dropped when time was less of a problem.

I greeted everybody who came through the door with a smile, and up until the early nineties that was in the region of 30 to 45 people each night.

There were many nights when I had to empty my wallet to cover a shortfall, but them was the breaks, and I had volunteered after all.

With all of that there were those who criticised, and I listened to them, and on occasion changed some detail to which they objected.

I saw no merit in dismissing criticism out of hand, since one disgruntled ex client can turn away dozens.

Don T.


""Yes, clubs encourage beginners, and festivals also showcase new talent.""

I would tend to differ. In my opinion, festivals do not showcase new talent.

What they showcase, is the results of encouraging raw talent to become more polished and professional usually at one or other of the many folk clubs.

DT


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Subject: RE: Folk Festivals and Folk Clubs
From: Alan Day
Date: 27 May 11 - 05:42 PM

Well done Don and on behalf of those that have walked into your club - Thanks.
A great attitude
Al


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