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Getting on the bottom rung

GUEST,Like a complete unknown 05 Jul 12 - 03:42 PM
greg stephens 05 Jul 12 - 03:58 PM
GUEST,Like a complete unknown 05 Jul 12 - 04:05 PM
stallion 05 Jul 12 - 04:43 PM
treewind 05 Jul 12 - 05:08 PM
Will Fly 05 Jul 12 - 05:39 PM
GUEST,Like a complete unknown 05 Jul 12 - 06:13 PM
GUEST,Stim 05 Jul 12 - 06:19 PM
Tootler 05 Jul 12 - 07:14 PM
GUEST,Stim 05 Jul 12 - 07:35 PM
Leadfingers 05 Jul 12 - 07:40 PM
Big Al Whittle 05 Jul 12 - 07:44 PM
johncharles 05 Jul 12 - 07:53 PM
GUEST,Tony Rath aka Tonyteach 05 Jul 12 - 07:57 PM
GUEST,999 05 Jul 12 - 09:06 PM
Ebbie 05 Jul 12 - 10:24 PM
GUEST,Like a complete unknown 06 Jul 12 - 03:21 AM
GUEST,Banjiman 06 Jul 12 - 03:39 AM
cooperman 06 Jul 12 - 04:21 AM
Will Fly 06 Jul 12 - 04:24 AM
GUEST,Like a complete unknown 06 Jul 12 - 04:43 AM
Big Al Whittle 06 Jul 12 - 05:32 AM
johncharles 06 Jul 12 - 06:14 AM
Vic Smith 06 Jul 12 - 07:23 AM
Vic Smith 06 Jul 12 - 07:26 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 06 Jul 12 - 07:58 AM
Will Fly 06 Jul 12 - 08:06 AM
Tootler 06 Jul 12 - 09:11 AM
Northerner 06 Jul 12 - 09:23 AM
theleveller 06 Jul 12 - 09:25 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 06 Jul 12 - 09:56 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 06 Jul 12 - 10:43 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 06 Jul 12 - 10:52 AM
GUEST,Like a complete unknown 06 Jul 12 - 11:05 AM
Charley Noble 06 Jul 12 - 11:10 AM
GUEST,Like a complete unknown 06 Jul 12 - 11:14 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 06 Jul 12 - 12:00 PM
GUEST,Blandiver 06 Jul 12 - 12:08 PM
Phil Edwards 06 Jul 12 - 12:58 PM
johncharles 06 Jul 12 - 01:18 PM
Big Al Whittle 06 Jul 12 - 02:18 PM
johncharles 06 Jul 12 - 03:10 PM
GUEST,Banjiman 06 Jul 12 - 03:42 PM
Phil Edwards 06 Jul 12 - 03:46 PM
GUEST,stevesg 06 Jul 12 - 03:48 PM
GUEST,Banjiman 06 Jul 12 - 03:51 PM
GUEST,Like a complete unknown 07 Jul 12 - 05:01 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 07 Jul 12 - 05:03 AM
Big Al Whittle 07 Jul 12 - 05:28 AM
Phil Edwards 07 Jul 12 - 06:11 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 07 Jul 12 - 06:12 AM
johncharles 07 Jul 12 - 06:22 AM
GUEST,Like a complete unknown 07 Jul 12 - 06:56 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 07 Jul 12 - 06:58 AM
johncharles 07 Jul 12 - 07:14 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 07 Jul 12 - 07:31 AM
Big Al Whittle 07 Jul 12 - 08:34 AM
Vic Smith 07 Jul 12 - 08:59 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 07 Jul 12 - 09:10 AM
Richard Bridge 07 Jul 12 - 10:14 AM
Charley Noble 07 Jul 12 - 10:20 AM
GUEST,John Foxen 07 Jul 12 - 11:23 AM
Big Al Whittle 07 Jul 12 - 11:37 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 07 Jul 12 - 12:37 PM
GUEST,Mr Kevin Bottomrung 07 Jul 12 - 01:02 PM
Big Al Whittle 07 Jul 12 - 03:02 PM
Don Firth 07 Jul 12 - 07:25 PM
Leadfingers 07 Jul 12 - 07:52 PM
GUEST,Tony Rath aka Tonyteach 07 Jul 12 - 08:27 PM
GUEST,Blandiver 08 Jul 12 - 05:44 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 08 Jul 12 - 06:21 AM
KingBrilliant 08 Jul 12 - 06:25 AM
GUEST,CS 08 Jul 12 - 05:34 PM
Big Al Whittle 08 Jul 12 - 06:21 PM
Will Fly 08 Jul 12 - 06:48 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 08 Jul 12 - 07:28 PM
Big Al Whittle 08 Jul 12 - 08:50 PM
Big Al Whittle 09 Jul 12 - 03:59 AM
GUEST,Like a complete unknown 09 Jul 12 - 04:30 AM
Big Al Whittle 09 Jul 12 - 05:06 AM
Spleen Cringe 09 Jul 12 - 05:13 AM
Spleen Cringe 09 Jul 12 - 05:16 AM
johncharles 09 Jul 12 - 05:24 AM
GUEST,Banjiman 09 Jul 12 - 05:31 AM
Phil Edwards 09 Jul 12 - 05:55 AM
Big Al Whittle 09 Jul 12 - 06:25 AM
Phil Edwards 09 Jul 12 - 06:30 AM
GUEST,Banjiman 09 Jul 12 - 07:04 AM
Phil Edwards 09 Jul 12 - 07:08 AM
treewind 09 Jul 12 - 07:18 AM
Will Fly 09 Jul 12 - 07:18 AM
johncharles 09 Jul 12 - 07:30 AM
Vic Smith 09 Jul 12 - 07:50 AM
johncharles 09 Jul 12 - 08:13 AM
greg stephens 09 Jul 12 - 12:34 PM
Big Al Whittle 09 Jul 12 - 12:59 PM
GUEST,Like a complete unknown 09 Jul 12 - 01:00 PM
GUEST,Howard Jones 09 Jul 12 - 02:27 PM
Don Firth 09 Jul 12 - 02:44 PM
Big Al Whittle 09 Jul 12 - 03:24 PM
GUEST,Juju 10 Jul 12 - 04:11 AM
GUEST,Juju 10 Jul 12 - 04:16 AM
BobKnight 10 Jul 12 - 06:25 AM
GUEST 10 Jul 12 - 06:22 PM
Big Al Whittle 10 Jul 12 - 06:44 PM
Richard Bridge 10 Jul 12 - 06:54 PM
Big Al Whittle 10 Jul 12 - 07:02 PM
Will Fly 11 Jul 12 - 05:55 AM
Phil Edwards 11 Jul 12 - 08:25 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 11 Jul 12 - 11:39 AM
Seamus Kennedy 11 Jul 12 - 01:52 PM
GUEST,Like a complete unknown 11 Jul 12 - 02:45 PM
Richard Bridge 11 Jul 12 - 02:51 PM
GUEST,Banjiman 11 Jul 12 - 03:00 PM
Richard Bridge 11 Jul 12 - 03:11 PM
Richard Bridge 11 Jul 12 - 03:21 PM
Vic Smith 11 Jul 12 - 03:22 PM
GUEST,Banjiman 11 Jul 12 - 04:34 PM
Richard Bridge 11 Jul 12 - 06:16 PM
Big Al Whittle 11 Jul 12 - 07:41 PM
zozimus 11 Jul 12 - 07:42 PM
GUEST,Blandiver 12 Jul 12 - 04:31 AM
johncharles 12 Jul 12 - 05:39 AM
Richard Bridge 12 Jul 12 - 06:05 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 12 Jul 12 - 09:30 AM
GUEST,FloraG 12 Jul 12 - 10:55 AM
Big Al Whittle 12 Jul 12 - 11:31 AM
johncharles 12 Jul 12 - 01:26 PM
GUEST,Banjiman 12 Jul 12 - 01:37 PM
johncharles 12 Jul 12 - 01:41 PM
GUEST,Banjiman 12 Jul 12 - 01:43 PM
Big Al Whittle 12 Jul 12 - 02:44 PM
GUEST,Like a complete unknown 12 Jul 12 - 03:15 PM
GUEST,Blandiver 12 Jul 12 - 03:29 PM
Richard Bridge 12 Jul 12 - 03:46 PM
Big Al Whittle 12 Jul 12 - 06:09 PM
Richard Bridge 12 Jul 12 - 06:18 PM
Phil Edwards 12 Jul 12 - 06:55 PM
Richard Bridge 12 Jul 12 - 07:02 PM
Spleen Cringe 13 Jul 12 - 02:50 AM
GUEST,Banjiman 13 Jul 12 - 03:48 AM
Richard Bridge 13 Jul 12 - 04:00 AM
treewind 13 Jul 12 - 04:13 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 13 Jul 12 - 05:10 AM
KingBrilliant 13 Jul 12 - 05:31 AM
GUEST,Banjiman 13 Jul 12 - 06:28 AM
Vic Smith 13 Jul 12 - 08:53 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 13 Jul 12 - 09:06 AM
Big Al Whittle 13 Jul 12 - 09:25 AM
Big Al Whittle 13 Jul 12 - 09:28 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 13 Jul 12 - 10:09 AM
Big Al Whittle 13 Jul 12 - 10:41 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 13 Jul 12 - 11:38 AM
Big Al Whittle 13 Jul 12 - 11:55 AM
Big Al Whittle 13 Jul 12 - 12:04 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 13 Jul 12 - 08:41 PM
GUEST,matt milton 16 Jul 12 - 06:57 AM
Will Fly 16 Jul 12 - 07:22 AM
GUEST,matt milton 16 Jul 12 - 07:52 AM
Richard Bridge 16 Jul 12 - 10:49 AM
Vic Smith 16 Jul 12 - 11:15 AM
Big Al Whittle 16 Jul 12 - 11:24 AM
johncharles 16 Jul 12 - 11:56 AM
GUEST,Like a complete unknown 16 Jul 12 - 12:05 PM
johncharles 16 Jul 12 - 12:29 PM
Phil Edwards 16 Jul 12 - 12:38 PM
Richard Bridge 16 Jul 12 - 01:13 PM
matt milton 17 Jul 12 - 06:00 AM
GUEST,Phil E. sans cookie 17 Jul 12 - 06:24 AM
Phil Edwards 05 Aug 12 - 06:29 PM
GUEST,guest -Freddy Headey 13 Nov 13 - 06:44 AM
Eldergirl 14 Nov 13 - 08:21 PM
Phil Edwards 15 Nov 13 - 06:44 PM
Eldergirl 16 Nov 13 - 04:29 AM
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Subject: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Like a complete unknown
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 03:42 PM

[Regular 'catter, cookieless for reasons that will become obvious]

I've been singing folk songs for a while now. But if I used my real name you wouldn't have heard of me--or rather, you might know me on Mudcat, but the chances are you wouldn't know me as a singer.

I got up on stage at a folk club eight, nine years ago; I thought I could do it. Three minutes later I KNEW I could do it. I'd been coming to the folk club for a few weeks, getting up courage to put myself forward, and after I'd done my song the MC came up to me and asked why I hadn't told him I could sing.

So I'd arrived. Hooray. I'd arrived as a floor singer. Eight or possibly nine years later I'm still a floor singer--although I mostly go to singarounds these days.

It was reading the Elle Osborne thread that got me thinking. Everyone had an opinion--she's great! she's overrated! she sings flat! she sings like nobody else!--and so it went on. Now this isn't Elkie Brooks we're talking about or even Eliza Carthy. (Is Elle Osborne even professional? I'd be delighted if she was but I somehow doubt it.) In terms of fame and fortune she's not THAT far above the level of interesting floor-singers and singaround regulars like me--but at the same time she's in a different league. She's one of the people that people talk about on Mudcat, not one of the people who do the talking.

What makes the difference? Let's say it's about having an online presence. Or let's not, because I've got one of those. You can even buy my music (or listen to it free, obviously, I'm not stupid). So far I think the number of paying punters who aren't personal friends is 1. Might have been 2, I forget.

Or let's say it's about gigging; let's assume you've got to do the gigs, old-style, Transit van up and down the M6, whatever. So how do you get the gigs? Make it easier: how do you get the first gig, and the second and the third? If you're not an immediately attractive selling proposition--if you haven't got the kind of voice that you can listen to singing the phone book, and not many of us have--how do you get people thinking that giving this particular floorsinger half an hour might be a good idea? (To be fair somebody did once ask me to do a spot, but by the time I asked him about it again he'd sobered up and forgotten all about it.)

I don't want to climb the ladder--I don't kid myself I could ever go pro--but it would be nice to at least get my feet off the ground (or the floor). But how do/did you do it? How do/did you get started?


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: greg stephens
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 03:58 PM

You raise Elle Osborne as an example of someone who is a rung or two or three up the ladder and you are still feeling a bit on the ground. Well, for a start she has been performing all over the shop for ages. I don't know about online presence particulalrly, but the reason I felt liuke commenting in the thread about her is that I've run into her many times in many places.
So let's start with that: maybe this is a difference? Do you get around? Have I for example met you and heard you a few times? Because then, I could talk about you on Mudcat, and if someone said you were crap, and I thought you weren't, I would write in and say so. But if you just sing the odd floor spot in your local folk club, well the odds are I won't have heard you unless I come to your club, which is unlikely as I dont play folk clubs very often.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Like a complete unknown
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 04:05 PM

Thanks for that, Greg.

What do you mean by 'get around'? Honest question, not meant sarkily. I did a bunch of different folk clubs for a while--name a folk club within a bus ride from where I live and I've sung there--but I guess you don't mean them. Are you talking about festivals or...?


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: stallion
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 04:43 PM

who is Ellie Osborne? link maybe?


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: treewind
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 05:08 PM

Getting to all the folk clubs a bus ride from where you live is a start. Going to folk clubs further afield is the next step. If you (not you personally, you said you don't want to do this, but your hypothetical bottom-rung singer) want to do gigs you'd better have your own wheels to get to those gigs, so use them to visit clubs as far as you can reach in an evening - an hours drive away, maybe an hour and a half. Set up a web site (or facebook page, YouTube channel, whatever) get some cards printed, maybe a small promotional leaflet. Make a demo CD. Let club organisers know you are looking for bookings, either before you visit, while you are there or afterwards, or all three. Don't be put off by the majority that say no. Be nice to people and make friends. If you know anybody with some influence, twist their arm. Do the same with festivals. Funnily enough, festival appearances can lead to club bookings, more than the other way round. Keep at it - eventually you'll get lucky, but it is a painfully slow process, and like any sales or seduction effort, if 99 out of 100 say no, you call that a success!


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Will Fly
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 05:39 PM

Good advice from treewind, which I won't repeat.

I do have one question, though: Are you any good? Do you honestly feel that you've got what it takes to hold an audience for 30 minutes - 45 minutes - 2 x 45 minute spots? If the answer to any of these is not a positive "yes", then you have to work even harder. I'm not implying that you're not good, by the way, just that you have to have a realistic view of how you measure up - ask people for their honest opinions if you're not sure.

OK, so you can sing. Good! Can you perform? More than that, can you entertain? It's not always the greatest singers or performers who get regular work. Rapport with an audience, the ability to click with an audience, to feel at ease, to engage, perhaps to amuse. The ability to not get phased or panicked if a spot isn't going well. Being totally rehearsed and professional in attitude. These are also important.

Are you performing what people want to hear? No reason that you should, by the way - do your own thing by all means - but knowing what 'sells' can be important. I'm always amazed when I get a booking in a mainly traditional folk club, because traditional songs form a very small part of my repertoire. Quite apart from ceilidh band work, which is regular (if seasonal), I perform anything from jazz to blues to rock'n roll. But I do a fair number of freebies - at which I'm usually asked for a card or a telephone number - but I wouldn't get asked for card or number if someone hadn't heard and seen something they liked... So the freebies can bring in gigs.

And how far do you really want to go? I sense some ambiguity about this in your post.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Like a complete unknown
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 06:13 PM

Will Fly--that last question is a good one! Honest answer: I don't know. I started this thread because my inner Kevin The Teenager was complaining that it's totally not fair that I never get to sing to lots of people and make albums people want to buy, and I thought rather than just bracing myself and trying to do something constructive--which is what I usually do when the mood comes on--I'd put some of the grumbling out there for people to pick holes in.

Could I do half an hour? Well, I've never done half an hour--because I've never been asked to do half an hour--so I've never worked out a half-hour set, so I don't know if I... correction, I know I COULD, but I don't know if it would actually work. But you don't know until you've tried.

Can I entertain? I know I have entertained, both in the sense of holding a room and in the sense of raising a laugh--one of my fondest memories is noticing someone in the middle of the audience helplessly crying with laughter, and I hadn't even got to the end of the song. But would that transfer to a half-hour slot? I don't know. How can I know if I've never tried?

Still chewing over how-far-do-you-want-to-go. However good my singing may be, I'm nowhere near as accomplished a musician as any of the people who've replied, and mostly-unaccompanied singing is always going to be a hard sell. And I do like to have the odd spare evening, and my family like to have me around at weekends - so in some ways obscurity suits me pretty well! Right now I think I'd just like to be asked some time, even if it was only four or five songs, even if it was for beer money. Just like to feel I'd moved on a bit in terms of recognition from the complete unknown who got up nine years ago.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 06:19 PM

It takes more than just getting around, you have to make an impression.

Some people do it with funny glasses, or blue hair, or a catch phrase, or with a signature song, but whatever it is, it should be something people will remember.

Confidence is critical, too; you should always walk into a room like everyone knows you, introduce yourself, and, (this is really important) remember names. Being nice is great, but there are some who manage very well by being a bit self-centered and slightly condescending(a little of this goes a long way, tho)


Here is the best advice anyone ever gave a performer, in the form of a song: Give em the old Razzle Dazzle


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Tootler
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 07:14 PM

Do you really, really, really want to succeed?

I mean really, really, desperately want to succeed?

I ask this because I have a daughter who though she might like to make it as an actress. She was good enough but lacked that inner compulsion to succeed, so she got nowhere. She got a drama degree and spent two years doing work experience type projects and in the end my wife found her a job supporting special needs adult students in a college. She found she liked that and was good at it, so she has abandoned any thoughts of acting, having realised it was never for her.

In the end, without that inner compulsion you won't want to make the effort to do the things that are being suggested in this thread or, more likely you'll start to do them but when things don't go your way, you'll start to lose heart and eventually give up.

Think hard now and avoid disappointment later.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 07:35 PM

If you wanted to do this, you need to work up a set list. Since you're singing, you just to know how to play the chords and keep the beat. It's that simple.

The deal is, though, no one is going to walk up and hand you performing opportunities, you have to get out and make those happen on your own. At first, you'll probably have to push your way into playing at birthday parties, store openings, reunions, and such things, but it will give you a chance to figure out how to Razzle Dazzle 'em.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Leadfingers
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 07:40 PM

Basically , its being in the Right Place , at the Right Time and doing the Right Thing . In Other Words , LUCK .


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 07:44 PM

Well - people on this site always accuse me of being bitter and twisted, but here's my advice and assessment of your situation for what its worth.

Face facts - folk music is a bit of a closed shop, and if you've been giving it your all for ten years (longer than it takes to qualify as a doctor) - the chances are, they ain't going to let you in the door.

I would say   learn to play your instrument well, England's a great country to be a musician - its what I've done most of my life. Believe me, if you've got the chops - you'll make a living. And you will have money for all the instruments you need (not all the ones you want!), and you'll have leisure time to think about and learn about folk ,music. and from the outside you'll out find out why the poor frightened sods need to keep it so exclusive.

Actually I'll tell you the secret - its a simple equation of supply and demand.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: johncharles
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 07:53 PM

your comparison of yourself to Elle Osbourne is flawed. It is clear that she gets paid gigs and features in reputable papers/journals.
Wanting to remain annymous is hardly likely to help your cause. post some songs give your name and ask for honest feedback. ( slightly problematic given the inherent niceness of much of the folk community)
john


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Tony Rath aka Tonyteach
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 07:57 PM

Interesting thread. I have working as act doctor to a newish duo called Monkton Wyld who work the London clubs. Luke is a very very good guitarist and entertainer who writes good songs and has a partner who plays a number of instruments and sings very well. They have been working the circuit for a year and have made progress BUT it is a hard grind and all the advice above applies.

Interested in Al Whittles points - I am a good all round guitarist and singer and piano player I have worked as an actor and MC and do not suffer with the nerves. Adrenalin yes - fear no Maybe its time I had a go. I can play fingerstyle blues - pick blues -flat picking - flamenco - fingerstyle guitar - classical - boogie - blues and jazz piano - bass and also a trained singer. I am cheap reliable and available. in the London area. I am however large and very ugly which may put some people off


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,999
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 09:06 PM

"Just like to feel I'd moved on a bit in terms of recognition from the complete unknown who got up nine years ago."

A whole nine years? Listen up: nine years ain't nothin' in music.

One of my three 'best' friends is one of the greater musicians I have ever heard. He's a good performer, becoming a great songwriter, and he can play guitar better than most in about five genres.

Another friend is one of two greatest guitar players I ever met; the other greatest is mentioned earlier. He is a tremendous back-up guitar player and he makes me sound twice as good as I will ever be. In fact, we play together when we get the chance because we love playing together. We have so much fun doing that that it will no doubt be declared illegal. I was asked a few years back by another 'musician' if I didn't feel insecure playing with someone of his quality, the implication being that I was overshadowed. I said, "Tell me, did you like the performance?" He replied, "It was great." I then asked if he went out of his way to find back-up people who were weaker than him so he would be the best thing on the stage? Silence. More silence. As I left I said, "I am honoured to work with people better than me, and when THEY don't want to work with me anymore, then I'll know it's time to pack it in."

I write songs, and so many people don't like them I have often wondered if I should qui--in fact I quit music in 1980 and didn't get back to it until about 2005 with the help of people like Amos Jessup, Bill Garrett, Ron Bankley. I know I will never be famous. I listen to people like Bob Knight and Kathy Stewart and Joanne Crabtree and wonder why I think I could ever be so arrogant to think I'm in their class as a singer. I know I'm not, but that isn't what matters.

As I deal with self-induced lung cancer, I am about to do a gig with the two best musicians I ever met, and I intend to hit a sustained note that lasts for 45 of 48 beats in a moderately-paced song. I can do that, and hold the note. So, how many people you know can do that? But, how many people give a shit! Almost none.

You stop looking for help here and instead write me at

irishancestry @ gmail . com

I'll "i'll gie ya a han, jimmy"

BM


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Ebbie
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 10:24 PM

{{{{{hug Bruce}}}}


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Like a complete unknown
Date: 06 Jul 12 - 03:21 AM

Wow--that's a lot of replies! Thanks all.

Tootler--no, on balance, I don't. It would be ridiculous to think I could be a success in this field. People much more talented than me scrape a living at this stuff or can't even do that. My dream is just to be asked to perform somewhere and come away with money in my pocket, and to shift a few CDs/downloads. Bottom rung!

johncharles--just to be clear, I don't want to stay anonymous; I am known on Mudcat and my music is available online, under my real name. (41 plays last week. No downloads.) But I want to stay anonymous ON THIS THREAD, so that I can say things that would embarrass me otherwise and people can respond honestly.

From floorsinger to full 'spot', that's the hurdle I'm falling at. Maybe Al's right and it would have happened by now if it was going to.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Banjiman
Date: 06 Jul 12 - 03:39 AM

...... have you ever asked anyone if you could do a gig at their festival/ club/ venue?

If not, how do they know that you want to do one?


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: cooperman
Date: 06 Jul 12 - 04:21 AM

It's a big step going from a couple of songs to 45 minutes. I built up with a few charity events to start with. The organisers are looking for people to fill up the bottom of the bill and volunteers are usually gratefully received. You don't get paid but that works both ways - if it doesn't go well you don't feel you've let anyone down particularly or guilty about taking the money. You gradually get used to doing longer slots, your confidence builds up and you get known (and you help a worthy cause). Just a suggestion.
The other thing is, unless you are spellbinding, you need some variety to keep people interested. There are some instruments that are relatively easy to learn (washboard!!!) and you can throw in a couple of songs on those.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Will Fly
Date: 06 Jul 12 - 04:24 AM

Just like to feel I'd moved on a bit in terms of recognition from the complete unknown who got up nine years ago.

So... is this what you want: recognition? Or is it money? Or is it that adrenalin rush that comes from a burst of real applause at the end of a song? Or all three? Only you can decide.

Al's comments about folk clubs are, as ever, interesting. The folk scene is complex, unlike others I've played in. Here's an example: When I played in a 1950s rock'n roll trio - the real stuff, by the way, nothing earlier than 1956 and nothing later than about 1961 - work was plentiful, and still is. We played Trades & Labour clubs, Con clubs, Working Men's clubs, British Legions, etc. in Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire, Kent and south London. We did support for name acts of the time like Showaddywaddy, Matchbox and Bernie Flint. We played showcase R'nR weekends in wintertime holiday camps, monthly stints in local pubs, golf clubs, tennis clubs, rugby clubs, Sergeants' Mess functions for the Parachute Regiment in Aldershot and for the Military Police in Chichester. We did gigs for social clubs of all kinds - prison officers at Ford Open Prison, pilots at the Beehive Club at Gatwick, birthday parties, wedding receptions, etc, etc., etc. In the immortal words of Mick Jagger about the early Stones: We knew we were bloody good. We played several nights a week and made quite a bit of money - even paid tax on it! After 13 years of this, I quit it - utterly tired of making music. Took a break, joined a Southern Soul band for fun, played once a month for peanuts, and let the music flood back into me. But note this: that scene is still available. There are rock'n roll clubs all over southern England and it would be no problem to get a band again and get work again - which I don't want to do. In short, the venues were/are incredibly varied - but the music is utterly consistent: 1956 to 1961, full stop.

The folk scene is, IMO the reverse. Every club I've been to - and I've been to them all over the place - has a different take on the music and a different atmosphere and ethos. They're usually run by individuals or a small band of individuals - all hard working and dedicated (otherwise they wouldn't be doing it) who have their own idea of what they want their club to be. You have to fit into this somewhere and gauge the market for what you do. You either perform what you think these people want - or you do your own thing regardless and see where it gets you. As far as folk clubs are concerned, I've always performed what I have personally liked and taken whatever outcome that implies. You have to make that kind of decision - and also abide by the outcome. If folk clubs don't like what you do, conform or forget it and move on - form your own club, play in a rock'n roll trio, join a blues band, get a duo and do covers in pubs, be a singer-songwriter...


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Like a complete unknown
Date: 06 Jul 12 - 04:43 AM

Recognition? Yes. Money? Not too fussed--I'm not even dreaming of going pro--EXCEPT that the money's a token of recognition--if they pay you they probably like you (if they pay you twice, anyway). Applause? Yes. Yes please. Had it, loved it. But it has to be for something I chose to do--which comes back to recognition.

"If folk clubs don't like what you do, conform or forget it and move on"

Thanks for that--lightbulb moment!

I've known for a while that I could get a spot at my local FC if I was half as good a guitarist as I am a singer. (The problem is I don't play guitar, and getting to that sort of standard from scratch would take years.) But I've always seen their tendency to prefer guitarists unaccompanied singers as a fault on their part--or a terrible injustice if I'm in Kevin-the-Teenager mode--and it's not really. It's just what they like--accept it and act accordingly (find somewhere else or get a guitar and start learning).


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 06 Jul 12 - 05:32 AM

'I am however large and very ugly which may put some people off'

I think you may well have inadvertently stumbled over your unique selling point -

'Quasimodo - a smile, a song and a hump in the back of the van....'


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: johncharles
Date: 06 Jul 12 - 06:14 AM

Dear Like a complete unknown, I have been on mucat for some time and I don't know you. so how will I ever be able to give you feedback.
I have been playing with a couple of friends the last 5 years. We play what we want to play and have been lucky in getting a few gigs at clubs and festivals (good contacts help with this). we attend our local club and run a fortnightly slow session. we also made our own luck; we set up our own session in a local pub which has been running for 18 months.
Playing a beer festival tomorrow hoping for some free beer.

string theory
I guess you have to make it happen for yourself no one else will.
We are amateurs with a shared love of music, we play in order to have fun and if along the way we get a gig or two or an occasional payment that is a bonus. we like this rung on the ladder. John


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Vic Smith
Date: 06 Jul 12 - 07:23 AM

There's some pretty frightening things going on at the moment. Yesterday I received a brand new CD through the post from a superb five piece band. I played it straight away and it was excellent.
Where are these guys on the ladder? About half way up, I'd have thought. Three of the names are pretty well know from other bands they have been in and I have reviewed albums by them enthusiastically in three different folk music publications.

The frightening thing? With that album came a note. - Hope that you like our album and will review it. We would love to have a gig at your club and would not expect to be paid.

I will probably put it to the others involved in running the club that we should book the band but we will expect to pay them! I don't think that I could live with myself if I were to ask them to travel from a different county, play two sets and then say, "Thanks, lads, that was great! Now off you go."


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Vic Smith
Date: 06 Jul 12 - 07:26 AM

Coincidence time!
As I was typing my previous post, there was the thud of today's post on the door mat. Several albums as usual including a second copy of the album mentioned above; a review copy from a leading magazine. It will be receiving an enthusiastic review from me.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 06 Jul 12 - 07:58 AM

Firstly, to pick up on what Al said earlier, it doesn't appear that you have been "giving it your all" for 10 years. You've been doing floor spots in a few fairly local clubs - that's not giving your all. So to suggest that gives any indication of whether you're good enough to make it is misleading.

If you're not used to doing longer sets why not ask one of the clubs you regularly play at if they'll give you a longer spot?

From my own observation, it's often not the most technically proficient singers or musicians who make it, it's the ones who can entertain an audience (by which I mean hold an audience's attention), who are able to network, and who are prepared to pursue every opportunity, no matter how unlikely or unpromising it appears.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Will Fly
Date: 06 Jul 12 - 08:06 AM

Good on you Vic for insisting on paying for the talent. I raise a glass to you.

As for "getting on the bottom rung", there are so many good musicians out there who play in their local community with hardly a thought of doing other than enjoying themselves and entertaining their friends. Here's a mate of mine from Exeter, Ian Gardner with his wife Jane on washboard, on YouTube. Lovely playing, lovely singing - Jane manages a smile here and there in spite of nerves - and I'm looking forward to getting over to them in Exeter to join in their local fun in the Whipton Music Club after Sidmouth Folk Week.

Ian & Jane Gardner: "Easy Riding' Mama"

Ian helps to run the Club:

Whipton Music Club

and is very active in the local scene around Exeter.

There are probably thousands of people like Ian, making music for the hell of it, organising stuff, getting paid now and then, having a good time, giving people a good time. Recognition? Who knows... I certainly recognise his talent and enjoy his friendship.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Tootler
Date: 06 Jul 12 - 09:11 AM

Will has hit the nail on the head!

Get involved in your local music scene(s). You will probably find there are a number of overlapping scenes locally. I belong to a choir and a wind band, the North East Recorder Orchestra, play in a folk group who get gigs in local events - village hall, WI; that sort of thing - as well as going to local folk clubs. I don't go to as many of the latter is I used to. I had a mild heart attack a couple of years ago and my wife gets a bit edgy if I go out too often, but I keep busy get regular performing opportunities and generally enjoy myself. Mostly purely amateur and unpaid, but the folk group mostly gets paid, not much, especially after it has been divided up. Most important, though, I am enjoying myself.

By getting involved you get yourself known and from that opportunities can arise.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Northerner
Date: 06 Jul 12 - 09:23 AM

If you want to do a full set you need to build up to it in stages. After all how do you know that you would remember your hour and a half of materila, and present it in a way that is entertaining? Ask your local club for a hot spot; it is half the length of a full spot. You won't be paid money but you will gain valuable skills. Offer to do short sets for charities etc. Folk singers don't just perform at folk clubs; they also work alongside poets, artists and acoustic musicians. They perform in care homes, arts centres and libraries. Explore the different venues in your area. Learn to play an instrument so you can add variety to your set. If a guitar isn't your instrument try something else. Good luck!


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: theleveller
Date: 06 Jul 12 - 09:25 AM

"I've known for a while that I could get a spot at my local FC if I was half as good a guitarist as I am a singer."

I think you just isolated the problem. I can't think of many solo unaccompanied singers, no matter how good, who I'd listen to for 30-45 minutes. Why not get together with one or more musicians and sell yourselves as a duo/trio/band?

I played around clubs, singarounds etc. for years before, with mrsleveller, we suddenly got several gigs. What it made me realise was that I wssn't good enough even to be a support to a pro folk musician - so, with a sigh of relief, I went back to the floor spots and signarounds which, I've realised, together with a bit of amateur home recording, are really my natural habitat.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 06 Jul 12 - 09:56 AM

1972: 10,000 punters for every 10 performers.
2012: 10,000 performers for every 10 punters.

Or so it seems. We've moved into a phase of Traditional Culture now with much democratisation as Celebrity Culture levels off into talent show MOR blandness & often the most interesting stuff is being done in bedrooms & posted on line with only a very small audience. The point is the taking part & the collectivity & seeking one's voice...

In folk, I've met lots of very succesful professionals in one field or other who feel the need to be folksingers too. Thing is, they invariably bring their career ego with them - feeling that just because they're at the top of their game in anthropology (or whatever), then that qualifies them to be folk singers too. It's a cliche really - the folk singing middle-classes; I grew up with it. Indeed, my introduction to folk came via a teacher when I was 11; needless to say said teacher was very middle class, very wise, and sang the old songs with a passion but sounded like a tenth-rate wannabe which is exactly what they were, but in their mind they was determined to get the bookings which always eluded them.

You meet a lot of very sour souls who feel the odds were unfairly stacked against them with respect of breaks; the more localised the mentality the worse it is.

Being a musician is a matter of quiet humility; you know you've been chosen but it might not be clear what for. Mostly it's an end in itself & an honour besides; occasionally it might become something more, but it all depends on the scene really. I go with Sun Ra when he says that Music is gifted on you by the Creator of the Universe (please note although an athiest I still believe in the Creator; my atheism is with respect of the God of Religion and the Creator is most certainly not the God of Religion) and whatever you play goes straight to his throne, which is how you are judged, according to your music, and the reasons why you're doing it.

Sour grapes ain't good; I've worked with tons of musicians whose boots I am not fit to lick. Somewhere out there in the feral fringes of Traditional Song it's often a matter of ploughing long & lonely furrows in the knowledge that that's exactly what the old singers did. I get more pleasure singing whilst walking on the beach than I ever do performing in a Folk Club - fact. Whenever I do perform I try and bear that in mind. Not easy. In fact, I'm never happy with performances because there's no going back & editing them; too many variables & things to go wrong, which they always do, and if one thing goes wrong it overshadows everything.

Integrity. Humility. And lots of Practise. And Patience. It's a Zen thing. And if you think you're as good as Elle Osborne, then take time to relect that you're probably not.

Anyone heard of Esme Ryder? She's the greatest female singer on the planet, easily on a par with Peter Bellamy. You might have heard her singing with Annemarie Summers as part of Magpiety. Why Esme isn't a household folk name for her voice alone is one of the great mysteries of our time. I know TONS of amazing singers who remain unknown outside of their local circle. Dave Peters of Preston is the greatest male folk voice ever, IMHO.

I do get pissed of with wannabe professions who wear their egos in public - I've met too many truly gifted singers & musicians who evidenced no ego at all to cope with that. I have shared fags with Marshall Allen under the Edinburgh stars; I once discussed the vagueries of Folk Hospitality with Peter Bellamy even before I ever ever heard him sing. No matter how good a person is, I hold no truck with showboating. The real thing is just a matter of accepting the calling & being prepared to pay your dues & being philosophical about people liking your shit or not. Be true to yourself; what happens happens, what doesn't happen, doesn't. As Sun Ra says, either it is, or it ain't.

And when it all gets too much, then click HERE, and keep on clicking until all your cares just melt away....


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 06 Jul 12 - 10:43 AM

.. and to consider a different angle of approach & ambition...

Our Band of lifelong old mates is slowly fizzling out..
For the last decade we've enjoyed sporadic gigs for the fun of it;
mostly 'political' benefit gigs, or support to visiting European bands.
If we ever got paid, it was never enough to cover individual travel
and food & drink for the night or weekend.
We're all getting older, and increasingly held back by family commitments and mid-life health conditions.
What used to be 'fun' has slowly started becoming a bit of an inconvenient chore;
and the last gig we managed to all get together for was a year ago...

For a long time I've nurtured my own ideas for solo material and full presentation 'stage act'.
This point of my life [early to mid 50s] would be an opportune time to start doing something about it.

Thing is, no matter how much I've imagined and planned a full creative live & recording career package.
I just have to accept that I have never had the personal driving desperate ambition, ruthless personality, or talent
to have any hope of making it as a solo music artist.

No excuses, its the brutal truth and I've faced up to it.

I'm not even a remotely sociable person.
I detest going to parties and the wife's work social functions.
Networking and social brown nosing is complete torturous anathema.

But, The internet...

Now this is where I can still hold out some realistic positive hope.
I can potter about in my home project studio with all my toys
and crackpot recording inclinations.
Enjoy the fun of recording and brutalising old trad tunes and songs,
making tracks sounding the way I'd like to hear if only someone more talented than me
would do it....
Then stick the results up on some free trendy muso's website
to invite ridicule and consternation from all true folk music aficionados.

If anyone actually enjoyed it, and encouraged me to continue so they could hear more.
Well, that little amout of respect from contemporaries would be more than enough motivation and reward
to make me feel it's all been worthwhile.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 06 Jul 12 - 10:52 AM

This is what happens if you open up threads and don't refresh for an hour before getting round to posting.

Blandiver as usual covers similar ground as me but far more eloquently...


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Like a complete unknown
Date: 06 Jul 12 - 11:05 AM

I'm going to stop being LACU soon (although not on this thread)--I'm hearing from enough 'catters who know me under my real name to make this a bit uncomfortable.

People have given some excellent tips. I think now that what I was asking for isn't advice about folk music at all--or at least it's advice with much wider validity. And it's been given, for which I'm very grateful. Summing up:

Q: Why isn't it happening for me?

Answers:
"Sour grapes ain't good" (Blandiver)

Do you really want it to happen? What are you doing about it? Are you complaining because you've made an effort and got nowhere, or because you don't want to make an effort? (Tootler, treewind)

Are you good enough? Really? Is there some practising you could be doing instead of feeling sorry for yourself? (Will Fly, Blandiver)

Are you trying to sell tofu to steak-eaters (or vice versa)? Might it be a better idea to try a different approach? (also Will)

"Being a musician is a matter of quiet humility; you know you've been chosen but it might not be clear what for. ... The real thing is just a matter of accepting the calling & being prepared to pay your dues & being philosophical about people liking your shit or not. Be true to yourself; what happens happens, what doesn't happen, doesn't." (Blandiver again)

Interesting to get such similar advice from two such different musicians as WF and B.

One final, personal note. (Handy things, pseudonyms).

"I get more pleasure singing whilst walking on the beach than I ever do performing in a Folk Club" (Blandiver)
I know just what this means. I haven't lived by the sea since I was a kid, but I used to really go places singing down the length of a windy beach (there to dance beneath the diamond sky... he knew what he was talking about). And that was when I didn't even know the old songs--walking the dog with Tam Lin would be a meditation in itself. (Wait till my wife gets home. "I've had a brilliant idea, we're moving to Formby. And getting a dog.")

Anyway... what you don't get that way is the applause. And God, I love the applause. But talking about walking on the beach reminds me how lonely I was growing up--and maybe what I really like about the applause is that it's the sound of people saying "we like you". And the reason I long to be offered work, without ever actually asking for work, is that I think it's only if something's offered freely that you know they're doing it because they like you.

Hangups, in short. To be ignored. Concentrate on music.

Many thanks, everyone--you've given me a lot to think about.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Charley Noble
Date: 06 Jul 12 - 11:10 AM

Trying to break in, assuming you do a good job with the songs you lead, also requires scouting out possible venues. You need to know the contact people, how to reach them, what they like for music, and what their personal schedule is for booking. Persistence is also an asset, as in follow-up on the initial contact, and thanks afterwards if you are booked. And, finally, know when to fold them when the contact is not working.

Sometimes it's useful to have someone else recommend you who is respected by the person doing the booking. Eventually you need to stand on your own two feet, or one if you have good balance.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble, a star in his own mind


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Like a complete unknown
Date: 06 Jul 12 - 11:14 AM

PFR:

"If anyone actually enjoyed it, and encouraged me to continue so they could hear more.
Well, that little amout of respect from contemporaries would be more than enough motivation and reward to make me feel it's all been worthwhile."

Whereas I just think "Only 41 plays in the last week!" Somebody I moaned to about this (offline) said that if I was getting ten times the number of hits I'd be saying "only 410 plays!" Either that or "410 people! They can't *all* like my stuff!"

Hangups. To be ignored. Concentrate on music (initially wrote "concentrate om music", which I suppose would also work).


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 06 Jul 12 - 12:00 PM

And God, I love the applause.

Here's something - I'm deaf to applause. After a recent session my wife commented on how well a particular song had gone down, but I hadn't noticed. I guess it comes with being in the zone really. I'm always amazed listening back to live recordings just how well it's gone down because I never hear it at the time.

It's worse doing concerts, especially if there's a PA. I hate PAs. They just get in the way of the music & the audience. I still use 'em though, but it's always best without, especially in a small club room. We did a wee spot at the KFFC last year with no PA & it felt amazing - largish hall too... I felt I could actually talk to the audience without mumbling into the mic.

As a storyteller, you learn to hate PA systems.

Anyway; I never hear applause but the sea always roars!* But not just the sea; I like windy woods & open moors where I can really howl at the moon. Or deserted country churches where I might record my fiddle improvs by way of far darker communion than anything you're going to get in front of an audience. Shit, sometimes it gets so spooky you think there is an audience. Several times it's taken weeks before I've got the nerve to listen back to the recordings. One time in Norfolk I got so freaked out when I was recording my doromb in a remote church (the upper room at Salle) I deleted the recording out of fear of what sort of thing I might have heard on the recording. Oo-er.

Or was it just out of respect?

Respect is a good thing. I get lots of respect, but just as much hostile indifference really. At our old folk club the same people would always go out to the bar when it came to my turn. Once I had one woman scream blue murder at me to shut up playing my crwth because she hated it so much. We'd been such friends hitherto as well, but we never spoke again after that, and now she's dead. And I really miss her. RIP. Respect.

Just a thought - if you want honest appraisals, post your stuff on YouTube. You get some corking reactions there for sure. We recently picked up a troll on a live clip of our CWMD...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IJQzcyDTQI

As on Facebook though, not liking something generally means people don't like it. Same on Mudcat - I often put up a link thread here to something I've done and if no one comments it's because they don't like it. Generally this doesn't bother me at all, but I once offered a come-all-ye to 'Catters to contibute to a folk song project of cover versions of the songs on Martin Cathy's Landfall album - I think about three people got back to me. Are we downhearted? Not bloomin' likely!

* Does that strike anyone else as a Penguinism? In the old Batman film (1966) he paraphrases The Great Selkie of Sule Skerry: On land you may command, but on the sea it is me! (wha what wha!) Burgess Meredith, one of my lifelong heroes.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 06 Jul 12 - 12:08 PM

PS - If you want people to like you, don't do folk. It really is that simple.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 06 Jul 12 - 12:58 PM

I once offered a come-all-ye to 'Catters to contibute to a folk song project of cover versions of the songs on Martin Cathy's Landfall album - I think about three people got back to me.

Hey, I remember that - I offered a Cruel Mother I'd just recorded. Shame I was in such select company - it would have been good.

If you want people to like you, don't do folk. It really is that simple.

There's certainly something in that. Folk music is an end in itself - it has to be.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: johncharles
Date: 06 Jul 12 - 01:18 PM

How to tell how you are doing
a. do the audience stay in the room
b. do they applaud
c. do they thank you after the event
d. do they offer to buy you beer (my favourite)
e. if it is a collection divide the total by the number in the room and your worth to them is there to see
f. do you get a re-booking
g.do they buy your CD
g. did you really enjoy it - you probably will have with any three of the above


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 06 Jul 12 - 02:18 PM

Yes I can confirm all this.

Once when I was onstage they threw heavy objects and shouted, 'Why doesn't this idiot shut up!' - but I was so much in the zone that I didn't notice.

Real folk music has nothing to do with folk at all.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: johncharles
Date: 06 Jul 12 - 03:10 PM

you should have waved your big red sauage at them Al.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Banjiman
Date: 06 Jul 12 - 03:42 PM

"As on Facebook though, not liking something generally means people don't like it. Same on Mudcat - I often put up a link thread here to something I've done and if no one comments it's because they don't like it."

Oh Mr Blandiver, that's so not true mate.

There are all sorts of reasons why people don't "like" a link that people have put up on Facebook or on here.

1/ They've already "liked" 3 things you've put up this week
2/ They don't see it
3/ You haven't reciprocated when they've put something up
4/ They don't want you to think you're too popular (some of us are English after all!)
5/ They don't know you and they only "like" their mates stuff
6/ You're better than they are
7/ They've already "liked" a dozen other peoples stuff today
8/ They don't read anything anyone else puts up anywhere anyway and are only interested in their own posts.
9/ They just can't be arsed.

If you read no feedback (online anyway) as a negative I think you're misreading people.

I think JohnCharles's checklist above is a much more accurate way of judging if people like what you do.....


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 06 Jul 12 - 03:46 PM

Once when I was onstage they threw heavy objects and shouted, 'Why doesn't this idiot shut up!'

Once?

I think JohnCharles's checklist above is a much more accurate way of judging if people like what you do...

Which is why somebody like the Great Unknown - sorry, "Like a complete unknown" - might find it so frustrating to be prevented by mysterious occult forces from ever getting a spot. Or by not actually asking anyone.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,stevesg
Date: 06 Jul 12 - 03:48 PM

there is music, and there is entertainment.

if you want to be a musical entertainer, musical talent helps, but is not necessary. you _must_ be a unique and skilled entertainer.

other than that, it's being able to capitalize on the luck of the draw.

it's a business. a living. not necessarily a life.

s.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Banjiman
Date: 06 Jul 12 - 03:51 PM

GUEST,Like a complete unknown .......

I just wondered if anyone has ever asked you to do a "gig" or other spot....... or has anyone ever asked you if you have a CD they can buy?

I've always assumed because no one has ever asked me these things (solo anyway) that I'm not good enough to think about looking for gigs. So I don't, I stick to very informal singarounds etc. I'm a moderate singer and OK banjo player..... nothing more (but happy with that as I'd never picked up an instrument until my mid 30's and I'm still amazed I can play at all!).

My control for this assumption is that people do regularly ask my other half to do gigs or if she has a CD they can buy. Which is why she started looking for gigs and has recorded CDs. And she is pretty good.....

I think people will let you know if it's worth trying to take the next step.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Like a complete unknown
Date: 07 Jul 12 - 05:01 AM

"I just wondered if anyone has ever asked you to do a "gig" or other spot....... or has anyone ever asked you if you have a CD they can buy?"

Well, no--that's what started all this off, the fact that I never have been asked these things despite regularly knocking 'em dead as a floorsinger.

That would certainly be the simplest explanation--I'm not good enough, or at least I'm not good enough at doing something people want to listen to for any length of time.

In which case I just have to think--do I want to do something different in order to be more 'bookable' (and part of me yearns pathetically to be even a tiny, weeny bit bookable)... or do I want to concentrate on doing what I do.

I'll settle for doing what I do, and hopefully getting a bit better at it. But I'll promote myself a bit more, in the flesh as well as online (I'm no stranger to self-promotion online)--what's the worst that can happen?

Thanks again all (including Banjiman).


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 07 Jul 12 - 05:03 AM

Liking is an active thing; not liking is passive, default. I think Mudcat & Facebook reflect that as a whole. Myspace culture was cloying & sycophantic; YouTube can be brutal at times, but, apart from the occassional troll, it's mostly good fun. One our most popular 'folk' videos is a montage made of the Chester Cheese Rolling some years back - the comments this has generated are far more entertaining than the video, or the occasion it records:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=993m0yRR0bg

I don't think Mudcat is the sort of place to tout your wares though; you'd think it would be a good place to share stuff though, but even this there's a general collective mindset that resists such things. Odd, because the come-all-ye ethos is something we all have in common, pretty much. Maybe it's akin to the mindset of a club audience that expects to be won over with banter before they'll start listening to the songs? As one club organiser said to me recently 'Just because you've been played on Radio Three don't expect to go down well with out lot!' 'Okay,' said I, and turned his offer of a gig down because sometimes I'd just as soon not bother to be honest.

But then again I was born with a complete lack of ambition which is over compensated by a surfiet of self-satisfaction & general contentment. I think you need the inner angst to 'get out there' and 'polish your act' to give audiences the sort of thing they want to hear. It's like my wife and I doing our 'Fun 'n' Folk Act' thing which gets us a modest amount of critical approval on the fringes of the 'Weirdlore' fringe, but the real money comes from our glitzy Pop Cabaret Act residency in a seedy Blackpool hotel of a Saturday night where for two hours work covering the Hits o' Yesteryear (with the occasional bawdy trad number thrown in as an afterhours treat; the filthier the better, but The Molecatcher is always a hit, The Crabfish likewise...) we can net ten times as much as you get in your average folk club, and that's before tips - and you don't have to put up with the banjo jokes.

Nice work if you can get it.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 07 Jul 12 - 05:28 AM

Can you eat the cheese afterwards?


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 07 Jul 12 - 06:11 AM

When Suibhne does cabaret, I should think you can cut the cheese with a knife.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 07 Jul 12 - 06:12 AM

The food in those places is as plentiful as the generosity. Mind you, the best Folk Hospitality I've had in recent years was Wendy's hot pot at the KFFC - generally you're lucky if you get a bag o' crisps. We did at gig at the Green Note in London a few weeks back which was very cool on the food front although I was suffering from near-vaso-vagal heatstroke to such an extent that I couldn't figure out what to do with the edemame beans. In Blackpool its a multi-culti buffet (not good for vampires) with as much fish, chips, pizza, yorkshire puds, chow mein, egg fried rice and curry as you can eat. Trick is, not to spill any down my spandex costume during the apres-gig pig-out...

Then there was a craft brewery in Todmorden where I did a solo storytelling gig as part of a literature fest a few years back & found heaven afterwards in jugs of beer, bread & cheese around a table with hosts and punters. Is that place still there? God I hope so. Utopia. After my set the proprietress came up to me and demanded to know why so many of the characters in my (all traditional) stories were disabled. I tried explaining about the essential outsider nature of the Indo-European folk-tale as a whole, but as I did so she proceeded to take off one of her legs and hand it me. 'I don't give my leg to just anyone,' she said, as I sat there, dumbstruck. Yeah. Utopia!


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: johncharles
Date: 07 Jul 12 - 06:22 AM

But I'll promote myself a bit more, in the flesh as well as online (I'm no stranger to self-promotion online. How will we ever Know?
john


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Like a complete unknown
Date: 07 Jul 12 - 06:56 AM

"How will we ever Know?"

You never will! You may hear that Fred Bloggs (or whoever), formerly better known among a small circle of friends in Wath-on-Dearne (or wherever), has done the odd paid slot and sold a few downloads and is widely thought to be "quite good", but you'll never know it was me. Put it another way, now that I've owned up to being a snivelling fame-whore with a weirdly passive-aggressive aversion to asking anyone for anything, there's no way I'm telling you who I REALLY am. I just have to hope nobody's sussed me already (or if they do that they keep quiet).


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 07 Jul 12 - 06:58 AM

johncharles - you're exhibiting the sort of folkish belligerence that's guaranteed to put off the likes of our Getting on the Botton Runger. God knows - it's enough to put off even the most hardened pro...


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: johncharles
Date: 07 Jul 12 - 07:14 AM

yes I was somewhat insensitive in the way I put that. I am not the belligerent type. I was really thinking that if people on mudcat saw some of Like a complete unknown's performances they might give honest positive feedback - unlike youtube which as you have pointed out can be an unforgiving environment in which to share your work.
john


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 07 Jul 12 - 07:31 AM

I think the best thing to do here is share experiences & anecdotes, and maybe realise the best advice is not to take any advice other than to be true to yourself & do it your own way. In my experience, Folk isn't too friendly a place to be. That this rule is proved by Very Signifant Exception is A) Why I'm still folkin' 40 years on from First Contact, and B) Steadfastly refusing to compromise my art in the face of the MOR tendancies which I feel run contrary to the spirit of traditional song.

Last night I took part in a session that ranks with the best ever in 40 years. My wife sang Alison Gross to the accompaniment of hurdy-gurdy, Jew's Harp & a legion of voices & melodeon drones. Dave Peter's sang Spencer the Rover and we tore the place apart. I sang The Collier's Rant as an elegy to my old marra Frank Williamson who left the planet a few days ago. No music is better than this sort of raw feral seance with the soul of traditional song. Everyone there sang & played beautifully. Another Utopia, right here on earth. And the only applause I heard was my own in the appreciation, gratitude & utter wonder at the brilliance of my fellow sessioneers.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 07 Jul 12 - 08:34 AM

I keep thinking if the cheese goes through somewhere where a dog has been doing its business, or having a wee - well you wouldn't fancy it. But the thing is, you wouldn't know if you saw it in the shop afterwards, if it had been rolling round in unsavoury places.

When you go to Lancashire/Cheshre - their ethnic cheese is quite expensive. Whereas in Yorkshire - Wensleydale is always very reasonable.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Vic Smith
Date: 07 Jul 12 - 08:59 AM

Towards the top of the thread, Anahata wrote:-
Make a demo CD.

Personally, I have become a bit wary of demos. There was the guy I booked a few years ago and when, at the end of the evening, I said that his guitar style on his demo was different (and by that I actually meant much worse), he admitted that it was another guitarist on the recording, but nowhere on the demo was this stated.

Then there are the number of young performers who are fine singers and musicians but when you see them live turn out to be "shoe gazers" with no audience communication skills.

Seeing performers live is the answer. If I am booked at a festival, I never forget that I am also a club organiser and try to see as many other acts as possible, however heavy my schedule is; my record was over 90 a few years ago at Whitby. It's not just checking out people that you have not seen before. Previously, you may have caught someone on an off day; many young performers are improving all the time; some established acts end up resting on their laurels and just coast along. For me, it is very important that the people that I book are talented, sincere about their music but also able to put it over well.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 07 Jul 12 - 09:10 AM

Vic, all the points you raise soundly reinforce why someone like me
should aim realisticly for an internet only presence
as a 'recording artist' entity...


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 07 Jul 12 - 10:14 AM

I think that this thread might be better attended if cookies and identities were automatically stripped and posters given identities for the purposes of this thread only. This would facilitate frankness. At present I am reluctant to say anything substantive lest on the one hand I sound like Kevin the Teenager or on the other hand an arrogant self-satisfied know-all, or indeed a pompous twat.

And NOBODY had better dare ask what is different about my posts on this thread. Grin.

There are, however, a number of people who do get bookings who are gobsmackingly awful (some with egos so large to compensate that I will be off out of the door on sight), a larger number of perpetual floorsingers (or players) who are also so, and a number of apparently perpetual floorsingers (or players) who are just wonderful but don't get the big stage bookings.

I am a little saddened by the repeated preference for "entertainers" above musicians or singers.

I would also say that serendipity may make two adequate of better floor players into much more than the sum of their parts as a duo. It's worth thinking about, perhaps particularly if one plays no instrument at all.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Charley Noble
Date: 07 Jul 12 - 10:20 AM

There's also the strategy of waiting around until all the performers getting the bookings die.

It probably won't do you any good but it's a strategy. The audience may also be dead by then!

Getting older,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,John Foxen
Date: 07 Jul 12 - 11:23 AM

Even if you get onto the bottom rung there's still a long, long way to go.
Recently we (Foxen) were asked to do an opening spot at a local festival (unpaid of course). There we were at 11am on a Saturday in a small tent in a corner of a field playing to a dozen or so people.
Afterwards the MC announced: "It's always good to have someone reliable to do the seagull shift -- when only the seagulls are there to hear you."
Refreshingly honest but it could have been depressing. It wasn't because of that dozen in the audience two couples who had heard us play at different clubs had come specially to see us. What a fantastic compliment to get appreciation for something you actually enjoy doing. What better way to spend time than singing and playing which can be its own reward.
I can only say to our Unknown that you have to keep pushing (but nicely not arrogantly) and be grateful for the seagull shifts.
PS By the way Blandiver, was the Penguin quoting the Silkie or Ward The Pirate:
"Go home, go home, says Captain Ward
And tell your king for me,
If he reigns king all on the land
Ward will reign king on the sea."


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 07 Jul 12 - 11:37 AM

well i for one, am agog to hear what the world's been missing out on. You're a bit of a spoilsport - not letting us hear you - after all this argie bargy


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 07 Jul 12 - 12:37 PM

By the way Blandiver, was the Penguin quoting the Silkie or Ward The Pirate

You learn something new every day! Thanks for that muchly. Of course I didn't mean it was a conscious thing, but it does resonate beautifully with The Great Selkie. I like it when such resonances occur from seemingly disparate parts of my life.

Having figured out who Mr Kevin Bottomrung is I can't honestly believe no-one else has. I'd say it was obvious from the get-go.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Mr Kevin Bottomrung
Date: 07 Jul 12 - 01:02 PM

Al, johncharles, anyone else who's curious about who this guy channeling his inner teenager actually IS--I think it's highly likely you've seen links to my music on the Cat before now. I would rather not make a link between my music and this thread, however. I mean, imagine the scene: you're at a festival/in a singaround/in a singaround at a festival/whatever, and you've just been graced by my dulcet tones. Your neighbour turns to you and says, "Who was THAT?" Ah, you reply knowingly, that was Fred--you remember, that guy who posted on Mudcat all about how nobody would give him a booking and life's not fair. "Oh right," replies your neighbour (who appears to have turned into Father Dougal), "it must be terrible having an attitude problem like that."

I don't think this thread reflects too well on (the real) me, basically.

Blandiver - hullo der! No guessing in public please, that would be just so unfair.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 07 Jul 12 - 03:02 PM

well that's okay - but it leaves those of us who DO stand up and be counted and say - well actually everythings not hunky dory. There most definitely IS something rotten in the state of folk music, very isolated. Open to attacks upon our integrity and genuineness.

None of which matters, Blandriver and I do have that much in common - we could never be confused with the middle of the road - even if we were singing My Way. you see me, and you know its a pretty weird road I'm travelling, whatever my postion on it.

If you feel like you do - why don't you want to grab the world by the throat, and say - listen you b------ds! Don't creep through the world - its not dignified for a human being. And what if people DO think you've got an attitude problem. Bollocks to 'em! You've got right to express how you feel.    That's what our parents fought the nazis for. Don't let the nazi buggers get a toe hold just by calling themselves folksingers.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Don Firth
Date: 07 Jul 12 - 07:25 PM

Assuming that you know a fair number of songs and can sing them well—and can play some kind of accompanying instrument well—and can put together an interesting, cohesive program. You want to sing anywhere and everywhere that you can. This includes, at first, parties and get-togethers with friends and relatives, volunteering to entertain at hospitals and retirement homes—even busking. Sing at every opportunity.

My first "big break" came when an acquaintance of mine who had heard me at a number of "hoots" (folk singers' jam sessions in private homes), and who was programming for a local educational channel (which I didn't know at the time), asked me to do a television series on folk music. I wasn't sure I was ready for this, but he assured me that I'd do fine. So I swallowed my panic and did the series. I sang songs and talked about their histories and where they had come from. Academic, but lots of fun, and a fair number of people seemed to like the show because the station asked me back a number of times.

Coffeehouses were just starting to open up around Seattle, and a local theater owner, who was also opening a coffeehouse, had seen the television show, called me, and asked me to sing there regularly three nights a week—for pay!

Then—a couple of fellows who heard me at the coffeehouse asked me to do a concert at a local university. Then it happened again. And again. I sang at several colleges and universities around the Pacific Northwest, a couple of them on an annual basis. And over the ensuing years I sang regularly at some five different coffeehouses in the area, all for regular pay (different from some coffeehouses on the East Coast where the singers sang for tips—called "basket houses").

During the Seattle World's Fair in 1962, I sang, along with about a dozen other singers, at the United Nations Pavilion every Sunday afternoon. We donated our time and talent. But—every week or so, one of us would get hired to sing at some event or other by someone who had heard us sing at the Pavilion. I was asked to do more college concerts, and I got hired to sing at the Port Angeles Centennial and the Port Townsend Arts Festival.

Each of these gigs led to other gigs.

The point of all this is that   a) you've got to be a reasonably good singer and entertainer in the first place;   b) and then, you have to give people an opportunity to hear you, even if it's a small venue and doesn't pay. Every time you sing somewhere, it could be an audition, so give it your best. The educational television series didn't pay. But a lot of people saw the show.

Talent is important. But as someone said, "Talent is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration." Practice. Learn. Work at it.

It IS a matter of being at the right place at the right time. And you must be ready when that time comes.

####

If you're singing folk songs (traditional songs), you don't have to confine yourself to singing for groups of folk music enthusiasts. In fact, this can prove to be something of a dead end. Think "incestuous."

Sing for other groups. If I were to do it all over again, I would bone up on some of the oldest and earliest traditional songs I could find, get myself a period instrument such as a Renaissance guitar or a Baroque guitar (either or both would be easy enough for me to play because they're tuning is essentially the same as a modern guitar), which would give the whole thing a bit of panache, then I'd attempt to appeal to aficianados of Early Music.

I didn't become famous or make a fortune, but I did become fairly well-known around the Pacific Northwest—and I made a decent living at it.

And thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Leadfingers
Date: 07 Jul 12 - 07:52 PM

Don - It WAS a lot easier back then - MY First spur to think about getting Club gigs in UK was my local club booking a guy who didnt seem to much better a musician than me , nor much better a singer ! But that WAS in the Mid Sixties !
Now , at least in UK , there are some 'Orrible Good youngsters with degrees In Folkology looking for bookings in a steadily dwindling number of venues , especially since the recession !

Good Advice though - Open Mics in Pubs are at least good Practice , even for Unaccompanied singers .


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Tony Rath aka Tonyteach
Date: 07 Jul 12 - 08:27 PM

Amen to Mr Firth - Totally agree with him


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 08 Jul 12 - 05:44 AM

Oh that cheese. I though you meant the popularist drivel we do on Saturday nights - like our celebrated medley of the hits of Peters & Lee (for which I wear shades, natch); he only time, indeed, you'll see Rapunzel & Sedayne holding hands on stage. Goes down a storm.

Anyway, back to Ye Ancient Cheese Lore o' Chester. And bear with me because this is really interesting, and possible offensive to those of a more delicate cast of mind. If easily offended I suggest you stop reading now...

All the cheese rolled in Chester (& Coopers Hill in Gloucester) is well wrapped up & thorougly waxed; indeed, truckles for rolling are double-waxed, not because of the dirt however. If a cheese gets rolled too much it turns into butter - albeit a very sour sort of butter traditionally held to be only fit for pigs & whores. Pigs can't get enough of it, this rancid pig butter which is often mixed with acorns as a special treat for our rare old breed pokers - such as the very rare Old Cheshire 10-Spot Markle; see recent feature on BBC's Country File. In the middle ages pigge buttere was used as a bait in wild boar hunting. Folklorists aren't sure what came first - the sport of cheese rolling, or the task of cheese rolling to make pig butter as bait and feed. It's easy to imagine those over-worked folk-singing fuedal peasants of yore making sport out of their daily grind, complete with obstacle courses, such as we see on the streets of Chester. Indeed, if you carefully persuse the vivid marginalia of The Luttrell Psalter, where scenes of everyday seasonal peasant life, copulation, labour & childbirth are depicted to often hilarious effect, there too you'll scenes of medieval cheese-rolling, though for chore, sport, or both it's difficult to say.

From written sources we can say tha in the 14th century Pig Butter was also used as a dressing for the Cheshire Bagpipes & as 1532, ye verye olde putride pigge buters were being used as a 4-in-one folk-ointment (salve, lubricant, 'exciter' and contraception) by the folk whores of Gloucester. It is reported that many of the lasses at the end of the shift would find a 'yearling pigge' to clean out the leavings of the night's labours, thus giving them more pleasure than any human snout ever could. Such horrid bestial practices were common amongst the folk peasanty during the middle ages (God knoweth), and we shouldn't judge them by the folk standards of our own time, though in certain rural regions of England 'pigging' is a prefered alternative to 'dogging' to this day. Very much a spectator sport though, and not considered folk at all really, which is a shame really, I think. But there you go.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 08 Jul 12 - 06:21 AM

Can I just apologise for certain aspects of that last post? It's early Sunday morning & I'm nursing my second hangover of the weekend. From bottom-rung to bottom o' the barrel...


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 08 Jul 12 - 06:25 AM

Blandiver - that is the fiendlishly amusingest thing I have read in ages - I snorted & I am not even an pigge.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 08 Jul 12 - 05:34 PM

" the popularist drivel we do on Saturday nights - like our celebrated medley of the hits of Peters & Lee (for which I wear shades, natch); he only time, indeed, you'll see Rapunzel & Sedayne holding hands on stage. Goes down a storm."

Video proof please!


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 08 Jul 12 - 06:21 PM

Down here in Dorset, they have this vinny blue stuff (which the loacals are very proud of) - I can well believe its been all them places.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Will Fly
Date: 08 Jul 12 - 06:48 PM

Thomas Hardy's mid-morning snack in his study was a Dorset knob (a hard roll from Moore's bakery in Morecomebelake), a wedge of Blue Vinny and a glass of claret.

And look where it got him...

[The Health Police once tried to get Blue Vinny banned because it was unpasteurised - but they failed].


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 08 Jul 12 - 07:28 PM

You say you aren't a great musician. Two responses spring to mind.

1. Woodie Guthrie wasn't a great guitarist, and in fact many top class entertainers aren't. But they are entertainers, so they manage to engage an audience to the point that only the purist will actually notice their playing.

2. The way to improve is to find venues where there are musicians much better than you.

Join in and learn to do what they do. You will be surprised how much and how quickly you improve.

But please, please, please ask them first and explain what you are trying to do, and join in very, very quietly until you are sure you have the right key and know what version of the tune is being played.

Do that and they will be happy to have you along, and you will learn a lot.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 08 Jul 12 - 08:50 PM

Yes in Cattistock they have a festival every year called the Dorset Knob Throwing Festival.. That's where I first saw a brilliant young band called the Skimmity Hitchers.

I suppose that means they've been making Blue Vinny a while.( if Thomas hardy ate it) Ithought maybe it was just an unpleasant trick the locals were playing on me.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 09 Jul 12 - 03:59 AM

To the bottom rung
My talents I brung
Now on this step, I'm tucked.
I wanted just like you
To make rung two,
But now I really can't be fucked.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Like a complete unknown
Date: 09 Jul 12 - 04:30 AM

I haven't made rung one yet!

I wasn't going to say any more on this thread, but it just struck me that there was a real-life question in the OP. Which is: has anyone actually been in that position, of being accepted as a floorsinger/busker/whatever and thinking "this is all very well, but where's the first GIG going to come from?" And if so, where did it come from--what changed for you?


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 09 Jul 12 - 05:06 AM

What changed it for me was a Don Williams song. You're My Best Friend. I figured - this song is structurally just the same as The Banks of the Ohio, The Cornish Nightingale - songs I was singing for nothing in folk clubs. I entered a country and western competition. Won it. An agent approached me.

It was a steep learning curve. However unlike Blandriver - did get an urge to write to you - because we seem to have had similar sorts of gig experience - i saw a lot of positive virtues in the songs that put food on the table every week.

The virtues were that they were closer to the musical soul of the people of England than the 'arty' presentation of Carthy and Jones and people who at that time were king of the folk clubs.

I also found that Irish people were in a lot of the country clubs and country musicians were often Irish. they had a load of narrative and rebel songs, in the country idiom, which had a special significance for them.

Anyway that was part of my story. I sidestepped the buggers. Got my hit record in germany. Got my guitar technique wherever i can. I don't apologize for what i did with English folk music and what i made out of it. I'm sorry if it doesn't conform to some blueprint, that the folk music fraternity has in their minds. But to be honest I think if most of them met the originators of the Black Velvet band and the Wild Rover - most of them would faint with the vapours.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 09 Jul 12 - 05:13 AM

It all depends whether you want to give the people what (you think) they want or plough your own furrow and hope they come to you. People in the second category are invariably more interesting, as far as I'm concerned, although they are also probably skint.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 09 Jul 12 - 05:16 AM

PS that was a cross-post with Al, not a response! (And I write as a listener not a performer).


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: johncharles
Date: 09 Jul 12 - 05:24 AM

I had been a floor singer for thirty years. Not a bad singer mediocre guitarist. I got together with, a couple of friends about five years ago one of whom is a very good guitarist the other is a fiddler, both of them sing. A small group allows much more variety and depth of sound. It is also good for mutual support.
We started with half hour spots at our club and one or two others - you need to put yourself forward for these.
we practiced weekly and tried to build a large and interesting repertoire, which meant we got get gigs which involved two 45 minute sets with no worries about having enough material.
we set up our own session in a local pub, good practice for playing in public to different audiences. Ask friends acquaintances to help with getting gigs and don't turn any down it is all experience. john


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Banjiman
Date: 09 Jul 12 - 05:31 AM

For my better half the step change was when she won the songwriting competition at Saltburn Folk Fest in 2007 with "The Visitor"....... and got offered her first folk club "main guest" slot on the back of this (strangely at a mainly trad club). This gave her the confidence to ask other clubs/ fests for gigs.

She now does 50 to 60ish paid gigs per year mainly at folk clubs and fests but also increasingly "non-folk" venues - but still doing trad (including unaccompanied) and self penned stuff.

Not a living but it pays for our social life and holidays.......


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 09 Jul 12 - 05:55 AM

we practiced weekly and tried to build a large and interesting repertoire

The great thing about singing unaccompanied is that, if you've got a retentive memory, you can quite quickly build up enough of a repertoire to go on all night.

The great thing problem with singing unaccompanied is that nobody wants to listen to somebody singing unaccompanied all night. There are exceptions, but not many - even Bellamy had his anglo.

For an unaccompanied soloist the two- or three-song floor spot is actually quite a good set-length. As an unaccompanist myself, I dream of the days when the local FC was just getting going and you could count on two or three songs in the first half and another one or two after the break; these days nobody goes there, it's so busy.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 09 Jul 12 - 06:25 AM

Sean Cannon used to work unaccompanied for the main part. I was quite surprised when at an after gig party he picked up a guitar and sung Sweet Thames Flow Softly - beautifully, I might add.

I think when I begun doing pro gigs - the technical problems were so numerous and overwhelming and expensive to solve - along with the problem of knowing virtually no countrty music songs - that it all became sort of absorbing for me. And I did enjoy struggling with those p[roblems - and in it - learning about the bravery of a showbiz footsoldier - one who goes onstage with a not very good act, and is quite grateful for the indifference of a noisy audience - a quiet inner place, where you can work out technical stuff. I sort of feel sorry for folkies who never experienced that. Never learned to take a noisy room by the scruff of the throat. I feel its a vital skill, and one can't really aspire to 'folk' music without it. Or perhaps I should say, I can't aspire - because I know some of you feel differently, and it wiouldn't do for us all to be the same.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 09 Jul 12 - 06:30 AM

When you're singing without a PA and they won't shut up, that's horrible. Been there, done that, got on top of it. (Suddenly singing quieter can be surprisingly effective.)

When you're singing with a PA, though - do they ever shut up? Done that a couple of times, absolutely hated it.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Banjiman
Date: 09 Jul 12 - 07:04 AM

Phil Edwards ...... absolutely

Hit them with something unaccompanied, quiet and beautiful...... it works more often than not.

Turn up the volume and they just talk louder.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 09 Jul 12 - 07:08 AM

Blandriver

Typo OTD, and in this context an excellent name for a band.

"He plays the crwth and the kemence, she goes by the name of Rapunzel, but tonight none of that matters, because tonight they are... BlandRiver!"

Cue intro music from the house band, and never mind that Andy Williams wasn't singing "bland".

This could be big. I'm looking forward to the career retrospective* already.

*Bland River of Song, of course.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: treewind
Date: 09 Jul 12 - 07:18 AM

[Vic:] "Towards the top of the thread, Anahata wrote:-
Make a demo CD.
...
Personally, I have become a bit wary of demos."


Point taken and well understood, but really my post was a list of things to try. None of them is guaranteed to get a booking, but any of them might help. Any approach can go wrong - phoning an organiser when their favourite footie match is on the TV for example.

The fact is there are too many artists and not enough places to play, so it needs hard work and some luck.

Vic is among the more adventurous club organisers, who goes out and seeks new talent at festivals - there are many who say "I don't book anyone I've not heard" and never go out to another club or to a festival...

Good point made elsewhere about not going after folkie audiences. We (Mary really) did a presentation on song collection by RVW and Cecil Sharp in Cambridgeshire for a local history society recently. We didn't expect them to be so interested in the music as in the singers and their backgrounds and our "old and new" photos of various Cambridgeshire village locations (mostly pubs) - but they joined in enthusiastically with choruses and bought CDs and song books afterwards, and in fact there turned out to be quite a few amateur musicians there, and they said it was the most fun evening they'd had for a long time.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Will Fly
Date: 09 Jul 12 - 07:18 AM

Thirteen years playing '50s rock'n roll in clubland - fully amplified - toughens you up no end. In the immortal words of Al Read to a club audience when the band comes on stage, "Quiet lads, or I'll put the comic back on", winning an indifferent audience can be interesting work.

We used to do our act regardless of the reaction - play to 6 people just the same as if it was 66, or 1,006. We had fantastic nights with hundreds of people jiving to the music, and nights where they couldn't have given a toss - but we never gave in. Our most fascinating night by far was being booked to play at a club - a converted cinema - in Guildford. We turned up and started to play to 4 blokes in the front row in this large, ex-cinema auditorium with tiered seating. They never clapped once. In the interval, we went down to them and said, "Are you enjoying it?" Turned out they were Swedes, who rarely clap until the end of a complete performance. "We're having a great time!" they said, so we invited them on to the stage for the whole second half. They danced, they joined in the singing, they got gloriously drunk and had a great time. And, actually, so did we - in the end!

When I quit rock'n roll and joined a boogie'n funk band - stuff straight from Memphis and New Orleans - we played most of the 15 years in smoke-filled pubs. I recall one Friday night when we were playing Little Feat's "Dixie Chicken" in the Lion and Lobster in Brighton. When we finished it, an American bloke came up to us and said, "Guys, for 5 minutes there, I closed my eyes and imagined I was back in New Orleans." What greater praise could we have had?

I've done guest spots in quite a few folk clubs over the years, and had a good time in every one - but you don't get quite the same experiences as going out into the heart of publand and clubland. It's good for the soul!


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: johncharles
Date: 09 Jul 12 - 07:30 AM

Doing a St Patrick's night can be an unforgettable experience in more ways than one. John


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Vic Smith
Date: 09 Jul 12 - 07:50 AM

johncharles wrote

"Doing a St Patrick's night can be an unforgettable experience in more ways than one. John."


Arrgh! Don't remind me! I stopped doing St. Patrick's night's gigs quite a number of years ago.
The only time that the memories come in useful is when musos get together - as they do - and start sharing bad gig experiences.

Now, there's a good idea for a Mudcat thread - Bad Experiences at Gigs. However many decades that I continue to play gigs, I will never be able to top the story that Rod Stradling tells of an early Old Swan Band dance.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: johncharles
Date: 09 Jul 12 - 08:13 AM

when they are hanging off the speaker stands and pinching the mic demanding you play Danny Boy AGAIN you know it is time to pack up and go home. john


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: greg stephens
Date: 09 Jul 12 - 12:34 PM

I notice our original poster asked a specific quesation, and has repeated it: how did you actually get your first gig? So I have cast my mind back(to 1961) and I'll tell you. I took a guitar to the Isle de la Cite in Paris, neear the Pont des Arts end, and started singing skiffle songs. A guy came up and offered me a job singing with his jazz band. So, there is one to get a gig. Get on a plane or boat to Paris(or a train, things are different nowadays)


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 09 Jul 12 - 12:59 PM

OR

you could get a nose flute and tambourine, learn the words of Danny Boy and The Soldiers Song - round about March 17th - tell an agent, you've got an act that isn't working that night. I doubt if he'll care where he sends you - but you'll certainly get a gig!


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Like a complete unknown
Date: 09 Jul 12 - 01:00 PM

Cheers, Greg--I'd love to hear other people's stories. I'd be particularly interested in the balance between "I was doing my thing and it just started happening" and "I had to knock on a lot of doors"-type stories.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 09 Jul 12 - 02:27 PM

My first paid gig was a concert at my school. I'd been doing floor spots at the school folk club, and when they decided to put on a concert with Martin Carthy they booked a local band as support, and booked me to support the support act! Then Martin cancelled due to a booking mix-up and I got promoted up the bill. I still have the cutting from the local rag which says I "stood in" for Martin - something of an exageration. I got paid the princely sum of £5, which was enough to buy one of Martin's albums and have change over (this was a while ago!)

I wish I still had the contract from when the BBC came to record our folk club - pages of stuff about international royalties and repeat fees, none of which of course ever materialised, and a deduction from my fee of 5p for National Insurance.

The point of this is that the best place to get a gig is somewhere you're already known. Try the local clubs where you already do floor spots. Even if they won't offer you a paid gig, you might get an extended floor spot which is a chance to develop your performing skills and perhaps gain a bit of exposure.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Don Firth
Date: 09 Jul 12 - 02:44 PM

". . . but where's the first GIG going to come from? And if so, where did it come from--what changed for you?"

Well, as I mentioned in my post above. I sang a lot at informal gatherings—parties and jam sessions with other singers. These were in peoples' living rooms. Nothing structured. They were generally open, so anyone who wanted to drop in could, anybody who felt like singing could. This got me used to singing in front of other people.

Then, I volunteered to sing at hospitals and retirement homes. These were free. But MY pay was that I got practice in performing, with a pre-planned program of songs, just as if I were doing a recital at Carnegie Hall.

And if I didn't want folks dozing off while I was singing, I had to learn to be entertaining and informative.

The point is that I sang a lot here and there, and people heard me sing. And one of those people was Jim Gilkeson. Jim was a jazz musician, and from time to time he would drop into the informal songfests, and that's where he heard me. His day job was to plan programs for the local educational television channel, and he thought a program about folk music would be good. So he asked me if I'd be willing to do it. The idea of doing television was pretty intimidating, but Jim convinced me that I could DO it. So I agreed.

So instead of singing for a dozen people at a party or seventy-five or a hundred at a retirement home, every Tuesday evening I sang for, quite possibly, several thousand people. One of those people was the man who was opening a new coffee house, and he was looking for a folk singer.

Don't make a pest of yourself, but sing anywhere. Sing everywhere. Let people hear you. And again, without making a big issue of it, let it be known that you are for hire.

But—while I was doing all of this, I was also taking voice lessons, not to sound like an opera singer, but to learn how to use my voice properly. And took classical guitar lessons so that I would know my way around a guitar and be able to do, say, lute-style accompaniments on older songs or be able to quickly learn things like "Travis-picking." And I practiced.

At the same time, I learned songs from song books, records, and other singers. But I was selective, choosing songs that I could do well, avoiding others. For example, I like blues, but I'm lousy at it. I'm best with ballads and some of the more lyrical songs, so that's what I concentrated on. I also educated myself about the songs, where they came from, how they may have related to historical incidents, etc.

I had made up my mind that I wanted to do concerts, recitals, sing in clubs and coffee houses, and in general, make a career of singing traditional folk songs and ballads.    I had decided that I wanted to be a modern day minstrel or troubadour and set about to train myself to do it.

But it wasn't just the lucky break of having Jim Gilkeson ask me to do the "Ballads and Books" television series. Whenever I sang someplace, there was always a chance that someone would hear my and decide to hire me for a party, concert, entertain at a banquet, or do more television.

####

How far do you want to go with this? Do you just want to get a few gigs? Or do you want to make a lifetime career of it? If the latter, remember, it's necessary to prepare yourself if you want to be successful. This is sometimes referred to as "paying your dues."

By the way, here's an important tip:   record yourself. Not with the idea of making a CD—yet. But to listen to, and critique yourself. I used an open-reel tape recorder back in the Stone Age, but now I have a small digital recorder (Zoom H2). As someone said, "You can hear a lot by just listening." When you listen to your playbacks, constantly ask yourself, "Could I do this better? And if so, how?" Or, "If this were somebody's CD, would I be interesting in buying it?"

Another VERY important point:   One of my voice teachers had me bring my guitar to the voice lessons. Then, after we had gone through the various vocal exercises, he would have me pull out the guitar and sing whatever song or songs I happened to be working on at the time. He would often stop me in mid-verse and ask me, "What does that line mean?"

He knew perfectly well what it meant. But he wanted to make sure that I knew what it meant. He said that far too many singers learn the lyrics of a song by rote, and they haven't a clue as to what they are singing about, they're just mouthing it. Be sure you know what every word and every line in the song is all about. That's the only way you can put the song across. And putting a song across is what it's all about.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 09 Jul 12 - 03:24 PM

excellent post Don!


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Juju
Date: 10 Jul 12 - 04:11 AM

Download these (PDF files), read, and take to heart:

Jacey Bedford's help guides on www. britfolk.co.uk


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Juju
Date: 10 Jul 12 - 04:16 AM

Wooops guess they're not PDF files (anymore??). But save 'em.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: BobKnight
Date: 10 Jul 12 - 06:25 AM

Guest 999 - thank you for your comment. Sometimes I feel like packing it in, but I keep trundling along, and every little bit of encouragement helps.

Getting down to practicalities for "Like a complete unknown," you will need about six songs for a half hour spot, and around ten for a 45 minute spot - so two 45's equal about 20 songs. Depends on the length of your songs of course, but most of mine are about 3-4 minutes long, and I don't mind running over a wee bit. Always keep one in reserve in case you're asked for an encore.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Jul 12 - 06:22 PM

Jacey's advice is excellent. She is an agent and has run a concert venue as well as working for get gigs for her own band, so she knows the business from both ends and the middle!


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 10 Jul 12 - 06:44 PM

Twenty songs.

Concentrate on the first one. or maybe if you're a hit the ground running type - the second.

Now what are you going to do that will make the audience hear that song with new ears, What piece of background information - that will show YOUR response to that song and get your audience to understand and empathise with your enthusiasm for the song.

Easy enough, if your martin Carthy - all folksongs are putty in his hands - a formidable guitar talent, a truly divergent thinker (could no more do a bog standard rendition than he could fly) - people are attracted by the mercurial talent and the mind behind it.

Easy enough if you're derek Brimstone - funny stories about serious songs for the main part - but all very pointed, showing he's thought more than average about the material.

Just knocking out twenty songs like a machine gun isn't what makes folk music, into folk music - even if its point of origin of every song is cecil Sharp House. There has to be some way of communicating your PASSION to give the audience the song.

IMHO


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 10 Jul 12 - 06:54 PM

I might point out that some emergent bands start plastering their dates everywhere and all over facebook and it does look a bit self-aggrandising. Certainly puts me off.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 10 Jul 12 - 07:02 PM

keeps them off the streets, Richard.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Will Fly
Date: 11 Jul 12 - 05:55 AM

some emergent bands start plastering their dates everywhere

Well, why not, Richard? You have to speculate to accumulate, I suppose. Without publicity no-one will know who the devil you are. How would I know what goes in Sussex without being able to look up the Sussex Folk Guide?

If no-one paid for an ad in the Guide, it wouldn't exist - and we'd all be none the wiser!

Let the young bands do their thing - good luck to 'em, I say. Youth will have its fling - and so will Age, given half a chance.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 11 Jul 12 - 08:25 AM

Let the young bands do their thing - good luck to 'em, I say. Youth will have its fling - and so will Age, given half a chance.

Spare a thought for the ageing newbie! My biggest regret in this area is that I started singing out regularly at the age of 42, instead of 22 (or 12). My second biggest is that I didn't find my way to the trad repertoire (and Mudcat!) for quite a few years after that. It meant that I was doing my growing-up-in-public (you know the kind of thing - "This is a traditional song by Nic Jones", "This one was collected by a guy called Frankie Armstrong"...) at an age when I should have been having my mid-life crisis. (On second thoughts maybe that was...)

Young newcomers seem to get a different kind of attention, probably because it's just so nice when the average age in the room goes down. And it's usually true that if a newcomer's young they're also new to the stuff, and would welcome the odd pointer - but it's not true that older geezers aren't new to it. So the next time you see a shy-looking middle-aged guy in the corner mumbling something about how he might know a song or two, don't assume he's just being modest and he's been singing at the next folk club but two for the last 20 years - maybe he actually does know a song or two, and maybe he'd like to be pointed towards some more.

I was OK, though - I had Mudcat to fall back on, where I could ask as many stupid questions and admit as much ignorance as I liked ("so, what's Paul Bellamy doing these days?").


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 11 Jul 12 - 11:39 AM

In my young day I split my time between Punk, Free Improv, Early Music & Folk. Mostly Free Improv & Folk. All the others were cool, friendly, co-operative, encouraging, but once you entered a Folk Club you found yourself in a very differnt world - hostile, righteous and quite depressingly MOR. It was the exceptions that kept me going - the love of Traditional Songs & Traditional Singers - the opportunity of hearing Ray Fisher sing Every Thursday Night (and almost talking her into the letting us back on the Bonny Birdy, but it never happened, alas!) - but there was a lot of sourness around which was only confirmed when I got word than one of Hapless Booked Guests at the Bridge in Newcastle wasn't offered a doss as part of the deal. The next day I was complaining to a friend (Raymond Greenoaken) out in his cosy drum in the far flung wilds of Slaggyford in the South Tyne Valley.

'You know,' quoth I. ' - They had a guest on at The Bridge last night and they didn't offer him anywhere to stay. Got so bad they suggested he stay with me - poor bastard had to come upstairs looking for me - a complete stranger - asking people who I was - even as asking me who I was. Are you Sean?'
'So you weren't in The Folk Club then?' quoth Raymond.
'No - we'd been out felling trees all day and were feeling jubilant so I didn't make it down - didn't even hear the guest - poor sod. I said he could stay but it meant a long bus journey and several miles of muddy fields at the other end. He seemed into it, but later on he came up and said he's been offered a doss closer to town. Nice bloke - I felt really sorry for him.'
'Who was it?'
'Someone called - Peter Bellamy?'

To this day I remember Raymond's expression, as he fell off his chair then headed for his Wall o' Choice Vinyl and proceeded to intitiate me into all things Bellamy. Epiphany does not begin to describe it.

So - friendly folk, eh?

Otherwise - age has little to do with it. I know hoards of Second Life Folkies who've only started singing as a retirement hobby & a bit of social crack; spending their kid's inheritance on camper vans and setting up gatherings and singing weekends all over the place. I heard one singer one time and assumed I was hearing some choice vintage. Turned out they'd only been singing two years. I doubt they have any aspirations as to ladders though, they just like a good old blow.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 11 Jul 12 - 01:52 PM

Guest LACU - have you in fact actually gone to a club, done a good floor spot and ASKED for a gig?
If they don't ask you, you ask them.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Like a complete unknown
Date: 11 Jul 12 - 02:45 PM

Can I just say I'm feeling a lot better--more self-confident & less resentful--now. And in a different place in terms of what seems like common sense, if that doesn't sound too wifty-wafty. Seamus K--no, of course I hadn't asked, I was waiting for THEM to ask ME, because they would if they REALLY liked me... Bollo to that.

Mr Bland is right--sour grapes are no good for anyone. But I think I needed to indulge my inner Kevin--instead of repressing him and telling myself to think positive--in order to realise that.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 11 Jul 12 - 02:51 PM

Oh I tend to think that asking for a gig is a bit vulgar. I'm sorry that what follows may sound a bit conceited. But I can't tolerate this Princess Pushy stuff any more.

We usually wait until someone asks us. I do however get a bit pissed off at the "Loved your singing, if you do a free support slot for (insert national name) then we'll give you a real gig the year after" - and then, like jam for tea, the year after never comes. And the "I've been watching you for 3 years and you get better every year - would you like a gig at our club?" followed by - "Here's a flyer (stating a location about 80 miles away) come and see us on a club night and we'll talk about it".

These remarks are typified and do not refer to any specific club. No reference to any specific club should be inferred.

Do I want to be "professional in my attitude"? NO. I prefer my folk song singing to be (as I would a girlfriend) amateur, not as a prostitute. I still want to get it right - but that is about perfectionism, not more.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Banjiman
Date: 11 Jul 12 - 03:00 PM

So you don't want to be professional in your attitude but you do want to get paid Richard?

Oh dear, no wonder folk clubs aren't as well supported as they used to be.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 11 Jul 12 - 03:11 PM

I want to get it right. You haven't asked what we do do with the fees we get offered, have you. About par for your course.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 11 Jul 12 - 03:21 PM

Oh, and where said I say I wanted to be paid? I ask only what I was offered and promised. Be careful who you tar with your own brush.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Vic Smith
Date: 11 Jul 12 - 03:22 PM

Will Fly wrote:-

Without publicity no-one will know who the devil you are. How would I know what goes in Sussex without being able to look up the Sussex Folk Guide?
If no-one paid for an ad in the Guide, it wouldn't exist - and we'd all be none the wiser!


Strictly speaking, Mike, NOBODY pays to get an ad in the Sussex Folk Guide. I know, because I am the one that compiles it - and I don't get paid for the several hours it takes me each month to put it together. I do it as a labour of love because I am passionate about the music.

Now, all the adverts are taken from the paper magazine that I share the editing of, The Folk Diary, where you do have to pay for your adverts. Sometimes, I get people approaching me with info asking me to include it in the listings website. I explain to them that this listings are taken from the magazine and is considered a free extra service for advertisers and that if I gave free listings to everyone, we might not have a magazine. I sometimes give these people a a one-off listing depending on the merits of each case.
Several Sussex-area newspapers and other listings websites lift their listings directly from the paper copy of The Folk Diary; we send a copy to each of our newspapers in and around our area.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Banjiman
Date: 11 Jul 12 - 04:34 PM

So you don't want paying Richard?

"Be careful who you tar with your own brush." I'm primarily an organiser, definitely not a professional act. Read my posts above.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 11 Jul 12 - 06:16 PM

Read my lips. Make me an offer if you want to. Make it an honest one. And stick to it.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 11 Jul 12 - 07:41 PM

Okay, Inverness for a fiver....!


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: zozimus
Date: 11 Jul 12 - 07:42 PM

If you are an unaccompanied singer I think you are trying to climb the wrong ladder. You need to find a club that is predominantly unaccompanied, where listeners are more interested in the songs rather than fancy guitar picking. Otherwise, get yourself a guitar picker to support you.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 12 Jul 12 - 04:31 AM

Looks like Folk has sucked the Fun out of this thread. Twas e'er the way, alas! As the old saying goes As long as there's dog shit in the street, Folk 'n' Fun shall never meet (or is that another Penguinism?) A perfect reflection of the summer really - I had this one tipped as this year's Silly Season Thread, but seems the awful weather has dampened our spirits to doom & gloom. Still, looks sunny enough out there today though, with lots of reasons to be jolly cheerful indeed, like my New Penguin Book of English Folk Song which arrived earlier in the week reminding me of what this folk thing is all about really & what attracted me to it in the first place. And not a ladder in sight, much less a folk club, just the wide open pastures of our commonland and the clear vistas of nebulous humanity floating as fair weather cumulus in clear blue skies.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: johncharles
Date: 12 Jul 12 - 05:39 AM

This does not seem to me to be the subject for a silly season approach.
It is all to easy to either trample on someone's dream or to give false hope which will end in tears sooner or later. i have done both of these in the past. I now try to stick with the view that the best thing one can do for a friend is to give them clear and unambiguous feedback. John


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 12 Jul 12 - 06:05 AM

Thanks Al, but I'll let you do it!


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 12 Jul 12 - 09:30 AM

I now try to stick with the view that the best thing one can do for a friend is to give them clear and unambiguous feedback.

One person's clear & unambiguous feedback is another's jaundiced opinionated bullshit designed to obfuscate & misdirect, even subsconsciously, whereby the dark mechanism of mere OPINION is really best left out of the equation altogether. Thus do dreams become reality, and vice-versa, and one simply deals with the pure truth of one's calling without muddying it with anything so base as ambition or desire for material gain.

Our musicality is akin to our sexuality - it's a gift which defines us by pure joy with respect of a more occult menchanism of Tradition or Procreation, but there's no second-guessing these things, which is why it's best to keep things are pure as possible. This is maybe getting back to something Richard said earlier, which makes a sort of sense, though this isn't to reject either whores or professional musicians, just recognise the simple fact that there's only one of you & this life is all you get, so best spend it in the pursuit of happiness, and thinking not of tomorrow least ye disappointed be.

As Stan Laurel said, life's not short enough.

Let silly season commence!


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 12 Jul 12 - 10:55 AM

Have you thought of comparing?

I think you have to be exceptionally good or very funny to hold an audiece for 20+ mins with unaccompanied singing - theres just not enough variety for most people. Comparing would give you a chance to develop the funny.
FloraG


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 12 Jul 12 - 11:31 AM

Somebody ought to do a thread about it - best unaccompanied singer gig.

At the top, I'd put Ian Campbell. So clever about folk music. so thoughtful. Wonderful songwriter. great stories about the old days. Hell of a singer. Very unexpected as well. Roaring into bits of nonsense like The Barnyards of Delgaty, then he'd do a song from Benjamin Britten.

And the weird thing was - I don't think a lot of people saw him like that as he was mostly with the band.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: johncharles
Date: 12 Jul 12 - 01:26 PM

So LACU you could adopt some of the sensible and practical advice from many of the posters or rely upon your dreams coming true. Do not bet heavily on the latter. John


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Banjiman
Date: 12 Jul 12 - 01:37 PM

Surely this whole thread is about dreams coming true? And that's a good thing.

I can't believe that LACU can't organise him (her?)self a 20-30 minute slot somewhere....... it's really not an impossible dream.

I come back to the need to let people know that this is what him(her)self wants.

So just make it easy and ask (and it really isn't vulgar...... as an organiser I would be highly unlikely to book anyone who didn't let me know they wanted a gig...... how would I know?).

And if you do score the gig...... just be as "professional" as you can.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: johncharles
Date: 12 Jul 12 - 01:41 PM

Banjiman you are of course correct I was attempting to point out that as you say practical measures are needed for any hope of one's dreams coming true the dream in itself will not be enough.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Banjiman
Date: 12 Jul 12 - 01:43 PM

I see that now JC :-)


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 12 Jul 12 - 02:44 PM

Tommy Dempsey - the Irish/Birmingham singer used to do a great unaccompanied gig.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Like a complete unknown
Date: 12 Jul 12 - 03:15 PM

I keep meaning to take up my cookie and walk, but I want to respond to some of the comments above.

I'm getting two very strong messages--they aren't totally compatible with each other but they both seem valid. One is "if you want something to happen, how about doing something to make it happen?"; the other is "if you want to make music, how about concentrating on the music?". I have a lot of sympathy for the second one, but I do think the first is useful too. What's interesting is that they're both totally at odds with dreams of being plucked from obscurity and sour grapes about somebody else getting the breaks, which is the kind of attitude I came into this thread with. They're both positive attitudes, in other words, and not just in the painted-on-smile Must Not Think Negative Thoughts sense. So thanks, all--it's been useful, and not just in a musical sense.

Now I'm off to put my stupid human suit back on. TTFN.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 12 Jul 12 - 03:29 PM

Our Mr Rungbottom is asking for experience, which is exactly what I'm offering here. The only practical thing is getting your shit together; and that means dedicating yourself to your craft & taking it very seriously, and joyfully, indeed.

Folk Music is gardening. I'm sitting looking out over my mum-in-law's beautiful garden in which her skills & familiarity with 'the tradition' of gardening are manifest in a blaze of beauty & carefully nurtured wilderness interacting with wildlife, seasons, experiment, invention, etc etc. A true labour of love. Who else gets to see it but us lot?

So, good folkies all, and Kevin Rungbottom, whoe'er ye may be, go forth and sow the seeds of love and let that be an end in itself. Nurture your Nature, and seek out like minds (if possible) amongst your local Traddies. Talk to other singers in singarounds about ladders & ambitions. When I think of all the great singers I've known - true gardeners all, happy just to sing a few songs & sup a few pints; those to whom 'stagecraft' is anathema to the truth of the music which lives and breathes in another dimension to the dreary WMC dottle being offered here by those 'in the know'.

Lord protect us from any music that's been developed according to a fecking business plan...

Jack Blandiver
(Aka Sedayne; The Mudcatter still known as Suibhne O'Piobaireachd until Joe Offer honours my request for a name-change.)

PS - The Rapunzel & Sedayne Sing Peters & Lee CD will be out in the autumn on EMI; we gave Folk Police first refusal but they've got more integrity than we have. Of course no one in the Folk Scene gets to hear this; I'm being interviewed tomorrow by the Financial Times about the role we are playing in the upcoming Harry Smith event in London - naturally no mention will be made of our 'darker side', nor will I use the the F-word at any point, careful to maintain our hard-won (& much resented) credibility out there on the outer margins of the wyrdfolk fringe.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 12 Jul 12 - 03:46 PM

I'd have thought that a folk club organiser - who is definitely in some sort of business and not ipso fatso an "artist" - would be very keen to keep a wary eye out for any new singer to ring the changes maybe without great expense. Certainly when I co-ran a folk club I regarded it as part of my job to pursue those I thought would be good for the club as performers. I still refer, to those who run clubs I go to, people who I think might not be on their radar and who I think would be good for the clubs.

I still think that this whole thread would have been better with a cloak of anonymity. I might wish to cite as disastrous some self publicists (not necessarily you, shirt murderer) and some might feel I was boastful if making recommendation. After all who am I to condescend?

I do however know one excellent unaccompanied singer whose "marketability" has increased hugely by teaming up with an excellent guitarist and very able vocalist (one person). Each alone was fine. The two together do indeed benefit from synergy. I'd have suggested finding your way to "knock 'em dead" and then wait to be asked.

If you want to be a prostitute then keep punting your wares. I've booked people who did that, did good floorspots, had good demos - then turned up with a different lineup and were dogshit. I've seen people booked who cannot do a good floorspot, have no decent demo - and are far worse but got there by chutzpah. Better to be honest.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 12 Jul 12 - 06:09 PM

Richardit's not some of us prostitute ourselves. We just happen to like wearing fishnet tights and mini skirts - some of us are just that kind of girl.....


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 12 Jul 12 - 06:18 PM

Al, your ability speaks for itself.

The fundamental question is whether one is in commerce or not.

Look what commerce has brought us these last few years.

Principle is better.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 12 Jul 12 - 06:55 PM

I might wish to cite as disastrous some self publicists (not necessarily you, shirt murderer)

???

In my experience going cookieless is a bit of a faff, but it is doable with persistence.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 12 Jul 12 - 07:02 PM

Yes one can log out but some mudelf will likely post to say who you really are based on your IP address.   Yes, one can use a poxy server but it is a major pfaff.

The shirt murderer is big enough and ugly enough (and gets enough paid gigs) to take a bit of joshing.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 13 Jul 12 - 02:50 AM

Who or what is a shirt murderder?


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Banjiman
Date: 13 Jul 12 - 03:48 AM

"I'd have thought that a folk club organiser - who is definitely in some sort of business" - oh yeah, right, my profits from running folk events rival an investment bank!

"would be very keen to keep a wary eye out for any new singer to ring the changes maybe without great expense" - Well strangely, I do keep my eye out for new acts, and I pay everyone we put on - we don't do floor spots as there are plenty of singers nights locally for people (including me) who want that more informal entertainment. We do main act and booked (paid) support (we've given quite a number of people their first paid gigs).

We do tend to book acts who have pretty well developed social skills and who appear to be professional about what they do though......


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 13 Jul 12 - 04:00 AM

But, according to your own words above - only if they ask.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: treewind
Date: 13 Jul 12 - 04:13 AM

Point about "fecking business plan" taken, but I think that was directed at the sort of act that's all marketing and no talent. If you want gigs in a competitive market you have both to have something to sell and to be prepared to sell it. In reality very few make it with one and not the other. And why does singing folk songs have to be put in the same category with sex, so it's called prostitution if you sell it?


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 13 Jul 12 - 05:10 AM

And why does singing folk songs have to be put in the same category with sex, so it's called prostitution if you sell it?

As Camus says, A man's work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened.

We do well to bear that in mind midst the rush and clamour for celebrity status, or allow ourselves to become seduced by the glamour of a paid spot at a Folk Club, or even consider compromising ones craft to get such a gig by knocking out Dylan songs by way of 'reaching out'. Of course for every rule there must be exceptions. Jim Eldon is one such - I don't suppose there's anything in the least bit ironic about Jim's take on popular material, though I can't help thinking it whilst watching stuff like THIS, if only because of what I perceive as his transcendent genius. To nick what Mingus said about Rahsaan: This man is what Folk is all about. And even adopting such a popularist approach Jim is about as far from MOR easy listening, and prostitution, as you could wish to get.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 13 Jul 12 - 05:31 AM

Oh man! Jim Eldon FTW! Some people were born to make us happy.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Banjiman
Date: 13 Jul 12 - 06:28 AM

"But, according to your own words above - only if they ask."

Indeed, why would I make assumptions about what someone wants to do with their music? As yourself and Blandiver make clear, there is huge ambivalence in the folk scene about wanting paid gigs (well, that's what is said, I can't say I'm convinced though).

I'm also not convinced that getting more paid gigs in the folk scene is about going down an MOR route. Seems to me it's more about being good at what you do..... and making it clear that you are available. And part of being "good" does usually mean being "entertaining", though entertainment comes in many, many different forms.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Vic Smith
Date: 13 Jul 12 - 08:53 AM

Jim Eldon is one such - I don't suppose there's anything in the least bit ironic about Jim's take on popular material, though I can't help thinking it whilst watching stuff like THIS, if only because of what I perceive as his transcendent genius.

Oh man! Jim Eldon FTW! Some people were born to make us happy.


I agree totally with both these comments and cannot resist adding:-

ROYAL OAK
3 Station Street,
Lewes
BN7 2DA
Enquiries: - (01273) 478124 or 881316
Email tinvic@globalnet.co.uk.
THURSDAYS 8.pm - PROMPT START
***********************************

Jul 19th * £7.00 * JIM & LYNETTE ELDON
A very welcome return for the Brid fiddler and his clog-dancing champion wife. Jim & Lynette's straightforward performances are a delight.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 13 Jul 12 - 09:06 AM

Kinda reminds me of the eccentic quirky British Manufacturing companies
who designed and produced wonderfully crafted products,
but vainly believed there was no need for wasting good time & money
on 'American style' consumer research, marketing & advertising...

"The product is good enough to speak for itself"

Then sat back on their arses
going bankrupt while they waited for the world to come eagerly knocking at their factory doors....


Sad Case example -

Obit: Shergold Guitars.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 13 Jul 12 - 09:25 AM

I remember Shergold - you had to buy little things the size of 20 packs of fags - modules that changed the sound. Nice looking guitars. You never saw many of them though. never tried one.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 13 Jul 12 - 09:28 AM

Give my regards to Jim. Ask him if he remebers making an LP for Topic in a garage with Tufty Swift. I owned the studio in a garage. I made them a meal afterwards. About 1984.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 13 Jul 12 - 10:09 AM

Big Al going for maximum kudos in the credibility stakes there I see...


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 13 Jul 12 - 10:41 AM

Don't think so - Tufty died not long after. Don't think it was my studio that killed him off - but you never know. When I say a meal - my culinary skills are somewhat limited. It almost certainly was just baked spuds, baked beans and cheese.

Very sad - looking back. the album was called You'll Never Die for Love. And it was some tunes that the local forces of repression had for their pipe band round about 1810. Tufty had discovered a cache of this stuff in old piano stool - or something like that. When I say local - Ithink the tunes were from Ripley, Codnor - someplace like that.

They guys worked like mad at the project. I suppose its the sort of thing you hope will write your name in the halls of fame. They were all terrific guys. The recording engineer was called John Gil - not to be confused with the bloke from Please Yourself Skiffle band.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 13 Jul 12 - 11:38 AM

Well I'm impressed.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 13 Jul 12 - 11:55 AM

Ah you should hear my Johnny Cash tribute that I'll be singing at the Portsmouth Hoy in Poole tonite. My Ring of Fire is a sensation.

I've been thinking of adding the theme from Rawhide.

Obviously the audience sings 'Get 'em up!' after I sing Move 'em on! After then, Ithink its the orders to run mad as one of the war poets put it.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 13 Jul 12 - 12:04 PM

Sad to think, that militia were probably the guys that did for the Pentrich rioters.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 13 Jul 12 - 08:41 PM

Folk festivals are the most likely place to come into contact with large numbers of club organisers.

My first gig arrived when one of them sat in on the Bedford Hotel session at Sidmouth many years ago. He booked me for a folk club twenty miles from my home in Kent.

Years later the same session produced a triple venue booking in Stafford as part of the S.M.A.R.T. 2002 One Day Festival.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 16 Jul 12 - 06:57 AM

I'm pretty sure I know who you are, Mr Complete Unknown.

How many folk clubs have you actually ASKED for a gig? They don't come to you. You have to go to them.

Start by compiling one CD of your TEN best songs. Be ruthless in whittling these down. You want the ones that showcase you at your most impressive. Don't necessarily pick them yourself. Ask a friend or family member, or someone whose taste in music you respect. But someone who is critical and hard to please.

Make that CD look like a handsome package. A strong, eye-catching cover. Think about good design.

Get an interesting photo of yourself to go with it. Doesn't matter if you're not young and pretty; you just want an interesting photo that shows something of who you are.

Film some youTube clips. Don't put them up unless you're sure they show your singing in a good light.

Send out your press packs and your album to promoters and festivals. Start locally (but a bit further afield than the clubs you "always" sing at: they will just think of you as a local floor singer)

You might even consider getting your "ten best songs" album professionally mixed and mastered. It's really not that expensive these days. PM me if you want some suggestions.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Will Fly
Date: 16 Jul 12 - 07:22 AM

Here's an example of how persistence, luck and a bit of je-ne-sais-quoi can get you gigging. It may not work in the folk world, but it works elsewhere.

Four years ago, I decided to run an acoustic session in my local pub - second Sunday of the month - a mixed, eclectic session with anybody and everybody welcome, and anything musically that people fancied. So I put a notice to that effect on the inside of the pub's front door. The first few sessions were very sparsely attended, as you might expect and, some evenings, there were just two or three of us. But we persisted. One evening, Di, who lives a couple of miles away turned up with her guitar, and with Chris, her guitarist partner - who turned out to be a damned good guitarist. I liked his style and he liked mine. Slowly the session grew to its present level of about 10 participants - more than enough for the small public bar we play in.

At Christmas two years ago, the landlady asked if I could organise some rock'n roll in the pub for the village's late night shopping evening. I said I could and got together with Di and Chris to do a couple of early evening hours as part of the night's fun. A great success - why, we even got paid! And we repeated the evening last Christmas. Various people heard us play and Chris and I were asked to do various functions - a local birthday party, a community centre bash in Brighton, and recently an evening of electric jazz for the civil partnership post-ceremony bash of some neighbours. The jazz went down OK, and the landlady has asked us to play one Sunday lunchtime a month. We've also done a local Gardens & Arts weekend, and we're booked to play at a mini-beer festival at a pub up the road. And we have a couple of charity freebies lined up.

So many people asked us for a card - which we didn't have - that we had to jot down telephone numbers on scraps of paper! So I got some cards printed and decided that, if we were going to do it more regularly, a website and a sample batch of audio files would be a good idea. So, I picked a domain, set up a website, and made some recordings to put on Soundcloud (to be embedded in the website).

So, here we are - making music, getting a few gigs, trousering some cash to pay for beer, petrol and strings - and (very importantly) having fun! None of it would have happened without the urge to do it - whatever it is...


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 16 Jul 12 - 07:52 AM

the majority of gigs I've played have come about as a result of people hearing me at an open mic and offering me a gig. I got offered a gig through some busking at the South Bank recently too. And a gig might lead to a different gig: a fellow performer might put on a different night that they'll invite me to play at.

You do hit a brick wall though if you don't have recordings to show for yourself. I'm occasionally asked if I have an EP or album, or even a business card. (Just occasionally, minf, not often enough for me to harbour any illusions about my popularity.) I always feel a bit ridiculous saying I don't; I get the impression I'm probably the only musician in the world who doesn't in 2012.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 16 Jul 12 - 10:49 AM

I admire you for that, Matt.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Vic Smith
Date: 16 Jul 12 - 11:15 AM

I would think that the vast majority of our barn dance band gigs come through people coming up at the end of the dance and saying how much they enjoyed the evening and could we give them a card because they had a wedding/birthday party/anniversary etc. coming up in their family or their works/school PTA/social club etc. would probably like to have a dance.

I know that it is not the most useful advice, but the best way to gets lots of gigs is to have a full diary of gigs and make sure that they go well.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 16 Jul 12 - 11:24 AM

Look theres plenty of room for us failed folksingers on the bottom rung. You can even apply for resident status here. Theres no rush - and there are many ways to approach your calling.

Have you thought about Folk21? There is an almost unlimited need for hewers of woods, drawers of water, 'providers of PA to the stars' (all unpaid).

Just don't get above yourself....right?


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: johncharles
Date: 16 Jul 12 - 11:56 AM

for folk21 as I understand iy you need to prove a least six recent bookings.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Like a complete unknown
Date: 16 Jul 12 - 12:05 PM

"the best way to gets lots of gigs is to have a full diary of gigs and make sure that they go well"

That faint thudding noise you can hear is my head hitting the desk...

I started this thread in the first place because...well, mainly because I was feeling riled up and sorry for myself and wanted someone to give me one good reason not to be. But also because for me--and probably quite a few other Catters--"getting lots of gigs" is about as big a problem as "doing lots of TV" or "publishing lots of novels". There I was surrounded by people talking about doing whole strings of the things, and yet I didn't seem to have a chance of getting even one gig, even half a gig--why? why, O Lord, why? (That's how it seemed to me at the top of the thread, anyway.)

Thanks (again) to everyone--most recently Will and Matt--who has pointed out that (a) there is actually loads of stuff I could be doing to improve my chances, and more importantly (b) making music for the sake of getting gigs is the wrong way round--it's as if you wrote a book because you liked the smell of printer's ink.

And now I really am off, before the secret of my identity gets any opener.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: johncharles
Date: 16 Jul 12 - 12:29 PM

I thought it was bodhran accompaniment!


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 16 Jul 12 - 12:38 PM

Combine the two - Mule Train!


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 16 Jul 12 - 01:13 PM

Good heavens, is that Brigadier Lethbridge-Stuart?


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: matt milton
Date: 17 Jul 12 - 06:00 AM

"You do hit a brick wall though if you don't have recordings to show for yourself. I'm occasionally asked if I have an EP or album, or even a business card. (Just occasionally, minf, not often enough for me to harbour any illusions about my popularity.) I always feel a bit ridiculous saying I don't; I get the impression I'm probably the only musician in the world who doesn't in 2012."

"I admire you for that, Matt."

Thanks Richard, though in my case it's less integrity than simply the fact that whenever I listen back to recordings I end up thinking "god, do I really sound like that?!"

and want to junk it immediately.

I think the rough and tumble of live youTube footage is the way forward for me.

Mind you, I am about to sink a phenomenal amount of money on an amazing Elysian guitar, handmade in Blackheath by master luthier Matthew Carter. If I buy it, I will absolutely HAVE to pull my socks up.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,Phil E. sans cookie
Date: 17 Jul 12 - 06:24 AM

whenever I listen back to recordings I end up thinking "god, do I really sound like that?!"

The first time I heard my voice recorded I honestly thought there was something wrong with the tape-recorder. As for the first time I heard my sorry attempts at playing an instrument...

I find the trick is to record and forget, then spring the recordings on yourself at a later date - play a batch of recordings while you're doing the ironing or something. I've had recordings I thought were complete failures improve miraculously in the space of 24 hours not listening to them.

The performance does have to be that much better, at least technically, if you're recording - playing live you can blow past the bum chord or the fluffed line and nobody minds. Yet another hurdle for poor aspiring wallabies ("but I won't have to be perfect on the night...").

Latest frivolity: The Crow on the Cradle. Pro tip: if it sounds like rubbish, leave it 24 hours and try again.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 05 Aug 12 - 06:29 PM

Footnote to this thread:

I had also met Graham Bond (RIP) (...) Graham had a true, shining heart which beat music. I was a weedy sprog, but he gave me his full attention and the best, the only true, advice I've ever had in music, which was simply that you Have to do what you Have to do. (...) I mean to say by all this that Graham showed me life would, in the future, be complicated... but that one had to retain some kind of inner strength in order for it to make sense, or to be worthwhile. This is - even if it has been something of a digression - my long-overdue public thank you to him. It is boundless. If I had not met Graham and, through him, been connected to Pure Music I very much doubt that I would have retained my (still current) enthusiasm, interest, commitment, whatever to or for Doing Stuff.

From Peter Hamill's notes on the 1997 reissue of his/VdGG's first album The Aerosol Grey Machine. Wise words mate.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: GUEST,guest -Freddy Headey
Date: 13 Nov 13 - 06:44 AM

@stallion
Elle Osborne
www.elleo.com/


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Eldergirl
Date: 14 Nov 13 - 08:21 PM

The bottom rung? Oh, yeah. It would be nice to be asked because you like what I sing. just a 20 minute spot of my own..
Well, a girl can dream I suppose.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 15 Nov 13 - 06:44 PM

Didn't think we'd be seeing this thread again!

Eldergirl - thinking about the difference between the kind of people who get asked to do spots and the kind who don't (e.g. me), I think there are three ways of looking at it.

We don't get asked because...

1. We're just the wrong people: we don't have the looks, the charm, the ready banter, the knock-you-dead instrumental skills, the voice that you could listen to singing the phone book.

This is the most obvious explanation, but I think it's wrong. There are people out there with amazing instrumental skills, utterly beautiful voices or both (the bastards!), but there are others whose names we all know who have neither. And it can't all be down to looks and charm.

Alternatively, perhaps:

2. We're not doing the right things: making the rounds of the local (and less local) clubs, being seen at festivals, identifying five or six numbers that go down well and concentrating on them - and let's not forget actually letting it be known you'd like to do a spot.

And perhaps we're not doing those things because we don't want to badly enough, or at all. Personally I like learning new songs, I like having my weekends free and I'm quite fond of getting seven hours' sleep - so I don't repeat songs a lot (even if they went down well the first time), I don't go to festivals & I don't do that many weeknight singarounds. Which means that nobody outside a couple of overlapping groups of singers knows who I am - & nobody ever asks me to do a spot. As my Dad used to say, you pays your money and you takes your choice.


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Subject: RE: Getting on the bottom rung
From: Eldergirl
Date: 16 Nov 13 - 04:29 AM

Cheers Phil. As my Dad used to say, no point flogging a dead horse. I wasn't after A Career, either, just an acknowledgment, or 2!! Well at least i'm on a Whittlebury CD, that might count for something!! LOL.


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