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Sidmouth, young and old: a concern

GUEST,Anon 09 Oct 14 - 12:24 PM
bubblyrat 09 Oct 14 - 02:04 PM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 09 Oct 14 - 02:11 PM
Jack Campin 09 Oct 14 - 03:02 PM
GUEST,Derek Schofield 09 Oct 14 - 06:03 PM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 09 Oct 14 - 06:20 PM
Phil Edwards 09 Oct 14 - 07:57 PM
Leadfingers 09 Oct 14 - 08:29 PM
GUEST 09 Oct 14 - 08:46 PM
Musket 10 Oct 14 - 02:56 AM
GUEST 10 Oct 14 - 03:23 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 10 Oct 14 - 03:42 AM
Jack Campin 10 Oct 14 - 03:48 AM
GUEST,FloraG 10 Oct 14 - 04:10 AM
Richard Bridge 10 Oct 14 - 04:32 AM
GUEST,Anon's ally 10 Oct 14 - 05:42 AM
GUEST, topsie 10 Oct 14 - 06:08 AM
bubblyrat 10 Oct 14 - 07:10 AM
GUEST, topsie 10 Oct 14 - 07:28 AM
Mr Red 10 Oct 14 - 07:35 AM
GUEST,Reynard 10 Oct 14 - 09:00 AM
Rumncoke 10 Oct 14 - 09:44 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 10 Oct 14 - 10:00 AM
Mo the caller 11 Oct 14 - 05:22 AM
GUEST 11 Oct 14 - 08:33 AM
GUEST, topsie 11 Oct 14 - 08:33 AM
Leadfingers 11 Oct 14 - 01:49 PM
Harmonium Hero 11 Oct 14 - 03:13 PM
GUEST,Hey Nonny Rat 11 Oct 14 - 04:05 PM
Mr Red 12 Oct 14 - 05:22 AM
Musket 12 Oct 14 - 06:29 AM
GUEST,vectis 12 Oct 14 - 06:34 AM
Girl Friday 12 Oct 14 - 09:23 AM
GUEST 12 Oct 14 - 11:13 AM
Leadfingers 12 Oct 14 - 12:34 PM
Jack Campin 12 Oct 14 - 02:08 PM
GUEST,surreysinger 12 Oct 14 - 04:04 PM
GUEST,Anon 12 Oct 14 - 04:24 PM
GUEST 12 Oct 14 - 07:17 PM
GUEST 13 Oct 14 - 01:03 AM
GUEST,Anon 13 Oct 14 - 01:06 AM
Big Al Whittle 13 Oct 14 - 03:49 AM
GUEST,FloraG 13 Oct 14 - 03:52 AM
Phil Edwards 13 Oct 14 - 03:53 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 13 Oct 14 - 04:12 AM
GUEST, topsie 13 Oct 14 - 04:27 AM
GUEST,SteveT 13 Oct 14 - 08:33 AM
Jack Campin 13 Oct 14 - 09:29 AM
GUEST,Reynard 13 Oct 14 - 10:39 AM
GUEST 13 Oct 14 - 10:45 AM
Big Al Whittle 13 Oct 14 - 10:49 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 13 Oct 14 - 10:55 AM
Mr Red 13 Oct 14 - 12:29 PM
Phil Edwards 13 Oct 14 - 05:08 PM
GUEST,Phil sans cookie 14 Oct 14 - 08:15 AM
GUEST 14 Oct 14 - 09:12 AM
GUEST,SteveT 14 Oct 14 - 09:13 AM
Girl Friday 14 Oct 14 - 09:24 AM
Richard Bridge 14 Oct 14 - 06:46 PM
Big Al Whittle 14 Oct 14 - 07:36 PM
Herga Kitty 15 Oct 14 - 02:09 AM
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Subject: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: GUEST,Anon
Date: 09 Oct 14 - 12:24 PM

Dear Everyone

This is not going to be a popular post by any means but I hope you'll forgive me because it is a genuine question that I'd like your help on; I truly want to make sense of it.

I can be classified as a young folkie in that my friends in my local folk clubs are usually about 30 years older than me. I didn't grow up with folk music but I went out to discover it myself and now perform traditional songs at clubs and festivals and am a member of a festival organising Committee in the west of England.

I went to Sidmouth for the first time this year after many of my fellow folkies had waxed lyrically about it and told me I'd love it. I was really excited to go to a proper traditional festival, having previously been to more 'broad' folk festivals like Cambridge, Shrewsbury and Warwick.

I have to say that I was really very saddened and disappointed by my experience at Sidmouth. I don't say this as criticism of the organisers at all who put on some great concerts. I speak of the fringe events and the festival goers. For starters, most of the young people were performing and very few seemed to have gone without that as an incentive. Not only this, but every pub session I went into seemed closed off and unfriendly. At singarounds, people put on singers they knew – several people I spoke to said that this was the normal thing. More than this however, was how miserable everyone looked – it was as if to show any emotion rather than stony boredom might make other people mistakenly assume that they had only been coming for a mere 20 years and therefore that things could still surprise them – they would therefore be classed as not 'the real deal'.

I found Sidmouth incredibly unfriendly, with knowledge presiding over passion and with no real engagement with young people. I've spoken to people who have said the same thing about Whitby and I can't comment, not having been, but surely this is not good enough if we want to avoid another 'folk doldrums' in ten years or so after all the young people have been scared away?

To my complete horror, I have been put off folk music. My initial attraction to folk music in general stemmed from love of music from the past but also folk's sociableness and the way two people from different backgrounds can meet, share music , take something away from the encounter and make something both old and new at the same time. I am coming to believe that instead of this, folk is a dry, insular thing, full of censure, disapproval and unfriendliness and the only right way is to do things in one particular way.

The reason I'm writing this is that I haven't been able to have a proper discussion with the people in my folk club who will hear no wrong about it. I have tried a couple of times but have stopped at the risk of maligning something so many people hold dear.

I worked very hard to find out more about folk music and to be a part of it but I feel very sad about the possibility that the majority of my 20s might have been accidentally given to an ungenerous, judgemental area of music. I do not want to feel like this and would appreciate some insight from others.

I know that much has been discussed about young people and folk music on Mudcat but I would like to know if A) other young people have felt this way about Sidmouth and the very traditional English festivals, B) if older people have felt this way and C) how I communicate my thoughts with other folkies that I meet and how I can help to make things better. I go to one of the most traditional clubs in England specifically to learn more about the traditional stuff and have found what I've learned to be invaluable. I don't want now to feel at war somehow with the older generation.

Apologies for any offence caused. I think it is important for me to have these questions asked and answered and I do hope that you understand my reason for writing.

Thank you to all of you.


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: bubblyrat
Date: 09 Oct 14 - 02:04 PM

As an OLD "folkie" who first went to Sidmouth in 1965, I would like to reply to this "young person " thus ; Actually, the REVERSE of what you say is true,in my experience . For years now,there have young performers/ bands etc ,who have been "reading" folk at University, and who consequently think that they are VASTLY superior to those of us "amateurs" who don't,can't or won't , read music or play complex jigs and reels at breakneck speed without a single mistake !! Trying to join them in a "session" often results in frosty stares and a very unfriendly and unwelcoming attitude .This has been going on for some years now, and the sheer bloody ARROGANCE of these young upstarts is ,frankly , APPALLING !! So STOP MOANING and be grateful for being able to get "on the ladder" , so to speak ; it takes TIME, believe me !!


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 09 Oct 14 - 02:11 PM

First off, calling yourself 'Anon' is guaranteed to wind up more than a few here.
So if this thread takes off, and you carry on posting, it's best to make up a guest name.
[I made up mine as a one off joke, and I've been lumbered with it for more than a decade.]

What's maybe surprising is you've actually stuck it out with the folk scene for so long,
before arriving at this realisation...

It might not seem like it right now, but disillusionment can be turned around
into a positive critical awareness
of the reality of the 'friendly' folk business;
and a new mature outlook on the myriad of self-righteous tossers
who tend to overshadow the good encouraging helpful folks...

I'm in my mid 50s by the way.....


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: Jack Campin
Date: 09 Oct 14 - 03:02 PM

I've never been to Sidmouth but I have been to Whitby a few times. I can imagine somebody having Anon's experience, but only if they were a singer. Instrumentalists do tend to sort themselves out into groups doing different things, but there isn't a lot of aggro. On the other hand there are very few younger singers at all - certainly none with the student-virtuoso pretensions complained about above - and the singarounds I've looked into or attempted to take part in have not been welcoming to strangers of any age. Arriving in a squad of at least three might help. Or maybe there are exceptions I've missed.


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield
Date: 09 Oct 14 - 06:03 PM

Bubblerat ... I don't think your posting does much to convince young Anon to continue pursuing his/her interest in folk music.

personally, I find there are undoubtedly some arrogant young people in folk, and equally some arrogant older people.... arrogance is not the prerogative of any particular age group. Generally, though the younger performers I come across are happy to mix with us oldies and keen to learn and hear what we have to say and sing ... and then do their own thing where appropriate, just like we did back in the day.

As for your experience Anon, I can only say that you might have been unfortunate .... not sure how old you are exactly - you didn't say - but are you in the Shooting Roots age range? Even if you are not (ie older) there are plenty of ex Shooting Roots people around who have themselves got a bit older.

I am not sure what young people would say ... I'll pass your comment to some of them who go to Sidmouth!

Finally, punkfolkrocker, I'd prefer it is everyone used their own name. Anon seems no different to punkfolkrocker .. perhaps I know who you really are, but punkfolkrocker gives me no clue!

Derek


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 09 Oct 14 - 06:20 PM

Derek, my real name is....[very low whisper]...

But please don't let any of the dangerous nutters and stalkers know what I just told you...

I hope you don't think I was chiding this young newcomer ?
As you so rightly point out,
I am the last person here to get on my high horse about anonymous posting...[just ask most mods...]

I was just giving 'anon' a little forewarning hint of potentially what to expect
from the mudcat neighbourhood watch anti-anonymity hardliners....


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 09 Oct 14 - 07:57 PM

I think Jack's line about singarounds being unwelcoming to strangers of any age is significant (although whether or not it applies to Whitby I don't know). Anon, you may feel that you got passed over because you were a young person sitting on the edge of a group of middle-aged folkies who all knew each other, but I really doubt that your age will have been a factor. Picture a middle-aged version of yourself sitting on the edge of that same group, also not knowing any of them - would the organiser's greydar have picked up that personand welcomed them in as a fellow old codger? I think it's far more likely that you happened on a group of friends who like to sing together and don't much like newcomers. Which is horrible - I hate it when that happens to me - but it's not about youth and age; it's just about some folkies being miserable and standoffish.


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: Leadfingers
Date: 09 Oct 14 - 08:29 PM

Anon's view of Sidmouth is totally at odds with my experience.He/she
certainly didnt come anywhere near Gerry and my session at The Newt, nor The Middle Bar , as they let ANYBODY sing
Kitty's singaround at The Faulkner is always welcoming , so I cant imagine where Anon went !


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Oct 14 - 08:46 PM

Hate to say it Leadfingers but when you are ensconced in your own little fiefdom all of life can seem rosy.

I think that Anon makes some very valid points and as for not knowing his age group I think his posting makes it fairly clear that he is around 30 years of age.


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: Musket
Date: 10 Oct 14 - 02:56 AM

I enjoy Sidmouth whenever I go and at all levels from concerts to pub sessions via street entertainment. The only time I got frustrated was agreeing to be part of a backing band for a booked singer. Too busy to enjoy some of the bits I love.

Our original poster needs to give it a chance. It is too varied to sum up in one visit. I too was much younger than most of my first folk club mates when I started as a 16 year old, and even now in early retirement, I am one of the younger members of our local club. I don't buy into the Young and old so much as feel my generation is the missing one. Lots of older people still around and I am excited by the interest in folk and acoustic roots by a whole new generation of younger people, with their own heros who in years to come will be revered in words many here reserve for Martin Carthy, Nic Jones, Fairport Convention etc.

Give Sidmouth another try next year eh? I'll buy you a pint.


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Oct 14 - 03:23 AM

I've played in sessions all over the place, a lot in Whitby, Otley Cleckheaton, Holmfirth and all local sessions around Halifax and Bradford near where I live, without exception, young people recieve nothing but encouragement no matter what they sing and play.

Some years ago we started a Friday teatime session at The Fleece in Haworth, we pulled in lots of young people, from very early teens to early 20s, we gave them loads of encouragement but actually most of them were very good already, just needing somewhere to sing and play.

I find it hard to believe about Sidmouth.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 10 Oct 14 - 03:42 AM

I suspect that what you mistook for unfriendliness was probably mainly boredom. To this old folkie, at least, the contemporary folk scene is all a bit stale. 'Heard-it-all-before' syndrome may well have set in with many of the oldies (although I doubt whether any of them would admit it). There's also, in my opinion, too much 'diddly diddly' and not enough attention paid to singing.

In my day there were lots of different factions in conflict with each other - and it was often these conflicts that kept things interesting. There were twee EFDSSers who were mainly interested in country dancing, guitar heroes, people who wanted to sound like Americans (particularly like Bob Dylan), 'folk choirs' who sang in harmony (for some strange reason) and folk rockers. And towering over them all, kicking ass and keeping order, was the giant figure of Ewan MacColl - one of the few geniuses that I have ever met. Ewan, with his great artistic talent and creativity - and his other talent for generating controversy) was the person who truly made folk interesting for me. Sadly, I suspect, we will never see his like again.


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: Jack Campin
Date: 10 Oct 14 - 03:48 AM

I suspect that what you mistook for unfriendliness was probably mainly boredom.

Leaving out anybody you don't know when calling people to sing and bellowing your own song over them when they start are not signs of boredom.


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 10 Oct 14 - 04:10 AM

I've just come back from Terterden ( Kent festival) and it was really nice to see so many young singers actually singing in the tradition and not singing self penned teenage angst songs. They also hung around to hear we oldies warble a bit.
Anon - its very easy when there is a group of people you know to get them to perform in a session at the expense of new faces. Also some unorganised sessions tend to have a few people who dominate a group. I used to organise post dance sessions for a morris side. I would always try to include anyone in the pub who looked like they wanted to perform as well as making sure every performer on the side had a go, and play a few easy tunes for others to join in with as wellas some songs that everybody knew. It was more difficult than it sounds as you would try to put an experienced performer after a less experienced one and often you would have someone in mind and find they had gone out to have a fag. However, I did my best and the side had a number of young singers and dancers.
Please don't give up on us.
FloraG


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 10 Oct 14 - 04:32 AM

Well, due to work I've only been able to get to Sidders in the past for the opening weekend, a couple of times, and I've thoroughly enjoyed both, and found it mostly very welcoming.

I did have an experience in one session of trying 5 times to start a song (one with a relatively quiet guitar introduction) and being played or sung over every time. The 6th time the organiser appeared to be chatting to his friends so I went ahead anyway - only to have him accuse me of playing over his performance of a funny story. Harsh words were said.

But that was FAR better than a session in a different county when a totally conceited tenor banjo player simply played over everyone.

Mostly, in my experience, folkies are a considerate lot. Certainly at Tenterden, where I was last weekend, in the sessions the chairs were diligent to make sure they asked several times if there were people who wanted to sing but had not yet done so. Singers ages ranged from (at a guess) early 20s to mid 70s. The major source of inconsiderate noise comes from the people in pubs who are not really participants and talk very loudly.


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: GUEST,Anon's ally
Date: 10 Oct 14 - 05:42 AM

In my opinion Sidmouth fringe events certainly aren't the fun events they once were and things seem much quieter of late.

The Radway sessions are definitely less well attended these days although I've always found them to be quite inclusive, welcoming and friendly.

The Anchor has been much quieter in the last few years. Whilst I hesitate to describe a clique developing there's no doubt that there are 'favourites'. The fun aspect is fast disappearing. Why on earth were the 'Rules' removed?

The Ceilidh in the Ford(Cancelled. Again.) remains a fun and very inclusive event although Elf and Safety is becoming a pain in the arse. We're all grown-ups. Aren't we?

As for Anon's anonymity, I fully understand and appreciate his (or her) wish not wanting to be named. Anon was making obervations, as am I. And what's wrong with wishing to make intelligent comment anonymously? Both Anon's and my comments aren't offensive, so why not?

Season ticket for Sidmouth are too expensive for me, I'm not complaining about the prices, it's just that the prices are over and above what I can afford. My experience is taken purely from my experiences of the fringe.

I may go back to Sidmouth in the future but I'd need to be convinced that my hard-earned dosh couldn't be better spent at another festival. Even attending a festival's fringe events can be an expensive do!

I'm 60 so certainly not at the young end of the spectrum, but unless I can have some fun at an event there's not a lot of point in me going. Even 60 year-olds want fun.

If I'm excluded / cold-shouldered at a festival, session, singaround then I'm not going to enjoy it and it's highly unlikely that I'd want to return.

These are just MY opinions. I'm not preaching. Others have there own opinions based on their own experiences, these are just mine.

Anon's (anonymous!) Ally


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: GUEST, topsie
Date: 10 Oct 14 - 06:08 AM

I've always found Sidmouth friendly and welcoming (mostly), but there are always exceptions. On one occasion I went into the Anchor early in the morning before things had really started. There was one musician sitting quietly in the bar. He told me he was thinking about who was likely to come to the session, and working out tunes they didn't know, so that they wouldn't be able to join in if he played them.


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: bubblyrat
Date: 10 Oct 14 - 07:10 AM

The Anchor is a "hotbed" of what we used to call "Finger -in-ear " traditionalism ,and woe betide anyone who turns up with a guitar or other instrument !! I console myself by thinking "I guess they can't play an instrument themselves !!" ----not true, of course ; many of them are good instrumentalists , but it is the attitude , the sense of superiority ,that can be galling .Ditto the attitude in The Bedford ; for YEARS now I have turned up to ( even initiated !) an "American Old Time" session, and watched the disapproving looks of those who think my guitar (an Avalon with cutaway and Fishman controls ) is entirely unsuitable (it should,of course,be a beat-up old Martin !! ).

            But I am 67 now , and don't really give a monkey's ! If the people in the Radway don't want me to play Irish tunes, then I shall go elsewhere . But I miss the "Old Days" ; sitting on the beach at Jacobs Ladder round a huge fire ; playing with the Jan Steen Nederlandse Danse Groep ( I THINK I got that right ) in the Churchhouse Lawn Marquee ;playing for free drinks in the Black Horse; Yelling "Eff Off" as the shitehawks stream out of town when the fireworks go off !! --I miss those days , "Anon" , but you have them to LOOK FORWARD TO !! (except the Dutch dancers ).


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: GUEST, topsie
Date: 10 Oct 14 - 07:28 AM

The incident above was for the session in the bar on the other side (i.e. go in the main door and turn right), not the singers' bar.


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: Mr Red
Date: 10 Oct 14 - 07:35 AM

When the Irish in the Anchor was in full swing the musos were intent on playing, and not so much talking. But nobody made me & my Bodhran feel uncomfortable. Maybe me and my Bodhran have a thicker skin. The same with the Bedford & the Radway. Not a great deal of talking, but plenty of music. And only by horming-in with a joke did they demonstrably acknowledge my presence. But I wasn't seeking any. Just glad to bash my instrument.
Singarounds - well you just have to like the atmosphere, it is more reverent. And they may engage in an erudite discussion. The Volunteer is IMNSHO less inviting, but that is due to the format. It is a singaround with invited guests. And in my experience you have to let the "peepsincharge" know that you are a performer and wait until there is time for you. If they don't know you that, the wait can be long. But they are protecting the format and they need to know you are doing the same.
There was a session in the Bedford back room and I got the feeling that the likes of me would not be "invited" and it was populated by young performers and maybe friends.
Personally I find Shrewsbury un-inviting. Horses for course, and the going can be tough, particularly if it rains at Shrewsbury!


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: GUEST,Reynard
Date: 10 Oct 14 - 09:00 AM

Dear Anon,

I was very interested to read your post as it chimes with some of my own experiences. I'm now in my 30s and only really got into Trad folk in my late 20s. I have found this to be fairly rare, with most other younger people who are interested in the music seeming to have been raised around it. I agree that it seems it seems unusual to see anyone at a folk festival between the ages of 20-40 who is there purely as a punter (young families being one possible exception); they are generally either performers, part of a dance team or working in some capacity.

I should say that in general I have found the community around folk music to be welcoming, with most older folkies being very pleased to see anyone younger taking an interest in traditional music.

On that note I would urge people to keep an open mind about mixing with "folk" singer-songwriters playing self-penned stuff, (or someone playing a version of a song they learnt from "Leige and Leif"). They probably don't know much about traditional music but if they are exposed to it and welcomed they are much more likely to take an interest and continue exploring traditional songs. I personally know of several people who have become very interested in traditional song through this route. Basically people should try to remember that it was all new to them once!

I have had some similar experiences to you (mainly at festivals) where some of the singarounds and sessions can sometimes feel rather cliquey, and not particularly welcoming. I think to some extent this is just an inevitable result of the same group of friends attending for 30 years, and being quite happy with things remaining the same year after year. I don't believe most of the people involved are deliberately rude, but perhaps could make a bit more of an effort to welcome incomers. I do think festivals could do more to work with the fringe to let people know what's going on and encourage more explicitly inclusive events.

However, I have at times suspected there to be a bit of grumpy resentment towards younger people from a minority of the older festival goers, and some of the comments on this thread certainly confirm that suspicion.

I have to admit that I have also come away from festivals feeling a bit depressed before, but I've never been completely put off because I love the music, and the history behind it- and that's surely too good to abandon just because some people were unfriendly. So "Anon" I hope your experiences won't put you off. As others have said, there is good and bad in any genre I think you have to choose the aspects of Folk you enjoy and leave those you don't.

Finally- I hope this isn't too personal a note, and I don't know your circumstances (I may be barking up the wrong tree) but I think it helps if you can find friends closer to your own age who share your interest and would be willing to attend with you. I think it's only natural to want to socialise with people around your own age with the same cultural reference points outside the narrow trad folk world; otherwise it can get a bit intense! I know it can be difficult to meet people who share what is very much a minority of a minority interest in our age group. I live in London, which perhaps makes things a bit easier.

Good luck to you and maybe our paths will cross one day.


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: Rumncoke
Date: 10 Oct 14 - 09:44 AM

There are usually two methods of getting a song - Woodlands and upstairs at the Rugby club you write your name on a list at the door - at Woodlands they are usually over subscribed so you might have to try again next day, when preference is given to previous attendees. At the York and Faulkner you might be accosted and interrogated as to your willingness to sing as you enter the door, or be sitting down listening when the same thing happens, just more quietly. If there is time there might be a general enquiry to the room as to who might like to sing but came in late.

Upstairs at the Anchor the Twig Rules, so you might need to accost the twig carrier but that is usually not too difficult.

It is many a long year since I first went to Sidmouth - I have a tee shirt for the 21st and I think this year was the 80th, for those of us who went the year it wasn't and had a festival anyway. There is a lot of it and it might just be that you need to find the places where you can sing.


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 10 Oct 14 - 10:00 AM

The fringe events are just that. Many have been running for decades and each has evolved its own character and funny little ways. There's (usually) no intention to exclude newcomers but these aren't random groups of strangers, they are often reunions of people who have been going there for many years and who may also know one another from other festivals. It's inevitable that a newcomer of any age can feel a bit out of place and may find it cliquey. You need a fine balance of tact and assertiveness to make your presence felt without treading on the old-timers' toes. If you can manage that then most sessions will make you welcome, and before long you'll be accepted as one of the regulars. However there are lots of sessions, and if one doesn't feel right for you then look for another.

Also bear in mind that all festivals are different, and one person's favourite may not be another's. Personally I prefer Sidmouth to Whitby, but others I know prefer Whitby to Sidmouth. In many ways they are quite similar and the differences and reasons for preferring one to the other are fairly intangible and largely come down to atmosphere and 'feel'. Just because your friends are enthusiastic about Sidmouth, doesn't mean it's right for you. It would be worth trying some other festivals of a similar nature.


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: Mo the caller
Date: 11 Oct 14 - 05:22 AM

Yes, I would agree with Howard, though I don't know much about singing or Sidmouth.
When I go to dances without a partner I need to make it clear that I want to dance,ask people or stand on the edge of the dance floor and look hopeful rather than sit in a back row.
I guess that if you go into a singaround it might be a good idea to ask who is in charge and make yourself known.
A festival is so short - the programme is not always very informative about exactly what kind of event each is - most people have been coming for years and 'just know'.
I go to Whitby and there is always a prefestival discussion on Mudcat of someone asking 'where is the best place for .... (whatever that person wants).
Whitby, Chippenham and Chester (maybe others) have Youth sessions where some of the younger booked guests lead and us oldies are excluded so I'm not sure if they sing, play or both.


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Oct 14 - 08:33 AM

Reynard said: "I think it's only natural to want to socialise with people around your own age with the same cultural reference points outside the narrow trad folk world."

I don't find that natural at all. One of the best things about the "trad folk world" is that age groups seem irrelevant and the generations mix happily. I find restricting yourself to your own age group is unnatural and very limiting, and should be resisted at all times, not just in the folk world.


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: GUEST, topsie
Date: 11 Oct 14 - 08:33 AM

Sorry, that was me.


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: Leadfingers
Date: 11 Oct 14 - 01:49 PM

Sadly I can't name the poster I am replying to as they were yet another anonymous GUEST .
I agree that having your 'niche' IS easiest , but the Newt Sessions ARE open to all comers .
ANYONE with an instrument is Invited to perform , and we DO regularly comment that Unaccompanied singers are welcome , though a punter without a Gig Bag may or may not be a performer. In the more than twenty years I have been involved , the only time I pissed a muso off so badly that he left was a lad with a Soprano Sax who played along with EVERYTHING including Acapella singers , wether he knew the tune or not , or could play his Bflat interment in CSharp or whatever !


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 11 Oct 14 - 03:13 PM

I had the experience at Sidmouth way back in the early 70s, of us - the duo I was with - putting our names down on the singaround list at the Beach Store for the whole week, and despite our turning up every day, only getting to sing once, or possibly twice. One particular MC - no names, no pack drill - only seemed to pick people he had known at college. After many years' absence, I have been back a couple of times in recent years, with a dance team. You don't get to see so much of things when you are there performoing as when you are a punter, but my impression was the the atmosphere was not the same. I think the sessions were better back then. They have organised sessions now, and that's probably made a difference. I agree with many comments made above. Singarounds used to be things you got at festivals, where I think they are all right, if run fairly. But I think running a folk club on those lines can be disastrous. You get the same people turning up every week, sitting in the same seats and getting to know all the other regulars, so that a stranger can feel as though s/he has walked in to someone's living room, with a lot of old codgers discussing their holidays, their grandchildren and their operations... I find it exclusive and off-putting, and I'm 68 in a few weeks, so I can't imagine it encouraging younger people. It shouldn't be like this. It wasn't like this back then: we were all in it together, regardless of age. I agree with topsie's last post. It's exactly what I've always felt. We're all people. (Somebody back up the thread said we were all grown-ups.....not sure about that; I'm not one for a start).
I always thought it was all about the music. I still think so., but I'm feeling increasingly isolated.

John Kelly.


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: GUEST,Hey Nonny Rat
Date: 11 Oct 14 - 04:05 PM

Several thoughts:

Is the organisational aspect separating amateurs and professionals, as commented on elsewhere?

Are things like H&S and DBS influencing it?

You are part of a Festival organising committee, which means the performers will get to know you, and once they know you, you'll be on the inside circle. It doesn't solve the problem for others, though.

The oldtimers of the 1960s heyday aren't going to be around much longer: old age does not come alone. This could mean the circcuit can no longer carry the overheads, though.

At a personal level, can you separate the music and the people? Even if you dislike the people, you can ignore them for the music. Plenty of performers have, indeed it may be something the inner circle: they don't actually like anyone. We've seen it on certain threads here too!


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: Mr Red
Date: 12 Oct 14 - 05:22 AM

I agree that it seems it seems unusual to see anyone at a folk festival between the ages of 20-40 who is there purely as a punter
You ainta been ta Towersey obviously. Mind you it is THE dancers festival on that Bank Holiday. Most of the Yoof are dancing.
FWIW I have noticed (as a sessioneer) that sessions in the last 20 years have not been as prolific or populous. Even in Bromyard where there used to be sessions in at least 7 or 8 pubs. But the 4/5 that remain are pretty good there.
It must be a sign of the times. I would have thought in times of austerity (or did I mean recession? - er make that depression) that making ones own music would have been more popular. But then the rise of dancing may be the expression of that. Witness the amount of dancing offered at Sidmouth. I don't have enough T-Shirts to change into if I danced every one. I have 63!
Though I have to say that there are festivals that can no longer support a ceilidh as well as concerts and that must be a result of the straightened times.

Now if you are a singist you are always gonna have to agree to the format. It is more formal. Turn up early, make it known you are a performer, and wait until it comes round to you. If the music stops for an erudite discussion it can deflate a "singers" impression of the worth of a session, but it enhances it for those that were here last year, and the year before, and the year before.
Was it ever the divide between old and young? The subjects they choose to discourse on.

Of course what some enterprising folkies do is say "sod this I am going to start my own festival, and it will look like I want it to". & sometimes that goes on to greater things.


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: Musket
Date: 12 Oct 14 - 06:29 AM

I tend to be heartened by the numbers of younger people at festivals these days. You tend to see them more in the concerts that the singarounds, but going to a festival as a punter is the norm in most musical genres, so folk is slowly getting there itself.

If you spend £50+ for a ticket, you'd much rather be listening to Show of Hands than Musket...


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: GUEST,vectis
Date: 12 Oct 14 - 06:34 AM

Hi Anon,

If you go to the Royal York and Faulkener early in the morning or in the evening you would be warmly received and made very welcome the same goes for The New Tavern session.

If you prefer unaccompanied then the Anchor is the place for you. Just sit tight and you will have your turn. Most nights you get only one or two songs to lead.

The lunchtime session in The Volunteer is for Traditional singers and mainly unaccompanied it is harder to get a song there but if you make yourself known to the guy in the very bright shirt standing at the bar he will probably give you a go. There are some much younger traditional style singers who are lauded there because of their youth and quality.

There are other sessions in other pubs and bars and each has a different flavour, you will have to do as I did, watch and learn the best places for you to be.

The Woodlands and the Rugby Club have open sessions where you would be made welcome.

The Cafe just off the Prom has a blackboard open mic daily which welcomes all who want to perform.

Us oldies love to see young performers coming through and delight in watching them grow and improve over the years. We do like to reminisc about 'old thingy' who died years ago but that is part of the oral history of Sidders which you could become part of.

Go back and enjoy the fringe it took me a few years to find out which sessions I liked best. I now live in New Zealand and would give my eye teeth to be able to go to Sidders and Whitby again there is nothing like them here.


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: Girl Friday
Date: 12 Oct 14 - 09:23 AM

Anon- Don't give up on us just yet. It is great to see the youngsters coming through as Festival Guests- but it's even better to see them turning up at sessions. Getting them along to our Folk clubs would be great too. Regarding the Sidmouth sessions : I can't speak for this year as we went back to our local Festival in Broadstairs, but in the past every session that has been mentioned here (barring the ones we haven't been to) have been welcoming. It is easier for the session leader to recognise a potential singer if he/she is equipped with an instrument. Unknown unaccompanied singers can blend in with the listeners.. yoiu have to make yourself known. There are leaders who appear to put their mates on , but that maybe because we mostly all know each other, and what everyone does. Without the young people, we cannot survive.


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Oct 14 - 11:13 AM

Don't think this issue is reserved for young people this problem is endemic in both Sidmouth and Whitby, you will hear everyone saying it is not,but if you are not known to the clique then forget it. You will also come across some really ignorant old people just because they are old does not make them nice. I am an accomplished musician in my sixties


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: Leadfingers
Date: 12 Oct 14 - 12:34 PM

Some years ago , a singer I knew from another local club turned up at my club just after August Bank Holiday , bemoaning the standard of MC at the Towersey Barn sing in that they DIDNT get a song and the MC was only asking his mates to sing .It transpired that they had turned up at Nine Thirty on Sunday and the MC (an old friend) was building up the choruses to a finale , and putting people on who had sung earlier , when very few were in attendance - As for 'Only putting his mates on' , The Barn is run on a 'Round The Room' basis , and my Oppo checks round the room who wants to sing and where they are from while a fairly long song is being sung .

So DONT jump to conclusions at a session if you are not immediately made welcome and asked to perform if the session is under way when you arrive


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: Jack Campin
Date: 12 Oct 14 - 02:08 PM

And don't assume that everybody reporting on their personal experience is "jumping to conclusions", either.


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: GUEST,surreysinger
Date: 12 Oct 14 - 04:04 PM

And don't necessarily assume that everyone on this thread has necessarily got it all right. Mr Red for instance classed the Traditional sessions (lunchtime)in the Volunteer as a singaround, which is something they are definitely not. Singers are invited to provide a song,which may or may not be traditional (most are, but not all), and the proceedings are interspersed with a couple of tunes from the pitband of the day. Most singers there are regulars,and a number are guests at festivals in their own right. The MC and invited MC of the day are experienced singers/musicians,so know a large majority of those present, and try to provide a varied and balanced selection of songs, song types and singers. They are quite happy to receive requests to sing from individuals that they don't know. As to the implication of having to wait a long time to sing if you are a newcomer ... that applies to experienced known faces as well.I never expect that I will necessarily be asked to sing (sometimes I haven't) and nor do I know when it's likely to be (I've sung at the beginning, the end, the middle). And as has already been indicated age makes no difference. In fact it's more likely that young singers will be welcomed with open arms rather than cold shouldered. (IMHO)

By the way Anon - are you still out there? It would be interesting to know which venues you tried? As has already been said, all sessions ,singarounds, song events are run on different lines, and you need to find out which ones are actualy to your taste, and, if you don't know anyone, approach the session organiser to let him/her know that you are a singer and would like the chance to be heard. Hope you persist.


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: GUEST,Anon
Date: 12 Oct 14 - 04:24 PM

Hi All

Thank you to so many of you for addressing my concerns in a helpful and supportive way. I've been really interested to read about other people's experiences and I'm pleased that what I've said has resonated with many people so I don't feel quite so frustrated.

To give my thoughts on a couple of things that have been said; I am fully aware that some young people will no doubt be arrogant, although I personally haven't met many (and on a slightly unrelated note, in professional terms, the young performers we've had at our festival have generally tended to be much less arrogant than older ones).

I have not done the folk degree, and while I have objections the concept, I am much more a fan of an 'open door' approach to folk music rather than a closed one, so if they want to do it, fine. The fact is, it exists and we should be accepting of the people who do it.

I obviously did not go to all the sessions and singarounds mentioned and if I do go back, I'd give them a go and am grateful for the advice. I want to emphasise the fact that with the singarounds I did attend (well trained as I am by now in folk club etiquette), I turned up early, made myself known to the MC and put my name down in the proper way. At one, even stood next to the MC for the duration without success.

One thing that has been mentioned a few times bothers me, and that is that you need to go to Sidmouth a few times in order to 'build' on the experience. I find this a bit perplexing; why would you keep going back to a festival so that one day you might enjoy it? In my own festival organising experience, I would be incredibly concerned to hear that people were doing this at our festival.

One thing of particular value I think is worth echoing was Reynard's example of some older people being annoyed about young people singing Liege and Lief songs. I think it is important to emphasise the value of encouragement - the first song I ever sang at a folk club was A Sailor's Life, learnt from Liege and Lief. If people had been rude to me after the nerve it took to get up the first time, I would never have stuck around and learnt other brilliant, unusual songs from amazing collectors.

Thanks again everyone.


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Oct 14 - 07:17 PM

the first song I ever sang at a folk club was A Sailor's Life, learnt from Liege and Lief

Erm, Fairport's version of A Sailor's Life is on Unhalfbricking...


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Oct 14 - 01:03 AM


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: GUEST,Anon
Date: 13 Oct 14 - 01:06 AM

Haha! Unhalfbricking is what I meant, of course. Sorry, long day.


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 13 Oct 14 - 03:49 AM

well....Sidmouth is a nice place. i just like walking up and down the front bumping into people. i like looking at sea, eating chips, and the sandstone cliffs.

most festivals are a bit dire as a performing experience. that's probably cos i like using my own PA system.   you really are at the mercy of how people make you sound.

i always like watching Martin Carthy from afar - he walks round Sidmouth with a lovely spring in his step and a sunny smile. Alan Bell and Paul Downes are usually somewhere in the environs.

i hated being crammed into that big tent this year. i was hoping to see Ralph McTell - but i found it so claustrophobic, i had to get out. and it cost as much as seeing him in a nice comfortable theatre. not to mention that tradition of being in a bloody great queue.

the sessions are okay, but its abit of a waste of all that sea air. at some point i always seem to look out of the window wistfully and wish i was trolling up and down the promenade. and theres nowhere you can actually listen to music and have a Devon cream tea.

i sympathise if you found it hard to get a foothold. there are worse festivals. i think maybe if i were doing it as a ploy to network - i would actually just go to festivals where i was able to make prior arrangements - arrange a definite spot.

you have to decide whether you're some sort of wander vogel, or a muso trying to cut a dash. and make your festival plans accordingly. if you're an old fart rattling round sidmouth - its pretty perfect as is.


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 13 Oct 14 - 03:52 AM

Anon - how nice to hear you are active. In most voluntary things there is a missing generation - what I call Thatchers children - brought up to believe you look after number one. Morris sides are the same - with the older and younger dancers - little middle.
As a by and by - we went to Deal festival and on the programme was Smugglesrs session. We went along - and found full PA set up - not what we really thought we wanted but we would chance it for a while. In the end we were there all evening. Smugglers is a record label - of mostly young performers. They did a mix of styles but a lot of folk and jazz - and good quality it was too. They organised the PA and the evening. At the end - one of the younger performers politely asked us if we had enjoyed it ( we were the only bus pass audience who were there all evening). I think he was a bit surprised to find we could compliment them on so many things - but we were the minority. Feeling a bit like a young person going into a sing around for the first time.
FloraG


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 13 Oct 14 - 03:53 AM

I once saw a newcomer introduce Thousands Or More as "a Kate Rusby song". It was fine - nobody was nasty about it. She might have been a bit taken aback by quite how well everyone else knew it.


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 13 Oct 14 - 04:12 AM

The thing about festivals like Sidmouth is that they are very large and very varied. There are a lot of sessions and they all vary both in the sort of music catered for and the way they operate. It can be quite difficult on a first visit to discover them all and figure out which ones suit you. Hence the advice not to dismiss it based on a single visit. However I'd also recommend trying Broadstairs and and Whitby - all week-long summer festivals at the seaside, but each with their own character.

A tip - standing next to the MC may not be the best way to get noticed, you may find you do better if you place yourself in their clear line of sight.

For all its good intentions about being open and welcoming, the folk world can appear cliquey to newcomers. This is unfortunately inevitable where it involves a fairly small pool of people who have known one another for decades. With a few unfortunate exceptions, most are not in fact exclusive and will welcome any newcomers. The problem can be getting yourself noticed, but if you are overlooked it is almost certainly not intentional, other things being equal.

Festival sessions are busy places and a lot of people want to perform. An MC has a difficult job and has to balance fairness to those who wish to sing with providing a good balance of songs for the audience. They don't always get this right, and it should not be surprising if they sometimes prefer a known performer over an unknown. Being asked to perform should be seen as a privilege, not a right. If you don't get asked on your first visit keep going back and tactfully make your presence felt. If after a couple of visits you still haven't been given a chance, try another session.


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: GUEST, topsie
Date: 13 Oct 14 - 04:27 AM

"i like looking at sea, eating chips, and the sandstone cliffs"

So it was YOU that made the cliff collapse!


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: GUEST,SteveT
Date: 13 Oct 14 - 08:33 AM

First - I don't think it's an age-related thing but it's very difficult for anyone to go to something that's as established as Sidmouth and instantly feel part of the groups that have been going for decades.

I think big festivals work best if you go primarily for the concerts. I don't think going with the expectation of "becoming" part of the fringe on a first visit is realistic. Perhaps, with age, I've just got the hang of waiting a while in order to be accepted but when I go somewhere new, my first visit is usually just to find out more about it - not to expect to be a part.

As far as Sidmouth goes, there's so much going on in the fringe-type events that it would be easy to miss some of them – perhaps the ones that would best allow you to do something yourself. If you want a stage, sign up for the Dukes open mic. If you want an almost guaranteed chance to sing (with or without an instrument), go to the daily morning singarounds (run by Kitty) at the Royal York & Faulkner or to the evening ones (run by Rosie or, this year, Dave (Acorn4)). For unaccompanied singing go to the Anchor "Middle bar". In all these cases though, be prepared to be there for up to an hour or two before it's your turn. They're not run on a "favourites first" basis but they're all popular with lots of others there waiting too. You're more likely to get a song in sooner at the "Newt" but again it'll depend on how busy it is.

There are programmed places you could try like Colin's themed singarounds in the Rugby Club but, again, be prepared to wait. I've sat there for an hour or so without being asked to sing (and I know Colin) before having to move to get to a different event but I never thought it was anything but the luck of the draw. (I did give his book a good review!) The Ballad session (traditional ballads only in the main) in the Woodlands rarely has enough time to get on all those who've signed up – though you'll get on early the next day if you get in early and sign up.

I've only been to the evening "Folk Club" in the Arts Centre once but I think, a bit like the themed singaround, if you sign your name and are prepared to wait, you'll get your chance eventually.

So there are plenty of opportunities but you do have to be patient as they're all popular with lots of people wanting to sing.

The Volunteer is, as others have said, not a singaround. In the main the same people go each day and each year so it's bound to appear cliquey if everyone knows each other. An MC invites people to sing and you either have to be known to the MC as a singer or, presumably, be quite pushy to get noticed. That's because it's there, in my opinion, as a showcase for the best of what's on offer at the festival so a certain amount of quality control is needed. There are other places for run of the mill singers such as myself or for those wanting a chance to become more well known.

There are plenty of other places where singing happens but they tend to be created where groups of friends get together so they're bound to be a bit more cliquey. The central group in the front bar of the Bedford all seem to have been meeting up there for years, groups of friends go to the Swan and start to sing but I don't think they're there as a platform to bring new performers on – they're just friends enjoying some time together.

Sidmouth is a big festival with lots of guests and concerts. It does have a very active fringe but I'd guess the organisers are more concerned with the former. If your interest is in the traditional side and you want more participation why not go to some "song and ale" style festivals to get yourself more well known and get the feel of things a bit more?


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: Jack Campin
Date: 13 Oct 14 - 09:29 AM

I think big festivals work best if you go primarily for the concerts. I don't think going with the expectation of "becoming" part of the fringe on a first visit is realistic.

Apart from finding it easier to get a seat now, I fitted in just fine at Whitby from my first visit.   But then I'm mainly an instrumentalist - having dropped into a few singing sessions like the Endeavour and seeing how little space newbies got, I decided I didn't need that. (I think the Station Hotel front room might be the best option for a singer new to Whitby).


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: GUEST,Reynard
Date: 13 Oct 14 - 10:39 AM

Hi Topsie,

I didn't mean to suggest that people can, or should only socialise with people their own age. I regularly attend (and in fact help organise) events where there is a wide range of ages.

However, I think it's worth noting that many current folkies are from the generation who were young in the late 60s and 70s heyday of the folk revival when many more people their own age were into the music, and perhaps they felt it somehow belonged to them. They were around more people at around the same stage of life, discovering the music together and I think perhaps this gave the scene a sense of excitement that is now lacking. Would they have been happy going to clubs where people of their parents, or grandparents generation were greatly in the majority, or were "gatekeepers" to the music?

I am aware that older traditional singers and people of an older generation like AL Lloyd and McColl were always part of the scene, but I think the point still stands.

I value friendships and conversations with people from all ages, but there is something to be said for giving youth its own space to breath, and there's no point pretending that a relationship with someone of a completely different age and at a different stage in their life is going have the same dynamic as it would with your peers.


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Oct 14 - 10:45 AM

Folk music fosters narrow interest groups. Cliqueyness abounds


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 13 Oct 14 - 10:49 AM

no not the same dynamic....but we learnd a lot from the old guys when we were young. it can be a nice dynamic, seeing what they do with all their energy and inventiveness.


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 13 Oct 14 - 10:55 AM

What's Priddy Festival like in regard to all this ?


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: Mr Red
Date: 13 Oct 14 - 12:29 PM

Not being asked!
I was in a festival singaround at Bridgnorth years ago and after going round the room and passing over me they decided not to ask the idiot in red but eventually asked the girlfriend next to me if I sang. She was somewhat non-plussed and pointed out that the person to ask was the shy retiring poser in red. It wasn't the first time they had performed that wheeze, the year before if I remember. They thought they were doing a good job!
You couldn't say they hadn't noticed me, but then Bridgnorth became Shrewsbury and IMNSHO it has lost even that level of friendliness.


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 13 Oct 14 - 05:08 PM

If your interest is in the traditional side and you want more participation why not go to some "song and ale" style festivals to get yourself more well known and get the feel of things a bit more?

Such as?

I got into this stuff relatively recently - too recently for my family to have any taste for it; I don't think I'm going to be able to interest my wife in a musically-oriented activity holiday in Sidmouth (or Whitby) any time soon.

I went to the Young Uns' Headland festival this year & had an amazing time - very much 'folk and ale', wall-to-wall singarounds. What else is there like that? I've seen a couple of weekend fests advertised & been tempted, only to find on closer inspection that they were mostly concerts, mostly singer-songwriter or both.


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: GUEST,Phil sans cookie
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 08:15 AM

...anyone? Bueller? Anyone?


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 09:12 AM

Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern: From: Phil Edwards : Date: 13 Oct 14 - 05:08 PM
If your interest is in the traditional side and you want more participation why not go to some "song and ale" style festivals to get yourself more well known and get the feel of things a bit more?
Such as?.... What else is there like that?

Not all of these might be to your taste Phil but here are some links.
I've only been once but Whittlebury Song and Ale had good singers and retains a good reputation.
The Wail has a weekend of unaccompanied singing and a midnight, mediaeval feast in a very lighthearted context.
Pennymoor Song and Ale is music and song. It's organised by the same people who run the Bampton After the Fair weekend of free song and music sessions (in the Devon Bampton, not the Oxfordshire one).
I've not been to the Sussex song and Ale but know many who do go and speak highly of it.

There are many more that I haven't the patience to find links to. Some are more "anything goes" but some are very much "in the tradition." I know there is at least one in Yorkshire around the Sheffield area which has some singers who I rate highly but I don't remember the details they gave me as it was too far to travel.

The best tactic for getting to know seems to be to go to as many "tradition based" singarounds as possible and ask the best singers if they know of anything. If they like your own singing they may tell you! (Perhaps that's why I can only come up with a few despite knowing there are others out there that people won't tell me the details for!)


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: GUEST,SteveT
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 09:13 AM

Sorry - last post was me.


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: Girl Friday
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 09:24 AM

" I don't think going with the expectation of "becoming" part of the fringe on a first visit is realistic." says GUEST SteveT. That depends on the individual surely. We, (Tone Deaf Leopard), were told year on year that we should go to Sidmouth where our quirky songs would be appreciated... we should especially go to The Newt. Eventually, we did go, and found that to be true not only of The Newt, but The Anchor, Middle Bar, Dukes Open Mic., and The York and Faulkner. So long as you are prepared to wait your turn there shouldn't be a problem.


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 06:46 PM

Well, as I said, I have enjoyed Sidmouth and will go again when work permits, but: -
(a) I have found the Volunteer difficult to get a song in; and
(b) Terry, that was definitely NOT the only person to storm out of the Newt.


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 07:36 PM

lets face it, there are clubs and festivals where they don't ask you to sing. not the end of the world is it?

i remember when the spinners split up, or one of the occasions they announced their retirement. i was saying to Martin Carthy - i had seen them sing the bleacher lass of kelvinhaugh on pebble mill at one - a popular tv programme at the time. and it was nice they performed folksongs on primetime tv, and i would miss that.

he said, i sing that one

and i said, yes but they don't ask you on pebble mill at one.

What i'm trying to say is, we all have places where our skills aren't called on - even the great Martin Carthy.


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Subject: RE: Sidmouth, young and old: a concern
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 02:09 AM

Phil - Song and ales are great fun, but some have to limit numbers because of space constraints (including the number of songs that can be fitted into a session). You'd certainly be welcome at the Wail (which was where I first heard Steve T sing) - while the programmed sessions are for unaccompanied singing, people still bring instruments to play on the campsite...

Kitty


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Mudcat time: 16 October 12:27 AM EDT

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