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I need some honest advice

alanabit 24 Feb 15 - 10:52 AM
GUEST,DTM 24 Feb 15 - 11:13 AM
alanabit 24 Feb 15 - 11:25 AM
GUEST,punkfoklkrocker 24 Feb 15 - 11:31 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 24 Feb 15 - 11:37 AM
alanabit 24 Feb 15 - 11:46 AM
Big Al Whittle 24 Feb 15 - 11:59 AM
GUEST,Pete from seven stars link 24 Feb 15 - 12:00 PM
alanabit 24 Feb 15 - 12:01 PM
GUEST 24 Feb 15 - 12:15 PM
GUEST,Fyldeplayer 24 Feb 15 - 01:17 PM
Musket 24 Feb 15 - 01:19 PM
alanabit 24 Feb 15 - 01:27 PM
Jeri 24 Feb 15 - 01:41 PM
Will Fly 24 Feb 15 - 02:06 PM
alanabit 24 Feb 15 - 02:23 PM
GUEST,DTM 24 Feb 15 - 02:28 PM
Betsy 24 Feb 15 - 06:00 PM
FreddyHeadey 25 Feb 15 - 10:18 AM
GUEST,Morris-ey 25 Feb 15 - 11:38 AM
GUEST,gillymor 25 Feb 15 - 12:20 PM
Joe Offer 25 Feb 15 - 04:38 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 25 Feb 15 - 07:02 PM
Big Al Whittle 25 Feb 15 - 11:03 PM
meself 25 Feb 15 - 11:41 PM
GUEST,Stim 26 Feb 15 - 12:03 AM
GUEST 26 Feb 15 - 12:32 AM
Big Al Whittle 26 Feb 15 - 04:08 AM
Mr Red 26 Feb 15 - 04:36 AM
Steve Shaw 26 Feb 15 - 05:48 AM
Big Al Whittle 26 Feb 15 - 06:12 AM
Nigel Paterson 26 Feb 15 - 08:04 AM
GUEST,Selby 26 Feb 15 - 11:00 AM
GUEST 26 Feb 15 - 11:27 AM
Big Al Whittle 26 Feb 15 - 11:40 AM
GUEST,matt milton 26 Feb 15 - 06:21 PM
Big Al Whittle 26 Feb 15 - 08:55 PM
theleveller 27 Feb 15 - 04:51 AM
Steve Shaw 27 Feb 15 - 06:15 AM
Musket 27 Feb 15 - 06:34 AM
Big Al Whittle 27 Feb 15 - 09:26 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 27 Feb 15 - 12:01 PM
GUEST,Pete from seven stars link 27 Feb 15 - 12:13 PM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 27 Feb 15 - 12:41 PM
Big Al Whittle 27 Feb 15 - 03:51 PM
Tattie Bogle 27 Feb 15 - 04:07 PM
GUEST 27 Feb 15 - 07:21 PM
theleveller 28 Feb 15 - 04:29 AM
Big Al Whittle 28 Feb 15 - 04:31 AM
The Sandman 28 Feb 15 - 04:46 AM
Musket 28 Feb 15 - 05:14 AM
Steve Shaw 28 Feb 15 - 07:47 AM
Thompson 28 Feb 15 - 09:03 AM
GUEST, \ 28 Feb 15 - 04:13 PM
alanabit 28 Feb 15 - 06:00 PM
The Sandman 28 Feb 15 - 08:58 PM
alanabit 01 Mar 15 - 01:48 AM
GUEST 01 Mar 15 - 02:42 AM
Big Al Whittle 01 Mar 15 - 06:35 AM
GUEST,Ed 01 Mar 15 - 06:48 AM
GUEST,Bignige 01 Mar 15 - 07:05 AM
andrew e 02 Mar 15 - 02:16 AM
GUEST,John from Kemsing 02 Mar 15 - 07:02 AM
Big Al Whittle 02 Mar 15 - 07:49 AM
Uncle_DaveO 02 Mar 15 - 11:36 AM
GUEST,Officer Bolix 02 Mar 15 - 12:26 PM
Big Al Whittle 02 Mar 15 - 03:35 PM
alanabit 02 Mar 15 - 04:28 PM
Big Al Whittle 02 Mar 15 - 04:37 PM
alanabit 02 Mar 15 - 10:42 PM
Mr Red 03 Mar 15 - 04:03 AM
GUEST 03 Mar 15 - 01:06 PM
Thompson 03 Mar 15 - 01:08 PM
GUEST,Grishka 03 Mar 15 - 05:45 PM
Thompson 03 Mar 15 - 06:05 PM
Big Al Whittle 03 Mar 15 - 07:59 PM
GUEST,CS 04 Mar 15 - 02:40 AM
Big Al Whittle 04 Mar 15 - 05:16 AM
Thompson 04 Mar 15 - 06:17 PM
Big Al Whittle 04 Mar 15 - 08:18 PM
Mr Red 05 Mar 15 - 03:19 AM
Big Al Whittle 05 Mar 15 - 11:48 AM
GUEST,Stuart Reed 05 Mar 15 - 09:19 PM
alanabit 06 Mar 15 - 01:23 PM
GUEST,Officer Bollix 07 Mar 15 - 05:37 AM
Will Fly 07 Mar 15 - 05:47 AM
alanabit 07 Mar 15 - 08:02 AM
GUEST,Grishka 07 Mar 15 - 09:37 AM
alanabit 07 Mar 15 - 10:06 AM
Will Fly 07 Mar 15 - 10:07 AM
The Sandman 07 Mar 15 - 01:20 PM
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Subject: I need some honest advice
From: alanabit
Date: 24 Feb 15 - 10:52 AM

I am not a happy bunny at the moment, but I am going to have to bite on the bullet and find out where I have been going wrong. I got this cut of live footage last year, which I liked and thought was a good advertisement for what I do. I was clearly wrong. I have been sending this as a "demo" to potential bookers and not one of them has liked it.
There are some more experienced heads than mine on Mudcat and I am humbly going to ask your advice on where I have gone wrong and what I need to do to present my stuff better in future.

This is the clip.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: GUEST,DTM
Date: 24 Feb 15 - 11:13 AM

IMO, it's good that you are promoting yourself however to the booker your package is probably just one of many he/she receives per week, month or year.
Patience required as your promo material will probably be well down their totem pole for the time being.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: alanabit
Date: 24 Feb 15 - 11:25 AM

I realise that. I usually only send it to people whom I have spoken to on the phone first - otherwise there is really no chance that it will even be looked at.
I have booked people myself and I would always prefer acts which I felt could get audiences involved and possibly make them laugh. Somehow I am not getting that across, so I need to find out what is putting them off.
Thanks for your feedback though.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: GUEST,punkfoklkrocker
Date: 24 Feb 15 - 11:31 AM

ok... as I seem to be amongst the first to see your thread ..
and you asked for honest... [I'll try to avoid brutal..]

That compilation clip is just bad on so many levels..

[bearing in mind the problematic bilingual nature of your show]

Objectively, on first impression, you immediately appear to be a very confident, experienced,
and well presented photogenic good looking fella..

That stands out clearly as probably the most positive aspect of the video
for potential bookers..

But in my opinion as a potential hypothetical audience member,
the fragments of your act are just unfocused and weak.

What you score on presentation, you lose on substance and dare I say 'trite' material.

I'd suggest the comedy is not funny enough by current adult UK standards,
and it's difficult to ascertain how good a singer you may be.

Scrap that compilation video. A definite better focused rethink is required.

Now you need the likes of Big Al, will and muskie to step in with positive constructive ideas & input
from a 'working' club performers perspective...


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 24 Feb 15 - 11:37 AM

btw.. I have a background in 'theatrical' comedic rock bands..
and am well aware how dated and crap a lot of our old songs are these days...


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: alanabit
Date: 24 Feb 15 - 11:46 AM

Right. So it is back to the drawing board...I shall ask Big Al. Thanks for your time.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 24 Feb 15 - 11:59 AM

advice from me....navigation tips from the Captain of the Titanic! gotta go out at 6. i will look at it later.

the questions eternal are

1) what do you want to achieve
2) is anyone else doing it with any success
3) if they are - what are they doing
4) could I do it - if not, what can I do?

if you wanna talk about it not in public, my e-mail is

denise_whittle@yahoo.co.uk


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: GUEST,Pete from seven stars link
Date: 24 Feb 15 - 12:00 PM

Agree with Tdm, but as you invited advice, I tentatively, and admittedly subjectively, offer these thoughts. I certainly see you have a good stage presence, and get the audience involved. The succession of snippets certainly demonstrate that. However, as no complete songs were included, it is difficult to gauge the comedy content, if comedy clubs are your target.   There is nothing wrong with your vocals or guitar, best I can tell, but neither was I blown away by it.......much like my own abilities !.   So if you are aiming for general music, you are probably competing with a lot of other good and competent performers.   So, as above, patience and perseverance. Wishing you best, Alan.      Pete.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: alanabit
Date: 24 Feb 15 - 12:01 PM

Thanks Denise. I shall get back to you.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Feb 15 - 12:15 PM

I'm not a pro, but speaking from a consumer perspective I liked your material. In fact, I'm going to steal some of it (but only to sing at gatherings at friends' houses). And I liked the performance.

Trying to find something to criticize, I kept looking at your hair. It's a little unkempt. I'm certainly no one to talk about that. My own hair usually looks like part of a clown costume. But I think if I were going to try to get bookings, or go for a job interview, I'd have someone make my hair look neater and more stylish.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: GUEST,Fyldeplayer
Date: 24 Feb 15 - 01:17 PM

I agree that you have stage ability but the material seemed 'light' - the folk scene has many amateur participants who are very clever and funny, at a sing around recently a rendition of My Old Mans A Dustman in Dylan style was brilliant. Can you do serious as well?


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: Musket
Date: 24 Feb 15 - 01:19 PM

It is interesting that I have been to concerts, thoroughly enjoyed them as a punter and noticed that bits have appeared on YouTube. Also, I opened for a band the other week who I had never heard before so obviously, YouTube got some hammer beforehand.

The common link is that YouTube didn't "do it" for me. Was that the same concert?? Is that the same band? Nothing whatsoever you can do about that in general, but getting a more polished set of snippets will help. Of course promoters and agents make allowances for bad videos, but where you made them?

Some bits on YouTube I would happily pull down and sincerely hope nobody judges my performance by them, but as I didn't do them, not my fault. If I had though...

What are you billing yourself as? Folk? Comedy? Are all the songs funny ones? Your material? Traditional? Reworks of others' songs? What came across as good was banter with the audience, and that is important. But what else did you show? A couple of witty lines in songs or as part of the introduction, the ability to play guitar and I think physical presence came across. The vinegar test being, if I was at the bar before the concert, would I think "that must be the turn?" In your case, yes.

Longer cuts of songs, shorter one liners with the audience, slow fade between scenes and labels. If this is for business purposes, don't ever assume. A label saying "Some banter..." and "Funny songs," "ballads" etc etc may look corny for someone to just sit and enjoy the clip, but this clip is for other purposes.

Look for your unique selling point! We can all play guitar, we can all hold a note, we can all crack jokes and get a laugh, some can even have hair, (not in my gift...) but those who get booked have something that people remember.

What is yours?

Make sure you write the answer in the clip...

Good luck!


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: alanabit
Date: 24 Feb 15 - 01:27 PM

I do very straight stuff too, like "East Looe Boys" and "Oh What A Life We Had". There are snippets of both songs in there. However, when we cut the video, we placed a lot of emphasis on trying to persuade potential bookers that I could quickly win over audiences to get them singing and laughing. I obviously need a rethink...


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: Jeri
Date: 24 Feb 15 - 01:41 PM

My opinion, based on the fact I don't book acts and I'm not there, but I'm a pretty good audience member: the clip shows you doing what a lot of other people can probably do. You're competent, but a lot of other people are, too. Give them something they don't already have and really would want. Emphasize what makes you desirably unique.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: Will Fly
Date: 24 Feb 15 - 02:06 PM

Alan - some comments from me - I do hope they're useful...

1. There's no doubt whatsoever that you can play, sing and entertain well (in two languages) - but where do you want your focus to be? As Jeri so rightly says, what makes you desirably unique - or if not unique (uniqueness is hard to achieve!), at least the owner of one solid area of excellence? That's for you to decide.

2. As far as the video is concerned, I think it rambles and repeats itself a little too much. I appreciate that it's put together from several live performances, but perhaps the choice of clips could have been edited together more precisely, with less repetition. I also noticed that the aspect ratio of certain clips was 4:3, and that of others was 9:5. Result - you look normal some of the time and emaciated some of the time - which is somewhat distracting!

3. The bilingual bit. I wish I could do that (perhaps I could in French and English), but if I did, I'd subtitle the German bits in English - and the English bits in German - just to be sure.

4. Shoot some more live footage, all with the same aspect ratio, and edit it together so that there's no repetition - which will give more dimension to your act.

Hope this is constructive and of some use!

Cheers,

Will


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: alanabit
Date: 24 Feb 15 - 02:23 PM

Thanks Will, Jerry and Musket. I shall bear it in mind.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: GUEST,DTM
Date: 24 Feb 15 - 02:28 PM

I agree with Musket re. YouTube clips not showing acts at their best.
There has been a couple of times when I've been pleasantly surprised with performers who were much much better live than they had appeared on YouTube when I previewed them.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: Betsy
Date: 24 Feb 15 - 06:00 PM

Fair play to you - you've opened your heart . You're singer who sings in tune - very decent accompianment on guitar - and have received wiser advice than I can give. The formula which seems to work is to keep the patter funny BETWEEN songs , or sing a funny or a thoughtful song.
There ARE FUNNY Songs in the blues idiom (e.g. How long do I have to wait,) and singalong "blues" e.g San Francisco bay bluesbut.....
I bet you know hundreds of songs . Time to sit down and decide where you want to be , you speak some German, and get the odd laugh. In Germany they're quite passionate about all things Irish so think about That ( including all the English songs which are claimed to be Irish.
If you're going to do purely Comedy, step back - and get a stonewaller of a set - well-reheasered Ad-Libs et al.
Best of luck - tweak the whole set - dump somethings and import some things and take your time.
If a stranger at the bus stop, wants to tell you jokes you get a bit frightened - same with an audience , build up a relationship / bridge with them first.
Good luck Al., you love performing so and I hope it all works really well for you after you you've opened your heart.

Betsy


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: FreddyHeadey
Date: 25 Feb 15 - 10:18 AM

(note, I'm just a punter, not a booker & I'm English not German)
My impression with this video was that at ~25secs I was ready for about 60secs of proper singing, then maybe 20secs of banter clips then more singing.
In the 1:53 clip of the audience singing -actually they didn't sound very good singers/didn't know the words confidently! :( -Get a clip of a better audience or leave it out.
I think you look better without glasses.
For a promo the Koln stages looked a hell of a lot smarter than the Erfstadt one, so you looked better & worthy of a bigger fee.
The still at the end is good but I wouldn't mention that it was 2003 ;
I'd probably scrap the rest of that clip.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: GUEST,Morris-ey
Date: 25 Feb 15 - 11:38 AM

I also speak as one of the audience: I would like the video to show what a complete song/routine sounds like rather than (pretty much) the same clip repeated. It gave little indication of your range of material.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: GUEST,gillymor
Date: 25 Feb 15 - 12:20 PM

It looks like you can sing and play. Hiring a pro to shoot and edit a video for you might be money well spent if you're looking for paying gigs.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: Joe Offer
Date: 25 Feb 15 - 04:38 PM

The criticism is good, I think. It's sound advice. Still and all, I enjoyed watching the video, and I'm sure I'd enjoy attending a concert of yours, Alan. Good luck to you.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 25 Feb 15 - 07:02 PM

EYIIIEEE.....where to begin....your presentation is awful.

1. Cut the hair (dead hippies are dead)
2. Toss the beanie cap (let your bald spot shine)
3. Lose 30 pounds (no-one can accurately access the strings over that large a gut)
4. Stop affecting the "up tone" at the end of phrases (UK lost the world, Tremeber?)

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

The times "they were a changing" unfortuately, you never listened .... IMHO - most pub folk prefer the "sounds of silence" and calmly listening for next clue in "a dangling conversation" sure beats the beats you have to offer.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 25 Feb 15 - 11:03 PM

very negative Gargoyle - where to start. not where you're at. your advice seems to be - be somebody else.

Alan is a well adjusted guy with many skills. i'm not really sure what he wants to achieve. i'm pretty sure he can achieve something pretty significant just as he is.

if you don't know that the first rule about being comfortable onstage is being comfortable with yourself - the way you are = just shut up - cos you don't know anything.

some people are lucky, like the beatles, or carthy and find their performing metier very early in life. you have to keep searching and re-assessing what you do Alan, and looking for opportunities. thats the only way. network. search the trade press. talk to other artists, see them work - see if theres anything you can steal to sharpen and maximise your impact. think laterally , think creatively - it maybe that theres another avenue that will liberate you as an artist. don't be frightened to leave that comfort zone, discard the props, try new ones....

above all never take advice from anyone who's never lived by their wits in this way. some arsehole who has sat at the feet of the great ones doesn't see the whole picture. look how MacColl is talked about as though he was some professor. no! he was an artist - trying all sorts of things and projects - ducking and diving in a way that would make Del boy's head spin. he was an artist through and through - and that's how artists live!


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: meself
Date: 25 Feb 15 - 11:41 PM

Excellent - that last paragraph belongs among the Mudcat classics.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 26 Feb 15 - 12:03 AM

Admittedly, Gargoyle is an acquired taste, but the camera eye is brutal, and he right about what it shows.

The video should show you at your best--best performance of your best material, in your best clothes, with perfect hair--

You were playing to the audience, not to the camera, and, though the audience liked you, the camera didn't. You need to make a good video..then people will start booking you.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Feb 15 - 12:32 AM

Gargoyle didn't say "be somebody else." He said get a new PR agent.

Alan wears the beret in every clip, and the combination of the beret with the hag hair is a distinctive look. So it's a conscious PR device. But it's not a good look for a musician.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 26 Feb 15 - 04:08 AM

' You need to make a good video..then people will start booking you..'

this is advice from the totally unknowledgeable. were it a case of making a good video. we'd all just make videos and the world would become a bottomless pit of milk and honey.

its not a great video. but demos and videos aren't really where its at for guys like alan - whose talents are complex and many. when you have such diverse talents - you have to find someone whose needs you can fulfil with the small change in your artistic pocket. to earn a living you have to look hard.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: Mr Red
Date: 26 Feb 15 - 04:36 AM

Humour is a funny business.
It is predicated on what went before and what comes after.
Compilations like the video cut across that.
It might be better to have a series of videos and let the viewer choose when to "cut" between them. If they aren't going to stay with you, they aren't booking anyway. Explain why you have several videos rather than a compilation. Mood!
I find songs where any word has to rush is ill fitting - if you are going to be laconic, be laconic. Rushed words have comedic value, but usually as over the top excess.
For the videos pick your material carefully.
And a lot of humour is of the moment. And that moment is in the club, not in aspic.

I found my very clever wordplay entertained the songwriter (me) but banana skins get the laugh.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 26 Feb 15 - 05:48 AM

I know you're 25 years older now, but just look back at your Linz busking video again. I was only having a quick shuftie but I ended up watching the whole thing. They were eating out of your hand, mate! That's clearly what you're damn good at. In your current clip there's repetition, colour-cast changes, aspect changes, nothing lasting long...it's as though you don't trust the prospective booker to have enough attention span to view your material, and that lack of confidence, illusory though it may be, comes across. You need a much better technical-quality video with just two or three substantial good bits of you. And the bilingual stuff is great. If you're a bilingual punter!


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 26 Feb 15 - 06:12 AM

if you want to make a better video - there are loads of colleges doing media courses where they need performers to perform whilst they teach students how to make videos.

i agree Steve ,he's got the busking thing - but he's also a songwriter of great depth and performs with intensity, his best chance of making an impact on the \English folkscene is getting one of his songs picked up by one of the big hitters on the folkscene. have you fielded The East Looe Boys to Show of Hands. maybe the Lakemans... all that west country lot

But making videos, demos etc is very speculative. your performing skills...there will be someone out there who will pay for your expertise.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: Nigel Paterson
Date: 26 Feb 15 - 08:04 AM

There's been plenty of good advice already in this thread about what to sing, how the promo might be edited, etc, etc. My contribution is this wise snippet, told to me by an A&R man, regarding promotional material; video or audio: "If you haven't grabbed the listener's attention within the first 5 to 10 seconds, your promo is almost certainly destined for the bin."
       I wish you every success in your quest to further your career.
                           Nigel Paterson (Mandolin, 'The Halliard')


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: GUEST,Selby
Date: 26 Feb 15 - 11:00 AM

I have not looked at your video My wife and I ran a folk club for a few years what worked for us:-
word of mouth,
seeing new acts at singers nights at our or other clubs,
seeing people at festivals.

What did not work:-
pushy artists,
rigid fees.
Keith


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Feb 15 - 11:27 AM

Keith didn't work?

Your Missus posting on your log in?


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 26 Feb 15 - 11:40 AM

one night i was in a pub in Matlock and this bloke from one of the big three folk agencies in the uk came in with a cardbord box full of cds and dvds - all of them still in their cellophane. none had been listened to and/or watched. he said to the assembled company - help yourself these are just taking up office space.

there was product from many of the major names on the folkscene - headliners you'd seen advertised on all the festivals and you assumed were making a good living.

the folkscene is in a hell of a mess. mainly because...who knows. just make sure you're not on the deck of the sinking ship. you can't predicate your artistic life onthe vision of a gang of middle aged myopics and semi pro dilletantes.

you have to find your own arena one where the crowd at least pays for your rent and food. how can it be folk music - if the folk don't value it that much.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 26 Feb 15 - 06:21 PM

Hi there

I think you might be slightly selling yourself short. It looks like you can actually play some pretty good fingerstyle guitar when you want to. I would concentrate on getting one good complete performance of one really good song, sylishly shot, with close-ups on fingers on fretboards, different angles, close-ups on facial expressions and profiles etc.

I'm not saying 'ditch the comedy stuff', or 'pretend to be someone you're not'. But I think you might be better off leading with a supposedly 'serious' performance, even if it's humorous material: one song that really gets you across as a consummate musician, and singer, rather than an entertainer who sings comic songs.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 26 Feb 15 - 08:55 PM

well what do you think Al. you think all the people who had made all those dvds in the cardboard box didn't do good performances.

you really need to think outside the box. the English folkscene couldn't be trusted not to piss on the crown jewels. half the people will be saying that you don't play real folk music amd finding reasons for looking down their noses on what you do - they lack humanity. they are not the folk any more.

you know what Oasis said, please don't put your life in the hands of a rock n roll band - same goes for the uk folkscene in spades.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: theleveller
Date: 27 Feb 15 - 04:51 AM

Hi Alan. I was in two minds about whether to send this or not as it might sound a bit harsh, but I hope that you may get something positive out of what I say.

I came across your post on a rare visit to Mudcat and clicked on the link out of curiosity. I don't know who you are, so what I have to say is purely based on what I've seen in your video. I want to comment from two perspectives:

Firstly, as a punter. Would I pay to see you, based on your video? No. In fact, I'd pay not to. You come across as an amiable but irritating buffoon. I've never been comfortable with the comedian/folk singer combination – for me, it seldom, if ever, works. Your appearance is that of an unsuccessful children's entertainer – maybe a Wurzel Gummage impersonator. Your jokes aren't funny, your material is banal and, to be honest, there are hundreds of amateur floor singers out there who can play and sing better than you. These days, for better or worse, successful professional folk musicians are generally slick, highly accomplished and have something unique to offer (I'll come to that later). I think you need to a bit of make-over.

Secondly – and this is probably where I can give some useful advice – as an advertising and marketing creative director who has created hundreds of commercials and promotional videos. Basically, from a production point of view, your video is a mess on every level. Pretty much any savvy teenager could create something better on their iPhone (do you know any savvy teenagers who could help?). My best advice would be to befriend a student who is doing a film or media studies course and persuade them (strong liquor is always good) to take you on as a project and use what they are learning/have learned to put together something that looks great and is maybe even a bit radical, and – most important – attention-grabbing from the word 'go'.

Next, to you and your material. If you're sending this video out as a promotion it must be what you consider is the very best of what you do. Really? No wonder it isn't getting much response. You need to look carefully at yourself and, if possible find a USP (unique selling proposition). What makes you stand out from the crowd? What are your really, really good at? It may be that you need someone to shoot some specific footage of you, perhaps performing one of your best songs that really showcases your talent. Your film student would be delighted to do this and make sure that the sound and visual quality are amazing. Think of yourself as a brand and decide what your proposition is, what your brand values are, and how these best come across.

Then you need to think about who you're sending it to. Do a bit of research on what type of artistes they usually book; do they like comedy; do they prefer traditional stuff; are they into singer/songwriters? Then tailor your video specifically to them – this isn't hard to do with today's digital technology and it may be that you just need to create three or four different versions of your video. Then – and this is the secret of good cold marketing – ring them up beforehand to introduce yourself, and ring them up when you've sent the video, to make sure they've received it and hopefully played it, and to get feedback, which will be more valuable than anything I or anyone here, can give.

Hope that's a little bit helpful. Best of luck.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 27 Feb 15 - 06:15 AM

You come across as an amiable but irritating buffoon. I've never been comfortable with the comedian/folk singer combination – for me, it seldom, if ever, works.

So you've never seen Vin Garbutt or Les Barker then. I do think you're being a bit harsh. Though I'll admit that there's often a fine line between the irritating buffoon floor singer who mucks about too much between songs to the annoyance of everybody present, and someone who has genuine, pithy comic timing. For my money, Alan is the right side of that line. Unfortunately, you have to look pretty hard through his promo video to see it, and I don't think most potential bookers would bother. I go back to that ancient Linz video, in which his crowd is absolutely with him. It's a shame it isn't a bit more recent, because in it Alan comes across as thoroughly engaging and convincing. Just a thought: in that video there is loads of footage of the audience having a whale of a time. Surely there's a clue there as to what a promoter needs to see to convince him...


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: Musket
Date: 27 Feb 15 - 06:34 AM

The folk comics are the ones that spring into mind whenever I think of a bloody good night at a folk club. Comedy doesn't have to be the main pull and neither does seriousness.

Steve mentions Vin Garbutt. An excellent example of a writer of emotive songs designed to make you think but breaks the ice wonderfully between songs with well honed flippancy and engaging banter.

My heroes over the years have been the likes of Vin, as well as the late Tony Capstick, Bernard Wrigley, Mike Harding, Derek Brimstone etc.

If you feel you have that relationship with your audience, don't lose it. But at the same time, don't make it a one trick pony.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 27 Feb 15 - 09:26 AM

well i think the leveller makes my point better than i could. the folk scene is full of wankers like that.

he's never seen you but he dismisses you on ideological ground.

he's probably not fit to clean your boots.he's not comfortable with you.....

bloody right! we have tyo be comfortable with his ignorance and negativity about what you've done with your life.
I've shit higher forms of life.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 27 Feb 15 - 12:01 PM

alanabit - just curious, are you actually still posting out physical demo discs to bookers;
or emailing them links to your youtube videos ?

Do you have your own well designed website ?

or at least a page on sound cloud or similar musicians site ?


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: GUEST,Pete from seven stars link
Date: 27 Feb 15 - 12:13 PM

I thought leveller was well OTT as well, but in fairness, honest advice was asked for, and his contribution did seek to be helpful as well, and I have found it best to use harsh negativity ....sometimes in past times given unsolicited !.....as a spur on to do better.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 27 Feb 15 - 12:41 PM

On balance I thought leveller was offering sincere constructive criticism, as alanabit requested...

Some might disagree.. but occasionally it might be very necessary to administer tuff love & harsh reality checks..

.. if it genuinely helps an artist to concentrate on their real strengths and self improvement.

I'd hope no one here is just inflicting gratuitous confidences crushing negative criticisms
just for the perverse sadistic pleasure of it...???


If I was to ever submit my own recordings for your feedback.
it would be on the serious expectation & understanding
that I might attract a full range of positive encouragement and insulting dismissals...

We're all adults, and this is mudcat...


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 27 Feb 15 - 03:51 PM

you miss the point. he is what he is. he's a good writer, and as a performer he's got bottle and good taste. he wouldn't outrage people like I and the late Mike Eliot used to. Dizzy Gillespie made a beret work - who knows if Al can - it how he feels comfortable.

the leveller is the sort of character who laughs dutifully at The Mole Catcher and The Tailor's Britches.

he is uneasy with humour that is actually funny. uncomfortable.

Al doesn't need a list of reasons why he's an asshole . At some level we're all assholes. that's the nature of original sin.

he needs some positive ideas.
lose weight, stop smoking, do exercise, and sing real folk music. ever thought of being a GP?


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 27 Feb 15 - 04:07 PM

Just watched the video and it didn't really do it for me: far too fragmented. As some others have said above, in a promotional video, I'd much rather have seen a couple of whole songs, perhaps contrasting in style, to show what variety you have in your repertoire.
I don't have problems with the hair or the beret or languages, but the frequent scene and clothes changes just made it very hard to follow coherently.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Feb 15 - 07:21 PM

Gillespie made many kinds of hats work, but he didn't have giant clumps of ragged stringy white hair bulging out from under them. Even Gaddafi at least dyed his rag mop black.

The various attacks on Alan's performance are ridiculous. He sounds great, and you can see that the audience appreciates him. They don't object to his appearance either, and nor would I, but someone who's never seen him and is considering hiring him on the basis of a brief video is sure to be prejudiced by it. First impressions are important.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: theleveller
Date: 28 Feb 15 - 04:29 AM

Well, that rattled a few cages. As I tried to make clear, I was judging Alan purely on how he came across to me in his video. His lack of response from organisers suggests that they may have had a similar reaction and I was offering some advice on how he could make improvements.

Big Al, in his usual attempt to make every thread about HIM, failed to see this and wants to shoot the messenger. No, Al, the folk scene isn't full of wankers like me because I don't consider myself to be part of the folk scene. I got bored with it because it's full of wankers like you: whinging, bitter old men with huge egos who can't accept that it's the amateurs who are the backbone of folk and who blame their consistent lack of success as so-called professionals on the short-comings of others instead of taking an honest look at themselves (as Alanabit has had the courage to do) and realising that they are simply not good enough to make a living from folk music. Really, Al, it's time you called it a day, found something more rewarding to do that you're actually good at and spared us your interminable and yawn-making condemnations of the very business, and people, that you want to support you.

Steve Shaw - sorry, but the Likes of Vin Garbutt et al aren't my cup of tea. Just a personal thing - I know that many people enjoy them, probably because what they do, they do well.

Rant over. I'll now gratefully retire back to my Mudcat-free existence, happy that I no longer have to put up with losers like Big Al crying sour grapes from every thread.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 28 Feb 15 - 04:31 AM

well i think we all agree the video doesn't do him a lot of favours. but perhaps this is all he's got!

however i know this guy is commercially viable. very talented.

lets face it none of the Carthy family look like De Caprio and Britney Spears.

the answer is not pulling the bloke to pieces. its looking at the major talent that he has - and finding interstices where it can make an impression.

and that is the answer for all people who are engaged in the arts - not wishing you were a great physical beauty.

listen again, and if you can help - let him know your idea. otherwise - belt up!


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 Feb 15 - 04:46 AM

Why not contact Derek Brimstone he was a successful entertainer who might have constructive advice.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: Musket
Date: 28 Feb 15 - 05:14 AM

Can I say here and now that contrary to his own words, Al cannot be an asshole.

Arsehole surely?


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 28 Feb 15 - 07:47 AM

Steve Shaw - sorry, but the Likes of Vin Garbutt et al aren't my cup of tea. Just a personal thing - I know that many people enjoy them, probably because what they do, they do well.

No need to apologise. He's not up my alley either, but he's damn good at what he does, and, undeniably I think, he combines the roles of folkie and funny man quite well.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: Thompson
Date: 28 Feb 15 - 09:03 AM

Purely speaking as an occasional concert-goer here…

I wouldn't rush to see Alan on the basis of this.

Suggestions: show the audience having fun, concentrate much more on them, and cut back to your performance - but then immediately back to people laughing and joining in.

There's something sad and a little… brown… about the composite video. If it's possible instead to find one rollicking show of about 10 minutes and film that, with lots of concentration on happy punters, in a way that would have anyone with a venue rubbing his/her hands and saying "Wow, I want my customers looking like that and having a great time like that", maybe that's the one to go for?


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: GUEST, \
Date: 28 Feb 15 - 04:13 PM


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: alanabit
Date: 28 Feb 15 - 06:00 PM

Thank-you everyone who responded. I asked for honest advice – and I certainly got it! Inevitably, a lot of people disliked everything about the video and about me. Bruce Murdoch, one of the toughest and most experienced performers here, who has also been down the busking road, once wrote here in a thread something which he had heard early on in his career: "If you can't handle rejection, you are in the wrong business."
There are people here who feel that I suck as a guitarist, singer, songwriter and entertainer and feel they would stay well clear of any stage which I occupied. It is their prerogative and I respect their decision. In particular I appreciate Gargoyle's comments. He doesn't offer his services as a lifestyle guru to everyone! And as he has written elsewhere that he regards busking as begging, I would be very disappointed if I appealed to his set of values.
This is what he regards as "begging".
Indeed rejection is part of the game. I get it every time I play on the street. My thirty-six years of doing this for a living have also included busking the bars of the Oude Binnenweg in Rotterdam, terraces in Switzerland, festival stages, regular TV in the late nineties and the usual round of clubs, pubs and private functions. Meeting lots of people who do not immediately like you – and working out strategies to overcome their indifference or antipathy – is what the job is all about. And, of course, you fail a lot. Probably the most hated phrase among teachers over here is: "Ich kann das nicht!" ("I can't do that!") I have been a teacher too – and I would always amend that to, "You have not mastered it yet." I apply the same philosophy to my work. When you see that swagger and physical presence of Pete Morton, remember he was not born with it. If you ask him, he will tell you where he learned it – and it didn't come cheap!
Forming your stage persona comes out of risking yourself in all sorts of situations where people are likely to reject you. I found one that seemed to work for me over here – and indeed everywhere. For a long time, I had worried (quite unnecessarily) that the audience really did think that I was as naïve and slow witted as I was pretending to be. It finally clicked for me in Linz in 1988. I realised that they knew very well that I was not naïve. When you are pulling huge crowds and holding them for night after night they know very well that it isn't a fluke. They are not stupid and they don't think you are. The reason it works is because both you and the audience know that you are pretending. This was a breakthrough for me, because I realised that I did not have to be clever, original or witty to get them on my side. The key to it is trust. The audience in Linz trusted me to lead them through an hour or so of silly patter and chorus singing. To some, that makes me "a buffoon"... Well so be it.
It is the same for all performers. It does not matter how clever, talented, witty or original they are, if you don't trust them, you can not possibly find them funny or be interested in what they have to say. I have been told several times here that I am not funny and that my material is rubbish. If you don't like it, of course it is.
Fortunately, the Mudcatters, whom I hold in the highest esteem, take a different view. So while my material is rubbish, trite and unfunny to some, there are artists of the calibre of Pat Cooksey, Jed Marum, Seamus Kennedy, Mike Campbell, Jerry Rasmussen, Bruce Murdoch, George Papavgeris, Big Al Whittle and others who have expressed a different view.
The first thing to say about the video is that I live and work in Germany. Most people speak or understand some English. Very few of them have English to a level that they can understand everything. You can get the audience to sing a simple drinking song with you, but if you try to use the sophisticated wordplay of Tom Lehrer (whom I adore) you are going over their heads. That isn't "cool", it's arrogant. Quite a lot of the people who don't like what I do could probably play the ass off me, but they couldn't do it on a German stage. I have to gauge what they can understand and pitch it at that level. This isn't patronising – it's respectful. I speak some German on stage because I am talking to Germans. This is not an affectation – and by the way – George Papavgeris (who is too modest to tell you this himself) could and would do exactly the same!
I have gigged in the UK in recent years and the gigs have always gone well. I had a lovely evening at St.Albans Folk Club (run by John Breeze) a few years ago. There was another one for Don T in Maidenhead a few days later. There was a short tour with the brilliant Sascha Loss a couple of years ago in which every gig went well. For me (even if it is rubbish!) that means the material works.
So this video cut has failed. It was picked from the footage which we had available and I set out to show a prospective booker that I could get an audience to sing, laugh and listen. That is what happened at the gigs. I still think that is the right message to get across. We tried to get the video to say that. It appears that we didn't. You only have three minutes, so I felt we had to use only excerpts of songs and patter. Of course, if you don't like what I do, it won't matter how I package it, it will fail. However, I am grateful for all the feedback which you have given me and naturally I will be trying to apply the lessons in presentation for the next video cut when the footage becomes available.
Thank-you everyone!


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 Feb 15 - 08:58 PM

I hve not expressed a view at all ,but I am a very experienced performer, my advice is not to ask for honest advice from anybody but to ask it from an experienced humourous entertainer such as Derek Brimstone, do you understand what i am saying?
if i want advice about pargetting, I ask a master plasterer or someone who is experienced in the skill of pargetting.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: alanabit
Date: 01 Mar 15 - 01:48 AM

Point taken GSS.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Mar 15 - 02:42 AM

GSS - so you wouldn't ask the advice of paying punters who have experience of being frequent regular members of audiences...

hmmmm.. a bit short sighted to say the least ???


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 01 Mar 15 - 06:35 AM

leveller
I gave up on the folkscene providing a living - when i saw guys like you had taken over who were 'uncomfortable' with professional entertainers and guys like Brimstone and Wizz Jones were struggling. i had hit records, played every other kind of venue ...country music gigs, irish theme bars, old peoples homes..always made a living. always played folk music to real folks. now i'm retired in better circumstances than many of the people who tried to to co-exist with you lot.

true enough - you and your mates are the kings of all you survey. keep your ringbinder good and shiney..

but never have the brass nerve and temerity to comment on the talents of a guy like Al who has proved it with his life as the born again Christians say.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 01 Mar 15 - 06:48 AM

never have the brass nerve and temerity to comment on the talents of a guy like Al

So. no one is allowed to make a comment that you disagree with?

Nice liberal thought, Big Al....


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: GUEST,Bignige
Date: 01 Mar 15 - 07:05 AM

The days of making a decent living from the Folk Club scene are imho long gone. Its all about Festivals and Open Mics these days. All the Folk Clubs in our area are struggling and in few years they will mostly be a thing of the past.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: andrew e
Date: 02 Mar 15 - 02:16 AM

Hi Alanabit, you could try booking yourself!
Arrange an evening, find a hall, have a couple of floor singers maybe, keep costs right down. Advertise in Community Notices in local papers [free], some flyers around town etc.
You could also try running workshops for singers helping them to relax, and relate to an audience etc.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: GUEST,John from Kemsing
Date: 02 Mar 15 - 07:02 AM

Dear Alanabit,
               The dates shown on some of your videos indicate you have been performing your particular material publicly for quite some time. It must be obvious to you that you have not cracked it to your satisfaction after all these years otherwise you would not have issued this "crie de coeur". Can one assume it is in respect of your desire to earn more from doing it? Why not get a rewarding job to underpin the your life`s expenses and enjoy entertaining your audiences as well as earning a little "pin money" on the side with busking and club performances during evenings and weekends without the worry of "where do I go now". It is obvious there are many people in Germany who appreciate your act to make it worthwhile.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 02 Mar 15 - 07:49 AM

we're getting Al's confused - any bugger can disagree with me. most sane people do.
there's Alanabit who needs some constructive advice
theres big al whittle - who resents the fact that alana bit is being showered with abuse from people who have never devoted five minutes to the craft of performing. how do i know - cos the disrespect....doesn't happen amongst people who have made effort themselves. its a sort of freemasonry.

we recognise outsiders....


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 02 Mar 15 - 11:36 AM

Your booker is interested in TWO things:

First, the audience having a good time, so they'll come back.

Second, the performer. But mainly as a step toward number one.

The video didn't address the booker's main desired, IMHO.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: GUEST,Officer Bolix
Date: 02 Mar 15 - 12:26 PM

Next time, alanabit - just dive into a pool of pirañas. Might be less messy!


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 02 Mar 15 - 03:35 PM

weird one!

I think John from Kensing touches on several issues.

i'm not totally sure of this business of sending out videos, unless specifically asked for is a great idea. i got someone to video me doing a gig when the agent asked specificallyto see me doing certain songs and telling stories. it worked in that case. i worked for him for two years - then i got fed up with paying him!

i'm not sure a scattergun approach is the way to go = who knows what the agent is needing or thinking about that week. with agents, you need to be the answer to their prayers - someone they can use - its how the business works. take the stage - or the german equivalent - study what the buggers want.

what John from K says is very true. working as you have al will give you the confidence bottle and presence of mind that will be useful in other jobs.

anyway - my thoughts, its not a question of playing real folk music, looking like Brad Pitt, or being the greatest musician 'with something really unique to offer'. only civilians believe that shit.

its more a case of finding a likely avenue for your talents. tweaking your talent to make it fit the bill. and getting a foot on the ladder. Carthy and Mac Coll started out that that way. that's why they played skiffle initially . only the plonkers think they were sent down by heaven.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: alanabit
Date: 02 Mar 15 - 04:28 PM

The simple fact is that I am not going to get back into the straight world anyway. Three years ago I was teaching full time in German grammar schools. The contract ran out and there is no way I will get back into it at my age. I can either get back into playing small gigs and busking in the right places, or I can go on Harz IV - the German equivalent of Unemployment Benefit.
I am very confident in what I do and in my ability to get an audience on my side. What I came here for was to find out what people did not like about my video. I thought it showed me getting the audience to sing and laugh - but I sure got plenty of reasons why people did not like it! The next step will be the usual round of telephone work, booking a few more gigs in restaurants, bars etc and then getting in my car or bus and looking for new places to busk.
The feedback I have got here will go into my thinking about the next video. I can ask Derek Brimstone - and maybe Colin Wilkie, who lives in South Germany - for their ideas on presentation. Of course I will evolve and adapt anyway. If I can find towns like Linz, where it's possible to get regular edges, I can work in a whole lot of new patter and routines. That is what makes you better. I can usually win over the crowds - I am just not quite so clever with the bookers...


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 02 Mar 15 - 04:37 PM

hey ... i'm sorry!
i hope i haven't made things worse.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: alanabit
Date: 02 Mar 15 - 10:42 PM

Not at all! Everything that was written about the video can be taken into consideration.
As for survival in Germany/the busking trail... That's not what I came here for!


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: Mr Red
Date: 03 Mar 15 - 04:03 AM

If you get a student videographer on board, consider fading-in tiles or inset merges of the audience laughing.
You never know - the student may well be an embryonic folkie. You would be doing him two favours.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Mar 15 - 01:06 PM

I agree with everything that the leveller said in his last two posts. Alanabit asked for honest advice, baw castigated the leveller for giving just that. Was he supposed to lie in order to nurture al's ego?


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: Thompson
Date: 03 Mar 15 - 01:08 PM

Hm. A thought for you, Alan, if you don't mind listening patiently to someone with absolutely no expertise in this :)

I wonder whether you might be able (as Mr Red suggests) to get together with a student videographer, and do a gently funny routine against a cheery background, which could be used in schools as an entertaining add-on to the grammar classes in English?

If it's out of copyright, for instance, and if anyone can offer you the tune, you could use this:


OUGH

l'm taught P-L-O-U-G-H
Shall be pronounced "PLOW"
"Zat's easy when you know", I say
"Mon anglais I'll get THROUGH".

My teacher say zat in zat case O-U-G-H is "oo"
And then I laugh and say to him
"Zees anglaise make me COUGH".
He say "Not coo, but in zat word O-U-G-H is "off".

O sacrebleu ! Such varied sound
Of words make me HICCOUGH.
He say, "Again my friend is wrong ; O-U-G-H is "up"

In hiccough "Zen", I cry, "No more,
You make my throat feel ROUGH".
"Non, non", he cry, "you are not right, O-U-G-H is "uff".

I say, "I try to speak your words,
I can't pronounce them, THOUGH.
"In time you'll learn, but now you're wrong; O-U-G-H is "owe"

"I'll try no more, I shall go mad,
I'll drown me in the LOUGH".
"But before you drown yourself", said he, O-U-G-H is "ock".

He taught no more ! I held him fast
And killed him with a ROUGH.

Auteur: Charles Battell Loomis


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 03 Mar 15 - 05:45 PM

You may consider giving holiday courses to youngsters. Organizers of such courses in Germany include amj. Your selling point would be your experience in teaching on top of "being the real thing" yourself.

A better video would help, but if it is too much polished, it will lose the charm of authenticity.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: Thompson
Date: 03 Mar 15 - 06:05 PM

Also, Alan, by the same token, is there a German equivalent of the Irish scheme Writers in Schools? (Writers in Schools allows schools to bring a writer in to do a workshop or a reading for a couple of hours; they pay mileage for you to get there, and pay you a decent fee - I think it was around €200 last time I did one.)
If you could put together a comedy sketch about learning English, you might find that you could add yourself to the list for such a scheme, and since these gigs normally work by schools telling each other, you would probably find yourself getting some work, which might then lead to other local work - if you were doing a gig in a local school you could call up the pubs in the area and suggest doing a show.
The Irish/American (not sure which - grew up in America till 14, then moved to Ireland) had a funny show on learning Irish, In the Name of the Fada - I think he's currently filming a Chinese show, about learning Mandarin, called Breaking China. Might be worth taking a thoughtful look at some of his work - I'm not saying he's better than you, just that this subject matter and approach might work for you. Here he is doing an Irish version of Jump Around, Léimigí Thart


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 03 Mar 15 - 07:59 PM

Alanabit asked for some advice - instead of constructive adc=vice he got a loas od snotty drivel about what Leveller felt comfortable with. also he made it very obvious he had no respect for someone who had spent a lifetime acquiring performing skills, because it did not conform to his narrow definition of folk music.

guest= you seem have the same lack of understanding.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 04 Mar 15 - 02:40 AM

It's clear that alan is a competent performer and very able at what he does. However the whole act feels to me really dated and uncomfortable.

All that is fine if you know where to find the audiences who enjoy that kind of entertainment and from the video those folk are clearly out there - or at least they were (I can't remember how old some of the clips are).

However as someone else said, the folk music scene is moving more towards taking the music craft very seriously at festivals and open mics. I think people today at folk events expect less of the funny man with a guitar and more of the skilled musician playing folk tunes and songs.

As I said, to me it feels very dated. I don't know the folk club scene terribly well, but with a plethora of skilled and talented artists out there to choose from, I'm not sure that's the kind of act bookers are looking for these days?


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 04 Mar 15 - 05:16 AM

what isn;t obvious from the vid is that alan is agood singer of his own remarkable songs. he is a very good writer. however to earn a crust - like myself - he has to use his considerable performing and music skill outside the folkscene - in his case a busker.

he wants and deserves something better than being told the future of folk music is a gang of prepubertal quantity surveyors playing the masons apron at hundred miles an hour, by the ringbinder readers union.

he's not going to get it cos that's what the folkscene is these days'

my advice to him is that his considerable skills will find no home in the middle class English folkscene. but if he looks hard - he will something better than busking.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: Thompson
Date: 04 Mar 15 - 06:17 PM

Mm. But what Alan needs, from the sound of it, is the freelance's support: a good steady gig that can be the bread-and-butter, and which will allow him to build up the jam - folk club and pub performances - more leisurely. That's why I'm suggesting school gigs, if they're obtainable in Germany; if he can base a show on grammar, etc, that will be useful in learning, and at the same time have it funny and fun (and if, of course, there is an arts-in-schools programme in Germany), this might form such a base.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 04 Mar 15 - 08:18 PM

agreed! everything is worth investigating - you nrver know what your own creativity can make into fulfilling work.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: Mr Red
Date: 05 Mar 15 - 03:19 AM

I'm with leveller in one aspect, it defines the limits of the spectrum of advice. Harsh though it is to have to read negative thoughts, they are only part of this thread and there is plenty of really sound advice that is probably inappropriate in contexts that have not been outlined by Alan. Cherry pick the advice and good luck PAL! You can only do what you are capable of, be yourself.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 05 Mar 15 - 11:48 AM

oh i dunno. look at the Rosie Harman is 70 thread.

sigificant are the names missing - here is someone who has filled folk clubs. drew people to folk festivals. what does it cost to say happy birthday.

these peole think that their fastidious views on folk music relieves of them of all human resposibilities. fuck em!


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: GUEST,Stuart Reed
Date: 05 Mar 15 - 09:19 PM

Alan - if you PM me I may be able to help with gigs in Germany.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: alanabit
Date: 06 Mar 15 - 01:23 PM

Thanks Stuart. I am not able to PM you, because it appears that you have not signed up as a Mudcat member. I am based in Köln and have transport and PA. Is there any way I can reach you?


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: GUEST,Officer Bollix
Date: 07 Mar 15 - 05:37 AM

really dated and uncomfortable

I think that's the definition of Folk to many people, CS. My god! Anachronism is the very essence of traditional. In this sense alanabit is bang on the nail and I can't for the life of me understand the savaging he's got here. Honest advice? I think we need to read between the lines here. What he's asking for is the support of the community to give him the faith and courage he needs to enrich his experience of his craft as a performer. There are, God Knoweth, more constructive ways of doing that!

That said, Folk Club audiences are the worst sort. You're playing to a mob rather than individuals; they booked you to win them over on their terms. This means selling your soul to the lowest possible common denominator to a bunch of maladjusted braying wannabe egoists all of whom resent you for being up there playing instead of them. I think we're seeing a lot of that mentality here. These guys are out for blood!

Any artist should be protected from this abuse. The audience is there to win the artist over, not the other way round.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: Will Fly
Date: 07 Mar 15 - 05:47 AM

That said, Folk Club audiences are the worst sort. You're playing to a mob rather than individuals; they booked you to win them over on their terms. This means selling your soul to the lowest possible common denominator to a bunch of maladjusted braying wannabe egoists all of whom resent you for being up there playing instead of them.

Strange - the folk clubs I've played in over the last year or two with my mate Chris have loved what we've done - which is a mix of jazz, ragtime and blues - and we haven't compromised ourselves in any way whatsoever. We enjoy what we play and, if people like it, that's OK with us.

We're certainly not selling our souls - we get booked because people want to hear our music. And if they don't, they simply don't book us. No problem.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: alanabit
Date: 07 Mar 15 - 08:02 AM

I am not sulking because some people don't like my act. I just needed to get some feedback on how to improve my video presentation.
I have not been part of the UK folk scene for over thirty years, so I have no axe to grind against it - nor indeed against anyone who seeks the sort of entertainment he/she likes. However, on the rare occasions when I have been booked as a guest, I enjoyed it immensely and I like to think that the audiences went home happy too.
As it happens, I am off to do a gig tonight and a few jobs have come in lately for the coming months.
I got a small bit of good news yesterday. After the disappointment of internet radio stations being all but driven offline by the greed of American publishers some years ago, it became virtually impossible for smaller acts to get on the radio regularly. So yesterday, the news that two of my albums are on the playlist of an Auckland radio station, in NZ, came as a welcome surprise. It will be a heartening thought the next time that clouds and pigeons hover above me when I am busking in Leverkusen...


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 07 Mar 15 - 09:37 AM

If the above poster is the Stuart Reed, he mentions his mail address on his website. I'd go for it.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: alanabit
Date: 07 Mar 15 - 10:06 AM

Thanks. I tried through PM, but he doesn't appear to be a member here. I shall try that Grishka.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: Will Fly
Date: 07 Mar 15 - 10:07 AM

It is indeed Stuart, who I know well and duet with occasionally. Stu goes to the Continong quite a bit and knows his way around.


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Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Mar 15 - 01:20 PM

Subject: RE: I need some honest advice
From: Big Al Whittle - PM
Date: 05 Mar 15 - 11:48 AM

oh i dunno. look at the Rosie Harman is 70 thread.

sigificant are the names missing - here is someone who has filled folk clubs. drew people to folk festivals. what does it cost to say happy birthday.

these peole think that their fastidious views on folk music relieves of them of all human resposibilities. fuck em!.
I am inclined to agree, all i can say is thank god, that those disciples of those people who imposed rules at the singers club are a spent force, and that things have moved on.


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