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The singers club and proscription

The Sandman 10 Jan 16 - 06:43 AM
MGM·Lion 10 Jan 16 - 06:52 AM
GUEST,Musket 10 Jan 16 - 07:29 AM
Jim Carroll 10 Jan 16 - 07:59 AM
Mr Red 10 Jan 16 - 08:25 AM
MGM·Lion 10 Jan 16 - 08:33 AM
Jim Carroll 10 Jan 16 - 09:54 AM
The Sandman 10 Jan 16 - 10:21 AM
Jim Carroll 10 Jan 16 - 10:38 AM
GUEST,Musket 10 Jan 16 - 11:29 AM
GUEST,ada the cadre 10 Jan 16 - 11:34 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 10 Jan 16 - 12:59 PM
The Sandman 10 Jan 16 - 01:28 PM
The Sandman 10 Jan 16 - 01:47 PM
Vic Smith 10 Jan 16 - 02:25 PM
Jim Carroll 10 Jan 16 - 02:53 PM
MGM·Lion 10 Jan 16 - 02:57 PM
Doug Chadwick 10 Jan 16 - 03:52 PM
The Sandman 10 Jan 16 - 04:50 PM
GUEST,Musket 10 Jan 16 - 05:47 PM
The Sandman 11 Jan 16 - 03:16 AM
Jim Carroll 11 Jan 16 - 04:43 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 11 Jan 16 - 06:27 AM
Jim Carroll 11 Jan 16 - 07:38 AM
The Sandman 11 Jan 16 - 08:52 AM
Jim Carroll 11 Jan 16 - 09:04 AM
The Sandman 11 Jan 16 - 09:40 AM
Jim Carroll 11 Jan 16 - 09:45 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 11 Jan 16 - 09:58 AM
akenaton 11 Jan 16 - 10:44 AM
Will Fly 11 Jan 16 - 11:30 AM
akenaton 11 Jan 16 - 11:47 AM
Will Fly 11 Jan 16 - 12:12 PM
akenaton 11 Jan 16 - 12:20 PM
Will Fly 11 Jan 16 - 12:30 PM
GUEST,Musket 11 Jan 16 - 12:43 PM
Jim Carroll 11 Jan 16 - 12:49 PM
The Sandman 11 Jan 16 - 01:01 PM
TheSnail 11 Jan 16 - 02:45 PM
TheSnail 11 Jan 16 - 02:53 PM
Jim Carroll 11 Jan 16 - 02:57 PM
The Sandman 11 Jan 16 - 03:04 PM
TheSnail 11 Jan 16 - 03:17 PM
akenaton 11 Jan 16 - 04:26 PM
Jim Carroll 11 Jan 16 - 05:24 PM
GUEST,Musket 12 Jan 16 - 03:03 AM
Will Fly 12 Jan 16 - 03:18 AM
The Sandman 12 Jan 16 - 04:29 AM
Jim Carroll 12 Jan 16 - 04:41 AM
GUEST,Musket 12 Jan 16 - 05:20 AM
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Subject: The singers club and proscription
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Jan 16 - 06:43 AM

As les in chorlton asked and to prevent thread drift. I started a new thread.
according to the dictionary, proscription is the imposing of restraint and restriction.The Singers club HAD RULES RELATING TO THE PERFORMANCE OF MUSIC, therefore it was proscriptive.
That suited some people but not everybody.
Would such a club would work now, and is there a need for it?


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 10 Jan 16 - 06:52 AM

It was both proscriptive and prescriptive.

It prescribed the performance of work from one's own tradition;

and proscribed that from those of others.

(Up to a point: I don't think that either the pro- or the pre-scription was rigorously or unreasonably enforced. Tho, as I have related before, I recall Ewan threatening Isla Cameron with 50 lashes next time she sang an American song.)

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: GUEST,Musket
Date: 10 Jan 16 - 07:29 AM

There used to be a few clubs hereabouts with "rules."

My point centres around the "used to be" part of the sentence.


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Jan 16 - 07:59 AM

"(Up to a point: I don't think that either the pro- or the pre-scription was rigorously or unreasonably enforced"
It wasn't - it was an something expected from and by the residents (the policy came from an audience committee) and was based on a desire to open up the national repertoires on Britain and Ireland rather than allowing them to be swamped by the U.s. as had happened previously.
"Isla Cameron"
I hope no-one ever approaches me with my indiscretions committed in my pre-teen days Mike (that's how old the revival was when that particular incident happened).
The Singers Club was no more rigid than most folk Clubs in terms of what was performed there, and it was far less than many 'purist' clubs that denied the use of instruments and rejected contemporary or political songs.
If there is no place for clubs where people can be guaranteed to go to hear folk songs, then the "Folk revival" is over and the future of folk songs lies in archives and libraries.
Is there a need for it - having viewed what has happened in the UK and comparing it to the massive influx of youngsters becoming involved in traditional music - very much so.
I will be happy to contribute to this thread until it degenerates into a personalised slanging match (against anybody, living or dead)
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: Mr Red
Date: 10 Jan 16 - 08:25 AM

As far as I am concerned it is up to the club organisers and what they want it to be. They put the effort in and they stand or fall on the popularity of their decisions. We vote with our feet, or seat. It can defeat some clubs particularly ones that no longer exist, though there may be many other reasons for their demise.

I have and do avoid anything that is too draconian. I may choose to tolerate things, my choice.

The digital revolution has moved things on, some of our consumption, and participation is as an archive. I include myself in this, and if C# was here today he would sport a pocket recorder and a website.


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 10 Jan 16 - 08:33 AM

I never actually went to The Singers Club, which happened, I believe, after I left London for Cambridge, after my late wife won her Mature State Scholarship and I dropped out of the folk scene for several years. My recollections re Ewan & Isla &c are of the earlier incarnation, the late 1950s Ballads & Blues Club at the Princess Louise. Not sure what degree of continuity there might have been.

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Jan 16 - 09:54 AM

"Not sure what degree of continuity there might have been."
This is Ewan's statement of intent when he and Peggy launched the
Singers Club in 1961 in conjunction with Eric Winters' Sing Magazine.
Jim Carroll

"Why I am Opening a New Club
Ewan Maccoll and Peggy Seeger have set up their own folk song club, the Singers' club, in the heart of London. Run jointly with the magazine SING. it opened on 25 June at 2 Soho Square.
Maccoll and Seeger are not strangers to this building. For many months they sang there with the Ballads and Blues Association, until they broke with manager Malcolm Nixon after disagreements on artistic policy. Here Maccoll explains what led him to start the new club.

At a time when there are a great many folk clubs on the London scene, people may wonder why I have plunged in at the centre, in a season when attendances tend to fall off.
1.        It is necessary to rescue a large number of young people, all of whom have the right instincts, from those influences that have appeared on the folk scene during the past two or three years; influences that are doing their best to debase the meaning of folk song. The only notes that some people care about are the banknotes.
2.        Some top-liners in the folk song world; Bert Lloyd, Dominic Behan, for instance; have done little public singing in the past two or three years. Peggy and I have sung to live audiences more in the States and Canada than in Britain. Our new club will provide a platform for singers of this calibre who, like all folk singers, draw strength from live audiences.
3.        Our experiences during our US tour and at the Newport Festival have shown us the danger of singing down to an audience. It is the danger that the folk song revival can get so far away from its traditional basis that in the end it is impossible to distinguish it from pop music and cabaret.
It has happened in the States at clubs like the "Gate of Horn" in San Francisco where the cover charge and a meal are likely to run to about £5 a head for an evening. True bawdiness is reduced to mere suggestiveness. The songs, sapped of their vigour, become "quaint". It's happening here too in the "Tonight" programme. I was scared when I saw what's going on in some of the clubs. But it's not too late to retrieve the position.
4.        The position in Britain is relatively healthy. It's easy to bring Harry Cox and Sam Lamer to London and other centres and to bring fine Gaelic singers into Edinburgh, for instance. There's no tendency for them to be snapped up and commercialised. But we are determined to give top traditional singers a platform where they will be protected from the ravages of the commercial machine.
5. Finally, we need standards. Already the race for the quick pound note is on in the folk song world. "Quaint" songs, risque songs, poor instrumentation and no - better - then - average voices; coupled with a lack of respect for the material: against these we will fight.
Sing August 1961."


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Jan 16 - 10:21 AM

would there be any one who would give up their time and do it for nothing, which was what Ewan and Peggy did?


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Jan 16 - 10:38 AM

"would there be any one who would give up their time and do it for nothing, "
Virtually all involved in the revival in those days were non-professional; making a living from the Folk Clubs was a rarity.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: GUEST,Musket
Date: 10 Jan 16 - 11:29 AM

I doubt the word "tolerate" ever comes up in most folk clubs. Words such as "entertain" and "enjoyment" seem to be far preferable.


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: GUEST,ada the cadre
Date: 10 Jan 16 - 11:34 AM

I was taken there a few times as a child & visited once or twice as an adult too. My recollection is of the childhood visits that both Ewan & Bert Lloyd were pretty scary, and that you would need to be a pretty good musician to offer to perform at all. The problem with the proscription was that many of us grew up in cities where the folk tradition had been gone for a century. The number of songs originating from the London boroughs of Camden & Haringey are small and there are only so many times you can sing The Bailiff's Daughter of Islington. In my mind the proscription is linked with the Anti American feelings that a lot of adults on the Left had at the height of the Cold War. If you think they were harsh on American songs you should have heard people from those political circles on chewing-gum and what were then known as blue-jeans.


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 10 Jan 16 - 12:59 PM

Jim,

Are you suggesting that Ewan and Peggy did not receive and financial recompense for their Saturday evening performances at The Ballads & Blues Club?

I find Ewan's idea of rescuing a large number of young people quite amusing. Also his reference to the Tonight Programme. The Tonight Programme was NOT a folk music programme but a current affairs/magazine type show. At the end of each week-night programme there would be a musical item. Sometimes it was classical mandolin player Hugo D'Alton (excuse me if I have the name mis-spelt), sometimes it was calypsonian and guitarist Cy Grant who was often a guest at the Ballads & Blues during Ewan's tenure. Others that appeared were Rory & Alex McEwen also guests at the Ballads & Blues during Ewan's period, Robin Hall & Jimmie MacGregor and another whose name at the moment I cannot recall. Their material was often a calypso type number commenting on items in the day's news.

The number of musicians making a living solely from "Folk Music" then was probably about the same as it is now. Very small indeed

I hope you don't consider this to be sniping at anyone living or dead.

I should also declare an interest in the subject having taken over the bookings for the Ballads and Blues Association Club when it re-opened after the Summer break in September 1961 a few yards around the corner from the ACTT at 2 Soho Square, We were at 7 Carlisle Street in premises which were previously The Partisan Coffee Bar.


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Jan 16 - 01:28 PM

"Virtually all involved in the revival in those days were non-professional; making a living from the Folk Clubs was a rarity."
I presume you are talking about 1961.
I was talking about the time[ mid sixties] they gave up to help the critics group, as I understand it The Critics Group ran for eight years from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s.
Carthy was pro in 1965.
Cyril Tawney left the Navy early in 1959 to become a full-time professional musician and broadcaster. He earned his living in this way for 44 years, making him Britain's longest-standing professional folksinger.
By 1961,Alex Campbell was playing folk clubs in London, including Les Cousins, and appeared several times, on and off stage, at Robin Hall and Jimmie MacGregor's London Folk Song Cellar on the BBC. He toured Germany several times, and other parts of Europe.
Wizz Jones, 1966, Ralph McTell 1967,
Roy Harris quote"I decided to go full time after a good reception at Sidmouth Festival in 1964,"
IAN CAMPBELL FOLK GROUP..In 1963, they signed to Transatlantic Records and released their first studio album, This is The Ian Campbell Folk Group. The group made television appearances throughout the 1960s including Hootenanny Show, Barn Dance and Hullabaloo, They established a substantial audience and played concerts at the Royal Albert Hall and the Royal Festival Hall and at the Newport Folk Festival in 1964. In 1965, their version of Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are a-Changin'" reached No. 42 in the UK Singles Chart.
Hamish Imlach 1965.Derek Brimstone 1965.Johnny Handle.TheSpinners, The Corries. The McCalmans 1964.


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Jan 16 - 01:47 PM

and Robin Hall and Jimmie MacGregor, Lou Killen,EwanMacColl Peggy Seeger, Tom Paley 1966.The Humblebums The band was active from the mid-1960s until the early 1970s.and on and on.


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: Vic Smith
Date: 10 Jan 16 - 02:25 PM

Others that appeared were Rory & Alex McEwen also guests at the Ballads & Blues during Ewan's period, Robin Hall & Jimmie MacGregor and another whose name at the moment I cannot recall.

I think that it was Josh MacRae.


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Jan 16 - 02:53 PM

"Are you suggesting that Ewan and Peggy did not receive and financial recompense for their Saturday evening performances at The Ballads & Blues Club? "
No I am not - I am suggesting that there were few people around who were making a living out of it.
Both the B and B and The Singers paid their residents - ot much, in th case of the Singers Club - barely covered expenses.
"I find Ewan's idea of rescuing a large number of young people quite amusing"
I'm sure you do - you were a friend of, Malcolm Nixon, weren't you.
There is little doubt that the music was being sucked into the commercial market and sanitised for wiide public consumption.
My first club was one such, I was a member for a year and, so anodyne had it become, was on my way out when was taken under the wing of people like Terry Whelan and Harry Boardman - been around since.
The Singer never wavered from presenting traditional song, well sung and new songs using traditional forms.
Kept me from hanging around street corners for most of my life and earned my eternal gratitude.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 10 Jan 16 - 02:57 PM

... or perhaps Stan Kelly, who was anchorman at the club Bruce Dunnett established at the Cranbourne in Gt Newport St in 1958. Residents were Isabel Sutherland, Sandy Paton, Dominic Behan, Shirley Collins -- one each Scot, US, Irish, English -- + Stan himself: all traditionalists, which was obviously the policy & USP. Occasional floor singers, tho not an invariable feature. I remember Stan once asking (can't recall why) if anyone knew a version of The Bitter Withy other than the one Bert Lloyd had remembered from his youth, and it happened that I did [the one in Matthew Hodgart's book The Ballads, collected by CSH iirc], so he called me up to sing it. After that he would ask me to sing one or two songs most weeks.

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 10 Jan 16 - 03:52 PM

It prescribed the performance of work from one's own tradition;

and proscribed that from those of others.

(……………….. I recall Ewan threatening Isla Cameron with 50 lashes next time she sang an American song.)


What bothers me about such prescription and proscription is the definition of "one's own tradition".

I spent all my working life in the process industry – 12 years in chemical works and 30 years in oil refining. At all times, I was working for major multi-national companies. There are oil/chemical processing plants a-plenty in the US – if there is a good song out there inspired by them should I be stopped from singing it just because it is American?

I have lived for the last 30-odd years with rural Lincolnshire on my doorstep but was born and brought up as a city boy. It was heavy industry that has paid the bills. I love the countryside and get out into it whenever I can but does this give me the right to sing songs about farming and the life of an agricultural labourer as part of "my tradition" just because I live here? I was born in Liverpool and live just outside of Grimsby, both major ports in their day. My father spent all of his working life at sea or working for the port authority but I am a landlubber. Can I rightfully sing songs about rounding the Horn in a sailing ship? Is it part of my tradition?

If I had to limit my singing to what I know directly, my repertoire would be pretty thin as there aren't that many songs about boiling oil.

DC


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Jan 16 - 04:50 PM

Society and Economic climate have changed a lot since 1965, would that make a difference to the success of such a venture?


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: GUEST,Musket
Date: 10 Jan 16 - 05:47 PM

Here here Doug.

Mind you, plenty of ruddy mining songs. I preferred to find songs about reed cutting in bloody Norfolk though. Bad enough spending all day or night down the pit without singing about the chuffing place.

I left mining songs to social workers and cost accountants. They seemed to know more about it.

The folk police did more than their fair share to turn people off and the sad demise of folk clubs. These days, it's all singarounds with pieces of paper and cookbook holders. Rather sad to read that having bollocksed up clubs, some of the old sods are unrepentant.

Folk is thriving. The music coming out is exciting. The beauty is that those providing it have parents who weren't even born in 1954. The sad bit is that folk clubs are not relevant nor desirable for them. It's all small theatre or YouTube. In a pub last week, with about twenty performers ranging in age from 16 to 80, only two of us had ever heard of Mudcat, as we found when we took the piss out of 1954 and had to explain what we were laughing at.


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Jan 16 - 03:16 AM

What changed or was there any change? between 1961 and the early Seventies?.
It was my experience, and I understood it to be the norm in the Seventies, that folk club residents helped a club and did not receive payment.A lot of people were putting time and effort into helping the uk folk revival and not receiving money
I was resident at several clubs in those years,I did not receive payment, neither did I expect it,as I understood it, we all gave up our time and were not paid to help the local folk club.
Hootenanny gave the impression that some residents were paid at The Ballad and Blues club, did Ewan and Peggy get paid?, did anyone else get paid? Were residents at The Singers club paid?
I am seeking clarification for the purpose of hearing the truth, there is so much mythology and attempts to rewrite history or muddy the waters on this subject.


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Jan 16 - 04:43 AM

"the definition of "one's own tradition". "
There is no mystery in what was meant and why it was adopted as a policy by the club - I've explained MacColl and Lloyd's encounter with Lomax and the desire to open up the national repertoires - it worked - certainly over here - the revival was introduced to the songs of Jeanie Robertson, Harry Cox, Sam Larner.... big time.
The advantages of that are still with us - some of us are still singing these songs.
Terms like "proscription" I believe are deliberately chosen to avoid using the one that all club adopted "policy".
All clubs had a policy, certainly back then - even if it was the policy of "anything goes".
The singers club was no more "proscriptive" than any other club and a damn sight less than some.
We had an objective - to open up the national repertoires of these islands and while doing so, to introduce our audiences to performers from other cultures performing songs from their wn cultures - our guests came from Europe, the U.S. and Asia because they were available - we would have taken them from anywhere had it been possible.
"prosciptive" has become a term of abuse, as has "finger-in-ear" and "purist" and folk police"
It has never been applicable to the singers club, from those who visited the club it is dishonest and from those who didn't it is downright insulting.
The Singers was one of the most innovative, ground breaking and experimental clubs I was ever involved with but it created a foundation for itself on traditional song, and it never abandoned that foundation - it did what it said on the tin, and audiences came knowing what would be on offer - would that were the case today.
I wish today's revival was as in as safe hands - we wouldn't have the "anything goes", lack of standards shambles we have now.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 11 Jan 16 - 06:27 AM

Vic Smith; Not Josh MacRae Vic, I don't think he ever appeared in that spot. The name that I couldn't recall was Lance Percival who was not from the folk scene.

Jim Carroll; Having worked with Malcolm Nixon does not mean that I was/am not able to think for myself. Also I was there at the time. Ewan rescued no-one. He set up a folk club which differed somewhat in policy to the one or two others around at the time. The paying customers made their own choice. Some preferred the Singers Club and went there out of choice. Others chose venues which cast a wider net. Simple as that.

Dick Miles; I "gave he impression that some residents were paid at the Ballads & Blues Club"?? We did not have residents after Ewan & Peggy left. We had people that appeared pretty regularly. We normally would have three acts each week ALL of whom were paid.
You give a few names of people who made a living from "Folk Music". My only comment would be that there is a difference between making a living and "getting by".


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Jan 16 - 07:38 AM

" The paying customers made their own choice. Some preferred the Singers Club and went there out of choice."
Remind me again when the Ballads and Blues closed Hoot - don't think it was around when I went to my first London folk club in 1963
The Singers was still going strong until Peggy moved to America after Ewan's death in 1989 - you could still hear traditional songs and ballads well sung, coupled with newly composed ones, MacColl albums, dating back to his early days as a singer are still readily available
I'm not one for pissing competitions but I know whee my money would go as to who made the greatest contribution to folk song
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Jan 16 - 08:52 AM

As far as I am concerned my use of the term proscriptive is not intended as abusive but purely as an accurate description of their musical policy.it would be accurate to describe other clubs that had a policy of no instruments as proscriptive, in the end people choose for themselves, some like one thing others like something different.


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Jan 16 - 09:04 AM

"As far as I am concerned my use of the term prescriptive is not intended as abusive but purely as an accurate description of their musical policy."
To my knowledge we never at any time "proscribed" anybody therefore suggesting we did is an abusive term, unless you can show that we did.
The Singers, far from discouraging others to use instruments, they encouraged it - Peggy actually gave lectures on the subject (still have the recordings)
If being "proscriptive" means doing what you say you do, than everything, from putting on Jazz to labeling your tin "baked beans" is proscriptive.
It is a nonsense term when applied to a specified dedicated art form, just as is "finger-in-ear, which is a valid and age-old technique for keeping in tune is - both are used regularly to denigrate clubs and performers who apply standards and a degree of responsibility to their chosen art and their audiences.   
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Jan 16 - 09:40 AM

Proscriptive describes certain musical policies, it does make sense, for example some traditional music clubs[ not the singers club]had proscriptive musical policies, those policies forbade anything but unaccompanied singing, that description is crystal clear, the singers club had a different proscriptive musical policy.
Neither does it follow that clubs like les cousins who had a broader and less proscriptive policy had any lower quality of booked performer, they too had a high standard.
"If being "proscriptive" means doing what you say you do"
That is not the definition of Proscriptive.


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Jan 16 - 09:45 AM

" booked performer, they too had a high standard."
If you are relying on booked performers youi are not running a club, you are putting on mini-concerts.
WE relied on our residents week-after-week - guests were a welcome break once a month.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 11 Jan 16 - 09:58 AM

Jim, May 1965 was when the Ballads & Blues Club ceased operations but not for want of audience.
If you are not keen on pissing contests what is all that crap about "biggest contribution to folk song"?

I don't claim that the B&B made any contribution to folk song. We put on people that our audience enjoyed, and I am sure that Ewan and Peggy did likewise for their audience

I believe that we are already aware that you would prefer the Singers Club to the B&B. Of course you never experienced the B&B personally and I don't claim that it would have changed your mind at all if you had. "Horses for Courses".

I've said it before Jim but you really should lighten up a bit.

Keep smiling, life's too short


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: akenaton
Date: 11 Jan 16 - 10:44 AM

What happened between 1961 and the seventies was that certain people started taking the piss out of chorus singing, which was the backbone of the revival......the pointing and laughing brigade took the emotion and participation away and killed the genre.

It was replaced by "clever" musicians and celebrity performers, who in turn fell victim to current fashion.....there was nothing of real value left,

The present day folk music is sad and empty, musician based and produced to an academic template, not real life.
I listen to dozens of these young groups striving not for beauty or emotion, but a saleable sound. So many influences which when mixed together could be produced by a machine.

The Gaelic culture depended on participation, it has now almost completely disappeared......only the Mod(which was roundly condemned by seventies "folkies") remains as it was.

The folk process should be linked to dance as it has always been in Ireland......it has survived there despite the 70s and 80s "Super groups"


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: Will Fly
Date: 11 Jan 16 - 11:30 AM

The present day folk music is sad and empty, musician based and produced to an academic template, not real life.

So the evening of traditional English, Irish, Scottish and French music we had the other day in our local pub - with participants of all ages - was sad and empty, was it?

Strange, as the whole pub - including the listeners clustered around the room and up at the bar - seemed to be having a whale of a time. We knew it was going really well when an informal longways set began stamping and whirling up at the top end of the room!

And, pray, what is meant by "musician based"? Were the people playing fiddle, guitar, mandolin, boxes, whistles, smallpipes and nyckelharpa not supposed to be there?

"Academic template"? Do get out more!


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: akenaton
Date: 11 Jan 16 - 11:47 AM

It may be different in your area Will, round here used to be a great area for folk music we had upwards of 500 every week in the club and the Hotels all allowed singing. Our Club was an hotel ballroom!
There are few clubs now and the Hotels do not in general welcome the folk community.....most of the bars are empty.
I put a lot of blame on the shift from singing to instrumental groups who experiment with the music until it becomes simply a cacophony of sound.
"Do get out more"?....I get out quite a lot thank you, and was that really necessary?....The opening poster requested civility.


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: Will Fly
Date: 11 Jan 16 - 12:12 PM

No offence intended, Ake - tongue in cheek and with a smile - but when you make sweeping statements about the whole of "present day folk music" - which I believe to be an exaggeration- it does make me wonder where you go and what you listen to.

I'm aware that musical trends differ from area to area - and I think we're particularly lucky to have a rich musical scene down here in Sussex - but, even so...


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: akenaton
Date: 11 Jan 16 - 12:20 PM

Maybe more of an association with dance in your area keeps things more traditional in nature?

I am very interested in "Morris" and its origins"....how it has survived etc.


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: Will Fly
Date: 11 Jan 16 - 12:30 PM

I honestly couldn't say. Perhaps its coincidental that our session is run by members of a ceilidh band (which includes myself), and that many of the participants are also part of other local bands playing for both dancing and listening.

I ought to add, in all fairness, that our sessions are punctuated with stuff from the likes of Jimmie Rodgers and Fats Waller! We have musicians who combine a love of traditional music with a love of, and ability to play, country, jazz and swing. What really moves me is when the whole complement of players is joining in as one - doesn't matter what's being played as long as we're drawing people in to the music.

There are also several Morris teams where we are. I watch them occasionally, as friends of mine are dancers, but I confess that I don't have a particular interest in following it or participating in it.


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: GUEST,Musket
Date: 11 Jan 16 - 12:43 PM

Folk is indeed a wide genre, as this thread is somewhat inadvertently demonstrating.

I agree Will. Some people do need to get out more, but so long as they don't stray too far eh?


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Jan 16 - 12:49 PM

"Keep smiling, life's too short"
Bit presumptive you're assuming I'm not "smiling" don't you think?
I've spent a lifetime enjoying the songs I love, singing them, listening to them and helping preserve them.
When our last 'big' singer died in 2005, I thought 'that was that' - the stuff was archived safely and we could put the finishing touches to the collection and sit back - didn't happen like that.
People have shown an interest in what we've done (not necessarily in the UK but here in Ireland.
Our Clare double CD has become a field recording best seller, despite the bad behaviour of some people and a our County Library responded to our suggestion that they might like to pair it with their excellent music website - thy put two librarians to work on it for over two years and put over 500 of the songs we collected up just over a year ago - a truely magnificent job of which we are extremely proud - thy have helped us return the songs we collected back to the county we got them from - couldn't begin to tell you what a buzz that gave us.
Carroll Mackenzie collection
Early last year we completed two programmed dedicated to Ewan for Irish National Radio - another high.
Last month the World Music Department at Limerick Uni. accepted our entire collection for their students and have mooted the idea of opening a Travellers website based on the work we did with Irish Travellers in London.
Lighten up!! If we were any lighter they'd have to send up rockets to shoot us down.
None of this would have happened had our sole concern been to put bums on seats a you seem to imply is (or was) yours.
You are right about one thing - life is too short.
We are now quite old and have yet to sort out the twenty years of work we did with Walter Pardon - can't think of many English clubs interested enough to weigh in and give us a hand.
That we should live long enough to get it all done!
"What happened between 1961 and the seventies was that certain people started taking the piss out of chorus singing, which was the backbone of the revival."
Choirus singing was never the backbone of the revival and audiences joining in solo singing has become one of the rapidly spreading infections of the present day.
The Singer at no time "took the piss" out of chorus singing - ever - on the contrary, Ewan and Peggy were often accused of taking too long to teach choruses - they were an essential part of what we did.
This is a total new one on me - I have never visited a club that discouraged chorus singing - ever.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Jan 16 - 01:01 PM

Jim, I just had a guy come to my door,and he said he heard the programme about Ewan, and he was waxing lyrical, what a good programme, how much he enjoyed the songs,he said he didnt realise how many songs he thought were irish songs, were in fact written by ewan.


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: TheSnail
Date: 11 Jan 16 - 02:45 PM

Ewan MacColl quoted by Jim Carroll -
1.       It is necessary to rescue a large number of young people, all of whom have the right instincts, from those influences that have appeared on the folk scene during the past two or three years; influences that are doing their best to debase the meaning of folk song. The only notes that some people care about are the banknotes.

Intriguing. It sounds as if the rot had set in 45 years ago.


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: TheSnail
Date: 11 Jan 16 - 02:53 PM

Arithmatic failure. Make that 55 years ago.


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Jan 16 - 02:57 PM

You mean that the money men didn't move into the revival back then Bryan?
Not my experience when Folk meant 'The Smothers Brothers at the Purple Onion'.
Not unconnected to the fact that if we want folk song nowadays all we have to do was to is "hop on a train to Lewes" as I was once told - can't remember by who!
The Singers was true to its word and for around thirty years the audiences were treated to good folk songs well sung - "Gone are the blue, remembered hills"
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Jan 16 - 03:04 PM

The Singers was true to its word and for around thirty years the audiences were treated to good folk songs well sung - "Gone are the blue, remembered hills"
Jim Carroll
As they have been in other folk clubs around the country, some for more than thirty years such as Swindon folk club,Darlington Britt,Bodmin.


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: TheSnail
Date: 11 Jan 16 - 03:17 PM

My point was, Jim, that you seem to say that you left the UK folk club scene (In the eighties?) when you could no longer hear folk music in a "Folk Club". The quote from MacColl seems to imply that this was already true in 1961. I'm not sure of the relevance of 'The Smothers Brothers at the Purple Onion'. (For those who don't know,the Purple Onion was a venue in San Francisco.) It would appear that The Singers was a bit of a rarity even then.

"hop on a train to Lewes". Give it a try, you might even enjoy it and be a bit surprised by the existence of something that you deny.


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: akenaton
Date: 11 Jan 16 - 04:26 PM

Scottish folk music is now ruled by a "media mafia" it's depressing and empty, just bands trying to get famous......like pop you've now got to know the right people and lick the right arses.
The folk academies up here turn out groups which all sound the same and who murder all the good songs and tunes in the same manner.
Folk music was never about technical ability, it is about raw emotion, the magic ingredient.
In the days even before the revival, I can remember pub and small ceilidh singers who were magic on legs.

Jim I was not pointing at the singers club, one of my personal favourites Gordeanna McCulloch joined many years ago one of the best folk singers Scotland ever produced, with only two CDs to her name, but she devoted her life to teaching and singing all over the country, keeping the tradition alive.
Chorus singing and the groups who performed it were treated with derision, not by the clubs, but by the new breed of would be celebrity performers, who were dedicated only to making a name for themselves.

MacColl knew what it was all about.


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Jan 16 - 05:24 PM

"My point was, Jim, that you seem to say that you left the UK folk club scene (In the eighties?) when you could no longer hear folk music in a "Folk Club""
I didn't Bryan, I said I said I stopped randomly visiting clubs when my choice of what would find there was removed from me.
"The quote from MacColl seems to imply that this was already true in 1961. "
That was the way it was heading then - the policy adopted by The Singers was followed my other clubs - Manchester had several, Liverpool at least one, Birmingham, from what I cam make out, Lewes, Grimsby, Hull and other clubs avoided what was happening - Pat had a list of clubs she could approach when she booked a guest.
"It would appear that The Singers was a bit of a rarity even then."
Not by any means but had not peopele stood up to be counted then it might well have been.
MacColl was lucky enough to have the (sometimes qualified) support of Eric Winter and Fred Dallas to publicist his statement.
"Give it a try, you might even enjoy"
I might well - but isn't it a sad state of affairs that I woulfd have to?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: GUEST,Musket
Date: 12 Jan 16 - 03:03 AM

Can't see what the problem is Jim. If Marks and Spencer stop selling your favourite Y fronts, they are still a shop that sells men's underwear. It's just you who would be disappointed trying to find what you want. It's still the same Marks & Sparks to everybody else, none of whom would understand what all your fuss is about.

Just think how folk could have taken off if it wasn't for people being turned off by the very thought of the folk police. Music in the popular culture from the 50s onwards has had a hell of a lot of folk inspired influence. If folk clubs had been universally more inclusive, they might have thrived rather than dropping like flies over the last thirty years.

Anyway. Must dash. I have to brush up on Ziggy Stardust. Haven't played it in years and I will tonight at a err folk club....


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: Will Fly
Date: 12 Jan 16 - 03:18 AM

Alternatively, of course, Jim could abandon M&S completely and go elsewhere for those elusive and desirable Y-fronts. The interesting thing is that music is a far more complex and sophisticated set of spiritual, cultural experiences than Y-fronts - or indeed anything that, for example, fits into a can with a label on it.

That's why these eternal wranglings about the nature and taxonomy of the music continue.

The important thing to remember is that all taxonomies are relative - skewed to the originators of the taxonomies and their aims.


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: The Sandman
Date: 12 Jan 16 - 04:29 AM

"Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: Jim Carroll - PM
Date: 11 Jan 16 - 05:24 PM

"My point was, Jim, that you seem to say that you left the UK folk club scene (In the eighties?) when you could no longer hear folk music in a "Folk Club""
I didn't Bryan, I said I said I stopped randomly visiting clubs when my choice of what would find there was removed from me."
My experience is different, I WAS PLAYING IN A LOT OF FOLK CLUBS IN THE EIGHITES AND I heard a lot of well performed trad and contemporary material. I also ran a folk club in the eighties and booked Carthy and Swarbrick,Martin Carthy, MacColl and Seeger, Cyril Tawney,Tony Rose Peter Bellamy, Irish musicians such as John and Julia Clifford, Nic Jones, Johnny Handle etc




2


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Jan 16 - 04:41 AM

Thanks Will - should have said that
I do wish people would stop using spitefully childish terms like 'folk police' or we'll be back to schoolyard name-calling before you can say "snigger-snogwriter" - itis an ugly term and it gets us nowhere.
The music is more complex than that.
I came into folk song because I liked it to sing and to listen to - when I realsised just how important it was I hung round - I've been there since.
"Folk" isn't a term you can walk away from - it's too well documented and has been for nearly 150 years - it identifies what the music is, who it served and how it came about - it has history.
Why should re-brand our song and music when it's already well-branded - what do we say when someone new to the genre asks about "folk song" - "Go look in 'Folk Song in England' or 'Folk Songs of The North East' or 'Folk Songs of the Upper Thames' or 'The Ballad and the Folk' or Cecil Sharp's 'Folk Songs of the Appalachians' or his and Maud Karpeles 'Folk Songs of England Collection'..... but don't take any notice of the title!!
It gets more complicated when you have to tie it up with its related disciplines; folklore, folk music, folk dance, folk tale, folk custom, folk beliefs, folk art...
Making a folk U.D.I. is all very well but sorry, this chair is occupied and the 'anything goes clubs' don't change that fact one iota.
It wasn't your Folk Police (nastily insulting term) who drove us out of the clubs in droves, most folk clubs I went to were fairly easy-going within the description, it was the fact that when we turned up we didn't get to hear anything resembling what we came for - if we wanted to hear Bonzo Dog Doodah Band (or Ziggy Stardust) numbers, we'd dig out the records from the masters of that genre - we didn't have to listen to fifth-rate renditions belted out by folkies no longer singing folksongs.
There was a time when the folk revival knew what folk song was and we were able to choose our clubs on the basis of whether they were well-performed or not.
Enjoy your Ziggy Stardust - "I'm sorry for your trouble" as they say around here when someone dies.
When you work with old singers, especially those who have been part of communities who have had a thriving living tradition, you realise that they have, to some extent, taken ownership of the songs - they are Clare songs, or Norfolk songs, or Traveller songs... wherever they turn up, they belong to there.
The singers may have sung music hall, or C&W, or pop songs of the period, but the Traditional songs are (or more accurately were) different - I believe the communities that once had the songs no longer make or remake them to any degree - the 'living traditions' are things of the past - we saw that happen virtually overnight between 1973/75 with Irish Travellers when they all got portable televisions and stopped singing and making songs.
As folkies, we still get pleasure in singing them, and hopefully, using the forms to make new ones, but I believe by doing so, we take on the responsibility of maintaining their importance - they really are part of our social history - the product of communities who, it has been claimed, were incapable of producing anything artistically or socially worthwhile - as the album series says 'The Voice of the People' - "The Folk" in fact.
We've been working here on the West Coast of Ireland since the early seventies.
Three years ago, when we started to prepare our collection for the internet, we stumbled on something we had overlooked - several dozen local songs which were not part of the mainstream tradition and had not moved out of the area - four songs about a local shipwreck, five about an incident during the 'Black and Tans' period and several more on the same theme, four song on the local West Clare Railway, election songs, songs about local characters, murders and drinking sprees..... all made during the lifetimes of the singers and all anonymous.
An old singer told us a couple of years ago that "if a man farted in church, somebody made a song about it".
I have since come to the conclusion that the practice of recording local history in song must have happened throughout the country and, because of the songs not tying up with the traditional repertoire, they have been either not recorded or ignored when they have - just as we did.
This maybe common knowledge elsewhere - it's new to me and worth pushing to see if we can get others to follow it up.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: The singers club and proscription
From: GUEST,Musket
Date: 12 Jan 16 - 05:20 AM

Stop telling me what folk music is by definition based on your opinion and I'll stop calling you the folk police, Jim.

Simple.

Unlike Y fronts, which can be difficult when you are busting and fumbling.

Especially when your waistband ends nine inches above your Y fronts eh?


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