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What is Happening to our Folk Clubs

Big Al Whittle 19 Oct 17 - 11:07 AM
Jim Carroll 19 Oct 17 - 11:06 AM
Dave the Gnome 19 Oct 17 - 10:52 AM
Vic Smith 19 Oct 17 - 10:45 AM
Jim Carroll 19 Oct 17 - 10:38 AM
Dave the Gnome 19 Oct 17 - 10:07 AM
GUEST,Jim Knowledge 19 Oct 17 - 09:48 AM
Jim Carroll 19 Oct 17 - 09:39 AM
Jim Carroll 19 Oct 17 - 09:35 AM
Jack Campin 19 Oct 17 - 09:27 AM
Jim Carroll 19 Oct 17 - 08:40 AM
Dave the Gnome 19 Oct 17 - 08:38 AM
Jim Carroll 19 Oct 17 - 08:24 AM
Jack Campin 19 Oct 17 - 08:19 AM
Jim Carroll 19 Oct 17 - 07:28 AM
Dave the Gnome 19 Oct 17 - 06:53 AM
GUEST,ST 19 Oct 17 - 06:21 AM
GUEST 19 Oct 17 - 06:19 AM
GUEST 19 Oct 17 - 06:16 AM
Vic Smith 19 Oct 17 - 05:56 AM
Backwoodsman 19 Oct 17 - 05:39 AM
akenaton 19 Oct 17 - 05:34 AM
Jim Carroll 19 Oct 17 - 04:02 AM
Jim Carroll 19 Oct 17 - 03:55 AM
Big Al Whittle 18 Oct 17 - 07:39 PM
GUEST 18 Oct 17 - 06:48 PM
Joe Offer 18 Oct 17 - 04:28 PM
Big Al Whittle 18 Oct 17 - 03:15 PM
Paul Reade 18 Oct 17 - 02:15 PM
Backwoodsman 18 Oct 17 - 01:33 PM
The Sandman 18 Oct 17 - 01:27 PM
Jack Campin 18 Oct 17 - 12:58 PM
Big Al Whittle 18 Oct 17 - 12:51 PM
Jack Campin 18 Oct 17 - 12:07 PM
Backwoodsman 18 Oct 17 - 11:48 AM
Jim Carroll 18 Oct 17 - 10:57 AM
Big Al Whittle 18 Oct 17 - 10:31 AM
Jim Carroll 18 Oct 17 - 09:29 AM
Jack Campin 18 Oct 17 - 09:03 AM
Jack Campin 18 Oct 17 - 08:09 AM
Dave Sutherland 18 Oct 17 - 08:02 AM
Big Al Whittle 18 Oct 17 - 07:33 AM
Jim Carroll 18 Oct 17 - 07:21 AM
Big Al Whittle 18 Oct 17 - 07:01 AM
Jim Carroll 18 Oct 17 - 06:28 AM
Big Al Whittle 18 Oct 17 - 06:11 AM
Jack Campin 18 Oct 17 - 05:11 AM
Jim Carroll 18 Oct 17 - 04:44 AM
TheSnail 18 Oct 17 - 04:09 AM
Jim Carroll 18 Oct 17 - 03:49 AM
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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 11:07 AM

thanks for the offer Jim.
my e-mail is unchanged
denise_whittle@yahoo.co.uk

I think what you are forgetting is that things DO change.

Would the members of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band recognise what Miles Davis did as jazz, or Ornette Coleman?

Would Mozart and Beethoven tecognise Benjamin Britten and Schoenberg as classical music, or Frank Zappa?

Martin Carthy himself said an important constituent of folk music is the vapid day to day stuff - he illustrated with a 19th century song about a fashion lady's hats made to look like dirigible balloons.

When mass shootings are such an awful phenomenon of today, what is so shameful and un-folk music about Geldof's song of nearly forty years of age.
You may have come to folk music via the ballads and Ewan MacColl - I've said this before but you don't seem to have taken cognisance of it. I grew up in Lincolnshire my weekend bike rides were past Bloodhound interceptor rockets and Thor rockets and Vulcan bombers armed with a nuclear bombs.
The first song I learned off the radio when I was 12 was , Where have all the flowers gone? And it spoke to me, and truth to tell it still does.
i feel there was nothing shameful or inadequate about my feeling that this was special music, this was folk music. if it doesn't fit the 1954 definition of folk music - its cos the definition stinks.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 11:06 AM

"It still follows that the the ones that do not have anything to offer will fall by the wayside."
If they had nothing to offer they would have fallen beside the wayside long before now
I'll give you an example of what I man
Shortly after we began recording here in Clare I used to put my head in my hands - "oh suffering jaysus, not another feckin' "Home I Left Behind" emigration dirge" - hundreds of the buggers
Then I began to read up on the period following the Famine and talk to the locals about how their families had been effected
I realised that we had never met an individual whose family had not been touched by forced emigration - not one.
THen all the songs began to fall into place thanks to the wider picture
I still don't like most of them as entertainment, but as carriers of information, atmosphere and sentiment they have no peers
They are inseparable from my interest in social history and politics
That's what I call "good"
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 10:52 AM

I believe that most folk songs, while varying in quality, have something to offer and entertain

That I can accept, Jim. It still follows that the the ones that do not have anything to offer will fall by the wayside. The songs in your definition will survive naturally. They were there before folk clubs came into being. They will be there long after folk clubs have evolved into something else.

DtG


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Vic Smith
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 10:45 AM

A bit of personal experience.
Over the years, I reckon that most of the songs that we have sung in public have been starting off folk clubs as organiser/resident singers; beginning at college we ran weekly folk clubs for 50 years up until the end of 2014.
We have never been ones to seek for bookings for ourselves, we both had time-consuming careers outside music, but I'm pleased to say that plenty have come our way over the years. Back in the 1970s it was about a half singing, either as a duo of Tina and I or in various groups that we have been members of and the other half have been with the dance bands and for more than a quarter of a century this has been with our current band, the Sussex Pistols.
If I compare that with this year, the number of singing bookings had diminished - three festivals and a few folk clubs this year - whereas the number of dance gigs has grown greatly. We pass a lot of enquiries on to other local bands on dates where we are already booked. We are playing traditional tunes - singing the odd song when it is appropriate - and I am calling traditional and modern dances to people who have no involvement with or experience of traditional music. I would go further than that and say that many of the people that we play for at weddings, anniversaries, celebrations of all sorts, increasingly, have little experience of being in a room with live music being played and initially have no idea of the way they should react to it. They look embarrassed and take time to relax into it. This is very strange indeed to a live music junkie like myself; I get twitchy after a few days without the fix of being in a room with someone performing.
I put the change in the mix of gigs that we do down to function. A natural way of people celebrating is to dance together. Compared with that being at events that exhibit specialist singing and playing can seem artificial.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 10:38 AM

"what you seem to be saying is that because it is folk song, "
Nothin of the sort Dave
I believe that most folk songs, while varying in quality, have something to offer and entertain
I go along with MacColl to believe that the poetry of the ballads, in the main challenge Shakespeare.
Good and bad is a subjecting term - it doesn't mean we are all going to entertain us all equally, but the place that folksong occupies in our culture over-rides our personal tastes
I have become familiar with Mongolian throat-singing - not even its best friend would describe it as beautiful but it still makes the hairs on the back of my neck bristle - that's what I mean by "good"
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 10:07 AM

Folk song is good dave - beautiful in fact

That is where we will have to disagree, Jim. I would accept a lot of or even most of but what you seem to be saying is that because it is folk song, it must all be good. Apologies if that was not your intention but I do not believe it is all good. Just like I do not believe that all Jethro Tull songs are good, even though Ian Anderson is God :-) There is good and bad in every genre and we are not even going into matters of personal tastes. The good will survive naturally and the bad will fade away. Just natural selection.

DtG


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: GUEST,Jim Knowledge
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 09:48 AM

I `ad that Mudcat Moaner in my cab the other day. `e `ad a clipboard and `e`d put down chapter and verse about all `is local folk clubs, performance levels, crib sheets, music stands and whatever. Dunno where `e gets the time.
I said, "Morning Muddy, you`ve been busy and I see you`ve got all the usual suspects on that Mudcat scratching, bollowing and biting about the state of folk clubs."
`e said, "Well Jim, I reckon there all going down`ill. You and your band `ave been doing it for long enough. What`s your take on it?"
I said, "Muddy you`ve got to move with the times. If the punters now want "The Barley Mow" and "Lord Lovell" done with a saxophone, two fiddles and a Moog Synthesizer and go `ome thinking it`s folk, give it to`em. It`s still a nice little earner!!"

Whaddam I Like??


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 09:39 AM

All still a remote (and to those without internet access, as is the case in rural Ireland) inaccessible facility Jack
Give me the face to face atmosphere of a club any-day
If it's there, who let it die by neglect?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 09:35 AM

"No it doesn't, Jim. It depends on it being good."
Folk song is good dave - beautiful in fact - Shakespeare (son of a glove maker) was actually drawing from the tradition to make his plays, as were Bocaccio and Homer before him using the vernacular cultures to inform their own works
Whether its performance if good enough is something the clubs need to sort out
All were entertainment, but much more, and the further away they get from the present day, more that that "much more" becomes apparent.
I am up to my arse in the historical implications of our local "entertainment" in the form of songs
THe list I gave includes listener as it is they who expects entertainment, the rest covers the necessity to get folk song accepted by the art establishment because it is they who hold the wherewithal to getting our music out to a wider audience.
I have been told numerous times that the reason our collection at the British Library is not on line is because they haven't the money to put it up.
That was the constant moan throughout my briefish flirtation with EFDSS - no money to give them the extra space to even to accept huge bequeathments of books and broadside
A few years ago when the Celtic Tiger was roaring its loudest, you were pushing on an open door when you applied for grants for research into and performance of traditional music - I can never remember that happening back home
Even if them upstairs had money to spare they are not going to give it to a bunch of clowns who couldn't finf their 'folk' arse with both hands
We nerd them and it's about time we started persuading them they need us just as much
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jack Campin
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 09:27 AM

Traditional music has always been a social activity based on personal communication - the Clubs were a compromise but a comfortable one (infinitely better than concerts), for instance

Youtube and Spotify puts them in display cases to be observed rather than shared - listen but don't touch


That isn't how it works. People use them as resources, to point out neat things to emulate or compete with; in some circles YouTube videos are uploaded as a "how am I doing?" or a brag from one of a small circle of performers. I've been playing this tune for years but would never have thought of doing it the way this guy does:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GduY4LDIytc

You'll note that it wouldn't be an easy thing to find. I was pointed to it by another player in a group I'm in.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 08:40 AM

"YouTube and Spotify"
Traditional music has always been a social activity based on personal communication - the Clubs were a compromise but a comfortable one (infinitely better than concerts), for instance
Youtube and Spotify puts them in display cases to be observed rather than shared - listen but don't touch
If I wanted just to listen I need ever need leave home - I have a large enough sound collection top hear whatever I want from wherever I want
I can still remember the buzz of sharing a pleasant experience I got from the clubs - nearly as much as I got from hearing the songs
The friendships I made from those nights were spin-offs from the music led to all sorts of things from amorous encounters to short and long term co-operation in research - in my case, even a lifelong partnership
Would never have got that from Spotify
I can listen to some of the finest Irish music on disc but none of itt beats a night at Friels or The Westbridge, or The Blonde's or any of the other weekly sessions in this town
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 08:38 AM

The future of our music depends on ir being taken seriously. by the potential listener, by the media, by those who control the purse-strings of the art world, by the student.... by society as a whole.
Shakespeare can survive and thrive without majority popular support, Dickens will continue to be read for centuries, though I have only met one person (Walter Pardon) who read all his novels.


No it doesn't, Jim. It depends on it being good. Both Shakespeare and Dickens were popular in their own time. They are now certainly taken seriously by some but I suspect that the majority of Elizabethan theatre goers (can I call the Globe- trotters? :-) ) and most readers of pop-lit in Victorian times treated them as they were intended; popular entertainment. They have survived because they are good and have moved with the times. How many of Shakespeares plays and Dickens's books now have modern interpretations? Yet the originals still survive and go from strength to strength. It will be the same with folk music. The good will survive, the crap will be flushed and so it should be.

DtG


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 08:24 AM

Can I just add to this is that what runs through these arguments like 'Blackpool runs through rick' is that our definition of "folk" should be based on personal tastes rather than what it is.
This is nonsensical and if it was applied to any other form of music "I don't like classical music so let's extend the term to include jazz and music hall" it would be laughed out of court
The future of our music depends on ir being taken seriously. by the potential listener, by the media, by those who control the purse-strings of the art world, by the student.... by society as a whole.
Shakespeare can survive and thrive without majority popular support, Dickens will continue to be read for centuries, though I have only met one person (Walter Pardon) who read all his novels....
An art form doesn't have to reach the top of the charts to remain significant, but it does have to be taken seriously.
I'm sorry to constantly hark baek to what is happening here, but Irish Traditional Music has been guaranteed two generations worth of future, first because a small number of enthusiasts smashed it's 'diddly di' stigma and later because thousands of young people took it at face value, smashed their way through the 'peer-pressure' problem and began playing like virtuosos
Twenty odd years ago we thought it would die when we did - not now, we don't
What is happening nowadays may not always be to our own personal tastes but I have never seen such a healthy and hopeful scene
jim carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jack Campin
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 08:19 AM


Thanks for your input guest - sorry, but I feel I must disagree with most of it


You're illustrating what they said rather than disagreeing. Your autobiographical account describes a "where has this stuff been all my life?" encounter with the songs of traditional singers, and it was an experience common to many people of the same generation. It hasn't been an experience available to generations since - the motivating fire that got people together to form folk clubs and similar spaces for the music just isn't there. The source singers aren't around to feed in new stuff, and the recorded material has become familiarized with time.

There is a lot of source material which does genuinely sound like nothing you could ever have expected, but you'd never go to a folk club to look for it. YouTube and Spotify are a much better bet. But once you start looking at such vast and loosely categorized resources, you're unlikely to end up with such a sharp focus as you had. I don't think that's any bad thing. There is a lot of music out there and no laws to dictate which selections from it your own personal tastes should go for. Hence all over Britain you have things like Balkan bands, dhol groups and samba schools - which often have the same members as people who do English or Scottish traditional dance. There is so much creative energy out there that expecting folk clubs to host even a fraction of it would be like trawling for mackerel with a tadpole net and a jar.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 07:28 AM

Thanks for your input guest - sorry, but I feel I must disagree with most of it
Your argument may well describe what the clubs became, but they certainly didn't start out like that, not the ones I became involved with anyway
There was an element in what you describe in my first club, run by the Liverpool Spinners - a mixture of popularly performed folk songs and a social gathering.
I was a member for a couple of years and had just about had my fill of 'Fried Bread and Brandy' when they booked MacColl and Seeger, and I was introduced to an entire new world - a mixture of articulately presented traditional songs and (particularly) ballads alongside contemporary songs made on traditional forms.
I moved to Manchester and became part of the Terry Whelan, Harry Boardman, Tom Gillfellon, Teri Griffiths, Dave Hillary scene - a varied mixture of traditional songs that could knock your socks off.
By the time MacColl asked me to join the Critics Group I was an addict for life - not on the scene but on the songs - the social bit was an added bonus which you could take or leave.
MacColl, Lloyd and the pioneers all came to the music, very much influenced and inspired by McCarthy refugee, Alan Lomax
When he arrived in Britain Ewan and Bert were singing everything, including American songs that had been popularised by the material shipped in by Ken Colyer that set off Skiffle craze.
Lomax banged their heads together and pointed them at their home-grown folk songs, largely those collected by the BBC a few years earlier
What, Lloyd MacColl and others inspired became the serious and totally dedicated side of folk song
It produced new songs and new approaches to and uses of the old songs but it never really lost sight of their belief that Folk songs were the workers voice - The Voice of the People'.
There is a strange attitude that says you cannot be serious about your music and enjoy it at the same time
I'm working on a talk I'm giving in a few weeks and I'm using this quote by MacColl which answers that attitude for me perfectly - it's from an interview we did with him in in 1978.

"Now you might say that working and training to develop your voice to sing Nine Maidens A-milking Did Go or Lord Randall is calculated to destroy your original joy in singing, at least that's the argument that?s put to me from time to time, or has been put to me from time to time by singers who should know better.
The better you can do a thing the more you enjoy it. Anybody who?s ever tried to sing and got up in front of an audience and made a bloody mess of it knows that you?re not enjoying it when you?re making a balls of it, but you are enjoying it when it?s working, when all the things you want to happen are happening. And that can happen without training, sure it can, but it?s hit or miss. If you?re training it can happen more, that?s the difference. It can?t happen every time, not with anybody, although your training can stand you in good stead, it?s something to fall back on, a technique, you know. It?s something that will at least make sure that you?re not absolutely diabolical
The objective, really for the singer is to create a situation where when he starts to sing he?s no longer worried about technique, he?s done all that, and he can give the whole of his or her attention to the song itself, she can give her or he can give his whole attention to the sheer act of enjoying the song."

For me, our traditional songs are a vital part of our culture; performing them and listening to them has always given me enormous pleasure and I will be eternally grateful to the club scene that gave me the opportunity to do so - I wouldn't know they existed without them.
The clubs were set up to make these songs accessible to everybody - I only hope they survive to give future generations the same opportunity and pleasure they gave me
If I want to hear pop songs droned out by different performers 'just there for the craic' I can nip along to the local karaoke session
If people wish to offer a workable re-definition of the term "folk" they need to do so rather than saying "it is because I say it is" - that's just ill mannered boorishness.
I don't believe folk music is dead because it's a thing of the past any more than I believe Dickens or Shakespeare have had their day
They are all a part of our rich, vatal heritage and they all have something to say to us about ourselves
Long may they all thrive and prosper
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 06:53 AM

I think that is a good summation, ST. Folk clubs as an entity are artificial and came into being in the middle of the last century. Folk song and dance, however, is not artificial and has been going on since, well, man learned to sing and dance! We do not need folk clubs to preserve folk music as the music of yesteryear will either survive or fall by the wayside on its own merits. Folk clubs have evolved and while I have seen evidence of the OPs initial complaints I cannot say how widespread it is because I have a very limited, if lengthy, experience of only a handful of folk clubs. What I do know is that good music, of whatever genre, will survive in any environment.

My tastes are somewhat eclectic and I am more than happy to listen to any sort of music at the clubs I attend and, to be honest, I do not think I would enjoy an evening of nothing but traditional, unaccompanied song. I could be wrong and pleasantly surprised of course but to my mind, if you will excuse the cliche, variety is the spice of life. I was enamored of The Battlefield Band many years ago when the did their 'Saturday night ceilidh' set, explaining that the ceilidhs they attended in their youth were not the type we tend to think of here but were a collection of performance, dance, poetry and songs which included both traditional and modern. I think 'Johnny B Good' and 'Bad Moon rising' played on bagpipes is still one of the best things I have ever heard :-)

I certainly have no objection to the type of music performed. As long as it is good and the performers put in some effort to keep the audience entertained I will not complain. If I go to a venue where the music, however good, is not to my taste, I will go elsewhere. If I go to a venue where the music is to my taste but consistently performed to a poor standard, I will go elsewhere. I am sure I am not greatly different to most other people.

Just my 2p.

DtG


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: GUEST,ST
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 06:21 AM

Sorry - about to post previous entry as "Guest - ST" and pressed the wrong button while I was trying to edit all the mis-transferred punctuation from "Word" into Mudcatese


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 06:19 AM

I know I can't generalise from my own experience but, although I can't claim to have been an active participant in the early days of the revival in the 50s, I can claim to have been an active member of the folk community for half a century so here's my own, very personal viewpoint.

I want to try to separate the question of what's happened to folk clubs from the questions about folk song/music. I don't actually think that folk clubs have "died" because they failed to stick to the 1954 definition of "folk" (although I tend to agree with that definition in the absence of anyone coming up with something better: but that's not the discussion here.)

I believe folk clubs were a generational "social" phenomenon which, I think is now dying out with the "Folk Club Generation". I don't think there were any folk clubs to speak of in the UK before the Second World War. They emerged from the 1950s skiffle and cafe bar movement, grew in popularity throughout the 1960s and 1970s and started to decline in popularity (and, in my entirely subjective opinion, in standards) from the 1980s. There are still a few run and attended by the "Folk Club Generation" but they have largely been replaced by singarounds and acoustic and open mic evenings for the "active" participants and by larger scale concerts and festivals for the "audiences".   

I don't think the younger generations failed to start coming to the clubs because the clubs no longer "did what it said on the tin"; I just think they were of their time and were and are not suited to a different time.   Folk songs were once, perhaps, sung at family gatherings and harvest and hunt suppers before the artificial environment of our folk clubs was invented. They were not the only songs sung at these events. These pre-folk generation gatherings were of their generation; folk clubs were of mine and, for a short time they provided an environment where the "folk songs" were separated from the other types of song. This selective environment, for a short time, became quite fashionable. Now there are different generations and different formats are emerging with different performers who get their material, and inspiration, in different ways. Although the occasional folk songs gets sung in these gatherings they are no longer exclusively for folk songs and, perhaps are back to the more mixed repertoires of the pre-folk club generations.

The Folk Club Generation learned within the clubs as well as, occasionally, from books and LPs. The current generation has Youtube and various internet sources to learn from - they don't need to sit through a variety of performers to get to the bit they want to hear or emulate.   They can go to "open mic" evenings with the songs they learned off Youtube, have their 10 minutes of fame and then leave.   The better ones (and there are some really good ones out there) can put up their own videos and try to get bookings at festivals and in music bars.   In some cases they can be keeping traditional material alive but not in the folk club context in which we learned and experienced it.

In the late 60s and 70s there were plenty of clubs. They were filled to capacity mainly by teens and 20s and the clubs that I went to had few, if any, older or traditional/source singers attending regularly. (Mind you "old" used to mean anyone over about 35 in those days!) Many of the clubs could afford to invite regular "professional" or semi-professional guests: in some cases these were (older) source/traditional singers and musicians. Whilst the clubs had plenty of "audience" members who restricted their contributions to joining in choruses etc., there were also lots of floor singers, so many that you couldn't guarantee getting a floor spot each week and, if you didn't know your material, you certainly wouldn't get one the next week. You learned your songs from each other with the few having access to LPs and books bringing in a steady stream of new material. Later on, many of us had cassette recorders which allowed us to collect and learn songs from others more easily. The material at the clubs I went to was mainly traditional with just the occasional Bob Dylan etc. song.

From the mid-80s and over the next decade or so things changed. The "Folk Club Generation" thinned out as families and jobs got in the way of nights out. Venues became less available as pubs ripped out internal walls to become bars, often with large TVs on the wall, and others morphed into restaurants.   As audiences and performers decreased, the repertoire of the singers widened and more ?pop? was performed but still, the clubs I went to maintained a fairly traditional base. (This, of course was partly because I avoided clubs that didn't suit my taste in music.) As the clubs shrank in numbers and attendance I didn't notice much new blood entering.   The Folk Club Generation boom of teens and 20s became the diminished die-hards, now in their 30s and 40s.

Over the last couple of decades there have been other changes. There's been a continued decrease in venue availability with the closure of pubs now adding further to the pressures. I don't think actual participant numbers have decreased as much as might be expected since those leaving due to death (or finally having had enough) seem to have been replaced by others of the original Folk Club Generation reaching retirement age and, once more, having time to spare. Unfortunately that influx has brought its own problems. A number of those returning are the "chorus singing, audience only" attendees from the 60s. Now they're back and they see a chance to sing themselves. So far, so good, but they seem to have forgotten how the "performers" of those early days actually learned to perform and practiced before doing so. Many of them now resort to files of songs from which they read. My impression is that many feel an obligation to sing because they think it's a requirement (and this seems to be encouraged in some singarounds) - but they don't actually treat the songs with any respect: it's all person-centred and about the participation. This is a perfectly valid viewpoint although it's not quite how the 1960s clubs worked where, I believe, it was the songs that came first.

Sadly there's a critical mass effect in operation. Even some of those who were actually floor singers in the 1960s but left for family and work reasons now return and see that reading and not knowing your songs is the norm. Perhaps lacking confidence after a long absence, they blame ageing for no longer being able to remember words and seem to be prepared to buy into the "I haven?t had time to learn this one properly yet" ethos. As there's less real talent left in this smaller population, many "clubs" have become singarounds where no-one really even pretends to be any good anymore and you get your turn regardless of whether you know any songs or bother to practice them beforehand.   I can go to some clubs/singarounds where you're expected to know your songs and perform reasonably well (though perhaps not as some still let me sing). It seems attendees quickly pick up that, at these clubs, you need to aim for a certain level of performance. I go to other places where one or two start to read from sheets, forget what they're doing, say "I just found this one today and must try it out" and, if left unremarked upon, within a couple of months nearly everyone is taking the same approach. Noticeably, a few of the "better"? performers will have stopped attending by then so the effect is even more pronounced. I think this may explain why perceptions about the current state of standards varies. If you're lucky enough to live where the critical mass supports standards you?ll think they are OK, if you're not so lucky .
...
So, I think we're seeing the death of folk clubs along with those who started them. The younger generations are inventing their own ways of performing and keeping songs alive. Some of these performers are very good but whereas the Folk Club Generation went to clubs to share just "folk songs" with each other, to listen as well as to perform, I'm not sure that's the model for the current generation. I think most, raised on Youtube and the internet, expect to have an audience for their songs rather than share songs with each other. As I said, some are very good and at least as good as the best of my generation; they?re just doing a slightly different thing.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 06:16 AM

There was no animosity in my post ....none whatever. And i too would like to see the same rule applied below the line, where animosity is the order of the day.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Vic Smith
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 05:56 AM

If your identity is known, you suffer social consequences from the community when your behavior is out of line. If you hide behind anonymity, there are no such consequences. In addition, people often perceive anonymous remarks as threatening. Also, anonymous criticism can be particularly hurtful. Therefore, if there is even a hint of animosity in an anonymous post, I will not hesitate to delete it.
Anonymity is granted only to allow occasional visitors a chance to contribute to a discussion when they are unable to become members for one reason or another. Anonymity is not a right. If you post anonymously, all your messages will be scrutinized. Don't like that? Then sign up as a member.
-Joe Offer, Mudcat Music Editor-


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 05:39 AM

So do I.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: akenaton
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 05:34 AM

Yes, you are quite right Jim, I noticed what was happening yesterday and withdrew from the discussion.....Joe is perfectly correct and I wish BS was subject to the same moderation.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 04:02 AM

"I think whatever made them lose the will to live is currently stomping round the west of Ireland looking for another dominant species to start on."
Pease don't you join in the snide Jack - you are better than that
I've made my points as clearly as I am able - try addressing them
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 03:55 AM

Delighted that Joe intervened - I apologise for getting involved in the backbiting - put it down to the meds.
I do hope you're joking Al - in all sincerity, you really should try the real thing before out dismiss it out-of-hand.
If you haven't heard ten part 'The Song Carriers' series MacColl did in the sixties, you really should try it - it is, in my opinion, the finest and most accessible presentation of British and Irish folk song that was ever produced - 1964 and still not bettered, both enjoyable and informative
It still sets the hairs on the back of my head on end after a dozen times of listening
If you are in any way interested PM me with an e-mail address and I'll be happy to send you a set on Dropbox
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 18 Oct 17 - 07:39 PM

with the best will in the world - i really don't think you need to bother too much about the sensibilities of the folks on this thread.

Jim Carrol doesn't reckon my Justin Beiber songs are folk music
I'm trying open his mind to hip hop and acid metal trance.

He reckons his ballads are where its at, full of street cred and a possible cure for my insomnia.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Oct 17 - 06:48 PM

If guests are allowed under the rules they should not be subject to any stricter rules than combative or obnoxious members! If all are not equal, change the rules, but do not carry out a double standard! The rules of "decorum" must apply to all, yes?


    If your identity is known, you suffer social consequences from the community when your behavior is out of line. If you hide behind anonymity, there are no such consequences. In addition, people often perceive anonymous remarks as threatening. Also, anonymous criticism can be particularly hurtful. Therefore, if there is even a hint of animosity in an anonymous post, I will not hesitate to delete it.
    Anonymity is granted only to allow occasional visitors a chance to contribute to a discussion when they are unable to become members for one reason or another. Anonymity is not a right. If you post anonymously, all your messages will be scrutinized. Don't like that? Then sign up as a member.
    -Joe Offer, Mudcat Music Editor-


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Joe Offer
Date: 18 Oct 17 - 04:28 PM

We expect civil behavior from all; but Guests are reminded that they are under special scrutiny. There were a number of combative Guest posts in this thread. I deleted most of the recent ones - along with some member responses. We can't have credible discussion of folk music with that sort of combat going on. Your mother should have taught you that when you are a guest, you should be on your "best behavior."
-Joe Offer, Mudcat Music Editor-


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 18 Oct 17 - 03:15 PM

a pubic hair on the toilet seat......

as Private Godfrey said, I don't like that sort of thing...


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Paul Reade
Date: 18 Oct 17 - 02:15 PM

Ironically, Guest's comment above ("... zzzzzzzzz") answers exactly the question "What is Happening to our Folk Clubs".

While the folknerd pedants have been arguing the toss about what exactly folk is etc., they don't seem to have noticed that the audience has become totally bored ... and gone home!


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 18 Oct 17 - 01:33 PM

Amen, Dick.
Someone will probably be along in a minute to tell us that the Zimmer Frame must comply with the 1954 design, otherwise it's not a Zimmer Frame. 😜😎


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Oct 17 - 01:27 PM

what is happening in our folk clubs...... people are making their own music they are socialising and they are enjoying themselves, sometimes they get their leg over something other than a zimmer frame, long may that continue


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jack Campin
Date: 18 Oct 17 - 12:58 PM

To dismiss his contribution as being something to do with foreign music shows a breathtaking lack of knowledge from one who growls at others.

I thought you were in the same country as me? The one Sharpe collected tunes in?


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 18 Oct 17 - 12:51 PM

i seem to remember Sir Thomas More saying something similar in A Man for All Seasons. Didn't do him much good either.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jack Campin
Date: 18 Oct 17 - 12:07 PM

The dinosaurs went extinct. Mostly.

I think whatever made them lose the will to live is currently stomping round the west of Ireland looking for another dominant species to start on.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 18 Oct 17 - 11:48 AM

The dinosaurs went extinct. Mostly.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 Oct 17 - 10:57 AM

"I'm surprised Ewan never explained that to you."
He didn't need to Al - it was planted in my psyche long before I knew Ewan
What' your point?
A song cannot become folk until it goes through a process of dissemination and acceptance
A pop song can never become folk song because   that process no longer operates and the law protects it from ever becoming one anyway because it is the property of the composer
If Ewan and Peggy can point out that the songs they wrote were not folk songs you should have the good grace to accept that yours aren't
I really can't see why you are continuing this
Geldof song isn't a folk song, it doesn't sound like a folk song and it fits none of the definitions - unless you can point to one that it does.
You and Muskett are working on the basis that, if you choose to call a song "folk" it will miraculously become one (like Joe Heaney's steak miraculously turned into a fish to placate the priest on Friday)
So - where's your definition?
If you don't com up with one you have no case
Game over, I think
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 18 Oct 17 - 10:31 AM

the law can say what it wants. its the servant of the rich. this is the law that keeps innocent people on remand for months because its too busy - and yet its enough free time to organise midnight hearings to sequester miners union funds.

I'm surprised Ewan never explained that to you.
most songwriters however and wherever they register their song don't get paid for people using it.
if Geldof has managed to get one of his songs off with a corporation that has enough clout to stand up for him - good luck to him. it probably has more to do with the successful hi profile persona, if he gets paid. famous people are harder to ignore.

i doubt if i arranged mondays and it got played on local radio it would make a penny for him or me.

Inter Milan Football Club used one of my songs and bought every existing copy, and played it on match days. none of the collection agencies got a cent out of the buggers. this is despite being owned by the company that owned the EMI book for Europe.

I was too small a fish. Like I was telling you about Peggy and Ewan with Decca.

in the end you just have to say - am i that fucking bothered about money? this is what I want to do. this is what i'm doing. fuck em!


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 Oct 17 - 09:29 AM

"Lots of definitions exist Jim."
None that are widely accepted or documented - any half with can make up a definition to suit themsselves
That you were not around at the time and have shown little interest is obvious - the name is Sharp - not Sharpe
The fact that this definition is old is the point surely - if we discarded definitions because we were "not around" we would burn every single dictionary on the shelves
I really am not interested in continuing this dialogue with you Muskett - you have shown your contempt for both the tradition and the older "tit-trousers" in the past and I have no intention of giving you a platform to repeat your performance.
You want to show Bob Geldof can write folk songs, give us an accepted definition that covers that imaginative phenomenon
The question here is "What is Happening to our Folk Clubs" - I would say without hesitation that your input is a pretty good representation of what is happening - the club scene has lost its way and "folk" has ceased to be a factor in what is happening in many clubs.
Add to that, Al's earlier point that people find folk songs too hard to sing and you have a scene that if heading for the buffers at high speed
We had no trouble singing our way though long ballads in the past, ornamentation came when we worked at it and interpretation was a formality to many singers
I've seen club audiences down in the bar arguing about the merits and demerits of one version of a ballad compared to another - the scene both from the performers and the audiences point of view, appeared to be going somewhere - but we did have a level of agreement as to what we meant by "folk song" then and we did set an acceptable standard of performance for our clubs
There is no need for the clubs to die if they respect the music and set standards - not doing so is self-harm
Al
Every song you write is subject to PRS and is protected by copyright should you wish to register it.
Up to now, folk song proper is immune to that law but if the term "folk" continues to become meaningless every club in the land with have to stump up the cash to pay the PRS and IMRO sharks for the right to sing the songs that are our heritage
Most of us are not in it for the money and the few that are have created the sword of Damocles that hangs over the clubs
I asked about Geldof - you didn't reply
How about putting out "Monday" on a commercial disc and see whether your feet touch the ground.
The law actually says that a song is protected by law for 70 years after being first made public - that we should all live so long!!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jack Campin
Date: 18 Oct 17 - 09:03 AM

Sharpe the folklorist died in 1851. A bit early for your context.

You possibly mean Sharp, who did something relating to folk music in a different country.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jack Campin
Date: 18 Oct 17 - 08:09 AM

you'd think in these days of indexing and storing things in cyberspace, libraries would have infinite storage space.

Not really. Digitizing things is very labour-intensive, and possibly even more so with media that aren't paper - however you digitize a tape now, you can be sure there will be a better technology in the future that will extract more information from it, so if the thing matters you'll want to keep the original (filed in an archival box in a climate-controlled room). And for an audio or video tape the librarian may well have to preview it to make a track listing.

Two examples. I just found a floppy disk I've had since the early 90s, old-school Mac format. I don't have a machine that can read it, and I also don't know what word processor created it. It's the manuscript of a moderately well known book of the time, I was doing something with it for the author (no recollection of what). I can't see a library wanting it, given the hassle. The other: I bought a used memory stick from a charity shop and found it was stuffed full of mp3s of al-Qaeda speeches and sermons. I've only listened to a few but have found that some work and some are corrupted. Now, there are quite a few reasons why that might be interesting to several parties, but most of the interest would depend on looking at the original chip as an artefact. The mp3s are presumably not that hard to find on the web if you look hard enough; but the medium is the message. This channel of distribution is a kind of folk media for our time, only with MI5 doing what Doc Rowe does.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 18 Oct 17 - 08:02 AM

"Its how the BBC Radio Derby folk programme died the death" The BBC Radio Derby folk programme, either Tup or Folkwaves, epitomised MOR folk and I'm sure that Mick Peat would not be offended at my description, so it wouldn't have been the traditional content that drove people away from the folk clubs. Alternatively when Roy Harris was running the BBC Radio Nottingham folk programme The Copperplate Music Show he was being constantly berated by the station management for continuing to play recordings by "these broken voiced old men" as they described traditional singers as it didn't fit their image of folk music. A bit like the MacColl and Seeger episode that was quoted.
Jim's description earlier of what should be expected of a resident or regular singer at a folk club is exactly as I understood it when setting out all those years ago and my definition hasn't changed during that time. I always maintain that the prime objective of a team of residents at a folk club should be to display to the guest singer the standard that is acceptable at their club and that is what he/she would be expected to at least match.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 18 Oct 17 - 07:33 AM

well I can't recollect anyone rushing to fill in a PRS form for singing any of my songs or Bob Geldof's.

When you write songs you become that part of the folk tradition of nobody paying you, whether you want to or not.

its a bloody good day when someone gets round to paying you.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 Oct 17 - 07:21 AM

"Jim in the long run we are all dead, and Geldof's song has lasted damn nearly forty years and doesn't look like dying anytime soon."
Age has nothing to do with tradition Al - we were recording traditional songs that had been made in the lifetimes of the singers and som of the Travellers stuff was no more than a few years old
On the other hand, our ballads and songs are centuries old and some of the motifs that went into their making date back as far as Boccaccio and Homer
I am claiming divine status for nothing - I am suggesting that at one time working people actively participated in our culture and produced our songs as expressions of their lives, those songs were widely taken up, took rrot elsewhere adapted to suit different localities, ages and circumstances, during the course of which their authors were largely forgotten - thay are your folk songs - nothing to do with age, style or subject matter.
The oral tradition breathed its last when 'progress' turned us into passive recipients - customers, rather than participants in our culture
'1954' was not a bad attempt to define those songs - not perfect and not written in stone - just a handy guide until a better one comes along
None has so far
I asked what would happen if someone were to take Geldof at his word and refuse to pay royalties for his song because it was "folk" - I received no reply
Waddy think yourself?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 18 Oct 17 - 07:01 AM

Jim in the long run we are all dead, and Geldof's song has lasted damn nearly forty years and doesn't look like dying anytime soon.

You aren't actually claiming divine status for the 1954 definition, are you?


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 Oct 17 - 06:28 AM

"he said he only ever wrote one, what he would call a folk song, "
Then we'll go to Bob Geldof for our definition and burn the century of research that has been put into the subject
Yeah - sure we will!!!
A definition exists and our revival was floated on that definition
No jumped-up pop performer will ever change that, nor will any other individual
If your music has no identity it will not survive
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 18 Oct 17 - 06:11 AM

Interesting Jack...you'd think in these days of indexing and storing things in cyberspace, libraries would have infinite storage space.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jack Campin
Date: 18 Oct 17 - 05:11 AM

Libraries are offered far more material than they can cope with. For any donation, a library has to ask "what is it going to cost us to accept this?" - cataloguing, shelving and conservation cost money. Adding a nontrivial complication with rights management could well tip the balance to rejection.

It would be easier if you could simply find an institution whose existing policies were acceptable to you; that way it won't incur any extra costs for them in doing something out of their usual routine. I assume the EFDSS has thought this through.

I am thinking of donating some of my stuff to a library - what I am intending to do is as far as possible to pre-catalogue it using their own standards. That way, they can check what they're getting more easily, and it'll be less effort to process.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 Oct 17 - 04:44 AM

"Our recollections clearly differ Jim."
Obviously, but mine is a permanent policy and is based entirely on a commitment to those who donated material to our archive
I have no intention of ******* up this discussion by taking our disagreements further and I suggest you adopt the same line
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: TheSnail
Date: 18 Oct 17 - 04:09 AM

Our recollections clearly differ Jim.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 Oct 17 - 03:49 AM

"The trouble was that you added so many caveats and restrictions on attributions and what could be done with them that it became something of a poisoned chalice. "
Not the case Bryan - I offered the collection, much of which is made up of material we as a workshop donated to a general pool for the use of singers, and some given by outsiders who thought it worthwhile to attempt to build a national archive independent of the official ones with no restrictions whatever regarding the use made by singers.
The only conditions put on its use outside of that was that material donated from outside be used elsewhere should be used with circumspection and that if necessary, the donors should be consulted first - that, to me, was common courtesy, not "a poisoned chalice" and it is disingenuous of you to suggest it is.
You were given lists of what we have and you know that we acquired material that we were not really entitled to hold, but were given in good faith on the understanding that it was used with circumspection - in your case by club members wishing to increase their knowledge and their repertoires
I felt at the time that such an offer would contribute to the dire condition that the club scene had slid into and I feel that even more strongly now
That offer remains open to any serious, traditional based club and the material has increased somewhat since then
Bryan's club has had their bite of the cherry and spat it out, no second chances, I'm afraid.
"i think the real problem with what JIm calls traditional music is that not anybody can do it"
Certainly not the case Al - at least it wasn't when I was on the club scene
It is a proven fact that , unless you are suffering a physical defect, anybody can sing and, if you are prepared to put in the work, anybody can sing well - the more you work at it, the better singer you become.
Most of the clubs I was involved with worked on the basis of having a team of residents capable of taking an evening, backed up by other singers with less experience and smaller repertoires who could take a less prominent part.
We expected a basic standard, which was that a singer could hold a tune, learn and remember the words without a crib sheet and handle themselves with a degree of confidence so as not to fall apart regularly in front of an audience - that was it really, no high standards, no prima donas, just a basic level of efficiency and commitment, which included an expectation that the singers had given a little thought and preparation to the evening beforehand.
Skills varied widely, but as a general rule, the audience went away having heard an evening of songs competently sung by singers who enjoyed and respected the songs they sang
The only really messy evenings I can remember were the very occasional 'You name it, we sing it' evenings, where audiences were asked to senf up SUBJECTS and the residents would attempt to pluck out a song to match it
One of the most memorable subjects sent up was "psychopathic brickie goes on killing spree when customer refuses to pay bill" - he wanted Lambkin and one of the team obliged
Outside of club evenings, we ran a workshop where those wishing to improve their singing or even start from scratch, were invited to take part - no stars or prima donas there either, just singers prepared to give their time to help others and in doing so, improve their own skills and understanding (That's where the archive I mentioned above came from)
We didn't go in for singarounds - we had a short 'singers from the floor' spot - guests were an occasional luxury - we never relied on them.
Ours were policy clubs - we all had a degree of understanding of what we meant by 'folk' and that formed the foundation of what we did, but it was not a hard-and-fast rule
New songs created in traditional styles were encouraged and regarded as essential if the music was to have a future
None of this is "difficult" Al - it lies well within the grasp of anybody prepared to put in the work - I was actually given a book for our workshop library by the brother of a "non singer" member we worked with who eventually became a singer - I was told "I never believed the bugger would be able to sing"
ANYBODY CAN BECOME A SINGER IF THEY ARE PREPARED TO PUT IN THE TIME, THOUGHT AND EFFORT
Jim Carroll


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