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Vibrant UK folk music scenes

GUEST 19 Jan 19 - 05:54 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 19 Jan 19 - 06:54 AM
Steve Gardham 19 Jan 19 - 03:07 PM
Mr Red 20 Jan 19 - 04:32 AM
GUEST 20 Jan 19 - 05:36 AM
FreddyHeadey 20 Jan 19 - 09:40 AM
Leadfingers 20 Jan 19 - 10:14 AM
GUEST,Akenaton 20 Jan 19 - 12:11 PM
Dave the Gnome 20 Jan 19 - 12:34 PM
Mo the caller 20 Jan 19 - 12:54 PM
GUEST,akenaton 20 Jan 19 - 01:05 PM
Steve Gardham 20 Jan 19 - 01:23 PM
Dave the Gnome 20 Jan 19 - 01:32 PM
Dave the Gnome 20 Jan 19 - 01:41 PM
Noreen 20 Jan 19 - 02:44 PM
GUEST,Peter 20 Jan 19 - 05:01 PM
Steve Gardham 20 Jan 19 - 05:01 PM
GUEST,Observer 20 Jan 19 - 06:00 PM
Big Al Whittle 20 Jan 19 - 07:24 PM
GUEST 21 Jan 19 - 05:19 AM
Johnny J 21 Jan 19 - 05:44 AM
Johnny J 21 Jan 19 - 06:01 AM
FreddyHeadey 21 Jan 19 - 06:01 AM
Jim Carroll 21 Jan 19 - 06:01 AM
Dave the Gnome 21 Jan 19 - 06:05 AM
Jack Campin 21 Jan 19 - 06:32 AM
Jim Carroll 21 Jan 19 - 06:33 AM
Johnny J 21 Jan 19 - 06:55 AM
Dave the Gnome 21 Jan 19 - 07:05 AM
Johnny J 21 Jan 19 - 07:13 AM
Johnny J 21 Jan 19 - 07:15 AM
Jim Carroll 21 Jan 19 - 07:27 AM
Jeri 21 Jan 19 - 11:19 AM
Vic Smith 21 Jan 19 - 11:20 AM
Mr Red 21 Jan 19 - 12:49 PM
GUEST,akenaton 21 Jan 19 - 01:00 PM
Dave the Gnome 21 Jan 19 - 02:01 PM
Dave the Gnome 21 Jan 19 - 02:08 PM
Vic Smith 21 Jan 19 - 02:16 PM
GUEST,akenaton 21 Jan 19 - 03:15 PM
Steve Gardham 21 Jan 19 - 03:45 PM
Big Al Whittle 21 Jan 19 - 06:25 PM
Steve Gardham 22 Jan 19 - 04:41 AM
Jack Campin 22 Jan 19 - 05:14 AM
Dave the Gnome 22 Jan 19 - 05:36 AM
Big Al Whittle 22 Jan 19 - 06:05 AM
GUEST,akenaton 22 Jan 19 - 06:27 AM
GUEST 22 Jan 19 - 06:29 AM
GUEST,akenaton 22 Jan 19 - 06:40 AM
Big Al Whittle 22 Jan 19 - 06:54 AM
Steve Gardham 22 Jan 19 - 07:03 AM
GUEST 22 Jan 19 - 07:04 AM
GUEST,akenaton 22 Jan 19 - 07:10 AM
Steve Gardham 22 Jan 19 - 07:17 AM
Vic Smith 22 Jan 19 - 07:45 AM
GUEST,Guest 22 Jan 19 - 07:46 AM
GUEST 22 Jan 19 - 07:53 AM
GUEST,jim bainbridge 22 Jan 19 - 08:43 AM
GUEST,akenaton 22 Jan 19 - 08:49 AM
GUEST,akenaton 22 Jan 19 - 08:57 AM
Johnny J 22 Jan 19 - 09:20 AM
Steve Gardham 22 Jan 19 - 09:35 AM
Johnny J 22 Jan 19 - 09:35 AM
GUEST,Ake 22 Jan 19 - 09:50 AM
GUEST,jim bainbridge 22 Jan 19 - 10:33 AM
Jack Campin 22 Jan 19 - 11:02 AM
Big Al Whittle 22 Jan 19 - 12:24 PM
Dave the Gnome 22 Jan 19 - 12:45 PM
Johnny J 22 Jan 19 - 12:48 PM
Jack Campin 22 Jan 19 - 12:54 PM
The Sandman 22 Jan 19 - 01:53 PM
GUEST 22 Jan 19 - 02:29 PM
Steve Gardham 22 Jan 19 - 03:46 PM
GUEST,Teribus 22 Jan 19 - 06:12 PM
GUEST 22 Jan 19 - 06:19 PM
GUEST,Teribus 22 Jan 19 - 06:44 PM
GUEST,jim bainbridge 23 Jan 19 - 05:48 AM
Big Al Whittle 23 Jan 19 - 06:01 AM
GUEST,David Nuttall, Wakefield 23 Jan 19 - 07:01 AM
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Subject: RE: Mudcat FAQ - Newcomer's Guide
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Jan 19 - 05:54 AM

Hi Everyone

After a long time living in Australia, I'm returning to the UK and I'd like to move to an area that is creative with lots of folk clubs nearby. Hopefully this site will reconnect me with folkie friends of long ago. My name is Lyn Briggs and I'm originally from Trimdon Village, Co Durham then I moved to Birmingham where I sang at the Bell and Pump, Red Lion and Birmingham Traditional Music Club to name but a few. I'd be interested to find out where the most vibrant folk music scene is in the UK.

Trimdon Lass


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Subject: RE: Mudcat FAQ - Newcomer's Guide
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 19 Jan 19 - 06:54 AM

Hi Lyn - welcome back, and welcome aboard

It might be an idea to join Mudcat, and then start a new thread with a clear idea of your question in the title, which is more likely to spark some response. The problem with asking it here is that a lot of the regulars, not being newcomers or needing a guide to the site, simply won't see it.

You don't have to post under your own name if you don't feel like it, just use a consistent identity so people will be able to recognise you. (I think "Trimdon Lass" is lovely!)

Having said all that, I'm afraid I can't help with any suggestions, because I'm a long time out of the UK myself, living in Ireland now. I have such golden memories of the clubs & fests, but don't know what's around these days. I hope you find what you're looking for.

Bonnie


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 19 Jan 19 - 03:07 PM

Okay,
I would certainly recommend Sheffield which has a vibrant scene. I think the scene around Tyneside is also quite vibrant but I don't know quite so much about it nowadays, so if you moved back to Co. Durham you could sample both of these areas. I think there is more integration in these areas than say in London which has lots of separate pockets. When I say integration I'm referring to a solid core of enthusiasts who go around to many venues and support all sorts of folk activities, dance, tunes, song etc. I'm not from either of these 2 areas by the way. If you are a mainly festival-goer then Whitby seems to be the place nowadays.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Mr Red
Date: 20 Jan 19 - 04:32 AM

My thought was Sheffield.
But have a look at mister.red for the Mid West of England (& de Dwyrain Cymru).

If you prefer something more rural I can recommend Stroud. There are 3 Irish sessions a month one very Irish, a singaround that meets 3 times/mth, a weekly (& a monthly) folk club, a Ceilidh series (but we don't know what is happening next season), a monthly French Dance and a circle dance probably twice a month and depending how far you travel there are things in Gloucester, Cheltenham and the Forest of Dean. A Wassail in January, and a Folk Weekend in September. And the town is a nice size, for me anyway. It has a thriving Green Party and a reputation for being alternative. Two Saturday markets, one a renowned Farmers Market (one on Friday). A multiplex Cinema and a well presented Theatre run by the local amateur group that hosts touring productions, and two performance venues, Lansdown Hall and the Sub Rooms. Worth a recce before you make any decisions. We are friendly.

According to Wiki - Stroud the crime stats are good (all relative). And is on the main line to Lundun (innit?) something like an hourly service (2 hourly direct). And being on the edge of the Costwolds has some exceedingly pretty villages nearby.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Jan 19 - 05:36 AM

I've always found the Teesside/North Yorkshire quite a lively folk area- Guisboro', Saltburn, Redcar, Stockton etc - get a paper copy of the NE England quarterly magazine 'Folk Roundabout'- 60 plus pages about clubs, sessions, singarounds from Berwick to Leeds.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: FreddyHeadey
Date: 20 Jan 19 - 09:40 AM

"NorthumbriaFolk" has a page listing local and regional diaries
http://northumbriafolk.org.uk/otherdiaries.html


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Leadfingers
Date: 20 Jan 19 - 10:14 AM

I am in West London , and having a Red Ken Freedom pass giving free public transport and can visit Live Folk nearly every day of the week on Public Transport . There are several Open Mic evenings as well ad Clubs of all sorts , some being Concert types , others having regular guests as well as floor singers , and still quite a few purely 'singaround' format .


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: GUEST,Akenaton
Date: 20 Jan 19 - 12:11 PM

If you have been living in Australia for some time you will find the folk scene in the UK changed beyond recognition. Chorus singing is no longer appreciated, backing is usually composed of half an orchestra.
There is quite a lot of loud banging from the drum kits and the ability to jump up and down amidst the cacophony has been honed into a fine art.......Don't even consider coming to Scotland, though I believe there are still small pockets of the tradition surviving in rural Ireland.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 20 Jan 19 - 12:34 PM

Take no notice, Trimdon Lass. The folk music scene is nothing like as described above. I have been to 2 local (North/West Yorkshire) folk clubs this week and there was plenty chorus singing and not a drum kit in sight. I am sure all the contributors from other regions will confirm that their clubs are the same.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Mo the caller
Date: 20 Jan 19 - 12:54 PM

True there are some Folk Festivals who do book the 'big names' - artists who play really good music if only they didn't deafen us with amplified stamping (is it called a stompbox?)
But luckily there are Festivals like Whitby that books traditional singers and players, and runs lots of workshops where we can learn and participate. The booked artist are so generous with their knowledge - even though some of us are beginners or once a year learners.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: GUEST,akenaton
Date: 20 Jan 19 - 01:05 PM

"Clubs" are as numerous as hens teeth in Scotland. Most clubs were held in large pubs or Hotels.....Folk music of the amateur variety is no longer encouraged, as most pubs and hotels cater for the "meals trade"......scruffy, bearded personages encumbered by various pipes wooden boxes and other paraphernalia.....are not made welcome.
From what I have seen on youtube, the Australian folk scene has similarities to the Scottish folk culture of forty years ago.
The good old days indeed.
The English club scene appears to be a joyless, soulless abyss, only the Morris dancers providing any light relief.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 Jan 19 - 01:23 PM

That's just not true, Aken. Have you been taking lessons from Jim?
My own area (Hull) is no longer renowned as a hotbed of folk music, but I can go to regular joyful singarounds, music sessions, concerts and be well entertained, and I'm sure the other places mentioned above have plenty of the same. Shame on you!


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 20 Jan 19 - 01:32 PM

The only folk based pub i have been to in Scotland is Sandy Ball's in Edinborough. That was a wonderful session and nothing like as described. Both folk clubs I have been to this week were joyful and, again, nothing like as described. In all my days of travelling round England for work, I never found a club as described.

There are festivals and concerts that are amplified as required and some bands use percussion. Last year I saw both Steeleye Span and Blackbeards Tea Party in concert. Both are loud and use drum and bass to great effect but they have as much to do with folk clubs as Ian McKellen has to do with the local amdram group.

Once again I say take no notice of the above and listen to the advice of those who actually go to and run folk clubs and events like those who posted earlier.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 20 Jan 19 - 01:41 PM

BTW Morris dance practice was good as well. We can at least agree on that :-)


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Noreen
Date: 20 Jan 19 - 02:44 PM

Hi Lyn!
Sheffield certainly has a great folk scene and I'd love to live closer.

However there is still plenty of traditional music in the Birmingham area.
My favourite club for a good traditional sing is the Black Diamond Folk Club founded 1964, now (after several moves) at The Lamp Tavern.

The Red Lion is still going, too :)

Make sure you get to Warwick festival in the summer, as well as Whitby

Send me a PM if I can help further.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: GUEST,Peter
Date: 20 Jan 19 - 05:01 PM

The trouble is that every club and session has its own character. You can't generalise about the English folk scene.

Chorus singing - still active in most of the clubs that I have been to in the past year. Then again I mostly go to clubs that are heavy on trad. The ones that are dominated by guitarists singing contemporary material don't seem to have the idea, but then there were clubs like that back in the 60s too.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 Jan 19 - 05:01 PM

>>>>>>A movement which encompasses the whole swathe of society like it did in the sixties and seventies<<<<<.
Poppycock! Folk music has never encompassed whole swathes of society even in previous centuries. It's always been very much a minority interest. We revelled in it in the 60s and 70s as it was a breath of fresh air, largely rejected the rampant commercialism of other musics, but it was always largely off the radar and you had to go and seek it just as you have to today. There were more folk clubs but not as many singarounds and sessions and festivals. Of course there is a popular folk movement even in areas like where I live where it has lain dormant for a while. Morris teams run their course but new ones spring up in their place.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 20 Jan 19 - 06:00 PM

Hi Lyn,

Are you intending to move back to the North East of England or are your plans basically a blank page? If based around Durham I think that you will find a fairly active "folk" scene still exists although as others have warned, it has changed a great deal since you were last here. FreddyHeady has provided a link to some venues.

Good luck with your search and best wishes.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 20 Jan 19 - 07:24 PM

i suppose it depends where you live in Scotland. you can go for miles without seeing anyone.

wouldn't surprise if the first bloke you met had a drum kit.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Jan 19 - 05:19 AM

In my experience, Scotland can be excellent but very localised- the East Sussex, West Kent & Surrey area has lots of clubs & sessions maybe partly due to the high population but the congestion there means it's not a place I'd like to live


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Johnny J
Date: 21 Jan 19 - 05:44 AM

There are, unfortunately, many places in Scotland such as Akenaton describes. Even at some so called folk festival sessions.

The microphone dangling over the table or being passed around the room is an instant deterrent to participation as far as I'm concerned and this practice is quite prevalent in many venues and festivals.

Also the "free for all " backing you sometimes get is also very "off putting" whether you are a singer, player, or even just a listener.

The good news is though that there are still places where you can encounter a good session or singaround. It's just a case of finding them. Generally, it's best to avoid pubs which cater for tourists and punters in general whether they be in city centres or rural tourist traps. Also, many so called "organised" gatherings at festivals can also be disappointing.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Johnny J
Date: 21 Jan 19 - 06:01 AM

Oh, And I haven't mentioned the "Open Mic" format yet. This is the more official set up as opposed to that mentioned in my last post.

Participants "put their name down" and get their ten minutes of fame performing to the poor hapless audience members. Mind you, most of these are waiting to do their turn and are not particularly interested in listening, anyway.

Usually performers will present their own compositions which will tend to be tuneless dirges, depressing poetry (often intended to be humorous but NOT) and so on. Once they've done their spot, the performers usually have to head away somewhere else as they've got "Something else on".

Many people enjoy this sort of thing but I prefer to share music. i.e. play and sing with people rather than AT them.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: FreddyHeadey
Date: 21 Jan 19 - 06:01 AM

Though it's a couple of years old now Chris Rust's Folk Music Map might give you an idea of what clubs there are in the UK.
It doesn't list casual Sing-Around sessions though, only happenings which are organised enough to have a web page.
https://folkmusicmap.wordpress.com


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Jan 19 - 06:01 AM

". Have you been taking lessons from Jim?"
What kind of spineless behaviour attacks members of this forum when they are not involved in the thread
Has my challenging your pet theories struck home that deeply - leavi it out please - what you are doing is trolling
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 21 Jan 19 - 06:05 AM

Aye, well, like I said, my experience of clubs in Scotland is very limited. I have never come across any clubs in England as described and I doubt if anyone has. "Open mic" nights, as the name suggests, does involve amplification but I have only ever been to one of those.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Jack Campin
Date: 21 Jan 19 - 06:32 AM

Lyn probably could find what she's looking for if she went back to where she came from, or pretty much anywhere in the UK. It isn't something I'd want to look for. I want to be in places where the music is still alive, being passed on and adapting to new conditions. Which often means fitting in with people a lot younger than me. This doesn't always work but I'm finding enough to be satisfied with. Venues for it are very different from those of a generation ago.

Both singarounds and sessions on the old model are often cohort-based, where everybody got into it at the same time and keep doing exactly the same thing with ever-decreasing skill. (There is one trad music organization in Edinburgh with an absolutely catastrophic track record of promoting this trend). If Lyn or Akenaton want the musical world of 40 years ago, no problem, it's still there - personally I run a mile.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Jan 19 - 06:33 AM

I wasn't going to get involved here, but since someone has on my behalf... her goes
I tend to agree with Ake here
In my opinion the folk movement's total inability to self-analyse and accept honest criticism has made the club scene a place where you are no longer guaranteed to hear a folk song (of any kind) if you visit a folk club -there are exceptions, of course, but you need to send out a scouting party to find them
The latest re-definition which has widened the goalposts to include material that was never included in the past has only made the situation worse
I have no doubt that this will be greeted with accusations that I no longer visit enough folk clubs to have the right to an opinion, but what I have described above, far from being denied, has been argued for on threads such as this
Until the club scene goes back to realising how unique and important the songs which have been regarded as "folk" for centuries, the scene will continue to slither down the pan and a beautiful and very entertaining and satisfying art form will have been lost
The strength of my Folk Scene lay in its love of the music and a recognition of what it is, rather than the present faffing around of a scene that hasn't even the courage discuss definition without using terms like "purist" and "folk police"
Its other strength is that it didn't have to rely on paid 'names' - it drew its energy from its grass roots based in the clubs rather than the overfull and largely one-off festivals   
The fact that 'What is folk song' is now forbidden territory on a forum that styles itself as being about the traditional arts says everything about what is wrong with the folk music scene today

Many thanks for awaking me from my lethargy Steve - I hope you don't regret doing so - I certainly don't
Jim


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Johnny J
Date: 21 Jan 19 - 06:55 AM

The Trad organisation of which Jack speaks doesn't, in my opinion, really prepare its students for life in the real traditional music world.

There is also the expectation and a sense of entitlement which many of those who attend the courses seem to have in that they have a right to play, perform, and enter any session or singaround they choose.
Of course, they should be always made welcome within reason but the "old hands" can't be blamed for being a little wary sometimes.

So, often, these "new" musicians will just organise their own arrangements which are sometimes quite far removed from what one would have expected from a traditional style session.... This might be playing tunes from books, singing from song sheets, or groups of 30+ musicians playing the same session standards "ad nauseum".


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 21 Jan 19 - 07:05 AM

Just make your own mind up, Lyn. You will not be disappointed regardless of what the nay sayers post.

It does make me wonder why people who seem to hate the current folk scene with such passion bother subscribing to a folk music forum. Some sort of masochistic pleasure I suppose:-)


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Johnny J
Date: 21 Jan 19 - 07:13 AM

Dave,

You can find whatever you want these days. However, everything is much more fragmented. There are still good places to go.

Sandy Bells in Edinburgh can still be great depending on the night but I'm not keen on the likes of the Royal Oak or Captain's bar.
Glasgow has a good thriving "young scene" but I'd suggest going to more rural areas.

I had a great time in Whitby just 3 months ago. No festival but some kind of session every night in the area. Also up North in Scotland there are many nicy cosy sessions but it usually means travelling. My bus pass came in handy a few weeks ago. :-)


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Johnny J
Date: 21 Jan 19 - 07:15 AM

Ooops, I forgot to mention the "communal choirs". Usually dominated by feisty women and sometimes quite terrifying to behold.
They are everywhere and they "tackle" all genres of music.

:-))


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Jan 19 - 07:27 AM

"It does make me wonder why people who seem to hate the current folk scene with such passion bother subscribing to a folk music forum. Some"
Maybe its because thy love folk song and what the current folk scene has done tto it Dave
This is a forum for discussion the traditional arts - not defending the indefensible
Perhaps Mudcat shoud be restricted only to those who support the revisionism that has taken place, thus creating another 'no-go' area
What are people so reluctant to discuss the fact that yo can no longer be guaranteed hearing folk songs at folk clubs any more ?
We have been robbed of our right to choose our music on the folk scene due to sharp practice - that is a fact
If those who have allowed this to happen refuse to discuss it, it's unfair to those who helped establish the folk scene and never had any problems identifying what we were talking about - a hostile takeover, no less
Jim


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Jeri
Date: 21 Jan 19 - 11:19 AM

"I'd be interested to find out where the most vibrant folk music scene is in the UK."

This is not an invitation to fight, or to bitch about what's wrong with everybody else.
Answering her question would be a good thing.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Vic Smith
Date: 21 Jan 19 - 11:20 AM

Could we assure Lyn Briggs that the folk scene in England continues to be a vibrant and friendly place and that you will find a variety of approaches to the music wherever you seek it? Some will suit your taste and some won't and surely it was ever thus. You mention singing in a traditional music club. I live in Sussex and it has already been mentioned there is a great variety of singarounds, clubs and concerts throughout the county and if you turn up and say that you would like to sing traditional songs, that you would be welcomed with open arms. There are more doomsayers on this forum than you will meet amongst those who are actively involved in the current British folk music scene.

Oh and sorry about the previous post, It was an experiment that went wrong,


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Mr Red
Date: 21 Jan 19 - 12:49 PM

Chorus singing is no longer appreciated, backing is usually composed of half an orchestra.
There is quite a lot of loud banging from the drum kits


Not in Stroud. Dursley has a fortnightly session with a Djembe player - he is loud - jeez. Frampton on Severn did have an electronic drumkit, but by all accounts the night I turned up it was his new toy and he didn't bring it again. (neither are in Stroud but very near, well, compared to Berwick and Leeds, very near!). I have not visited Arlingham and the second session in Frampton.

As for joyless places, I know of some, but that is because they are run by jaded people. There is one I know of near Worcester where they have feature nights, like duos paired at random and have to practice their 3 songs. Or Folk Plays put on by the regulars which gets performed at festivals. Despite the age range I would describe that as vibrant. Things vary. I do a lot of social dancing and choose the bands for their uplift. Our Irish session is pretty fast and not over pally, they laugh and joke but the music is king.

If you want drumkits and modern singer songwriters - we have open mics everywhere, they take the dross - thank goodness.

I would say, if you are a misanthrope, you will find the worst in anything and enjoy the griping. Nice places just wouldn't suit you. Mentioning no names.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: GUEST,akenaton
Date: 21 Jan 19 - 01:00 PM

"Poppycock! Folk music has never encompassed whole swathes of society even in previous centuries. It's always been very much a minority interest. We revelled in it in the 60s and 70s as it was a breath of fresh air, largely rejected the rampant commercialism of other musics, but it was always largely off the radar and you had to go and seek it just as you have to today."
Well thank you for that relatively civil response Steve, but I can assure you that our club which closed in the mid seventies had audiences of several hundred every Saturday....all sorts, kids, grannies, young adults and a whole assortment of genuine characters from the folk music culture.....just from memory, Matt Maginn used to tour the pubs with us young guys, before and sometimes during the performances...there was wee Freddy Anderson giving his recitations to huge acclaim...big Mick Broderick with his magical stories, complete with unbelievable sound effects and death defying 1.5 piked dives from the stage....Billy Connolly and Gerry Rafferty at least twice a month, Alex Campbell, Josh MacRae, Danny Kyle, The Campbells of from England and many many more....Forgot Barbara Dickson, but amazingly it was mostly about the audience, which the best performers played like an instrument. People went home full of emotion, certain that they had made a contribution to a life enhancing evening.
It was not always purely traditional but by Christ it was "folk music"


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 21 Jan 19 - 02:01 PM

Agreed, Jeri. I see nowt wrong with putting some of the duff information that has been presented right but, yes, just answering the question would be best.

The folk scene near where I live (Airedale) is vibrant but from what I remember of my travels around 10 years ago the North East was, and from what I hear still is, the place to be. I don't know enough about the Birmingham scene but the East Midlands is also pretty good.

Wherever you chose, Lyn, you will have a great time and plenty of choice.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 21 Jan 19 - 02:08 PM

JohnnyJ - if you mention community choirs you must also mention ukulele orchestras! Fortunately neither seem to inhabit my local clubs :-)

I concur about Whitby. I have been many times outside folk week, even Goth weekends, and there is always something on.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Vic Smith
Date: 21 Jan 19 - 02:16 PM

Akenton wrote:-
Freddy Anderson giving his recitations to huge acclaim.....

I hope that you will excuse this diversion but I could not resist telling this story that Ray Fisher told me about Freddy. If you never saw him, he was a small but wonderful left-wing ranter who was a regular at various folk venues and political rallies in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Ray was the guest singer at a club in Glasgow when she was first making a name for herself. In the audience that night that night was a well known Glasgow hood and everyone was pretty wary. He seemed to enjoy Ray and asked her to come with him to his late night drinking club and sing there. He wasn't the sort of person that you said 'no' to but the young Ray felt that she would need some support. Would any of the other singers in the folk club come with her. Not a chance... but up speaks Freddy. He would come. Ray said that the clientele at this drinking den were a pretty fearful bunch but she felt that it was going OK. Then after a set of songs, up speaks the hood.
"Whit aboot yer wee man... Dis he hae ony sangs?"
"Oh no!" thinks Ray, but up steps Freddy.
"Nae sangs bit Ah'm a po-yit."
"Weel, ye'd better gie us ane o' yir po-yums."
Ray covers her eyes as Freddy starts. It's perhaps his best known piece - the one about the travails and struggles of "we puir Carlton Weaver lads..."
He finishes and there is stunned silence. Eventually the hood finds his voice and intones, "Wis that no murder?"
Ray & Freddy were able to leave quite soon after but not before Ray had been given a tip that was larger than her folk club fee.

Right. That's it. Now back to listing the places where Lyn can hear good folk song on her return.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: GUEST,akenaton
Date: 21 Jan 19 - 03:15 PM

Great Story Vic!   My most vibrant memory of wee Freddy was in the club one night after an old firm game, the two sets of supporters were in bevvied up to the neck and Freddy decided to treat us to his interpretation of Florence Wilson's poem "The Man from God Knows Where"
After a little preamble, of he went in his rough Monaghan brogue, the whole place which a few minutes previously had been Bedlam fell into complete silence and when he finished "and the man who had died in Downpatrick Jail was the man from god knows where" the hall erupted with wild cheering and Freddy was "treated" for the rest of the night by both sets of supporters! Great Days.

The Story of Tom Russell


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 21 Jan 19 - 03:45 PM

In the 60s we were all young and active, mostly without families, and we did the lot, singing, playing, dancing, a club nearly every night of the week. Then many of us had families and going out every night was unrealistic and we had to be more selective. The catalyst organisers also weren't getting any younger and quite a few becoming more prosperous and moving out into the leafy suburbs (and their folk clubs eventually went with them). The different aspects, dance, ceilidh bands, singers, musicians who were the same people in the 60s were beginning to fragment. I ran a ceilidh band for 30 years but didn't get to the folk club so often. Now we're all retired and moaning that what we had has gone. That is at least partly down to us and the circumstances described here.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 21 Jan 19 - 06:25 PM

you don't really get a lot of drum kits in English folk clubs...not in the general way of things. or orchestras,....perhaps we've got all that to come.

Interesting to hear of Chris Rust. Give him my regards if you see him.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 22 Jan 19 - 04:41 AM

Making the folk scene more accessible and attractive to the masses (the real folk shall we say?) is not about setting up cliques, rules, definitions and other restrictions, it's about being welcoming, open-minded and tolerant. Our music will thrive alongside other genres, not by being exclusive. It can stand up on its own in almost any environment if it has anything to offer, and I for one believe it does.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Jack Campin
Date: 22 Jan 19 - 05:14 AM

I have once seen a young bloke with a drum kit in a Scottish session - it was an electronic one, so he could turn the volume down to match the instruments in an average-sized unamplified group.

Since most Scottish dance music has most often been played in lineups with either a kit or a snare and cymbal for the last century, and he knew what he was doing, it added a lot of precision and bounce, getting the music much closer to the way it was meant to go than in a typical amateur session. I wish there were more like him.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 22 Jan 19 - 05:36 AM

Good point, Jack.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 22 Jan 19 - 06:05 AM

I think its okay, Jim, your views. I understand where they come from. I can remember the late Ian Campbell saying we didn't want the coffee bar cowboys at our club.

However last night a guy phoned me about a gig at his folk club, and I said no, let's face it. I'm no one on the folk scene - I couldn't fill a telephone box. He said, when you're a support act - people like you better than the main act. I said, no matter that's the way it is. I'm 70 now - the folk gigs never arrived when I was growing as an artist - so I had to look elsewhere. I wasn't going to give up being a singer/guitarist for anyone's set of ideas.

The fact is. I was never showbiz - so I was never in the Jasper Carrot enclave. My inspiration always was folk music and folk clubs.

The sad fact is that the line the traddies, took led to the contraction of the folk club movement and the exclusion of much working class talent.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: GUEST,akenaton
Date: 22 Jan 19 - 06:27 AM

I agree with a lot of that Al, but in Scotland, folk music has morphed into an "orchestral exercise" or the young scene which is a form of "Scottish Punk".....the noise is deafening, individual instruments or even voices cannot be heard and it is simply about jumping up and down to the beat. Perhaps this is modern folk music, but where are the story songs which were the backbone of the genre, the chorus singing which involved the audience.
I particularly liked Johnny's comment,
"Many people enjoy this sort of thing but I prefer to share music. i.e. play and sing WITH people rather than AT them.
Now there is a guy who understands something about folk"


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Jan 19 - 06:29 AM

Interesting I think I’d associate drums with a Jimmy Shand sound or perhaps an Irish Shaskeen but I’d wonder about a session (even with reduced volume).

I played in one I found a little “different” last year. A few people come over from Northern Ireland to my local each year. I suppose most of the join in stages of the weekend's music in the pub could be described as a “thrash” but they let me sit in with them and they have a couple of very able singers and a couple of tune players more able than me… The pub is mostly noisy but it can be fun, especially if you are up for a later night when the pub has cooled off a bit.

A change this year was they had a keyboard (and virtuoso accordian) player with them. He’s both highly skilled and sensitive so no problems that way but I think to me, just used to “normal sessions”, flutes, boxes, pipes, even my banjo…, the keyboard did alter the dynamics of things.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: GUEST,akenaton
Date: 22 Jan 19 - 06:40 AM

Getting back to "orchestral exercise", I've been listening lately to Kenneth McKellar singing arias...he was magnificent, his faultless voice augmented the finest orchestral work......But the so called folk singers who use the current orchestral device have a really limited vocal range or even a limited level of musicianship.
The two genres simply do not fit together, folk music is not about perfection, it is about connection and inclusivity.
We are losing the place.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 22 Jan 19 - 06:54 AM

Scuse my ignorance - isn't Jimmy Shand , folk music?


I always assumed they were folk dances he was playing for. There were obviously writers in the folk idiom in the pipe bands and the accordion dance bands. But I always thought that was a pretty firm basis in folk music.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 22 Jan 19 - 07:03 AM

>>>>>it is about connection and inclusivity.<<<<,

Complete agreement. I'm genuinely sorry about what appears to be happening in Scotland, but my experiences in England do not mirror this. I can access, even in my impoverished area, plenty of participation and listening that relates well to what was happening in the 60s. And despite what someone keeps telling us about Ireland getting everything right and England getting everything wrong, when I regularly visited Ireland 20 years ago if I hadn't gone to great lengths to search out the right places, I would have come across something similar to what you are describing in Scotland.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Jan 19 - 07:04 AM

Dear Al, I was talking about the weay I found different settings and dynamics, not arguing whether or not I felt Jimmy Shand "folk".

Fwiw, his music, including his own Bluebell Polka does fit quite happily with me.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: GUEST,akenaton
Date: 22 Jan 19 - 07:10 AM

Well Al, Jimmy played Scottish Country Dance Music to a strict tempo.
Before the sixties folk revival, the Country Dance scene was very strong in Scotland, but it was still fairly formal even in my time.
The real oldtimers told me of a very strict dress code, white gloves, patent leather shoes for the gents, no drink and a very strict code of behaviour in the dance itself and choice of partners.
Gentlemen were expected to dance with as many of the available ladies as possible and the ladies were not allowed to refuse an invitation to dance......some dances were called as "Ladies choices" and the roles were reversed.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 22 Jan 19 - 07:17 AM

Once again the same old boring arguments and problems arrive when people start to put artificial hard and fast boundaries between music genres. Most, perhaps all, music genres need to be considered in terms of Venn diagrams. Much of it is guided by opinion and everyone is entitled to that. We're a democratic country so if the majority of people regard Jimmy Shand as folk should we accept that? I use the word 'folk' in many different ways as I'm sure most people do. If I'm exchanging ideas with a professor of music I'll probably use the 54 descriptors. If I'm asked to describe a 'folk' activity to a newcomer I'll probably use something much more general. If I'm asked to pigeon hole the song 'The Country Carrier' I'll probably say it was written in the 1860s by Harry Clifton, but by 1900 it was being collected as a traditional folksong. No problem.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Vic Smith
Date: 22 Jan 19 - 07:45 AM

Well, to these ears Jimmy Shand is one of the top British musicians of the 20th century in any genre. Some of the earliest 78s I bought with my paper round money when I was still at school. I still have some of them and I appeal to everyone - Don't Sit On My Jimmy Shands!!!


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 22 Jan 19 - 07:46 AM

Glossop!

As well as it's own vibrant scene, it is within easy reach of Sheffield and Manchester.

I've just spent 18 months there and I'm aching to get back.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Jan 19 - 07:53 AM

@akenaton

I am curious as to what you mean by orchestra in this context. I guess it is not an actual orchestra. A drum kit could be an actual drum kit. But I don't know whether you mean an actual drum kit or something else.

And all the kids jumping up and down? What is the setting for this musical event? Just trying to get some context.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: GUEST,jim bainbridge
Date: 22 Jan 19 - 08:43 AM

I've been on the folk scene since 1963, not full time admittedly but have NEVER seen a drumkit in any club or session anywhere in UK or Ireland.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: GUEST,akenaton
Date: 22 Jan 19 - 08:49 AM

Well Guest, as the club scene is virtually non-existent in Scotland, I'm really referring to the festivals,concerts or what is currently broadcast on TV masquerading as folk music.
The Ceilidh scene for the young ones is possibly the worst as they ritually murder fine Scottish tunes in time to the athletics.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: GUEST,akenaton
Date: 22 Jan 19 - 08:57 AM

The concerts and TV stuff usually involves "folk" singers or musicians performing in a grand setting backed by a large orchestra.
The same ritual murder is committed but with slightly more finesse.
The deed is often made more piquant by the use of mime slightly off camera. :0(


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Johnny J
Date: 22 Jan 19 - 09:20 AM

Jim says
"I've been on the folk scene since 1963, not full time admittedly but have NEVER seen a drumkit in any club or session "

I've seen that at The Keith Festival sometimes. As well as the traditional singers and musicians, the festival usually books one or more dance bands. The Fiddle and Accordion scene is very strong up there. So, you'll often get them bringing parts of their drumkits into the pub and sometimes keyboards etc too.
Sometimes, everyone can mix in Ok, sometimes not.

The discussion about Jimmy Shand is quite interesting. Although he is known for his "strict tempo", Jimmy has always had appeal beyond the strict SCD scene. His early music was more "traditional Scottish/Irish" than just "Scottish Dance" and he was also played melodeon, of course.

Many of the folky/ceilidh tunes and SCD tunes are interchangeable or can be. It's just the playing style which differs.
Whatever takes you fancy, at the end of the day.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 22 Jan 19 - 09:35 AM

Most folk clubs I've ever been in you couldn't get a full set of drums in anyway, let alone have the time to set them up. The very first folk band I played in about 1968 we had a scout drummer with a single drum occasionally with snare attached but we managed to get him to drop that, then later in the 80s we had a full kit drummer which caused 2 problems, one nobody wanted to be in front of the drums and we all tried to keep as far away as possible. The other was many of the dancehall stages sloped and throughout the course of the evening the kit migrated slowly towards the front. When I took over running of the band we had no drummer but by then we had midi and/or keyboards which provided perfectly adequate rhythm.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Johnny J
Date: 22 Jan 19 - 09:35 AM

Further,

I've also seen this sort of thing at festivals such as Auchtermuchty and in down in The Borders. Generally, it's in areas where the Fiddle/Accordion scene is quite strong.

Sometimes, the above and the more traditional and/or folky music can complement each other. Sometimes they might collide, of course.

Of course, you will inevitably get a cross over or influence from the music(s) of the area. e.g. some festivals have lots of piping, others Gaelic song and so on.
So, I wouldn't really expect to encounter too many sessions and singarounds which are completely faithful to that of the folk club scene past or present.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: GUEST,Ake
Date: 22 Jan 19 - 09:50 AM

Aye John, I forgot about Jimmy's melodeon......heard him play in oor wee village hall about 1956.   Ah wis therr wi' ma mammy!! :0)


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: GUEST,jim bainbridge
Date: 22 Jan 19 - 10:33 AM

I suppose I wasn't thinking of sessions at festivals, although maybe I've steered clear of those featuring drums when booked at the aforementioned Keith or 'Muchty?

My memory has just been jogged byLondon memories of Ernie Groome with the Rakes at the Fox in the mid 60s, and Flowers & Frolics at the Florence & Empress of Russia in the 80s- both of these essentially dance bands....

Re Jimmy Shand, there was an LP of him playing his melodeon for hymns- 'Sunday Night with Jimmy Shand' or something similar- I bought it but the accompaniment was so loud, he was barely audible...


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Jack Campin
Date: 22 Jan 19 - 11:02 AM

Many years ago I heard the backing for a singer described as "the Sandy Bell's Philharmonic" - though the guy who coined the phrase was one of the people playing and he liked the effect. But it does help if people know when not to play.

I maybe wasn't clear enough about what I didn't go for in the original request. Reconnecting with folkie friends after decades is a perfectly fine thing to do - but it's a social objective, not a musical one.   Expecting to do the same music with the same people in the same places in the same way after decades is way out of order (I don't think Lyn actually asked for that, but there are gatherings in Edinburgh and many other cities in the UK that meet that sort of gruesome requirement).


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 22 Jan 19 - 12:24 PM

What about those big drums they play in Northern Ireland. I wonder if anyone takes them to the local folk club.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 22 Jan 19 - 12:45 PM

Then boxes that you sit on and bash are quite popular with bands but I haven't seen one at a folk club. Yet! But don't mention the dreaded bodhran at sessions though :-)


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Johnny J
Date: 22 Jan 19 - 12:48 PM

The Corries played a big drum

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiyLuv3GSs4


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Jack Campin
Date: 22 Jan 19 - 12:54 PM

I see cajons (Peruvian box drums) quite regularly. The players usually know what they're doing and make a positive contribution.

I use a washboard to create the same sort of rhythms as a Scottish dance band drummer - I learnt from the "Take the Floor" radio programme and by watching the drummer every time I saw a dance band live. Has the advantages that it's much more portable than a drumkit and can go a lot quieter. I use it very selectively, usually when I can hear people drifting out of sync.

I wouldn't know where Durham-area folk stuff happens. Is there a web or paper guide that helps much?


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Jan 19 - 01:53 PM

As someone who still plays regularly in different areas of the uk i would nominate Teesside


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Jan 19 - 02:29 PM

check earlier in the thread for info re North east events


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 22 Jan 19 - 03:46 PM

It can actually be great fun meeting up with fellow folkies after several decades and going over the old songs you used to sing together. I was in a group of students in the 60s but when they graduated the rest went off to other parts of the country, but we meet up every 2 years and one of the highlights is singing over the old stuff we did then and haven't sung for years. It doesn't matter if we can't remember all of the verses.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: GUEST,Teribus
Date: 22 Jan 19 - 06:12 PM

The Sandman - Date: 22 Jan 19 - 01:53 PM & GUEST - 22 Jan 19 - 02:29 PM

Thanks for your contributions, Trimdon Lass (Lyn) is from the North-East of the UK and I basically posted to say, and suggest, the same as you, but my post was censored - Great site this isn't it?


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Jan 19 - 06:19 PM

Where is the North East of the UK ?


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: GUEST,Teribus
Date: 22 Jan 19 - 06:44 PM

Sorry Guest my apologies Trindom Lass was originally from the North-East of England, County Durham and there is a great folk tradition around those parts and in the surrounding counties on both sides of the border.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: GUEST,jim bainbridge
Date: 23 Jan 19 - 05:48 AM

Yes Steve, it's great meeting old pals after several decades and I agree that's social rather than musical. However, the concept of meeting at different festivals hundreds of miles apart every b. weekend of the year has always baffled me! Even as a paid guest.....
As I'm also of the older persuasion, I'm encouraged by your last sentence.....

'It doesn't matter if we can't remember all the verses'    (YES!!)


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 23 Jan 19 - 06:01 AM

Well its the campervan generation, I guess.
Trouble is, round about the second day, a lot of them start to pong a bit.


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Subject: RE: Vibrant UK folk music scenes
From: GUEST,David Nuttall, Wakefield
Date: 23 Jan 19 - 07:01 AM

Hi Lyn , I would recommend Whitby Festival and also Warwick and Holmfirth . South Yorkshire ( Sheffield and Barnsley) have lively Folk scenes too . You would also be welcome to the many clubs in and around Wakefield area in West Yorkshire though it may be too far to travel. We hold informal sessions of songs and instrumental music on the first Sunday of each month at 1.30 pm in Fernandes Tap pub , Wakefield and also on the third Sunday of each month at 1.30 at the Polka Hop Pub also in Wakefield. The quality of the music and the support at these free informal sessions must be hard to beat...you would be made most welcome. Please e mail me....davenutt@ymail.com   if I can assist you further. Enjoy the music and welcome back.
BEST WISHES   DAVID


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