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Large Folk Groups { quantity of members}

Wesley S 11 Nov 03 - 01:52 PM
Bill D 11 Nov 03 - 01:59 PM
jimmyt 11 Nov 03 - 02:01 PM
GUEST 11 Nov 03 - 02:48 PM
Alaska Mike 11 Nov 03 - 02:54 PM
Beardy 11 Nov 03 - 03:42 PM
Edain 11 Nov 03 - 03:51 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 11 Nov 03 - 04:36 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 11 Nov 03 - 04:38 PM
Malcolm Douglas 11 Nov 03 - 07:01 PM
Burke 11 Nov 03 - 07:09 PM
wysiwyg 11 Nov 03 - 07:15 PM
Ned Ludd 11 Nov 03 - 07:22 PM
Willie-O 11 Nov 03 - 07:29 PM
Peace 11 Nov 03 - 08:11 PM
Mooh 12 Nov 03 - 12:17 AM
smallpiper 12 Nov 03 - 05:39 AM
GUEST,Steve 12 Nov 03 - 07:31 AM
Mooh 12 Nov 03 - 09:10 AM
Roger the Skiffler 12 Nov 03 - 09:49 AM
Sleepless Dad 12 Nov 03 - 11:28 PM
Little Hawk 13 Nov 03 - 12:02 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 13 Nov 03 - 09:11 AM
Bill D 13 Nov 03 - 10:25 AM
Menolly 13 Nov 03 - 12:21 PM
Gurney 15 Nov 03 - 06:52 AM
Dave Wynn 15 Nov 03 - 07:41 AM
Willie-O 15 Nov 03 - 07:42 AM
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Subject: Large Folk Groups { quanity of members}
From: Wesley S
Date: 11 Nov 03 - 01:52 PM

I'm not talking about waistlines. That could be another thread all together.

I was curious how many mudcatters were involved in groups that had a "large" {you be the judge} number of members. Our group has three musicians { not counting a bass player who shows up when he doesn't have a gig that pays money}. We also have five additional singers for a grand total of 8 to 9 members.

Anyone else in a group of this size ? Do you find it necessary to have a director ? Someone in charge of arrangements, harmonies, ect. Or have you been able to get along by majority rule ? What type of songs are in your songlist? Traditional ? Songwriter stuff? Anyone know of any groups doing this in a semiprofessional capacity ?

My guess is that most Mudcatters are involved in groups of three or less. And by the way - the three of us who are musicians in this group have a side project called "Matthew-Mark, Luke and Bubba"

Thanks - Wesley S


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Subject: RE: Large Folk Groups { quanity of members}
From: Bill D
Date: 11 Nov 03 - 01:59 PM

one word...Shellbacks ..

must be 50-60 total....


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Subject: RE: Large Folk Groups { quanity of members}
From: jimmyt
Date: 11 Nov 03 - 02:01 PM

Wesley I am in a group with 4 members, 4 part harmony, 2 guitars, banjo and bass, and we add a female vocalist a good bit of the time. We do old PPand M as well as Limeliters, Kingston Trio, etc music. We share leardeship that goes pretty well most of the time. We try to direct bookings to one guy. Our arrangements are pretty much what we can get with 3 baritones and a bass! tight harmony by default!


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Subject: RE: Large Folk Groups { quanity of members}
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Nov 03 - 02:48 PM

As far as I am aware none of the Committee Band (10 musicians plus house caller and sound engineer) post here so you might try posting this query on eCeilidh for a response from them.


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Subject: RE: Large Folk Groups { quanity of members}
From: Alaska Mike
Date: 11 Nov 03 - 02:54 PM

I am a group of 1, Wesley.

GOOD POINTS: I write my own songs and sing mostly originals when I perform. Being a solo act, I don't have to confer with anyone when a gig comes up. I can do my show anywhere, small or large, with my own or a borrowed guitar. It's relatively inexpensive for a promoter to fly me in for a concert in a remote location. All profits from the gig or CD sales are my own.

BAD POINTS: It gets lonely on the road when I'm gone for long periods. I have to remember all the lyrics and chord changes myself (CRS sucks). All expenses for CD production as well as much of the travel expenses are mine alone. Gotta do all the set up and contract negotiations myself. Nobody to lean on if I'm not feeling my best the night of a show. It gets lonely on the road when I'm gone for long periods.

I love to sing harmony in groups large or small, but I also love the independence of going solo. To each his own.

Best wishes,
Mike


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Subject: RE: Large Folk Groups { quantity of members}
From: Beardy
Date: 11 Nov 03 - 03:42 PM

The Rolling Stock folk choir based in Derbyshire, UK has lots of members (50+) some of whom drop in here. Barry Coope of Coope, Boyes & Simpson fame is their musical director (or some such title). Rolling Stock have performed at some festivals and at local events.


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Subject: RE: Large Folk Groups { quantity of members}
From: Edain
Date: 11 Nov 03 - 03:51 PM

Bill D: I think actually that we're over 100, but the biggest we've ever fielded at an event was about the 55-60 range


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Subject: RE: Large Folk Groups { quantity of members}
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 11 Nov 03 - 04:36 PM

Seems like, in singing groups, you usually go with a small group or a chorus. Groups in-between are more uncommon. I sing in a quartet, which means that we can all have our own harmony line to back the lead. We expanded to a quintet for awhile and found it much more difficult to find four distinct harmonies to back the lead. We were always bumping into each other, musically, and one of the guys who didn't have a good ear for harmony usually ended up singing the lead, along with the lead. For us, it didn't make sense.

All four of us in the quartet also sing in a Men's Chrous of 30-50 people with at least five or six people singing each of the harmony lines. The sound is completely different. You gain an enormous amount of power, having that many people doubling harmony lines. When we try to do the same song we do in the Men's Chorus as a quartet, some songs work well (or even better) but some sound too thin, without the power of a whole group of singers.

Singing in a quartet means that there's nowhere to hide. If you miss a note, it's much more noticeable, when there aren't six other guys standing next to you, hitting the right note. The best thing about singing in a small group is that you can hear the texture of the voices, and how they blend together (when they do.) It also allows for more freedom in playing with phrasing, and adding backing "oohs", "aaahhs" and "dump, dumps"

I would think that singing with more than five, and less than eight or nine would be difficult, unless you have at least two people doubling up on each harmony line. It would be hard to keep a balance, if some harmony lines had two or three people singing them together, and others only had one person.

Besides, quartets fit a lot better in one car.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Large Folk Groups { quantity of members}
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 11 Nov 03 - 04:38 PM

And, to answer your other question... we don't have a Director in the quartet. Just someone who does most of the work. Arrangements are worked out, on our feet and by trial and error. The Men's Chorus has a Director, and we couldn't survive without him. He tells us what to sing, so there is no arguing or disagreement between any of us. I can't imagine having a group that size without a Director and arranger.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Large Folk Groups { quantity of members}
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 11 Nov 03 - 07:01 PM

The biggest band I ever played in was at the annual MayFest at Kelham Island Industrial Museum in Sheffield, in 1998. It was a deliberate attempt at a world record for the biggest ceilidh band, and very much a one-off; we had 124 musicians playing. Robin Garside led. There were dancers too, of course, but rather fewer. Could probably get more nowadays if we had a big enough room.


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Subject: RE: Large Folk Groups { quantity of members}
From: Burke
Date: 11 Nov 03 - 07:09 PM

I've seen a sort of in between size in Madrigal groups and the college a cappella groups, but not really in folk. It seems like in addition to the whos in charge question, there are also economic issues. Touring with a lot of people is expensive. None of the groups I know of are trying to earn anything much beyond meeting expenses.


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Subject: RE: Large Folk Groups { quantity of members}
From: wysiwyg
Date: 11 Nov 03 - 07:15 PM

Our songleading band has from 1 to 10 or more members, with 3 or 4 a usual number.... and we'd be happy to have more.

I lead; Hardi leads if I don't; but our approach is quite anarchistic. We don't map out breaks and stuff-- we trust everyone to play as they see fit and let it develop as we actually DO it.

The order we impose is mostly about listening to one another... whoever is singing lead is boss on that song as to intros, number of repeats, etc. We map out a little of that beforehand but it is subject to change as it's happening, depending how a piece is going over.

I do all the arranging because no one else who can, has the time. I choose 90% of our music, again because of time, and also because I have the best ear for what will work and how we can adapt a piece to work for us. When I am wrong we drop the piece, either in rehearsal or after trying it once or twice. I'm hardly ever wrong once the band has figured out how to do it-- the people like it all, unless the only instrument they will tolerate in church is the organ. Even a few of those are now converts to strings, and we work hard to do traditional pieces they will like, with some dignity, among our wilder stuff. (If a group is known to us as really conservative in that department, we will work up an all-classics set.)

I do most of the songleading too, but we do have others who will sing lead or help on lead if I push it a bit. Hardi and I are always trying to push the leadership out more into the group, and we do make some progress there, but it's working fairly well as it is except when I get feeling overloaded.

There are several subgroupings among our various active and semi-active members who go do certain things on their own. But for a big singing event we all come together and then I run a real tight ship in rehearsal.... we do stuff most of them already know well, and will rehearse just a verse and a chorus-- and it's either working, and we leave it in the set list, or NOT... I keep it moving. We also will eliminate some pieces toward the end of the set if I am losing voice and am worried about being able to hit some of the notes. Songleading is so diffrent from performing, even with a mic... It's full out the whole time, and you can dry up pretty fast.

??? What else do you need to know? Ask away.

Oh, and technically all the people who come to sing along are also in the band, so I might say we win on numbers. We always tell them, at a big sing, that now they can tell people they are in the Good News-Goodtime Band, for better or for worse! :~)

~S~


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Subject: RE: Large Folk Groups { quantity of members}
From: Ned Ludd
Date: 11 Nov 03 - 07:22 PM

Ah Mayfest Malcolm, Now if we could teach Sheffield city Giants to sing we would have the largest folk group...in height! See you at Kelham Island this year! (and Robin)


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Subject: RE: Large Folk Groups { quantity of members}
From: Willie-O
Date: 11 Nov 03 - 07:29 PM

I play in the Blue Skies Community Fiddle Orchestra.
15-20 players depending on the occasion.
'At's a lot of horsehair.

Age range: 10 - 60 or thereabouts.

We have a conductor/arranger slash benevolent dictator.
We have fun.


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Subject: RE: Large Folk Groups { quantity of members}
From: Peace
Date: 11 Nov 03 - 08:11 PM

Once you get to double digit groups, I think a musical director is a must. As a youth I was part of a group of eleven. We would split into three groups for the rehearsal of harmony and convene to have a practice with everyone. We were all about 13, 14 or 15 at the time. We reached the conclusion that one person had to call the shots and so we elected a person to do that. It worked.


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Subject: RE: Large Folk Groups { quantity of members}
From: Mooh
Date: 12 Nov 03 - 12:17 AM

The largest of the groups with which I play is 8 members strong (4 singers, 4 instrumentalists), or weak, depending on the point of view. I find it very frustrating when folks don't attend pre-agreed practices, suddenly and inexplicably refuse their pre-agreed and arranged parts, or pull some autocratic stunt. Virtually every gig requires special arrangements of songs because we don't get everyone in attendance due to lack of commitment. Now, this has trained us to be very flexible and versatile, but it's still frustrating. Even with a fully committed group, there are too many voices and opinions. It wasn't always thus, but has been this way since a forced personnel change a few years ago. We actually work better as a smaller group, but it never remains so. When we're good, we're great, otherwise we're simply mediocre, and that's disheartening.

My other groups are both duos which work extremely well. The fiddle/guitar duo is my favourite because we both like a wide range of tunes and are adaptable and democratic. The singer/songwriter duo also works well but just doesn't work enough. A couple of times these duos have combined to a trio for one-off gigs and those also have been great because everyone is professional and co-operative and commited.

Trouble is, this ain't a perfect world, and I have to be prepared to be disappointed by a lack of commitment from others, no matter how worthy the project. The other problem is that after so many years it's tough not to respect the opinions of bandmates (agreed or not) because they have all become friends.

All in all, I find a smaller group works best. The exception is the church choir, but that's a different animal to me.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Large Folk Groups { quantity of members}
From: smallpiper
Date: 12 Nov 03 - 05:39 AM

The Pack have 12 members some of whom call in here from time to time.


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Subject: RE: Large Folk Groups { quantity of members}
From: GUEST,Steve
Date: 12 Nov 03 - 07:31 AM

Always a danger of a big group outnumbering the audience.


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Subject: RE: Large Folk Groups { quantity of members}
From: Mooh
Date: 12 Nov 03 - 09:10 AM

Guest Steve...I found myself laughing because it has actually happened to me! A small poorly promoted celtic festival once provided us with no audience other than other musicians and vendors, ie no paying customers. We played our set and there was not a soul to applaud us. The event was heavily sponsored so we were payed okay, but the only patrons in the beer tent were other musicians. Pretty surreal.

I don't think size matters in folk groups if the performances are of quality, but the more members there are the more logistical and less musical the business becomes. Decent management helps.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Large Folk Groups { quantity of members}
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 12 Nov 03 - 09:49 AM

I think there's a simple formula:
Take the number of people who've ever been in the Drifters, deduct the number of guitars Rick Fielding has ever owned, divide by Catspaw's fart-free days last month and you get the number in the NYCFTTS choir (the Catonic Cacophony).
For Hull members the answer is: 9)

RtS


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Subject: RE: Large Folk Groups { quantity of members}
From: Sleepless Dad
Date: 12 Nov 03 - 11:28 PM

I've always wondered why no one has formed a hipper version of the '60's folk scare groups like The Christy Minstrials.


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Subject: RE: Large Folk Groups { quantity of members}
From: Little Hawk
Date: 13 Nov 03 - 12:02 AM

We've had one in Orillia for years, named Alex, and it has had up to a dozen members at times...they come and go. There's a core group of about 7 or 8 stalwarts who are pretty well always there.


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Subject: RE: Large Folk Groups { quantity of members}
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 13 Nov 03 - 09:11 AM

I'm sure that every group functions in its own, unique way. All four of us sing leads, and when I do a set list, I make sure that the program is well balanced, shifting leads and kinds of songs, from more reflective, slow songs to upbeat, humorus ones, mixing a few more recently written songs in with the older material which we primarily sing. Each person in the group takes great pleasure in hearing other members take leads, and no one has ever sought to get more leads than someone else. Even more unusual, all four of us love to sing harmony. That can be a real problem in a group if everyone considers themselves a lead singer, and has very little pleasure (or natural ability) in singing harmony. I've been amazed to discover that there are wonderful lead singers who have almost no ability to sing harmony.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Large Folk Groups { quantity of members}
From: Bill D
Date: 13 Nov 03 - 10:25 AM

a 'local' group, The Takoma Mandoleers They used to play at our festival. We learned to schedule them first act of the day, as they would all wander on stage with music stands, chairs and instruments and take 10 minutes just to get ready to do a 30 min. concert...


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Subject: RE: Large Folk Groups { quantity of members}
From: Menolly
Date: 13 Nov 03 - 12:21 PM

The Wilsons, who are usually seen as 5 brothers and 1 sister, have done a few gigs, usually for charity with the extended family. I know of one occation when there were 27 singing Wilsons. This is quite a frightening thought and must compete at the largest performing family group!


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Subject: RE: Large Folk Groups { quantity of members}
From: Gurney
Date: 15 Nov 03 - 06:52 AM

At the Auckland, and certain other North Island NZ festivals, there is a 'Homebrew and Drinking Songs Workshop,' organised (and brewed) by Lew Black. the title is misleading, it is really an 'Open Mike.' There is no audience, if you are drinking, you are singing, and there are usually about 150 people at the beginning of the session, most of whom sing as if they are regular performers. And they do sing! No-one has yet (at Auckland) played an instrument, or sung a song no-one knew, and it runs from 10.30 until about 4am, when the last few ruined voices leave.
The social highlight of my year, my only regret is that my voice is wrecked for the second half of the weekend. But it's worth it!

Don't know if that qualifies.


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Subject: RE: Large Folk Groups { quantity of members}
From: Dave Wynn
Date: 15 Nov 03 - 07:41 AM

We have a 7 piece on the go occasionally needing 8 mikes and 5 D.I.'s. Sound engineers don't welcome us with open arms so how it would be with 10+ I can't imagine.

Spot the Dog


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Subject: RE: Large Folk Groups { quantity of members}
From: Willie-O
Date: 15 Nov 03 - 07:42 AM

The Rankins of Cape Breton have mustered two bands from one family --the Rankin Family of course, and Slainte Mathe. (which naturally is pronounced slan chivvAH).

The band Leahy comes from a family of 14 kids--they're not all in the band these days either! (I think there were eight of them the first time I saw them, as The Leahy Family, and eight was also Donnell's age at the time, unless he was six--he was the youngest one then, in 1978!)

Large groups are logistical nightmares.


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