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Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!

GUEST,Boab 17 Sep 05 - 01:36 PM
kendall 17 Sep 05 - 02:04 PM
Hand-Pulled Boy 17 Sep 05 - 02:51 PM
Tam the man 17 Sep 05 - 06:01 PM
Le Scaramouche 17 Sep 05 - 06:38 PM
kendall 17 Sep 05 - 06:39 PM
Peace 17 Sep 05 - 06:42 PM
Susanne (skw) 17 Sep 05 - 06:53 PM
kendall 17 Sep 05 - 07:23 PM
Mooh 17 Sep 05 - 07:49 PM
GUEST,mines bigger than yours 17 Sep 05 - 09:06 PM
GUEST,Pat Cooksey. 17 Sep 05 - 11:19 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 18 Sep 05 - 12:15 AM
GUEST,reggie miles 18 Sep 05 - 01:35 AM
GUEST,Boab 18 Sep 05 - 02:58 AM
jacqui.c 18 Sep 05 - 05:29 AM
My guru always said 18 Sep 05 - 05:33 AM
Tam the man 18 Sep 05 - 09:16 AM
Tam the man 18 Sep 05 - 09:32 AM
GUEST,DB 18 Sep 05 - 12:07 PM
Tam the man 18 Sep 05 - 05:02 PM
Tam the man 18 Sep 05 - 05:06 PM
Tam the man 18 Sep 05 - 05:17 PM
jacqui.c 18 Sep 05 - 05:17 PM
GUEST 18 Sep 05 - 05:18 PM
kendall 18 Sep 05 - 05:19 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 18 Sep 05 - 05:45 PM
Peace 18 Sep 05 - 05:52 PM
Don Firth 18 Sep 05 - 06:06 PM
Grab 18 Sep 05 - 06:32 PM
Sorcha 18 Sep 05 - 06:35 PM
PennyBlack 18 Sep 05 - 07:19 PM
GUEST 18 Sep 05 - 08:15 PM
Peace 18 Sep 05 - 10:00 PM
Richard Bridge 19 Sep 05 - 03:36 AM
Fibula Mattock 19 Sep 05 - 08:12 AM
kendall 19 Sep 05 - 08:13 AM
Gedpipes 19 Sep 05 - 08:17 AM
Barbara Shaw 19 Sep 05 - 08:17 AM
kendall 19 Sep 05 - 09:18 AM
Jeri 19 Sep 05 - 10:22 AM
GUEST,Art Thieme 19 Sep 05 - 10:45 AM
Lowden Jameswright 19 Sep 05 - 11:43 AM
Gedpipes 19 Sep 05 - 12:51 PM
GUEST,MikeofNorthumbria(athome) 19 Sep 05 - 01:48 PM
Big Jim from Jackson 19 Sep 05 - 01:54 PM
Bullfrog Jones 20 Sep 05 - 12:31 PM
kendall 20 Sep 05 - 12:52 PM
jeffp 20 Sep 05 - 01:21 PM
Tam the man 27 Sep 05 - 07:57 AM
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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: GUEST,Boab
Date: 17 Sep 05 - 01:36 PM

Tam----Ye really are "gaun yer dinger"! [Great to see that auld Ayrshire kant on the net!] But --while i do have some sympathy a,and some agreement --with the points you make. I think ye'd better haud yer horses, or Joyce, Anne , Big Davey and even Maw Burns will stop talking to you. To all the guys and gals who are so critical of repeated repertoires, quips and asides, etc., I would suggest that there's not ONE regularly performing artiste who doesn't "sin" often in that respect. If you honestly examine your own progress, I think you will probably find that when you are performing before a familiar, oft-faced audience you WILL make a concious attempt to avoid repetitive intros etc. The repertoire can be somewhat different. Many of you will be EXPECTED to sing a song which you sand the week before, and theweek before that---- Quips and asides are different. Something goes down well, you say to yourelf "I'll use that again"; but it would be foolish to use it before the same audience. One , just for instance, which I drop regularly to new Canadian audiences is " ---bien' jist aboot the only yin here that talks normal---". Works once---don't go back there next month with the same patter. And I know local audiences. They come to hear us perform familiar material, alongside any "new" stuff we may spring upon them. I'm sure all the "old hands" must have very similar experience. Tam, you tell all the folks in the Golf Hotel that big Boab frae Canada is asking for them!


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: kendall
Date: 17 Sep 05 - 02:04 PM

There is a big difference between a performer singing a song twice in the same venue because he/she has a request, and someone like Mac Wiseman who does exactly the same program time after time like he was miming one of his own records.


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Hand-Pulled Boy
Date: 17 Sep 05 - 02:51 PM

excellent thread.


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Tam the man
Date: 17 Sep 05 - 06:01 PM

As part of the wee group I'm in is that, they ask me what the next verse is or next line, mind you I don't use a songbook, in other words I can remeber their songs because they sing them all the time, but me I only try a sing the one song once and then move on unless I get a request which I often do.

So I must be doing something right, I can remember their songs but I find it diifecult to remember my own.

Tam

I'm like big Davy, he's the same he can help other people out to remember verses however he can't remember his own stuff, or maybe he's like me need that songbook as a guide, what I do is have the song book in front of me and if I see the first line then away I go, however at the Golf hotel there are times when I can't even see the book, but as soon as I start a verse then it all comes back to me, it like a comforter the songbook, it's like these people that must have their mobile phones with them that goes to the toilet.

Tam
So you see I really don't need the words at all, it's just nice to have them in front of you just to promt you like an autoque for the news.

Tam again


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Le Scaramouche
Date: 17 Sep 05 - 06:38 PM

Even if you do use song-sheets, that's not the problem. The problem is, say, at one venue you performed Black Velvet Band, Wild Rover with a joke about bodhrans and Belfast pubs, followed it up with Whiskey in the Jar and closed the gig with Wild Mountain Thyme. Now say you repeated it EXACTLY for the next dozen gigs or so. A little varietion, a little sponteneaty, are you an automaton or a performer.


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: kendall
Date: 17 Sep 05 - 06:39 PM

The ability to remember other people's songs, and the ack of ability to remember one's own is pretty common.


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Peace
Date: 17 Sep 05 - 06:42 PM

Tell me about it.


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 17 Sep 05 - 06:53 PM

I agree with Kendall's last sentence. It happens to me a lot, and it's got to do with the pressure on yourself when you're expected to sing and the lack of it when you're not.

Anyway, Tam, I don't know which part of Europe you're in. I've lived all my life in Northern Germany and been to see many folk acts, from Britain, Ireland, the US, France, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and Scandinavia, in big halls and intimate venues. Never have I encountered a PROFESSIONAL (or even semi-professional) artist who used songsheets to any degree. Some use them the way Don Firth suggests, but even that is rare. Please give us some proof for your claim. I can't think of any!

It may be ok for you if your audience doesn't mind, but I still think it isn't ok for people who lay a claim to being professionals. Mother's little helpers may be the norm in the pop and rock world; they're not in folk music where very few performers use playback. Of course it isn't grand if somebody dries up during a good song, and it happens to the best of them, but it happens rarely and I take it as an indication of their humanity and the uniqueness of that performance. Audiences seem to mind less than the performers themselves (unless it happens with every other song, of course).

Some of that uniqueness gets lost if a performer does the same set night after night. Most of the people I can think of took care not to do that, though they've got different methods of achieving this. One guy wrote out a set list with three alternatives for every song every night and put it on the floor next to the mike. As far as I could see he didn't need it most of the time. He also said that audiences in general reacted unfavourably if you included too much unfamiliar material. He put the limit at 10 to 15 per cent and extended his repertoire accordingly.

Performers can defeat themselves in other ways. I remember the only Corries gig I managed to get to, some years before Roy died. They were very lively and all, and the audience seemed to enjoy them, but my impression was that it was all too pat, worked out beforehand and delivered on cue. I felt rushed, as theough they were eager to get it over with and be on the way home. There are others, like The McCalmans or Iain MacKintosh and Hamish Imlach, or some German artists, whose patter was very familiar after some years. But they still managed to deliver it as though they'd just thought of it, and it got extended and changed in the process. Not boring at all, and certainly not pat.


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: kendall
Date: 17 Sep 05 - 07:23 PM

I know quite a few people who use song books and sheets. However, none of them are pros.


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Mooh
Date: 17 Sep 05 - 07:49 PM

Some folks, like me, don't remember things well, but I do remember a thread about this previously.

I use cheat sheets, sometimes more than other times, but if I'm singing, or playing solo, I keep them as discrete as possible. I dislike the music-stand-up-in-the-face approach as both audience member and performer, but I don't mind the stand out of the line of sight. If I'm playing back-up for someone else, I still keep the stand low and/or to the side a bit. For tunes I have memorized I simply don't refer to the stand. Usually only reminders are required anyway, so constant staring at the music isn't necessary.

If I have the djembe with me it doubles as a music stand.

I heartily dislike scripted stage patter and have heard it often at festivals and concerts. It doesn't take a genius to work in some variety, spontaneity, and off the cuff adaptation to the moment. However, it wouldn't by itself turn me off a performer unless it was excessive.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: GUEST,mines bigger than yours
Date: 17 Sep 05 - 09:06 PM

Folk musician A: my memory for a magnificent huge number of songs is so much bigger than yours..

Folk musician B: sorry.. I've got a really shit memory for songs..
but I've been fucking the living daylights out of your wife
while you've been memorising all those mouldy old songs
you sad old sanctimonious small dick bastard cuckold..


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: GUEST,Pat Cooksey.
Date: 17 Sep 05 - 11:19 PM

I find this thread very confusing, this person Tam the Man who
ever he is, speaks continually of Europe, which part of Europe
does he mean.
I live and perform all the time in EUROPE, and while I agree that
many of the bands Isee here rely on notes, music stands and the like,
I do not.
I am very much of the persuation Seamus Kennedy enounced earlier.
There is a world of difference between a profi, and a hobby musician, when large numbers of people pay to hear you they expect
a different standard to an occasional singer in a session.


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 18 Sep 05 - 12:15 AM

To those interested, nope, the new CD isn't out yet. It's being worked on and tweaked by Dennis Cook. Time will tell....

Art


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: GUEST,reggie miles
Date: 18 Sep 05 - 01:35 AM

I've done it both ways. I have so many songs that I've written of late that I do get a little impatient about getting them out into other ears and so I've tried to bring my song book along to various events. On most poorly lit stages where I've played, I found out that it really didn't help. I couldn't see the words anyway.

I've tried reading the stuff that I had not committed to memory from my song book but I've always enjoyed presenting it more after having a song or aside memorized. I guess I should just write songs and stories with fewer words. ;o)

I caught Eric Clapton in a performance reading notes of some kind from a nearby stand. I don't know if it was musical structure or lyrical prompts. I also caught Dolly Parton on a morning talk show appearance lip sync one of her songs and do a good job of messing it up. She sang off key and forgot her lyrics. It was after seeing Dolly's goof that I became more inspired to try to organize more of my own material and perfom it. I figured if she could make a mess of presenting one of her compositions on national television, I should be able to muddle through some of mine at a local open stage or two until I had them down.

When out and about performing I try to stick to the stuff I know, but I can still have that momentary lapse every now and again. I've never strictly used a set list but I will jot down songs that I'd like to play before hand as an aid to remembering them. There are so many songs that I enjoy playing and singing and so many that I never seem to get time enough to present.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Guest, mines bigger than yours, LOL! Here's one of my latest.

It's Not The Size Of Your Slide...

It's not the size of your slide it's the slide of your size
Ain't no need to get jealous of the other guy's
Boys you better get hip to this tip to the wise
It's not the size of your slide it's the slide of your size

A long time ago it used to be slick
To walk real soft and carry a big stick
But I'm here to remind all you big stick guys
It's not the size of your slide it's the slide of your size

All you misters have heard sisters testify
It ain't the meat it's the motion that satisfies
I'd like to confirm that notion and dispel the lies
It's not the size of your slide it's the slide of your size

All you hicks diggin' me pick my licks
The way that I slip and glide
If you want all the girls to roll their eyes
It's not the size of your slide it's the slide of your size

All you boys, makin' all that noise
I hope you now realize
Don't apologize for your merchandise
It's not the size of your slide it's the slide of your size

If you listen to the words of this simple song
You'll know it don't matter if your length ain't long
Yes, I may be wrong, but I surmise
It's not the size of your slide it's the slide of your size


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: GUEST,Boab
Date: 18 Sep 05 - 02:58 AM

For the record--Ihave seen Ken McKellar use a wee surreptitious [guid word!] slip of written notes while singing---on t.v.!


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: jacqui.c
Date: 18 Sep 05 - 05:29 AM

In 2003 I went to see Eric Bogle perform at Watford on his UK tour. I was so blown over by the performance that, when he came back to the area, to Hitchin, I went to see him again a couple of months later. Whilst some of the songs were sthe same he varied the act and the patter was different for quite a lot of the performance. Bearing in mind that he was on a whistle stop tour round the country I would not have been surprised if he had repeated the same act again, even though he was probably performing to a number in the Hitchin audience who had been at Watford. To be quite honest I so enjoyed the Watford concert that I would have happily sat through the same set again. However, the Hitchin performance did allow me to hear more of his songs, a real bonus. To my knowledge he did not use any notes on stage. On the other hand I went to see a well known performer a while later whose act pretty well followed his latest CD to the letter - rather disappointing, considering the supposed calibre of the artiste.

I am what Kendall's friend calls 'one of those fucking book people'. I got into folk performing at song sessions (I sing songs but do not consider myself to be a singer) about five years ago and am still learning a lot. I don't even try and sing a song unless it 'speaks' to me, otherwise I can't put into it the necessary feeling that actually makes it a SONG. It takes quite an effort to learn the words and, up to a year ago I did not have time to learn many new sons so did use a crib sheet. The songs I sang the most got committed to memory at song circles. Nowadays I have more leisure and, when I want to learn a song, I have the words on the kitchen counter and sing through each individual verse until I have got it down. However, I am still not totally sure that I will remember the songs so have a crib sheet on my lap - like Don I have a loose leaf binder with transparent pockets which is my security blanket. I do not feel that by doing this I am being lazy or uncaring and can't really say that I have felt criticised by this thread, By the way I am English and now live in the USA so have been exposed to both cultures as far as folk music is concerned.

I know that, in the UK, there are quite a lot of people who do look down on those using crib sheets, as can be seen from other threads on the subject. I was even given an Avril Betts Award Mudcat badge by Dave Bryant who, despite his present situation, gave me yet another lecture on the necessity of learning the song by heart before performing it in public, when I visited him in hospital just over a week ago. From my perspective there really isn't that much difference between the two cultures on the matter.

By the way, my 'real' name is Jacqui Morse - jacqui.c was my name pre-marriage to Kendall and was my real first name with the first letter of my surname at the time tacked on. And I agree with Tam on this - anonymous guests don't really deserve too much attention if all they are trying to do is stir up trouble with insults.


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: My guru always said
Date: 18 Sep 05 - 05:33 AM

I have to say I agree with Susanne. I live in England, well Europe actually, and haven't seen much of this stated European tendency for using songbooks from professional singers. Having spent 20 weekends at folk festivals in the UK so far this year I'm fairly certain that they don't. The odd prompt perhaps, discretely perhaps, a notebook or a list maybe.... but a songbook, on stage? No.

I also have to say that I'd be unhappy if our friends across the pond were left with the impression from this thread that it's a culture clash.

It took me quite a while to learn the songs I love well enough to be able to put my prompts aside, but having done so I feel that I can really sing those songs and can concentrate on putting those songs across to others. If a song is worth singing, it's worth singing well.


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Tam the man
Date: 18 Sep 05 - 09:16 AM

Well I live in Scotland, and I heard the Ian McCalman who was at our club on night and he said that there are groups/singers that use music stands.
Anyway who bloody cares wither they use a songbook or not, I mean as long as they put on a good show that's all that matters, If you don't them then don't go and see them, I couldn't give a shit wither they used a songbook or not, just as long as they give a good show and at the end of the night you leave happy, Last night there was a clip of Lonnie Donegan on stage and he couldn't remeber a verse, however if he had the words with him, then he would made look like an idiot, and then in Australia they laid on a tribute concert for the memory of Slim Dusty and most of the Australian country singers were there on national televison and a singer called Jimmy Little was on stage in front of millions with the words to a song, and then a actor chappie came on and read the words to a poem.

Tam
As I say as long as they put on a great show who really cares it's only a bloody songbook, that's there style and I don't a problem with that.

That's my grip over again until the next time
Love and God Bless cause that's his job
tam frae Scotland


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Tam the man
Date: 18 Sep 05 - 09:32 AM

I'm just a very nervous person that's all, that's why I do it,
As for Europe, I'm telling you what I heard, I haven't any proof, but if you don't believe me just ask The McCalmans, an see what they say.
And anyway no has answered me yet why is it wrong to use a songbook brass bands use them Classical performers sometimes use them orchasters use them, so proffecnial use them ie session band players, still they get paid, are they being wrong, I think I'm losing the argument here, I think I'll just leave now and give up,

Not the singing (I'm not a great singer/musician) after all I play guitar and the Bordhran, so much for me eh!,
It's these Banjo players who claim to be musicians (only kidding)


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: GUEST,DB
Date: 18 Sep 05 - 12:07 PM

I am strongly of the opinion that a singer should learn a song by heart and not sing from a book. Listening to such a singer is like watching a high-wire artist equipped with a safety line or a parachute! Singing is a form of communication involving passion and other strong emotions - and communicating such emotions necessarily involves courage. To communicate such strong emotions you need to be bold - and singing from a book is timid! It's also lazy and disrespectful to the audience.
People keep telling me that learning the words is difficult - well, yes, it can be; who said it should be easy? I find learning the words difficult, and it gets more difficult as I get older - but it's not impossible, if I put my mind to it.
For what it's worth my trick for learning the words is based on the idea that, if it's a song I like, I find that I always know some of the text - even if it's only a couple of lines. I write these down and then, over the course of the next few days/weeks/months (years, in at least one case!), fill in the gaps. The effort (work!) involved in doing this means that eventually I have the whole song in my head. I still occasionally dry up, though - scary stuff!!


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Tam the man
Date: 18 Sep 05 - 05:02 PM

FOR THE LAST TIME, why is is it a crime to use a songbook, there's a group called the Sangsters from Fife in Scotland and they use a songbook, Some of us do and some of us don't, myself as I said a number of times is I have a rotten memory, I can remember other people's songs but when I'm up on in front of an audidance I just get scared and I just forget the words unless they are in front of me.
God you make these people that use songbooks bloody muderers or somthing like, It is like hitting you're head against a brick wall,
WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT if you can't accept that then tough shit.


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Tam the man
Date: 18 Sep 05 - 05:06 PM

No one has had the courage to answer my question why is it so worng to use a songbook, please answer me, you lot keep advoding the question please remember we were all learners in the first place, God you lot are fucking clever out there, I would like to ask you lot for fucking help as I said If you don't like them THEN DON'T FUCKING GO AND SEE THEM.

JESUS CHRIST, AND I THOUGHT I WAS DAFT


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Tam the man
Date: 18 Sep 05 - 05:17 PM

I won't be here for a week, thank god says you, anyway some of you from what I read is if you treat these people like if they a terrible illness, they have their way of doing things and you have your way some of can remember songs better than others. I just wish you lot would listen, I feel as I losing the battle here I just wish you lot would give these people a chance and some help, instead of condming them, and don't say you don't because you do. for example most of you say that in your opinon that using a songbool on stage will performing is wrong, or lazy. Well that maybe so but please give them a chance, instead of being horrible to them.
Nae wonder I get angry sometimes
I think I'll just give in, its hard trying to defend people that use songbooks on stage when it feels that the whole folk world is against you, don't say you're not and then rant and rave about the use of songbooks on stage is wrong, a bit hypocritcial I think, at least I'm trying to be honest here, I mean don't you lot not use songbooks to practise your songs, and if you do then you condem those that use them on stage.

Tom Hamilton frae Scotland

Goodnight, I just hope this thread will jsut fade away or gets closed.


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: jacqui.c
Date: 18 Sep 05 - 05:17 PM

Tam. This thread was not aimed at you but at professional performers. Why take it so personally?

Everybody has a right to their own opinion. If it does not agree with yours that does not mean that they are having a go at you or that their opinion is any less valid. It just means that they have a different point of view on the matter. They are as entitled to that as you are.

I don't see anyone accusing you or making fun of you over this issue. Probably no-one really gives a toss whether or not you use a songbook.

There appears to be a feeling that paid performers who use cribs or don't vary their perfomances at all are not giving good value. That is their opinion and I think that you are wrong in reacting the way you are to that.


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Sep 05 - 05:18 PM

You dont go to a restaurant and expect the Chef to be sat their reading a recipe book

You dont go to college or school and expect a teacher to be reading everything out of a book

You dont get in an airoplane and expect the pilot to be reading "how to fly a plane"

When you go and watch a play you dont expect the actors to be reading there lines from a book

SO when you go to a concert/gig you dont expect the artist/s to be reading from a songbook.

Because as is the case for all of the above they should be proffesional enough to have learnt there craft.


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: kendall
Date: 18 Sep 05 - 05:19 PM

Calm down Mate. Your question was answered, but apparently you don't want to see it.
Now hear this: When a folksinger stands up in front of an audience and he/she has a book in front of them, it indicates that they haven't done their home work, and they appear to be too lazy to do the work. Whether or not that is always true is questionable, but it is the APPEARENCE that counts.You are allowing something to come between you and your audience, and many listeners resent the lack of intimacy which is so important in folk music.

Now, that being said, personally I don't have strong feelings one way or the other, but many do, and that is what "Book people" must face up to.

Does that answer you question?


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 18 Sep 05 - 05:45 PM

I just went back and read the opening thread, which set the discussion parameters. It made no mention of using songbooks. Somehow, this thread has been hijacked by you, my man Tam in a very defensive way. No matter how many times posters have pointed out that the thread was about professional performers who don't vary their repertoire and set lists, and who commit introductions, and even casual asides to memory, you keep turning it back to yourself.
This thread wasn't started as a criticsm of you, and the comments are not personal to you. They are a matter of opinion, as are yours. In retropsect, maybe it would have been better to start a thread on singing from a songbook.

Without going back and cutting and pasting (which I find irritating)
it seems like you enjoy doing new songs all the time before you've had a chance to memorize them. Am I stating that correctly? If not, blame it on my faulty memory, and not on any desire to be offensive.
If someone gets up to perform a song that they haven't had a chance to learn, then the issue of having a poor memory is a non-issue. If you enjoy introducing new songs before commiting them to memory, and then move on to other new songs, it would seem that you could never develop any memory skills.

Another thread that would be more to your point (and I don't want to open up in this one) is how we approach not only learning new lyrics, but in teaching choruses to audiences.) 'Smatter of fact, I think I'll just do that little thing. If you have a desire to improve your ability to remember words, maybe some of the suggestions would be helpful to you. If you prefer continually doing new songs without doing the serious work of learning the lyrics, then the thread won't be for you..

Most of all, please stop taking all of this as a personal attack. Folks have a different opinion on this issue than you do. That doesn't mean that you should do all the melodramatic things you suggest.

After all, you're not a cereal killer.

Meant in good will..

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Peace
Date: 18 Sep 05 - 05:52 PM

I worked on many stages over the years. Some songs gave me trouble. One was Dylan's "Stuck Inside of Mobile (WtMBA). I would tape the first lines of the stanzas to the up side of my D-28. If anyone asked, I showed 'em. I have done everything from being booed off stage to receiving standing ovations from large crowds.

I generally followed no set list, but I did have about ten songs to choose from to open with and close with. The stuff in the middle depended on where I felt the audience wanted it all to go and where I felt like going. If anyone thinks that's not pro, fine.

Relax. Enjoy your music, and commit as much of it to memory as you can.


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Don Firth
Date: 18 Sep 05 - 06:06 PM

Geez, Tom, lighten up!

It seems that you want a whole bunch of people to tell you that it's okay to stand there on stage and sing out of a song book, and when they tell you that it's not okay, you go up in flames. You want our approval.

Okay, one more time. Listen up!

If you are a professional, charging people admission to hear you sing, it most definitely is not okay. As people have already pointed out numerous times, it indicates that you don't' really know your material, and that indicates that you haven't done your homework, and on that basis, charging people to hear you perform verges on cheating them. If you want a career as a professional performer, that would be highly self-defeating, because you're not going to get much repeat business. You may even have people walk out and demand their money back.

If, however, you want to sing for fun at a song fest, then go ahead. But you're taking a chance that you will not be highly regarded by others there who have memorized their material. Now, if you do study the songs you want to do carefully and you do try to memorize them, but you still can't get your memory around them, do as I have said above:   put song sheets for the songs you have studied and tried to memorize into a three-ring binder or something similar, mention to the group before you sing them that you have a very leaky memory, hence the "crib sheets" in case you forget a line or two, and go ahead. Chances are this will be okay. But don't stand there holding the notebook in front of your face like one of the Vienna Choir Boys. In fact, the Vienna Choir Boys don't even do this. They're just kids, and when they perform, they know their material!

But—if you walk into a session with an armload of bound songbooks from the book story shelves or the public library, and you get up in front of the group, then fish around in the books trying to find something to sing, and if you pick one that you've maybe just glanced at a time or two but have not really tried to learn it—expect your audience to be highly unimpressed, if not downright hostile.

I'm sorry! But these are the facts of life! Get used to it!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Grab
Date: 18 Sep 05 - 06:32 PM

Tam, if you read as much as you typed, maybe you'd see there have been 120 posts answering your question. Or maybe 90 posts and another 30 posts from you saying "but why"... ;-)

Lest forgetting words or tunes be considered a crime, Eric Clapton arsed up the start of "Layla" on his Unplugged show. And then had the balls to release it as-is to the public without getting it "fixed" in editting. Someone on Mudcat (can't remember who) pointed that out as a wonderful example of the guy's confidence, that he wasn't scared to screw up occasionally and didn't mind people knowing. It wasn't something I'd noticed until it was pointed out, but when I read that it was a "YES!" moment.

Re the "rehearsed performance", I guess many people do it. Tom Paxton certainly does - having bought his songbook which includes some of his anecdotes, when I saw him in Cambridge I could pretty much quote word for word how it was going to go.

But I don't think the "learned patter" is necessarily bad. Yes, maybe you know some of them, but that's not always bad. The Secret Policeman's Ball version of the Dead Parrot Sketch was just as good as the original, and just as well appreciated in spite of everyone knowing it. If the patter is accepted as part of the performance (as TP's is), then it works. I guess what makes the difference is that even if you *have* rehearsed the patter, you can't rehearse a connection to the audience, and TP really feels like he cares about making the audience enjoy the show.

FWIW, my favourite performers are Show of Hands. Never mind the music, but although they clearly have some prepared lines, they don't let it get in the way. So one of them fluffs a word in a pre-prepared link, the other takes the piss, and it stays as a running joke to the end of the gig. You can't practise that, and my favourite musicians to see live are all in that vein. Whatever the music is like, it's got to be a good *show*, and I think the quality of character is something that you can't fake in folk music.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Sorcha
Date: 18 Sep 05 - 06:35 PM

Tam, a PERFORMER/ENTERTAINER needs to focus on the AUDIENCE, NOT a silly book. Nuff said.


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: PennyBlack
Date: 18 Sep 05 - 07:19 PM

You don't go to a restaurant and expect the Chef to be sat their reading a recipe book
Several do! - Some should! - Same meals every time I go to the restaurant about time they they got some different ones

You don't go to college or school and expect a teacher to be reading everything out of a book
Oh come on you're telling me my old history teacher actually new all that history?


You don't get in an aeroplane and expect the pilot to be reading "how to fly a plane"
OK yea! but he has got auto-pilot

When you go and watch a play you don't expect the actors to be reading there lines from a book
What about the little bloke at the front doing all the asides, and the auto cue?

SO when you go to a concert/gig you don't expect the artist/s to be reading from a songbook.
not bothered if I enjoy the concert


Because as is the case for all of the above they should be professional enough to have learnt there craft

So why is it that the Folky that has learnt his "craft" a set of songs, introductions, comments and backings is being criticised for repeats - would you do the same to the examples above?

off the the old Folkies Home now.   ;-)

PB


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Sep 05 - 08:15 PM

If a guy wanted to be a famous race driver, but couldn't remember how to shift gears, should he throw a tantrum because no one wanted to watch him?


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Peace
Date: 18 Sep 05 - 10:00 PM

That would depend on whether there were no ears to hear.


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 19 Sep 05 - 03:36 AM

I'm not a professional. I'm in England (part of Europe). I think I may have been paid to play once or twice in about 15 years since I've been folking (not counting whenI was young). I do think it is important to know a song well enough to do it without words/chords/dots as otherwise there inevitably comes an interruption in the flow of the performance as the concentration on capturing what one is about to do from the paper exceeds the concentration on the actual delivery.

The paper actually spoils the performance.

It also looks very slap-dash. It is certainly not the norm among professional performers I have seen.

Nonetheless, if a song is to be done before it is really ready, or has to be dug out of history because of a request, then it may be better to have the prompt to hand than to have to stop and start again (if you can't improvise). But to appear to be reading and to sound as if one is reading will be awful.

I used to do quite a bit of debating, and have won cups for it. It is quite literally fatal to effective debating to read a speech. At most a series of cue cards to provide a route map is tolerable. Comparably, if you need words or chords to hand, it is better to keep them inconspicuous, and to refer to them only as necessary (and make sure they are big enough and clear enough to be useful at a hurried glance).

An exxact repeat of previous routines and introductions will rapidly become boring if familiar. The comment of Brimmo "Even the introductions are honed to perfection" is a snide compliment that turns on the fact that exact repetition is not always good. Variation is highly desirable - but some things are hard to change because of their uniqueness - like "Queen Jane" being the only folk song I know about congenital syphilis, and Richard Mattheman's "Run the Tide" the only folk-style song I know about senile dementia. Or who wrote a song.

Balance, perspective, and moderation seem to be needed on this thread, but I would tend to agree that a semi-pro singer really ought to be looking to performing without song-sheets, and to having enough repertoire that repeat audiences could find significant freshness in each performance.

Some very big names might also like to remember that while an informative introduction is a great benefit, the audience is there mostly for the songs, so talking more than singing is not a good thing!


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Fibula Mattock
Date: 19 Sep 05 - 08:12 AM

Um, I was just going to add that the song tradition in Ireland is an oral tradition (just like the music - and you couldn't take sheet music to a session) so a part of that oral tradition is therefore learning the song by heart, not least because perhaps the people who sung it in the past couldn't read or write.
(This is just an observation, mind.)


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: kendall
Date: 19 Sep 05 - 08:13 AM

It looks like we have a consensus


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Gedpipes
Date: 19 Sep 05 - 08:17 AM

no we don't! Richard. When did England become part of Europe? ;-)


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Barbara Shaw
Date: 19 Sep 05 - 08:17 AM

We have a five-member band and usually use a book of lead sheets (some musicians call it charts) on a music stand near the single central mic. This allows everyone to see and remember the arrangement, which is more complex than a single performer would use, including who kicks off the song, who does breaks when, who does a tag at the end and so forth. Sure, most bands do not use a book, but on the other hand, we're not like any other band I've ever seen.

Our concerts are always different, and I've got the set lists from the past 6 years to prove it, never two alike, and always including new songs every month or so. The talk between songs is always ad libbed, varying with the audience, the antics of the band, current events, whatever.

People seem to like us and keep inviting us back, despite the book.

Musicians in other genres often use books, including jazz combos, certainly classical ensembles, pianists, etc. I feel that the book helps rather than detracts from our concerts. On the other hand, when we perform before a strictly die-hard bluegrass audience, we ditch the book or they wouldn't take us seriously, seriously! But then we have to confine ourselves to the old chestnuts that we know so well we're sick of playing.

At our jams, we always use our songbook, and it helps us not only remember the lyrics but also other songs to sing. People jokingly refer to us as "the book people" but then start compiling their own books. Many of our friends are now "book people."


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: kendall
Date: 19 Sep 05 - 09:18 AM

Barbara, I wouldn't care if you were to read from the Talmud, I still enjoy your music, and you really are different!


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Jeri
Date: 19 Sep 05 - 10:22 AM

Gedpipes, when did Europe and England become part of the US? Officially, I mean. (Haha)

What it all boils down to is whether the printed stuff interferes with the audience's enjoyment. Most people don't deal with paper well, and it comes off as clumsy and obvious and weak. It's like watching a very bad magician.

The biggest sin a performer can have is a lack of confidence, as perceived by the audience. Reading from paper can come accross like that. I've done it. While it might be a good idea to have the words if you need them, if I try to use them when I don't need them, it messes me up. Instead of flowing into the next line, I wait until I can look down and my eyes find it on the paper. I swear I forget lines simply because I expect them to be on the paper and not in my head.

I'm not saying this is universal. Other musicians use paper for dots or words, and they can do it very well. The funny thing is, I think it's because that, just like a from-memory performer must practice recalling and playing/singing, a from-paper performer has to prectice playing/singing while reading.

I also think that if you're performing piece and either the piece, the style or the setting are traditional or have a tradition, anything you do that goes against that tradition is going to be noticed, and possibly really annoy some listeners. Like the Far Side cartoon I keep in my fiddle case that shows a violin player sitting in the orchestra. As the conductor raises his baton, the voilinist turns to the person next to him, and referring to the music score, says, "Gee...look at all the little black dots." Then there are those sea shanty groups with the operatically trained singers heaving and hauling in prettily arranged 4-part harmony. Of course they'd need to wear black tuxedos and have a conductor. I heard a speak-o yesterday on the radio, and in the future, I'll be referring to all sea music performed like this as "barbership" music.

In the end, the short version of this post comes down to this: If it bothers people that you use written music, you shouldn't use it.


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 19 Sep 05 - 10:45 AM

As Bobby once wrote, "I'll know my song well before I start singing."

To an extent, though, I was lucky in that I always had a place where I could sing and work on my songs while I was becoming comfortable with newer things in my rep. That was my oasis/home place, the No Exit Coffeehouse in Chicago where I played for 37 years. But we never had notes or books to sing from!!! That was unheard of then, and I woulld hope that it would be, and should be, unheard of now.

The sad thing is having this practice get a foot in the door, and soon bad manners become the norm.

It's just a dumbing down. And that, I think, is sad.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Lowden Jameswright
Date: 19 Sep 05 - 11:43 AM

It seems the issue of using/not using songbooks/prompt sheets has overtaken the thread - fair enough. Tam obviously has taken some of the criticisms to heart and I'm sorry he's been upset by some comments made here.

I never intended to crucify the performer mentioned in my opening thread, but make the point that repeat business in the folk-hiring fair will be less likely if performers don't vary their act. This lady has been on the circuit for quite some while now and has appeared in at least 3 different venues within our area (approx 7 or 8 square miles) during the last 2 years. She knows there's crossover between folk clubs (especially in this area) and the same enthusiasts are likely to turn up.

I felt embarrassed for her (at the 3rd time of hearing) and I feel she has to "fake it" in the sense that her performance appears so natural and almost instinctive - certainly it seemed that way to me the first time I saw her. Maybe she isn't as confident as she appears, and feels the need to rely heavily on well-honed material. I can understand that if you're just starting out, but after a few years I think it's time to develop. I certainly hope she does, because I would like to see her, say, on an annual basis if she can offer some variety. Others who've seen her much further afield say she always does the same thing - so I'll just wait and hope she (eventually) learns to add new songs to her list.

As regards her use of music stand and song sheets - no problem. She did not need to keep dropping her head to remind her where she was. They were there as a safety net, and that's fine - she certainly did not seem to have any problem at all engaging her audience.


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Gedpipes
Date: 19 Sep 05 - 12:51 PM

nice one Jeri


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: GUEST,MikeofNorthumbria(athome)
Date: 19 Sep 05 - 01:48 PM

A fascinating thread, which makes many valuable points about two separate but related issues.   And there is a hidden link between the two themes - it's fear!

Many fine professional actors, singers, and comedians suffer terribly from pre-performance nerves. Some even throw up in the dressing room every night before going on stage. Not a few have been driven to drink, drugs or self-destruction by the pressure which the continual fear of failing puts on them. (The late great Tony Hancock was one famous example.)

A performer's worst nightmare is losing your hold on the audience. If that's the fear that haunts you, it's very tempting to stick with material that has worked for you many times before.   That could be the reason why some of the artists who've been criticised in this thread don't revise their acts more frequently.

The other great fear is of loosing your grip on your material. Memory lapses can hit the best prepared actors – that's why theatrical productions usually have a prompter on hand.   Likewise, some folk performers prefer to keep the full text of every song within reach, while many others have brief notes on cards up their sleeves, or taped to the side of their guitars. Why not ? Most drivers travel with a spare wheel on board, even though they hope not to need it.   

Even so, IMHO, performers should keep their eyes on the audience as much as possible, and only refer to books or notes in an emergency. Nervous beginners may feel that they'll never manage without these supports – just as many non-swimmers find it hard to believe that the water really will hold them up. But memory is like a muscle. If exercised regularly, it will get stronger.   

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Big Jim from Jackson
Date: 19 Sep 05 - 01:54 PM

You know, Tam, you keep saying that this is the last time your are going to say such-and-such, then you come back and say such-and-such again. You keep going back and making your points again and again. I am beginning to suspect bear baiting here. Are you just harping over and over the same points to try to get some of these fine (and amazingly patient!) folk to respond to your sniveling and tirades for a laugh? These people have given you enough advice about performing for you to write a thesis on the subject.
Secondly, I have come to strongly suspect your claim of "poor memory" is just a ploy to get attention and to further the above agenda. I suspect I am stating what the other 'Caters are reluctant and too kind hearted to state. Perhapse you are waiting for someone to finally be boorish enough to write the above and are testing to see just how long it would take for someone to finally loose their patience. Well, here I am. Please note: The fine people who have responded trying to help you in this thread (which was not its intended purpose, until you hijacked it) are, in many case, professional entertainers and know what they are talking about. And this is to say, if I may state it bluntly, you don't. Instead of copping excuses, why not work on your memory skills, if in fact you even have a problem. The several people who have sided with you seem much more genuine in their responses than you.
I await your responding tirade. Go ahead; vent your spleen; I need a good laugh.
To all the responders in this thread, does the word "troll" ring a bell?                     Jim


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Bullfrog Jones
Date: 20 Sep 05 - 12:31 PM

No, Jim, I think Tam really does have a bad memory --- that's why he keeps making the same bloody point over and over again!

BJ


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: kendall
Date: 20 Sep 05 - 12:52 PM

His question has been answered. Maybe that's all he needed.


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: jeffp
Date: 20 Sep 05 - 01:21 PM

On the 18th he said he was going away for a week. That would be the 25th.


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Tam the man
Date: 27 Sep 05 - 07:57 AM

Opera singers well some of them and classical musicians some of them are proffesional and yet according to some of you they are amtuers, what is good for them is good for us (songbook people).

And that's defenty my last word on this subject.

I promise, Big Jim


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