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why well run folk clubs are important

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Subject: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 21 Nov 06 - 09:35 AM

having just played at swindon folk club, which has been run for 46 years by Ted and Ivy poole and helpers., and had a great night.it occured to me how important good folk clubs are, for several reasons.
   firstly,they provide the oppurtunity for like minded people to get together in their locality, and build a community locally and on a regular basis,.
it gives people a stage, to perform in a semi formal situation ,learning stagecraft etc, from professional perfomers at a cheaper cost than at a festival, and hopefully establishing friendships on a local basis.
    with festivals becoming more commercial, and generally more popfolk orientated, they can provide the chance for audiences to hear more unusual and less commercial performers, while enjoying a social club atmosphere.
three other clubs stand out in my view,Stockton folk club, darlington brittania,Nottingham CARRINGTON,that achieve allthese points.there are probably many others,I apologise if i havent remembered them ,if you know of a good folk club in your area, please mention and tell us all about it, and why you think it is good .Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 21 Nov 06 - 10:12 AM

I'd nominate Swinton, Dick but as we crossed wires over when you were booked here I dunno if you'd agree:-)

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Bernard
Date: 21 Nov 06 - 10:30 AM

I'd nominate the Railway, Heatley, Lymm, but maybe I shouldn't, as I'm one of the organisers...!

;o)


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: skipy
Date: 21 Nov 06 - 10:45 AM

I nominate Splinter Village Folk Club RAF Brize Norton.
Sadly it closed in the 80s!
Skipy


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: LesB
Date: 21 Nov 06 - 10:59 AM

I nominate Bothy Folk Club in Southport, but then I would, as I do the website.
We must be doing something right as we have been going for 42yrs. Unfortunately we are having a change of venue forced upon us, (3rd in 41yrs). Worry not we have found a really good new venue for the new year. ( Had a great night with 'Rattle on the Stovepipe' last sun)
Cheers
Les


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Georgiansilver
Date: 21 Nov 06 - 11:43 AM

Gainsborough and Market Rasen in Lincolnshire..if you're passing


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 21 Nov 06 - 12:13 PM

to dave the gnome,yes I like swinton.DickMiles


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: breezy
Date: 21 Nov 06 - 01:52 PM

for Windward Folk-song club St Albans, references please contact
Andy Irvine
Harvey Andrews
Vin Garbutt
Roy Bailey
Pete Coe
Jeremy Taylor
Coope Boyes and Simpson
Keith Donnelly - no - I've got his in writing
Martin Carthy
Rosemary Tawney
Derek Brimstone
Pete Morton
Dan Mckinnon
Les Barker
Johnny Collins
Lakeman and Roberts

and George Papavgeris, who was our resident singer songwriter but has now taken off and is flying high.
is it a plane? is it a kebab ?

and many others


sadly no cap'n Birdseye, still cant have em all.

this week Sun 26th Nov our Diva resident Christine Connolley will be putting on the style and strutting her stuff and if previous performances are anything to go by will put on a very good show.

Doors open 7.30
At the Comfort Hotel on Holywell Hill, in St Albans

non-smoking-walking-talking-mobile-phone-ringing-see-the-whites-of-their-eyes-folk-club

But I'll let others be the judge


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 21 Nov 06 - 02:06 PM

BREEZY , Good list of guests, but is your club a CLUB , in the social sense, do floorsingers get a chance,as you and I once did,or is it a mini concert, Do you still sing at the club yourself .Do you have singers nights.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: treewind
Date: 21 Nov 06 - 02:12 PM

Bideford in North Devon fits well with Dick's original criteria. Terrific sense of community, much more about its members/resident singers than about guests, lovely people all of them.

The Everyman in Saxmundham, Suffolk is an excellent example of a club that gets local non-folkies in for a good night's entertainment once a month, and has a high standard of floor singers and residents.

Pete Coe's Ryburn Club is part of a very strong and active local folk community too, with some well known residents.

Seaford's good too, and free entry even on a guest night, with a collection at half time, but we did all right out of those voluntary contributions last Friday.

The Fo'c'sle at Southampton stands out in recent memory too, where the organisers really know what they are doing and are excellent hosts.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 21 Nov 06 - 03:18 PM

Rather predictably, this thread became immediately a 'name your fave club and plug it if you run it'. I'd agree completely with Anahata's list (3 from personal experience and the other two from good reports) and with Breezy (yes, he certainly does sing at his own club). All these locations are, however, comparatively rural.

I would argue that in cities it's quite different (remember I'm generalising hugely) and the 60s-style 'folk club' is way past its sell-by. What people (of all ages) flock to is the venue with all sorts going on at different times, with space to dance, with food and decent drink and with decor and furniture a whole lot more congenial than the average filthy pub back room. And with a clientele significantly different from a crowd of care in the commmunity cases who regard the 'folk club' as their own remedial drop-in centre.

I don't think Dick can have been to a festival since Cambridge was just about the only one. True, there are some that are popfests and devoid of much participation except on the campsites. They're easy to identify and avoid (unless, of course, it's floats your boat to sit on a blanket or camping chairs in front of a stage for a weekend). Otherwise, festivals are THE place to go to workshops and stumble across new musicians you haven't met before or meet up with old friends. And it's where those few club organisers worth their salt talent spot for newer acts and book them before they get too expensive.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Leadfingers
Date: 21 Nov 06 - 03:26 PM

A Folk Club that is NOT well run , surely WONT run - Or at least , not for long !


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Mo the caller
Date: 21 Nov 06 - 03:27 PM

The club that I went to when i had to stay in Beverley was excellent. Members whose performances were really good and varied, yet not intimidating. And friendly, so that I met people I knew when I went shopping. Good guest nights, even better singers and musicians nights. And Ollie started an early beginner musicians, which has set me off (so if you've suffered my wrong notes you know who to blame.
It met at 'Nellies' (the White Horse) but the licensing act shifted it so now it's
not the White Horse


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Andy Jackson
Date: 21 Nov 06 - 03:36 PM

At last, some well deserved respect for the long struggling folk clubs. I have said many times that without the backbone of the club circuit we would not have the healthy folk scene we have today. Where else would many of our now well established performers have ever got a start.
Yes there is a bit of a variety in the talent in our clubs but there is a wealth of enthusiasm. Luckily of course we all have different tastes not just in our music but in what we want froum OUR club. It will be interesting to watcth this thread develop once it has got away from the "my clubs bes" syndrome. I would be very very interested to hear from some of the regular club circuit performers about what think makes for a good club.

I have been involved with folk clubs since the late 60's with the Cutty Wren in Southampton and for the last twenty years with Llantrisant Folk Club here in Wales.
I now run the Miskin at Easter festival and care enough about clubs to offer £1-00 cash back on presentation of a valid club card.
Just one down side at the moment is the decline in numbers generally compared to the hey-day 60's and 70's. But perhaps that means we have done our job well. The clubs were artificially providing what the main stream was not. At last our music is creeping into public conciousness more and more, is there a connection?

Long live the clubs,

Andy


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: breezy
Date: 21 Nov 06 - 03:55 PM

I like going to the Llantrisant club, feels good there and Pat is great.

Only been three times mind, the kids have left uni now see

still will be in cardiff on Sun 3rd for a BBC wales show

Countess Richard, ta , but you didnt come to the Windward experience yet

I dont hold 'singer's or come all ye' as they dont 'sell', only do, did, guests.

yes I do have floor spots, but priority is given to regular residents.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 21 Nov 06 - 03:55 PM

to countess richard,this year I was booked at lancaster maritime festival,scarborough sea festival,captain cook festival whitby.
I have never been to CAMBRIDGE FESTIVAL,BUT HAVE guested AT THE FOLLOWING FESTIVALS, WHITBY FOLK FESTIVAL[5TIMES]REDCAR[TWICE]SIDMOUTH,CHIPPENHAM[4 TIMES]FOUR FOOLS[3TIMES]Upton on Severn.LANCASTER MARITIME[13 TIMES].KENDALL FOLK FESIVAL,ALLsince 1980, PLUS OTHERS.
So countess richard your a bit off mark.I dont know when cambridge was the only one, about 1956,perhaps, Iwas only five and was not a child prodigy. I know all the advantages[ AND DISADVANTAGES] of festivals, but they cant build a local community feeling in the same way.as a folk club can.
people who have organised clubs for 46 years like the Pooles [ AT SWINDON]And all the other long running club organisers deserve recognition for their hard work .DickMiles


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Nov 06 - 04:15 PM

Countess Richard ... I can respect your opinion that, for you, the festivals offer the best opportunities and excitement, but why on earth did you need to be so disparaging to Dick in the process? He is one of the most respected performers around and appears many clubs AND festivals throughout the year, to much acclaim. I also enjoy the buzz of festivals and the variety of outlets in the workshops, sessions and singarounds, but without my local clubs I would have little folk music in the winter (or weekdays, come to that) and I would have missed out on the continuing and growing friendships that I have formed by seeing familiar faces each week.

I think Dick's very pertinent point is that most of today's headliners started out in their clubs, where it was the familiarity of the people and surroundings that fist gave them the courage to begin to perform. (festival workshops give you pointers/tasters but without a local outlet where would be the motivation or opportunity to continue once you returned home?). Todays best clubs still nurture new talent by offering a balanced mix of respected performers from whom they may begin to learn their craft, and supportive settings to 'try their wings' ... and on top of that you get to feel like a valued member of 'the family' - hopefully from your first visit!

I know many of the clubs already mentioned and echo the praises from their various sponsers. Because of hardwork of the network of organisers who run folk clubs for the sheer love of the music, I can visit any part of this country, known to me or not, and find a venue where I will be welcome. We should be proud of that.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 21 Nov 06 - 05:05 PM

Thanks Dick - Much appreciated:-)


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 21 Nov 06 - 05:19 PM

Guest 04.15

I know perfectly well who Dick Miles is thank you and I was not being 'disparaging' towards him at all. Merely pointing out that he doesn't seem to have the faintest idea of what actually goes on at festivals, probably because he's far too busy on stage.

The day of the revival-style 'folk club' is long since gone (as the 'jazz club' did before). We live differently now. There is a far wider range of musical styles and genres and a need to cater for the interests of people of all ages and different cultures. We made the folk clubs four decades ago when the world was different and we were all young. What was cutting edge then isn't now. Obvious really.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 21 Nov 06 - 05:34 PM

If "The day of the revival-style 'folk club' is long since gone" then what are all these clubs being nominated as being well run, Countess? Ours has been going nearly 25 years, there are many that have been going longer and an infinite number that have yet to form. If you don't like them then don't go, but please don't deny our existence. Obvious really:-)

DtG


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 21 Nov 06 - 05:47 PM

Being 'well-run' doesn't preclude them from being out of time, Dave. There's one in particular I have in mind that's extremely well run, measured in terms of one person putting in loads of time in administration and seeking out 'affordable' guests. Therein lies the problem. All the club can afford is an extremely tatty pub room where people just don't want to go. And for guests, they rely on old mates from the past doing favours and playing the club at a loss.

The future lies in professionally managed venues with infinitely better facilities that can pay proper fees + expenses to artists. And punters need to pay the going rate at the door. Those on stage have mortgages too. They also deserve respect and this is perhaps the only way to persuade audiences to give it.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: old girl
Date: 21 Nov 06 - 05:59 PM

Newport folk club S/wales is a great night out,we are there most weeks and quite a few of us go to festivals, Without clubs there would be very few small festival around and some people enjoy these friendly get togethers.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Dame Pattie Smith EPNS
Date: 21 Nov 06 - 06:07 PM

I like to think that with 26 years experience of running Llantrisant Folk Club we get quite a few things right.
We have always offered our guests a meal before the club (or after if they prefer). Having spent years "on the road" Calennig discovered the only eating places after the clubs were chinese takeaways or fish and chip shops! Mind you things have changed these days and people are now generally very hospitable.
We always appreciate anything our floor artists have to offer, whatever kind of music they are GOOD at. They will always perform well with things they know and folk clubs exist to encourage people to share their music with others as far as I`m concerned. After all if it wasn`t for Porthcawl Folk Club back in the early seventies I probably wouldn`t be perfoming now!
Lately I`ve introduced Showcase nights where people who would like a bit of exposure or experience with an audience can perform. This works very well at the same price as an open or singers` night.
We even have Discovery sessions for those learning to play an instrument. It runs the same as an ordinary session except we play at about an eighth of the speed.
Our raffle is a unique experience as well involving the entire audience in a chorus but you`d have to witness that yourselves.
Well..........roll on tomorrow night, Julie Felix sold out!


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: old girl
Date: 21 Nov 06 - 06:18 PM

I,m glad you told us that Julie Felix is sold out we were hoping to get there nevermind see you soon rose


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Bernard
Date: 21 Nov 06 - 08:27 PM

At the Railway (Heatley, Lymm) we run Guest Nights, Singers Nights and 'Big Spots'. Sorry if this comes across as a 'plug'... we don't really need it, we're doing well enough without, thank you!!

A 'Big Spot' is a Singers Night for the first half, with a guest ('showcase' idea as above) for the second half.

We attract in excess of fifty people on a Singers Night, at least half of whom are performers. This means we can only allow one item per person, three items for a band. It's rare that we manage to start a second round, although we may put someone on to close the night if time allows.

Our residents (Stewart Lever, Nelson-Peach, Nick and Lin, Don and Heather, and me) take turns in providing the 'warm-up' on guest nights, which quite often are full houses - in the past few weeks Martin Carthy, Vin Garbutt, Martin Simpson and the John Wright Band have sold out well before the night - Boo Hewardine looks like doing the same, and tickets are going fast for John Kirkpatrick - December 7th.

We are proud of the fact that the pub has resisted change, and isn't 'plastic'. It is CAMRA listed, and offers a range of 'guest beers' which change week by week.

What comes as a surprise to some people is the fact that a musicians' session is usually running in the 'Snug' at the same time as the club is running upstairs - so it's a bit like a festival every week.

Added to that is our fortnightly 'Songs in the Snug' on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of each month - a sort of traditional 'singaround'. One of our Snug regulars is Ted Edwards...

Interestingly, though, a Singers Night crowd differs significantly from a Guest Night crowd - though there are some 'core regulars' who attend both. It certainly indicates that the folk scene is healthy in Lymm and the surrounding area.

That's why I make the forty mile round trip every week...

People can make all the disparaging remarks that they like, but not everyone likes festivals... I only go to festivals if I'm booked!!

Hint... ;o)


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 04:01 AM

Big difference between being 'long since gone' and 'out of time' countess. One suggests that they have not existed for a long time the other means they are old fasioned. Which do you mean?

As to the only places worth visiting being those you have to pay loads to get in. Well, where do I start on that one? Maybe you could try telling the bloke that has been on the dole for two years, can only get out once a week for half a mild and a listen to good music for £2.50 that he now has to pay £15? Perhaps the old lady on a fixed pension will be happy going into town, paying £20 to get in the Bridgewater Hall and £10 for a taxi back? Maybe we need to move folk music in the same direction as Opera and Ballet? Huge funding from the arts authorities to keep tickets to an affordable £50 or so?

No thank you. I think I'll keep Swinton as it is.

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 04:05 AM

BTW - I am far from disagreeing that concerts and professional venues are a bad thing - I go to enough of them myself. What I am saying is that there is plenty of room for both. Just because you don't like one of them, don't knock it. Plenty of people still go to the 'long time gone' or 'out of time' clubs.

D.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: julian morbihan
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 04:46 AM

Dick, thanks for the recognition of Ted and Ivy's hard work and dedication at the Swindon Folksingers Club.

The name Folksingers sums up their attitude to the club. It is a club for people who want to sing. Anybody of any capability with any repertoire can sing. It usually goes round with just one song each. If it's a singers night, it may get round twice if you're lucky.

Guests are booked to please the people who go to sing as well as listen.

Thanks should also go to the dedicated team who are taking over the mantle of running the club.

As far as the comments on festivals are concerned, they are completely different to clubs, of course. They both operate in the "folk" world. Just as many clubs work in different ways, singaround, guest only, floor singers, resident group, so festivals are each different in their own way, song, dance, display, ceilidh, international, traditional...

You choose whatever suits you.

But whatever it is (club or festival) it needs to be well managed with a dedicated people to ensure it continues through the bad times as well as the good.

To those dedicated few who run clubs and festivals, I take may hat off to them all and wish them well for the future and for their past efforts.

And one last thought on this subject, that many favourite guests at festivals would not be there without the folk clubs they started from. And going back to the wonderful work of Ted & Ivy Poole, two who began their singing at the Swindon club are Mick Ryan and Dave Webber. The world would be a far worse place without the talent of those two great singers, so yet another reason for a big thank you to Ted and Ivy.

If anyone from EFDSS is reading this message, how about a Gold badge for them?

Cheers

Julian


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Scrump
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 04:51 AM

My 5p's worth: I agree that there is room for both types of club - the 'concert' type venue, and the more (can I use this word without starting an argument?!) 'traditional' club where floor singers and residents are encouraged (by traditional I mean they are more like the clubs of yesteryear, not that they are exclusively for traditional music - however you define that!).

I go to both types of club regularly, and there are advantages to both:

- the concert type venue is able to book the 'big name' artists and not make a loss (well not often anyway, I hope), by providing an environment where these artists can perform, usually supported by other professional artists (or occasionally by high-quality resident acts), at a reasonable cost for the punters. I go to these clubs to see artists I like without paying through the nose, in a more friendly and intimate venue than a theatre, etc., where these artists would otherwise have to perform all the time.

- the traditional club encourages residents and floor singers, not all necessarily of a high standard, as well as having the occasional or regular guests, possibly alternating with sessions or singarounds where anyone can have a go, regardless of standard of performance - beginners are just as welcome as long-time residents. IMO these clubs are still essential, because if all clubs were 'concert' types it would be a Catch-22 situation for newcomers, who would not be able to get the experience they need to break into the concert club circuit (if there is such a thing - but I hope you know what I mean). I go to these clubs because (a) it gives me a chance to perform myself; (b) I get to see (hopefully) the top artists of the future as they learn their craft; and (c) I still get to see the occasional top artists in an even more friendly and intimate venue (there are some top artists who like to perform in these venues as well as the huge theatres).

As for festivals, again they seem to be two basic types, similar in a way to the clubs above: there are the large festivals such as Cropredy or Cambridge, where again big names perform for the fans; and the type such as Broadstairs, where there is a much greater range of artists, and lesser known acts can perform in a variety of venues, with more sessions and singarounds where anyone can have a go.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 05:03 AM

All folk clubs are important - badly run or well run, or indifferently run.

I've spent evenings of my life in places that I wouldn't wish upon Adolf Hitler, but they seem to have satisfied the residents. I would imagine we all have. If you haven't, you simply haven't been to many folk clubs.

The point is - they are an important part of the culture of our country. Even if the organiser would have problems with the logistics of a piss up in a brewery - they represent creative effort, and as such they should be applauded above people who are just negative.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 05:33 AM

I'm far from arguing 'concerts against clubs' in the present old-style, stale format. I can't abide these setups that still call themselves 'clubs' yet book MOR 'stars' for whom you can only book on Ticketmaster and treat them like VIPs and don't let anyone else on except, possibly, themselves. Not have I time for the ramshackle cliquey gang of old pals who have the same old same old all the time and don't really want anyone else there anyway and send them scattering if they do venture in because of such an unfriendly, unprofessional, out-of-tune attitudes and renditions.

I'm for hastening a total rethink, for advocating the new-style venues; the arts and leisure centres and well-run night clubs where artists actually get paid the going rate with proper contracts and punters pay little more than they do for a night out from hell at the Rat & Cockroach. And where a vast variety of stuff is going on, where ceilidhs can be held and sessions held not in direct competition with the widescreen television and jukebox.

And I'm also calling for proper funding tor the traditional arts as I always have done, though not with a faux-inverted snobbish putdown of opera and ballet.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST,DaveS at work
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 06:01 AM

When people tell me that I run an old fashioned folk club it is when they are paying me a compliment.
PS We sold out for Martin Carthy last Sunday.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 06:18 AM

Maybe with a non-inverted snobbish putdown of all the good folk clubs held in pubs though? ;-)

I agree wholeheartedly with your first paragraph, countess. Where I do disagree though is the suggestion that if it is not at an 'Arts Centre' (Whatever one of them may be) or a 'New Venue' (ditto) it belongs in one of the categories you describe in your first paragraph. That is simply not true. There are dozens and dozens of folk clubs all over the country who provide good entertainment at a reasonable cost in clean surroundings. They, like us, utilise the good quality local artists that abound and, where possible, book top name nationals. Often we subsidise the cost of the 'big names' with funds accumulated from singers nights, raffles and fundraisers.

To describe traditional folk clubs, traditionaly run that is, not dedicated to traditional music, in the way you do is both very unjust and mainly untrue in my experience. Perhaps you have had bad experiences in the clubs you have frequented in which case I offer my condolonces on your bad luck. I think I could safely assure you though, and the number of clubs highlighted here so for seems to back this up, that many folk clubs are not like your description at all.

Hope you continue enjoying your choice of venue as much as I enjoy mine.

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 06:20 AM

BTW again - no faux-inverted snobbery from me. I just don't like ballet and opera and begrudge the money that leaves my pocket to subsidise art forms I have nothing in common with.

D.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST,Brian Peters
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 06:28 AM

>> yet another reason for a big thank you to Ted and Ivy. If anyone from EFDSS is reading this message, how about a Gold badge for them? <<

Seconded! As are the other posts praising folk clubs. The format may need to evolve (a number of clubs have had to find venues other than pubs over the last few years, and prospered as a result) and to co-exist with other types of presentation, but a good folk club is still a musical event like no other.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 06:34 AM

Then campaign for parity in arts funding. Just because you don't personally like a particular genre shouldn't mean starving it of funding, as happens with tradarts now. FWIW, I think Ryburn is one of the best-run venues there is. Haven't been to yours so cannot say but I'm sure it's fine. But there are far too many which are definitely not, thus exacerbating the negative image 'f*lk' (whatever that is) has with the general public.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 06:38 AM

My post above was addressed to DtG, not Brian Peters with whom I do not disagree but I'm significantly less optimistic about the percentage of 'f*lk clubs' that are operating in either a realistic or relevant format.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: greg stephens
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 07:04 AM

Countess Richard seems to have a bit of a down on some old-fashioned, unreconstructed stuck-in-the-6o's revival clubs, and sge clearer likes the brave new world of the Arts Centres with lots of different stuff going on. Now, I am all in favour of both. particularly apposite to this discussion is Leadfingers comment early. that if a club is running at all it must be well-run, otherwise it would have packed up.
   I find Countess Richard's angry hostility to some venues puzzling. Surely if a few grizzled old folkies want to hang out in the back rooms of pubs singing Copper family songs, what harm I they doing to the world?
   She is right about good fees for performers, of course. I know from my Boat Band experience that an Arts Centre gig will make us more money than a little folk club, because they are geared up for it. They can advertise to a wide clientele, and that clientele is, if not rich, atleast used to shelling out the £10-15 ticket prices common in arts centres, but rare in folk clubs. And she is also quite right that people have very different perceptions of Arts Centres and Folk Clubs. I know that if the Boat Band went and played Yourtown Arts Centre, we would draw a crowd of typically 100 people at £8-10. If, however, we were booked by Yourtown Folk Club, we would probably only pull 30-50 people at maybe £5. That is a fact of life, and absolutely to do with perception. Same town, same band, different type of audience for different type of venue. You might think that for a professional in those circumstances, playing the club instead of the arts centre was a stupid thing to do. This would not necessarily be true. For example, you might have more fun in the club. I just played at Swinton Folk Club, and it was tiny, and we didn't make all that much in the spondulicks line. But I had a friendly night, played acoustically, and the informality meant we could play any song or tune that came to mind or was requested. It is difficult to retain this amount of informality at an Arts Centre or big festival stage(though we do try!).
    All in all, I reckon there is room for all. No one kind of venue is better than another. There are good and bad within each genre. Some arts centres, and some festivals can be dire. Naturally. And what is good for one person can be awful for another. Suck it and see.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Pete_Standing
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 07:20 AM

It is the informality and intimacy that is not evident at arts centres and the like that keeps top performers such as Martin Carthy and Nancy Kerr and James Fagan doing the upstairs in the pub type folk clubs. These artists also realise that without these venues that the opportunities for the new artists of tomorrow to develop their stagecraft will be much harder. We should avoid the baby and bathwater approach, both types of venues have their place and their value.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 07:33 AM

Yes, Pete, but these are the very artists at the top of their game who can afford to do the odd gig at a loss. How many gigs can your bands do when you are in effect actually paying to play?

As for the supposed lack of intimacy at arts centres, I've seen Chris Wood & Hugh Lupton at several such venues (one on your doorstep) transfix audiences of all ages and provenances (and not a tie-died 'f*lky' in sight). At one there was a kids heavy metal disco going on in the next room and a whole lot of them drifted in and were equally mesmerised. They didn't know they were listening to 'f*lk' and surely wouldn't have put their heads round the door had anyone told them that was what it was. But everyone was introduced to something new that day.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 07:34 AM

I am campaigning for parity in arts funding - Give everyone the same as Folk clubs get. Somewhere in between F-all and not a lot. Lets see if they all stand on their own two feet as well as we do:-)

Perhaps your concept of 'far to many which are definitely not' says much more about your high standards than it does about the folk clubs? Maybe my expectations, and those of the thousands of people who attend folk clubs every week, are not as high as yours? I just don't know you well enough to comment. What I do know however is that by saying the 'average filthy back room' and classing those that attend as ' a crowd of care in the community cases' you are allienating a huge section of the folk community and unfairly branding folk clubs in general as something bad.

As I said, stick to your type of venue and I will stick to mine. As long as you continue to throw out casual insults to the many well run, clean and popular clubs however you must expect some contrary responses.

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Andy Jackson
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 07:44 AM

Hmmmm...Don't think I like countess Richard much.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 07:53 AM

Don't you? Your choice, though I don't believe we've met.

I'm for the highest performance standards in trad music and totally opposed to the 'good enough for f*lk'/'why bother to tune' school of old blokes who perpetuate a negative image. And for a proper deal for performers rather than be content to let them struggle well below the minimum wage. I think it's very selfish and counter-productive to perpetuate this sort of thing. I'll know what to think about those continue to consider it OK just because it enables them to keep their wallets shut.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 08:05 AM

The difference between, well run folksong clubs and events at art centres is this.
A weekly [and to a lesser extent fortnightly and monthly] folk club, is a club[ aplace where people meet and socialise very regularly ], people meet others from their local community who share some musical tastes, and build up friendships,this happens less at an arts centre [perhaps booking a folk artist every six weeks].
In my opinion folk song clubs,are more particapatory,than arts centre venues, are also more affordable for students and old age    pensioners[and other less well off members of society]
While arts centres may have their place, they cant replace folk clubs,and if they did would make the music elitist and only for those with plenty of money.
I too believe the Pooles deserve a gold badge from the EFDSS.
   finally COUNTESS RICHARD you really are delightfully wacky, of course I know what goes on at festivals, singarounds, sessions, workshops,I frequently enjoy them,    when I am a booked guest,.   

But I still maintain that the semi formal atmosphere of the folk club[ can not be matched anywhere else]and is a wonderful place to learn stagecraft and therefore, has a vital role FOR folk music, and the art of learning performing skills.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Scrump
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 08:09 AM

Aye, aye, Captain, well said. And IME most Arts Centres and the like only usually have keg beer, unlike most proper folk clubs in pubs where they serve real ale (and if you're lucky, real cider too!)


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Pete_Standing
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 08:10 AM

It's hard to convey tone with the written word (either on paper or cyberspace) and misunderstanding can easily occur, there isn't that immediacy of being able to restate or to develop arguments in real time. I dare say if you met the Countess, as I have, you might find that you could spend some time amicably agreeing or disagreeing over a pint or two!

Countess, your points are valid. The problem is that there isn't very much money sloshing around in the traditional arts of the UK and I don't see the situation improving. From the point of introducing new people to folk music, a "nicer" or more familiar environment could help. Nevertheless, clubs and sessions play an important part in the development of careers and also making folk music inclusive, giving people the opportunity to not just be a spectator, but to participate. You don't develop stagecraft just by going to a festival workshop and then playing to your bedroom mirror. Even the new wave of artists such as Spiers and Boden have needed the sweaty joints to develop into the great artists that they have become.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 08:29 AM

while I agree about performers being paid well,. I frequently sing play, just because I enjoy it[I helped to run a session here in ireland] no money involved I did it because I chose to.
I too have run clubs and would like to point out that 99 percant of club organisers do it for no financial return[occasionally subsidising the club through a bad patch].while art centres may have a part to play,if they become the be all and end all,the music will no longer be of the people but just for the well heeled.
personally I enjoy both venues[ But prefer a good folk club to ahalf empty art centre.
I feel rich spiritually because I enjoy the music I play,Iknew when Ibecame a folk musician that Iwould not earn as much as I could have done in the rock world[and yes Countess I have a good enough voice to have done that] or AS a shopkeeper.that was my choice,and again iwould like to thank allthe club organisers who have supported me over the years.DickMiles


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Georgiansilver
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 08:31 AM

To those on this thread who consider a certain standard should be expected in the Folk scene...please do not forget how Folk get togethers originated in the UK....the men and women who gathered to sup ale in a barn and sing and dance when the harvest was over....the men on ships who sung to keep spirits high as they worked in adverse conditions. Almost everyone sung or performed, whether talented or not and were encouraged to by their peers. I believe that allcomers should be encouraged to sing and be praised or applauded just for the effort...as they were in Victorian times and before. They were not paid for doing it other than the ale and fare given by the farmer as goodwill when the harvest was safely in.
Please people...Folkies...don't get so important to yourselves that the average Joe doesn't cut it with you....everyone has a part to play in this life in spite of you. If you are proud of your club because you have a lot of wonderful performers....maybe you are keeping someone or several others down in favour of your quality....is that right or wrong eh?
If you feel offended by what I have said then please ask yourself why.
Best wishes, Mike.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: LesB
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 08:32 AM

Our club (the Bothy) has been going for 42yrs & until 3yrs ago were in the same venue (upstairs room of a pub). The pub had gone down & down & we were forced to make the decision to move as the situation was becoming untenable.
We found a hotel in the town center where we could use the function room at no cost, they had cask beer & the arrangment suited both sides well. Unfortunately the hotel is closing, to be converted into flats. We have just found a new venue (a small local golf club) which is comfortable, quiet & fits our requirements.
Upon asking regulars we realised that we did not want to go back to a grotty room over a grotty pub, but had to search long & hard to find a viable alternative.
The local Art Center was suggested, as were a few local Hotels, none of which were suitable owing to cost. The Art Center whilst able to put on concerts were unable to offer a club venue. To open the building would reqire x amount of staff ( due to regulations) and be ridiculously expensive. (We are a "traditional" type of club, as decribed above, not a concert club).
So either Countess Richard lives in a different world from me or I live in a deprived area because there is no such thing as "Arts" for the peoples use. (The Art Center bar does'nt even open unless there is a performance going on), & as for Leisure Centers I know of none that are not commercial fitness clubs.
Cheers
Les


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 08:38 AM

I'm for the highest performance standards in trad music and totally opposed to the 'good enough for f*lk'/'why bother to tune'

Funny thing is, countess, so am I. Which is certainly part of the reason I have run a folk club AND a folk festival for twenty five years. Not just showcasing traditional English music either. We have had dancers from the Ukraine, a storyteller from Ghana, Blues nights, Jazz gutarists, Christmas pantomimes, Easter pace egg plays and a whole gammut of things for all ages and tastes. The only difference between us seems to be in our approach.

Just because I don't like something, and I have already said what I don't like, I would not dream of insulting those that do. Your final point about enabling people to keep their wallets shut is a particularly nasty one. You have no idea at all about how much time, effort, energy and money I have spent supporting local folk clubs yet for some reason you suggest that I am some sort of miser? Even at the club I organise I still often pay my door charge, buy raffle tickets and spend £10-£15 on a CD from the artist.

I attend a few folk festivals and buy tickets for concerts as well. Not just for me. I have a family and think nothing of buying 4 tickets at £25 a piece to see a band or act that we all want to watch. Yet for soem reason you chose to make the comment those continue to consider it OK just because it enables them to keep their wallets shut.

For the last time, I hope, stick to the venues you like and I will stick to mine. Just please stop casting aspersions on the characters of people you know nothing about.

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: breezy
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 09:24 AM

As club organiser, soon former organiser - my considerations were as follows

Find residents and like minded individuals

raise capital

via singarounds

launch an admission charge club

Now I had to consider who of the singaround members i could ask to perform in front of a paying public, as some would win audience approval while some would sent them to the bar or home.

then book artisites who would not bankrupt the club by demanding too high fees

Give value for money

Develop and encourage the residents to become gigging performers who become so busy the can no longer trun up at the club



Quit while ahead!

start again !!


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: vectis
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 11:13 AM

As the main organiser of one of the clubs receiving an honourable mention from Treewind I am pleased to be considered a traditional style club.
The club started as a hat-take venue and most of our regulars give generously so the artists don't go home with a pittance. It has taken years to get some of them to put a realistic amount into the hat. There is no way I would turn away our occasional 'care in the community' person, pensioners and unwaged just because they don't put in as much as the waged; they have a right to enjoy music and good company as much as the next man. All the residents and organisers pay into the hat as well as the rest of the sudience.
Maybe I am being unrealistic to ask artists to come here and take pot luck as to their take home pay but many, even 'names' do so because they know we will look after them with food & accommodation and deal honestly with them.
We book an artist almost every week, encourage new, young performers and still fit in loads of floor singers. We will continue until Seaford no longer has a venue for us to meet in. I hope!


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Grab
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 11:16 AM

with food and decent drink and with decor and furniture a whole lot more congenial than the average filthy pub back room

Are the pubs you go to really like this? If this is a city we're talking about, most tatty pubs that don't keep a reasonable pint have long since gone to the wall, and good riddance to them. If you're spending most of your time in those sort of pubs, maybe you want to move your folk club. ;)

Re the style of the folk club, it depends what you want. Sure, you're not going to attract record numbers with a round-the-room with some less-than-stellar players/singers, and nor are you going to get anyone who doesn't already like folk. But consider people who *do* like folk and want somewhere to play in public for the first time after spending 6 months in their bedroom with the first couple of Russ Shipton books. Are they more likely to take that big first step in a round-the-room in a pub, or are they more likely to do it in an Arts Centre in front of a hundred people? Sure, you're likely to get a much higher quality of performance (and venue) at the Arts Centre, but without the session in the pub you're not going to get any new people to perform at the Arts Centre.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 11:18 AM

Georgian Silver, do please emerge from your eponymous timewarp.

This is not a matter of early C19 jolly tars and ploughboys having a singsong in the tavern. It's the C21 music business in a harsh capitalist economy. Musicians have gas bills and mortgages and pensioners are ever so well off these days and can pay their (concessionary) door tariff to see whoever they want perform.

A bit of getting real wouldn't go amiss.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 11:28 AM

pensioners are ever so well off these days

In what parallel universe is this then?

Maybe your last comment was made in the wrong direction?

DtG


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 11:31 AM

I've just had the £200 annual CD buying present from the government land in my account . . .


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Scrump
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 11:33 AM

This is not a matter of early C19 jolly tars and ploughboys having a singsong in the tavern. It's the C21 music business in a harsh capitalist economy. Musicians have gas bills and mortgages and pensioners are ever so well off these days and can pay their (concessionary) door tariff to see whoever they want perform.

A bit of getting real wouldn't go amiss.


Yes, m'lady, but as I and others have said, there would be no way for any musicians to be able to eke out any kind of living at all if there were no 'traditional' folk clubs (those that allow all comers to practice their stage craft on a small audience). So if 'traditional' clubs closed, then once the current generation of 'big names' has retired or passed on, there would be no-one to take their place.

The current situation where there are 'concert' clubs and 'Arts Centre' type venues, as well as 'traditional' folk clubs, works well. If they are any good, people can 'graduate' from the small local clubs to the larger venues and thereby command higher fees. Most of these artists don't forget how they got where they came from, and like to put something back by playing gigs in small clubs even after they have become a 'big name'.

What's wrong with that?


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST,Brian Peters
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 11:38 AM

Georgiansilver has a point - the key to this is Dick's original point about 'community'. One of the more plausible definitions of 'folk music' is music performed by and for members of a community for their own entertainment. I imagine that those who dreamed up the standard folk club format had this ideal in mind. That doesn't mean it's the ONLY format for the presentation of traditional songs, although it is a particularly good one, and to put said songs on a larger and/or more formal stage certainly changes them. But ultimately the survival and relevance of the folk club format will depend on whether younger organisers can be persuaded to run that kind of venue.

As one who tries to earn a living in the C21 music business, I know about the harsh capitalist economy and agree our music is underpriced and undervalued, but I'm in this mostly for the love of the music itself, and the community that nurtures it. I find it sad that 'folk' musicians are being treated ever more like commodities, and that the sense of shared adventure and committment that I used to find on the English folk scene seems to be a casualty of a more commercial approach. Even though that approach means we get a bit less piss taken out of us.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Paco Rabanne
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 11:43 AM

Scrump,
       Hmmmm...Good point about Artists not forgetting where they from, even the mighty Martin Simpson came to play in Hull recently, and I saw Eddi Reader a few years ago here. But there are literally dozens of open mic/acoustic places to play every night in this town, and no 'traditional' club that I know of.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 11:47 AM

Scrump, you are ignoring (or perhaps are entirely unaware of) a vast and vibrant assortment of young musicians who wouldn't be seen dead in a 'f*lk club' of the 'traditional'? (by which you might mean 'conventional' /'60s-revival-type) who are, as we speak, establishing their own venues. As a very well-known, highly visible musician (who I won't name as it always causes knickers to twist) said: (I paraphrase wildly cos I can't remember exactly), 'if there's a new revival going to happen it will be without the old guard even noticing'.

Actually, it's a bit inaccurate to call them 'young musicians'. There's quite a few old(ish) chaps and chappesses picking up gigs on this circuit. And getting paid properly.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 11:56 AM

Countess Richard. I have followed this thread with interest, and with a great deal of sympathy with Dick Miles, Brian Peters and the host of measured, perceptive and interesting contributions from club organisers and regulars. Amongst these are scattered your rude and ill considered remarks. I have no problem with you not liking or appreciating folk clubs but I find your inability to accept that a great many other people find that they are exactly the right vehicle for the combination of music and friendship they are looking for quite unacceptable. Is it possible for you to cite your points without insulting other people? And could you please explain why you insist on using 'f*lk' rather than 'folk'

Helen.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 12:01 PM

No idea who you are, Guest, (unlike Dick Miles, Brian Peters and a number of others who I do know and have not - as they are aware - 'insulted', and with whom I am having an intelligent and amicable discussion), so the answer is no.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Big Mick
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 12:04 PM

OK, countess, you know me. So answer the question for me. Why f*lk instead of folk?

Mick


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Scrump
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 12:14 PM

Scrump, you are ignoring (or perhaps are entirely unaware of) a vast and vibrant assortment of young musicians who wouldn't be seen dead in a 'f*lk club' of the 'traditional'? (by which you might mean 'conventional' /'60s-revival-type) who are, as we speak, establishing their own venues. As a very well-known, highly visible musician (who I won't name as it always causes knickers to twist) said: (I paraphrase wildly cos I can't remember exactly), 'if there's a new revival going to happen it will be without the old guard even noticing'.

Actually, it's a bit inaccurate to call them 'young musicians'. There's quite a few old(ish) chaps and chappesses picking up gigs on this circuit. And getting paid properly.


That's fine - as long as there are places where people can go and learn to perform in public, that's good. I don't care whether they are called folk clubs, acoustic clubs or whatever. If the name 'folk club' is off-putting to young people, then I have no problem if a folk club wants to call itself an acoustic or open mic venue. The important thing to me is that such places exist, not what they are called.

I thought from your earlier postings that you were advocating that folk clubs should not exist and only larger "Arts Centre" type venues should exist. Apologies if I misunderstood you.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 12:19 PM

Oh, that one, Mick. I'm quite prepared to talk about that but I'm surprised that peeps don't know. I regard the term 'folk' to be so terminally damaged as to be quite, useless and indeed counter-productive. This is because it has been abused (especially in North America) to encompass anyone with an acoustic guitar and penchant for producing instrospective crap which ought never to be allowed beyond his/her bedroom door, or alternatively, wifty-wafty, new-agey, pseudo-celticky drivel, each of which has penetrated the consciousness of the general public who, if they think about it at all, think this is 'folk'. It is such an abusage that I satirise it as a Whitehoused swearword.

[As for the rest if what the Guest said, I can only advise an accelerated comprehension and literacy course which may assist in assimilation of what I actually said. Ha! Expect the majority of Mudcat users to READ THE POSTS?]


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: the fence
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 12:31 PM

As with everything it seems to be personal choice!!! Without the traditional folk club a lot of people would not be given the chance to get up and sing(whether badly or not). And I personally believe the friendly atmosphere at a small folk club is something that cannot be found at any large venue. c.r. you would be made very welcome at any of the clubs I attend, but equally should 'I' wish to see more well known artists e.g. 'pogues' Saw Doctors' I would go and do so. The small 'old fashioned' folk clubs of today have a part to play, encouraging new talent and giving a social meeting place. I for one am very grateful to them!!!


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 12:31 PM

It's OK, countess - I have got it now:-) Good wind up and we all fell for it!

Get my own back time...

I've just realised what parallel universe you are in! Dingy pubs, rich pensioners, subsidised Art Centres showing Nicaraguan nose flautists and Lesbian slate embossing workshops on every corner. You don't live in a certain large city in the South East of England do you?

:D (tG)


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 12:31 PM

the point is that folk clubs are vitally important,if nothing else as a link, a feeder a place where stagecraft can be learned before performing in an ART CENTRE.now that is only one aspect,folk music is a continuous stream,the club is an integral part of keeping alive and developing folk music , it is also a CLUB,[something a festival and an art centre is not]it helps to build up a strength in a local community,.
something I fear this government and other capitalist governments would rather disappear.
when communitys stand together ,it is more difficult for governments and big business to divide and rule.
The destruction of communitys has been brought about by two world wars,encouraging people to get in debt with huge mortgages,so they are afraid of losing their jobs.then relocating industry in the third world where labour and working conditions are cheap and poor respectively,whole communities are then forced to scatter and break up.Sheffield, teeside, the rhondda valley.it is important for communities to try to strengthen themselves folk clubs in my opiniondo this through the power of friendship and song.DickMiles


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 12:34 PM

Scrump, well you did rather misunderstand. 'Acoustics' and 'open mics' have a lot of rubbish in them too which is rather painful to sit through in order to discover the occasional gem. I was saying, additionally, that the Arts or Leisure Centre venues (not necessarily large) are very much more inclusive towards the entire community than the narrow cliques that inhabit old-style clubs (bear in mind that I did stress earlier that I was generalising wildly).

I then went on to talk about a completely new circuit, characterised by The Fence Collective, or Peter Paphides' promotions, The Magpie's Nest, that boat in Bristol which I can't, for the moment, remember the name of (it's my age), all of which are the subject of threads passim. Can't say I'm over fond of absolutely everything that goes on in all of them. But they're run by and predominantly for young people, they don't judge and don't mind if you're noisy and they let me in. Air, Fresh and Breath of spring to mind.

I have, from time to time, brough people I've met at ceilidhs to 'f*lk clubs' to see an act they've first encountered at, say, an LNE. Time after time they've been horrified and vowed never to go anywhere near such an establishment again because they've been shushed and glared at and made to feel so unwelcome. Quite a good reason to think about calling them something else, and running them differently.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: HipflaskAndy
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 12:48 PM

....'cause they're bloody good fun!
Haven't been to one this year that wasn't! - hugs - HFA


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 01:14 PM

Dear countess, if people cant show respect to a performer in a folk club, by talking loudly, belching, farting etc.,might i ask are they allowed to do this in an art centre. no.WITH RESPECT YOUR TALKING BALDERDASH.
now I play in apubs in ireland, and am used to a little bit of disrespect, but i prefer singing at the Cork singers club where I and other performers enjoy respect,when you talk about breath of fresh air ,I interpret that as ignorance, bad manners and lack of consideration, young people are people and deserve no more respect thean middle aged or elderly people.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 01:17 PM

If people are glared at and shushed for nothing then can I suggest the name 'Folk Off Club"? If, on the other hand, they are glared at and shushed for being noisy during the act and spoiling the night for people who want to listen perhaps a different name could be suggested? Sensible springs to mind!

:D


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 01:25 PM

I've already spotted it, Dick - See above. The alternate reality called London. Rich pensioners, dingy pubs etc. Include full of ignorant people;-)


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Villan
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 01:43 PM

Gentlemen & Ladies

This thread says "why well run clubs are important"

This is starting to get into a personal battle.

Well run clubs are important and are likely to pull punters in.

I think I have a good well run concert style club, but I have no right to tell other clubs what to do - thats up to them - and by the same token, they have no right to tell me what to do.

Get a grip.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 01:47 PM

talking loudly, belching, farting

Did I mention any of these activities Dick? I did not.
Did I say that the young people I brought for the first time to a 'f*lk club' were treated with dismissively?
Yes I did.
They are actually members of a highly respected, up-and-coming ceilidh band. All four are highly qualified musically. (Ooo-er). They're not at all keen on 'f*lk clubs. I can see why. I was embarrassed.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST,Brian Peters, being intelligent and amicable
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 02:04 PM

Countess certainly has a point in that the general public don't always find the folk club format comfortable. We've all seen the non-folkies who leave after the first dud floor singer, the non-stereotypical kids who get the "here comes trouble" treatment, the people who just came to sit and listen but were intimidated by the well-meant invitation to contribute a song. Many people enjoy their live music in an atmosphere somewhere half way between hushed reverence and riotous assembly.

But the point about the songs that people like me sing is that they tell stories and work better if people listen. You'd get shushed for talking in a classical concert and - no doubt - in a Wood / Lupton Arts Centre event. Folk clubs at their best manage to maintain a balance between good order for listening and informality and (dare I say it) fun. They may only ever appeal to a minority but that doesn't mean they're redundant.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Villan
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 02:07 PM

Respect to the performer. I think its called good manners.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 02:12 PM

They are actually members of a highly respected, up-and-coming ceilidh band. All four are highly qualified musically. (Ooo-er). They're not at all keen on 'f*lk clubs. I can see why. I was embarrassed.

Set of arty pratts with chips on their shoulders then. I'm not surprised you were emabarrased to be seen with them either. You need to mix with normal people like me more:-)


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 02:16 PM

Intelligent and amicable Mr Peters,

Did I say the young musicians were kicking up a racket during someone else's performance?
I did not and they were not.

It was very much the 'here comes trouble' treatment.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 02:17 PM

DtG

No thanks.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 02:29 PM

Tsk, tsk, countess, you have broken my heart. OK then. Seeing as you don't like to mix with the Hoi Polloi perhaps I will repeat it again after all. If you don't like folk clubs STAY OUT OF THEM. Might it also be advisable, if you don't like folk clubs, to stay away from folk club threads? If you have nothing good to bring to the party why go? Perhaps we can then get on with answering the question posted by Dick.

Well run folk clubs are indeed important. They give both audience and artists a venue where they can mix in amiable surroundings. The host venue is irrelevent - Be it a pub, night club (Incredible String Band at the Komedia in Brighton was the biggest folk club I have ever been to) or a Leisure centre (Who remebers Horwich Folk Festival?) Regardless of what has been said the majority of folk clubs are friendly places where everyone is made to feel welcome. There are exceptions of course but these are in a distinct minority.

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 02:45 PM

DtG

Do go and have a lie down.
Don't come back till you've recovered the ability to read what's written and follow a cogent analysis of where music venues are now and how they need to progress.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: billybob
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 02:54 PM

Hi Dick, as you know Billy and I ran folk clubs for *** years, always happy to put in cash if the door was not enough,ran a certain festival too. We love our local folk club in Wivenhoe, the organisers deserve our heartfelt thanks, ( saw Johnny Silvo last week) as do all club organisers.We also enjoy the folk club in Colchester at the St Mary's Art Centre, still a club although more a concert venue and a chance to see more expensive guests.
Our son is the manager of a new venue, in Bungay Suffolk,a theatre and community arts centre, fully staffed 7 days a week the folk events will hopefully be a sucess, and I am sure will feel like a community club.Long live folk music where ever it is, stop the nit picking countess and sing from the same song sheet!


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST,JT
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 03:15 PM

It's great to see the knee-jerk reaction when someone challenges the status-quo and critisizes the traditional folk club model.It's logical that the points raised by countess richard have to be addressed in the name of "progress". It's equally important that the old maxim, "If it 'aint broke, don't fix it" applies to those clubs that have succeeded in finding a formula that works. Instead of villifying countess richard for expressing her views in an honest and forthright fashion, she is to be congratulated, in my opinion, for sticking her head above the parapet and opening up the debate.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 03:16 PM

stop the nit picking countess

Er, doing what, exactly? Having standards?

sing from the same song sheet

Though not all in the same key, obviously. Any old crap is 'good enough for 'f*lk'.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 03:18 PM

Hello JT, do I know you?
(Don't worry, I'm used to it. Had it from these buggers and their ilk for 40 years . . .)


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 03:46 PM

So it's OK for you to talk nonsense but when someone else starts they need to go and have a lie down? :-) I am quite capable of reading what has been posted.

a clientele significantly different from a crowd of care in the commmunity cases who regard the 'folk club' as their own remedial drop-in centre.

a night out from hell at the Rat & Cockroach

a whole lot more congenial than the average filthy pub back room

I'll know what to think about those continue to consider it OK just because it enables them to keep their wallets shut.

pensioners are ever so well off these days

I've just had the £200 annual CD buying present from the government land in my account . . .


Recognise any of the above?

How many more ways can I say it? If you don't like folk clubs stay out of them. Maybe your views are valid but seeing as you are into cogent analysis how are they any more valid than anyone elses? And how are your inflamatory comments helping your case? Don't tell others how to run their own clubs. Just go away and run your own. I am sure you will do much better.

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 03:58 PM

every music has its conventions ,if Iwent to a jazz gig in a pub as I did last time I was at lancaster maritime festival, its accepted and ok to talk quietly.
If i go to a folk or classical concert in an arts centre,the following conventions are not acceptable talking ,swearing, spitting, masturbating,streaking,starting a mexican wave,neither are they accepted in a folk club.
So if countess richard took her friends to a martin carthy concert at an arts centre, it is not acceptable to talk during the performance, and she would be shushed in just the same way as at a folk club, so what is she on about,it doesnt stop her from going or her friends to an art centre, a bit illogical.
you were actually to blame, countess for not explaining the conventions to your friends,why should they be allowed to spoil other peoples enjoyment, if they are 18 or 80 is irrelevant,if this had happened in an arts centre, would they never go back to an arts centre.it should be a salutary lesson to them to treat other performers with the respect that they would like themselves, if they were playing in an art centre.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 04:23 PM

Don't tell others how to run their own clubs

I have never told anyone how to run a venue. It's not what I do. I've made suggestions when asked, such as who to book. I have opinions on how venue management has to move on to accommodate changing economic, cultural and artistic considerations. It isn't 1961 any more.

inflam[M]atory comments

None from me. The "care in the commmunity cases who regard the 'f*lk club' as their own personal drop-in centre" was from a performer in a previous thread on this very subject which I found particularly apposite.All clubs (and I've been to 100s, past and present) seem to have them, probably even yours (which I have never visited and so have not, obviously, passed comment on it except to remark that it was probably fine. Everybody's had (probably more than one) night out from hell at the Rat & Cockroach with its filthy back room. The remark about those who like to keep their wallets shut was addressed at those who whinge at the very idea of paying enough at the door to guarantee an adequate fee for artists. Didn't (necessarily) mean you at all. It's a case of 'if the cap fits'. And pensioners are ever so well off nowadays with concessionary entrance, free travel and £200 p.a. to spend on CDs. Not to acknowledge that is extraordinarily churlish.

I have never said I don't like clubs generally. I have stated, not for the first time, how they need to change drastically with the times. And that I deplore the cliquey, unwelcoming attitude prevailing in some (actually many), naming none specifically. You'll know who you are. Or perhaps not. And maybe that's the problem. All power to those setting up the alternative circuit.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 04:28 PM

Dick, as I have already said, these new visitors to a 'f*lk club' were causing no disturbance whatsoever during the performance. They were treated with immediate suspicion by bearded persons in tie-died frocks swigging from tankards.

The Levellers (so they say) were actually thrown out of a club for talking and being the Levs. They weren't even allowed a floor spot.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Villan
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 04:33 PM

come on you two just stop it. This was an interesting thread until the flaming took over.

Couintess Richard and Dtg, may I suggest you continue your own personal battle by PM and sort things out.

It doesn't serve any purpose to have a go at each other on this thread.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 04:53 PM

please dont take offence, countess richard, but Paul Simon was also refused a floor spot,by DaveCooper back in 1963,at the rising sun in catford.
[what does being the levs mean].the other point is you mustnt fall into the trap of generalising from the particular.Most folk clubs are run by unpaid volunteers in a professional manner and are an important part of their localcommunity.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 05:07 PM

You are quite right about the interesting thread Villan but why should a public invitation to disagree on a public forum be settled in private?

You are not telling people how to run clubs, yet you are "for hastening a total rethink, for advocating the new-style venues; the arts and leisure centres and well-run night clubs where artists actually get paid the going rate with proper contracts and punters pay little more"?

You are not making inflamatory comments yet you correct spelling errors and say "if the cap fits" suggesting that I am somehow being misely?

You say that pensioners are ever so well off and admit to spending the £200 fuel allowance on CDs when so many on a fixed pension cannot manage to live without it?

Sorry countess but I have no argument against such mixed messages. I am going to take Villans advice and leave it at that. I will continue to enjoy running and going to folk clubs while you mix with your young artists in Art Centres and trendy venues. I guess from the fact that you get heating allowance that you are a pensioner yourself? Who am I to begrudge an old lady a few little pleasures in her declining years:-)

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 05:17 PM

Remarks after the first line were of course addressed to the countess and not to the Villan - In case you didn't realise!

:D


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST,JT
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 05:22 PM

"bearded persons in tie-dyed frocks swigging from tankards"

That's my kind of girl!

Villan

There's nothing wrong with any two people "having a go at each other" as long as the "having a go" remains within the confines of healthy debate. From where I stand one persons' argument is objective and controlled, the others' is a gut reaction to perceived critisism. Never the twain will meet but it helps me to make my mind up.
Move with the times or the times will leave you behind is the conclusion I am reaching.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 05:54 PM

GUEST JT.Move with the times or the times will leave you behind. this sounds like political spin. can you please clarify what you mean., and what relevance it has to the topic.[ which is the importance of well run folk clubs],if you mean we should all go and sit in art centres and never go to folk clubs, please say so,even if it is not relevant to the original thread.
I never said that art centres didnt have a part to play, for those affluent enough to afford them [that excludes students, professional folk singers,nurses unemployed, O A P S]Which is another reason why well run folk clubs are important.,for those of us who wish to have a choice, at an affordable price with affordable, real ale.
I would advocate this slogan, if you dont use it [your local folkclub]youll lose it.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST,JT
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 06:54 PM

Dick

Are you reading the same topic as I am?

"Move with the times or the times will leave you behind" is my way of saying that if a lot of folk clubs want to shake off the steriotypical image that was portrayed earlier in this thread and appeal to a wider audience, they will have to market themselves in tune with the times or be left to wither and die on the vine, so to speak. Well run folk clubs would recognise this and act accordingly.
Increasingly, Arts Centres are hosting well run folk events because they are giving the paying customer what they want these days and can pay the artists a decent wage. You don't have to be affluent to afford them. Concessions are available so no one need be excluded and that includes the list that you, so condescendingly, supplied. Nor is the swigging of copious ammounts of affordable real ale a compulsory requirement for the enjoyment of the experience. If you don't move on - You'll be gone.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: LesB
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 07:14 PM

From my viewpoint Art Centers are purely a concert venue & no more. Localy they put on bigger name artists than clubs can afford, but it is just that "a concert", with concert prices.
There is no involvement in the event, about every couple of months you just turn up, pay your money, enjoy the concert & go home. Not a substitute for a well run club, nor should it be.
Cheers
Les


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Gervase
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 03:39 AM

There are two premises in this thread that are quite capable of co-existence - that well-run folk clubs are a good thing, and that there are an awful lot of absolutely dire places.

In my experience, however, the dross outweighs the gold. I'm with countess richard in actually liking to see an eclectic mix, it's one of the reasons why festivals are so inspiring; seeing a bunch of youngsters at an LNE gives me confidence that the music of the people of this country isn't dying.

The first time I took my now-wife to a 'folk music' event was a pub singaround at Chippenham at which everyone was in full voice, backed by a wall of sound from the Wilson family. She found it truly awesome, and when she recovered the power of speech was easily persuaded to go to Sidmouth the following month.

We arrived late, and the first exposure she had to the festival was the Late Night Extra. Her jaw dropped at the band playing a bhangra-morris crossover tune, and at the heaving lines of dancers that would have put an eighties rave to shame. "And thisis folk too?" she asked. The atmosphere was electrifying and she was instantly hooked on folk music in its purest sense.

And then...
Then we started going to clubs and smaller events to feed the new-found craving. Some of them, like Sharp's and Maidenhead, are gems; well-run and welcoming, and I wish we could have gone every week. But others have been dire; so dire as to make my wife (a complete newcomer to folk music) shake her head and wonder why so many apparently odd and inadequate people are drawn to it - life's shaky eggs, as she calls them.

And yet it's that sort of club that is associated with the phrase 'folk club'. A dank, unlovely place where people stumble humbly in and then endure a grotesque parade of egotism and musical and social ineptitude in the hope of hearing one good item. Such places are hopefully the past rather than the future of folk music, and yet they are probably the first experience of it for many people. Hence 'f*lk', because 'folk' is a dirty word. Hence 'roots', 'world', 'accoustic'; anything but f*cking f*lk for fear of scaring the punters.

My local venue here in west Wales is a case in point. The guy who runs it has worked bloody hard to build up a series of excellent nights that draw musicians and audiences from a wide area to play jazz, rock, techno, bhangra, house - you name it and it packs the punters in.

Apart, that is, from the folk nights. "I love folk music," he says. "I come from a morris background, for f*ck's sake and I spent my youth getting pissed in folk clubs; and yet if I put on a 'folk' night here I know it will bomb and I'll lose money. Open mic nights and accoustic nights are fine, although we get some crap stuff - just as crappy as the folk stuff that people say they hate - but call it 'folk' and the punters run a mile." And that's from the horse's mouth.

Think of the stock comedic cliche of the fat, bearded teacher with tankard and finger in ear singing driges about how horrid life is down the pit. It's a cliche because it's bloody true! For myself (fat and beared though I am) I'd love to see a few more tattoos, piercings and general unruliness at folk clubs. If the music isn't robust enough to withstand that, thrive and infect a new generation then words fail me.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Gervase
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 03:40 AM

Oh, and just to annoy people - 100!


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: julian morbihan
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 03:48 AM

This all started from Dick stating how good an evening he had at the Swindon Folksingers Club. That particular club's main reason for existing is to allow its members to sing. A guest is a real added bonus.

And yes there are real care in the community people who attend and sing. Some may not be good singers but they all enjoy the participation. I recall one new older couple coming for two weeks and just listening, on the third week they announced that they would also like to sing, their introduction said that we might not know the song and then launched into Puff the Magic Dragon. Their repertoire has increased considerably since then though they still like the f*lk music of the sixties!

This kind of participation and inclusion would not be tolerated at an Arts Centre but is almost expected at the old, crusty, dyed in the mill, archaic clubs!

Long live the "traditional" folk club!

Now, calm down and quiet please, I want to listen to some singing without an argument (not discussion) going on in the background.

thanks


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 04:14 AM

Doesn't this thread just prove that we need ALL these different venues because so many different minded people at some point or other want to experience something that might loosely be termed 'folk'.

Personally I think tastes change through life as well as between different people. When I was a student my favourite 'folk' experiences were the late night concerts and noisy sessions/parties. That offered me the chance to combine my embryonic love of traditional song with the need to 'party' in common with fellow non folk-minded students. But the older I get the more I value the chance to listen with a more mature ear in a quieter setting, and the more grateful I am when I receive appreciation and respect from my audience. I've been to the odd arts centre and theatre concert recently and enjoyed the experience. But it comes no where near the pleasure I get from sitting in my local club each week, meeting with friends, sharing songs old and new, and watching the enthusiastic teen/twenties lads (who regularly attend and sing)get better each week. Oh, I still relish the festivals, with their positive orgy of goods - concerts/sessions/workshops/showcases etc - but they simply wouldn't be what they are if the artists (and quite often the audience too) couldn't maintain their enthusiasm and participation through the folk club networks.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 04:32 AM

I dont think I ever said I disliked,art centres or festivals. nor did i talk about drinking copious amuonts of real ale.
any alcohol should be drunk in moderation, but I find it pleasant to have it available at inexpensive prices,as was the case at Swindon folk club.
if the countess and gervase read my thread,their points,accentuate why well run folk clubs are important] and in my opinion ARE as important as festivals[although for some reason it has become fashionable to knock clubs]and more important than art centres, because without clubs there would be no training ground for art centre performers.
Now lets be positive about clubs,realise their value and the sterling work many organisers put in, try and improve them where necessary,and give them the support they deserve.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Betsy
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 08:40 AM

"why well run folk clubs are important, is because ( I suspect ) the age group which most of us are, enables to congregate for friendship, old acquaintances meet some new people and share music ,songs and performances in a genre of Music to which has given us all lots of experiences over the years . I do sometimes fear at times that we are veering into a Darby & Joan scenario, with the seemingly absence of younger performers being whisked off to bigger venues, before they've served their "apprenticeships" and as a consequence got to know the grass root audiences and organisers.
A big "Well done" to those who have persisted, and kept clubs going, esp. those mentioned who have served their clubs for 40 odd years.
There is a VAST difference to a performance in a Civic Centre and a Club room - shitey beer,( probably can't take it inth auditorium with you),impersonal voyeurish atmosphere, instead of an intiminate congregation of of performer and audience .People who attend get their night of entertainment from it ,and big venues are rightly agreat benefit to performers, but unfortunately or otherwise , subscribers to this Site , myself included, still have values and expectancies of a performance , which , who knows , may be running-like ourselves , out-of-steam.
As for the Wag who wrote earlier - "good enough for f*lk'/'why bother to tune', the South tried to foist self-publicist B.Bragg onto to the folk scene and I have never knowingly heard him with his guitar in-tune. Why he has made a good living in the South/London ,and never featured in the North whether in a Civic centre or a pokey Folk Club might tell us more about "why well run folk clubs are important", and, I say thank goodness for them.

Cheers

Betsy


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST,Outsider
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 08:41 AM

As an outsider reading this debate I would like to say that in my Very Humble Opinion that true FOLK music is not about ability of voice or instrument but the songs and sharing same with others. I have attended a folk club which has a Downes Syndrome girl as a regular attender and each week she sings (reading from a sheet) and the regulars listen and join in with choruses etc. and encourage her. Something you will never see at an Arts Centre type venue. Also, I have met ex-miners in their 80's who have songs to sing which should be captured somewhere and passed on. Those songs may be available now to the academic who may bother to go to the British Library etc. to look them up but FOLK music is about the people (hence : folk) not books, C.D.s etc. Although I personally prefer to hear well rehearsed, well sung and well written material I also realise they would not exist without the learning from the past!


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST,JT
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 08:57 AM

Betsy
Through self admission your well run folk club exhibits:-

"Darby& Joan scenario"
"absence of young performers"
"may be running - like ourselves, out-of-steam"

After the self-analysis Betsy, how can you say "thank goodness for them"?


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 10:09 AM

guest jt,
last week when I was playing at swindon folk club., A young man of twenty made his singing debut,and gave a very fine performance, This particular club ,was the club that Dave Webber, and Mick Ryan both started at.
about fifteen per cent were of this age and another fifteen percent in their thirties, is that young enough for you.
if clubs were to give concessions to under twenty fives,and students this would probably bring even more in.
This is why well run folk clubs are important,.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 10:37 AM

Just out of interest - does it matter if folk clubs are things that people come to a bit later in life? Ageing happens to all of us, so may be we do 'grow into' folks clubs in the same way that we 'grow out' of discos. The difference is, of course, that folk clubs will generally welcome people from outside their normal audience age range whilst you'll be laughed out of the average teenage night club if you wave your bus pass at the entrance!


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Grab
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 11:32 AM

JT (and the Countess), let's look at it another way.

Suppose we say "no more informal folk clubs in pubs". No more singarounds, no more tune sessions. On-stage performance (at a tenner a ticket) is all we get, because we want to put a professional face on folk music. So what happens next...?

You're working under the assumption that what puts people off folk clubs is bearded shanty singers and a tatty room. As often as not in my experience though, what puts them off musically is some late-teens geek (or geekess) getting up with a guitar and singing a song they wrote last Tuesday and still haven't fully learnt. As often or not it'll be something about how misunderstood they are. If it's not that, it's a Dylan cover.

Now in a round-the-room situation, that's fine. They'll get some polite applause, and if people know it's the first time they've performed in public (or their first attempt at songwriting) then they'll get more appreciation for that. You've not paid anything (or it's a nominal amount), so no worries, and everyone has to start somewhere. The next singer will probably be someone who's a lot better. Rinse and repeat for a year or two, and chances are that they'll be a damn sight better by the end of that time.

But suppose this happens on stage? I for one would be wondering why I'd wasted my money, because if there's a take on the door to ensure that people can make a living off performance, then all the performers will be getting a cut of it. I'm a passive audience member paying to be entertained, and if it's not good quality then I won't be back.

More likely, if it's a stage situation then there'll be an audition beforehand, and they'd get turned down flat. And turned down at the next audition, and the one after that. Pretty soon they'd give up trying. After all, it's only the select few who can play in public, isn't it, and if you're merely average (or worse than that, a beginner) then you've no place playing in front of other people. Right?

Graham.

PS. Oh, and people will put up with a lot of tattiness in a room if the company, music and beer are good. Especially the company and the beer.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 11:36 AM

Quite right, Grab ...and 'tatty' back rooms often have much better accoustics than the plush furnishings, carpets and curtains of the alternatives!


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Scrump
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 11:43 AM

This debate seems to be going round in circles.

The proposition is that well-run clubs are important. The difficulty is that everyone's perception of what "well-run" means is different.

As I and others have said, if there were no clubs at all, then it is difficult to see how an aspiring performer will ever get a chance to perform and learn their craft. So it would seem we need clubs, whether well-run or not. Obviously, being well-run is better than not being well-run, however you define the term. So what are we arguing about?


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Bernard
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 12:23 PM

I think 'well run' is a bit of a red herring... a folk club is a bit of a lottery, and will be successful (or fail) despite the organisers. Admittedly a good organiser will make a difference.

What does make a big difference, I think, is the people who attend. They provide the 'atmosphere', that intangible something that would cost a fortune if bottled.

I'm also one of the organisers of the Open Door folk club, which is now based in Werneth, Oldham.

John and Pauline book some excellent guests, both big names and local lesser-knowns. Despite that, we rarely get more than ten in the room - often including the guest. Publicity doesn't help - we've tried everything. It's not that people come once and don't bother again - that would be a worry. They just don't turn up in the first place. The pub is nice and clean, the room is warm and comfortable, the beer is good, and the staff are friendly.

We have similar 'ingredients' at the Railway, yet we would worry if we had an attendance below thirty... and that doesn't include the organiser, residents, door staff or guests - who add up to more than we get in total at the Open Door.

There's nowt so queer as folk...


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 12:43 PM

Bernard your remaks are absolutely cock on - exactly what I was getting at.

Some of the most undeserving twits have had the good fortune to start a folk club at the right time in the right place. Its like that parable of the sower of seeds - some places the seed just does not take.

the point is that they are all part of something bigger than the individual aims and ambitions of the various clubs. they are an expression of something fine and creative within our country. someting its worth feeling patriotic about - rather than the damn silly things that we fight wars about.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Grab
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 12:43 PM

Oh, and lest anyone misunderstand, I've *been* that geek... ;-)

Graham.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 01:27 PM

well run means [to me]that those people [be they ten or thirty], got something out of the evening, that perhaps inspired them creatively or and provided pleasure and enjoyment.It is not necesarily about bums on seats, or being commercial,although it can be that as well.
COUNTESS RICHARD seems concerned about being more commercial,I am undecided on that.I certainly dont think replacing folk clubs with art centres is the way forward,. Iam sure she is well intentioned, but I think that solution will kill the music,and it is not one, as a performer I wish to see
commercialisation of folk music is a dangerous road it generally ends up with the music becoming compromised.
However I do know people who were introduced to folk music by the spinners and fairport convention, and steeleye span., in my opinion the bestcommercial group were the weavers [ but then they had a political belief rather than a commercial reason for playing to larger audiences.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 01:36 PM

No one is denying that dedicated members of the fraternity put their hearts and souls and sometimes their sanity into running folk clubs. What is increasingly obvious, to me at least, is that, in the main, they are fighting a losing battle. Lesser mortals would throw in the towel and say, "stuff this for a game of soldiers" when week in and week out the same ten, as Bernard described, stoically turn up for a guest who should logically deserve a full house. The same guest appearing at the nearest arts centre will probably attract an audience of at least one hundred. Why? That audience is, in all probability, attracted from the same catchment area as the club. Perhaps the answer is for the club and the arts centre to get together and form some sort of affiliation. Instead of having a them and us situation, would it be possible to work together to everyones' mutual benefit?


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: breezy
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 01:50 PM

Gervaise said it all


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Villan
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 02:02 PM

Do you mean this Breezy LOL

>>Oh, and just to annoy people - 100! <<


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 02:10 PM

gervase, spent considerable part of his thread discussing clubs that are not well run[irrelevant to the thread],then stereotyping club goers as fat bearded teachers [what about the women and yourself breezy].AT SWINDON FOLK CLUB I was one of two bearded people out of thirty, I am neither fat nor a teacher.
perhaps ST ALBANS FOLK CLUB IS FULL OF FAT BEARDED TEACHERS[ WOMEN AS WELL], if it is you might lose your audience by agreeing with gervases comments.
breezy, what percentage of your club is women, 45 per cent AT LEAST I suspect,more likely FIFTY PER CENT[ How many women have beards]and how many are teachers.
[no sorry Gervase didnt say it all ,what he said was a half truth.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: shepherdlass
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 02:12 PM

Something struck me as soon as the folk clubs v arts centres debate kicked in. Some venues (notably Washington's Davy Lamp) have the best of both worlds - professional performance space that links with other art forms AND the intimacy of a club. Is either of these extremes better than the other? How long is a piece of string?

It seems to me that the healthiest thing for performers, organizers and punters alike is to retain a mix of venues - some that pay the performers' mortgage; others that allow for new musicians to come through.    The best folk club organizers are more than equal to the best professional arts administrators - equally the worst of either category can ruin enjoyment of the music.   Surely both styles of presentation have their place - and each feeds the other. The one thing that seems absolutely certain is that people still want spaces where they can participate in music - you just have to look at karaoke and open mic sessions to see that. So are folk clubs really inherently old fashioned?


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Villan
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 02:18 PM

Dick
I hardly think that is fair about Breezy. I have a lot of respect for what he does and wish a few other moaning bastards would get off their arse and put the effort in that he has clubwise.

I also like what he does as a performer.

Les Worrall
Market Rasen Folk Club


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Big Mick
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 02:27 PM

One of the most respected venues in the world is The Ark in Ann Arbor, Michigan. There is not one legendary folk performer that isn't aware of it, and most will play it at the drop of a hat. They do a very eclectic mix, and the secret to their longevity, IMO, is that they stay relevant, while mixing in the trad stuff. The crowd travels from three States and two countries to go to these concerts. So, in the main, I agree with countess richard.

Her early comments to Dick were, IMO, uncalled for. Seems as though an apology might be in order.

Mick


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 03:14 PM

Sorry, forgot to add JT to post 01:36PM


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 03:48 PM

Villan         look ive known john breeze for forty years, and consider him a friend of mine.
i was taking exception to gervases comments about folk clubs being full of fat bearded teachers [women as well,how many women have beards for god sake]BREEZY said gertvaise said it all ,so he appears to agree with him, how am i being unfair.
breezy runs a club fair play to him, i have BEEN praising club organisers on this thread, but I am Entitled to disagree with him, neither have I denigrated him as a performer. WHen he has done it for 46 years likethe Pooles at Swindon. THEN HE WILL HAVE REALLY EARNED MY RESPECT.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Villan
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 04:03 PM

OK Apologies. Did I know you knew Breezy, although I guess there aren't many that don't know Breezy :-)

He was very good when he played up at Market Rasen Folk Club. We were all impressed with him.

Howver if gervase means it then OK give gervais the flack.

Howvever I thought it was amusing. >>fat bearded teachers [women as well],how many women have beards for god sake<<

Come on you fat bearded women teachers,come out of the closet. LOL

My granny had a beard, however she wasn't a teacher and she was 93


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST,Mr Grumpy
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 04:44 PM

The Countess (with a capital "C") has happily been quiet for a bit.

Countess, you are coming across as a self-important Countess indeed.

Folk music is inclusory, not elitist, and I think that is a matter of definition.

I don't often come out in this guise these days, but while I am (in real life) hardly ever a paid performer, I think I am usually welcomed as at least competent at what I do, at folk clubs.

How wonderful are you?


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 04:58 PM

CB

Comments on clubs that aren't well run do actually help to pinpoint what makes clubs that are well run.

Gervase's comments weren't out of order. The whole point about cliches is that they have a basis in reality. In my area, the problem is that most of the people at the folk club are people who were going to folk clubs in the 60s and 70s, and it's not sustainable for the future.

Kitty


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST,JT
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 05:25 PM

Kitty

With a few exceptions it's the same throughout the land."Not sustainable for the future" applies to an ever increasing number of clubs whose membership has remained static since the 60s and 70s. Well run they may be in the eyes of the regulars but its only a matter of time before it's a case of, "Will the last to leave turn out the lights."


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 06:31 PM

I am not a countess with a capital C. It's how I registered. Don't you know Child #68 and can't you visualise the agenda of someone so treated by Young Hunting?
Who is this Grumpy Guest person anyway? How is it any of their business that I have been at the funeral of a musician followed by a gig (in a f*lk club as it goes, but one of the best) and have certainly not been 'keeping quiet' at his/her (presumably 'his') behest?

Fancy being satisfied at being 'at least competent'. I wasn't so I don't. Perform any more, that is. And as I don't write professionally any longer either so I am free to speak as I find and say what I like. For rather a lot of decades I have attended venues in a multiplicity of guises all over the UK and Europe. I don't regard it as 'being self-important' to say that I know by now if a venue is working for the performers, the punters and the music because I've been up there, I've stage-managed and I've reviewed.

'Inclusory' doesn't exist as a word. However, those who bang on about 'inclusiveness' mean inevitably 'lowest common denominator'. Sod that. If 'elitism' is to be equated with excellence, long live elitism. Don't play out till you can. Value your cultural heritage and add to it, don't abuse it. And keep it relevant by moving with the times, knowing your audience and keeping abreast with what they want.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Betsy
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 07:03 PM

To Guest JT - It should have been obvious I was talking tongue in cheek / realism , whilst still trying to address the question.
To Shepherd lass - fair play - Davy Lamp - is one of those wonderful exceptions one is bound to find find in English in all its' forms.
Countess Richard - is there anything pleasant about you ?

Cheers

Betsy


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 07:40 PM

Betsy

Nevertheless, you still hit the proverbial nail on the head.

Shepherdlass

The Davy Lamp sounds just like what I was advocating a few posts back. Why then does it have to be the exception to the rule? Or is it?


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST,JT
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 07:46 PM

Forgot again. 07:40 is from JT.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Betsy
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 08:37 PM

Hiya JT , maybe we're being socially engineered to gather in music Halls which generate money for others outside the Folk music genre.
The standard of establishments and arrangements to which we might want to subscribe maybe don't mix.
I feel at times that enjoying folk music in a boozer, retiring to the bar for a chin-wag with an ould mate(s) when there's someone singing stuff that I'm not intested in,(it DOES happen), is to be a weirdo.
Maybe a bit like an extreme minority pastime ( with apologies ) like a steam engine enthusiast or somesuch.
Anyhow , good wishes to all the said "weirdos" (including steam enthusiasts of which I have no knowledge)I'm sure we've all met loads of different likeable individuals which is an important part of the whole subject.

Cheers

Betsy


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 24 Nov 06 - 02:33 AM

A fascinating thought, countess.

A quick google revealed 634 pages (mostly about linguistic or criminological analysis) using the word "inclusory").


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Gervase
Date: 24 Nov 06 - 03:03 AM

If I'm 'out of order', so be it. If people can't take off their rose-tinted spectacles and look dispassionately at a few home truths, then English folk music as a participatory form will die with them.

I feel at times that enjoying folk music in a boozer, retiring to the bar for a chin-wag with an ould mate(s) when there's someone singing stuff that I'm not intested in,(it DOES happen), is to be a weirdo.
Maybe a bit like an extreme minority pastime ( with apologies ) like a steam engine enthusiast or somesuch.


Bingo!

I think you'll find that that sort of participation in music is an extreme minority pastime. When I go to sessions and singarounds in various parts of the country I tend largely to see the usual suspects. It would surprise me if the actual number of active participants (as in singers and players) ventured into the low thousands. There are probably ten times that number in the UK doing line-dancing or some other faux-American hoofing. And fifty times that number who will have a go at the karaoke night at their local pub. Pub quizes? Thousands or more.

The pub session or singaround, enjoyable though it is, seems to me to be doomed. Music sessions - on the basis of a group of people booked to play "Irish" music - are maybe less endangered, provided the players keep themselves in a neat corner and don't frighten or drown out the punters, but singarounds run counter to the whole ethos of modern pub-going. In that sense, I'm afraid the issue is commercial.

Think of the great singarounds you have known. Invariably they've been at festivals where sheer weight of numbers prompts publicans to allow their pub to be used for a couple of sessions in the course of a year. Otherwise there are precious few still running as glorious and noisy celebrations of traditional song in a bustling pub, with breadth and harmony enough to raise the ceiling. People come from all over the country to the Sheffield carolling because it is so rare.

It's sad, but you only have to look at the effort needed to keep the Anchor in Sidmouth as a singing venue, or to keep the excellent Herga club going through its peripatetic existence; licensees and brewers don't like folk music because they're unsure of the licensing implications and because they would rather attract free-spending 18 to 30 year olds who will eat as well as drink than a bunch of weirdos, many of whom will nurse a drink for hours and contribute mere pennies to the till.

Thus, on those rare occasions when a publican can be found who doesn't automatically say no, singarounds are often relegated to little-used and uncongenial back rooms, where anything above a feeble dirge is likely to cause the stacked and broken chairs to topple and the piles of unusued promotional ashtrays to crack. Let's face it, so many folk venues present a pretty dismal prospect to the newcomer.

And what's with the sensitivity about beards? I remember stewarding at Towersey when a small child came up looking for her father. "What's he look like," she was asked. "Er, he's got a beard," she said. "Hmm, that narrows it down a bit!"


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: julian morbihan
Date: 24 Nov 06 - 04:00 AM

My thinking keeps coming back to the major difference between arts centres and "traditional" folk clubs is that one is exclusively for listening and the other for having a go yourself.

At Swindon club the evening is split into 4 segments. A singaround; guest; more singaround and guest continues.

On some occasions the singaround can be the highlight of the evening, on others there may be some dire singing but that is never a case for a put down or not being asked to sing (or play) again but usually for the person to realise and to practice ready for the next attempt. Many off key reditions in their early days have blossomed into good performers. In some cases it took years....

It can be a uplifting to watch someone go from nervous wreck to confident and accomplished.

To countess Richard (small c / big Rs - sorry feeble joke) do you sing or just listen? And not just joining in the chorus.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Scrump
Date: 24 Nov 06 - 05:34 AM

At Swindon club the evening is split into 4 segments. A singaround; guest; more singaround and guest continues.

On some occasions the singaround can be the highlight of the evening, on others there may be some dire singing but that is never a case for a put down or not being asked to sing (or play) again but usually for the person to realise and to practice ready for the next attempt. Many off key reditions in their early days have blossomed into good performers. In some cases it took years....

It can be a uplifting to watch someone go from nervous wreck to confident and accomplished.


Agreed with the last part. I just think that approach is risky for the organisers, because people paying to see the guests might not be as patient as you regarding waiting for some of the 'dire' folk to become accomplished. You could have people walking out and not coming back.

A safer approach, I feel, is to have singarounds/sessions as separate evenings from guest nights. The people who 'graduate' from the singarounds/sessions can then support the guests on guest nights - or eventually even be booked as guests themselves. That way, the punters on guest nights will be happy, and you still have the same opportunity for beginners to have a go on singaround/session nights. This is the model for some clubs I know.

Is there any disadvantage I haven't thought of? Is it perhaps more difficult to attract people to the singarounds/sessions if there's no guest? Maybe some club organisers could comment?


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Nov 06 - 06:29 AM

Scrump - I think your points are well made, but I'm not sure you can generalise because there are too many variables involved. Living in the North East I am very lucky - there are many well run clubs within easy travelling distance - so many that I haven't got time to go to as many as I would like.

Amongst the ones I would highlight as offering a great experience to their members (and everyone else who comes) the format goes from a little intimate singaround room where, when a guest is booked, they simply sing three or four extended 'floor spots' through out the evening to a concert club where there is just an elected support act for the main guest with just a few singers nights through the year. In between are several clubs which have the floorspots/guest/break/floorspots/guest format. I would hate to pick a favourite ... I would also hate to identify which was the best attended/most successful/most enjoyable to participate in. But most of these clubs have run for a considerable number of years and my feeling is that they have evolved to suit the needs and tastes of their own members (and isn't that what any 'club' in any sphere is in business to do?) and that newcomers to folk will gravitate towards which ever format suits them best.

So where countess richard has suggested that folk clubs need to evolve by finding different formats or venues, I would suggest that todays 'well run' clubs have already evolved, and are continuing to do so, but by serving their own supporters rather than attempting to appeal to a mass audience for the sake of growth. Surely this would only be a mistake as an approach if audiences dwindled below a viable number. But in this area this does not seem to be the case, and in addition we seem to gain a small but steady number of new members who are welcomed and incorporated, and who express their delight at the experience they find.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST,Wayne
Date: 24 Nov 06 - 06:51 AM

I'm not entirely sure that a performer who books into an arts centre or other larger venue will necessarily pull a bigger crowd. When Jez Lowe performed at the City Vatieties in Leeds he played to around 20 people. Whenever he plays at the Grove Folk Club, in the same city he fills the room (65-70 paying punters). Ho hum.

A local venture that has taken off is the concert series at Saltaire Town Hall but they book guests that get pushed by Mike Harding and Froots (Sharon Shannon, Dervish, Lunasa etc.). It's a successful evening but they haven't, as yet, taken a punt on yer typical folk club guest.

As to singarounds, locally, at least, they are flourishing. Places like Korks, Otley and the Abbey in Leeds are packed with singers and musicians (and people who just come to listen, funnily enough) every week and are consistently exciting.

I reckon anywhere that allows live music ought to be encouraged. Try a venue out, if you like it, tell your friends, if you don't, don't go again. Easy, really.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Big Mick
Date: 24 Nov 06 - 08:40 AM

countess richard sent me a personal message, explaining much of what she is campaigning for. I would like to thank her for doing that, as it caused me to go back and review this thread. I think we see a couple of dynamics at work here. I will try to sort it out, as I see it, for those interested. To those not interested, please forgive me and skip by.

It seems that the central question, that has risen from the initial assertion, is whether the folk club is germane, and will it survive. Dick Miles asserts that it is the entry point, and the critical community building block. countess richard feels that these clubs had their time, but they are now "past their sell by date". It seems she feels they are on a steady path to extinction. I don't find the two positions exclusive, nor do I agree the clubs are on a path to non existence. As in all things, you simply have two paths. And these venues are evolving in their own way. I know that when I do the small venue gig with a stable, aging audience, I love it. They are there to hear me and are appreciative. I enjoy watching the floor spots perform. Given that some are not the greatest performers, but that is part of this thing called the folk process. The great value lies not in the performance, but in the interpretation, something that the glitzier joints almost never have. Theirs is a world of polish. The folk club is a world of ordinary folks singing the songs. Each has its place. The poorly run venues will follow the evolutionary path to destruction. As to attracting young folks, I believe that to be an incomplete statement. I am not interested in just attracting young folks. I am interested in attracting young folks, like Sam Pirt (UK) and Elizabeth LaPrelle(USA), who are interested in preserving and enhancing the folk arts.

As to countess richard's approach, it is my belief that she is basically a very intelligent, very committed, promoter of English traditional music. While I have never met her in person, my guess is that she is a force wherever she goes. Sometimes that leads to making pronouncements that a person probably wishes they hadn't made in quite the way they made them. I think that is what happened here. She assured me that she has great respect for all performers, and has great respect for Dick Miles. I wish she had said that here in the same way she made the initial comment. When I reread her initial post, I still feel it crossed the line. But one can see from the follow on posts that she was backing up from that.

What I really take from this, and lie in envy of, is the passion of my English/British friends for the perpetuation of trad arts. Each and every one of you has my gratitude for what you do, and the passion you bring to our folk arts. Here in the States we have pockets like this, but there are far too many major cities without active groups. And there are far too many rural area letting their heritage slip away. Would that we had arguments, or should I call them spirited debates, as to which type of venue would survive and prosper.

Well done, and all the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: bradfordian
Date: 24 Nov 06 - 09:25 AM

Cap'n B, thanks for the accolade for the Carrington Triangle Folk Club in Nottingham. Pity a good debate has degenerated once again, but here's my two pen'orth in support of this old fashioned midlands club. (It seems that the geographical focus is on Swindon (grin).) There are of course many factors which go into the making of a successful club, some under our control -- like management of the club, policy,ethos,ambience, others not -- like the unctionality of selected room, quality of refreshments, accessibility, attitude of landlord(or renting body).
The Carrington (which I reckon is a club of the 60's) has a good body of core supporters who enjoy a room with lots of atmosphere,
a policy of giving everybody the chance to sing or recite, a monthly guest, the most wierd (compulsory ;-) ) & entertaining raffle in the folk world, FREE vegetarian curry and good (tho slightly pricey) beer. Oh BTW, we just love to join in with the singing, and I'm sure many of the singers quoted above will, I'm sure agree that their experience at the Carrington was positive and enjoyable.

Now all of this would not have been achieved without the rock upon which all of this is built. And this is Granvile Blatherwick - Gren to all of us. It is he who has persisted in underpinning the success of the club by being its M.C. & Chief Curry maker, and indeed next year celebrates 25 years of so doing. Gren is not the perfect folk club M.C. but we love him just the same and he is supported. I've only been going to this club (& the Robin Hood ex Dave & Ruth Cooper, also in Nottingham) for about 12 years, tho I started in 1965 at the Bradford Folk Club which was a smaller rival the the more renowned TOPIC (still going strong) All the crap about the P.E.L.s messed up some of the good work, but I guess we've come thru it (we now feel, unfortunately,that we have to make everyone members)
but at the end of the day, it's a great club, and I doff my cap to Gren, and everyone who has been to the club and had a great night. And so may it continue. Also, its up to us the punters to get out there and support our kind of music in whatever venue we prefer, and if our kind of preference doesn't exist locally, maybe we should do what our 1960's pioneers did and start our own prefered medium where all will come and join in.
In my well run folk club there is a great nights entertainment at a very small cost. Tho few people smoke in the clubs these days, my preference would be for non-smoking, but as smoking is allowed, I can deal with it, because I am, as are most people, adaptable.
Going to a folk club led me on to country and morris dancing and thereby the community element flourished (including rambles which would terminate in appropriate merriment) I go to the club because it meets my needs, but I appreciate there are people interested im our kind of music who don't care for this type of venue, then they should find or create their kind of venue. There IS room for all and if WE don't like them, then WE don't have to go there!

Bradfordian


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Scrump
Date: 24 Nov 06 - 11:24 AM

There IS room for all and if WE don't like them, then WE don't have to go there!

Exactly. It seems the only concern is that folk clubs as we know them today will die out, leaving nowhere for people to learn to become performers, and a lot of empty arts centres with nobody to play in them because they don't know how to.

Perhaps this concern is unnecessary, because if people in the future after we've gone, want to learn to sing and play music, they will start their own equivalents to folk clubs (perhaps under a different name, but does that matter at all?), just as somebody must have had to start the folk clubs of the 1950s onwards.

If people don't want to learn to sing and play music, then that won't happen. But I think they will. Should we worry either way?


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Nov 06 - 11:42 AM

Granvile Blatherwick? - You couldn't make it up, could you?


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Nov 06 - 12:25 PM

grenville blatherwick,is the correct spelling.
gren has been stalwart of the nottingham folk scene for 40 years and was also involved wuith the long running coop folk club, if you are in the area I recomMend you call into the nottingham carrington folk club. IT IS IN AN UNSPOILT PUB , gladstone arms ,[victorian probably]with several different real ales, plus grens famous curry, the atmosphere is irreverent, friendly and informal, I suspect Countess richard aND The levellers would feel very much at home there.DickMiles


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Nov 06 - 12:33 PM

oh and by the way there is percy edwards imitator in the club,if you sing a song with a cuckoo in it,dont be surprised to hear a cuckoo.
   rumour has it, that its the ghost of percy edwards, he apparantly visited the club many years ago,and liked it so much,that his ghost has gone back to haunt the club. Does anyone else have a folk club thats haunted.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Nov 06 - 02:26 PM

Scrump's hit the nail on the head!! let's all support and enjoy our own favourite venues, whatever type they are, and stop arguing!


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: bradfordian
Date: 24 Nov 06 - 02:30 PM

Irreverent, yes, it adds to the fun, but also, I trust, respectful, a fine balance, perhaps; & I'm sure we wound not countenance abject disrespect from our visitors. People come to listen or sing; there is an inteval for all the other socialising & complaining (if any).
I do appreciate that many venues do not enjoy such a convivial atmosphere as that at Carrington, but iit does take allsorts to make the folk scene, & I'm sure the less well run events wiil eventually wither, in which case, if there is still a demand there, a new venue in the vicinity may appear because there is always an interest in making music and it will find a way of expressing itself.

I'm part of a traditional male voice choir & there is no-one under the age of 465 (expect me!), so when these guys pop their clogs, the choir will dissapear because there is no demand for this form of music from the young ones. I'm also in a community choir, and this is quite healthy, so perhaps we are looking at evolution on the choir side of things! So does the folk music scene not evolve to cater for changing demands?

Brad


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST,JT
Date: 24 Nov 06 - 02:50 PM

That's not a "Care in the Community Choir" Brad, is it?

Sounds like you're doing something right at the Carrington.
Keep up the good work.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Nov 06 - 06:16 PM

It seems to me as an observer of this discussion/cum brawl that one of the main requirements for the running of a good club has been either ignored, or at best sidelined, namely, good, committed, competent singing.
Since that night all those years ago I watched Alex Campbell stagger onto a Manchester stage, fumble for his guitar, struggle unsuccessfully to tune it and slur those immortal words "near enough for folk song", I have believed that the club scene has been blighted with the idea that standards are not necessary for the singing traditional songs.
This attitude was echoed perfectly in an earlier posting from Georgiansilver. With respect, we have no idea how these songs were sung in the tradition because, by and large, nobody ever asked the singers. We caught the tradition at the tail end, when most of the traditional singers were either dead or of an advanced age and past their prime as singers, many of them not having sung their songs for forty, fifty, or more years. If anybody wishes to base their assessment on traditional singing on this situation they are very welcome to; it's not my idea of the standards required for the handling of something as beautiful, important and complex as traditional song. For me, it displays disrespect towards the songs and contempt for the people who made them, preserved them and passed them on to us.
I am never sure about singarounds and would tend to visit them and judge them on the general standard of the participants – if the were all (or nearly all) crap I wouldn't go back.
Clubs proper, with a resident and guest policy, I believe, have a duty to both the music and to the punter who pays at the door (or puts money into a hat), to present their songs and singers at a high enough standard to be both enjoyable and understandable. It is up to organisers to ascertain that the singing never falls below an acceptable standard.
It lies within the abilities of all of us, with very few exceptions, to raise our singing abilities to an acceptable level of performance – as long as people are prepared to put the work in. If they are not, I would rather they stayed at home and sang in the bath. Nobody should be encouraged to "practice in public". If you want to bring on and encourage new singers, run workshops, or persuade some of your more experienced singers to help new singers develop; don't let them embarrass themselves in front of an audience. Indifferent singing in public is boring and unsatisfying; bad singing is embarrassing.
There are many aspects to running a folk club well, but unless a club starts and ends with good singing as its main objective it is doing no favours to traditional song; indeed, it could well be helping deliver it a death-blow.
I have no great interest in ballet, and a marginal one in opera, but I have to acknowledge that performers, organisers and others working in these pursuits have invested a great deal of time and effort into perfecting their art and have more than earned the financial support they have received; I don't begrudge them one penny of it.
Personally, I would not like to see my taxes spent on activities which are not taken seriously by those participating in them.
I can think of no greater pleasure (fun) than hearing a good traditional song well sung, and, when I was singing regularly, I can't remember enjoying anything so much as, on the few occasions when I sang at my best, making my songs work for me and for my audience.
Jim Carroll
PS Just to remind whoever used the term; "finger-in-ear" refers to the practice common for centuries (probably millennia) and throughout the world, of cupping the hand over the ear in order to stay in tune – not a major consideration for many 'folk singers' today, I'll grant you!


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: greg stephens
Date: 24 Nov 06 - 06:30 PM

Interesting refrence to choirs earlier. In Penkhull, where I live, there is no folk club. But there is a pub session now and then, of a "good standard" I would say(following the Jim Carroll line in a recent post). And once a weeek in the church hall there is is a sort of community choir, or open-access group of singers, who practise harmony singing of old carols etc. Folk clubs are definitely not the only places to nurture traditional performance.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 25 Nov 06 - 03:23 AM

If you spend your time telling people that they are not good enough, they will go away. That's how prog-rock eventually disappeared up its own arse.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Nov 06 - 05:06 AM

Anus Horribilus!


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 25 Nov 06 - 05:45 AM

with some people, its the only practice they get. god knows we've all done gigs where we haven't practiced enough.

if you've never done a crap performance, you just lack self awareness.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 25 Nov 06 - 06:05 AM

At a momentary loss for something better to do, I was re-reading this thread (a practice to be commended to the myopic and blinkered), when my eyes fell upon some particularly nasty (not to mention ridiculous) comments from a bad-tempered professional Northerner - NB I know perfectly well who this person is and I come from further north than him), aimed at the Bard of Barking. Now Mr William Bloke would have made it easily on his own without any help from the so-called 'f*lk community'. But to suggest that he has 'never featured in the North' suggests a level of awareness below that of a reservoir in high summer. Did someone manage to sleep through the duration of the miners' strike and miss entirely the presence of Red Wedge? This was when B Bragg encountered the music of Leon Rosselson and Ewan MacColl and went on, subsequently, to perform with Carthys senior and junior. He even remarked recently that he was getting into Morris tunes. Talk to him and you'll discover in him a far greater awareness of the relevance of tradarts to people's lives than from any of the 'anything's good enough for f*lk just bash it out regardless of key or timing' brigade.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Cathie
Date: 25 Nov 06 - 06:32 AM

Hear hear Richard. I thought I was maybe feeling too touchy at Jim's post last night to comment.

from Cathy

New to folk, learning guitar, closet teacher from St Albans, female, fat and over forty five. Keen, but can't grow a beard. My own kids have had eyes opened to 'folk scene' and spread positive words.

Oh yes - and if I have sung at local clubs including 'Windward', nobody has asked for a refund.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Nov 06 - 09:37 AM

Further to Jim Carroll's post, I would have to make one personal observation. For me it is not technical competence that makes an enjoyable performance, but rather the interpretation of the song. I would rather listen to an out of tune/hesitant rendition by someone who cares deeply about their song and who has taken the trouble to think about it and can inspire me to see even an old favourite from a new angle, than the owner of a beautiful voice picking a song simply because it enables shows them off. In a professional I would hope to see both comptenance AND insight (but still favour the second over the first!) but in the amateur participants of a folk club I would hope I could appreciate whatever people bring to a performance without demanding a certain 'standard'. After all it takes courage and commitment to do ANY floorspot - more so than many people can manage. Just a personal thought.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 25 Nov 06 - 10:20 AM

Oh, and all power to Jim Carroll for restating in public what I usually get kicked for saying. You should never sing/play out till you can. 'Caring deeply about the music' entails not disrespecting it by doing so, or letting loose in public anyone who isn't ready to perform. The 'f*lk club'; is not a rehearsal room, or shouldn't be. The only out-of-tune (moi?)/hesitant rendition I'll listen to is myself in the shower, learning to get it right before anyone else hears it. Of course 'certain standards' should be demanded. Alex Campbell was practising self-irony (I think . . . possibly . . . )


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST,Elaine
Date: 25 Nov 06 - 10:37 AM

Novelty is an important element in any kind of change for the better, so the concept of a well-run folk club is important primarily because it is so novel, as there aren't any.

Those who run folk clubs become the enemies of performers. They don't start out that way, but after they get comfortable with who they will accept and who is 'not on the list' every other demo CD or performer just goes on the "throw them on the pile' category.

In fact, most people who start folk clubs or record labels start out with the best of intentions and end up being as exclusionary as the rest of the music business.

You know it's true.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST,Elaine
Date: 25 Nov 06 - 10:44 AM

And I'd also add that judgements are frequently made without regard to quality, if, indeed, we're finished with being empowered by our own sense of self satisfaction.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Villan
Date: 25 Nov 06 - 11:36 AM

Just becuase somebody is a performer, that doesn't give them the right to play at a club.
Very often, the organiser has to put on who they beleive will entertain their audience.
I don't think CD's always sell a performer. I think you have to see them live to see if they have the charisma as well. I have listened to a lot of Cd's and generally the style of the performer does not suit the style of my club. However if they are in my area, I make an effort to get to see them. There are a number of people who I have gone on to book, when having listend to their CD it did nothimng for me.
What amazes me, is that so many people say that a performer is crap, when in actual fact they are not, but obviously do not suit their style.
I have seen a lot of performers who I personally do not like and wouldn't book them for my club, but I can say in all cases they are very good performers, but do not feel they will suit the style of the club.
Likewise there are some performers who I would like top get, but in all honesty cannot afford them. I do not work and in all honesty cannot take on the risk of any loss personnally.
I pay a fixed rate and do not do percentage. That way I know what I have to recover and the performer doesn't get hurt if there aren't enough people at the gig.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Nov 06 - 02:59 PM

You never tell people they're no good, you encourage them to improve, and the only way they'll improve is work - practice, call it what you will. If they practice and don't improve, then you help them; if they still don't improve they have a problem, but it's their problem, not yours, and certainly should never be your audiences'.
When veteran singer and musician Packie Byrne found he could no longer sing he polished up his storytelling technique - last time I saw him he was still going strong. It's a little like the Monty Python sketch about the one-legged actor applying for the role of Tarzan - perhaps that's not what they are best suited to.
I think the most outrageously reactionary statement I have ever heard about singing is that we should hold back our better singers for fear of upsetting the mediocre ones - Jay-sus - talk about roll over Beethoven!
As for technique versus involvement; MacColl summed it up perfectly for me in an interview:
"Any art form, whether traditional music, painting, or whatever, must provide a challenge for the people who work in it, otherwise it dies." "The main objective for the singer is to create a situation that when he or she starts to sing, he or she is no longer worried about technique; they have done all that and can give the whole of his or her attention to the song itself; to the sheer act of enjoying the song."
Jim Carroll
PS countess - I'm afraid he wasn't being ironical


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Nov 06 - 03:45 PM

Thankyou JIM. I agree with you, People should be encouraged to improve, mistakes are acceptable if you learn from them.
   Countess;[you should never sing or play out till you can]Ihave seen, even martin carthy make mistakes[ but no one would prevent him from singing his next song].The point is how you handle your mistakes, that is also the art of performance, and that is what aspiring performers should be noting, not to be embarrased,and not to make their audience embarrassed.
Elvis presley once forgOt the words to Are you lonesome tonight[ he laughed and said I must have sung this thousands of time] he handled it in a professional manner, NO ONE WAS EMBARRASSED.
Ina well run club[countess to make your point relevant ]if a newbie singer gets up and flops, what a good mc will do is put either his resident group on, or a strong, experienced ,reliable singer to follow which brings the evening up again . one of the best mcs I have encountered is clive pownceby WHO is associated with the Bothy folk club which has run for 42 years[ logically must be awell run club].what we should be looking at, is what are the ingredients of these long running clubs that are clearly well run.DickMiles


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST,Peter Stockport
Date: 25 Nov 06 - 03:53 PM

Ha! I've heard those comments from guest Elaine so many times!

I've got to say you're so wrong.
.
Anyone who sings or performs good folky material with ability, skill and confidence will get bookings. Somewhere.

If you don't get bookings then read the paragraph above again.


Peter


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Nov 06 - 03:53 PM

oh yes ,the maligned Alex Campbell,gave me one of the most enjoyable nights that I have ever had, in a folkclub. Dartford 1974.[ were you there billybob and breezy]he sang and played well, and in tune, was extremely funny and the audience loved him ,at his best he was one of the finest performers and did alot of good for folk music. DickMiles.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Gervase
Date: 25 Nov 06 - 04:05 PM

I can think of no greater pleasure (fun) than hearing a good traditional song well sung, and, when I was singing regularly, I can't remember enjoying anything so much as, on the few occasions when I sang at my best, making my songs work for me and for my audience.
So true. When it works, it's nothing short of magical.
But, as countess richard says, let's leave the rehearsals for the shower. I know that clubs are meant to be the nurseries of new talent, but please, please, let's at least retain some critical structure. I know most of us are ameateur, but does that mean that the clubs have to be so amateurish?
There are many people, bless 'em, who try to inflict poorly rehearsed and ill-performed material on paying punters. Is it really so very hard to say to them, "Listen; go home and practise, then practise a bit more, and then ask someone else who doesn't like you to listen to you. If they say it sounds OK, then come back.'?
Folk clubs should not be used as a base datum mark for singers or musicians. Yes, we've all got to start somewhere, but for me that somewhere was my cellar (nice accoustics, by the way!).


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST,Man of the People
Date: 25 Nov 06 - 05:18 PM

Some people here sure enough think they are pretty damn good huh, and the rest of us not good enough. They'd have people audition their moves to be let into a disco. Given themselves fancy names too.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Bernard
Date: 25 Nov 06 - 05:46 PM

If people enjoy it, why is it 'wrong'?

A friend of mine can't sing for toffee... but he has an uncanny way of making what he does enjoyable, despite the fact it sounds dreadful!!

I reckon there's more to it than musical perfection...


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 26 Nov 06 - 04:05 AM

A lot of these people don't KNOW they are poorly rehearsed etc. But they are frequently quite nice people. they see ones ability to remember the words of a song - usually without a prompt and the ability to keep an accompaniment going as some sort of magical powers one possesses - rather than a reflection of the time you spend practising - something you would rather do , than watch coronation street.

still these people are quite nice and they are keen to perform, and that's not a wicked urge - like wanting to shoot people or something. And frequently they attempt stuff that you wouldn't, because you know its hard. And that can be interesting - not very entertaining, but interesting...like talking to someone and they bring up an interesting topic.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Nov 06 - 04:54 AM

Patronising or what?

I'm sure people would give their right arm to be as good as you weelittledrummer. Not.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST,Peter Stockport
Date: 26 Nov 06 - 04:58 AM

Written into the aims of the Red Bull Folk Club in Stockport is "To support and encourage performance of live music and poetry of any standard". I think we took it from the Nowth West Fed.

On a singers night anyone of any standard is welcome at The Red Bull,you can forget your words, tune, or anything. You're always welcome. We don't mind, in fact that is what learning is about.

Of course on a guest night where we have a paying public the resident is always well rehearsed and prepared.

I don't think I'd want to go to a club which only allowed or encouraged the more accomplished to perform on a singers night.

Cheers
Peter


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 26 Nov 06 - 05:04 AM

I'll second that Peter. And I'll add that although I prefer traditional English song to other things, and think that people ought to do their own heritages not other people's, I'd not want to support a club that prohibited a wider range of stuff.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Cathie
Date: 26 Nov 06 - 05:06 AM

Could I just acknowledge gratitude to all those who run folk clubs - the time, effort and angst that goes with it. Especially the 7 that I go to in Beds and Herts.

Without venues to singaround or experienced models to learn from, I wonder whether I would have ever picked up a guitar at all.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 26 Nov 06 - 05:54 AM

Attention: CR agrees with WLD alert:

Some guest said:
I'm sure people would give their right arm to be as good as you weelittledrummer. NOT.


Well, maybe I wouldn't go quite that far. It would defeat the purpose somewhat.

But WLD is right and not at all 'patronising'. You don't get good via the waving of a magic wand. Or asking those you want to be like for their 'secret'. There aren't any. Just practice.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Nov 06 - 06:05 AM

Re: the belief that you should know absolutely that you can play the song/piece before you perform it.

There's the oft-stated (possibly apocryphal) tale of "scat" singing being invented by a jazz musician who started to sing a song and realizing halfway through that he didn't know the words. Whether it's true or not, it does demonstrate something - that is, sometimes inspired music comes out as a result of only half-remembering the tune or the words and creating something new out of the resulting improvisation. If we want to be note or word perfect all the time, then we risk having to rely always on the printed or recorded source. Look at Miles Davis' seminal 'Kind of Blue' album - yes, they were all master musicians, but Miles deliberately kept them away from any arrangements before they went into the studio, where he gave them a rough outline format and let the music develop organically. Their not knowing exactly where the music was going was what made it so fresh.

Besides, I believe well run folk clubs are capable of structuring an evening so that the experienced performers open and close the sets, while those still 'cutting their teeth' are allowed a chance to perform somewhere in the middle.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 26 Nov 06 - 06:06 AM

I don't think I was being patronising. I've just been to a lot of folk clubs and I can speak with a degree of authority on the subject.

And yes some people would like ones facility with remembering words and playing the guitar, which if you work at it seems effortless. Techniques which you will acquire if you work hard enough. That's what I bring to the party.

Recently (this month) I got the words of a song I had been looking for for twenty years from a singer whose accompaniments are always at such a volume that the words are largely inaccessible to the audience, and anyway they don't fit the tune.

Unless you're from a showbiz family (which I'm not) the business of entertaining isn't second nature. the desire to perform however is in most of us at some level.

That's all I'm saying. if you find that patronising - maybe you just haven't thought much about the subject. if you do it for a living, if providing the weeks groceries depends on it - you have to think about it and get it right.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Nov 06 - 06:17 AM

Okay, yes, I see what you're getting at now. Most of the examples I gave regarding not remembering or knowing a piece (jazz players) had all put in thousands of hours of practice in order to be able to improvise that well anyway.

Still, you only learn to perform by ... performing. That's where, for a new performer, occasionally getting up for a floorspot and making an a**e of it helps. You never want to mess up so badly again, and it spurs you on to polish your act.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Nov 06 - 06:17 AM

Wld

Of course professionals who do it for a living to provide the weeks groceries have to get it right. I called you patronising because your post implied that you were referring to floor singers. Crossed wires perhaps? Apologies if that's the case.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Nov 06 - 06:49 AM

do their best to get it right is better,no one is a machine,even the most experienced professional performer can slip up.
An item can be performed competently [no errors]but be lacking in passion and emotion. another song can be performed with the occassional slip but still be more exciting.
of course I advocate that everyone should try and be as professional as they can[ but it is not the oNly ingredient to a successful performance]
AS A PROFESSIONAL I Spend several hours a day, practising, singing and playing, but I can still mess up, the same as everyone else. Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 26 Nov 06 - 07:01 AM

There's a considerable list of tunes which are all subtitled Posidrive ( ©Anahata) because they are just so easy to screw up. If you fail to practice them for a week, you'll notice. Leave them for two weeks and so will everyone else.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Scrump
Date: 26 Nov 06 - 08:00 AM

Still, you only learn to perform by ... performing. That's where, for a new performer, occasionally getting up for a floorspot and making an a**e of it helps. You never want to mess up so badly again, and it spurs you on to polish your act.

Well said, GUEST. I agree with the general principle that only people who (appear to) have reached a certain standard of competence should perform on guest nights, when there are paying punters who are entitled to a reasonably professional standard of entertainment for their entrance fee.

But prohibiting people from singarounds seems daft to me - if people can't try things out in public at these, then where are they expected to do it?

I know from my own experience that no amount of practice "in the shower" is enough - there's a huge difference between getting it perfect at home, and then trying it out in public (as I know to my cost). Singarounds to me are the ideal place to try out new songs (whether you wrote them yourself or are just playing them in public for the first time). It's a chance to get feedback on how well the song will go down, and a chance to try it out without the pressure from doing a floor spot in front of a paying audience.

Singarounds are a good chance for club organisers to assess newcomers, before they give thema floor spot. I think it works well both for organisers and aspiring performers.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST,floorsinger
Date: 26 Nov 06 - 08:07 AM

Title should be, "why well run folk clubs are so self important"


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Dartford Warbler
Date: 26 Nov 06 - 08:12 AM

GUEST, floorsinger

Well, why don't YOU start a thread with that title ?


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 26 Nov 06 - 08:32 AM

Okay I'll risk an answer. We are self important, because we its us that invest our lives in the folk club movement. We give it importance, by our commitment.

They've only just got round to giving out MBE's for folk singers - it will be a while before society as a whole gets round to giving out MBE's for folk club organisers.

But to us in the folk club movement, they are important and people doing something worthwhile.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Nov 06 - 11:39 AM

hear hear.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Scrump
Date: 27 Nov 06 - 06:21 PM

I forgot what I were sayin' now :(


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Grab
Date: 27 Nov 06 - 06:34 PM

Are we on the old chestnut of "what's a singaround/tune session, what's a paid performance, and what's a folk club?"

CR, if your definition of a folk club is purely a paid performance, possibly with unpaid performers opening for the kudos/experience/fun, then I think you're right. But if your definition of a folk club is any public singing/playing, then I think you're liking the music but not the means of transmission which is why people are still singing it today.

Any chance on clarification, otherwise this might just keep going round in a kind of circle of flame...?

Graham.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Nov 06 - 04:09 AM

Can I make it clear; I am talking about improving the basic standards in clubs; I am not in any way advocating a star system. As I have already said, I believe it lies within the abilities of most people to improve their singing if they are prepared to work at it. It is a small step from enjoying singing to enjoying singing competently; understanding the songs, not forgetting words, getting the tune right, singing in tune (cup your hand over your ear if necessary – it works!), and most importantly, enjoying the songs and communicating that enjoyment to those listening. All these things are inseparable, technique, understanding, involvement, enjoyment and communication.
Far from believing that it is important to have a galaxy of stars representing traditional singing; I believe it is many of these 'stars' who have benefited most and contributed least to it, through ignorance, indifference, ambition – or all three.
When I heard M.P. Kim Howell's disparaging remarks about folk clubs some time ago I was annoyed, but on reflection, he (or she; I'm not sure) had a point; it would be my idea of Hell to be stuck in many of them. Unless things have altered radically over the last couple of years the standard of singing is abysmal and dropping steadily, and judging by some of the contributions to this thread it's little wonder.
I can't see why 'Man-of-the- People should get so annoyed with the suggestion that it is necessary to work on singing – I'm certainly not suggesting that people who can sing should stop because they are not good enough; I am suggesting that an attainable, generally acceptable standard should be set and worked for in all places were traditional songs are sung publicly. It is not a criticism to say that people need to work on singing, just as they have to work at every endevour. Real, lasting enjoyment comes from doing a thing well. After all it is the 'people' that 'Man-of-the People appears to be claiming to be 'a man of' who created and passed on these songs in the first place, and surely we owe it to them to get things a little bit right.
I don't think Wee Little Drummer is being in any way patronising; on the contrary, it is patronising and incredibly cruel, to pretend that somebody can sing when they obviously can't. Don't forget; people are still taking the piss out of Florence Foster Jenkins well over half a century after her husband paid for her to sing out-of-tune at Carnegie Hall. It is problematical to tell "nice people" they need to go off and do some work on their singing without offending them.
As far as my own activities are concerned, traditional song will be around for a long time to come - in books and on recordings. From a purely selfish point of view, it would be good if it were still being sung at clubs and concerts; but whether it will be passed on in any worthwhile form in live performance to future generations will depend greatly on it being performed well.
Jim Carroll
PS. I am talking purely about traditional song; I have no great interest in singer-songwriters, music hall singers, pop performers (of whatever era) or any others who have chosen the folk club as their venue – they can fight their own corner.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 28 Nov 06 - 05:31 AM

Grab, I define a 'f*lk club' as somewhere that the public pays to get into, at whatever venue. The 'club' bit is no longer very relevant under present licensing laws. A session/singaround is something else; informal and, though people may listen/spectate, they are not paying to do so. Nevertheless, I don't think anyone should just turn up at their local singaround with a song only half learned, or at a session and attempt to lead a tune they don't really know on an instrument they can't yet play properly. The music deserves greater respect, and so do those who have to listen. And you should have rather more self-respect. 'Good enough for f*lk' should be an extremely high standard.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Gervase
Date: 28 Nov 06 - 05:50 AM

Amen to both Jim and countess richard. Surely there can be no argument with that?

I know the stock answer is, "But I need to try out a song, and there's nothing like performing it in front of an audience," but that's daft. How often do you come across professional musicians 'trying out' new material?

Put simply, just practise. In the car, in the shower, in the middle of a field; anywhere but in front of an audience. When you've got it nailed, then trot it out in public. Put some work into the material and make it work for you, and don't expect the audience to be your 'sounding board.' And I've noticed that the terrible singers are the ones who never bloody improve. They turn up, time after time, and are indulged, and yet their performance shows no sign of even nudging the heights of the mediocre.

I know f*lk club audiences appear to be notoriously forgiving but that doesn't mean we're not sitting there sniggering or writhing inside. As someone who has run events, there are some turns that you slot into the evening's programme simply because they are so bog-awful it gives everyone a chance to go and have a pee and make for the bar. Much as I wanted to, I never had the balls actually to tell them, "No, I'm sorry, you've got Van Gogh's ear for music and you always will have. Take up mime." These days I might not be quite so 'inclusive'.

For potential newcomers, crap performances and carelessnes are a major turn- off, full stop.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 Nov 06 - 06:52 AM

a well run folk club, will have[in my experience] amongst its organisers or residents, someone who can offer constructive criticism, to a beginner performer[ [suggestions about what sort of songs might suit,ways of improving accompaniments,learning to pitch ones songs etc].
now contrary to the impression one might get from gervase,there are well run folk clubs,who do this,they are probably, those ones that have been going a long time.
I think its a minority of guest booking folk clubs that tolerate anmateurish performances, even in singaround clubs people should be encouraged to improve, shown diplomatically [in private] their mistakes and helped.there are very few people who are tone deaf or have no sense of rhythym and who cant improve with the correct help from club residents.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 28 Nov 06 - 06:53 AM

Well I partly agree with Jim. I'm not suggesting that you should pretend someone can sing when they can't. What I would suggest, you would be a bit daft if you didn't realise early on that folk clubs do attract a few people who haven't really got it together as performers, and you shouldn't start getting uptight about the fact.

These people are going to be there. In a way they have as much right to be there as people who work very hard at their craft. Quite often, they do contribute to the evening substantially - by singing something unusual - even if not very well; by their enthusiasm, by their example - because they do make people realise that you CAN have a go.

Sound like Wilfred Pickles now - now theres a bloke who could patronise for Europe - whats on the table mabel, give him the money Barney, and and are y' courtin'?

Have a go, Joe!
Come and have a go!

Okay, before your time..........


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Cathie
Date: 28 Nov 06 - 07:42 AM

'traditional song will be around for a long time to come - in books and on recordings. From a purely selfish point of view, it would be good if it were still being sung at clubs and concerts; but whether it will be passed on in any worthwhile form in live performance to future generations will depend greatly on it being performed well.'
-------------------------------------------------

I wish the melody lines/chords/lyrics to these songs were more easily available on the web for those like me who want to learn them but can't find the music. Traditional folk songs have not been part of my upbringing.

Does anyone know of a site or even a current book where they can be found?

I can't work out chords from a recording yet, nor know the melody line from the lyrics. For these treasures to be passed on, I wish they were more quickly accessible.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 Nov 06 - 07:55 AM

I recently guested at the blaydon folk club[ arelatively new club]run by Danny and joyce mcleod and friends. An EXCELLENT CLUB, among the floor singers that night were Peter Wood and Vic Gammon[BOTH performers of a high standard]Plus many others, every singer was good. Gervase and i must go to differnt clubs.
however if professional singers were to perform, even only once a month at their local club this would help to set higher standards. I used to do this myself when i lived in Nottingham.,visiting Carlton Carrington AND Robin hood Clubs REGULARLY.DickMiles


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Nov 06 - 08:03 AM

Have the quality control crew up above stopped to think how contradictory their views are.?

Considering their desire to hear polished performances of traditional songs in folk clubs, is it not true that the source singers for these very same songs often gave, to my ears at least, very rough and ready performances of those songs when they were collected? In fact if many of them performed in a folk club today I suspect that they would be subject to the same level of criticism that has been directed at "substandard" floor singers in this thread. Many were miles away from the standards of excellence that have been advocated here.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 28 Nov 06 - 08:52 AM

On balance, I think that the idea that music is participative, and not something merely to observe performed by professionals, is the more important concept.

Once people do participate, IMHO they tend to improve.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 28 Nov 06 - 08:55 AM

'to my ears at least'

here is part of the conundrum. When I listen to recordings of traditional singers then read critiques of them, I also have this feeling that I am being invited to hear feats of technicality, which are in head of the traddy lobby. And its not because I haven't perservered - I really don't see it, and I think at best - its very unlikely that they are observing some weird scale of music that our corrupted 20th century ears miss out on.

Most of them sound bloody rough to me. they sound like old people who can't sing very well. They probably lived in societies where the singer of songs, tellers of stories was one of the few sources of entertainment on offer in bleak impoverished surroundings.

However the traddies and revivalists are welcome to their beliefs, and to their corner of most folk clubs. It just seems to me evident really beyond argument that 90% of the people who go to folk clubs are devotees of what happened with acoustic music in the 1960's and hope to express something of their own society through the more accessible forms.

I love nothing better in a folk club, than when someone manages to write a song about our lives, whatever the quality of the singer. And I love that little gasp of delight from the audience when they suddenly realise that it is their lives and communities that have been deemed worthy of being celebrated in song.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Villan
Date: 28 Nov 06 - 08:59 AM

Hey WeeLittleDrummer, we have a neighbour called Trish. Now there must be a song written somewhere out there about Trish.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Gervase
Date: 28 Nov 06 - 09:03 AM

I'll probably sound pretty rough when I'm eighty, too!


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Scrump
Date: 28 Nov 06 - 09:23 AM

I know the stock answer is, "But I need to try out a song, and there's nothing like performing it in front of an audience," but that's daft. How often do you come across professional musicians 'trying out' new material?

Put simply, just practise. In the car, in the shower, in the middle of a field; anywhere but in front of an audience. When you've got it nailed, then trot it out in public. Put some work into the material and make it work for you, and don't expect the audience to be your 'sounding board.' And I've noticed that the terrible singers are the ones who never bloody improve. They turn up, time after time, and are indulged, and yet their performance shows no sign of even nudging the heights of the mediocre.


I agree that singers who haven't properly learnt a song shouldn't give it a first airing in front of an audience, but you have to sing it in public for the first time somewhere, and I suggested a singaround is a good place for that, rather than (say) as a floor singer on a guest night.

As I said, however well you think you know a song, there's nothing like singing it in front of other people to confirm whether you do or not. And an informal singaround seems to me to be an ideal place for that.

I agree that it's not good for a club to indulge a crap performer more than once. Mind you, it's a good chance for the rest of the regulars to visit the bar, the toilet, etc. :-)


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Leadfingers
Date: 28 Nov 06 - 09:25 AM

200 !!


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST,guest baz
Date: 28 Nov 06 - 10:55 AM

As someone who has NOT been going going to folk clubs for years, and therefore can speak with relatively NO authority on the subject, I thought I'd like to chuck my two-penneth in.....:)

I've been going to my local folk club for just about 1 year. I'm 33 (the youngest at the club), and I'm sorry to say that in that year I have started to both put on weight AND get a bit whiskery. We meet every week, and most nights its a singaround. There's about 10-15 of us who turn up regularly, some who are good, some who are not so good. We have a raffle each week, and the proceeds go towards booking a guest, some of whom were good, and some of whom...well, you get the picture. We occasionally have a visitor pop their head around the door, and I feel that they're always made welcome. They're invited to contribute a song, tune, story, joke, poem or whatever else tickles their fancy. If they don't want to, that's fine too.

Anyway, the point I wanted to make is that whilst going to this club has most definitely made me a better musician (I'm just now starting to get bookings in local pubs etc, and playing at the club has really helped me along), and whilst it also provides a venue of sorts for local folk musicians to come and get paid, none of these are the real reason why I like it so much.

I like the club because I have met some good, interesting, funny people, and made new friends. Plain and simple. Some of them can sing and play really nicely, Some couldn't hold tune in a bucket. But I'm not sure that that's the point. If my mate sat next to me starts the finger-in-ear routine whilst warbling some 18thC song about a woman dressing up as a man and going to sea before being eaten by a whale (or something....) then I'm not going to suggest that they don't bother next time 'cos it was crap. These are my mates were talking about!

We meet up, have a beer, have a sing and a joke, we try to make others feel welcome to join us and do the same. That's the point of a folk club the way I see it. However, if I want to actually go and hear someone who is really, really good, then I pay to go to a concert hall and hear them. I don't expect to find them in a folk club.

As I say, I'm not really a "folkie" as such. I am a musician, but not expressly a folk musician, so I might have this all wrong. But it seems to me that if you're looking for professional standards in a folk club, you're looking in the wrong place. Just as if you went to a concert hall looking for a laugh a joke and a song with your mates, you'd be looking in the wrong place. I don't see anything wrong with that. Music is supposed to be fun.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Scrump
Date: 28 Nov 06 - 11:17 AM

Guest baz, well said. The singarounds I go to sound similar to yours, and it's much a social thing as anything else. I think some of the participants just enjoy singing or playing occasionally and have no illusions about how good they are, it's just the pleasure of joining in. I enjoy that as well, but I also regard the singarounds as a good place to 'test' new songs or arrangements before I take them further.

But some clubs are able to provide both the 'social/singaround' get-together as well as the more formal guest night - but not on the same evening, which I think would be a mistake. In other words, I think a single club can provide for both types of evening, but not in combination.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Nov 06 - 12:13 PM

I avoided reading this thead till now because I thought I knew what I'd find. My mistake. I'm with Gervaise and the countess 100% (and BOY would you be surprised if you knew who I am Diane!)

All the points above about community, inclusivity, having a go, learning your craft etc are totally valid - and I'm very used to smiling and nodding through some very ornery performances (guests soon become skilful at this if they want to survive) up and down the land, and I can even get pleasure from doing so by applying the criteria mentioned above - but the point remains:

F*lk's like a religion: once you're inside it all makes sense and it's all worthwhile. But the pool of insiders is dwindling. To the rest of the world we're strange people who make a horrid noise.

And if we don't do something to break down the walls we've cast up around us, to build bridges to other traditions, to encourage the few talented youngsters who do share our passion, and above all to demonstate to the rest of the population the pure quality that's our true cultural heritage, this music will die with us and the revival will have been for nothing.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 28 Nov 06 - 12:13 PM

It is to this song, which the Villanous Les refers:-
http://bigalwhittle.co.uk/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/trish.mp3


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Mo the caller
Date: 28 Nov 06 - 12:15 PM

I don't see why charging a nominal entrance fee for a singers/musicians night means the people who pay it will expect high class entertainment. It is a club, most people come to do their bit, some come to listen. And on guest nights you pay a bit more to hear class from guest and the cream of the club.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 Nov 06 - 12:29 PM

guest;    just because the music dies,it dont mean it wont be revived again.
the revival wont have been for nothing,because I have had much pleasure[as would most of the contributors to this thread]out of it.
your point about we,re just people who make a horrible noise,applies to performers in arts centres as well as folk clubs.
Ionce had the pleasure of coming across a Juke box, that had martin carthy singing the bonny lass of anglesea,so i put it on;;;;;;;;;;
      the expressions on the faces of the pool players,one of them said what,s this, his mate replied oh its that Jazz singer.
   Carthy, a jazz singer[seems like jazz has the same problems of overcoming ignorance]. As Martin frequently plays in art centres, it seems like your comments dont just apply to folk clubs.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Nov 06 - 12:51 PM

You're right, of course Dick. But quality in someone like like Carthy is self evident if people are only willing to give him half a hearing.

I'm talking about persuading people who've liked you at an arts centre, or in a village hall, or on the wireless to come to a club.

It can actually be quite funny watching their eyes widen and their mouths drop open. But they don't come back. Ever.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 Nov 06 - 01:20 PM

if they had come to the black bull at Blaydon, when I was lasat there and heard floor singers of the calibre of peter wood and vic gammon, they would have come back. My point is its up to professionals to occasionally turn up,and do a spot gratis, to help bring the standards up.
I have seen members of the Wilson family[ particuarly chris and ann and ken,]but also tom, mike and pat at stockton folk club.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Nov 06 - 01:32 PM

Yup - do that often as I can. But some clubs won't ask you to sing even when you go because you're not a member (can't be a member when you're on the road 4 nights a week and want to see anything of your family). And I've even travelled to do supports, gratis, only to be given 3 while a mediocre house band does 8. Don't get me wrong, I usually enjoy floor spots - they're always interesting and often stunning. I'm talking about comers-in who expect better.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Villan
Date: 28 Nov 06 - 03:29 PM

Great number there Big Al.

God it sounds just like my neighbour.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Tootler
Date: 29 Nov 06 - 08:41 AM

I define a 'f*lk club' as somewhere that the public pays to get into, at whatever venue.

This seems an inadequate definition to me.

I go to concerts at the Sage in Gateshead, and that is most definitely not a folk club. I also go to their weekly folk music classes and to their folk session for the over 50's. While some of the activities at these latter two have some of the attributes of a folk club and I pay for both of them, neither can be described as a folk club. They are primarily about learning - Oh! and enjoying yourself while doing it.

I think a folk club is somewhere that people go to meet others who share their interest in the music and to participate.

I recently picked up a publication called "Folk Roundabout" at a club I go to regularly. This is primarily a roundup of clubs in North East England and Cumbria. Excepting the dance clubs (which are also listed), the vast majority of these seem to have a format of a regular singaround/singers & musicians night with periodic guest nights. Most, but not all, levy a small charge - presumably to cover the costs of running the club - with a larger charge on guest nights. The main ones that don't charge are sessions and while these have many of the attributes of a folk club, they do not normally seem to be considered so.

The important feature, it seems to me, is that these clubs rely on people who come along regularly to sing or play and who do so not for a fee but because they enjoy doing it and wish to share that enjoyment with others. The music making is purely amateur and the "audience" is simply fellow club members. In such circumstances, surely it is unreasonable to expect professional standards and it is the nature of things that there will be some "dummies" (for want of a better term).

What I think is reasonable to expect is that those who do sing or play do their best on the night and have done at least some practice beforehand. The practice may have been a long time beforehand if it a song they have long known and sing at least reasonably frequently. If it is a new song or tune, then the practice obviously needs to be recent. Even so, things can go wrong on the night as I am sure we have all found out at some time or other :-)

In such circumstances, I also don't see anything wrong in having a copy of the words and/or music handy as an aide memoir. It is possible to give a creditable performance without knowing every word of a song providing you have practiced and can sing without having to look at the words all the time. Some people do genuinely seem have difficulty remembering words but that does not necessarily make them poor performers.

I think what really matters is that you do your best and that you have a genuine desire to improve.

Guest nights are a different matter. There the performers are being paid to entertain and it is only reasonable to expect professional standards.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Scrump
Date: 29 Nov 06 - 10:35 AM

And if we don't do something to break down the walls we've cast up around us, to build bridges to other traditions, to encourage the few talented youngsters who do share our passion, and above all to demonstate to the rest of the population the pure quality that's our true cultural heritage, this music will die with us and the revival will have been for nothing.

The problem is that attempts to 'build bridges' are often scoffed at by some people, or the artists who make such attempts criticised for 'selling out'. How can we build bridges without this happening?


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Gervase
Date: 29 Nov 06 - 10:45 AM

Er, you can't!
Someone, somewhere will always complain. It's the way of things, particularly in the f*lk world. Remember that, whatever you do, it was always done better somewhere else by someone else in the old days before these pesky kids came along, and just because it's about to die, there's no reason to change things!


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Bernard
Date: 29 Nov 06 - 12:32 PM

It's difficult treading the line between being patronising and being dismissive... either way, you'll put people off.

All you can do is to try to make people feel welcome, which is very difficult if you haven't attracted them there in the first place!

Yes, somebody will find fault no matter what you do...


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 Nov 06 - 12:38 PM

[its about to die],that is your opinion gervase,not mine.
   to guest 28 nov 1251pm,that is the whole point, they are not prepared to give martin carthy a decent hearing, I have to also disagree with you about not coming back ever. I know many peole who saw the spinners in concert and then went on to their club in liverpool and to other liverpool clubs,.
in fact the performer Paul Sirman not only got interested in the music at a spinners concert, but went on to be a paid guest at many folk clubs and festivals,.
my partner Cathy cook, first got interested through fairport Convention, and accidentally discovered chippenham and laycock festival,and later went on to help run Dingles folk club,she was not put off by folk clubs,neither was Paul Sirman,or many others, myself included .


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Bernard
Date: 29 Nov 06 - 04:11 PM

I am not ashamed to admit the Spinners were my main early influence.

I still see Hughie Jones around from time to time - and he's not lost his enthusiasm and fire in any way at all!

We had him as a guest at the Open Door Folk Club about nine months back. We only have a small room, so we can fit around 20-ish in. Hughie gave the same standard of performance that he would have given had it been the Liverpool Phil - with the advantage of a more intimate atmosphere.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 Nov 06 - 04:24 PM

yes hughie is very good.
    if anyone cares to go to the thread MY LETTER TO THE EDITOR, particuarly Countess richard and Gervase, they will read about amateurish performances of classical musicians,that occurred in concert situation.Which shows that amatuerish performance is not the exclusive right of folk clubs.
in fact in my experience folk clubs are not this amateurish,generally the m c will put a strong singer on after a weak one [part of running the evening well],and why its important that folk clubs are well run. Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 29 Nov 06 - 04:28 PM

"anyone cares to go to the thread MY LETTER TO THE EDITOR, particuarly Countess richard and Gervase, they will read about amateurish performances of classical musicians,that occurred in concert situation"

BS!!!!   If you really read that note you would find that it is not an amateur performance the letter writter is describing, but rather a concertgoer with rather unique expectations.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Nov 06 - 07:44 PM

Cap'n
Wee Little Drummer (and Guest),
Our traditional singers were mainly elderly when they were recorded, but even so, singers like Sam Larner, Charlie Wills and Phil Tanner managed to inject more life, energy and understanding into their songs than most of the singers half their age it has been my dubious pleasure to hear around many of the clubs I've been to.
If you have any feeling for the songs you learn to take the best from our older singer; they had a great deal to offer despite the problems of old age. There are plenty of traditional singers on record who could sing your avarage revival singer into the ground - Walter Pardon, The Stewarts, Jeannie Robertson, Ned Adams from the UK.
And when you get to Ireland, Joe Heaney, the McDonaghs of Feenish Island, Mary Anne Carolan, Tom Lenihan........... the list is endless. Nowadays the bulk of Irish traditional singers are from the Irish speaking areas and if we can't learn from these, and younger singers like Roisín Al Saffdy we may as well give up and take up macramé.
Cap'n wrote:
"Which shows that amatuerish performance is not the exclusive right of folk clubs".
This may or may not be the case - I haven't read the correspondence, but folk clubs seem to be the only musical activity which promotes amatureism as a positive attribute and frowns on skill as frightning the horses (or the mediocre).
I wonder what it is that when you mention 'practice' and 'improvement' to a revival singer, out comes the crucifix and garlic! I can only assume it is either fear of failure or contempt for the material they are singing - or both.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Nov 06 - 04:52 AM

you seem to have digressed from the above thread.
    Why not read the thread im referring to before commenting.
please do not condemn revival singers.I for one spend many hours practising [ and i am sure im not alone]. I also listen to a lot of the afore mentioned singers, Ihave the greatesat respect for my material as does loius killen, peter wood, vic gammon,all people who I know do floor spots at Blaydon,and are revival singers,.
YOU ARE ALSO CONDEMNING Bertlloyd ,Maccoll,carthy,Bellamy, Burland, Rose,Nic Jones. folk clubs do not in my opinion frown on skills or promote amateurism aS Apositive attribute.[ occasionally they are open to improvement]but most of them encourage people to improve.
they do try and encourage people to get better and have offered[ and still do]the chance for many professional performers to cut their teeth and learn stagecraft. e g the above mentioned performers. NIC JONES even ran a folk club, ,as do john adams and chris coe[ryburn ].Danny mcleod.Matt armour,Ronangel[ex teeside fettlerand author of chemical workers song]


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Scrump
Date: 30 Nov 06 - 06:53 AM

"Which shows that amatuerish performance is not the exclusive right of folk clubs".
This may or may not be the case - I haven't read the correspondence, but folk clubs seem to be the only musical activity which promotes amatureism as a positive attribute and frowns on skill as frightning the horses (or the mediocre).


I haven't seen any evidence for this claim, i.e. that folk clubs "promote" amateurism as a "positive attribute" or frown upon skill.

On the contrary, skill in performance or on an instrument is always admired in my experience. I think to say clubs promote amateurism is incorrect - perhaps people are more tolerant of it, in the setting of a friendly community club where enjoying yourself is more important than professional standards of performance. The good clubs will be tolerant of people learning their craft, and encourage them to improve.

Perhaps there may be clubs that do the things you say, but I don't know any.

As for amateurish performance not being exclusive to folk, that's absolutely right. There are plenty of third rate pop and rock bands doing pub gigs.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST,An ordinary bloke
Date: 30 Nov 06 - 06:58 AM

Pyrotechnic technical skills can detract fromthe song. THey don't always, but the up his own arse performer can drive many away.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST,Jc
Date: 30 Nov 06 - 07:01 AM

what's unique about folk clubs is that you'll get both ends of the scale on the same night, from the terrible to the brilliant. which is fine (even admirable) for members and the initiated but which sure horrifies any paying punters.

then there's the problem of the organiser who only runs a club so s/he can get an audience, and, even worse, then puts on someone even more dire than them - so they'll sound good by comparison. and some do this on guest nights.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Nov 06 - 07:10 AM

yes including the[[ Beatles [in germany]a drummer who couldnt keep steady time [ not Ringo]and a bass gutarist that by his own admission couldnt play [ not paul]]],,AND THE ROLLING STONES in their early days,who were according to reputable witnesses, out of tune and barely competent.
to ron olesko, ,the correspondent did not have high expectations she was expecting the group to be well rehearsed,and not to rehearse on stage[ in front of the paying public] before the concert[ reasonable enough.]


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Villan
Date: 30 Nov 06 - 07:45 AM

>>then there's the problem of the organiser who only runs a club so s/he can get an audience, and, even worse, then puts on someone even more dire than them - so they'll sound good by comparison. and some do this on guest nights. <<

My club is in that category.

However, we have never knowingly put somebody on who is not competent, and never ever put somebody on who is genuinly crap, to make the main guest look good. When you have various performers in one night, you are bound to get people where the style of a performer does not suit their taste. That is unavoidable.
There are all levels of performer coming through the club, but all of them are capable of doing a 25 minute spot and more often than not a darn sight more. They also do their best to change their songs on a regular basis.
Neither does the club put the least experienced on first, unless it is better for them. What we try to do is get as much change in style between each performer as possible, so the audience gets a nice evening. Of course that is not always possible but in the main it works.

Market Rasen Folk Club

Unless feedback to me is not honest, I get the impression that the standard for such a young concert venue is very high, with plenty of variety at affordable prices for a very rural village. The object is not to make massive profits, but bring live music to a rural community, that otherwise would be deprived as such.
We get good audiences that range from worst 35 to best 89


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Nick
Date: 30 Nov 06 - 08:06 AM

Is Wigan Folk Club a folk club? By the definition of the public paying it isn't but I reckon it's a rather special place though, due to distance, I have only been twice.

I went on a Thursday night and arrived at a large Victorian(?) pub in not the greatest area I have ever been to. If it started at 9 I think I got there a little earlier but the place buzzed.

In a squarish shaped large room you had individuals and groups of people finding seats around the room - chatting, tuning, drinking etc When Joan who runs it arrived it started and I then had about 3-4 hours of enormous fun listening and playing to a hugely diverse group of people. If I remember the standard was generally good. There were stacks of people there to play and a load more who just watched.

It's well run; people behave and respect each other it seemed to me; the organiser takes the trouble to prepare a weekly communal song that everyone sings; etc etc


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Nov 06 - 08:15 AM

TO GUEST JIM CARROLL. Ihave the utmost respect for you as a COLLECTOR,.
But can you tell me when you last attended a folk club,as Iam sure I read in one of your other threads that you hadnt been to a folk club for a very long time, if this is the case your comments should be classified as uninformed.,or possibly outdated.
Would you also be kind enough to suggest what you would like to see replace Folk clubs.
I recently saw somebody booked at a pub as Blue Moon.MIMING TO THE MUSIC AT THE SAME TIME, PLAYINGCHORDS C F G WHEN THE MUSIC WAS IN E MAJOR., Yes that was here in Ireland.At least FOLK CLUBS are honest.
finally dont forget the epitome of amateurs Dave Clark, THE DRUMMER Inthe dave clark five, [a drummer friend of mine was approached by CLARK who wanted lessons] but apparantly was the equivalent of tone deaf rhythym wise, and then the monkees who couldnt even play their instruments.There are plenty of amateurish performances outside of folk clubs.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Nov 06 - 08:33 AM

Villan - your club is NOT in that category, as the rest of your post proves!


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Villan
Date: 30 Nov 06 - 08:42 AM

Phew, thank goodness for that LOL


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Tootler
Date: 30 Nov 06 - 09:10 AM

Jim Carroll

I think are in danger of viewing the past through rose tinted glasses. While I would not in any way contradict you about the quality of the singers you mention, I suggest that they were the tip of an iceberg. In their young days, round the country there would have been local singers of varying standards some excellent, most competent and some not so good. In fact no different from today. I suggest you bear this in mind when criticising the performances in folk clubs.

It is rather like the difference between seeing the whole of a football match and seeing the edited highlights, the latter can give a false impression of the overall quality of the game.

folk clubs seem to be the only musical activity which promotes amatureism as a positive attribute...

I resent this. I am an amateur and not ashamed of it; music is a hobby for me. That does not mean I do not practice nor does it mean that I do not try to give of my best when singing or playing in a folk club nor does it mean I do not want to improve. I object to the use of the term "amateurism" as a synonym for substandard. Some amateurs reach very high standards indeed. That most don't achieve the standards you seem to demand is mostly due the fact that we have other demands on our time.

By their very nature folk club membership is largely amateur and for the most part the only audience is each other. If they give some pleasure to visitors or others who happen to be present, then that is a bonus.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 30 Nov 06 - 09:23 AM

To Captain Birdseye, I suggest you re-read the note. For anyone to go to a classical concert and not understand the tuning that is involved for that type of setting is showing a high expectation that cannot be met. For you to call it an "amateurish" performance is not correct - you are slanting the story to fit your conclusion, which is not accurate.   It is one thing to discuss a folk setting, and I tend to agree with your thoughts, but to use that other thread as some sort of proof of your thoughts is just not appropriate.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST,You have been warned
Date: 30 Nov 06 - 11:37 AM

I think its a minority of guest booking folk clubs that tolerate anmateurish performances, even in singaround clubs people should be encouraged to improve, shown diplomatically [in private] their mistakes and helped.Bthere are very few people who are tone deaf or have no sense of rhythym and who cant improve with the correct help from club residents.Dick Miles

But Dick? Have you come across Tone Deaf Leopard yet ??!!


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Nov 06 - 12:22 PM

Ron olesko.there is plenty of evidence of sloppy performances outside of folk clubs.,vis my examples of the Stones and the Beatles in hamburg, Plus yank rachels mandolin on a Sleepy john estes recording.
I also have a recording of Sonny Terry and Brownie MCGHEE, at the end of one track Brownie quite clearly, says try playing in A sometime., [sounded like SONNY WAS PLAYING IN THE WRONG KEY].


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Nov 06 - 12:27 PM

ron olesku, go back and read the posts. leenia clearly states that shes not referring to tuning[ in a later post].
I am not slanting the story to fit my own conclusion.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Big Mick
Date: 30 Nov 06 - 12:35 PM

Dick, I think it is you who is guilty of not reading the other thread for comprehension. What that poster says, and then what she describes, are not the same thing. Methinks you need to slow down and get what the discussion is producing in that thread.

I agree with you on the central contention of this thread. And I think it is a valuable thread as it heightens the discussion of the future of venues for folk performers. But it seems as though you are inflexible in the discussion. This isn't really an "either/or" issue, but one of what do the various types of venues have to do to survive and prosper.

le gach dea-mhéin,      

Mick


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Villan
Date: 30 Nov 06 - 12:45 PM

>>but one of what do the various types of venues have to do to survive and prosper.<<

Spot on Big Mick


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Nov 06 - 12:59 PM

which is what i have been saying, about long running clubs like swindon 46 years, and the bothy 42,dartford 32 years.
read my earlier posts and i state that we should be studying the ingredients of a well run folk club.
my posts of 22 nov, 25 nov, 28 nov, all state this and mention some of the ingredients that make well run clubs successful, please read these posts.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 30 Nov 06 - 01:01 PM

nor is she the one calling it an amateur performance


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Nov 06 - 01:12 PM

"Selective" reading = tunnel vision. As long as it agrees with their point of view, they only see what they want to see Dick. Don't worry about it.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Nov 06 - 01:24 PM

yes she does and even queries the spelling of amateur,stop wasting time .


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 30 Nov 06 - 01:40 PM

Dick, I resent your rather rude response. Please do not EVER tell me to stop wasting time. I made a point of disagreement and you appear to be twisting words.

Perhaps you did not read my note correctly either which is why you appear confused. I am referring to Leeneia's ORIGINAL post, to which you commented on.   YOU were the person who used the word "amateur", to which she later posted her query about the spelling.   She spoke of going to a classical concert for which she paid good money - that does not seem to indicate the performance was "amateur".

This is really a small point but I do not like people twisting words to see what they want to see.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 30 Nov 06 - 01:52 PM

I should apologize for the anger that came out in my last post. I'm sorry Dick, I'm sure you meant no harm either.   It really is a small point and I should not be making that much of an issue.   Your early posts are well thought out and I do agree with you in your approach to folk clubs.

Again, my apologies for the tone and context of my post.   We are a realtively small community and there is no need for any hostility in such discussions. I will think twice before posting like that again.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Nov 06 - 02:00 PM

thankyou .


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: LesB
Date: 30 Nov 06 - 02:05 PM

Dick is saying "we should be studying the ingredients of a well run folk club", and mentioning the Bothy as well as others.
I can only tell you what works at the Bothy.

The club has always had good residents. Originally the Bothy Folk Group, then The Kings Shilling, after that a panel of resident singers & musicians were set up from among the floor singers.
This model is still working today. We have always tried to make sure a range of styles & tastes are catered for. Among our current residents we cover traditional, blues & contemorary material.

There is a guest night alternating with a singers night. On singers nights the residents do their usual spots intermixed with spots from 'floor singers'. Sometimes there are only one or two floor singers, therefore the residents are available to 'fill' the evening. Sometimes there are almost too many to squeeze in. The range of guests tend to cover the spectrum of styles as can be seen by the following list. HOOVER THE DOG, STEVE GILLETTE AND CINDY MANGSEN (USA), TOM LEWIS, DANA AND SUE ROBINSON, RATTLE ON THE STOVEPIPE, TOM DOUGHTY,THREE SHEETS TO THE WIND, SCOLDS BRIDLE, DAVE FLETCHER AND BILL WHALEY, GEORGE PAPAVGERIS, DAVE WEBBER AND ANNI FENTIMAN, ROGER WILSON, TRIO THRELFALL, KEITH CHRISTMAS, THE DEVIL'S INTERVAL. This represents Sept06-April07.

After years in a room above a grotty pub we were forced into making a move about 3yrs ago. We moved to a more comfortable, civilised venue. We are about to move again. We have got soft & now wont settle for anythig less, we think we have found the right place. Wenoticed a distinct improvement in attendance when we left the grot spot.

Finally we are very lucky in having a great frontman in Clive Pownceby.
I hope that this is of use to someone.
Cheers
Les


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: John Routledge
Date: 30 Nov 06 - 02:41 PM

Reading thread with great interest.

What is becoming clearer is that the essential ingredient for longevity is a core of quality and reliability.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Nov 06 - 03:45 PM

Cap'n,
I am not condemning any of the people you mentioned - most worked at what they did (whether I like or dislike the end result is beside the point); I am criticising the 'near enough for folk' attitude which has prevailed since early in the revival, I am opposing the idea that working at singing lessens the pleasure (see this thread), I am objecting strongly to the suggestion that it is unwise to concentrate on competent performers because it will put off the incompetent ones (see this thread).
I did not say it was a long time since I visited a folk club; I said I stopped going regularly a long time ago. I go as often as I can; usually I find the old saying true; 'it is better to travel in hope than to arrive'. We don't have many in West Clare; the last time I was in a club was a couple of monthas ago and the last UK one was an absolute disaster (nationally known club with a nationally known guest), crib-sheets, out-of-tune singing, major forgetting of words, singers taking the piss out of the songs they were singing and a complete indifference to all these things - all in all, as enjoyable as an enema; (I haven't mentioned choruses being dragged down to half the speed takn by the singer, people singing along with non-chorus songs - occasionally with the same version, but this didn't seem to be a major consideration)
For me, the folk club is (or was) a perfect venue for traditional song, democratic enough to give an audience to anybody who comes along and informal enough to put people at ease to sing in a relaxed atmosphere. More and more it seems to have become a place where people go to practice.
You said in an earlier posting that if traditional singing dies it will be revived again - so what - I am concerned with what happens to it now, while I am still around to enjoy it.
I have no illusions about the 'good old days'; there have always been crap singers - a good club dealt with them tactfully, and certainly where I lived there were individuals and workshops to help them improve. There were certainly far more good singers about say fifteen years ago.
I have not read one argument that tells me things are improving in the clubs, rather I get the impression that people feel there is no need or room for improvement.
Bad singing will kill traditional song,; perhaps it is just as well as there is enough good singing documented on recordings to give people in the future a positive impression of what traditional singing was all about.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Nov 06 - 04:22 PM

It depends how you define bad singing.
You see I think Kate rusbys version of ranzo is inferior to BERT LLOYDS , a beautiful voice but no understanding of style, interpretation or the type of song she was singing,but its not bad as regards being in tune.
many blues singers were not always perfectly in tune but they sang with passion and they cOnveyed emotion.
Do you not accept that traditional music whether its blues or margaret barry[occasionally her banjo was out of tune]can lack polish, but still be exciting.[   e g some uillean pipers[often out of tune].      
I do agree with you about crib sheets,AND taking the piss out of songs,.
but if you only went to a club two months ago,rather than weekly your possibly generalising from the particular,why dont you try the cork singers club at[ an spalpin fanach] its very good.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Gervase
Date: 30 Nov 06 - 04:59 PM

The trouble is, Dick is a glass-half-full optimist who sees no cause for concern, whereas Jim (and myself and a few others) are simply being realistic.
I'm sure there are plenty of clubs that happily continue entertaining their regulars and providing a darned good evening's entertainment - as I said earlier, clubs like Sharp's, Maidenhead and Herga should be national treasures. They are the well run clubs that are indeed so important. But there are also many clubs that are bloody dire.
But even the well-run clubs tend to attract the same people - when I go to clubs I so often see 'the usual suspects'; the faces I see everywhere and (like my own) they're not getting any younger.
My own feeling, and nothing I've read here has altered it, is that the 'folk club' has had its heyday and we are now in the twilight years. And, just as there are still a few - a very few - pubs that have a trad jazz session of a Sunday, I'm sure some folk clubs will continue. But many will surely fade and wither as their punters do, and will eventually fold because no new blood is interested in attending.
Plenty enough have already gone that way, and plenty more will follow - and the sort of complacency that insists that 'nothing's wrong, so we don't need to do anything' will speed the decline.
OK, so it's an unpopular view, and I would love those who argue against it to be right, but I fear too many heads are in the sand. Folk music will endure as long as there are people, but folk clubs?


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Nov 06 - 06:01 PM

I think that quite a lot of the criticism that has been voiced on this thread is probably has some validity, but I can't help wondering why it is voiced. Surely if you are not happy with the standard of performance at your local club, then the answer is either to become involved with the organisation yourself and see whether you can introduce the changes you would like, or alternatively to start a different club that runs in the way you feel is appropriate. If you are not prepared to do either of these, then why feel you have the right to criticise other people's efforts? After all - if there is an audience at all at the clubs you are citing, then they must suit some people, and those people have as much right to their pleasure as you do.

I am not directing this objection at any particular person, so please, don't any contributors take it personally. It's just that as I have read through the thread I can't help but sympathise with Dick, who seems keen to find positive things to say. Like him I find there are clubs that suit my tastes better than others, and at least three have them have been mentioned already as good examples of 'well run' clubs. But NONE of those three ever vetoes performers for being sub-standard, on guest nights or any other. They are wonderful places to visit because they are welcoming to all and over the years I have seen many 'folk virgins' become valuable members because they can feel that.

If some people are 'put off' by the 'low standards' or amateurish performances, then they have the right not to return. But I know that just as many people are encouraged by the spectrum of standards that they find to perhaps try themselves. After all, if all you see at a club is accomplished, professional performances, then you are likely to think 'I can't do that'. But if you hear a few less polished items being equally supported, that may just give you the courage you need to begin to sing. And there are not many other opportunities to make that first step these days.

Why are 'well run' folk clubs important? Not to preserve the music. We have a wealth of archive material for that, and the purists would argue that the time has past for that now anyway. Precious few folk club performers are source singers any more. Not to put more bums on seats. That's a commercial concern and may be important for the preservation of a particular building's use, or a particular person's salary, but it's not the reason for the existence of most folk clubs. For me they are important because it's a great thing to be able to feel the power of song, and to share it with friends, and a folk club can do that. The clubs vary a lot because different groups of people find different ways of accessing the music, or place more or less importance on the songs/friendship. But they are each important to the people that attend them, and it's not my place to tell them to conform to MY ideal.

If your concern is that the purity of traditional songs is maintained, or that we must be ever striving for innovative ways to present them then I respect your right to continue to collect, archive, study or perform in ways that support your view. And I will probably be your most attentive audience member if you come to my local club. But the 'amateur' efforts of a few poeple who are less talented than you, or who work too hard to be able to practise as much as they would like, or who suffer too badly with nerves to be able to present a song professionally even when they have spent three months practicing it will not be what stops folk clubs surviving. More likely it will be the intolerance of those who would rather abandon them in favour of ivory towers.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Nov 06 - 07:44 PM

Sharps? SHARPS? Don't make me laugh! (Been twice, NEVER again - the most patronising, ignorant audience I've ever encountered)!

Guest, the survival of clubs (as we now know them) is not the issue. They will die out with the current generation. Fact.

We are discussing how the MUSIC might be saved.

Look: Archives will not suffice. Yes, maybe someone will dug up some songs and tunes some time in the future - but by then it will be too late. Like latin - of academic value only.

This music is worth saving because it was well-written, and/or it has been rescued and re-envigorated by talented people, over time. We owe the writers, and we owe the people who kept the flame.

It's GOOD goddamit. It deserves to be treated with respect.

I don't care what excuses people may have for singing or playing badly. Hell I can be rubbish myself - but only in the privacy of my own home.

If an event is advertised, with all-comers welcome, and money's changing hands at the door, then some standards MUST apply.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Tootler
Date: 30 Nov 06 - 07:52 PM

Well said Guest above. You echo my views exactly and have put very well points I have been trying to get over.

To my way of thinking folk clubs serve a particularly useful function which seems to be unique in music. They provide an opportunity for informal music making with like minded folk. No matter that the singing or playing is less than perfect, they give people an opportunity to have a go and in my view that is what is important.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST,John C
Date: 30 Nov 06 - 07:59 PM

Ok. Time to put it on the line. We've muddled along with this duality for long enough.

What we need is schism.

People like Tootler who want to make informal music for fun go in one church.

People like Guest who want to music to be well-played and sung in the church.

Clubs can may longer sit on the fence. By edict.

We ban the word 'club.'

We'll call the joiny-in, socially-motivated events 'circles'

And we call the other things 'concerts'

How about that, people?


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Tootler
Date: 30 Nov 06 - 08:01 PM

In my last post, I meant Guest 06:01, not Guest 07:44's rant.

Guest 07:44, you say that clubs as we know them will die out with the present generation is a fact.

How do you know? Do you have a crystal ball to see into the future? You cannot know this. None of us can. You are presenting an opinion which others may or may not agree with.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Nov 06 - 08:12 PM

How many clubs to you visit Tootler? I've been to about 75% of the English ones and quite a few in Scotland and Wales. I seldom see anyone under 50, and the vast majority are well over 60. I've brought younger people into clubs, but very few like it, and even fewer go back to become regualrs.(There are a handful of clubs with younger members, but only a handful).

Festivals ARE healthy from an age point of view, but clubs (as they stand) are on the way out.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Villan
Date: 01 Dec 06 - 03:02 AM

Well MRFC have a 16 year old who is a resident performer on tonight as well as another youger person in the name of Tina Taylor.
Over time, quite a few younger performers have been on at MRFC


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST,JT
Date: 01 Dec 06 - 04:12 AM

From recent experience the younger generation, in this country at least, are setting up alternative venues to the established folk clubs to get away from the cloying atmosphere therein. This is where the tradition will be carried on in the future when the current generation of clubs disappear through "natural wastage". It won't die out, it will continue under a different guise - it will move with the times.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Scrump
Date: 01 Dec 06 - 05:27 AM

IMO the distinction between what GUEST,John C says above calls 'circles' and 'concerts' is what happens already, for what I would call well-run clubs, i.e. some clubs only book well-established guests and good quality (in terms of performance) support acts - these are what I call 'concert' type clubs; and the more informal clubs where people meet up for the enjoyment of playing music with others, or in front of others while they are learning their craft (often called singarounds or sessions).

People attending a 'concert' venue will pay a reasonable entry fee that will cover the cost of the booked artists (hopefully, anyway - if not then the event will make a loss, and continued losses will cause the club to close). People attending the 'circles' type of event (to use John C's term) will only pay a nominal fee to cover the cost of running the event (e.g. the cost of hiring the room in a pub).

The latter type may see performances from people who are not (yet) of a 'professional' standard, understandably as the participants are still learning. Yes, it may well be that some of these individuals will never progress beyond a basic ability and will never reach the standard required to 'progress' to performing in front of a paying audience. But that doesn't matter - they are there for the enjoyment of making music among friends, primarily, not to become the next star performer.

The problems arise when you try to combine the two types of event. Some clubs I know do both, but not on the same evening, e.g. they might have guests every other week, alternating with singarounds or sessions.

Clubs that try to combine the two run the risk of alienating the audiences they wish to attract, by putting on substandard unpolished performers alongside professional guests, with the result that audiences might begrudge the entrance fee, even if the guest is good, because they have to sit through what they see as 'rubbish' beforehand (we've all been there). It seems from what I've heard that some clubs still try to do this, and I think these are the ones that are not 'well run'.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST,John C
Date: 01 Dec 06 - 06:21 AM

aye, but most of them are called clubs, so people who want concerts don't come because they think they'll get a circle, which they often do even when it's meant to be a concert.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Scrump
Date: 01 Dec 06 - 07:12 AM

In that case, GUEST,John C, the club concerned is not IMO well-run because they should ensure there is publicity to make it clear what is happening each week.

The well-run clubs I know do that, and I've never known any problem of people turning up expecting a paid guest, on a session night. Some non-performing people do turn up at sessions, but they know what to expect and are happy to join in a friendly evening's entertainment for a very small outlay. As I said, I wouldn't expect a session night/singaround to charge as much as a guest night, just enough to cover costs. So even if someone turned up on the 'wrong' night, they would at least not have to pay much, and they may even be pleasantly surprised.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: breezy
Date: 01 Dec 06 - 09:13 AM

In response to brdsye's qstns

Its a social thing for most of us, we enjoy listening to each other .

over the year our regulars have come to rely on th opportunity

I adopted the Ian Campbell philosophy regards floor singers, but there are opportunities around for total beginners.

we have tried to encourage youngsters.

we tried 'singers'nights' but no one came and we had emerged from that scenario anyway because we began as a sing session where we all put an pound in the pot.

The banter between artiste and singer breaks away from a concert, more an intimate gathering, max att 65

but now after 7 years and having launched papavgeris, flegg , Connolley and last and having booked some of the best its time to change

Yes I do perform , mainly as a host but only if there is slack time or the evening needs a 'pick-up'

my latest CD was recorded live last month and is entitled 'In One Take' thanks to Chris Flegg the sound engineer.

we have also filmed some of our guests and ressis, so I have a form of record of what we have achieved

Our venues have not been the best, but who knows what'll happen in the Springsummer of 07

if I get the 'bug' maybe something will come about as I know we are going to miss not meeting up

This Sunday Steve Last will headline, the following Sunday 10th we will converge on the Rose and Crown in St Albans

this Monday Webber and Fentiman at Herga where I'll be appearing in April


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Dec 06 - 09:43 AM

Nice to see breezy blowing his own trumpet. Who knows what will happen in Spring / Summer '07. I suppose you'll just have to wait and see which way the wind blows.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Scrump
Date: 01 Dec 06 - 09:55 AM

breezy? blowing? wind? There seems to be a draught in here.

Hope it's real draught ale ;-)


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: julian morbihan
Date: 01 Dec 06 - 11:42 AM

One aspect that seems to be missing from all the discussion going on is that a folk club is just that - a club. A gathering of like minded people to socialise.

A folk club as such is there for a group of people to sing. Standards do not matter, it is friends entertaining each other and being entertained. If a person doesn't sing that is their loss. If a person sings badly, may be the next time they will have more confidence and sing better. If someone needs the words written out in front of them to get through a song, so be it. If someone can memorise the song and get further into the singing, so much the better. The people sing because they want to. Not to improve to get bookings, just for the delight of making music.

Nuff said.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Scrump
Date: 01 Dec 06 - 11:55 AM

Agreed with most of that Julian, but there are people who enjoy being in a group of others singing and playing music, while not taking part themselves. Maybe they have no musical ability (or think they don't - I believe many people have more ability than they themselves realise); or maybe they just don't feel the urge to sing in front of others, perhaps through shyness or lack of confidence; or maybe there are other valid reasons to do with health or disability which would prevent them being able to take part.

Nevertheless these people (and we have a few regular attendees at our club singarounds, who never ever sing themselves) enjoy being part of a social gathering and are happy to be there. So I don't think it is always a loss to such people if they don't sing.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: John Routledge
Date: 01 Dec 06 - 12:04 PM

Surely it isn't necessary to want to get bookings as a reason to improve.

I want to improve because it makes singing more satisfying.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Tootler
Date: 01 Dec 06 - 12:37 PM

Agree with Julian. I thought that was very much what I was trying to say.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 01 Dec 06 - 02:18 PM

Iagree with the last five posts.,
home made music or skiffle had these attributes.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Gervase
Date: 01 Dec 06 - 03:00 PM

Oh, and the skiffle clubs are still thriving...


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Dec 06 - 03:12 PM

Cap'n,
You say you respect my work as a collector - without wishing to offend (for a change) I don't need your respect - we did what we did because we enjoyed it - meeting the old singers. hearing what they had to say, recording their songs, just enjoying their company.
Sure, we thought it worthwhile, but any collector who tells you they didn't get a buzz from it is telling porkies.
If there is any respect on offer, perhaps it might be directed at the old singers who gave us the raw material to work with - and the best way to respect them is to look after what they've given us and see that it gets passed on in a state that future generations can enjoy it the way we have.
I get a little hacked off with people who say they don't like traditional singers because they're old; god save us all from old age. If we can't learn anything from Sam Larner or Phil Tanner, we're in the wrong game.
I also get hacked off with singers who simper onto their feet and say "I'd like to sing a Martin Carthy song or a Christy Moore song, and then sing a perfectly recognisable traditional song. This was summed up for me beautifully when I was at a club in London where a young woman said, "I'd like to sing a song I got from Martin (first name terms); she then sang The Barley Straw. I was in a bit of a bad mood (I think Thatcher had just won a third term), so I said "didn't Harry Cox sing that?"
She replied, "Oh, does he; did he get it from Martin too?"
I agree with Gervase and all those who say do it well because it's worth it. As much as I enjoyed the atmosphere of a folk club my main reason for making the effort was always to hear good songs well sung, the companiability was a bonus. If you do it as a get together, why confine it to folk song; why not run a weekly whist drive or a Tupperware party?
Jim Carroll
PS The last club I was in was The Cork Folk Club; I enjoyed it. Ireland was lucky to have good traditional singers much later than Britain and many of the younger singers benefited from sitting in with them and learning from the fount.
The Irish singing scene has its own problems but they tend not to be lack of skill or failure to take the music and song seriously,


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Scrump
Date: 01 Dec 06 - 03:20 PM

I also get hacked off with singers who simper onto their feet and say "I'd like to sing a Martin Carthy song or a Christy Moore song, and then sing a perfectly recognisable traditional song. This was summed up for me beautifully when I was at a club in London where a young woman said, "I'd like to sing a song I got from Martin (first name terms); she then sang The Barley Straw. I was in a bit of a bad mood (I think Thatcher had just won a third term), so I said "didn't Harry Cox sing that?"
She replied, "Oh, does he; did he get it from Martin too?"


I trust you put her right then, Jim?


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 01 Dec 06 - 03:23 PM

"I was at a club in London where a young woman said, "I'd like to sing a song I got from Martin (first name terms); she then sang The Barley Straw. I was in a bit of a bad mood (I think Thatcher had just won a third term), so I said "didn't Harry Cox sing that?" "

Jim, what would you have asked Harry Cox?

Better yet, what would have have said if she mentioned that she got it from Harry?


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 01 Dec 06 - 03:26 PM

actually, the important question - how was her rendition?


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 01 Dec 06 - 05:23 PM

Did she get it from Martin (ie did he teach her) or did she learn it from a Martin Carthy recording - I think this is an important distinction in context?

There are none that I learned from him, several that I have taken in whole or part from his recordings, and one (of mine) that as far as I know he does not sing but he did say "good song" after my late wife and I played it at our then club when he was the guest, and I did say he was welcome to do it and give him a print of the words.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 01 Dec 06 - 06:49 PM

on the subject of Harry cox,Sheila Park a fine singer from Norwich, did learn many of her songs directly from Harry Cox [ I dont mean from a recording]Jim Carroll you should look her up.it would be of interest to you, not just for the songs and her fine singing but for anecdotal reasons as well,this thread has deviated.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Scrump
Date: 02 Dec 06 - 04:21 AM

We all have to learn songs from somewhere or someone, whether it's from the printed page, a recording, or hearing a live rendition by another singer. I've learnt songs from all these types of source. I don't see anything to be ashamed of. Does it matter if the young woman in question learnt the song from a record of Martin Carthy's, or was personally taught it by Harry Cox? Sure, the latter would probably be better, but we don't all have the luxury of being able to get things from the horse's mouth, and sometimes have to make do with a 'second-hand' source.

IMO the young woman's only 'crime' is ignorance or lack of research. I don't know when the incident Jim mentions happened, but if it was years ago it would not have been so easy as it is today (with the Internet, DT etc.) to check the source of songs. I sang some songs for years before discovering the true source. I would just say "I don't know who wrote this song, but I heard it sung by Joe Bloggs - if anyone knows the writer, please tell me" or whatever. Then eventually I found out more about the song and was able to say more about its provenance.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 02 Dec 06 - 05:12 AM

Collected = Bought the album
Reasearched = Borrowed the album

:D (tG)


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Dec 06 - 05:25 AM

Sorry folks, the point I was making is that somewhere along the line we seem to have lost a generation or two.
I too was happy to learn songs from whatever source, revival or tradition, but I felt , even way back, that if I was putting a song in my repertoire I wanted to look at as many of the versions of the songs that were available to me; and I always tried to find out (roughly) where the song came from. In this way I tried to make them my interpretations and not my source's. There was an argument put on Mudcat not so long ago that a singer should sound like the singer he got the song from - chameleon style sort of. As it happened, the singer in question (she got it from a record) sang it with all Cathy's mannerisims and peculiarities (and he does have rather a lot).
I have always been aware of The Critics Group being accused of sounding like either Ewan or Peggy, which left begging, the question of all the Carthy or Jonie Clones or the Bellamy Bleaters, or all the singers on the scene who lifted directly not just the songs, but the style from revival performers - warts and all.
Cap'n, I know Sheila Park - she was a resident at one of the clubs we ran. She was generous enough to let me have the last recording made of Harry Cox.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 02 Dec 06 - 02:29 PM

Iwould like to mentuon LEWES ARMS FOLK CLUB,.
while it is sometime since I was booked there, this club runs workshops[ballad workshops,instrumental workshops etc ]giving folk enthusiasts the chance to improve their knowledge and skill.
the ballad workshop by Brian Peters was sold out.I find all this encouraging [well done Valmai goodyear]This is another example of a well run club,you should try and get there sometime [ I know its a long yay for you, from IRELAND. BUT YOUR FAITH MIGHT BE RESTORED, JIM.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Dec 06 - 11:35 AM

Was delighted to read of the ballad workshop in Lewes - hope it prospers and thrives. It was exactly what I was suggesting (among othere things).
However - on swallow doesn't make a summer (he said looking out of the window at the pissing rain and listening to the howling gale!)
Don't workshops go against some peoples' idea of socialising and having a good time (and not promoting elitism)?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Tootler
Date: 03 Dec 06 - 12:55 PM

Don't workshops go against some peoples' idea of socialising and having a good time (and not promoting elitism)?

Not really. I go to Folkworks Caedmon classes every week, have been to their summer school for the past two years as well as to one off workshops. I have learnt a great deal over that time as well as thoroughly enjoying myself doing it. In fact it is thanks to Folkworks that I got back into Folk music seriously after some 35 years "away". I like Folkworks philosophy that anyone at any level should be encouraged to "have a go". They run workshops and classes at every level from absolute beginners days where you can come and try something from scratch through to being partners in the traditional music degree at Newcastle University. I like their approach which is inclusive and is to me the antithesis of elitist.

I see nothing wrong in wishing to improve, in encouraging people to make the most of their abilities or of pursuing excellence. What I don't like is the kind of elitism that has been advocated by some in this thread which says that only those who are "good enough" (however that is defined?) may participate. After all everyone has to start somewhere.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Scrump
Date: 03 Dec 06 - 02:00 PM

I agree with Jim Carroll that it's better to find out as much as you can about a song before you sing it, and not just copy the arrangement of somebody else you have heard, in his example the singer who copied Martin Carthy instead of listening to Harry Cox.

What you need to do is to get past the performer at the song itself, i.e. get the lyrics and tune in as pure a form as possible, and then apply your own interpretation to it. For all I know, in the above example, Harry Cox could have sung the song with his own 'mannerisms and peculiarities', and even if the singer in question had copied him rather than Martin Carthy, she would still not have been singing the song 'correctly'.

Assuming (in this particular example) Harry Cox provided the earliest known example of the song being sung in recorded form, how do we know he is 'right'? For all we know he could have changed the tune or the lyrics, perhaps unconsciously - I'm not suggesting he did, but the point is, he could have, without anyone knowing.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 Dec 06 - 05:07 PM

JIM , Ithink there is room for both learning and socialising. all work and no play, makes jill a dull girl.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Tootler
Date: 03 Dec 06 - 06:08 PM

Scrump,
I agree with your sentiments about getting past the performer at the song and applying your own interpretation, but I am not sure about the statement "get the lyrics and tune in as pure a form as possible". How do you know what is a "pure form"? Does such a thing exist with traditional songs? After all most songs, and their tunes, have changed over time. In some cases songs even acquire new tunes. Given all this, what is a "pure form"?

Jim Carrol,
I do think your remark to the girl was a little unkind. You could have been more constructive.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 Dec 06 - 06:36 PM

to Gervase. Please excuse my ignorance, how many skiffLe clubs are there in England ,Scotland and Wales.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Dec 06 - 04:14 AM

Scrump,
I agree entirely - if I listen to a traditional song I want to hear the singer's interpretation of it, not their source's - be they Harry Cox, Martin Carthy or Kiri Te Kanewa.
While I believe that it is possible to learn from most singers (in some cases how not to sing) everbody should develop their own styles and interpretations otherwise you may as well go out and buy the record of the source singer and listen to it at home.
My remarks to the girl - it wasn't really unkind to point out that Harry Cox also sang Barley Straw; the conversation did develop further and we all went down to the bar and drank to the eternal damnation of Thatcher - so it wasn't too bad an evening after all.
Cap'n learning/socialising - of course you make time for both, but you try to make sure one doesn't interfere with the other. Don't you find it very irritating when some bloody singer keeps interrupting your chat with a song - though I have been in clubs where some audiences don't let trifles like that get in the way of the talk and just plough on with the talk .
There is a theory that learning something new, far from being dull, is actually fun!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Scrump
Date: 04 Dec 06 - 04:24 AM

I agree with your sentiments about getting past the performer at the song and applying your own interpretation, but I am not sure about the statement "get the lyrics and tune in as pure a form as possible". How do you know what is a "pure form"? Does such a thing exist with traditional songs? After all most songs, and their tunes, have changed over time. In some cases songs even acquire new tunes. Given all this, what is a "pure form"?

Tootler - that was the point I was trying to make, i.e. we have no way of knowing whether the song we hear is exactly what was originally sung. I didn't define what I meant by 'pure', but I meant that if possible you should attempt to look behind a singer's interpretation and try to discover the song itself, without any adornments added by the singer's arrangement. It is not possible for us to know whether we have done this or not, because we have nothing to measure it against. But at least we can try, to the best of our ability.

If I feel I have done all I can (and I may not have done, because there may be other information somewhere that I haven't yet discovered) I feel happier attempting a song myself, with my own arrangement, rather than just copying someone else's.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 04 Dec 06 - 04:41 AM

In a well run club, There are normally enough breaks for people to socialise, sothat when the breaks are over, respect is shown to the singers,there is nothing wrong with banter, that is part of participating ,but treating singers like wallpaper music is disrespectful,and happens rarely in folk clubs.
no I dont find it irritating because I dont do it, NEITHER DOES IT HAPPEN IN 99 PER CENT OF FOLK CLUBS.
yes I get a great kick out of learning something new particuarly if I discovered it unaided by anyone else.
The whole point of learning from source singers or anyone else, is to eventually develop your own style, based on those people you have listened to, but not a slavish imitation. if for example I copied the bowing styles of lucy farr or paddy killoran, I would hope that their influence might be evident, but that i have put something of myself in.
what used to piss me off, was to hear floor singers regurgitate three songs from a cd, that they had just bought,and sound like a poor version of the original song writer[interestingly it often exposed the weaknesses of the lyrics in question].


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 04 Dec 06 - 05:00 AM

Talk about learning from CD's Did you ever hear anyone putting the breaks in where they are imagining an instrumental rif? I have. It's quite scary. The stand there with their eyes closed and think everyone is hearing the same as them. I must say it was only the once. I was going to have a word but someone beat me to it.

DtG


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Scrump
Date: 04 Dec 06 - 05:26 AM

Yes, agreed Cap'n. A well-run club would not IMO tolerate rudeness in the form of people talking while someone is performing. I expect that when doing a pub gig, but when in a folk club I expect people to do me the coutesy of listening to me while I am performing, just as I would do for someone else. Most clubs have time before the start of the performance, an interval and afterwards where people can socialise. I would not want to go to a club where they treat performers with such disrespect.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: breezy
Date: 04 Dec 06 - 06:36 AM

'Windward' 1999 - 2006, was probably the best run folk club that most of you lot - especiallly the bottless, gutless, Guest - were unfortunately too far removed from to experience.

It matched all the above mentioned positive criteria.

Sorry you didnt appear Dick, lets try for Herga.

In the meantime,   the former residents will be meeting up with a view to rendering a few songs on Sunday 17th Dec at the Rose and Crown in St Albans, its free admission - and it may have a hint of 'sound enhancement'

I guess its time to return to missionary work! in the communty!!

'Tarra'

'trumpets away.'


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST,toofarremoved
Date: 04 Dec 06 - 07:11 AM

Breezy is a folkie,
Breezy wears a smock,
Drinks beer from a tankard
And sometimes wears a frock.
Breezy went to "Windward"
Does missionary work,
You'll catch him at the Rose and Cown,
The pumped up, pompous berk.

Does "bottless" mean that you are sans arse?


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 04 Dec 06 - 07:22 AM

A well run club would make sure that their visitors get charged the right price....

I went to a club, announced I was a 'newbie' and got charged £8 over the rate on the signs. I suspect they thought I was with the local whom I had followed up the stairs and charged me for both mine and his tickets at the slightly reduced rate for members...... I didn't think about it at the time, as I'd not seen the entry fee posted anywhere beforehand and it wasn't made clear to me at the desk.

I don't really mind because I had a fantastic time and got more than my 'money's worth (much to the disgust of those around me... you know what I'm like), but someone in that club owes me for his ticket and I'll pay the other £2 later!

LTS


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 04 Dec 06 - 07:27 AM

Bummocks, lost a line!

But unfortunately, it'll be a while before I go back to that club, I can't afford the petrol money now!

LTS


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Scrump
Date: 04 Dec 06 - 07:42 AM

I don't really mind because I had a fantastic time and got more than my 'money's worth (much to the disgust of those around me... you know what I'm like), but someone in that club owes me for his ticket and I'll pay the other £2 later!

You didn't say when this was, but it wasn't last night by any chance was it?

If so, I think I might now know how you got your Mudcat handle :-)

(It wasn't me who blagged my way in at your expense, I hasten to add - I paid at the door)


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST,Brian Peters
Date: 04 Dec 06 - 08:07 AM

Jim wrote:
>> Was delighted to read of the ballad workshop in Lewes - hope it prospers and thrives. It was exactly what I was suggesting <<

We had sixteen participants sing ballads from blood-soaked epics to lyrical light relief (not to mention a beautiful song from Bosnia which provided a very interesting example of ornamentation). What was encouraging was that every participant had clearly thought a lot about the story their song was telling, the history behind it, and the style in which they should sing it - whether they'd found it in a book or learned it from a source recording.

Along the way we also found time to listen to recordings of Walter Pardon, Lizzie Higgins, Geordie Hanna, Bill Cassidy (whose incredible 'Pretty Polly' Jim was involved with collecting) and Phil Tanner, whose performance of 'Henry Martin' was a big ear-opener for those who hadn't heard it before. Too old at seventy-something? Pah!!

As to the merits of learning a song from Martin Carthy as opposed to Harry Cox, it's not about trying to find some 'pure form' of the song, but it is about trying to get some sense of the style in which these songs have been performed in tradition through generations before the folk revival came along. It's true that the recorded examples we have form only a snapshot, and we can't tell with certainty what singing style might have been like in 1850, but my guess is it would have sounded much more like Cox than Carthy. Does it matter? Yes, in the sense that it makes the music sound more distinct from the modern pop and rock music that most of my generation grew up with and hence, I would suggest, more interesting. There is a difference in kind between Carthy (a professional entertainer growing up in the age of mass media) and Cox, who walked miles to learn songs from singers in surrounding villages. Martin has always encouraged other singers to seek out his sources rather than copy him.

Tim Eriksen, a younger-generation master of North American traditional style who had a lot to do with the 'Cold Mountain' soundtrack, reportedly became attracted to traditional song because the singing style of the likes of Roscoe Holcombe and Lee Monroe Presnell was actually wilder than the extreme rock bands like Nirvana he was into before.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: breezy
Date: 04 Dec 06 - 08:10 AM

folkie - perhaps
smock - only when its windy, the 'made in Newlyn ' ones only
beer - not at my club, but will tonight at Herga
tankard - have a collection but wouldnt dream of drinking out of one
frock - nah not for me, very hetero
Windward, - are us
missionary work - toofaremoved has been identified as possible target
rose and Crown - on very rare occasions
Pompous, yes
Berk - short for

tonight Herga for Webber and Fentiman
beer £2 a pint
Pinner Green social Club


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Mark Dowding
Date: 04 Dec 06 - 08:11 AM

I remember one night at the folk club that I run in Lancashire, a lady got up to do her spot and announced that she was going to sing a traditional song and proceeded to give us "The Green Fields of France". I don't know where she got her information from but she'd either never heard of Eric Bogle or realised that he wrote the song. I gave her the details later on but how many other people get up and sing what they believe are "traditional" songs that turn out to be written by Ewan MacColl, Keith Marsden, Eric Bogle, John Conolly, etc? You can't blame them for not doing hours of research into what they do especially if they're only singing for a bit of fun and got the words off someone they'd heard singing it or a tape of the song with no recourse to sleeve notes (assuming the sleeve notes are of any help!). Pointing them in the right direction is one of the benefits of being in the folk music movement - if we can help someone to learn more about the songs they sing then that's OK by me.

Cheers
Mark


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST,Brian Peters
Date: 04 Dec 06 - 08:11 AM

PS The Lewes Arms folk club was very good as well, both in terms of attendance and performance standards from the floor.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 04 Dec 06 - 09:20 AM

Scrump.... er... yes.

They were bloody good weren't they.. and as I told Les afterwards, it's a bloody good job I can take the piss out of myself too!

LTS


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 04 Dec 06 - 09:22 AM

Whoo hoo!!

300!!

Haven't had a 300 for ages!

LTS


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Scrump
Date: 04 Dec 06 - 09:45 AM

LTS - it was one of those "lightbulb over the head" moments when I saw your comment. You should know who I am too, now - I was the bloke at the bar who remarked on what you were drinking, and said I'd better avoid that and stick to the beer :-)


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Cathie
Date: 04 Dec 06 - 09:55 AM

.........Oh and I heard you too Liz, from the other side of the hall.

That was a brilliant evening. How clever of Keith to incorporate audience reaction into his lyrics.

You'll have to follow the tour round now!


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 04 Dec 06 - 09:59 AM

Ah..... Remember the comment, don't remember the face, sorry! You should have said something at the time like - are you that annoying woman with the terrible laugh who drives Les insane and posts on the Mudcat!

I often wondered on the drive home, did the two couples who were either side of me in the first half just find different seats or did they go home??

To explain... it was a Les Barker/Keith Donnelly concert, and I was seated in a row of 7 people, of which, only 2 and myself returned after the break. Those who've heard me will know why.. if you've never heard me laugh, I can recommend 'A Cardi and Bloke' by the aforementioned Mr Barker.

LTS


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Scrump
Date: 04 Dec 06 - 10:06 AM

Ah..... Remember the comment, don't remember the face, sorry! You should have said something at the time like - are you that annoying woman with the terrible laugh who drives Les insane and posts on the Mudcat!

I only made the connection today when I read your message above (hence the "lightbulb over the head" moment), not last night - otherwise I would have introduced myself. I didn't know you were LTS then though.

I often wondered on the drive home, did the two couples who were either side of me in the first half just find different seats or did they go home??

No idea - maybe they just didn't share the same (admittedly bizarre) sense of humour as the rest of us there? But we were sitting just behind you and we didn't move - if that helps you remember who I was? probably not.

I did meet Cathie though - it was nice to put another face to a name.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 04 Dec 06 - 10:11 AM

They were probably expecting singers.... They'll know better in future.

LTS


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Cathie
Date: 04 Dec 06 - 10:18 AM

Is this thread-hijack?

And fartooremoved will be impressed to know that after

Squeak Liz Squeak, I played my John Breeze CD all the way home.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST,doevoomfarter
Date: 04 Dec 06 - 11:01 AM

This little piggy went to market,
This little piggy stayed at home,
This little piggy had roast beef,
This little piggy had none.
Cathie's not a piggy
But she often likes to roam,
And play John Breeze's CD
All the way home.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 04 Dec 06 - 01:59 PM

I would like to mention another club/organiser ANGIE BLADEN. Angie and Ken Bladen run the four fools folk festival, a folk club, a seesion, and a monthly concertina workshop, in chorley LANCASHIRE,the jubilee players are a mixture of anglo .english and duet players, for who I had, The pleasure of doing a workshop on ornamentation and also song accompaniment,.
Angie is herself a very good singer ,I would recommend all the events and the club that she organises.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Dec 06 - 04:29 PM

Brian Peters,
Pleased to hear your ballad weekend was a success.
Looking at your very impressive programme, good luck in the future.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Dec 06 - 04:42 AM

another organiser,who has been involved with running folk clubs at Bishops Stortford for 40 years,Jon Macnamara.
    He also helps to organise a monthly concertina workshop[TheChiltinas]for whom I did a Workshop on traditional ornamentation, and song accompaniment.
so jim, there is quite a lot going on at folk clubs, and their offshoots[workshops]to help people improve and learn.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: breezy
Date: 05 Dec 06 - 09:07 AM

Jon Mac


Tremendous individual, most knowledgeable, and now part of the clean air movement.


A rock of the folk firmament

Great acoustics at the vestry

see stortfolk, every thursday


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Dec 06 - 03:10 PM

I seem to have driven the subject of proficient singing into the ground so here is my idea of what a good folk club should offer.
1. Proficient singing (have I already mentioned that?)
2. Residents who actually listen to each other so they can tailor their performance to what has gone before and present a balanced programme. In this way the audience is not being given songs at the same pace, with the same vocal effort, in the same key, time after time, after time, after time, after time, after time – ad infinitum. This seems to be a problem particularly on the Irish singing scene where most of the songs seem to be slow, highly decorated and introspective – so much so that, despite the enormous skill of many singers here, you often feel after a session that you have waded through a field of treacle.
3. Some imagination in the programming; theme or feature evenings occasionally can make a difference; (Battle of the Sexes used to go down a bomb in clubs I have been involved in).
4. Respect for the songs and for the audience. Taking the piss out of the songs is not an option – if you don't like them, don't sing them. Too often in the past I have had the feeling that the singers don't particularly like the songs they are singing and they would rather be a thousand miles away. I am sure this has not been the case, but it has become a regular part of some singers' performances.
5. An attentive audience (whether they be performers or not).
6. An effort to involve new or non-singers, so that those who wish to can be brought on as future performers (but please don't let them practice in public); workshops are great, if organised properly. Those who don't want to sing may be prepared to play a part in some other way.
7. An attempt on the part of the organisers to make the premises welcoming (a few posters or album sleeves work wonders) so you are not left with the impression that you are meeting in a pub store-room.
8. Public presentation of the club so that is clear to a casual visitor exactly what they are going to get in an evening. Personally I am not in favour of anything goes clubs - if I want blues I'll go to a place where I can listen to blues; if I want music hall, that's what I will seek out. As far as I'm concerned a club should do exactly what it says on the tin!
9, 10, 11, 12…………. Proficient singing (I think I may have already mentioned this).
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST,dovemoofarter
Date: 05 Dec 06 - 03:33 PM

It's no wonder audiences are falling off and new performers are nervous. They're terrified in case they don't live up to your high standards. Soon the proficient singers (didn't someone mention them before) and the musicians will end up playing with themselves (so to speak).


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Gervase
Date: 05 Dec 06 - 03:37 PM

Can't argue with any one of those 13 points, Jim.
13? I'd include 'respect by the audience for the song.' To whit, if someone sings the line 'and the ring from off her finger, she instantly drew,' it shouldn't be the cue for the entire kindergarten to put their fingers in their mouths and go 'pop'. Or, in the John Tams 'Rolling Home', to have the line '..and let the toast go free', always followed by an inane cry of 'Free toast!'.
Maybe I'm being an old fart, but sometimes we should listen to the songs afresh instead of taking them for granted.
And did you mention 'proficient singing', Jim?
And can I come to any session you're thinking of organising? I'm in West Wales, so it's only a short paddle from here...(they do say that, Pict-wise, the Welsh are only the Irish that couldn't swim!)


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: John Routledge
Date: 05 Dec 06 - 04:22 PM

Excellent summary Jim Carroll. I particularly liked the order of characteristics required for a good folk club.

This has been/is a very stimulating thread - best for a while.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Dec 06 - 04:42 PM

thankyou John, i,m glad I started it then.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 05 Dec 06 - 07:01 PM

Dear countess, if you want to be a little "c" who am I to argue with you?   

You said, however, above "'Inclusory' doesn't exist as a word." I checked the complete Oxford dictionary (the true authority)today. "Inclusory" is indeed in there in the exact sense in which I used it. When you want to pontificate, try to be right.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Dec 06 - 03:14 AM

dovemoofarter
We've done that one. Those standards listed aren't high - they're just suggestions of how to start at putting things right. Then we can make a start at tackling some of the wonderful material that has hardly been touched by singers yet, Greig - Duncan, Grainger, Sam Henry -just wait till the Carpenter Collection is published - you aint seen nothin' yet.
Gervase, I agree entirely with your point about respect for the song - but that has to start with the singer whose job it is to win the audiences' respect. I would add to your list of no-nos audiences who deliberately slow down choruses - it's the singers' perogative to decide the pace of the song; or even worse, rogue members of the audience who join in on non-chorus songs because they happen to know the words (and occasionally even the same version).
I don't organise sessions any more - too busy pontificating on Mudcat
Cap'n - thank you for starting yet another stimulating thread.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: breezy
Date: 06 Dec 06 - 05:47 AM

Hear hear Jim

well listed

I particular approve of the one that requires one to sing a song that contrasts to the one preceding it.

Last night I attended a session where nearly all the performers needed words in front of them and there was little in the way of 'performance'

You had to be a die hard to stick that out

It would have done little to promote 'folk' to the general public, who would prbabaly have ridiculed it and i cant say as i'ld blame them, best behind locked doors really, closeted even.

More like caterpill'rs than butterflies, then thats being cruel to caterpill'rs



I was never totally exclusive at Windward but gave greater consideration to what the paying public would like to hear in the hope they would come again.

I have heard the line
' a ring from her finger she silently drew '
and seen fingers slide back out of gobs!!


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Tootler
Date: 06 Dec 06 - 06:59 AM

I think Jim's list is a reasonable one. What he suggests does seem to represent a reasonable minimum standard for floor singers on a guest night.

However on a singers or singers & musicians night, I think that this can be relaxed somewhat. Folkworks tend to refer to their end of term or end of workshop concerts as "sharing" concerts and to me that is what a singers night is much more about. About sharing songs with others. It is reasonable in that context to try things out. It is not the end of the world if some singers are using words. I know people who feel the need to have the words in front of them who still give a creditable performance.

I do agree about not joining in on non chorus songs - or even verses of chorus songs. It can be most offputting. I recently was completely thrown by this. It was a song I knew well, but was less secure with the accompaniment which I had been working on. Folk joining in on the verse threw me and I messed up the accompaniment. I was not happy about this, as much with myself as with any, but I think if people had just joined in the chorus that would have helped greatly. I have known someone stop, ask people not to join in, then start again. Maybe more should bite the bullet and follow that example.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: John Routledge
Date: 06 Dec 06 - 08:50 AM

I have no difficulty with the concept of a more "relaxed" attitude on singers/musicians nights. Brings in the essential element of Fun :0)

However is it reasonable to ask that all the singers have spent some time in the week before going through the songs they wish to sing with a view to at least being able to fit the words to the tune

If however the singers night consists of half a dozen close friends then they can do exactly as they they like - and no doubt will.

This seems to be the nub of the problem Is the Club singer's night really intended to be available to singers new to the Club If it is then some regard must be had to a newbie's perception of the proceedings.!!

At the end of the day we all have our own favourite venues and long may that continue.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST,Brian Peters
Date: 06 Dec 06 - 08:51 AM

"4. Respect for the songs"

Hear hear, Jim. I think everyone should have a good reason for every song they choose to sing, based on what it means to them. Could be an emotional reaction, humour, a beautiful tune, a memorable line. But a reason, nonetheless.

Many's the time I've been carried through a lousy gig by the sheer pleasure of singing the songs I enjoy.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Dec 06 - 11:04 AM

how do you define proficient singing,
for example someone can be perfectly in tune,but give a mechanical performance.
another performer may be slightly nervous [perhaps its their first or second time singing] and go slightly out of tune, yet interpret the song better than the aforementioned singer,
in the end its up to the organiser to decide who sings or not, a new singer should be followed by someone the organiser knows is reliable[to bring the evening up ].
the mc should think carefully about contrast,if he knows his singers well,he can do this. so in the end proficient singing[ however we define this]is in the hands of the mc.
another important point,[if the guest is a concertina player accompanist]dont put another concertinist, immediately before the guest [THINK CONTRAST].Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Dave Wynn
Date: 06 Dec 06 - 11:50 AM

Brian....how do you define a "lousy gig"? Bad performer perhaps?. Empty room maybe. I recently went to a badly attended concert where two performers worked their socks off and one just didn't care and wanted out. I wonder how people define what is a lousy gig?

Spot the Dog


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Dec 06 - 12:28 PM

of course im so perfect I never have a lousy gig.HAHA


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST,Brian Peters
Date: 06 Dec 06 - 03:09 PM

>> Brian....how do you define a "lousy gig"? <<

Horrible venue.... Audience with no interest in the kind of music I play (it does happen occasionally, although not usually in a UK folk club)..... etc, etc.

Having seen one of my folk heroes play at a venue he obviously didn't like, and respond with a couldn't-give-a-damn performance, I always do my best to 'work my socks off' even the most unpromising circumstances.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST,Peter Hood
Date: 06 Dec 06 - 05:59 PM

Can't resist it anymore!
Come and see Brian Peters is a really well run club this Monday!
11th Dec Red Bull Middle Hillgate Stockport
Start 8.30
Support from Peter Hood and Lynda Edwardes and "Shake the Roots"
We've got a big interest in the music he plays!
Some of us even bought the book!
See ya Monday!
Cheers
peter


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 05:20 AM

Cap'n,
PROFICIENT singing is getting the tune right, remembering the words, singing in tune, having some basic idea of what the song is about, having some sort of intellectual and emotional attachment to the song and possessing the ability to communicate (at least partially) your emotions, understandings and appreciation of the songs to the listeners. If you are using an instrument to accompany yourself, it means knowing where to put your fingers and when, and it means allowing the music to accompany the song, not dominate it. This, as far as I'm concerned, is a basic minimum for singing (traditional songs) in public.
GOOD singing is honing and refining the above qualities so you can – say – project your voice and sing in strict rhythm if you are singing shanties (and win over the participation of your listeners in choruses); and/or maintaining their attention and involvement (and your own) for 3, 4, 5, 6, 10 minutes or however long it takes, if you are singing a narrative ballad; and/or learning to use ornamentation and deal sensitively with your lyrical songs and/or making your audience laugh (or at least smile) time after time after time after time if you are singing humourous songs. A GOOD singer has some idea why Tifties Annie's parents beat their daughter to death for falling in love with a servant, or why Andrew Lammie had to go to Edinburgh, or why it was necessary to "wash the blood (or mud) off the dead man's face" while sailing The Banks of Newfoundland, or why Bonny Annie was thrown into the sea in The Banks of Green Willow.
EXCELLENT singing is having a good grasp of as many of the above as possible and being able to make a song work for you and your audience say six or seven times out of ten.
PERFECT singing is being able to do all the above every time (don't know and have never known any perfect singers!)
The more you practice, the better you become – the better you become, the more you enjoy it. I stopped singing when I stopped practicing because I stopped enjoying singing. I disagree with whoever said you practice by singing in the car (I hope I'm not driving in front of him/her in heavy traffic!) Practice is setting time aside from everything else to think about the song and working out what you want to do with it. If you haven't done the basic work on the song, all that singing in the car does is to make permanent the flaws in your singing the song that you haven't tackled (and makes you a menace to other road users).
Basic technique is fairly easy to work on for the average singer (some of us who are not 'natural' singers have to work that much harder to get there). There are exercises to develop all the techniques necessary to sing – relaxation, breath control, tone, pitch, range - whatever. These can be learned in a couple of months and once you have mastered them they are at your disposal for life; then you can then begin to enjoy the songs.
Singers need to have some basic grasp of technique before they can interpret the songs, just as a painter needs to be able to mix colours before he/she can rise above being a dabbler and be inspirational.
In the end, hopefully, you can become as good as you want to be (or at the very least, as good as your natural abilities allow you to be) if you put the work in.
For me, it all boils down to whether you believe the songs are worth the effort.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Scrump
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 05:37 AM

Lousy gig? One in a smoky pub where the regular drinkers congregate, and only want 'background music', so they talk loudly, laugh, etc., while you are performing. Where they come up to you while you are actually singing and ask a question such as "Do you know The Wild Rover?" and expect you to interrupt the song to answer them. Where they come up and stand in front of the mic when they know the words and start singing as if it's a karaoke, causing the singer to shut up. Where they ask if they can borrow your guitar or fiddle so they can play a song or tune for their mates. Any of this sound familiar? :-)


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 05:42 AM

I'm interested Jim ... why did you stop enjoying singing? I can understand if you stopped enjoying singing in public because the venues and/or audience did not meet the exacting standards that you have spoken about earlier in the thread, but that would not be the same as just 'not enjoying singing'. I think I might stop enjoying singing if I worried too much about getting it wrong, or sullying the legacy of traditional song, but whilst I try do put as much thought and time into my singing as time allows, I also try never to lose sight of the fact that I started out singing because I enjoyed it so much, and not only should that still be part of myown motivation, but it is also something I would hate to rob other people of by being too (prematurely?) prescriptive or critical.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST,Brian Peters
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 07:16 AM

Scrump:
Your description describes in every ghastly detail my own experiences in the days I used to do pub gigs, particularly in Europe. Except that you missed out "throwing coats over the PA speakers" (because there were no coat-hangers, not because the musicians were too loud). I don't play those places any more, although it was character-building at the time, and there were even occasions when the massed ranks of smokers / drinkers / talkers were persuaded to shut up and listen for a while.

Spot:
Yes, sometimes it is the musician who's at fault, but all of us have played shows where no amount of effort, talent or good humour on our part would salvage a 'lousy gig'.

Jim:
Terrific summary (including several topics discussed at the ballad workshop last weekend). If you are confident with all the techniques (vocal and instrumental), then you can actually enjoy and express yourself and do justice to the songs.

Tootler:
It's not always easy to remember it on a concert stage, but I *always* believe in "sharing" songs or tunes with an audience, rather than performing at them - and not just on Singers' Nights.

Peter:
If you lot behave yourselves I will attempt to present an entertaining evening at the Red Bull. Looking forward to it!


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Scrump
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 07:34 AM

Interesting point raised above about audiences joining in with the whole song instead of just the choruses. If I'm singing a well-known folk song then I don't mind, as the singer. Generally, I'm happy for people to join me though, as it means they're happy too - then everybody's happy, which has to be good :-)

I don't normally find it a problem if I'm singing a more 'serious' or reflective song - people generally seem to know when it's appropriate to join in or not.

But if I'm in the audience with a guest artist, I find it annoying if someone else in the audience near me (usually a fan of the artists who knows the words inside out but can't sing for toffee) sings along with the verses and drowns out the person I've paid to see - and listen to.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 10:14 AM

In my opinion,Implementing a policy, as the singers club did, of singers having to sing songs, from their birthplace is a mistake,and something I hope never occurs in a folk club again,.It is something thatknocks the fun out of singing, folk clubs and folk music should be fun.DickMiles


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Scrump
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 11:23 AM

Amen to that Cap'n - and songs are for singing, not being stored away in museums, or the special preserve of a privileged few.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 11:43 AM

Can I add No. 14?

Respect for the audience from the booked performer - I'm really fed up with the attitude of some artistes who seem to think they are doing you a favour by turning up. I've seen a very famous singer insult her audience before it was even seated by being such a Diva that the concert start was delayed by 30 mins on a cold, rainy night. It was no surprise to me that half of them forgot to come back from the bar across the road (it was a 'dry' venue) after the break.... The same singer has been seen glowering vehemently at people in the audience who might have a cough or a sneeze that escaped whilst she was performing....

LTS


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Dave Wynn
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 12:08 PM

Brian.....agreed, been there more than enough. I too don't do them anymore via selection.

Sorry for thread creep.....

Spot the Dog


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: breezy
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 01:50 PM

can be a tad off putting when someone joins in , by whistling.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 03:05 PM

Guest,
I began collecting in the early seventies while we were involved in running a club in West London and a singers workshop.
While I was still residenting at the club I found my time being taken up more and more with research and having less time to practice my songs. I found my singing gradually going down the pan because I wasn't putting in the time to get my songs ready for performance. I am not a 'natural' singer; I need to work to make my songs come out right. When I was singing regularly I had a repertoire of around 350 songs, which grandually rusted to a standstill. My range began to decrease and my voice became less flexible - I stopped enjoying it, and I believe that if the singer doesn't enjoy it, neither does the audience.
My standards aren't paricularly 'exacting'; I expected other people's singing not to fall below a not particularly high standard so I couldn't expect to get away with not doing the work myself.
I still enjoy singing the occasional song in sessions over here, but I tend to fall back on the handful I feel I can do passably well.
Cap'n; I do wish that people would get The Singers Club policy right.
Nobody 'had' to sing songs forom their own birthplace - MacColl was born in Salford and sang mainly Scots songs. All the rest of the residents sang a varied repertoire of songs, mainly from Ireland, Scotland and England. Bert Lloyd, who was a Singers Club resident for many years quite often sang songs from the Canadian repertoire (often taken from the Fowke collection). What none of the residents did was to sing in accents that weren't their own, or at the very least, familiar to them (eg Maccoll's Scots accent, which he grew up with and surrounded by at home).
The tendency (that's what it was) to sing songs from your own national background, was suggested in the early days of The Singers Club and came into being as a reaction against the proliferation of pseudo-American accents which were beginning to dominate the revival. The end result I believe was a blossoming of the national repertoires of Britain and Ireland.
The belief that The Singers Club was a draconianly run setup is a false one; the policies that were in place there were adopted by the residents, for the residents.
Liz;
I'll drink to that! It used to pee me off to see singers turn up for a booking and sit down in the bar till it was their turn to sing, then go back down there when they had sung (or chat loudly to their mates while the other singers were performing). - Prats
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 03:28 PM

so who,is one to believe you or[folkie Dave Eyre.]you I suppose
however, I do know that maccoll told at least one person of my acquaintance that they shouldnt sing like Bessie Smith[ the woman in question was a vey good blues singer] and ,In my opinion
she made a better job of it, than MACOLL did of his Scottish accent.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 04:15 PM

Cap'n,
I knew MacColl for twenty years; I was a member of The Critics Group for three, I was a member of the audience committee of The Singers Club for about ten years, I lived at Ewan and Peggy's for three months, I have been working on the 200 odd tapes (approx 9 years worth) of recordings of The Critics Group meetings since we moved to Ireland eight years ago.
I rely entirely on my own first hand experience of Ewan and The Singers Club, not on 'Chinese Whispers'. You are free to believe who you like.
Personally, I believe that the only person who should try to sing like Bessie Smith was Bessie Smith! I have never been convinced by a white singer trying to sing like a black one, though they are free to sing like an Azabajani bard should they wish to.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST,(previously of 5.42 am
Date: 08 Dec 06 - 03:53 AM

Jim - thank you for your explanation of why you 'stoppped enjoying' singing. I do sympathise with you. And I agree that if a performer is not enjoying themselves, then neither will the audience. But I hope that you are still enjoying the music whether by collecting, studying or sharing your experience. I can't imagine exactly what my life would be like if I had no involvement with music and no chance to sing ... but I know it would not be as fulfilling or enjoyable.

Helen.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Dec 06 - 04:24 AM

Helen,
Yes, I do still enjoy the music - we are lucky enough to have it wall-to-wall in our (small) town; excellent sessions with skilful and devoted musicians four nights a week. Unfortunately not too much singing.
I feel, as you obviously do, that song has become an essential part of our lives and the people we have met down the years have left their fingerprints all over everything we do.
We spent a great deal of time over twenty years with Norfolk traditional singer Walter Pardon who, at one point in his life decided that his singing no longer came up to the standards he had set himself - so he stopped singing in public; but right up to his death he never stopped loving, talking about and passing on the songs and the experiences he grew up with - and we are all so much the richer because of that.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Dec 06 - 07:18 AM

e JIM. Ewan said she should not sing bessie smith songs. E G. BLUES., something quite different.
I have to disagrree with you ,Ihave heard plenty of good white blues singers .JO ann Kelly, Springs to mind immediately.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 08 Dec 06 - 07:47 AM

"a reaction against the proliferation of pseudo-American accents which were beginning to dominate the revival".   

I'm all for that!

I gave up the blues (mostly, and those that remain are not really done in the pretence that I am a share-cropper any more) when I did realise that I could not possibly have a proper apprecation of the life experience of the originators. The number of people who can sing convincingly in an idiom that is not theirs is almost as limited as the number of Americans who can pass for English.

I know one and one only surviving white middle-class blues singer who truly sounds the part. Jo-Ann Kelly (of whom I was quite a fan, and was quite a close friend of my late wife, before my involvement) was one. That is not the rule but rather much the exception.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST,Chorley Bob
Date: 08 Dec 06 - 11:15 AM

Its a fine balance and I've found the best clubs are a mixture of some savvy commericial acumen (after all , what's the point of putting on a turn if no one's in the audience) AND a knowledge and respect for the tradition. The purist clubs were always a bit "eat it up its good for you" for my taste, even 30 odd years ago, before the disillusionment with the left. These days the hardline traddy purists seem anachronistic. I appreciate what they do, if only some of them wouldn't take it so seriously and rear up at the merest hint of professionalism.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Dec 06 - 02:27 PM

Cap'n
Was going to reply, but was saved the trouble - thanks Richard.
Bob,
'Purist' and 'hard line traddy' are terms like 'finger-in-ear' which have become knee-jerk reactions whenever the suggestion that it is necessary to do some work in order to sing traditional songs raises its ugly head; all basically are meangless.
The 'purist' clubs I experienced were the ones where you were body searched for musical instruments, or presented with a form to fill in saying you wouldn't sing anything less than a hundred years old - long gone I hope. I do not recall anybody advocating either of these conditions for the running of a good club; certainly not on this thread.
As far as I'm concerned, apart from the satisfaction and pleasure I get from listening to traditional songs, I believe the traditional form of compostion is ideal for the creation of new songs; hardly purist.
On the question of what constitutes 'traditional' and 'folk'; that's a matter of finding a consensus on terms in order that we can all continue to speak to and understand one another.
Can't see what's wrong with taking enjoyment seriously - I'd have thought a seriouse approach to performance was part of the job description of being 'professional'.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Dec 06 - 04:32 PM

jim carroll,a serious approach to performance is also the attitude of entertainers like Derek Brimstone AND John foreman,and they make people laugh.
making people laugh is one of the most fundamental aspects of performing,it allows the audience and performer to break down barriers between each other .
please dont lecture me about Professionalism, for whatever faults I may have Iam not unprofessional.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Dec 06 - 05:24 PM

I have no problem with the Cork singers club,that insist that guests and performers are unaccompanied ,in fact I find it an interesting challenge,and also a useful analysis of[for me]how my singing changes when I sing unaccompanied ,rather than with concertina.
   well run folk clubs should not be cliquey or dogmatic,they should be welcoming to newcomers ,.
are you telling me this is how the singers club was.
Richard Bridge ...... Dave Kelly, Janis Joplin, Jeff Dale[ organiser of the Downe folk club]Marilyn Middleton pollock , ginger sutcliffe[leeds area] five good white blues singers.
academics dont really understand about performing, its like acting.,you release your emotions[like the blues] you sing what you want to sing, not what [the singers club] or anyone else tells you to sing. well run folk clubs dont do this .


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Dec 06 - 05:44 PM

ginger sutcliffe =Roger sutcliffe,now based in whitby area.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 08 Dec 06 - 07:00 PM

well I don't think you should ever let anybody in a folk club unless they are wearing pink underwear. Its a simple enough requirement, and if someone won't go along with that - they are no respecters of the tradition. Ewan MacColl, The Copper family, Sleepy John Estes, Christy Moore, and Peter, Paul and Mary -- they all wore pink underwear.

I remember the time Bob Dylan asked for floorspot at the Dog and Ferret in 1954, wearing navy kegs.

I said, f--k off Bob, we're serious about folksinging here mate...

you've got to draw the line somewhere.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Dec 06 - 07:23 PM

A sort of united y-front!


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Dec 06 - 04:33 AM

Cap'n,
Where did that one come from. I had no intention of lecturing you - or anybody - about professionalism. I was responding to Chorley Bob's somewhat contradictory posting which appeared to be saying that us dyed-in-the-wood, finger-in-the ear, purist traddys on the one hand took our music too seriously, yet on the other hand disapproved of those who took it seriously enough to try and make a living out of it - one wants to make up one's mind, one really does! I have no problem with people making a living out of the music providing the music doesn't suffer in the process.
On another matter; perhaps it might be better to avoid names when discussing the folk scene (unless they are being directly quoted, of course).
I find my fingers twitching over the keyboard in response to Derek Brimstone, John Foreman, Martin Carthy, Christie Moore et-al when they are presented as shining examples of the folk music scene - some of us may - just - not agree.
Concerning laughter, Billy Connolly used to make me laugh uproariously, and I've been known to curl up in my chair at Basil Fawlty or Father Ted, but I probably might not enjoy any of these, should they turn up to a folk club and sing The Wife of Usher's Well or Tam Linn (on the other hand, they might make a half decent fist of it - who knows). Laughter (or amusement) is desirable if the singer is singing a humourous song, but the job of a singer is to communicate the songs, not present a cabaret act; as somebody pointed out in this or an earlier thread - god save us all from wall-to-wall Mike Hardings.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Dec 06 - 05:42 AM

I disagree,
far be it for you or me, MACCOLL[or anyone else   to tell other singers what they should do,.
as someone who has had considerable experience of performing, I would say this,the art of performing lies in communicating with the audience [there are many different ways of achieving this]laughter [providing the singer is not taking the piss out of his material]is one of the most successful ways of winning an audience over.
examples Dave Burland,Martin Wyndham Read, Hughie Jones. Now if presenting a cabaret act[ Ewan Macoll did this too[[he and peggys show was a very well planned caberet act, to the extent that he discouraged any support acts,in case it didnt fit in with their show]]enables the performer to communicate the songs,examples maccoll, mike harding[he sings good quality serious songs too]TheSPINNERS ,Hughie Jones the Ian Campbell group.Isee nothing wrong with that.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Dec 06 - 12:59 PM

Who is telling you what to do or sing and where is this intrusion on your liberty taking place Cap'n?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 09 Dec 06 - 01:50 PM

Cap'n - can't think of a gentle way to say this but your continually harping on about a long defunct policy of a long defunct folk club is getting very tiresome! Even your bete-noir, Ewan MacColl, has been dead for 17 years now - there's no chance of him telling you what you can or cannot sing. And even when he was alive this policy only applied to the Singer's Club and I don't remember any requirement to attend that club if you didn't agree with the policy.
Please, for God's sake, get over it!


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 09 Dec 06 - 03:07 PM

Mike Harding was a better folksinger/songwriter than anything else he's had a go at. And I bet you that's how he would like to be remebered.

If we had a few more like him treading the boards (wall to wall if necessary), the folk clubs would be in better shape.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Dec 06 - 03:30 PM

ewan maccoll was a very good songwriter[ he is not my bete noire].
I dont think he was a very good folk club organiser.
well run folk clubs,in my experience are accomodating and welcoming and encouraging to floorsingers, people should not feel intimidated,by the organisersand afraid of singing certain kinds of folk songs.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Dec 06 - 05:20 PM

JIM CARROLL it has occurred at least three times.
see what is traditional music thread,now can we discuss the above thread only please.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 09 Dec 06 - 06:08 PM

Every well run organisation has to have policies and rules. If I was involved in the running of a folk club I would, along with my fellow organisers, work towards a set of democratically decided club policies and rules - just as the Singers' Club did. And if you didn't like those rules or policies we wouldn't bleedin' well book you!


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Dec 06 - 06:22 PM

jim carroll;you wrote[laughter or amusement is desirable if the singer is singing a humorous song,but the job of a singer is to communicate the song not present a caberet act].
does it not occur to you, that you are telling singers what to do.
now I am sure your comments were not aimed at me specifically, But as a singer I can,t help but be included.
The three occasions people have tried to tell me what i should do.
1. a feminist from the socialist workers party,objecting to me singing,The Bald Headed End OftheBroom.
2.quorn club[ no political songs please,]Dick.
3.oxfordshire club[your not here to entertain but sing songs][[Istill managed 7 songs in the first set]]
4 a club in the midlands [I was harangued for singing The Coasts of Peru]because it was a Whaling song.
Jim, I would not dare to tell you how to collect songs.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Dec 06 - 06:55 PM

shimrod,I sing- play where I CHOOSE ,The Singers club was not in that category[ not for all the tea in china].
In fact I cant think of a less pleasureable way of passing an evening.,Rather like playing in the headmasters study,.


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Dec 06 - 04:33 AM

Cap'n,
I certainly was not aiming my comments at you, nor was I telling singers what to do - I was expressing my opinion of what I believed a good folk club should be offering - I (apparently mistakenly) thought that airing opinions is what discussion forums were about.
I suggest we drop the animosity and proceed in a more friendly fashion.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: why well run folk clubs are important
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Dec 06 - 05:10 AM

good idea.


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