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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Tom Bliss Is traditional song finished? (621* d) RE: Is traditional song finished? 10 Mar 10

"traditional music deserves to be kept alive by somebody, and folk clubs seem like the obvious candidate"

Agreed. And put like that it's an entirely reasonable suggestion. But it's entirely wrong to blame the organisers, participants or guest artists of non-trad-favouring clubs for the status quo.

Even the (very few) clubs where trad is actively discouraged are blameless in this.

My experience mirrors that of Tootler, and I'm completely certain that the drop in club attendance in the 80s was down to the core audience settling down and having kids, plus 'poaching' by the punk DIY movement (to which I was myself a victim). Folk just went out of fashion. It happens.

As the numbers of attendees dropped, clubs were naturally glad to have new people arriving, and these people brought with them broader cultural ideas of 'folk,' (which of course had been widespread in the club movement from the outset - it certainly was in the ones I visited in the early 70s).

That said, I'll go on record that I think 80% of clubs in the UK are happily mainly trad/trad-informed, and from a heritage repertoire point of view things are reasonably healthy.

The demographic is, however, becoming an issue once more.

If it turns out that the solution is for more clubs to embrace more 'anything goes' music, to bring up the numbers (specially of youngsters), and for trad education to be championed within that context, as well as in schools and the wider media, then I say; so be it. I'm also hopeful that people will find a way to trad through open mics - and there is some evidence that this is happening.

Trad music is, unfortunately, something of an acquired taste. It needs to be done just so for people raised on mainstream pop and rock to 'get' it.

I've been told that some clubs who discourage trad music don't do it because they dislike trad per se, but because they've been over exposed to singers who don't do justice to the genre, and so are actually putting people off. It's a moot point, and one that individual organisers must be free to handle as they see fit.

In term of booked guests, again it's a matter of personal taste/ education. I love unaccompanied song, but I can see why some audiences would find a whole evening of it difficult. Book too much of any style of music that your core audience doesn't like, and you'll soon have no audience, rather than a converted one.

So back to Pip's original point:

Folk clubs are indeed the obvious candidate, but it's not as simple as it sounds, and it's completely counter productive, and unfair, to embark on any kind of blame game.


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