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Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment

olddude 09 Mar 09 - 07:16 PM
The Villan 10 Mar 09 - 04:09 AM
Folkiedave 10 Mar 09 - 04:29 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 10 Mar 09 - 04:59 AM
theleveller 10 Mar 09 - 05:11 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 10 Mar 09 - 05:16 AM
Anne Lister 10 Mar 09 - 05:20 AM
The Villan 10 Mar 09 - 05:21 AM
nager 10 Mar 09 - 05:30 AM
Backwoodsman 10 Mar 09 - 05:33 AM
Betsy 10 Mar 09 - 05:35 AM
Will Fly 10 Mar 09 - 05:36 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 10 Mar 09 - 05:38 AM
The Villan 10 Mar 09 - 06:02 AM
Backwoodsman 10 Mar 09 - 06:28 AM
TheSnail 10 Mar 09 - 06:53 AM
GUEST,John from Elsie`s Band 10 Mar 09 - 06:57 AM
Dave Sutherland 10 Mar 09 - 07:23 AM
The Villan 10 Mar 09 - 07:49 AM
GUEST,tom bliss 10 Mar 09 - 08:03 AM
Marje 10 Mar 09 - 08:18 AM
Folkiedave 10 Mar 09 - 08:33 AM
evansakes 10 Mar 09 - 08:50 AM
The Sandman 10 Mar 09 - 08:55 AM
Will Fly 10 Mar 09 - 09:07 AM
Ian Fyvie 10 Mar 09 - 09:22 AM
Gedi 10 Mar 09 - 09:38 AM
Will Fly 10 Mar 09 - 09:43 AM
The Villan 10 Mar 09 - 09:47 AM
theleveller 10 Mar 09 - 09:51 AM
Banjiman 10 Mar 09 - 09:52 AM
The Villan 10 Mar 09 - 09:56 AM
Mr Happy 10 Mar 09 - 09:56 AM
Backwoodsman 10 Mar 09 - 09:59 AM
Backwoodsman 10 Mar 09 - 09:59 AM
Will Fly 10 Mar 09 - 10:06 AM
GUEST,chris 10 Mar 09 - 10:12 AM
Nick 10 Mar 09 - 10:48 AM
Folkiedave 10 Mar 09 - 11:14 AM
TheSnail 10 Mar 09 - 11:19 AM
GUEST,Jayto 10 Mar 09 - 11:38 AM
Will Fly 10 Mar 09 - 11:56 AM
Will Fly 10 Mar 09 - 12:03 PM
Mr Happy 10 Mar 09 - 12:04 PM
Folkiedave 10 Mar 09 - 12:26 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 10 Mar 09 - 12:53 PM
Folkiedave 10 Mar 09 - 01:15 PM
Banjiman 10 Mar 09 - 01:43 PM
olddude 10 Mar 09 - 01:58 PM
The Villan 10 Mar 09 - 02:10 PM
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Subject: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: olddude
Date: 09 Mar 09 - 07:16 PM

Not to sound like a broken record, but unless there is some means of attracting the young people into folk music, unless there is a means for young people to hear folk music and fall in love with it as we all have then .. clubs will continue to close, the music will continue to become silent.

At the risk of sounding harse (and I am not), we all, all of us, have treated Folk music as our own special club. I really think we are all guilty to some extent .. unless the music is opened up, it won't be played where young people can hear it. As I mentioned before there are no young people that I know who have ever heard of a Utah Phillips.   
I don't pretend to have the answer, only that getting the music on areas that young people visit, the youtubes, myspace etc .. maybe just maybe that will help.


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: The Villan
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 04:09 AM

I think the problem here, is that us older folkies are maybe trying too hard to force what we beleive on to the younger element.
I can well imagine that a Folk Club, full of older people, is not necessarily where youngsters want to be.
Folk Clubs will die as we know them, when the people who run them, get too old and decrepid to carry it on, and where nobody else is prepared to carry it on.

Have a look at the universities. I am sure there is a thriving music circle that us older ones never get the privelage to attend.
Likewise there are many open mike events all over the country in the UK.
I am sure there are many other things going on with the younger people, that we never get to.
Folk Festivals are probably one of the best ways to get the music out there and from what I can understand, brings lots of younger people in.

There will always be a divide between the younger and older poeple. Thats the way of life.

Music is healthy both with the younger element and the older element. More often than not, it is the older people that are not prepared to listen to what the younger ones have to offer.

Just to use 2 bands as an example of younger people doing very well in the UK and I am sure attract the younger element to go and see them.
One is Kerfuffle and the other is Mawkin:Causley. I love what they do.

There are many other examples.

I think what we should be doing is asking our younger mudcatters what they are doing and what makes them enthusiastic about music. Where are the hotspots for younger people. How can we help them to make them the future in the Folk World. They will do it different to us.

It may also help to know how old each mudcatter who is posting on this thread is. I am 63.


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: Folkiedave
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 04:29 AM

I have to disagree, the folk music scene I see is thriving. It is not becoming silent and nor is it failing to attract young people.

Go to any festival and there are lots of young people. Many of them are higly skilled instrumentalists one or two are good singers and getting better.

You doubt me? When I started in folk music, an instrumentalist was rare. Nowadays top-class young fiddle players are legion. One or two people played melodeons - nowadays quality young melodeon players are everywhere. There are far more folk events than there ever were.

I have never seen M;K but I have followed the career of Kerfuffle. They don't particularly attract young people - it is hard to do so. Bellowhead does - depending on your definition of young. So do the Demon Barbers and four years ago there the scream of teeny-boppers was heard as Black Swan Rapper came out to dry ice in the Late Night Extra at Sidmouth.

Go to DERT in Newcastle this coming weekend (google DERT 2009 and see the young rapper dancers.

The argument about folk clubs dying is different to the argument about folk music dying. This is well covered by Tom Bliss here.And Tom may argue that because clubs are not thriving - the whole scene will eventually die. HJe may be right but I see that as a long way off.


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 04:59 AM

Not die, Dave - change and possibly fragment, with a danger of some valuable things being lost in the process.

Without enough guest clubs to keep a team of guests in work, concerts and festivals would have fewer time-served, nationally known, experienced headliners (specially once the current Old Guard retire). (And how would young performers learn how to hold an audience for two hours before stepping onto a big stage?)

And participants would eventually only be able to get new music from recordings, books and distant performers, and without the intimate observation and interaction provided by visiting role models and 'experts' would find it harder to connect to the tradition and develop as singers, players and writers.

Instead of a nice big healthy tree with roots, trunk and branches - and seasonal sap-rising, we'd have something more akin to a snakes and ladders board.

And we might loose some great music along the way too.


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: theleveller
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 05:11 AM

I wonder if part of the problem is that young people sometimes feel intimidated about getting up and performing, believing that, with the increasing emphasis on professionalism in folk music, they think that they may not have reached a high enough standard and that they should maybe even have a CD to offer. Not wanting to start the GEFF debate again but , when I first started 'performing' at a folk club at the age of 15, people thought that it was great to have a youngster there and, despite that fact that I must have sounded diabolical, they were welcoming, encouraging and more than ready to offer any help and advice they could. Without that, I doubt if I would have had my 45 year love affair with folk music.

Is it the same today or do we expect our young performers to have gone through the learning curve (and maybe fallen by the wayside for lack of guidance) before we allow them so stand up at a singers' night? Or are we just all becoming grumpy old men and women?


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 05:16 AM

No, I don't think it's that at all. Youngsters just tend to feel out of place among their parents and grandparents generations. When a younger person does visit a club they more likely to be overwhelmed by the support and encouragement! They need to find their own places to play (which they have), but with some ways of earning fees (which they haven't much yet)


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: Anne Lister
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 05:20 AM

I don't think it's a problem for young people standing up to perform. They do - there are a number of young performers around, and still more if you move off the "folk" scene and look more widely at the "acoustic" scene.
The bigger problem, it seems to me, is that very few young people (performers or others) are actually taking up the organisation or set-up of what we call a folk club. It's been said before, but when I started performing the clubs were run by people who were only slightly older than I was at the time. That seems to be still true, mostly (although there are some organisers who are a decade or so younger than me). And where young people are running a venue, it's not necessarily called (or behaving as)a folk club.
So, taking Tom's comments on board, we've either got to persuade more youngsters to get involved in the running of the folk venues or persuade ourselves to look at a wider definition of what a folk club could be. For example I discovered fairly recently that in Cardiff there are several venues that might well book me, but as a folkie I'd assumed they were venues dealing with a whole different genre of music. (Still haven't secured that booking, btw, but watch this space!)   We may, as performers and lovers of the music, need to adapt to survive - but that's a normal development, isn't it?

Anne


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: The Villan
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 05:21 AM

Agreed Tom.

Some of us need to think back to our young days. Generally you wouldn't be seen dead with all the old farts. You hung around with your mates.

For those that experienced the folk days of the 60's 70's. How old were you then? Were the people that went to your folk clubs, old or young?


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: nager
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 05:30 AM

Often the younger people are better than some of us staid older generation who have been singing and playing the same old stuff for most of their lives without much, if any, improvement, in some cases. With the easy availability of music choice today via the Internet and the free availability of lyrics, chords, tabs and even note by note guitar lessons etc, the standard of the younger ones who frequent our clubs here in Oz is very high indeed. I don't think they feel intimidated at all by an older generation's skills. Perhaps it is just "not their scene" to see old bushy bearded blokes (and women!!) with a hand over their ear grunting old sea shanties over a few pints in a pub when they know they can do a hell of a lot better themselves. We don't hold our folk club here (Teralba NSW) in a pub, we hire a small community hall and charge just $2.50 (Oz) to come in. It is byo with tea and coffee free. It is a community run gathering, no-one gets paid but we still get very good local and not so local talent coming along. And yes, we have a good representation from the young, not so young and older generations. We are thriving!!


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 05:33 AM

In the case of The Bothy FC in Gainsborough Les, they were mostly young back then. Pat Sleight, who ran the club along with Terry Cater and Gwenda, was early twenties (as T&G were). Most of the members were late-teens to maybe late 30s. Most of the performers (and we had all of the big names there) were in their 20s, some maybe 30s) - ask Gwenda about a very young and absolutely terrified Miss B. Dickson who played for fifteen quid and a bed for the night! :-)

I think Anne's made a good point about young people not taking up the responsibilities of running venues, and also (get ready for wailing and gnashing of teeth by The Usual Suspects) look to widening the definition of what a folk club could, or should, be. Adapt or die.


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: Betsy
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 05:35 AM

Some of this was foreseen by a number of us , whereby young performers who were coming through , suddenly jumped from being good performers ,to , the concert /festival stage - and duly gave the clubs a wide berth.
In previous "waves", performers were glad to play any and every venue - just to keep playing and , get a night's fee, no matter how large or otherwise. Some performers used to refer to playing at smaller venues for a small fee as "being paid for practising".
At least it turned over some money, and also sold a few records / tapes /or CD's.
Apples will grow , but .....


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: Will Fly
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 05:36 AM

The music moves where it wants to. I've been at eclectic acoustic sessions recently with very good young players (fiddle, guitar, melodeon) and singers. Pub open mics in this area (Sussex) are mainly people in their 20s and 30s. Some club occasions are predominantly 40/50+ audiences - but at least two clubs I go to are run by people in their 30s and attract a very mixed age group. Some local Irish sessions have young demon fiddlers attending. The scene changes but the music will remain - changing here and there, perhaps.


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 05:38 AM

I'd be happy for them not to use the words 'folk' or 'club' - just as long as RAFT music was encouraged and marketed.

One of the best things about the existing club system is the network. That's lacking in the few new places that Anne refers to, but with time and encouragement it should develop.

That's why I'm asking for a survey (which by pure chance is actually now happening) and a small venues organisation (call it Association of Folk Club Organisers for now - though something more general might be better) to help steer the change through.


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: The Villan
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 06:02 AM

John, Gwenda did tell me about Barbara Dickson. :-)

Its very interesting what you say about the Bothy FC. Most people were young then. Nost of those people have stuck together over the years and are very big mates to this day. I think that is really great. That to me is what life is about.

So the young people of today are doing their own thing and hopefully will folow the same route and still be big mates in 40 years time and still seeing each other on a regular basis.

I just love the folk scene for its friendliness and helpfullness. However I don't think it really matters what sort of music people like, as long as they enjoy it and make the friends that you see so often in the folk scene.

Music makes the world go round, and pulls us all together as one great big family. Long may music live.


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 06:28 AM

Amen.


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: TheSnail
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 06:53 AM

Does any body have statistics on the number of clubs that have closed and the number of new ones that have started over, say, the last year?


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: GUEST,John from Elsie`s Band
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 06:57 AM

Villan,
       In answer to your question concerning the age group of those that ran and attended folk clubs and the like in the 60`s/70`s, from my experience we were all predominantly youngsters with a few notable exceptions. By that I mean we were all in our late teens to mid twenties. I base my observations on the London and SE areas where clubs existed in just about every borough. If you see the old films taken in places such as Les Cousins, the song sessions with Ewan McColl and Bert Lloyd, and the t.v. audiences when "folk music" was featured I think you`ll see what I mean.

   The pleasing and remarkable thing is that so many of us who were of that era have grown with the movement and are still here to enjoy its attraction.


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 07:23 AM

I started getting around the folk clubs of the North East when I was 17 (pushing 61 now)so naturally there were a lot of people around who were older than me;as well as one or two who were younger! However once that the music and singing started age went out of the window and all people were interested in was the material that you had chosen and how you performed it. The older members were very keen to encourage you if they thought that you were serious about the music and could improve upon your performance and for that I am forever grateful to The Elliotts of Birtley, John Reavey, George Proctor among others. I would like to think that such encouragement was available to today's youngsters - should they require it.
The only time I was excuded because of age was when one of our older residents was about to tell a dirty joke and he reckoned that I was "too young"! It was piss poor and anyway I'd already heard it!!


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: The Villan
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 07:49 AM

I think that is my point.
We did what we wanted to do when we were young.

Therefore the young ones need to do their thing and we shouldn't be trying to push it down their throats, but be there to help them, if they need it.


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: GUEST,tom bliss
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 08:03 AM

I do have reasonably accurate figures, but when I have published them in the past I have been rubbished by people (well, person) who semmed to know far less about it than me. hence why I have called for an accurate survey to producee all the statistics and academic conclusions required.


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: Marje
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 08:18 AM

Although many of the older folkies have been involved since they were in their teens or twenties, there's a sizeable proportion who haven't. I'm one of many (and I could name dozens) who didn't really have the time or inclination to seek out folk clubs and sessions until the age of about 40. Many people in their 20s and 30s are too busy with careers, families and other aspects of their social lives in their 20s and 30s, and in any case they may prefer not to socialise with their parent's generation. Once they approach middle age, they often become more relaxed about this and may have more time to develop their own musical interests, perhaps taking up a new instrument or singing.

So what I'm saying is that although some of the "original" folkies who were prominent in the revival of the 1960s and 70s are beginning to lose interest/marbles or simply die off, there's also a constant flow of new people into folk clubs, sessions, festivals etc - not necessarily young people, but new recruits of all ages.


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: Folkiedave
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 08:33 AM

Tom,

Sorry about that - I did mean precisely what you said. The demise of the club where the pro/semi pro could hone their craft is happening - there is no denying that. And whilst I am not a prophet of gloom and doom - there are a lot of sell-out gigs for all sorts of people - until we get subsidised folk music, it is unlikely it will thrive in the way that many of us would like.

For growth of folk clubs in the 60's if I had time (and I am retired!!) I would want to look at the socio-economic factors prevailing at the time - I doubt we could ignore the influence of what was happening elsewhere (pill, less restrictions, growth of universities, freeing up of attitudes in general etc) in the 60's to the growth of folk clubs at that time.

I would want to look at the influence of folk-rock - for that is when I believe that amplification came in at folk clubs and started to kill the clubs.

I would want to look at the social climate of the Thatcher years for I believe that is when it also helped to end the folk club as it was in the 60's.

I am not sure we are cutting off the roots - but we are cutting off the lower branches maybe.

I don't have any answers to this by the way, I wished I did, and I can (and have) gone endlessly around the houses in discussions about it. But I am anxious to see that the analysis is bang on and I am not sure predictions about the imminent death of folk music are correct. I am reasonably positive about its health - but with the provisos you have noted.

And finally there is no doubt that a huge chunk of the answer is younger organisers.

One thing I can wnoleheartedly agree with - my daughter and her patner both 26 at the time - went to a folk club and halved the average age of audience. They were so overwhelmed with kindness that they left early!!


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: evansakes
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 08:50 AM

I'd never even heard of a folk club till I left North Wales to go to college in Manchester in the mid 70's. Wandering round the various clubs and society stalls in Freshers Week I succumbed to the temptation and joined the University club. I was curious but felt I had the necessary qualifications....I'd just bought a guitar, could strum a few chords, read the Anthony Scaduto biography of Bob Dylan, owned Simon and Garfunkel's Greatest Hits AND Sweet Baby James.....and had even learnt a couple of Ralph McTell songs that I'd taped off the radio. What more did I need?

Sorted....so after persuading a couple of mates to join me and after a few pints to steady the nerves we ventured along the next week with none of us remotely knowing what to expect. We crept into the Solem Bar at the top of the Union building.....stone the crows! The place was packed with people our age! The organisers were students only a year or two older than us. There was no secret handshake or ritual initiation involved (though I think we may have been politely shushed)....we were in!

Oddly enough the first thing we encountered was a strange and mildly eccentric bloke standing onstage with a funny hat, wearing a moth-eaten jumper and with a dog at his feet, reading humourous poems from a little booklet (copies of which he'd recently run off on a typewriter). Dear old Les Barker of course (in his early tentative floor-spotting days). Can't remember who the guest was that night....possibly Joanna Carlin, Telephone Bill & The Smooth Operators, The Watersons or Nic Jones.....we saw them all play there over the next few weeks and months.

My main point however is that this wasn't the only place you could go to hear folk music around the student community...there was also a PostrGraduate Society Folk Club (where I first saw Pete Coe), a Polytechnic Folk Club (ditto Mike Harding), folk evenings at the Institute of Science and Technology and even occasional folk evenings at various Halls of Residence (I saw Bernard Wrigley do one of these somewhere in Rusholme). Everyone was up for it in those days. If you said you were going out to the folk club on a Friday night it barely even raised a giggle....

Are there any college folk clubs left these days? I certainly don't know of any...


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 08:55 AM

Bryan, No they do not .most of this thread is guessing.I prefer to guess who will win the 4 .00 at Cheltenham today .


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: Will Fly
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 09:07 AM

How about the proposition: "Folk clubs may die but, actually, it doesn't matter." Just to be a tad controversial...

Folkiedave - I guess we're about the same age (65 this year for me), and we probably grew up. musically, in the same folk world of the 60s and 70s. However, I suppose I have a different take on the current scene.

I was at a singaround/session last night - monthly session - in the bar of a pub in Surrey. It's a night I wouldn't miss for the world - a gathering of friends to sing and play, under the very loose guidance of one of the company - with wonderful singing, great selection of material old and new, and good fellowship. The bar was full and every performer got to do at least three pieces. Not that it mattered because most of us were encouraged to get in there and join in anyway! We raised the roof and I left at 11.45'ish, on a high. Not a club.

The previous night, I ran my usual monthly Sunday acoustic session in my local pub - in the bar. A small but enthusiastic gathering, with young and old people playing guitars, fiddle, mandolin, flute, whistle.. Once again, a great night - and not a club. I play a lot in my village - occasionally outside my village club on charity events on summer day - acoustic guitar through a PA, and there are a surprising number of young people who come up (probably to humour the old boy) and say how much they enjoyed it.

My point is, as I said earlier, that the music will find it's outlet - regardless. (Please - let it never be subsidised into official "folk clubs"). And either of those sessions would have welcomed a performer wishing to improve their skills - at any level.

As to whether folk rock killed clubs or not, well ... I'm just listening to "Morris On" as I write this. Still a great album and one, I'm sure, that actually encouraged people to go to clubs - as did early Fairport and Steeleye Span recordings.

By all means lets keep the clubs as vibrant as possible, but don't worry if the music meanders off elsewhere as well. I actually can't recall phenomena like singarounds and sessions and open mics being very common in my part of Lancashire in the 60s - but here they are, large as life and going on apace. :-)


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: Ian Fyvie
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 09:22 AM

Age when I discovered folk clubs? - 25. And so were the the organizers give or take a year or two. Upper age? We had a brilliant singer-songwriter who was a retired civil servant as a regular supporter, who was a great influence on many people with regard to performing/communicating with his audience.

As I travelled around England I found that organizers tended to be my age group too.   I now have a bus pass!   

At our singarpounds today we do have a number of poeple 10-15 years younger than me but when twenty somethings come along they tend to move on to open mic or other sorts of musical events; forming accousitic based bands.

The good thing is that many young visitors are going on to support - even orgainize - accousic music somewhere. More folk influenced songs in the pop charts would be a great help.

But what we must stamp out is the cliquery so dominant in many clubs over the years - which sinply stifled keen new singers.

And this is the mega reason in my view why many clubs are not so healthy - organizers put their egos and class biases before a healthy scene for the future - and NOW they're getting payback!


Ian Fyvie


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: Gedi
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 09:38 AM

Obviously different areas of the country will be different but I can tell you that in the South side of Manchester - Sale/Chorlton area, the Folk Scene is thriving.

There is the Chorlton Folk Club which has been going about 6-7 yrs and is very eclectic and has a large number of younger, student types who probably make up about 30% of the audience. This runs weekly.

Then there is The Beech Singaround which is mostly traditional singing with some tunes and is generally older folk who attend. We have just had our 1st Birthday a couple of months ago. This was originally monthly but has now changed to fortnightly.

Also at The Beech is a Beginners Tunes Session each month for budding musicos which is doing very well. Several younger ppl attending there.

And in Sale is the Sale Folk Club, weekly, which has been running for roughly 6 months now and is doing very well. Again mostly middle aged folk there but a few younger ones too.

I have come across several people in middle age who have 'discovered' our folk heritage fairly recently so the point above was well made - its not absolutely necessary to have loads of youngsters coming into the scene since a lot of people come into it a little later in life.

I have also got involved in a Morris side and that is composed of several young women and some older people too. There is also a cross-fertilisation of Morris-Folk going on here.

All in all I would say that the folk scene is far from dead, far from dying. It could use more youngsters for sure but its not by any means a desperate situation.

I myself am in my early fifties by the way, and have come back to the folk clubs after a break of 20 years or so. Perhaps a little more publicity to let people know whats on might help?

Hope that helps.

Ged


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: Will Fly
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 09:43 AM

I wonder if there's a correlation between thriving folk scenes and clusters of Mudcatters... The Chorlton/South Manchester area has a number of illustrious 'Catters who feature regularly in these columns - as does the Kent area and the Sussex area...

Or do we all just talk about it more? :-)


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: The Villan
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 09:47 AM

Don't forget Lincolnshire, which whilst being rural, has a very thriving Folk scene.
We porbably have to work harder to achieve success due to the area being very rural and population is not so dense and wages are not that great.
We also have a fair few mudcatters.


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: theleveller
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 09:51 AM

"population is not so dense "

Obviously pretty clever if they enjoy folk music.


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: Banjiman
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 09:52 AM

The really smart ones left Lincolnshire....... only joking!


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: The Villan
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 09:56 AM

LOL * and not so densely populated.

Are you going to see Lincoln tonight Paul?


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: Mr Happy
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 09:56 AM

Will Fly

What you describe is very similar to the acoustic scene in my area.

I run a weekly acoustic music & song gathering in Chester which is increasingly well attended by a wide aged range of both participants & audients.

Itfs not a efolk clubf & when I initiated the session about 9/10 years ago, I deliberately didnft include the term efolkf in its name as I felt itfd put off lots of budding singers/musos, and called it eMr Happyfs Come All Yef, giving more an impression of all music types welcome as long as remaining acoustic.

Presently, therefs no Folk Club in Chester, but therefs a thriving folk concert venue in nearby Ellesmere Port.

The last folk club as was has changed venue a lot of late & has run itself more on singaround lines with no paid guests.

The other sessions in the immediate area are all of the Come All Ye type, in the heart of the pub, not an exclusive separate room


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 09:59 AM

It was good enough for you and yours a few months ago, young sir! :-)


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 09:59 AM

Oops, talking to Paul there, not Mr. H! :-)


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: Will Fly
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 10:06 AM

Good on you, Mr. H. Glad to hear that the Chester scene is going well. Many people find playing or performing in an open bar off-putting, which of course it can be if you get a hostile audience, but I think it's good for the soul! If you can capture the attention a crowd of people who may not be particularly interested in what you're doing, or who have just come in for a drink, then you're doing OK. Always helps to learn a little backchat for the odd heckler, of course... toughens you up really!


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: GUEST,chris
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 10:12 AM

It costs MONEY and an acceptance of risk to set up any sort of 'club' other than a 'session'/ singers 'club'. 17 years ago the members of our 'club' committee were earning enough money to throw a few quid into the kitty to start off the club (pay the first few guests- I don't book guests unless I can meet contractual obligations) I certainly wouldn't try to start one now!
chris


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: Nick
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 10:48 AM

I keep hearing of new things on pretty much a week by week basis so here is a selection of things within a travelling distance of me that I am willing to go. I'm reaching mid 50s and live in North Yorkshire. Here is my week from last friday with some options that I could have gone to and got involved with - loads more options of open mics/bands on etc:
Friday - night in but could have gone to Tap and Spile in York for a throw yourself in sing and play (lots of young people there and older ones). Or gone to Boroughbridge.
Saturday - friend was playing in local village hall. Audience of about 80 people paying to listen to Jake Thackray songs. Session in Beverley. Previous Saturday played at sing in pub nr Thirsk
Sunday - Boroughbridge sing or further afield to Beverley. Open mic in York till late. Session in York. Pub 3 miles up road looking to start up a new sing or something on Sunday pm
Monday - Gathering near Malton I have yet to try
Tuesday - session in Maltings in York. Bedale folk club. Local event nr Pocklington which is just starting up.
Wedndesday - weekly singaround in Flaxton which we run. Or singaround in York at First Hussar. Will probably go to Pickering folk club for a change. Open mic at Habit in York
Thursday - Black Swan folk club York.
Friday - sing at Bagby nr Thirsk. Or Tap and Spile.
Saturday - playing in local pub for St Patricks

And those are just the ones I'm aware of there are more I'm sure. Another local pub has indicated an interest in music.

I think that pubs are increasingly entertaining the thought of having music presumably as a potentially cheap way of having bodies in the pub. A few years ago when Sam Smiths bunged us out of the Blacksmiths in Farlington it was INCREDIBLY hard to find practically any pub that would consider it. Food was the thing and every square inch of a pub that could be filled with folk slinging cheap boil in a bag pub crap down there necks was utilised. Now they are looking at ways of adding value or offering different stuff and it's no bad time to go and make oneself known.

Is it worthwhile for the pub even with driving etc? Where we are I reckon yes. The pub we go to on a Wednesday which normally would have 2 to 5 people in has somewhere between 20 and 40 (usually 30+) people in week in week out which is as good as a couple of darts teams who never play away matches.


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: Folkiedave
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 11:14 AM

Folkiedave - I guess we're about the same age (65 this year for me), and we probably grew up. musically, in the same folk world of the 60s and 70s. However, I suppose I have a different take on the current scene

I doubt it and we are the same age!! I go to events such as you describe - one already this week, could have been another and I shall be at one tomorrow night. I can go to a session most nights of the week - even one called "Raise the Roof!".

This is why I wanted to contradict the original poster that folk music would die if it didn't attract young people. I think it is attracting young people - but not through and into the traditional style folk club. That leads into Tom's problem.

And just to make it clear - the argument isn't that folk rock killed folk clubs - but that it made amplification much more common and it was THAT that didn't help.

I am not sure what you have against subsidy - many Scottish CD's I get sent have "Scottish Arts Council" on them and the Irish government have pumped squillions into traditional music. It doesn't have seemed to have done young people much harm over there....


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: TheSnail
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 11:19 AM

Folkiedave

The demise of the club where the pro/semi pro could hone their craft is happening - there is no denying that.

No, I can't deny it because I simply don't know. It would be nice to have some actual information. Everybody seems to be offering solutions when we don't actually know what the problem is.

How many clubs are closing?
Why are they closing? Senility of organisers? Personal bankruptcy of organisers? Loss of venue? Loss of audience?
How many new ones are being set up? Who is starting them?
What sort of clubs have closed - singaround/guest/concert?
How many have changed category?
Where is this happening? Is it regional or nationwide?

Around here (Sussex) I know of one club that started and didn't last very long a couple of years ago. Don't know why. Two new ones have started up in Hove fairly recently (unfortunately monthly on the same night, not sure what's going on there). Otherwise, things seem fairly stable. Several new sessions have started up (Thank you Mr Fly).

Can we have some facts? Even if the statistics aren't there, a few anecdotes would help.


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: GUEST,Jayto
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 11:38 AM

After reading this thread I think we are going to have to go back and delete alot of other threads. Up until now all I have read was how the scene was dying, clubs closing, and on and on. Upon reading this the whole scene is thriving and growing like mad. Wow! Everything pointed before to gloom and doom and now it's hot and boom. Hmm.


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: Will Fly
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 11:56 AM

Jayto, the tone of this thread - and others before it - really depends on the perspective of the poster, as I'm sure you can tell. And it may, to some extent, depend on the part of the UK the poster comes from - strange, you might think, for a country which is relatively tiny when compared with the US!

I don't think there is a definitive answer to any of these threads. All each one of us can do is to say how we see it from our particular vantage point. For myself, I would say that 90% of the clubs, sessions and singarounds I've been to in the UK - some in the south, some in the midlands - have been lively, good fun, in good shape, successful. That's just me experience - but it sounds as though some others have experienced likewise. Good.


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: Will Fly
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 12:03 PM

I am not sure what you have against subsidy - many Scottish CD's I get sent have "Scottish Arts Council" on them and the Irish government have pumped squillions into traditional music. It doesn't have seemed to have done young people much harm over there....

Oh - I suppose it's just an old-fashioned suspicion of the tentacles of government. Look at Arts Council funding - they subsidise a project for a number of years and then, with little warning, there's a change of policy and the bottom drops out. I prefer the RNLI model - they exist successfully on their own efforts and refuse government intervention.

Did I ever tell you about my days in the Judean People's Liberation Front... :-)


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: Mr Happy
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 12:04 PM

Given current trends, I think the outlets for live acoustic music & song gatherings are evolving from the formal stage & audience set up of the folk clubs to the more informal [& less artificial] settings of the come all ye type.

This type of setting gives better opportunity for onlookers [onlistners?] to experience the music as its inclusive, rather than the sometimes exclusiveness of fc's


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: Folkiedave
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 12:26 PM

Can we have some facts? Even if the statistics aren't there, a few anecdotes would help.

My comments directly arose from the OP's comments that folk music would die if we failed to atract young people - it's at the top of this thread.

I wanted to contradict that by saying that it isn't true - folk music isn't dying but the folk club paying the semi- and full-time pro seems to be/is and I can refer you to the word of Tom Bliss a full time professional singer who has a thread about it here; and a long article about it in the latest edition of "Living Tradition" magazine.

Now why not write to the that thread and to Pete Heywood with a reply if you think it isn't true?

You'll make your point in LT to a lot more people than you will on here.


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 12:53 PM

Hello Dick - yes, we're all just guessing, but I hope you'll allow that those of us who have spent the last 9 years keeping an up-to-date nation-wide database of clubs (i.e. spending 15-20 hours a week on the phone and internet finding new clubs, and ringing and emailing organisers new and old up and down the land, on an almost daily basis), plus who talk frequently and at length to club organisers and other touring pros about trends in the folk club movement because their livelihood depends on it are at least making educated guesses.

There's a wealth of information on forums like this too, most if it directly quoted personal experiences by well-informed, erudite individuals, but unfortunately some people have some need to dismiss this as gossip or worse if it doesn't concur with their own beliefs or agenda.

This is why we need a proper academic study - which even if dismissed by some, will provide the information that the movers and shakers need (thank goodness there are some) to press forward on the business/funding/licensing side of things.

By chance (I wrote my article before Christmas), this is now happening. Philip Butterworth from the Arts Council is conducting a survey in the English Folk scene to establish the best way forward for Arts Council funding through 2009, 2010 and into 2011. I'd rather it was commissioned by a folk club organisers group, and carried out by an independent academic, but this is a start.

Certainly funding would make a huge difference, and could do so without impacting on the rebellious, independent-minded spirit that pervades the folk world. We pay the taxes, lets get some baxes. (Plus Arts funding is a great anti-Depressant).

Threads like this are usually well-supplied with stories of new and blossoming participation events, often presented as evidence that clubs are not closing. But, as is so often the case, different people have different definitions of the word 'club.'

No-one I know is saying that the folk scene is in trouble - quite the opposite. But the evidence I have is that guest clubs ARE dwindling, and - because support for guests is also diminishing, are likely to dwindle further. And if they drop below a viable number, we will lose something valuable.


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: Folkiedave
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 01:15 PM

Oh - I suppose it's just an old-fashioned suspicion of the tentacles of government. Look at Arts Council funding - they subsidise a project for a number of years and then, with little warning, there's a change of policy and the bottom drops out.

That is what happens - but how much time does the RNLI spend fund raising? I used to visit my inlaws' house in Scotland and the local RNLI there had many more members that the local folk club. And probably put on more events!!

But there are Arts Council grants out there and other arts organisations don't seem quite so reluctant to take the money.


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: Banjiman
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 01:43 PM

Backwoodsman (going back several hundred postings)..... I can say these things, I'm from Lincolnshire!

and Les, no, I'm spending my time constructively rather than watching this seasons shower of has beens and yet to bes and going to Bedale Folk Club!

Retuirning to the thread. I live in the middle of rural North Yorks, there are at least 5 folk gatherings within 10 or so miles of where I live (including 2 guest clubs- monthly). If I widen this out to 25 miles I lose count....... Yes the avergae age is fairly high, but probably more or less matches the demographic of the local population.

I'm 44 and a guest club organiser, not exactly young but quite a long way off my pension. Most of our attendees are 50s/ 60s but we do have a healthy number of 20's, 30's and 40's. We can struggle for numbers on some club nights...... but our 2 weekend events a year do very well indeed. We do attract people in from a fair distance too.

Having been to young for the halycon folk club days of the 60s & 70s I can't really comment on any demise.... you just accept todays conditions and get on with it. We only started the club in October 2007 and though it would be nice to have 50 people here every club night (we don't) the bank balance is healthy and attendances are just about viable. If we only booked big names we could get a lot more audience..... but what's the fun in that!

We do work pretty hard on it though.......


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: olddude
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 01:58 PM

Here is a case in point and i mean this in the most respectable manner and not as any critism for I am also guilty of it. Lately I have been seeking out young folk artists on youtube to hear their music and post comments. there are some wonderful musicians. Yet I see the number of views and they are typically 10 or 8 or some very low number yet the music is wonderful. I posted a thread about a young lady named Wil Maring. Now she doesn't need any approval from us, she is selling records and recording but not one of us on the cat listened or commented because it was not a name we recognized. See we all , myself included need to give encouragement to any young performer who is writing folk and performing. It is the only way I think to keep the music alive. It is up to us to open ourselves up to new music created by the young people and not just focus on the names we know and love. We can do both, love the names we have known for so many years and yet take the time to hear a young performer do their original work. There are many great young writers and performers but I don't think they get the chance i clubs or otherwise . In my humble opinion


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Subject: RE: Folk Clubs, Closing, General Comment
From: The Villan
Date: 10 Mar 09 - 02:10 PM

>>If we only booked big names we could get a lot more audience..... but what's the fun in that!
<<

Depends which side of the fence you are looking from Paul.

In other words from a performer/organiser point of view

or

from and audience/organiser point of view.

I fall into the second category and see it from a person in the audience point of view. That upsets some performers, but you win some lose some. As they say, you can't please everybody.

At the end of the day, its about covering your costs, whichever route you take.

Like you we have a group of people that work very hard to provide what we hope is a very good quality of entertainment for our audience.
At this moment in time, our core audience keeps coming back (which we do not take for granted) and that is great. As its a concert style venue, then if the audience dropped below what would be our breakeven point and that became a regular thing, then we would have to stop.

Its totally different to a singaround, but we have several of very good ones in the area that cover that side. Gainsborough being my favourite, as well as Louth.

There are also quite a few sessions in the area. As I am not a musician, then it is not my style. However, I do sometimes put the occasional session on, and faldingworth Live pay for that.

The great thing is that we can all survive together and try to help each other. None of us want to lose money.

At the end of the day, you sets your stall out and do your very best to make it work. Nobody can ask more from you.


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