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The Concept of FREED Folkmusic

*#1 PEASANT* 23 Aug 10 - 03:39 PM
Howard Jones 23 Aug 10 - 04:06 PM
*#1 PEASANT* 23 Aug 10 - 06:13 PM
*#1 PEASANT* 23 Aug 10 - 06:14 PM
Howard Jones 24 Aug 10 - 03:04 AM
Will Fly 24 Aug 10 - 03:18 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 24 Aug 10 - 03:34 AM
The Fooles Troupe 24 Aug 10 - 03:35 AM
JHW 24 Aug 10 - 07:42 AM
Lizzie Cornish 1 24 Aug 10 - 08:03 AM
*#1 PEASANT* 24 Aug 10 - 08:12 AM
Howard Jones 24 Aug 10 - 08:45 AM
GUEST,Morris-ey 24 Aug 10 - 09:00 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 24 Aug 10 - 09:11 AM
The Fooles Troupe 24 Aug 10 - 07:05 PM
Rob Naylor 25 Aug 10 - 03:41 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 25 Aug 10 - 03:55 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 25 Aug 10 - 03:58 AM
Howard Jones 25 Aug 10 - 04:18 AM
*#1 PEASANT* 25 Aug 10 - 09:08 AM
Ed. 25 Aug 10 - 09:17 AM
Howard Jones 25 Aug 10 - 10:08 AM
Will Fly 25 Aug 10 - 10:25 AM
Stringsinger 25 Aug 10 - 10:51 AM
*#1 PEASANT* 25 Aug 10 - 07:03 PM
*#1 PEASANT* 25 Aug 10 - 09:13 PM
Leadfingers 25 Aug 10 - 09:44 PM
*#1 PEASANT* 25 Aug 10 - 09:48 PM
Bobert 25 Aug 10 - 10:05 PM
*#1 PEASANT* 25 Aug 10 - 10:34 PM
Smokey. 25 Aug 10 - 10:58 PM
*#1 PEASANT* 25 Aug 10 - 11:47 PM
Smokey. 26 Aug 10 - 12:33 AM
Don Firth 26 Aug 10 - 01:40 AM
GUEST,Allan Con 26 Aug 10 - 02:05 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 26 Aug 10 - 03:03 AM
Howard Jones 26 Aug 10 - 03:05 AM
Will Fly 26 Aug 10 - 03:50 AM
*#1 PEASANT* 26 Aug 10 - 07:30 AM
Howard Jones 26 Aug 10 - 08:51 AM
The Fooles Troupe 26 Aug 10 - 09:10 AM
Bobert 26 Aug 10 - 09:24 AM
Will Fly 26 Aug 10 - 09:37 AM
Rob Naylor 26 Aug 10 - 10:02 AM
Rob Naylor 26 Aug 10 - 10:21 AM
Smokey. 26 Aug 10 - 12:28 PM
Don Firth 26 Aug 10 - 02:49 PM
*#1 PEASANT* 26 Aug 10 - 06:38 PM
Smokey. 26 Aug 10 - 07:36 PM
*#1 PEASANT* 26 Aug 10 - 07:59 PM
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Subject: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 23 Aug 10 - 03:39 PM

Just came to my attention that I have a brilliant web page imho of course....

Concerning Free Folk music

http://mysite.verizon.net/cbladey/freemusic/freemusic.html
Freed Folk music

Yes I do challenge the necessity to make folk festivals into shopping malls and limit attendance to those able to pay and by making musicians and storytellers into "employees".

Have fun!

Conrad


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: Howard Jones
Date: 23 Aug 10 - 04:06 PM

I haven't had time to read the entire site, and my comments are based on UK festivals - maybe US ones are different.

I would take issue with the idea that musicians performing at festivals are "employees" - most see themselves as independent contractors. In my experience of UK festivals, where the programme and other commitments permit, most festival guest performers also actively participate in other parts of the festival in addition to their own gigs. Nevertheless it is hard work, and it is nice to have a private area where you can relax and chat to your friends and fellow-performers without having to be on-show to the audience or dealing with their well-meant questions, or simply to mentally prepare for the next performance.

If you have a large enough audience to call it a "festival", you probably need sound reinforcement, if only to balance instruments with different sound levels. Any electric instruments obviously need power.

In the UK, the idea of holding an event in the open air without any shelter is laughable. At the very least, the musicians need protection for their valuable instruments and other equipment - the audience may enjoy wallowing in mud but it's not an option for performers.

The idea that traditional performers always played for free is just not true. Many of them, especially dance musicians, were in high demand and played whenever the opportunity arose, and were paid in cash or in kind. Packie (not Packy) Byrne who you quote is quite right in what he said, and I have played with him in free sessions, but he was also happy to be paid to perform - and why not?

As a visitor to festivals, I enjoy the opportunities to buy instruments, books, CDs etc which otherwise would be difficult to find. Why do you want to replace these with flyers? I can find that on the internet.

Actually there are many small low-budget and low-cost festivals, but even they have to be paid for somehow. Most "free" festivals are actually raising the money through other means or are relying on the generosity (aka freeloading) of others. However most festivals in my experience offer good value for money. If I don't think they do, or don't like what they have to offer, I don't go.


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 23 Aug 10 - 06:13 PM

Ok simple but here it is

find big field- try your local huge park field, anyplace

go there

bring those who play and sing there

if you want multiple areas spread them out

Start playing and singing

Go home at some point

Let people in

No money has been mentioned

True not all folk musicians worked for free but they were few compared with those who did.


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 23 Aug 10 - 06:14 PM

maybe call them wage slaves or payment dependent

or walking juke boxes that you need to put money into in order to get music out.....


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: Howard Jones
Date: 24 Aug 10 - 03:04 AM

I assume by "festival" you mean something bigger than a few friends having a party.

I won't go into the question of whether or not musicians deserve to be paid. Personally I think it's a perfectly valid way of making a living, but that's not the point. Certainly it's possible to find people willing to play for nothing. But there are others involved besides musicians who almost certainly will want paying.

Firstly, unless you own land or know someone willing to offer it for free then you'll have to pay to rent it.

In the UK you'll need an events licence, which costs money, or risk a substantial fine. I would guess that in the US you'll probably need some sort of official permission.

You'll need insurance in case someone gets injured and sues you.

You'll need to provide some facilities, or should people just crap in the hedge? If the audience is any size, and especially outdoors or even in a tent, you'll need some PA if people are to be heard. That needs power and shelter, at least for the musicians.

I can see where you're coming from, and it's a romantic idea. But if you're going to put on such an event in a proper manner, it's going to cost some money. Whether that comes from the audience or some other means is beside the point. The alternative is to just come along, take over someone else's land and do your own thing without thought for anyone else. Is that what you're suggesting?


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: Will Fly
Date: 24 Aug 10 - 03:18 AM

Conrad - we've had all this in a thread of your not so long ago, and the same arguments will, no doubt, crop up again.

The concept of people turning up, making music and then going home already exists in this country at any rate. It's usually small scale and it's called a session or a singaround. They're usually held in pubs, anyone can turn up and listen or play, and no money changes hands anywhere - except across the bar for those that want a drink. If it rains, you're indoors. If you want a pee, the toilet's handy. If you want to sit, there are seats.

Suits me.


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 24 Aug 10 - 03:34 AM

There are a group of folkies here who have been doing this 'free festival' thing for the past twenty years or more. It's a private party run on an invite only basis organised by a large group of friends and family. Everyone performs, there are no paid acts. There are no fees bar a small contribution to cover basic costs such as sanitation and wood to burn etc. The fact it's been going so long demonstrates that it's perfectly do-able. But there's absolutely no way it could work without tents in the UK!


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 24 Aug 10 - 03:35 AM

"Sign up should be always on a first come-first-serve basis. Simply lay out performance areas with a sign up sheet with a breakdown by hour or half hour performance. If an artist arrives out of the blue they should find a stage at a moment's notice."

Been there, done that, Woodford Festival - all slots filled within 5 mins of the blackboards being open for each session.

I like the minimal amplification idea.

Some good ideas, but otherwise, sadly mostly not practical. Any hint of rain, and my expensive instruments will not be there, might take a tin whistle...

You certainly will have a lack of vendors, goods and food.

Others have already said most of the rest.


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: JHW
Date: 24 Aug 10 - 07:42 AM

I used to lay on little 'festival' weekends on the principle 'everything cheap or free'.
(West Burton, Tan Hill, Richmond and the first Robin Hood's Bay, my cue taken from the splendid Maltons of old)
but the folks at Robin Hood's Bay tell me now they hardly dare announce a date as PRS will send them a bill.
(I've deliberately not mentioned names!)
Even when no pays anyone for the music PRS still want their money.
Sorry, no free folk music.


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 24 Aug 10 - 08:03 AM

fRied fOlkmusic is what they play inside fRoots tOwers, so I've heard...


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 24 Aug 10 - 08:12 AM

For food-

Simply post all the food delivery folks in the region with menus and phone numbers. Lots of opportunities for food in most places. Set up a food ordering and delivery location on a corner with the signs.

Same with drink. Most companies will send it in with food. In urban locations post the name and address of the off license or store. Generally there is one in Baltimore in a block or so.

People exist on a daily basis in great numbers without hauling toilets around with them or renting them to take along. Why should festivals have such difficulty? Especially in urban areas.People find a way. Yeah bushes have worked for centuries anyway.

Yes small scale good start just expand it.

If you keep it informally announced anything is possible.

Conrad


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: Howard Jones
Date: 24 Aug 10 - 08:45 AM

It's perfectly possible to organise a small-scale event for friends and acquaintances, and if it's effectively a private party then many of these issues won't apply. However, to me the word "festival" implies a public event and a large-ish audience - obviously there can be no set minimum size, but probably in the hundreds or even thousands.

The food stalls, vendors and craft stands which Conrad finds most objectionable are to me an important part of the festival experience.

One of my favourite events is organised by someone near here. It takes place in his barn and in local pubs. I don't think guest performers are paid, but I believe some may get accommodation and/or expenses. It attracts maybe 50-100 people and it is stretching it to call it a festival. Even without venue hire and performers fees he has to charge a nominal £20 and probably makes a loss on it.


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: GUEST,Morris-ey
Date: 24 Aug 10 - 09:00 AM

Conrad

No one is trying to stop you...


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 24 Aug 10 - 09:11 AM

"One of my favourite events is organised by someone near here. It takes place in his barn and in local pubs. I don't think guest performers are paid, but I believe some may get accommodation and/or expenses. It attracts maybe 50-100 people"

Where abouts Howard?


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 24 Aug 10 - 07:05 PM

Up to about 100, we can still call it a 'party'- when it gets to a 1,000, it's a 'festival' of sorts.

The ideas about toilets 'use a bush' etc, sadly reveal a distinct lack of coping with modern society - there are so many health issues with this. If you have ever walked past a park where the drunks staggering out of pubs up the road regularly piss in the bushes on their way home, you will notice the smell. You might get lucky and not actually get charged for encouraging people to behave in this way, but should you keep trying to behave in this way, you may get served with a court injunction by the authorities, and blatantly ignoring this will get you in Court, a fine at least, or even a few days in the cooler! And you won't want that sort of 'publicity'! It will only drive people away!

"Yes small scale good start just expand it."

Sadly, you can not understand matters of 'scaling' to make such a glib statement. As numbers increase, things like 'piss in a bush' become uncontrollable, unmanageable, and a total nightmare. As size increases, the types of problems and the types of solutions necessary change - and so does the expense, especially the expense of cleaning up the mess afterwards. People in large crowds do NOT behave in a 'nice way', chucking all rubbish in bins, etc, even when they are sober! There is plenty of documentation available about this sort of experience, and why this idea is total madness. Woodstock, for one ... :-)

Maybe more later ...
:-)


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 25 Aug 10 - 03:41 AM

FT: Agreed. I'll often piss in a bush when hill-walking or climbing, which the environment seems to absorb as long as it's just a few of us.

But I've seen the approach path to Scafell Pike in Wasdale after 50 minibuses full of people walking the "Three Peaks Challenge" have passed by in the course of a few hours. It's disgusting. The urine smell. The faeces everywhere, sometimes hidden but often just sitting there. Still smelling rank either way,and close enough to the watercourse to contaminate it.

On top of that there's food waste and litter, as you say. I've helped clear up after several events held by others "doing things informally" and even a smallish gathering can create a tremendous amount of mess...and I'm talking mainly mature adults here, not a gang of irresponsible youngsters.

This guy has no idea.

Mind you, the web site he points to is so naff and badly designed that it's hard to take him seriously anyway. Love it that the caption by the picture of the piper at the top of the page says "The musician here is probably not playing for money" while the caption on the *identical* picture in a side-bar next to the "Artists" secton says "This piper is most likely a professional". Schizoid or what?


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 25 Aug 10 - 03:55 AM

Hey, I reckon we should abandon the cars for travelling to the field too. Only people walking on foot should go, petrol is expensive.

You can't have a thousand or even a hundred people shitting in the same field all week Conrad! even if they all dug holes and buried it (I got this exact same brilliant wee fold-up trowel from the pound shop - for a pound - btw: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Steel-Trowel-Camping-Shovel-Pouch/dp/B002HSC8NK)


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 25 Aug 10 - 03:58 AM

"Yes small scale good start just expand it."

Why would they want to expand it? In fact I'm pretty certain they don't and indeed never will want too. It works tickety boo exactly how it is.


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: Howard Jones
Date: 25 Aug 10 - 04:18 AM

Crow Sister, I'm referring to Bradfield Traditional Music Weekend, held up in the hills above Sheffield. Traditional song and music sessions, a ceilidh and usually a couple of talks.

The next one is 15-17 July 2011. It will probably be announced here.


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 25 Aug 10 - 09:08 AM

For centuries the folk world did without all the expensive frills and produced great music and musical experiences for large numbers of people.

Same can happen now.

When you add expense you drive up costs and that limits participation.
How can anyone justify limiting attendence in any way?

Nothing wrong with keeping things simple except for some it is a new idea.

Conrad


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: Ed.
Date: 25 Aug 10 - 09:17 AM

Walking up to the railway station with a chorus from the local youth of 'You fat Bastard' is folk music.

You may not like that definition, but that's not the music's fault....


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: Howard Jones
Date: 25 Aug 10 - 10:08 AM

No, it provided great music and musical experiences for small groups of people. The idea of a "folk festival" is a modern concept. People made music in their own communities, in their houses and pubs.

All that still goes on, and it is mostly free or very low cost. What you are proposing is something completely different.


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: Will Fly
Date: 25 Aug 10 - 10:25 AM

For centuries the folk world did without all the expensive frills and produced great music and musical experiences for large numbers of people.

What on earth are you talking about? When and where were these great musical experiences - and how many people were there. Documentation? Evidence? Historical sources? What was the "folk world", say, three centuries ago?

Mmm?


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: Stringsinger
Date: 25 Aug 10 - 10:51 AM

Here where I live, there are small enclaves getting together and making music for themselves. Some are pro, semi-pro and others amateur musicians. I think that this is the way folk music has always been generated. The idea of a singer/songwriter playing a guitar in a coffee house as a folk singer is a recent development and marketing ploy.

I don't think that the large numbers of people figures here. Usually in small circles,
there were players and listeners. Today with the exorbitant price of musical instruments,
I don't think you can talk about the lack of expensive "frills". To get a decent instrument because of the demand the price is too much. It's not right to expect a trained musician to play on a cigar box.

The problem with organizing a "free" jam session or concert is that you get into hierarchical problems and power moves. It's OK if it serves the public by giving them
something musical of value, but so often this turns into political jockeying and the enforcement of an individual leader's taste on the public. This is why this type of
"session" should take place on a local level with small groups of interested people.

Here, we have an Old-Time community, a Bluegrass community, a Jazz jam commnity and a singer/songwriter community. There well may be a Blues community but if so, it doesn't overlap outside of the African-American scene. The communities don't overlap much. But they are vital and alive.

I am not conversant with the scene in the UK but my hunch is that it is quite different in that the unaccompanied traditional ballad style of singing is prevalent and has a following. It's not here, for most of the States with perhaps the exception of Portland/Seattle area and Northeastern US around Boston, Cambridge or parts of New York.

The Rousseauian idea of returning to the "simple life" of the "noble savage" has permeated the thinking of many in the folk scene and it doesn't have too much application today in a society that is struggling for economic subsistence and and wading
through a technological maze. The viewpoint of the "noble savage" becomes an affectation for those well-heeled enough to support it. I suspect that many who are
underprivileged in the States would prefer hip-hop, rap or rock sessions. This has
a lot to do with musical education being downsized in the US public school system.


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 25 Aug 10 - 07:03 PM

still dont see the problem with having it happen

cost of event causes high prices which keeps people who dont have money out something that should not happen


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 25 Aug 10 - 09:13 PM

To respond to those citing the small gatherings of musicians in homes pubs etc I would suggest that these are not really public.

House concerts are not really casual but highly contrived alternative money making schemes. Never go to one just thinking it is a casual ordinary music opportunity- they will want money.

Folk musicians gathering in kitchens and homes and pubs tend to want to play with each other and not with or for ordinary folk. I was involved with such a group but then later found that those in attendance are carefully vetted and must be of the same political and philosophical mindset.When will I ever learn that if I want to sit down and simply learn to sing and play with others that I must give up my freedom of speech.

For that they like human jukeboxes cite need for cash.

I think I have been forever influenced by my 60s experiences in London and 70s experiences in Munich where one literally stumbled over people playing almost everywhere, parks, street corners playing sometimes for tips often not for anything at all.

I think that free folk music is something that can be achieved. Events can be as big as the huge convention styled ones where only the well off can afford to partake. We need to make them happen.

Conrad


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: Leadfingers
Date: 25 Aug 10 - 09:44 PM

Conrad has his beliefs and we wont change them - A waste of time and energy to try ! I wonder how long he would last if he tried to run a Free Folk event even in his own back yard !


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 25 Aug 10 - 09:48 PM

I have two events with music each year totally free open to all. Yes we do it. Easy! Both are growing each year. Musicians just turn up all share food and drink. Easy. I have place to play out back, in front parlor, then downstairs and potentially one more out front may develop this year.

I also ran a virtual tin whistle folk festival all organized on line once- totally free totally self help.

When you think what you know you dont need your views changed.

Conrad


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: Bobert
Date: 25 Aug 10 - 10:05 PM

What Conrad is describing is something that I remember from the 60s... It'd take someone with some farm land, a makeshift stage which was frequesntly a flatbed trailer, a generator and 3 or 4 bands who were willing to "split the bucket", meaning that some folks would mingle with plastic buckets and folks would throw ina buck or two... They were a hoot... Everyone had a good time... Very informal...

Today??? At least in the US of A, there aren't too many places that can happen because of permits, zoning, noise ordinances, event insurance, etc...

Wish it weren't like that but things, at least for folk music, are back to the open mics that have also been around for a long. long time... No pay, tho, at open mics but some clubs use their open mic nights book folks for later engagements whetre folks will get paid...

B~


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 25 Aug 10 - 10:34 PM

We have to remember is that the primary purpose for gatherings relating to music is the perpetuation of the music not the support of professional musicians.

When we free the music at events then the demand for music as in the open mic example will grow dramatically and more employment opportunities should open up.

I am skeptical about zoning restrictions. For a while there was a health regulations scare that closed down lots of church dinners and other group events but then it was realized that laws did not apply to non profit activities or informal activities.

So there is a lot of "it must be illegal" worry.

Lots of difficulties are overcome if you just do without money.

So it can be done on a barter basis.

I have had wonderful experiences watching high school and college students discovering folk music at my events for the first time.
Trying something new is best done when there is no cost of admission.

As with the 60s generation these folks grow up and become doctors and lawyers who now pay top dollar and huge beer prices for the same music that they encountered free and open in the 60s.

Sometimes the simple things, just coming together, even if you have to pee on a tree, are the most important. Thinking outside the box is required.

Conrad


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: Smokey.
Date: 25 Aug 10 - 10:58 PM

the primary purpose for gatherings relating to music is the perpetuation of the music not the support of professional musicians

Only if you're a punter wanting something for nothing and not a professional musician with a food habit.

The primary purpose is symbiosis, and it works quite well as it is, and has done for a very long time. The 'free music' movement drivel of the 60s was unsustainable tripe then, and still is.


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 25 Aug 10 - 11:47 PM

Disagree-

Supporting professional musician dominance of folk venues is unsustainable and sterile. It raises costs and costs keep people out so the crowds become elitist and inbred or simply die off.

Why only reach some of the people?

I did not say that musicians should not be fed! Musicians that attend my events eat very well and even take home food.

The most effective growth of the music both in transmission and the creation of new material, evolution requires open access.
Not rocket science.

The task is to build a community not to pick pockets. When the community grows demand for professional services- weddings, wakes, lifespan celebrations, special events will also grow dramatically.

What is really annoying about festivals is that they do not provide goods and services at bargain prices to those who have already been robbed to get in the gate but everything is often more expensive than outside. How can a person with a family buy cds when they first have to pay for admission, then food.....

I attend many events each year. I have given up selling my books as people have no money left. I do very well however by distributing order forms- which do come in eventually

Conrad


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: Smokey.
Date: 26 Aug 10 - 12:33 AM

I can't really comment on how things are in the U.S., but the U.K. folk scene certainly isn't dominated by professionals, more's the pity. - I'd say the majority of performing participants lose money by doing so, and that includes the lower end of those who actually get paid. There is open access to a significant proportion of gatherings, but because (in part) of the lack of professional quality they tend not to attract many new faces. Besides which, if you give something away for free, most people will think it is worthless.


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: Don Firth
Date: 26 Aug 10 - 01:40 AM

I'm sorry, Conrad, but you're living in a dream world.

"We have to remember is that the primary purpose for gatherings relating to music is the perpetuation of the music not the support of professional musicians."

There are some musicians singing and playing folk music who have made it their life's work. If it were not for the fact that they get paid enough to make a living at it, they would have to turn to other pursuits to earn their livelihoods, and this would severely curtail their time and availability to make music for those people who are sufficiently interested in the music to be willing to pay a nominal amount to hear them.

In 1952, I attended a concert in a restaurant in the University District in Seattle. The concert was sung by Walt Robertson, who, at the time, had a television show on KING-TV in Seattle, and who had a Folkways record about to be issued. Walt, originally from the Seattle area, had first become interested in folk music while he was attending Haverford College in Pennsylvania and went to a couple of folk festivals at nearby Swarthmore College. There, he heard and met people like the Lomaxes and heard singers like Pete Seeger, Leadbelly, Josh White, John Jacob Niles, and many, many others.
        
When I heard Walt sing for nearly three hours that evening at The Chalet restaurant, I was completely enthralled by the songs he was singing:   work songs, love songs, sea songs, ballads, most of which I had never heard before. At the end of the evening, I said to myself, "I want to do that! To learn songs like those and sing them for people the way Walt Robertson just did." And hold them as spellbound as Walt had held me and the rest of the audience there that evening.

I believe the price of admission was something like a dollar. Negligible these days, but for a college student back in the early Fifties who had to count his pennies. . . .

But that was a very small price to pay for what I received that evening.

I knew practically nothing about music, and to do what I wanted to do, I had to learn. So I took classic guitar lessons (to learn how to play the guitar using my right hand fingers the way Walt did) and I took singing lessons to gain some control over my voice and try to bring out the best in it. As I learned, I realized that I really need to know something about music theory, so that I would know such basic things as what chords to play to accompany my singing. I could have worked by trial and error, and perhaps eventually learn what I wanted to learn, but I decided to do it the quickest and most efficient way. Voice lessons, guitar lessons, three years in the University of Washington School of Music and two years at the Cornish School of the Arts, along with private lessons in arranging with Mildred Hunt Harris and studying the English and Scottish Popular Ballads with Professor David C. Fowler in the U. of W. English Literature department.

I PAID for my lessons. And I paid tuition at the U. of W. and at Cornish. Not cheap!!

I sang here and there for free. Parties, informal gatherings (which we called "hoots" back before the word got preempted by the ABC network in 1963), and at such places as nursing homes and school classes. But once enough people had heard me perform, they began hiring me. And then I got the offer of a television series, and that opened the door for many other singing jobs. I have managed to make a halfway decent living at it. But I didn't get rich.

Along with sustaining myself, I have participated in many folk festivals, singing and taking part in workshops—for no pay. And, I might add, there was no attendance fee for the festivals. I have also sung benefits at retirement homes, for charitable organizations, and for various service organizations. Many of these engagements involve travel and on–the-road living expenses, most of which I am not compensated for and have to cover myself.

And after all this work and all this expense, YOU want me to give the fruits of all of this to you for NOTHING?

In the meantime, what am I supposed to live on? Are you going to provide me with food and lodging and the other necessities of life?

This is my profession, Conrad.

And I am not the only one. Most singers of folk songs who are at least halfway decent performers as well as hobbyists, whether they regard themselves as professionals or do it purely for their own enjoyment, have put in as much work as I have. They may not have all taken the same route that I took, but they most certainly put in the time, effort, sweat, and dedication to learn to do what they do. They give VALUE.

And just because it's folk music, that does not change the matter. If you think that people (such as you) should not have to pay to listen to professional performers of this material because it's folk music—"do-it-yourself music"—then I have a suggestion for you:

Do it yourself!

Time for a reality check, Conrad.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: GUEST,Allan Con
Date: 26 Aug 10 - 02:05 AM

"Folk musicians gathering in kitchens and homes and pubs tend to want to play with each other and not with or for ordinary folk.......etc etc"

Just because you had a bad experience surely you can't take a general sweep at all such gatherings! As well as playing in local pubs which has unrestricted and free attendance for all performers and listeners alike, we do also play in each other's houses and just as often half the people there are our more regular listeners as well as performers. I have never heard anyone being vetted over their political beliefs, social standing or whatever else.


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 26 Aug 10 - 03:03 AM

"Folk musicians gathering in kitchens and homes and pubs tend to want to play with each other and not with or for ordinary folk."

In what way are people who choose to gather to sing and play together in public places not "ordinary folk"? Anyone who takes the time to learn a song or tune and sing / play it in public is "ordinary folk", be they an amateur hobbyist or a semi-pro who *also* does paid gigs. There is often a phrase attached to social song sessions in the UK: "come all ye" and that means you, me, bob, mary and anyone else who wants to participate or indeed just listen.

It seems you have a fixed idea of a Sixties hippy-style free-music festival and want to wedge folk music into that fixed idea.


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: Howard Jones
Date: 26 Aug 10 - 03:05 AM

No one is "robbed" to enter a festival. It's a free transaction - if they don't feel the entry charge is value for money they don't have to go in. If they can't afford it, here in the UK at least there are plenty of opportunities to hear folk music for free - just go to any pub where there is a singaround or tune session. Of course, you might have to buy a pint, but you don't like paying for beer either, do you?

If CDs cost more at a festival than outside, then don't buy them.

Having a "place to play out back, in front parlor, then downstairs" is not a festival as I understand it. Events like that needn't cost a lot to organise. Even so, there are expenses involved which you seem to ignore. Even if you are only offering the musicians food, that has to be paid for. If the food is brought by visitors, doesn't that constitute a sort of entry fee, so it's not actually free?

You'll still need a licence from the performing rights societies, and in the UK you'll need an event licence. That may require you to incur costs for security, preventing noise and nuisance.

You should have insurance, in case someone gets injured and sues you.


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: Will Fly
Date: 26 Aug 10 - 03:50 AM

the primary purpose for gatherings relating to music is the perpetuation of the music

Well, I would say that the primary purpose for gatherings relating to music is to have fun, not to bolster a sociological principle. And to say that sessions in pubs don't count is sheer nonsense.

I was also a musician in London in the 1960s and, as with Don Firth above, we musicians gravitated to places where good music was to be heard - and it was rarely in the spontaneous, sitting-around-in-open-spaces setting you describe (and I lived in Bayswater, very close to Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park). It was in clubs like the Cousins, the Troubadour, Bunjies, the Marquee, Klooks Kleek, and in pubs like the Scots Hoose, the Half Moon and so on.

There were, of course, hugely popular free concerts in Hyde Park - concerts which cost absolutely nothing for the listeners - and I went to the first 2 or 3 of those. The first one (1969 I think) featured Fairport Convention, Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac, The Family, Ten Years After, Roy Harper, etc., and was an amazing experience. But it wasn't spontaneous - it was very carefully organised, with superb musicians playing for nothing. And it wasn't to "perpetuate the music" - it was sheer, unalloyed fun.


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 26 Aug 10 - 07:30 AM

Fun music whatever-all higher values than gathering money.

If not enough money is involved then why involve money which makes anything more complex than necessary and more expensive

Nothing wrong with the professional musician but IMHO they are the extras rather than the foundation or core.

With free folk the market for the professionals will expand as the demand expands- folk music is habit forming and professionals will eventually find lots more in the food chain if the experiences become accessible to all

Unfortunately inside groups of folkies do strictly enforce their political and lifestyle paradigms. Been there done that.

Unfortunately in my region we only have music at the most expensive places and they are few. For some reason folkies like to waste their money on way way overpriced bier.

The trouble is that if something is free it still has value. We should not let capitalism restrict our work.

conrad


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: Howard Jones
Date: 26 Aug 10 - 08:51 AM

The point about "free concerts" such as those in Hyde Park is that someone had to pay for them, even if it wasn't the audience. The motives were partly altruistic but they were also a massive marketing exercise for the bands involved. See this link

The people involved had already made the money from more conventional music promotion, and chose to spend it in this way. Good for them. However they needed to have the money in the first place.

Conrad, the problem with your suggestion is not the bit about making it free for the audience, but the suggestion that it can be done for no cost.


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 26 Aug 10 - 09:10 AM

There's no such thing as a free lunch - nor free music either. The cost comes in the thousands of hours of ;earning and practice.... :-P


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: Bobert
Date: 26 Aug 10 - 09:24 AM

I think the differnce here between Conrad and others is in expertise of the musicans... Most folks who have spent a life time learning their tradw don't wnat to just go off and play i some park for free because it might be fun... or cool...

But on the other end of the sprectrum are lotta folks who really aren't all that experienced (or good, in some cases) who would be delighted to get together with others and play in a festive atmosphere...

Kinda two different groups and neither is right or wrong... Hey, the inexperianced need a little performance time to learne what it's like to perform and to hone their stage skills, which BTW go well beyond just hitting the right chords and notes...

Plus, experience players that I know have been performing for several decades and the novelty has worn off and for them to load their gear, spend money on gas and food, etc. just to be part of this Free Music thing just isn't all that attractive...

B~


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: Will Fly
Date: 26 Aug 10 - 09:37 AM

Bobert - that, to my way of thinking, is what sessions are for. I run a local session and, while it's great to have experienced musicians turn up and join in, we always welcome new or inexperienced players with open arms. Everybody learns from the experience.

There are, of course, sessions where the experienced musicians who participate don't want inexperienced beginners there to the possible detriment of the music. They're not my kind of sessions.


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 26 Aug 10 - 10:02 AM

Peasant: Folk musicians gathering in kitchens and homes and pubs tend to want to play with each other and not with or for ordinary folk. I was involved with such a group but then later found that those in attendance are carefully vetted and must be of the same political and philosophical mindset.

Well I've now attended singarounds/ sessions in about 6 different pubs. No-one's ever vetted me, tried to ascertain my political or philosophical attitudes or restricted in any way what I play or sing. All of them are open to people who just want to come and listen. I don't know what kind of group you were "involved" with but it doesn't sound remotely similar to the casual events I attend.


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 26 Aug 10 - 10:21 AM

This is on locally over the weekend:

Local & Live

It's free but it certainly costs to put on, hence the sponsorship and merchandising.


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: Smokey.
Date: 26 Aug 10 - 12:28 PM

I was involved with such a group but then later found that those in attendance are carefully vetted and must be of the same political and philosophical mindset.

There are two sides to every story..


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: Don Firth
Date: 26 Aug 10 - 02:49 PM

Here's a little parable for you, Conrad.

In the early 1960s, I went to hear a singer people had told me about who sang at a posh restaurant and cocktail lounge in downtown Seattle. Clark's "Red Carpet." Some people told me he was a folk singer. Well, he wasn't. His name was Bob Weymouth. He accompanied himself on the guitar, but he sang popular songs, Broadway show tunes, a bit of Country and Western—and a few of the better known folk songs, such as some of the ones recorded by Harry Belafonte, the Kingston Trio, and The Limeliters.

Bob Weymouth was a passable guitarist and a very good singer. Nice, light baritone voice. And he put the songs across very well. We talked a lot between his sets and we got to know each other. He asked me a lot about the coffeehouse, "The Place Next Door," where I was singing on weekends, and I asked him about singing in cocktail lounges and such. "The Place Next Door" paid quite well for most coffeehouses, but the "Red Carpet" paid a whole lot more.

One evening, he showed me a letter that his agent (yes, he had an agent) had sent him. The agent had gotten him an engagement in Chicago, at one of the Playboy Clubs. The letter said that Bob would be paid $300 a week for twelve weeks, with option to renew the engagement. Now, in the early Sixies, $300 a week was a nice chunk of money. The agent went on to say that he was sorry he couldn't get more, but that's all Hugh Hefner paid for a first engagement. But if Hefner picked up the option to renew, Bob would then receive $450 a week. And if he renewed the option yet again, he would be paid $600 a week, and so on.

I commented to Bob that I didn't understand why the agent was apologizing for not being able to get him more money. Then Bob gave me a bit of an education in the finances involved in being a musician.

He told me that first, his agent took 15% off the top (15% is more than the usual 10%, but Bob said he was worth it because he kept finding good jobs for him). Then, he had to pay his own travel and living expenses. And, of course, income taxes and all that. "So," Bob informed me, "by the time I pay all of my expenses, I have only about half of that left."

Reality check!

A couple of times, I was contracted to sing in a coffeehouse in Bellingham, Washington, called "Three Jolly Coachmen." They paid reasonably well. And since I would be there for some time, they also paid my travel expenses and got me a room in a nearby hotel. Sometime later, I was asked to sing at a coffeehouse over on the Olympic Peninsula. Like the "Three Jolly Coachmen," far enough away that commuting from Seattle was out of the question. They paid even better than the "Three Jolly Coachmen." But—they wouldn't pay my expenses, which would have eaten up most of what they'd have paid me for singing there. So I had to turn the job down.

I've had many people ask me to sing at many places, telling me, "We can't pay you, but the exposure will be good for you." Dave Van Ronk once said that he heard that "the exposure will be good for you" thing all the time. He had an excellent response to that:    "People have been known to die of exposure!"

Folk music notwithstanding, a person who has put in the time, work, study, and expense to become a singer that people want to listen to deserves to be compensated for his or her services, in the same way that a doctor, a teacher, or a plumber deserve to be paid for their services.

That's the way the world works, Conrad. If you want to get into the game, one way or another, you've got to ante into the pot.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 26 Aug 10 - 06:38 PM

So I guess it is because professional musicians are greedy and WON'T make music part of their lifestyle preferring instead to live life as wandering juke boxes.

I say we can do without them in that case.

I play tin whistle, alto horn, bones if I have a hymnal I sing I have done all professionally, also a professional storyteller.

I just do this stuff. I tell stories to people in line when shopping, I pull out the tin whistle. I play each sunday alto horn and never once does it enter my head that I have spent time learning. I am always learning. Yes my parents gave me music lessons but never ever do I think of that however, apparently for some musicians that is their main concern in life the burden of all that learning time and money. I recently purchased two alto horns on ebay- inexpensive ones but good ones. I dont think of them as investments- how crude- they are instruments.

Ok they can opt out and hang around and benefit from the increassed demand which comes from free music or do it for free a few times a year. So you are basically saying we should tolerate a lack of dedication to the people and to the tradition replaced by self interest. Dont think so.

Nobody has to have money to play music or sing or tell stories. Believe me they happen without money.

When I taught history I ran into teachers with burn out. I could not live without being interested in history but they had more interest in golf and running than the field they were supposed to be dedicated to. At that point hang it up take a break and let someone who is not burned out carry it forward.

So now we have removed the self centered burned out pro musician who happens to have spent way way too much on equipment- they can stay home. Or not.

So whats holding back the expansion of free music then?

Note- session music in pups sells food and bier and around here the musicians do not play sessions in reasonable places they always seem to gather at expensive places where the landlords give them food and drink to play to help rip off their customers.

I was once criticized for teaching in an Irish Pub in Bmore city.
At the end of the session when off the clock I would get a pitcher of the cheapest beer domestic- thats all I could afford and shouldnt have paid for that. I was criticized as drinking pitchers of cheap beer. Yeah the critic was a musician playing for free pints of an Imort and getting cash as well. Which of course raised the cost of my bier.

I do not have in mind sessions I am talking festivals. One could have a series of nearby venues.

We don't do free music for exposure either and that is an ancient line. We do it to spread the music in the most efficient manner and to widen the community by so doing. Money screens out people who dont have it simple as that and when that is done it is wrong.

Live the music and it will grow faster.

Conrad


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: Smokey.
Date: 26 Aug 10 - 07:36 PM

Conrad, most professionals do their share of free stuff, when it's for a good cause. You're being a bit insulting now. If we were greedy, we'd probably be doing something that paid better than music.


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Subject: RE: The Concept of FREED Folkmusic
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 26 Aug 10 - 07:59 PM

Ok smokey as a famous president once used to say there you go again.

Yes I know music does not pay enough.

But then the volunteers who make most festivals run dont get paid anything. Yet musicians dont share their money with them.

I just loved working at a major folk festival for a few seasons. "this festival would not be possible without you volunteers" yeah sure. He drove an expensive late model import and used the profits to travel europe most of the summer- sure it doesnt pay enough.

My point is that if public music was free it would expand the demand such that professionals would indeed have better incomes but professionals ration music and keep costs up all generally on the backs of volunteers.

Then they tell us they "occasionally" do free stuff when its a "good cause"

Promoting free music is the best cause anywhere as it opens it up to absolutely everyone and helps to make music a lifeway rather than a profession that only can barely feed a few anyway.

Its the best cause.

Again if pro musicians wish to be narrow and selfish and ration their work and continue to hold down venues when they are burned out and interested only in income fine. They can choose to come or go.

Conrad


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