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What is Happening to our Folk Clubs

Big Al Whittle 17 Oct 17 - 02:50 PM
Jim Carroll 17 Oct 17 - 02:47 PM
TheSnail 17 Oct 17 - 02:12 PM
Big Al Whittle 17 Oct 17 - 02:08 PM
Backwoodsman 17 Oct 17 - 01:45 PM
Jim Carroll 17 Oct 17 - 01:37 PM
Allan Conn 17 Oct 17 - 01:05 PM
Raggytash 17 Oct 17 - 12:50 PM
Jim Carroll 17 Oct 17 - 12:39 PM
Vic Smith 17 Oct 17 - 12:26 PM
TheSnail 17 Oct 17 - 12:07 PM
Raggytash 17 Oct 17 - 11:52 AM
Vic Smith 17 Oct 17 - 11:48 AM
Jim Carroll 17 Oct 17 - 11:44 AM
Jim Carroll 17 Oct 17 - 11:37 AM
Allan Conn 17 Oct 17 - 11:20 AM
Big Al Whittle 17 Oct 17 - 11:09 AM
Raggytash 17 Oct 17 - 10:51 AM
GUEST,Derrick 17 Oct 17 - 10:16 AM
Jim Carroll 17 Oct 17 - 10:13 AM
GUEST,Derrick 17 Oct 17 - 10:04 AM
Raggytash 17 Oct 17 - 09:45 AM
Raggytash 17 Oct 17 - 09:41 AM
Jim Carroll 17 Oct 17 - 09:28 AM
Jim Carroll 17 Oct 17 - 09:22 AM
Raggytash 17 Oct 17 - 09:09 AM
Vic Smith 17 Oct 17 - 09:01 AM
Raggytash 17 Oct 17 - 08:58 AM
Jim Carroll 17 Oct 17 - 08:51 AM
Will Fly 17 Oct 17 - 08:41 AM
Raggytash 17 Oct 17 - 08:24 AM
Vic Smith 17 Oct 17 - 08:09 AM
Vic Smith 17 Oct 17 - 07:35 AM
GUEST 17 Oct 17 - 06:50 AM
Backwoodsman 17 Oct 17 - 06:48 AM
Raggytash 17 Oct 17 - 06:29 AM
Jim Carroll 17 Oct 17 - 06:23 AM
GUEST 17 Oct 17 - 06:19 AM
Raggytash 17 Oct 17 - 05:54 AM
Jim Carroll 17 Oct 17 - 05:36 AM
TheSnail 17 Oct 17 - 04:46 AM
Raggytash 17 Oct 17 - 04:31 AM
GUEST,Some bloke or other 17 Oct 17 - 04:26 AM
TheSnail 16 Oct 17 - 01:26 PM
Tattie Bogle 16 Oct 17 - 01:15 PM
akenaton 16 Oct 17 - 12:38 PM
GUEST 16 Oct 17 - 12:24 PM
Big Al Whittle 16 Oct 17 - 12:22 PM
Johnny J 16 Oct 17 - 09:40 AM
Paul Reade 16 Oct 17 - 09:21 AM
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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 02:50 PM

i think the real problem with what JIm calls traditional music is that not anybody can do it, and very few people can do it to performance standard. You need a Brian Peters or a Pete Coe.

He's right of course in saying that if our government did what they do in Ireland - it would be more popular. Who knows perhaps it would get to be as popular as big band music or avant gard jazz.

But in a way that's not what folk music has ever been about in our country. we are a mongrel nation - every so often along comes the Irish. the Jamaicans, the Rock and Rollers, the music hall artistes and each of them has a profound effect on how we try to express ourselves musically. I remember talking to Ian Campbell about his Da's singing - and Ian told me that his predominant influence had been Al Jolson. The material was trad Scots - but delivered not in a way that someone who had stayed in Bothies and Crofts would have performed those songs.

Its in our nature to change.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 02:47 PM

Not sure of your reference to Walter's recordings Bryan
I have sought in vain for a home for our collection and am still doing so
Our's was the first British/Irish collection to be deposited at National Sound Archive (then The British Institute of Recorded Sound) and was the inspiration for their opening their remit from musicology to Folk song, yet, decades later all but a few recordings are accessible to the general public and they haven't even got our genders right on their indes - Pat has transmogrified into a feller.
Our deal with our singers was that we wanted their songs to stop them dying when they did - they may as well be dead as locked in some inaccessible vault.
I've offered our entire holdings to various places in the UK - so far, no takers
I offered them to one folk club which shall remain nameless and was left with the impression that I was trying to peddle hookey goods (we've never attempted to make a penny out off our collection)
It really does make sense of discussions such as this
Luckily, we have found an Irish University keen not only to take the collection but to put it on line as part of their 'World Music' project - their work on Travellers to date is beyond all oir expectations, so our lot will feel quite at home there
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: TheSnail
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 02:12 PM

I don't doubt it, Allan. Folk clubs are may and varied. I was responding to Jim Carroll's "we will find a home for twenty years worth of our friendship with Walter Pardon, though I doubt if it will be with any of the UK folk clubs".


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 02:08 PM

I suppose if you never listen to anyone else - you could have missed out on all the songs that Donovan popularised in English folk clubs.

The late Barrie Roberts once said that the trouble with folksingers was they couldn't stand listening to one another. Obvious;y its true. But it makes a sensible discussion very difficult.

You see, Donovan popularised SO many songs on his first few singles and albums - not necessarily all his own compositions that he is alnost certainly one of the leading influences on the English folk club movement. At first it was just that 60's generation, but as time went on - it became the younger singers who had heard the songs from older singers.

If you don't go to folk clubs - please don't argue about stuff of which you very obviously know nowt. Going to folk concerts and sitting at home with your recordings doesn't count.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 01:45 PM

I believe in giving credit where it's due, SBoO! As I'm sure you know! 😉


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 01:37 PM

"subjective and odd."
Nothing odd or even new - people have been saying all my life things like, "I can't define it but I know what it sounds like"
I have a wider taste in all forms of music than most people I know - my tastes range from operatic arias (only ever managed to take one full opera) to kids street songs
None of this is an academic interest - I love listening to a wide range of music
As far as folk song is concerned my tastes include Mongolian throat singing, Rumainian Lament, Genoese Tralaleri, Bahaman Shanties and the North Carolina 'High Lonesome Sound'
I've listened to this music, sung it, played it to audiences, lectured on it and written on it
If, after a longish lifetime of listening to this music I foung myself unable to distinguish it from the output of the music industry, I would seek the comfort of the nearest gas stove to rest my weary head.
Are you really telling me that you can't tell the difference between folk music and the occupants of the current charts ?
If so, I'm sorry fro your trouble, as they say over here.
"A folk singer singing folk songs? That'll be Dave Burland singing "I don't like Mondays" "
Go tell Geldof that 'Mondays' is a folk song and therefore in the public domain and see how far it gets you - probably the nearest law court
No wonder you call yourself "Some Bloke or other" - I wouldn't like my name associated with such idiocy either!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Allan Conn
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 01:05 PM

Snail I've heard "Colours" by Donovan every now and again in various clubs. Sure there must be others


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Raggytash
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 12:50 PM

The music and musicians were champion Jim, I have no problem with them at all.

However I have heard dozens, scores, if not hundreds of singer/songwriters who's music and songs entertain me to a greater degree.

That is not to say they are better or worse, just different to your prefered choice of material.

Some of these you would possibly dismiss as not being "proper folk music"

And therein lies the problem with having a "definition" of folk music.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 12:39 PM

"If you and I had had a conversation about folk music 50 years I would in all probability never set foot in a folk club again."
If you and I had a conversation fifty years ago, it seems to me you would not be the slightest bit interested in the type of folk music that was accepted as such back then
You really are not responding to what I am saying Raggy - my interest is in making sure folk song (as defined and researched) has a future
It has given me a lifetime of pleasure as a performer and an audience member, but its future existence as part of my life is guaranteed by the fact that it has so much more than entertainment to offer
Why should I abandon that in the faint hope that I could fill clubs with people who don't share my tastes and interests?
I'd much rather place my money on the Clare schoolkids who are now listening to and learning the songs of the old crumblies we recorded.
You are talking about drawing people in fro the sake of drawing them in, and in doing so, the music seems to have become lost somewhere
I'm in the process of preparing a talk Pat and I are giving next month at Galway Uni - this is part of an opening to a section of the historical significance of folk song
How does it fit in with your ideas?

"Traditional songs - songs in general for that matter, are regarded largely as entertainment. This is certainly partly true, and has become more so as the tradition of making and singing them has disappeared. Nostalgia, a yearning for a bygone, gentler, more civilised world has done much to create the songs, nurture them and keep them alive, but I believe that it is something more that first breathed life into the songs and inspired the often unnamed song-makers to make these pieces. Many of the songs, I believe, arose from struggle, from anger, frustration, a sense of injustice, bitterness, despair and tragedy, (as for instance, with The Wreck of the Old 97, though I will admit, that that particular rendition sounds more like the celebration of a train crash rather than the lamenting of one). National and local pride also played a part in their making. Others came from whimsical observation, a desire to share something pleasant, humorous, or to express love, affection and a myriad of other reasons.
As a whole, I believe these songs have fulfilled a desire to record or comment on life as seen from the ground up, so to speak, many of them having passed from one generation to another because the subjects they dealt with have been important enough to later generations to keep the memories alive.    Often, though not always, we can go to the history books newspapers and records to research the cold facts of the past, but I believe it is to the songs that we have to go to find out what the ?ordinary? people were thinking, feeling and experiencing and what was important to them. Sometimes they dealt with events that never made the newspapers and history books and were of significance only to the communities in which they were made, and so would have gone otherwise unreported."

You didn't comment on the muscians and singer I put up - obviously not to your taste
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Vic Smith
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 12:26 PM

I went to all the 3 singarounds at Lewes Folk Festival last weekend and here are the result:-

Walter Pardon songs 3 Donovan songs 0


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: TheSnail
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 12:07 PM

I think I am safer keeping out of this but I'd just like to say that I cannot recall ever hearing a Donovan song in a folk club but Walter Pardon songs frequently.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Raggytash
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 11:52 AM

Just ponder this Jim and please don't jump to a knee jerk reaction.

If you and I had had a conversation about folk music 50 years I would in all probability never set foot in a folk club again.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Vic Smith
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 11:48 AM

Allan Conn's post reminds me of something that happened on the Sidmouth Folk Festival campsite about ten years ago. I was cooking a meal on our camping cooker. We were camped next to a circle of tents that were occupied by 'young people'. A loud ghetto blaster was blaring out thumpa-thumpa-thumpa. Irritated, I was wondering if these youngsters had come to the wrong festival. A young woman came out of one of their tents carrying dancing clogs, a stepping board and a bodhran. She handed the bodhran to a dreadlocked youth, put the clogs on and turned the ghetto blaster off. He beat out a complicated four bar sequence in 4/4 reel time. She copied it beat for beat with her clogs. He beat out another sequence with gaps in different places. Once again she matched him. This went on and on. She was using a series of traditional steps to produce the rhythm, an exciting way of developing and advancing a tradition. I was mesmerised. I very nearly burned the meal. I went and asked them where they were performing because I thought they were terrific and I wanted to see more of them.

"Oh! We are not performers.... we just do it for fun!"


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 11:44 AM

"Jim the 1980's was thirty years ago."
And in all that time nobody has ever come up with a workable definition to replace the one we have Al
The fact that nobody seems to want our music to have an identity of its own is exactly why it is not taken seriously
"Folk Music" has become a cultural dustbin in which anybody sticks whatever they wish to in order to avoid getting up off their arses and finding an identity for their own tastes in music - a hatstand for every unimaginative individual to hang their hat - from top hat to hoodie
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 11:37 AM

"Why on earth should anyone want to define it!?"
Because some of us wish to discuss it as well as perform it, and others of us want to turn up at a venue to find that what is on offer is what it says on the tin.
All music is defined as ifs all forms of literature and painting - why on earth should 'the Voice of the People' be in any way different?
For me, that fact that the People have never been considered as having a voice of their own makes it all that more important that we should be clear about what we mean.
"To me there are two kinds of music, music I enjoy, music that I don't."
Very Nihilistic - how do you choose you venues - do they put up a "Wot Raggy likes" sign?
I came into the music at the age of twenty, along with many thousands of my contemporaries - most of the old crowd went when the term 'Folk Club' became meaningless
We were lucky as our deeper interest in the subject kept our engine running at full speed and will continue to do so until we run out of puff
You don't do a music of any sort any favours by dressing it up in different clothes to put bums on seats - all that does is drive out one crowd and replace them with people who prefer something different
No art form can survive that opportunistic approach.
How on earth can I turn away people from what we have collected by saying its not what people want so we're going to give you something else instead?
That is, in essence, what you are arguing.
If people don't want it - tough - their loss
Our collection is archived on the basis that if it has no place in today's world, it might have on in the future
Our Clare collection remains one of our major achievements, when it was accepted by Clare County Library we were able to fulfil the undertaking we made to all our singers in keeping it alive long after they died.
When Clare Council appointed two singers in residence assigned to take traditional songs around the schools using our collection as a basis we are beside ourselves - the next lot would have a chance to hear Tom Lenihan, Martin Reidy and Nora Cleary and maybe get a fraction of the pleasure we got from them
Last week we heard that Limerick Uni is taking our collection, particularly of Traveller material, and making part of their 'World Music Department' and hopefully putting it on line as our Clare stuff is.
Hopefully, before we pop our clogs, we will find a home for twenty years worth of our friendship with Walter Pardon, though I doubt if it will be with any of the UK folk clubs
As things stand, it is more likely to be welcomed by someone in the Six Counties than it is in mainland Britain
"You have made some ridiculous statements about young people and music,"
Then demolish what I have said with argument
I have made no comment on young people, just how that are manipulated by the music industry - I doubt if there is anybody here who can claim they have not been subject to such manipulation at one time or another
"you have said that people are driven away from clubs and music because of awards."
I was part of the Irish music scene in Britain and say many young people walk away from the music because they had been forced into CCE competitions by parents trying to live their lives through their children.
Competitions are for winners, if you're lucky those who don't win become spectators but peer and media pressure makes that an extremely slim option.
Love for and understanding of the music is the only thing that will more-or-less guarantee that young people will hang around
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Allan Conn
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 11:20 AM

I don't recognize the bulk of young people as being the airhead morons that is being suggested here. I find they are much more open to other influences than the current radio stations feed them. In the mid to late 70s I was a big punk fan myself but that didn't stop me investigating other genres (folk, jazz, symphonic, 60s) at the same time. Likewise if youngsters of today are into hip-hop or garage or whatever it doesn't mean they don't listen to other things too. Plus the idea that music of today won't be about in 50 years etc. Didn't they say that about the Beatles/Stones etc. Every era has its share of music that is largely forgotten and its music that is passed down to future generations.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 11:09 AM

Jim the 1980's was thirty years ago.

Life in England moves very very fast these days, Its a sort of microwave culture, I reckon. Most of our communities are unrecognisable from even 20 years ago.All the things MacColl disliked about Donovan in 1965. His youth, his accent that came from a council estate rather than a tenement or rural part of England, his professing to be a folk musician... they are history.

we have been singing his songs in folk clubs for damn nearly sixty years. they are deeply ingrained into folk clubs. twenty years ago there was Damian Rice. Paulo Nutini....kate Rusby. Now this Ed Sheeran character who handles a loop pedal as well as Peggy Seeger played guitar.

They have their place in the folk clubs. maybe its not your kind of folk music. but more folk in folk clubs know it than the dowie dens of yarrow.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Raggytash
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 10:51 AM

"if a perfectly workable definition which has never been replaced still ecxists"

Why on earth should anyone want to define it!?

To me there are two kinds of music, music I enjoy, music that I don't. I don't need someone to stick a label on it or denigrate it because it doesn't "fit" into a "perfectly workable definition"

Honestly Jim it could easily be said that precisely that way of thinking that has turned so many people, especially the young ones, away from folk music.

I know you have spent many hours recording and logging the songs of the travellers amongst others and you should be thanked for that but you are also fully capable of turning people away from the very music you seek to promulgate.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: GUEST,Derrick
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 10:16 AM

That should be has not led to bloodshed so far


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 10:13 AM

"However both you and I are "old fogeys" and fortunately will not be able to hinder the youth of today for much longer."
How depressing Raggy
I spent an entire lifetime learning from older people - particularly my musoc and song
I've become a little tired of the "pump up the volume' fascism' of youth culture - not being ably to switch on the radio without having music blasting out at me that will not be around in six months time because the market has decided it has outlived its shelf life
I can't even go into a shop to buy a pair of jeans without coming out with defective hearing
The number of times I've attempted to engage young people in conversation on music (when I've managed to drag them away from the latest edition of 'Grand Theft Auto') has drawn a blank as their level of interest in any form of music is to have something to shout over when they're talking to their friends.
Music is a commodity and the mass of the punters have become passive recipients of our culture rather than active participants.
Your link is to something I find rather bland, am unable to follow the lyrics or distinguish one instrument from the other - a pleasant sound.
TRY THIS FOR SIZE
The piper is the grandson of our late friend, Tom McCarthy - a piper, concertina player from south Clare who lived most of his life in London and brought his family up there - three daughters and a son, all fine musicians in their own right who married musicians, with the result that the Maccarthy is now entered into the third generation of virtuoso musicians.
OR THIS
Jim Carroll
All


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: GUEST,Derrick
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 10:04 AM

Reading the constant arguments about what folk song and music is and how it should be performed and presented,reminds me of the similar arguments
in religious circles.
We all enjoy folk song and music but we all have our own ideas of what it is.
Christians all follow Christ in one form or another,as Muslims do with the Prophet,and of course their chosen way is the only proper way to do so.
At least the "what is folk" debate has't led to bloodshed so far.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Raggytash
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 09:45 AM

For all the others below is a sample track from Hightime, a group that Seamus is involved in.


Hightime - The Village of Cloch Bhui


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Raggytash
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 09:41 AM

You and I will never agree on this. However both you and I are "old fogeys" and fortunately will not be able to hinder the youth of today for much longer.

You obviously haven't heard Seamus, nor are you likely to. I believe you would actively avoid any performance of his and his cohorts in the mistaken belief that "it's not proper folk"


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 09:28 AM

"He is only 18 and has already won 20 All Ireland titles for playing Harp,"
The competitive spirit as adopted by CCE has driven more people away from traditional music, both in Britain and Ireland
Some talented and detrmined musicians have risen above it and survived but far more have walked away when they didn't win 'the glittering prizes'.
It reamains to be seen whether the TG4 Awards will have the same effect - I sincerely hope not
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 09:22 AM

"The only person who is comparing it with a folk song is your good self. Raggytash wasn't."
Then how can it introduce young people to folk song Vic?
The clue of all this is when somebody describes an attempt to discuss a subject as "pontificating"
What's the purpose of these forums if it isn't to discuss?
It certainly isn't to introduce young people to folk song, that's supposed to be the job of the clubs who should be winning over new audiences with half decent performances of something half-resembling folk song
I'm not a 'purist' - I'm more than happy to see new songs added to the repertoire - the performer I admire most probably wrote more new songs based on folk forms than any other artist on the scene   and throughout his life argued that the music would die without a constant new input
If folk song has had its day, as anonymous guest suggests, fime - let it RIP, but don't try to re-define it to put bums on seats.
For me, the reason for the revival was to promote a certain type of music, not give people somewhere to nip into if it happens to be pissing down with rain.
Lets face it, the folk scene will never be able to compete with pop - their artists take their music far too seriously - I've yet to hear anybody say, "near enough for pop".
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Raggytash
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 09:09 AM

Jim, have you come across Seamus O'Flaherty. He is only 18 and has already won 20 All Ireland titles for playing Harp, Concertina, singing in Irish, singing in English and Dance (and you should see him dance)

He is very, very good, but there are dozens of youngsters hot on his heels vying to better him. They'll have one hell of a battle to do so but sooner or later someone will and I would suggest it will be sooner.

I actually think folk music is in a very good place today, far better than at any time in my 50 years.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Vic Smith
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 09:01 AM

No twisting Vic - it is not a folk song, it does not sound like a folk song and if anybody came onto the scene expecting folk songs to sound like tat they would have been conned...... If that's what passes for folk you may as well forget the scene altogether

Jim, Jim. The only person who is comparing it with a folk song is your good self. Raggytash wasn't. I'm not. Your inability to reason from what has been stated is very frustrating. A person of your proven stature in the world of traditional song does not need to lower themselves to such techniques.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Raggytash
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 08:58 AM

Will, all the performers you mention are very good, they were exceptional back then.

I find today that a good number of youngsters are as good if not better than them. The standard has improved across the board, long may it continue.

They have better access to information that allows them to perfect their playing and singing, information we could only dream of.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 08:51 AM

No twisting Vic - it is not a folk song, it does not sound like a folk song and if anybody came onto the scene expecting folk songs to sound like tat they would have been conned
You don't "compare it to "the average pop song today" - you compare it to the music you are attempting to promote.
"Why is this such an obsession with some folk enthusiasts .?"
Because the scene is over-0run by such idiocies as:
"You can't seal music into a mythical past, it"
There is nothing "mythical" about folk song - there os over a century's research into a very real genre - libraries of books written and thousands of miles of recordings of it.
I is a beautiful art form - as is oera, and equally as important - moreso, when you consider that it is the cultural expression of a people who largely have been ignored as creative.
I didn't comment on the quality of the particular piece as, as Raggy suggested, I find it a catchy piece, as I do 'Puttin' on the Ritz' (though I much prefer the 'Young Frankenstein' version
Nomatter what the aims of the performer, it is not, in any shape or form, folk - not in a thousand years, and, just like a Chinese meal, will have disappeared after a few belches
If that's what passes for folk you may as well forget the scene altogether
MacColl one told me in an interview that he believed the only thing that would ever kill off folk song was if it ever fell into the hands of people who didn't like it
I'm beginning to understand what he is getting at
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Will Fly
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 08:41 AM

A matter of opinion, Raggytash. I remember 50 years ago very well, when I played in the north-west and in London.

Are we talking about Davy Graham, Bert Jansch, Ann Briggs, John Renbourn, Martin Carthy, Dave Swarbrick, Robin & Barry Dransfield, Jo-Ann Kelly and the like here? All young and superb 50 years ago. Or are we talking about your average floor singers - many of whom I recall as being very skilled indeed. In some clubs you had to be damned good to get a floor spot.

I suppose it all depends on where you are/were...


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Raggytash
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 08:24 AM

My sentiments exactly Vic, one of the problems I have perceived during my almost 50 year involvement in folk music is that "the old fogeys" still say "it was better in my day". The truth is it wasn't.

The young singers and musicians I see both in the UK and Ireland are far more accomplished than 50 years ago.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Vic Smith
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 08:09 AM

Jim Carroll -
Oh dear - is that what passes for folk nowadays?

Sadly, Jim, this is an example of the way you twist what people have said. Raggytash wrote that Ed Sheeran's song has "probably done more to introduce young people in the UK to folk music than any amount of pontificating on websites such as Mudcat."
That is an opinion; not a claim that the song is in any way a folk song. I think that I am right in saying that Ed's background is London Irish. It sounds to me like a written song by a man who is exploring his roots. Compared with the average pop song today, it is intelligent, well-constructed and catchy and it is written with at least one eye on the type of modern Irish song written by those who look back to their predecessors. If, as is likely, Ed becomes a role model for younger singer-songwriters then we may be in far a period where there is a more thoughtful element in pop music.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Vic Smith
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 07:35 AM

Same goes for po. Why is this such an obsession with some folk enthusiasts
Well, I'd rather have folk that po anyday. It sounds disgusting


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 06:50 AM

It is a good song and is not attempting to " pass" for anything. You can't seal music into a mythical past, it Will just keep moving forward , creating new traditions and genres. I am not aware of any other style of music that has this constant bickering about definition. I am huge fan of opera, I do,t ever recall sitting around and arguing about is opera. Same goes for po. Why is this such an obsession with some folk enthusiasts .?


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 06:48 AM

Good post, Some Bloke Or Other - nailed it!

Usual disclaimers apply......IMHO, YMMV etc.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Raggytash
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 06:29 AM

We could set folk music in Amber if you prefer, however that would mean it was only listened to by people like yourself and time tells us that you are a dying breed, thus folk music you claim to love will die with you.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 06:23 AM

Just listened to Nancy Mullingan
Oh dear - is that what passes for folk nowadays?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 06:19 AM

Great song Raggy, thanks for the link!


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Raggytash
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 05:54 AM

""Stardom" should never have a place in these discussions - that is no reason to become involved in folk music"

One big star in the UK at the moment is Ed Sheeran, his song Nancy Mulligan has probably done more to introduce young people in the UK to folk music than any amount of pontificating on websites such as Mudcat.

Nancy Mulligan

Now you may not like it, but it is very catchy!!


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 05:36 AM

I usually get stamped on for commenting on British clubs because I now live in Ireland, but I was part of the folk scene from around 1961 right up to the mid 80s, when I finally left because my choice of what to listen to by most of the clubs adopting a non-definition of the term folk policy and a "near enough for folk" attitude to standards.
I have never lost the belief that the survival of folk song depends on how it is presented to the pubic - the clubs (not concerts) run by non professional enthusiasts has always been the key to this.
I can only reiterate what has happened in Ireland, where the music has moved from being a fringe, often unwelcome activity, to a vital part of Irish culture, now largely in the hands of young people who are playing as well as the masters I was listening to half a century ago.
This is largely instrumental music, but ther are now welcome signs that it is beginning to happen with singing.
This didn't happen by accident but was achieved by small groups of dedicated people who knew what the term 'traditional' meant and proceeded to build a foundation on what was available - the Irish Traditional Music Archive and the Willie Clancy Summer School were fore-runners in this.
At present, the music can look forward to two generations-worth of future and can come with experimentation, dumbing down, being taken up by the pop industry.... all the things that dominated the British scene and left behind a mess to be cleared up.
The foundations are there to remind us what the music is and where it stands in our lives.
Bickering like this only emphasises the need for someone to get a grip and make a start over your side of the Irish Sea.
You might start by removing the barriers to open discussion on what was achieved in the past and stop making 'what is folk song' a no-go area
"Stardom" should never have a place in these discussions - that is no reason to become involved in folk music
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: TheSnail
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 04:46 AM

I see problems with it too, Raggy. Don't ask me, ask Folk 21 but I doubt if you'll get a satisfactory answer.
Also, for many, singing floor spots is an end in itself without any aspirations to stardom.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Raggytash
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 04:31 AM

"Just one last thing... "what is Folk 21 all about?". Folk 21 is about the idea that the purpose of folk clubs is to provide a living wage for professional folk performers. Floor singers are seen as detrimental to that purpose"

I see a problems with this Snail, where do aspiring folk singers learn their trade if not doing floor spots. Where do club organisers find their next guest if not by watching and listening to aspiring floor singers.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: GUEST,Some bloke or other
Date: 17 Oct 17 - 04:26 AM

Always an evergreen topic. More been said already than needs doing.

I notice that those complaining still turn up so something is being done right...

Folk enthusiasts have spent the last sixty years rattling on about living tradition and evolving oral process and all that, (although the explosion of multi outlet and media for hearing songs wasn't anticipated by the critics group when they were busy burdening a spontaneous expression of art with silly rules.

Folk clubs will change and evolve. If you hadn't noticed, there are many young performers out there who wish to share their passion and interpretation of traditional song but frankly, YouTube is a far more appropriate medium for them than crusty old folk supping soft drinks in the back room of a noisy pub. Almost forty years ago as a teenager I tended to be the youngest person in many of the local folk cubs. I still am!

Yes, the good night out is part of what younger singers miss but conversely, I recall once on holiday many years ago visiting a folk club in Dunoon and trying to sing a traditional song that some versions happen to have a chorus to, but not mine. No matter, the ignorant locals drowned me out with one after every verse anyway, then told me I sing it wrong....

Hey ho. I'm involved in a concert venue where we book those scraping a living most weeks. The concert format allows me to enjoy wonderful acts and we have a wealth of local club talent locally, so support acts aren't an issue either. Nice for people who sing in pubs mainly to have a stage, foldback, FOH lights to blind them and most importantly, people listening to them rather than the pig ignorant habit of leafing through folders of songs whilst others sing because of course, everybody in the pub is only there to listen to their off key warbling of songs they can't be arsed to learn properly. (Then pause to put their glasses on half way through, thinking it's funny to do so.)

(Bugger, the mask slipped there.)


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: TheSnail
Date: 16 Oct 17 - 01:26 PM

Mudcat Moaner, I'm not sure what period the "20 odd years" refers to (since you last went?) but it suggests a degree of success.
As I have said several times, none of us can generalise our own experience to all folk clubs. Things are not going well in MM's neighbourhood but a number of other people have reported very different experiences.
Mudcat Moaner has made no contructive comments and clearly has no intention of doing so.
Just one last thing... "what is Folk 21 all about?". Folk 21 is about the idea that the purpose of folk clubs is to provide a living wage for professional folk performers. Floor singers are seen as detrimental to that purpose.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 16 Oct 17 - 01:15 PM

Following on from my previous post, which mentioned just 3 clubs that I go to, there are perhaps more opportunities for "floor singers" in some of the other clubs around here, that have session nights for 3 out of 4 nights, and guest nights on the 4th. There are some among those that never come to the guest nights (mainly because they want to sing or play themselves), whereas others who support both (as they don't mind listening to professional guests!)
So, each club is on fact run in different ways, and each has its afficionados: some people prefer one format, other another, but all of them are, on the whole, well attended and much enjoyed.
Personally, I enjoy them all, and am flexible enough to do so and not worry about - "fings ain't wot they used to be" - as Will Fly said, accept that change happens.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: akenaton
Date: 16 Oct 17 - 12:38 PM

Paul's right, it was participation that made the clubs "fun",
I went to one last year and it was a dreary concert type of thing the audience were incidental and all of a certain social strata.

Society has changed and folkies didn't help much ...most of them wannabee's..... but the public made them because they thought these people were genuine.   In a lot of cases they were 100% wrong, now we are left with the folk snobs.

Sorry Johnny....Gie me Mrs McGlumphur and full hooses onny day!


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Oct 17 - 12:24 PM

Not at all.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 16 Oct 17 - 12:22 PM

well maybe you don't approve of the way folk clubs are going, but i'm sure it would be sad if they weren't there.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Johnny J
Date: 16 Oct 17 - 09:40 AM

In my experience, it's still quite rare for floor singers and support to be better musically and professionally than the main act although it happens occasionally.

Of course, the main act may not always be our cup of tea and a good floor spot can be a welcome distraction. However, in most cases, floor singers would be unlikely to sustain the same level for a whole night...i.e. two 45 minute sets or whatever.

So all this "better than the main act" stuff isn't necessarily so unless it's a professional or regular performing act appearing while "off duty".


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Paul Reade
Date: 16 Oct 17 - 09:21 AM

Heigh-ho, here we go again - the problem with folk clubs is floor singers. Readers of "Tykes' News" will know I've been banging on about this for years - this is an extract from a piece in 2012:-

Time to “nail my colours to the mast”. I’m a floor singer, and have been since 1965. A lot of my friends are floor singers, very talented musicians who can hold their own with any audience. Let’s not forget that some guests may not be all they’re cracked up to be – on more than one occasion I’ve sat through some quite well known act and thought “local singer / guitarist so-and-so could do as well as, if not better than this”. Yes there are floor singers who are not as good as others, but in my experience a lot of them are well aware of this and prefer to only perform on singers’ nights, and a good club will provide encouragement to improve. As for my own performances, I let the audience decide.

The festival scene in the summer is already more-or-less a “closed shop”, so do we want to end up with only concert clubs in the winter with no audience / local singer participation? All we would have to do is pay our entrance fee, sit quietly like good little boys and girls and listen to the pearls of wisdom from the stage above. Well I’m afraid the folk scene isn’t like that, and never has been like that. Participation, including floor singers, has always been what differentiates a folk club from other forms of entertainment.


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