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What is Happening to our Folk Clubs

Jim Carroll 19 Oct 17 - 03:35 PM
GUEST 19 Oct 17 - 03:35 PM
Raggytash 19 Oct 17 - 03:30 PM
Jim Carroll 19 Oct 17 - 02:50 PM
GUEST 19 Oct 17 - 01:57 PM
Jim Carroll 19 Oct 17 - 01:54 PM
Jim Carroll 19 Oct 17 - 01:38 PM
Big Al Whittle 19 Oct 17 - 01:17 PM
GUEST,Mudcat Moaner 19 Oct 17 - 12:52 PM
Jack Campin 19 Oct 17 - 12:46 PM
The Sandman 19 Oct 17 - 12:32 PM
The Sandman 19 Oct 17 - 12:30 PM
Jim Carroll 19 Oct 17 - 12:13 PM
Jim Carroll 19 Oct 17 - 11:57 AM
Big Al Whittle 19 Oct 17 - 11:07 AM
Jim Carroll 19 Oct 17 - 11:06 AM
Dave the Gnome 19 Oct 17 - 10:52 AM
Vic Smith 19 Oct 17 - 10:45 AM
Jim Carroll 19 Oct 17 - 10:38 AM
Dave the Gnome 19 Oct 17 - 10:07 AM
GUEST,Jim Knowledge 19 Oct 17 - 09:48 AM
Jim Carroll 19 Oct 17 - 09:39 AM
Jim Carroll 19 Oct 17 - 09:35 AM
Jack Campin 19 Oct 17 - 09:27 AM
Jim Carroll 19 Oct 17 - 08:40 AM
Dave the Gnome 19 Oct 17 - 08:38 AM
Jim Carroll 19 Oct 17 - 08:24 AM
Jack Campin 19 Oct 17 - 08:19 AM
Jim Carroll 19 Oct 17 - 07:28 AM
Dave the Gnome 19 Oct 17 - 06:53 AM
GUEST,ST 19 Oct 17 - 06:21 AM
GUEST 19 Oct 17 - 06:19 AM
GUEST 19 Oct 17 - 06:16 AM
Vic Smith 19 Oct 17 - 05:56 AM
Backwoodsman 19 Oct 17 - 05:39 AM
akenaton 19 Oct 17 - 05:34 AM
Jim Carroll 19 Oct 17 - 04:02 AM
Jim Carroll 19 Oct 17 - 03:55 AM
Big Al Whittle 18 Oct 17 - 07:39 PM
GUEST 18 Oct 17 - 06:48 PM
Joe Offer 18 Oct 17 - 04:28 PM
Big Al Whittle 18 Oct 17 - 03:15 PM
Paul Reade 18 Oct 17 - 02:15 PM
Backwoodsman 18 Oct 17 - 01:33 PM
The Sandman 18 Oct 17 - 01:27 PM
Jack Campin 18 Oct 17 - 12:58 PM
Big Al Whittle 18 Oct 17 - 12:51 PM
Jack Campin 18 Oct 17 - 12:07 PM
Backwoodsman 18 Oct 17 - 11:48 AM
Jim Carroll 18 Oct 17 - 10:57 AM
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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 03:35 PM

"Can you dance better than that Jim?"
Nope - neither can I do the Can-Can
I didn't say i was bad dancing - far from it
I just pointed out it wasn't traditional
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 03:35 PM

"What is Happening to our Folk Clubs ?" - the clue is in the chorus, Jim.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Raggytash
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 03:30 PM

Can you dance better than that Jim?


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 02:50 PM

Guest
Your point is?
Not only is Geldof "folk" but your wan's dancing is as far from the real thing as you can get
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 01:57 PM

https://youtu.be/NoweGN8cm5g


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 01:54 PM

Sorry about the mess there - my keboard is playing up
Should read And shanties are maritime folk
I should have added - blues isn't a style, it is the folk music of a specific section of the American population - the black population (unless specified as "white blues")
Your point escapes me - home or away.
Should have added, folk songs has always been a social activity, whether the social is a ship's crew, bothie workers, harvest suppers, singing pubs.... or, as Sam Larner claimed, "among family and friends or at sea "
The computer or laptop turns it into a somewhat onanistic exercise.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 01:38 PM

"blues is folk, jim,its a style of american folk"
Ad shanties are maritime folk, waulking songs are Hebridean folk and Bothie songs Aberdeenshire folk - all are folk - what's your point Dick?
"who let it die by neglect"
Should read "why let it die of neglect - sorry
Your phetr point escapes my home or away - both require technology that is not possessed by the rightful inheritors of our local traditional songs - the farming community
They would rather swap songs in our local singing sessions (as I would)
JiCarroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 01:17 PM

the geldof song is nothing special to me. but even when i first heard it. i recognised it as something akin to folk. it was as much an attempt to write about the contemporary times of the writer as van diemens land or making whoopee.

that 'all the news that's fit to print' strand of the folk revival is something i always liked.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: GUEST,Mudcat Moaner
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 12:52 PM

The post by GUEST 19th Oct 06.19AM sums up the situation perfectly, for me at least.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jack Campin
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 12:46 PM

All still a remote (and to those without internet access, as is the case in rural Ireland) inaccessible facility Jack
Give me the face to face atmosphere of a club any-day


You chose to ignore the whole point I was making.

I didn't get that YouTube link by sitting at this computer. I was shown the video on a laptop in the home of somebody who knows a immense amount about that kind of music. There are no clubs for it anywhere nearby - and that performer would never get a visa to play the UK anyway.

This has always happened when folk clubs were still relevant - people didn't actually pick up songs or tunes at folk clubs, they'd hear something and then go find it in a source that was reproducible enough to learn from. It's that after-the-gig phase that matters to keeping the tradition going, and it's irrelevant what stimulates it - the folk club was simply an advertising medium. The last couple of generations haven't needed folk clubs to show them what to learn or appreciate and they aren't any worse off for not using them.


If it's there, who let it die by neglect?

For the ones I know of: the organizers, who keep on booking the same performers doing the same acts year after year.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 12:32 PM

so are appalchian ballads and old timey, occasionally they over lap with blues, but they are all styles of american folk music.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 12:30 PM

blues is folk, jim,its a style of american folk


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 12:13 PM

Incidentally Al
Something that has always intrigued me
Why do you want Geldof's song to be ""folk" - why not Jazz or classical or a standard or blues?
You obviously like the song - why not just call it a good contemporary song?
What's so important about "folk"?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 11:57 AM

"I think what you are forgetting is that things DO change."
Not really Al
THe Oral tradition began to decline with the advent of the industrial revolution and by the time Sharp got at it, it was on its last legs
When the Beeb came along the songs they collected were largely from singers remembering song learned from singers who (if you were lucky) learned them from members of an earlier generation who may or may not have been part of a living tradition
The radio put the kiss of death on community creativity - we became recipients rather than participants - that's why we are part of a revival (the second one)
When something dies, the only thing that happens to a corpse is it decays - call that "change" if you like
" Benjamin Britten and Schoenberg"
If you talk to a classist they would dismiss both out of hand as having nothing to do with classical music - all musical genres adhere to definitions.
"19th century song about a fashion lady's hats made to look like dirigible balloons."
is undoubtedly a broadside composition - most of which is "vapid stuff"
MacColl denied everything he ever wrote was folk song and he refused to call his club a folk club - it was always 'The Singers Club'
I do wish you'd stop referring top '54' as if it were some kind of Bible
Folk songs are what they are because of who made them and how they've travelled, not because a committee decreed what they were.

This is an interview we recorded with 'simple countryman', Walter Pardon not necessarily accurate, but an indication that he knew the difference

"J C         All right; take another song; take something like 'Marble Arch' and 'Maid of Australia,' both of which are fairly amusing, anyway, would you see any difference in them?

W. P.         Well yes, because there's a difference in the types of the music, that's another point. You can tell 'Van Dieman's Land' is fairly old by the sound, the music, and 'Irish Molly' and 'Marble Arch' is shortened up; they shortened them in the Victorian times. And so they did more so in the Edwardian times. Some songs then, you'd hardly start before you'd finish, you see; you'd only a four line verse, two verses and a four line chorus and that'd finish. You'd get that done in half a minute; and the music wasn't as good. Yeah, the style has altered. You can nearly tell by the old 'Broomfield Hill', that's an old tune; 'The Trees They Do Grow High', you can tell, and 'Generals All'.
Nine times out often I can get an old fashioned ten keyed accordion, German tuned, you can nearly tell what is an old song. Of course that doesn't matter what modern songs there is, the bellows always close when that finish, like that. And you go right back to the beginning of the nineteenth and eighteenth (century), they finish this way, pulled out, look. You take notice how 'Generals All' finish; that got an old style of finishing, so have 'The Trees They Do Grow High', so have 'The Gallant Sea Fight', in other words, 'A Ship To Old England Came', that is the title, 'The Gallant Sea Fight'. You can tell they're old, the way they how they... that drawn out note at finish. You just study and see what they are, how they work, you'll find that's where the difference is. And as that got further along; that's where I slipped up with 'Black Eyed Susan' I thought that was probably William the Fourth by the music, but that go back about to 1730, that one do. Well, a lot of them you'll find, what date back years and years, there's a difference in the style of writing the music, as that progressed along that kept altering a lot. Like up into Victorian times, you've got 'Old Brown's Daughter', you see, that come into Victorian times; well that style started altering, they started shortening the songs up, everything shortened up, faster and quicker, and the more new they get, the more faster they get, the styles alter, 1 think you'll find if you check on that, that's right."

And another
"J.C.         Do you think that when you started singing in the clubs and festivals, do you think you are singing any different than you were singing when you were younger?

W.P            Dash, yes, I think so.

J C         Do you know in what way?

W.P.         Oh, I don't know, put more expression in probably; I think so. Well, but you see, you take these, what we call the old type... the old folk song, they're not like the music hall song, are they, or a stage song, there's a lot of difference in them, I mean a lot of these... some ... it all depend what and how you're singing. Some of them go to nice lively, quick tunes, and others are... you don't do 'Van Dieman's Land'... If there's a sad old song you don't go through that very quick. Like 'Up to the Rigs' is the opposite way about.
I mean, we must put expression in, you can't sing them all alike. Well most of the stage songs you could, if you understand what I mean. According to what the song is you put the expression in or that's not worth hearing; well that's what I think anyhow. And as I never did sing them, you see, there was no expression I could put in."

And again
"J.C.         If you had the choice Walter... if somebody said to you one night they were going to ask you to sing say half-a-dozen or a dozen songs even, of all your songs, what would be the choice, can you think offhand what you would choose to sing?

W.P.         The Pretty Ploughboy' would be one, that's one; 'Rambling Blade' would be another one, 'The Rambling Blade' would be two, 'Van Dieman's Land' three, 'Let The Wind Blow High or Low', that'd be four, 'Broomfield Hill', that's five, 'Trees The Do Grow High', six, that'd be six."

Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 11:07 AM

thanks for the offer Jim.
my e-mail is unchanged
denise_whittle@yahoo.co.uk

I think what you are forgetting is that things DO change.

Would the members of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band recognise what Miles Davis did as jazz, or Ornette Coleman?

Would Mozart and Beethoven tecognise Benjamin Britten and Schoenberg as classical music, or Frank Zappa?

Martin Carthy himself said an important constituent of folk music is the vapid day to day stuff - he illustrated with a 19th century song about a fashion lady's hats made to look like dirigible balloons.

When mass shootings are such an awful phenomenon of today, what is so shameful and un-folk music about Geldof's song of nearly forty years of age.
You may have come to folk music via the ballads and Ewan MacColl - I've said this before but you don't seem to have taken cognisance of it. I grew up in Lincolnshire my weekend bike rides were past Bloodhound interceptor rockets and Thor rockets and Vulcan bombers armed with a nuclear bombs.
The first song I learned off the radio when I was 12 was , Where have all the flowers gone? And it spoke to me, and truth to tell it still does.
i feel there was nothing shameful or inadequate about my feeling that this was special music, this was folk music. if it doesn't fit the 1954 definition of folk music - its cos the definition stinks.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 11:06 AM

"It still follows that the the ones that do not have anything to offer will fall by the wayside."
If they had nothing to offer they would have fallen beside the wayside long before now
I'll give you an example of what I man
Shortly after we began recording here in Clare I used to put my head in my hands - "oh suffering jaysus, not another feckin' "Home I Left Behind" emigration dirge" - hundreds of the buggers
Then I began to read up on the period following the Famine and talk to the locals about how their families had been effected
I realised that we had never met an individual whose family had not been touched by forced emigration - not one.
THen all the songs began to fall into place thanks to the wider picture
I still don't like most of them as entertainment, but as carriers of information, atmosphere and sentiment they have no peers
They are inseparable from my interest in social history and politics
That's what I call "good"
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 10:52 AM

I believe that most folk songs, while varying in quality, have something to offer and entertain

That I can accept, Jim. It still follows that the the ones that do not have anything to offer will fall by the wayside. The songs in your definition will survive naturally. They were there before folk clubs came into being. They will be there long after folk clubs have evolved into something else.

DtG


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Vic Smith
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 10:45 AM

A bit of personal experience.
Over the years, I reckon that most of the songs that we have sung in public have been starting off folk clubs as organiser/resident singers; beginning at college we ran weekly folk clubs for 50 years up until the end of 2014.
We have never been ones to seek for bookings for ourselves, we both had time-consuming careers outside music, but I'm pleased to say that plenty have come our way over the years. Back in the 1970s it was about a half singing, either as a duo of Tina and I or in various groups that we have been members of and the other half have been with the dance bands and for more than a quarter of a century this has been with our current band, the Sussex Pistols.
If I compare that with this year, the number of singing bookings had diminished - three festivals and a few folk clubs this year - whereas the number of dance gigs has grown greatly. We pass a lot of enquiries on to other local bands on dates where we are already booked. We are playing traditional tunes - singing the odd song when it is appropriate - and I am calling traditional and modern dances to people who have no involvement with or experience of traditional music. I would go further than that and say that many of the people that we play for at weddings, anniversaries, celebrations of all sorts, increasingly, have little experience of being in a room with live music being played and initially have no idea of the way they should react to it. They look embarrassed and take time to relax into it. This is very strange indeed to a live music junkie like myself; I get twitchy after a few days without the fix of being in a room with someone performing.
I put the change in the mix of gigs that we do down to function. A natural way of people celebrating is to dance together. Compared with that being at events that exhibit specialist singing and playing can seem artificial.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 10:38 AM

"what you seem to be saying is that because it is folk song, "
Nothin of the sort Dave
I believe that most folk songs, while varying in quality, have something to offer and entertain
I go along with MacColl to believe that the poetry of the ballads, in the main challenge Shakespeare.
Good and bad is a subjecting term - it doesn't mean we are all going to entertain us all equally, but the place that folksong occupies in our culture over-rides our personal tastes
I have become familiar with Mongolian throat-singing - not even its best friend would describe it as beautiful but it still makes the hairs on the back of my neck bristle - that's what I mean by "good"
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 10:07 AM

Folk song is good dave - beautiful in fact

That is where we will have to disagree, Jim. I would accept a lot of or even most of but what you seem to be saying is that because it is folk song, it must all be good. Apologies if that was not your intention but I do not believe it is all good. Just like I do not believe that all Jethro Tull songs are good, even though Ian Anderson is God :-) There is good and bad in every genre and we are not even going into matters of personal tastes. The good will survive naturally and the bad will fade away. Just natural selection.

DtG


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: GUEST,Jim Knowledge
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 09:48 AM

I `ad that Mudcat Moaner in my cab the other day. `e `ad a clipboard and `e`d put down chapter and verse about all `is local folk clubs, performance levels, crib sheets, music stands and whatever. Dunno where `e gets the time.
I said, "Morning Muddy, you`ve been busy and I see you`ve got all the usual suspects on that Mudcat scratching, bollowing and biting about the state of folk clubs."
`e said, "Well Jim, I reckon there all going down`ill. You and your band `ave been doing it for long enough. What`s your take on it?"
I said, "Muddy you`ve got to move with the times. If the punters now want "The Barley Mow" and "Lord Lovell" done with a saxophone, two fiddles and a Moog Synthesizer and go `ome thinking it`s folk, give it to`em. It`s still a nice little earner!!"

Whaddam I Like??


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 09:39 AM

All still a remote (and to those without internet access, as is the case in rural Ireland) inaccessible facility Jack
Give me the face to face atmosphere of a club any-day
If it's there, who let it die by neglect?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 09:35 AM

"No it doesn't, Jim. It depends on it being good."
Folk song is good dave - beautiful in fact - Shakespeare (son of a glove maker) was actually drawing from the tradition to make his plays, as were Bocaccio and Homer before him using the vernacular cultures to inform their own works
Whether its performance if good enough is something the clubs need to sort out
All were entertainment, but much more, and the further away they get from the present day, more that that "much more" becomes apparent.
I am up to my arse in the historical implications of our local "entertainment" in the form of songs
THe list I gave includes listener as it is they who expects entertainment, the rest covers the necessity to get folk song accepted by the art establishment because it is they who hold the wherewithal to getting our music out to a wider audience.
I have been told numerous times that the reason our collection at the British Library is not on line is because they haven't the money to put it up.
That was the constant moan throughout my briefish flirtation with EFDSS - no money to give them the extra space to even to accept huge bequeathments of books and broadside
A few years ago when the Celtic Tiger was roaring its loudest, you were pushing on an open door when you applied for grants for research into and performance of traditional music - I can never remember that happening back home
Even if them upstairs had money to spare they are not going to give it to a bunch of clowns who couldn't finf their 'folk' arse with both hands
We nerd them and it's about time we started persuading them they need us just as much
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jack Campin
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 09:27 AM

Traditional music has always been a social activity based on personal communication - the Clubs were a compromise but a comfortable one (infinitely better than concerts), for instance

Youtube and Spotify puts them in display cases to be observed rather than shared - listen but don't touch


That isn't how it works. People use them as resources, to point out neat things to emulate or compete with; in some circles YouTube videos are uploaded as a "how am I doing?" or a brag from one of a small circle of performers. I've been playing this tune for years but would never have thought of doing it the way this guy does:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GduY4LDIytc

You'll note that it wouldn't be an easy thing to find. I was pointed to it by another player in a group I'm in.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 08:40 AM

"YouTube and Spotify"
Traditional music has always been a social activity based on personal communication - the Clubs were a compromise but a comfortable one (infinitely better than concerts), for instance
Youtube and Spotify puts them in display cases to be observed rather than shared - listen but don't touch
If I wanted just to listen I need ever need leave home - I have a large enough sound collection top hear whatever I want from wherever I want
I can still remember the buzz of sharing a pleasant experience I got from the clubs - nearly as much as I got from hearing the songs
The friendships I made from those nights were spin-offs from the music led to all sorts of things from amorous encounters to short and long term co-operation in research - in my case, even a lifelong partnership
Would never have got that from Spotify
I can listen to some of the finest Irish music on disc but none of itt beats a night at Friels or The Westbridge, or The Blonde's or any of the other weekly sessions in this town
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 08:38 AM

The future of our music depends on ir being taken seriously. by the potential listener, by the media, by those who control the purse-strings of the art world, by the student.... by society as a whole.
Shakespeare can survive and thrive without majority popular support, Dickens will continue to be read for centuries, though I have only met one person (Walter Pardon) who read all his novels.


No it doesn't, Jim. It depends on it being good. Both Shakespeare and Dickens were popular in their own time. They are now certainly taken seriously by some but I suspect that the majority of Elizabethan theatre goers (can I call the Globe- trotters? :-) ) and most readers of pop-lit in Victorian times treated them as they were intended; popular entertainment. They have survived because they are good and have moved with the times. How many of Shakespeares plays and Dickens's books now have modern interpretations? Yet the originals still survive and go from strength to strength. It will be the same with folk music. The good will survive, the crap will be flushed and so it should be.

DtG


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 08:24 AM

Can I just add to this is that what runs through these arguments like 'Blackpool runs through rick' is that our definition of "folk" should be based on personal tastes rather than what it is.
This is nonsensical and if it was applied to any other form of music "I don't like classical music so let's extend the term to include jazz and music hall" it would be laughed out of court
The future of our music depends on ir being taken seriously. by the potential listener, by the media, by those who control the purse-strings of the art world, by the student.... by society as a whole.
Shakespeare can survive and thrive without majority popular support, Dickens will continue to be read for centuries, though I have only met one person (Walter Pardon) who read all his novels....
An art form doesn't have to reach the top of the charts to remain significant, but it does have to be taken seriously.
I'm sorry to constantly hark baek to what is happening here, but Irish Traditional Music has been guaranteed two generations worth of future, first because a small number of enthusiasts smashed it's 'diddly di' stigma and later because thousands of young people took it at face value, smashed their way through the 'peer-pressure' problem and began playing like virtuosos
Twenty odd years ago we thought it would die when we did - not now, we don't
What is happening nowadays may not always be to our own personal tastes but I have never seen such a healthy and hopeful scene
jim carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jack Campin
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 08:19 AM


Thanks for your input guest - sorry, but I feel I must disagree with most of it


You're illustrating what they said rather than disagreeing. Your autobiographical account describes a "where has this stuff been all my life?" encounter with the songs of traditional singers, and it was an experience common to many people of the same generation. It hasn't been an experience available to generations since - the motivating fire that got people together to form folk clubs and similar spaces for the music just isn't there. The source singers aren't around to feed in new stuff, and the recorded material has become familiarized with time.

There is a lot of source material which does genuinely sound like nothing you could ever have expected, but you'd never go to a folk club to look for it. YouTube and Spotify are a much better bet. But once you start looking at such vast and loosely categorized resources, you're unlikely to end up with such a sharp focus as you had. I don't think that's any bad thing. There is a lot of music out there and no laws to dictate which selections from it your own personal tastes should go for. Hence all over Britain you have things like Balkan bands, dhol groups and samba schools - which often have the same members as people who do English or Scottish traditional dance. There is so much creative energy out there that expecting folk clubs to host even a fraction of it would be like trawling for mackerel with a tadpole net and a jar.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 07:28 AM

Thanks for your input guest - sorry, but I feel I must disagree with most of it
Your argument may well describe what the clubs became, but they certainly didn't start out like that, not the ones I became involved with anyway
There was an element in what you describe in my first club, run by the Liverpool Spinners - a mixture of popularly performed folk songs and a social gathering.
I was a member for a couple of years and had just about had my fill of 'Fried Bread and Brandy' when they booked MacColl and Seeger, and I was introduced to an entire new world - a mixture of articulately presented traditional songs and (particularly) ballads alongside contemporary songs made on traditional forms.
I moved to Manchester and became part of the Terry Whelan, Harry Boardman, Tom Gillfellon, Teri Griffiths, Dave Hillary scene - a varied mixture of traditional songs that could knock your socks off.
By the time MacColl asked me to join the Critics Group I was an addict for life - not on the scene but on the songs - the social bit was an added bonus which you could take or leave.
MacColl, Lloyd and the pioneers all came to the music, very much influenced and inspired by McCarthy refugee, Alan Lomax
When he arrived in Britain Ewan and Bert were singing everything, including American songs that had been popularised by the material shipped in by Ken Colyer that set off Skiffle craze.
Lomax banged their heads together and pointed them at their home-grown folk songs, largely those collected by the BBC a few years earlier
What, Lloyd MacColl and others inspired became the serious and totally dedicated side of folk song
It produced new songs and new approaches to and uses of the old songs but it never really lost sight of their belief that Folk songs were the workers voice - The Voice of the People'.
There is a strange attitude that says you cannot be serious about your music and enjoy it at the same time
I'm working on a talk I'm giving in a few weeks and I'm using this quote by MacColl which answers that attitude for me perfectly - it's from an interview we did with him in in 1978.

"Now you might say that working and training to develop your voice to sing Nine Maidens A-milking Did Go or Lord Randall is calculated to destroy your original joy in singing, at least that's the argument that?s put to me from time to time, or has been put to me from time to time by singers who should know better.
The better you can do a thing the more you enjoy it. Anybody who?s ever tried to sing and got up in front of an audience and made a bloody mess of it knows that you?re not enjoying it when you?re making a balls of it, but you are enjoying it when it?s working, when all the things you want to happen are happening. And that can happen without training, sure it can, but it?s hit or miss. If you?re training it can happen more, that?s the difference. It can?t happen every time, not with anybody, although your training can stand you in good stead, it?s something to fall back on, a technique, you know. It?s something that will at least make sure that you?re not absolutely diabolical
The objective, really for the singer is to create a situation where when he starts to sing he?s no longer worried about technique, he?s done all that, and he can give the whole of his or her attention to the song itself, she can give her or he can give his whole attention to the sheer act of enjoying the song."

For me, our traditional songs are a vital part of our culture; performing them and listening to them has always given me enormous pleasure and I will be eternally grateful to the club scene that gave me the opportunity to do so - I wouldn't know they existed without them.
The clubs were set up to make these songs accessible to everybody - I only hope they survive to give future generations the same opportunity and pleasure they gave me
If I want to hear pop songs droned out by different performers 'just there for the craic' I can nip along to the local karaoke session
If people wish to offer a workable re-definition of the term "folk" they need to do so rather than saying "it is because I say it is" - that's just ill mannered boorishness.
I don't believe folk music is dead because it's a thing of the past any more than I believe Dickens or Shakespeare have had their day
They are all a part of our rich, vatal heritage and they all have something to say to us about ourselves
Long may they all thrive and prosper
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 06:53 AM

I think that is a good summation, ST. Folk clubs as an entity are artificial and came into being in the middle of the last century. Folk song and dance, however, is not artificial and has been going on since, well, man learned to sing and dance! We do not need folk clubs to preserve folk music as the music of yesteryear will either survive or fall by the wayside on its own merits. Folk clubs have evolved and while I have seen evidence of the OPs initial complaints I cannot say how widespread it is because I have a very limited, if lengthy, experience of only a handful of folk clubs. What I do know is that good music, of whatever genre, will survive in any environment.

My tastes are somewhat eclectic and I am more than happy to listen to any sort of music at the clubs I attend and, to be honest, I do not think I would enjoy an evening of nothing but traditional, unaccompanied song. I could be wrong and pleasantly surprised of course but to my mind, if you will excuse the cliche, variety is the spice of life. I was enamored of The Battlefield Band many years ago when the did their 'Saturday night ceilidh' set, explaining that the ceilidhs they attended in their youth were not the type we tend to think of here but were a collection of performance, dance, poetry and songs which included both traditional and modern. I think 'Johnny B Good' and 'Bad Moon rising' played on bagpipes is still one of the best things I have ever heard :-)

I certainly have no objection to the type of music performed. As long as it is good and the performers put in some effort to keep the audience entertained I will not complain. If I go to a venue where the music, however good, is not to my taste, I will go elsewhere. If I go to a venue where the music is to my taste but consistently performed to a poor standard, I will go elsewhere. I am sure I am not greatly different to most other people.

Just my 2p.

DtG


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: GUEST,ST
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 06:21 AM

Sorry - about to post previous entry as "Guest - ST" and pressed the wrong button while I was trying to edit all the mis-transferred punctuation from "Word" into Mudcatese


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

I know I can't generalise from my own experience but, although I can't claim to have been an active participant in the early days of the revival in the 50s, I can claim to have been an active member of the folk community for half a century so here's my own, very personal viewpoint.

I want to try to separate the question of what's happened to folk clubs from the questions about folk song/music. I don't actually think that folk clubs have "died" because they failed to stick to the 1954 definition of "folk" (although I tend to agree with that definition in the absence of anyone coming up with something better: but that's not the discussion here.)

I believe folk clubs were a generational "social" phenomenon which, I think is now dying out with the "Folk Club Generation". I don't think there were any folk clubs to speak of in the UK before the Second World War. They emerged from the 1950s skiffle and cafe bar movement, grew in popularity throughout the 1960s and 1970s and started to decline in popularity (and, in my entirely subjective opinion, in standards) from the 1980s. There are still a few run and attended by the "Folk Club Generation" but they have largely been replaced by singarounds and acoustic and open mic evenings for the "active" participants and by larger scale concerts and festivals for the "audiences".   

I don't think the younger generations failed to start coming to the clubs because the clubs no longer "did what it said on the tin"; I just think they were of their time and were and are not suited to a different time.   Folk songs were once, perhaps, sung at family gatherings and harvest and hunt suppers before the artificial environment of our folk clubs was invented. They were not the only songs sung at these events. These pre-folk generation gatherings were of their generation; folk clubs were of mine and, for a short time they provided an environment where the "folk songs" were separated from the other types of song. This selective environment, for a short time, became quite fashionable. Now there are different generations and different formats are emerging with different performers who get their material, and inspiration, in different ways. Although the occasional folk songs gets sung in these gatherings they are no longer exclusively for folk songs and, perhaps are back to the more mixed repertoires of the pre-folk club generations.

The Folk Club Generation learned within the clubs as well as, occasionally, from books and LPs. The current generation has Youtube and various internet sources to learn from - they don't need to sit through a variety of performers to get to the bit they want to hear or emulate.   They can go to "open mic" evenings with the songs they learned off Youtube, have their 10 minutes of fame and then leave.   The better ones (and there are some really good ones out there) can put up their own videos and try to get bookings at festivals and in music bars.   In some cases they can be keeping traditional material alive but not in the folk club context in which we learned and experienced it.

In the late 60s and 70s there were plenty of clubs. They were filled to capacity mainly by teens and 20s and the clubs that I went to had few, if any, older or traditional/source singers attending regularly. (Mind you "old" used to mean anyone over about 35 in those days!) Many of the clubs could afford to invite regular "professional" or semi-professional guests: in some cases these were (older) source/traditional singers and musicians. Whilst the clubs had plenty of "audience" members who restricted their contributions to joining in choruses etc., there were also lots of floor singers, so many that you couldn't guarantee getting a floor spot each week and, if you didn't know your material, you certainly wouldn't get one the next week. You learned your songs from each other with the few having access to LPs and books bringing in a steady stream of new material. Later on, many of us had cassette recorders which allowed us to collect and learn songs from others more easily. The material at the clubs I went to was mainly traditional with just the occasional Bob Dylan etc. song.

From the mid-80s and over the next decade or so things changed. The "Folk Club Generation" thinned out as families and jobs got in the way of nights out. Venues became less available as pubs ripped out internal walls to become bars, often with large TVs on the wall, and others morphed into restaurants.   As audiences and performers decreased, the repertoire of the singers widened and more ?pop? was performed but still, the clubs I went to maintained a fairly traditional base. (This, of course was partly because I avoided clubs that didn't suit my taste in music.) As the clubs shrank in numbers and attendance I didn't notice much new blood entering.   The Folk Club Generation boom of teens and 20s became the diminished die-hards, now in their 30s and 40s.

Over the last couple of decades there have been other changes. There's been a continued decrease in venue availability with the closure of pubs now adding further to the pressures. I don't think actual participant numbers have decreased as much as might be expected since those leaving due to death (or finally having had enough) seem to have been replaced by others of the original Folk Club Generation reaching retirement age and, once more, having time to spare. Unfortunately that influx has brought its own problems. A number of those returning are the "chorus singing, audience only" attendees from the 60s. Now they're back and they see a chance to sing themselves. So far, so good, but they seem to have forgotten how the "performers" of those early days actually learned to perform and practiced before doing so. Many of them now resort to files of songs from which they read. My impression is that many feel an obligation to sing because they think it's a requirement (and this seems to be encouraged in some singarounds) - but they don't actually treat the songs with any respect: it's all person-centred and about the participation. This is a perfectly valid viewpoint although it's not quite how the 1960s clubs worked where, I believe, it was the songs that came first.

Sadly there's a critical mass effect in operation. Even some of those who were actually floor singers in the 1960s but left for family and work reasons now return and see that reading and not knowing your songs is the norm. Perhaps lacking confidence after a long absence, they blame ageing for no longer being able to remember words and seem to be prepared to buy into the "I haven?t had time to learn this one properly yet" ethos. As there's less real talent left in this smaller population, many "clubs" have become singarounds where no-one really even pretends to be any good anymore and you get your turn regardless of whether you know any songs or bother to practice them beforehand.   I can go to some clubs/singarounds where you're expected to know your songs and perform reasonably well (though perhaps not as some still let me sing). It seems attendees quickly pick up that, at these clubs, you need to aim for a certain level of performance. I go to other places where one or two start to read from sheets, forget what they're doing, say "I just found this one today and must try it out" and, if left unremarked upon, within a couple of months nearly everyone is taking the same approach. Noticeably, a few of the "better"? performers will have stopped attending by then so the effect is even more pronounced. I think this may explain why perceptions about the current state of standards varies. If you're lucky enough to live where the critical mass supports standards you?ll think they are OK, if you're not so lucky .
...
So, I think we're seeing the death of folk clubs along with those who started them. The younger generations are inventing their own ways of performing and keeping songs alive. Some of these performers are very good but whereas the Folk Club Generation went to clubs to share just "folk songs" with each other, to listen as well as to perform, I'm not sure that's the model for the current generation. I think most, raised on Youtube and the internet, expect to have an audience for their songs rather than share songs with each other. As I said, some are very good and at least as good as the best of my generation; they?re just doing a slightly different thing.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 06:16 AM

There was no animosity in my post ....none whatever. And i too would like to see the same rule applied below the line, where animosity is the order of the day.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Vic Smith
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 05:56 AM

If your identity is known, you suffer social consequences from the community when your behavior is out of line. If you hide behind anonymity, there are no such consequences. In addition, people often perceive anonymous remarks as threatening. Also, anonymous criticism can be particularly hurtful. Therefore, if there is even a hint of animosity in an anonymous post, I will not hesitate to delete it.
Anonymity is granted only to allow occasional visitors a chance to contribute to a discussion when they are unable to become members for one reason or another. Anonymity is not a right. If you post anonymously, all your messages will be scrutinized. Don't like that? Then sign up as a member.
-Joe Offer, Mudcat Music Editor-


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 05:39 AM

So do I.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: akenaton
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 05:34 AM

Yes, you are quite right Jim, I noticed what was happening yesterday and withdrew from the discussion.....Joe is perfectly correct and I wish BS was subject to the same moderation.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 04:02 AM

"I think whatever made them lose the will to live is currently stomping round the west of Ireland looking for another dominant species to start on."
Pease don't you join in the snide Jack - you are better than that
I've made my points as clearly as I am able - try addressing them
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Oct 17 - 03:55 AM

Delighted that Joe intervened - I apologise for getting involved in the backbiting - put it down to the meds.
I do hope you're joking Al - in all sincerity, you really should try the real thing before out dismiss it out-of-hand.
If you haven't heard ten part 'The Song Carriers' series MacColl did in the sixties, you really should try it - it is, in my opinion, the finest and most accessible presentation of British and Irish folk song that was ever produced - 1964 and still not bettered, both enjoyable and informative
It still sets the hairs on the back of my head on end after a dozen times of listening
If you are in any way interested PM me with an e-mail address and I'll be happy to send you a set on Dropbox
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 18 Oct 17 - 07:39 PM

with the best will in the world - i really don't think you need to bother too much about the sensibilities of the folks on this thread.

Jim Carrol doesn't reckon my Justin Beiber songs are folk music
I'm trying open his mind to hip hop and acid metal trance.

He reckons his ballads are where its at, full of street cred and a possible cure for my insomnia.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Oct 17 - 06:48 PM

If guests are allowed under the rules they should not be subject to any stricter rules than combative or obnoxious members! If all are not equal, change the rules, but do not carry out a double standard! The rules of "decorum" must apply to all, yes?


    If your identity is known, you suffer social consequences from the community when your behavior is out of line. If you hide behind anonymity, there are no such consequences. In addition, people often perceive anonymous remarks as threatening. Also, anonymous criticism can be particularly hurtful. Therefore, if there is even a hint of animosity in an anonymous post, I will not hesitate to delete it.
    Anonymity is granted only to allow occasional visitors a chance to contribute to a discussion when they are unable to become members for one reason or another. Anonymity is not a right. If you post anonymously, all your messages will be scrutinized. Don't like that? Then sign up as a member.
    -Joe Offer, Mudcat Music Editor-


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Joe Offer
Date: 18 Oct 17 - 04:28 PM

We expect civil behavior from all; but Guests are reminded that they are under special scrutiny. There were a number of combative Guest posts in this thread. I deleted most of the recent ones - along with some member responses. We can't have credible discussion of folk music with that sort of combat going on. Your mother should have taught you that when you are a guest, you should be on your "best behavior."
-Joe Offer, Mudcat Music Editor-


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 18 Oct 17 - 03:15 PM

a pubic hair on the toilet seat......

as Private Godfrey said, I don't like that sort of thing...


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Paul Reade
Date: 18 Oct 17 - 02:15 PM

Ironically, Guest's comment above ("... zzzzzzzzz") answers exactly the question "What is Happening to our Folk Clubs".

While the folknerd pedants have been arguing the toss about what exactly folk is etc., they don't seem to have noticed that the audience has become totally bored ... and gone home!


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 18 Oct 17 - 01:33 PM

Amen, Dick.
Someone will probably be along in a minute to tell us that the Zimmer Frame must comply with the 1954 design, otherwise it's not a Zimmer Frame. 😜😎


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Oct 17 - 01:27 PM

what is happening in our folk clubs...... people are making their own music they are socialising and they are enjoying themselves, sometimes they get their leg over something other than a zimmer frame, long may that continue


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jack Campin
Date: 18 Oct 17 - 12:58 PM

To dismiss his contribution as being something to do with foreign music shows a breathtaking lack of knowledge from one who growls at others.

I thought you were in the same country as me? The one Sharpe collected tunes in?


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 18 Oct 17 - 12:51 PM

i seem to remember Sir Thomas More saying something similar in A Man for All Seasons. Didn't do him much good either.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jack Campin
Date: 18 Oct 17 - 12:07 PM

The dinosaurs went extinct. Mostly.

I think whatever made them lose the will to live is currently stomping round the west of Ireland looking for another dominant species to start on.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 18 Oct 17 - 11:48 AM

The dinosaurs went extinct. Mostly.


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Subject: RE: What is Happening to our Folk Clubs
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 Oct 17 - 10:57 AM

"I'm surprised Ewan never explained that to you."
He didn't need to Al - it was planted in my psyche long before I knew Ewan
What' your point?
A song cannot become folk until it goes through a process of dissemination and acceptance
A pop song can never become folk song because   that process no longer operates and the law protects it from ever becoming one anyway because it is the property of the composer
If Ewan and Peggy can point out that the songs they wrote were not folk songs you should have the good grace to accept that yours aren't
I really can't see why you are continuing this
Geldof song isn't a folk song, it doesn't sound like a folk song and it fits none of the definitions - unless you can point to one that it does.
You and Muskett are working on the basis that, if you choose to call a song "folk" it will miraculously become one (like Joe Heaney's steak miraculously turned into a fish to placate the priest on Friday)
So - where's your definition?
If you don't com up with one you have no case
Game over, I think
Jim Carroll


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