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The role of folk clubs today

GUEST,Jane 28 Feb 04 - 11:22 AM
GUEST 28 Feb 04 - 11:52 AM
breezy 28 Feb 04 - 01:44 PM
treewind 28 Feb 04 - 02:29 PM
dog my cat 28 Feb 04 - 02:46 PM
harvey andrews 28 Feb 04 - 03:47 PM
wendyg 28 Feb 04 - 04:23 PM
treewind 28 Feb 04 - 04:24 PM
The Borchester Echo 28 Feb 04 - 04:46 PM
harvey andrews 28 Feb 04 - 05:27 PM
GUEST 28 Feb 04 - 05:29 PM
The Borchester Echo 28 Feb 04 - 06:12 PM
harvey andrews 28 Feb 04 - 07:12 PM
GUEST 28 Feb 04 - 08:10 PM
GUEST 28 Feb 04 - 08:17 PM
madwaff 28 Feb 04 - 10:09 PM
The Villan 29 Feb 04 - 10:55 AM
The Borchester Echo 29 Feb 04 - 11:26 AM
The Villan 29 Feb 04 - 11:39 AM
treewind 29 Feb 04 - 01:22 PM
treewind 29 Feb 04 - 01:47 PM
The Villan 29 Feb 04 - 02:31 PM
GUEST 29 Feb 04 - 04:10 PM
The Villan 29 Feb 04 - 04:29 PM
GUEST 29 Feb 04 - 05:07 PM
The Villan 29 Feb 04 - 05:09 PM
GUEST 29 Feb 04 - 05:34 PM
GUEST,Peter from Essex 29 Feb 04 - 05:52 PM
GUEST 29 Feb 04 - 05:57 PM
The Borchester Echo 29 Feb 04 - 06:07 PM
LesB 29 Feb 04 - 06:52 PM
Richard Bridge 29 Feb 04 - 07:05 PM
GUEST 29 Feb 04 - 07:14 PM
The Villan 01 Mar 04 - 02:13 AM
Sooz 01 Mar 04 - 04:09 AM
GUEST,The Cott 01 Mar 04 - 04:32 AM
GUEST 01 Mar 04 - 04:35 AM
Sooz 01 Mar 04 - 04:58 AM
The Villan 01 Mar 04 - 05:18 AM
Pied Piper 01 Mar 04 - 06:12 AM
The Villan 01 Mar 04 - 06:25 AM
GUEST 01 Mar 04 - 06:33 AM
The Villan 01 Mar 04 - 07:33 AM
LesB 01 Mar 04 - 01:55 PM
GUEST 01 Mar 04 - 04:44 PM
The Villan 01 Mar 04 - 04:54 PM
treewind 01 Mar 04 - 05:10 PM
The Villan 01 Mar 04 - 05:13 PM
The Borchester Echo 01 Mar 04 - 05:29 PM
treewind 01 Mar 04 - 05:53 PM
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Subject: The role of folk clubs today
From: GUEST,Jane
Date: 28 Feb 04 - 11:22 AM

Hi, I regularly go to two folk clubs in my area and have noticed that I'm usually one of the youngest people there (and I'm not that young, being nearly 40!). I was wondering why younger people don't go (at least not to the ones in my area). Also, what is the role of folk clubs today? Will there still be folk clubs in the future?


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Feb 04 - 11:52 AM

It's to do with the inner circle, most Folk Cubs have inner circles and how ever much they say "all welcome" other people from outside there immediate circle are not made to feel at home. I have witnessed it time and time again, last week I was in a pub where a session was happening, I heard someone start to play a beautiful piece on the violin and another person complained that it was "their turn", there are no rules written down that state you must go round in a circle. You ask "what is the role of folk clubs today" in my view it is to promote music to ALL which includes giving everyone a chance, unfortunately this does not happen. You ask "will there still be folk clubs in the future" I certainly hope so BUT people have to change there approach and allow entry for people to develop. There will be many people who don't agree with me, but they need to take a step back, be honest, and look at themselves.


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: breezy
Date: 28 Feb 04 - 01:44 PM

Folk clubs provide an opportunity to hear songs without distractions and the performer to ply the art.



Its not a young persons scene, no need to pamper to them they must come on our terms thats the tradition.

The songs and recordings are there and as such are immortal.

Its a far more mature environment than most young people can hack

I agree we all need to start somewhere but some people start too early too soon and very unready.

I provde 3 clubs, each one different

1 for the top flight performer and good resident

2 for the good resident to be a performer with room for floor singers who are ready but I cant commit to cater for more than 2 of these an


3 singaround session night for all, alternating an experienced with a rookie


I have to get people in so I sing in the street to meet like minded individuals and draw attention to the venues and me

Did 5 hours today a spoke to 20 interested peolple a disrtibuted leaflets and fliers.
Now if they come I dont want to lose them to inadequate performers or a dull venue.
Come to my club and judge for your self.

Fridays at The Duke af Marlboro the Premiership

sundays at the British Legion the nationwide

1st Sat month singa round at the legion for all

Good luck


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: treewind
Date: 28 Feb 04 - 02:29 PM

Breezy, there used to be a club in Manchester which some of its participants nicknamed the "singing songs and talking bollocks club".
For some reason, I am suddenly reminded of it...

The people now in their 50's in folk clubs now are the identical people who were going to folk clubs 30 years ago, who were then in their 20's. We could all hack it then, we were mature enough (or were we?), it was a young person's scene. Maybe we identified with it too strongly - it was 'our scene' and we didn't notice we were getting older and insular and intolerant of younger newcomers.

As for anonymous guest before, it's no use writing off folk clubs and illustrating your view with a session as an example. Most clubs (of the more organised sort, not a bar room session) try hard to welcome newcomers - if they fail to do that the club shrinks to death.

It seem to me that successful clubs nowadays typically run monthly and are in large rooms that are generally community friendly - village halls, social clubs etc. The ones in grubby little pub back rooms are the ones that are struggling, and especially if they run every week. There are exceptions, of course.

I suspect there are more pub sessions of all sorts than there used to be, and at the other end of the spectrum there are folk concerts in Art Centres and similar venues. I've also noticed that some of the larger scale club organisers also run less formal sessions in parallel, which complement the more performance oriented club and give the less experienced an easier start at performing for the first time.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: dog my cat
Date: 28 Feb 04 - 02:46 PM

It is a sad fact of life that many folk clubs have very small attendances even for guest evenings. However, there are still many many many clubs in the UK. I don't see them as a dying breed yet but they will if they don't evolve.

Folk music is an evolving tradition, it always has been. The folk revival in the 60's moved swiftly into merging it with electric instruments (Fairport et al.) That did it no harm, it brought more people to the tradition who might not have gone there otherwise, me included.

Those of us who are holding the tenure of that tradition presently must accept those youngsters (and there are quite a few) who want to take the trad music and put a modern slant on it....mix it with rock, electronics garage etc. (Peatbog Faeries, Shooglenifty etc).

The arran sweater brigade will probably sudder at the prospect but if its to evolve and move in those swirling circles we must help provide the venues to let the youngsters do that in.



If they are popping their heads around the doors of folk clubs and not seeing an opening for them, then they will go elsewhere.


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: harvey andrews
Date: 28 Feb 04 - 03:47 PM

Following on from Treewinds point...The role of folk clubs today is very different to what it was.It's a generation thing. The young do what they do and then carry on doing it until old age. Their children do not do the same thing.Unless young musicians want to meet regularly and play for an audience that wants to listen in pub rooms etc then the folk clubs as they have been known will die with the retirement of their organisers.The process is already well under way and the all year round club scene is being replaced by the summer festival scene. The loss of the weekly bread and butter gig will make it very hard for most young folkies to earn a living as pro's, although some will be able to do so on the arts centre, village hall circuit. It's all happened before to jazz.
Where is the music hall circuit that supported literally thousands of "turns", the variety circuit that supported the next generation of pros, the working men's clubs that followed after variety? It's as natural a process as the changing of the seasons. Any popular entertainment starts, blossoms, and dies along with its generation. It can never be repeated the way it was.
I'm talking here about the folk clubs, not folk music, which of course will continue in various guises as it always has.
What is called a folk club by many today bears no relation to the folk clubs of the past. They appear to be gatherings of people having a session. In a way, they are the last links with a phenomenon that was at its peak nearly 40 years ago.
In 1970 for example I played in folk clubs that were generally heaving with people in the most unlikely places;
Bedford, Birmingham (Digbeth, Aldridge, West Bromwich,Centre,Solihull,
Bromsgrove, Erdington, Smethwick, Yardley,Acocks Green, all suburbs of the city, all thriving clubs) The Black Country, (Wolverhampton (3clubs),West Bromwich,Halesowen,Lower Gornal,Walsall (2 clubs).
Oxford, Coventry(2clubs)Leicester,Colne,Preston,Blackpool,Accrington,Burnley,Clitheroe,Bacup, Poynton,Middlesbrough, Hyde,Manchester, Aldermaston,Bristol(2 clubs),Farnborough,Exmouth,London(3 clubs), Liverpool, West Kirby, Bromsgrove,Lichfield,Bognor regis, Wooten Wawen,Brinklow, barnsley, Surbiton,Brewood, Portsmouth, Bewdley, Little Sutton, Kidderminster, Chasetown, Lymington, Addlestone,Ewell, Banbury, Wallasey,Altrincham, Ashington,Chichester,Leamington Spa.
College clubs at;West Midlands Education Coll, Saltley Coll,Shoreditch Coll,Wrexham Coll,Aston University,Surrey Uni, Kings College London,Westhill Coll.
All of these were folk clubs, and I wasn't everybody's cup of tea, as no performer is, so there were many more than those listed that I never played, particularly down South and in the far North.There's not one in the whole of Wales or Scotland. Yet I still managed 121 gigs in the year including a few concerts and festivals, and I wasn't the hardest working by any means..
In 1971 I added; Newbury,Stourport,Warrington,Chester, Derby,Brownhills,Uttoxeter,Newport,(shropshire)Perrenporth,Padstowe,Braunton,Wheaton Aston,Barry Island, Kingswinford,Wellington,Farnborough,Hull,Plymouth,Barnsley,
Huddersfield, Leeds,Halifax, Hazelslade,Burton,Chasetown, Godalming,Nuneaton,Bury St Edmunds,Haverhill, Oswestry,Cleethorpes,Cannock,Stourbridge,Leicester,Turville, Norwich, Chelmsford, Forest of Dean, Havant,Petersfield, Scunthorpe,Stockport,High Wycombe, Aberystwyth,Royston, Bishop Stortford,Plymouth,Wrexham....all folk clubs as were Notts Coll, Aberystwyth Uni, Aston Uni, Bishop Lonsdale's Coll,Lancaster Coll,Notts Uni,Canley Coll.
I did 141 club gigs that year, that's nearly 3 a week. How many of those places listed above can still boast a successful club?
There's no such structure for the young musicians today and the only way they will get it is to create it, but is the audience from their own generation there to support them as it was for us back then? I think that's the question and the problem so many good young musicians face today.Without the bread a butter they have to go for the more populist approach if they wish to make their living, and many folkies dislike anything that smacks of "commercialism" as we see on one thread where we're asked to vote for a best "non-commercial" cd. For the person that's made it, a non-commercial cd is a failure if they wish to be full time musicians.So the folk world today creates this dilemma, failure to earn a living but gained credibilty in a parochial scene, or success and brickbats from the same people.Maybe the hope is that the young audience won't see success as failure. However I did notice on TV when we saw Kate Rusby's audience that the majority appeared to be older than her, many considerably so.
In 1970 as I've shown, a good living could be had in thriving clubs without compromising yourself in any way.
(Then the audience paired off, got married had kids, stopped going to folk clubs, raised kids, retired and now....they're coming back out again, but not in the modern pub, more in the arts centre and the small theatre, as treewind said.)


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: wendyg
Date: 28 Feb 04 - 04:23 PM

It's true. Lots of the clubs I remember from when I was performing full-time in the late 1970s are gone. Those that are still around often have much smaller audiences, and you *don't* see a lot of young people, although I expect that acts like Boden and Spiers and Eliza Carthy will draw those in, because they give folk music a younger, fresher feel.

And some of those clubs are much less open to untried singers than they were. My "home" club, Twickenham, often has only three floor spots on a guest night, and most of those go to people they already know from singers' nights or who have been recommended by someone they know.

wg


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: treewind
Date: 28 Feb 04 - 04:24 PM

Harvey, spot on about the music halls, variety circuit and WMC's - a similar thought vaguely occurred to me but you put it far better than I could, with those specific examples.

The idea of a new generation of folk venue already exists. In the Jim Moray interview in fRoots he says somebody young may well invent an entirely new kind folk club, but it won't be recognisable to the older folkie generation. The folk revival in the 60's had an air of subversion and rebellion about it and the the next one will do the same, distancing itself from the establishment.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 28 Feb 04 - 04:46 PM

I won't wade in with all the stuff I've said here before on this subject because Harvey and Anahata have just summed it all up so eloquently.

What I do fervently hope though is that clubs like the one Jim Moray plans and the others that will surely follow, presenting our traditional heritage in a way that's relevant to how lives are lived today, will still let me in.

However, I have to say in support of the Twickenham club that it is extremely well organised. Artists who get floor spots there always fully merit the space and are worth a listen - there's no putting on the bloke in the corner who cannot hold a tune or remember the words just because he's been coming for ever.

It's booking policy isn't always to my taste but I know that when I do go the music will be of the highest quality, the sound good and the surroundings pleasant. If a club wants to attract punters, this is surely the way to go.


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: harvey andrews
Date: 28 Feb 04 - 05:27 PM

"he says somebody young may well invent an entirely new kind folk club, but it won't be recognisable to the older folkie generation"

So he's talking about it, but will he START it?
Mine was called "The Broadside" in Hurst St Brum, and we only booked songwriters, that was our speciality. There was a purely Trad club, an Irish Trad club,an English come-everybody club,...there was something for everyone in Brum, but we DID it.

"will still let me in"
Well, if you show the colour of your coin what does your age matter?


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Feb 04 - 05:29 PM

Nowadays a huge proportion of the populace are the offspring of parents from places other than the UK.
Their roots and folk music are not from the traditionally known UK scene.

There is a thriving World music scene which reflects this. It represents many races and it's vibrancy extols it's popularity.
It is an all encompassing "folk" music.
The clubs offering this sort of music have no problem filling their floors.It offers a wide ranging audience something to identify with.

IMHO this is the future of "folk" music.


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 28 Feb 04 - 06:12 PM

Hi Harvey

Yes, I think Jim Moray will start a club, I imagine after he gets back from his Australian tour in April. It's going to be in central Birmingham, I think. Will they let me in? Well, it's nothing to do with money. Or age, though I can well understand the suspicion of younger artists' hesitancy and suspicion given the way they've been dissed and patronised by old farts in the revival-style club setup. It's more to do with a willingness to break with convention while retaining absolute respect for the tradition, neither of which is present in abundance among my contemporaries. I just hope the younger performers recognise me as a little more open-minded..

Guest,

You are right to an extent but it's something of a distortion to give the impression that the English traditional musical heritage has gone out of the window! Many musicians are incorporating aspects of world music into their arrangements, and many more are sharing venues with different genres. But the traditional repertoire is very much alive and thriving. Just look around!


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: harvey andrews
Date: 28 Feb 04 - 07:12 PM

"huge proportion of the populace are the offspring of parents from places other than the UK."

A fair point, but don't exaggerate.."huge" is a BNP word.

"It's going to be in central Birmingham,"

That's where mine was!
Round like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel.....


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Feb 04 - 08:10 PM

I didn't mean to give the impression that the traditional English musical heritage had gone out of the window, to the contrary, I think it will be one of many traditional musical heritages celebrated for many years to come.

I would hazard a guess,and it's only a guess, that the percentage of the populace currently actively involved in the traditional english folk scene,and by that I mean the number of people freqeunting traditional english folk clubs, is far less than the percentage of people who's roots do not hail from England.


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Feb 04 - 08:17 PM

Harvey.......huge is a BNP word? Only if you take it as a criticism. I think it is celebratory and something to be proud of.


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: madwaff
Date: 28 Feb 04 - 10:09 PM

I think we may be doing OK up here - first meet of the month is guest/club night - if we have a guest, they feature majorly, with club support; if not, everyone who wants to has the opportunity to do a (usually) 3-tune floor spot. Second meet is committee night, after the meeting it's singaround, anybody welcome to try out anything they like (to critical(!) acclaim). Sing whatever style you like, blues, jazz, folk, rock - you get listened to, encouraged, criticised; but, above all, treated fairly. Some may not like what you do(who likes everything?), but that doesn't restrict your right to do it. If there's a clique, I've never noticed - if you're an honest performer, they give you due credit.
btw - it's Fyvie Folk Club - advert over!


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: The Villan
Date: 29 Feb 04 - 10:55 AM

This is a very interesting thread for me.
I am trying to get a Folk Club going in Market Rasen, if I can find somewhere that is folkie friendly - already been let down on that score.

From my point of view, its seems pretty pointless giving somebody the floor, who is not a competent singer. The songs they sing are not the important issue. You can't like all the songs or styles. But to me a bad voice is going to turn away new members.

I have already made a link with the local school to accomodate very good singers (youngsters) who will want to sing at the club. I would like to give at least one floor spot each evening for such a singer. I have been promised that if any of these youngsters come along, that they will have good voices and will therefore be worth listening to.

Anybody who has offered their services so far have a good track record. To me recomendation is critical. I would rather turn somebody down than be embarrassed or they be embarrassed. I dont'mean that in a nasty way at all.

What I want to do, is offer not so confident singers or players a chance to work alongside the competent singers and players. That way they get a chance to do something without being thrown to the wolves.
So I would be allotting a 30 min slot maybe more for artists to mix and play together. I am sure this will help to encourage the less confident. It also gives somebody who plays an instrument but does not sing a chance to play in a group as such. This gives them a chance to show what they are made of. You never know what can happen from such an idea. Maybe a new folk group or 2.

Hopefully by giving competent groups/singers floorspots, young singers floorspots and anybody else a chance to mix and match, each night will be a success, and encourage people to come and watch and come back on a regular basis.

I appreciate that not everybody will agree with my thoughts, and I welcome any constructive comments.

Remember, that I am a person who doesn't sing or play, but would love to keep folk music and verse (whatever that may be) alive.
I am prepared to work hard at making a success of it.

I am also very aware that the only way it can be a success is the people who are performing. They are the most important thing of all. Everybody I have made contact with have been very kind and helpful, except The Club which I was going to use.

Les


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 29 Feb 04 - 11:26 AM

Les

I was disappointed to learn from your thread on the proposed Market Rasen Club that it is not now happening. Your description above sounds just the right open-minded and inclusive policy so lacking across what passes for a 'folk club scene' today.

It was, of course, a shame to miss out on such a good venue. However, maybe it will work out better to start with a less ambitious venture - say a session in a friendly pub - where prospective residents could meet and sort out repertoire while mentoring relative beginners. You would then have time to build experience (and funds) before settling on another, even more ideal, permanent venue.

Good luck!


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: The Villan
Date: 29 Feb 04 - 11:39 AM

Thanks for that Countess Richard.

It helps a lot to think that I may be on the right track. :-)

Sooz has been so so helpful with very sound advice.


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: treewind
Date: 29 Feb 04 - 01:22 PM

"Guest": "the percentage of the populace currently actively involved in the traditional english folk scene... is far less than the percentage of people who's roots do not hail from England."

While the existence of all this music from other cultures is all very exciting and not in any way to be discouraged, it is a very sad corollary that most English people do not even recognise their own folk culture when they hear it. On more that one occasion I have been in a session in a English pub where we were playing English music, (including an instrument uniquely invented by an Englishman...) and bystanders come up and ask us if (or tell us) we're playing Irish music. If you went into a session in Scotland or Ireland and asked anyone what the music was they might say it was folk or traditional but they'd never say it was something foreign.
(rant over...)

There's another thing about "world music" that has come to my attention recently. Much of what finds its way into the "world" category in a British record shop is the cultural equivalent in its own country of rock, pop, easy listening or even classical music.

The truth is that there is no such thing as world music - it's pretty well known that the term was invented by a group of record industry marketing chiefs as a convenient heading under which to sell commercial music to bigger market.

I'm with Ian Anderson of fRoots who pointedly includes English music as world music, while the American Grammy association's definition of world music apparently excludes anything sung in English.

So I'm sorry, but I don't agree that music from the rest of the world is the future of English folk music, any more than I should believe that Mongolian overtone chanting is the future of Flamenco or thet Hardanger fiddles are the future of Salsa.
(I just know that I'm now going to find exactly those combinations featured in some edition of a certain mag....)

Anahata


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: treewind
Date: 29 Feb 04 - 01:47 PM

Les - your two-tier idea of a folk club, with a beginners session at the beginning and the proper club starting later, has been done before, I heard with great success. Go for it!

This problem is solved in some other places by the scheme I mentioned before, when the same people run a very informal pub session in parallel with the club. I have actually seen singers start (very nervously) in the session and months later have enough confidence to be able to sing in the club. This is a Very Good Thing, of course.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: The Villan
Date: 29 Feb 04 - 02:31 PM

Thanks Anahata.
Do you know I hadn't thought of the beginners first and the club starting later.
I thought originally that the beginners might like mixing it at the end. Then it got to maybe in the middle.

I am convinced if the more experienced artists assist the less experienced, that will give them confidence and will eventually get them to the point where they demand a spot.

I suppose its the same in all walks of life. The experienced taking time to nurture and train the inexperienced. The benefits are enormous. It might be a pain to begin with, but if you don't help them, they will never learn. This applies to bringing youngsters onto the scene.

Les


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Feb 04 - 04:10 PM

The role of folk clubs today....is what was asked in the original post. Your assumption that it only meant english folk music is perhaps the reason they are dying on their feet.


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: The Villan
Date: 29 Feb 04 - 04:29 PM

Sorry Guest was that aimed at me or somebody else?


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Feb 04 - 05:07 PM

Sorry Villan I don't know what you assumed.


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: The Villan
Date: 29 Feb 04 - 05:09 PM

"Your assumption that it only meant english folk music is perhaps the reason they are dying on their feet. "

Hi Guest I wasn't really sure about the above comment! :-)


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Feb 04 - 05:34 PM

Ok...........I was trying, evidently very unclearly, to say that I think the future of folk clubs will remain, but the music played at such will change. To reflect hopefully the roots/traditions of the population as a whole.Folk clubs will not be thought of as an exclusively english bastion. Sure there will be clubs dedicated to just that,english folk music, and others dedicated with equal fervour to the folk music of their audiences.

Of course traditional english folk will remain,why wouldn't it? But it will just be one example of folk music. I would like to see folk music of many cultures celebrated.It is today, under the clumsy but recognisable heading of world music, and while I agree with the comment above that world music is often the pop of that particular country, I do not feel that that is criticism.Anything that gives exposure to other nations music, is a good thing , I think.And it is often peoples first introduction to suchlike, they can then decide if they like the sound and explore further.

The WOMAD festivals and all it's associated artists are a very successful concern.They would not think folk clubs are declining, because they would not assume the only folk clubs operating are english. The Royal Festival Hall sells out regularly when showcasing what could be termed folk music from other countries.Folk music is alive and well in many cultures.Why do you you think english folk music is becoming such a minority interest?

Organizations that oppose change and are in the decline, will either accept the world is changing, or become extinct.

I have just reread this, and it is still not much clearer.....but please don't take it personally. It is my opinion only.


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: GUEST,Peter from Essex
Date: 29 Feb 04 - 05:52 PM


To reflect hopefully the roots/traditions of the population as a whole.Folk clubs will not be thought of as an exclusively english bastion.


Exclusively English? Have I imagined all the Irish, Scottish, Welsh, French, American and even Japanese music that I have heard in the folk clubs of England over the years? Perhaps our anonymous guest should get out more.


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Feb 04 - 05:57 PM

I would imagine the folk clubs that actually operate in those countries are doing very, very well.

The ones that operate in England are in the decline.Why do you think that could be?


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 29 Feb 04 - 06:07 PM

What we call 'English traditional music' today was the popular music of another era. In the meantime, it's been classicised and, once again, 'reclaimed'. What is presented as 'world music' may indeed be the popular or classical music of the culture from whence it came. So just what is the problem? (Apart from the futility of labelling?) I listen to music if it's good. If it's not, I turn it off or walk out, whatever the genre.

I don't think English traditional music is 'becoming' a minority interest. It *is* a minority interest, rightly or wrongly, always has been. Is this the music's fault? I don't really think so.   The fault lies with those who either wish, inexplicably, to keep it hidden or those who, for equally obscure reasons, have contrived to convince an entire generation to disown and ridicule our cultural inheritence.

If this is so, in the words of Chris Wood, our children can, equally, be taught to value it and, eventually, given the courage to add to it.


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: LesB
Date: 29 Feb 04 - 06:52 PM

Who says folk clubs are in decline? I,ve just got back from watching John Kirkpatrick performing to an audience of 100 at our club Bothy .
Maybe guest lives in London (ref the Festival hall). It's a much more cosmopolitan society down in 'the smoke'.
Although last week at a singers night we had songs in German, French & Yiddish. Mind you I didn't enjoy them much!

Les


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 29 Feb 04 - 07:05 PM

This discussion is bedevilled by differing assumptions about what the words used mean.

For example a club that only books singer-songwriters (who presumably in that context only sing their own songs) may be an excellent club. It may or may not be an acoustic music club. But it is not a folk club, any more than the All Wheel Drive Club is the Ramblers Association.

It is also bedevilled by territorial assumptions. What is folk music in America (or Japan, or Germany, or France) is not the folk music of England (and vice versa). It does not make either better or worse.

But it does heavily influence the answer to the question.


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Feb 04 - 07:14 PM

You are right,folk music is not defined as better/worse due to where it hails from.

But I think the interesting thing is, that it is traditional english folk clubs that are in the decline. At a time when there is an increasing interest in "world music" here in England.

If other cultures are enjoying a resurgence in the celebration of their folk music here, why do you think the english interest is waning. The subject of it's decline is not my opinion alone, it has been the subject of many a thread.


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: The Villan
Date: 01 Mar 04 - 02:13 AM

Guest, why don't you reveal yourself? You have some good points to make and it is so much nicer to talk to a face!

Would I be right in thinking that you might not be English, and that you are finding it hard to get a footing into the English Folk Club scene?

As a rank outsider, who after 38 years of being on the fringe of folk music, but still enjoying it, via the Radio - Radio lincolnshire and Derbyshire and CD's (compilations), I will attempt to put forward what I think an English Folk Club is.

To me an English Folk Club is all about tradition and atmosphere, with a very friendly attitude from the people that attand. It is almost like a family. To me the artists know their trade and it is part of their life. Its not just music, its about poetry and verse, people who are keeping old traditional crafts going. I suppose its about heritage.
I live in Market Rasen - Lincolnshire/England now, having also lived in Birmingham - Warwickshire/England, Graingemouth in Scotland, Amsterdam in the Netherlands, London - England, Bracknell - Bershire/England and Paignton Devon/England.
I guess the point I am trying to make, is that wherever I am, English Folk Music conjures up a picture for me, which I like.
That doesn't mean that it is English Folk Music. It is really British Folk Music in the main (English/Scottish/Irish/Welsh).
If you lived in Scotland, you woudn't call it an English Folk Club (only if you were English - :-)).
I beleive that anybody who has a tradition to uphold, whichever country they come from, must surely be classed as part of the Folk scene.
It doesn't mean that I am going to like all of it. If I went to a folk club in this country, and the artists were all foreign and didn't speak English, I would be interested in their Folklore, but am not sure I would enjoy it, because it probably isn't what I want to hear and I can't understand them. So i probably wouldn't go back again. That would be my choice.
Where I live (a small town of approx 3500 inhabitants) in rural Lincolnshire, their perception of what folk music is, is likely to be far different say to London. The number of people who would attend would be far smaller. They are more likely to enjoy what's on offer from artists who come from the Lincolnshire area.

I have no idea if what I have just said makes any sense or not, but it is what I think - rightly or wrongly.


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: Sooz
Date: 01 Mar 04 - 04:09 AM

Mike and I go to a lot of folk clubs and they are all different! I reckon thats the whole point because there is something for everyone both as a participant and as a listener.
We like to receive a warm welcome, some friendly abuse and to hear a wide variety of music. Thats the atmosphere we try to create at our club here in Gainsborough (and we do have some talented young members when their University studies allow them to join us).


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: GUEST,The Cott
Date: 01 Mar 04 - 04:32 AM

This argument comes round and round, and one comment that always appears is:

"I don't know what you people are worrying about - I went to go and see John Kirkpatrick/Martin Carthy last month at Spuds Folk Club and the place was packed."

Yes, well the place probably was packed, that was because John K/Martin C were playing, and that is why you were there. What about the rest of the year? The place is depressingly empty.

-cjc


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Mar 04 - 04:35 AM

Only read first few posts so apologise if I'm repeating what has already been said. I agree with first quest when they state that you have to get past the "inner circle" and over the barbed wire. Until the older (NOT ALL) members give a warmer welcome to people outside the inner circle, drop their defences, and stop demonstrating elitism the young and old will stay away. This I believe is a great shame they have their part to play in developing this tradition, it is not yours or theirs to keep, but for all to share and enjoy.


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: Sooz
Date: 01 Mar 04 - 04:58 AM

We operate an equal opportunities policy in Gainsborough. Anyone who comes prepared to perform gets a fair hearing and a warm welcome from the "inner circle" who are often prepared to miss their turn to leave more time for a newcomer or someone who has travelled a great distance. In return we expect them to give us a fair hearing and to fit in with our ethos. Latecomers who expect to take over are not welcome!
Working in this way, we have a full house for almost every meeting. The only time our numbers fall is when we have a guest artist.


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: The Villan
Date: 01 Mar 04 - 05:18 AM

>>
Anyone who comes prepared to perform gets a fair hearing and a warm welcome from the "inner circle" who are often prepared to miss their turn to leave more time for a newcomer or someone who has travelled a great distance.
<<

That is a very good policy Sooz, and I am sure appreciated very much by people who are given that chance.
It's not easy is it, but I suppose you have to be flexible and give as many people as possible, an oportunity. Otherwise artists will stop coming.

I hope I remember your words when the heat is on when I get going.

>>
In return we expect them to give us a fair hearing and to fit in with our ethos. Latecomers who expect to take over are not welcome!
<<

I support that wholeheartedly.


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: Pied Piper
Date: 01 Mar 04 - 06:12 AM

Guest has it in a nutshell.
One of the many reasons for the decline in attendance at folk clubs is the attitude of the "regulars" who consider that the club and the music belong to them, and don't want to share it with the below stairs types.
Just watch them squirm if someone sings something vaguely controversial.
Folk clubs are dieing a death that they have worked hard to achieve.
Good riddance.
The music will not die.
PP


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: The Villan
Date: 01 Mar 04 - 06:25 AM

Pied Piper
Can you explain a bit more, what you mean by "below stairs types". I think I understand what you mean, but would like your explanation, and what is it that you mean by controversial? You sound as though you have had bad experiences, and I would like to know what they are.

I would then like to hear what peoples view points are on that.

Once again, this can help me greatly when I get my club up and running.

Thanks


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Mar 04 - 06:33 AM

Villan not everyone who can see why folk clubs are dying a death have had bad experiences. They are just not blinkered into thinking they are perfect.They can see what is wrong, as has been pointed out by some above.


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: The Villan
Date: 01 Mar 04 - 07:33 AM

I get your point Guest. :-)

This all helps me to make sure I dont fall into that trap.

As I dont sing etc, I am hoping that I am able to see the wood from the trees.


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: LesB
Date: 01 Mar 04 - 01:55 PM

Pied Piper seems to have a down on folk clubs. He doesn't have to go to one, just leave them alone for those who do.
I agree there are clubs struggling, due to a number of reasons, some of which are already mentioned.
As I see it there are several different types of club.
1) What I think of as a standard club such as my regular. Where we have a singers night one week followed by a guest night the next.
2) Then there is the concert type of clubs, such as seem to win the awards. (Maybe because Mike Harding & co only ask the big names he features on his show and their like & The concert clubs are the only ones that can afford them)?
3)Then there are singers clubs that have an occasional guest.
3) Acoustic venues/open mike nights (there's a contradiction in terms). I don't think of them as clubs myself.
4) Then there's sessions & singerounds.
I have no knowledge of 'World Music' venues, there seems to be concerts & festivals, but clubs? I don't know.
Les


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Mar 04 - 04:44 PM

Sooz has summed it up nicely
"anyone who is prepared to perform" - the paying customers can f*ck off.


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: The Villan
Date: 01 Mar 04 - 04:54 PM

Guest
Can't see many listeners coming in with that sort of attitude.

I don't think Sooz said that at all.


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: treewind
Date: 01 Mar 04 - 05:10 PM

Clearly one can't please everybody. One man's "welcoming and inclusive policy" is another man's "I didn't pay money to listen to these crap floorsingers". Nevertheless skilful organisers have the ability to apply the right discrimination and strike a balance that keeps enough people coming back for more. And others have an amazing ability to piss off both audience and floor singers by getting it all wrong. I've seen that happen too...

Anahata


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: The Villan
Date: 01 Mar 04 - 05:13 PM

>>
And others have an amazing ability to piss off both audience and floor singers by getting it all wrong. I've seen that happen too...
<<

Bloody hell I hope that doesn't happen to me. :-)


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 01 Mar 04 - 05:29 PM

I think she did, you know, or at least that's how the punters are going to see it when obliged to sit through a procession of untried, underrehearsed chancers and complacent regulars whose idea of 'preparation' is a swift thumb through a dogeared tune or songbook.

If a club is charging £6 or so for the privilege of sitting in their usually not too comfortable, dingy pub backroom you need to present them with something a bit more professional than this if you expect them ever to return.

Way back then, we'd sit all night on hard benches in the Cousins or the Troubadour drinking nothing but disgusting coffee and imagining we were all brilliant. We weren't, of course, but some are still doing exactly the same stuff, and just as badly.


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Subject: RE: The role of folk clubs today
From: treewind
Date: 01 Mar 04 - 05:53 PM

A hint from a friend who does run a good club - and he and I are always talking about the subject - he has a couple of regulars who are really not brilliant musicians or singers but good club supporters in many ways. His verdict "they're never going to get any better but they're giving 100%". That's his criterion for everyone - if you look and sound like you are making some effort for the audience, many of whom aren't folkies and don't know a famous name from a totally obscure one, they will appreciate it, and conversely you don't have to be an expert to smell bullshit or arrogance, which incidentally excludes some well known performers from his booking policy. No names, no pack drill.

And returning gently to the topic of the role of folk clubs - I'll add something I said earlier about the trend I see of folk clubs moving to larger community venues. When done right, they do attract local people who aren't folkies, like the one I mentioned above and another which is run by the landlord of the local pub but the folk club isn't in the pub - it's in the village hall opposite where parents can and do bring their children sometimes and though there's a bar it's not a building primarily made for drinkers. My point is that the whole enterprise is a community event and that seems a good, outward-looking, direction for a club to be taking.

By the way, the places I'm talking about are thriving and nobody would call either of them a world music venue. Compared with folk clubs, world music is big money entertainment that is only affordable in bigger concert venues.

Anahata


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