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Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!

Lowden Jameswright 15 Sep 05 - 10:15 AM
GUEST 15 Sep 05 - 10:33 AM
GUEST 15 Sep 05 - 11:02 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 15 Sep 05 - 11:27 AM
Lowden Jameswright 15 Sep 05 - 11:35 AM
GUEST,Art Thieme 15 Sep 05 - 12:06 PM
Don Firth 15 Sep 05 - 12:14 PM
Tam the man 15 Sep 05 - 12:16 PM
Lowden Jameswright 15 Sep 05 - 12:22 PM
Tam the man 15 Sep 05 - 12:43 PM
Tam the man 15 Sep 05 - 12:44 PM
GUEST 15 Sep 05 - 12:49 PM
Musique174 15 Sep 05 - 12:49 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 15 Sep 05 - 12:59 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 15 Sep 05 - 01:39 PM
Don Firth 15 Sep 05 - 01:39 PM
Barry Finn 15 Sep 05 - 02:08 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 15 Sep 05 - 02:27 PM
Peace 15 Sep 05 - 02:29 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 15 Sep 05 - 02:34 PM
Bev and Jerry 15 Sep 05 - 02:40 PM
Tam the man 15 Sep 05 - 03:15 PM
Tam the man 15 Sep 05 - 03:17 PM
Barry Finn 15 Sep 05 - 03:21 PM
Tam the man 15 Sep 05 - 03:28 PM
Clinton Hammond 15 Sep 05 - 03:42 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 15 Sep 05 - 03:43 PM
Jeri 15 Sep 05 - 03:45 PM
Barry Finn 15 Sep 05 - 04:02 PM
Don Firth 15 Sep 05 - 04:27 PM
Le Scaramouche 15 Sep 05 - 04:51 PM
Clinton Hammond 15 Sep 05 - 04:54 PM
kendall 15 Sep 05 - 04:59 PM
Barry Finn 15 Sep 05 - 06:00 PM
GUEST,Justin Case 15 Sep 05 - 06:36 PM
Seamus Kennedy 15 Sep 05 - 06:41 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 15 Sep 05 - 07:07 PM
Big Al Whittle 15 Sep 05 - 09:33 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 15 Sep 05 - 09:52 PM
Tam the man 16 Sep 05 - 09:49 AM
Big Al Whittle 16 Sep 05 - 09:55 AM
Tam the man 16 Sep 05 - 10:10 AM
Big Jim from Jackson 16 Sep 05 - 10:12 AM
Tam the man 16 Sep 05 - 10:20 AM
rhyzla 16 Sep 05 - 10:25 AM
Tam the man 16 Sep 05 - 10:31 AM
Tam the man 16 Sep 05 - 10:33 AM
Tam the man 16 Sep 05 - 10:36 AM
Big Al Whittle 16 Sep 05 - 10:46 AM
Tam the man 16 Sep 05 - 10:50 AM
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Subject: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Lowden Jameswright
Date: 15 Sep 05 - 10:15 AM

If folk performers expect to get repeat bookings they really must get their act together, and I don't mean an off-the-shelf "one size fits all" one-off package! OK – so why the rant:

Last night I went to see a young lady at my local folk club, having seen her twice before and being quite well entertained, but was very disappointed and a little annoyed that she sang the SAME songs in the SAME order, interspersed with the SAME patter I'd heard on the previous two occasions. As a teacher she should know better – only 2 out of 10 for effort here.

As any teacher knows you must be able to adapt to all situations and present your material in varying and imaginative ways if you are to hold your audience. It's easy to learn the chords to a dozen songs and embellish the performance with a few anecdotes and humorous tales that have the audience tittering, then take the act on the road – but if you want repeat business folks you gotta push the boundaries out a little!

With CD's for sale I would assume the lady's repertoire extends beyond the handful of sings I've had the pleasure of hearing so far. Perhaps I should just buy them and forget about seeing her perform them live. She signed off last night with a "hope to see you in the area again soon" – well I for one won't bother going to see her again, unless I receive reports in the meantime that she's upgraded her act beyond VER1.0.

I perform in the same venue on a regular basis, and have been doing so for five years straight. Now the only way I get paid is if folks turn up to listen, and the only way I manage to keep it going is by having a substantial repertoire and variety of songs, and can cope with off the cuff situations calling for a varied approach to communicating with the audience. This lady wouldn't last 4 weeks with her limited offering – or she'd have to learn fast how to keep the cash flowing.

She has a great voice, a basic but reasonable guitar style and a smashing personality that's probably the key factor that keeps her in work, for now. However, folk venues are a finite resource that will dry up on her unless she wakes up to reality. Maybe she'll learn the hard way, but by then she may find the organisers politely declining her requests for bookings on the 3rd rotation of the folk club merry-go-round.

She's not alone of course – there are others guilty of the same complacency.


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Sep 05 - 10:33 AM

Have tried to help artists in the past by pointing out exactly the same things in a polite and helpful manner, they where not interested.

It's a shame but you can see there is talent. There loss, I don't go and see them anymore and I have noticed others don't either.


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Sep 05 - 11:02 AM

It is a fact that some people only have a limited amount of talent, for instance, they can do what they do, but can't move on. Performers often have one good album or act in them, but thats it, there aint no more.


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 15 Sep 05 - 11:27 AM

Having run a folk concert series for 27 years, I witnessed much the same thing, but only with a couple of artists. I think it's understandable that performers who spend most of the year on the road, often in second or third rate surroundings, go on autopilot after awhile. There is an extremely popular (or was extremely popular) performer I booked several times over the years who did "shows." That meant an almost identical set list, and memorized introductions. It gets pretty bad when you memorize "spontaneous" asides...

I also booked someone once (and only once) who taped every one of his performances so he could listen to them later, taking the jokes and "off-hand" comments he made that got the best response so that he could use them again. He was quite proud of his approach. He seemed to think that there was a perfect presentation that he could reach by honing every word that came out of his mouth. If he could ever reach that goal, he could do the whole evening, word for word and note for note. That approach seemingly is based on giving the audience what they want, yet at the same time ignores the individuality of audiences. As a performer, I reached the point where I only did an "idea" list, rather than a set list. After the first couple of songs, you start to get to know the audience of that night, and adjust your songs and introductions to fit them.

Performing is communicating. Once you start to standardize a performance, you minimize the communication.

As I say, I can understand this a little better (but don't like it) with performers who spend most of their year on the road. It's a hard grind, and it's no surprise that performers turn to alcohol to get them through. But, the "artist" who tape recorded his shows and memorized lines wasn't that heavily a traveled performer. He would have been better off trying to connect with the individual audience of that night rather than come up with a pre-packaged "show."

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Lowden Jameswright
Date: 15 Sep 05 - 11:35 AM

Good points Jerry, but this lady does covers only - so all she has to do is learn more songs (the chords aren't a problem because she has a grasp of the basic chords required for the type of songs she sings) and extend her line of patter. I suspect she may feel she has a winning formula so doesn't see the need to change it - a mistaken view if that is the case.

She's a teacher, and has a very attractive and magnetic personality so has no excuse really - surely it's down to making the effort and putting the time in. If she was a full time teacher I'd have sympathy, but she only teaches supply now on a part-time basis because she prefers the performing/singing.


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 15 Sep 05 - 12:06 PM

I admit to having fallen into this syndrome.

At the that time, though, I was falling apart physically. In order to stay closer to home, because my wife was also deteriorating, I took advantages of offers to play on steamboats on the Mississippi River every other day -- five months a year. That dovetailed nicely with school shows I did during the winter months. Also, I was doing festivals and concerts and some touring when it fit my schedule. But I was able to check in at home often too. It was impoortant.

In many of these situations, I had DIFFERENT AUDIENCES every time I played my songs. That made all the difference!! The river gigs had to be tight to hold the attention of retired folks with no real interest in "folk songs". The school performances were for pre-schoolers and older kids in the same audience--while also trying to satisfy teachers and principals varrying agendas and expectations.

To do this tightrope walk, I fell into repeating too much "that worked"! Still, I rarely planned shows and did strive for off-the-cuff freshness in my shows. I always strove to relate recent events to the old songs from history I loved so much---just to show modern people we were all in the same boat, and, as Utah Phillips says, "The past didn't go anywhere!"

So now, to the consternation of some of you, I repeat myself too often here in this forum. ;-)

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Don Firth
Date: 15 Sep 05 - 12:14 PM

I can understand a person working up a set-list and sticking to it if they're on the road; that is, performing the same songs, same sequence, in different locations each performance. Among other things, this is a good way to polish a selection of songs in preparation for doing a CD. But once you've done it, you've done it. You need to keep a list of the programs you've sung and the locations in which you sang them and be sure not to repeat the same program in the same place. Just makes good sense.

I did concerts and a modicum of touring, but more often than not, I was singing in the same location (club or coffeehouse) two or three nights a week for as much as six months at a shot. In these circumstances, one had better have a pretty big repertoire. I did my damnedest to go through my entire working repertoire (adding to it all the time) before I repeated songs, and then went to great pains to make sure that I didn't repeat them in the same order. The only exceptions would be if I got requests for particular songs. Fortunately it happened a lot, so that helped stretch the interval out some. Also, it gave me a bit of a nice reputation:   I knew a few hundred songs (300, 350 maybe), but people thought I knew thousands! Good for the old image!

I kept a stack of 3" x 5" file cards with one song title per card, plus info like key, tempo, general mood (humorous, tragic, etc.), type (love song, ballad, sea chantey, etc.), duration, a word or two about the history of the song, and where I learned it. On my own time, I was constantly shuffling and dealing, programming sets—no two consecutive songs in the same key, variation of tempo, mood, et al., then writing the list on a slip of paper and keeping a stack of such lists handy to tape to the side of my guitar (don't use Scotch tape. Masking tape works pretty well:   the "goo" wipes off easily and it doesn't leave a mark on the finish.). BUT—always be ready to depart from the list if circumstances seem to call for it. Or if the mood strikes.

I have been to places where someone sang four sets an evening and each set was exactly the same! Song for song, word for bloody word! These people are not earning their pay.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Tam the man
Date: 15 Sep 05 - 12:16 PM

God I wouldn't like to ask you for any help, because I use songbooks, and I can only remember a handful of songs, maybe it's the same with this lady, there are people out there in folkworld that don't have a great memory, and maybe that's way she did the same stuff, By God you don't believe in giving people a chance do you.

God It must be terrible for you to have that much of songs to remember, but as I say there are people out there that like me can't remember that many songs.

God I wouldn't like to perform in Folk club, its a case of learn a set of different songs or we'll bloody kill you.

She's a teacher a full time one, maybe she doesn't have time to learn some new songs unlike you do.

Tam


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Lowden Jameswright
Date: 15 Sep 05 - 12:22 PM

NO Tam - not a full time teacher (see my earlier post) - and she uses a music stand with song sheets (I have no problem with that) - so what is her excuse?


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Tam the man
Date: 15 Sep 05 - 12:43 PM

Maybe she just doesn't have time to learn new songs, or maybe she's just starting out, as a part time teacher you're on stnd by anytime and be anywhere so you don't have time to learn new songs.

Tam


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Tam the man
Date: 15 Sep 05 - 12:44 PM

Anyway if she does a good Job maybe instead of critisizing her maybe give some encoruagement


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Sep 05 - 12:49 PM

If its a "paid gig" she should be proffesional enough not to be using song sheets, and pro enough to learn new material for a paying audience.


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Musique174
Date: 15 Sep 05 - 12:49 PM

My suggestion is pick out enough songs to do two full sets, right them out, tape the list, and then pick and choose which of those songs feel right in the moment. You don't have to know 100's of songs to give an interesting and new performance each time. Its also not nessicarily a bad thing to repeat some of the songs, but you want to keep it new for those repeat listeners, because they liked you enough the first time to come back... you want to make sure they like you enough the second time to want to come backthe third and forth etc.


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 15 Sep 05 - 12:59 PM

I think you have to put yourself in the shoes of the audience. If you are seeing the same performer again, you probably have an expectation of seeing something different.   However, for semi-professional musicians who may not have regular gigs and often only perform in an area once every few years, I see nothing wrong with honing a "show" that will make an audience happy.

At the same time, you do not want to come across as stiff nor do you wish to sound as if you are reading a script.   The type of performance we are discussing here is "entertainment" and the audience, especially if they are paying money, deserve to be entertained.   I don't think we would want to go to a theater to see "Death of a Salesmen" and find the dialogue has been changed. We have expectations, and when we go see a musician for the first time we expect to see a good performance.

With experience will come a comfortable level of communication and the ability to adapt and expand.


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 15 Sep 05 - 01:39 PM

"Death Of A Folksinger"

Changing those, and a few other words, within the play, you could probably do "Death Of A Salesman" in a way that resonates mightily and profoundly with those within our folk subculture.

On some levels, what are we if not salesmen?

Art


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Don Firth
Date: 15 Sep 05 - 01:39 PM

Since I no longer perform with the kind of regularity that I used to, there are a bunch of songs I used to do a lot that I haven't sung for a long time. When I get together with Bob the Deckman and other people, I all too often find myself blanking out on a line in a song that I've sung hundreds of times. I wind up staring desperately at the ceiling in hopes that some benevolent gremlin will suddenly write the missing words up there, but no such luck!

[I've notice, however, that I'm not the only one.]

I don't like it when people sing out of a book. I don't mind a personal notebook used as a cue-sheet. After all, I've seen Luciano Pavarotti in recital on TV occasionally glance down at a music stand. He knows the song, but understandably he doesn't want to take a chance on going blank in front of a huge audience, especially if it's being taped for television. But if someone is reading a song out of Rise Up Singing, for example, that's just damned unprofessional.   I'm talking here about performances, not song fests, although even there I can get pretty exasperated with people who try to do a song they either don't know or know only vaguely by reading it out of a book like RUS. Learn the damned song! Then, if you need a quick cue, okay, but don't subject people to "I just heard this song the other day. I don't know the words and I'm not sure of the tune, but—aha!—here it is on page seventy-three. . . ."

I've bitten the bullet and am currently in the process of assembling a three-ring binder containing the words to all the songs I know. I will keep it handy on a music stand or propped somewhere in easy view. What I'm doing is being my own benevolent gremlin. I know the song, but if I suddenly realize that I don't remember how the next verse starts, a quick glance will get me back on track. And I won't be subjecting people to watching me stare at the ceiling and grope for the words.

I'm using one of those binders with a clear plastic cover so I can slip a sheet into it that says something like "EMERGENCY KIT. Open in case of Senior Moment."

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Barry Finn
Date: 15 Sep 05 - 02:08 PM

I get out to a coffee house or concert (festivals, parties & sessions are different situations) maybe 3 or so times a yr. Well I sure as hell don't want to hear some one singing the same thing twice out of my 3 or so chances nor would I want to listen to some one sing from a book. My worst experience was while I was performing at Mystic Seaport. I was so excited to be on a line up with Oddetta (odd for a sea music fest but hey), a hero in my opinion. I hadn't heard her in probably 25/30 yrs anyway. Half way through the performance I left, almost with tears in my eyes. Most of her performance was EXACTTLY the same as in the 60's songs, intros, everything, it was heartbreaking.


Knowing enough songs to perform is more than learning a set quota. They should be songs that that really like, otherwise why "learn" them to start. They should be songs that others would consider worth crossing the street to hear. Songs that you've put your soul into & songs that you can come from your heart. Tall order I know but at least if one can keep site of what the listeners would care for out of a repertoire that you care to sing it'd be a far better experience all around.


Remembering songs enough to have a fair sized repertoire is also an issue that one would have to address but I don't think it's all that difficult (I may be about the worst memory floating in space). Take the songs that you really know, feel & love to sing it's a hell of a lot easier to remember them because you're doing them all the time, in your head, the car, the shower, enjoying & at the same time rehearsing all the while. A lot of songs (not so mush with worksongs though)have a story that's broken up by the verses so following that storyline also helps to refresh your memory of the song & if you have an idea of what you'd like to sing refresh it in your head a few days before or in the case of a performer, if they even need to, a few times before hand. The performer does have the luxury of having a large list to work from, which took some time to build but if they performing a lot at varied various places they're refreshing their repertoire all the time with ample allowance to add what they already do have. These are only a few suggestions that I have but they're many here that can offer plenty more. I'm just one of the many little fish here that swim in this mud creek & are in the company of whales that see fit to play here as well as in the ocean. Nice Thread


Barry


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 15 Sep 05 - 02:27 PM

Art, I would hope that Death of A Salesman could not be interepreted for folk music.   An aging salesman, plagued by his failures, blaming his young son for not living up to his expectations and ultimately dieing with few people attending his funeral.   Surely folk music is not a reflection of that!!!


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Peace
Date: 15 Sep 05 - 02:29 PM

Continuance and growth.

Many performers will add songs to replace others as time goes on. A sage on the Mudcat once said he'd had the same ax for years--it had had three new handles and two new heads. Sets have to be that way. It takes a high degree of sophistication to do unplanned sets in front of an audience and 'get' the audience at the same time. One has to look at the mood of the audience, what mood has been created and where ya both want it to go from there. A gentle remark would be appropriate. A harsh one, no. IMO of course.


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 15 Sep 05 - 02:34 PM

Barry, I hope that your experience with Odetta was not typical. I have seen her a number of times over the years, and while there is some repition, I do find that she varies her performance.   However, she also performs to her standards as well as the expectations of the audience. She does not experiment with an audience.

I was also reminded of something I heard Steve Martin say many years ago. Before he hit the big time in the mid-70's, he had put together his act over many years - working out the jokes and patter so that he knew what would work.   Once he appeared on television, he quickly realized that his material was now stale - he could not repeat the jokes with the same effect.   In essence, his act became a casualty of his success. That was one of the reasons why he retired from performance.


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Bev and Jerry
Date: 15 Sep 05 - 02:40 PM

We have done all kinds of gigs. One of them, which we have done for many years, is for the federal government and they insist that we cannot change the program without auditioning again. As a result, we have done the identical program more than 300 times but it's always a new audience. By remembering that they have not seen the program before, we manage to keep it sounding fresh. We should also say that one woman and her granddaughter came to eleven consecutive performances and clamored for more!

Mostly we have done school gigs and we had more than twenty set lists that we used regularly. By keeping careful records, we were able to assure that kids never saw the same program twice even if they saw us nine years in a row which some did. We never used a book or even a written set list on stage. There are three ways to keep up a large repertoire like that: practice, practice and practice.

We have also done more casual gigs. We have a concert coming up which we did two years ago and are agonizing over how many songs to repeat. If we do all new songs, people are sure to ask why we didn't do a cerain song that they heard last time.

The concept of honing a set until it's perfect and then sticking with it does not work because audiences differ from place to place and time to time. Utah Phillips, who is among the best performers ever, always varied his set, adjusting it to the particular audience. Saul Brody wrote his doctoral dissertation on that very topic. He toured with Phillips and recorded some of his concerts and then analyzed them to death. He was able to show, for example, that Phillips' signature story, "Moose Turd Pie", was carefully placed in each performance at the exact time that the audience was most receptive to it- sometimes near the beginning and sometimes near the end. Phillips used to always start his concert with a long version of "Cannonball Blues" which was interupted frequently with jokes. He once told us that this was a technique to guage the audience and see what makes them laugh and how bright they were.

End of ramble.

Bev and Jerry


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Tam the man
Date: 15 Sep 05 - 03:15 PM

there is lot's of folk groups from Europe that use song sheets, and they get paid. there are people out there that don't have a good memory for songs.

So don't critise them, am I one of these people that you lot don't like, the reason is that I have a crap memeory I just remeber songs that well, but the people don't complain, I mean is it an offence to have song sheets, I mean classical artists ie Orcistras have music sheets, and you don't complain about them


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Tam the man
Date: 15 Sep 05 - 03:17 PM

That's way I use song sheets, because I have a really bad memory, and I'm in a group, and there was another guy in the group who also used song sheets, so we all do things different.

Tam


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Barry Finn
Date: 15 Sep 05 - 03:21 PM

Hi Ron

I hope not....but


If she couldn't have added something to her performance in 25 yrs she's IMHO not worth crossing the street to hear. It was the same old presentation, almost word for word as far as I can remember, shame on her. Who knows she may have thought that fans of sea music may not have been around in her hayday or that the differences in the types & styles of the music she does & what she may think others normally hear are in different worlds so far apart that doing her old stand by stuff would pass. Not likely, not from some one with her talent, no thank you.

Barry


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Tam the man
Date: 15 Sep 05 - 03:28 PM

why are people like me that use songbooks not liked, as I said I have a rubbish memory for words to songs, and there are quite a lot like me that use song books in Europe and they get on fine in the Folk business, so why don't you like them, I mean that's the same with the clancy brothers, they used to concerts, and when they inrodudced a song they would give the same introuductions, and the same 'ad-lib' in the same place, and yet were they crap


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 15 Sep 05 - 03:42 PM

"proffesional enough not to be using song sheets"
I've seee plenty of 'pros' use sheets, so blow it out your face...

"she sang the SAME songs in the SAME order, interspersed with the SAME patter I'd heard on the previous two occasions"
In what time span? Go on the road with any of the big names... If they're promoing a new CD, you'll get very nearly the exact same show with the same patter out of them for a year... and there's nothing wrong with that...

Or YOU try getting up in front of an audience several times a month with all new songs and all new 'patter'... And while yer at it, paint my house, and cure cancer, and rebuild New Orleans...

And whistle "Dixie"...


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 15 Sep 05 - 03:43 PM

The Chieftains have used the same routines and jokes, probably since they first began performing.   Paddy Maloney will come out and start speaking in Irish, catch himself "oh sorry, sorry sorry" and then speak in English. Their final number also features the same jokes and patterns. Yet, they always add something new each tour. The audience will put up with repition if the artists are giving 100%. The reason most people attend concerts for someone of that stature is due a certain familiarity with the material. The audience expects certain things.

One of the few concerts I walked out on was an Eagles "farewell" tour a few years ago. Their renditions of the songs were note for note copies of the original recordings. I felt cheated, as if I could have stayed home and listened to the CD's and save a few bucks. Still, I was in the minority of opinion.   Most of the audience LOVED to hear the songs and settings they expected.


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Jeri
Date: 15 Sep 05 - 03:45 PM

Utah Phillips was someone I'd follow around when he was in the area. I think I saw him three times in the same weekend once, and dragged my mom to one of the shows. Yes, he repeated songs and stories and the in-between patter, but for some reason I never got tired of his act.

There was a sense that he was enjoying himself and playing to entertain me. Utah's just one example. I've heard other artists repeat material and most of their act and it didn't bother me. At other times, I left feeling cheated or even a bit angry. Why the difference?

The difference is in how it all comes off to their audience. When I saw Utah, he was in it 100%, rock solid, and it mattered to him whether you were there with him. Some I've seen didn't seem to give a rat's ass if you were enjoying yourself, because THEY were. At the extreme, they were in front of people, getting attention and feeling significant, and they cared more about that then whether they were any good. Sort of like Vogons and their poetry. That sort of act has a VERY short shelf life...at least as far as music gigs go.

Tam, I'm sorry, but if a person is playing at a paid gig, they bloody well should make the time to learn material that people will enjoy. I can see how someone who's just starting out hasn't learned this yet, but then, the criticism would help her be better. It may help other people be better too. Having said that, people have different trigger points for feeling affended by condescension or inanity. An artist has to guage what the majority will enjoy or tolerate because a minority will always either love everything they do or hate everything.


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Barry Finn
Date: 15 Sep 05 - 04:02 PM

Hi Tam

If you're using sheets to help you get a jump start before diving in or to plug up a gap or two or three you fear will come up that's fine IMHO but to sing at a professional gig knowing you don't know the song before you sing it & you're gonna read from a book you ot'a save your self some energy & bring a cd with you & lip sync instruments & voice & all else you would save the audience some money & while you're at it edit in their applause & it'll be a great practice session to be held by all. Providing that there are those willing to pay. Another option would be to have every one bring in the bible "Rise Up Singing", that way every body gets a chance to sing along from books.
.

Sorry if I'm a bit harsh here but I personally really enjoy hearing music by a person or group who can play &/or sing their stuff like love it & they knew it well. If I want to hear a story being read to me I'll go to a local library during circle time. If I'm gonna really have to pay give me the respect & really play, I don't deserve the act.


This may be a topic for a seperate or a prior thread? Sorry if I caused a bit of thread creep.


Barry


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Don Firth
Date: 15 Sep 05 - 04:27 PM

Tam, it's a matter of—what shall I call it?—interpretation, I guess. Any halfway decent song, be it Schubert lied, operatic aria, Broadway show tune, pop song—or folk song—has an emotional subtext. Sometimes that subtext is not so "sub." And I've heard singers in all genres who can take a song and wring your heart with it. I've also heard singers who can sing the same song and put their audiences to sleep (and I'm not talkin' "lullabye" here!). An actor can read Hamlet's "To be or not to be" soliloquy and it sounds like he's reading the contents of a can of soup. Another actor can take the same speech and nail you to the wall with it ("My God! This guy is trying to decide whether to commit suicide or not! He's really stressed!").

Way back when, I took some voice lessons from a teacher who didn't ask me to learn a pre-canned bunch of songs just as vocal exercises. He asked me to bring my guitar to the lessons and we worked with the songs I actually wanted to sing. As I sang, he would often stop me and say, "Now that last line: what, exactly, does that mean?" It was not that he didn't know. He just wanted to be sure that I knew. And to sing it as if I knew. Not just by rote. Color the word. Color the line. Feel it. To sing it like I'm really there. I learned a lot more from this man than just vocal technique.

What I'm saying is, if you're going to really put a song across to an audience, you have to fully understand the song, including that emotional subtext. You've got to feel the emotion in the song (but not so much that you get choked up, burst into tears, or fall down laughing), and transmit that emotion to your audience. But it has to be done carefully. This sort of thing can really be overdone, and it can get almost embarrassing when it is. I don't see how a person can do that (to the right degree) without knowing the song thoroughly, and that includes memorizing it.

Now, once you have thoroughly absorbed the song and understand it, the chances that you will forget it are greatly diminished. But if you do blank out on a line from time to time, having a song sheet handy, not to read from, but to glance at if need be, can save you blowing the song by having to stop and stare at the ceiling and pray that the words come back to you.

Part of the process I use in learning a song is to write out the words. It's not that difficult to copy it (type it into the computer and print out a neat, readable copy—pick a type face that's easy to read without having to have your nose within six inches of it) and stick it into a three-ring binder. Put it where you can see it (but don't hold it in front of you like a choir boy), unobtrusively flip it open to the song you want to do, and you're all set. Safety net in place. Again, unobtrusively turn the page to your next song, and so forth. Tab the pages if necessary.

I've seen people walk into a song fest with a big armload of song books loaded with songs they don't really know. The armload is a dead giveaway. Much easier, and less of a red flag, to carry one notebook containing songs you do know, even if, from time to time, you might feel a bit of fuzziness about the specific words. No sweat. You have them right there. If you need them.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Le Scaramouche
Date: 15 Sep 05 - 04:51 PM

I went to a David Broza concert, part of a tour he was doing because of the double-CD collection. It was two terrific hours. People I know went to some performances in different venues where he played a similar set-list, but by no means rigid. He always adds something fresh, something new. Have several live recordings, DVDs, etc, you are never disappointed. A set list should be like public speaking, have it written down, but don't be slavish.


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 15 Sep 05 - 04:54 PM

Slavish...

good word!


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: kendall
Date: 15 Sep 05 - 04:59 PM

There are two schools of thought about song sheets. Personally, I never use one because I've been around so long that I have about 500 songs that I have commited to memory. One can't expect a beginner to know that many songs.
I have a friend, a folksinger, who coined the phrase, "Those fucking book people". He has no tolerence for poor memories.


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Barry Finn
Date: 15 Sep 05 - 06:00 PM

Thank you Jeri & Ron


Touchy subject matter, eh?


"Blow it out my face"? Uncalled for.


The few times I've painted houses, you did refere to painting your house, didn't you, I've tried like hell (my old farm & my present home included) to do a "professional" job so as not to grow tired with it over the yrs. Pretty much the same when it comes to being a pro, no? Don't worry I won't be asking you for a paint job. You may expect some similarities between jobs but don't go around the world, country, region or county repeating your self. You end up with a bunch of boring housing developments. Change up a bit on your landscape, design or architecture or the presentation or style, try appeal &/or customize a tiny bit in your world & ours, try to sing as if you want the paying public (like Jeri) to say "I've heard them do that before & I can't help it but I love the way they do that & along with some of the other stuff they do" not "what a bore, that's the last time I go to hear them". You're right, there is a big difference on the road or pushing a CD. Most of those that can tour successfully, hone their craft to a point where they can repeat & know when they can repeat & already have enough material to chose from when they feel they should, yet they also are aware enough to still stay fresh at all the different venues & places all the while knowing how & when to satisfy the tastes of those willing to pay.


"Or YOU try getting up in front of an audience several times a month with all new songs" that's uncalled for. Seeing as you asked though I have sung at different festivals along the New England sea coast over the yrs solo & with my partner Neil as Finn & Haddie. I/we didn't & still don't actively seek gigs & have no intentions of earning a living from performing but over the past 20 odd yrs we/me have 'always' tried to give 110% to those that we/ve joined or have joined us or for those that have ask us & hope I/we've done well enough to be considered worth while hearing again. I'm not one of those big time perfomers that you refere to & most likey will never be. I am happy with what I can do & give others & I don't give a care if I don't get the same back in return but I still do feel as if I've gotten far more than I'll ever be able to give in return. I love listening to beginers, amateurs, greats & pro's there's alway's something worth hearing or sharing & ya never know what you may hear in the future from a newbie who you may have incouraged some where along, that's better than..... It's just that I expect more from a pro whose asking me for money.

About hearing Oddetta. I did not say " on the previous two occasions", from my mid teens back in the 60's I grew up hearing her at Newport, at concerts or local clubs & coffeehouses she was always my hero. You have no need to attack me personally, please if you don't agree with my opinions please attack my constructive criticisms instead, you'd find me much more opened to that.

Start another thread if you'd care to continue.


Thanks

Barry


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: GUEST,Justin Case
Date: 15 Sep 05 - 06:36 PM

Odetta can do it any way she wants to. Doesn't matter to me because I can't listen to her anyway.


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 15 Sep 05 - 06:41 PM

After over 30 years of performing professionally - I've never been a 'day-jobber' - I've come to realize that my audiences expect a lot of my familiar songs and routines. If I leave out something, a funny intro to a song, perhaps, they'll ask me why. I get requests for comedy routines and songs for heaven's sake, from people who've heard them hundreds of times.
I wondered how someone could sit through a routine to which they know all the punchlines! And one of the answers is: they like to watch other people laugh at the material. They love to sing along with their old familiar favorites.
By the same token, I'm constantly adding new songs and bits because over time they will/may become audience favorites too.
There's a comfort in ritual. Look at Johhny Carson's old Carnak routine, or Art Fern or any of his characters.
The audience knew exactly what was coming but they all laughed anyway.
I saw the Dubliners, The Clancys (with Tommy Makem) and the Corries many times back in the '60's, and they did pretty much the same show each time, with a few new bits thrown in. It's knowing what your audience wants, giving it to them and adding something new to make them want to come back.
I don't use a music stand or song book or a set list.
If I screw up a lyric, I can usually improvise something pretty damn close on the fly.
By a somewhat different token, I've seen opera singers - Pavarotti is a good example singing from a little notebook, and the great Irish tenor John McCormack used to do it all the time at his concerts. He did it in his movies whose names escape me at the moment.
That's OK for them.
But I have a little difficulty with a country, bluegrass or folk performer (alright, let's make that a Full-time professional country, bluegrass or folk performer) using a book or music stand.
Just my taste, I suppose.

Seamus


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 15 Sep 05 - 07:07 PM

In the male chorus I sing in, whenever we learn a new song, the Director first asks us all to speak the lines of the song. It is his way of initially having no concern about melody or harmony so that we can focus on the words and absorb their meaning and power. I think that it's a great way to try on a new song, and assimilate the meaning. To me, songs are much more than words, melodies and rhythm. They are first of all, an expression of ideas and beliefs, and a wonderful means of communicating with (and entertaining others.)
You can get all the words right, hit every note, have impeccable rhythm and miss the song completely. I'm with those who feel that you should learn a song until it becomes a part of you. If you're concerned about forgetting a line, as we all do, having a lyric sheet unobtrusively placed nearby on a song or two that you haven't fully assimilated, or done in a long time, that's fine. I don't think that you're really ready to become a part of the performer/audience connection if you need to have a lyric sheet nearby on every song.

Let's hope that performing is something more than just not making mistakes...

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 15 Sep 05 - 09:33 PM

Anyway terrific advice from the originator of this thread.....

If you want to continue making a huge income out of folk music, you gotta get your nose to grindstone, shoulder to the wheel, keep your eye on the ball, and above all smile at the audience!

Eyes and teeth!


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 15 Sep 05 - 09:52 PM

That sounds very uncomfortable, Weelittle... have you ever tried singing and playing guitar with your nose to the grindstone, your shoulder to the wheel and your eye on the ball... all while you're smiling at the audience? You'd have to be a contortionist.. :-)

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Tam the man
Date: 16 Sep 05 - 09:49 AM

So I'll just give in because I just can't remember any songs, the reason is I have a really rubbish memeory, no matter how many times I practise a song, I just really remember it and as for all the folk singers and groups from Europe should give as well, as I say I don't a good memory for songs, so what you lot are saying is I should just give up singing then because I can't remember song too well, I know a few songs off by heart, Oh and by the way I don't have a CD.

I think a lot of you don't have any tolerence for poor memories, I just do it because I like to sing a new song every time I perform, and I don't have time to learn it. At the Folk Club that I go to the people there sometimes ask me if they could use my muisc stand and that is some of the guests, so they must be shit as well.

Och here's me going my dinger again, getting Angry, I just like a good singer, I don't care if they have a songbook or not, I just like a good song that's all.

Tam


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 16 Sep 05 - 09:55 AM

Tam you could taking this stuff too much to heart. It's the internet. Really we're all just cyber entities. None of us really have any existence outside your computer. We are nasty goblins come to afright you....some of us more than others.

Realise that,and all will be well.


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Tam the man
Date: 16 Sep 05 - 10:10 AM

OK, I just don't like being inulted Oh and by the way I haven't being singing for 20 years, I don't have cd's and the wee group that I'm in only does concerts every now and then which doesn't give us much time to learn new songs, the bit I hate are these singers that come to the folk clubs/festivals and start to sing a song and half way through they get a mental block, or the sing the same verse twice, where if they had songbooks in front them this would never happen, I'm just not as smart as some of you, I have diffuculty in remember things, I mean I keep notes on almost everything, Including e-mails that I got from 5 years or more.


OK I'll relax and try and remember that some of you not all are nice people


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Big Jim from Jackson
Date: 16 Sep 05 - 10:12 AM

In a song sung by Johnny McEvoy titled "The Hedgehog Song" part of the chorus goes something like, "You can sing all the words and play all the notes, but you never quite learned the song......" I think that is partly what Jerry is saying. I can't help but believe that if a song has meaning to the singer, it shouldn't be a major task to commit it to memory. I don't doubt Tam the man's difficulty with remembering stuff, but I can't help wondering if it is not related, at least in part, to skiping from one new song to another. I have some friends who can play tons of songs but rely on the words being right in front of them. And when they sing the songs there is no depth of feeling behind the words. They have great voices and command of their instruments, but there is a lack of feeling and conviction in their performances that is noticable.


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Tam the man
Date: 16 Sep 05 - 10:20 AM

so you lot haven't had mental blocks in your life, and the songs I do sing do have meaning to me and I try to put that feeling I have for the song over, as I said I just have a shit memory, so what you lot are saying is that all these musicians should all just give up, Since when was a crime to sing songs out of a book, God I feel like the condemed crimal here, and I have commited a terrible crime along with the others that rely on songbooks, as I said we are all different.

Tam


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: rhyzla
Date: 16 Sep 05 - 10:25 AM

Having the words and/or chords in front of you means - "never having to say you're sorry"

For me, it's forgivable for an artist to have a memory aid, whether it's a music stand, or an autocue.

But's it's a pain in the arse when an artist breaks down in the middle of a song - there's not normally any excuse!

But to play the same songs and tell the same jokes is bloody lazy!!


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Tam the man
Date: 16 Sep 05 - 10:31 AM

So you lot haven't forgotten a verse or the tune, I mean Sean Cannon does it all the time, he goes de da dum, and that's just to remember the tune and the key.
God I feel like the condemed man that has this illness, like aids or HIV or something like that, we're all different, Anyway I wished I haded opened this thread now.
And I'm sorry if I can't remeber words, and I do try put what the feeling of the song means to me, and if I have to use songbooks then That the way I'll do it, there are lot of singers that do this, or you going to condem them as well, Why is it wrong to use songbooks, I mean how to do practice new songs, you must use Songbooks, OK not in concert, but you must use them at home surely.

Anyway I'll just stick to using songbooks when I perform, oh by the way I don't get paid ( well sometimes) Peter Seeger once used a blackboard and an easel at on of his concerts, and sometimes he sticks the words to songs on his microphone.

Tam


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Tam the man
Date: 16 Sep 05 - 10:33 AM

Thank you very much rhyzla, someone how understands


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Tam the man
Date: 16 Sep 05 - 10:36 AM

well I thought you understood, I think I'll just go an hang myself on my musicstand, and the world would be a better place, because it loooks like certain people on this thread don't like me and think I'm talking shit


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 16 Sep 05 - 10:46 AM

You miss the point
A real artist who works within comedy acquires grace and power of his delivery of a joke by rehearsing it and doing it time and time again. Check out Lenny Bruce at the height of his powers.

Connolly too, was better and sharper and more disturbing when he worked to set pieces like The Crucfixion.

How the hell do you think Peter Ustinov and Victor Borge got so good - you think they just made it up five minutes before they went on stage?

Part of the reason people like carrott and Cobnnolly and Mike harding got out of the working mens clubs was to get away from arseholes at the back shouting 'heard it!'

In the 70's these artists developed a discursive style of humour in folk clubs. And personally I'm bloody sorry they didn't prove to be trtadition that continued. They were a bloody sight more interesting than some of the folksongs that did survive.


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Subject: RE: Folk Artists - Wise up (or Fade away)!
From: Tam the man
Date: 16 Sep 05 - 10:50 AM

I think I'll just leave, one more thing before I go is one of the reasons is on the Club night, I lkie to try out a new song, which I just got the words to and never had time to learn it properly.
I'm sorry but I just a bit stupid, I'm sorry if I have upset evryone.
I think I'll leave now.

SORRY


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