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Compering/ MCing at a folk club

GUEST,Albie 29 Sep 06 - 12:47 PM
The Villan 29 Sep 06 - 12:55 PM
The Sandman 29 Sep 06 - 01:00 PM
The Villan 29 Sep 06 - 01:12 PM
Rockhen 29 Sep 06 - 02:04 PM
Girl Friday 29 Sep 06 - 09:28 PM
Richard Bridge 29 Sep 06 - 09:37 PM
Sailargh 29 Sep 06 - 10:11 PM
Les in Chorlton 30 Sep 06 - 03:43 AM
Liz the Squeak 30 Sep 06 - 03:57 AM
Les in Chorlton 30 Sep 06 - 04:04 AM
Richard in Manchester 30 Sep 06 - 05:33 AM
GUEST,Jon 30 Sep 06 - 05:44 AM
Magic Gillian 30 Sep 06 - 06:39 AM
woodsie 30 Sep 06 - 07:38 AM
GUEST 30 Sep 06 - 07:44 AM
Richard Bridge 30 Sep 06 - 08:22 AM
GUEST,Brian Peters 30 Sep 06 - 09:18 AM
GUEST,Albie 30 Sep 06 - 09:28 AM
Magic Gillian 30 Sep 06 - 11:14 AM
muppitz 01 Oct 06 - 06:24 AM
MoorleyMan 01 Oct 06 - 11:55 AM
The Sandman 01 Oct 06 - 01:15 PM
Liz the Squeak 01 Oct 06 - 01:27 PM
The Sandman 01 Oct 06 - 04:03 PM
Richard in Manchester 01 Oct 06 - 04:30 PM
GUEST,Peter 03 Oct 06 - 01:19 PM
GUEST,Brian Peters 03 Oct 06 - 01:37 PM
Scrump 04 Oct 06 - 04:52 AM
GUEST,John the Dish 04 Oct 06 - 11:01 AM
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Subject: Compering/ MCing at a folk club
From: GUEST,Albie
Date: 29 Sep 06 - 12:47 PM

Does anybody have a compere or MC at their folk club?

What sort of behaviour is expected of them?

Do they dominate the compering or is the task shared?

At a club I sometimes go to in east london, the bloke who comperes is very unprofessional. The other night he was waffling on about a load of bollox into the microphone, with his mouth full of food. Other members of this club say that they would like to have a go at compering, but this particular idiot throw's a wobbly if anybody even suggests that he stand down for one night. The thing is he wastes so much time talking total shit, that not every acts gets on!

What are other peoples view on this?


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Subject: RE: Compering/ MCing at a folk club
From: The Villan
Date: 29 Sep 06 - 12:55 PM

Recently At Market rasen Folk Club, I stepped down from doing the MC job and now encourage a different MC each evening. Normally somebody who is performing on the night.

An MC in my opinion should be respectful of Performers and audience, but nice adlib banter is great, but not all people are good at that.

Hope that helps a bit


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Subject: RE: Compering/ MCing at a folk club
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 Sep 06 - 01:00 PM

There is an art to m cing,
the mc needs to be organised, and have an idea of time, he needs to know about his guest and floor singers. and say something positve about each of them.
if he gets a weak floor singer he needs to think quickly and be flexible and put on someone strong to bring the night up.if the guest is aconcertina player he needs to put on somebody contrasting just before, perhaps a Guitarist.
above all else he needs to keep looking at his watch,and make sure the guest doesnt go on too late.he needs to have communicated with the guest about fimishing time.
an m c can make or break an evening.


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Subject: RE: Compering/ MCing at a folk club
From: The Villan
Date: 29 Sep 06 - 01:12 PM

Agree with you wholeheartedly Cap'n Birdseye.


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Subject: RE: Compering/ MCing at a folk club
From: Rockhen
Date: 29 Sep 06 - 02:04 PM

Anyone who thinks the MC job is easy, should try it. It isn't as easy as it looks. (Thus says me, who acted as MC for the first time ever, a short while ago...and speaking purely from that one experience!)

In my opinion, you have to work very hard to look relaxed, friendly and encouraging without having too big an opinion of yourself...at the same time as introducing new and regular acts in an interesting and informative but not over-zealous manner. You also have to be prepared to keep the night ticking over if there are any delays and not to appear biased towards anyone.

If you are really complimentary about one act and not another it is not diplomatic...the list goes on
I made a lot of basic mistakes in my first effort but the mistakes were as valuable as the rest of the experience...I won't make those mistakes if I ever do it again, although I dare say I would probably make a load of fresh ones!

If I look back at the first time I ever did a gig, I cringe at some of the mistakes we made as a band...the art of performing is something that takes time and I know I still have a long way to go. I hope I never think that I have perfected it, if I am honest. I think being MC is something that also takes an awful lot of practice before you can make it look easy. Different MCs have different styles and not every one likes each approach.
Cheers to all regular MCs! I have a lot more respect for you since my attempt at it! Would be interested to hear about some more of the techniques others use when MC-ing.


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Subject: RE: Compering/ MCing at a folk club
From: Girl Friday
Date: 29 Sep 06 - 09:28 PM

At my Club, the residents take it in turns to m.c. I give them all a list of when they are to compere, and who is on that night. This system works very well. It always takes a few gos at it before they settle into the job, as you have to think on your feet. How many floor-singers have I got? How many songs can I give them? Then another resident wanders in and he/she needs to rethink. All this and timing the guests, the raffle etc. I can't understand why one person would want the job continually. Having said that, some clubs don't have residents, one person is relaxed about doing the job, and it works.


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Subject: RE: Compering/ MCing at a folk club
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 29 Sep 06 - 09:37 PM

The ability to obliterate one's cockups from memory is a useful tool for MC's who want to remain sane...


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Subject: RE: Compering/ MCing at a folk club
From: Sailargh
Date: 29 Sep 06 - 10:11 PM

Hullo All

I had read all posts in the thread however after I wrote the following I re-read before posting to find I'd made many of the same points, and at great length. I might just say, "Yup, agree with all of you". Ah well, here it is anyway. :{)
----
Our club is volunteer operated and we used to have the Host position as an open/free position on our volunteer sign-up sheet. Some seven or eight years ago we were seemingly stagnating or at least not feeling like we were offering the same kind of environment we had in the past.

Timings were off, evenings went too late for all to enjoy the Feature which typically followed an Open Stage. Potential performers were giving up attempting to sign up for the Open Stage due to monopolisation of the process.

Open faciliated discussions were conducted and an ad hoc committee was formed for a time to implement suggestions. A Program Committee was formed to back up the person booking acts. Several changes were made including the clarification of open-stage opportunities (to minimise monopolisation by a few) and to give the Host known freedom to arrange the open stage portion of the evening. The Host was removed from the open sign up sheet to allow for a period of familiarisation for those interested. A fundamental set of Club supported guidelines was briefed to any and all interested in hosting. I coordinated the hosting for about a year and half after that, doing a fair bit of actual hosting in the process.

Now anyone interested in hosting may receive a briefing by the current hosting coordinator and is added to the list. For a club where announcements and even the host's introduction receive applause we're at a good place.

The chief points in our hosting guidelines are:
-The Host is in charge and may modify the plan, break from the status quo and has the last say for producing the 'pot luck' of the Open Stage. We've had some good fun with this.
-This includes the arrangement of acts to minimise a clumping of like performers/styles/instruments, delivers variety.
-Timings are important. As a Sunday-evening club our folks need to get away for sleep before jobs or school and we don't want them to miss the Feature (or their bus after). We allow up to ten minutes for the usual Open Stage slot: one may yak on with introductions or tune one's instrument for nine minutes then have one minute left for other performing, do ten one minute songs, whatever. This removed the older 'three songs' which could really get out of hand. We're a weekly club so it's not really a burden to anyone.
-Announcements are important yet not more important than the performances: other folks doing them need to advise the Host and they're worked into the plan along with the acts. We avoid too many by directing attention to the usual table with flyers/handbills, the newsletter/web site or having the Host mention a few and directing the audiences' attention to individuals for further information.
-The Host _may_ play/sing with someone else or may fill up some performance time usefully if there are gaps however should definitely not monopolise the available time. They may lead (often do) a song on the 'Ad Hoc' ensemble which often kicks off the evening.
-Our Host should find out about the performers ahead of time for insight re programming and introductions. Not assume a person will perform in a style they may be known for and accidently use that in the intro, ask or at least listen to offered info.
-Don't encourage extra/false applause or accidentally/unfairly endorse someone just to be polite. Someone stunningly good? Go ahead, applaud yourself. It's obvious. Adding extra applause by extro-ing each act in a non-functional way is socially tiring and adds unecessarily to the time. Certainly thank each act. We have an excessively polite club as it is. :{)
-Further, since it's part of it, the Host applies the club policy of working in/giving priority to new performers (anyone who has not performed before) and performers from out of town. Others may sign up to the extent of the available time slots _if_ they haven't performed yet that calendar month _or_ if there are not enough acts to fill the available time slots prior to the Host's programming cut off.
-Be loud enough, be clear enough, be friendly, stay focused on why you're filling the position/time and why folks are there in front of you. Don't trip out on yourself.
-The audience is there to see/hear performers/performances not the host.
-Get off the stage.

There's a bit more however that's more than enough. Most of the folks who host perform to some extent though not necessarily. Some host/produce folk radio shows on the local campus/community station.

Nuff and cheers, John

http://victoriafolkmusic.ca


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Subject: RE: Compering/ MCing at a folk club
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 30 Sep 06 - 03:43 AM

We don't mind who compares so long as s/he is wearing EM's trousers. The trousers are kept in a special place and the compare dons them during the ancient ritual of "Trousering". The ritual was noted by the great Sharp and is believed to related to the rituals of the Morris Ring. I guess other MC's will know more of this.

I won't say more at this point for obvious reasons


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Subject: RE: Compering/ MCing at a folk club
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 30 Sep 06 - 03:57 AM

Les... Hope you got them dry-cleaned!

A good MC is one who introduces the evening, introduces the acts and doesn't talk all the way through them (or start clapping 2 verses from the end because they weren't listening and the singer paused for breath.... you know who you are!). A good MC will know who they can call on for a song at short notice, who will need a little encouragement and who wil empty the room quicker than a fart in a lift.

A bad MC is one who only lets his friends play more than 1 song, stretches his own spot out by dragging his friends up to play with hin and forgets the name of the guest artist, introducing them as someone diametrically opposite to their own brand of music (again, you know who you are!!!).

LTS


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Subject: RE: Compering/ MCing at a folk club
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 30 Sep 06 - 04:04 AM

A good question Liz and one that caused more than a little trouble. The Club split on this, one group, "The Tradies" held that the truosers should never be cleaned on the grounds that with advances in DNA technology, the possibility of clonning could become a reality. The "Modernisers", Blairites to a person, maintained that we should commit to the living tradition as EM did himself and have the trousers not only cleaned but have the legs re-styled in the "Boot-cut" fashion.

This led to a split in the club and now 3 pairs of trousers exist but we have the only genuine pair. I trust none of this is made public.


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Subject: RE: Compering/ MCing at a folk club
From: Richard in Manchester
Date: 30 Sep 06 - 05:33 AM

Don't insult the guest - even unintentionally!

The organiser of one of our local folk clubs, rounding off the night after a great performance from a well-known English singer and sqeeezebox player, exhorted the audience to keep coming to the club and buying raffle tickets "...so we can afford someone even better!"


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Subject: RE: Compering/ MCing at a folk club
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 30 Sep 06 - 05:44 AM

If you are doing it, you have to know your own personality, eg. I know I'm no good at joke telling, etc. so don't attempt it. I've always gone for short and sweet intros on the occasions I've stood in doing this job (which btw I hate doing).

I think we all have our own policies when we are doing the job too. My own which differed from regular MCs doing the job at those clubs were to

Try and give others an idea of a running order mostly as I know what my nerves are like at hate the random calling where each time the MC gets up, I don't know whether I'll be called up or not.

To go round the tables before the start and during the break and find out if any of the strangers in the room were singers who wanted to give a spot - they don't always come forward and volunteer.

To try to split up the evening with different types of singers/players. Some would move round the tables for example but in my experience similar performers often seem to end up sitting together - more common musical interests I suppose.

Overall though, I think the best plan is to have a few MCs and rotate them. Apart from anything else, that can get rid of some of the feelings regarding favouritism or whatever that can occur.


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Subject: RE: Compering/ MCing at a folk club
From: Magic Gillian
Date: 30 Sep 06 - 06:39 AM

It's always nice to pronounce the name/s of the act correctly. I like to remind mcs that the "w" in "Elswick" is silent like the "w" in anchor.
We did a club where the mc did a poem to introduce us. It was ace!


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Subject: RE: Compering/ MCing at a folk club
From: woodsie
Date: 30 Sep 06 - 07:38 AM

Blimey I think DK should have a read of this!


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Subject: RE: Compering/ MCing at a folk club
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Sep 06 - 07:44 AM

DK could easily be the one who did the poem...

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Compering/ MCing at a folk club
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 30 Sep 06 - 08:22 AM

So that's Ell-sick then?


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Subject: RE: Compering/ MCing at a folk club
From: GUEST,Brian Peters
Date: 30 Sep 06 - 09:18 AM

>> The organiser of one of our local folk clubs, rounding off the night after a great performance from a well-known English singer and sqeeezebox player, exhorted the audience to keep coming to the club and buying raffle tickets "...so we can afford someone even better!"

Sounds familiar - wasn't my gig was it??

One of the things Jeff Davis noticed on his recent tour (actually he's noticed it on every visit) was the apparent lack of advance research by MCs at both festivals and folk clubs (though not at ALL of them) so that they'd have something useful to say about the guest they were introducing. Certain MCs gave no indication of what kind of music the audience was about to hear, what the credentials of the performer were, and some didn't even bother to explain that Jeff was from America. It really does make a difference to the performer's task if there is some sense of eager anticipation in the room before they step onto the stage. There's probably been a previous thread on lousy perofrmer introductions, but I remember one from about three years ago where I was introduced with "And now, Brian Peters..... Brian, I've not seen you around for a while, thought you'd packed it in!" And that was it.

All Capt Birdseye's points are good, too.


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Subject: RE: Compering/ MCing at a folk club
From: GUEST,Albie
Date: 30 Sep 06 - 09:28 AM

Thanks a lot mudpeople. I will suggest the the chap at our club gives somebody else a go. Mind you they will come out with "but jamie's always done it" I have a good mind to nominate myself.


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Subject: RE: Compering/ MCing at a folk club
From: Magic Gillian
Date: 30 Sep 06 - 11:14 AM

I'm sure there is such a thing as a professional MC. It's a question of research, as has been said, humour and delivery without giving too much away. I once saw a gig where the MC went and stole a load of the act's jokes and told them before they went on in their introduction. Some people are born to do it. Others aren't.


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Subject: RE: Compering/ MCing at a folk club
From: muppitz
Date: 01 Oct 06 - 06:24 AM

I used to run a folk club with my Mum and the arrangement was that she would do the booking and talking to of agents and artists and I would be the MC, there were other things to do of course that we shared in equal quantities and also got my sisters involved, I'm not endeavoring to make running a club sound easy because it isn't!
Anyway, I had a lot of positive reports from the artists that I introduced, one thing they all said to me was that I didn't waffle and what I said was relevant with a nice twinge of amusement.

Good job really as I got to Bromyard this year and discovered that one of my spots was MC-ing for a meet the artist session!

muppitz x


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Subject: RE: Compering/ MCing at a folk club
From: MoorleyMan
Date: 01 Oct 06 - 11:55 AM

Yeah I know there are several schools of thought here, and broadly speaking these depend largely on one's experience and one's expectations. But there's also many ways of killing the cat so to speak. Here's some thoughts.

It seems to be a widespread misconception that it's right for a club organiser to dictate to his MCs how to run an evening, but sometimes they have to take a firm line in order to stop things getting out of hand. However, some club organisers will take on the MC role initially by default but then use it as a ready excuse to take over the lion's share of the performing time: not a good move.

Certainly a good MC can make or break an evening. Though the MC's role is not as crucial with all clubs, due simply to the way they structure their activities. And at a festival, different skills are required for compering the big concert, or running a sequence of street entertainment, or introducing a "meet the artist" session.

In any case the job's not as easy as it appears. How very true.

Organisers please take note - not all booked performers make good MCs. Some are hopeless - and admit it themselves! Asking a booked artist to MC as well may appear an attractive cost-cutting gambit but it can so easily ruin the gig.

Even though many feel that the folk scene is traditionally the province of amateurs, here professionalism, however basic, is undoubtedly the key. And the unintentional faux-pas is just part of the game, an occupational hazard if you like.

I believe that if the job of MC/compere is to be done with any credibility, the person doing it needs the right attitude to the job - and the following qualities for a start:

(a) an inborn sense of time and structure, for (obvious though it may seem) keeping to time is vital;
(b) the ability to treat any or all performers, whether top-rank booked guest artist or humble floor singer, with due respect. Oh, and that includes the sound crew if any.
All non-audience personnel work together to make the evening a success, after all.
(c) the ability to treat his/her audience with due respect and consideration for their enjoyment - and safety;
(d) the right personality and degree of relaxed presence to keep the evening moving along naturally yet inexorably;
(e) to keep in mind the whole time the purpose of the evening and where appropriate set it in a wider context;
and (e) (and I suspect the most contentious, having read some of the above posts!) to have done some research and/or at least some degree of preparation (which will vary with the nature and identity of the artists who are due to perform). The MC's contribution can involve anything from a brisk but correct naming of personnel, to a more comprehensive but also succinct but at least knowledgeable biog/introduction, to a relevant reminiscence or anecdote, and yes, even to a specially written poem!
But it's very much horses for courses... all of these approaches, or any combination of them, can be valid, and very effective IN THE RIGHT HANDS. But careful thought must be given as to which is appropriate for any given occasion. Hence the need for the research. Catch 22 or wot?

Muppitz - good on ya, you seem to have landed on yr feet. I'll just add that my own regular excursions into the realm of compering,using whichever approach/es, have met with positive comments from both audience and organisers but particularly from artists I've introduced - which must be why I get asked back!

See y' around!
M


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Subject: RE: Compering/ MCing at a folk club
From: The Sandman
Date: 01 Oct 06 - 01:15 PM

I can remember being introduced at a folk festival,by a professional performer, and now Dick Miles. what a useless introduction, it tells the audience nothing.
and another occasion at Whitby festival, heres Dick Miles whos been around since the year dot, well thanks, you got my name right, but thats all.
   I have had to introduce people I dont like, BUT I always try and give them a good introduction,keep it short,state what theyve done, be positive, and make the audience feel theyre going to enjoy what theyre about to hear.
the mcs job is to make sure whatever situation, workshop, concert.meet the artist etc that it goes well.


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Subject: RE: Compering/ MCing at a folk club
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 01 Oct 06 - 01:27 PM

Ah Dick, at least you didn't get introduced as Sid Kipper.....

LTS


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Subject: RE: Compering/ MCing at a folk club
From: The Sandman
Date: 01 Oct 06 - 04:03 PM

no, and thankfully never as Red Herring.lIZ THE SQUEAK.I have very fond memories of martinstown, weymouth,portland.trying to think of the name of the guy,who played guitar, and m c d martinstown folk club ,small red headed, guy from essex.


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Subject: RE: Compering/ MCing at a folk club
From: Richard in Manchester
Date: 01 Oct 06 - 04:30 PM

"Sounds familiar - wasn't my gig was it??"

Well spotted, Brian! I don't think any harm was done, and I seem to recall you taking it in good heart. I think we all knew what he meant - keep the folk club going onwards and upwards - but the howls of indignation from the audience soon made him realise his error!


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Subject: RE: Compering/ MCing at a folk club
From: GUEST,Peter
Date: 03 Oct 06 - 01:19 PM

Ha!
I thought you'd forgotten that.
It was over 10 years ago, I've done some *much* better ones since.
In fact some people seem to save them up just to remind me...

I'll have to rehearse a really good one for your Xmas visit to the Bull.
I can't remember what I said for Jeff Davis, hope I didn't put my foot in it again. It was a really good night though and he is very good, shame on those who didn't come!!

See you in December
Cheers
Peter

Red Bull Folk Club, Stockport


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Subject: RE: Compering/ MCing at a folk club
From: GUEST,Brian Peters
Date: 03 Oct 06 - 01:37 PM

No offence taken, Peter, and I'm looking forward to your December intro. Anyway, you know me well enough (and book me often enough!) to get away with a bit of banter. Being insulted by strangers is, however, a different matter.
Brian

PS It wasn't you that Jeff was commenting about, though neither can I remember exactly what you said on that evening....


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Subject: RE: Compering/ MCing at a folk club
From: Scrump
Date: 04 Oct 06 - 04:52 AM

I've never MCed, but if I did, I would keep a crib sheet (just a small piece of paper or card that fits in your pocket easily) with the artists' names and possibly any other important points I wouldn't want to forget. I say this because on a few occasions I've seen the MC forget the name of the artist they are introducing (possibly from nerves?) and I'd hate that to happen to me.


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Subject: RE: Compering/ MCing at a folk club
From: GUEST,John the Dish
Date: 04 Oct 06 - 11:01 AM

The small red headed guy at Martinstown was the Poison Dwarf of Dorchester, the immortal Ian(Finn) Findlay, and he still is


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