Some of our number found themselves in Yorkshire last week, and decided to see what the Scarborough Folk Club was like. It runs from 9pm on a Monday evening in an ethnic pub in the middle of Scarborough. The dark, wooden ethnicity of the pub was only undermined by the absence of sawdust. The two real ales were... off, leaving Guinness, John Smith's on keg and something else. The 'club' was in a smaller area, through a wide archway, down a few steps, so sound spill could be a problem. Wheelchair access, even if you got through the street-level but angled entrance, is therefore very difficult, and impossible unaided.
Our experience of this 'Folk Club' might not be typical, but we speak as we find. We've been to some 'clique-y' clubs, but this one took the cake. THIS IS NOT A FOLK CLUB - it is an irish ceilidh band in public rehearsal. The 5 or 6 musicians sat round a table at the narrower end of the small room, and studiously ignored the ten or so 'audience'. To give them their due, they didn't actually stare and say "You're not one of us, so **** off", but their attitude seemed to be simply that. They might have had ten of the best singers in the world in the pub, but they wouldn't have known, nor, we suspect, cared. Although we entered and left between items, others just wandered in and out whenever they wanted to. One of the 'in-crowd' would start a tune, and the others crept in, on mandolin, fiddle, concertina and guitar. All played quite competently, but the finishes were, at best, ragged. After each tune, a discussion ensued about technicalities of playing for ceilidhs, such as the right tempo for a reel. No attempt was made to acknowledge, let alone involve anyone outside the 'inner circle'.
After five or six tunes, the lady guitarist started very promisingly to sing a slow song to her guitar accompaniment, but, as she had her back to us, and all the other clique members joined in playing the melody line and comprehensively drowned her out, we couldn't tell what she was singing. Then somebody started another tune. We concluded that that would be the pattern for the evening, and at the end of the tune, we left.
On a scale of 1-10:
Friendliness: -273 (i.e. absolute zero)
Musicianship: would say 7, but for the crassness over the lady singer, so 4.5
Compare this with your experience at the City Folk Club, and rejoice in your good fortune.