DragonBlog — have your say!

Friday September 15th 2017 saw the ‘Grand Launch’ of the Dragon Folk Club as part of the Worcester Music Festival. It was a fantastic night, and huge thanks are to in order of appearance, The Paul Rose Dictatorship, Colin Baggs, Horizon Lights, Victoria Crivelli, Set ’em Up Joe and the Worcestershire Levellers. The room was packed, as was the lobby outside, the music was varied but universally wonderful and the audience were clearly entranced. One person from the audience said to me afterwards ‘it was brilliant, people were actually listening, you could have heard a pin drop at times when something quiet was being performed’.

It was a very encouraging start to a new venture!

Having said all that, the launch night was not entirely typical of how we intend the folk club to run. We found ourselves at the wrong end of the room.  The door was kept open (despite noise from the hand drier in the men’s loos) and there was no charge to come in. The lights on the performers were too harsh, and, of course, we featured six 30 minute slots with no floor singers.

The folk club ‘proper’ starting on October 4th will feature an invited guest who will do the last 30/40 minutes of the evening, but also a range of ‘floor singers’, so we will never know in advance who is going to turn up and perform and who we will be lucky enough to hear.

2 Replies to “DragonBlog — have your say!”

  1. Worcester Acoustic Music Sessions at St. Swithun’s Hall and at The Dragon Inn Folk Club

    Two venues in Worcester where you can now regularly listen to live, acoustic music from a range of local and national musicians.

    I find myself slightly gob-smacked to realise that I’ve been playing and listening to live music around Worcester and Worcestershire now for some 50 years and I have to say that the number of musicians and the quality of what they play are both higher now than I have ever known.

    The odd thing is that the number of venues in which these amazing people can find to play to a live audience is more limited than I have ever known it to be. They are missing out on a chance to display their own considerable virtuosity and creativity, and you, the listening public, are missing out on the chance to hear them!

    This is why we started, first of all the ‘Worcester Acoustic Music Sessions’ in St. Swithun’s Institute, and now, the Dragon Folk Club in the very wonderful Dragon Inn, Tything, Worcester.

    St. Swithun’s provides us with a large hall where we run concerts and ceilidhs, whereas the upstairs room of the Dragon Inn is a much smaller more intimate space. In both venues the music is acoustic / un-plugged / un-amplified (though this does not apply to some of the Ceilidhs at St. Swithun’s where the Whole Caboodle Electric Ceilidh Band sometimes strut their stuff).

    At St. Swithun’s we run ‘Acoustic Music Sessions’ where four local artistes are invited to perform a half-hour set each to provide a concert with a range of musical styles and genres. The audience bring their own drinks and nibbles and can order a fish and chip supper on the door for an extra charge. We aim to do this three times a year, and these are friendly and intimate concerts with some of the best musicians on the local scene performing free of charge.

    We also run Shindig (Arts Council Funded) concerts at St. Swithun’s. These are bigger events with nationally-known guests. Tickets for these must be purchased in advance, and we run a limited licensed bar on these evenings. We do two or three of these each year.

    Lastly at St. Swithun’s we run Ceilidhs, family events for people of all ages and all levels of skill in dancing from none at all to really quite a lot! Again, you can order a fish and chip supper on the door for an extra charge. Again, we run two or three ceilidhs each year.

    The Dragon Folk Club is a different animal altogether. Meeting more frequently (first and third Wednesdays in each Month) it provides a venue for local musicians to just turn up on the night and perform a 15 minute set as ‘floor singers’. This means that we will never know precisely what is going to happen or who is going to turn up to each evening at the Folk Club. Just to make sure that we have some control over the situation though, on each club night there will be an invited guest who will perform for the last 30 – 40 minutes of the evening. The only exception to this will be when we have special ‘themed’ evenings, and these will be advertised on this site.

    Of course it must also be added that the Dragon Inn provides us not only with a wonderful upstairs room to perform in, but also a range of some of the finest craft beers in Worcestershire.

    A famous story-teller once said, there are three elements to storytelling. They are all equally important, and if any one of them is absent or not fully engaged, the process simply does not work. They are firstly, the Storyteller; secondly, the Story, and thirdly the Audience.

    Exactly the same thing applies to live, acoustic music. We need the musicians who are willing to perform. We need the fascinating songs and tunes that they play on a wide range of instruments. But also, we need an audience who want to come along and listen and experience this amazing and often under-valued art-form.

    I hope you will want to be part of it.

    Barry Walmsley

  2. The Dragon Folk Club is an acoustic music club.

    Acoustic Music?

    What is so special about acoustic music anyway? Well of course strictly speaking all music is acoustic, but I mean music performed without any sort of amplification or electronics; what’s so different or unusual about that?

    Well, maybe nothing much really, but just for a moment, try to imagine this:

    Imagine that you’re in a room, a fairly high-tec futuristic room. This room doesn’t have any windows, but instead it has a large window-sized screen, and immediately outside it has a high resolution, wide angle video camera pointing straight at the garden outside the room.

    What you see on the screen is a real time accurate video representation of what is outside the room, exactly as if you were looking at the garden out of an ordinary window. And you’ve got rid of the draughts. Of course now, if it’s a bit too bright outside, you can easily compensate for that. Maybe introduce a filter to emphasise the greens a bit so you don’t see those yellow patches on the lawn. Losing those clouds shouldn’t be too much of a problem either so we can have a nice blue sky. You’re still seeing a real-time representation of what is immediately outside the room, but you are able to manipulate it to make it more pleasing.

    I don’t have a problem with that. It sounds great. Bring it on. I just feel that sometimes it would be important to look at what’s outside just with my own eyes, just as it really is. If I don’t like it, maybe it’s a bit too cloudy, well, I can always pop back inside again and watch through the screen, but I want to be able to recognise and be aware of the difference.

    We listen to an awful lot of music through speakers of various sorts. Recorded music, or music played live, but all played to us through speakers and via a variety of electronic devices of increasing complexity and sophistication. We often claim that we are looking for the most accurate, authentic reproductions of the original sounds but of course we’re not. We frequently want the sounds louder than they would otherwise be, sometimes quieter. We want the balance of instruments and voices altered, graphics graphically equalised etc., etc. And that’s even before we get on to the range of special effects which can only be produced with electronic interventions.

    All that is great. I love it. But I still think it’s important to spend some time listening to music without that sort of intervention. I’m not completely sure why I think it’s important, maybe it’s just a hunch. We’ve become accustomed to hearing music which has been electronically reproduced or manipulated. It’s convenient. It’s interesting. It’s fun. In fact, we’re not just accustomed to it, we’re hooked on it. If someone is performing in a room where there’s lots of other things going on, they can be amplified so we can go on talking and having a good time. And then of course, we need to talk louder, which means they need to turn the volume up so we can hear it. You can see where that’s going.

    Perhaps that is one (just one) of the reasons why it is good to listen to live acoustic music occasionally. Music is about communication between the musician and the listener. Arguably it’s not just what it’s about, it’s what music actually is, and if there is no communication between musician and listener then it’s not music, it’s just a noise.

    Paradoxically, the ability to amplify music can often interfere with that rather than enhance that communication because it allows us, without embarrassment, to ignore the musicians, and regard them as background noise. Almost an irrelevance. And the musicians can be in danger of regarding the audience in the same way.

    An old storyteller said, a long time ago, ‘there are three elements to storytelling, and they are all equally important. One is the story, the second is the storyteller, and the third is the listener’. If any one of those three is not fully involved in the process, then it does not work.

    Music performed live is exactly the same. For it to work properly and have the huge impact that it is capable of making on both the audience and the musicians alike, the same three things are essential. There must be a good song or tune, there must be a good performer, and there must be an attentive, listening audience.

    This is what happens at each of the club nights the Dragon Folk Club, and this is what makes it an unusual and special experience for both the audience and the musicians.

    Come along and join us.

    Be the third element!

    The Dragon Folk Club meets on the first and third Wednesday night of each month in the upstairs room of the Dragon Inn, Tything Worcester. More information at http://www.dragonfolk,co.uk

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