Folk Clubs and the Under-30s -
The EFDSS wants to know your views.
Sunday, 4th November 2018


The English Folk Dance and Song Society has responded to a Folk21 proposal to find out more about the involvement of young people in folk clubs.

The organisation has now produced a survey which is designed to research the attitudes of young people up to 30 years of age to folk clubs, in particular how they feel about performing in clubs, attending them, or even running a folk club.

This follows an earlier initiative, promoted by young folk singer Lucy Ward to encourage people in her area to join the National Folk Orchestra, with free training provided by EFDSS schemes.

The need to encourage younger people to get involved in folk clubs has been a longstanding issue and the action taken by the EFDSS to pursue this represents an important breakthrough for Folk21's campaign to renew and maintain a healthy folk club circuit.

So if you are 30 or under, do please share your views and experiences. Follow this link to the survey and feel free to share the link with friends and colleagues in that age group. But please note, the closing date for the survey is 14 December 2018.

Ange Hardy's powerful appeal for young folk club audiences
Thursday, 22nd September 2016


Singer, multi-instrumentalist and FATEA Female Vocalist of the Year Ange Hardy today published her passionate call for young people to check out their local folk club and discover 'a wealth of young performers and talent'.

So, you've never been to a folk gig or a guest night at a folk club?

Something that comes up time and time again within the folk world is that there aren't enough young people in the audience at gigs. There's a wealth of young performers and talent… but audiences at folk concerts really do still tend to be of a certain age and demographic.

Wherever you live in England there's almost certainly been an amazing folk concert less than an hour away from your home this month, and there's very likely going to be another one within the next month.

So, if you like music but you haven't been to one of these nights then perhaps it's worth reading this:

They're often in the upstairs rooms of pubs, or village halls, or the back room of a hotel. But they're not exclusive clubs! They want you to come along for the evening.

Going to a gig or a guest night at a folk club is just like going to the cinema. It's not going to be awkward. You don't have to talk to anybody else before or after the gig - although you'll probably find plenty of people willing to talk about music if you want to! They're not going to make you sing, but you may well get a chance to join in a chorus if you choose.

Just like going to the cinema there's an expectation that you'll probably stay in your seat and that you won't talk during the performance. But that won't be a problem, because you'll be enjoying the gig!

You'll almost certainly get a good seat. There will very likely be a bar selling decent beer and there's normally an interval during the evening so you can buy more drink and buy the artists CD if they've suitably impressed you.

You'll see an artist you have probably never seen before. Read the blurb about them on the posters. Look for a few YouTube videos. Make up your own mind - but in general: the folk club is putting them on because they're really good at what they do.

You're probably not going to hear too many utterly obscure medieval instruments or songs with 72 verses sung by old men with woolly waistcoats and a finger in their ear (and even if you did - you might find you actually enjoy it!). Those stereotypes still exist, but they're really not an accurate representation of the diversity of the folk scene. Adele and Ed Sheeran would probably be playing folk clubs if they hadn't had the breaks they did.

They might perform unplugged (although the majority of guest nights use a good PA system, and many artists take their own).

There might be a support act, or a few support acts. The odds are that they might be good but they probably won't be great. Then again, they might be utterly amazing! That's one of the joys of going to nights like this. You never know when the support act is going to grow up to be Bob Dylan.

So, bring a friend. Come with a group. Come on your own. Bring a date. But do go along and see how amazing live music can be. You're probably going to spend something between £5 and £12 for a ticket, buy a few drinks from the bar, and maybe spend £10 buying a CD.

The reason that the audiences tend to be older is simply that they grew up in a time when there was no home entertainment, and therefore going out to something was a far more regular event. They're used to it, and time and time again they're going back for more… so why not see what you're missing out on?

You've now got the added bonus that if the night turns out to be really awful, you can just blame me for giving you bad advice!


Folk21 National Conference Has Been Postponed
Wednesday,   14th October 2015

The Folk21 committee are disappointed to announce the postponement of their National Conference, which had been scheduled to take place in Birmingham on the 21st November.

The reason for this decision was partly an inability to attract the hoped-for external funding, together with a disappointing response in ticket sales with a month to go.

Action is under way to refund all the tickets sold to date, and the committee would like to express their sincere gratitude to everyone who had booked, and to thank them for their willingness to take part, stand up and be counted.

A review is now under way of future activity and further announcements will be made in due course.

BBC Radio 2 Folk Singer of the Year, Nancy Kerr and General Secretary of the Association of Festival Organisers, Steve Heap are to speak at a milestone conference for folk clubs.

National support organisation for UK guest-booking folk clubs, Folk21 stages its first national conference in Birmingham on Saturday November 21st. Other speakers include multiple award-winner guitar ace and club organiser Sunjay Brayne, singer-songwriter and Folk21 Chairman George Papavgeris, musician and folk club promoter, Sam Hawcroft and club organiser, writer and researcher Pete Willow.

The day-long event takes place at Birmingham City University’s central campus in Millennium Point.

The event is a rare opportunity for clubs from across the country to come together and discuss future directions for the club circuit and explore new ways to maintain and expand the network.

Folk21 was established by a collection of club organisers, artists and agents who are all determined to maintain these venues, without which today’s headline artists would never have been able to build their careers through touring.

The conference is designed to bring together clubs, small venues, artists, agents, labels, journalists and anyone else who wants to help support this vital resource.

Folk21 estimates that there are more than 350 clubs and small venues across the country, putting on some 5,000 performances each year to audiences ranging from 30 to 100 people.

The conference fee is £28 for the day, including lunch. To attend the conference, please sign up at

Discounts are available for folk clubs who have affiliated with Folk21.

Follow this link for directions to the conference venue at Millennium Point:

image Congratulations to Nancy Kerr
27th January 2015

Congratulations to our patron, Nancy Kerr, who receives 2014 Alistair Hulet Memorial Trust Songs for Social Justice Award.

The Trustees are pleased to announce Nancy Kerr as the recipientof 2014 AHMT Songs for Social Justice Award for her song “Where Jacarandas Grow”.
Nancy will be appearing at this year’s Celtic Connections AHMT Memorial Concert on the 1st February at St. Andrew’s in the Square.

image Pete Coe is New Patron for Folk21
16th January 2015

Pete Coe has joined the illustrious list of Folk21 patrons. Always a great advocate for folk clubs and small venues, Pete has strongly supported Folk21 from its inception. He played an active role as Chair of our Committee but has now stepped down from that role to concentrate on other projects. We are sorry to lose him but delighted that he is maintaining his association with Folk21.