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Editorial
Beauty before age?
Just by undertaking a quick
‘guestimate’, I reckon that the age
demographic of Wetherby Festival’s
I’ve managed to get to three folk musicians will probably average
folk festivals so far this year: out at about 27 or 28 this autumn!
Celtic Connections, Gosport & Of course I approached some
Fareham Easter Festival, and well respected ‘older’ musicians
Orkney; practically beg, stole and for availability (I hasten to add
borrowed to get there, but I did that they can only just qualify as
it. Each one very different, but all forty-somethings!), but could get
well attended, proving that even barely a peep out of them or their
in these ‘belt-tightening’ times of agents. Hard to define the reason
soaring fuel and food bills, folk why in all honesty, though I did try.
scene followers are prepared I nearly secured one high-profile
to set aside a portion of their 40-something English singer-
income to support traditional songwriter, but he was snapped
music. up by a lucky festival down south.
So, the result is a festival brimming
Festival directors do a great job, with the folk scene’s ‘bright young
often within tight budget and things’, mainly from England and
with shaky finances generally, of Scotland, and of course I’ve every
bringing a good range of musicians confidence that the music will be
together in one place for people excellent, because these musicians
to come and relax and enjoy. A are out there playing and touring
well-balanced festival is one that regularly, and earning themselves a
springs a musical surprise or two reputation as reliable, fun and gifted
on an audience, and offers them performers. I’m just hoping I won’t
something fresh and new. I can’t be branded as being ‘ageist’!
help observing, however, as I attend
more and more festivals, that the So, is the folk festival scene by and
age profile of the artistes booked large for the ‘bright young things’?
tends to lie rather firmly at the Are ‘older’ musicians being
younger end of the age spectrum. I overlooked by gig and festival
wonder why this is? promoters? If so, why? Do our
more mature musicians need to get
I have been actively involved in more assertive, more aggressive
the festival game myself recently, in their fight for those coveted
programming a folk weekend for bookings? The modern festival
Wetherby Festival where I am one stage is often quite a sexy place
of our team of unpaid directors. these days, and exudes a pop/rock
Our festival normally embraces image too. Stages are very often
the full range of the Arts, not graced by musically gifted, very
just folk music. But, this being attractive young people. Places like
a folk weekend, and given my Glasgow in January are of course
enthusiasm for traditional music, I regarded as THE place to be seen,
was allocated the not unpleasant get a gig, do a bit of networking.
task of seeking out artistes, That sort of thing works very well for
checking their availability, and some. Less so for others.
getting them booked. I conducted
an ‘experiment’ via MySpace, where This certainly isn’t the case at
I casually mentioned in a bulletin every festival of course, but, some
that I was looking to book artistes festivals are certainly seeking to
for a folk weekend. I was pleasantly create as ‘trendy’ an image as
surprised by the swift and genuine they can, and in order to achieve
response from a great selection of that trendy image, they’re tending
musicians, from both the UK and to select from a group of artistes
overseas. By far the most proactive that fall within the ‘usual suspects’
and enthusiastic respondents were bracket. So you can find yourself at
the musicians probably in their 20s different festivals throughout the UK
or 30s. and find almost identikit line ups.
The same headliners, not so many
The younger musicians are clearly new surprises.
using the online networking
communities to look for (and get) Does this even matter? There
work, get their music heard, and it’s will still be lots of variety on the
working very well for them. There smaller festival stages, the smaller
are older musicians ‘out there’ who venues, or in the festival fringe
are learning fast that networking events. But the price of access to
works for them too. These festivals creeps up ever higher, and
musicians are encouraging their you end up with a long weekend
peers to get an online presence too, programme that can easily cost
get their music heard – even if just around a hundred pounds. The
a couple of thousand listens, it’s a headliners pull in the top-whack fee,
lot more than will have heard their while the more ‘mature’ artistes,
music otherwise. often tradition bearers of the
The Living Tradition - Page 
Issue80.indd 4 14/7/08 14:47:22
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