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Was I visionary or foolhardy? Planning a new folk club when so many are struggling seems more like foolhardy, but I was feeling brave. I had been in a few folk clubs in the past, and helped in the organisation of a folk festival, and my job entailed organising events. My main folk involvement had been as a Morris dancer (someone has to !).

So how did I go about it? The first decision was what sort of club? I decided on one which is a blend of open mike/singaround sessions and evenings with paid performers. It would be more likely to appeal to a wide group of folk enthusiasts and those on the fringes.

We needed a venue! None of the Fordingbridge pubs has a suitable room, so I approached the Avonway Community Centre in the middle of town. They were positive and welcoming, have a variety of room sizes, and a bar! (Can you have Folk without a bar ??!!!)

Then for publicity - social media has been great. I have put regular updates on Facebook, and have created a website (cost £60 for a year) and learned to do the design myself. I opened a separate email, and called everything FordingbridgeFolk. Again FASH has been fantastic by putting updates in Solent Waves. I know a friendly printer who has designed and printed posters and leaflets at a low cost.

I was taking a risk with the finance — but FASH generously gave us a small grant for set up costs which has been a great help.

I contacted all the folk clubs in the area with details, and distributed posters and leaflets to organisations I know - I play in the Wessex Folk Orchestra and my wife Sings in One Voice - so that adds up to about 50 contacts. We dance with Fordingbridge Country Dance Group and Salisbury Folk Dance, and those groups became my poster and leaflet distributers. It helped me to build a mailing list of about 50 interested people.

As the first night approached I was holding my breath - i admit to a degree of trepidation! Would anyone turn up? Would anyone perform? Otherwise it would be me playing my recorders for two hours! I hoped for 24 people so I could break even for the evening. As early as 7.00 there was a man with a guitar - phew! by 7.15 there was a steady trickle, and by 7.20 we were putting out extra chairs …. then we opened the partition to the next room as a long queue developed. The bar was doing well too ! By the time we started at 7.45, 82 people had paid £3 each to come in! I was astonished! We had 12 acts - groups, duets and singles playing a wide variety of music and songs, and the atmosphere was relaxed and frindly.

Since that night i have had dozens of messages saying how much the evening was enjoyed, and promises from lots of people to be regulars. Out next meeting is the Portsmouth Shantymen, for which we will charge £10.

So far the club has exceeded my wildest hopes - now we have to work to keep it successful.

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Two weeks to go! The inaugural meeting for our Fordingbridge Folk Club is just two weeks away - Friday October 7th. The big news this week is that Avonway have confirmed that the bar will be open for the evening - which is a huge relief. Whoever heard of folk music without a bar!

The response to my request for people to let me know if they are able to play and/or sing on our first evening has been fantastic and we have about ten people or groups who have already said that they will perform for us. Even more would be welcome - so please email me if you would like to do a spot - or just turn up on the evening with your instrument or voice - the more people who perform the better the club will be.

We have distributed lots of posters and leaflets - thanks to all those who have helped - and have been in contact with all the folk organisations in the area so there should be a good crowd.

I hope to see as many of you as possible on the 7th.

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So what is folk music?

I went to the Great Dorset Steam Fair a few days ago - with my eight year old grandson. We both had a great time, and came home smelling like kippers from the smoke being belched out by all the machinery. My favourite section of the show was the fairground organs - vast pieces of complicated kit playing music which could be heard all over the show-ground. Not only were they planing music composed around the time they were made - mostly early twentieth century. But the were also playing later music- Elvis, Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel….. Then in another area there was an Irish Folk Band - sounding for all the world like they were in a Dublin pub. And i found myself asking what is folk music? When you hear it, it’s fairly obvious. The answer might once have been the music of the working people - handed down through the generations, and often composed by those well known authors Trad and Anon. But the definition is much wider now - Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel, and the modern folk movement - Show of Hands, the McCarthys, And so if we are starting a new Folk Club in Fordingbridge - what do we expect or hope to hear there ? Answers on a postcard please ……. David

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