Shire Folk is a free, A5, bimonthly magazine covering folk, roots and acoustic music in and around the South Midlands. It has been produced for around 25 years on a not-for-profit basis, paid for by advertising revenue. Each issue includes news items, both local and national, artist interviews, festival and gig reviews, as well as reviews of about 30 new CDs.
From our base in Oxford, we distribute 1800–2000 copies through an intricate network of folk clubs, record shops, libraries, music venues, pubs, morris dancing teams, festivals and individuals. Click here to see a list of places that receive bulk copies of Shire Folk. We think you can safely assume that well over 4000 people read each issue.
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Graham Hobbs & Jonathan Roscoe
Co-Editors, Shire Folk
A few issues ago I wrote in an Editorial about the problems organisers and promoters of folk music have in judging the right-sized venues for the various acts touring the UK. I don’t think anyone, including the artists, likes to see a venue only a quarter full. The point I was making is that in my opinion, you generally get a better concert when the room is full, even if it only contains thirty people.
This Editorial did what I suppose an Editorial should do in that it stimulated some response, mostly via email. Most people tended to agree with my ramblings, but a few said I was missing the point of some concerts in that they are not always arranged to make a profit, maximise ticket sales or get lots of bums on seats. John Timpany, who ran the Nags Head folk club in London back in the 1960s, explained that he regularly booked A. L. (Bert) Lloyd for his club. He would pick Bert up at the station, he would sing to a very limited audience, stay overnight and be put back on the train the next day. The organiser and club knew this would not be a profitable exercise, but the sheer pleasure of hearing Bert sing was worth it. Like many others, I am sure, I certainly wish I had been there to witness this!
Well-known promoter Tom Povey made a similar point, in that I had failed to mention the many house concerts that folk artists play regularly up and down the country, which again are not really organised for financial gain. Here if you can gather a few friends and family together you can get the likes of Ninebarrow, Hattie Briggs and ex Oysterband member Ray Cooper to play a private gig for you. It’s a brilliant way to get to meet your folky favourites and many of them are only to pleased to fit you into their busy schedules.
I know we have said it before in these pages, but this all shows what a wonderful, friendly and collaborative world folk music is … and long may it continue!