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Singing from the Floor: A History of British Folk Clubs Paperback – 6 Mar 2014

4.4 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (6 Mar. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571305458
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571305452
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.3 x 23.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 78,837 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'What a great story this is . . . JP Bean has put together something definitive.' (Mojo, * * * * *)

'There are tales a-plenty . . . of penury and hardship, of sleeping on couches, floors, under tables and bridges, in doorways, even the most celebrated of the scene's performers often living like dossers . . . "It was magic, an astonishing moment," recalls Martin Carthy, without overstatement.' (Uncut, 9/10)

'An impressive list of contributors . . . In true folk tradition, a story worth handing on.' (Q, * * * *)

'Takes the reader from the revival's earliest stirrings to gigs at the hipsterish Magpie's Nest in present-day East London . . . there is a telling story or unforgettable vignette on almost every page.' (Guardian)

'Summons up the mottled charm of a different era . . . this was a time when the English Folk Dance and Song Society had Princess Margaret as a president. When singer Ian Campbell told her he lived in Birmingham, she replied: "How unfortunate." ' (Daily Telegraph)

Book Description

Singing from the Floor: A History of British Folk Clubs, by J. P. Bean, is the remarkable history of British folk clubs, brought to Faber by Editor-at-Large Jarvis Cocker.

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4.4 out of 5 stars
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This oral history of the British folk club is a fascinating collage of testimony from those who were there. Organised into roughly chronological order, and presenting an overview and/or context at the start of each chapter, 'Singing From The Floor' uses the highlights of what must have been hundreds of hours of interviews with the musicians at the heart of the folk club movement, from its birth out of the skiffle scene of the early 60s through the steady decline since.

As one who was too young to be there and came to folk music when the archetypal club model was already in decline, the history outlined and the tales told in 'Singing From The Floor' are endlessly rewarding and fascinating. Not all reputations survive unscathed - there is a good deal of criticism, for example, of Ewan MacColl, although Peggy Seeger is also represented to give her side of the story. The role of also Bert Lloyd is made more peripheral than might have been thought from other sources (notably Dave Arthur's fascinating recent biography of Lloyd, 'Bert').

Bean has made a fine continuum out of the multitude of voices he has amassed; there is great skill throughout the book in the way the story is progressed through multiple viewpoints of the same events or strands of the tale. It is to be hoped that the raw material of all those interviews is available for future researchers, because the very effect of such skilful and light-touch editing is that other stories must remain to be extracted from the source interviews. There are also individual contributions that are striking - one that particularly remains with me is John Tams' evocative and consciously semi-mythologising account of Tony Capstick's funeral.
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I haven't even finished reading this book yet but it's 'unputdownable'. The way Bean has organised the contributions of his huge collection of interviewees makes each chapter feel like a conversation.

The book confirms some things that I did know and tells of many things I didn't know and puts it all into perspective. Obviously, it tells of the Folk Club scene but it's also a marvellous record of Britain's social history from the 50s, too.

I'm only 20% through and can't wait to read the rest. Brilliantly put together and a 'must' for anyone who was around 'back in the day'. I have a feeling it would also be of interest to the current crop of young folkies, too.
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I bought this after seeing an article in the Daily Record about my father. I thought it was rather sweet as he has been dead for 27 years. So considering my dad was rather big in the folk scene during this period I thought I would have a read. First of all it is told in a series of quotes by people who were there at the time.
I remember it differently. Hey I was there. It is good read. Though some of the "I have an axe to grind" stories should be left out. That is why it is not a five star read for me.
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A chance to wallow in nostalgia as JP Bean uses the words of the top performers to tell the story of the network of folk clubs that developed throughout the country in the 50s, 60s & 70s. It really brought it all back & made me realise how lucky I was to be around at that time. Recommended.
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I enjoyed reading it very much but it was also a trip down memory lane. I also found it did concentrate on London a lot and ignored a lot of what was going on further north, apart from Sheffield. I also think their needed to be a bit more clarification about individual contributors for people who weren't around during the revival.
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Fascinating book. A must read for anyone who has been involved in the folk music world for more than 15 years or so you will love this. The interviews are thoughtful and revelatory especially about the very earliest days of the folk revival. I can't really think of anyone who has been missed out. The interviews are strung together in what to me seemed a pretty logical way. Inevitably a bit London centric but that is because the origins of the revival were in London. Having discussed this with several other avid readers we had all found different bits of info that we hadn't known.

It would be really interesting to read an updating appendix in 10 years or so.
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This book is an outstanding read for anyone who, like myself, has frequented many folk clubs over the years (good heavens, it's more than 40 years in my own case). The format is unusual inasmuch as it is made up of anecdotes and reminiscences of many of the artists who have entertained us over the years and their stories flow beautifully. I was recommended to buy this book by one of the folk artists featured in the book and am grateful to him for doing so. I have thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the book.
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I read it from cover to cover in 24 hours, So many of the quotes resonated with me, and I knew a lot of these people personally. I first sang in folk clubs when I was still at school in the late '60s and helped run a club in the '80s and 90's, I felt part of a privileged group of very special people, with good honest values, insulated against the mass commercialisation that had taken over popular music,

I'm surprised though that in the comments about the future of folk clubs, nobody mentioned the purely practical issues of trying to run a club these days. It's not just that the organisers are getting too old or can't cope with newcomers. The venues are disappearing as pubs close down or turn their function rooms into restaurants, or meeting rooms with carpets and drapes which ruin the acoustics. Then there are the public entertainment licences, PRS fees, health & safety assessments and countless other bureaucratic hindrances to anyone wanting to run a music venue these days.
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