Thursday, 29 April 2010

Introducing...Topic Folk Club

YMC chats to Joe and Trevor from Topic Folk Club

YMC: You are the oldest folk club in the world, when did you start?

The generally accepted time of start according to Alex Eaton who with friends formed the club is September 1956. Though some people who were around at the beginning have the idea that the germ of the idea of forming a club could go back to 1953 from a choir in the Bradford Cathedral crypt.

YMC: Why do you think you have managed to last so long?
Probably because the club is run by an elected committee - although members of the committee leave at various times due to changes in circumstances, there have always been people with a love of Folk Music who have filled the vacancies

YMC: What sort of folk music can be heard in your club?

The type of music that can be heard in the club covers a really wide spectrum of folk music. traditional, contemporary, singer - songwriter, blues, Americana. If its good we feature it!

YMC: Has the Topic folk club always been at the same venue?

No. The club's present venue is the 11th it has been at. though it was at Unity Hall and The Market Tavern twice. The longest stay for the club was at upstairs at The Star in Westgate From September 1969 to March 1991. The next longest was the Melborn on White Abbey Road from July 1995 to December 2005. The present venue at The Bradford Irish Club in Rebecca Street is certainly one of the best and we and our audiences have been made very welcome there

YMC: Has there every been a large gap between the weekly performances?

As far as our records can tell there has been no significant gaps in club nights and we are proud to have run weekly (except when our club night Thursday has fallen on Christmes Day, Boxing Day or New Years Day - though many times the club has run on both Boxing Day and New Years Day!) There was a very short period when the club ran on a Friday that the committee at that time used to close the club on a Friday night when the Whitby and Holmfirth Festivals were on due to the majority of the committee at that time wanting to go to the festivals on a Friday!

YMC: What sort of nights do you run (booked acts, open mic, etc.)

Although in the early days of the club there was a focus on singers nights and opportunities to learning new songs, the club mainly runs nights these days with booked guests. But we  also run a singers night once a month, and give the club
nights in August over to Singers Nights. We also have a small number of floor spots on booked guest nights and ask anyone who would like to perform in one of these to turn up by 8.15 so we can book a slot for them during the evening - sometimes we have more singers than floor spots so it is usually a case of first come first served! Guest nights start at 8.30 and singers & musicians nights start at 8.15).

YMC: Have you had people at the club who have later become famous?

There is a well founded rumour about Bob Dylan doing a floor spot at the club in his early days and then being turned down for a booking as the Committee didn't think he was good enough!

Among the people who were booked for the club and have gone on to be major stars are Billy Connolly, Gerry Rafferty, Barbara Dixon, Richard Digance, Tim Hart and Maddy Prior, Mike Hardin, Davey Graham, Bert Jansch, The Spinners, Ewan McColl & Peggy Seeger. We also had world famous artist David Hockney as a member of the club at one time!
Anyone who would like to pay us a visit will be given a warm welcome and have a great value night out. Members pay only £5 for entry and non members pay £6. Membership of the club is great value at £10 per year so you only need to attend 10
times in a year to cover the cost of your membership and after that you are in profit!

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