I noticed in Ian Anderson’s editorial in the current fRoots (formerly ‘Folk Roots – the long-ago disguising of its origins perhaps ironic in the circumstances) that he despairs at the current audience demographic at folk music shows in England, which he notes has been a long-ticking time bomb.
In short, almost all the punters – even at shows by young performers (‘BBC folk-person-under-30-of-the-year’ awardees et al.) – are in their 60s and beyond. He ends by saying that his last mission will be to try and ‘get young folk musicians their own audience’. It’s a telling phrase. 20 / 30 year old artists in the folk idiom in England have essentially been borrowing, and living off, the early 70s Fairport convention audience for the past 50 years.
I don’t live in England and have only occasionally been at folk music gigs there so I can’t really bring much to the discussion, but from my limited experience Ian’s words ring true. What say others here?
The question isn’t about people saying ‘Oh, I saw young Sophie Swithins at the Toad & Sandcastle folk club last week and she was really good – and only 29!’ – it’s a matter of, being honest, is the active audience (outside of summer festivals) for ‘folk music’ in England pretty much on its last hurrah?
All ‘scenes’ and hobbies have their day – maybe this one’s simply had its day. Has it?