Club Of The Month
Club Of The Month is a regular feature that gives a club a little extra space to sell themselves. Please contact us if you would like your club to be considered:
What is known as "TwickFolk" today began it's modern incarnation in January 1983 under the 'catchy' name of "Twickenham Folk and Singers Club". That didn't particularly roll off the tongue so in recent years they abandoned the "and Singers" bit. More recently they seem to use the "TwickFolk" brand more and more (apparently because people are forever ringing asking if they need to be club members to come along...far from it!). Throughout the last quarter of a century TwickFolk has been based at the Cabbage Patch Pub (though they've occupied at least three different locations within the large rambling pub). According to guitarist and former Strawb Brian Willoughby (who now acts as TwickFolk's 'non-exec director') there's been folk gatherings in the area dating back to the 60s when a club under an approximate name functioned at 'The Winning Post' pub near the rugby ground and booked the likes of Ralph McTell (when he was just starting up in the business).
After launching the modern incarnation in 1983 the club has been run by a succession of enthusiastic volunteers forming an ad hoc commitee and holding very occasional meetings (often in Indian restaurants). There was no formal constitution as such until late 2004 and the only reason to draw one up then was to apply for a lottery grant. At this point the commitee roles needed to be clarified and ratified. It's never been a 'formal' club in the sense that members have voting rights at an AGM. However enshrined in the constitution is the requirement to be inclusive to ALL sectors of the community and to actively encourage and provide a platform for emerging local talent. TwickFolk has charity nights benefitting the likes of British Heart Foundation, Children In Need or local charities such as the 'Trinity Hospice'. As is still the case with many folk clubs they still provide performance platforms for local performers. This is often in the form of early evening ten minute 'floor spots'. For quality control reasons these opportunities are granted these days more as a privilege more than a right (which most certainly hasn't always been the case). Nowadays for higher profile guests they often 'book' hand-picked support artists that suitably complement the headline act and play longer sets of 25 to 30 minutes.
About five or six years ago they started actively booking musicians from across the Atlantic who up till then had never been able to break into the folk club scene on these shores. That's when they started to develop a reputation and assume an identity and character of their own. Established names from across the Atlantic even get in touch with the club these days because they've heard TwickFolk was the place they "needed to play"
The ethos at TwickFolk is to try to book the best quality acts across a broad range of different genres. They have traditional and contemporary evenings in almost equal quantity and have a low tolerance level for purists who refuse to tolerate one or the other. No admission criteria exists for the guests other than exhibiting musical artistry combined with a 'folk sensibility'. They dislike categorisation of music and refuse to get drawn into discussions of what is (or isn't) "folk". The only thing they expect is that the guest is predominantly acoustic but beyond that the only requirment seems to be that they just need to be good! They profess to simultaneousy support the plethora of talented musicians and writers who fly below the radar and somehow struggle to get a foothold. So alongside established names such as Tom Russell, Eliza Gilkyson, Martyn Joseph, Martin Carthy and Christine Collister they have given gigs to the likes of Bella Hardy, Kris Drever, David Olney, Pete Morton and Emily Smith. Some subsequently become better establshed but are still happy to return (the likes of Jim Moray, Spiers & Boden, Karine Polwart).
Essentially they are just a bunch of music loving volunteers who give their time freely for no reward other than the prospect of a good night every Sunday. In recent months there have been some disappointing attendances but they now seem confident that things are now looking up with an impressive line-up of guests booked this Autumn (including award-winning artists of the calibre of Martin Simpson, Tim O'Brien and Karine Polwart for all of which they will move to a larger upstairs function room). They survive without the benefit of any outside funding, grants or sponsorship…depending only on annual membership and on the numbers coming through the door.