In1987 the Reverend Paton placed a postcard in a shop in Crail asking if anyone was interested in starting a folk club. They were interested, so alongside the Reverend, Jill Saunderson and Bernie Precious started the club in the Balcomie Links Hotel. Very quickly the Reverend considered his work was done and left it to Bernie and Jill. Bernie was involved until last year when he took himself off to the south of France; Jill is still the mainstay of the committee. Despite not wishing to turn the club into a pub crawl the venue changed to the Marine Hotel, then the Golf Hotel and then, in 2012, to our current venue, Crail Town Hall.
The first booked and paid for guests were Sheena Wellington and John Watts with the club meeting on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of the month. Many of the people from those early days, both audience and artists, are still involved today.
Some of the guest artists from those early days appeared at our 30th Anniversary Party Night at the Community Hall in Crail on 20th July which formed part of the Crail Festival. Those guests are Sheena Wellington (who not only was our first guest but she also sang at the opening of the first Scottish Parliament) and Ewan Sutherland, The Sangsters, Scalded Cats and Adam McNaughton.
Looking back over the list of guests over those 30 years it reads like something of a who’s who of folk music. Tom Paxton, Eric Bogle, The Tannahill Weavers, The Battlefield Band, The McCalmans, Richard Digance, Michael Marra, Rab Noakes, Vin Garbutt, Emily Smith and Archie Fisher and on it goes.
A large proportion of our audience are not regular folk club attendees but they like to be entertained. When choosing artists we start by deciding whether the music on offer is top quality and then deciding whether a non folkie would be entertained rather than have the audience going away at 10.30 saying I appreciate the quality of music but not a wildly exciting evening. We are lucky in some ways that we only operate twice a month, and usually at least during the winter we alternate between a Singers Night and a guest night. Picking 12-14 acts meeting our criteria is not a problem. I think we have persuaded the audience that whether they know the artists or not they can rely on what we offer. We had, for example, Edwina Hayes stand in for a sick David Francey a couple of years ago. Edwina went down so well she has just sold out a show at the Crail Festival. The style of music is not overly important - traditional, country, singer songwriter et al.
Our singers nights work well as we are blessed with some very good local singers, often augmented by some of our friends from the very fine Glenfarg Village Folk Club with whom we have a very good working relationship
The future is bright, although not orange as a well known mobile phone company used to be. Our programme for next year is taking shape and, we think, sees us punching above our weight with Martin Simpson and the Poozies on the guest list. I don't think we plan to do much different. Keep up the standard and people will come.
Audiences are the biggest we’ve consistently had over that period so we must be doing something right! If you want to visit, find out more here
Tony Kinsbury, Crail Folk Club