A Punter’s Perspective
Random observations on the wide, weird world of folk from the side of the stage
#12 Ladies and gentlemen, could you please welcome…
First published in Trad and Now magazine, August 2008
A former housemate of mine would often look askance at me whenever I mentioned the concept of masters of ceremonies (MCs) at folk festivals. More used to the rock, pop and dance festivals, to her the thought of having someone bob up between acts to announce and back-announce the talent was novel.
I offered the opinion that if you’re at a major rock festival, you’re probably not likely to need much more prompting about the next act further than someone off-stage mumbling, ‘Give it up for Crowded House!’ or ‘Let’s hear it, folks, for Silverchair!’
(It is of course at this point the writer pauses while certain readers look up and ask aloud: “Who or what is Silverchair?”)
Folk festivals are slightly different, bringing together as they do, a mix of soloists, duos, bands, choirs, and poets from the local region, interstate and abroad. While a program can give a sketchy outline, and while some artists may be extremely well-known, it’s not always the case that an audience fronts up to a performance where the artist truly does need no introduction.
Added to that, there is the festival goer who pays little or no heed to the program and just drifts around from venue to venue, taking pot luck or Russian Roulette on whatever they stumble upon. For them, it helps to have some idea of what’s going on, and maybe a little geographical and background information.