What type/style of music does the GCFS bring into St. Cloud?
We call ourselves a folk-music society, but that label covers a wide range of styles: singer-songwriter, solo instrumental, various ethnic traditions. (See the next question for more detail.) Mostly it is acoustic, small-scale, and suited to the kind of intimate venues we have available in St. Cloud. (Though we will happily book into a big house like the Paramount.) Over the years we have presented a variety of singer-songwriter, blues, country, bluegrass, Celtic, Scandanavian, and even jazz artists.
So what is “folk music”?
It’s a pretty elastic term, and one that scholars argue over endlessly. Probably the most inclusive definition would be “music that people learn from each other and play for their own enjoyment.” Of course, some “folk music” is composed by musically sophisticated city people and aimed at commercial markets, but if it is rooted in the kind of music that people play and sing for each other, it belongs to the extended “folk” family. And plenty of composed music, from the songs of Stephen Foster to those of George and Ira Gershwin to doo-wop, has escaped into the wilds of folk and traditional culture. We could call what we support “roots music” or “Americana” or “world music” or “tradition-based music” but none of those terms is as familiar, stretchy, and comfortable as “folk music.”
What instruments have been played on the BoDiddley’s stage?
Given the prominence of singer-songwriter-guitarists on the American folk and roots scene, the guitar is by far the most common instrument we have heard, followed by the fiddle and the bass. But we have also heard Uillean bagpipes, tin whistle, accordion, banjo, mandolin, and various kinds of percussion, notably the amplified stomp-board and the cajon (a cross between a packing-case and a drum).
From what countries have artists come to perform in St. Cloud?
Primarily the US and Canada, though we have hosted players from Ireland and Scandanavia.
How did the Five and Dime series get started?
We wanted to offer something more relaxed, more coffee-house-like than the Main Series concert. We also wanted to establish a regular, weekly event at a modest price. And we liked the idea of offering musicians a performing opportunity where there was less at stake (in both dollars and logistical effort) than there is with a full-scale concert. So we came up with the Five and Dimes, named for the $5 or $10 at-the-door price and reflecting the ad-hoc convenience of the old variety store. You can plan on coming every Friday or just drop in, and you will probably find something you like.
When I make a donation to GCFS what does the money get used for?
Our biggest expense by far is artist compensation, so the biggest slice of contributions (and grants and ticket sales) goes to support the players. We sometimes need to rent a venue or pay a sound technician or buy advertising space, and that accounts for about a quarter of our expenses. The Society’s general logistical overhead–the planning and running of concerts–is provided by unpaid volunteers. So for every dollar contributed to GCFS, 75 cents ends up in the pocket of an artist.