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Offline Queen Maggie

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Pubsing
« on: August 09, 2010, 05:41:52 PM »
My friends, I'm doing some research, and I was wondering if you could all help? I'll be posting this same question over on the "Squire's Tavern" section, so here, I'd prefer if only performers answered (that means performers who actually are part of the Pub Sing, how ever it manifests)
What do you expect from a Pubsing?
I have recently become aware that even though I'm using the same term, having moved to a new home faire, they have a very different attitude as to what it's actually meant to be...So I want to know what your baseline thoughts are: Do you expect everyone to join in? Or is it simply another show, and the performers do all the work? Should it be rehearsed, or is it meant to be spontaneous? Should there be an MC? Should it be the same folks or change from week to week? Does it need to be in a Pub? Does it need a stage? Which one have you attended that you like the best?Least? Should the final song be the same every week, or should it change? Maybe to fit the theme? Should that song be a performance, or should it be a community sing? Do you like having other acts join in, like comedians, bits from acrobats, or magic workers? What part should the monarch(s) be taking? Do you like having a procession to the gates?
Please note, I'm asking for opinions here, and no doubt there'll be lots of contrasts...but I hope we can stay civil.
Queen Maggie
wench#617, Bard #013
aka Mistress Mannerly, Goodlief Bailey, Cousin Undine Mannerly, Mother Lowe

Offline Terry Griffith

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Re: Pubsing
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2010, 06:50:03 PM »
Majesty,

You will, no doubt, get many different responces to your question.  There is not a written rule book for such things and if there were, people would still use their own interpretation.  To further complicate matters, the final pub sing tradition even changes from year to year at the same faire.

My experience is taken from the faires I have worked as a stage act and those I have visited as a paytron.  My understanding of the traditional pub sing is where all the musical acts and others such as improv comedy acts, story tellers, dancers (both period and middle eastern), magicians and jesters come together on one stage to perform favorite pieces.  Everyone can sing or play along where appropriate and the songs that are presented are usually ones that the audience can join in as well.  Not all stage acts at a faire will want to participate but I have always considered it an honor to be asked and have even served as MC for some.  It is a finale to the day that is so enjoyable that many patrons who would have otherwise left the faire in the middle of the afternoon will stay just for pub sing.  I don't think it started as a faire tradition as many Irish festivals have always ended the day with all the musicians coming together for a final "sing song".  The Milwaukee Irish festival is one example and it was lead for many, many years by the legendary Tommy Makem until his demise a couple of years ago with the last song always being "Wild Mountain Tyme".  It also serves as a reason to lead the assembled company to the gate and past all the vendors one last time and then get them out so the grounds can be properly struck and the final cannon sounded.  Not to mention the opportunity to sell a great quantity of libation one more time for the day.

The thing that has always amazed me about pub sing is the attitude of some of the owners.  Since the joust is their biggest expense and the jousting shows have to be spread out through the day, they often schedule the final joust at the same time as pub sing.  They do not understand the benefits to pub sing nor the fact that, many times, it is the favorite time of the day for patrons. 

One of the best I have seen had the King  end the session by leading a song and then announcing the procession to the gate.  It should appear to be spontaneous but scheduled by the MC to fit the time allotted without running over the final cannon.


"There's a unicorn that's hangin' in what's known as father's room......"

Offline Queen Maggie

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Re: Pubsing
« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2010, 10:01:38 PM »
-Thank ye, lad, that's precisely the type of answer I'm looking for.
I come from a tradition of giving the choruses (in written form) to the newbies so they can join in, and am now in a place where it's expected that all the acts are performers, and singing along is an affront!
So it seems that there are different trads all over. I'm working on a book (currently titled) " An Insiders Guide to Renaissance Faires"
Ta for the help!
Queen Maggie
wench#617, Bard #013
aka Mistress Mannerly, Goodlief Bailey, Cousin Undine Mannerly, Mother Lowe

Offline GirlChris

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Re: Pubsing
« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2010, 09:29:18 AM »
I've performed in many pub sings done in many different ways. I've done ones that were scripted to within an inch of their lives, including the "random wackiness" between songs. I've done ones where groups of performers sang with complex harmonies and it was difficult to sing along. I've done ones where it's just decided "you lead this song, I'll lead that song" with an order being made up as we go. I even did one where the entertainment director shoved a song book in my hand and told me I was the entirety of pub sing (could have told me that sometime during the rehearsal period!)

I've had pub sings where song books are handed out to the patrons, I've had pub sings where everyone's just expected to follow along, I've had pub sings where the song books are handed out, but we don't necessarily sing songs from the book, or even follow the lyrics that are in the book.

I've done events where the King and Queen are the central attraction of pub sing, with them requesting songs. I've done ones where the royalty show up half way through and we make a big fuss over them as they come in, then they don't do anything but sing along until the end when they say it's time to go. I've done events where the royalty is there, but they're there to have a drink with everyone else at the end of the day, just like anyone else. I've done ones where the royalty couldn't be bothered to come to the pub sing, but those royals couldn't be bothered to do anything for the rest of the day anyway.

I've done songs that are call backs, songs where you join in on the chorus or other "hook", songs where everybody sings, songs where everyone- including the audience members- does their own verse (Roll Your Leg Over or All for Me Grog come to mind), songs where everyone just hushes up and listens to the pretty singing.

I've done pub sings that are lead by a particular performing group who have a set list planned, I've done pub sings that are lead by the in-house cast- I've even attended one where a song was lead by a guy who often performs but had just come for fun that day. He wasn't even in a costume or anything, the entertainment director just threw him up on stage.

The way it works isn't even a regional thing. I've only performed in Southern Ontario, and mostly with the same people from event to event. Sometimes there's variations in how a pub sing has worked from year to year at one event.

I've got a feeling the only unity you're going to find between pub sings everywhere is that singing occurs in a pub.

Offline Aniroaldawen

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Re: Pubsing
« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2010, 10:05:32 PM »
Quote
I've got a feeling the only unity you're going to find between pub sings everywhere is that singing occurs in a pub.

Nope, not even that. KCRF's pub sing is held at the Three Lions Stage. ;-)

Offline Bob of the Lake

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Re: Pubsing
« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2010, 07:15:08 AM »
Quote
I've got a feeling the only unity you're going to find between pub sings everywhere is that singing occurs in a pub.

Nope, not even that. KCRF's pub sing is held at the Three Lions Stage. ;-)

NYRF's "pub sing" is held on the Pageant Wagon Stage which is open air and not a pub. It allows those younger than 21 to be a part of the fun so I think it's great!
I came, I saw, I skipped to my lou.
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Offline Capt. Morgan

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Re: Pubsing
« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2010, 09:11:01 AM »
To me, a Pub sing should be Cast and audience participation and those are the ones I enjoy the most, where patrons would learn a song they've heard throughout the day and then be able to participate later on.

Sterling Ren. Faire would have several "pub sings" throughout the day...A Court Pub sing where you'd learn songs like "The Keeper" and "Will you go, Lassie go" or Sea Shanties like “Bonny Ship the Diamond” and “High Barbary”...then there would be the Rogue's Pub sing (held either at the Graveyard or down by the Thieves Camp) where you'd learn bawdier songs like "Roll your leg over" and "Mad Tom of Bedlam" and "Companion" and such. All of these elements would be put together at the Final Pub Sing (at the Bankside Stage) where you'd have elements of both Court and Rogues and finally ending with "Auld Lang Syne"...of course, I'm remembering this from when Baj was Queen and it's been almost...4 years since I've been to Sterling so I'm sure it's changed but those kind of pub sings are my "standard" for any other pub sing I attend and I’m glad I have the CD “Together Forever” because that is the exact mixture of songs that I enjoy!  ;)
I can be one of those "bad things" that happen to bad people.

Offline Queen Maggie

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Re: Pubsing
« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2010, 09:27:10 AM »
To clarify:
I'm not particularly looking for unity... I'm looking to find out what people like: what they want it to do. I have been to pubsings all around the country, mostly as a performer, though not usually as a PS participant: I'm an actor. And I was wondering about the different perceptions from the performers and the audience's viewpoints. (For instance I know an awful lot of people that consider the Pubsing at MDRF to be a spontaneous event that just happened to grow up over the years from the sing sing at the end of the day it started as... but I know very well, that lines are scripted, jokes are worked and the line up of acts is carefully considered as is the set list. But audience members still sometimes insist that it is all just a spur of the moment thing)
And I'd love it if people would cite specific faires when they tell me what they think.
Queen Maggie
wench#617, Bard #013
aka Mistress Mannerly, Goodlief Bailey, Cousin Undine Mannerly, Mother Lowe

Offline Terry Griffith

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Re: Pubsing
« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2010, 07:08:03 PM »
giving the choruses (in written form) to the newbies so they can join in,

Just to clarify one point:  It's lovely when the audience sings along.  Even better when all the musicians on stage play and sing along.  That's why familiar songs are usually used.  However, anything resembling a set list is poor form.  That is a prescribed list of songs that the musicians choose from and they are forbiden to vary from that list.  That kind of micro-management by the "powers that be" takes much of the spirit out of an otherwise good pub sing. 
"There's a unicorn that's hangin' in what's known as father's room......"

Offline GirlChris

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Re: Pubsing
« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2010, 11:27:11 AM »
giving the choruses (in written form) to the newbies so they can join in,

Just to clarify one point:  It's lovely when the audience sings along.  Even better when all the musicians on stage play and sing along.  That's why familiar songs are usually used.  However, anything resembling a set list is poor form.  That is a prescribed list of songs that the musicians choose from and they are forbiden to vary from that list.  That kind of micro-management by the "powers that be" takes much of the spirit out of an otherwise good pub sing. 

I've got to disagree with that. Before I started attending faire these kind of songs were NOT familiar. Most people know the words to songs they hear regularly, and if they don't listen to folk music (which is most people) they don't know the words to sing along. Also, song books are a great way of showing it's okay to join in. If you want to sing something that's not in the book, a quick "This song is not in your songbooks, but feel free to join in on the chorus" is good enough.

Offline Terry Griffith

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Re: Pubsing
« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2010, 02:18:46 PM »
To clarify my clarification:  Song books were not what I was warning against but a predetermined set list by the ED.  I worked a faire (which I won't mention) where we were forbidden to play "Health To The Company".  That song was a tradition at pub sing at that faire long before the new owner took over and to forbid it was bordering on blasphemy.  The outrage of the patrons was enough to ruin the spirit.  Song books with words to songs that are "usually" done at a typical pub sing, although seeming a little tacky, wouldn't restrict the variety of the musicians taking part.

I remember one faire, The Great Lakes Medieval Faire in Ohio, where it was pouring rain during pub sing on the last day of the run.  Rather than take an instrument into the downpour, when my turn came I stepped out of the covered stage and sang an acapella song that had no chorus and no opportunity for anyone to sing along.  Given the circumstances, it was an appropriate thing to do and delighted the gathering.  With a prescribed set list, that would not have been possible.  At other times like a dedication to a departed long time Rennie or a new bride and groom, etc. the company should have the option to perform whatever is appropriate for the audience.
"There's a unicorn that's hangin' in what's known as father's room......"

Offline Captain Cornelius Howard Duckman

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Re: Pubsing
« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2010, 10:45:26 PM »
...


Why would anyone ban 'Health to the company?"

Offline Terry Griffith

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Re: Pubsing
« Reply #12 on: August 12, 2010, 11:40:21 PM »
The only answer we ever got was that it made people sad and the owner wanted people to leave happy.  A complete lack of understanding of the patron's wants and needs.  Only one of the many reasons I'll never work there again.

BTW, search YouTube for "Peeved Paradise" and you will get some idea of the situation.  On the same YouTube channel you can see the pub sing where we did it anyway.
"There's a unicorn that's hangin' in what's known as father's room......"

Offline will paisley

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Re: Pubsing
« Reply #13 on: August 16, 2010, 10:23:21 AM »
To clarify my clarification:  Song books were not what I was warning against but a predetermined set list by the ED.  I worked a faire (which I won't mention) where we were forbidden to play "Health To The Company".  That song was a tradition at pub sing at that faire long before the new owner took over and to forbid it was bordering on blasphemy.  The outrage of the patrons was enough to ruin the spirit.  Song books with words to songs that are "usually" done at a typical pub sing, although seeming a little tacky, wouldn't restrict the variety of the musicians taking part.

I remember one faire, The Great Lakes Medieval Faire in Ohio, where it was pouring rain during pub sing on the last day of the run.  Rather than take an instrument into the downpour, when my turn came I stepped out of the covered stage and sang an acapella song that had no chorus and no opportunity for anyone to sing along.  Given the circumstances, it was an appropriate thing to do and delighted the gathering.  With a prescribed set list, that would not have been possible.  At other times like a dedication to a departed long time Rennie or a new bride and groom, etc. the company should have the option to perform whatever is appropriate for the audience.

Regardless of how you feel about a scripted versus an improvised pub sing, neither of these examples are arguments against a set list.  In the first case, your beef is with the entertainment director (or the owner, whoever was responsible), not the set list.  Having no set list wouldn't have affected the restriction on Health to the Company.  Even though I can understand the argument of not wanting to end on a "downer", however, any visible outrage by the patrons should be enough to cause the ED to reconsider the decision.  This particular disagreement seems to be a perfect example of why this thread was started in the first place; a "new" person comes to an established faire with a certain notion of what a pub sing should be, which turns out to be radically different from the established tradition. In the case of this thread, however, Maggie is (correctly) asking around first.

The case of the rain affected pub sing is an argument against an inflexible set list, which I've never seen implemented in practice.  I've seen pub sing MCs who use set lists make changes all the time, usually in response to time constraints.  Somebody has to leave early for an emergency, and either a different act is brought in, or the act before or after is asked to sing a longer song to fill in the time.  Similarly, if somebody runs long, another act might be asked to do something short or be bumped entirely.  MCs do this all the time, and if they don't, it's not the fault of the piece of paper with the set list on it.

Perhaps the problem is the definition of "set list".  At the faires I've witnessed, a set list is more or less a script for the pub sing; who's performing when, and what they're performing.  Occasionally they're be restrictions by name on what somebody can't perform (a song that is too dirty, usually), but usually the restrictions are more like "suggestions" (something baudy, something squeaky clean, something upbeat because the guy before you just sang a dirge, something slow because you're doing the last song and we need to calm down the crowd so they're not chanting for encores till 10PM, something short because we need to make time for three acts after you and they're only here for this weekend).  Generally the MC does not have an encyclopedic knowledge of every act available, so they're generally open to suggestions about the particular song or act, as long as they're not too long or short or otherwise inappropriate (dropping the F bomb, a serious rendition of a kiddie song for a group of rowdy drunks, etc). This kind of set list allows the MC to pace the show and have some control over time management.  It also gives the acts some idea of when they'll be asked to perform.  I would describe your example of not singing Health to the Company as a list of prohibited songs (a list of one in this case). 
Minstrel, Interrupted, Bard #400 (CD)
Faire Name: "Flo's Husband"
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Offline Terry Griffith

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Re: Pubsing
« Reply #14 on: August 16, 2010, 11:00:46 AM »
Will, points well taken.  To further define what I mean by a "Prescribed" set list:  A list of songs that the performers must choose from.  No other songs can be performed.  That is radically different from the list the MC makes just before (or sometimes during) the pub sing.  It must be controlled for obvious reasons like timing or appropriateness but to have a list of songs that the ED picks and the performers cannot stray from is what I'm calling bad form.
"There's a unicorn that's hangin' in what's known as father's room......"

 

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