The History of Conwy Folk Club
Clwb Gwerin Conwy Folk Club [[website]] - currently the most popular and busiest club on the North Wales coast - began in 1996. There had been a Folk Club on Sunday evenings in Llandudno, which many of Conwy's members had frequented for many years, but it was in decline, and in it's last years it had had a lot of trouble finding a venue in Llandudno that would support a club. A group of Musicians and Singers used to go for a sing-around session at the "Rhoslan Hotel" on the West Shore, Llandudno, on Wednesday evenings.
A floating bar restaurant had recently moved in from Conwy Harbour, and it was proposed by one of the group that this would make an ideal venue for a Folk Club. The ship was known as the "Frigate Conwy" and it was agreed that a steering group approach the Management of the Frigate with the view of starting a Folk Club in the "Orlop Bar", that being the lowest of her decks.
This proposal was welcomed, and with borrowed P.A. equipment and a great deal of faith, the first Folk Club night was set for Monday 12th August 1996. This sounds as if it was easy, but actually involved much heated debate. First a day had to be chosen that did not conflict with other Clubs and sessions in the area. finally Monday was chosen, almost against better judgement, by a process of elimination, but did so with grave doubts of the viability of a Monday Club.
Then came the arguments over funding - to charge or not to charge, that was the question - it was decided that a door charge might exclude the unwaged and these people could be the main supporters in an area renowned for it's seasonal workers. A "Raffle and a Hat Pass", was decided upon, both of which would be optional, so that if necessary a person could come, sit with a glass of water all night and pay nothing, therefore Conwy relied on those that could pay supporting the Club.
In hindsight this was the right decision, Conwy Folk Club now has a healthy bank balance and attract quite a few people who would be deterred by door charges. More discussion ensued over format, it was decided from the outset that there would be no resident singer, duo or band, that all would be equal with no one hogging the limelight. Hosting of the Club would be shared on a rota. The idea behind this was to try to avoid the same presentation every week.
Conwy Folk Club also decided on a maximum of two song's / tune's per act, although one would be enough if that was all you had, to encourage people to get up and have a go, and over the year's some who got up with just one song have gone on to be our star performers. Conwy Folk Club sticks to the two song rule but more so now because of the number of singers the club attracts, there is often difficulty in giving everyone the opportunity to play.
The name "Conwy Folk Club" seemed obvious, the club was in the Conwy Harbour on the "Frigate Conwy" and as in Wales it was decided to have a bi-lingual name hence "Clwb Gwerin Conwy" which is "Conwy Folk Club" in Welsh, join the two together and you have "Clwb Gwerin Conwy Folk Club" - perfect. Over the years since there has been several changes. The "Frigate Conwy" sailed away, and Conwy Folk Club re-located to "The Malt Loaf" on Rosehill Street. The club purchased its own Public Address system, which has over time been replaced, twice.
Conwy Folk Club has since moved to the Royal British Legion Club - now renamed as Conwy Comrades Club, also on the corner of Rosehill Street and Church Street, just next door to the Malt Loaf, where already several wheelchair users have taken advantage of the improved access, singing & playing to great acclaim. The club relies on the Raffle which raises sufficient money to cover day to day expenses. The aim remains unchanged - to provide a relaxed venue which is free to enter on a singers night, and where the experienced and the beginner alike can feel comfortable and at home, and come and perform and enjoy live music.
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