On a typical club night, people start gathering from about 8pm onwards and there are often a few session tunes for anyone who wants to join in.
The layout is informal, with typical pub tables and seating (rather than rows of chairs) roughly facing the performance area at the 'front' (under the dart board). We generally sing/play from the 'front' (with no PA or amplification), though on a quieter singers' night we may just take turns around the room singing from our places.
The evening starts at 8.30pm and finishes at 11pm, with a break halfway through to give everyone a chance to move around, chat and get more drinks. The bar is open all evening but we do ask that you respect the performers (and the rest of the audience) by keeping quiet during performances and waiting for a break between songs to come and go to the bar etc. There's a compere/MC to direct the proceedings, just to keep the evening running smoothly.
Payment is collected during the break, and there is also a chance to buy raffle tickets for a prize of either a CD or a bottle of wine. All the money taken goes to cover the club's costs, chiefly guest fees: singers'/musicians' nights supplement the guest night takings to allow us to break even overall.
On a guest night, there will be two or three floor spots, followed by the guest performing for about 35 to 45 minutes before the break at about 9.30-ish. After the break, the second half follows the same format with floor spots and then the guest performing to the end of the evening at around 11pm. (We occasionally also have a 'feature' night, where a guest (often a local performer) will do just one set, with floor spots for the rest of the evening.)
On a singers'/musicians' night, the entire evening is given over to floor spots and acoustic performers are always welcome. The occasional theme nights are intended to provide an added challenge/inspiration to performers, but no-one will mind if you find that you can't think of something to fit the theme.
If you wish to perform, please try to arrive in good time and make yourself known to the MC, who will try to fit you in. On a singer's/musicians' night you should usually be able to count on getting a spot (two songs/ tunes/poems/whatever); whereas on guest nights there are only a few spots so you may well not get a chance to perform. In all cases, the MC has the final say on who does or does not perform, and in what order, so please give them your full cooperation and respect their decisions.
There are often a few session tunes played at the start of the evening and sometimes during the break, led by one of the regulars with all musicians welcome to join in. Aside from this, the general convention at MFC is that musicians don't join in with performances unless explicitly invited to do so by the performer. Conversely, MFC singers generally expect to join in any chorus/refrain unless explicitly requested not to - but please take your lead from the performer and respect their choice of tempo, style and the particular version they have chosen (which may not be the one you are used to singing).
Payment is collected during the break halfway through the evening, with the prices (which are a suggested minimum donation) as indicated on the 'What's On' page, typically £5.00 for standard guest nights with a graduated scale for more expensive guests and £2.50 for singers' and theme nights. We book one or two guests a month, the rest of the evenings being singers' and musicians' nights and theme nights.
No! There is actually no such thing as membership of MFC: anyone is welcome to attend, everyone pays the same charges on the night and there are no special privileges for 'members', 'residents' or anyone else. Nonetheless, we do think that the very best way to enjoy the club is to come regularly and become part of the loose community of folk-minded folk who make the club what it is - so do come along as often as you can!
It's called a 'folk club' because that's what these sorts of performance venues were called way back when MFC was first founded (and some did, and still do, have membership arrangements), so it's just part of our identity now.