Becoming Professional

I have some questions regarding folk music in Vancouver.  One is whether you have any advice for me on the possibility of doing some folk songs in a local pub or restaurant. First of all, it’s clear that I’ll have to wait until Covid restrictions are cancelled. 

As far as I can tell there is a ladder to climb in the music business that look like:

  • Play in your basement
  • Play for your family and friends
  • Play open mics –  mostly on Zoom these days   
    • Jam at Trout Lake with the Bluegrass folks. 
    • Vancouver Folk Song Society – meetings on Wednesdays,  Pacific Bluegrass and Old Time music — meet Mondays
    • Music and More off Main – meets Thursdays on Zoom – used to be a coffee house in a neighborhood house
    • Pickers Circle –  meetings on Wednesdays  —  small group everyone welcome  — some good pros hang out there

All of the above pay only what you get out of them for entertainment and self-improvement. Paid gigs are tough.

  • There are Facebook groups for Vancouver Musicians.   Not many old folkies, but some.
  • Rogue Folk club would be the next place I might try but they appear to be pretty high end.
  • Some local restaurants  have live music.  Bring your set list and talk to the manager.  A demo tape or a Youtube channel is helpful here.
  • Rent the Quaker hall.   Sell Tickets to your friends and family.   This may or not be a break even effort but could still be a better investment than studio time.  Quaker Hall is a possibility if we get past Covid.  The folk song society will help if you are a member.
  • There are other possible venues to rent if Quaker Hall sells out.
  • Take your show on the road.   

The second question deals with recording.  I’d like to make a file of, say, ten or a dozen songs that I could give out to family and friends.  What I’d need is someone who has the technical ability to record me to the best advantage.  Ideally it would be someone with a lot of experience who could advise me on volume, style, etc.  I’d like to do some different songs now while I am still physically able.

This is a really good idea.  My best advice here is use Audacity on a Windows machine or Garage Band if you have a Mac.  I can help out with Audacity but my Mac experience is near zero.  Zoom recording is not studio quality but is sufficient for what used to be called demo tapes. Recording is much more stressful than just playing for friends and recording studios are not cheap. You should be comfortable in front of a microphone before you start hiring pros.


If you make a lot of your own recordings and some of them are pretty good then you are in a better position to spend money on studio time.  One of my reasons for hosting the Pickers Circle is to provide a place where everyone gets recorded.   It is easy to create a web page of links to you tube videos.    Here is an example:  https://pickerscircle.ca/home/performers/alan-sherman/

Another alternative once you have material is to  create your own channel on You Tube.  The bottom line is you should record a whole lot of material and hang around with people who play a lot.  If you record everything you do you will get better.   If you are good enough already then take your best recordings and your set list around to spots that have live music.   

Author: Charles West

I was the VFSS Treasurer for a few years then moved on to host the Pickers Circle on Zoom when we were hit by Covid 19 in 2020.

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