21st Annual Folk Alliance Conference Gets Underway with Touching Awards Show

Folk Alliance Logo 2009.jpg

Press Release: Cash Edwards, Music Services

The 2009 International Folk Alliance Conference hit the ground running Wednesday night, as friends gathered in the Memphis Marriott Downtown’s Heritage Ballroom to honor and award a fine lot of folk institutions and enthusiasts helping to better the cause.

Emceed mostly by Folk Alliance Board of Directors’ president Dan Navarro, the ceremony combined touching video tributes with live performances and a collection of speeches, each evoking the spirit of the Folk Alliance and the soul of roots music. The ceremony was broadcast live on Sirius XM Radio’s Channel 15, The Village, and will be available for on-demand listening on FolkAlley.com in the near future.

Among the awarded and honored, lifelong folk contributors Guy and Candie Carawan received the most emotional applause. The jam-packed ballroom was brought to their feet at the sight of the married couple that revolutionized the civil rights anthem “We Shall Overcome.”

The Carawans shared Lifetime Achievement Award distinctions with the late Phil Ochs, whose brand of “folk journalism” captured the progressive 1960s Greenwich Village scene and changed the way lyrics were written forever. Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music, the noted institution that helped keynote speaker Roger McGuinn develop his twangy Rickenbacker sound, earned the third Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Folk DJ community honored two artists, Joe Crookston and Ray Bonneville, for their contributions to 2008’s folk music canvas. Crookston earned the distinction of being the most played artist among folk DJs this year, and Bonneville’s “I Am the Big Easy” was noted for being the most played song of the year.

Folk Alliance Executive Director Louis Meyers introduced the 1st annual Spirit of Folk award to 9 deserving honorees: Rhonda Barton, Val Denn, Renee Bode, Richard Gilman, Kerry Estrin, Dalis Allen, Sandy Andina, Terry Mutchler, and John Stoecker, each of whom were instrumental in running the Folk Alliance’s five regional conferences.

The ceremony additionally saw heartfelt tributes to two recently passed friends of the Folk Alliance, lifelong supporter Vic Heyman and the incomparable Odetta. Both passed in the last three months.

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