“I Was Bombarded, And It Felt Great!”

OK, so when does it feel great to be overwhelmed? Certainly not while you’re cramming 14 hours of work into an 8 hour day. Certainly not during tax season.
But when you’re at a North American Folk Alliance Conference, which was in Austin in February, it’s different. Life came at me fast and I still wanted more.

Try to imagine every business contact you know from across the US and Canada, being in one room at the same time. Yes, it can be a big room. Now add in several famous musicians and a music library full of up-and-comers. Throw in your peers, and a few fans. Now, imagine all of them wanting to talk with you at the same time while the clock is ticking toward your next prearranged appointment. That is exactly what the Folk Alliance is like.

I stayed an extra day and still missed 1/3 of the opportunities. I averaged 5 hours of sleep and I only went running once. Here’s a quick look at what I DID take in:

*A meeting with other folk DJs from around both countries.
*Attended a session called “Meet the Producers.” (Wendy Waldmen, Mark Hallman, Gurf Morlix, Bill VornDick) This gang has produced everyone from the Flecktones to Carol King and you could ask them anything you want.
*Ran into Judy Collins in the lobby and she asked my intern Ashley if she was a singer. Ashley produced a CD in seconds, and Judy gave us all candy.
*Interviewed Arlo Guthrie – soon you can hear that discussion on demand.
*Interviewed Pete Frostic of the Old School Freight Train. (hear that now!)
*Talked with Georgia Public Radio about using their live concerts on Folk Alley.
*Met a 1/2 dozen publicists and individuals from record labels and periodicals.
*Met 50-dozen musicians (how many is that?)
*Stopped Jonathan Edwards and Lynn Miles in their tracks just to tell them that I appreciated them.
*Webcast live the tribute to Red House founder, the late Bob Feldman.
*Attended a songwriting critique session.
*Saw and heard a “Theramin” for the first time! Go Nathan! (from Winnipeg)
*Became part of a crowd literally cheering each solo from John Jorgenson’s Gypsy Jazz band.
*Shared a cab with a confused fiddler at the airport who turned out to be Annalisa Woodlee of the Bearfoot Bluegrass Band from Alaska!
*Told Anne Hills that she is Noah Adam’s (from NPR) favorite singer
*Heard both the Blazing Fiddles and Fiddler’s Bid – each group had at least 4 violinists!
*Had a cultural experience by seeing Children of the Revolution. Members of this dynamic band are from Spain, Greece, and Iraq – and they dance!
*Exchanged at least 100 business cards.
*Networked like crazy.

I could go on, but why not look to folk.org if you’d like to know more. Next year the event moves to Memphis where it will stay for a while. And yes, I HAVE been following up on all these leads (and they’ve been following up with me). So tell me, this can’t be an isolated occasion – when has being overwhelmed been a valuable experience for you?


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