Now that I’m back at home, sleeping in my own bed and eating oatmeal every morning, I can look back at the wonder that was Folk Alliance. It’s overwhelming, even in retrospect. So much music, so little time. Here are the moments that I will remember: Joebass from the Wiyos coming up to our Folk Alley booth so he could shake hands with Jim Blum (who wasn’t there at the time – but they did connect eventually), Darryl Purpose telling me that he liked the Folk Alley Chat, feeling the floor move when Brave Combo played, the great young old-time music bands (like Boulder Acoustic Music Society – which boasts a marimba and a fantastic violinist), the Malvinas (just because), meeting Tink and Sharkey (a fabulous guitarist) from Gandalf Murphy and the Slamobovian Circus of Dreams, and talking to so many really committed musicians and industry folks. A life in folk music is not for the weak of heart!
Watching the Performance Alley, sanctioned showcases was like sitting in on a group audition. Larger rooms, amps, people wandering in and out. Upstairs (or, more accurately, up the jammed to the gills elevators – get to know your neighbor!), the outlaw showcases filled rooms on three floors of the conference hotel. It was steamy, with people and instruments everywhere. And a true sense of community. I attended a showcase in the Austin Conspiracy Room featuring singer/songwriter Greg Klyma that kind of summed it all up to me. It was just Greg and his guitar and a room full of musicians, sitting on the beds, singing along to his catchy tune about a beanbag chair. You cannot get much more intimate than that (at one point, I looked around and realized I was the only female in the room, but it was ok – I stayed calm). Great music, a friendly, welcoming environment as I stood listening because, ironically, there were no beanbag chairs. And now that we’ve met, I look forward to hearing Greg locally as he tours about.
Maybe that’s what I should take away from this conference: the friends, old and new; the songs, original and familiar; and the music, offering a spark that lingers and a refrain to remember. Until next year!