Where the wild folkies dwell

My wife and I occasionally think about moving to the United States from Europe, where she is from and where I have spent the last (yikes!) 19 years. The desire’s been strong enough recently that we often take out the battered Rand McNally atlas and consider places we might want to hang our hats.

The criteria are somewhat vague but we’d like to land in a place with a thriving acoustic music community. The America I left all those years ago was Denver/Boulder which, in the early- to mid-eighties had a great scene. I know that it’s easy to romanticize the past but the number of fine musicians who still influence American roots music and who lived there at the time convinces me that it really was a special place to be (at a special time).

When Jonathan Byrd and Dromedary were here in Switzerland a few weeks ago (what a great act and swell bunch of guys, by the way—they averaged well over a CD per audience member in sales, deservedly so) I asked where they thought the best active folk scenes in the US are. I think it’d be difficult to get Rob and Andrew away from Athens, Georgia. Jonathan felt that Nashville would make a certain amount of commercial sense for a writer with his sensibilities but also pointed out that different places in Texas have supported him enthusiastically over the years. For now, I get the feeling that he’ll stay in North Carolina.

So, fellow Folk Alley-ites. . . where are the happening scenes for acoustic music enthusiasts? It’d be great to have a talent pool of local musicians to play with and at least one venue daring enough to book interesting national acts. With Folk Alley around, a broadband computer connection will matter more than local media. We also place a high value on nearby wilderness. Any nominations?

I wish you all a very happy beginning to the new year!

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