Late Last Monday following open mic, I climbed aboard Amtrak's Capital Limited and began a journey to Kansas City MO, for the Folk Alliance International music conference. At 10pm the next evening I wished my traveling companions aboard the Southwest Chief well and met a couple of friends at Union Station in KC. They helped me with my bag and we made our way back to the hotel via the Link walkway that connects the train station, hotels, and conference center. During the next four days we attended a conference of 3000 folk musicians, presenters, DJ's, writers, supporters, and others with an interest in folk music from around the world. It was my 2nd FAI conference.
My decision to attend this year came at the prompting of Folknet member Poor Lazarus following his first trip to FARM(Folk Alliance Region Midwest) last October. I am an active participant within the regional group. I had not planned to attend the big international conference, but given the knowledge that I could share a room and receive free registration as a volunteer, I thought it would be a valuable experience. As the new President of Folknet and having released a new CD a week before, the timing was good for me to plug into the larger folk music community.
My goals were simple for the conference. Share and gain new ideas that would benefit Folknet and promote the new CD to radio professionals. Attending as a volunteer I knew I would work with many others who are directly involved within organizations like Folknet. With so many groups like ours from around the world represented, I was able to use my volunteer time to gain knowledge and ideas. The shared enthusiasm and love for folk music among all of the volunteers was refreshing and rejuvenating for me. Spending a bulk of my time with those who were working to promote the genre as a whole allowed me the perspective I sought when I decided to attend.
As an artist my main goal was to promote the new CD (A Time Long Gone) to radio professionals and volunteers programming folk music. Many of these radio outlets include web based broadcast and community supported radio. Working in registration allowed me to greet folks when they arrived at the conference and begin or further existing relationships. I was able to speak with few prominent DJs who have already received my disc. On several occasions I was told that it was already headed into rotation and that they lenjoyed the disc. The sentiment that “Something To Believe” had already established a good reputation for my music was relayed to me on more than one occasion. One radio professional from Chicago went out out of her way to endorse my discs to a programmer from Philadelphia. All of this was very encouraging. It was great validation of my efforts and art. While attending a conference like FAI, the understanding that there are a lot of extraordinarily talented musicians performing, writing, recording is profound. The level of talent I see every week at open mic is impressive to me. My peers within the FARM community remind me of how much talent exists within our region. At FAI, the numbers of talented musicians around the globe is overwhelming. Hundreds of showcases every night featuring a small sampling of the talent in this the world is beyond humbling. I am just one snow flake in a great blizzard. Knowing that my songs have found a voice on many radio programs is amazing to me. When I consider how many other talented artist contribute there music with hopes of being played, It is a great honor to know that my songs have stood out enough to gain time on these programs. I had just two performance showcases. My goals were radio, so getting the disc into the right hands was priority one. I did want to give interested parties an opportunity to hear me live. Both sets went well.
I felt that all of my professional and organizational goals exceeded my expectations during this conference. I am excited to get moving forward with planning, development and coordination of workshops for this years FARM event in Iowa City. I am overflowing with enthusiasm and ideas for the future of Folknet. The sense of validation I have gained for the new record is enormous. The past week was very positive. It was a treat to spend it with so many people who share the same enthusiasm and love for the music I love so much.
For those who have never attended an event like this I want to encourage all within our Folknet community to come to the one day FARMette event at camp Palmer in Northwest Ohio to be held on May 2nd. Folk music is community driven music. It is through organizations like Folknet, Farm, and FAI that our music remains relevant. One of my big goals for Folknet is to encourage greater involvement of our membership. Our events will reflect this. One of our first events this year will be a community sing that we hope to host on Pete Seegers Birthday May 3rd......... I would suggest saving that entire weekend for a little song.