A Folkin’ Good Time at Folk Alliance International in Toronto: a newbies’ tale
Monday morning coming down. Finally I have a wee moment to reflect on the blur that was my rookie Folk Alliance International (FAI) conference, which touched down in Hogtown (aka Toronto) last week from Wednesday-Sunday. I’m pretty sure the staff at The Delta Chelsea are glad all these musicians and folk-industry folk are heading out of town today; at the same time, they are surely thankful for the business the more than 2,000 delegates brought to the hotel over the past five + days.
Here follows some of my random thoughts on what I heard and saw in the first couple of days. It was an amazing four days. I met several publicists and musicians who I had interviewed or corresponded with over many years of writing about my music such as the wonderful Tamara Saviano, the publicist for Kris Kristofferson, and Ellen Stanley – publicist at the wonderful Minneapolis roots record label Red House Records. I also picked up a stack of CDs that I’ve yet to listen to … excited to work my way through these as I write away the days this week.
On Wednesday afternoon, I took in a wonderful documentary about a long forgotten seminal folk club in Cambridge, MA – a stone’s throw away from Harvard. “For the Love of the Music: The Club 47 Folk Revival” gave a glimpse of the rise and eventual decline of this venerable Boston music venue; its heyday was from 1958-968. It was here at this club where a teenage Joan Baez got her start. Through archival footage and photos, along with modern day interviews with the likes of Baez, Tom Rush, Jackie Washington, and others, filmmaker Todd Kwait brilliantly captures the vibe of this little club that grew and played host to the who’s who of folk music in that late 1950s and throughout the 60s. The producers are hopeful for a DVD release sometime in 2013. For now, check out the trailer here.
My next FAI experience came on Thursday a.m. when I sat in on the keynote address by Bernie Finkelstein: founder of True North Records, Bruce Cockburn’s agent, and author of “True North: A Life Inside the Music Business.
Finkelstein was interviewed by CBC Radio 2 morning host Tom Power, and, as always, he shared some funny stories and reflections on his career journey. I had the chance to interview Bernie last spring for SOCAN’s quarterly member magazine Words & Music. Read this feature online here.
After a delicious Indian buffett lunch at the Delta spent chatting with American songwriter Austin Nash, I took in a few of the private showcases on Wednesday afternoon.
The highlight was hearing – and discovering for the first time – the sweet sounds and hotel-room harmony of Birds of Chicago. Too many other artists to mention, but here is another pair of song slingers that caught my ear: Northern Ireland’s Mike Donaghy and Andrew Delaney from Dallas, Texas.
That’s all folks for now folks. A few other deadlines to meet today. I’ll write more later in the week about my other FAI2013 discoveries.