Gs in the Lobby, Music Advances on Kansas City, while Tunes Take Over the World, 2 parts
The 2017 Folk Alliance International Conference, with its many facets and some public access, occurred from February 15 to 19 in Kansas City.
Prelude – The Impressionist Merge of Folky World-ness in KC
There is music and there are musicians everywhere in the spacious lobby of Kansas City’s Westin Hotel Crown Center.
There are Gs in the lobby, Ds draped over couches, E-minors darting by doors revolving into the KC Sunshine. Chords behind stanzas, notes pile on as well as a stand-up, stoned-out bass full of sound roaming the branching corridors of halls echoing up and down the slippery, sliding shades of elevators tuning up walls of ambient sounds. The waterfall carries cascades of half-notes rippling and splashing hard, then light through a maze of night musically marching to day.
Players move from Showcase to Showcase, Official to Guerilla, as well as a panel or a workshop. Pulling, hauling, tugging, and carrying over shoulders instruments and equipment, They come constantly these players. The Folk Alliance International 2017 Conference has begun!
It’s an exciting world, with marque talents and lightening newcomers. The likes of Vance Gilbert, Trout Fishing in America, John Fulbright, Nora Guthrie, Bruce Cockburn, Gabby Moreno, John McCutcheon, Jeff Black, Eliza Gilkyson, Trout Steak Revival, Ellis Paul, Sonia Disappear Fear, Tish Hinojosa, Sara Watkins, Taarka, and Carrie Elkin, with fellow singer/songwriter and husband Danny Schmidt and their little pumpkin-faced sweet infant Maizy Rae. To scratch the surface of the roughly 1,500 artists showing up tuned and ready.
The following some 40 artists I’m writing about are but a fraction of the whole. It was not possible to include more than a fraction of the total, even of the many stars in attendance such as Ellis Paul, Sara Watkins, and Jeff Black, or lesser-known talents I’d wanted to see/hear and write about like The Sea The Sea and The Barefoot Movement.
Alumni include: Chris Thile, The Milk Carton Kids, Parker Milsap, The Waifs, The Wailin’ Jennies, Birds of Chicago, Rhiannon Giddens, Lake Street Dive, Mary Gautier, and Valerie June.
Entire days and nights of half-hour concerts in nine concert halls over two hotel levels and in three floors of perhaps 150 guest rooms, as well as jams in the hallways, panels, awards, exhibits, auctions, and workshops. It wasn’t unusual to see someone coming from and still swaying to final notes from the newly-famed Cantina Navarrao in Room 540 or some other venue at 6:30 a.m. “the morning after.” Or so I’m told, my latest was I think more like 3:30 a.m.
The numbers are out now – Dig this!
2,500 attendees (a new record) – From 20 countries – 1,000 1st Timers – 200 Official Showcases – over 3,000 Private (guerilla) Showcases – 50 educational panels
The conference also featured: awards event, a folk festival, and a music camp
The countries include, by my accounting:
France, England, Ireland, Guatemala by way of LA, Spain, Australia, Scotland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Mexico, all parts of Canada, include Prince Edward and the other islands, and Senegal, as well as most of the U.S., including Hawaii, featuring a knock-out performance by the Masters of Hawaiian Music, and a number of artists from Alaska
The manifesting destiny of this world coming together Musically:
the destiny of sound shows itself in instruments of light and music, mixing and matching note for note, the deep intonations. The nights are like long bottles of sound from which you draw deep gulps of music for cleansing and hydrating of these many, multiple souls integrating whole thousands of immigrants into the country’s remaining zones of the free, of which music is One. Realms of musical license, drivers pass into spaces without borders, where music trumps Trump, and stops not the the light of the coursing rivers of melody and the romp of Rock and the Irish strains of Salsa reimagined.
It’s a world once entered that is like no other: A world of notes and words, of trumpets (occasionally), and mandolins, of dancing and silence. If you sharpen the lense of your focus, you know wherein you swim, now, here, where the musicians of the world converge under the banner, with the multiple and widely varied ripples of FOLK. One way you turn, it sounds like rock, another way jazz; it could sound classical in one direction and the mountain stream clarity of bluegrass in another, all folked-up all the time, whatever way you turn at whatever time day or night:
mountain valleys of Martins, multitudinous many makes of guitar and acoustic magic winding through the hotel halls and filling majestic concert settings, acoustic and electric come together casting happy shadows within the sun, the uplifting, mood deepening music of world folk.
This deepening of mood, the happiness within often encroaching darknesses of life, moving in life’s winding dusty path to an opposite we perhaps never know.
And in the midst of it all, there is an ongoing maze-like plethora of musical activists engaging one another and creating new worlds and potential. They are: musical performers, songwriters, composers, agents and managers, venue sponsors, concert promoters, music writers and media and press reps, fundraisers and musical entrepeneurs, and fans hip to the pleasures and advantages of the conference, much of which is open to the general public.
And, tying it together this year is the unfortunately, but importantly appropriate theme: Forbidden Folk, A Celebration of Activism in Art.
Author’s Note: Part 2 is a long one, but I think you’ll like it, especially if you’re into contemporary rootsy music of all kinds. I hope you’ll join me for this further exploration of this year’s musical jewel, the 2017 FAI Conference.
A Taste: Pleasures and Pumps, Fixed and Fresh Stars
As I say, they are musical performers, songwriters, composers, agents and managers, venue sponsors, fans, and many others. Some of them are in the following galaxy, a list I’ve derived from the musical world lexicon assembled at the Westin. I try to include a glimpse of the outpouring of starlight they brought to Kansas City, this famed city of stockyards, jazz, Hallmark, and firey barbeque.
Indeed, if the conference and its related Kansas City Folk Fest and other programs were to remain forever in KC, the city might also become known as a world center for global and American roots music. However, as its by-laws call for it to move around, particularly to neighboring Canada, the conference will be held in Montreal in 2019 after a last year in Kansas City in 2018.
This is only a taste, but hopefully a fun and spicy one, one that I hope will leave lingering flavors in your mouth and an appreciation for this wonderful range of musical art that gets exposure, encouragement, impetus, and growth through the public and private events of the 5-day event. I will write more on some of these artists in separate articles expanding on their work and their appearance at FAI 2017.
Players & Programs
– A Tilt-O-Whirl of Pleasure and Process
For some of us, like me, who love, who adore music, this is paradise, at the FAI, especially walking about in the three hallways of sound and measures of meaty words. You feel like you’re dreaming and are reluctant to pinch yourself awake. If you, also like me, have a great fondness, often, for those who play music, your paradise here has now expanded. And, if you play, you are surrounded by players you can watch ply their skills and you can aspire to become like them. So, if you’re like me, and suffer, happily mostly, from all these maladies, you will think you’ve died and gone to Heaven. You’ll feel as if you’re tossing about in a concoction of froth, that coats your bones in an oil of pleasure and release and your mind in an endless scene where the ocean meets the coast.
Ordinary Elephant: A couple. They are talented nomads, never settling, always moving with their music across the globe. When I first met Crystal (Crystal Hariu-Damore) and asked her where they were from, and she said “nowhere,” I didn’t quite understand, but later I did. They are truly nomads. They are a mismatched pair to look at them. She, tall and elegant-looking and he (Peter Damore) short, with a boyish look, and a simple coat and tie. But, as they say, they make beautiful music together, appear made of the same cloth despite never having a break from each other. I love one of their tunes to death: Best of You (from their album Before I Go). And, I’m becoming a big fan of theirs more so with each listening of their most recent CD. Crystal personalized my experience by contacting me, happily pour moi, and thanking me for my “smiling face” in their audience and for seeking them out later.
Baile an Salsa: A wonderful bunch. I raved about them to everyone I spoke to at the conference, to every musician who asked if I’d discovered any jewels. I found them at one of the so-called guerilla (private) showcases in a small guest room on one of the showcase floors. There they were in front of me, all 10 of them. No-one can quite believe it, but they are an Irish jig-style salsa band from Ireland. From Galway comes this multi-ethnic explosion of joy and sound. While they have salsa-style instrumentation, with a lot of percussion, they also pull out a mini-bagpipe and a pennywhistle at times. While a number of them appear to have Hispanic ethnicity, some are Irish Caucasian, while one is of African and one of Asian heritage. Brid (Brid Dunne), their one female, a soft-spoken dynamo on keyboards, told me she and one of the Latin members of the band had the interest in doing salsa music there in Galway, started playing it, and eventually began to build the band. The band’s leader is an excellent singer in addition to his lively dancing and crowd engagement. Accordingly, the band makes a fine listen on recordings as well. They vary their songs so that some are in English, some in Spanish. I have to use a walker in recent years, and was sitting on the flat portion of it watching them. They saw me rise to sway about to their music, and Brid told me that I was the talk of the band afterward in that they had been the cause of my dramatic rising. Another favorite, Frailan (Frailan Moran Mondive), with whom I felt I was starting a friendship, was the young percussionist of African descent, a charming and lively co-front for the band.
Nora Guthrie: Woody’s daughter has a long history with the FAI including finding her husband there, much to her continued delight. He was there with her, as she provided a program on how her dad, Woody, dealt with the loss by a presidential candidate from his Progressive Party and the planning he developed for coping with the resulting president and his policies, a clear parallel to our current Hell (or Heaven I know some, even friends of mine, still say). She passed out pencils for us to take notes that carried the Woody motto: “This machine kills fascists.”
Taarka: Another charming, adventurous, and creative couple (David and Enion Pelta-Tiller) lead this band, along with a bassist (Troy Robey), and at the conference, a guitarist they recruited to ably assist them. I will be covering them more fully in another article. They play largely acoustic instruments, and create a lively, compelling, sometimes pensive and melancholy mythology of the own, a painterly approach to their music I find very compelling. Enion’s voice is unique and carries their literate lyrics boldly, while I like his voice as well. A multi-talented group from Lyons, Co, who lost everything in the flood a few years ago, they do not tour as much lately so that their son Aesop, as in Fables, can attend his fave middle school, though they still get around, including an upcoming trip to Europe and an excellent, newly released CD.
John McEuen: John was not part of the conference, but happened to be in town to perform. His iconic American band The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band were about to play The Uptown Theatre. John came over from a nearby Holiday Inn to do interviews with me and for a Philadelphia radio station and to visit with his dear composer/musician friend David Amram, who was part of the conference, including being given the Elaine Weissman Lifetime Achievement Award. He also saw other old friends such as FREEBO. John was promoting his great new album Made in Brooklyn, that features a stellar guest player list including Steve Martin, Sam Bush, Martha Redbone, David Bromberg, John Carter Cash, and Amram. I’ll be writing more on John and his CD in another piece. He was very proud of the record, and said he felt he culminated 50 years in a 2-day recording session.
Frances Luke Accord: These two young crooners (Nicholas Gunty and Brian Powers) are not Frances nor Luke, or even Accord. But they sing the hell out of a short concert, and they have produced a recent album of excellent note, resonant and full-bodied like a fine wine. Their musicianship on acoustic instruments, including sections I’d call classical in style, is tops, while their harmonies and their overall music and songs evoke for me the lovely strains of The Milk Carton Kids. Currently from Chicago, they previously hailed from Northern Indiana, both of these among my many former homes. They recently played my old friend George Schricker’s Northern Indiana venue, Wild Rose Moon in Plymoth.
Carrie Elkin and Danny Schmidt: Both of them excellent singers and songwriters. This time I got to visit some, thankfully, with Danny, while I got to spend some quality time again with Carrie, an experience I always treasure. Each time I saw her, she was with her beautiful and charming charge, baby Maizy, under a year old and already touring with mom and dad. I also caught the better part of one of Carrie’s sadly abbreviated private showcases and have been listening to her new album soon to be released, The Penny Collector, titled in reference to her much beloved father, who passed away shortly before the work Carrie did on this record. I was struck on both the album and in performance, even though I’ve known her work well before, the beauty and clarity of her voice. I was struck also by the beauty of a song by husband Danny that she sang in the showcase. I thought it was classically beautiful. And speaking of beautiful, for a lady who had just had a child, Carrie looked great. And, Danny, of course, did too!
Mike and Amy Aiken: With them hailing from my hometown of 20-some years now, Norfolk, VA, as well as East Nashville, I know their work well. Sometimes a duo, or at times a trio or a band, they are dubbed by Mike’s moniker, Mike Aiken, emblazoned on their widely-traveled and colorful bus. Mike has a new album out soon, about to go into production in Nashville. One of the many developments that go on at these conferences, famed bassist FREEBO will likely lay down some bass tracks on the album. Freebo shared that interest with Mike at the FAIC, much to Mike’s pleasure. Mike and Amy appeared as a duo this time, giving a number of, as ever, lively, heart-felt performances and networking up a storm. They also run a small festival in the Norfolk area, which increases their networking role at the FAI Conference.
Vance Gilbert: Hair billowed outward from his striking face. He sang his well-known love song to former planet Pluto and his biting ode to Old White Men. He yelled at his audience: “Everyone who hasn’t seen me can stay! Everyone else, OUT!!” He mixed the tender with the facetiously bellicose. He spoke from the stage of my friend Jules. He had given her a lesson in performance that afternoon. He read a poem aloud to the spell-bound crowd. He rocked and rolled, and sang the most heavenly notes caressed by God as they passed through him and filtered the over-stage with stars in that small firmament.
Annie Oakley: Fresh from Oklahoma, people spoke of them as cute girls in notably short skirts, and on some level they were. But, that’s the tip of this iceberg of talent. Annie Oakley is an Oklahoma City-based Americana band fronted by twin sisters Sophia and Grace Babb along with friend Nia Personette. They showed the flawless vocal harmonies and observant lyrics they are noted for, and I couldn’t stop listening to their CD afterwards, richly produced, their songs were both large, coming on melodically and instrumentally strong, and soothing, small as a comfortable smile. I shared my admiration in some rushed comments on the elevator, as they came down, packed heavily for home.
Kyle Reid: I saw Kyle perform with Annie Oakley in one of the guestroom showcases, an act he’s repeated before, having until recently lived, like them, in Oklahoma, and being part of the same indy music scene there. And also like the young ladies, he’s cute too, in his young male model-like way. I like Kyle too, and as with the lovely young Oakleys, his CD got repeated listenings right off the top. I especially liked and admired the inventive craftsmanship of his cigar box music, played on cigar box guitars he crafted in his parents’ basement. The rich and plaintive, enveloping and soothing sounds he’s able to get from this basic instruments is to me a rich and ongoing surprise.
Jimmy LaFave: Jimmy LaFave was introduced by Nora Guthrie who said he’s become a Woody Guthrie family icon, much like actual family members Arlo and Woody. He took over the room with his rich, big sound, at his official showcase in a smallish ballroom/concert hall bulging with the literally crammed-in fans of LaFave. They were rewarded by the voice, that has been described quite accurately as “striking chords at the heart of folk, roots rock, and blues.” He is indeed considered one of the songwriters in the tradition of Woody Guthrie, and has lived and baby sat in the Guthrie home many times. He plays good too. My wife and I had missed him twice at the house concerts of our friend Jim Morrison, so I was especially glad to catch him.
The Jellyman’s Daughter: From Scotland, with a brogue to match, especially she, this duo, Emily Kelly and Graham Coe, is a fine one. I couldn’t tell you the genesis of their unusual name, but I can tell you that they are musically compelling and unique and a darned nice pair, who I had the pleasure of talking with a couple of time, the last being in the warm, comfortable air outside the Guild at the farewell party. Wanting to decompress before returning to Scotland, they were headed to New Orleans and excited about a trip to Preservation Hall.
Outlaw Jake: This straight and pleasant-looking young man hooked me with his surprising voice and slang, that of a Western outlaw who’s out-of-sorts; the songs melt away in a kind of western swagger and sway. From Lawrence, KS, his band Outlaw Jake and the Chain Gang is featured on the tasty EP he did for the conference.
Ten Strings And A Goat Skin: Multiple 2013 Canadian Folk Music Award nominees and ECMA & Music PEI Award winners, the trio Ten Strings And A Goat Skin, plays a polished, barrel-drum among other acoustics, creating excitingly original takes off older sounds and rhythms.
Eliza Gilkyson and Sam Baker: I’m sure these two veteran greats gave top-notch concerts, but I missed them both this time. I have seen them both before at our friend Jim’s North Shore Point series at his home. I did see them this trip, however, sharing a workshop on songwriting that gave me a number of good tips on crafting songs from the passionate lips of two pros, who worked off each other like butter on a knife.
John Craigie: I heard much about John, unanimously touted as funny and one of the best of the young talent at the festival-like conference. He seemed tired, and said he was, when I caught him at the long end of a night full of private showcases, performing in one of the numerous round robin sessions of the private shows. I think the humor missed this time, but I believe my friends about him, even though the songs he chose that session were also sad. I mention him because of that vibe he created at the conference and, as well, from my admiration for his song 25, about the young life and early-ended talent at the Chelsea Hotel of Kurt Cobain. The pain seemed palpable in his voice and felt cathartic.
FREEBO and Juliana MacDowell, Keith Grimwood/Trout Fishing in America, and Rich DelGrosso: Legenday talent and a nice man, I wanted to interview Freebo, but ran out of time. Taking up music late in life, he is widely known as former bassist and, in some cases, tuba player, for Bonnie Raitt, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, John Mayall, and Ringo Starr, among others. I met him through my new good pal, the lovely Jules, Juliana MacDowell, whom I met prior to boarding a plane going out of DC to KC and flew back out with, as we were on the same flight again, years, no days, later. I didn’t always see Julie during the week, but one time when I did, we shared viewing one of Freebo’s private showcases. There, I was in the enviable position of being front row center for a set that began with the jamming, hard-rocking assistance of Keith Grimwood of Trout Fishing in America, whose great and packed TFIA official showcase I had seen earlier, and legendary blues mandolinist Rich DelGrosso, who taught a workshop in Music Camp. They were almost in my lap, amazing! Modest, Juliana played down her role as a musician, but on the way home, she gave me a card showing her having prominent billing in this announcement for the Rooster Walk Music and Arts Festival on Pop’s Farm near Martinsville, VA this summer; so I’m waiting for her to send me some of her music. The word is she is a talented singer/songwriter. She signed on late to come to the conference and didn’t perform a showcase. I’m adding here that I’ve now caught two of Juliana’s videos, and she is an extraordinary vocalist. She is remarkable at communicating the feeling and meaning of songs she covers.
Billy Bragg and Ani DiFranco: The fine keynotes, whom you can read about in other articles in No Depression. I was sorry to miss them, but I was determined to catch some of the offerings of Music Camp again this year, and these competed with the keynote presentations. I heard nothing but praise however, especially hearing time and again about how impressed and encouraged people were by Bragg, whom I saw in an excellent performance and talk some years back in Norfolk’s wonderful, now-defunct Discovery Music Series at the Attucks Theatre. My only chagrin, and I’d have to admit to a certain amount of pride there too, was that I remember Mr. Bragg insisted on coming on to my wife at the autograph table while I’m thinking, “Hey, I’m standing right here!”
High Plains Jamboree Contemporary takes on country swing by this elegant band in stylish skirts and cowboy hats, with catchy twang and creative lyrics. I especially liked their as yet un-released song about big steam tractors, I think it was, melodic, catchy, funny, and evocative of farmland and country. Guitarist Noel McKay was discovered by Guy Clark in 1993 while performing at the Jimmie Rodgers Festival in Kerrville, Texas. Clark and McKay’s co-write “El Coyote,” that went on to help win a Grammy for “Best Folk Album.” I ran into Bill Kirchen, of Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen fame, who said he was crazy about lead vocalist and mandolinist, the twangy, yet sophisticated Brennen Leigh.
The Railsplitters: An excellent, young, polished, and good-looking band, featured in one of the new print issues of No Depression. Lead vocalist Lauren Stovall, with distinctive voice and elegant, seductive-like gown on stage, caught me by surprise. She reminded me that we had shared an elevator together. That morning, she’d been walking her charming little dog, and he walked over to me to say “hello.” I would have never guessed that the hypnotic singer on stage was the same woman I’d met earlier, young girlish looking and wearing an oversized bright yellow ball cap covering her long brown hair. I especially liked a couple of the last songs written by banjo player Dusty Rider that the band performed, wonderful fresh arrangements that captivated me.
The Yellow Bucket Orchestra: This big, outrageous brass, percussion, and acoustic band, with its colorful tuba and exotic dancing girl had a tendency to break out musically in the lobby and the hallways, sending sound for blocks and creating dance circles and instant crowds.
Michelle Held, along with Bobby Rush, Billy Bragg, Ani Cordero: One of the excellent performers in Sunday’s Kansas City Folk Festival, along with blues great Bobby Rush, Latin star Ani Cordero with her captivating songs, keynote Billy Bragg, and others. I missed these performances due to the Music Camp. However, I briefly met Michelle and discovered her unique voice and compelling lyrics later, in the process of trying to catch up on some of the artists through video.
David Olney: Another of the many artists at the FAI that Gayle and I had seen at Jim’s house concerts, while a number of others were at the Discovery Series and at least one, I believe, at Kelly and Steve Murphy’s series in their Hampton home. This time I caught David in production of an upcoming album at the Pop-Up Studio, that gives artists a chance to record on the spot at a studio developed for the event in the lobby level of the hotel. People can observe quietly in the small studio as space allows, getting the opportunity to see an actual record being produced.
Trent Wagler and The Steel Wheels: I’ve seen The Steel Wheels numerous times, and I think I’ve enjoyed them more each time. My wife and I have tent camped for several years at the band’s summer festival, The Red Wing Roots Music Festival. At the conference, the band performed, after an Official Showcase the night before, for a happy group of us invited to Tom’s Town Distilling Company in a hip, historic downtown KC neighborhood. There, they played all of the delicious songs on their soon-to-be released album and unveiled their dramatic new instrumentation, adding keyboard and drums. That and multiple mics are quite new for the band, who are used to grouping around a single mic and an all acoustic/strings performance.
Gabby Moreno Rising Guatemalan star who was nominated for this year’s Grammy for Best Latin Pop Album. I heard her a couple of times recently with Chris Thile on his new edition of Prairie Home Companion. She toured with Thile and his Punch Brother band. I love her song with a line about having lunch with Jean-Luc Godard that I can’t find out the name of, and I love the fact that she did a David Bowie Tribute Tour. She also did the theme for TV’s Parks and Recreation as well as many projects in Spanish.
Susan Werner The full package – A big voice, and a beautiful one. Creator of Broadway musicals. Consummate performer. Hysterically funny. Cutting satires on subjects/people like Trump (look for these on U-Tube, you won’t regret it) She has classicly great songs, some that are serious in content and others that are amazingly funny. I caught both her Official Showcase and an impromptu private showcase the same night. We had talked about my doing an interview with her. However, we ran out of time before she had to leave. After her private showcase, she suggested we go to her room for a quiet place to interview. Too many people were glomming on to her, so she said we’d have to forgo that plan and try to stay in touch by e-mail to plan something. Odd probably for me to feel somewhat titillated by an invitation to the hotel room of a lesbian, but I was. She’s an attractive and vibrant lady. I would love to have had the opportunity for the interview wherever we’d have done it.
Soul of John Black and Gaelynn Lea I was very sorry to find that I’d missed The Soul of John Black, the duo of John Bigham, a founding member of Fishbone, and Christopher Thomas, who has played with Joshua Redman and Betty Carter. Gayle and I had seen Soul of John Black’s mix of blues, jazz, and other styles in a performance at Norfolk’s Discovery Series some years ago. They did some private showcases at the FAI conference that I didn’t see any publicity about, and they had no Official Showcase. I was amazed to spot them listed in the huge Personal Showcases schedule when I was researching some names after the conference ended. I was also sorry to miss Gaelynn Lea, who was 2016 winner of NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest. A violinist and singer/songwriter, she has a disability called Osteogenesis Imperfecta and acts as an advocate for disability rights. I was sorry on several levels to miss both her Official Showcase and her private ones.
Dom Flemons and Michael Kornfeld: I ran into the great Dom Flemons in the hallway. Dom, the Grammy-winning interpreter of historic African-American music and former one-half, along with Rhiannon Giddens, of the famed Carolina Chocolate Drops. He told me that he was not performing but acting in his capacity as a newly inducted board member. In that capacity, he worked with my erudite roommate Michael Kornfeld. Michael is an AFI board member, the holder of numerous other leadership positions within the folk community and editor/publisher/contributor of the valuable on-line journal Acoustic Music Scene.
There were so MANY more, but I’ve had great fun scratching the surface for you with the tenacity to real all of this, and, while it ain’t cheap, I encourage all of you to consider going next year.
Some of the many venues with reps in attendance were: Alexandria’s legendary Birchmere, the iconic, historic James and Livingston Taylor and Joan Baez-territory Club Passim in Boston, Nashville’s world-famous Blue Bird Cafe, my home area’s Smithfield Little Theatre, which always hosts a portion of the Aikins’ summer festival, and any number of other lesser-known venues and important house concert series.
Other professionals and fans in attendance included a wide range of agents, publicists, and managers, service programs for musical artists, guitar and other acoustic luthiers, historic organizations and museums, unions, fundraising and capital-raising entities, radio stations, music streamers, publications, websites, festivals, recording studios and equipment, and more.
And in the midst of it all, there is an ongoing maze-like plethora of musical activists engaging one another and creating new worlds and potential. They are: musical performers, songwriters, composers, agents and managers, venue sponsors of shows, concert promoters, music writers and media and press reps, fundraisers and musical entrepreneurs, and fans hip to the pleasures and advantages of the conference, much of which is open to the general public.
In my final bits of conversation with lovely folks in attendance at the FAI, I learned of numerous opportunities that were seized on by participants at the conference. These included tours, some going to, others coming from overseas, as well as gigs here in the states and in Canada, which had many artists in attendance and sponsored numerous performance sites. Networking also led to the fortuitous coming together of musical personnel to collaborate on upcoming projects.
And for those like me, as I said above, Paradise!