One of the things I look forward to coming out of the holidays is the annual Folk Alliance conference. It’s equal parts business conference and music festival: so work and play together. This year it was held in New Orleans, where the food added a third segment that was a big part of many conversations.
The main purpose of the conference is to get roots music performers, and presenters and promoters of all kinds together, and it does that incredibly well. During the day there are seminars primarily focused on helping artists with the business side of the equation. There are also opportunities for those on the business side to learn more about their craft. Then, in the evening, the musicians put on public (in the hotel meeting rooms) and private (in the regular hotel rooms) showcases.
It’s those private showcases where the hard work and hard play gets done. With over 80 performance rooms concentrated on just four floors of one hotel, you can’t go 10 feet down a packed hallway without hearing introductions on who can help get a gig in a given city or what to look for in a producer. When the conversation is outside a room with a full band and 20-25 audience members packed in, it’s hard to hear the conversation. Conversely, if it’s outside a room with a single acoustic guitar and only a handful of listeners, it can be hard to hear the music. But it’s just all part of the atmosphere. Next up I’ll post my favorites of the showcases.
FAI also does their annual awards show on Wednesday night of the conference. Here are this year’s winners.
Artist of the Year – The Small Glories
Song of the Year – Black Myself by Amythyst Kiah
Album of the Year – We Get By by Mavis Staples
About the author: I've actually driven from Tehatchapee to Tonopah. And I've seen Dallas from a DC-9 at night.