I spent the weekend at the Northeast Regional Folk Alliance Conference in Monticello, NY. For those of you unfamiliar with Folk Alliance Conferences, it is a few hundred songwriters getting together with concert presenters, DJ's and other folk music industry people, and spending 3 days sharing songs and coffee. The idea of attending these conferences is usually to try and get gigs, increase name recognition in the scene, and generally hope to enhance your career.
However, for me this weekend turned into getting much needed inspiration from fellow songwriters. I did have several showcases, and hopefully will get some work out of that, but really I felt more like an audience member than anything else.
Here are my highlights from the weekend;
The trio 'We're About 9' was probably my favorite act at the conference. I have known of them for years, but have only heard them play one or two songs, and didn't realize how much I liked their music. Great harmonies and energy, but the quirky, inventive songwriting is what really stood out to me. Check them out at www.wereaboutnine.com
My best single moment of the conference was hearing Joe Crookston play his song 'Freddy The Falcon' at a small late-night showcase. I heard the song last year when he had just written it, and the chorus was stuck in my head for the whole year, and I would occassionally find myself humming it. Usually when I remember a song that fondly from the past, it often ends up disappointing me when I hear it again, but this song was even better than I remember it. I got that wonderful chill in the spine feeling that can't really be properly described. That song is going to be on his upcoming CD, but in the meantime you should check out his last CD, 'Fall Down As The Rain' at www.joecrookston.com
Another gem that I somehow overlooked last year, and didn't even fully appreciate until listening to his CD's on the way home is Brad Yoder. He is not your typical folk singer/songwriter. He's a little more pop than most folkies, and he's got more funny songs and quirky songs than I usually like, but upon honest evaluation, I think I'd proabably have to put 3-4 of his songs in my Top 10 of the conference. It's pretty hard for me to describe his writing, except to say I listened to his CD's for 2 hours driving home from the airport, and when I got home, I immediately put them on and listened again because I just had to hear them more than once. He's got several free mp3's on his website, www.bradyoder. Do yourself a favor, and go download 'Local Band', 'Excellent Trouble' and 'Everybody's Got A Record'. Then, send him a couple bucks because this music is too good to be free.
There were other old friends who I always love to hear, including Jud Caswell, Joe Jencks, Amy Speace, Marc Douglas Berardo, Anthony Da Costa and Karen Mal. They are all worth checking out. Jud and I will be touring together in the Northeast in 2008.
There were also some new faces that I was unfamiliar with, that I am glad to have found out about, including Laura Bullock who's song 'The Net Below' was one of my favorites of the weekend. I was also pleasantly surprised to see my old friend Jenny Goodspeed, who has just released a new CD. Jenny is the harmony vocalist from my 'South Side Diner' CD. She joined me on 'One Mississippi' for old-time's sake, even though we hadn't rehearsed it since 1997, it sounded great.
I started a couple new songs this weekend, and hopefully the spark of inspiration will get me several new songs for you to hear.