Monday, February 28, 2011

Folk Alliance

Last weekend I was in Memphis for the national Folk Alliance. The conference brings together musicians and music industry folks (radio, festivals, promoters, record companies etc). A few thousand people spend part of a week doing everything related to music. Three floors of the hotel are used as showcases floors, and every room magically transforms into a small listening venue. Musicians run from room to room performing original songs for all to hear. It is a bit insane, and really wonderful as well. It is great to connect with friends and house concert hosts and see musicians you have heard about but not yet witnessed. I left exhausted and yet so full of hope that so many musicians are finding a way to make a living doing what they love.

A few favorite moments:

1. Having the best roomies: Edie Carey & Mai Bloomfield. They both played incredible showcases and we all had a pretty ridiculous time singing together.

2. The Rendezvous: famous ribs. good friends. trolley ride...what more could you want?

3. Cover your friends round at the Market Monkeys room. On the last night after the last showcase, a group of musicians got together with the intent to play songs your friends wrote. It was pretty emotional. To have a friend sing your words and melody, strum your chords all with a new perspective...I could have stayed in that room for days. Friends covered friends like Natalia Zuckerman, Garrison Starr, Matt The Electrician, Edie Carey, Nels Andrews, Robby Hect, Rose Cousins...

4. Darrell Scott, Ron Sexsmith, Mary Gauthier, Eliza Gilkenson...yeah, they played and were so inspiring. Esp when Mary G. pulled out her guitar chord and walked into the audience to play her show due to sound problems. Mary--you are rad.

(mai, edie, justin, and ed on the trolley)

4. Open your ears!
My heart was opened again and again by incredible songwriters. Check them out if you haven't already...
Edie Carey- is such a pro, she is one of my favorite songwriters. She has a beautiful new album out...and you will LOOOVE it
Mai Bloomfield- mai was such a solid performer all weekend I was impressed again and again
Rose Cousins- that voice!!! Rose has collaborated with the best and is a true talent from Canada!
Ed Romanoff- Ed lives in NY, check out the song he wrote with Mary Gauthier called 'Orphan King'
Amy Speace- I heard a new song by amy that was dynamite, the title was something about "our love song" she has a new album coming out this spring, so be on the lookout!
Matt The Electrician- my first memories of Matt are when I saw him in Austin playing a show with the Weepies at Flipnotics. He was so good he is pretty unreal.
Andy Gullahorn- such a great songwriter. the ability to make me laugh and then cry in the same song...don't know how you do that. LOVE his album "Law of Gravity"
Justin Roth- justin has a new album out that he recorded himself...great guitar player and beautiful voice
Ana Egge- I have heard Anna's name for years, but she played a showcases that had me in awe. The Steel Wheels backed her up and I wanted it to last longer...
Storyhill- such good people, good songs, and their harmonies are so dialed in...
Natalia Zukerman & Garrison Starr- so great together. I love when women rock at guitar.
Cary Cooper/ TPR--they have been writing songs a long time and you can tell in the best way....
Amber Rubarth- amber's is another name I have been hearing, her showcase was genuine and beautiful.
Ellis- opening hearts as usual!

The list could go on and on. I missed so many musicians I wanted to catch, maybe next year.
Thank you to Louis and everyone at FA for a great week!


PS: want to join the mailing list? ok. just mosey over to the right side of the page...

Thursday, February 3, 2011

stomp along

When I was touring through Seattle a few weeks ago,
my sis (also a songwriter, who lives in seattle) took me
to her neighborhood open mic at Conor Byrne. She has
been going to this open mic for several years now.

photo by
Eratosthenes Fackenthall
The place was packed that sunday night and I swear she knew everyone
by first name. It really did feel like a neighborhood pub
should feel. This open mic is especially a hot spot because it
is run by a member of The Head & The Heart--a really cool
new band that is taking the music scene by storm. Several
members of the band met at the open mic last year and soon
after formed the band. They were just recently signed by sub-pop records.
I love stories like this. I think I read Josh Ritter met Glen Hansard
at an open mic. Synchronicites like this are rad.

Photo by Eratosthenes Fackenthall

Buy the album here: The Head and the Heart - The Head and the Heart

This band loves to stomp, and clap, and shout and involve the audience.
When they got up to play, the crowd got quiet, everyone pushed in close,
then the whole audience started stomping was great to be
in a room where every member of the audience was invested in what was
going on. They had a few friends who grabbed attention on the stage, one being
a cool cat named Bryan John Appleby.

On another note, I participated in an event called The Song Bomb today.
My friend Tim organizes it each year, and every day of the month a
guest songwriter is assigned a topic and they write a song in a day. Tim then
also writes a song on the same topic that day. Today was my day.
My song is posted here. Having to write a song in a day takes away some
of the preciousness that sometimes comes with the territory. It is about
writing, but also about letting go of expectations and taking fear out
of the equation. I have some dear friends involved as well,
like Chuck E. Costa, Christopher Smith, and Mai Bloomfield.
Tune into all month.