I headed up to the Northeast Folk Alliance Conference in the Catskills. I was lucky to take the local roads up so it was a beautiful drive, and only two and a half hours – less than my usual trips to CT.
I haven’t been to one of these in close to eight or nine years, and had developed a mild antipathy to conference, partly from being Godfrey’s booker in the past and being targeted by all the songwriters. Also, I’m more and more uncomfortable with the crowd and chaos that happens. We’ll see.
While travelling up 209 I was following a slow poke with a flat brimmed hat and an Indiana licence plate. I figured he must be a slow folk on his way to the conference. I finally got to pass him and eventually made it to the hotel, registered and checked in. Sure enough, in walked the guy with flat brimmed hat. I knew it…. Glad he made.
The lobby was scattered with folks checking in, reaquainting themselves with friends, pulling out a guitar and basically settling in for the next few days. Godfrey’s folks like Scott and Ramona were already in there voluteer mode. I got my electronic room key, and after some aimless wondering I found the room, tried the card with no success. I headed back, got another card and that one didn’t work either. Third time, they gave me a key key, genuine metal and it worked fine. Technology in reverse.
I had dinner with Ramona, Dave and Cyndi Reichard from GD’s, caught up with a few friends and headed to the evening’s musical event, an array of young singer-songwriters presented by various folk radio DJ’s. It was okay but not my cup of Zinger, if you will. But, that’s what the conference is about, for the most part.
The large percentage of attendees is the emerging performers, mostly songwriters, quite a few acoustic bands with various radio people and venue folks and die-hard folkies thrown in. The lobby and table space is littered with promo pieces promoting the guerilla showcases later in the evenings throughout the conference. Lots of money spent on wall paper to the effect of obscuring the individual efforts. But, it’s part of the game.
I have to balance my cynicism on the booking process with reconnecting with old friends and meeting new folks, especially those club managers and agents who share the circuit with Godfrey’s. So, I am one of those hungry musicians looking for gigs, too.
I turned in fairly early, wanting to be fresh for my 9 am sound check for Friday morning’s Children’s concert, part of the conference’s relatively new nod to family folk performers like me. I’m not comfortable sleeping in strange situations and sharing a room with a stranger.
I’ve landed and I look forward to performing in the morning and taking in the conference as it unfolds.