Once again, the Folk Alliance International Conference (www.folkalliance.org) in Memphis, Tennessee this past weekend was an inspiration. 2500 hundred people descended on the Downtown Marriott Hotel for five days of music, music, music.
There was live music in the lobby, the mezzanine, in the dozen halls that were set up with state of the art sound systems and savvy sound man, who handled every problem that could or did show up. And with hundreds of acts performing over the five days, you know that the demand on the equipment and the tekkies was heavy.
What happens in addition to the performing, is workshops on a variety of topics related to composing, making, recording and performing music; promotion, booking, presentation, media and anything else you might want to know about coupled with showcasing musicians of every genre from most continents of the world.
There are formal showcases in the big rooms with lights and sound; a stage and monitors; and rows of chairs for the audience. After these official showcases are over, private guerilla showcases usually without sound systems that take place on three of the floors of the hotel reserved for just music. Every single room is buzzing with some kind of music, and this goes on until the wee hours of the morning; and it starts all over again at noon the next day.
From spending the last seven months in the studio working on both my new solo cd, Backstage at the Resurrection (www.jamesleestanley.com/backstage.html), and the new duet cd with Cliff Eberhardt (www.cliffeberhardt.net) entitled All Wood and Doors (www.allwoodanddoors.com), I have mostly been listening to my music, played by me and started thinking that I was pretty wonderful.
Five days with some of the most wonderful musicians in the world certainly cured that. The big humility pill is hard to swallow, but worth it. I am not going to find all the websites for the folks that I am about to list, but I guarantee that you can google them for complete access and you will not be sorry. These folks are truly a joy to experience. Great songs, great playing and great performances. You must go to one of these conferences.
In no particular order, I was thrilled and inspired by the following musicians: DaCosta, Rose and Elliott (Anthony DaCosta, Raina Rose and John Elliot) / The Red Mollys / Jack Williams / Michael Johnson / Brother Sun / Walter Parks / Cliff Eberhardt / Sam Baker / Darryl Scott and in the Memphis Airport on Sunday morning waiting for a plane back to Los Angeles, I heard about a dozen other acts that I should have seen who were evidently equally wonderful.
Do yourself a favor anc find these folks on the web, listen to their music and go to one of their shows. Stop letting some attorney running a corporation decide what you are going to hear. Take the initiative and you will find the rewards astounding.