International Folk Alliance Conference 2014

Oh. My. Gosh.
So no "over-tired posts" (to quote myself) ever hit the internet's stage because there wasn't a single minute wasted during the folk alliance conference. From my lay-over flight to my flight home were continuous moments of over-tiredness, long conversation, no-sleep, power-naps, American beer, nerves, excitement, beer again, and music music music. On my flight from Denver to Kansas City I ended up sitting right next to my friend Carly Klassen, who was going to the conference representing Alberta Music! The week was already starting!

After shuttling to the hotel, I entered the West-in and my jaw dropped. It was only the first night (Wed) and there were already three to four different groups jamming acoustically in the lobby, hundreds of posters and postcards lighting up the walls and tables, and musician types buzzing around. There were over 2,500 people attending the conference this year, so all I could do was tell myself that it's going to be okay to be another fly on the wall.

After finding my hotel room and registering (and being welcomed by the lovely Melanie Brulee), I sorta just explored a bit. The hotel was huge and the party was already started! The private showcases were starting that evening in which I partook in my first one, so no time to settle! So let me explain, once again, what these private showcases are. THREE floors worth of hotel rooms (I can't even tell you how many rooms there were on each floor!) had changing musicians within each of them every 20 - 45 minutes and most of the rooms were acoustic (a few had PA's). And each room had it's own unique vibe to sort of set the tone and attract you into the room. For example, some rooms had backdrops and chairs lined in rows to make it feel more moody. Others had full-out bars/bartenders in them (the Oklahoma room being my favourite one for that!), some had Christmas lights, others were just plain with the beds still kept inside for everybody to pile on top of. 

Crazy things can happen at the folk alliance. Maybe it's partially in due to the fact that I believed crazy things could happen before even going; I seem to attract this haha! But as an example - I met  the super awesome Todd Adelman on my first night at the conference in the hallway on floor seven. The next night (at 2:30 am) he hurriedly asks me if I want to play a last minute showcase right then and there because there was a sudden opening at that exact moment! So, 5 minutes later I'm set up in a brand new showcase slot playing for a packed room! If that's not amazing enough, (with the timing of meeting Todd then running into him when he needed someone to fill a space!), the next morning I'm having breakfast across the street and a girl approaches me who listened to me sing last night in that room. We ended up becoming fast friends and actually know the SAME people in Texas even though she lives in Nashville and I live in Edmonton!! So amazing!! I'm soo happy I met you Vickie!!! Thanks for the most memorable conversation and laughs girl!

As for the music, overall, there were a LOT of banjos, fiddles, mandolins, upright basses, washboards etc. Some of it wasn't entirely my thing (not to say I didn't appreciate it!) but I really felt like I stood out like a sore thumb being a solo artist and playing blues-influenced piano songs. However, there was a TON of music that I really really really dug. PLEASE PLEASE check out John Fullbright. This guy blew my mind. Over the weekend I heard some of the most amazing original songs and saw him play guitar, piano, harmonica, accordion, electric bass, upright bass, and was an outstanding singer. His last album was also nominated for a grammy under "Best Americana Album of the Year". Not only did I discover new artists, that made my heart explode, but I got to hear legends like Chip Taylor sing his "Angel in the Morning" followed by "Wild Thing". There were also some heavier cats within the industry that were always walking around and sometimes appearing at my showcases. Thankfully, I'm not over familiar with the faces of some of these folks so I didn't have the chance to let my nerves overtake me too hard before my shows. Pretty wild stuff though! You never know who you're going to hear on the other side of the door, and you never know who you'll be singing to!

I also met so many incredible and humble people! Somehow, I ended up having 2-3 hour one on one hangs with complete strangers and really getting to know about their history with music (some being musicians, others not) and what their town is like etc. I'm so happy that I was given the opportunity to connect with people I never would have been able to otherwise! The folk alliance is a pretty special place. The stairwells, lobbies, rooms, conference areas were ALWAYS packed with music. I would really love to go again next year to reconnect with all these folks and continue to meet more people!

I must give a huge thank you to Breakout West (particularly the Alberta Music Team), The Bow Valley Folk Music Club, Richard Flohil, and Sonicbids for allowing me to sing under your wing! You guys all treated me like royalty and I'm super appreciative of your support! My biggest shout out goes to The Bow Valley Folk Music Club - especially Larry Taylor - for all the financial and moral support during the weekend! Larry, you were a saint helping me locate and load keyboard gear from room to room and you never complained once when I needed it last minute at 2:30 in the morning haha! Thank you SOO much - all of you!! 

There really is too much to say about the trip. I'm still soaking a lot of it in. 
Thanks so much for reading, I sincerely appreciate your interest!

Tons of love,
Jenie

 

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