Doug Spears On the Road - Folk Alliance Blog Day 1 I’m going to give this a run and see if I can keep up with it. For the uninitiated the Folk Alliance Conference is a four day gathering of folk artists, venue owners, festival organizers, promoters, agents, record labels, radio stations, publications and service providers. There are workshops, panel discussions, meetings, receptions and an exhibit hall during the day and performances from late afternoon through the early morning hours each night in dozens of separate showcase rooms throughout the hotel, The Marriott Memphis Downtown. It is an opportunity for folk artists like me to get seen and heard by people who might want to bring my music to a different part of the country to their radio station, venue, festival, etc. And, its an opportunity to learn from the veterans of the road and the music circuit - both in actual personal discussions and by just watching what they do. The “biggies” are here, like Pete Seeger, Tom Paxton, Buffy St. Marie and more, as well as the current “hot hands,” like David Wilcox, Johnsmith, David LaMotte, et. al. In other words - it’s a big deal for the folk music community. We got into Memphis yesterday at about noon. I thought that would be early since registration for the conference didn’t start until after 1 pm and the Exhibit Hall Load in didn’t start until 3 pm. The Conference officially opens Thursday (today). Well, I was quite wrong. It immediately became apparent that many people had been here for a full day or so already. I had been advised to put up posters for my showcase slots in the approved areas - almost all of the space was already gone! However, I managed to put up a dozen or so posters in semi-good spots. And, I got my Exhibit Hall Table set up without much hassle. Now, the bad thing has been that I’ve had a bad cold for the last three days, so I’ve been pounding vitamins, herbal remedies and commercial cold remedies by the truckload. My first Showcase slot was last night at 1 am. My voice held out Ok until my last song, “This Old House,” and then it went out in a big way. So I’m headed back to the health food stare this morning to get some stuff to help my throat before my next showcase on Friday afternoon. So far the conference is somewhat overwhelming. Last night for the opening showcases there were masses of people moving through the hotel and stepping in and out of ongoing performances. I saw Rosalie Sorrells (briefly), Johnsmith, Eric Schmidt, met Jim Photoglo (of “Fishin’ in the Dark” fame), saw some old friends and met some new folks. The tough thing about this for me is to remember that I’m not here to be an observer - I’m here to work the crowd and make contacts. Its hard for me to stay on track and make sure to get people’s names and organization affiliation, give them info on me, maybe a CD, etc. I’ll work harder at that today when the Exhibit Hall opens and I’m at my booth. Well, I’ve got to get going to the health food store. Gotta heal up this throat!! More later. Doug