Notes from the Road – Arrival in Memphis [Tuesday, 3/17] For some reason I didn’t sleep well in Jasper – too much on my mind I suppose. So I was up early and working on various stuff, both Folk Alliance stuff and non. It was kind of ugly outside – cold, overcast and gloomy. I had some breakfast then hit the road. Only about three hours to Memphis, so no real rush. From where I started in Jasper it’s an easy, but boring drive – Rte 78 northwest through Elvis’ birthplace, Tupelo and straight into Memphis. Tuned in Kate Campbell’s song “Tupelo’s Too Far” on the iPod – “I wish I could take Route 78 and be there in no time, rest beneath the sweet gum trees and leave all my cares behind – but Tupelo’s too far.” – very cool. Lots of iron ore scars in the landscape (and listened to Kate’s “Deep Tang” for that – man, that girl’s soooo good!) and road construction as this is the future route of I-22 through Alabama and Mississippi. I had a sound like sand hitting my windshield which I first thought was coming from a truck up ahead. However, looking closer I saw it was ice, very small hail or big sleet – yuck! Then patches of rain, not hard, but enough to make you concerned about ice on the road. So, take it easy, turn the iPod up and chill (literally). Just before crossing into Tennessee outside of Memphis I stopped to get some lunch. There was wireless available so I signed on to check on my Sampler discs being shipped from DiscMakers – nothing. Uh oh!!! The order shows “scheduled” and was planned for shipping yesterday (2/16), but if that had happened it should have some tracking info for the delivery. I emailed everyone involved. I need those BADLY for the conference and they are blank, so I’ll need to burn them on my computer which is a time consuming process. Ok, blood pressure is up. Rolled on into Memphis to the Marriott and checked in at about 1 p.m. – nope no shipment from DiscMakers shipment. Gggrrrrrrr . . . The Marriott was in the process of being decked out by the Folk Alliance staff and volunteers – banners, signage, registration area, etc. There weren’t many folks here yet, but those that were had their hustle on. The Marriott is one of those hotel chains that charges you for EVERYHING – very nice and we got a decent convention room rate, but nevertheless pricey once you add $12 per day for parking, $13 a day for internet access, etc., etc. And, you can’t use their luggage carts for “insurance reasons” – funny how none of the cheaper hotels have insurance issues with me using their baggage carts. Could it be mandatory tips for the bellmen? Everybody has to make a living, but not at gun point. So, in protest, I simply parked in the garage and made three trips to bring my stuff in – so there! All settled in I wandered to see who was in a scope out the layout this year. Everything was about the same except that this year they banned posters by the artists (thank goodness). In the past you tried to get here as early as possible so you could run around with 30 – 40 posters and try to find prime, visible space throughout the conference area to display your showcase times, etc. It was a mess and very ineffective. This year they went to a video poster system. Anyone wanting a display paid $25 (much cheaper than the posters) and there are 15 video monitors running 24/7 throughout the conference center. Ads come up on the screen for about 10 seconds each on a rotating basis. Looks good, much easier and, hopefully, more effective. I said hello to the FA staffers that I’ve come to know well, a few artists who had arrived early as well and then headed back to the room to work on my materials (and stress about my sampler CDs). I worked, rehearsed some songs that I’ll be performing in my showcases, etc. Since there really wasn’t anyone that I had seen that I could have dinner with I opted for room service and kept plugging away. About 9 p.m. I went down to the early arrival party in the bar. My manager / consultant, Kari Estrin, had arrived. I chatted with her and several artists that had finally flowed in. A very nice, relaxed time reconnecting and having a couple of cold drafts. Everyone seemed to be on the same page – last night to get a reasonable night’s sleep before the madness starts full force tomorrow!! So, by 11 p.m. I said my goodbyes and went back to get horizontal and carefully examine the inside of my eyelids – aahhhhhhhh . . .