Notes from the Road – Folk Alliance Day 1 [2/18] And so it begins. The crowds have gathered, the elevators have slowed to a crawl and the folkies have seized control of the Memphis Marriott. I rolled out at a reasonable time and set to getting prepared for the marathon of the next few days. First I checked and found that I STILL had no reply from DiscMakers about my Sampler – Stressed Out!! I sent an email to my main account manager who, though he has nothing to do with the “short run” department, has always been able to make things happen for me in the past. Unlike his cohorts in the department working on my project he got right back to me and promised to get to the bottom of the problem. So, I’ll have no samplers to hand out today for the opening of the Exhibit Hall – Damn! I practiced for part of the morning which helped my mood some then went down and checked in when the official registration opened. You get a big package of material, the most important part of which is the program with all of the schedules the roster of attendees, etc. You get a lot of sampler CDs from the record companies (and some independent artists), flyers from local restaurants hoping to cash in on the crowd and various other goodies of varying interest, value and use. I sifted through the pile, kind of like sorting your mail to get rid of the junk, and was soon down to a manageable collection of worthwhile material. At 1 p.m. I went on down to load in at the Exhibit Hall. I’ve got a great booth location with a great booth mate – Kelly and Donna of Still on the Hill. We’ve got a corner location on the main isle as folks filter in among some of the highest traffic exhibitors like Martin Guitars, The Roots Agency (who represent my friends The Claire Lynch Band, etc.), etc. Kelly and Donna were MIA for this part, so I arranged our tables and set mine up. Looks pretty good – I’ll have to post some pictures. I put out my chex mix and tangerines and immediately began to draw visits from the other exhibitors – glad I brought a lot. The electronics gremlins struck again. Even though I had tested all three CD players before I left Orlando, only two worked, so I’ll have to schlep up to Walgreens for another one just like last year. I’m running into all kinds of folks now – friends from all over the country, musicians, DJs, presenters alike. It’s a little dose of old home week before the major “selling” to new folks starts. After setting up I slipped out to get that CD player and grab a late lunch – Napoleon’s on Main Street. Wonderful soul food – rib tips, collard greens, okra and pan fried corn bread. Not exactly heart healthy, but what the hell. I went back up to the room to check on DiscMakers and my Samplers. As usual, Matt Warnicki, my main account manager, got some results. Turns out part of their equipment broke down and the jackets for the CD blanks weren’t ready. However, he’d “put the spurs to it” and the jackets will get here Friday morning. In the meantime, the discs themselves are ready and were being shipped out separately so I could start burning the music onto them and just use CD envelopes for Thursday’s events. Not the best situation, but something at least thanks to Matt. At 5 p.m. the Exhibit Hall opened and the onslaught began. One of the first faces through the door was my Tampa Florida buddy, Gloria Holloway. Hugs are one of the BIG perks of being a folkie!! I circulated through the crowd saying hello while keeping an eye on my booth to assist those stopping to hear some of the music. Roger Wise, a radio DJ from out west, stopped by to say hello and to give me the great compliment of saying that he’s including one of my songs (How’d You Know) in a special one hour love songs program he’s working on – very nice! I also met some new friends from the Austin area who showed serious interest in getting me out that way for a house concert – also very cool. The Wednesday “pre-view” of the hall is usually very low key, but this time around I think it was as productive and many of the regular days in the past. At 7 pm I headed back to the room to rest a little and get ready for the evening’s music. Since I didn’t book any showcases on Wednesday night (thinking I’d be working hard burning CDs) I mapped out who I wanted to catch. I started with Jack Williams and Still on the Hill at 9 pm and from there caught: The Malvinas, Wil Maring and Robert Bowlin, Bill & Kate Isles, Jeff Talmadge, Randall Williams, CJ Crowdery, Freebo, Ruth and Max Bloomquist, Cary Cooper (with her husband Tom Prasado-Rao assisting) and, finally, Stevie Coyle. Wonderful shows by all. Enjoying the music is only part of the purpose in attending others’ showcases – it’s also where the presenters, DJs, etc. that you want to meet are at as well. So, I was well armed with showcase schedules (on my chex mix of course) and was disseminating my propaganda whenever possible (NOT during a performance of course!!). By 1 a.m. I was way past pooped and headed back for some shut eye. Tomorrow promises to be a hectic day burning CDs, attending some of the panel discussions, the DJ reception (always a mad house), the exhibit hall in the afternoon, three showcases and more. Think I’ll load up on some vitamins and let them do their magic whilst I snooze.