Notes from the Road – Southeast Regional Folk Alliance (SERFA) Day 2

Friday, October 16th – OK, so where was I? Oh yeah, I was asleep. So, this morning I had to get up early because SOMEBODY (Kelly, it was you! Or was it Donna – don’t remember) tagged me for the panel in a workshop on writing about your home place, your culture, etc. at 9:45 am, so sleep was curtailed long before I would have liked! Anyway, Larry got up before me and made coffee (he’ll make someone a lovely husband – oh, hey Christy!) so I was able to open my eyes at least partially.


After a quick breakfast I headed over to the workshop. There were 8 of us on the panel and 12 folks in the room (including the panel) – hmmm . . .. me thinks others felt SLEEPING was more interesting!! On well, that was my knee jerk reaction as well. However, I have to say that the discussion amongst those in attendance was lively and very intriguing. As usual, when I’m on the “teaching” end of things I tend to learn more than anyone else. I swear that Steve Blackwell was in the room. Someone asked, “how do we get people to get out in their own back yards?” For those of us familiar with Steve’s music, does that sound familiar?!! The discussion evolved into the role of music, folk music in particular, in building and maintaining community. Much food for thought in what was brought up regarding the lost art of shared music, ‘self entertainment’ and the passing on of art forms generationally by participation. All of these things played such a large role in people’s leisure / social time before radio and TV and now are rare at best.

While, I was a firm and continuous grouser about the geographical location of this conference and the effect distance was likely to have on attendance, I have to concede that “I get it.” The Folk Arts Center here is uniquely suited for the purposes of SERFA – in fact, it is dedicated to the very thing we all pursue as folk artists, the preservation and perpetuation of our art form. I am proud of our Florida contingent, 6 artists (plus some spouses) and 2 presenters strong. While we had the furthest to travel we have demonstrated the strength and vitality of the folk community in Florida and have carried the banner proudly. Other than Arkansas, we may be the best represented state in the region, though I do not have the official numbers on that. I hope that next year even more folks will make the commitment and take the journey, it is a wonderful place.

I don’t know the actual attendance numbers, but I’m guessing around 75 – 100. In that group are some prominent radio personalities from the region: Taylor Cafferty of WRKF in Baton Rouge who has 25+ years experience as an independent folk dj; Mike Flynn of Folk Sampler, a syndicated folk radio show carried by over 160 stations; and Michael Jonathon, the originator and host of the Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour which is broadcast on radio and televised in 180 countries around the world. It is a unique opportunity to get to interact with these folks one on one and share music with them.

I took some time off to practice and rest in the afternoon. We’ll still haven’t had any sun and the chilly weather with no sunlight starts to drain my batteries in a big way. But, I re-energized by supper time and headed to the restaurant for a bite with the gang before the evenings showcases got under way.

The official showcases were quite good one and all. Jack Williams turned in his usual outstanding performance to tremendous applause. 3 Penny Acre, a four piece group from Fayetteville was also outstanding. Ben Bradford and his bride, Kari Abate, showed why he topped the folk charts with his music this year in their set just before the break. However, it was David Llewellyn that truly blew me away. First, David is just now recovering from a near catastrophic collision between his left hand and a power saw only six weeks ago. It very nearly took his thumb and the entire side of his left hand off and required extensive surgery, pins and a cast to reattach – really not good for a guitar player!! He has only had the cast off for a couple of days and will start rehab next week. Nevertheless, he played beautifully through the obvious pain and floored me with his song of a Welsh coal minor taking his young son down into the mines for the first time to begin a life of hopeless labor. For me it was the stand out show of the evening.

I missed the last few showcases to, again, get some rest and tune up before my private showcases for the evening. I started off in Kari Estrin’s Suite at 11:30 with a very nice crowd that included Kari, David Llewellyn, Ed Peterson (Nashville), Andy Cohen (Memphis), Jan Seides (Austin), our own Gloria Holloway, Ronnie Cox and a couple of others. I was informed by Kari that my song Hemingway’s Hurricane won an award from American Songwriter Magazine! I didn’t even know and haven’t been able to find out what or when! So, I played that and, at Gloria’s insistence, several other of my Florida tunes in my allotted time.

Next I headed over to Bill & Kate Isles Present for a round with Bill & Kate and a young writer I’ve just met here, Adam Klein. They were running a bit behind so I got to hear a little of Lauren Lapointe’s set with them and our Larry Mangum. When it was my turn we swapped into the seats and, again, enjoyed a fine audience that included Gary Gordon, Ben and Kari Abate - Bedford, Jan Seides, Kim Richardson, Louise Mosrie, Pete Leary, and a member of 3 Penny Acre who’s name (because I have a small and weak mind) I simply can’t remember. It was a great round and Bill video’d a part of it so hopefully I’ll be able to share that at some point.

Then to Concerts in Your Home with Fran Snyder. Due to the schedule lag at Bill & Kate’s I was about 15 – 20 minutes late getting there which is death for having any crowd. So, Fran, Lauren Lapointe and I sat and swapped songs, guitar pull style, passing Fran’s nice Taylor back and forth instead of uncrating our own. I neglected to mention Fran in my rehash of the official showcases for the evening – he also turned in a stand out performance there. If you haven’t visited Concertsinyourhome.com, you should. It is the ultimate house concert resource in the country. Check it out!

Ok, so its 1:30ish – time to go get off my feet. Larry is already in bed again with the lights out (poor old fella), but I went ahead and turned a light or two on, poured myself a bracer and sat talking to old sleepy head for a bit. After doing a little computer work and reading a few stories in Bob Patterson’s book I called it a night around 3:30. Hmmmm, short of sleep again tomorrow I guess. Ah well!!

Doug
"It's not how far you've come, it's what you've done with the miles"
Doug Spears
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