It’s really nice to be back home after a somewhat grueling weekend in Memphis at the Folk Alliance Conference. As folk musicians, we generally play early shows and get a good night’s sleep before the next endeavor on the road for our own sanity and for the sake of our performance (which isn’t so top-notch after a late-night binge jam). Folk Alliance is one of the exceptions for us, this having been our second year, and we played into the wee hours of the morning with some help from our friends, coffee and scotch. There are so many highlights from our weekend that it would be difficult to summarize in our usual list. Have no fear, there is a “Sweet as Honey” below, but we’d like to launch into some extra-special moments from our 10 day trek through Kentucky and Tennessee.
We dubbed our round of library shows this year as the “Hush, Hush” Tour. We kicked this journey off with a few libraries in Kentucky on our way to FA in Memphis. We never know what to expect at any show since every venue is different but needless to say, the libraries have been so good to us. Kentucky’s libraries are some of the most well-organized and beautiful buildings we’ve had the chance to play. There is definitely some money allocated in the state of Kentucky for their libraries- sustainable buildings, long hours, not being closed on Sundays, presenting music performances…. wow! We only wish every state had a budget like this for their libraries.
We shared some special evenings with new friends Karah and Bob in Lexington during our stay. We are always thankful to the people who kindly house and feed us while on tour before even getting to know us and Karah and Bob were no exception. We felt comfortable and at home immediately- especially since they’re songwriters and we got to share a few tunes with them! It was also a real treat to get to play on WRFL on Bob’s radio show. Thanks for treating us like family, Bob and Karah.
After the kindness of Lexington, we couldn’t expect to see the same thing in Louisville, but we did! Mike and Michelle, another music-loving couple, housed us for the evening and paid us the same wonderful comfort as in Lexington. We jammed late into the evening and shared festival stories and geeked- out on our instruments. The only person missing from this was our friend Barry. Wish you could’ve been their Doc.
After playing in Williamstown, Nicholasville, La Grange, and Paducah, KY, we headed to Memphis for Folk Alliance (after remembering an hour down the road that we left our show clothes at the hotel-oops!) What follows are highlights from our experience at FA. For those who’ve never been or heard of Folk Alliance, it’s a conference held yearly at a giant hotel, open to promoters, presenters, agents, artists, music-lovers, etc. It’s a networking opportunity, a chance to see friends that you don’t see since they live in another state and a giant community built on keeping folk music alive. We felt on the outside of things our first year, not knowing too many people, not having a CD or website and not really understanding how the whole conference worked. It was really good to go back this year and be in the swing of things and to get to see a lot of our talented musician friends more than once and to have some amazing moments playing music with each other in front of a wonderful audience numerous times.
All nights of the conference were packed with great shows. We had 11 showcases throughout the entire weekend and enjoyed them immensely. Our first showcase was an “in-the-round” with our friends 3 Penny Acre and new acquaintances Bill & Kate Isles (some of the most supportive and enthusiastic music-lovers at FA). Each band would take a turn and play one song until the 45 minute segment ended. One particular highlight from this night was knowing our friends, 3PA, were sitting behind us mouthing and whispering our songs to each other- and we did the exact same thing when they got up for their tune. How special to get to know one another’s music and be such big fans of each other. This is our relationship with a lot of bands and FA is a great chance to be up close and cheer on our buddies!
The best decision we made for the weekend was to share a hotel room with our friends Natalya, John and Will of Red June out of Asheville, NC. We struck up a friendship back in the fall after playing the Shakori Hills Festival together and have come to be fast friends. Again, the mutual love for each other’s music was overflowing and getting to share some pretty close quarters with such talented and kind people makes everything shine brighter. We spent a lot of time with Red June’s CD, Remember Me Well, after meeting for the first time and really enjoyed getting to hear them live again. Thank you guys for sharing and maintaining a sanctuary with us.
We have a “friends” page on our website where we hope someone who loves our music will also check out and love the bands listed on that page. Turns out, half of those bands attended FA! The Steel Wheels (who are like brothers to us) along with the David Wax Museum (another extension of our “family”) and Caleb Stine (our jamming partner in crime and also a brother) all shared their music and talents in Memphis as well. We were able to catch several performances by these guys and feel honored to know and love their music and also to have shared shows with all of them! Thank you ALL for the support you gave us in our showcase rooms and also for the great hangout time in between the chaos.
Alright, enough gushing. We had a great time in Memphis. Enjoyed our official showcase (despite the booming bass and drums wailing from the next room). Our agent, Jared, had the bomb showcase room and was told a number of times that he has an amazing roster of musicians- we couldn’t agree more and applaud his hard work to bring FA a stellar line-up of music:)
We’re looking forward to some shorter drives in the future and warmer weather on the horizon. Until next time:
Sweet as Honey:
1. 3 Penny Acre– badass, one night only, crazy showcase schedule.
2. Finally meeting many of the Folk DJs who’ve spun our records- you all are the backbone of this industry and we thank you for continuing to support this music.
3. Caleb’s Memphis adventures- capturing the true spirit of a musician.
4. Ginny Hawker and Tracy Schwarz sitting outside our hotel room door and then later attending one of our showcases. We were really honored by their presence and kind words.
5. Trent and Jay’s magic elixir that cured Kagey’s cold.
6. Hot Club of Cowtown catching our official showcase and Elana James complimenting our sound- whoa and awesome!
7. Kagey’s late-night jamming in the parking lot.
8. Private lesson with flatpicking extraordinaire, Tim May.
10. Getting to see and enjoy the heck out of The Twilite Broadcasters, Darrell Scott, Lake Street Dive, John Hartford Stringband, ellen cherry, Abigail Washburn, Mary Gauthier, Carpenter & May, Kruger Brothers, Red Molly PLUS all of our friends mentioned above!
11. One of our favorite showcases was our last in the Bill & Kate Isles room. Thanks to all the musicians who came out to see us- you made it even more special.
What a week!