Music Industry News Network [11-02-2017]
NERFA Conference Returns To Stamford, CT, Nov. 9-12
More than 700 performing artists, presenters, promoters, agents and managers, folk DJs, and others actively engaged in contemporary and traditional folk music will converge on the Crowne Plaza in Stamford, Connecticut, Nov. 9-12, for the 23rd Annual Northeast Regional Folk Alliance (NERFA) Conference.
Being held in Stamford for the second consecutive year after outgrowing its previous location in The Catskills of upstate New York, the conference will feature several jam-packed days and nights of music showcases, song swaps/in-the-rounds, informal jam sessions, panel discussions and workshops, a keynote by singer-songwriter Vance Gilbert, a Wisdom of the Elders session, a children’s concert, short performances by Connecticut State Troubadours, one-on-one mentoring sessions, a large trade show-like exhibit hall, communal meals, a welcoming party and happy hours, and lots of informal conversation and networking.
“Booking gigs may be the primary objective of some performers who attend the NERFA Conference, and many presenters and folk DJs do scout out new artists and those whom they have not previously heard and seen in live performance,” said Michael Kornfeld, president of NERFA’s board of directors. “However, the conference experience is much more than that; it’s really about forging connections, building community, and attending workshops and seminars to learn about options to further careers, promote the music, and attract audiences and listeners.”
Kornfeld noted that NERFA is “delighted” to have Vance Gilbert keynote its event this year. With his engaging personality, biting wit, soulful and resonant voice, and solid songwriting and performance skills, Gilbert has been impressing audiences since emerging on the Northeast acoustic singer-songwriter scene during the early 1990s. A former multicultural arts teacher and jazz singer from the Philadelphia suburbs, he began playing open mics in the Boston area and soon attracted the attention of singer-songwriter Shawn Colvin. She invited him to be a special guest on a 1992 tour in support of her Fat City album. Gilbert has since released a dozen albums, toured extensively, and opened tours for the late comedian George Carlin.
Gilbert – who embarks on a 22-date eastern Australia tour immediately following the conference -- enthralls concert and festival audiences with his moving lyrics and his strong tenor voice that can morph into falsetto when needed, as well as his stand-up riffs on contemporary societal mores. His songwriting and performance clinics at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, NERFA conferences, and the Rocky Mountain Song School also have drawn rave reviews from attendees.
In addition to his keynote, Gilbert will present two performance workshops and showcase his own musical talents during the conference. His “Collision Course” workshops are among some two-dozen featured workshops and panel discussions. Other workshops will focus on such topics as activist artists in tumultuous times, budgeting and business planning for venues, diversifying the community, the DIY artist, engaging the next generation, a guitar master class, teaching while touring, venue marketing, and writing the funny song. The popular “On the Griddle” instant critique session, also returns. Also slated are morning yoga sessions led by singer-songwriter Caroline Cotter, while MusiCares will fit folks for custom earplugs.
Taking center stage during this year’s conference will be 14 artists/acts selected by a panel of judges, each to perform a 15-minute formal showcase set on Friday and Saturday nights. Slated to perform on Friday are Andrew Collins Trio, Beth Wood, Bettman & Halpin, The End of America, The Early Mays, Kirsten Maxwell, and David Roth. Saturday’s Formal Showcase lineup features Mari Black & The World Fiddle Ensemble, Dan Weber, Ryanhood, Sloan Wainwright, Elage Diouf, Martin Kerr, and Emma’s Revolution.
After the formal showcases, attendees will shuffle between four conference ballrooms to catch short sets by 40 additional artists who were selected by a different set of judges. Performing in these semi-formal showcases on Friday night are (in alphabetical order) Clint Alphin, Emily Barnes, Bethlehem & Sad Patrick, The Black Feathers, Shawna Caspi, Dave Curley, Friction Farm, Abbie Gardner, Sharon Goldman, Hoot & Holler, Greg Klyma, Abigail Lapell, Paddy Mills, Emily Mure, Musique a bouches, Piedmont Bluz, Poor Man’s Gambit, Katherine Rondeau & The Show, Robinson Treacher, and Josh White Jr. Saturday’s Semi-Formal Showcase artists include Banjo Nickaru & Western Scooches, Lisa Bastoni, Rachel Beck, Sophie Buskin, Meghan Cary, Dunham Shoe Factory, Vance Gilbert, Alice Howe, Rod MacDonald & Mark Dann, Austin MacRae, Mama’s Broke, Mike McKenna Jr, Zoe Mulford, No Good Sister, NUA, Elaine Romanelli, The Small Glories, Christine Sweeney, Ernest Troost, and Brad Yoder.
Following the juried showcases each evening (as well as on Friday afternoons), more than three-dozen presenters, performers and others will host guerilla showcases in their hotel rooms that extend through the early morning hours. Community sings, open mics, informal jam sessions, thematic song circles and round-robin song swaps round out the musical mix. Musicians are also apt to stake out other areas of the hotel and jam into the early morning hours.
“We hope that all of our attendees will share a meal and/or a song with new friends they don’t yet know, embrace the spirit of community that NERFA represents, and have a great conference experience,” said Kornfeld. He expressed thanks to Dianne Tankle, NERFA’s longtime conference director, and her team of volunteers, for all of their efforts in arranging the event.
NERFA (www.nerfa.org) is a regional affiliate of Folk Alliance International, a Kansas City, MO-based nonprofit organization that seeks to nurture, engage and empower the international folk music community – traditional and contemporary, amateur and professional – through education, advocacy and performance.
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