It’s not easy to sum it up.
Let’s call it 2500 musicians in the Westin/Sheraton complex near downtown Kansas City, MO. It’s right across from Union Station, which is a very pretty place that reeks of railroad history.
Music fills every corridor possible. Almost all of it is good. People at the Folk Alliance are a special breed. There is so much joy in the making. We meet up once a year to see old friends, make new ones, and seek inspiration in what everyone has to share. It’s a genuine love fest. This year I was very fortunate to play almost every day in the Momentary Love Management Room, hosted by Lou DeMarco and Rain Fusco. Getting to know them was one of the highlights of my time in KC.
What happens at Folk Alliance is fairly simple. People play music wherever and whenever they can. Sometimes you find yourself playing in front of a crowded room of people, other times there may be 1 person there to listen. Either way it doesn’t matter because someone is always listening. Lou and Rain’s room was my ‘home room’ and the vibe there was always right. I also gravitated to the ‘Oklahoma Room.’ The music there was so good, and would go very late into the night. One particular evening I was fortunate to be David Amram’s sidekick. Besides being his bouncer, I was also making sure he didn’t lose his multiple flutes (one did go missing but not on my watch), kept his shoes tied, and most importantly, finding the right jam at 3AM. To the Oklahoma room we went. Sure enough, the music and clinky drinks were still flowing. We sat down and a song circle formed. There was the fiddlers 3 (me, T. Bruce Bowers, and a cool guy named Jason), David, Jesse Aycock, Wink Burcham, Levi Parham, and many other awesome musicians that Brian Horton of Horton records has corralled and tamed just enough to play outstanding music in the room. Another reason to love Oklahoma, as if I needed more. We played songs until they kicked us out at 5 AM. It wasn’t the first or last time this happened in the OK room.
The next night I got to sit in with David Amram during his set in the large Chicago room at the Sheraton. It was a great honor, and somehow he worked me into his improvisational tune about Kansas City, and said I had a ‘magic violin.’
I had the honor of playing with many others in addition to David… Tim Easton, Nellie Clay, Jesse Elliott, Jay Aymar, myself (yes, I did a couple of my own sets too). I have a few pictures to post, most of them courtesy of my friend “Frag” AKA Rob Hanning. Frag (pronounced Fraj, like Fragile) is a talented photographer and general documenter of all things Folk Alliance. And also just a great guy who enjoys music…