Nearly 750 people have registered for the annual Northeast Regional Folk Alliance (NERFA) Conference, to be held Nov. 10-13, at the Hudson Valley Resort in Kerhonkson, New York. Performers, presenters, promoters, folk DJs, agents and managers, and others actively engaged in the folk and acoustic music scene will enjoy three jam-packed days and nights of music showcases, open mics, song swaps and informal jam sessions; informative panel discussions and workshops; private mentoring and peer group sessions; a large trade show-like exhibit hall; communal meals in the dining room; a welcoming party and happy hours, and lots of informal conversation and networking. AcousticMusicScene.com will host its popular annual Midnight Hoot on Thursday overnight, as well as afternoon and late-night guerilla showcases on Friday and Saturday – including a special hour-long Phil Ochs Song Swap hosted by the late troubadour’s sister, Sonny Ochs.“I am very excited about this year’s program-packed NERFA Conference,” said Cheryl Prashker, the organization’s president. At her urging, the conference will feature a keynote speaker for the first time in its 17-year history. Suzanne Vega, a New York-based singer songwriter and a leading figure in the 1980s contemporary folk revival, will address attendees after dinner on Friday night. “We also have added more showcasing this year to give more artists the opportunity to be heard,” Prashker continued. Ten more juried showcases than last year are scheduled, while a new Saturday afternoon showcase sponsored by True North Records will feature artists from all over Canada.
Booking gigs is the primary objective of some performers who attend the annual NERFA conference, while many presenters and folk DJs come primarily to scout out new artists and those whom they have not previously heard and seen in live performance. However, the conference experience is much more than that; it’s really about forging connections and building community.
Taking center stage during this year’s conference are 14 artists/acts selected by a panel of judges from among nearly 200 applicants, to perform 15-minute sets in the resort’s theater on Friday and Saturday night. Friday night’s lineup features Babik, Layah Jane, Pesky J. Nixon, Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer, Frank Sollivan and Dirty Kitchen, Louise Mosrie, and Gathering Time. Showcasing on Saturday evening are Spuyten Duyvil, Rebecca Loebe, We’re About 9, Galant, Tu Perds Ton Temps, Everything Fitz, Chris Kokesh, and Cliff Eberhardt & James Lee Stanley.
After the formal showcases, attendees will shuffle between four conference rooms to catch short sets by 40 additional artists, pre-selected from among 260 applicants. Participating artists on Friday night include Amy Black, Robert Bobby Trio, C. Daniel Boling, The Boxcar Lilies, Suzie Brown, Caitlin Canty, The Edna Project, Frankenpine, Connor Garvey, Ariana Gillis, Caleb Hawley, Anne Hills and David Roth, The Jammin’ Divas, Shane Piasecki, Dave Potts, The Squid Jiggers, Dennis Stoughmatt & L’espri, Twangtown Paramours, Craig Werth, and The Whispering Tree.
Slated to perform on Saturday night are Mike Agranoff, Scott Ainslie, Ari and Mia, L.J. Booth, Bill Bourne & The Free Radio Band, Jon Brooks, Chris Castle, Stephanie Corby, Debra Cowan, Rj Cowdery, Jadea Kelly, Deidre McCalla, Occidental Gypsy, Roosevelt Dime, The Sea, The Sea, The Stray Birds, Michael Troy, George Wurzbach, and Brad Yoder Duo.
Following these juried showcases, so-called late-night ‘guerilla showcases take place in some three-dozen hotel rooms until the early morning hours, while other musicians stake out other areas of the hotel and engage in informal jam sessions that often last until 4 or 5 a.m. Some guerilla showcases also are on tap for Friday and Saturday afternoon, following a series of workshops and panel discussions.
Among the topics to be covered in workshops and panel discussions are Arranging for Performance and Recording, Assembling Your Team, Booking and Touring: Taking It to the Next Level, Creating Folk Learning and Performance Experiences for Youth, Creative Funding and Fundraising for Venues, Crossing Borders: Performers Touring Internationally and Presenters Hiring Foreign Artists, Folk Runs on Volunteers, I Want You to Want Me, Make Your Own Market, Maximizing Radio Airplay, Performance Rights Organizations: From Both Sides Now, Social Media and Your Online Presence, and a Ukelele Rendezvous led by Roots Canada’s David Newland..
Acclaimed composer and multi-instrumentalist David Amram will employ some 35 instruments as he conducts a workshop entitled Treasures: Global Folk Roots. Amram was part of the NERFA Conference’s inaugural Wisdom of the Elders panel discussion last year. This year’s Wisdom of the Elders session will feature Folk Legacy Records co-founder Caroline Paton, Old Songs Festival founder Andy Spence and veteran folk DJ and Philadelphia Folk Festival co-founder Gene Shay.
AcousticMusicScene.com editor and publisher Michael Kornfeld, who also is a longtime communications and public relations strategist and serves on the boards of two presenting organizations and NERFA, will take part in panel discussions on EPKs: the bios, the photos, the nuts and the bolts and Performers and Presenters: Partnering to Pull in People.
AcousticMusicScene.com Showcases Set for Thursday – Saturday
Late night and afternoon AcousticMusicScene.com showcases are slated for both Friday and Saturday, along with a very special AcousticMusicScene.com Midnight Hoot on Thursday — following what’s known as the Suzi Wollenberg DJ Showcase. Beverages and snacks will be provided, including wine graciously donated by Sherwood House Vineyards of Jamesport and Mattituck, NY.
For the past several years, a number of folk radio DJs have come to the annual NERFA Conference a day early to present artists who they consider to be worthy of more attention for the listening enjoyment of their fellow DJs and other early-arrivers on Thursday night. Playing off of that, AcousticMusicScene.com will again afford three folk DJs who also have recorded albums a chance to raise their voices in song: Barbara and Graham Dean of WBCR in Great Barrington, Massachusetts and Wanda Fischer of WAMC/Northeast Public Radio in New York’s capital region. More than three-dozen artists and acts from across the U.S. and Canada also have been invited to perform one song each during a round-robin song swap that extends for more than three hours. The AcousticMusicScene.com Midnight Hoot is designed to be like a late-night song circle around a campfire during a festival, only without a fire and in the cozier confines of a hotel room. Since it takes place before the conference goes into full gear on Friday, the Midnight Hoot also provides DJs and presenters who arrive early with an opportunity to check out many artists during a short period of time and determine whom they might like to catch more of during the weekend.
Participating artists in the AcousticMusicScene.com Midnight Hoot include
(not listed in order of appearance) The Berrys, Robert Bobby Trio, Matt Borrello, The Boxcar Lilies, Caitlin Canty, Chasing June, Jerry DeMeo, Mark Dvorak, Honor Finnegan, Friction Farm, Gathering Time, Marci Geller, Sharon Goldman, Loretta Hagen, James B. Dukehouse, Julie Kathryn, Mara Levine, Rob Lytle, Eli Maniscalco, Moors & McCumber, Lois Morton, Charles Nolan, Elaine Romanelli, Barb Ryman, Paul Sachs, The Sea, The Sea, Talia Segal, Carolann Solebello, The Squid Jiggers, Hank Stone and Todd Evans, Heather Styka, Sweet Wednesday, Phil Teumin, Heidi Winzinger, The YaYas, and Brad Yoder.
The AcousticMusicScene.com showcase schedules appear below.
(Guest Hosts: Hank Stone and Sonny Ochs)
2:45 Hudson Valley Songwriters: James Durst, David Goldman, Stuart Kabak
3:30 Long Island Sounds: Jerry DeMeo, Grand Folk Railroad, Rough Folk
4:00. Phil Ochs Song Swap (hosted by Sonny Ochs):
Gathering Time, Fred Gillen, Jr., Kim & Reggie Harris, David Roth
(Hosted by Michael Kornfeld)
12:00: Josh Joffen, LJ Booth, Chris Kokesh
12:30 Amazing Voices & Harmonies: Mara Levine, Gathering Time, Debra Cowan
1:00 Husbands & Wives: Friction Farm, The Levins, Twangtown Paramours
1:30: Canadian Songbirds: Layah Jane, Amy Campbell, Suzie Vinnick
2:00 Americana & Roots Country: Chatham Street, Loretta Hagen, Andrew McKnight,
(Guest Hosts: Elaine Romanelli, Honor Finnegan and Rob Lytle)
2:00 Arlon Bennett (with John Sonntag), The Boxcar Lilies, Bethel Steele
2:30 Jerry DeMeo, Patti DeRosa, Jon Shain
300 Funny Folk: Honor Finnegan, Drew Jacobs, Lois Morton, Mark Allen Berube,
4:00 Folk You Should Know: Rob Lytle, Karyn Oliver, Marc Douglas Berardo
4:30 AcousticMusicScene.com’s Maine Event: Putnam Smith, Connor
(Hosted by Michael Kornfeld)
11:45: James B. Dukehouse, Pesky J. Nixon, Spuyten Duyvil
12:30: Julie Kathryn, Ariana Gillis, Ellis
1:00: Buskin & Batteau, Krista Detor, The YaYas,
1:30 MMM Good Music: Moors & McCumber, Louise Mosrie, Zoe Mulford
2:00 All Keyed-Up: Jeffrey Paul Bobrick, Anna Dagmar, Marci Geller,
Elaine Romanelli, The Whispering Tree, Avi Wisnia
A nonprofit organization for those engaged in traditional, contemporary and multicultural folk music, dance and related performing arts, NERFA (www.nerfa.org) is the regional arm of Folk Alliance International that seeks to strengthen and advance organizational and individual initiatives through education, networking, advocacy, and professional and field development.