The Northeast Regional Folk Alliance (NERFA) is partnering with the Rhode Island Songwriters Association (RISA) and Focus Music — which presents and supports folk and acoustic music in the Washington, D.C. area — to present one-day mini-conferences on June 1 and 9, respectively, in Kingston, Rhode Island and Rockville, Maryland.
Like previous one-day mini-conferences, these are designed especially to give artists, presenters, DJs, agents and others engaged in the folk music scene a small taste of what takes place during NERFA’s annual conference each fall (for which Formal and Quad Showcase applications are now being accepted via Sonicbids and NERFA.org). These one-day events will feature workshops, networking and juried artist showcases, as well as informal jams in RI.The NERFA One-Day Mini-Conference at the University of Rhode Island in Kingston is set for Saturday, June 1, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Following a continental breakfast, networking, and opening remarks and introductions, two concurrent workshops on “Building Your Audience” and “Using a Producer” on your recording project” will be offered from 10:30 a.m. -11:45 a.m. Lunch and opportunities for jamming and networking are slated from noon to 1 p.m., followed, from 1-2:15 p.m., by concurrent workshops on “How to Get Radio Airplay” and “Before You Record” with David Correia of Celebration Sound Studio, a music industry veteran who has won two Grammy Awards for his work with artist Bill Harley. Then, after a short break, an “On the Griddle” instant critique session, like the ones that have proven to be quite popular at the annual NERFA conferences each November, is set for 2:30-3:45 p.m. A “Mixing and Mastering” session led by John Maillioux, a two-time Grammy nominee for his work with Duke Robillard, will also take place at that time. Throughout the afternoon, attendees also can avail themselves of the opportunity to check out some “Toys for the Acoustic Musician” in the Gallery. Following a 30-minute refreshment break, conference attendees will head into the URI Concert Hall to enjoy juried showcases featuring 10 acts –each of which will perform a 15-minute set. The selected artists are Sarah Blacker, The Boxcar Lilies, Digging Roots, Josh Joffen, Chris LaVancher, Joanne Lurgio, Heather Pierson, Paul Sachs, Skyler, and Heather Styka. Alternates are Robin O’Herin and the duo Stephilia’s Stone. The event will wrap up with closing remarks around 7 p.m. The NERFA One-Day Mini-Conference at B’nai Israel Congregation in Rockville, Maryland, is slated for Sunday, June 9, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Two classroom periods will each feature two concurrent workshops. Singer-songwriter Amy Speace will lead a comprehensive performance workshop called “Sing What You Mean/Mean What You Sing.” A “Spotlight on the Blues,” featuring some local masters of the genre will include both discussion and musical demonstrations. A “Making Connections” workshop will explore effective (and ineffective) ways to connect in the folk scene, both online and in person. As at the RI one-day event, there will be an “On the Griddle” instant critique session during which attendees will get a sense of how a radio DJ decides which recordings to add for airplay and why a presenter picks one artist over another, as select tracks from submitted CDs are played in rapid-fire fashion and panelists share their thoughts after listening to the first 60 seconds of a tune. Following lunch, the mini-conference will conclude with juried showcases featuring 10 acts — each performing a 15-minute set. The selected artists are Angelo M, Burning Bridget Cleary, Steve Chizmadia, Gathering Time, Marci Geller, Woody Lissauer, Anna Mwalagho & Afrofloetry Band, Patty Reese, Levi Stephens, and Brad Yoder. Robert Bobby is the alternate.
Registration forms and additional information on the one-day mini-conferences may be found at www.nerfa.org, where you’ll also find information on the Formal and Quad Showcases during the annual NERFA Conference, for which the application deadlines are May 17 and June 17, respectively.
NERFA is part of the larger Folk Alliance International, an association that aims to foster and promote multicultural, traditional and contemporary folk music, while strengthening and advancing organizational and individual initiatives in folk music and dance through education, networking, advocacy, and professional and field development.
Editor’s Note: I will be a participating panelist in the “Building Your Audience” and ”How to Get Radio Airplay” workshops during the one-day mini-conference at the University of Rhode Island. I serve as vice president of NERFA’s board of directors and also host AcousticMusicScene.com showcases during our annual fall conferences.