Folks jam in the lobby during a previous NERFA Conference.

Folks jam in the lobby during a previous NERFA Conference.

More than 800 performing artists, presenters, promoters, agents and managers, folk DJs and others actively engaged in contemporary and traditional folk music will converge on the Hudson Valley Resort in Kerhonkson, New York, Nov. 13-16, 2014, for the 20th Annual Northeast Regional Folk Alliance (NERFA) Conference. will again have a major presence as it hosts afternoon and late-night song swaps, in addition to its popular Midnight Hoot at the close of the conference’s first day.

The NERFA Conference will feature several jam-packed days and nights of music showcases, open mics, song swaps and informal jam sessions, informative panel discussions and workshops, a keynote by acclaimed composer and multi-instrumentalist David Amram, one-on-one and group mentoring sessions, a large trade show-like exhibit hall, tasty communal meals in the dining room, 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. 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.

Taking center stage during this year’s conference will be 15 artists/acts selected by a panel of judges, with each to perform a 15-minute formal showcase set in the resort’s theater on Friday and Saturday nights. Slated to perform on Friday are Bobtown, Claudia Schmidt, Cassie & Maggie MacDonald, Guy Mendilow Ensemble, Harpeth Rising, Dave Gunning, and David Jacobs-Strain. Saturday’s Formal Showcase lineup features Shtreimi & Ismail Fencioglu, SONiA disappear fear, Modern Man, Burning Bridget Cleary, No Fuss & Feathers Roadshow, Jory Nash, The Don Juans, and Tim Grimm Band.

After the formal showcases, attendees will shuffle between four conference rooms to catch short sets by 40 additional artists who were selected by a different set of judges. Performing in Quad Showcases on Friday night are Kristin Andreassen, Brothers McCann, Ellen Bukstel, Bumper Jacksons, Kate Callahan, Roger Street Friedman, Connor Garvey, Loretta Hagen, Phil Henry, Lara Herscovitch, JEWMONGOUS, Libby Koch, Mara Levine, Lords of Liechtenstein, Lois Morton, Hannah Shira Naiman, Jeff Scroggins & Colorado, Scott Wolfson & Other Heroes, and Young Novelists. Saturday’s Quad Showcase artists include Beaucoup Blue, Nancy Beaudette, Jeff Black, Chasing June, RJ Cowdery, Doll Sisters, Driftwood, Folk Goddesses, Matt Harlan, Jesse Stuart Few, Mark Mandeville & Raianne Richards, Matt Nakoa, No Good Sister, Rose Sheehan & Colin de la Barre, John Sherman & Randy Clepper, Lyal Strickland, Jesse Terry, Ernest Troost, and Victor & Penny.

Following the juried showcases each evening (as well as during the afternoons), will join dozens of presenters, performers and others in hosting guerilla showcases in their hotel rooms that extend through the early morning hours. Open mics, informal jam sessions, private showcases, thematic song circles and round-robin song swaps round out the musical mix. It’s not unusual to see musicians staking out other areas of the hotel and jamming until 4 or 5 a.m. Midnight Hoot Features Artists and Singing Folk DJs

An overflow crowd will likely again descend on the room (1506) on Thursday overnight for its popular Midnight Hoot. Following the Suzi Wollenberg Folk DJ Showcase and extending from 11:45 p.m. to 3 a.m., the Midnight Hoot is a pre-arranged, round-robin song swap featuring several singing folk DJs (Barbara and Graham Dean, Wanda Fischer and Jon Stein) and some three-dozen of artists/acts – each of whom will perform one song.

Now in its eighth year, the Midnight Hoot is intended to shine a spotlight on several folk DJs who also enjoy singing, while providing them, presenters and others with an opportunity to get a small sampling of the music of a lot of artists in a short period of time. It also enables artists to enjoy each other’s company and music before the conference really gets into full swing on Friday (although since increasingly more people have been arriving on Thursday, some intensive workshops will take place that afternoon).

A house band comprised of David Buskin (keyboards), Mark Dann (bass) and Marshal Rosenberg (percussion) also will be there for anyone who desires accompaniment.

Schedules for the showcases appear below. Craft beers and wine are being graciously provided by Blue Point Brewing Company (Patchogue, NY) and Clovis Point (a boutique winery on Long Island’s North Fork).

Thursday Night 11:45 p.m. – 3 a.m. Midnight Hoot

Featuring one song by each of the following (not listed in order of appearance)

Folk DJs: Graham & Barbara Dean, Wanda Fischer and Jon Stein

Artists: Annika, Robert Sarazin Blake, Robert Bruey, Ellen Bukstel, Burning Bridget Cleary, Dan and Faith, Gathering Time, Marci Geller, Generations: Mike & Aleksi Glick, Rick Gottlieb, Loretta Hagen, Christopher Mark Jones, Stuart Kabak, Susan Kane, Judy Kass, Savannah King, Terry Kitchen, Libby Koch, Mara Levine, Bernice Lewis, Rob Lytle, Lois Morton, Zoe Mulford, Jory Nash, Aaron Nathans, Dan Navarro, Hugh O’ Doherty, Karyn Oliver, Amanda Pearcy, Glen Roethel, Elaine Romanelli, Jeff Scroggins and Colorado, Sorcha Cribben-Merrill, Hank Stone, Chuck Williams

House Band: David Buskin (keyboards), Mark Dann (bass), Marshal Rosenberg (percussion)

Friday Afternoon

12:15 Lower Hudson Valley Songsters: Susan Kane, Judy Kass, Glen Roethel
12:45 I’m From New Jersey: Christine DeLeon, Loretta Hagen, Kathy Moser, John
1:30 Brooklyn in da House: The Lords of Liechtenstein, Alex Mallett, Matt Nakoa
2:00 Texas Troubadours: Matt Harlan, Libby Koch & Amanda Pearcy
2:30 Long Island Sounds: He-Bird, She-Bird, Hank Stone, The Folk Goddesses
3:15 Long Island Sounds: Robert Bruey, Jerry DeMeo, Gathering Time, Rorie Kelly

Friday Night

11:45 Dan Navarro

12:00 Funny Folk: JEWMONGOUS featuring Sean Altman, Mark Berube, Lois Morton

12:30 Harmonic Convergence: Gathering Time, Mara Levine, Jeff Scroggins & Colorado

1:00 The Wisch List: Robert Bruey, Jenai Huff, Eugene Ruffolo
1:30 Folk You Should Know: Kristin Andreassen, Rob Lytle, Teresa Storch

2:00 Mass. Appeal: Brothers McCann, Danielle Miraglia, Pesky J. Nixon

Saturday Afternoon

1:45 Pirate Camp: Monty Delaney, Laura Joy, Stuart Kabak, Mike Laureanno

2:30: Salty Songs & Sailor Slang: Stuart Markus & Robin Greenstein

2:45 Pirate Camp Part II: Mya Byrne, Elaine Romanelli, Hank Stone, Jesse Terry

3:30 New Englanders of Note: Marc Douglas Berardo. Heather Pierson, The Boxcar Lilies

Saturday Evening

11:45 Burning Bridget Cleary

12:00 Funny Folk II: Modern Man and Lois Morton

12:30 POSItively Good Music: Freebo, Glen Roethel, David Roth

1:00 CT State Troubadours: Kristen Graves and Lara Herscovitch

1:30 Folk You Should Know: Friction Farm, Robinson Treacher, Laura Zucker

2:00 O’ Canada: Shawna Caspi, Irish Mythen, Young Novelists: Graydon James & Laura Spink, Cassie & Maggie MacDonald, Manitoba Hal, Jory Nash, David Newland, Cheryl Prashker

NERFA-logoNERFA ( is a regional affiliate of Folk Alliance International, an association that seeks to foster and promote contemporary, traditional and multicultural folk music.

Editor’s Note: My thanks to Stuart Kabak, with whom I partner in hosting late-night song swaps and open circles under the Tent @ Pirate Camp during the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, for providing a carpeted wooden platform stage and stage lights for this year’s showcases. Thanks also are due to him and fellow singer-songwriters Glen Roethel and Hank Stone for graciously offering to host afternoon showcases, and to Amy Blake, Sybil Moser and Gary Schoenberger for the loan of folding chairs.

In addition to hosting the Midnight Hoot and other showcases during the NERFA Conference, I will be participating in a panel discussion on social media and offering some group mentoring sessions focused on artist bios and one-sheets, electronic press kits (EPKs), media relations, social media, website content, and what presenters look for when considering artists for their concert series and festivals. I also serve on the board of directors for both Folk Alliance International and NERFA.