While I have not made it to any of the previous twenty-six gatherings of Folk Alliance International’s annual conference, this year in Kansas City will continue the tradition of bringing musicians together from all over the world to perform and mingle, jam and jingle. The list of performers is staggering, with official scheduled showcases of at least two hundred artists, as well as those more private and intimate performances that take place in the rooms, lobby and staircases of the Westin Crown Center Hotel, and spilling over to the neighboring Sheraton.
Over three thousand registered guests are expected and in addition to the musicians, there will be composers, agents, managers, marketing companies, labels, buyers, managers, publishers, promoters and archivists. You’ve got speeches and awards, panels and workshops, a camp with instructors, the vintage poster show and art gallery, a music fair and film festival. And since this year would have marked the 100th birthday of the great American folkorist Alan Lomax, it seems fitting that FAI will honor his memory in song with what they are calling the ‘Lomax Challenge’. In collaboration with the Library of Congress’ American Folklife Center, they are calling on all musicians to pick a song from the Lomax collection and perform it on the Centennial Stage.
Throw in a couple of tons of ribs and a city rich in tradition of great American music, this will be one helluva party that sadly many of us will miss. But fear not. While it would be ‘mission impossible’ to give you a taste of everything, I’ve waded into the sea of tunes, searched You Tube and have put together a mini-festival of sorts, or what I call the Faux(k) Alliance.
I’d like to kick it off with the trailer for The Winding Stream, which was presented at last year’s SXSW. Subtitled ‘The Carters, The Cashes and The Course of Country Music’, it will be showcased at the conference along with a number of other interesting films. While this has been making the rounds and winning awards at film festivals this past year, it can also be purchased…click here.
Two of my favorite artists, Jordie Lane from Australia and the US string band trio Stray Birds have recently come together and performed ‘Black Diamond’ for the Folk Alley Sessions. Both acts will have their own showcases in KC.
Before I leave this planet, I will one day see the great Oklahoma folksinger John Moreland. Perfoming since the early 2000’s, he came out of the punk and hardcore scene while in high school, and over the years he has matured into a great songwriter and captivating artist.
The bluegrass band I Draw Slow made it on my list of favorite bands from last year, and this clip from last summer is why.
This seems to be the year that folks that formed the Carolina Chocolate Drops are stepping out on their own and breaking through to a wider audience. Here’s Dom Flemons.
The HillBenders have annouced that their new album will be a complete bluegrass tribute to the The Who’s Tommy album. This is a teaser they just posted.
Sylvia Tyson will be awarded with a Lifetime Achievement award this year, and I went back in time to 1986 and a CBC reunion TV special with her former partner Ian Tyson and special guests.