by Chris Davis
Sometimes it's easier to show than tell so here's a video-laden blog post to give readers a taste of all the sonic goodness that went down this past weekend at the 22nd annual Folk Alliance Conference in Memphis. This year's event attracted more than 1700 attendees, featured 200 official juried, performances, and 300+ unofficial private showcases. There were also more than 50 workshops and panel discussions like this old time banjo summit.
In addition to the Downtown Marriott's conference and ball rooms, which were reserved for concerts and workshops, three stories of the hotel were reserved for nearly round the clock performances. Each hotel room became a miniature club or concert hall featuring a different act every half hour.
Here's a clip featuring most of the final hotel room showcase played by Texas honky tonker James Hand. Hand was scheduled to play three shows at the conference and one show at Nocturnal in Midtown, and in spite of having a reputation as the heartsick offspring of Hank Williams and George Jones he actually made every date.
Some workshops, like How to Sing Southern Harmony are practical. Others are really mini concerts. Saturday's Electric Guitar Summit brought session superstar Colin Linden together with Bil Kirchen of Commander Cody & his Lost Planet Airmen, Stonehoney's Phil Hurley, and singer-songwriter Will Kimbrough. That jam session resulted in a joyful cover of Bob Dylan's "You Ain't Going Nowhere"
as well as a Kirchen led go at Santo & Johnny's classic, "Sleepwalk."
It's impossible to avoid music at the conference. Everywhere you turn there's either a showcase...
or a jam session.
Sometimes it can get pretty weird.
The sacred steel players were the talk of this year's conference and it's not hard to see why. Here's Footie's Gospel Train...
A.J. Ghent Jr...
and an astonishing duet between Ghent Jr. and Roosevelt Collier.
That's just a tiny scratch at the surface of this truly massive celebration of traditional music.