I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken
Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me â€” that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter â€” except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell
November 12, 2012 - 11:12 p.m.
I better start to write about NERFA. First off if I gave you my card and you tried to email me it probably bounced. I'm having trouble getting into my Budgiedome account. Best to contact me through my gmail or facebook for now.
OK now down to business. Well actually the opposite of business. NERFA is a an industry conference but it is also akin to a revival meeting. I guess I should start by giving those of you that need it some background. NERFA is the North East Regional Folk Alliance. Anthony da Costa says it is the least fearful alliance ever. Folkies are not a formidable enemy. Every November the folkies that live in the Northeast or those that want to do business with those that live in the Northeast gather in the foothills of the mighty Catskills. It is four days filled with music, great people, food, drink, and very little sleep. It rivals Falcon Ridge as the best four days of the year. The ostensible purpose is for presenters to discover new musicians and for people who do business with musicians and presenters to display their wares. It is also the place where all your folk friends from far flung places get together. It's the annual reunion of the folk world. There are many people near and dear to me that I only see at Falcon Ridge and NERFA, I get a lot of hugs. That's the side of things I'm going to write about today. I'll get down to my discoveries and the music in another edition of Wise Madness.
I'm going to start at an odd time, 2 AM Sunday morning. The late night guerilla showcases are winding down. Everyone is tired. Everyone is happy. I found myself at the Trespass Music Room. I was there to break one of my rules. I don't see my friends play unless there is an unusual pairing. The purpose of NERFA is to discover new musicians. I broke my rule to see Pesky J. Nixon and friends. It wasn't advertised that way but I knew there would be friends. So it was not breaking my rule as that would mean an unusual pairing. They did have friends and at least one of them was my friend Jo, the cello player from Sorcha and Jo. There was also the cello player from Miles to Dayton because as someone said, "There's always room for cello." If you said that let me know. There were lots of cellos at NERFA, at least eight. I'm friends with three, Jo, Kristin from ilyAIMY, and Michael Ronstadt. Will my cellist friends that I didn't mention please refrain from hitting me. You know I'm an idiot.
Here I was on a bed in a hotel room packed with people that I know and love watching musicians that I know and love. They sang songs. Ethan talked and talked and talked, oh I said "Ethan" the rest was redundant. And the rest of us listened and sang along and sometimes talked. Oh I said "I" the talking was redundant. And the big this is that it was all about WE, not I. It was about all these diverse people feeling the same thing at the same time. It was about community.
I knew right then and there that this was what I'd write about first. I knew that I'd look up the etymology of the word community. this is what I found.
late 14c., from O.Fr. comunité "community, commonness, everybody" (Mod.Fr. communauté), from L. communitatem (nom. communitas) "community, fellowship," from communis "common, public, general, shared by all or many," (see common). Latin communitatem "was merely a noun of quality ... meaning 'fellowship, community of relations or feelings,' but in med.L. it was, like universitas, used concretely in the sense of 'a body of fellows or fellow-townsmen' " [OED].
I also found this:
So community can be seen as what we share together, what we change together. The common place of meaning. What we think together, what we love together.
That last line, "what we thing together, what we share together" that's NERFA. I went to that room because Ethan and Jake know that to their bones and I knew I'd feel it there.
My first two NERFAs I went to Gene Shay's party after the showcases. This year I decided to go to the spontaneous jam sessions in the halls, stairwells, and the lobby. Those were all magic. There were wonderful musicians I never heard of, that nobody heard of making wonderful music. There were choruses of brilliant solo musicians singing together. Richard and I started on his room on the fifth floor and worked our way down in search of magic. One floor seemed quiet but we decided to check it out anyway. We passed the Canadian room and I said, "it's always worthwhile to check on them." It was. I don't know his name but there was this older Englishman singing there that Richard saw at Cornell in the 70s doing a wonderful rendition of a traditional song.
When we got to the first floor we came upon a jam about the piano that had just broken up. I saw the lovely Anna Dagmar looking dead on her feet. She said she was heading to bed. She had all this stuff to carry so I performed my usual Sherpa duties. We came to another jam, a women's jam with men on the periphery accompanying them. Most of the women were our friends. Many were Chicks with Dip. My memory is a bit foggy but I remember Carolann, Karyn, and Catherine being there. Anna couldn't resist. She got her second wind. She set up her keyboard and joined in. I of course didn't mind. Is there anything better than being surrounded by beautiful women making beautiful music? George must feel the same way. He was there too. We spent a timeless eternity listening to the music and having a most wonderful conversation. He told me that at the entrance to the Kerrville Folk Festival there's a sign that says something like, "What could be." Please give me the exact quote if you know it. I knew that was making this entry too. People read the papers and watch the news and get the wrong idea about humanity. Our faults our news. Our strengths are not. We have it in us to make the world like NERFA and Kerrville, and all the special places and gatherings.
When the women's jam broke up Anna finally went back to her room and I finished my Sherpa duties. Then I went off again in search of jams and found one in the lobby with those Pesky Boys again. The later it got the higher the percentage of people left awake were my friends. I was hungry again and what was there to eat? Blue peeps. Didn't stop me. I scarfed down a couple of boxes of them.
Finally after dawn I went back to my room. It was after 7 AM before I was in bed. I can sleep any time but I can't always be surrounded by magic. NERFA is illuminated in octarine.
So that's it for my first NERFA post. If you want to hear who I discovered, you'll have to stay tuned for the next exciting installment of The Adventures of Horvendile in the NERFA Dimension
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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