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
-Bertrand Russell

What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — 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 — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell

November 21, 2012 - 12:15 p.m.

The Book of NERFA Revelations

I'm finally get down to business and writing about my NERFA discoveries. This requires actual work and looking at my notes.

I didn't discover anybody at the Quad Showcases, It wasn't that there wasn't anyone good there. There were plenty of great performers but I already knew them. I wish I had seen some of the acts that I knew were great but weren't that familiar with. I wouldn't have discovered anyone but perhaps I'd have discovered new aspects to musicians I already knew. The best time I had at the Quads was doing that. I see Anna Dagmar all the time but not backed by Deni Bonet. I knew they were doing one song together so I watched that. It was as good as I had hoped. Then I ran to the next room to see Melissa Greener. I have seen her before but she's one of those people that I seem to always have to miss.

I had much better luck at the DJ showcases. That isn't surprising as they are by their nature more personal. The performers are picked by an individual not a committee. It's also the first night and my first chance to see some of them. A few had Quads too but I had already seen them at the DJ.

My first discovery this NERFA was Stephanie Bettman & Luke Halpin. I told them that being my first discovery augers good things for them. Of course that's just based on how Barnaby Bright's career has gone since they were my first discovery a couple of years ago. Stephanie and Luke became my NERFA stalkers. I ran into them everyplace. Not that I minded as they are not only great performers but fun people. I instantly bonded with them even though I can never remember their names. You should. You have a brain. Let's see what my first impression of them is on my notes.

Rock the Casbah!
Instrumentals, Joan Baez

That does sound auspicious doesn't it? It also shows the sparseness of my note taking. It tells me what I need to know. They are great., They do instrumentals, and Stephanie's singing reminds me of Joan Baez. That really should be enough to make you want to see them too, As an added bonus Luke looks like John Cleese during his beard phase. I wish I had seen their Quad.

Bobtown made a huge impression on me. They are my Brooklyn homies, how did I not know them? They come out of the same neo-trad world as Spuyten Duyvil and Roosevelt Dime but their music is more diverse than either of them. They can sound like the Andrews Sisters. They do a cover of Blue Oyster Cult's "(Don't Fear) The Reaper." My notes simply say "soulful, haunting, neo-trad." I caught them performing in the halls and lobby a few times. I should have gone to their Quad too. As locals I'm sure I'll be seeing far more of them. They became instant favs and my people.

Strangely enough one of my discoveries was my NERFA roommate Martin Swinger. I had seen him at Falcon Ridge but always thought of him more as a friend than a performer. Then I saw him on stage and couldn't stop laughing. The man is plain out funny. I wish I could read my handwriting and had a better memory. I wrote down song titles but now can't remember what I wanted to say about them. All I know is that they are great and I'm not going to miss seeing him again. You can see him at the Budgiedome next Falcon Ridge. He is so playing.

Now on to the Guerillas. I had caught Michaela Anne someplace before but I'm not sure where. It was so small venue in the City. My notes say "intriguing, keeps my attention." My opinions aren't fully formed on her. I've seen enough of her to know that I want to see more.

One of the themes at NERFA was cellos. There were lots of cello players, at least 8. Yes the cello is the new ukulele taking the folk world by storm. I'll stop and talk about duos featuring cellos that I already knew and loved but love even more now.

Michael Ronstadt was the first one I ran into at NERFA this year. I had only seen him once when he performed with old friend and favorite Aaron Nathans. He performed with Aaron once gain. When anyone asked me who to look out for I said Michael. I hope they listened to me. He isn't like anyone else you know. He can back people up on cello and sound like Pablo Casals. I was walking through the halls and heard some virtuoso cello playing and rushed to see who it was. It was Michael. He is also a singer/songwriter. When he does that he will strum the cello. Not like Lindsay Mac, he holds the cello in the standard position but his pizzicato technique is closer to guitar playing. I can see him cringing at my description. When he plays with Aaron they alternate on whose songs they do while the other backs him up. on one song they became Morey Amsterdam and Rose Marie. Michael is of course Morey the cello player. Aaron was Rose. No he didn't keep going on and on about how he couldn't find a husband. What he did was sing and then glare as Michael would show off on cello and hog the spotlight. Their timing and teamwork was impeccable. I compared them to Morey and Rose, there really is no higher praise.

The other duo with a cello I want to talk about is Sorcha & Jo. They are one of my archetypal NERFA stories. I met them last year at dinner where they charmed me. Then I saw them play and loved their music. I next ran into them at Falcon Ridge where they impressed me even more. Now they've taken it up yet another notch. I didn't know till this NERFA that they had just started playing together at NERFA 2011. Now they've had a year playing together and the chemistry has improved. They are not just good, or very good, they are great. Now they just have to play in New York. They are of course still charming too.

The person who I already knew that I saw them most was Deni Bonet as her room was Duets with Deni. I got to hear her do a set with another old friend and favorite, Amy Speace. That was magic. Amy you need to backed by a violin.

When I was walking through the halls I saw a beautiful woman with a trumpet. You might see a lot of cellos at NERFA but you don't see any brass instruments. So that caught my eye and ear. I went over to talk to her. Her name is Kami Lyle. She gave me her guerilla schedule and checked her out. She rocks like Slayer used to [dont like the simile blame David Morreale I've been quoting that for 11 years]. She did a song with Mambo in the title, of course I don't remember the actual title. One person in the audience said how much he loved hearing that song ages ago and was glad she covered it. The thing is she didn't cover it. It's a new song and she wrote it. It just sounds classic. My thought was that Marilyn Monroe's character could have sang that in "Some Like It Hot." Later Kami told me that one of the albums she learned to sing from was by Marilyn. See my ears don't deceive me. Like Bobtown her songs are diverse. You can hear them on youtube. I told her I'd talk to her about places to play in New York. If I have anything to do with it you'll be hearing her in the City.

Telling the story about meeting Kami in the hall reminded me that I did make a major discovery in the Quads; Cassie & Maggie MacDonald blew me away. They are a Celtic sister duo from Nova Scotia. Cassie plays fiddle and Maggie piano and guitar. I had passed them in a hall and loved them but couldn't stop to listen. Then I got to the showcase and found that I was rushing to see them. I watched them with Jo, you know the charming cellist. I loved that when we couldn't find a seat she suggested sitting down front on the floor. She's my kind of person. Cassie & Maggie are my kinds of musician. I love the Canadian Celtic traditional music. It's different than most anything else you could hear at NERFA and that's a good thing. We need a diverse musical world. Being different isn't enough though. They are also virtuosi. They playing took me to another world.

So that's the end of my NERFA report. I feel bad because I couldn't write about everybody, especially the people I knew. As always I loved the Maineiacs. Maine has a wonderful music scene. I do have one note, I called Connor Garvey charming. I had used the phrase myself then somebody else used it. I just called Sorcha & Jo charming, They are from Maine too. And we all know that Putnam Smith is charming. . The new Maine Mafia is going to take charm their way into folk dominance.

My last note is "Ariana photogaphy." I know what that's about and will get it's own entry one of these days. It's a discussion of art in general not Ariana's performance at the formals.

looking at the fine print of my notes I see one more discovery, Tall Heights, A number of people, including Becca Derry, recommended them to me. The room they were in was so crowded I couldn't even get into the main part of the room let alone get a seat. I stayed for one song and loved what I heard. I have to check them out in the future.

I still have my NERFA homework to do., Listening to the CDS and contacting people. I might end up writing one more entry but for now we'll bid NERFA adieu.





Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
Late to Bed and Late to Rise - September 30, 2017
On Your Feet or On Your Knees - September 29, 2017
Why Life Doesn't End on Closing Day - September 28, 2017
Anna and King of I Am - September 27, 2017



creative commons
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.
Horvendile November 21, 2012
site search by freefind advanced


Follow on Feedly



about me - read my profile! read other DiaryLand diaries! recommend my diary to a friend! Get your own fun + free diary at DiaryLand.com!