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 17, 2014 - 12:50 p.m.

NERFA Safari

I'm home from NERFA but some things never change. How am I an idiot? Let me count the ways.

  1. I lost my water bottle the first day.
  2. My phone died because I didn't recharge my portable charger but thought the problem was in the USB connector so I didn't charge it again so I have no pictures from Thursday and Friday nights.
  3. I lost my note pad with the workshop schedule Friday
  4. While looking for it on Saturday I cleaned out my bags. In the process I threw out my NERFA program.

Because I lost the pad I lost most of my notes I took to help me write this. I have a few on my phone. I tend to remember the good stuff what I lose is the snarky comments on the acts I don't like. I am nice I never say who they are about.

Another way I'm an idiot. I seem to have thrown out the guerilla showcase schedule too. Looking at what I had marked off helps me remember what to write about. OK so here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to write a disorganized ramble of things I remember mostly personal not musical and then give my big discoveries of the conference.

Now that I'm carless getting to NERFA is an adventure. I know I can do it. I have too many friends to not find a ride but I want it to be easy and the right time. I'd be so much happier if I had a car and was the person giving the ride.

I went up with Carter and Suzanne, Suzanne's wife Leslie drove us. I took the MetroNorth up to Carter and we were picked up there

We got there a little later than I usually do.. I registered, ran to my room, dropped off my stuff and went to dinner. That leaves out the most important part, the eight thousand hello hugs in the lobby. I forgot the first person I saw there but I know the first person so saw in the hallway was Amy She was the first person I saw at Falcon Ridge. Lots of friends camped in my wing. We were the cool kids. Any world where I'm one of the cool kids gets beaten up and has it's lunch money taken every day by the bully worlds.

OK now to force myself to NOT go through everything chronologically. This is the disjointed highlight reel.

What makes NERFA is the interactions with the people. I found myself on several teams. I was on team Mya handing out her new CD, As I Am to the right people. That wasn't so easy as Neale was beating me to them.

I was on Team Mark Allen Berube, helping Mark promote his new CD, Sticky.

I was on team Bobtown. They did a super secret concert at the top of the tower stairwell and Katherine asked me to give out printed invitations and made sure everybody knew about it. I didn't say it was a well-kept secret. When we got there it was a bit dark so I took on a new role in the folk world, lighting guy. I used the flashlight app on my phone, It keeps the flash from the camera on. It was remarkably effective. Most of the audience and I stood on the landing above the band. Ten years from now thousands of people are going to say that they were at that legendary performance. It was just like the Beatles on the rooftop. The night before I wore my Bobtown t-shirt to the guerilla showcases. I wouldn't wear it while watching them as I'm not that guy.

After several years of nagging from me Kat Quinn came to her first NERFA. She asked me what she should do and I said, "sign up for a mentoring session." she did. A little later I saw that she won the mentoring jackpot and got Kim Harris as her mentor. Later Kat told me that it was the best hour of her life! See listen to me when I give you advice. Kat learned the most important lesson, I am always right.

Keeping to mentoring I saw Kaia Kater standing in the area by registration. I didn't know her but Carter enthusiastically recommended her on the ride up. I saw her flyer on the bulletin board and she has recognizable hair and I figured it was her. I went up to her and said, "Are you Kaia?" She said, "David?" She was waiting for her mentor, David Amram. She also won the mentoring lottery but not quite. David wasn't there. I talked to her and got to know her and looked for David as I knew what he looked for. We had no success. I got involved with other people. But when I ran into her later she said she found David and spent 5 hours with him. He gets deeply involved in anything he gets involved with.

I had my own encounter with David. I was walking out of the dining with John R. and we saw David eating lunch all alone. We walked over and I introduced myself and told him that I was a friend of the Amigos. he met them at NERFA two years ago and has worked with them. I told him I got some shots of him playing with them. David asked us to sit down and I got a quick history of parts of his life which is a pretty broad history of American music.

One of the quintessential NERFA moments for me was at my first NERFA. I try and sit with strangers and I decided to not sit with "famous people" I wanted to not sit with performers. I saw this nice family and joined them. It turned out to be Burning Bridget Cleary. They have become one of my favorite bands and good friends. I broke all my rules and sat with people I know and joined them for dinner on Saturday. It was actually a bad NERFA for meeting people at dinner.

I have a NERFA tradition that is very much me. At some point, totally unplanned, I will run into Robby Hecht near the Duchess Room after a Quad showcase. This happens every year. I never run into him anyplace else but I see him there every year. And every year we find ourselves the only people in that lobby and have our annual totally random conversation on something having nothing to do with music. Yes we started off talking music, Louse Armstrong and Duke Ellington but that is not where we finished. We ended up with how Orthodox Jews have to leave Knoxville for the high holy days as there isn't an orthodox synagogue. No idea how we got there which is part of what makes me love my annual conversation with him.

I kvelled over Kristin Andreassen's Quad showcase. I pushed her to apply for it. This was her first NERFA. Critter backed her up. Critter has a doppelganger. I saw him at dinner, he has the same face but its five inches shorter.

I had fun talking to Becca and Billie. Becca is one of favorite people to talk about music with and she gives great hugs.. I always think all my music friends show know her. Most of the musicians do.

Cassie and Maggie MacDonald totally blew me away in their formal showcase. I was pretty sure they were the Nova Scotian sisters I saw a couple of years ago there. I saw them after the formals and said hello. Cassie remembered me. Why? They quoted Wise Madness. on their One Sheet. I love that people that didn't know me personally quoted me. I have to be sure and not be seduced into writing nice thing so they will be quoted. Actually that has little appeal to me. I writing enthusiastically because I feel enthusiastic. I won't fake that. I love what I love and want the world to know it.

There's always lots of jamming on Saturday night. After the first few years I avoided the big party in Gene Shay's room because it's all oldies. I go to the lobby. This year when I got to the lobby I found that the oldies jam had moved there. I went in search of my people. I heard banjo and that jam was better but still not my people. I walked around. I spotted Kat. She was going to bed but I told her she should jam. We then spotted Meg. Meg led us to the jam I was looking for, the women's jam filled with my people.

Time out for an ellipsis. I need to go back and write about Meg I go to On the Griddle where they play one minute of a song and a panel of mainly DJs and venue people say what the they think based on that. .Of course that's exactly how they experience so much music as they have huge piles of CDS. I knew so many of the people on Friday's. But then I heard one I didn't recognize and thought was great. So did the crowd. Everyone was excited. It was from Meg's upcoming CD. I hadn't heard it and the style was so different I didn't recognize her. It was fantastic. I think she's been to the crossroads. Meg's one of my close friends and someone I see often. But I haven't she's been working on this new material. I can' see her next gig so I broke another rule and saw someone I know in a showcase, not once but twice.

Now back to the jam.. There were only four men, Jay, Mark, Davey O, and me. So many female friend were there or arrived afterward. First ones I saw were the Box Car Lilies. There was a running thing with Jenny. Whenever I saw he all weekend she was walking in the opposite direction of me. I told her that she must be trying to avoid me. Yes that's what I do. I love joking about that. So finally we were at the same place and I could feel loved.

Who else was there? Jess, it was her birthday. We all sang Happy Birthday to her. And lots of chicks with dip. Carolann, Allison Scola, Catherine, Karyn, um is that it? Well Meg of course so that's five and counts as a lot. There were to Bobtown residents, Karen and Katherine though Katherine didn't arrive to shortly before I left. . Elaine and Bernice were there though I was so tired I couldn't come up with Bernice's name. I kept on thinking of my mother's, Beatrice.

I didn't have a ride home and I scrambled for one. All the obvious people, Matt, my roommate, Kat, and Kristin were heading north not back to the City. I finally got a ride with the Lord's of Liechtenstein's family even though that was a tight fit. it was Dan and Noah, their father Michael, their sister Autumn, and me in a small car with all our stuff including their instruments. I rode shotgun but had stuff piled on top of me and on my feet. In other words it was fun. Even better when I said we would be driving by my sister's house they asked if I wanted to stop by and say hi. Of course I did. Alison was real surprised to see me when I rang the door. I didn't call ahead. I wanted to see the surprise. I also wanted her to meet my friend and visa versa. Noah tuned her banjo that she hadn't played because it was out of tune. I am so happy we stopped.

That remind me that I forgot to mention Cousin Jory. Every year Jory and I have our family reunion. No we are not blood relatives but if we aren't somehow related something is wrong with the world. Ahh, now I want to write about Shawna and other Canadians but that will have to wait.

Wow I haven't told you my musical discovery's yet. And now I don't have time. I have to eat and go to therapy. OK that's coming and maybe some pictures too. Don't worry there was music at NERFA and I'll get to more people stuff too. Just not in any order.

Let's go NERFA now
Everybody's learnin' how
Come on a safari with me.

I signed the Pro-Truth Pledge:
please hold me accountable.

Memories: Not that Horrid Song - May 29, 2018
Wise Madness is Now In Session - May 28, 2018
The NFL and the First Amendment - May 27, 2018
On The Road Again - May 26, 2018
Oliver the Three-Eyed Crow - May 25, 2018

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Horvendile November 17, 2014
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