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 — 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 18, 2014 - 12:46 p.m.
I so wanted to go see Robby Hecht last night but I had therapy and I had to go shopping so I'd have food to eat and a friend had a crisis. No fair. I don't get to see him as much as I'd like.
But the silver lining is that I don't really have much to write about other than NERFA. So I will finish writing it up. I found my guerilla program, that might help a bit. Not sure.. I wish I hadn't lost my notes, especially of the DJ's showcase.
I did take two notes on my phone. One reminded me a discovery I forgot about. OK. Let's see if I can put this together.
For those of you that don't go to NERFA I'll explain the various ways you hear music. On Thursday night is Suzi Wollenberg Folk DJ Showcase. The feel is like the emerging artist showcase at Falcon Ridge. It's 16 artists given 10 minutes apiece. Each is chosen by one DJ not a committee, that makes it more varied and eccentric. Quite a few of my friends were picked including Wise Madness regulars and or Budgiedome performers, Mike Laureanno, Mya Byrne, Villa Palagonia, and the Lords of Liechtenstein. I made one big discovery there but I'm saving naming them to the end
Then there are the Formal Showcases. These are 15 fifteen-minute slots in the big auditorium in front of the biggest audience over two nights. Nothing else goes on during the Formals. It's a big honor to be chosen for them. Of the 15 Artists 9 were my friends and one was someone I discovered at a previous NERFA and loved. Needless to say I approved of the voting. The artist are chosen by votes of a committee. I know that I loved more of them than at least one of the judges. Does that mean my tastes are generic? Nah. Here is the lineup.
It's still exciting for me to see my friends on stage doing a kickass job. I was kvelling and kvelling. The friends are Bobtown, Guy Mendilow, Harpeth Rising, David Jacobs-Strain, SONiA, Modern Man, Burning Bridget Clearly, No Fuss & Feathers Roadshow, and "Cousin" Jory NashThe one I had seen before and how become friends are Cassie and Maggie MacDonald. This year I sent them Facebook friend requests. Among the rest there was one discovery and one I'll have to see more.
Then there are the Quads, four showcases going on at once. If you move around you are bound to miss things. I try to not see people I already know. I also simply missed two of the ten slots as I did other things. I found he Quads weak this year. But some friends of mine felt they were stronger than the Formals. There is a lot of taste involved. .and of course I didn't see some great people because I already knew them. I made one huge discovery there. I wish I had caught Victory & Penny, I heard very good things about them after the fact.
Then there are the guerilla showcases that I think of as the heart of the conference.. That's where you can discover people totally off the Radar. They perfrom in hotel rooms with no sound system. The hosts of the rooms make up their own rules. Sets go from one song to half an hour. My ideal would be 20 minutes. I also prefer to not have round robins. If I know one of the participants or are not interested in the others I'm just wasting my time listening to them. It can work great I a festival but not at NERFA where I'm there to find new acts.
Of course I spent a lot of my time talking to people in the hallways as I walk from room to room. I also spent a lot of time getting yelled at for talking too loud. Not really true but it did happen. Oh and I do see people I know if they rarely play in New York.
I discovered a few people I'd like to hear more of plus one major find. So now it's time to announce my 2014 NERFA discoveries.
My top discovery and the one all the presenters will be fighting over is Bumper Jacksons. They are self described as roots jazz, country swing, street blues. They have the standard instrumentation of clarinet, slide trombone, guitar, suitcase percussion, stand up bass, and pedal steel.. Yes you read that right. Jess the clarinetist and lead vocalist says that except for the slide it's what a western swing band plays. I've only heard Bob Wills, I never saw them. The only comparison I'll make is that on some songs Jess's vocals remind me of Rachel Price from Lake Street Dive. If you live in the Northeast I can pretty much tell you they will be playing near you as everyone I talked to loved them. I got the jump on them thanks to Kristen Jones of ilyAIMY. She hooked Jess up with me so I could give her the scoop on NERFA. I totally forgot that. You know why? I'm an idiot. But Kristen then posted on her FB that everyone should look out for them. Then at NERFA Becca told me to not miss them. She is the one that made them apply for the Quad. She gets extra credit as she also is one of the people that turned me onto ilyAIMY and thus Kristen I trust Kristen and Becca and was rewarded for doing so.
At just about the same level of being in total awe is Kaia Kater a Canadian going to college in West Virginia. As her music is Appalachian that makes a lot of sense. Carter recommended her and played one song of hers on the way up. But that song is her one oddball piece, a hiphop song attached to an Appalachian ballad. She is quite trad but makes it feel like she just came up with it. She is bursting with enthusiasm and has the musical chops. I thought she might be too trad for most of the other people but she wasn't. She won over everyone I know who saw her. I stayed for a full half hour set by her. She belongs in the Brooklyn seen with her banjo and body percussion.. I'm going to get her to Jalopy or die in the attempt.
From the DJ Showcase, Brothers McCann. I also saw them in the Quads. They are my most conventional pick and so the hardest to describe. It's three guys, I'm assuming brothers named McCann doing harmonies and playing guitars.. It doesn't sound exciting. but excitement doesn't need over novelty. The originality is with what they do with those tools. They got musical chops, energy, and good songwriting. That's all it takes. Jake Bush from Pesky J. Nixon turned me on to them.
Finally Shtreiml & Ismail Fencioglu. They are your usual mixture of Klezmer and Turkish music. A harmonica takes the normal clarinet part. He manages to play a standard harmonica chromatically. So yes they are great and totally different than anyone else there. They make it easy to share too so I will.
I'd put it as Bumper Jacksons and Kaia Kater share the top spot. The Brothers McCann just below and Shtreiml & Ismail Fencioglu. Originally I had Shtreiml & Ismail Fencioglu below the others but l realized that I loved them just as much as the Brother's McCann. I wouldn't be surprised if either of them moved up to the first tier. I am ure that these four are well above anyone else I saw and didn't know. Nobody is nipping at their heels.
I still have more people stories to get to but now I'm hungry and it's late and I'm totally blanking on somebody's name. So there will be one more NERFA post. I got the name but I'm still going to call it a day.
I signed the Pro-Truth Pledge:
please hold me accountable.
Memories: Not that Horrid Song - May 29, 2018
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