Tag Archive: Folk


dan-at-swrfa-2016-bCatch up continues…This year’s edition of SWRFA in Austin began on Wednesday, September 28 with an open mic at Threadgill’s at night. Since I had the recording time at the Harman truck for the JBL contest at 4:30 p.m. (see previous post), I would not be able to get to Austin in time to sign up, so I couldn’t justify the extra night in the hotel. I arrived at the hotel on Thursday about 3:00 p.m. in time to check in, register, get my song prompt, and get ready for the dinner and open mic by the pool.

Berkalin Records provided the dinner and drinks – as they do each year. Butch Morgan hosted the open mic(s) – as he does each year. After the open mic was the official showcase alternates concert. Which were the performers who were finalists, but did not get chosen for the official showcases on Friday and Saturday night.

Friday began with the First Timers Advice – per usual, followed by various other breakout sessions. Lunch and dinner on Friday and Saturday, and the brunch on Sunday morning are covered in the quite reasonable registration price. One of the things always mentioned for first timers that everyone pretty much takes to heart is to sit at the meals with people you don’t know. So you meet new people and make new friends and contacts. It can be a little tough when you know a lot of the people there. So if we sit at a table and there happens to be someone we know, we simply put some people between us.

The first timer showcase(s) were from 1:30 to 3. Sponsored showcases were from 3:30 – 5:30 and

Baylis Laramore

Baylis Laramore

again from 10:30 p.m. until early in the morning. The DJ reception, welcoming party, and dinner, all preceded the official showcase concert from 7:30 to 10. Throughout the hotel there were spontaneous bursts of animated conversation and song circles until the wee hours.

Saturday was similar to Friday with the general exhibit area and various breakout sessions. The second pool party and open mic was held from 3:30 – 5:30, with Butch Morgan hosting. Followed by dinner and the second official showcase concert. Then more sponsored showcases, spontaneous outbursts, and song circles.

Sunday brought the brunch followed by the song assignment performances. If you will recall I said that I got my song prompt when I registered. The challenge is to write a song using the prompt during the weekend and play the resulting song on Sunday. As advertised, it’s one of the highlights of the weekend. This year 61 people sang the song they had written. Many were funny – you should have heard some of the prompts! Others were heart-reaching and thought-provoking. Especially with a group of sleep deprived individuals in the audience.

Bill Hook and Lynn McCracken

Bill Hook and Lynn McCracken

Good-byes were said throughout the morning as people from farther away had to leave. If it sounds like it was a whirlwind it was. A thoroughly enjoyable, powerful, musical whirlwind. Reuniting with friends, making new ones, learning about our craft and business, and hearing songs that inspire a songwriter to write other ones or just bring out emotions that need touching.

Dalis Allen and the volunteer staff did a marvelous job as always. Not to mention the hotel staff at the Holiday Inn Austin Midtown. Add to that a couple of hundred singer-songwriters and over fifty venue representatives, and for four days we were all one big happy, sleep deprived family. Join us next year. You will be welcome.

Peace be with you.

E-Flat Porch Band

E-Flat Porch Band

At the Poor David’s Pub Open Mic on Monday, February 15, we had the good fortune to hear the E-Flat Porch Band as the featured act. The band consists of Duane Brown on guitar and Rudy Littrell on the upright bass. Although Rudy sits while he plays, so it’s more like a leaning bass.
But the way he played it made how he played it irrelevant. And Duane was an excellent compliment on guitar.

The band opened the KNON Blues Fest at Poor David’s and Troll invited them to be featured at the open mic. Those who were there for the open mic were glad he did. They played a set that included some standard blues tunes, such as a Robert Johnson song, and Mance Lipscomb’s Relax Your Mind. The duo also played their own song, Sugarcane, that pretty much pulled out all the stops on both bass and guitar.

If you get the chance to see the E-Flat Porch Band, do yourself a favor and do so. From jokes to stories to dueling harmonicas, Duane and Rudy are the complete entertainment package. They have been playing together for twenty years and it shows in their natural camaraderie and harmonious musicality. Blues, Folk, Americana – roots music at it’s best. You need to check out the E-Flat Porch Band.

Peace be with you.

SWRFA Page Two

Dan At Saturday open mic at SWRFA To finish with my Southwest Regional Folk Alliance(SWRFA) summary review, Friday morning at SWRFA began with a session for first time attendees.. But there were just as many veterans as there were first timers, it seemed to me. The session was presented by Paul E. Barker, of Barker House Concerts, and Hilary Adamson, of the Flyin’ A’s. Paul talked from the venue stand point, and Hilary spoke from the performing artist point of view. They shared quite a bit of useful information, but a couple of things stood out.

SWRFA had in-room showcases on Friday from 3:30 – 5:30 p.m., then again from 10:30 p.m. – 3 a.m. or later. Saturday just had the in-room showcases from 10:30 p.m. on. I was wondering about the in-room showcases when I considered attending. I’m not one for staying up real late anymore, particularly if I am going to be getting up fairly early in order to visit and network. Yet I didn’t want to miss anything important by not going to the later showcases. Which was one of the good points Paul brought up.

“At events during the day, the ratio of performing artists to venues is 10 to 1. At the later showcases, you won’t find any venues represented.”

So I felt better about not trying to pull an all-nighter. Hilary has a lot more energy than anyone has a right to, particularly at 9 a.m. But her best suggestions had to do with sending out personal messages to anyone she wanted to meet with at SWRFA. Then, following the event, being sure to follow up with everyone you interacted with that you want to work with or keep in touch with.

There were other sessions on Friday, as well as the First Timers Showcase and one-on-ones with industry people, and the first official showcase. I had a showcase in the Handshake Management room at 5:10 p.m. I also had a showcase at 12:40 a.m. in the Webb House Concerts room.

Saturday there were more sessions. I played at the open mic by the pool in the late afternoon. After dinner was the second official showcase. And then, of course, the in-room showcases.

This was just a summary of events. I mainly wanted to point out when I played and let anyone who is a singer/songwriter – or group thereof – know that SWRFA is a good investment as well as a really good time. Even though you saw the ratio of performing artists to venues above, you still get heard by a lot of people and that is never a bad thing. You learn new things, meet new people, and make connections that will serve you well.

Follow the links and check it out. I have one more post about Sunday before I lay it to rest. As a writer, you get hung up in so many projects, some have to come later. But I wanted to at least talk about it for my fellow singer/songwriters who may not know about it or wonder if it’s worth it. (It is.)

Peace be with you.

Tracie MerchantOn almost every night of the week, an open mic can be found in the Dallas area and often more than one, sometimes several. Some of the open mics include spoken word, playing cover songs, etc. On the other hand, some may prefer original songs, but talented covers are usually allowed. The majority of open mic hosts are friendly and welcoming. Most open mics have their regulars, even if it’s just a few people that show up all the time.

A number of open mics and similar events are hosted by members of the Dallas Songwriters Association (DSA). There is a supportive songwriting community in the Dallas area, a good number of whom are members of DSA. Some of us have been writing songs for years. Some are younger and just getting started playing live at open mics. Quite a few members of the DSA perform at other open mics in addition to DSA events.

But it’s the community that I want to emphasize here. The songwriting and open mic communities are very supportive in every way a community can be. One good example is the open mic at Poor David’s Pub (PDP), hosted by Mr.Troll. It helps, of course, that it is one of best listening rooms in town, and Carlos Sanchez is one of the best sound men in town. Samantha Sanders is one of the best bartenders, too.

A good illustration of my point came about recently. On Monday, I arrived at PDP, ready to play in the open mic. I said hi to a couple of people from DSA at the bar. Troll asked me to step aside and talk to him privately. He needed to go home to take care of his dad, and asked me to guest host the open mic. Of course I said I would.

Troll played first, as usual. He played two songs, but we persuaded him to play a third song. Then he introduced me and slipped out, and I took over as host. On the list were regulars – some older, some newer. The featured artist was Tracie Merchant. I introduced her about 8:45. In the middle of her set, Tracie picked up her phone and began to make a call.

“Does everybody know my friend, Bill Nash?” Many of us did. Bill is a singer/songwriter with MS. He has been in the folk scene in Dallas for quite some time. He has come up with different tunings using capos and key changes to enable him to keep playing the guitar and writing songs. He had to leave SWRFA a little early due to health issues and within a week was in the hospital. He was hoping to get out of the hospital soon when Tracie called.

“We’re here at the open mic at Poor David’s Pub. We wanted to tell you something,” she said when Bill answered. She motioned to all of us and at the same time we said:

“Get well, Bill!” He asked her if we would do it again so he could record it. Which we gladly did.

During the evening a harmonica player was hanging around, hoping to join someone. Vince Alexander is from Atlanta and is here working at the State Fair. He was looking for a break from the fair to do what he loved the most – playing music. Toward the end of the evening he got his chance and stayed on stage to play with Tin Man Travis. Vince had the pleasantness on his face and in his upbeat and friendly attitude of one who is away from home in an unfamiliar place and finds a music community to be a part of (albeit temporarily).

See what I mean about community? And you’re all welcome – to play or listen. At any of the open mics or DSA events.

Peace be with you.

Dan at SWRFA ShowcaseWeekend before last I attended the Southwest Regional Folk Alliance (SWRFA) in Austin. As a singer/songwriter, it was a fantastic experience. A weekend with like-minded souls enjoying what they do. Three and a half days of nothing to do but play music, listen to music, and “talk shop.”

An open mic Wednesday night at Threadgill’s began SWRFA. I didn’t get to that event, opting not to spend an extra night in the hotel. Except for the fact that I would have liked to have gone to Threadgill’s, it turned out to be a good decision.

For one thing, I was told that it was completely packed. Come to find out that if I had played in that open mic, I wouldn’t have been able to play at either of the other two open mics. Because there were so many attendees, each act only played one song at the open mics. So I figured I made the right decision. We’ll see about next year.

On Thursday, registration was to begin at 2 p.m. I arrived about 1:30. While we waited on our rooms to be ready, a guitar was passed around the lobby. It wasn’t too long before my room was ready. I made two trips to the room, parked the car and went to register for the conference – which is, and isn’t, the right term for it.

The pool party/open mic began at 5 p.m., with Berkalin Records providing a dinner buffet and drinks. I have some pictures from the open mic that I will post on Facebook when I get a chance. Following the open mic was the official showcase alternates concert. Which would be those acts who didn’t get chosen for the two official showcase concerts on Friday and Saturday. After which, song circles popped up around the hotel. And events were just getting started. More to come.

Peace be with you.

 

 

 

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