Rolling east now, both filled up and drained out by this year’s Folk Alliance International conference in Kansas City. In my current sleep-deprived state, I am listing just a few of the many standout moments:
– Hearing Neeta Ragoowansi, FAI’s new executive director, speak about the importance of empathy and kindness, and her challenge to us artists to ‘work to not be the best *in* the world, but to be the best *for* the world.’
– Humbird’s stunning performance, and in particular, hearing her sing in her poised, gentle, and beautiful way, ‘I will help the strangers I meet.’
– Hugging my friends Pete and Crystal for the first time since before the pandemic.
– Our friend and amazing fiddler Scotty Leach walking in and taking a seat during our official showcase set and my heart leaping with so much joy and surprise that I nearly forgot the next line of lyrics!
– Both of us gratefully receiving several hundred dollars worth of free health care courtesy of the Blues Foundation’s HART Fund.
– Kelly Halloran’s kick ass, impromptu fiddle solo on ‘The Get Up and Go.’
– Scotty Leach’s equally kick ass and impromptu fiddle solo on ‘What Else Can I Do?’.
– Martin Shore’s beautiful film about New Orleans, called ‘Take Me To The River‘.
– Shawn and I accompanying Ken Whiteley and me singing a swingin’ version of ‘When You’re Smiling’ on the hotel’s Yamaha baby grand, just for us.
– Hearing a quote from ‘My Funny Valentine’ from the vibes player in the intro of a Steve Goodman tune as performed by my new favorite band, Sussex.
– That soaring trombone solo during the Latin jam in the Garden Terrace!
– Experiencing the incredible textures and rhythms of the Brazilian group Dendê from just inches away.
– Harry Manx’s tremendous style and sense of humor.
– Shawn surprising me with a gift of a beautiful new percussion instrument from Nigeria, from one of the exhibit hall vendors.
– Antonio Lopez’s singing his heart-stopping song ‘The Truth We Tell’ in that round on Saturday night.
– A new friend and fan named Connie getting up from her chair and stepping out into the hall to yell at everyone to be quiet because she was trying to hear me sing ‘Lines and Spaces’ 😆
– Our team and collection of favorite humans—Louise, Bruce, Nora, Bernice—supporting us fully and completely with their love, hard work, presence, and enthusiasm.
As my buddy Seth Walker sang on Saturday, ‘I wanna have more days like this (and more nights like that).’