I attended the Folk Alliance Midwest Region (FARM) one-day conference in Fayette, Ohio this past weekend. It was called FARMette. Usually the regional Folk Alliance conferences last a few days and accommodate a sizeable crowd. FARMette was a one-day event (held on Saturday April 28th, 2012) that handled a smaller group of musicians and music professionals from all over this part of the country.
I figured out that it would not be too difficult to drive from Chicago to Fayette to try this thing out, and I knew that there would be a few other people from Chicago there (such as Heather Styka, Emily White, and Sue Fink), so I wasn’t going to be completely a stranger in a strange land. What I found was delightful – a long day filled with some of the best live music I’ve heard gathered together and dozens of learning moments for me as a "noob" member of the Folk tribe (for lack of a better description).
The event was held at the Fayette Opera House. It appeared to be one of the larger buildings in Fayette, which had exactly one stop light in the center of town. Food – breakfast, lunch and dinner – was all provided by various members of the community who had come to help feed the conference attendees. A decently sized auditorium (with stage and fixed seating) occupied the upper portion of the building, and that’s where many of the days’ performances took place.
The workshops held on a variety of topics seemed to be typical of the Folk Alliance conferences. I attended one in the morning called Your Career: Booking, Management, Vision…Putting it All Together. This was led by David Tamulevich and Jan Krist. Later in the day I would see them both perform, together and separately. I sponged up the workshop and music as best I could, but then Joel Mabus led an afternoon workshop on storytelling that was exceptionally well attended. His guitar skills are mesmerizing and his songwriting is superb (I ended up sitting with him for part of dinner, which was awesome).
I had the random honor of kicking off Performance Lane – I played for ten minutes in the middle of the day along with a lot of other talented musicians – I played two songs (one about the Titanic and another about the Occupy movement). Later I played at the end of dinner for the Open Mic and had a fun time doing that – although I stumbled on the last song a bit…fatigue had set in for sure!
I could go on and on about the music though and the jam session after the main showcase event was terrific. I loved the whole thing. While I'm sure it took a lot of work to set this up, Bob Hofbauer, who put the event together, really sprinkled the magic dust in the right place at the right time with the right people.