NERFA Report

The Northeast Regional Folk Alliance (NERFA) is a regional affiliate of Folk Alliance International (FAI) and holds an annual music business conference in Stamford, Connecticut each November.

This year I attended as a Singer-Songwriter and Performer, and also as a Folk DJ, since I am co-host of a radio show called Folk Talk, a weekly 1 hour folk music & talk radio show hosted by Rik Palieri on WBTV-LP 99.3 FM, Sundays @ 4PM.

The Rix
The Rix

Other things I did differently from my first NERFA, last year:

  • Came as early as possible on Thursday and stayed through lunch Sunday.
  • I got an exhibit hall table, which I shared with The Rix, and which also served for promoting Folk Talk, as Rik Palieri, the host, is a member of The Rix duo. Our table was next to Zoe Mulford, who has appeared on our radio show, and it was a delight to get to talk with her and her husband.
  • I have physical CD’s of my new album, Common Man Blues, and was able to give it to DJ’s with a Track Card and Press Release folded and tucked inside the CD sleeve.
  • I bought the extra meals and made time for at least one nap.
Zoe Mulford
Zoe Mulford

I also did something NOT recommended: I seriously cut one of my fingers on my right hand carelessly reaching into my bag (shaving razor got loose) and had to detour on the way to an urgent care facility to properly bandage it up, as the single band-aid I had in the car could not contain the flow of blood. I had a GIANT bandage on the ring finger of my right hand.

Comically Oversized Bandage

I attended a songwriter swap called “Unsung Songwriters” with my hand like that, and was glad I had the ukulele! I was able to swap the comically-oversized bandage for two normal fabric ones and at least I didn’t look as weird playing. Good thing I use my thumb and index finger for most picking!

Jason Baker and Alice Hasen
Jason Baker and Alice Hasen

Another new thing: playing a guerrilla showcase with a new accompanist with a single rehearsal! A violinist named Alice Hasen put out on the NERFA Talk Facebook group that she was available to join other artists in their showcases, so I, and apparently a lot of other people, took her up on it. She did a phenomenal job on everything she played on, and her own showcases were delightful! I was very excited to meet a young musician of this caliber, and although she is based out of Memphis now, she is originally from Shelburne, Vermont, up in my neck of the woods, so I am hopeful we will get to work together in the future.

Murder Ballads on a all-metal, round-neck resonator!
Murder Ballads on a all-metal, round-neck resonator!

Another way I stepped out of my comfort zone was signing up for the Crab Donkey “Murder Ballads” showcase. I specifically learned two songs for this: “Stagger Lee” and “Banks of the Ohio” and played them on a round-neck, all-metal resonator guitar on loan from Rik Palieri.

The showcases wrapped up, in classic NERFA style, at 3 AM, but we had people singing along even at that hour!

Vance Gilbert harasses Alice Howe and Freebo while my showcase buddies Susan & Ray look on…

Workshops I attended included Vance Gilbert‘s Performance Workshop (as usual, pure genius, not long enough) a DJ workshop about new digital platforms, and a workshop by Liz Stookey-Sunde, Founder of Music to Life, about connecting activism and music.

Hoping to get Vance to come up to Burlington to do his workshop and maybe a show. Also hoping to connect with Liz at Music to Life to develop a plan for a “Social Change Music Academy” concept.

“Folk Talk” is already part of the offerings on Folk Music Notebook, a new 24-hour folk music internet radio station created by Ron Olesko, DJ and Founder of  “Traditions”, now WFDU-FM’s longest running program.

NERFA is an interesting opportunity to connect with the community in a way that is different from the rest of the year, and I look forward to the next one!

Celebrating one year as a solo performing artist

The story of the snowstorm

If you haven’t read my blog recently please check out the story of the snow storm which I recounted back in November, then come back here!

No storm this time!

Radio Bean graciously scheduled me to play on the same date, February 7th, an earlier evening gig starting at 5:30.

More of a dinner/happy hour crowd at this point in the evening. Both the diners and the folks at the bar seemed entertained and did applaud. I used this opportunity to introduce a mini “ukulele set” towards the beginning of the show, and that seemed to go over well!

Got my two drinks and made $5 American and one Canadian loonie in tips. I took the Looney as a good sign for my upcoming trip to Montreal for the 2019 FAI Conference.

Thank you to Radio Bean for allowing you to play every month for one whole year.

Second Thursdays at 8:30 at Radio Bean

I now seem to have the second Thursday of the month at 8:30 as a regular gig at the Bean for April, May and June. Stop in for drinks, food,  and “socio-political Americana”!

Next gig there is March 7th!

See my show schedule here!


Musical communities and social music


After the Burlington Songwriter’s Open Mic Meetup last week, there were two other musical meetups I went to:

Feedback, but the good kind to listen to…

First is a monthly “songwriter’s workshop” held as part of the Burlington Writer’s Workshop and taking place in their offices on the second Thursday of the month.

This is a place for sharing works in progress for feedback and constructive critique. It was fun this time to share the results of a collaboration from the month before with a lyricist named Karen Edwards:

This song may or may not be in it’s final form… Karen may use some of the feedback to make changes…or not! What do you think of this song as it is? Tell in the comments!

Uke-ing It Up at the Library…

Once one person ukes at the library, then there’s a chain reaction and more and more people start to uke it up too!

The invitation did say “uke it up at the library”, so that’s where that comes from.

This group meets the second and fourth Sundays of the month at the Fletcher Free Library in Burlington.

A group regular was very handy with printouts of popular songs, many with ukulele chords on the page. The group this Sunday was a bit bashful to lead songs, so I led songs that I knew and the group really sounded nice!