Come November 13th, a HUGE 4-day, 3-night musical event/seminar/party will commence in the sleepy hamlet of Kerhonson, New York, just outside the Catskills. It is the annual conference of the North Eastern Regional Folk Alliance or NERFA. Officially, NERFA consists of a series of juried showcases of new and not-so-new musical artists that play within the broad spectrum of the genre of "folk music", running the gamut from singer/songwriters to americana to roiots to blues and beyond. Additionally, there are a series of seminars given by touring musicians, venue owners, booking agents and the like to provide some updates to education the education of all attending.
But, by far, the most exciting part of the event/seminar/party called NERFA are the "guerilla showcases" in which 50 or so presenters will set up unofficial showcases of artists playting individually or as "songwriters in the round" in groups of 3 or 4 in the hotel rooms of the resort. It is a non-stop musical party that goes on nearly all night long. Getting a "good night's sleep" is decidedly NOT the point of the exercise. For 4 days, this is the place where emerging or emerged artists meet with presenters, venue owners and booking agents to mingle, share, network and, perhaps, if you're lucky, pick up a gig or two for the following year. With more than 800 people attending, it is the place to "see and be seen", pitch your best music, make new friends, meet old friends, learn something new and, network, network, network!
Because of the quasi-commercial aspect of NERFA, it is always important to have business cards, blurb sheets, performance schedules and CD's, so that you can entice your "audience" to see you perform. So it's important to get your materials together and get as much sleep before you arrive as possible (cause you won't be doing much while you're there). Indeed, I've often said that for the emerging artist, NERFA is probably the most fun you can have being sleep deprived! One imnportant aspect of the guerilla showcases is that because they take place in hotel rooms of the resort all going on roughly simultaneously, none of them (with the possible exception of keyboardists) use any form of amplification. It's just you and (most times) your guitar playing and performing strictly acoustically. Add to this the carpeted flooring, soft hotel furniture, along with sound-absorbing bodies, the average acoustics you can expect inb the guerilla showcases tends to be on the dead side, to say the least. Therefore, expect that you will have to make up for the lack of "room reverb" with strong vocal and instrumental performances.
This is the 5th or 6th time I've been to NERFA (I lose count after a while), but the sheer energy and vibe of the place can be downright electrifying., To all my friends who will be ateending NERFA this year, I look forward to embracing you, your energy and your music; we're gonna have a hell of a time. For those of you new to NERFA, this is the place to meet, greet, make new friends, share your music, and learn a lot. Yes, NERFA may seem commercial on the surface, but down deep, its all about the family of musicians and you can consider yourself an adopted member when youi arrive!
Food for thought.,
Yours in DADGAD,