Memphis. I love it and I hate it,” said our driver as he took us into a part of town tourists never see. Three years ago at Folk Alliance we signed up for the outreach program to play a set at wherever they wanted us to – a school, old folks home, hospital, whatever. We played at a homeless veterans’ shelter. These guys weren’t sure what to think of us, two white cowboy looking dudes. But I guess attendance was mandatory to listen to us. Let’s say they did not appear enthusiastic about the entertainment they were expecting. We started with “Every Day I Have The Blues” and everything changed. We were okay. We spoke their language.
Man, I’m really missing being at Folk Alliance this year. Lefsetz writing about it, well, it’s making me sorry we didn’t go this year. Sure, it’s a total clusterfuck. Sure, you’re playing your showcases in one of the “lesser” rooms at 2:10am, and everybody just left because the guy before you has a bigger following even though he’s one of a crap-ton of Sensitive Singer Songwriters at the conference, and nobody knows who the hell you are, and you know you don’t really fit in here in any way shape or form, you’re a 55 year old West Texas country boy by way of Austin and your pickin’ buddy is even older and looks like he’s not feeling very well, but goddammit if your shit that sounds like Bill Monroe playing a duet with Slim Harpo isn’t folk music then what the fuck is, and you’re starting your songs, trying to “get it up again” even though you’ve played this goddamn song 5 times, or is it 6, already today, and there’s nobody, literally, in the room. But you’ve only got 20 minutes and you’ve got to be spectacular, people or not. Maybe somebody comes in, maybe they don’t. It doesn’t matter. You’re there, you’re putting yourself out there, giving it your all, hoping that someone hears you and then maybe says some good things about you to someone else, or maybe they write something about you on a blog that a gazillion people read. Or hell, maybe some pretty girl will flirt with you, like that ever happens, they’re all looking for Ben fucking Kweller or someone who is definitely not a portly 55 year old West Texas country boy. But yeah, you’re playing your songs, you’re having fun, and people start digging it because you don’t fit and and aren’t yet another Sensitive Singer Songwriter, and the blues are fucking cool even if they are been played by a couple of old West Texas farts who on any other night of the year would be sound asleep, and the blues are especially right and proper here in this town at this hour.
Yeah, I miss it.