By Friday, everyone who’s coming to Folk Alliance is likely there, so the Westin Hotel halls ring with “Hey there!” as old friends run into one another and pause to catch up.
Singer, songwriter, prose writer, performer, activist, teacher and essential one-third of Brother Sun–not to mention road warrior–Joe Jenks arrived and could barely make his way to his room as he greeted everyone.
Out on the roof patio, Dennis McDonough, temporarily sidelined with a leg injury, chatted with Billy Bragg, who will deliver the Keynote address the following day. Later that night, McDonough treated us to one of his comic and pointed showcases, offering much-needed respite from the angry tone the nation has been steeped in recently.
Presenting several of his own showcases, lending a hand to many others, and dealing with the year’s biggest event, Folk Alliance boardmember Matt the Electrician somehow never appears stressed or too busy. We caught him presenting his quirky, well-crafted songs at a showcase, backed by three gals, a rare treat.
Pushing Chain remembers everyone’s name, and everyone should remember theirs. Their room was equal parts energy-driven songs and enthusiastic crowd. I don’t know which component tipped the scales, but suffice it to say we had trouble pushing our way into the room for a quick photo, so it was packed with both.
Dan Navarro’s nightclub-style room always books outstanding talent, so old pal Grant Peeples was right at home. The Floridian’s musicality and mordant sense of humor were another welcome set as he treated us to social and political commentary without ranting. His hysterical last song, submitted to Jeb Bush’s contest for a new Florida state song, (unsurprisingly, given the like-it-or-not truths) lost out in the competition, but was a winner with us.