Regional folk conference draws acoustic pros
Glenn Roth is accustomed to performing acoustic guitar in front of streaming throngs of New York City travelers and tourists. As a licensed street performer, he supplies musical respite to the city’s hustle and bustle. The Norwalk finger-style guitarist has a lifetime permit to perform in Manhattan through the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s “Music Under New York” program.
He also has over 1,000 followers to his YouTube channel, too, where his “Busker TV” series is part of over 200 videos of his live performances he’s uploaded over the years.
He plays official concerts on a regular basis, as well, but this weekend will be something different for him. Roth joins hundreds of performers, agents, festival producers and radio deejays from throughout the northeast United States and Canada at the 24th annual Northeast Regional Folk Alliance Conference at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Stamford that runs through Sunday.
For Roth explained, this is his first NERFA conference. “My musician friends had been telling me for years to attend because of the networking opportunities, and I decided to finally go this year.”
The conference features an endless array of workshops, formal showcases, semi-formal showcases, an “open mic” and an exhibition hall in the Crowne Plaza’s first floor main gathering spaces, plus there’s the late night “guerrilla” showcases in the upper floor’s hotel rooms that run into the very wee hours.
“I’m hoping to network with venues, other musicians, and other members of the folk scene, and make connections for future performances,” said Roth, who will have a table in the exhibition hall, where he’ll be running videos of his performances. “Although the attendees are mostly singer-songwriters, I know there is a place for instrumental music in the folk scene.”
New Haven’s Barbara Shiller, a member of the NERFA board of directors, talked about this year’s conference. “This is NERFA’s third year in Stamford,” she said. “Before that, it was in the Catskills at a resort in Kerhonkson, N.Y. One benefit to Stamford is the fairly central location for the Northeast Regional conference. People come from Maryland and up through Canada. There is good train service from New York City. It is a challenge to find a hotel that can accommodate 700 to 800 people that doesn’t mind music being played in the lobby and private rooms all hours of the day and night. Besides concerts and showcases, there are workshops, so there needs to be good-sized breakout rooms as well as a really large dining room. I hope it remains in Stamford.”
Shiller is co-president and board member of the New Haven-based nonprofit CT Folk, which presents monthly acoustic concerts and an annual CT Folk Fest and Green Expo. “I started going to NERFA to book artists for CT Folk, the festival and the Folk Friday concert series, as well as for my own House Concert series. In the last nine years, I have hosted more than 60 of these,” said Shiller. “This will be my 8th NERFA.”
NERFA is the northeast regional affiliate of Folk Alliance International, representing a region that includes Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, the District of Columbia and its northern Virginia suburbs, Quebec, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Greenland.
Other regional affiliates include the Southeast Regional Folk Alliance, Southwest Regional Folk Alliance, Folk Alliance Region Midwest, and the Folk Alliance Region West. Each region hosts its own conference, but the big one is the Folk Alliance International conference taking place in Montreal in February.
“It is a business conference, said Shiller about NERFA, “geared to help musicians have successful careers, to help venue presenters produce successful events, and to facilitate the musicians and venue operators meeting each other.”
For information, visit nerfa.org, or glennroth.com.
Mike Horyczun can be reached at email@example.com.
Norwalk guitarist Glenn Roth will be among the music professionals taking part in this year’s Northeast Regional Folk Alliance Conference in Stamford this weekend.