Here are highlights in no particular order:
1. John Fullbright. A ridiculously soulful and talented 22 year Okie who gave me shivers from my ankles to my neck. No one that young should know how to write a lyric that deep. And thank god he does. Thank god or the alien planet that birthed him that he exists to remind me that some people are blessed without the 20 years of crafting and that's what makes me believe in a God of some kind.
2. Jon Byrd's showcase late at night in the Beaver Suite, dancing in the back and harmonizing with Corin Raymond to "Wild Ponies".
3. Singing Ron Sexsmith's "Galbraith Street" with Ron Sexsmith playing guitar. To his own song. Filming that for PBS. And not fucking up the lyric. I can't even speak about it -- a dream that I fell into half asleep but totally wide awake.
4. Playing showcases with the amazing Thomm Jutz on guitar, each time the songs evolving more and more, having nothing but a complete blast whether there were 3 or 30 people in the room.
5. Dayna Kurtz singing a song that took all words out of my mouth. Now I just wish I remembered the name of the song....
6. Meeting this girl who was volunteering in the Instrument Check In Room, talking to her briefly while I changed my strings. It was her first conference and I told her I liked her bangs. Later, I was doing a radio show with Ron Sexsmith and he mentioned he'd been up jamming 'in some room till 5am' the night before but that he'd heard this cool chick sing and he really liked her voice and her presence and her song and described this girl I'd met, down to the "cool bangs". Later that night, I ran into her again completely randomly and was able to pass along the compliment and she was so flabbergasted as she's a huge Ron Sexsmith fan that I felt like I'd done my good deed of the day for the entire year. I was so happy to have been the conduit for that girls' good fortune on her first ever conference.
7. My posse of ladies: Mary G, Holly, Joan, Jeni, etc. Fried chicken and laughter galore....
8. Amy LaVere's bathing suit/dress that barely covered her ladies parts. Badass sexy mama.
9. The Steel Wheels. Just love them.
10. Chatham County Line. See #9
11. The New Red Mollies. :)
12. The round with Nels Andrews, Brad Yoder and Robby Hecht. With the Red Mollies in the audience harmonizing from the hotel bed.
13. Dinner with Rich Warren and friends, not getting much dinner, but getting loads of great advice.
14. My 2nd annual meeting of the minds over red wine with my dear friend John Platt. We go deep, dude.
15. Abbie Washburn and Mary Gauthier. They take me to school again and again.
I'm sure I can think of a thousand more moments...the round with Danny Schmidt and Sally Barris, a few moments in elevators with Sally Spring, Anya's red high heels, Cliff Eberhart and Laurie McAllister harmonizing, Sid Selvidge's showcase with terrible sound but man, is he a master, Grace Pettis--all grace, all joy and how much love exudes from that angel face?....
I love folk music. I know folks in the 'real' industry disparage it and its commercial relevance but what other genre of music can you make a living playing in people's living rooms, without the publicity machine, doing it yourself, all about the song, all about the song, all about the song. What other genre of music can you run around a hotel lobby and run into the dude from the open mic AND Gurf Morlix sharing breathing room... Its a circus of freaks and geeks and its a place of love and acceptance and I feel at home here in this acoustic den.
And now, its time to sleep for a week.