Our Man at Folk Alliance (continued)
The only non-playing event that I got to was a panel I was moderating on Live Music in Nashville. It was underattended, but well guested. Amy Kurland from the Bluebird Cafe and Billy Block from Western Beat represented people who own or book prestigious clubs in Nashville, and we also had Debbie Champion, a long standing hostess of Writer's Nights in town at several locations, and Mike Williams, who, with his wife Kathy, has held the legendary 6 Chair Pickin Party at their house 3 Wednesdays a month for over 5 years!
The panel was about having realistic expectations, and alternative ways to have really positive experiences and results out of booking yourself in Nashville. I highly endorse the idea of playing the Williams' party, as they usually get quite a good listening crowd. Check it out when you visit Nashville and introduce yourself, that's the best way to get invited to play, since they don't publicize it. (Drop us an email when you come to town, I'll get you directions.) It's far superior to booking a club date where no one comes, and Nashville is a hard place to get people out--there are good singer songwriter shows almost any night of the week, it's not exactly an occasion.
Aside from a brief romantic interlude I'm not at liberty to share, the most interesting and entertaining thing that happened to me at Folk Alliance is a story starring my friend Arthur Godfrey. It's a serendipitous little adventure.
Arthur is a West Coast songwriter (from Boston, but now resides with his wife Laurie in the Santa Cruz, CA area) with whom I became friends after I interviewed him at the Jacksonville F.A. last year. He'd recently won the John Lennon Songwriting Contest in the Folk Category, and (with a different song) placed second in the Billboard competition. He is a person of rare focus and friendly tenacity, and I really enjoy watching him capture the interest of people who are gifted in the art of the diss.
He gives me a call before F.A., asks if he can stay or day or two at my pad, he'll be getting in late from a Memphis gig the night before. Sure, no problem, I happened to be living the high life, courtesy of my brother JB, in Miami Beach at the moment anyhow. So. Arthur plays this little joint in Memphis called The Map Room. He sets up his gear, and the owner says, "If I were you, I'd get up there and play now, because Sean Penn is in the audience, he's shooting a film in town and likes to come in for a sandwich." You don't have to twist Arthur's arm, he gets up and bangs out a good forty. "I'm not eyeballing the guy", he tells me later, "but I can tell that he seems to be clapping louder than everybody else..."
Anyhow, no sooner does Arthur finish his set than Penn rises and leaves, doesn't get to say hello. In characteristic fashion, Arthur heads over to talk to the owner, who happens to be playing chess with Sean's guy. "Thanks for the heads up," he says, "hope I did okay." Sean's guy looks up and says, "Well, he stayed the whole set and clapped louder than everybody else, I guess you did pretty good. If I was you, I might leave him a CD at his hotel." So, naturally, Arthur does that on his way outta town. He's telling me this story the next morning in the Renaissance lobby, and I'm duly impressed.
An hour later I run into him again. He says, "You won't believe it, but Sean Penn just called my house in California, looking for me, my wife was just talking to him." "Unreal," I reply, "what's his number, lets call him up." "My wife is so shy, she didn't ask him for his number," he admits. "You gotta be frickin kidding me, right?" I say, but he's not. Damn. continue