By Kevin Collison
One of North America’s biggest music events takes the stage today when downtown welcomes 3,000 musicians and industry professionals attending the Folk Alliance International annual conference.
The event at the Westin Crown Center is an international affair, it drew participants from 27 countries last year, and is a chance for musicians to share their love for folk music and advance their careers with promoters and producers.
“It allows people to connect and do business, but also develops our community as an arts organization to celebrate and inspire one another,” said Ericka Noguera, a spokeswoman for the Folk Alliance.
Kansas City hit a sweet note with the Folk Alliance when it moved its headquarters here from Memphis in 2013. This will be the fourth consecutive year the conference has been held at Crown Center, but local folk music lovers should know that run is about to pause.
For the next couple years, the Folk Alliance will be on the road, beginning with Montreal in 2019, but the conference is expected to return to Kansas City for three years beginning in 2021. The organization will continue to keep its offices in the River Market.
For the public, the major events will be the International Folk Music Awards show at the Folly Theater tonight at 7 p.m. The event is described as the premier recognition of folk industry leaders, legends, unsung heroes and rising talent.
Noguera said tickets are still available. The host is multi-Grammy Award nominee Ruthie Foster, and other guest performers include John Oates, Guy Davis, Giri and Uma Peters, and Anais Mitchell.
Also available to the public Friday through Sunday will be the Louis Jay Meyers Music Camp. It’s an opportunity for dedicated hobbyists and professionals to learn from some of the top folk musicians in the world. There are three sessions each day and 17 different classes to choose from.
Finally, on Sunday, everyone is welcome to Kansas City Folk Festival. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and local, national and international musicians will perform on four stages. The headliner acts are Mary Chapin Carpenter and Flaco Jimenez with Max Baca and Los Texmaniacs.
For the conference attendees themselves, the keynote speakers will be five-time Grammy winner Mary Chapin Carpenter and Richard Thompson, co-founder of the English folk-rock group Fairport Convention.
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