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That's How I Got To Memphis: More Than A Great Song by Tom T. Hall


One of my colleagues at CKUA the other day was wondering out loud where the month of January had gone. I couldn't help but agree that it feels like the month has blown by, and in many ways that is just fine as we're that much closer to longer days and warmer weather.

At the same time I realized it is ten years ago this week that I accepted an offer to become a CKUA staffer and I couldn't help but mutter "where did that decade ago?"

That said, it has been an interesting, enlightening, and productive ten years, and I have had a great time for eight of those years producing and hosting Dead Ends and Detours. Now all of a sudden we're coming up on the second anniversary of Points North and earlier this week CKUA technical producer Paul "Duke" Paetz and I thoroughly enjoyed editing an interview with blues icon Gregg Allman. A couple of days later the two of us had the pleasure of capturing a lengthy chat with master banjo player and business woman Alison Brown as she spoke with us from her office at Compass Records in Nashville.

Like so many CKUA announcers and producers, I am reminded of how fortunate we are to be able to produce these shows for a living. I am also reminded of how this equation is built around you, the listener, and your continued support of this amazing and unique network that may well be headed into one of the most significant years in its history.


Speaking of organizations with a history, Folk Alliance International is preparing for the 24th edition of the Folk Alliance Conference that will be held in a month's time in Memphis.

Folk and roots musicians have been heading to Memphis for a few years now to showcase new tunes or possibly grab the attention of an agent or festival director. On the other side of the footlights, it's the managers, agents, promoters, festival artistic directors, journalists, and venue operators who are looking to find out if the buzz on a new act is legitimate. Perhaps they are being reminded of the talents of a seasoned veteran who has dropped off the radar, and of course everyone is renewing business relationships and promoting their organizations. I believe there is a bit of partying that goes on at such events as well. I'm not positive, but I've heard things.

In Calgary, a few Bow Valley Music Club board members have taken the bull by the horns and are once again making sure that Alberta is well represented at Folk Alliance. We won't put the magnifying glass on all the minutiae that have to be considered and dealt with in order to enable some of our finest folk/roots artists to put their best foot forward just a few blocks from the rolling Mississippi River and just a stone's throw from so many places of significance in the history of roots music.

Tom Coxworth, your host and producer of the popular Sunday morning CKUA program Folk Routes, keeps many of us in the loop about the goings on pertaining to the Alberta roots music scene, and not surprisingly Tom has his finger on the pulse of the next fundraiser that is being produced under the banner 'That's How We Got To Memphis II'.

The goal of 'That's How I got To Memphis II' is to simply select, guide and help pay for an Alberta Showcase Folk Alliance. The organizers have secured some showcase rooms, and hotel rooms that artists can use while making the rounds at Folk Alliance.

The list of Alberta artists heading south in a few weeks is Jenny Allen and Leslie Alexander, Chloe Albert, T. Buckley Trio, Lucas Chaisson, Kat Danser, Lindsay Ell, Braden Gates, Rob Heath, Lizzy Hoyt Duo, Nancy LaBerge Trio, Tim Leacock, Matt Masters, 100 Mile House, Pearband, The Travelling Mabels, Emily Jill West and Brooke Wylie.

From the sounds of it, some of the showcases are sanctioned venues while others are of the "guerilla" variety, where a hotel room is temporarily turned into an intimate performance space.

"The team has been able to entice some honorary performers to enhance the major Alberta artist showcase, two of them being Kevin Welch and Eliza Gilkyson," says Coxworth who will be hosting the next 'That's How I Got To Memphis II' fundraiser. That event goes Sunday February 12 from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Ironwood Stage and Grill with performances from Laberge, Allen and Alexander, Broke Wylie and the Coyotes, and The Travelling Mabels.

It's a huge undertaking and organizers will be covering a portion of artist's accommodations and registration fees at Folk Alliance.

Two Alberta artists, Kat Danser and Joe Nolan, are Official Folk Alliance Showcasing Artists and the two will be sharing stages with a cast that could fill the needed talent requirements for three or four major folk fests.

The list of musicians who have landed Official Showcase spots also mirrors playlists on any given folk/roots or eclectic show on the CKUA Radio Network. Jim Byrnes, James McMurtry, Sam Baker, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, Steve Dawson, Steve Forbert, Fish and Bird, Sierra Hull, David-Jacob Strain, Bill Kirchen, Jim Lauderdale, Sarah MacDougall and Oh Susannah are a few of the artists headed for Memphis who have had their fair share of support from CKUA hosts and listeners.

Says Coxworth, "I think I've missed two Folk Alliance Conferences in the last 24 years. You see a few hundred artists in the space of 4 days. One minute you're locked in a small sweaty room, listening to someone warble, and the next moment you go into a room and are introduced to the music of Justin Townes Earle."

"For these artists, it's about hanging your shingle out wherever you can. Folk Alliance is a very Canada-friendly event, and you'll also find a unified community of Canadians attending Folk Alliance. For an emerging artist, it's important because all of a sudden, say if you're from Alberta, you've maybe impressed someone enough to have been booked for a house concert or two out in PEI. That gives you something to build on. The Ontario Council of Folk Festivals is always in attendance and it's great to see Manitoba Music and Saskatchewan Music hopping on board. Next year the Folk Alliance Conference will be held in Toronto, and then it moves the following year to Kansas City as a permanent home base," said the always informed CKUA personality.

But back to the fundraiser at the Ironwood. Tickets are $20 and you can help out the Alberta contingent and 'That's How I Got To Memphis II' by booking a reservation at the Ironwood. It's this simple: dial 403-269-5581 and book a table.

Hats off to Larry Taylor and Stewart Chez of the Bow Valley Folk Club who have also raised over $10,000 from corporate sponsors and, not surprisingly, the Edmonton Folk Music Festival has also stepped up with a significant donation.

Tune into Folk Routes, heard Sunday mornings on CKUA at 10, and you can be assured that Tom will keep you updated about the status of 'That's How I Got To Memphis II'.




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