P.E.I. musicians attend folk music conference in Kansas City

Some P.E.I. musicians spent the last few days at a prestigious folk music conference in Kansas City performing and networking with industry heavyweights.

'It is the biggest folk music conference in the world,' says Music PEI's Rob Oakie

The Eastern Belles, made up of P.E.I. musicians Catherine MacLellan (left), Ashley Condon and Meaghan Blanchard, were some of the P.E.I. musicians that attended Folk Alliance International in Kansas City. (The Eastern Belles)
Some P.E.I. musicians spent the last few days at a prestigious folk music conference in Kansas City performing and networking with industry heavyweights.

Folk Alliance International brings together a diverse mix of people including musicians, managers, publicists, music festival bookers and exhibitors.

This year's event ran from Wednesday to Sunday and Island musicians Tim Chiasson, Dennis Ellsworth, the Eastern Belles, Catherine MacLellan, Irish Mythen and the East Pointers all attended it.

"It is the biggest folk music conference in the world," Music PEI executive director Rob Oakie told Mainstreet P.E.I.

At the event, artists get to perform in official showcases where they are given a set time slot to perform in a ballroom. The showcases happen between 6:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., says Oakie. After that, artists perform in what are called "gorilla showcases."

Oakie says the gorilla showcases take place in large suites and are stripped-down performances without any production. It's just the musicians and their acoustic instruments.

"Those go on until three in the morning and there's dozens of them," said Oakie.

He says delegates go from room to room listening to artists.

'A real buzz'

Oakie says the reasons artists go to Folk Alliance International vary. Some do it to try and get an American agent, while others might be looking for a publicist or are hoping to line up a festival gig.

"Most of the festivals would have their festivals booked already, so they'd be looking at next year," said Oakie.

He says he received a lot of compliments from people impressed with what they are hearing from the P.E.I. music scene.

"There's a real buzz with what's happening in P.E.I.," said Oakie.

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