I spent four days in Iowa City at the Regional Folk Alliance conference. I shared a hotel room with my best friends, I got teary-eyed seeing my Wisconsin friend kill it on the showcase stage. My jaw dropped to the floor when I heard a new song from my Chicago friend and thought, "Jeez! Save some for the rest of us!" (that's how I express high praise).
I played songs in hotel rooms for people drifting in and out. I heard songs I love and songs I've never heard before. I met a guy in the hallway and, for some reason, these kinds of gatherings lend themselves to easy teasy comfort with strangers the minute after saying hi. So right after meeting him I demanded he play me a song. We stayed through a couple of Roger Miller songs in the sing-along instrument check out room and then he sang me a great song about what Johnny Walker could do for him that his ex-lover couldn't. I love command performances.
We stayed up til 4am two nights in a row with some magical song circle stuff. Seriously, one of the best circles I've been a part of for a long time. It's hard to not make it magical when you've got an inner circle of singer/songwriters and an outer circle of instrumentalist (bass, two cellos, a fiddle, a mando, percussion and a banjo).
I had never heard Gina Forsyth. She's incredible. I heard a keynote speech by Greg Brown and thought, "That guy's speaking my language."
On the way home Emily and I talked about our goals. My goals are to play more gigs and to work harder. I know I'm searching for a kind of validation I'll never get, but something inside me tells me that if I can finally write songs that are undeniable then maybe I won't feel so unsure of myself. That's probably not true either.
Now I'm home. Now it's tea and toast before sending the boys out the door. It's a list of phone calls to make and emails to write and appointments that shouldn't be forgotten. It's the day to day stuff that puts the angsty songwriter stuff on the back burner for now. But I'm listening. I'm paying attention so that, when the thought hits me, I'll know when to pick up the guitar and write it down. It's nice to meet up with other people doing that same thing and spend a weekend together.