By Katie Anne Mitchell
This year was my first ever experience with Folk Alliance. I should preface this by saying that I did go to Far West last fall and Woodyfest last summer, so I’ve gotten tastings of the folk community in the last year, for which I am incredibly grateful and were quite pivotal experiences for me. But Folk Alliance. Man oh man. I am officially, head-over-heals, in love with the folk community.
Now, before you think of me as some obsessive stalker of the folk world holed up in my room staring lovingly at the Folk Alliance compilation CD and my Woodyfest nametag, I will say that it does feel like true love in the sense that I feel more accepted and embraced in this community that any I’ve ever seen before. If I could I’d live in a world where Folk Alliance was my every day, I would (I kid, of course, it would not be as special if I didn’t know what life was outside it….and I would probably die after a couple months due to lack of sleep and the pervasive Folk Alliance cold). But, if you’ll forgive my digression into hipsterhood for a moment, I happen to be a fan of Bukowski, and I think this would be an appropriate time to regurgitate his sentiment “Find what you love and let it kill you.” I’d gladly throw my life to the folk.
Historically, love and I are fickle companions, but this is something different. This is a community that allows you to be and say what you want. And that’s pretty damn special. Maybe my sentiments are saturated in naiveté, as I’m very new to the community, and haven’t had time for any resentment or jadedness to settle in, but I don’t even care. Maybe there’ll be dishes thrown, maybe arguments of who ate the leftover chicken, maybe long-lasting fights over the overly medicated mother-in-law (or whatever the akin fights with the folk community could be), but I think this is a community that is worth the fight. That is worth the heartbreak. There’s an honesty, an empathy, a rawness that I just haven’t quite seen anywhere else and no community seems quite so beautiful in my eyes as this one. It’s hard not to want to fight to protect it, defend it, stand up for it as I see more and more people approach this music with a flippancy that denies the impact that this music and community has had on our culture. It is something that I think is necessary, especially now, and I, for one, will fight to see that it doesn’t fade. I think we all should. Support the music, support the musicians, support meaningful lyrics and melodies that helps us see each other and our sometimes overwhelming and scary world with compassion and understanding. Who’s with me?