President's Blog - September 2019

Abby Parks.jpg

I was reflecting on the seasons the other day, and the fact that I was longing for the fall to come. Being a Southern native does not help me tolerate the extreme heat any better than most, I imagine. Fall has always been my favorite season of the year. There are colorful surprises around every bend in the road, and the festivals celebrating the highlights of autumn are hard to top, often showcasing wonderful music of varied genres, including (and noteworthy to my taste) folk.

I was also thinking of the fact that you can attend a regional or international Folk Alliance conference almost every season of the year. Coming up this month is SWRFA, the first of the fall regional conferences, set for September 25-29 in Austin, Texas. Right on its heels is FAR-WEST taking place October 10-13 in Woodland Hills, California. If you are looking to cool off, the following month you can attend FARM October 24-27 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Can’t get enough of all things folk-related? Then how about traveling to NERFA in Stamford, Connecticut November 7-10? Or you can celebrate the first of 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana where Folk Alliance International will be located January 22-26. Wow, all of that in just two seasons of the year! Can I hear a shout for spring? SERFA takes place in late spring, almost teetering on summer, in Chattanooga, Tennessee May 13-17.  For more information about these conferences, visit  

Any kind of a “move” is going to be tough and require a lot of hard work. In looking back, I am thrilled with how smoothly our transition went from North Carolina to Tennessee, and how much the new community embraced us. Highlights of our 2019 conference included Ellis Paul as keynote speaker, and Norman and Nancy Blake and David Wilkes on our panel for Wisdom of the Elders.  Norman and Nancy were also award recipients, along with Fletcher Bright and JT Gray. And we were especially grateful to award Mark Schatz and Eileen Carson Schatz for their legacy, as many of you know that Eileen passed away a short time later, on July 11.

We appreciate each FAI member who followed us this past year to our new location in Chattanooga. We had lots of positive post-conference feedback from attendees and will work hard this year to bolster our strengths and improve any areas that need tweaking. One item that has already been improved is our room rates for next year, TBA once registration is close to opening. While spring is a ways off, the volunteers who work behind the scenes to make the conference a success are excited about what’s in store. In the next month or so we are hoping to announce our keynote speaker for 2020, who I believe will excite you all! We are also looking to add new volunteers on planning committees and beyond, and two seats will be coming open on the Board after our 2020 conference, so if you have an interest in being a part of our planning process or running in the election, please email

I also wanted to mention that SERFA will be presenting a private showcase room at FAI in NOLA next January.  If you are attending and are a member of the Southeast region, you are invited to apply for a private showcase spot in our room on one of three nights. Once you are registered for the conference, you can check this link for more information about how to apply for our showcase as well as others:

Till we meet again, enjoy the upcoming seasons!

Abby Parks
President of the Board