Folk Music Ontario Conference
If you are ever asked to play for an artist at the annual Folk Music Ontario conference your answer will be an emphatic yes! Paid or not you should go! I guarantee an experience you will never forget.
In October I had one of my best musical experiences since my return to music. I played bass for Rant Maggie Rant as well as Barry James Payne’s group String Bone at the Folk Music Ontario Conference (FMOC) at the Delta Meadowvale Hotel in Mississauga.
In a nutshell the FMOC is 3 day event for musicians to showcase their talent to other industry people be it musicians, agents or festival artistic directors. There are official invite only showcases during the early evening hours and unofficial private showcases that take place after hours between 11:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m. on a couple of floors of the hotel.
I was originally booked to play an official showcase with another artist but that didn’t happen. Thankfully Rant Maggie Rant and String Bone were booked to play 4 unofficial showcases in a hotel room hosted by London’s own The Marrieds.
I arrived around 9:00 p.m. to meet up with Rant Maggie Rant and sent a text to the band, “Anyone here yet?” “We’re in the bar.” So of course our evening started off with a pint of Guinness in the bar. The lobby area was full of musicians. It was a parade of Facebook celebrities that I was finally seeing in the flesh. I don’t mean that in a derogatory way it was just really cool to see all these people in one place. We decided to head up to our room to meet up with Jane and Kevin of The Marrieds. When the elevator door opened on our floor I knew the Delta Meadowvale had changed. I’ve been to lots of business conferences in my life but this was something completely different. The entire wall facing the elevators was covered in posters and schedules for what was happening that night. Each room has a different artist playing every 20 minutes and FMO published a schedule so you can plot your travels.
As I navigated to our room there were musicians crowding the hallway carrying beer and instruments. Looking in the open doorways was a sight that must have horrified the hotel staff. Rooms were decorated for atmosphere and beds were upended and leaning against a wall to create as much space as possible for an audience.
After checking in with The Marrieds we made our way back down to the lobby and decided to set up and play. What a buzz to be playing and have a crowd gather. Some even unpacked their own instruments and joined in with some of our Celtic ‘standards’. I could have played there all night but we had showcases to do.
We played our sets and in-between I wandered the hallways. My old friend Chris Gartner, a bassist from my Humber days, was playing with Lenka Lichtenberg. What beautiful music. Chris has always been an inspiration as a musician and human.
One of the highlights of the night was poking my head into the hotel stairwell to find the Lemon Bucket Orchestra singing songs at the top of their lungs. I have to say Stan Roger’s The North West Passage has never sounded better. I had a chance to talk to Aaron Lightstone about his group Jaffa Road and working with Chris as a producer. Somewhere along the way I had the rather unique experience of walking through a Delta hotel door to find a jam band with a laser show and the smell of pot hanging in the air.
Around 3:00 I packed up my bass and hit the road for London. The conference ran for three days and I experienced a small piece of that. It’s safe to say that I want to be there next year for the entire weekend. Truly an experience not to be missed.