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An interview with B. Ryan B. (FAI Tips 7)

2016 February 4
by Mike Vial

At FARMette conference last year, I met B. Ryan B., a multi-instrumentalist from Cleveland; “B” was a great emcee at the conference. His positive attitude was contagious!

B has been a volunteer for Folk Alliance Regional Midwest for a while, and he offered some unique points about being prepared for song circles, the benefits of volunteering, and standing out:

MV: Hi B. Ryan B. How’s winter going in Cleveland? Hopefully it’s like this in a few weeks for the FAI commute. Any tips on how to approach Folk Alliance for the first time?

B: The snow’s newsworthy over here, though mostly just because we had mild weather so long.

So…tips? Know your goals going in: pickin’ and grinnin’, or honing certain skills, or networking, or getting exposure. So much awesomeness is going on, don’t expect to do it all the first year.

MV: I’ve learned that the hard way even with the regional conferences. Have any tips on how to keep calm and costs affordable?

B: Here’s a big one for me: get there a little early, just to get oriented with the venue and neighborhood, so you’re not spending conference time getting un-lost. Buddy up! Sharing the drive and lodging saves money. Sharing the drive is safer and makes the miles go faster. You can also then “tag-team” the concurrent workshops/seminars, and exchange notes later.

MV: That’s smart. Music conference can feel overwhelming.

B: Another biggie: retreat at least once a day to decompress, and take notes.

MV: Any tips on standing out?

B: Bring your niche instruments. They add color to the song circles. Biggest tip by far: volunteer. If you’re looking for networking opportunities, there’s no better way to get in the public eye.

MV: [chuckling] That’s relieving to hear! That’s my hope with volunteering. Plus, I’m trying to keep costs down.

B: We’re all poor. There are deals to be had. Register early. Look a block or two away from the venue for cheaper restaurants and lodging. Bring food from home like granola, apples, bagels, and other stuff.

MV: Just like touring! Sounds like doing the research can go far. Any tips that get overlooked?

B: If you come to the song circles, and you should, have a couple songs ready that are either well known (“trads”) or at least easy to pick up.

* * *

B. Ryan B. just posted a new song video, “Cleveland Is Your Land”:



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