I was a Kerrville New Folk finalist!
B.C. singer-songwriter Jane Eamon was the only Canadian finalist to play in the prestigious Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk competition for songwriters.
Jane and her husband/sideman Gord Brush took part in the the competition at Quiet Valley Ranch in Kerrville, Texas, May 27th & 28th.
Jane has kindly agreed to share her experience of the competition for the Roots Music Canada audience.
Well Kerrville New Folk is over for me… I can’t begin to tell you what it was like!
We arrived at the Quiet Valley Ranch in blistering heat and what was once a nice ranch with wide open spaces was now full of over 5000 people camping anywhere there was a spot… RV’s, trailers, tents of all sorts, people in kilts, sarongs, men in skirts and tutus, women in underwear – me in jeans and hotter than Hades.
We had a tent reserved for us with the hosts of the New Folk and drove down a very dusty road to meet them. Cold water and beer awaited us under a welcoming canopy.
Our tent, however, was across from the men’s octa-john or 8-sided bathroom… I thought “I do hope we’re down wind most of the time.”
It was so hot, I thought I was going to pass out.
But we unloaded our gear, guitars into the trailer and went off to meet the folks. First night lots of finalists jamming under the canopy. I waffled between what am I doing here and I’m so glad I’m here moments. But wicked writers and players. Loved it!
Heat and adrenaline crashing down sent me to bed early, but sleep was not to be. We were camped across from the gathering place so conversations lasted until dawn.
So day 2, up at dawn – slightly cooler, enough that coffee was in order. We started talking with the other writers who were trickling in and getting a sense of how big of a deal with actually was going to be. Today was the first 16.
The theatre was lovely and held about 1000 people. And it was full….and they listened. Apparently folks come to Kerrville just for new folk. How could anyone choose 6 of those that played that first day? They were all so good and so talented. All ages and all types of music. I listened and was gobsmacked to be included as part of this event.
Saturday night, Cheryl Wheeler was playing. I was so worked up I could only sit through a couple of songs. Judy Collins was on right after. I got great advice from our host, Lindsey Lee about how to handle how I was feeling and knew I had to go to bed to be fresh for the morning.
Little or no sleep later… having been bitten by a spider… I was up early to get prepared for the day. I was scheduled to play second to last. So I had all day to stew about my performance!
Everyone was so good. Right before I got on stage, Martyn Joseph walked into the back stage area. He’s one of my heroes. Didn’t talk to him though… too nervous. (Though he did comment on one of my songs later that evening.)
So on to the stage at last! My guitar was out of tune – a little – but I carried on. Got a good cheer after the first song. Then to “The Door is Open”.
I broke my own tension by saying my hair was styled by Coleman Tent and it got a good laugh. Then I hit the zone.
No one existed but me and my guitar and I sang my song. I cried. It wasn’t until I finished that I realized the audience was standing on their feet. It was so surreal. I didn’t know where I was. But they were on their feet. Wow. I can’t begin to tell you what that feels like. Here I am in Texas singing to 1000 people who don’t know me and they’re cheering!
So it took another five hours to wait for the verdict. I was amazed by the number of people who came up to me to tell me how my performance had affected them. Women my age telling me their stories of wanting to do what we’re doing. Men, young men, telling me I made them cry. People telling me I was a winner. There was no doubt. It was so overwhelming.
I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t want to think about winning or losing. That wasn’t the result. It was more about the stories and what that song meant to them. It is so hard to explain that stuff in hindsight. Very surreal and very heartfelt.
I didn’t win — but I did. I made fans and touched people. That’s why I was there. It made a difference to me. It validated my path. And showed me it was good…
I am so grateful for this opportunity. I can’t thank the folks enough who supported Gord and I to come here: Dan and Denese and Melissa who welcomed us in Wimberley; Lindsey and Deb who hosted us. Everyone at Kerrville, the judges for their difficult task to choose 6 out of all those people. Andrew Smith for talking me into doing this.
Everyone. It was so amazing… it will take a long time to process.
Thank you all! God walks in strange ways…
Oh, I forgot. I got to shake Mary Gauthier‘s hand!