Ken Tizzard


Who The Folk Is?

On music conferences (ECMW)

I would be hard pressed to find anything to complain about from this weeks visit to the East Coast Music Week in Sydney.  From the event shuttle service, to production, conference seminars, showcases, and down to the fine details of accounting; this event was run with amazing efficiency.  I am not sure if I can even comprehend what it takes to organize a 5-day event with multiple venues showcasing hundreds of musical performances and great info packed seminars.  Regardless, the team here is amazing.  Special thanks to Andy Frank, Danny Thomas, Chantal Cassie and Tony Murray whom I dealt with directly for a lot of my involvement.  







Every time I walked out of a pub, hotel, or conference building there was a shuttle car waiting to take me to my next venue.  The drivers were friendly and made a point to make the drives more than just transport.  Weather it was stopping along the way at a store, pointing out landmark buildings or just telling a funny story, the volunteers throughout the conference were exceptional. 








It was a few years back that a good friend of mine, Aengus, advised me to start attending these conferences.  FMO, FAI, NERFA, ECMA and others are on my radar and they are proving to be exceptional opportunities to perform before select groups of folks who I usually only have e-mail contact with.  Late at night the party circuit is also a great opportunity to get to know new faces and connect with old friends as well. Conferences like ECMW provide great opportunities for emerging artists to have a few minutes with other more established artists, managers, agents and media.  You can build relationships that might lead to co-writing, bookings or even friendships.  Sometimes when you meet somebody in person a much stronger connection can be made that could develop from years of telephone and e-mail chatter.






There is a sense of community at these events that I did not feel with other such events in the past.  These seem considerably less schmoozy and more like a circus family of misfits who all share a common path.  Perhaps it is the ever growing list of artists who are doing everything themselves.  With the changes in the industry many more artists are self-managed, do their own booking and even run their own small labels.  I know this model of small business has been working for me recently and it is great to find like minded folks who are also great musicians as well as smart and courageous entrepreneurs. 







The Ron Hynes tribute at the Gala evening was a highlight for me.  Being included onstage with members of the Wonderful Grand Band and Ron’s longtime bandmates (Sandy Morris, Boomer Stamp, Glenn Simons and Paul Kinsman), The Ennis Sisters, Lennie Gallant, Bruce Guthro and Amelia Curran really gave me a great sense of pride.  I was more concerned with my emotional state of mind than playing a bad note.  No bad notes and no breakdown, just overwhelming love for the life of a great man.





Later in the evening I continued hopping from party to party with Bruce and Lennie, who took me under their wings for the night.  4am came too soon and I forced myself to retire knowing that there was still another four days and nights of showcases and meetings ahead of me.  Having fun is great, but staying healthy and in shape during these multi-day events is very important.  Nobody wants to hear you complain at your showcase about how hungover you are and listen to you apologizing for your beaten up vocal cords.  If you have these showcasing opportunities, be on your game, 99% of other bands will certainly be in top form.



This brings up another point, great music.  Many of the acts who attend these conferences are serious.  They are full time die hard songwriters and musicians.  Every town has a music scene and there are lots of ‘good’ bands.  But when you come to a place where there are 100+ seriously dedicated payers, you are guaranteed to see some incredible performances.  Perfect 3 and 4-part harmonies, great songwriting and very well rehearsed ensembles.  





Performance highlights for myself were my Saturday night showcase at Highland Arts Theatre.  A beautiful old church with the original pipe organ still winding up the back wall.  The acoustics were perfect and when I played the stage felt great.  I also saw Ben Caplin there the night before and he was a true gem.  I’m new to his music but onboard now for sure.  The Songwriter’s Circle on Sunday was a lot of fun.  Myself, Jenn Grant, Heather Rankin and Charlie A’Court each shared stories and songs to a sold out audience.  Such great talent to sit beside.











I write this as I sit here in Sydney airport getting ready to head home. It has been 5 days and I am ready for my own bed.  Lots of new friends, great music and perhaps even a few new bookings on the horizon.  Cant’ say enough about how much fun this was.  Cheers








New music found:

Jordie Lane

Jenn Grant

Andy Brown

Old Man Luedeke

The East Pointers

The Morotleague

Also not a new discovery but got to see J.P. Cormier and he was awesome as always…


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