Twenty minutes to impress means musicians are 'on'

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Want to hear eight folk bands and performers in a two-hour show?

The Southeast Regional Folk Alliance is presenting three artist showcases May 18-20 at Montreat Conference Center. Each of the three showcases, which packages eight artists among the 140-some who applied, is like mini South by Southwest Music Festival. Tickets are $15 each night or $30 for all three nights.

A chapter of the International Folk Alliance, it is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. SERFA has held its annual conference at Montreat Conference Center for the last half dozen years.

“Montreat is a gorgeous location, and the people there are great to work with,” said SERFA president and conference organizer Don Baker, who lives in Asheville. “Once we came to Montreat for the first time, it was hard to leave. And everyone loves to come to the Blue Ridge Mountains.”

The conference, expected to draw some 250 registered participants, for seminars and a keynote talk by folk artist Kathy Mattea (not open to the nonregistered public). It also provides selected musicians an opportunity to perform for industry executives and music venue administrators in the hopes of getting work and contracts. Each has a 20-minute slot. (See the lineup at serfa.org).The official showcases, from 7:15 to 10:20 p.m. each night, are followed by “guerrilla” showcases put on by other musicians in various rooms around the conference center. They too are hoping to impress the music industry professionals. Those shows go on way past midnight.

“Only the music fanatics generally stay up for those,” Baker said.

Your ticket gets you into the official and guerrilla showcases for the night. Artists are coming in from as far as California and parts of Canada, Baker said. “It’s a great evening of concerts for very little money,” he said.

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