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Tuesday, May 27, 2008 

Kerrville Folk Festival -- We Came, We Saw, We Loved It!

Article + photos by Madalyn Sklar

Sara Hickman from behind the stage My first impression of the Kerrville Folk Festival was, "damn it's hot out here!" And that my friend is not an understatement. Late May can be very hot here in Texas, even in the beautiful hill country of Kerrville which is located about an hour West of San Antonio. This is an outdoor event that has taken place yearly since 1972. This year's dates are May 22 - June 8.

It was my first KFF and I decided to embark during its first weekend -- May 23-26. I knew several GoGirls that planned to attend and I figured I would run into plenty more. That is enough reason for me to go and yes, brave the brutal Texas heat. I will admit it... I like being indoors with a/c when it's hot out. But I was down for the experience and have heard so many great things about the festival.

'nuff said...I took Leslie Starnes with me as my assistant for the weekend. She plays in the popular Austin band, Bon Terra. We were both greeted at the front gate with warm smiles and friendliness. They gave us our press passes and parking permit and as we walked away they said, "welcome home!" I come to find that is their standard greeting to everyone. Kinda cool.

Parking at this event is not easy. Had I known the parking lots, well fields actually, were dusty, bumpy, rocky and just not good on a car I would have NOT taken my nice Audi. I would have opted for a SUV which navigated the grounds way better than a small sports car. Live and learn! I also found it best to get there earlier in the day if you want to find decent parking. Now most people stay and camp. They don't leave. I'm not a camper so we stayed at the luxurious La Quinta in town -- 9 miles away. I quickly found that it pays to make your way there as early as possible because a VIP parking permit did you no good when you get there late in the day or into the early evening.

my poor car!On day 2 Leslie and I decided to grab dinner in town and upon our return there was nowhere to park... at all! The place is filled with young volunteers directing you where to park, etc. They were not helpful in getting us parked so as press we could cover this event. Hey if you can't get there you can't cover it. My biggest complaint other than the heat is to actually have a real VIP parking area and put someone in charge of it otherwise don't give out VIP parking permits. This was never the case the entire time we were there. It was extremely frustrating to find countless cars with regular parking permits parked where we were supposed to be parked. Okay I'll stop bitching about it. So back to day 2, we had a choice... park in BFE (and I mean BFE!) or go back to town and drink. We opted for the latter and ended up at the festival's host hotel, Y.O. Ranch Resort Hotel, and had a blast with our new friend, Steve-O the bartender.

GoGirls Elite member Lojo RussoMy favorite daytime activity became the Threadgill Theater in the afternoon for the New Folk Emerging Songwriter Competition. It was held this past Saturday and Sunday. It was an opportunity to get out of the sun and enjoy some really great live music. Several GoGirls performed here: RJ Cowdery, Rachael Sage, Lojo Russo and Emily Elbert. Also on Sunday I followed GoGirls member Amy Meyers to the Ballad Tree song circle that was a super cool, outdoor open mic (with no mic) atop a beautiful hill. It was a great chance to take in really great songwriting. By Sunday I was really getting into the groove of the festival and had figured out the lay of the land. There is camping just about everywhere you turn. Some are there with small tents while others have a more elaborate set up. There were even a handful of large RVs and motor homes.

Sara Hickman rockin it!! And it's being broadcast live on XM Radio right now.The highlight for me was Sunday night watching GoGirls member Sara Hickman on the main stage. I'm a big fan of hers. We met at Folk Alliance in Austin, TX back in 2006. She is not only talented but extremely hip and cool. This past February while at the GoGirls Secret Meeting at Folk Alliance in Memphis she made up a cute GoGirls song on-the-spot and even rhymed my name in it. I know, not easy to do! I was in heaven!

Sara put on an amazingly wonderful set on the main stage before a huge crowd. She is witty and charming and between songs she engaged the audience and even found the opportunity to say "nipple" all while this show was being broadcast live on XM Radio. Watching her perform made the entire trip -- heat and parking problems aside -- all worthwhile!

To recap:

* Don't take a sports car
* Bring lots of water and sunscreen because it's HOT out!!
* Get there early for parking
* Kick back and enjoy great music

This event goes on for two more weekends. Check it out. If you are looking for fun in a laid back setting, this is the place.

View a bunch of photos here!

Rock on,
Madalyn Sklar
~providing one-on-one indie music consulting & coaching~

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    Madalyn Sklar is a music business coach & consultant, blogger, social networks expert and author. She has spent over 15 years helping independent musicians and music business professionals achieve greater success. Her motto is: working smarter not harder. She also founded GoGirlsMusic.com, the oldest + largest online community of indie women musicians.

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