In 2014, the International Folk Alliance conference will take place in Kansas City, Missouri, featuring keynote speaker Graham Nash (of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young). As usual, no doubt, the IFA will include hundreds of unknown or little-known folksingers, and at least a few dozen who have entered the realm of folk-famous. From official showcases to the guerilla sort that take place in people's hotel rooms...the International Folk Alliance gathering is one of the folkiest places you could be every year. The 2014 gathering is sure to be well worth a music-lover's time.
With the release of Inside Llewyn Davis this winter, there is likely to be a new crowd of folk fans flocking to collections like the Anthology of American Folk Music and other such tomes, to learn more about the music that inspired the film. But, there is no greater place to delve into the music that inspired the film than the music made by the man who inspired the film. This brand new three-disc collection from Smithsonian Folkways is a wonderful introduction to the real Dave Van Ronk.
Every music fan loves new music, so if you're looking to stuff a few stockings with great CDs, there's no place better to start than with the year's best records. Here's a look at the best albums of 2013 to give you an idea on where to start. Or, when all else fails, a gift card for iTunes or a membership to a streaming service like Pandora or Spotify is a failsafe fall-back plan.
Every good folk fan needs to try their hand at banjo picking. Trust me, it's different from learning to pick guitar. If your favorite folk music fan already has a banjo and is making a go of it, the Banjo Encyclopedia would be the perfect gift. It's perfect even for armchair banjo enthusiasts who wouldn't pick up an instrument to save their life. It'll teach them everything they need to know about bluegrass banjo, which will be delightful for dinner conversation.