Friday, October 17, 2008

Stepping up the pace

This week went by quickly, and it reminded me of the joy of being a journalist. I did my second piece on folk about the lure of New York City for folk musicians: something that I don't quite get. I mean I understand that it's a big city and there's an opportunity for fame, but the people in Manhattan never quite hit me as "folksy." Pushy, loud, rude, busy yes. But I don't see that sense of folksy, and certainly not the inspiration that brings around a Joan Baez, Pete Seeger or a John Denver. If you're a country musician, Nashville makes sense. If you're a blues guy, I can understand Memphis. But I don't understand the attraction of New York for folk: is it perhaps because of Dylan's success in the Village in the 60s? I wonder if that could even be replicated today, and I started getting some answers to that this week.
I loved being out interviewing these musicians and talking to them about their craft. I know there are thousands of people like Matt Jones and Rebecca Hart across the city, people doing music on the side of another job and struggling to be known. Yet at the same time, their insights were deeper than I had expected, Matt talking about the lack of a scene and Rebecca talking about the respect for cross-genres.
Austin made a point that resonated with me: he said folk musicians don't come here because it's a scene for folk music. They come here because it's a scene for everything, and there's an opportunity to grow and be recognized and taken seriously for your music. The question is with all these musicians, how does one get recognition?
I suppose I should look into the generation of folk rockers like Suzanne Vega and see how they got to where they are, how they made their name. Who else has recently made it big after starting out here? Norah Jones...but then again she's Ravi Shankar's daughter. You'd think she'd have a leg up on the competition.
Meanwhile, on the technical front, the shooting went well. I managed to take shots of the crowd at Arlene's Grocery using a night-time feature on my camera: it had an odd side effect of putting the video into slo-mo. But it worked. The real problem at Arlene's was the sound: whenever the band laid it down with hard drums and loud guitar riffs, the sound got really distorted. I need to figure out how to shoot in that kind of performance space and buy a sungun for the night time shooting.
This weekend, I'll take care of that and write a script for the piece now that I've got a decent amount of footage to work with. I wonder if I should use a voiceover...

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