The Chenango Stage will host its second annual First Friday Folk Fest on March 1 from 6:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Chenango Street. For a $5 cover at the door, visitors will get to see three acts ranging from a solo artist to a full-fledged band. The event is hosted by Grassroots Xpress Cafe, The Chenango Stage and True Folk TV, a project meant to promote budding artists and encourage community support for local artists. The event will feature music by Alex Creamer, Woodshed Prophets and Galen Clark & Connor O’Brien.
Folk Fest, described by Matt Ebbers of True Folk TV as “a roots music celebration,” originally began as a promotional event for a friend back in December. Now, the festival is a concert series held every three months at First Friday.
Ebbers, a Binghamton native, said he is often surprised by the diversity of people who show up to support folk music.
“I saw some younger students that I know would often show up […] it’s really a mixed bag who ends up walking through that door,” Ebbers said.
One of the featured guests, Woodshed Prophets, is a “power twang” country and rock hybrid band hoping to introduce a unique sound. Originally from Binghamton, Woodshed Prophets have released two albums available on Spotify and Pandora. While Folk Fest is a new development in the Binghamton scene, Woodshed Prophets are a fixture in the community. Band member Ed Gliha said the demographics of the group’s audience are usually varied.
“It’s all over the board: we have a lot of young people, we have a lot of middle-aged people […] a pretty diverse group,” Gliha said.
For the purposes of the Fest, the music is geared toward earlier and more recognizable styles of folk music. While some people may associate folk with older crowds, Ebbers defines the genre as “music that comes from a representational standpoint of culture.”
“The True Folk TV project is founded in discussing how folk music just as a categorization of music has evolved from a Woody Guthrie-esque, narrative-driven, singer-songwriter [style],” Ebbers said. “A kid in Brooklyn making music with GarageBand on his laptop could equally be considered a folk musician because it’s music of people.”
For student musicians hoping to get listened to, these music enthusiasts offer plenty of advice. According to Gliha, the most important thing to keep in mind is the love for music.
“It’s great to go out and make a couple bucks on the weekend, but you got to like doing it,” he said.
Ebbers encourages “bedroom musicians” to step outside of the comfort of their creative space and take advantage of everything the local music scene has to offer.
“Get out into the community, interact with people putting on shows in your backyard,” he said. “I know a lot of times in Binghamton people will moan and lament and say there’s no culture in Binghamton, but really there’s a DIY, budding resurgence outside of True Folk TV in general in the nooks and crannies of the area.”
Friday’s show is an example of this little-known phenomenon in Binghamton. It is also an opportunity for musicians to meet up-and-coming performing musicians and promoters like Ebbers.
Ebbers hopes the show will break down barriers caused by the unspoken feeling about student and ‘townie’ interaction.
“With the townies and the students, I know there’s an air of separation, but I think everyone kind of wants the same thing and wants to interact with each other,” he said. “So anything that can bring folks together, I’m all about it.”