Folk Alliance to leave Memphis, Conference still on for 2012

The Folk Alliance Conference, held in Memphis since 2007, will pack its bags and relocate to Kansas City, Mo., beginning in 2014. The conference will be in Toronto in 2013, so next February’s event will be the last in Memphis.

The conference has drawn thousands of people to their events in Memphis by bringing together music industry professionals with workshops, panel discussions, and great musical performances.

The biggest reasons behind the move are logistical. The Memphis International Airport has one of the highest average flight costs in the country and the largest hotel in Memphis, the Marriott downtown, is too small to accomodate the conference.

“The Memphis airport is one of the most expensive in the country and there has been nothing to indicate that the situation will improve,” said Louis Meyers, Executive Director of the Folk Alliance.

“The meeting rooms (at the hotel) are way too small for what we do…there is no long term growth potential,” said Meyers.

The Alliance’s planned venue in Kansas City consists of two hotels joined together and attendees and participants will be able to walk seamlessly from one space to the other. This will allow for a “music camp” to be established where people who want to learn different instruments can get a more specific education. This area will be geared more towards “the art of playing rather than the art of booking or record deals,” said Meyers.

Such an expansion of the Folk Alliance’s programming would not be possible in Memphis.

Next year’s conference will still happen as scheduled from February 22-26, including a keynote speech from Bob Lefsetz and programs honoring Robert Johnson, Woody Guthrie and Bill Monroe.

Despite logistical shortcomings, Meyers and the Folk Alliance will remember Memphis fondly.

“The Stax Museum is one of the greatest places I’ve ever been, it means so much more to me than the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame…the sense of music history is unbelievable.”

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