Aural Fixation: Cali Shaw And Kc

Local Singer-Songwriter Folks Out

Doug Cohen
3 min read
Cali Shaw and KC
Cali Shaw (Courtesy of the artist)
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Late last month, the contemporary folk music world visited our distant eastern neighbor, Kansas City, at the 2017 Folk Alliance International Conference. The Westin hotel in KC was abuzz with the sound of American music.

Performances erupted in the lobby. Industry people buzzed around one another, deals were struck for recording contracts, and radio DJs met with newly discovered performers. And who but Burque’s very own, Cali Shaw, took an active part in the Folk Alliance.

The legendary conference, now in its 29th year, is made up of countless events to support the professional development of folk artists around the country. For example, Shaw pre-registered for a series of “lightning round” mentoring sessions with experts. These events lead up to performance showcases, the heart of the conference.

Cali Shaw is a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and bandleader. He has a loyal following in the Albuquerque area and is well known in venues around town. When he performs with his band, a palpable energy pulses throughout the clubs he favors.

When those in Shaw’s private showcase audience arrived and were seated, a host introduced him and Shaw began strumming a guitar and whistling. He sang his original song, “Arrows,” in a memorably strong voice. When he finished his third song, he was enthusiastically applauded. As he exited, Shaw gave away CDs and download cards and spoke with several of the industry reps on hand.

The next morning, four rounds of mentoring advice were arranged for Shaw. The first coach Shaw faced was an expert on touring. The second coach provided input on blogging and social media. But the the third and fourth mentors held the most significance for the Burqueño singer-songwriter. Lisa Schwartz—on the board of directors for Folk Alliance International and the interim Festival Director of one of the preeminent festivals in the country, the Philadelphia Folk Festival—provided guidance. Schwartz advised Shaw on viral marketing and offered to review his recorded work for a potential spot at this years Philly fest. The final mentor, Ralph Jaccodine, also on the Folk Alliance Board, provided input on securing a regional reputation.

Weekly Alibi caught up with Shaw at the conference. He said he saw his inclusion in this national conference as a movement forward in his career, adding that, “It humbles me to be among great musicians and performers.” Shaw told Weekly Alibi that his aims were to make connections for touring and radio appearances, meet publicists and explore record labels. It’s critical to make key contacts that will take him to the next level, he believes.

One important aspect of these proceedings Shaw took away is the extent to which the music business is reciprocal, relating that, “One of the beautiful things about it [the conference] is its authentic music. People come together as a community … It gives me inspiration for how I can grow; like [by] taking banjo lessons with the amazing Tony Furtado. He’s a virtuoso player.”

Shaw’s final thoughts on the conference sum up his hopes for musical success “From this conference specifically, I’ll follow up with the Colorado contacts … and arrange for touring up there. I’ll attend Southwest Regional Folk Alliance in Austin, Texas.”

In the future, Shaw concluded he “would love to build a New Mexico room at the national Folk Alliance next year. There is such talent here in New Mexico, and I feel we need to mark New Mexico as a place on the map.”
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