Folk Alliance annual conference moving to Chattanooga

People attend a previous Folk Alliance International conference. (Contributed photo from Folk Alliance International/southeastern regional chapter)

SERFA, the southeastern regional chapter of Folk Alliance International, has outgrown the Montreat Conference Center in North Carolina and will move its annual conference to Chattanooga for the next five years, according to Executive Director Art Menius.

Next year's conference will be held May 15-19, 2019, at The Chattanoogan. The event is designed for industry professionals rather than fans, bringing together artists, songwriters, presenters, DJs and other industry types.

Member states

AlabamaArkansasFloridaGeorgiaKentuckyLouisianaMississippiNorth CarolinaSouth CarolinaTennesseeVirginiaWest Virginia

photo People attend a previous Folk Alliance International conference. (Contributed photo from Folk Alliance International/southeastern regional chapter)

"We're very excited that SERFA is moving to Chattanooga," said Mary Howard Ade, music marketing manager with the Chattanooga Convention and Visitors Bureau, which was involved in bringing the conference to Chattanooga. "This will be a great cultural and educational event for our city, connecting our local music community to a large regional network of folk musicians and professionals."

The days are filled with informational seminars and workshops, and the evenings are music-filled, with featured performers ("official showcases") followed by late-night shows in intimate settings ("guerrilla showcases.")

"We simply outgrew the Montreat Center," Menius said. "Attendees had been clamouring for more amenities for years and put it [out for bid.] Chattanooga and Knoxville pursued it the hardest, and when we saw The Chattanoogan, it has an entire wing that is exactly what we were looking for."

He said the conference center/hotel has enough rooms one floor up, which will be tailor-made for the private showcases and meetings that are part of the conference. He said those rooms also have space where people can get off to the side rather that go out into a hallway.

"That wing looks like it was built to host the SERFA conference," Menius said.

Chattanooga's proximity to other large Southern cities also is a bonus.

"It's easier to get to for folks in Birmingham, Atlanta, Knoxville and Nashville. I know people think of it as a country music city, but there are a lot of folk artists and industry people there."

Menius said he expects about 300 registered attendees for the conference. Many of the artists who attend are new and looking to make contacts with label and booking agents, but some are established artists who live in other parts of the country and are looking to expand their touring footprint and audience.

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.