Southwest musician headed to Kansas City to connect with folk music leaders.
Leader's Berk Jodoin made the trip to Kansas City, a place known for their jazz, with his daughter Milly. The two were introduced to a brand-new world of music with artists from all over the world gathering in one place.
"I watched a band from Sweden--they were a string band and were playing instruments I had never seen before," Jodin said. "It sounded fantastic, but I had to ask them what their instruments were called."
He was one of 144 artists invited to perform at an official showcase, but roughly 1,000 other acts were on hand to play private showcases.
Jodoin performed in both fashions and enjoyed playing in a lighter atmosphere, though Saturday's showcase was his best opportunity to show people what his music is all about through a legit show compared to the private showcases which actually took place in empty hotel rooms at the event's meeting grounds in Kansas City.
Jodoin's music often revolves around some tough topics, "The Sailor" being one of the best examples of Berk putting emotion into his craft. His targeted songwriting was a topic of discussion that was received pretty well in Kansas City.
"My topics are very well received here," said Jodoin, "Lots of conversations around the songs."
There was very little downtime for the local musician as he made his way around 2023's Folk Alliance International. We spoke to Berk on a Thursday, and he listed about 8-10 different performances he was booked for. He will be the first to tell you however that the trip wasn't always about performing.
"Networking and panels and forums. Stuff you learn during the day, then you meet people and have meetings and stuff like that."
Day two of the folk event is when things really kicked off for Berk and his crew.
"We really got at it, started playing some shows and meeting some people," shared Jodoin who recalled meetings with artists from Australia, Great Britain, Iceland and Ireland alone to kick his time at the event off.
"It's a big networking thing. It's really cool, and constant," he stressed. "Every once in a while I went back to my room and looked at the ceiling for a while and got ready to get back at it type of thing."
Jodoin played a room show for Italy, another one for a group of people out of the Canadian prairies, and then another group from California as all of the ears listening in could represent potential for Jodoin and his music career.
Being ushered into so many different worlds of culture at the international event, interestingly enough Kansas City's culture is one that especially stuck out for Jodoin. There was plenty of folk music to go around from attendees, but the locals faithful to their Kansas City jazz were more than on display as well.
"Jazz quartets playing in a lobby randomly along with folk musicians playing randomly. It is something to behold, it really is," said Jodoin about the culture that shined through during his recent trip south.
Kansas City is also known for their football team, and Jodoin said it was pretty easy to tell there was a big game coming up.
"The whole city is red right now. The fountain out front, they dyed it red. Every building has a Chiefs logo and all of the lights all over the city are red. They are definitely behind them which is nice to see."
"We will go to Vancouver for the Canadian Folk Music Awards; we were nominated for one out there. We will go out there and do a little more networking at the awards, maybe play a show or two."
While Jodoin's music might make him feel like a star at times, he gave the reminder that his head hits the pillow and raises for the early morning alarm just like everyone else. His day-to-day life helps inspire his music, but the residuals that come from it surely act as a reminder that he needs to keep his day job.
"It's a challenge. I still go to work. Still coach minor hockey. Shovel the sidewalk and cut the grass. Time management is probably the most important thing any musician has to know."
Jodoin will look to add another award to his trophy case at the upcoming event in Vancouver. His talent is certainly gaining recognition in the musical circles here at home in Canada, and the Folk Alliance International down in Kansas City was a great chance to open up his music to the world stage as the future remains bright for Jodoin and his supporting cast.