Woah! Talk about a big head. Thank you Aengus Finnan and everyone at Folk Alliance International for giving me the 2015 Spirit of Folk Award. When I began playing music and writing songs over 50 years ago, I never dreamed of one day being part of such a vital and loving music community. Receiving this award in my home town of Kansas City, MO is doubly gratifying. This is where I cut my teeth at The Vanguard Coffeehouse and The Sign Coffeehouse back in the 1960′s. I left to pursue music in places that held more promise for a career. But I have never left Kansas City or Independence behind. No matter where I’ve lived, I’ve remained a proud son of the midwest.
It’s exciting to see FAI headquartered in KC and doing such a wonderful job of including the talented local music community in their ongoing effort to ”nurture, engage and empower the international folk music community — traditional and contemporary, amateur and professional — through education, advocacy and performance.” This is a mission I want to be a part of in any way I can.
I suppose it is not unusual to feel simultaneously proud and unworthy of such an award. So many singer songwriters struggle to stay afloat financially and creatively. The tug of war between art and commerce will never be easy, and most who choose this life will never receive an award for their efforts. I am fortunate to have the support of so many people through the years, to still walk the path I chose as a teenager, and to be recognized for the small part I play. One of my heroes from childhood, Tom Joad, sums it all up when he says, “A fellow ain’t got a soul of his own, just a little piece of a big soul, the one big soul that belongs to everybody.” Good words to live by.