June 19, 2013

Falcon Ridge Folk Festival - Merch Tent Preview

I've dragged out Excel and am cleaning up the master spreadsheet I use to track merchandise for the folk fest. I developed this puppy back in  2007 (my first year as merch co-crew chief) and it has proven to be pretty well designed, going all these years without requiring too much modification. I set up an individual spreadsheet for each artist / performer (some require multiple sheets) and we track the units brought to fest, added or removed during fest, and checked out after. With unit pricing, it calculates the total sales, subtracts the fest commission, and tallies the artist's total sales. Pretty basic, but still much work with 50-60 artists at a typical fest weekend.

Some artists (especially the 24 "Emerging Showcase Artists") are pretty simple, with a handful of CDs (we ask them to leave the swag home, as emerging artists, just not a lot of potential for sales). Others can be quite a handful - Gandalf Murphy / Grand Slambovians (for instance) bring multiple CDs, DVDs, packaged sets, shirts, hats, coffee(!), etc. Others (such as The Kennedy's) have multiple musical personae (in their case, they've been part of The Stranglings, The Stringbusters) or have solo works for individual members of the group. So it's quite a juggling act to keep it all sorted out.

This year, I took the time to list and document all the macros; I use macros for the spreadsheet automation as well as for little maintenance task (clearing sheets, repopulating header / footer fields for the current year, etc.) - found quite a bit of redundancy which I am slowly pruning. Might as well start fresh!

This is the 25th Anniversary of the Folk Fest - started in 1988 and missing 1991. I've been volunteering since 1992, with one missed year (was in SE Asia for work) so I think this is my 21st year. I started out with the parking crew, and the year I missed was a good opportunity to switch over to the festival tee-shirt (merch) crew. In 2007, Tee-Shirts and Performer Merch merged and I was a signing bonus (i.e. - crew chief Ellen acceded to the merger if I got a co-crew chief position with the responsibility of tracking performer merchandise).

In the ensuing years, I've seen a lot less music from in front of the stage (holing up in the merch trailer for much of the fest, which admittedly is line of site from main stage) but I've also gotten to meet and know a lot of the performers. It's a decent trade, IMHO. As the saying goes, I have "risen to the level of my incompetence" and here I shall stay.

Looking at the festival artists (the Emerging Artists have not yet been announced) it looks like a pretty decent fest. We're missing that big headliner (someone like Richard Thompson, Shawn Colvin, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Arlo Guthrie, etc.) but Dar Williams is back for the first time in many years and she's pretty much a headliner these days. And although a lot of old friend are absent (of the Patty Larkin, John Gorka, Richard Shindell, Greg Brown, Cheryl Wheeler generation), there are plenty of really great musicians.

Back for 2013, Falcon Ridge mainstays The Kennedys (I've missed ya, although maybe less so the mayhem of your merchandise), the Nields, Red Molly, the Grand Slambovians. Venerable faves such as Vance Gilbert, Susan Werner, Eliza Gilkyson, Mary Gauthier, Dan Navarro and Ellis Paul all add punch to the center of the line-up. And some newer faves - Spuyten Duvil, Jason Spooner Band, Andrew & Noah Band fill out the lineup.  Not ignoring the dance tent bands, plenty of punch there as well.

So...here it comes again. A week later this year (and hopefully pushing us into a little bit of sunny and dry weather in August). 

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