February 03, 2014

Falcon Ridge - Most Wanted Artists 2014

Falcon Ridge recently announced the winners of the 2013 Emerging Artist Showcase "Most Wanted" (based on audience survey and appeal), to be featured in the 2014 festival. 
1 - THE BOXCAR LILIES and DARLINGSIDE tied for FIRST place, with over 28% of the votes cast.

2 - ROOSEVELT DIME - garnering exactly 24% of the votes

3 - CONNOR GARVEY - with over 23% and nearly a tie for second place

A tie is less than 1/2 of one percent apart, or 1-3 votes out of several hundred. This year nearly 2000 audience members filled out surveys, 905 of them voted in the showcase portion.
Three of the selected Most Wanted artists are "groups", just one is a solo artist. The festival chooses three Most Wanted artists, but more often than not of late (2007, 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2013) goes with four if things are close. Can't say I argue much with the choices - although I rarely vote in the audience poll, I voted with my debit card last summer and picked up CDs from Boxcar Lilies, Roosevelt Dime, and Darlingside.

This caused me to ponder whether "groups" (duos, trios, etc.) might have a bit of an advantage in the audience survey (my guess was that they do). And since I am the mistress of the festival merchandise (which gives me no special knowledge or pull, but it does mean I have complete records going back a few years), I decided to do a little audit. Please note that my evaluation of an artist as a solo as compared to a group are based on artist name and memory; some of the "solo artists" may have appeared on stage with side musicians giving them more of a group feel but if they are billed as an individual, that's how they went. 

Here's the record for the past few years:

2007 Most Wanted: Anthony da Costa, Joe Crookston, Lindsay Mac, and Randall Williams
0 of 5 groups made it into the most wanted, 4 of 19 solo artists

2008 Most Wanted: Abi Tapia, Amy Speace, Blue Moose and the Unbuttoned Zippers, Lucy Wainwright Roche
1 of 3 groups made it into the most wanted, 3 of 21 solo artists

2009 Most Wanted: chuck e costa, Swing Caravan, The Brilliant Invention
2 of 8 groups made it into the most wanted, 1 of 16 solo artists

2010 Most Wanted: Barnaby Bright, Chris O'Brien, Folkadelics, Spuyten Duyvil
3 of 6 groups made it into the most wanted, 1 of 18 solo artists

2011 Most Wanted: Blair Bodine, ilyAIMY, Louise Mosrie, Pesky J Nixon
2 of 8 groups made it into the most wanted, 2 of 16 solo artists

2012 Most Wanted: Gathering Time, Poor Old Shine, The Yayas
3 of 8 groups made it into the most wanted, 0 of 16 solo artists

2013 Most Wanted: The Boxcar Lilies, Darlingside, Roosevelt Dime, Conor Garvey
3 of 11 groups made it into the most wanted, 1 of 13 solo artists

I think I got everyone, if I missed any "four most wanted" years, let me know. (Thanks, Ellen, I did miss Louise Mosrie in 2011, and thanks Jake, for reminding me about The Folkadelics in 2010)  Now, how does that look graphically? At the risk of being called the Nate Silver of folk festivals....

24 Emerging Artists per year, with a trend towards a higher percentage of "groups" as compared to the traditional singer-songwriter / solo artist. A low of 3 groups (2008) and a high of 11 groups (2013)
The Most Wanted Artists show a clear trend towards groups, with 2007 being the last year with no groups, averaging one solo artist since 2009. (two in 2011, none in 2012). Also of interest, 5 of the past 7 years there have been 4 "Most Wanted" artists, rather than the 3 expected. 

So you want to be a Most Wanted returning artist? Get yourself a band, because since 2009, the odds of coming back as a solo artist have been mostly under 10%, while the odds of returning as part of a group are 25% or higher.

I'm not trying to stir things up (well, maybe a little) - just trying to point out that the "most wanted" survey mechanism (audience surveys) tends to favor the louder, brighter groups, with harmonies, multi-instrumentals, etc. that might lead to a higher appeal from the hillside, as compared to the solo performer. I personally consider it an "apples and oranges" kind of thing, there's a different audience, level of appeal, etc. And yes, I've a little skin in the game - the "Most Wanted" stage slots I've really enjoyed over the years consisted of 3-4 solo performers swapping tunes (and perhaps working together instrumentally and through harmony) - they often tour together pre-fest and kind of grow together a bit. Groups tend to be a little more self-contained as a unit (vocally, instrumentally) and as great as it is to see them play the main stage, I'd rather they did a solo set rather than a song swap format.

I (personally, and I wield no particular power here other than the power to count 100s of tee shirts tossed into bins) think it would be a good thing to split the competition into group and solo categories, and perhaps choose two from each. Because looking over the past many years, I see a ton of really good singer-songwriters who did not make the "audience cut" and perhaps should get some recognition.

Although, as has been pointed out on Facebook, a lot of the "solo artists" do bring along side musicians so the line between group and solo artist gets pretty blurry. Perhaps if you bring your own side musicians, you might need to compete in the group category. Not a great deal, IMHO, since an ensemble that has been playing and singing together for a while can be pretty tough to top.

As with anything, your opinion, and mileage, may vary....

1 comment:

frogGoddess said...

Didn't Louise Monroe also win in 2011?