The Southeast Regional Folk Alliance (SERFA) will present its highest honor, the SERFA Award, to two couples and two individuals on May 17 during its 12th Annual Conference at the Chattanoogan Hotel. One of each have Chattanooga connections: musical legends Norman and Nancy Blake, of Rising Fawn, and the late Fletcher Bright, philanthropist, musician and presenter. The other honorees are J.T. Gray, four-decade owner of the Station Inn in Nashville, dancer and choreographer Eileen Carson Schatz and dancer and musician Mark Schatz of Maryland.
The SERFA Awards presentation follows the Annual Meeting and precedes the keynote address by Ellis Paul, in a program starting at 1:45 p.m. on Friday, May 17. The annual SERFA Awards., presented since 2014, recognize those people, organizations, and businesses that made extraordinary contributions to folk music and its community in the Southeast. A committee consisting of Kari Estrin, who created the award when president, SERFA Treasurer Denise Williams, and board member Jefferson Ross, with SERFA Executive Director Art Menius as staff support, selected and the SERFA board ratified, the recipients for 2019. Previous recipients include Kathy Mattea, Peggy Seeger, John McCutcheon, Alice Gerrard, Ginny Hawker and Tracy Schwarz, Jim Rooney and Si Kahn.
About the award recipients:
Norman and Nancy Blake earned four Grammy nominations separately and together creating some forty albums. Chattanooga native Norman and his wife Nancy began recording together in 1974 and spent many years thereafter performing, recording, and playing music for the joy of it. Before that, Norman had already played on recordings by Bob Dylan, John Hartford, and Johnny Cash.
Fletcher Bright, who passed away in 2017 at 86, belonged to the Dismembered Tennesseans band for seventy years. He flourished as a realtor, led the Three Sisters Festival, and gave back to the geographical and musical community many times over.
J.T. Gray has owned Nashville’s foremost bluegrass club, the Station Inn, since 1981. He converted the Inn’s original coffeehouse/jam session format into a performance venue that has survived for the long haul.
A pioneer in bringing percussive dance to performing arts stages and the general public, Eileen Carson Schatz, who became a Green Grass Clogger in 1974, co-founded the Fiddle Puppets five years later. She developed the Fiddle Puppets into Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble in 1994. Mark Schatz has played bass in a host of leading bands and with foremost artists including John Hartford, Tony Rice, Spectrum, Tasty Licks, Tim O’Brien, Claire Lynch, and Nickle Creek.
The 12th Annual SERFA Conference makes its debut in Chattanooga on May 15-19, 2019. The event, attended by 299 in 2018, moved from Montreat, NC, its site for eight years. Conference activities, open only to registrants, include workshops and panels, official and private (aka guerrilla) showcases, open mics, an exhibit hall, group meals and more.
For information on attending (registration fees increase on Jan. 31 and March 31), applying for an official showcase (deadline Feb. 28), exhibiting, sponsoring or advertising in the program, visit www.serfa.org.