ASCAP's special musical tribute to singer-songwriter Jesse Winchester highlights Folk Alliance Conference
Jesse Winchester Tribute (l-r) Shannon McNally, ASCAP's Brendan Okrent, David Ball, Russell Smith, ASCAP's Jim Steinblatt, Jesse Winchester, Guy Clark, Verlon Thompson and David Olney
ASCAP enjoyed a particularly high profile at the 2007 Folk Alliance Conference in Memphis last February, highlighted by an ASCAP Presents... Quiet on the Set showcase along with a special musical tribute to singer-songwriter Jesse Winchester, who was honored with The ASCAP Foundation Life in Music Award.
The Quiet on the Set presentation featured a very diverse range of sounds – from the Piedmont string band traditions of the Carolina Chocolate Drops to the cerebral meditations of Susan Werner, from the darkly entertaining musings of Tom Freund to the exuberantly joyful Roches, and from the Southern European-influenced folk cabaret of Gypsy Soul to the witty and sensitive songs of Birdie Busch.
The Jesse Winchester tribute drew one of the largest crowds at this year's Folk Alliance Conference, as Jesse's friends and admirers from the worlds of folk and country converged to pay homage to an enduring if overlooked talent. Winchester, who grew up in Memphis, was feted in song by Guy Clark, Russell Smith (of the Amazing Rhythm Aces), Shannon McNally, David Olney, David Ball, Peter Case and the trio of Kieran Kane, Kevin Welch and Fats Kaplin. In addition, congratulatory messages from numerous Winchester fans – including Elvis Costello, Joan Baez, Robbie Robertson, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Rodney Crowell and Emmylou Harris, among others were read aloud. At the end of the program, which featured loving renditions of Winchester classics such as "The Brand New Tennessee Waltz," "I Can't Stand Up Alone" and "Biloxi" Jesse himself took the stage to treat the audience to a sublime performance of his signature song, "Yankee Lady."