KC Cafe Radio’s live coverage from the 2016 Folk Alliance Region West music conference continued on Saturday, October 15, with an event that celebrated folk music’s finest in the great West. This year’s Best of the West (BOTW) honorees were legendary songwriter/performer Danny O’Keefe music educator Peter McCracken with the Centrum Foundation, and the Seattle Folklore Society.
Danny O’Keefe, the FAR-West BOTW Performer Honoree, has released a string of albums since the early 70s that have cemented his reputation as one of the best songwriters of his generation. Although casual fans remember him best for his Top Ten hit, “Goodtime Charlie’s Got the Blues,” or Jackson Browne’s version of “The Road” on his classic Running on Empty album, his story didn’t end in the 70s. He has continued to record the occasional brilliant album and recently returned with “Light Leaves the West,” released in September 2015. Danny’s songs have been recorded by a veritable Who’s Who of legendary artists over the past thirty-plus years including Elvis Presley, Cab Calloway, Charlie Rich, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Earl Klugh, Chris Hillman, Conway Twitty, Leon Russell, Dwight Yoakum and Jerry Lee Lewis among many others. He has also shared his knowledge and experience with students and other musicians through classes and workshops that he has presented throughout the West for more than thirty years. As a prime mover in the Songbird Foundation, Danny has taken an active role in successfully preserving habitats for Western Songbirds and has selflessly held numerous benefit concerts in support of the environment, Native American rights, and other key social issues. For over four decades, Danny O’Keefe and his music have been a source of inspiration and delight for colleagues and fans throughout the world.
Danny O’Keefe joins previous Best of the West Performer Honorees Cris Williamson, Barbara Dane, Chris Hillman, Eric Lowen & Dan Navarro, Utah Phillips, Rosalie Sorrels, The Kingston Trio, Joe Craven, John McEuen, Laurie Lewis, and Barry McGuire.
Peter McCracken and the Centrum Foundation were the BOTW Ambassador Honorees. The Centrum Foundation of Port Townsend, WA, is a unique arts education and advocacy program that promotes creative experiences that change lives through intergenerational workshops, bringing together aspiring and master artists to foster creativity, provide mentorship, and build community. Peter McCracken has long been an integral part of this inspiring organization, serving in many capacities over the years including Arts Program Manager and Traditional Arts Program Manager. Peter has established and led the Foundation’s Country Blues, Voice Works, and Ukulele programs and has organized many other short, themed, focused workshops. In 1992 he started the Blues Workshop and Festival and in 2000 he led the initial curatorial project for Centrum’s Festival of American Fiddle Tunes Preservation and Stabilization. As a visionary and administrator, Peter McCracken has influenced and inspired thousands of musicians from the western states and around the world through his brilliant leadership.
Peter McCracken and the Centrum Foundation join previous Best of the West Ambassador Honorees Russ & Julie Paris, Cassandra Flipper and Bread and Roses, Ed Pearl and the Ash Grove Foundation, Roz & Howard Larman, Steve Baker, Clark & Elaine Weissman, Mike McCormick, Bob Stane, Cloud Moss, Phil & Vivian Williams and Chris Strachwitz.
Seattle Folklore Society received an Organizational Achievement Award in recognition of 50 years of service to preserve and foster awareness and appreciation of folk and traditional arts in the Seattle area. A non-profit folk organization, founded in 1966, SFS has one of the largest and most stable memberships in the country. They produce folk music concerts, dances, song circles, camps and a newsletter. Many members are active concertgoers, dancers and players of the acoustic guitar, banjo, fiddle, mandolin, dulcimer, ukulele and other folk instruments. The award was presented by Victory Music founder and Ancient Victorys president, Chris Lunn.
Listen to the ceremony here:
Download Part 1 here: Best of the West Awards Ceremony, Part 1
Download Part 2 here: Best of the West Awards Ceremony, Part 2