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Local singer/songwriter Michael Tiernan performed in Texas at the 34th annual Kerrville New Folk Songwriter Contest over Memorial Day weekend. He competed against 32 other songwriters.

"It's pretty much the American Idol of the folk world," he says, "complete with three judges marking every note and move and a pin-drop-focused audience, all reeking from camping out in the nearby meadow.... It's on a dusty ranch, and it's a three-week festival, with some people camping there the whole time."

He describes the campground's "very suspicious bathroom facilities, one of which was called the 'Octajohn,' an octagonal wood building that converged in a huge central Port-a-Potty.... After my first morning duty, I had no choice but to call a strike on all future movements until I got back home."

Tiernan (who spent four days at the event) says he felt like an "out-of-place metrosexual camping in a meadow.... I didn't encounter any unfriendly rednecks, but the crowd was truly diverse, from super-crunchy types to corporate people who go there to let loose for the weekend."

Crunchy types?

"The Grateful Deadesque: dreads, hacky sacks, tie-dye.... The dude who drove me from the airport in his tricked-out SUV [said he] designed missiles for the government. He dropped me off and, the next time I saw him, he was decked out in tie-dye and taking a leak on the side of the road."

Michael Tiernan appears July 26 at the Belly Up as part of New Acoustic Generation IV.

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