I've already covered the Peter S. Beagle concert of Friday night, except I have one little anecdote to tell.
I was in the back row. In front of me was a somewhat dumpy woman who was knitting a garish multicolored striped blanket. It was about 1/3 done if it was for a Queen sized bed. When Peter started singging a song about sharks, this woman enthusiastically makes shark-moving-through-water motions with her hand, a little higher than her head, which effectively blocked my view of the singer. And the thought went through my mind that this stupid woman was one of those awful no-talent fans who is easily amused by shiny objects and her main claim to fame is she knows all the choreography to "head, shoulders, knees and toes" and probably not much else.
I am writing this to confess that I have sinned in my heart. The stupid dumpy woman surprised the hell out of me during Saturday's Cindy memorial by responding to a "does anyone know the words to such and such a song?" getting up and singing the requested song in a strong clear in-tune voice, flawlessly and with even more enthusiasm than she had done her shark thing.
And she kept doing stuff like that all through the con. I am deeply impressed by her singing and encyclopedic memory, and am sure glad I didn't say to her on Friday night was was going through my mind.
Her name is Jane. Her last name begins with an M, but her name tag was too small to read from 5 feet away, and the one time she was introduced to the throngs at one of the two-fers , I didn't catch it. I gather she is also a prolific filk writer.
Moving right along...
I've written about the Cindy memorial already. Some random notes I made during that were:
How do you photograph music? John O and other familiar fen were snapping pictures all over the place, and the more they enjoyed the song, the more avidly they photographed the singer. I left my camera home because I wanted to be in the con, not just observe it. When I have my camera with me I have a difficult time participating.
At one point several singers got up to do a number, and my brain farted this: The Bulgarian National Filk Chorus.
A woman jumped up from the audience and said "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot". I laughed out loud. Sometimes my Boy Scout training proves useful.
After the memorial, Puzzlebox gave their concert. I have mixed feelings about this band, which I understand has disbanded. They are excellent musicians. They play instruments well and sing well and their music is a notch above most filk. But this concert kind of bored me. I'm not sure if it was because most of the numbers were not my idea of filk, or maybe I just didn't hear the words well.
Marty Fabish was up next. She sang a capella, with a clear voice, in tune. I left after the second number because she was singing boring stuff. Monotonous non-melodies and words I just didn't understand.
Out in the hallway I looked at the rest of the program schedule and decided to bail. I wasn't interested in the auction, or in hearing someone named Helga (who wasn't even biographed in the program). I would have liked to hear Bill & Gretchen Roper, they really sounded good in the Cindy session, but that would mean driving back to Milpitas for an 8 pm curtain, and it was cold and dark and looking like rain.
There were signs up about a newly scheduled workshop in how tro get your filk written and performed and published. So Sunday at 11 am I was in the #2 filk room to hear Roy O'Brien tell all. With only an hour, he didn't get very far, but his presentation was well worth the early drive across the bay, and he redeemed himself in my eyes. At what could have been the end of the Cindy concert, he had shouted "everyone stand in Cindy's memory" or something like that, and that had put him right up there with Friday night's dumpy shark-motions woman on my "Argggh" scale.
Roy handed out excerpts from a lyric-writing textbook, which looks very useful, and he also handed out cards which point us at www.songsalive.org, a group by and for song writers. Maybe I'll get Howeird's Grossest Hits distributed, after all.
One irksome thing is Puzzlebox was rehearsing loudly on the other side of the very thin wall, which made it very difficult for our session. There were empty rooms we could have been put in far from the loudness...
At noon there was a concert for kids, so I hiked across the street and found a Malaysian restaurant for lunch. Their Roti Canai was amazing. I ordered the curried lamb because although it was listed as "Santan curried lamb" in the menu listing, on the side flap which highlighted their specials, it was called "Satan Lamb". How could I resist?
Back at the con, next up were two-fers, which I really need to think about doing if I'm still here next year. Two songs per person for an hour.
Seanan McGuire was the next concert performer. She is a lovely blonde young woman with a nice voice and a diabolical sense of humor. And a huge posse. Her final number had all of Puzzlebox, I think, plus a violinist (who also sang backup) and one or two more singers. She did some enjoyable costume changes. The first one was while she was singing a love song to Jeff Goldblum (asking him to use her instead of Igor), she peeled off her white satin blouse to reveal a sexy black top, and then pushed off her floor-length skirt to reveal a black flapper outfit. For her last number, a group of women came onstage bearing a large black curtain-like object, which Seanan ducked behind, and out she came in a neon pink prom dress for a number spoofing Dead Man's Curve, Corpse Bride style. It brought down the house, and unfortunately half the room decided this was the end of the concerts for them and left.
A shame, because the next concert was at least just as good.
Lynn Gold a.k.a. figmo gave new meaning to "leading edge" filk, in more ways than one. First, she was accompanied by her laptop, Big Gay Al. The backup sounded great, and she did a good job of making it seem as natural as singing with a live band. The song featuring her grandma's ukelele would have been better had she managed to actually play the little instrument, but something happened which kept her from starting along with the computer. So the stage was a uke-free zone, after all.
Also joining her on the tech side was the short but cute Cristo, with his amazing electronic theremin. If you don't know what this instrument is, look it up. While Cristo waved his hands in the air, Lynn pulled out a musical saw and a bow, and played along. It took a while to get the microphones set up right for this trio (the computer was in on this number too, if I remember correctly), and unfortunately the nice lady behind the sound board was wrong when she said they didn't need a mike directly on the saw. We heard it well during the sound check, but as soon as Lynn turned her body sideways to play the saw, we lost that part of the audio. Maybe it will sound better on the CD.
Lynn also goes easily between the 6-string and 12-string guitar, though I suspect she has perfect pitch, because she spends a lot of time tuning these beasts, and if she doesn't think one is tunable in the short time she has, she will put it aside and use the other.
Her song Roadkill Cafe is a classic, and most of us sang along. The Hawaiian Gas-passing song has a certain appeal, but the one I liked best was the one she did in the high-pitched voice and I am now blanking out on the name and lyrics because it's past my bedtime and I forgot to take notes. Scratch that, I was enjoying the concert too much to take notes.
I stayed for the final set of two-fers, but I had a Peace Corps dinner to go to at 6, so I had to miss the Rock Jam and dinner run.
The program guide never got posted on the web site. The web site was altogether too lame for a high-tech gang like this.
Were there any open filks? Not while I was there.
Kristoph Klover, who I want to be when I grow up. This man sings, plays a mean mandolin, and runs a sound board like a master.
The Con Suite crew, who kept a constant superb layout of goodies, neatly and with flair.
Jo Kellner, who made sure I knew I had a badge waiting for me, and personed the registration table when she probably would rather have been in the conert hall.
Seanan McGuire who is just nice to look at and listen to.
John O, who is listed as Concert Monitor but did lots of those little things which make a difference.
All in all I enjoyed the con. It was good to see Dr. James having a good time, and being there, and actively making sure everyone had a good time. It would have been so easy to duck the chairperson role under the circumstances.