Wonderful con, kudos to Dr. James for chairing it, and to everyone who helped out. The con suite was again the best stocked con suite of the year, even without the leftover wedding cho-shia bow and chocolate mint cake (had it not been for the appetites of the fans, this would surely have gained critical density and become a black hole).
Saturday's dance card:
I had stuff to do, arrived in time for concerts.
JT Filkers is a group of people my age or older. They sang individually and as a group. I had to leave when one of the numbers featured tomcat-in-heat noises.
Brooke Lunderville and John Caspell performed a set of highly entertaining filk. I was blown away by Brooke's energy & singing, and John's guitar playing. There were some genius moments for both.
Riverfolk aka Becca Leathers & Chas Somdahl were very good musically. I'm guessing 2/3 of their material is hillbilly folk and 1/3 filk. The filk was well worth it. Yellow is the Color of My True Love's Eyes get my vote as best stealth vampire song evah. And Chas' Popsicle Girl complete with ad-hoc backup group the Chasettes, was hilarious.
Interfilk GoH Carl Thiel sang a series of "ose" songs, followed by "more ose" songs. Every now and then he snuck in something comic, and I know he will be down in the dumps for weeks if he hears someone has said this, but he's much much better writing comedy than downers. He sings them both equally well.
The Interfilk Auction was fun, though sparsely attended. I was happy to see an item I donated go for about 4x its value. And sorry to have been outbid on the USB rocket launcher. I did win a couple of small things in the silent auction.
Evening concerts began with Toastperson Dr. Mary Crowell. She said she holds a DMA, which I'm guessing stands for Doctor of Magical Arts, because her voice and pianism are magic. She sang a series of RPG songs, all in a lounge jazz style, a style which was constant through her concert except for a tango, which sounded like a lounge jazz tango. She completely cracked up Judy Miller, the person signing for all the acts, by taking a water break with one hand while playing tinkling music with the other. More on Judy later.
Wrapping up the Saturday concerts was Becca Leathers, this time with her husband Graham. This set was pretty much all hillbilly folk, and while I'm always happy to hear music done well, I'd prefer a filk con's GoHs to sing a significant amount filk in their concerts.
Sunday once again I had Stuff To Do, and with the time change ended up arriving half an hour later than planned, in time to catch the last half of what was billed as Summer & Fall's Harmony Workshop Part 3. It was not a workshop. It was a choral rehearsal. And while there was singing in four parts, there wasn't much harmony as the music was more Renaissance style counter-melody material. Fall, who is a tiny redheaded person, is a competent chorus director, and with some more formal training she can be outstanding.
One reason I went to the workshop is I wanted to hear Summer & Fall some more and see how badly I was mistaken about my previous review of their concert. I'm sorry to say I mostly stick by the first impression. Fall's voice has a vibrato in it, odd for an alto, and I find this jarring. Later in the day when they sang backup for a couple of performers, the lack of intonation popped up again.
Next it was time for two-fers, and I wish I'd prepared something because there was time and I would have been okay a capella. Quite a range of talent came up on stage, and it was excellent for Short Attention Span Theater.
Edit add: One of the best jams of the con came under the category of "killing time", Kristoff Klover
Lynn Gold aka figmo vamped for a while as the sound person got the dials in the right places, doing some KLIV patter. And then she proceeded to trot out winner after winner. Judy Miller was once again signing, and Lynn made it her goal to sing songs which were as un-signable as possible.Trust me, you don't want to know what The Road Kill Cafe looks like in Judy's version of ASL. Somehow Lynn's two guitars managed to stay in tune close enough for her perfect pitch to not want to pitch them out the door, and her computer accompaniment went well too. She brought a big backup group onstage for her takeoff on Teen Angel/Dead Man's Curve/Siren Song, which included Summer & Fall.
Chris Phoenix came up with Callie Hill for a mostly a capella set. He has a clear, solid voice, but sometimes the tune and key get away from him. Callie hung in there and provided a good anchor.
Fall was up next with her workshop chorus, singing the two numbers they had rehearsed earlier. My rough count was 3 altos, 4 sopranos, 3 tenors and 4 basses. A good mix, and they sounded very good. The first number was the one I heard at the workshop, the second was a take-off on a well known tune, words written by Slytherin.
The final concert was billed as "Kanef by Proxy" in which many filkers whose work had been spoofed by Bob Kanefsky came up in stage to sing the parody, while Bob looked on from the front row. It was a mini who's who of filk. Seanan McGuire and friends, Kathleen Sloan, Leslie Fish, Kathy Mar, Alexander James Adams, among others. Excellent stuff, and I decided to leave on that high note.
Judy Miller was Fan Fund GoH. She is a tall, attractive woman with long silky hair which is somewhere between strawberry and dishwater blonde. She has generous curves, and knows how to use them. She is also fluent in ASL - American Sign Language. Judy was downstage left for all the concerts "signing" the songs for the hearing impaired, but her signs go well beyond the official translator's manual. What Judy does is performance art - ASL enhanced by interpretive dance and facial expressions, which not only helps interpret for the hearing impaired but for the rest of the audience as well. She has a brilliant sense of comic timing which adds a whole new level to the lighter songs, and her body flows gracefully with the more serious tunes. She brings a very welcome parallel dimension to the stage.
No review would be complete without some gripes. There wasn't much to gripe about at this con, but there was one glaring problem and that was the sound in the main concert venue. The equipment was excellent, and there were enough mikes and stands to meet the needs of the con. The problem was planning. Nobody labeled the wires or mikes or guitar jacks. The sound operator had no idea which mikes and jacks went with which attenuators on the mixer. Also, the sound booth was behind the speakers, and the sound operators were not using headphones so they had no way to tell what the balance really sounded like to the audience. There also was a recurring issue with the stage monitor not being loud enough for the entertainers to hear themselves. Yes, feedback can be a problem when the monitor is up too high, but they were using highly directional mikes, which would have minimized the chances of that happening. Note for next time: Colored tape to color code the ends of the wires, the mikes and the pots on the mixer. It's easier to match the blue mike with the blue dial than an un-labeled mike #8 with dial #8. Also, it helps to pre-assign mikes to sections of the stage, and make sure the helpers keep them in their section. There were some easily avoidable tangles. Finally, the sound operator needs to use the monitor, not the audience speakers, to talk to the people on the stage. It doesn't matter if the audience hears your directions to the talent, but it doesn't help if the talent can't hear you.
Why was there a full glass (as in breakable glass drinking vessel) of water on the stage? It was just plain luck that nobody spilled it or broke it. I saw it move from a chair to a small folding table to the floor and back again. If this was an Elijah's Cup for deceased filkers, it belongs in a place of honor. If it was just left there, that's just plain bad stage management.