Balticon '92

Leslie Fish's Filksongs

The Virtual Filksing

Convention Reviews

Personal Filk Projects

Other Cool Stuff

Balticon has long had a reputation for strong filking under the leadership of filkers Lindy Sears, Spencer Love and Crystal Hagel. After having attended my first Balticon last Easter weekend, I am tempted to believe that Balticon's reputation for excellent filking is an understatement. What is even more incredible is that Lindy, Crystal and Spencer ran such an outstanding filk program without ANY official support from the con com!

This year's Balticon featured Filk Guest of Honor Larry Warner at his first appearance at a east coast convention. Other guests included Mary Ellen Wessels, Duane Elms, Mike Stein, Roberta Rogow and Rennie Levine. Sadly, Kathy Mar and Cathy Cook were unable to attend Balticon due to circumstances beyond their control. It may be worth noting that not only did Lindy, as opposed to the con com, cover Larry's transportation costs, but none of the filk guests were even mentioned in the guest list. (Okay, okay --- Roberta Rogow was listed, but she's also written Future Speak and is thus a published writer.) Even more interestingly was that Larry's name wasn't even mentioned at the masquerade along with the writer guests of honor. It goes without saying that a pad of paper was passed around to collect the signatures from the 40 fen who would not have attended Balticon if it lacked its excellent filk program.

The filking events began 5:00 on Friday with a panel for neos explaining What Is Filk?. The first conflict began 3 hours later at 8:00 with the Clam Chowder (a regional fandom folk group that split up) reunion fundraiser concert for Athelstan (a regional fan who was critically injured in a car accident): it was brilliantly scheduled to overlap with the filk concerts. This was quickly resolved by all of the filkers who mutually agreed to wait until the Clam Chowder concert ended. Roberta Rogow and Gary McGath valiantly manned the filking room (provided for nights by the science folk rather than by the con com, of course!) to entertain fen and ensure that no one thought that the concert had been cancelled. The benefit concert finally raised over $4,100 for Athelstan; $550 of it was raised when the audience demanded a particularly bawdy song that Clam Chowder demanded the money to play. Within seconds, a plastic bag was passed throughout the audience, and within minutes, they handed a bag containing $550 over to Clam Chowder much to their disbelief and utter astonishment! After the Clam Chowder concert ended around midnight, the filking concerts began across the hallway.

During the concert, Duane Elms, Larry Warner, Mary Ellen Wessels, Rennie Levine, Michael Stein and Helva Peters treated us to outstanding solo and joint performances which were followed by chaos-style filk that ended around 5:00 AM. Outside of the chaos filk, I bumped into Cindy Ross, who was roaming the hallways mercilessly teaching anyone who dared to say that they could never learn how to play the dumbeck how to play the dumbeck. I saw both Mary Ellen and Larry fall into her ruthless trap, and for all their cries and protests, they picked up the basics in about two minutes.

Saturday's filking started at 3:00 PM with a guitar workshop supposedly by Duane Elms, Michael Stein and Larry Warner. Unfortunately, the program book was highly vague about which FLOOR's hallway the workshop was to be held in, which resulted in Duane Elms doing a solo workshop and Larry wondering where everyone went to! Immediately afterwards was "Filking: Let's get serious", a true oxymoron of a title. I'm not quite sure if it was merely poetic justice or Duane Elms desiring revenge for the guitar workshop, but Duane stranded Larry to run it on his own. (Un?) fortunately, no one quite knew just what this panel was supposed to be about, so it became an Ask-Larry-Anything-About-Filk panel, which was also an intriguing topic.

The Saturday night chaos filking was also quite spectacular and contained many well done performances: in particular was Larry's heartbreaking rendition of Heart of the Appaloosa which would have brought Fred Small to tears. A bit later that night, Virginia filker Steve Brinich distributed copies of an newspaper comic he had clipped showing a man telling his guitar-wielding dog, "You'll get your supper, but only after you stop singing those silly parodies and give me a straight version of 'Al'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen'." (Larry had sung CMQ's Kathleen earlier at the chaos filk.) Eventually, as if we weren't in enough of a state of ecstacy, Duane Elms wandered in to announce that he will be marrying Kathryn Condon!

Later that night (Earlier that morning?), Kathy Sands announnced that Freedom, Flight and Fantasy (Misty's newest tape) had just arrived at the dealer's room that day. In addition to the official chaos filk, there was also a bardic circle that wandered all over the convention and lasted for SIXTEEN HOURS! (Take that, Kathy Mar!) Spencer Love kindly maintained a xerox machine at the two chaos filks, with which I shamelessly raped Larry's songbook, a travesty that I do not regret to this day!

On Sunday, the con, and obviously, the filk, concluded after a very well attended panel on filksong writing and finally the one-shot concerts.

This was my first Balticon, and I must say that if this year's Balticon is typical, this is a con that no filker should do without! Next year's con head, according to Lindy, is extremely filk-friendly and even showed up for this year's Dead Dog Party! When considering that "Filk GoH: Leslie Fish" was proudly announced on the con flyer for Balticon 27 and that the con is paying her expenses, next year's filking looks equally promising! For those of you who could not attend, it's not too late to repent: Spencer Love recorded all of the concerts and filking, which he hopes to assemble on a cassette that one day we may be able to buy from Wail Songs. Larry Warner will be returning to the East coast/Midwest in a mere five months as Toastmaster at this year's OVFF: he is simply an excellent performer and a wonderful person who should not be missed!

Until then, may the dandelions and their beholders continue to thrive!