Leslie Fish's Filksongs
The Virtual Filksing
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
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!