Magic Carpet Con was a small (~200-300) person regional; this year they had a special emphasis on filk, and brought over Dr. Jane (who was helping MZB), Filthy Pierre, Leslie Fish, and the Creaseys as dealers, as well as Timelines and Glass Hammer. Just about everyone active in Southern filkdom that I've met was there. Claire Maire was the only person not there off of the top of my head.
I also had the pleasure of meeting Randy & Diana Walker of alt.music.filk. They are both active in the SCA, and don't seem to do many cons (esp. Musicon). Randy majored in voice as a college student, and is an operatically trained bass --- and quite possibly one of the amazing vocalists I've ever heard at a convention. Likewise, I also meet Scruffy (or was it Scrumpy? Sorry, I forget your name!) from alt.music.filk --- one of the Florida filkers --- who also deserves to be better known as a performer than he seems to be. He's quite good, in my opinion. Ditto, there was a guy named Kelly Lockhart who I had never seen at a filksing who also was a quite good vocalist & guitarist.
For me, the definite highlight was meeting the Creaseys in person, who kindly allowed me to crash in their room, and whose dealers' table I had lots of fun helping with. Finally. After 5 years of long distance phone calls and E-mail, it was possible to actually meet in person. They're definitely as neat in person as they are by E-mail. ;)
The Creaseys were very impressed with just how darned friendly everyone at the con was, and I definitely agree with them. The convention, as a whole, was a definite relaxacon --- while there was 4 programming tracks, most folks seemed to be in the hallways, con suite, et al. And, yea, o Lord, what a con suite, with hot dogs, chili, beans (pfffffffffffffart!), fruit, cheeses, juices, you name it. (On the down side of the relaxacon, I found myself falling asleep by 2:00 AM every night --- speaking as someone who's been known to stay up later at filks than Kathy Mar @ OVFF --- and I suspect it was because of the very low energy level characteristic of things down here. Variety never hurts.)
Dr. Jane had the luck of UPS losing all of the merchandise for the MZB table --- and their being legally responsible for business losses resulting from lost merchandise. In other words, she got a free weekend vacation courtesy of UPS, and didn't seem to be complaining!
The filking essentially centered on Saturday concerts on the evening filksings --- the Saturday concerts were Dr. Jane (which I skipped out on after 15 minutes, since I had heard her sing almost all of the concert 10+ times, and was thus not interested in hearing the same songs Yet Again), Leslie Fish (who had a number of great new songs, including the...uhh...smash hit "Grandma Went Out with a Bang", very loosely based on John Creasey's grandmother), Filthy Pierre (who I missed for dinner, alas), Timelines (who I had slept through in the back of the filk room. Damned if I know how), Glass Hammer (who were outstandingly competent musicians, but whose concert I couldn't hear through the way overamplified speaker system very well --- although the volume was thankfully turned down for the other concerts), and probably another person or two that I've forgotten.
The Bum Side
The only downsides to the con were pretty straightforward: smoking and smoking. There was smoking in the hallways, in the filksing, everywhere. All of my clothing REEKED when I came back and had to be washed, dirty or not. My harp still smells like smoke, almost a week later. (I almost wish I left some ham and beef in the lobby on Friday; could have had it smoked for free... ;)
Granted, much of this may be because one individual who shared the Creaseys' room, too, also smokes --- but everyone else I spoke with at the con also echoed this sentiment, even without a smoker in their sleeping room! A lot of it could be easily solved --- just keep smoking out of the hallways --- and keep smoking out of the filksing without a smokeless ashtray. Two folks, who attended the con for their first time, told me that they were probably never returning because of all of the smoke. Fortunately, the convention was very adamant during the one or two small goof-ups that they're still new, make mistakes, and to their credit, they correct them quickly, so I have confidence that they'll reach a desirable balance on the smoking issue.
Token Obligatory Story
There was one minor incident that I thought I'd mention for entertainment value. I never thought about how much we adapt our senses to our environment until this weekend. In particular, there was one guy walking through the hallways in the LARP who had makeup to make his face appear as if it had been grossly mangled or hit with a tire iron. I saw him in the hallways, and didn't blink an eye. Interestly, a hotel employee walked by him, and well...she nearly passed out right there on the ground, turned white, and made a bloodcurdling shriek. (Fortunately, she was standing right next to one of the con com members who very kindly comforted her and explained that there was nothing wrong.)
Nonetheless, it was lots of fun, and I assume I'll be back next year in the very, very unlikely event that I'm still living in this fundamentalist waterhole of the world known as the South.
(Writing in retrospect, I'd go as far as to say that Musicon, Magic Carpet Con, and Atlanta Folk Harpers are the only saving graces of the entire American South...unless you count the low cost of relocation to California! --- Eli, 1/97)