FilKONtario '94

Leslie Fish's Filksongs

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Convention Reviews

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Just got back from FilKONtario 4 this morning. While my crashers (Gary, Steve, Bill and Sue) are still downstairs copying filksongs, however, being a Genuine Techie Geek (tm), I'm writing the con review. I simply can't believe that this con manages to get better and better every year --- one year, they're going to have to reach the absolute point where a con just can't get any more fun!

Membership was around 73-74 this year, I think, and I think they were in the vicinity of breaking even (I'm not sure about the exact numbers) for the first time.

For me, the reason FilKONtario succeeded so well could be attributed to three elements:

1. The con com has a clear image how they vision of "ideal" filking should operate, and they are quite deft in their implementation. More specifically, the con com provided an intensely high energy, friendly, pleasant and comfortable environment to filk free of most filk barriers. I really think they've managed to keep to FilKONtario 1's original plan of, "Well...we wanted to throw a party for our friends, and we invited some folks over to share the fun", but with a lot more friends!

2. The con members were a very sociable and pleasant group of people. I got an incredible feeling of being in a cohesive community, completely lacking in personality conflicts, ego trips, etc. There was NO filkhogging --- EVER --- in any of the nightly filksings! Nor was anyone moderating them to reach that end. I couldn't fathom a single event in which a con member was being rude or unpleasant to another con member. I've never been to a con before with such a pleasant environment.

3. The Canadian filk community & its friends includes a number of rather talented group of musicians; since there doesn't appear to be a "name system" in Canada or any overwhelming personalities, there's just an indescribable feeling of being in cohesive community. The main concerts (other than guests) were all local Canadians/et al (Urban Tapestry --- Interfilk guests at ConChord, Mark Osier --- New Yorker who seems to have been adopted by the Canadians (or is it the other way around? ;-), Dave Clement, Andrea Yeomans, and on and on and... There are so many wonderful performers who never make it out of the area, and who really strut their stuff at night.

This year, I think Kathy Mar really made the convention work extremely well, and I think she was an outstanding choice of a guest; her philosophies on filking simply fit the convention like a glove. (And not one of those mass-produced ones from Taiwan! ;-) Her friendliness, outgoing and extroverted personality, excitement, energy were infectuous, and completely permeated all of the filksings, amplifying an already friendly and enjoyable atmosphere. Heather Rose Jones was the Interfilk guest, and was very well received, with her striking harp work and deft songwriting.

Paul Mac donald did a very awesome guitar workshop. I still can't believe he started out by saying, "I am not a guitarist" (pfff!!!!!). He was seen almost an hour after the workshop ended in the con suite teaching eager guitar students. Woa! Likewise, MEW and Kathy each did performance workshops which I hear were top-notch stuff. Many of these, unfortunately, were scheduled at 11:00. (Aha! A complaint! ;-) However, I can tell I'm in the minority about finding it inconvenient, as each of the 11:00 AM workshops got a dozen or so people, at least.

Mike Browne and Bob Kanefsky were pleasant surprise members, as was Bill Rintz, whose ungodly skilled fiddling helped spark more energy throughout the filksings. I finally got to hear Kathleen Sloan, who is a really great lady.

Sunday ended the convention with a most impressive improvised-the-night-before concert: Catherine (Cook) Mac donald [the unbeliveably talented woman who plays every instrument known to man and helped craft filk into what it is today], Robert Stockton [the harp guy], Bill Rintz, Dave Clement, Sue Knapp, Kathy Mar, MEW, and no doubt many other folks I can't remember spent 5 hours playing arrangements of folk and filk music: including an arrangement of All Souls Night, with very impressive flute and fiddle playing.

There was a dead penguin (all those oil spills ;-) party at Heather Borean's town house community center, which was also, of course wonderful, warm and fuzzy. Great people, great music, etc ("Food, filks, and fun!"). I finally left at Monday around 1:30 AM, and we returned to Pittsburgh around 9:30 AM. (And no, I haven't slept yet!!!!)

Anyways, I should get off the computer, and get back downstairs, since I think they're all done swapping songs from their filkbooks. See y'all at the next con...