OK, ok, so I've been prodded into spending an hour or so and writing a con review. I give in, and it's more fun than homework. ;-) I honestly don't think I have anything exciting to say, but it's never stopped me before...
OVFF, yet again, was held in the Hilton Inn North in Columbus, Ohio. Wonderful timing; driving through the middle of autumn after being cramped in a city for months was just lovely. This year was the 10th anniversary, and there was lots of historical stuff in the program book and programming. I think they managed to convey a well-deserved and justified sense of pride for the longest running, best attended filk con --- and financially healthy despite relatively low membership fees. It's a hell of an achievement.
The schedule worked out perfectly with my classes...oh...wait...I scheduled them around the con 3 months ago; never mind. ;-) My room was rather amusing --- I brought a friend from CMU who had never been to a con before, and Cindy Ross (who was also in my room) brought a friend who had never been to a con. They were fun to try to freak out, but they steadfastly refused to be freaked.
I really liked the concerts this year. They started out with Bill & Brenda Sutton, which got things kicking. Bill sung a song about make.money.fast, thanks to the poor guy who posted it onto the filk echo.
Musical Chairs followed. Damned solid stuff.
Michael Longcor did a concert of all mostly-new songs. I think someone needs to write, "When I wake up alone there's a monster in my head..." (with apologies to Diana Gallagher).
I really enjoyed Kathy's concert which followed. I seem to dislike every other concert Kathy does, and love the other concerts. Specifically, I seem to be timing cons so I hear her do (mostly) the same stuff twice in a row. By the next time I hear Kathy, she ends up tossing half the songs she was singing and parodying the rest --- like the concert she did at OVFF. Here, she did a parody of Velvet that Bob Kanefsky wrote about Velveteen-addicts, which both I and Robert thought was the best song we had heard at the entire con --- Bill Rintz, who was fiddling with the song on stage, managed to break into Velveteen in the instrumental break between verses at Kathy's suggestion --- it was HILARIOUS! I suspect it will wind up on the con tape in a year or three.
Missed Juanita's Coulson concert. Had to eat breakfast. Oh well.
The songwriting contest/concert was way cool, with Paul Kwinn winning an award for his (IMHO, awesome) entry (the name and lyrics to which I forgot, but he was working on it for almost a year --- and it SHOWED!), Renee Alper won an award for Thorasic Park, and Mark Osier won an award for When I grow up I want to be Michael Longcor.
Tom Smith, however, took the cake by singing a 4 page "commentary" with a verse for every single entry to the tune that they used. It was amazing. I actually think the best verse was the one he didn't write --- one person (forgot her name) wrote a song which I think was called Ineffective Communication. For her, Tom just said, "Sorry, but I wasn't listening to your entry." Ditto, Tom was announced as the well-deserved guest of honor for the 15th anniversary OVFF at the banquet for pulling off such a feat.
Sunday morning had a Black Book Band concert. Very well received. IMHO, they're damned professional --- they actually all ran away Sunday because they have a practice of a group concert evaluation for an hour or so to see what worked, didn't work, etc, and see what they can extrapolate for future concerts.
Steve Macdonald was also a very good sport in graciously accompanying nearly 20% (?) or so of the songwriting/one-shots (all of whom seem to have independently asked him for accompaniment.)
Workshops & Panels
In my first year at OVFF in 1991, I used to think OVFF just didn't like programming.
This year, I think I've concluded that OVFF likes programming --- enough so that they're only providing the truly great, and (put bluntly) refraining from adding lots of mediocre programming for a packed schedule. I only attended one programming event: Sally Childs-Helton did a workshop on musical improvization which was easily worth twice the cost of the con to me. It was quite likely the most polished, enjoyable and useful piece of programming I've ever attended, and others commented likewise. Sally is an *outstanding* teacher.
I'll refrain from a detailed description of the workshop, but simply state that I know of very few people who left who didn't have a major change of their perception of their musical abilities and interests at the end of it. Damned powerful experience. [Ditto, it was also hilarious when we were going in circles and improvizing music, and Steve Mac donald and Lynn Gold started FILKING THE IMPROVIZED LYRICS on the spot!]
I'll also note that among those attending the workshop were Steve Mac donald, Bill Roper, all of Musical Chairs, and Mary Ellen Wessels. I normally wouldn't have thought of them needing to further develop their improvizational skills (to make an understatement, having seen all of them jamming along chordlessly and flawlessly on at least one occasion ;-), but I guess that's one of the things that make them such good musicians. [step off soapbox]
Why Bob Kanefsky's A Genius (reason #187)
Over dinner, Kanef was discussing Talis Kimberley's song Velvet, which Kathy sings a lot, and is on Made by Magic (plug, plug). Has anyone else besides Kanef noticed that the lyrics indicate that the obvious interpretation of the song is not necessarily the only one? Although I'll refrain from publicly mangling Kanef's evidence (although he can, if he wants. Hi, Bob. ;-), he noted that it's equally possible that the protagonist is actually simply insane, and never turns into a werewolf, but rather, "she puts on Velvet..." and goes out and kills people --- and *will* eventually kill her spouse. Any comments?
I only have two gripes about the con:
It was unclear if smoking was prohibited in the area outside of the main filk room. This was a Bad Thing. If it was allowed, it should be prohibited; period. One rude smoker should not be able to make it impossible for dozens of people to breathe by stinking up a common area with toxic fumes. Ditto, it's impossible to ask people to stop smoking if it's unclear if it's prohibited or not.
Scheduling the 11:30 AM Black Book Band concert on Sunday partially resulted in the fact that the entire Saturday night filks were nothing short of decimated ghost towns, and almost non-existent by OVFF standards [i.e. there were 3 people in the Kathy filk (which normally has dozens), a few dozen in the main filking room (which normally has 150+, etc.]. I really hope they won't schedule awesome programming in Sunday morning in the future, or they'll destroy my favorite part of the programming --- the open filks --- where we get to hear the 90% of great musicians who don't get concerts.
I think that's it. Fun con. I need to EAT; later...