January 22nd, 2014


Oh, right -- I like to sing...

So this past weekend was Arisia, which I did pretty full-immersion. (It's not Kate's cup of tea -- too big and crowded -- so I was on my own for it.)

Overall, it was a good time. Three of my four panels were great, which is a perfectly fine track record. (The "Hellboy's 20th Anniversary" panel was kind of doomed from the start -- having that geeky a panel at 10pm Friday is an uphill battle -- but was pleasant enough.) The SCA Ball was a blast as always, with 50-75 people up and dancing, and AFAIK having fun.

The food trucks (this year's new idea) weren't a complete success, but better than not having them. (I failed to get lunch at them both times I tried -- they were out of food by the time I got there the first time, and the line has half an hour long out in the cold the second time.)

The Masquerade was good, and the half-time show better than usual -- it turned out to be the Commonwealth Vintage Dancers doing a tour of historical dance styles, using a Doctor Who framing story as the excuse. Lots of fun to watch -- I hadn't realized that Antonia had become so much the headliner for the troupe, but she's become a truly excellent performer.

But above all, this Arisia reminded me of just how much I enjoy good, hearty folk singing, and how much I've missed it. Mind, I grew up musical -- I've been going to folk festivals since I was 3, and was singing on stage in elementary school. I don't do it a lot in the SCA because I'm not deeply into period music, but I do always enjoy a good bardic circle.

This past weekend, I was wandering the hallways late Saturday evening, when I heard some music coming from the elevator lobby, of all places. It turned out that a bunch of folks (a mix of Sassafrass, Stranger Ways and friends) had sat down and simply started to have fun; they waved me over and I mostly listened, since I didn't know most of what they were singing. Then they decided to wander over to the filksing, so I tagged along.

The filksing reminded me of several things:
First, at a filk I can turn off my Laurel brain entirely, and sing more or less anything I like.
Second, I have a fairly large songbook. (Which turns out to be hard to access via Google Drive, but I managed.)
Third, I'm a better-than-average singer. Not great by any means, but I've had more training and practice than most filkers.

So that was a hoot, and I sought out the filk room again Sunday night. This time around wasn't quite as much of a success -- it was unmoderated, and I quickly began to realize that, in that environment, the people who aren't quite as good *and* don't realize it wind up dominating the time. But I still had a decent time for a while.

(The award for "Demented Filk of the Weekend" was introduced by asking the audience, "Who here likes the Muppets? Okay, who likes Babylon 5? Great -- who likes both?" And then he launched into a rendition of "Rainbow Connection", replacing the word "rainbow" with "Vorlon" throughout. The result is wrongity-wrong-wrong.)

Anyway, after I couldn't cope with any more of everybody jumping over everyone else (around 1am), I wandered outside -- only to discover that a bunch of folks had preceded me out to the lobby, and set up a jam session instead. *That* was a complete blast. There were half a dozen instruments or so, and a dozen-plus singers; the consensus rule was that we would mostly focus on stuff that at least much of the crowd knew and could join in on. I wound up spending about an hour and a half going, "I really should go to bed now, but this is *way* too much fun" -- I knew most of the songs, and this was an environment where I could just jump in and belt them out.

So the upshot of this is to remind me that I need to make more of an effort to find the bardic circles, filks and jams, and join it. As mentioned above, Google Drive has proven to be a problematic way for me to maintain my songbook (which was a single long text file, much of it 20+ years old), so -- me being me -- I am in the process of transcribing it into a new Querki Space. I'm about halfway through that now, and expect that I'll begin to put more effort into collecting again once it's done. In the long run, it may turn out to be a decent candidate for Querki's crowdsourcing features, when I get around to those...