Monday, January 4, 2010

And now for my BIG news of the week!!!

This week is the upcoming 12th GAFilk convention in Atlanta, GA. GAFilk is a filking convention...and I guess I had better define filking.

Necessary digression: Filking began 30 some odd years ago in the science fiction and fantasy convention fandom when some of the fans discovered they enjoyed writing songs about science fiction and fantasy subjects. Most of the early songs were original lyrics written by fans, set to already extant songs. An early newsletter on the subject misspelled the word "folk" as "filk" and the typo stuck as a name for the genre.
Then the trend began to write original music with original lyrics as well as parody songs. The music ranged from humorous to serious, and began to cover a wider and wider range of subject matter, until the definition of Filk became "filk is what filkers do."
I have been involved in filking since the early 90's and writing and playing filk (guitar and bodhron drum) ever since I sat in on my first "Filk circle". The filk or bardic circle is the ultimate activity of the filker. Basically, everyone gathers in a room in a loose circle of chairs, with their musical instruments and sing and make music together...there are several variations of this - the "pick - pass - or play" circle, where it goes around, and each person may pick someone to do a song they want to hear, say pass so that it goes to the next person, or they play something. And then it moves to the next person. This is great in smaller numbers, but the more people in the circle, the more unwieldy and time consuming this becomes, unless someone is leading it and keeping it moving. The other type of filk circle is called "Chaos Filk" where every one randomly jumps in, in no particular order. The benefits to this is that it moves fast and people can do "follow up" songs, where a subject - Star Trek, etc - builds off related songs. Great fun! The down side is that shyer introverted people, or new filkers who are a little uncertain, can get run over and sit all night silent because they have trouble getting a song or a request in edgewise. A third version of bardic circle is one that has risen that combines the best of both - a ball, or other object, is tossed around the circle; the person who has the ball has the floor, and then may toss it to whom they may. Some one with a follow up song may indicate they have a "follower" and thereby obtain the ball. And people watching for the quieter, more reticent filkers may toss the ball to them, keeping things equitable. Everyone all good? Make sense? Commenters, please ask questions, if need be. Filk is one of the most inclusive fandoms there is - even people who can't carry a tune in a bucket, if they desire to try to contribute, they are listened to with respect. There is also great respect shown to diversity of opinion, gender, life experience, etc. It is an amazing community of people who have made music a living breathing thing and it is done for the love and passion of it. There are professional me, they are not getting rich, but they are doing what they love! And on a more serious note - music is a living a breathing thing in Filking, without the commercialism that has over taken so much of the so called music "industry". The definition of a musician is one who makes music, not one who makes the most money in a prepackaged pop culture. The old tradition of bardic poetry and music is alive and well, in filking. End of digression...

NOW...GAFilk in Georgia is a Filk Con that has a 12 year history, and I have been to all 12 years. I have heard wonderful music and I have beloved friends there, some who I am close to outside the venue of Filk, some whom I only see at this convention, once a year, but the friendships none the less, run deep. And I look forward every year with all my heart to the renewal of these precious friendships! This year however, is also special to me, because of the Guest of Honor at the con this time....
Alexander James Adams! One of my favorite musicians of all time, whom I have written several blog posts about and have posted his music here! Allow me to throw dignity over board and have a fan moment! SQUEEEEEEE! Given that he is a west coast artist based in Oregon, the odds of us hearing him live have been very low, until this moment. I am fast moving into full Tigger bounce mode here - I am so excited! So, this weekend, it's off to the filk. There will be an update post afterwards, with pictures and tales of the stay tuned! It's going to be a great time and I look forward to sharing the experience! Also, Dreamweaver will be taking her necklace making gear with year, we hope to have an official table in the dealers room to vend her stuff, but she is hoping to sell a bit by interest in what she is doing! So keep her in your thoughts, folks!

Filker's Bardic Ring
By Larry Kirby

From the small cons down in Florida
To the big ones in LA
With an old guitar and a battered notebook
They all come to play
They come here for the Filking
They're here for just one thing
To sit and play til the break of day
In a filker's bardic ring.

Some can sing like Julia
Like an angel from afar
Some can play like Leslie
On a 12 string guitar
But most just know a few songs
And some can barely sing
But they all yearn to take their turn
In a filker's bardic Ring

There those that write like Misty
With words that soar and fly
And those like Bob Kanefsky
Make us laugh until we cry
They all want to tell those stories
That make you want to sing
And they all long to do that 100th song
In a filker's bardic ring

They don't do it for the money
They don't do it for the fame
Some will sing a lifetime
And never make a name
They long to write that special song
The respect that it would bring
But most by far will never star
In a filker's bardic ring

And then one night at some little con
Where no stars have ever sung
Like a miracle some golden words
Fall off of someone's tongue
And after years of being nothing
They all listen to you sing
And for awhile you'll set the style
In a filker's bardic ring

From the small cons down in Florida
To the big ones in LA
With an old guitar and a battered notebook
They all come to play
They come here for the Filking
They're here for just one thing
To sit and play til the break of day
In a filker's bardic ring...

In a filker's bardic ring!

GAFilk Website - Go look it up - loads of info and pictures!


  1. Wow, that sounds like so much fun! I entirely understand your SQUEEEEE! Hope you both have a terrific time!

  2. I know a couple of other people who are excited about going. Take pictures. Have fun. Stay warm!!

  3. Sounds like a great time! Have some well-deserved fun!

  4. Thanks for all the Heather info.
    Which song on the last album was about Heather and Philip?

    As a lesbian I have to say, I miss Heather and her voice.
    Maybe because I'm partial to women. I live on the East
    Coast and did get to see Heather live once..she was on the East Coast, in 1997.
    I had no clue all this had happened until recently and I'm still reeling. I also had no clue she was unhappy.

    I understand so little about transgender people and wish I knew someone I could question without sounding like an ass.

    There was nothing like Heather's voice and I for one shall miss it. JUlie