Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Wonderful Weekend....

This past weekend, Jan. 6th through the 9th, we took off for our yearly music convention in Atlanta GA. There have been 14 GAFilks, since their inception in 1998 and I have attended all but one of them. I met my beloved partner, best friend and wife - Dreamweaver - for the first time ever at the first GAFilk Convention. A brief definition of "Filk"must now occur -  filk is a form of music about science fiction and fantasy subjects created from within science fiction and fantasy fandom, often performed late at night by fans sitting in a rough circle and singing or playing instruments at science fiction conventions, though there are now dedicated filk conventions. Its been around for fifty years at least and the word filking arose as a typo of the word "folk" music in a convention memo. What makes it hard to define is that the songs are not all about Sci-Fi/Fantasy subjects, and may reference things like cats, computers, personal faith, space flight, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Sometimes real folk music gets performed even. The phrase is "Filk is what Filkers do." thereby encompassing a universe of creativity and connections. 

Last Friday we were off to the Filk, and were pulling into Atlanta at about 4:00 PM

Rolling into and through Atlanta....

(And since I was driving - NO, I did not take these pictures.)

And this is the view from the 11th floor hotel room we checked into...
Rob, our master of ceremonies...
 Having arrived and checked in, we were downstairs for what has become the tradition of the GAFilk Convention - a New Years celebration and countdown. By virtue of always falling on the second weekend of January, GAFilk is the first filk convention of the year, and possibly the first convention in the Scifi/Fantasy Genre, period, of the New Year, too. So there is a countdown, and champagne and sparkling cider and we begin the Con by singing Auld Lang Syne...ALL the verses, including the unpronounceable Scots dialect ones.
There is a great deal of socializing and hugs and joy as over a hundred people see their best filking friends they only get to see once a year, or happily make first time attendees feel welcome and honored too.

Welcome in a new year of Filking! 

At which point, afterwards the singing begins in
earnest in the first open filk of the con.
 The next day as I came down to the con, I encountered the snake! One of our long-time members has a snake who's been going to the con about as long as I have - a Ball Python named Spot. This however, was not Spot...Spot has a new traveling companion, a much younger and smaller ball python named Saffron...I immediately went to meet the new snake, and got to hold him while his owner visited elsewhere in the filk room.

Me and Saffron, the Ball Python....

Saffron and I visiting - we both dozed a bit for a bit...
I wish at this point to add a wonderful thing that happened. As you see in the picture above, my convention name tag says "Cameron". While Cameron is one of my actual legal names, it is not the uber feminine one I grew up being known by. As I have worked through being a female to male transgender and considering transitioning. I have been using the name Cameron more and more and  it is probably the name I will use as a man, post transition. So, all of these good people I have been attending this convention with for 14 something years all did a double take and said - one by one - " 'Cameron'? Whats up with that?" My answer was to say well there's a long version and a short version answer to that, and the short version is I am a female to male transgender and Cameron is the name I am using as a man."
And without exception, the answer was "Oh cool! OK...Cameron it is." Oh my - what a wonderful group of people - no judgement, total acceptance, no problem! Only one person wanted to ask some questions - and their main point was, "Are you happy?" And when I said yes, they said that was all that mattered! Fandom is a wonderful community of people! 

So, our second day of the convention went on filled with much good music and friendship and fun...here are some pictures...
Cat Faber, formerly of the group Echoes Children - she is amazing!

This was the double shot - the sign up for anyone
who wanted to sing two songs back to back...I've done double shots
before myself - but not this year...

Elise Matheson - the Super Secret guest for this year's GAFilk

Brenda Sutton of the group Three Wyrd Sisters in the open filking.

More open Filk...

Elise again - she was wonderful and funny and a very talented blog writer
jewelry artist, singer and story teller - a woman of many talents. 

Open filk at night after the banquet  - this is where we all sit and sing
till the break of day in a Filker's bardic ring! 

Open filk...

Open Filk....

Brenda Sutton performing again...

Bill Sutton, Brenda's husband, who is equally,
amazingly talented...

Mac Carson performing his signature song
"Brother Michael" which gets requested every year!

My Guitar...it was good to be playing again - I've been out of practice
due to school, but by Sunday morning,
I felt like I was back and able to play...

Fiber Geek and Dreamweaver - they have been best friends
since before Dreamweaver and I ever met and
their friendship is utterly precious!
I love them both and I am honored to be in their lives! 

Sunset from our hotel room on Saturday night....

And then...there are the elephants!These are our two elephants who travel with  us - Bronte and  Gabe.
We think they did a lot of filking we didn't know about after we went to sleep.
Turns out Cat Faber travels with elephants too - so they all got to wave at each other. 
 So after a wonderful glorious weekend...the Con came to an end - which always makes us sad...

Closing ceremonies where guests receive hats. 

And Brenda leads the final song, "Strangers No More We Sing" (that she wrote)
which none of us can sing without crying, because it's beautiful,
it perfectly expresses what the con is all about
...and when we sing it, it means the con is over. 
So, the Convention, GAFilk 14 is over. *sigh* Of course, you *KNOW* what this means....don't you? 

We're gonna sing some more! 
That's right - for those who do not have to leave on Sunday and can stay over til Monday, the convention rooms are still ours for one more night, and the Dead Dog Filk begins! And we sing right into the night again!!!! This year, Dreamweaver and I were able to stay for the first time ever through Monday and it was a very good thing we did because the Dead Dog Filk was magical - most of the "professionals" were still there, and brought their instruments back out and some of the most powerful, beautiful music I've ever heard at a GAFilk convention was played that night! And it wasn't just the "Pro's" - everyone still there, including us amateurs were in it - singing, sharing songs, harmonizing, jumping in and playing along. It was the best night of the convention for us!

Some of the incredible music we heard at the Dead Dog Filk....

Which just kept getting better and better....

And better!!!! 

FiberGeek and her grandson listening to the music!
We finally gave up and packed it in and went to bed all tired and happy, remembering of course that we had a drive back in the morning  Our Godson, Fiber Geek's grandson was a perfect example to us of how to end the con - of course, he has two speeds - full tilt boogie and crashed out sound asleep. 

Our God-son...the Next Generation of Filk!

And then we packed up, packed out and said our farewells to our friends with many, many hugs (and some tears!) and drove home after four days of wonderful music and friendship! It must be said that we came home to a house in perfect shape and our animals calm, well cared for and happy to see us, due to the efforts of our friend Miles who took over animal sitting our brood while we were gone. And having our furbabies calm and happy and well cared for - we can give no higher praise to our friend! He made the trip possible!
The only, single complaint I had about the whole weekend was (of course) that the hotel bed was evidently a stack of cinder blocks cunningly disguised as a bed with sheets and blankets! Ugh - I was so glad to get home to my nice warm water bed with my cats! And my kitten Thor - the kitten without fear, as Miles calls him - was glad to see me too! 

Thor asleep on my chest the night we got home - purring away!
He and I were so glad to see each other! 
So GAFilk is done for the year - we have the memories of good friends, good fun, great music and the knowledge that this time next year, we will once more head out - off to the filk! 

Strangers No More

Copyright ©1987 by Brenda Sinclair Sutton- All Rights Reserved

Plans are made, pennies pinched,
Time goes creeping by,
Bags and instruments are packed,
Our bosses shake their heads and sigh.
We're going for a weekend,
We'll drive or fly or crawl
To the oddest burgs and ballrooms
Where we answer to the call (of)

One voice singing, one hand strumming,
Slowly building note by note there starts a quiet humming,
Lyrics brush the memory, somebody starts a drone,
The basses fill the bottom in, there sounds a baritone.
Layer upon layer swells with alto and contralto,
The melody enhanced by soaring tenor and soprano.
Strangers no more we sing, and sing, and sing, and sing!
Strangers no more we sing, and sing, and sing, and sing!

She drives a truck, he computes
That one teaches school.
The only rule among us is, "There really are no rules."
Some like ose, some fantasy,
Some science fiction strong.
The one thing that unites us is
Our love of harmony and song (with)


Some folks fit in easily, no matter where they are.
Others stand off from the rest and pin their hopes on stars.
We each spent some time drifting in a crowded world, alone
But now we pack our bags and songs,
And skip off to our monthly home (where)

Strangers no more we sing, and sing, and sing, and sing!
Strangers no more we sing, and sing, and sing, and sing!

Well, it's been too long. How's your life?
A kiss, a hug, a back gets rubbed
By one of every five I see.
You read my shirt. I read your badge.
We sit and trade a song.
I may not know you Friday night,
But we're good friends when Sunday's gone (with)

Chorus twice.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like an awesome time and an awesome group of people. Thanks for explaining the origin of the term "filk" -- hahahahahaha! I didn't know that before. All hail the typo!