July 28th, 2009

outpost picnic

Filking in the Con Suite

I’ve cut back on cons in the last half-dozen years; it’s a long time since I was at a con with only one track of programming that wasn’t (in intent or in effect) a filk convention.

I love many of the things that have happened in filk over the years. I love the fact that we demanded — and got — respect from concoms, so we have actual scheduled space to do music, with soda and munchies. I love the fact that many conventions have a filk guest of honor, and concerts, and music-related programming. I don’t miss the days of finding a stairwell to perch on, or sitting in a corridor trying to sing louder than the Musac (much less the vacuum cleaners).

But there’s something impersonal, almost barren, about filking in a big, empty room on a circle of identical stackable chairs. It’s like being in a filk ghetto—far from everything and everyone but other filkers (and, too often, far from the elevators too).

Being in the con suite is friendlier. Other people come in, get to hear some songs. And there’s comfy chairs. And sometimes you end up being surprised, when someone who has never been a filker, perhaps never even heard of filk, joins you.

Saturday was an unusually good example of that. One of M.O.O.N.Con’s guests of honor was Bob Axelrod, a quiet, almost shy, actor and voice actor. Upon seeing I had several instruments, he asked if I had a base. I don’t, however, after being offered the chance to play guitar or cittern, he spent the rest of the evening playing base lines on whichever guitar I wasn’t using at the time. He was good, following along even when I was playing stuff with weird chords, or he had to figure out what I was doing totally by ear because I was playing autoharp. And when he got tired (for filkers are late-night critters by habit), he stayed a while longer, carefully holding my guitar safe on his lap, with a smile on his face.

And somehow, even with people wandering in and out to get munchies or soda, carrying on conversations underneath the music, it felt intimate, and welcoming. More connected. More . . . whole.

I enjoyed it a lot. For me, filking in the consuite, in the heart of the convention, was the highlight of M.O.O.N.Con.