Ok, so I’ve been neglecting catching up on trip reports, which is not unusual for me, but I didn’t want to let the rest of my trip to England go unreported on, so here’s part two. Maybe I’ll get caught up by the weekend.
Friday morning we awoke at The Mill House and processed the day before. “It’s the most amazing thing,” I said. “I woke up in England. Cool!” Ok, so yes we were really excited. We got up and had showers, and then got the quick tour of Chez Whitaker. I gave M&A a gift I’d brought across for them: A full set of SVCDs of Joss Whedon’s “Firefly”, for their enjoyment and distribution to the other UK fans who want copies. I stole some computer time (yes, I am an addict, thanks for asking) and then we helped cart stuff out to the cars and pack before setting off for Ipswich.
Driving through the English countryside is nice. I should go driving through countryside more often, I think. I really like green.
Actually, I was just the navigator, which gave me more time to watch the passing scenery. BillS did the actual driving. Just as the night before, we managed to miss just about every exit, but we weren’t in a hurry so it wasn’t a real problem, and we had a good time.
Arriving at the hotel was interesting. We ran into khaosworks immediately, who helped us tote luggage into the hotel. (Kit and i packed light, since we knew we’d be shuffling around a bit, but B&B always have a lot of stuff, between luggage and instruments.) After getting into our room, which was a lovely little thing with heated towel rails and japanese wood-screens to shut out the light, we wandered down to the reception area where registration was to be set up. This is where it got interesting — apparently, everyone knew who I was, but I didn’t always have a good face:name database for people I had only ever met online, so lots of very nice people came up to hug and greet me, by name, and it took a while to sort out who was who. Once registration opened and name badges were affixed, it got much easier. And of course, there were those I already knew, like oreouk and demoneyes, who arrived with a carload of gear, which I helped tote into the appropriate locations (I am, after all, the Open Roadie).
The start of a con is always fun, and especially when I finally get to meet and hug all the people I’d been getting to know on #filkhaven and the Filk_UK mailing lists. Though it was a first meeting, absolutely no one was a stranger!
We had dinner in the hotel bar, and then wandered over to Opening ceremonies, then settled back to enjoy callylevy‘s set. I had thus far only heard Callylevy’s CD and a few mp3s passed to me from friends, and that was enough for me to inform B&B to make sure to catch her when they went to the UK filkcon last year. When they came back, they said “Oh, Wow!” and we began making plans to bring her over as our GOH for GaFilk. This was my first chance to hear her live, and I was NOT disappointed.
A local oldies cover act called “Young and Old” came up next. they were ok, but not inspiring, and we wandered back to the bar for more food and socializing. After some point of this, we decided to make it an early night and went up to bed.
Saturday morning we got up early…our 42 hour day on Wednesday/Thursday got us adjusted to UK time very quickly, and Kit and I are always early risers. Besides, we’d heard the filksong about breakfast closing at ten, and weren’t about to miss out. We ended up getting a long table with several people, including the GKs and plaid_dragon, along with some other folks I’m ashamed to be forgetting just offhand, but it was a lovely meal with a lot of good conversation. Afterwards, we wandered about a bit, chatting with folks out in the reception area and getting to know people better. We got back into the main room in time to catch the last half of FanTom’s set, and then prepared for filkerdave‘s set, featuring the debut of his band, Orion’s Belt. This kicked serious posterior.
Lunch in the bar, and then back for the One Shots. Hightlights included seeing Talis, AnnieW’s new song, Seperated at Birth doing B&B’s song “Dear Abby BVS”, and delennara and Pug performing together.
The one-shots were followed by UK GOH vaurien‘s set, which was full of absolutely hysterical songs. The highlight was definitely his on-the-spot “boy band”, Getalife, featuring himself, Tim, Franklin, and Paul. They mugged for the audience and lip synced to a backing tape, while all the girls in the front row screamed and through themselves at their feet. It was brilliant.
teri945 was up after Simon, and she was her usual marvelous self. I was sitting right next to bardling, and was both amused and delighted that at the end of almost every song, she’d mutter “Ok, i want to steal that.” “Got to learn that one.” “Yep, need that one too”. Teri, you went and did your daddy proud. *hug*
We went to the Filk Fund auction, though being pretty conservative on our spending, I didn’t bid on anything, though a couple of things did catch my eye. The main interesting thing was the difference between the more businesslike auction style in the UK, as opposed to the auction-as-entertainment that Interfilk does in the States. Don’t know how the totals compared to previous years, but they raised over 500 pounds.
Dinner was next and (you guessed it), back to the bar. In fairness, the bar really DID have excellent food, and much cheaper than the restaurant, which was prohibitively expensive. After dinner, we went to unclechristo‘s concert set, which was another treat. I’d had one of Christo’s cds for quite some time, and we even wrote a song together back in 1998 when we were hanging out in a chatroom together (and one day it needs to have music set to it, i’ve never found a tune I liked). It was fun to finally see him live, even if the room was packed to past capacity. (More than SRO – people were lying down in the aisles and under rows of seats. Great crowd, great energy.)
Next, it was finally time for Phoenix. Kit had missed Phoenix in their only ever USA concert, even though she was at the convention (it being the one we met at), so she was looking forward to it. Even though the noise was a bit more than she’s used to, she managed to enjoy it. As for me….well, it’s Phoenix. I was up front with my camera, taking pictures of the band and the dancers. Phoenix this year was running a contest to pick the best dressed Rock Guy and Rock Chick, so there were plenty of…ahem….wonderfully attired attendees.
Of course, the biggest thrill for me in the Phoenix set was when they actually performed one of my songs! fleetfootmike had told me some time ago that they had been doing “Sauron” in rehersals, but I wasn’t aware, for certain, they would actually do it in their set. Major egoboost. I was told later (by either Lissa or Annie) that the song is one of their favourite pickmeup songs to do in rehersal because its so much fun to perform! Cool!
A lot of people went for showers after the Phoenix set, and we set up in the bar for a bit, and then decided to head for our room. I did emerge again a while later with my newly borrowed guitar (Thanks, the_magician) and ended up in the alternate filkroom with Teri and a group of other folks. Played a couple of songs, and eventually succumbed to sleep at 3am.
Sunday was up for breakfast again. We ended up at a smaller table, but made room for Teri when she came in. After breakfast we went in for Teri’s second set, which was as wonderful as the first one, and included one of the songs I had specifically requested (“Grave Registration”, based off of Lois McMaster Bujold’s novel Shards of Honor). I’m still not sure Teri understands why so many people love her and love to hear her sing. I think she picked up a few British fans during the weekend.
Teri was followed by the n’Early Music Consort. Wow, what can I say? Choral filk is marvelous, and these guys really do it well. I really must get their CD, which has been on my to-buy list since it came out.
More one shots followed, which included a very funny parody of ‘Archetype Cafe’ about supervillians, katyhh and shannachie‘s song about a dancing assassin, cadhla and bardling performing batyatoon‘s “Mornington Crescent”, and Franklin’s “A Thousand Chips”, accompanied by a stoically amused katyhh.
I had originally signed up for the last one-shot slot, but was asked if I minded a last minute entry following me. I said “Of course not, whatever’s good for the show”. Good thing, too. “Keep You Closer” is sometimes a difficult song to sing because…I mean it. Really, truly, and it seems like every con I go to, it becomes about more people. I’m not sure I’d have wanted to deal with all of that emotion on top of trying to follow the song Brenda Sutton debuted immediately following. Wow. Just…wow.
The Sams awards were given out next, and a brief business meeting followed, and then it was time for bardling‘s concert. She did a lot of wonderful stuff I’d never heard before, and also had a lot of different guests up on stage, which created a very dynamic feel to her set. The folks at ConCertino are really going to enjoy having her around in July, and I’m looking forward to seeing her there again myself!
After bardling’s set, an awards concert was held to recap the songs which won Sams awards. Cosmic Trifle performed “Arden”, written by Zander and the_magician, callylevy performed “The Hunter”, the story behind which I still want to know more about, Brian Biddle recapped his “Archetype Cafe” parody “EOA II”, which he had done in the one shots previously, and then vaurien took the stage to perform his two award winning songs, “I’m Tone Deaf” and a recap of the Getalife boyband hit “Meaningful Look To the Camera”.
It was then time for closing ceremonies, followed afterwards by the Arranging Of Dinner. About 20 or 30 of us ended up descending on the Ipswich Pizza Hut, and while I’d have normally complained that I didn’t fly 4500 miles to eat at Pizza Hut, the food was acceptable and the company was superlative. I got to spend a lot of time chatting with plaid_dragon and Joe Raftery, and we all got balloons, and the staff was ever so patient and friendly, and we had much fun trekking back and forth from the hotel, even if I did slip in the mud and fall on my butt.
Once we got back we started to check out dead dog possibilities. Kit and I set up in the room designated for the dead dog, but it quickly became more crowded than either of us wanted to deal with. We eventually ended up leaving and wandering around a while. Kit decided to go to bed, and after tucking her in, I wandered back downstairs and ended up in a great little circle in the bar with ladyat, khaosworks, and some other folks. Brenda let me borrow her guitar and I played a few of adamselzer‘s songs that I had in my book, and we just generally had a good time doing folk covers until some awful time in the morning. pbristow dropped through at one point to sing a song about his car, which was absolutely marvelous. At some late time, I helped cadhla carry Talis and vaurien‘s gear up to their room (as I am, after all, the Open Roa….oh, did that gag already. Anyway…), and then decided to head up for bed, as the pub circle was breaking up.
Overall, this was an absolutely wonderful con. Big kudos go out to Keris, filkerbaby, and pbristow for putting on a thoroughly enjoyable weekend, and for managing the little things that go askew (which any con,any where, will have to deal with) with a great deal of aplomb. I don’t know if we’ll be able to afford to make the trip over for the filkcon in 2004, but if we can manage, we’ll be there.
Count on it.
Next: Leaving the con, and the rest of our week in the UK…