UT Convention Reports
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Note: I've foolishly left my con program book sitting on my desk at school as I move into my March Break here, so I'm going to try my best here to remember all the memorable events at Consonance. I will be relying heavily on Merav's and Dave's con reports to refresh my memory :).
Seven years ago UT had the honour of being invited to be the Interfilk Guest at ConChord in LA. We were wildly excited. It was our first guest gig and my first ever trip to California. We still have wonderful memories of that con, the rocking filk circle in the con suite with Dr. Jane on Saturday night, having "O Canada" sung at us by the audience before our concert, birthday cakes and T-shirts and lots of warm, welcoming and talented friends. Therefore, it was truly exciting for us to be invited back out to Consonance this year as GOH.
Our evening flight to San Jose included a brief lay-over in Chicago, which was cool because I'd never been to Chicago before. Seeing the lights of The Windy City from the sky by night was pretty impressive. An hour later we were back in the sky and heading south. Passing through a handful of time zones along the way meant we landed in CA (more impressive city lights over San Jose) at 11:30, but it felt like 2:30 to us. We were tired, though happy and excited. Chris O'Halloran met us outside the luggage claim door where she said she had to fight off staff trying to make her leave because everything was shutting down, ours being one of the last flights of the evening. Thanks for coming to get us, Chris!
It was a short jaunt in Chris' van from the San Jose airport to our Santa Clara hotel. There in the lobby we met many of the concom and reunited with Lynn Gold and Dr. Jane. From there we headed to our room and bed knowing we had a 9:00 breakfast plans in the morning and a whirlwind weekend ahead of us.
We woke up early to get organized and then settled into the hotel lobby to drink Hazelnut Latte from the coffee stand (yum!) as we waited for Paul Kwinn to pick us up for breakfast at his place in Fremont. Dave and Ellen Weingart found us waiting there and we had a chance to talk and catch up a bit. Barry and Lee Gold joined us for a few minutes, too, before Paul arrived and whisked us off in his new minivan.
Now, we've known Paul and Beck well for about seven years, but this was the first time I had managed to get close enough to Fremont to visit them at their house (Debbie visited them a few years back), so it was fun to see where they lived and to explore their house and yard. As a Canadian, I had to be -very- impressed that they have both a lemon tree and an orange tree in their backyard (we, of course, only find lemons and oranges in supermarkets).
Even more impressive was who we found inside the house :). Besides Beckett and Alisa, Luis and Tommy Garcia, who were visiting for brunch, too, we got to meet twins Casey and Riley for the first time! Three weeks old and downright adorable, they easily won three more hearts before the brunch was over. Now, I have very little experience with babies and I was scared to death I'd drop one of them at first, but before we left I found myself loath to -stop- holding them, they are very sweet and good babies, at least they were while we were there :). We found Alisa and Luis in a state of high anticipation, too, with their baby due in two months and their move to Seattle planned for shortly before then. Brunch was delicious and we feasted on bacon, cheesy eggs and cinnamon rolls. Shortly after noon Paul drove us back to the hotel.
We arrived in the lobby to be greeted by a group preparing for a sushi run, so we packed into a car and headed off for more food and conversation. It was great to have time before the con to catch up with Lynn and Mike and get to know Myriam a little. Jodi and I sat with them while Debbie was at the table with Gerry, Sandy & J'nae (of the technical crew) along with Leslie Fish. The sushi was very good and we felt refreshed and ready to start the con.
We came back to the hotel to hook up once again with Dave so we could practise the song we were singing with him in his concert and his Harry Potter song for the children's concert, then we went for an hour of our own practice. We also met with Gerry and Sandy Tyra and the excellent tech crew to do a sound check for tomorrow night's concert.
(Ack! Here's where I wish I had my program book with me!! Memory, don't fail me!)
We went down to hear the evening concerts and they were a terrific mixture of excellent musicianship, good stories and both touching and hilarious lyrics. Barry and Lee Gold sang a fun collection of their songs. The "Key of R" made me especially giddy and the chorus (R flat minor...) still stays with me. Tuppence performed after them and they also did a fun selection of songs with a Renaissance flavour. It was also cool to meet and hear Steve Savitsky after being a fan of his songs for many years. Jordin Kare also performed many of his favorites and Leslie Fish entertained the crowd with SCA songs from a recent gathering.
One of the highlights of the convention for me was having the opportunity to hear Cynthia McQuillian perform in concert. Of all the excellent filkers whom I have admired and whose songs I've sung over the years, Cynthia was the one person I had never had the opportunity to hear perform live. I was thrilled to see her concert listing in the program book at Consonance :) :). Cindy and Dr. Jane did a set of Cindy's humorous songs, including Snakes, Bella Meow and other favorites. I still smile when I think of how lucky we were to attend the first concert Cindy had given at a CA con in a couple of years.
Next we moved into Steve MacDonald's "WorlDream" sessions, something I had been looking forward to very much. Steve led us through his song, "Many Hearts, One Voice", the song he is recording at every filkcon this year and with as many filkers as he can. After the rehearsal we moved into the main concert hall to record the final version of the song. I gather the group singing at Consonance wasn't as large as the groups who sang at GAfilk and Conthirteena, but it was a fantastic feeling to be part of that group, the music sounded wonderful and I'm looking forward to joining the WorlDream sessions again at FilKONtario. If you haven't shared in one of the WorlDream sessions yet at a filkcon, please do. It's a very special project and I'm proud to have a part in it.
Jet lag had UT pretty zoned by the time the recording was finished at 1:30, so we headed off to bed. We really wanted to last as late as we could on Saturday and Sunday :).
We went down for an excellent free breakfast buffet in the hotel restaurant before starting Saturday's events. Joey Shoji joined us and shared stories and photos of his time as GOH at FilkContinental in Germany last fall. Thanks, too, Joey, for the yummy expresso chocolates! They sure can deliver a jolt :).
From there we headed down to the Children's Concert being performed by UT, Dave, Mike Stein and Alan Thiesen. I only saw one actual "child" in the room during the duration of the concert, but the young at heart who did join us in the audience sang along and we all had goofy fun. I also liked the yellow origami slug Jane Mailander made for me during the concert and it was also fun singing harmonies along with Dave's Harry Potter song, "Just A Boy Named Harry".
After that we settled in for another string of excellent concerts. Merav Hoffman was up first and though she says it was her first concert ever it's hard to believe considering how poised and confident she seemed throughout. Her costumer song with the chorus, "I don't know what's holding up my dress" was really fun. Her serious songs were thought-provoking and lovely. Carla Ulbrich was up next and she was a huge hit at the con after making a spectacular filk debut at GAfilk. She sings hilarious songs and plays guitar wonderfully. It's hard to pick a favorite among so many good songs, but I particularly liked "What If Your Girlfriend Was Gone?". There was a major run on Carla's CD when her concert was over. Gary's concert was greeted with enthusiam, too, when he agreed to fill in for TJ and Mitchell at the last minute and I especially enjoyed hearing the "Spirit of The West" California tribute song that he has sung at other recent cons.
Paul Kwinn and Beckett Gladney showed up with Casey and Riley bundled up in car seats as the twins got to hear their daddy in concert for the first time. Paul performed along with Luis on the drums and Alisa on flute. He also invited UT and Kathleen Sloan up to sing harmonies and play flute with him on "Urban Legends" and "The Dark Man". Paul and Kathleen finished up the concert with Paul's parody of our "'Cuz He's A Guy" called, "'Cuz She's A Gal". Unfortunately, after four hours of programming I needed to take a short break, so I missed the concert by Echo's Children. Luckily, I was fortunate enough to hear Cat and Callie and Bob Esty together and separately in other performances throughout the con. Debbie was lucky enough to see their Saturday performance:
After that was the first half of the Interfilk auction, raising money for one of filk's best causes. A bit earlier in the afternoon, Kathleen had sprung some rather horrifying and surprising news on us- she had a copy of "the tape", a tape with an early performance by UT so embarrassing that we've worked years to keep it hidden. She had won the tape quite by chance in a con raffle. And she planned to auction off the right to show the tape at the second half of the Interfilk auction tonight. While UT absorbed this tasty bit of news, Kathleen smiled diabolically and tucked the tape away... We knew our fate was sealed.
The last concert of Saturday afternoon was a con highlight. Debbie Baudoin, Nancy Freeman, Dr. Jane Robinson and Maya and Jeff Bonhoff performed as the Divas Of Chaotica. And they were -hot-. They sang an incredible selection of songs that ran from blues to rock to ballads and the guitaring was wonderful and the harmonies were dead-on. Energy just poured off the stage. The Buffy song about "the leather pants of evil" was a stand-out, as was Debbie's beautiful "Angels In The Choir", but all the songs just rocked. A CD, folks? Please? Soon?
We decided we had to opt out of the dinner run so we could have a bit of time to rest and then practise and prepare before our evening concert, so instead we got together with Dave and Ellen in their room and ordered a pizza before doing some practising together. We also broke into the chocolate raspberry Dave and Debbie won at the Interfilk auction and the Ghiradelli chocolate Ellen brought back from San Francisco that afternoon.
The evening concert schedule started somewhat late, due to the late finish of the convention that had been in the room during the afternoon, but the wait proved to have a silver lining for me as it gave me a few quiet minutes to sit and catch up some more with Paul Kwinn and Steve MacDonald, a chance I don't get nearly often enough. The evening concerts started with an entertaining set of songs by Toastmaster Mike Stein. As Merav also said in her report, I was especially moved by the juxtaposition of his song about Christa McAuliffe's son (I'm a teacher, such songs really hit home) and his song about Discovery returning to the stars. Very moving and inspiring. Interfilk Guest Dave Weingart was up next and performed a series of driving, dramatic songs (I Am A Liar), goofy songs (about Ghost Piggies and The Iron Chef) and finished with his beautiful "The Gift I Would Give", which he had asked us to harmonize and play flute on. That was a lot of fun. Thanks for bringing Dave out to Consonance, Interfilk!
The second half of the Interfilk auction was next. Popular items included a tape and lyric book of Dave's songs, a WorlDream compilation CD by Steve, a sweatshirt with a Debbie cartoon of UT that sold for $300! (thank you, Sandy!!!) and... the tape. OK, about the infamous video. It was taped at FilKONtario back in 1993 when we were still part of a group called Northern Retreat. The fourth member of the group, Kevin, had written a little ditty called "The Birthday Suit Polka" and somehow we got talked into performing it on stage in our first ever concert together. We were young, we were naive, we were temporarily insane. Jodi is wearing Viking horns, Deb's in a bowler, I'm wearing a sombrero. Debbie spits raspberries at the audience, Jodi and I do do-see-dos, Jodi sings bad opera. No audience of culture and good taste would ever want to see this video... the Consonance filkers couldn't wait to see it :). Kathleen sent two hats around to the crowd telling them to put money in Paul's hat to -see- the video and Debbie's hat to -not- see the video (I was amused to hear some poor conflicted souls like SteveMac and Dave Weingart put money in -both- hats :)). Paul's hat won by a landslide and Interfilk earned $180 for Kathleen's evil discovery. The video was shown after our concert to the delighted crowd. Twice.
Still, I was delighted to hear that Interfilk raised over $2000 at the Consonance auctions, a new west coast record. Yay! Keep supporting Interfilk! Thanks to Interfilk, Erica Neely will be at FKO! And fellow TO filker Freddy Brown will be at Conterpoint! And Terrance Chua will be at OVFF! I could wax eloquent about Interfilk for a long time. It would make this lengthy con report much longer :).
At least we were able to defend our musical honour by performing our own concert first :). We had great fun and the audience clapped along and sang, which we really appreciated. Thanks, too, to Jane Mailander for that lusty Xena yell after "Battle On!" and to Paul for singing "the guy" part for us in "'Cuz He's A Guy". Some of the most special songs to me were the dedications we sang, "All The Pretty Little Ponies" to new parents Paul and Beck and fellow Toronto filker Lloyd Landa's beautiful "I Am Stardust", which we sang in his memory. We were very moved by Lynn's tribute to Lloyd in the program book and the kind words and memories many of the Californian filkers shared with us about Lloyd at the con. Those of us in Toronto know we aren't alone in still missing Lloyd very much.
Once our concert was over (thanks so much to Gerry for giving us an audio tape of the performance!) and people got over laughing at our video, we moved on to the con suite to sing for the wonderful staff over there at Colleen Savitsky's request. That was a lot of fun! Lynn joined us and Joey joined us and we just laughed and talked a bunch and sang a handful of songs that we hadn't had a chance to sing during the weekend yet. Thanks so much to Colleen for the warm motherly welcome she gave us each time we came to the con suite. You guys are lucky to have someone looking out for you all so well :).
We moved from there over to the open filk circle happening in the main concert room. We didn't sing too much, but it was a listener's joy with folks in the room performing like Maya and Jeff, Carla, Callie and Bob, Paul and Seanan, SteveMac, Dave, Gary, Carson, Tony Fabris, Kathy Mar and many others. And the last two songs I heard before I headed off to sleep at 4:30 were Paul singing "By My Side" and SteveMac singing his beautiful tribute to filk friends, "Expanding Circles". I couldn't think of a better way to end the night.
Yet another yummy breakfast in the hotel restaurant and then on to our Harmony Workshop at noon. We got an impressive crowd for an early Sunday panel, so thanks to all of you who chose to come and add to the discussion! It's always great to lead filk workshops where you end up leaving as inspired and enlightened by the participants as you hope they are by you. And thanks, too, to the cool guy from the Contact convention who gave us the origami animals made out of American dollar bills!
After the workshop we moved into a series of one-shots and two-shots and mini-concerts that provided some of the most memorable music of the weekend. SteveMac sang a series of inspiring filk-related songs backed up by Callie on the flute. Tony Fabris (who was signed up for a Sunday mini-concert by popular acclamation of the filk circle the night before :)) sang a series of terrific computer and media parodies. Lynn had us all sing along on "California Love Song" and we all sang with Kathy Mar about Tina Turner trees. Kathleen Sloan brought the room to gentle tears with her rendition of Karen and Lloyd's "Road To Roswell". Jane Mailander performed her lovely Sherlock Holmes ballad, "How Lovely A Thing Is A Rose". Carla was brought back by popular demand to sing more of her wonky songs. And Jason Mann brought the house down with his full-blown and hilarious show tune parodies and then surprised us just as much with his simple and touching "Solitaire" song. The depth of talent in this geographical area of the filk community is just staggering.
After the concerts we joined in with a group heading off on a Chinese food run. The food was extremely good and except for a scare with Lynn accidentally eating a dish with mushrooms in it, people enjoyed the post-con atmosphere and the chance to get to know each other more casually. One mixed blessing of the evening was that Carla missed her flight back home and had to stay at the hotel an extra night. I was sorry for the inconvenience it put her through, but I couldn't regret the extra evening of her music and company.
We came back to the hotel and settled back into the con suite to sing with Leslie Fish, Mary Creasey, Barry and Lee, Harold Groot (thanks -so- much for the tape, Harold!!), Carla, Dave, Bob Kanefsky, Gerry, Tony, Nick, Sandy, among others. Things got goofy as Deb and I had leapfrog contests with the origami frog Jane gave us. As con suite people crashed for the night we moved the filk circle out to the lobby where we sat around and sang for another 2-3 hours before heading off for a few hours sleep. And the last song I heard that night was Tony Fabris singing "Max Rebo Band" to the tune of Billy Joel's "Piano Man", which was a pretty cool way to end a con night, too.
Considering how late we all went off to bed, we really didn't expect to see anyone in the lobby to see us off to the airport after we had breakfast Monday morning, but there was Tony and there were Dave and Ellen singing "The Hockey Monkey Song" at us as we rolled our suitcases to the shuttle :). We spent an hour or so shopping at the airport for t-shirts and mugs and chocolate before hopping on a plane back to Chicago. We had a leisurely dinner in the Chicago airport, bought more souvenirs and then discovered to our horror that our time sense was one hour out still and we made it to our plane with minutes to spare! We got in to a TO blizzard about midnight (sigh...) and arrived home finally around 1:30. Had to work the next day, was incredibly tired, but it was worth it, it was worth it, it was worth it :).
To the filkers of California, thank you for your warmth, your humour and your friendship. Thanks for singing and laughing with us, for your incredible talent, and for memories we'll always carry with us. To the Consonance concom, thank you so much for inviting us out to your con, for helping us every step of the way, for all the good times. Heh, it may have been chilly and rainy outside the whole time we were in California, but you guys made Consonance the warmest, sunniest place on Earth. Thank you, too, to Paul Kwinn for his unique poetic Urban Tapestry bio in the program book.
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