Conreport 2011

Thursday 26.5.11

My first FilkCon as a member of the  ConCom. I am pretty excited … I am totally happy that all my stuff fits into my new Blue as we are now  going on our first journey together. I have even space left! I set off in a good mood. The weather is wonderful. Not quite so wonderful is the fact that Alexa cannot come to the con at all and Sib will arrive not today but early tomorrow so I am readying myself for a few lonely hours at the hotel. But as I arrive I spot my room-share Ju just coming back to the hotel, who kindly helps me unload my stuff. Being all alone we take the chance to swim and chat in the pool. Sometime around 10 pm Steve and Katy arrive and it is getting a wee bit late before I hit the pillow…

Friday 27.5.2011

After breakfast I go have a nice massage (by the way: those are not really expensive, but  you might want to book early) and  Sib arrives. Now, where to start?! We sit down to cut out the badges, laminate them, cut them out again (round the edges!), cut the bis sheets for the auctions (among other surprises), set up registration, the ballot box for the Random Awards and of course load the auction table. Filkers begin to trickle in. Sib takes over the registration desk, Katy – who was not scheduled for work , Steve and I go off buy munchies for the circles. A few sort hours and a damaged outside mirror (I was able to get it back into place) later we are back at the hotel. Katy could not believe her ears on the drive back when Steve, wo claims to be unable to spak german correctly phrased a completely correct question: “ist das ein Sylt-Sticker oder Vogelscheiße?” (Is that a Sylt-sticker or bird poop?). So he obviously can speak german if it is important enough.

The ranks are filling! Some have already grabbed some ribbons – the first “I love DFDF” was to be had at the registration but you can already see the one or other “Barbership” or “I met Rika” for which you had to waylay the respective people. Drama ensues. The tch arrives – LeMatya drops the mixer (which took no damage) and Volker has to summon serious tech magic to soothe the howling shades and call up the miracle of set-up.

With only a short delay we proceed: the opening ceremony! We stuck to the theme of “Childhood Heroes” and noticed that we had not really thought of german names for some of the items on the programme. A word by word translation is not always recommendable. And I really need to get used to the feeling of “standing on the wrong side”. This is so weird.

The first set is by Steve who wakes us all up and gets us in the mood.  “Paper Piles” was nice – and apprropriate and I always like to hear “Home will always be with you”. You could see Katy mellow and melt…

To my extreme joy Rika had brought a band (and dark chocolate ginger cookies!) consisting of  Keris, Mike and Phil the band, that is, not the cookies). Her first set featured, among other songs  the song of the beggar  “No-one Asks” from “Before the Dawn” and “Merlin”. Keris’ bass sets a nice, individual mood under everything and I cannot begrudge Mike the multitude of guitar solos as he does those really, really well. Rika on her own is a pleasure to hear. Rika with a band just knocks my socks off. Somewhere I get swallowed by a conversation.

I had planned to go the circle but after all the chatting it had gotten quite late. On turning to leave for bed I realize that we had not handed out any of the munchies yet! Steve and I distribute some just before midnight and though I could no longer dance to bed in my glass slippers I did not yet have to carry a pumpkin.

Saturday 28.5.2011

Heading straight to the pool after breakfast, that cannot be healthy, can it? But I just had to go to the Aquapella workshop  (where we learned “Fly Away”), though halfway through I realized that i should have picked the soprano this time. Ina had joined the workshop as well, as I was happy to notice. And afterwards everyone who could not resist the combination of frolicking in the water and singing in harmony also got a new ribbon for their badge. I get delayed on the way to the next item on the programme.

This is partly due to me being addle brained and party due to the limited amount of showers, but be that as it may, I am late for something I was supposed to  do: the songwriting support circle. But even with a late start we could solve some things and Thesilée was able to start/finish writing a song. Amazing what she can do in such a short time!

And off we were again for the main concert. A high point in the main concert were the families. Those who know me know that I am mostly immune to the cuteness of children. But Bine and Maximilian singing  or Nicholas playing on the fiddle with Volker and Kirstin as back-up musicians was something enjoyable indeed! Valerie did “Following in Valentinas Footsteps” and “One small Goat is enough”. I cannot really remember everything I heard in the concert and the lists are with Sib …someday I need to start taking notes during the con as my memory is clearly not improving.

In between we sneaked bits an pieces of auctioning! There were tough duels breaking out between Franklin and Andreas, or between Rika and Bine, so it was really exciting. Not to mention the few rarities we were able to offer: a CD of Rikas GoH set in Grantham, a CD of set by Mike Whitaker, a custom-made whatever-you-want piece of wood made by Arne. They were real treasures.

Surprisingly enough we were done early with the main concert so there was a bit of a break before the  Childhood Heroes Song Sharing Circle. Time enough to leaf through Wolfgangs photoes that were now lying out at the reception desk, including the new photo books from FilkContinental 2010. The Circle had attracted way more attention than we had anticipated. We had expected some 10, 15 persons but the room Hildesheim was now crammed full with people sitting on the ground. Franklin was so kind to organise the tech to get Alexa to participate via skype, Andreas let us use his speakerphones and she could sing her new  Captain Future song 😉 Crystal had written a song about her brothers that made me mourn a childhood lost that I never even had. Thesilée sang her just finished song about the Red Corsair – which featured murder and pillaging, what a surprise! Valeries song did not have a tune yet, but “Everybodys grandfather” touched my heart nonetheless. I do hope to hear Silkes song about Beethoven again. In the end we still had some time left over so that I could slip in my lengthy ballad about the little mermaid. We definitely had not brought enough ribons for this circle. But maybe we will reuse this theme in a few years (uh, is this long term planning???).

After a nice long break for filling the empty bellies Mike absolutely rocked the stage. Thanks to him posting his setlist I do not even have to vaguely describe the contents of his songs but could look up the titles to those that had stuck in my mind. High point for me were “Child Of The Library”, “The Miller’s Tale”, “Jack” (that song about the guy who told stories that were meant to be told, not written down), a hot version of  “Queen of Argyll” (with Steve) and several others which probably lead to the nomination for a Random Award reading “Mike, for songs that don’t grow old”. And to finish his set he played  “Before the Dawn”.

He did not really have to leave the stage after his set as Rika was next up. Sometime during the sets we also had acquired another listener, one of the business people staying at the hotel had wandered in and obviously liked what he heard. Rika started out with “Merseburger Zauberspruch”, followed by “Morrigan”, followed in somewhat not quite remembered order “Paper Worlds”, “Silver Dragon”, “Waldgeflüster” and “Healing in this Night”. and I realized once more that whatever rika plays or sings, she takes me with her on a journey. Her voice opens the door and does not lead my by the hand, as mother used to to, but just shows me whatever there is to be seen outside (or inside for that matter) and invites me to go explore, if I want to. Or not. She leafs through the book of the world, fans out the possibilities and says “all this you can see, feel, dream”. And if I should venture forth to do so her voice stays with me all the time – one step up front to show me new roads, one step beside, to keep me company and one step behind, ready to follow on any path I might discover for myself. She makes me the feel like this journey is new to her every time and that it is different with everyone she shares it with. And somehow she makes me believe that she is going on this journey with every single listener on his or her own at the same time, without leaving even one behind. Besides, she is looking totally adorable through all that.

Today I make it to the circle as Rika had asked to hear some of the songs from the Childhood Heroes Circle that she’d missed. I was rather happy that Silke did not sing her Beethoven song (though I liked that) but sang “Märchen” (Fairy Tales) with Bine. I *do* love that song. I think I heard it last in  Grantham – but without Bine. I do remember Wolfgang singing “Do Virgins taste better” – followed by an impressive guitar solo by Mike. I do not remember playing with food or getting my nose sticky. Sue me. Somehow I did not stay long, there was some ConCom stuff getting in the way and I heard my bed call out somewhat urgently. I had to go check what was the matter. So far all went rather well at my “first” FilkCon.

Sunday 29.5.2011

The morning dawns way too early… Ju tells me of her dream in which orcs are trying to attain the rulership of the world (I am reminded of mice who follow the same plan). I do not remember my dream, bur hers sounds so much more interesting anyway.

I am listening with half an ear to the “Tea with Rika” as I am womanning the registration desk. At some point the light conversation with hearty laughter  changes into a jam session, so I guess tea is over. I missed the reading by Aryana although I had wanted to hear that. But I might get a chance to do so at FilkContinental.

After Lunch we start with the Advance Request Concert which does hold the one or other surprise. Steve begins, I botch “Computer Games (Pixel Pixie)” none too badly, Kirstin fulfils my wish by singing “Kein solches Lebewesen” – though I surely had not wished for her to burst into tears halfway through. Rafael raised goosebumps on my skin singing “Nessie come up”. What did Franklin say to Eva? “If you could bottle that voice!” C.J. sang her own request “He’s dead Jim” – with Mike as stunt guitarist. An unusual combination but really a good one. Katy, Ju and Steve did a “A Thousand Ships”, “just” Katy and Steve sang “Phoenix”, a spontaneously assembled band and copied lyrics for everyone made “Hope’s Eyrie” a special experience. Franklin sang “World inside a Crystal”. I asked Crystal and she said that there was surely more than one world inside her. On the whole I am rather glad that we did not have performers for every request before the con as this lead to interesting combinations.

In between we auctioned off the one or other item as we still had quite a bit on our table. I bought a Green Lantern DVD, and LeMatya was so kind to double check that I really can play it with Region Code 2. So I do have some hero stuff for after the con. One announcement that is usually made in the closing got moved up to have more time for reacting to it. So yes, there will be a DFDF 2012 and we do have a guest of honour. Those who come to DFDF next year will be able to enjoy two sets by Silke. I am definitely looking forward to that and I guess that she will pack the one or other surprise as well. I might well be the first one to know for sure as I got the job I have been eying since we asked Silke: I get to be her guest liaison. And I hope the others will help me out in case I miss something obvious, doing it for the first time. Since Steve and Sib were still outside, counting and rtihmating, collecting money and stuff I decided to get the next set going. Hoping I was not missing something.

For the first song Volker gets to play and sing together with Kirstin, after that my memory gets a bit hazy again, partly because I have to go out and help with the counting. I do remember having heard “Insights”, “Sisters” (both really nice!) and “Botschafter der Schatten”. Kirstin is one of those whom I could listen to a lot more often but at FilkContinental she often lacks the time and ease to sit down and play.

We try to set the stage as quickly as possible for Pawlow’s Duck as some are already thinking of catching their trains. Pawlow’s Duck offered some new stuff, some songs I’ve heard from  Thesilée or Lord Landless – but now in English – and to me delight a heretofore all to seldom heard Peredar. Hearing him sing I wondered why does not do so more often. Memorable (for me) were “Bonnie Sue” (nudged on the way in last FilkContinentals songwriting support circle), “Come to Veneta”, “Red Red Death”, “Lady Tree” (that I heard sitting at the registration desk), this “Garden/Cemetery Song”, “My Preciousss” and the “Seven Inch Brute”. Do not take these as the actual song titles, it is more by way of description. Days later I still had “Ragnarök” playing in my mind. Is that available on CD? With Peredar?

One blink of an eye later it was already time for the closing ceremony. Had it not been Friday morning just a moment ago? We have to work at the randomness of the Random Awards. The first one went to Peredar, so far rather random. The second went to Rika, who also had won one last year and the third went to Rafael to match the one Eva got last year. I do now we had way more nominations and have not messed with them, but randomness does not guarantee even distribution. After everything was said and done, the main room cleared, we went to the feedback session. Many interesting suggestions were made, some we will ponder, some we’ll try to follow. I for one was very glad that there were so many people present as this shows a real interest in this con and also a will to be a part of it, to make it better. Thank you to all who came! After the closing the con is over – or rather not. After the closing comes the shuttle service where Sib has volunteered my services in getting some filkers transferred to another hotel for the last night. That done we had another round of CoComming while the other were out hunting for food.

Ju leaves the cutest messages on my mailbox since I have not yet turned my phone on again. She accidentally took the key for our room with her and feared I would be sitting in front of our door, begging to be let in. To be honest, I’d rather have asked someone at the reception desk to please open the room for me, but had our positions be reversed I would have pictured almost the same scene. When she came back to the hotel she looked so apologetically I could not have been mad at her in any case. Since I was scheduled for more shuttling early next day and was facing a long drive home without a passenger to keep me awake I opted for an early night.

Monday 30.5.2011

Waking up over an hour before my alarm was set to go off I pondered next years Random Awards, the theme for the theme circle, projects to craft for FilkContinental and finally admitted to being awake. Ju was so kind as to wake up shortly after I started puttering about (there might have been a reason for her to do so) we packed our stuff in next to no time and went for breakfast. I almost forgot to set out on time, saw some sights on the way to the other hotel (including a nice dirt track where I could turn my car around) and almost picked up a perfect stranger, as I mistook a woman with a bright pink buggy for one of my charges. Guess who… These Mondays are always a mixture of savouring the last moments, not wanting to go, being impatient to be off and more of the various. Combined with clearing stuff out, checking out, loading the car and saying goodbye. One more hug for Rika (getting kissed good-bye in that process, I really would like to keep her!) before she goes of to way to far away for way too long. I hope to meet Steve, Katy and Sib (and Alexa!) again in July already. Since I do not want to let go I take Silke home, though she had planned on going by train. So I do have a passenger to keep me awake. We do not make to much of a detour on or way home as we arrive so soon it seems like just clicking your heels thrice. So far I cannot say that I will keep the memory as it partly eludes me yet, my brain needs to defog. And while I unpack my stuff and water the plants I rather think of food than of anything else. Where memories are supposed to be there are now plans for next year. And I consider taking Tuesday off as well, next year. If I had read my con report from last year I might have done so this year already. Sometimes reading up on my plans would help.

Das Frühlingsfest der Filksmusik