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OVFF report: Highlights - Phil's Rambling Rants
October 24th, 2005
11:33 pm

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OVFF report: Highlights
Back from OVFF.  It is a very good thing to get away from my day to day existence and spend time with a whole bunch of people who are worth spending time with, doing things that we all find worth doing.  It's especially wonderful for me that a good number of those people actually showed me that they were happy that I was there.  If I try to cover the whole convention, I will take much too long to write something that will take much too long to read, so I'll try to hit some high points.

A nice dinner opportunity on Friday, just birder2, andpuff, and I.  We wanted something inexpensive and quick, so we went to Bob Evans.  So the food was not extraordinary, but it was what we expected, and perfectly decent.  And the pumpkin bread was wonderful.  I don't remember the conversation being deeply significant or profound; it was just wonderful to have a little time to be friendly with andpuff.

The Pegasus nominees concert, realizing just how good the songs are.  And the lot of them being upstaged by Rob Balder (is he on LJ?) singing "Rich Fantasy Lives" in the intermission twofers, with Tom joining in uninvited on stage.  I knew I liked that song from filktertom's record, but that performance really shined a light on that song's rockingness, and I want to see it on next year's Best Song ballot.  So don't forget to fill out a nominating ballot, and don't forget to include Rich Fantasy Lives in your Best Song nominations.

Seanan's concert.  It's so totally unfair, you know, that someone who is easily the best living poet I know of, and a really entertaining writer of prose, and one of the coolest people on LJ, also has the talent to write such fantastic music, the voice to sing it so well, and the acting and stage presence and je ne sais quoi to put on such a good show.  And it's even more unfair that she's just too nice to hate for it.

The Jamming workshop led by Barry and Sally.  If I could have an hour like that every week for a year, I might actually be able to really do real blues/rock/jazz jamming things, instead of just sitting there watching it go by with that wistful I wish I could do that feeling.

Frank Hayes' concert.  Because I really miss having Frank as a regular presence in Midwest filk circles.  So many songs that are so well crafted that they're still funny and entertaining the twentieth time you hear them, with his presence and delivery that make his modest level of musicianship completely sufficient for a great filk experience.  Everyone wants to listen to him, but very few people will feel intimidated by his presence, which is the down side of all these stunning musicians we have in filk these days.

Wild Mercy's concert.  Simply the sine qua non of Irish filk rock fusion bands.  They were supposed to be releasing their second album, but the first pressing melted because the media just couldn't handle that much wonderful, and the second pressing hadn't been finished yet.  I know they gave other excuses, but I think that's what really happened.

A personal message of support from Kathy Mar, as we spent a few minutes talking.  I don't feel like I know her well enough to deserve her being so caring; I have talked to her enough in the past that I know we are just amazingly different people, but I hope I can take her lesson to heart, that the filk community really is a family of choice, and family has a responsibility to reach out and care for family.

There were some downsides.

The biggest downside was my dwindling bank account, which kept me from buying any books at all or more than a single CD.  It also meant that I roomed with birder2 instead of having a room to myself, and even the Hear-Os weren't enough sonic isolation.  I need white noise, but the heating unit was too modern to have a nice loud continuous fan setting.  The lack of sleep may have contributed to the second big downside:

Around 1 AM Sunday night at the dead dog (Monday morning if you want to be pedantic), I developed a sore throat.  Today it's been bothering me noticeably, and it's also invaded my nasopharynx.  Ugh.

Some complaints about the hotel.  Most annoying to me was that our "free" breakfast buffet (without which I assume we would have a lower room rate) did not include the omelet.  In past years, I have looked on the breakfast as an extra bonus when I've managed to get there, but this year I was actually counting on it to save money on meals, and it was much less good than I expected. It was particularly ironic that this morning, they didn't have eggs on the steam table, so the omelet chef basically cooked an omelet, and then instead of folding it and stuffing it, he chopped it up and put it on your plate and called it scrambled eggs.  But the hostess specifically confirmed, with an attitude of being the Person In Charge, that yes, I would have to pay extra for an omelet. (They also didn't have pineapple.  Canned peaches are not a credible substitute for fresh pineapple.)  Also annoying was the salsa band in the bar Saturday night, when we were supposed to have our Irish session in the bar.  And the itty bitty teeny tiny rooms for the alternate functions on Saturday, which happened because there was confusion about what weekend OVFF was supposed to be that allowed another group to get scheduled in some of our rooms.  And having to be quiet on Friday night because there were mundanes next to the consuite.  It all points toward my wondering if the Clarion management values OVFF as a client as much as the Wyndham management did.  I hope that this isn't the beginning of a trend that leads to having to find a new hotel.

Minor frustrations of scheduling.  The Pegasus discussion was rescheduled from Saturday morning to Sunday morning, but I didn't find out about this until after I'd already gotten up an hour earlier than I otherwise wood have on Saturday.  And the main room programming on Saturday was running late, but the alternate track wasn't, which meant that I had to miss most of Michelle Dockrey's concert to be able to get to the jamming workshop, when the schedule would have had me missing the songwriting contest to attend the workshop.

A discussion in the consuite that hinted that there are some ugly political undercurrents in the filk community that should just go get stuffed.  The scheduling of concerts at a con is not and IMAO should not be about being fair to everyone that would like to have a concert; the scheduling of concerts should be about putting a good lineup of concerts before the attendees.  It was suggested that some people thought that it wasn't fair that Wild Mercy got a whole hour set.  It's not fair to a band that has to bring that kind of equipment to ask them to come if you're not going to give them at least a whole hour, and it's not fair to the attendees to not have groups that are that good give concerts because some people think it's more fair to have a lot of short mediocre concerts than a few long excellent ones.  It's wonderful that the filk community makes inclusion and non-elitism core values, but concerts at filkcons should be about showcasing the best.  Just to be clear, my complaint isn't about anything that actually happened, it was just that it bothered me to even hear the suggestion that having big event concerts is wrong.  Bad ideas that are just something someone is talking about have a way of becoming reality if we don't speak out when we hear them.

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From:folkmew
Date:October 25th, 2005 02:42 pm (UTC)
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Although Kathy and I are very similar in some ways we are very different in others but she's right about the filk community being a very good chosen family. She told me about that way back in 1981 when I discovered filk and it's stuck by me ever since.

And re: big concerts - yeah - sigh. I agree that when a band brings the kind of kit that Wild Mercy (and BBB incidentally) do it's a bit of a pisser to give them less than an hour slot since set up and sound check take more than an hour sometimes. Still I understand the concern for fairness - after all that is one of the things that makes filk special. I think there can be a balance. One reason I started doing lots of "round robin" shared stage things at ConFusion is that it allowed me to let people see more variety of performers and, if you are skilled at setting them up, you can get some magical moments. (The most memorable one I did there of course being the infamous Tom and Pete show ;-)

Anyway - I'm glad that it was mostly a good time. Wish to heck I could have been there. I too really miss Frank and agree with your assessment of his skill combined with modesty. He's just a really nice, funny guy.
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From:phillip2637
Date:October 26th, 2005 01:35 am (UTC)
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I enjoyed hearing your music on the weekend. As someone who does amateur nature photography sometimes, I also loved the pictures I saw at the start of the dead dog.
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From:catalana
Date:October 26th, 2005 02:42 am (UTC)
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I seem to have missed out on all the political undercurrents about concerts; I'll have to catch you sometime to get filled in.
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From:almeda
Date:October 26th, 2005 04:18 am (UTC)
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If people want a whole conslate of one- or two-shots, they should go to GaFilk. :-> Diversity in the way things are done between cons is a GOOD THING, as it lets us experiment and try, and also settle out attendees who like Thing A from attendees who like Thing B. Instead of trying to have every con be everything to all people.
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From:partiallyclips
Date:October 27th, 2005 02:11 pm (UTC)
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Hi, I was pointed over here by way of [info]'s OVFF report. Just wanted to let you know I've got an LJ but all I use it for is to mirror my webcomic (and post in other people's journals).

I'm really flattered about the reception "Rich Fantasy Lives" got, and your kind words. I think it would be wonderful if the song were nominated next year, not for my sake so much as for the song's. In the short time it has existed, it's become clear that it has real meaning for people, and I would like to see it take a life of its own.

I've been a clown my whole life. Most of what I have written has been meant for laughs. ALL of my other filks are parodies and goofs. I'm trying to get my head around the fact that I wrote something that makes people cry...that makes ME cry sometimes. I'm like a mother cuckoo with a clutch of baby cuckoos in the nest, and one eagle. I'd like to see that eagle find its own way.
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From:tollers
Date:December 2nd, 2005 03:07 am (UTC)
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Very Late Response... just realized (seeing your link to the baby tiger pics in another journal) that I didn't have your journal bookmarked. Thanks for the kind words about Wild Mercy! We have fun, and we love playing at cons because it's the best, most appreciative, most _involved_ audiences that we ever get to play for.

And I love your explanation of what happened to make the CDs late in arriving on the scene. :-) At least they finally got in, and shipped off to everyone who pre-ordered.

As for the concert slots... politics aside, we would have still played if we'd only had a 30-minute slot, but we were extremely appreciative of the chance to play for an hour (especially since setup and teardown gets complicated by our insisting on dragging eight people's worth of instruments for the four of us!).

There's probably something to be said for timeslots accommodating the size of the group... we could split hairs and say Barry, Sally, Jen and I all played for 15 minutes each. Alternatively, if a con knew that there were going to be multiple bands there, coordination could be done beforehand so that some gear (drum kit, etc.) is shared, which makes shorter sets feasible even with larger groups (and minimizes the setup/teardown for PA since the rat's nest of cables would already be in place for each group).

But I don't run cons... nor do I want to. I'm happy to let much more organized folks than me figure all that stuff out! I'll just go where I'm pointed and play when I'm told to!

Debbie G.
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