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The previous weekend -- June 29th -- I went to Concertino, a filk convention held in Boxborough this year, off the South Acton commuter rail stop. Rather off: supposedly 5 or 6 miles, but the cab charged me and someone else $15 each, and I don't know if that was a split of $30 or just charging both of us.

What happens at a filk con? Concerts, mostly, from 1 hour ones for the top guest of honor, to 20-30 minutes for people arranged in advance, to 5-10 minute slots one can sign up for at the con. I could have gotten one of those, had I more trust in my a capella singing. There's also intermittent panels, on musical exercises and songwriting and on fannish music that isn't filk; that last is the only one I went to, and not for the whole time, but I learned dementia exists, and got a big list of names, including but not limited to Weird Al and Jonathan Coulton and Luke Ski.

One thing was clear: when filk gets defined as the folk music of SF fandom, we don't mean just geeky songs set to folk tunes, but a living folk tradition of musical participation and exchange, where the core experience is not "I bought their album" or "I went to their concert" but "I sang their song." Or "I parodied their song." And core experience is also of a circle of filkers singing at each other in turn, even if not always very well, rather than the dominant producer and mass consumer model.

That said, I didn't do much individual singing. Thing about a filk con is that everyone else is a filker too, so in the large bardic circle Saturday night it took two hours for the turn to go around once and a half times, before I went to bed. I got one in there, a song or two in Sunday's dead dog filk (after the con's officially over) and that's about it.

But! After Friday's chaos filk, where I was one of a few people who hadn't put ourselves forward to sing, a woman said "I didn't get to hear you sing". Non-participation got noticed and invited to participate. Probably helped that I was sitting between one of the best singers and one of the most prolific, rather than hiding in the second row of seats.

The dealer room had more filk CDs than I'd ever thought about existing laid out for sale, and rationally they'd only be a fraction of what's out there. That was intimidating; even this tiny tiny niche subculture has produced more stuff than I'm likely to ever own or even hear.

Con hotel was the Holiday Inn, which had what I thought was a really neat garden court. Third story skylight roof, containing not just a swimming pool but lots of trees and some fountains and a couple of gazebos. One of those "indoor outdoors" things that I love. Especially in last weekend's heat wave. Location sucks though; beyond the distance from the train station (there's a hotel shuttle, but it was already booked for the time I wanted to come; did take it outbound), there's about nothing in walking distance. The hotel restaurant is ok, with slightly crappy service; there's a take-out pizza and sub place a mile away, and then one gets into multi-mile distances.

Hmm, Arisia and Boskone aren't in top locations either. (Lot easier for me to get to, though.) Westin Waterfront Hotel is a decent hotel in its own right, but it's got somewhat expensive restaurants scattered around, and the South Station food court 20 minutes away. Not like Anime Boston, in the Hynes right in the middle of Back Bay. Of course, you pay more for locations like that.

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( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 9th, 2012 06:46 pm (UTC)
Yeah, but it's not a fixed location con but a migrating one, right?

Jul. 10th, 2012 03:57 am (UTC)
NEFilk rotates though three regions, Concertino being the Boston area one. So every three years, instead of every year.
Jul. 10th, 2012 05:28 am (UTC)
I guess my sense was the precise location was unlikely to repeat. Looking at past Concertinos I may be wrong about that, although this location was new. Surprisingly, it seems Worcester-area is a better description than Boston-area historically.

Out that far you probably have free parking, which can be an plus. Conflikt, the Seattle-area filk con, is located within walking distance of the airport. Which means public transit is excellent, out-of-towners are set, but just try to park a car around there...
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )


Damien Sullivan

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