Archive for the ‘shows’ Category

i took so many notes

This was the first year in a very long time that I was not running nwcMUSIC or some other all-consuming event at Norwescon. As I was explaining a lot this year, I’m the sort of person who is very good at building somebody a neat toy, but I’m not the person to maintain the neat toy. I get bored and frustrated doing the same thing repeatedly, and those are two very bad adjectives to describe a supervillain. Do Not Let the Supervillain Get Bored. So: handed off!

And I have to say, Norwescon as purely an attending professional and congoer is a completely different experience. Goddamn, there is a lot to do at Norwescon, and knowing that on paper and trying to get to it are completely different things. I missed some great events – I didn’t get a chance to play Artemis, I didn’t get to Death*Star’s party-wing show, I didn’t get to Kadesh Flow’s Grand 3 show – so much missed! But there was just too much to hope to make it all.

Even being at a lot of the same events felt completely different a lot of the time; the gap between “doing something” and “doing something while making sure everything else happens” is pretty dramatic. As, I note, is the difference between “room in (quiet) staff wing” and “room in full-time party wing 5b,” which is where I ended up this year.

Wing 5b’s not so bad, though. First, I’m a late-nighter and partier regardless, so waiting ’till after parties wound up (2am or so) for sleep wasn’t such a big deal, I do that anyway. And second, I could just go all “Could you not?”/”I could not” and wander by party rooms playing my Cajun accordion as loudly as possible at any time of day. This was hilarious. For me, anyway. 😀

#no I didn’t do it after 2am     #thought about it

I took a lot of notes at panels, particularly panels I was on, and I wish I’d taken more. They put me on non-music panels too – Nicole Dieker’s “The Tumblr Effect” panel turned into a lot of language geekery, for which I am always ready, particularly when discussing hashtag language and typography as linguistic expression. And being on a costuming panel after being out of cosplay for so long before edging back into it the last few years – I was just thrilled to be included and geek out about making props. Everything everybody brought just looked amazing.

Shubzilla totally crushed several panels I saw her on, not just when talking music, but also about cultural issues in fandom. I also have a bunch of new-to-me nerdcore artists to check out, like upstate New York artist Sammus. (And fans should definitely check out The NPC Collective.)

Thanks to Jonny Nero Action Hero – who will be taking over nwcMUSIC concerts next year, which is 198% awesome – I know that chiptunes fans who want to drink from the firehose should definitely get on And he didn’t have to tell me about This Week in Chiptune, but if you want a weekly podcast consisting almost entirely of new chiptunes tracks, you now have your orders.

I’m not in the Carol Corps, tho’ I did consider myself an Angel auxilliary, which is pretty much the Supermarionation same thing. But I most certainly did enjoy the Carol-Corps-and-comics-fandom panel, just because it made me realise something about why my comics fandom in grad school was so very much not a boy’s club. Don’t get me wrong, there were lots of guys, but also lots of women. Based on that panel discussion, I think a lot of the credit for that goes to the local big comic store being the absolute opposite of so many this-feels-like-a-dark-alley comic book shops. Comic Connection just felt like a nice bookstore that carried comics and graphic novels and games, and I don’t think I realised how good we had it.

that’s no moon
i think you’re right
that’s a space station
just how else
could a short-range fighter
get so far?

One of the nuts I was never able to crack in nwcMUSIC was “open filking,” which is to say, people just getting together and playing in turns (and together) at night. But this year, moved to the main floor, Open Filk felt the strongest it has in a long time. Discoverability had always been its biggest problem, and I knew that, but I’m still very surprised at how much difference going one floor down made. Lots of new people, lots of energy, going until well after 2am on Thursday and Friday, and after 3am Saturday night? At Norwescon? Madness! And yet.

Despite commentary above, the party scene didn’t seem as big this year. I know a couple of the regular crews were missing. My favourite was there, of course – Merchants of Deva, whose access pass is in the photo next to my badge – and that’s the biggest deal for me. They were, as always, tearing the place down with decor. (Imperial Starfleet Next Generation functional LCARS-interface control panels? SURE WHY NOT HAVE SOME. jfc those guys. I spent like a hour just playing with their setpieces.) And Party in a Box also made a good appearance, as did the Cult of Scott Bakula, and there were several publisher parties. But even so, it felt like someone or someones were missing, and I wasn’t the only one saying it.

But in the end, I got to see a bunch of people I don’t see often, some not nearly as much as I wanted to (Hi Joy! Bye Joy! That should’ve been longer!), failed to see some (Grace! I’m sorry! I kept looking for you!), had some good conversations at parties and on stairwells and in hotel rooms and hallways (or listened in on some – for Anna, this was 100% Hang Out And Chat With Tanya Huff Con), watched Saturday morning kind of go voop as half the con – seriously, it felt like half the con – took off for the Democratic caucuses, filtering back in during the afternoon, and… all in all had a remarkably de-stressed Norwescon.

I don’t know what I’m doing next year, but I can say that I’m really glad I took this year off.

I sorely lack pictures! Post links if you took some!

#not after 2am     #look I’m just saying that I have occasionally caused norwescon to make new rules     #the best one being “staff may not wear costumes on duty”     #that was a good costume     #what there was of it     #fake tumblr hashtags     #straps

off to norwescon!

Loading up for Norwescon – see you there in a few hours! First item on the agenda: “The Tumblr Effect” – 4-5pm, Cascade 9. HI TUMBLR!

The rest of my schedule is here.

Raptor 312 – launch!

eta: If you’re new here and into fan music, enjoy some of our free downloads, including two new 2016 tracks: The Blue Morpho and Thirteen.

targeting the supervillain: norwescon edition

It’s Target the Supervillain time! That’s easy – aim at Norwescon, of course, starting tomorrow. But if you’re the sort looking for more specific targeting, here’s my schedule:


  • “The Tumblr Effect” – 4-5pm, Cascade 9.
    Fandoms like Steven Universe and Dragon Age inspire passionate online communities and fan art that will take your breath away. The podcast Welcome to Night Vale doesn’t even have a visual component, yet somehow there are instantly-recognizable Cecils and Carloses roaming the halls at every con. Let’s discuss how social media is changing the way we interact with the things we love, and the people who love them with us.
  • “Home Recording” – 5-6pm, Cascade 12.
    Everybody wants to make a demo. What can you do with what you’ve got? If that won’t do (and it probably won’t) what do you really need to create a good demo? How little can you get away with? And once you have it, what do you do with it? How do you set it up? How do you use it to capture or create the best sounds you can? We’ll discuss both software and hardware solutions.


  • “Chiptunes: It’s Video Game Dance Music” – 7-8pm, Cascade 10.
    Chiptunes. 8-bit electronica. People have been hearing those awesome raw electronic sounds and thinking, I LOVE YOU BEEPY NOISES! HOW I MAKE YOU INTO SOOOOOOONGS?! From the Blip Festival to PAX, chiptunes are the native sounds of electronic gaming. Interested? Come find out more.
  • “Find Your Instrument” – 8-9pm, Evergreen 1&2.
    Have you ever wondered how people figure out what kind of musical instrument they want to play? Several of our pros have volunteered to bring their instruments and introduce them to people. This is a hands-on workshop. After an introduction of the instruments, participants will be able to try out various instruments, and receive brief introductions on how to play them, by their owners. This panel is aimed at teens and adults. Kids are welcome, but must be of an age and attitude appropriate to handle other peoples’ musical instruments!


  • “Nerdcore Hip Hop: Rapping About Star Wars” – Noon-1pm, Cascade 9.
    What is nerdcore, how did it get started, why are they rapping about videogames and Star Trek, and how can I learn more at this very convention? Come meet our nerdcore artists and learn where this came from and what all this is about.
  • “It’s All About You (Or Is It?)” – 3-4pm, Cascade 10.
    Musicians, writers, and artists, can all now be their own labels, their own imprints, their own galleries. But in the modern era, how do you, a tiny fish, get noticed in the sea of information and other stage-grabbing attention whores like yourself-without being an annoying annoyance? Some of our independent musicians, writers, and artists talk about being heard on the internet stage.


  • “Accessories on the Cheap” – Noon-1pm, Cascade 2.
    Our panel of experts will discuss resources and construction of creative costume accessories using inexpensive everyday items!
  • “Geekmusic Elsewhere” – 3-4pm, Cascade 3&4.
    Where do you find this stuff? How do you get there? Where is it being played, outside of Norwescon? Want to see your kind of music, live, when you’re not here? Our panelists talk about the venues and events that support different kinds of geek-friendly music.

i really needed that (festival du bois 2016)

We took off north for Maillardville and Festival du Bois, having missed it last year, partly because Anna loves Quebec traditional music, partly because I just like festivals, and partly just to blow this joint.

Let’s be honest: when the supervillain thinks the crazy is getting a bit thick? The crazy is getting a bit thick.

On the way, thanks to the Elfquest fandom revival as of late, I finally got Anna to take a picture of this street sign near the festival that I’ve been meaning to shoot every time I’ve been by it:

If this means nothing to you, that’s okay, the Elfquest fans will like it

We didn’t really have goals – there were bands Anna wanted to see, but mostly I just like the show, by which I mean the festival. I like festivals, particularly ones that are in that little sweet spot of busy and energetic without being swarmed by too many people for the space.

We did play for several hours on Saturday – a few during the day as sessioneers, then another couple at the afterparty in the musician hotel.

2016 Session Musician Pin, Festival du Bois, Maillardville, Coquitlam

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a French traditional music player, I don’t know any of it, and I’m mostly there on Anna’s coattails. But I’d had the sense to bring along my mandolin – which in this environment is very quiet – so I could fake it about half the time, only getting loud when I’d figured out what I should be doing. Plus I was surprised to discover that in fact I did know one or two of these, so that was a nice discovery.

That didn’t stop me from hiding under the table during the evening jam. I was playin’! I was just playing very quietly as I tried to pick these things up. 😀

I think of the performances we saw, MAZ – an EDM-traditional fusion band with some jazz influence – was the most surprising. I like how they are reinterpreting this music. Réveillons was fun too – Richard Forest showed up a lot at the sessions, as did Lisa Ornstein. And I met a really nice new fiddler there too – Jocelyn Pettit. She’s got an album! And, of course, Anna’s large session crowd.

We also brought up a bunch of East-Coast Girl Scout Cookies that our friend Angela had bought, making us her COOKIE MULES.

Then on the way back, this happened:

What Could Lay Behind This Innocent-Looking Cookie Box?


If this was 1923 and Victory Boulevard was still the only improved road north from Seattle we would be on this shit. COOKIES NORTH! CIDER SOUTH!

(fructose and ethanol)

I need a smuggler accent. I keep trying to go into pirate. That really doesn’t work.

Anyway, that was fun, and if you’re in BC, or close enough, you should go to Festival du Bois next year. It’s small but everybody’s relaxed and happy and they have maple ice candy, which is fantastic.

Which reminds me, actually, that was one of the little fun highlights, because there’s part of making that candy which involves smacking beds of crushed ice with a paddle, and that’s loud, and we were right next to them, so they would work in time with our playing, just like they would’ve and should’ve, since some of these were also work songs. It was one of those yes this this is right moments where small things fall together to make a moment of nice.

And that’s really what I kind of needed.

eta: Anna has a bunch of photos on her writeup over here.

and there we go: we are (not) all SF

Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but a con we were going to appear at as Music GoH this autumn – We Are All SF Con, a first-year on the Washington State coast – just alerted its GoHs and attending pros via its Facebook group that 2016 is officially off. It won’t be there; we won’t be attending.

I had heard some things a few days ago that led me to believe this was pretty likely, so I am not surprised.

If you know you’re going to have to cancel an event, this far out is a much better time than closer in, so this is the smart thing to do. They’re talking about giving the con another go in 2017; hopefully it will be on the smaller scale that I advised when they were first starting to put this together. Also, I think they need more work on their intra-committee communication, but, hey, a year and a half isn’t out of the question. These are solvable problems.

Our condolences to the concom and staff who had been working hard on pulling off the always-difficult first-year fan-run convention. Better luck next time, everybody.

conflikt 2016 and don’t talk to me about film

First, a surprise: the new single! I did it for this con, and it’s a cover of sorts that I turned into a Doctor Who song.

So, yesterday I talked about film. I have my answer, and the experiment with the fisheye lens film camera did not work out so well. 1600-speed film pushed two stops and, well, you’ll see below how dark and grainy the best of them were. I’ll give it one more try (pushing this film as far as it’ll go) and we’ll see. Fingers crossed.

Friday: Not as Fishy As Hoped

Anna and I got to Conflikt pretty early – we had a lot to haul, and the band had final run-through rehearsal at 2pm, a space for which the concom was kind enough to let us reserve in advance.

That went pretty well, so we also had time to get together with GoHs TJ and Mitchell Burnside-Clapp to do a runthrough of our very muppety opening ceremonies skit, which included one of those random semi-nonsensical songs of the sort they used to do on The Muppet Show back in Ye Daye. (It’s called “Magnetic Penguins.”)

So that was a revival of an older form. We knew very few people would get was that Mitchell Clapp here was reviving a character from a Long Fucking Time Ago in the spoken-skit parts of it, but our small test audiences laughed without knowing that, so we figured that’d be fine anyway. And TJ does a good Gonzo, so we knew people would read that part for sure.

Opening ceremonies had a few technical difficulties, which would presage the greater technical difficulties during the show. Still, I’m pretty good at stretching to fill time when needed, and people seemed to like Jeri Lynn’s and Shanti’s improv puppetry in front of the ice-cube background during the “Magnetic Penguins” song.

Then Betsy Tinney had her show, which was great as always, and I played an awfully-nwcMUSIC-like MC, followed by our concert!

Here’s a shot from the stage while I was walking on. This is the kind of thing I want to do with this dumb fisheye lens camera – but honestly, I’m pretty doubtful it’s going to work indoors. Which is a shame, it’s fun to play with, but wow, yeah, film. Film is terrible once you have better.

So Dark and Grainy

The tech issues from opening ceremonies got a lot worse during our show. (Screaming bursts of noise, some of which may’ve been related to RF interference in their gear; no vocals and missing instruments in the monitors, little or no electric guitar in the house mix apparently – really everything that could fall apart did.)

Still, we struggled through, and a lot of people made a point of coming to me and saying that despite the tech issues, our performance was good, and we sounded good in the room. (We didn’t sound so great on the livestream, though, which seemed to be mostly missing CD’s electric guitar, and had a lot of sync issues – I’m hoping to get the raw stems and remix them into a salvageable video.)

People told me they particularly liked “Supervillain For I Love You,” “Thirteen,” and “We’re Not Friends,” all of which are new, which is great.

“We’re Not Friends,” in particular…

I haven’t been talking about that one. I came up with the chorus months ago and had a few failed runs at writing it – those are lyrics which will never see the light of day – but it fell together over the last few weeks. So I took it to my band two weeks before the show and said, “This is brand new. We’re doing it. We are in fact closing with it.” Then I kept making changes to it as we went, because if you’re going to swing for the fences, you should just do that, right?

And the good news is, that worked. We got the crowd to sing along with a song they’d never heard, which was pretty neat to watch and hear, and a few people talked about it affecting them afterwards – ’cause, the thing is, this song is really important and personal to me, but, for a change, in ways other people really get. I’m not going to talk about why here, because it’s long, but – it resonated.


Judging the songwriting contest with TJ and Mitchell and Jackie Mitchell (the Interfilk guest; no relation) got the day off to a good start. All the entries were pretty strong, though three did elevate themselves a level up from the rest. And while we did have a consensus on the winner – a song about the “evil” twins in “good/evil” sibling pairs explaining they do things that need to be done – it was close. It came down, really, to the winning song being the one most transportable outside the stated theme of the contest.

After that – running the “Twofers” open mic, running The Dara Show version of Kitting Out Cheap, etc – it was kind of like being back running nwcMUSIC, only with less anxiety. MCing that was always one of the best parts, for me, so more of that? Can do, sport!

I met and talked for a while with a guy named Sean who came to the studio-building panel. He works at Microsoft and has access to one of those ultra-quiet rooms. I asked him if he could get me a tour! I don’t think it’ll happen, but I can hope.

Then, lots more concerts. This actually is the best of the concert photos – everything else came out even lower-contrast:

Later, I also ran into Murray Porath, which was very odd, and was another person I know of through other people rather than knowing directly, until now.

Apparently he’s moved out here, I guess we’ll be seeing more of him! I didn’t get a chance to find out entirely what that was about, but he has a bunch of funny lawyer stories, including a Kentucky county denying some sort of fortune-teller a business license on the basis that they decided she was a witch and casting spells on people. Yes, a fundamentalist revival preacher was involved.

Conflikt’s concert hall also has a big area in the back with tables and craft supplies, so I took a picture of that from overhead. Other than the window, it’s probably the best shot I actually got:

Open Filk ran quite late each night – I don’t know how late on Friday and Saturday, since I had duties the following mornings so didn’t burn too much oil. Sunday night’s smoked salmon ran until around 2am, and given that it’s usually the earliest of the lot to close down, we can probably assume the others ran later.


I never go to convention banquets, because the cliche about rubber chicken… well, frankly, it’s true. They’re cash-cows for hotels and that’s why hotels like cons to have them. But this time it was part of my job, so I did!

Sadly the best shot I got with Mitchell

It’s not just a lunch, in this case – you’re also writing a song, collaborating with your table, and using two words or concepts handed around at random. Ours were “awesomesauce” and “perspective,” and our table came up with two songs – one I just wrote, another that I helped with. That was a lot of fun.

Here’s mine, it’s very vaudeville – I was by the gods going to stay in theme throughout, if I could:

The Awesome Sauce Song

Apparently I also bellow like a drill sergeant, because my call for people to get their acts (literally) together for the Band Scramble got the attention of the whole crowd without a PA, because YEAH I CAN YELL PRETTY GOOD IF I WANT.

Oh, and the Sunday afternoon jam – I had an idea where I’d bring a whiteboard and a giant wet-erase marker to write out chords, so people could actually join in on an actual jam more easily, as opposed to it just being another filk circle. It seemed to help, we had really good participation – better than I’ve usually seen, I think.

So – yeah! I guess that’s pretty much it! Thanks to Jen and Beth and Jeri Lynn and Jeffrey and everybody on the concom who invited me. I hope everybody had a good time, and don’t forget the new single!

ps: And also, thanks go out to Tom of the Lundervillains – we traded certain device components on Saturday, and frankly, he was doing me a favour. Muah ha ha. 😀

back from british columbia; on to conflikt

Back from beautiful British Columbia, and on to Conflikt! We came back with cider and bagels, as is tradition, and a good time was had by all.

Here’s a pretty good shot of the three regular members of Le Vent du Nord – I didn’t get a great photo of the substitute fiddler (here’s the best of them), but he did a very nice job. And got fired four times in one night! That’s pretty good too.

Three out of four isn’t so bad

Busy loading gear at the moment so I can’t make a big post, but hopefully I’ll see some of you at Conflikt. Here’s the schedule; my show is at 8:30 tonight. Day memberships are available, and it’s a two-show bill with Betsy Tinney opening at 7:30. TOTALLY WORTH IT C’MON OUT.

a couple of maybes

I have a couple of possible people, but I’m looking for more (and people who are sure):

If you’re going to be at Conflikt on Friday evening, and are coming to my Toastmuppet concert, and want to be involved in something that is part of the show but does not require getting up on stage – talk to me.

I’m also looking for someone who can deliver one to two lines from off-stage during opening ceremonies.

The Muppet Show and/or Legend of Korra fandom helps, but is not required.

i have a plan

If you’re going to be at Conflikt on Friday evening, and are coming to my Toastmuppet concert, and want to be involved in something fun – something that does not require getting up on stage – talk to me.

We want to try to make something happen and need a few people. I’m not saying more in public in advance.

ps: Legend of Korra fandom helps, but is not required.

hey orycon, guess who has the high ground?

It’d been so long since I’d been to Orycon that it was basically my first Orycon kind of all over again. And a con other than VCON that I wasn’t working! How strange!

They were in a new old hotel, and we were in a very strange room down past what appeared to be the end of the hallway, down a second, very narrow hallway that did not look like it was supposed to go anywhere. (Seriously, it was some single-file-only narrow.) Our room started then with a very narrow rectangle, one long side of which became the hypotenuse for three sequentially larger and overlapping right triangles. This sounds terrible, but it actually wasn’t; it was kind of neat and certainly more visually interesting than most hotel rooms.

But nobody’s here for architecture. So, oh, what happened that I didn’t talk about in the weekend post? Well, I got into a band scramble with Callie from Echo’s Children, Chris Waffle from Going Viral (who had a great set on Sunday morning that not enough people attended – your loss, folks) and Andrew Ross, a well-liked solo performer in filk. The PDX Broadsides also put on a killer show – really, I didn’t see a bad performance out of anybody, everyone seemed pretty on point.

The party scene at Orycon isn’t bad at all – they have a nice balance of sizes. The Westercon party’s entry stamp was the largest I’ve ever seen, a minotaur that was over 10cm long and looked like it was taking over half my forearm. Fortunately, the Radcon party had a choice of stamps, including a top hat, so I had them give my arm minotaur a dapper chapeau. I’m almost disappointed the ink was water-soluable; I didn’t think to photograph it before it got damaged.

I also found high ground at the NIWA party – which at the time, I found unreasonably entertaining – all while staying on what architecturally my brain decided was all part of an excessively extended patio. (Because until I started heading upwards at the end, it was all on more or less the same level, connected by skybridges, so therefore: same patio. Two different buildings across three different blocks, whatever: same patio.)

Sniper Bitch Instincts: Engaged

Sunday continued to be pretty loopy and we ended up in some long conversations with people we’d never met personally before, including one of Anna’s favourite writers (and both Orycon and this coming Norwescon’s Writer GoH) Tanya Huff, talking about substantially about music festivals of Quebec and Atlantic Canada and guitar strings. I ratted out Anna’s elevator squee to her, of course.

It’s not 10pm post-dead-dog arguments in a hallway about FM broadcast standards in television signals, but it’s pretty close.

Anna and Tanya Huff, trying to keep each other vertical

Anyway, all in all, a successful and fun convention. Played a bunch, sold stuff, had a good time. Next up here is Second Thanksgiving, on Thursday, so posting will probably get a little sparse. It can take a little while to remind all the Henchies about being thankful they are still alive, but eventually, even they get it.

Looking for the Grammy Awards Long List nominee post? Thank you for listening, and for your consideration.

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