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Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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« babette's feast | Main | ad astra prep »

ad astra concert

Got back from Ad Astra last night. Allison, Jodi and I had great fun; Allison and Jodi will likely be posting their con comments soon. Ad Astra was a different sort of guest spot for us, mainly because it was a convention traditionally not inclined to like filk music. We encountered the occasional "oh no, here come the filkers!" comment as we walked down hallways with our guitars. At the opening ceremonies party in the con suite, the person sitting next to me on a couch made a derogatory comment about filking (obviously not reading my name badge which said that I was a Filk Guest of Honour). "Hey!" I protested. "I'm a filker!" My companion shook his head and replied sympathetically, "I feel your pain."

Knowing that we were performing for a neutral/unfriendly audience heightened our pre-show jitters, of course, especially just before our pre-Masquerade performance. We knew the audience was mainly there for the Masquerade, not to hear us...what if they hated us? What if they started throwing things?! Or perhaps no one would show up -- that would make things better and worse all at the same time. I am embarrassed to confess that we even placed private bets between the three of us about how many people would show up for the beginning of our show. I guessed 6 people, Jodi guessed 7, Allison guessed 8.

As we did our sound checks and final guitar tunings, it became clear to us that this was probably the most "formal" performance we had ever given. Everything was carefully timed and planned in detail -- we were to wait behind the curtains while the introductions were being made, and then step out as the curtains parted after our names were announced. The three of us huddled at the back of the stage behind the curtains as people filed into the room. We looked at each other sure sounded like a lot more than eight people.

"Step back!" someone whispered from the front of the stage. "We can see your shoes!" I had a terrible urge to poke my fingers through a small hole in the curtain and do bunny ears, but I restrained myself.

"Stop giggling!" someone else whispered to us from the stage wings.

I could feel my heart pounding; my palms were sweating. I could tell the same thought was running through Allison's and Jodi's heads as we looked at each other, wide-eyed. What the heck are we doing here?!?

Then we heard our names being announced, and applause. The curtains opened, and we walked to the front of the stage, blinking under the blindingly bright stage lights. Several hundred people looked back at us. Or at least I assumed so, from the shadowy outlines I could see; I was actually glad about the bright lights -- I couldn't really see the crowd.

Then Allison launched into the open guitar chords for "Another Story", and we were into our show. Partway through our first song, I knew we were going to be all right. We only had one microphone between the three of us, but the acoustics in the room were good, and we could each hear the other two clearly. Plus the audience actually seemed to be enjoying themselves. FYI, our playlist was:

    Another Story
    Prince of Darkness
    Rocket Ride
    The Lady
    Battle On!
    I Want To Believe
    Alien Jellyfish Song
For our encore, we did the Hockey Monkey Song. :-)

We ended up selling most of our CDs (perhaps all...I had to leave just as Jodi was getting the last few from the car because she had run out). Our biggest thrill, however, came from the people who approached us during the rest of the convention to say that they had either never heard of filk or weren't really interested in attending any filk events until now (one of the reasons we had been invited to Ad Astra was to hopefully jumpstart interest in filk programming). Several said they were going to try to make FilKONtario. Yay!

Allison, Jodi and I enjoyed the open filking and hearing new songs as well as familiar favourites. To Joel: I can't get that Moose Squirrel chorus out of my head!! Augh!! We ended up crashing around 1:30 or 2 am each night...this is early by filk standards, of course, but each of us has been going through a particularly difficult week (including a death in Jodi's family), and even staying up that late was a genuine feat for us this past weekend.

A number of people came up to me and expressed sympathy about the closing of Inkspot. One even offered me a job. :-)

Many, many thanks to the Ad Astra concom (especially Mike Green) for inviting us as guests!

More on Ad Astra (and photos) and other Sunday events in upcoming Blatherings.

Today's Blatherpics:
  • Urban Tapestry performing in our 1 pm concert. Many thanks to Judith Hayman for taking some photos with my camera. Unfortunately I forgot to give her the camera for our pre-Masquerade concert.

  • My Ad Astra guest badge. The green sticker gave me access to the Green Room (for guests and panel speakers).

  • Me with Connie Willis. Connie is an incredibly friendly, gentle, easygoing person with a sharp wit. Allison, Jodi and I had a chance to chat with her several times during the convention. For those of you not familiar with her work, Connie Willis is the author of "Doomsday Book", and has won more Hugo and Nebula awards than any other author.
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