You can also Search

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.

Twitter Facebook Instagram
Subscribe Pinterest Flickr
My other social media.

Search the Filk FAQ
Current Projects




I'm Bored Bonus Page
I'm Worried
« What is a 'follower'? | Main | How does a good concom work with a Guest? »

What makes a good Guest Of Honor?

If you've been invited to be a Filk Guest of Honor, be sure to ask the convention committee about their expectations, read the contract (if there is one). But the truth is that what makes a good Filk Guest of Honor isn't always always spelled out in the contract.

Responses from filkers:


Lissa Allcock:

"Be involved (beyond just your own performances - attend a reasonable selection of programming, bring something for the auction, take part in a workshop, hang out in the communal areas chatting with members, go out for dinner with a large group of fen, attend the late night circles - some or all of the above)

Look after yourself (don't overdo it so that by Sunday morning you can't get out of bed you're so tired)

Have a good time (people like to see that their guests are enjoying themselves)

Don't stick only to the friends you already have (be open to the development of new friendships)

Do not be a filk hog (even if people ask you to sing lots in the circles, try not to perform too often)

Be prepared for whatever programme item(s) you are involved in (putting together your songlist for your concert while at the con gives a bad impression)"

From Judith Hayman:

"I suppose I can speak for FilKONtario in this.
First off, every thing that Lissa said is right on target.

I'd add: let the con know your limitations asap. At FKO we tend to ask a GoH for a concert, a workshop and a theme filk (which they host). But we also specify attendance at some of programming, at the banquet, at some of open filk. If that's too much, we need to hear about it.

Be flexible with travel plans and recognize that being a guest means you DO need to have extra time. We really want you there as early as is reasonable (I know bedlamhouse prefers guests in on Thursday) and we REALLy want you to stay until after the dead dog because that's the part the concom gets to relax and enjoy.

Don't surprise us with an sudden request to bring someone. Tell us that early.
We don't pay travel for spouses or spousal substitutes by the way...

Let us know if you're planning to bring 800 attendees on stage with you. The stage might not take it...

We're organized at our con. We expect you to be too. Those decisions about what kind of room you want, when you expect to travel, who's doing your bio, do you have a photo, etc aren't that hard, but we kinda need them for our planning.

Please understand that when we ask for something by a due date, we actually meant that. Progress report has a mailing date and don't even think of making us late with the program book."

From Phil Parker:

"There are two different ways a filk GoH can be very successful for a convention, and getting one person who can do both may be asking for too much, so the committee should try to decide what audience they're trying to reach with the filk guest and pick a guest that fits.

One kind of guest is someone who is a big name draw, who will fill the ballroom for a concert and deliver a show that makes the general fans who came happy. If that is their job, the committee shouldn't be expecting them to also be on 6 panels and spend 12 hours in the open filk, and if the non-core-filk fans were happy with the concert, but the filk fans were disappointed that the guest wasn't there for them for the whole con, that's OK.

The other kind of guest is a guest who's really there for the filkers. Their concert may really impress the core filk audience, but probably won't pull in people who are only somewhat interested in filk. This kind of a guest needs to be available for the core filkers for a large chunk of the convention. Being visible on panels is good, and participating comfortably and well in open filk is a must."

(However, Lissa added to the above comment: "I'm not totally convinced by this. I don't think anyone in filk should consider their name so important that they only need to do their concert, but then I guess I was writing about being a GoH at a filkcon. Being a filk GoH at a more general con is a different beastie. I think my reason for feeling that is that it's because it's not specifically the filkers who are footing their bill at a general con, whereas it is at a filkcon and this makes a difference in relation to what the filkers in general have a right to expect of you.

In a side note I point out that they only have the right to expect this of you if you are the GoH (or some permutation thereof). If you are merely a BNF but are paying your own way you are entirely entitled to do whatever the heck you want. It's your dime, it's your choice."

Phil agreed: "Certainly, the guest who does a great concert but nothing else is a bad fit for a filkcon. The kind of convention where they would be a good fit is probably not a convention I'd really want to be at at all -- one that doesn't have much filk at all, but identifies a particular performer as someone who is popular enough with the not-really-filk-fans to be a draw.")

From Bill Sutton:

"Try to find out from the concom what they want you to emphasize, along the lines of Phil's post.

Attend the open filks, but (and this is my own opinion, concoms may vary) if you've got a lot of concert time don't sing too much in the open filk. Be there to listen and enjoy the other filkers at the convention.

Unless the concom specifies that they want you to close down the filk (and cooperates by not giving you other work to do too early the next day), go to bed at a decent hour so you have plenty of energy (as oreouk said, take care of yourself).

Don't assume that the con is paying for meals - confirm in advance.

Spend as much of your non-programmed time as possible in public areas of the convention where you can meet and talk to attendees.

Don't upstage other guests or concerts if possible.

If something goes badly, discuss it with responsible concom members (if any) in private. If something goes well, mention it in public.

Remember, you're a Guest and not a Ghod. The attention and handling many conventions give to a guest can go to your head, so be prepared to remember those days when the neighbors circulated petitions to get you thrown out for bad musicianship ...

Be Prepared. If you leave things to the last minute you will give a performance that sounds like you left it until the last minute. On the other hand, don't overprepare or overstress. It is likely that the qualities you exhibit in your normal convention-going are the ones that got you the guest slot, so don't try to change yourself to be something you're not.

Thank the concom.

If you need to use some of your time at the convention for professional activites (as will be the case with many writers being guested to a town where a publisher or agent lives or works), this is acceptable if minimized and if planned with the concom as far in advance as possible."

From Lee Gold:

"- singing ability & repertoire songs not boring
to the local filkers
- energy & personality
- manners that fit in with the local filkers"

From Lynn Gold:

"You need to be a good entertainer. This isn't just musical performance skills; this means good patter, being upbeat, and leaving everyone feeling better when you left the room than when you walked in (or at worst, the same).

You need to interact with everybody and be nice and gracious, no matter how much you want a 2000 lb weight to fall on a person. There are exceptions, such as the annoying heckler who makes your performance impossible (in which case, you're doing the rest of the room a service by cutting them down), or the filkhog who doesn't respond to gentle coaxing.

If you're a draw, so much the better. Trust me when I tell you this IS a consideration when it comes to filk con planning. If, by inviting you, I have reason to believe folks will come and support you, so much the better. If the local folks are clamoring for you, that works as well.

When you're at the con, be AT the con. DON'T hibernate in your room. DON'T have a private filk all night with a handfull of BNFs. DO be "out there." DO go to the filk circles and hang around. There are few things more annoying than a GOH who is "above" going to the filk circle. I've been to three cons where I can remember the GOH not being in the circle one of the nights and believe me, people noticed!

In the circle, make everybody feel welcome, even if they're not making your kind of music. Filk is inclusive. In a room with 20 different people you're going to get 20 different tastes in music. Keeping someone from performing because they're not making your kind of music is downright rude. I can think of one performer I'd hesitate to nominate for Consonance GOH because they barged in and cut me off as I was about to sing in a circle (after patiently waiting my turn) years ago to shift the theme to THEIR kind of music (the theme of the circle was something else)."


Also see How does a good concom work with a guest?

Reader Comments (1)

Upon reading some of the comments I agree with most accept that I disagree with Phil that a so called "BNF" Guest should be treated any differently than any regular or other guest. All guests should participate as much as they can from doing workshops to a concert spot to greeting and meeting with people. I also believe it is their job to encourage others and mix and mingle. You also have to make sure to leave some down time to yourself and make sure you eat and get some sleep. Things like moderating late night filks and making sure everyone gets a chance to sing are high on my list. Also things like sitting in the hallway with someone and just chatting are important as well. As Judith commented, you should be prepared and willingly to help out anyway you can like helping out the ConCom stuffing membership packages etc. and many a time I have gone up to the Consuite and played songs for the workers who maybe never got a chance tyo hear any music all weekend.

April 13, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterTom Jeffers
Editor Permission Required
You must have editing permission for this entry in order to post comments.