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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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Welcome to my Filk FAQ! If you stumbled here accidentally and aren't sure what this is all about, feel free to read What Is Filk? first. You can also browse all entries here.


How does one get to be invited to Germany as a guest at Filkcontinental?

Question: "I've heard so many great things about Filkcontinental. How does one get to be invited as a Guest?" I asked concom member Katy Dröege-Macdonald, and this was her reply about how they choose their guests:

"1) We try to introduce new music to German filkdom but also try to judge what would most fit our current crowd's taste. And of course the concom's own preferences play a factor. :-)

2) We look for someone who enjoys being part of a big international community and likes to mingle, meet new people, be in circles, be *present.* We're not looking for "the big star on stage" who just gives a concert and then offers nothing more to the folk attending the con. We prefer those who happily self-identify as "filkers" because they appreciate the community. (That doesn't rule out the possibility of inviting "BNFs" but maybe helps explain why we have had those as GoHs who wouldn't have thought they had a "chance" ...)

3) Money has to be an issue, as well. We can't invite a group from overseas every year, but tend to balance that out every other year or so by inviting those who are geographically closer to us. We are in the lucky position that there are many many wonderfully talented folk from Britain to choose from as well, and they are cheaper to bring over to Filkcontinental. This works great for our budgeting.

And then, the closeness to the British con is also an aside factor for our guest choices. We won't invite someone who has just been in Britain last year or even the same year but try to have a few years in between respectively invite someone who has not been in Britain yet."

Who are the volunteers behind British filk fandom?

The UK filk conventions are organised differently with a different concom and different hotel every year. This makes for a wider range of people being involved in the organisation of events than in other countries where they tend to stick to a single venue and an only slightly changing concom (From Lissa Allcock: "not exclusively since the Floating East Coast filk con is a bit like us but I don't know how cohesive their concoms are over the years").

A while back, Lissa Allcock posted about the volunteers who have helped with British conventions over past years, and she gave me permission to re-post this information here:

"Over in the land of LiveJournal there have been a couple of posts recently that need to migrate (or at least be announced) over here since they are of interest to the wider UK filk community and not just those bits of it that are on LJ.

This is a post I made yesterday, with various amendments and corrections made to it. If anyone else sees things that should be added then do please say.

This was sparked by a post that Annie made on her LJ on the topic of volunteering in the land of filk - I do recommend going over and having a look if that's an option for you. It does get a bit long because lots and lots of people have chipped in to the discussion, but it's definitely worth it. You can find it here.

This post sparked a thought in me to investigate how much of UK filk fandom was involved on the running side of things. For this purpose I have excluded performers for no valid reason other than that if I did the list would have taken me even longer and I'd have left out way more people. As it is I know that there are credits I have not given and almost certainly people who should be on there but aren't (especially people who work the cons and/or do tech) and my apologies for that. As I said above, do say if you see things that ought to be added. Perhaps when we're done Rafe can put it up on as a monument to our involvement.

The original list was of 64 people, of whom I count 42 (ish - it gets fluffy with the Americans) as being current active members of UK filk fandom. Given we're a community of about 140 (or if you want to count the total number of people who have been involved over time including those who've moved on to other things, perhaps about 200) that's a pretty good proportion.

People who have put a lot into UK Filk Fandom and what they have done

Phil Allcock - committee for Contabile, Con2bile, Obliter-8, Didgeri-douze, Sixteen Tones, Worldcon in 95 (uncredited), creator/launcher and original administrator of the Sams, now the ongoing UK filk awards.

Mike Whitaker - committee for Contabile, Transept, XIlophone, Contabile Fortean, Worldcon in 95. Hosting of various filkers' websites plus the UK server for FilkHaven.

Anne Whitaker - committee for Con2bile, Transept.

Rhodri James - committee for Contabile, Transept.

Rafe Culpin - committee for Contabile, HarmUni, produces the Wiggle newsletter, maintains contact lists for UK filk fandom that want to be listed, organiser of much filk at Eastercons. Creator of website, with lots of useful/interesting information about the history of UK filk.

Steve Linton - committee for Contabile.

Valerie Housden - committee for Contabile, Con2bile, Vibraphone, Worldcon in 95.

Gytha North - committee for Contabile, Treble. Instigator of filk (and then of filk cons) in the UK to begin with, responsible for production of original UK filk tapes, launcher of the original filk fund (the Flying Fish Fund, which then became the Flying Filk Fund), editor of original UK songbooks.

Ben Brown - committee for Con2bile, Treble.

Bill Longley - committee for Con2bile.

Chris O'Shea - committee for Con2bile.

Richard the Rampant - committee for Treble. Much tech.

Andy Morris - committee for Treble. Much tech.

Harry Payne - committee for Treble.

Pat Brown/Silver - committee for Treble. Much tech.

Alison Scott - committee for FourPlay.

Mike Scott - committee for FourPlay.

Sue Mason - committee for FourPlay. Much artwork for filk publications various.

Steve Davies - committee for FourPlay.

Giulia De Cesare - committee for FourPlay.

Zander Nyrond - committee for Pentatonic, HarmonIX, Conthirteena. Artwork for various filk publications. Founder and host of Nycons.

Chris Bell - committee for Pentatonic, HarmonIX.

Janet Waite - committee for Pentatonic, HarmonIX, Conthirteena. Artwork for various filk publications. Founder and host of Nycons.

Dave Holladay - committee for Pentatonic.

Clement Nyrond - committee for Pentatonic.

Smitty - committee for Vibraphone, Didgeri-douze, Worldcon in 95. Creator of Filklore zine. Artwork for various filk publications.

Minstrel - committee for Vibraphone. Creator of Filklore zine, creator of UK filk BBS, now the FilkUK newsgroup. Creator and administrator of the Filklore award for the most memorable lyrics posted to FilkUK each year. Owns and runs the Filklore online filk music store (mostly CDs but also some hymnals).

Martin GK - committee for Vibraphone, XIlophone, 1812 Tone. Much tech (or possibly much much tech). Creator and host of the Filk Archive.

John English - committee for Vibraphone.

Sue Edwards - committee for Transept.

Robert Maughan - committee for Obliter-8, Contabile Fortean. Filk Fund administrator (past). Creator of the new Filk Fund, including original author of the rules governing it.

Lissa Allcock - committee for Obliter-8, Didgeri-douze, HarmUni, Sixteen Tones, Worldcon in 95 (including songbook). Filk Fund Administrator (current). Sams award creator and decorator (past).

Teddy - committee for Obliter-8. Artwork for various filk publications. Childminder extraordinaire.

FanTom - committee for Obliter-8. Artwork for various filk publications.

Ken Shinn - committee for HarmonIX.

Tom Abba - committee for HarmonIX.

Colin Tuckley - committee for Decadence. Much tech.

Paul Bristow - committee for Decadence, Quinze Filk Festival.

Miki Dennis - committee for Decadence, Conthirteena, DixSeption, Worldcon in 2005. Much artwork for filk publications various.

Erica Neely - committee for Decadence (administered UK Filk Awards which spawned the Sams), Contabile Fortean.

Mike Richards - committee for Decadence, Conthirteena, DixSeption, HarmUni2.

Dan Bennett - committee for XIlophone.

Andy GK - committee for XIlophone. Much tech.

Annie Walker - committee for Didgeri-douze, Sixteen Tones.

Tim Walker - committee for Didgeri-douze, Sixteen Tones, 1812 Tone.

Janet Maughan - committee for Contabile Fortean, 1812 Tone.

Rika Koerte - committee for Contabile Fortean.

David Peek - committee for Contabile Fortean. Much tech.

Keris/Chris Croughton - committee for Quinze Filk Festival, Worldcon in 95. Much tech.

Hilary Croughton - committee for Quinze Filk Festival.

Alison Richards - committee for DixSeption, HarmUni2 (uncredited), Conthirteena (uncredited) songbook for Conthirteena & Worldcon in 2005.

Dawn Everett Biddle - committee for DixSeption.

Brian Biddle - committee for DixSeption.

Bill Sutton - committee for 1812 Tone, Worldcon in 2005.

Brenda Sutton - committee for 1812 Tone.

Seanan McGuire - committee for 1812 Tone.

Rob Wynne - committee for 1812 Tone.

Joe Raftery - committee for HarmUni2.

Emily Raftery - committee for HarmUni2, HarmUni3

Anna Raftery - committee for HarmUni2.

Rick Hewett - committee for HarmUni2. Much tech.

Gwen Knighton - committee for HarmUni3.

Mich Sampson - committee for HarmUni3.

Marion Beet - organiser of the Swiggles - first to arrive, last to leave.

Peter Wareham & Gwen Funnell - organisers of silly games at cons in years past.

Omega - Sams award creator and decorator (current).

Melusine - Sams administrator and ceremony organiser (current), bringing class to the role.

Simon Fairbourn - tech and other background work.

Roger Robinson - Founder of Beccon Publications, publisher of the UK filk hymnals. Auctioneer for Filk Fund auctions.

Richard & Marion van der Voort - for many years the only importers of non-UK filk tapes & other materials. Attended most UK filkcons as vendors. Hosted many singing gatherings at their apartment in South London.

Wow! We really are an involved community, and an incredible range of people has run UK cons over the years. It may sometimes look or feel as if there is a small concentrated group of Smofs doing the work but if nothing else this list dispels that theory. Which leads back into Annie's post on volunteering, at least one of the aims of which is to plant the seeds of volunteerism into the minds of any in UK filk fandom who might be receptive to same....



Comments? Suggestions? Please post below:

Where can I find more info about British filk?

This week's poll: Where can I find more information about the British filk community and conventions?, which is run by Rafe Culpin, is an excellent resource for information on filk in the UK, with links to the WiGGLe list, upcoming events, related links, news, history and other information.

From The Magician:

" points to next annual British Filk Con currently 2tonic

a supplementary filkcon this year is Harmuni 3
Online store for many British filkers, run by Minstrel

The N’Early Music Consort (NMC) are at

(or redirected from

The UK side of FilkNet is at

pretty much everything is linked from Rafe’s filk pages which you already have at"

From Rick Hewett:

"The Harmuni website is re-directed through"

From Erica Neely:

"I’d recommend joining the Filk UK mailing list as well. I don’t have the info to hand, but I think you can get there off of Rafe’s filk pages."

From Valerie Housden:

"The address for the Filk_UK mailing list is

Various British filkers have websites, which, as has been mentioned, can be found via Rafe's site at"

Other suggestions? Please post below, thanks.

What is a 'follower'?

A song that relates in some way to a recently performed song.

Usually you'll hear this term called out in open filk ("I have a follower!"), indicating that the speaker would like to perform something next.

Also see:
What is a “filkhog”? How can I avoid being one?
How do I get a turn in the filk circle?


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?
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