So on Saturday Anna and I went down to Conflikt; Anna wanted to pick up Seanan's new CD, check out a couple of vendors, and go to some concerts, and for me, any practice I can get - particularly with other people - is good practice. So Anna got her merch on for a bit and checked out the hotel wifi and I wandered around keeping her company and occasionally saying hi to people.
Between us, we'd brought a fleet of instruments, which meant I had Splinter along (who I occasionally consider renaming Flagpole, but, well, Splinter's name is Splinter). Splinter gets a lot of attention, and I did some demonstrations and handed out a bunch of contact cards while she's got Anna was checking in on the blog tour she'd helped put together with Drollerie Press, her publisher. Her entry is here. (And if you got one of those cards and followed it here, hi! Glad to see you! ^_^ )
With Anna busy online, I went and found the second-track programming room, which at the time was completely empty because most of the convention was at the concert series in major programming, so I set up in there to get in some practice and - yay! - successfully try to solve a problem in Zoe's Song.
I was kind of aware partly through "Artifacts (You'll Never See)" that someone had come into the room, but when I'm working on that one, I'm pretty head-down, and I get into it. It's my most recently-completed piece, and I'm basically teaching myself mandolin by writing things too complicated for me to play yet, and it's still a challenge. So the round of applause after "...there'll be no one there to meet you..." was a huge surprise! As was SUDDEN AUDIENCE being SUDDEN! Guys, I don't know who most of you were, and I don't imagine most of you will ever read this - but that was totally epic. I've had people wander over and listen to me play plenty of times before, but that was the first spontaneous full audience I've ever had appear in an empty room, and it was a little bit shoujo manga in real life, and I'm all for that. Please repeat this in future, it's awesome.
So then I played, um, I think "When You Leave" next, and then Anna came in along with a couple more people, and she and I and another person I don't know named Batya (batyatoon, I am told) started handing off songs, and along the way I did "My Boyfriend" and "Thought You Knew" solo and played with Anna on a couple of traditionals and some Great Big Sea, and Batya asked for drums on Donkey Riding/Subway Riding, which I gladly provided. We played until late, late dinner, and all you people are great, and I hated to leave for food but blood sugar is important! a lesson I kind of forgot on Sunday, but I'll get there in a minute. And most of you reading this know I complain a lot about my performances here, but... while these weren't perfect, by any means, but... I'm not gonna complain about any of 'em, not even the eternally-sloppy My Boyfriend.
After dinner we went and watched the concert series, and that was a more musically adventurous than I was expecting - particularly Marian Call's use of the manual typewriter and other found objects as percussion instruments - and Seanan's extremely ambitious full-orchestration performance of "Earthquake Weather," off of Stars Fall Home. (I pity the sound crew who has to arrange full drums against miced instruments in conference room!) Frank Hayes (yes, the one who writes and sometimes blogs for Computerworld) brought the funny between the two larger-ensemble sets.
Sunday, Anna decided to stay home, but I wanted to see Tony Fabris's presentation on reverse-engineering music, which I thought might help throw some very introductory theory at me, and it did! I stayed through the panel on chord theory following Tony's presentation, but sadly understood nothing whatsoever. Seriously, not a word. I tried to take notes but by the end of the panel I realised that I had got approximately nothing right, so just wrote down "ALL THIS IS WRONG" on my notes and went and hid in the convention hospitality suite for a while. But I got in some practice time before realising it was later than I thought and popping in late for Lawrence Dean's surprisingly-packed late-Sunday-afternoon concert - where I ran into cflute and her partner pocketnaomi - after which the room flipped over to a jam session.
The jam session didn't seem to be in much of a mood to go, so instead of doing the smart thing and packing off for dinner (see previous), I was in the right kind of mood and started helping make things happen, so now there are a bunch more people who know songs like The Last Saskatchewan Pirate and Lukey and Goin' Up and I showed a bunch of people (including the aforementioned Frank Hayes) how to play Old Black Rum, helping spread the Great Big Sea goodness around, and eventually that morphed into the "open filk," which is rotating performances by, well, anyone who is willing to perform, rather like an open mic.
Having kind of dominated the room's agenda for a while, I kicked back for a bit and mostly accompanied people, which was all sorts of fun. Eventually, s00j and omnisti (...I think that's his LJ, agh!) and stealthcello made it up from Oregon performances over the weekend, and Vixy and Tony and hsifyppah and Seanan and mdlbear and a bunch of other people whose names I can't pull up right now helped pack out the place, right as I was getting tired of not playing myself, so I threw out "When You Leave" again and "Stars" and... again, far from perfect, but they were performances about which I am not going to complain too much. I could deal.
Sadly, right about then is when the performance energy and caffeine keeping me in high orbit started lacking a protean and sugars foundation, but I didn't notice until I'd kind of flailed my way through "Artifacts" without good breath control and with shaky pick action, and I still didn't go get a snack, because I was having too good a time. But then my later performance of "My Boyfriend" (at, okay, sometime around 2am) also lacked a sleep foundation, and that was just awful - I may have invented a new variant of Frank Hayes Disease, one where you forget your own lyrics and chords even while you're looking right at them. So if you were up that late, I apologise, and I thank you so much for not killing me on the spot. I swear it's a better song than that when I can actually say the words in the right order and not forget complex chord patterns like "A-G-GGG-GGGG-GG." Christ somebody shoot me.
Despite that, I gave out some more cards so if you're here, hi you guys! I had a great time and I'm working hard on getting better, so when I'm at, say, the Soul Food Books open mic on Saturday hopefully it'll be pretty good. Even with the bad performance bits towards the end, I was kind of okay with a bunch of these performances, and that's new, and it feels GREAT when this stuff actually starts to work. I only started combining singing and playing for reals in October and November, and it's been a difficult skill to add because I'm also trying to level up my voicework at the same time, which omg needs it badly.
But I finally feel like I'm making some progress again. I love that. ^_^
eta: oh I forgot somebody I didn't know - actually a group of I think three people - came up with a "Ravens in the Library" pastiche that had Seanan red then blue in the face and unable to breathe with laughter, after which she told a bunch of real stories about rescue/rehab ravens (all of whom appeared in the pastiche) which were just unbelievably funny, so if you can provoke her into telling those stories at a convention at some point, do so. Particularly if you can do it after hearing that song. muah.