Didgeri-Douze convention report by Erica Neely

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Here&#39;s the trip of my adventures in England and at Digeridouze...I&#39;ll tell you when it&#39;s time to wake up again. <Grin> (I wrote them on the plane - it&#39;s a good way to make the time pass.) Sorry if I ramble.

Well, the trip didn&#39;t get off to a good start when we were delayed in Chicago for three hours because our plane was missing a part. It got worse, however, when we got to Heathrow and the lady at immigration wanted to know where my work permit was - apparently performing music in anything other than someone&#39;s house requires a work permit, even if you don&#39;t get paid for it. The thought of being denied entry after that long a trip didn&#39;t make me a happy person, and I didn&#39;t relax until after I&#39;d gotten about six hours of sleep.

Ninja and Janet put us up ("to what?" is a good question) and their hospitality was wonderful. I managed to fulfill one of my goals for the trip Thursday night when we went out for Indian food...and it was good too! Friday, after more sleep (do you notice a pattern here?), we set out for Milton Keynes. Kudos to Janet for getting four of us, our bags, and my guitar in that car. I was impressed.

And then the con... It was wonderful to see everyone again! I raised a few eyebrows when I turned up in fishnet stockings and not very much black leather - I guess that wasn&#39;t the Erica people expected. I blame it on too much education. It changes a person. I wasn&#39;t like this before graduate school. That&#39;s my story and I&#39;m sticking to it. Anyway, I spent the first part of the evening hanging out with people and catching up. (And saying to Folo "Oh, that was so-and-so" after someone walked away, because I kept forgetting to introduce him. Oh well.) Then I got to watch the concom running around in circles because none of that night&#39;s performers were there yet...oops. Fortunately, Chris Conway showed up then and stepped in and did his set an hour early. At that point the committee started breathing again.

Christo was fun and played some weird instruments. I think watching him play two penny whistles at once was my favorite part. <Grin> B&B were good, even if I had no clue what the opening political number was about - cheers to Rika for clueing me in on the fact that it was a political number. (But it was funny, even if I didn&#39;t understand it.) I liked the various hats they wore, too. I think B&B have actually gotten stranger since I saw them last, which I wouldn&#39;t have thought possible. (Not a complaint, incidentally.) And Paul looks great with long hair.

Talis was next and was, as ever, stunning. She did a nice mix of songs and storytelling - I hope we get lots more stories, too! I really liked those! (Not that I didn&#39;t like her songs, of course.) I finally got to hear Jack Hare, which made me very happy. After that was the Pick circle, which seemed to end up an "ask someone for something they haven&#39;t played in six years" circle. It was fantastic.

My first complaint surfaces here, though. Why have people been hiding Dave Clement from me for all these years? It&#39;s not fair! He&#39;s wonderful! (I&#39;ll rave more about him (and his hugs!) later.)

I reluctantly went to bed around 2.30, after hearing a number of songs by Dave, the Suttons, Urban Tapestry, and other wonderful people. I was asked for two songs, one of which was a "play something new" request (I did "Almost") and one of which was for Heretic. Do you know how long it had been since I played Heretic? (About 18 months.) Aaaargh! A highlight of the circle was Talis and Simon singing "Any Kind of Light" (I think that&#39;s the title).

After not nearly enough sleep (so what else is new?) I staggered downstairs and introduced Folo to the concept of an English breakfast. I was partial to the ham because protein is good for Ericas who don&#39;t get enough sleep. I then went to see Just Playin&#39; Folks (sp?), which was composed (sorry - didn&#39;t mean the pun) of Zander, Valerie, Chris O&#39;Shea, and Rachel the Fiddler. All I can say is "Wow." Given that they had had a grand total of, I believe, two rehearsals, I was impressed. I hate to think what they&#39;ll sound like with more. I particularly enjoyed their version of Arden - I&#39;m rather partial to that song.

Unfortunately I had to miss most of Lawrence&#39;s set because Phil and I thought it would be a really good idea if we talked about our set before doing it that night. (One of the joys of arranging to share a spot when you&#39;re 4000 miles apart. And, as I&#39;m sure Phil would be glad to tell you, I&#39;m not the best at answering my email. Probably because I have too many friends who I&#39;m trying (and failing) to keep in touch with.)

We returned to hear Patchwork, who are as good as ever. This was a mellower set than the one at Decadence - most of it wasn&#39;t silly at all! Still, I&#39;m not complaining. Lunch occurred at this point and Folo and I disappeared for a few hours. No, It isn&#39;t any of your business what we did. It did involve lunch, though.

We returned part way through the main concert, just in time to hear Lissa sing. When did she get so good? Wanna hear more Lissa. I remember hearing some other good stuff too, but it&#39;s all sort of blurring together now. <sigh> Obviously I need to hear y&#39;all sing more often.

After dinner I went to most of an Urban Tapestry workshop on arranging, which was fascinating. I had to duck out early to get ready for my set, though. (Fortunately they had a handout!) My set went okay. I was very worried about getting through it, since I&#39;d had the flu the previous week and had gotten very dried out on the way over. My voice was a bit rough in places and my high range was completely shot, but people seemed to survive it.

Phil was great! I&#39;m not entirely convinced I&#39;m worthy to share a set with someone who writes songs like that, though. (I think the most depressing point of the entire set for me, though, was realizing that I really was the light relief of the set!) We cut a song and our encore out because we were running late (we started late) which means a) I didn&#39;t get to sing "Grief in Little Pieces," which is a shame because it&#39;s a gorgeous song and b) you&#39;ll have to wait for the album to come out to hear Christopher Robin with the keyboard backing.

(Oh, and to answer the obvious question, the album is coming out this year if I have to distribute it on hollowed-out logs, barefoot and uphill both ways...oh, sorry, wrong performer. It&#39;s going to be great, too. Phil&#39;s made me sound really good. [Added after I got back: I&#39;ve listened to some more of the mixes from the album that he&#39;s given me. It&#39;s going to be Really good.] But back to my con report...)

Next came Urban Tapestry. AT this point I will note one difficulty we had with the hotel. I haven&#39;t been mentioning them mainly because you can hearf them from others and because they didn&#39;t make the con awful for me - I had a great time. But this one is relevant to my story. Some idiot scheduled an awards banquet and disco for Saturday night. Fortunately, we were assured, the disco wouldn&#39;t begin until 10.30. Which would put it opposite Phoenix. And we know from experience who wins in those situations. However, the disco started during UT. I think UT still won, not in terms of volume, but in terms of sheer determination and perseverance. They did a wonderful job under extremely trying circumstances. They&#39;re also bloody good. I think Debbie&#39;s insane, but in a nice, friendly, bouncy way. Jodi and Allison must be pretty crazy, too, since they sing her songs.

In all seriousness, they were a blast. A great set, too - the perfect blend of serious and (extremely) silly songs. Phil managed to corpse them not once but twice during "Cuz he&#39;s a Guy" which I thought was impressive. And Kate did a great Xena howl. Can we keep UT please? I want to hear more of them. (Hmm, I guess since I&#39;m going back to the States I am keeping them - they&#39;re closer to me than to y&#39;all. (Nyah, nyah!)) They got a standing ovation.

Then it was time for Phoenix. This was definitely the best Phoenix set I&#39;ve ever heard. The band was good, loud, and clearly having fun. I even danced, which I think was a first for me. It was great! (Even if we did make them do an extra encore...) Unfortunately, I used most of my superlatives up on UT, so I&#39;ll have to stop commenting on Phoenix. (I have to save some for Dave later!) Suffice to say, I enjoyed it greatly.

(Oh, yes, a tangential note here. It was nice meeting Franklin and putting a face to the guy Annie wrapped her legs around at XIlophone.)

Between my set and singing along/yelling during the Phoenix set - Tim makes a great Tom Smith - I had completely trashed my voice. I was also exhausted, so I spent most of the filk circle lounging on the floor and listening. Many thanks to whoever brought the donuts; I can&#39;t eat well before doing a set and I always get scheduled right after a meal. Someone did a great filk of "Do It Yourself" about armor. If anyone knows who it was/has the words, please let me know.

I eventually topped into bed sometime after 4, which meant I missed most of UTs kiddie concert (partially because I was dealing with checkout and somewhere to put our bags.) But I got to hear some, including the oreo cookie song and the banana slug song. These people are strange. Go hear them. Buy their tapes. Feed them chocolate.

Then we had more Dave Clement. He could perform a phonebook and I&#39;d be happy. I&#39;d probably cry, too. This man is truly fantastic and I really wish I could have made it to XIlophone. I was trying to cram two conventions worth of Dave into one and it just didn&#39;t work! He was assisted by Tim on bass and various guest performers on various other songs. I wish I could play guitar like that. Drool. Okay, I better stop this or I&#39;ll short out my computer.

I couldn&#39;t afford anything I wanted in the auction, but Roger was his usual entertaining self. (I&#39;d already spent too much money in the dealer&#39;s room...) After lunch I got to hear Brian Biddle, whose Saturday set I&#39;d stupidly managed to miss. (Brain? What brain?) He did some great stuff - Mr. Sandworm, the song about Old Jim Kirk, Greebo, and the song about "If someone would give me a lift home" were among my favorites. He even sang Ai Cthulu after taking up a collection for the filk fund. What a great guy!

I think the NMC were next. If so, they were great. Even if not, they were great. They did some beautiful arrangements - I liked Hope Springs and the Pat Silver song especially. (Voices heading West was good too...) I&#39;m looking forward to their tape.

For various reasons involving hugs and conversations, I missed a fair amount of "Takin the Mic" - Miki, Mike, Alison, and Rick - but what I heard was nice. Sam&#39;s Song sounds great on the harp! Speaking of harps, Annie and I disappeared after that and she showed me some stuff about harps. Like how to hold mine. (Learning it wasn&#39;t a lap harp and that it&#39;s meant to be played with it sitting on a low stool instead was a big help. It&#39;s not my fault! Someone thought I should play the harp and bought me one. Maybe someday I will.)

Then followed the gripe session, during which people made it very clear that, although certain members of the hotel staff deserved lynching, the committee did a fantastic job and was not held responsible for all the horrible things going wrong which weren&#39;t their fault. I think they did a brilliant job, especially under the circumstances. Applause to them all.

During the closing ceremonies we had the filk awards. They were

Best Serious - Ernest&#39;s Face Best Silly - Terror Time in Lancre Gold - Following in Valentina&#39;s Footsteps (Oh, yeah. JPF did a great version of this.) At Con - Thank you Very Kindly (by Phil)

And the con ended with the traditional singing of Sam&#39;s song. I still find it difficult to sing when my throat is tight and I&#39;m crying, but I&#39;m getting better.

Random high points: hugs from Dave, Phil hearing (and liking!) the tune I wrote for some words he sent me a year ago (oops!), Phoenix, UT, all the other great music, those fantastic truffles which were circulating..., the comments I got Friday night when I was wearing my leather, seeing everyone!

Low points: leaving

You know, I came to Decadence because I was on the committee. But I set "No more until 14, because I&#39;ve got class and no money" (hmm, that doesn&#39;t sound right). (In the year of 14 I would theoretically be writing my dissertation and I won&#39;t be teaching that year, so I&#39;ll have more flexibility in taking time off.) But I gave in for 12 because I missed people so much and I wanted to hear UT. But I said before I came "This is crazy, no more till 14.) But then I heard that Barry and Sally Childs-Helton and Tim and Annie are the guests next year and, well, I&#39;ve bought my membership (which doesn&#39;t mean anything - I was a member of XIlophone and both GAfilks and didn&#39;t get to any of them) and am now trying to work out a budget for going...aaaargh! Y&#39;all are just too nice and too talented. Hmmmphf.

Anyway, then we left among a flutter of hugs and farewells. (I believe I claimed farewell hugs three different times from Dave...and more from Phil!)

Monday I spent buying things in London with Folo. I spent way too much money. And then Tuesday I flew back to the US. One ironic thing happened - going through security I got stopped for a random pat-down. I think that airports just don&#39;t like me anymore.

Thanks to everyone for making me welcome - it&#39;s always like coming home again. Thanks for making Folo welcome - it was probably unnerving meeting a hundred of my closest friends in one go (though he&#39;ll get back at me if I go to Pennsic.) And thanks especially to Ninja and Janet for putting us up and putting up with me.

"Promise you&#39;ll remember
And I&#39;ll promise not to cry,
Raise a glass for me, my friends,
But never say good-bye."

-Erica Neely

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