What is filk? This is my explanation

and tells of my involvement in filkdom.

There are a lot of "definitions" to what is filk. It's not in the dictionary (not yet, anyway). For a long time, I would tell people that it was "science fiction folk music, but a whole lot more."

What I would say now is that it is the folk music of the science fiction, fantasy and horror genres, save the fact that it has gone beyond folk music, and it's gone way beyond the science fiction, fantasy and horror genres. For instance, there are filk songs about historical events, love, sex, trying to clothe baby, cats, dogs, the space program, the list goes on and on and on . . . . .

As far as musically, the filking community has spread its musical wings beyond simply folk and folk-style music. There has been at least one opera written in a filky style, along with sea chantys, multi-part choral pieces, rap music, rock music, again, the list goes on and on.

It's my humble belief that filkers today are carrying on the traidition going back to the Middle Ages in Europe, when minstrels would travel from town to town, singing for the local serfs, telling stories, bringing news, things like that. In the 19th century, it was people like Stephen Foster, who wrote "O, Susannah" (if I remember correctly).

Since the start of the 20th century, it was people like Woody and Arlo Guthrie, Tom Paxton, Phil Oochs, Pete Seeger and Fred Small who do the same thing. And filkers?, well we're the next step in that time-honored tradition. We're the ones who are recording history in a way that others aren't. We're the keeprs of the oral tradition. That's what I feel we do, and I feel we do it well.

As far as my involvement, I "joined" the filk movement when I returned to Califorina from the Navy in 1984 (although I was first exposed to it in 1977 at a Doug Wright convention at the Marriott Los Angeles Airport - Karen Willson was singing some of her stuff in an out-of-the-way room). I went to my first filk sing at LosCon in 1982 (while on leave from the Navy), but didn't attend my first filk convention until about a week after I arrived home (Bayfilk 2 in the northern California area). I was not good. To put it mildly, I stank. It took a lot of time and a lot of years for me to get to where I am today. My overebulliant enthusiasm marked me in a negative way, and it's taken over 10 years to rid myself of my bad reputation. It was due to someone who believed in me back then that I took up the guitar, although that is a story of its own (thanks, Tera!). Suffice it to say that now, I own four left-handed guitars, am one of filkdom's only true left-handed guitar players (who both write and play left-handed. Most of the lefties play guitar right-handed).

As of January 2, 1999, I have four guitars at home; only 3 are named.

  • "1" is my Seagull D-6 left-handed acoustic. It has a really nice sound.
  • "2" is my Seagull D-12 left-handed 12-string acoustic. It, too has a good sound to it.
  • "Packer" is my Martin Backpacker. It's a weirdly-shaped guitar, sounds like a banjo, but is good for taking on overnight trips or some such.
  • The newest member of the family is a Larrivee D-03 left-handed 6-string acoustic, which has a real SWEET sound to him. It also doesn't hurt that if I need to, he can be amplified - he has a built-in microphone. He is still unnamed. I take him to a filk every now and then, and am considering whether or not to take him to JVL-Con in Wisconsin in October.

    Here's a picture of a right-handed D-03. It's gorgeous!, and it looks like a backwards version of mine.

  • The link you see at the bottom is for the Dandelion Conspiracy. To put in 50 words or less, cons do not always look highly upon filkers. They should. This explains why, but the few-word short answer is: "ROOM NIGHTS and MEMBERSHIPS." See for yourself.

    See the updated story of GaFiA here, and click on my link to the unofficial GaFilk page.

    This will show you which conventions I'll be going to in the near future.

    This will take you to the official page for Southern Fried Filk, LLC, a Georgia Limited Liability Company, your southern and southeastern source for filk, folk and Celtic music.

    Go back to my main page.

    This will take you to my page of filk links.

    Links to other sites on the Web

    The Dandelion Conspiracy

    This page was updated April 21, 2008, and is copyright 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2008.

    This site is part of Filker's Bardic Ring
    and is owned by Michael Liebmann, owner of Southern Fried Filk, LLC and keeper of GaFiA's electronic mailing list.
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    Dandelion courtesy of Joe Bethancourt (Thanks, Joe!).

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