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Van Nuys : Folk Meets Fantasy at Filk Music Festival

W e are the children of the future

With our eyes turned toward the sky

Asking questions, thinking new thoughts

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And wondering why . . .

--KAREN WILLSON

They sing of worlds far-off and fantastic, realms real and imagined. They are filkers, and this weekend they will gather in Van Nuys for a celebration of their art.

What is filk? It’s a form of folk music based on science fiction, fantasy and technology themes, according to organizers of Con-Chord 11, a yearly showcase that’s expected to draw between 100 and 200 fans to the Airtel Plaza Hotel.

“It’s music that you’ve heard with words that you haven’t,” said Rodney Stansfield, a 30-year-old environmental engineer from Garden Grove and the event’s programming director.

Born out of the science-fiction and fantasy conventions of the 1960s and ‘70s, filk combines the passionate advocacy of traditional folk music with lyrics chronicling things that are to come and things that never were.

“It’s the same function that folk music has always had,” Stansfield said, noting that many songs are vehement in their defense of real-world concerns such as space exploration and scientific study.

A variety of activities is planned for this weekend’s convention, including workshops, informal singing “circles” and children’s activities, said Director Rick Weiss, a 43-year-old engineer also from Garden Grove.

Highlighting the 11th annual event is a concert scheduled for 8 tonight with performers including filk pioneers Karen Willson and Chris Weber, Gaia’s Heart, Windbourne, the L.A. Filkharmonics and the Duras Sisters, a vocal trio from Arizona.

Admission is $20 today and $15 Sunday; two-day admission is $30. For those only attending tonight’s concert, the cost is $8. The convention will begin at 10:30 this morning and conclude Sunday evening.


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