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Illustration by Kat Sharp

“Filk” music is science fiction folk music. The term was originally “filk music” was a typo for “folk music” in a never-published essay on the influence of Science Fiction and Fantasy on folk music. Its first known deliberate use was by Karen Kruse Anderson in Die Zeitschrift für Vollständigen Unsinn (The Journal for Utter Nonsense) #774 (June 1953), for a song written by science-fiction author Poul Anderson.

While the movies, TV and theater have the Oscars, Emmies and BAFTA Awards, and science fiction & fantasy have the Hugo and Nebula Awards, of course filk music must have its own recognition – and so it does.

The Misbehavin’ Maidens

For filk music, the best of the best are honored annually with the Pegasus Awards. Ohio Valley Filk Festival is one of the largest filk-centric conventions in the USA. This year, like so many other conventions, it was virtual. This is the convention that grants the Pegasus Awards.

The Guest of Honor was actually a group of filk artists this time, the Misbehavin’ Maidens.

The Misbehavin’ Maidens are a bawdy nerd-folk comedy band comprised of four women from the Washington, D.C. / Baltimore are with a love of feminist, sex-positive music, LGBTQIA+ representation, parodies, drinking & fandom references for the 19+ geek crowd.

Tom Smith, the Fastest Filker Alive

Their debut album, Busted, was released in 2015; their second album, Sloppy Seconds, was released in 2017; and their third album, Swearing is Caring, was released in July 2019.

Tom Smith was the master of ceremonies this year. Smith has only missed two OVFFs since 1986. Along the way, he’s recorded two dozen albums, mixing fantasy {both light and dark}, science fiction, with a healthy splash of penmanship.

But virtual or not, 2020 or not, OVFF took place this year. The winners of the Pegasus Awards were announced Sunday, October 25, 2020. The winners are:

Best Filk Song:Child of the Library by Piers & Gill Cawley
Mordred’s Lullaby by Heather Dale
(tie)
Best Classic Filk Song:Somebody Will by Ada Palmer
Best Performer:Margaret & Kristoph
Best Writer/Composer:Andrew Ross
Best Media Song:Goodnight, Sarah Jane by Talis Kimberley
Best Space Song:Following in Valentina’s Footsteps by Valerie Housden

If you’re in fandom, you probably know at least one filker, and that opens the door to participation. There are housefilks, conventions with a panel or two dedicated to filk music, and lots of other opportunities to enjoy filk in person – or at least there were before the pandemic.

If you live in a “filk desert” though, as singer Margaret Middleton refers to places where filkers are separated from each other by great distances, you still have at options. One of the best is SCIFI.radio.

Do you have favorite filk performers you’d like to hear? T. J & Mitchell Burnside-Clapp, Windbourne, Julia Ecklar, Tom Smith, Leslie Fish, Roberta Rogow? If there is a filk performer you’d like to hear on SCIFI.radio, let us know. We take requests! You can reach us on Facebook, Twitter, via email, and even through the special shoutout feature in our free player apps for Android and iOS.

FilkCast!

SCIFI.radio features FilkCast, a radio show dedicated to filk music old, new and rare. It’s produced by Eric Coleman, and had its inception when Coleman was driving back from OVFF a couple years ago. There wasn’t much in the way of sources for online filk, a couple of online stores, but not many places where you could listen to or find out about new filk music.

Coleman plays the best of filk, both new and old, with frequent plays of Wizard Rock, Nerd Core and other related genres. And hey, if you have stuff out there, point him at your music. He’s always looking for more!

You can hear FilkCast every Wednesday right here on SCIFI.radio, at 7 am ET / 4 am PT, and again at 10 pm ET / 7 pm PT.

To send suggestions for the show, or to submit your own music for play on the air, you can reach Eric at the FilkCast web site, or email us at KryptonRadio@scifi.radio and we’ll forward the message.

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Gene Turnbow
Gene Turnbow

President of Krypton Media Group, Inc., radio personality and station manager of SCIFI.radio. Part writer, part animator, part musician, part illustrator, part programmer, part entrepreneur – all geek.

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