Musicians Among Us (Give My Children Wings)

Did you know, kids, that there were networked affinity groups even before the internet? I wandered down a YouTube wormhole and came across this interview with Kathy Mar, whose cassettes I bought at sf-con huxter rooms back in the 1980s, when we were all slimmer and stronger and had the endurance to carpool six hours each way for a weekend convention. I was never a filker, because I had a strong voice and no sense of pitch, so whenever I tried to harmonize innocent bystanders would meekly follow me into the briars. My gifts were for apa-hacking, a form of round-robin self-publication from which quite a few gifted political bloggers would emerge as the technology improved, people like Avedon Carol, Gary Farber, and Driftglass. Being opinionated in front of 25 or 50 or 100 of the dearest friends you’ve never met turns out to be useful training — who knew?

But I get the impression that musicians are their own affinity group, as well — people doing what they love, trying to find kindred spirits to share their enthusiasms, hoping for an appreciative audience even if making a living from it will never be more than a daydream….

75 replies
  1. 1
    Ben Franklin says:

    Just saw ‘Lincoln’, and I must say, it is normally difficult for me to suspend my disbelief, but Daniel Day Lewis had me believing he was Lincoln. Film is the most effective form of propaganda, yet I found myself transfixed, so much so, that I was choked with emotion when his military age son was rejected his father’s opposition to enlistment, after losing his first-born in that same war.

    Pushing for the 13th amendment at the end of his first term was prophetic, in that Appomatox would have curtailed the paper-thin victory, had he waited until his 2nd term of office. His visionary courage, and that of Thaddeus (Ways and Means Chairman) in that effort, will remain paramount in the history of this country.

  2. 2
    Cassidy says:

    If there are youtube videos of any of you playing, would you please post links. I’d be interested in listening.

  3. 3
    jl says:

    @efgoldman: Agreed. Even filking, which I had to look up since I had no idea what it meant.

    Gawsh dayum, I can feel affinity for this Kathy Mar and her ditties, even though my interest in sci/fi fantasy is stuck close to absolute zero (unless its a parody movie).

  4. 4
    The Dude Abides says:

    Anyone mention this yet? Apparently Paul Ryan has unfollowed Mitt on twitter.

    This bears repeating: Paul Ryan unfollowed Mitt Romney. That is hilarious.— Ian Donovan (@IanDonovanVP) November 25, 2012

  5. 5
    Raven says:

    Back in the day of the large anti-vietnam-war demonstrations we always stayed in what we called affinity groups. You did not want to be alone because you never knew what might happen and there were plenty of agent provocateurs that could start some shit that would be hard to get out of. During the 72 convention in Miami a big group of my friends went down. I had a buddy that was freaked out about my safety because the feds had come to our house during VVAW meetings. He convinced me I should go to Jamaica instead of the convention so I did. I was partying down there and listening to some accounts on the radio. I finally couldn’t take it so I flew from Mo Bay to Miami and set out to find my friends, aptly calling themselves the Champaign Urbana Moral Barbarians. I got there in the late afternoon of the last day and made my way past the Flamingo Hotel where I saw Ginsberg getting arrested. When I finally made it to Flamingo Park it was clearing out and the sided were preparing for a last gasp confrontation. I searched frantically for my people but it was no use. I was in a full blast riot carrying a big backpack. There was teargas everywhere and you’d turn a corner and there would be a big line of cops coming at you. No one wanted to let you hang with them because, you guessed it, they were in affinity groups. I finally called the number of a guy I knew and arranged to meet him for extraction. That is my affinity group story.

  6. 6
    Raven says:

    @Ben Franklin: Appomattox, I only know that because it’s my wife’s hometown and we got married there.

  7. 7
    PurpleGirl says:

    AL — I’m still a member of one of the APAs of which Avedon Carol was a member. We are still producing it on paper and using computers/printers everyone has a chance of doing color artwork and all kinds of fancy stuff. Some of us even submit our zines as .pdf files in e-mail.

  8. 8
    Raven says:

    @Ben Franklin: Lincoln lost a son in the Civil War? You sure?

  9. 9
    Ben Franklin says:


    My error…natural causes, apparently

  10. 10
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Ben Franklin:

    word press….need I say more?

    You don’t need to, but everyone will understand and join in if you wanna say “Fuck you.”

  11. 11
    Raven says:

    @Ben Franklin: yea, Have you ever heard of “My Boy Jack” about Kipling’s son? It’s a pretty good film and haunting poem.

    “HAVE you news of my boy Jack? ”
    Not this tide.
    “When d’you think that he’ll come back?”
    Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

    “Has any one else had word of him?”
    Not this tide.
    For what is sunk will hardly swim,
    Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

    “Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?”
    None this tide,
    Nor any tide,
    Except he did not shame his kind—
    Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.

    Then hold your head up all the more,
    This tide,
    And every tide;
    Because he was the son you bore,
    And gave to that wind blowing and that tide.

  12. 12
    Ben Franklin says:


    It’s the gadfly, contrarian in me. Mea Culpa.

  13. 13
    Raven says:

    Wow, in looking for that clip I saw another for a Brit film, “All The Kings Men” about the Sandringham Company that was lost at Gallipoli. It’s a true story and Maggie Smith plays the Queen.

    Great joke in the comments:

    A young Australian soldier was about to go over the top and a battle weary british officer looked pitifully at him and said “Did you come here to die ?” The young lad looked up and said [australian accent] ” No I come ere yesterdie ”

  14. 14
    Ed Drone says:

    Youtube footage of a couple of songs I’m “involved in” are:


    There may be some others, but I don’t know where they are.


  15. 15
    Ed Drone says:

    Feh! Those URLs don’t show up. I’ll try again soon.


  16. 16
    Raven says:

    @Ed Drone: Nice, my old man spent 4 years on this Tin Can in that squabble.

  17. 17
    Raven says:

    @Ed Drone: In Days of Glory, a film about Algerians and other Africans fighting for France in WWII there is a scene that reminds me of your song. The troops are in the hold of the ship and they are distributing tomato’s to the troops. The French refuse to give any to the Senegalese and the Algerian grunts nearly mutiny.

    At the end of the film we learn that the French revoked the pensions of the Algerians when their native country achieved independence.

  18. 18
    Anne Laurie says:

    @PurpleGirl: If that’s AWA, I was not only a member, I was the OE for several years back in the 80s. Fortunately, most of my contributions were on ditto masters, so they’ve faded into blessed oblivion :) …

  19. 19
    Mnemosyne says:

    Assuming this is an open-ish thread, I downloaded a pretty cool recipe manager program to my iPhone called Paprika. Basically, you can surf to almost any recipe website and download the recipes you like onto your iDevice or Mac.

    I heard about it through Rachael Ray’s magazine, but don’t hate it for that reason — it really is cool. I wanted to download it to the Mac, too, but my MacBook doesn’t have OS 10.6.

  20. 20
    Raven says:

    @Mnemosyne: God, I hope it is. One of the tags says open thread.

  21. 21
    Mnemosyne says:


    Well, it’s not like any of us pay any attention to that if a different shiny object catches our attention mid-thread.

  22. 22
    Bruuuuce says:

    I was never very good as an APAhack (nor as a blogger, for the same reason: unreliable at producing stuff on time except in a structured office).

    On the other hand, I am and have been a filker for quite some time, and am very proud of the community we’ve built. We have both launched some professional careers (Tom Smith) and accepted into the community some previous professionals (Carla Ulbrich, S.J. Tucker, Heather Dale) without losing the overall acceptance of musicians at any level. Kathy Mar is one of the best (she busked for a living, which might be one of the hardest professions to follow), and is a real mensch. Thanks for pointing to her, and to one of her very finest songs.

  23. 23
    The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge says:

    Of course, the wingnuttosphere is going to go ballistic over Lincoln—however, I don’t think they have the circumspection or creativity to come up with objections that will not be enormously revealing, even for people who haven’t been paying close attention the last four years…you know: morons.

    Theaters being packed for Lincoln and empty for Red Dawn is going to drive them nuts, though; I don’t think they’ll be able to restrain themselves.

  24. 24
    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason says:

    @Raven: Tags also say “Blogospheric Navel-Gazing”, which I assume opens the conversation to just about any damn thing.

  25. 25
    Maude says:

    Never saw All The Kings Men, but read a lot about Gallipoli.
    Churchhill got off the hook for that.

  26. 26
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    OT: A thought about pizza. Local pizza companies ought to start putting up ads to the effect: “We decided a long time ago to pay our employees a high enough wage that they don’t feel like taking out their frustrations by spitting on your pizzas.”

  27. 27
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Anne Laurie: Yes, it’s AWA.

  28. 28
    Anna in PDX says:

    My sister is a professional musician. She plays the violin in thr Cleveland Orchestra. I played the cello when I was young. I was in the Portland Youth Philharmonic. I now play the Irish folk harp, for fun. I love all kinds of music and I have lots of musician friends.

  29. 29
    RSA says:

    Did you know, kids, that there were networked affinity groups even before the internet?


    [T]here are at present perhaps only as few as half a dozen interactive multiaccess computer communities. These communities are socio-technical pioneers, in several ways out ahead of the rest of the computer world… their members are creative people in other fields and disciplines… What will on-line interactive communities be like? In most fields they will consist of geographically separated members, sometimes grouped in small clusters and sometimes working individually. They will be communities not of common location, but of common interest.

    J. C. R. Licklider, The Computer as a Communication Device, 1968. Licklider was one of the most influential and visionary figures in the history of modern computing–much of what we see in the Internet today is due to his efforts.

  30. 30
    Anna in PDX says:

    Whoops. Sorry. WordPress and my ereader are not a good combo apparently….

  31. 31
    Anne Laurie says:

    @PurpleGirl: Glad to hear that conversation is still going on!

  32. 32
    D. Mason says:

    This is one of those strange truths for sure. I’m a glass blower and I see the same thing there. Birds of a feather I suppose.

  33. 33
    Mnemosyne says:

    After putting it off for at least a year, I FINALLY finished putting a knitted cushion together for the cats. It was a giant pain in the ass because I had to add a zipper for the inevitable day that Keaton throws up on it and I have to put it in the washer.

    The last touch I’m waiting for is some insulated lining so one side will be self-warming, but I can just cut it to size once it arrives and slide it in since it zips up.

  34. 34
    zmullls says:

    I’m on the musician list, sort of. I am a lyricist and spent a several years writing and collaborating online, and then a few years trying to “ply my trade” where possible. My high-water mark was winning the 2007 International Songwriting Competition (Grand Prize). Since then I’ve poked around LA, Nashville and the Lower East Side in NY (as well as my home court of Philly).

    I’ve met a lot of people, written some things, even had something recorded by an Indie artist, but the song hasn’t made it onto a CD yet. I’ve learned a lot about the music business, mostly that there’s no real place in today’s market for a lyricist who doesn’t play an instrument him/herself.

    Right now I’m recording some demos with cellist Michael Ronstadt, and when they are finished and posted on his website, I’ll find an open thread to link them.

    My website has a lot of material on it ( but I haven’t been writing lately and haven’t even updated my blog since April (!). Still keep in touch with my musician friends and try to hook up with them when they come through town.

  35. 35
    EvolutionaryDesign says:

    I will also throw my hat into the musician’s ring. I have a rock band out of Denver called Old Dusty Death. Take a second to check it out if you have it.

    Old Dusty Death

  36. 36
    Yutsano says:

    Did everyone just disappear?

  37. 37
    Steeplejack says:


    I’m here, but I wasn’t here before, so maybe I did the reverse of everyone else.

    ETA: Shift change?

  38. 38
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Cassidy: I got nothin, we’re just that underground. Actually, we’re just that lazy. Soon should have some.

  39. 39
    dance around in your bones says:


    Apparently. I hate when that happens.

    “Where shall I go, What shall I do?!”

  40. 40
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Mnemosyne: Very good. {hands clapping}

  41. 41
    SatanicPanic says:

    I’m part of a fairly tight group of friends all doing punk rock, some of us into our 40’s. Not a big ‘scene’ but it’s fun. I love playing music and I love being part of the crowd. Something I never outgrew and I don’t see why I should have to.

  42. 42
    Yutsano says:

    @Steeplejack: It’s about that time for it, but wow did it get quiet here all of a sudden. Maybe we need another Imani/racism thread. That seems to generate comments. Or insulting St. Glenn of Greenwald.

  43. 43
    Cassidy says:

    @EvolutionaryDesign: I like it. Do you guys have an album?

  44. 44
    Cassidy says:

    @SatanicPanic: Waitin’ for you to show up. No links?

    Seriously, I like buying music, especially if I know the band in question is gonna get the scratch.

  45. 45
    Mnemosyne says:


    I was getting agitated because Keaton insisted on sitting next to the cushion but wouldn’t actually sit on it. G figured out that it was because there needed to be a second pillow on top of it to let him know that the cushion was for him to lay on.

    I’m not sure why it worked, but it did, and Keaton is now happily giving himself a bath on top of the cushion. I’m using some of the leftover yarn to make a coordinating pillow for the cushion. Cats are weird little creatures.

  46. 46
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Cassidy: I got nothing for sale, but here’s my old Myspace. I’ve never been happy with any of the recordings I’ve done, and these are pretty off the cuff

  47. 47
    Cassidy says:

    @SatanicPanic: Cool. I’m about to go to bed for work tomorrow. I’ll check it out when I get home.

  48. 48
    PLH ~ NYC says:


    No Youtube but here’s a song I wrote and played guitar and bass on (and helped put out the whole record)


    just hit play. You don’t have to buy (although proceeds go to Occupy).

  49. 49
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Mnemosyne: LOL

  50. 50
    Jewish Steel says:

    My new band played on the radio today. It went quite well!

    Here’s our setlist:

    Long Black Veil

    I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry

    Dry My Tears

    Lake Geneva

    Seven Curses

    St James Imfirmary

    Dirty Old Town

    With some Turlough O Carolan and Scottish reels thrown in there too. And a fragment of La Folia. You guys would loved it.

  51. 51
    Yutsano says:

    So somehow I got roped into arguing with a teatard on Book of Faces. He put up a bunch of bullshit and I asked him to prove it. His answer? “Google is your friend.” I’m not done laughing yet.

  52. 52
    SatanicPanic says:

    @EvolutionaryDesign: Rad! Your guitar player is badass

  53. 53
    eemom says:

    hmm……the sporadic and halfquarter-assed nature of FP posting on this blog appears to be approaching the embarrassment point.


  54. 54
    opie jeanne says:

    @Raven: A friend who lives in Etchingham took us to see the town where Kipling lived, and the war memorial. Burwash. Kipling was inconsolable when his son was MIA.

    We didn’t visit Kipling’s house but will next time we go.

  55. 55
    Mnemosyne says:

    Welp, I won’t be posting much for the rest of the night — I burned the crap out of my finger by stupidly touching a stove burner that was still hot. So I’ll be soaking my hand in cold water until it stops hurting per WebMD.

  56. 56
    Yutsano says:

    @Mnemosyne: OUCH!! Don’t do that, it hurts!

  57. 57
    Mnemosyne says:


    This is what I get for not taking my ADHD medication all weekend. I forget that if the burner was on 5 minutes ago, that fucker is still gonna be hot.

  58. 58
    sfinny says:

    Ouch! I burned myself last year by leaning against a pan that I had just taken out of the oven. In other words I was an idiot. Got my arm under cold water immediately and got away with a scar. Hope it all works out.

  59. 59
    Benno says:

    Hahaha…I did graduate research on this very phenomenon in the late 1990s looking precisely at how the explosive growth of the internet was changing music affinity groups, which I argued existed in spades prior to the internet. My thesis adviser almost literally laughed me out of the discipline. Here I am now, almost 15 years later, a PhD in another field and now — NOW! — this stuff is getting attention. If only I hadn’t been so young I wouldn’t have let some bastard old codger convince me that he knew the future of the field better than the people who would be the future of the field.

  60. 60
    👽 Martin says:

    I think this is true. I don’t play anything though I can still read music from when I learned as a kid, surprisingly enough. I keep meaning to buy a harmonica and give that a try – portability is important for me to keep interest in it. Among other instruments, my grandfather played jews harp. He tried to teach me, but I could never manage to not pinch something and got frustrated. He never played harmonica. My uncle does (rock/blues musician) but he’s inconveniently located in NC.

    Anyway, wife sings in several choirs and she seems to know everyone in SoCal that also sings. Everyone knows everyone else, and sooner or later you’re going to be on stage with all of them. It’s a surprisingly well connected community.

  61. 61
    Yutsano says:

    @👽 Martin: Has she thought of auditioning for any of the studios? I know it sounds cliché for California, but it is a decent way to pick up some extra spending money.

  62. 62
    Suffern ACE says:

    My glasses are still broken, three shopping bags of stuff I bought on Saturday were lifted from my trunk while I was at a movie, and the packers played like the Jets. I’m bitching and moaning right now and I don’t care what the thread topic is.

  63. 63
    👽 Martin says:

    @Yutsano: She’s not a strong leading singer. She’s tried, but it’s not really her thing. I think the aggravations around it would drive her crazy anyway. Besides, she’s got 2 part time jobs now, and being general contractor for our house (I’m almost all of the trades) keeps her pretty busy.

  64. 64
    Yutsano says:

    @👽 Martin: I was just curious. I know that I couldn’t stand to live in the LA area (been several times, nice to visit etc.) but if I could I’d be up for trying. Even as a choral singer it’d be worth it though not something you could really make a living on.

  65. 65
    PanurgeATL says:

    I appear to be an affinity group of one, so I try, generally with limited success, to attach myself to others with which I just might have something in common or seem connected with things that have inspired me. So here you go–three tracks from a long-ago album project I never sold:

    If you’re a Rennie, a Celtic-fusion fan, or a prog-rock fan, you might enjoy this. I just had the original analog multi-track transferred, so I’m thinking of remixing it.

  66. 66
    YellowJournalism says:

    @Ben Franklin: I want to see Lincoln so badly, but I had to settle for Liz and Dick. Life hates me.

  67. 67
    Bubba Dave says:

    My new apartment has a stove with a light that says “Hot surface” and that light stays on for many minutes after I turn the burner off. I’m not sure whether I’m glad to have an appliance smarter than I am or embarassed because I actually need it.

  68. 68
    👽 Martin says:

    Trying to get a bit of work done, and put something mindless on the TV in the background.

    Red Dawn is a much, much worse movie than I remember. Why did the Russians invade a town with maybe 1000 people? And manage to put tanks and AAA down on day one? And why would they waste an RPG on a high school?

    I blame this film for Charlie Sheen turning out the way that he did.

  69. 69
    Alison says:

    Is this a new record for length of time between posts?

    Hi, I’m bored. Almost sleep time though.

  70. 70
    Josie says:

    My youngest son is a musician, currently writing snd producing in a small way and playing guitar for other producers. Here is a youtube page with clips of his covers of some interesting guitar solos.

  71. 71
    polyorchnid octopunch says:

    Hey folks. Here’s a song I put together for a short film:

    I recorded and played the leads on these recordings:

  72. 72
    JustPeachyAndYou says:

    OMG, Kathy Mar! I sang with her in a gig with her at the People’s Fair in Denver in 1979 or so. I was a replacement singer at the last minute. She wan’t kidding about having a huge voice — the only reason my lyric soprano could be heard was the miracle of microphones. Considering her hand-to-mouth existence at the time, I’m kind of surprised she’s still kicking.

  73. 73
    Ken J. says:

    “An APA (or a fanzine) is a blog with staples.”

    It has been fun seeing so many SF fans from my childhood pop up in new contexts.

    The difference in transitioning from SF fandom to online, for me, was realizing that: in SF fandom, when there was maliciousness, there was a reason for it. It wasn’t until online that I encountered people who treated malice as sport.

  74. 74

    I write electronic music of various flavors, including dance. I even released a CD (remember those?). You can listen and buy my stuff (if you are so inclined) from,, iTunes, and all the rest of the usual joints.

    I go by Avian Waves.

    If you email me and say you are from BJ, I’ll mail you as many free CDs as you luke for the cost of shipping only. Offer expires when i feel like it and such.

  75. 75
    catclub says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent): Especially if it is not true!

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