Thank you, Readercon!

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Jul 192013

As the post-Readercon reports come in, it seems the consensus is that A Most Readerconnish Miscellany was a great success! (See here and here, and many of the tweets on the #Readercon hashtag.) Sassafrass opened the evening with Somebody Will, and we were followed by an incredible variety of wonderful performances.

Sandry, Kara, Lila, Ruth, and Tili, singing Somebody Will.

Sandry, Kara, Lila, Ruth, and Tili, singing Somebody Will.

Thanks so much to fellow performers C.S.E. Cooney, Daniel José Older, Caitlyn Paxson, Sonya Taaffe, Cat Valente, Andrea Hairston, Pan Morigan, John Kessel, Therese Ann Fowler, and Jeanne Beckwith, and hats off to Cooney again and to Mike Allen for their stellar appearances as emcees. Together we raised over $1,000 for the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center and Operation Hammond. Readercon was a lovely audience and we are delighted to have been able to bring our music to a new venue!

Songs in the Key of π

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Aug 202012

Some pie at Pi-Con!

We have returned happily from Enfield, CT, where the Boston Contingent of Sassafrass performed at this year’s Pi-Con! The concert featured some of our newer Norse songs– Kara and Emily dueting on “Abandoned,” as well as our full-group Sundown finale, “Longer in Stories Than Stone.” We also brought back some very old favorites, like “For You Are the Wind,” and “All the Time in the World,” and closed with a full-group rendition of “Somebody Will,” dedicated to the Mars Rover Curiosity. Stay tuned– we hope to post videos from the concert to our YouTube channel by the end of the week!

We’d like to thank everyone who helped us this weekend, especially Peter Ellis for his splendid work in organizing and making everything happen, as well as our Stranger Ways colleague Nat Budin for all his technical help with the panel we presented on Sunday morning on audio recording and multi-tracking. And it was, as always, great to see so many new and familiar faces in the audience at our concert, and at the Filk 101 panel on Saturday morning. We’re looking forward to seeing you all again at Arisia, if not before!

To keep people up-to-date, we’re also happy to announce the rejuvenation of our Twitter account, @sassafrassmusic.  Please follow us there for all the latest news on concerts, recording, videos, new songs, and everything else you might want to know!

Sundown Story Cycle Play to Debut at Balticon 2013

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Jun 102012

Big news!  Sassafrass will be the Featured Filkers and our composer, Ada Palmer, the Musical Guest of Honor at Balticon 2013, the Maryland Regional Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention, Memorial Day Weekend May 24-27.

This will be more than just another concert, however.  At Balticon we will perform on stage, for the first time, Sundown: Whispers of Ragnarok, a Norse Mythology story song-cycle, staged as a play with costumes and characters.  Here our completed set of Norse myth songs will be woven together into a narrative, tracing the rise and fall of the Norse cosmos, and focused on the death of Baldur and the strife between Odin and Loki which leads to Ragnarok.  The play will be narrated and the stories presented by cast members representing the two major authors of our surviving Icelandic myth primary sources: Snorri Sturlson, author of the Prose Edda, and the Seeress who narrates the Völuspá or Seeress’s Prophecy, one of the core sections of the anonymous Poetic Edda.

Sassafrass is especially excited to debut our finished project at Balticon, since it was the enthusiasm and encouragement of the Balticon community which encouraged Sassafrass to start performing again when the group had effectively ceased to exist for a few years.  We are delighted for this opportunity to give back to the community which helped us get this far.

One goal of the kickstarter will be to fund more authentic Viking costumes for the play. Also, hopefully someday we will manage a group photo with the whole group together.

We aim to release the finished Sundown: Whispers of Ragnarok CD at the same time, over Memorial Day weekend 2013.  Because the music is so complicated and its mythological references sometimes subtle, we want the CD to have a thorough lyrics booklet, with the complete lyrics for all the parts in all the songs along with notes explaining the mythology.  Because this will make the CD an expensive project, we are planning to use Kickstarter to raise money to help us cover costs for this and the play production.  We aim to launch the Kickstarter in Fall 2012, and will be very grateful for support from our friends to help us make this project a success.  If you want to be notified about the kickstarter, please subscribe to our updates here, or like us on Facebook.

Fantastic Balticon 2012!

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May 102012

This is not actually us at Balticon, but getting excited for it at an earlier concert.

Sassafrass had a great time at Balticon! No concert this year, but we performed at open filk circles on both Saturday and Sunday nights. We performed, in no particular order: Hearthfire; Sapphire, Ruby, and Gold; the Futhark Song; A Proper Mermaid Tail; Caravan; and Somebody Will.

Friday night, we had a chance to celebrate once more with Mark and Barbara, and see how happy they are in their new life together. Much of the weekend was spent in pleasant company, good games, and interesting panels, for the most part. But we did get a chance to see three concerts, all of which were spectacular. Heather Dale and Ben Deschamps, the Music GoHs this year, were spectacular as always, and it was great to hear some of the music from their newest album. S.J. “Sooj” Tucker gave an amazing performance. Each set of performers backed up the other, and it was awesome to see them work together so beautifully. The other great concert we experienced was the Chromatics, a delightful group of NASA scientists who are also a professional a cappella (in this case, “astro cappella”) group. We got a chance to talk to them after the concert, and were able to perform “Somebody Will” for them – one of the more appropriate audiences we’ve ever had for that song. Thanks again to the members of the group for the music exchange!

Huge thanks also goes to Gary Erlich, the Balticon filk chair, who sat down with us on a busy Saturday night for a long meeting to hammer out the logistics for next year’s concert – the complete Sundown cycle, on stage. Keep watching this space for more news on that concert and see the post above this one for more about Balticon 2013!

Thanks again to the entire Balticon staff and membership community, for a wonderful weekend.

Vericon Concert & Auction Great Success

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Mar 272012

The Forces of Evil at the Charity Auction

Our concert at Harvard’s Vericon was a great success.  We debuted our new six part Sundown finale piece, and were delighted by how many friends in the audience joined in on singing Somebody Will.

In addition, Sassafrass was delighted to be a part of the first Vericon Charity Auction, which raised $3,500 for Doctors Without Borders.  The “Doctors Without [Spatio-Temporal] Borders” auction was themed around Doctor Who, with two hosts dressed as the 10th and 11th Doctors.  We auctioned a CD with our recent rough tracks of the Sundown pieces still in production, as well as a fun tote bag with Sundown-themed images.  Ada served as the primary auctioneer.  One of the auction items was a cardboard version of Thor’s hammer, left over from the MST3K mocking of the deeply MST3K-worthy film Almighty Thor. Ada in her persona as Loki fought valiantly to win the hammer and bring about Ragnarok, and the crowd came forward forming first a coalition of Good to stop her, then a coalition of evil to aid her.  In the final fervor, the hammer sold for $700 to the forces of good, who trounced Loki, prevented Ragnarok, and made a fantastic contribution to bringing medical aid to the corners of the world most in need of it.

Loki's pledge to secure the Hammer

Auctioneer and Doctor can't believe when the bid hits $300

Loki eggs on the forces of darkness.

The Forces of Good (plus Tony) prevail!

Sassafrass at Vericon 2012 (March 18)

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Feb 272012

Sassafrass will give a one hour concert at Vericon this year, on Harvard University Campus (Cambridge MA) Sunday March 18th, circa 2:30 PM  (may move forward or back by half an hour).

We’re delighted to be able to return to Vericon, and scheduling and the whims of the airline-fare-setting gods mean that Ada, Matt and Alexa will be able to fly in and join the Boston Sassafrass group for an extra-large concert.

Our current planned set list (subject to change) includes “Ice & Fire“, “My Brother, My Enemy“, “Abandoned“, the new 3-part trio version of “A New World” (Frigg’s song), “Somebody Will“, and the debut of a very special new piece, part of the Sundown cycle, a recent composition which Ada hinted at in the fall.  All we’ll say about it is that it’s in six part harmony and we’re racing to master it in time so we can give our Vericon friends a taste of what to expect when the complete Sundown launches in Spring 2013.  In fact, given how hard it is to get enough of us together, this is likely to be the only performance of this piece in 2012.  We hope you’ll join us and enjoy.

Arisia 2012 encore concert

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Jan 112012

That’s right, Sassafrass will not be performing only once but TWICE at Arisia 2012! In addition to our main concert on Saturday night at 8pm, we will be rejoining Stranger Ways for an encore concert on Sunday at 6pm. This is a shorter show that will reprise some selections from our Saturday concert, as well as possibly bringing back some old favorites that we couldn’t get to on Saturday. We hope to see you there!

Arisia 2012 concert

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Dec 142011

Once again, Sassafrass Boston will be performing at this upcoming Arisia!

The concert will be held from 8-10pm on Saturday, January 14th, 2012.  This will be a joint concert: we will perform alternating sets and a few joint pieces with our friends Stranger Ways.  Along with old favorites, the Sassafrass portion will feature the two latest songs from Sundown, “Abandoned” and “A New World,” both new to Arisia.

You will need a membership for the convention to attend the concert.  You can register beforehand or purchase a day pass at the door.  For more information, visit

Sassafrass at the Ohio Valley Filk Festival

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Oct 212011

It’s OVFF weekend.  Three of our members, Alexa, Lauren and Matt, have managed to make it out to the festival this year.

Tonight we’re performing our two nominated songs, Somebody Will and My Brother My Enemy, in the Pegasus concert.  It’s a real honor getting to take part in such a great centerpiece of the Filk community.  And we can’t wait to see so many old friends again.

We also have a new piece to debut at Open Filk this weekend, the newly-completed three part harmony version of A New World a.k.a. Frigg’s song.  Ada finished it only a couple weeks ago, so this will be its first performance.