The Airship Awards Nominations are Open

Since Steamcon II, the Airship Awards has been an event to recognize the best and most outstanding in the Steampunk subculture. In the inaugural awards banquet, some of the most influential Steampunks were recognized for their contributions to the community, including Jake Von Slatt, the creators of Girl Genius, Alan Moore, Captain Robert and Abney Park as a whole.

Nominations are now open for this year’s Airship Awards are now open for a variety of categories.

My dear friend Jordan Bodewell of Sepiachord has announced his desire to be nominated for the Aural Award which encompasses, “Any aural piece of work, including but not limited to: Bands, songs, musicians, music videos, etc.”

I would like to enthusiastically endorse his quest for this nomination. Jordan and Sepiachord does much for the Steampunk music genre and the many talented and independent artists within it. If you happen to value the wonderful work that Sepiachord does for Steampunk music, please consider going over to the Airship Awards nominations section and writing in Sepiachord into the Aural category.

And while you are there, make sure to make worthy picks for all the other sections. Steampunk has so many wonderful facets, so it’s hard to pick just one representative for each category, but follow your heart and pick the best by your judgement!

Steampunk in Seattle: Blackbird Orchestra This Weekend

For those of you who attended Steamcon II, you might recall a performance by a particularly talented band called Blackbird Orchestra. They closed out the cabaret on Sunday afternoon with some absolutely amazing music.

If you happen to be in Seattle tomorrow and wish to replicate that experience, head down to Fuel tomorrow evening for a performance from the Blackbird Orchestra, The Sins, and Lena Lou.

Tomorrow’s event is a 21+ event. Cover is $7 at the door which is a fantastic deal for Blackbird Orchestra by themselves, let alone two other bands.

To learn more about Blackbird Orchestra, please visit their main website where you can peruse their blog, read about the band, and score some awesome Blackbird swag at their store.  To learn more about tomorrow’s performance and to RSVP, please visit Facebook. I’m planning on being there, and I hope you will be too!

SteamCon II : Steamphunk Synchronic

Even though it’s been months since the end of Steamcon II, there’s still reports and material from the event still trickling in. Today’s blog post features a report done by N’Specter Phillips and Special Agent Cummings of Steamphunk Synchronic, an online magazine focusing on Steampunk events in the greater Northwest.

Ah, it brings back some wonderful memories! If you look closely, you can even see a tiny glimpse of me in the video! Many thanks to Veronique Chevalier, who brought this report to my attention.

Plans are, of course, already underway for this year’s Steamcon, Steamcon III- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which will be held at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue. 

The Steampunk Exhibition Ball

While the Steampunks of Texas will be climbing down the rabbit hole for the Clockwork Wonderland, Steampunks in Seattle will be enjoying another night of revelry at the Museum of History & Industry for the Seattle Steampunk Exhibition Ball.

There will be all sorts of exciting entertainment, from a gaggle of local bands and musicians and hat and mustache competitions, to an absinthe bar and mad scientists!  And rumor has it that there will be dancing too!

The Steampunk Exhibition Ball is a benefit for the Center for Sex Positive Culture. The CSPC is a 501(c)7 dedicated to providing a safe place for adults to explore their sexuality.

Tickets for this year’s Steampunk Exhibition Ball are $25 for general admission, and $75 for general VIP admission which grants access to the VIP lounge, VIP waiter for queue avoidance and gift bags. The $95 Premium VIP Passes that granted up-close parking and performance seating have been sold out, so get the tickets you want fast!

5 Places to Enjoy Steampunk

Steampunk is everywhere nowadays, it seems like, but some places are definitely better than others as far as the local scene is concerned. An article in SFGate recently listed five excellent places one could venture to in an effort to enjoy Steampunk. Though hardly a complete list and leaning heavily on the opportunities on the West Coast in the US, it is an interesting article to see what made SFGate’s top five.

And the winners are:

  1. The Edison in Los Angeles
  2. The Museum of History and Industry in Seattle
  3. Device Gallery in San Diego
  4. Maker Faire in San Mateo County
  5. Gas Works Park in Seattle

It should come as little surprise that Seattle was listed twice in a highlight of Steampunk must-sees, but I sincerely feel as though they have missed some big events.

I think Burning Man is a definitely one place to enjoy the maker aspect of Steampunk that should get a nod. What about the Kinetic Steam Works over in Oakland, CA? And really, there’s nothing worth mentioning in Portland?  I find that hard to believe. What places and events would you add to this list?

Steampunk New Year’s Eve

If you happen to find yourself in Seattle this night before New Year’s Eve pondering how you should spend tomorrow night, allow me to recommend an excellent opportunity for Steampunk revelry, Abney Park’s Steampunk New Year’s Eve.

For a mere 30 dollars preordered, or 35 at the door, you can enjoy an evening of the best in Steampunk entertainment from aerialists and firebreathers to Unwoman and Abney Park. What better way to bring in 2011 than with everyone’s favorite airship pirates? There’s not one.

The Steampunk New Year’s Eve is being held at Studio Seven at 110 South Horton Street, Seattle, WA 98134. The doors open at 8 PM. It’s also a 21 and over event, so the minors will have to stay home for this one.

Personally, I’m planning to spend New Year’s with my beloved airship crew in a small gathering. How are you going to bring in 2011?

Photos from Steamcon II

Today marks a month (already?!) after the close of Steamcon II and while I’d drifted through the past 30 days in a post-convention daze, people have been uploading photos of their own convention exploits to the Flickr photo pool. There’s some great photos here. For those interested in seeing a bit of the convention events, the fashion, or the wonderful people who attended, this is a great resource for having a peek into Steamcon II.

Personally, I’m really glad to see that so many people have contributed to the pool. I got so excited about being at the convention that I didn’t take nearly enough photos of everything that happened while I was there. By the same token, I sincerely doubt I would have taken enough photos to be thoroughly satisfied with the number of photos I did take. At a convention where positively everyone is well dressed, photo opportunities abound.

There’s over one thousand photos in this collection, so kick back with a cup of tea and some steamy music and relive some of Steamcon II.

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Steamcon II The Aftermath

Having arrived safely back in Texas and (sort of) stepped back into my working/blogging/writing/Captaining routine, it’s time for my review of and stories from Steamcon II.

And really, where should I start? To start at the beginning would require starting a week before the con began as I made my trip out to Seattle to do some personal adventuring, but had little to do with the con (but not Steampunk, mind you!). Because I don’t intend to bore you all with a minute by minute account of the convention, I’ve provided below some of the highlights and aspects of Steamcon II.

Panels

When I go to cons, I usually don’t spend a lot of time in panels. I don’t really know why… I think I would rather be interacting with people rather than being talked at, regardless of who the person is. I only attended four panels at Steamcon II, and half of them were focused on some aspect of Steampunk music, though all four that I attended were informative. It is simply my personal preference to take the opportunity of a convention to meet people and interact with them on a more personal level, which is why I spent so much time just lingering in common areas and in the cabaret.

The Grant Mercantile

I visited the Grand Mercantile a few times during the con and met a number of wonderful makers. I don’t think I could have come to the con with enough money in my pocket to support everyone from whom I wished to purchase something. Everyone who was there was incredibly talented and dedicated to Steampunk in their designs. Fortunately, many had business cards available on their tables which I snatched up not only for my own future purchases, but also because I’m hoping to introduce you to some of them here on the blog very soon.

Live Music- The Cabaret and the Outlaw Night Concert

The live music at Steamcon II was the highlight of my convention. Personally, I cannot imagine Steampunk without music, and it was so very refreshing to have such a personal and intimate experience with so many incredibly talented musicians. I, unfortunately, live in an area of the world that has not welcomed the independent music scene. When artists (independent or otherwise) elect to stop in Texas for a night as part of a tour, it is Austin, rather than Dallas, that usually draws them to my state. So for me, it is a very special experience to see so many musicians in one place.

The Cabaret was splendid, providing hours of incredible programming. It was here that I spent the majority of my time at the convention, and it was refreshing to have the opportunity to have some tea and drop by for a few sets and to come and go as I pleased. I also was very impressed at the informality of the cabaret, which allowed for artists and fans to interact in a personal way. Again, I met so many talented musicians in the cabaret and I’m planning to interview some of them here as well so that you can get to know them too!

The Outlaw Night Concert was also an excellent production and consisted of Bakelite 78, Ghoultown, and Abney Park. Despite the scheduling confusion, sound check complications, and a broken instrument, the concert was an enjoyable experience.

Special thanks goes out to Mr. Bodewell of Sepiachord for organizing the vast array of musical offerings at Steamcon II.

The People!

I can’t begin to count all the wonderful people I met at the con. Everyone was so very polite and, not to mention, well dressed. Meeting people is the primary reason why I go to cons, and specifically Steampunk focused conventions. Because Steampunk friendships are often first forged over the internet, it is so refreshing to have everyone step out from behind their monitors for just a little while to meet face to face. I found everyone to be so welcoming and kind that I felt at times overwhelmed by all the amazing people who wanted to have tea/lunch/dinner etc. or just chat with me. Thank you for being so amazingly Steampunk; you rock. My only regret in this respect is that I didn’t get to meet each and every one of you.

The Cons of the Con

Two hotels- For conventions that are large enough, I don’t mind having to walk between two hotels to go to the different programming. Normally, when this is the case, all of a certain type of programming is set in one hotel and another elsewhere. This worked out quite well during A-Kon as two hotels were used for programming and were connected by a sky bridge. For Steamcon II, we had two hotels that were not physically connected to each other in any manner other than general vicinity. This made for some very uncomfortable and chilly walking in between the two locations across a wet and occasionally snowy street.

Next year’s convention is set to be held in the Bellevue Hyatt, a hotel that will likely be able to accommodate everyone, but unfortunately, it’s set out in Bellevue. I like that Steamcon I and II were held at the airport for the sake of out of town travelers, but heck, if we’re going to have a convention run by Seattle Steampunks, why not just have it in Seattle proper? I would have no idea where Bellevue was if ArenaNet wasn’t based there.

No Thursday Registration- Not a real problem, but I’m willing to bet more people would have showed up for the Landing Party and extended my opportunity to chat with people had registration started on Thursday evening.

The possibility of no Cabaret next year- This revelation sincerely troubles me, as this was one of my favorite aspects of the convention. Apparently, because we are trading the number of convention rooms for expanded space in each room, the cabaret is on the chopping block. I can’t begin to articulate how upset I would be if Steamcon III was without a cabaret. If I was still based in Dallas, I would seriously have to ponder whether I would attend a Steamcon that wasn’t held in Seattle and had no cabaret. These two aspects forced me to decide against buying a membership to Steamcon III at the conclusion of Steamcon II. This isn’t to say that I won’t go to Steamcon III, but that I’m waiting for just a bit to see how things are organized for next year.

Overall, I had a splendid time at Steamcon II. It was so special to be surrounded by thousands of Steampunks from all over the nation and the world. I am very much looking forward to seeing what develops for Steamcon III.

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For many more amazing photographs from the convention, check out Steamcon II’s Flickr account.

Steampunk in Seattle

It’s almost time for me to depart for Seattle! Yay! I’ve been pretty useless this week at work. I keep daydreaming about SteamCon and staring off into space. I can’t tell you how desperately I need this vacation.

The goals for trip to Seattle are twofold. One is to attend SteamCon (duh), but the other is explore the city that has become the epicenter for the Steampunk subculture. I am currently in the unique position of having my obligations to Dallas neatly fulfilled come late February and the wanderlust to pack up and move once again is already starting to nudge me out of the borders of this entirely too conservative state.

Seattle seems like the perfect place to settle next. With its agreeable weather, liberal leanings, and pedestrian friendly design, Seattle is an attractive city on its own… but then there’s the Steampunk.

And Steampunk in Seattle is unlike Steampunk anywhere else in the world. If you doubt me, you must read this article about the the Steampunk subculture in Seattle. It’s an impressive work detailing Seattle’s many influential Steampunks and the ways in which they are shaping the subculture around the world. It seems like so much of what is new in Steampunk is all coming straight out of Seattle, and the article delves straight into the many reasons I believe this to be true.

Yes, Seattle seems like a good choice on paper once my obligations to Dallas end in February. I’ll be sure to give you all the full break down of my impressions once I return from my adventures.

I can’t leave soon enough!

A Sepiachord Passport Review

Veronique Chevalier, Mr. Jordan Bodewell, and the people at Projekt Records were kind enough to send me a copy of the recently released A Sepiachord Passport. The album is a compilation of contemporary artists who use pre-modern musical techniques and traditions to create entirely new music.

A Sepiachord Passport is aptly named. Listening to it feels like an adventure through the Steampunk genre. It succeeds in presenting the many facets of Steampunk music in a highly entertaining and engaging manner. It is an anthology of retro-futuristic music that explores the furthest reaches of what Steampunk music could be. From bubbly and optimistic to dark and punky, A Sepiachord Passport is an all-inclusive auditory escapade through the Steampunk genre.

I especially appreciate A Sepiachord Passport’s success in exposing me to some Steampunk and retro-futuristic bands I’ve never heard of previously. Because Steampunk doesn’t have uniform sound, online radio stations like Pandora don’t necessarily help me in discovering new Steampunk music. A Sepiachord Passport succeeds where Pandora fails. And although there is a wide spectrum of sounds, textures, and lyrical images, the composition of the Passport is one that flows smoothly and enjoyably.
Some of my favorite tracks on the Passport included Charlie by the Men Who Will Not Be Blamed for Nothing, Scarlet Carpet Interstate Part One by Nathaniel Johnstone and the Brazilian Surf Mafia, and The Dance Master by Veronique Chevalier.

A Sepiachord Passport comes enthusiastically recommended to Steampunks and other retro-futurists interested in further exploring the vast talent of the artists featured. You can buy it from Projekt Record’s website here where it is currently on sale for 9.98 USD.