Reno Adds Tricky Pixie as Special Guest

Tricky Pixie

Tricky Pixie

The musical group Tricky Pixie has been selected by the Renovation committee as a special guest of the 2011 Worldcon.

A popular group in the Pacific Northwest since it started performing in 2007, its members are S. J. Tucker,  Alexander James Adams and Betsy Tinney, “animated entertainers, capable of taking the listener on a musical journey ranging from Celtic rock, to haunting and bluesy a cappella numbers, to sweetly sung circus lullabies and even to roaring tribal folk songs.”

Their current album is Mythcreants. You can listen to one of the cuts at the 2011 Worldcon website.

The full press release appears after the jump.

Special Guest – Tricky Pixie

Tricky Pixie is a fey fusion of three well-loved, whimsical talents who fearlessly tread the boards and the twilight roads alike, using a wealth of instruments to guide themselves and their listeners along, including all manner of strings, voices, and drums.

S.J. Tucker, Alexander James Adams, and Betsy Tinney are animated entertainers, capable of taking the listener on a musical journey ranging from Celtic rock, to haunting and bluesy a cappella numbers, to sweetly sung circus lullabies and even to roaring tribal folk songs. Accomplished performers individually, SJ, Alec, and Betsy weave even more powerful faery magic when in concert together, and you’re bound to be caught in their spell when you attend a Tricky Pixie concert. In any given performance, they may call forth shipfuls of pirates, dancing satyrs, gypsies in the wood, and all the benefits of a good Beltane fire, rounding out the night with a spicy alligator tango, but you never know quite what you’ll get.

All three members of Tricky Pixie are prolific songwriters, and together they have a vast musical catalog of original tunes – a collective discography of 17 currently available albums. Since their first official show in July 2007, they have released one live album together, and a performance DVD is on the way.

The fame and glamour of Tricky Pixie is spreading quickly through word of mouth and across the internet, and thousands of pre-existing fans of these experienced and well-travelled musicians are eagerly awaiting shows around the world. SJ Tucker has continuously toured the United States since 2004, AJ Adams has extensively toured both North America and Europe, and Tricky Pixie has been performing to regular sold-out and standing-room only shows in the Pacific Northwest since its inception. Renovation will be treated to one of these unique events during an evening saluting the variety of musical talents of fandom.

You can find more information about the magic of Tricky Pixie at S. J. Tucker and Alexander James Adams also have their own websites, at and respectively. The group’s current album is Mythcreants, which can be bought from their website.

For those less familiar with Tricky Pixie’s work, the video below comprises an interview with the group from Orycon 2008, courtesy of Pacific Fen Spotlight – or why not listen to Chickies in the House, from Mythcreants?



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15 thoughts on “Reno Adds Tricky Pixie as Special Guest

  1. Well… why not I suppose. Anticipation had an acrobatic dancer, and I didn’t see any connection with science fiction or the Worldcon then either. But one can amuse oneself by wondering where this trend may lead us someday. Will some Worldcon feature Hannah Montana as a “special guest” in the near future? How about Oprah? Or George W. Bush… I hear he has some free time on his hands.

  2. It would be very easy to find someone better informed about the filk and sf music scene than I am. But it occurred to me to research the individual members of Tricky Pixie in case there might be a reason for honoring a group that started performing together as recently as 2007 besides how much fans like listening to their music. Thanks to Google I learned that two of the band members have a significant history in the sf field. Adams performed as Heather Alexander for 25 years before beginning to tour as Alexander James Adams. And even I recognize that name, whose compositions have woven their way into the literature of S.M. Stirling and Steve Barnes. Also, S. J. Tucker has done several book/CD crossovers with author Catherynne M. Valente.

    I’m not privy to Reno’s strategy, but there may be additional reasons selecting this guest. There’s been a lot of online conversation about how to spotlight the Worldcon and grow it back to the 6-7000 member level. One of the suggestions has been to add more “special guests” that appeal to various subcommunities of fandom and publicize the heck out of them. It’s always possible that would be the rationale for honoring guests who lack that face-on-Mount-Rushmore level of fame. On the other hand, the Reno committee would probably tell everyone that’s what they were doing, so maybe this isn’t their reasoning.

  3. I expect the invitation is primarily because of Mr. Adams, who in filk terms is the equivalent of, say, C. J. Cherryh or Larry Niven in the writing world– well-known and been around seemingly forever at this point. He totally deserves to be a Worldcon GoH.

    As for sf, okay, he does do mostly fantasy– if you’re one of the people who thinks fantasy should have no place at Worldcon, then I have no answer to that.

    (Admittedly, my very first choice for a filk GoH would be Leslie Fish…)

  4. “There’s been a lot of online conversation about how to spotlight the Worldcon and grow it back to the 6-7000 member level. One of the suggestions has been to add more “special guests” that appeal to various subcommunities of fandom and publicize the heck out of them.”

    It used to be that being a Worldcon guest was a reward to honor many years, if not decades, of activity and achievements in the science fiction or fantasy genres. It’s an indication of how much things have changed that Worldcon guests are now being selected the same way a variety show lines up talent.

  5. Leslie Fish has been around for decades, and would be deserving of Worldcon Guest of Honorship, regardless of whether you called her Fan, Filk, or Music GoH.

    Another worldcon might also consider stepping outside of the usual realm of filkers for musical guests to artists like Paul Kantner, Roger McGuinn, or David Crosby, all of whom have been writing science fiction rock for over forty years. Kantner and Crosby were part of a Hugo nomination way back when with the first version of Jefferson Starship for Blows Against the Empire, weren’t they?

    Parenthetically, I noticed in Crosby’s first autobiography that he referred to everybody he knew informally, by their first names, but one: Robert Heinlein was Mr. Heinlein throughout the entire book.

  6. (To be clear, this comment is NOT an official statement from Renovation, but represents my broader view as Chair in 05 and an Advisor for Reno).

    In reply to Taral and especially Rich and Petrea, I think there is some misunderstanding here. Special Guests are not like full Guests of Honor; there has always been significant variation in the way the term is used and indeed in the way they are handled on the Worldcon Long List. (And as it happens I am on the FOLLE committee which looks after the latter, and will raise this issue there).

    Firstly, to Petrea: a Special Guest is typically not the same as a Guest of Honor but in most cases has been someone brought in to add “color” to the convention rather than to honor a lifetime of achievement. There is no doubt that there are criteria for full GoHship and Reno, like most Worldcons, has honored these rigorously.

    The term “Special Guest” has occasionally been used as a way to bill someone who is almost a peer to the GoHs and these have been listed on the LL. But these are few in number: Elsie Wollheim (96), JMS (98, 99), Frankie Thomas (06), Kathy Mar (08) are the only ones in the last 20 years.

    Much more commonly, it’s a promotional tool. In these cases, the term Special Guest could equally be substituted by Special Appearance, Featured Speaker, Special Performance etc. For instance, Mike Jittlov in 95, and David Southwood (ESA Science Director) and Alan Lee in 05. I imagine that Paul Krugman might have had the same treatment this year if his appearance had been certain enough in advance.

    In Reno’s case, Tricky Pixie will be coming along and performing a concert. As a group, they are clearly filk/fantasy oriented, and their members have collaborated with people like Mercedes Lackey and Catherynne Valente. Arguably a comparable pedigree in the field to Kathy Mar, honoured last year, perhaps? And AJ Adams has been around for 20+ years so hardly new either.

    I see this as quite different to the acrobatic dancer from Montreal (much as I thought that was a great performance) – that was simply a display / performance, not someone who would “mean something” and have a clear fan base amongst the members – and I understand that Tricky Pixie have a very large fan base in the West and North-West, and have performed at many conventions, which again is an important indicator.

    Personally I am disappointed with some of Rich’s language in your comments. I’m quite happy to engage in a rational debate over how to promote Worldcon more effectively, but a reasoned discussion isn’t helped if we’re going to start with hyperbole and work down from there.

    FWIW my own view is that we need to hold the line on Guests of Honor very firmly – these are lifetime achievement awards. But we need to do a much better job of recognising the increasing diversity of the genre these days. 30 years ago that was about media; now it’s about media, graphic novels (witness new Hugo), YA as almost a separate market in its own right, anime and gaming.

    I know there is no consensus but my own view is that we can do more to reflect this diversity WHILE remaining a lit centered con. (I am certainly not in the “let’s copy SDCC to succeed” camp – but neither am I an ostrich). And the irony is that we’ve always had some broader activity going on (hell, I remember being at the Hawkwind concert in 87 in Brighton) but we don’t do much to promote it and connect it to the potential audience.

    Colin Harris

  7. The “Long List” does show that there have not been all that many “special” guests. The first was in 1987 when Dave Langford was billed as “Special Fan Guest”. After that there was Elsie Wollheim in 1996, J. Michael Straczynski in 1998, Straczynski again in 1999, Frankie Thomas in 2006, and Kathy Mar in 2008 (as “Special Music Guest”). My feeling is that a guest is a guest, and the Long List shouldn’t be purged of anyone designated as “special”. (Or made into a footnote, like the Toastmasters have unfortunately become, even though they are also invited guests.)

    I regret that you found some of my comments filled with hyperbole. I agree that a Worldcon Guest of Honor should be a lifetime achievement honor and your thought that Tricky Pixie could perhaps be shown as “Special Performance by…” instead of “Special Guest” is a good idea that should be considered.

  8. Hi Rich, I suspect our posts crossed in the moderating queue 🙂

    We have both quoted the current Specials per the LL. My point was that there HAVE been other people who have been listed as Special Guests at the time, but they don’t appear in the LL (like Lee and Southwood in 2005) and I’m not clear who decided on the distinction. I’m certainly not suggesting we purge people marked as Special – just noting that the term has not been used consistently by conventions nor reflected consistently in the LL.

    I think where we differ is in your comment that “a Guest is a Guest”. My own view is that the phrase “Guest of Honor” is the key one, and the one which has been used most consistently, rather than just the word “Guest”. I know that mileage varies here as with Toastmasters though.

    I am personally quite happy with the term Special Guest being used to signify someone who we want to publicise “above the title” as a special invitee to the con, but who is not really suitable for a “Guest of Honor” position. To take an arbitrary example, Neil Armstrong …

    As with so many things, part of the problem is that we have loaded up certain terms within Smofdom in a way that doesn’t help us externally (or even with the bulk of attending members). I think “Special Guest” is something that the average person would understand better than some alternative terms, and at the end of the day I *always* feel that if Smoffish ways are making it harder to attract or communicate with the broader base of fandom, then its the Smoffish ways that should change, rather than that we insist on purity and make it harder to build our event.


  9. I understood from the start that a “special guest” was not the same as a GoH, and that Tricky Pixie was the former.

    Nor did I mean to imply I had any objections, if anyone thought so. My comparison of Tricky Pixie to the dancer at Anticipation was in full knowledge of a difference, but also to point out that what is fair for one is fair for the other.

    As for any issues that have arisen, I admit this has given me much food for thought. *What if* a GoH were chosen on the basis of their accomplisment in filk singing? This is an area of fandom I’m totally blind to and find unappealing. My inclination is to regard it as a peripheral activity to fandom. Yet some fans would probably object that filking is a lot more central to the convention experience that some myopic misanthrope squatting in front of a keyboard, banging out his opinions on fan politics for the next issue of File 770. Each to his own. I won’t say what conclusions I’ve come to… I’m not sure I have come to any. But it’s a question worth thinking about.

  10. “Myopic misanthrope squatting in front of a keyboard.” That’s *me* by the way. Not Mike — though he might own up to it as well if it pleases him.

  11. Inviting an actor from a number of science fiction films would set a precedent whose implications are hard to predict. Regardless of whether Ms. Weaver is a good actor or her films good SF, it would open the door to having the third Cylon from the left, or the red shirt who died in the such-and-such episode, as a special guest of the Worldcon. Are we that desparate for larger attendences?

  12. Continuing my point from before, and responding to Taral’s respond to David on Sigourney Weaver. I would have no problem with her being a Special Guest – but I would not ever see her as a GoH.

    Here’s what I mean about labels. At LACon IV there were a number of Trek people present and they had a pretty good audience. For someone like me, who likes (most) Trek, but not enough to go to a Trek-specific con, it was cool to see Walter Koenig, Marina Sirtis and so on, and to talk to some of them close up. I think a lot of “generalist” fans like myself probably felt the same. And I would have been quite relaxed about how they were billed and promoted – up to and including Special Guests.

    I personally think the issue is rather that we’ve made things hard by billing people as Special Guests who we then treat as Guests of Honor. I think if we were clear and consistent in using the GoH term, we’d be more relaxed about Special Guest carrying less baggage. (For instance, Kathy Mar was treated as a GoH in Denver as far as I could tell; why wasn’t she just billed as one. And Rick Sternback is billed as “Artist Guest” rather than “Artist GoH” – does that mean he wasn’t actually a GoH at all?).

    Language matters. I think we’d be wise to keep the term GoH really clean, to make it clear that it’s GoHs that are covered by the selection criteria and that are really the lifetime recognition award.

    And to Rich – whilst I said earlier I wouldn’t purge Specials from the Long List, on reflection I wish that the ones who were “really” de facto GoHs had been billed as such, and that we could draw a clearer line. We don’t want to drop Mar, Langford or Wollheim from the LL – but we also have others billed as Specials at the time who are not listed there, so we have dug a bit of a hole for ourselves!


  13. Taral, there’s a major difference in terms of a worldcon Special Guest or Special GoH between a major star who has headlined dozens of films, including some of the most successful and acclaimed films in the genre in the most recent thirty years and indicates a personal interest in and enthusiasm for the genre, and to paraphrase, “the third redshirt from the left who got killed in episode such and such,” and I’m surprised that you either aren’t seeing that difference or are ignoring it for the sake of argument.

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