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Barry and Sally Childs-Helton

Barry Childs-Helton Sally Childs-Helton

Barry and Sally Childs-Helton have been exploring creative realms in fandom for 20+ years. After graduate school - studying (respectively) folklore and ethnomusicology - they started going to SF cons together in 1982. Establishing a home base in Indianapolis, they were soon masquerading at cons (often with concept-driven shtick and taped soundtracks) - but by the mid-'80s they were already migrating to the Filking Side of the Force - he as a singer/songwriter/guitarist, she as a songwriter/percussionist. Their first recording projects appeared (by a now-forgotten magic) on cassette in 1987 and '89. Shortly afterward, the studio tapes for both projects disappeared into the archives of Hit City Studio in Indianapolis; rescue expeditions were summarily eaten by analog dragons. Bill and Gretchen Roper would later collect (and, as needed, re-record) Barry's and Sally's originals from the cassette projects on CD ("Tempus Fugitives," Dodeka Records).

By the mid-'90s, Barry and Sally had joined the Black Book Band for a filk-rock assault on Midwestern cons. Results included some mutant versions of well-known tunes, some silly SF parodies, electric arrangements of filk classics, a live CD ("First Contact," Dodeka Records), and a 20-minute prototype version of Barry's song cycle of interstellar migration, "Dream of a Far Light." Time, circumstances, and geography scattered BBB before they could do a studio project, but in 2002, Barry and Sally auditioned (he on bass and guitar, she on percussion) for the eclectic-Celtic then-duo Wild Mercy (Jen Midkiff on harp and vocals, Debbie Gates on keyboards and vocals). As a mob of four, Wild Mercy began blending filk, rock, folk, jazz, and choral influences with eclectic Celtic repertoire at cons. Then, after releasing two CDs ("Summer Storm" and "Furious Fancies"), Jen, Debbie, and Sally expressed interest in recording "Dream of a Far Light" in its entirety. Which meant Barry had to finish it. He did, they did, and the complete CD was released in 2008. Barry's songwriting was nominated for a Pegasus Award and Wild Mercy was nominated for a Best Performer Pegasus, both in 2008. Two of Sally's songs ("Cosmic Drain" and "Galactic Personals") have aired on The Dr. Demento Show.

Meanwhile, back in the-world-called-real-for-lack-of-a-better-word, Barry edits computer books for a major publisher and Sally pursues an academic career as archivist/librarian/adjunct faculty at a small liberal-arts college. Their house bristles with bookshelves. Their basement is a home for wayward instruments. They're likely to keep all this up for as long as they can get away with it.

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