Barry and 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.