LepreCon 29



$35 until 4/15/04
$40 at the door
Kids 7-12 half price,
Six and under Free 
with Adult Membership 
Online Registration

Mail in Reg Form   


LepreCon 30
PO Box 26665 Tempe, AZ 85285
(480) 945-6890
Email: Lep30@LepreCon.org

   Music and Filk

Music Guest of Honor - Mara Brener
(Sponsored by the Phoenix Filk Circle)

Mara Eve Berlin Brener was born in State College, Pennsylvania the day after the Broadway opening of “New Faces of ‘52“. Her parents were Brooklynites, but did not sound it, having been both speech majors and actors. Mara first picked up the autoharp in nursery school, and has been picking it up and putting it down ever since.

The growing up years involved lots of folksongs, show tunes, and Gilbert and Sullivan numbers with piano-playing Dad, who also introduced Mara to the records of Tom Lehrer, Victor Borge, Stan Freberg, and Allen Sherman. (In the event that you are too young for these names to mean anything, think “Weird Al Yankovic“.) The influence of multiple years of the perverse repertoire of Girl Scout camps also had its effect. In a sixth grade talent show, she tied with the Beatles.

An earth-and-space science project assignment in 1970 found Mara concocting a bawdy ballad about the metamorphism of the local Tuscarora quartzite, until an emergency at NASA brought a change of course. “The Ballad of Apollo 13“ (though NOT the song you know by that name) earned an “A“, and had the further distinction of being Mara's first filksong, although she was not to learn the word “filk“ for another fourteen years.
Mara Brener
At the Penn State University, Mara studied art education, hung with the Penn State Folklore Society when she could find it, sang in the odd coffee house, and met Dr. Harry Brener, whom she eventually married. Through the next few years in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Harry took postgraduate medical training while Mara decorated ice cream cakes and made occasional musical appearances in clubs, festivals, and private parties, until they ultimately landed in southern California for the weather.

When the first annual Summer Solstice Dulcimer Festival was held in 1981, Mara basically took over the bawdy songs workshop, and in subsequent years was either put on staff for that event or asked to assist by others who were, until recent political correctness removed it from the schedule. She continues to attend the festival, now in its 22nd year, and known as the Summer Solstice Folk Music, Dance, and Storytelling Festival.

In 1984 the Breners attended their first science fiction convention; LACon II in Anaheim, for the once-in-a-lifetime Star Wars Trilogy Marathon. They chanced upon the word “filksinging“ on the schedule, and spent most of the rest of the con in the indicated room. Of further note, during the same hours that the above-mentioned Marathon was going on, Mara was also, via cassette, making her debut on KPFK Radio's occasional “Smut Unlimited“ program, with a six-hour hit song that you will only hear if you catch the midnight bawdy songs circle.

Contacts made there led to publication of songs by both song-writing Breners in “The Philk Phenomenon“, and the marvelous experience of ConChord II in 1985. Later that year, daughter Madeline was born. There is no known connection, But Maddy has shown herself to be an excellent singer, song-writer, poet, speechie, and actor for much of her eighteen years.

ConChord III brought the first Totally Tasteless and Tacky Review, wherein Mara performed the two songs rumored to have been one of the inspirations for the event. However that may be, the TT&T continues faithfully to this day, and Mara continues to contribute, often accompanied by her husband and/or daughter.

The Breners live in Arcadia, California, and when not filking, Mara helps Harry in his medical practice, teaches after-school art classes, watches and discusses spiritualistic fantasy TV shows with Maddy, and does paintings on canvas, paper, and rocks. This is the first time Mara has ever been a convention Guest-of-Honor, and she is thrilled to pieces, and delighted to be able to visit this home of history, Native American culture, and Leslie Fish. She wishes to thank all of the present and past southern California filkers for their positive vibes, and hope everyone at the con has as much fun as she intends to have.
More details forthcoming on other Filk Activities.

If you have any questions send them to: