is the nucleus and leader of the vibrant fannish music scene in St. Louis which has coalesced around him for some 25 years.
Gary has served as filk chair at Archon since 1990. In that time he persuaded the con to provide a room for open filking, and later, a room for concerts. To introduce the wider con membership to filk, he staged a round robin concert that became an annual event. Later, he negotiated having a Filk GoH every 3 years, alternating with other interests. With Gary’s guidance, filk came into its own at Archon, gaining memberships for the convention, and giving the Concom positive feedback about filking.. After 20 years Gary was hoping to hand over his position to his trainee. When that person suddenly passed away, Gary stayed in the job because he cares more about having a filk track at Archon than he does about finally getting a break from it. He also ran the filk track for the five year run of Show Me Con.
Gary was instrumental in implementing the St. Louis House Filks. He helped organize the first one in May of 2009 and they have continued every other month since then.
He is a stellar performer both of voice and guitar as well as several other instruments including accordion. A quick study, he learned all the material required in just two days when a guest at Archcon needed a backup performer. Gary has released two excellent CD’s of his songs, both original material and parodies. One of the original songs, “Grandfather”, won a Pegasus in 2015. Gary is also known to honour his local friends in song, and they have returned the favour. He also has set others’ lyrics to music.
He encourages filkers new and old to share, and makes sure that people get heard. He is about the music as much as he is the people, and he lifts up both. His encouragement for some opened a whole new world to musical friends who were musical and an outlet for their dreams. Gary selflessly gives of himself through indispensable advice, backing tracks with his wonderful guitar and keyboard playing, and additional vocals. He also gives great support to the individual members of the filk community, on personal issues. He has mentored many and his patience knows no bounds.
A humble man, he is not only a filk artist, but a pioneer for the filk community and an example to us all. For these contributions to filk music and the filk community, Gary Hanak is inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame this 22nd day of April two thousand seventeen.
Photo: Phil Mills