Wednesday, 21 February 2024
Current Site
Hotel Info
Registration Form
Progress Reports
Program Book
Convention Flyer
Music Server
Contact Us
Guest of Honor : Jeff and Maya Bohnhoff
Jeff and Maya Bonhoff Jeff and Maya go way back with each other. I mean climb in the Tardis and set the controls for antiquity back. Their paths first crossed in the summer of 1975, when a very young Jeff moved to Nevada County, CA. He saw Maya's acoustic band Dayspring perform at the local county fair. He recalls liking their music, but thinking they were kind of "hippyish". It was probably all the draping, flowing white natural fibers and long, straight hair. Later, that same day, while watching another band, a rain shower broke out. He jumped up on stage to help them get their equipment under cover, and in the course of conversation mentioned (quite humbly, to be sure) that he could actually play the guitar solo from Stairway to Heaven. Much disbelief was expressed, until he got out his guitar and showed them. He was immediately invited to replace the current lead guitarist, who had wandered off. Rock and roll can be a cruel business.

Geologic ages passed, and three years later, Jeff's new band Moria was performing at that very same county fair. Moria's repertoire consisted of very heavy rock for the time – lots of Rush, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin covers. Jeff was greatly surprised to see Maya and her two remaining bandmates in the crowd during the set, and was even more surprised when they came up to the stage afterward to compliment the band. Turns out they weren't the granola loving hipsters he had originally thought.

The very next year, Maya and the rest of her band Talisman came again to see Moria perform at the Nevada County Fair, where all important events seem to happen. You can look it up. In fact, use this article as a primary source document – QED, case closed. Tautology is fun. This was the band's "farewell" gig, as the drummer and bass player were both leaving town immediately after the performance to go on Mormon missions, or maybed to rescue an orphanage for some nuns as a "mission from God". He forgets. Anyway, after the set, Maya invited Jeff to come see Talisman play the next night. At this point, Talisman was a trio, playing a combination of electric and acoustic rock music – much different than Dayspring both musically and sartorially. After the set, Jeff went up to talk to Maya. At this point, Maya and her band knew they needed a lead guitarist to really play the music they wanted to play. She recalls that they had agreed to ask another guitarist friend to sit in with them for a big upcoming benefit concert they had booked. As it so happened, that friend was also standing at the front of the stage next to Jeff after the set. Maya remembers thinking she should ask the other guy to sit in as agreed, but for some reason instead she asked Jeff. The rest, as they say is "hysteria". Jeff ended up joining the band, and they have been playing music together ever since.

Over the next several years Jeff and Maya, and the band went through many changes. Jeff and Maya married in 1981. They played Top 40 rock in the finest dives northern California had to offer. They "compromised their art" for money, except that somehow there was lots of "compromise", but little "money". At one gig Maya received piles of love letters on cocktail napkins from a very sad young man. At another, a very enthusiastic guy tried to convert Maya to Christianity, and when that didn't work, suggested she spend the night with him. When Maya mentioned casually that she and Jeff were in fact married, he offered that God had told him it was "okay". In other words, they were leading the typical life of young newlyweds. In one notable incident Maya showed her deep love for Jeff by telling a 6 and half foot tall, leather clad, and very amorous biker he would "have to go through Jeff" to "get close to her". Such good memories.

In the mid-eighties, having tired of the merry-go round of band member comings and goings, Jeff and Maya decided to perform as a duo. Jeff hijacked Maya's PC and began to arrange their music using MIDI software and an arsenal of synthesizers to accompany his electric guitar and Maya's vocals. The setup became so complex, it took several hours to setup for each performance, but the fact that literally dozens of people showed up for their shows more than made up for it. During this period, Maya started to write seriously, and in 1989 she sold Hand Me Down Town to Analog magazine, the first of many appearances in that magazine. Stan Schmidt, the editor of Analog suggested that Maya attend the 1990 Nebula awards weekend in San Francisco, and as a result Jeff and Maya had their first brush with filk music, although they didn't know it at the time (cue ominous music).

At a party in the SFWA suite at the San Francisco Hyatt, Jeff was very busys being starstruck meeting many of his childhood science fiction heroes – writers like Poul Anderson and Robert Silverberg. Fortunately, he was distracted from fan boy effusion by the sound of music coming from a back bedroom, where he found Dr. Jane Robinson, Cynthia McQuillin and Anne Scarborough playing and singing. Jeff was immediately impressed by the funny songs (especially the parodies), but at the time did not realize that this was filk music, nor that it was something that happened at conventions regularly. Over the next several years, Jeff and Maya attended many cons, but somehow entirely missed filk entirely, that is, until 1995.

By this time, truth be told, Jeff was a little bored with cons. For Baycon 1995, he decided to bring his newly purchased Taylor guitar along to amuse himself while Maya did her panels. When they walked into the Green room to pick up their badges and Maya's schedule, Kathy Mar (who Jeff did not know at the time) spotted Jeff's guitar and planted herself in front of him. "You play music?" "Umm, yeah..." "Want to play a concert tonight?" "Uh, okay...." That evening, before they played, they found Jane and Cynthia backstage. Jane grinned and gave Jeff a big hug. "I wondered when we would see you again!" Now, at this point, they had no filk music in their repertoire, but the audience didn't seem to mind, and that evening they participated in their first filk circle. They were immediately hooked, and have been actively filking ever since.

Since then, Jeff and Maya have been guests at many cons all over the US and the world, including the 20th UK Filk Con, FilkContinental (Germany), FilkOnatrio (Canada), OVFF, GaFilk, Consonance, Concertino (floating east coast filk con) and ConChord. In 2003 they won the Pegasus award for Best Parody for their song Knights in White Satin, and another in 2005 for Best Performer.

They have released 3 albums of parody music, and 2 of their original music. Jeff has also produced albums for Seanan McGuire, Harmony Heifers, and Nancy Freeman. He is currently working on albums with Mary Crowell and Seanan. Maya's 2011 Star Wars novel Shadow Games, written in collaboration with Michael Reaves, debuted in the New York Times top 25.

© 2006-2013