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Scottish Association of Magical Societies Annual Convention 2009

Scottish Association of Magical Societies Annual Convention
1st May-3rd May 2009
Website: http://www.scottishassociationofmagicalsocieties.co.uk/

Review by Paul James

The Scottish Association of Magical Societies was formed in 1951 to represent the various magical clubs of Scotland at a national level. Since 1952 it has held an annual convention event for the benefit of association’s members. This year the convention was held in Montrose on the east coast of Scotland, where the the organising committee continued the tradition of creating an open and friendly convention. Although a small convention my first visit to this event was a very enjoyable experience and one which I look forward to repeating in subsequent years.

Despite being programmed for 3 days, the event is actually about a day and and half long, with Friday being a welcome dinner and Sunday finishing at 1.00pm followed by a farewell lunch. Nothing is rushed and you won’t miss a single event if you don’t want to. Unlike the larger conventions, you can just go with the flow and you will end up attending everything.

On Saturday the day started with a dealer demonstration from Razzamatazz, Jimmy Craig, Tommy Cooper Magic, Bill McLeod, Adrian Sullivan and Lydia Ashby. For those of us use to the excesses of Blackpool this was a much smaller assembly but I still managed to spend money on new and interesting things. We are after all magicians and always have room on the shelf for one more effect or gimmick.

The second event of the day was a closeup session with a number of 10 minute acts presented by invited members and guests. Of note were Michael Neto from Kilmarnock Magic Circle with his precise coin work and engaging demeanour, but special mention also goes to Michael Pearce with his entertaining ring on rope routine.

Next we were given a lecture by children’s magician Ron Popple. Ron has been doing his show for many years and was very happy to advise and share is experiences. Ron is a very funny chap and clearly loves what he does. Although I’m not a kid’s magician it is always useful to learn from other disciplines as you never know what you might pick up.

We then moved to the Montrose Town Hall for the Stage competition and the Children’s Magic competition. There were some good acts and some not so good acts, but we spent a good 2 hours being entertained in one way or another. Later that evening we returned to the Montrose town hall for the Gala Show. The show had a good mix of acts with Ron Popple pulling the whole show together in his role of compere. Of all the acts I’d like to mention one in particular. He was introduced by Ron Popple as one of the best jugglers in the business. On stage walks Michael Pearce the older gentleman (sorry Michael) who did the ring on rope routine earlier in the day. He then proceeded to tell a series of humourous stories and anecdotes while expertly executing as wide a variety of juggling skills than I have seen in a single act. Special mention should also go Graham Lee a balloon twister for his classics of magic done with balloons. His balloon linking rings was very entertaining as was the whole evening. Despite the lack of Blackpool feel and usual crowd, I did manage to drink till around 4.00am, so somethings don’t really change between conventions.

The next day we started with the closeup competition which was well attended and had an excellent performance area. Of note were Michael Neto again with his coin work and excellent cutting routine. Michael (unsurprisingly) went on to win the competition as well as the innovation award.

The room was quickly cleared to make way for a lecture on balloon twisting by Graham Lee. I do the odd balloon for charity events and this lecture was one of the highlights for me. Graham is not only very entertaining but would happily answer any questions raised. He presented a number of models which I had never seen before and will be using the very next chance I get. His latex origami and flower in balloon were were of particular note, although I doubt many of us will ever attempt them.

After this lecture we all went off to have lunch and returned for the prize giving. This was personally exciting for me as one of my very good friends had entered the Children’s magic competition. I pleased to say that he won, so well done Pete.

I really enjoyed my few days at SAMS. My only regret is that I did not take more time to meet the other members of the clubs who attended. I suspect this is one of the main benefits of participating in this particular convention. I look forward to meeting all the members in 2010 in Greenock.

I have high hopes for the SAMS convention in future years not just because of the current lack of local conventions but because of the enthusiasm of the people involved. This years President, Ricky Mcleod visited a large number of the clubs promoting the association and convention in Scotland. The new president George Colvan has committed to continuing these efforts. The SAMS convention is small and perfectly formed, but may achieve so much more in the very near future.

Paul James is a member of the Forth Valley Magic Circle (http://www.forthvalleymagic.co.uk) where he regularly performs his card to floor routine. He is a contributor to The Devil’s Picturebook blog http://www.thedevilspicturebook.com and can be contacted by email at paul@thedevilspicturebook.com.