SAMS Convention, May 1st - 3rd 2015

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SAMS Convention, May 1st - 3rd 2015

Postby magi.history » May 4th, 2015, 6:17 am

It is with disappointment that I review the Scottish Association of Magical Societies (SAMS) Convention, 2015 (Perth, May 1st – 3rd).

It is a shocking indictment of the SAMS organisers that the convention was as poorly organised, attended and executed as it was. That said, the blame does not fall solely at their feet, with the apathy of the Scottish magic circles being blatantly obvious over the course of the weekend also.
From the incredibly low standards set in the various competitions (close-up, stage and kids), to the diverse level of (in)competency in some of the lectures, to the embarrassment of a gala show, to the twice re-scheduling of some performers acts; there was one disappointingly sad moment after another.

This is not to say the weekend was an entire waste of time – several performers did their respective societies (and their country) proud and my hat comes off to you, gentlemen. One of the saving graces was Doc Eason who not only performed wonderfully in his lecture and close-up session, but was highly professional and personable throughout the weekend, taking his time to talk with all attendees and share stories. But the fact that this attendee overheard several people apologise to him / commend him on managing to sit though the various performances, gives a real reflection of the weekend as a whole.

The aforementioned performer mentioned during one of his shows that looking out to the audience there seemed to be only three family names filling the seats. This is what SAMS has come to – it appears to be incestuously created by a certain group of people, for a certain group of people. If you’re not in, then you’re out, and far from being made to feel welcome it was apparent that several people were made to feel distinctly the opposite over the course of the weekend.

It does appear this lack of ambition shown by SAMS is endemic in the various Scottish magical societies too. My plea- If you’re a local club, use your wisdom and experience (there does seem to be a lot) to start supporting and mentoring your younger members in the art of magic – don’t let them embarrass themselves on a stage that they have no right to be on having not been given the guidance they need. If you’re billing yourself as a professional magician, for god’s sake know your limits, have some respect for your craft and for your peers around you. And if you’re on the SAMS committee please take note - that there’s a reason that SAMS attendance is declining, that there’s a severe waning of interest, and why this writer will not be attending one of your events again.

There is a lot of hard work that goes into producing any event on this scale and I recognise that many people have put much time and effort into this past weekend. However, you have a lot of work ahead of you and I really don’t envy the task you have at hand.

It is this writer’s prediction that the SAMS will be no more in as little as 10 years’ time – at least, not in its current form. It seems to be rooted 20 years in the past and I’d urge the members of the various affiliated Scottish members to push yourselves forward, and not to settle for this sub-standard embarrassment any longer. Scotland has a myriad of fantastic close-up performers, parlour entertainers and story-tellers. I encourage the committee members to reach out past your “inner circle” and use the talent local to Scotland in your future conventions. If you do this I’m confident your convention will start to edge its way forward into the 21st century.

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Re: SAMS Convention, May 1st - 3rd 2015

Postby GColvan » May 4th, 2015, 11:01 am

I have read with interest and disgust the review of the SAMS convention.

The interesting thing is it's the reviewers first post and hide behinds a forum name.

The review does not reflect the the true convention, the writer disrespects the lectures and does not reflect the competition entrants.

He misquotes Doc Eason on the family side of SAMS, yes SAMS has big family links and this has stemmed from younger people showing an interest and being encouraged in magic sometimes through family lines but this has never been detrimental to the organisation.

As far as rescheduling performances this was due to some events over running. The shows changed were only fun events and there's never been a garunttee that they will run and all the performers asked to do stuff in these shows are well aware of this.

My involvement in SAMS is I've been involved in the organising for a number of years and on and off for the last 30 years, SAMS has and hopefully always be a family convention.

As I have said if the writer has the courage of his conviction he would have put his name to it, SAMS like all organisations have people who want to run the organisation down because it's not all about Cards or Mentalism and I suspect the writer is one of the deserters of the organisation and most likely only attended due to the mis quoted Doc Eason.

George Colvan

PS I am aware this is showing as my first post this is due to being unable to remember my user name and password. :roll:

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Re: SAMS Convention, May 1st - 3rd 2015

Postby Richard Kaufman » May 4th, 2015, 12:01 pm

That is pretty harsh for an anonymous posting. And why post it here if the guy has never posted here before?
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Re: SAMS Convention, May 1st - 3rd 2015

Postby GColvan » May 4th, 2015, 12:36 pm


Thank you for your comments, I have been advised that the poster has also put the article of some FaceBook pages but believe they have either deleted it or the Mods have removed it.

It is a sad day when someone goes to this length to berate our convention especially so severely.

I am aware that everyone is entitled to their opinion but this is so polar different from what has been said to me on the weekend that it can only be looked on as malicious.

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Re: SAMS Convention, May 1st - 3rd 2015

Postby elizMc » May 4th, 2015, 1:31 pm

Having read and digested the words of this report.

First I would like to know the name of the person writing

this, so that a proper conversation could be held to clear

lots of the points mentioned.

The in crowd have always been thanked by visitors as

being very friendly and welcoming.

As part of the committee I would be delighted to welcome

more members of clubs with their ideas for the future.

We in Scotland feel very proud of SAMS and do want it

to become a thriving part of the Scottish magic scene.

We are one of the very few Societies which still hold a full

weekend convention.

A lot of work goes in to this type of weekend and when

anyone has only gone out to find fault then we cannot hope

to go forward.

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Re: SAMS Convention, May 1st - 3rd 2015

Postby MagiKelly » May 5th, 2015, 10:18 am

Another post from a newly registered member ;)

I'm John Kelly and performed a small spot on Friday and did a short workshop on Saturday at SAMS so it can be argued that I have a vested interest in saying SAMS was great. Indeed it may be me that made it such a miserable experience for our reviewer.

I have no issue with someone posting an anonymous review, either negative or positive. As long as you are willing to back up your case and hopefully address any replies then that is fine in my book.

I have not been to any of the SAMS conventions for about 10 years. I have not been involved in the club and convention magic scene during most of that time. The SAMS convention is a small regional convention. It is not a competitor to Blackpool of the British Ring Convention. Despite not having been for ten years I saw loads of people I knew. Far from putting this as a negative I was glad to see these people. It was great to catch up with them (surely a plus at any convention). I unfortunately had to leave before the stage competition but did see the Close Up and the Children's competition. None of the act in the competitions were acts I had seen before. So while many of the attendees are the same people there are clearly new magicians working up through the ranks and performing.

I would love to tell you all the acts were universally excellent but they were not. None were awful. All were enthusiastic and keen to compete and entertain. There were eight competitors for the close up competition. Having that many wanting to compete is almost unheard of at SAMS and surely a good sign in itself. Certainly I for one would like to encourage this and would strongly argue against any bar being placed on their competing until some arbitrary perceived level is reached.

Depending on what you are comparing it to there is certainly scope to level some criticism of SAMS. Compared to big budget large conventions it is a bit hand knitted. However, when reviewed for what it is I cannot see much at fault. I would love to see it better supported and who would argue against better acts and lecturers? There are always better acts and lecturers, but it is an arms race SAMS can never win and one it is not really competing in.

SAMS has long been known as the Friendly Convention. My experience after a 10 year absence is that this is a name it can retain with pride. I heard no negativity and everyone was having fun and smiling. I had four guests with me. My two children, 15 and 16 years old respectively , my current girlfriend ;) and her friend. As I said we had to leave early on the Saturday evening so missed the remainder of SAMS but based on what we had seen all four guests were insistent that we not only come next year but make sure we schedule it so that we can attend the whole weekend. Hopefully our 5 full weekend registrations will help to counter the devastating loss of our one anonymous reviewer :)

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Re: SAMS Convention, May 1st - 3rd 2015

Postby Doc Eason » May 7th, 2015, 8:47 pm

Wow.. not sure how to feel about this.. I was very happy to be there. This was one of the 'warmest' and most welcoming conventions I have ever been to.. What the weekend may have lacked in some areas was more than made up for by the personalities and feelings that pervaded the Salutation Hotel. My son and I had a grand time. Schedule changes happen. Big deal.. so shows were moved around.

I guess we can put the anonymous reviewer on the 'doubtful' list for future attendance. Thanks for the kind words but coming from the safety of not revealing their name, I wonder if he had some ax to grind. It's easy to hurl brickbats from behind a hedgerow.. why not see what you can do to help rather than criticize.

I have been to a lot of magic conventions... There are no bad conventions. The friendships that have been made and renewed at even the weakest conventions still stand out as memorable.

I have been involved in putting some conventions on.. it is a massive effort. Kudos for the committee for the work that they put in. And thank you for the many kindesses shown to my son and me.
Doc Eason

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Re: SAMS Convention, May 1st - 3rd 2015

Postby GColvan » May 8th, 2015, 6:02 am

A copy of the official report on the Scottish Accociation of Magical Societies convention by Kenny Kerr

Hi Folks,

To everyone who attended, hopefully you all enjoyed the convention and met up with old friends and made some new ones.

For those who missed out on the SAMS Convention or for those who were there and fell asleep, here :D is a quick run-down on what happened.

Friday –

At 6pm, Janet Colvan opened the registration desk and this also signalled the opening of the dealers.

7pm saw the Official Opening of the convention performed by our president, Brian Jeffrey and his guests of honour – Liz Grant (Provost of Perth & Kinross) and Alan Astra (President of the International Brotherhood of Magicians) along with his wife, Barbara.

A buffet was then laid on, courtesy of SAMS and washed down with some wine, courtesy of Perth & Kinross Council .

The President’s Show then followed and this was introduced by Brian Jeffrey.

The four acts were George Speirs, Gary James, Alan Duncan and John Kelly and they all entertained the assembled company with everyone agreeing it was a very enjoyable show.

This year the close up competition was contested on the Friday night and it attracted eight entrants. Each of the competitors did a grand job and the competition was introduced by Alan Duncan who was assisted by our Stage Manager, George Colvan (Results at bottom of this email).

With the exceptional number of entrants in the close up competition, the Late Night Fun Show (organised by our President) was cancelled due to lack of time.

The rest of the night, for some, was spent “socialising” into the “wee small hours”.

Saturday –

Registration Desk & Dealers opened at 9am and this was followed by a Dealers Showcase where we were treated to a short selection of what was on sale in the dealer’s room.

10am saw the first lecture of the weekend with Gary James & Ricky McLeod doing a “joint lecture”. The duo entertained us with some of their original magical ideas and “bits of business”. This lecture covered a good variety of magic and was warmly received by everyone who attended.

Then, at 11.30am, Brian Jeffrey introduced “Workshops”. Three separate tables were set up in the hall with Gary James, John Kelly & Ricky McLeod giving personal instruction and guidance to the assembled conventioneers. Folks who attended went away in the knowledge they had picked up something worthwhile from each of the performers.

After a break for lunch, the competitions started at 2pm and Alan Duncan introduced a total of eight acts, four in the Children’s Competition and four in the Stage Competition. (Results at bottom of this email). We did a good bit of advertising for this the previous weekend and were rewarded with a decent turnout of children, which certainly enhanced the atmosphere during the competitions.

5pm saw two events taking place in different venues. In one room, Doc Eason presented the second lecture of the weekend and there was plenty here for everyone to appreciate and enjoy. Doc is a master at his craft and this was apparent in the way he handled not only his cards and coins but also in the way he handled his audience. The room was packed and the ninety minutes (yes 90 minutes) flew past as everyone enjoyed the occasion.

Meanwhile, as I said earlier, another event was taking place at 5pm, namely “The Ladies Event”. The theme was “Lotions and Potions” with a short talk and demonstration of beauty products. Wine, chocolate and various cakes then followed after which Margaret Mclean won the raffle prize. From all reports, the ladies enjoyed the event.

7.30pm saw something different from our traditional gala show when we tried a Dinner / Cabaret show. I believe this was last tried in 1986 at the Inverness Convention but I am open to correction.

In the region of 70 people sat down to a delicious three course dinner followed by tea or coffee. I cannot speak for anyone else but I thoroughly enjoyed my meal. After the meal was over and the tables were cleared, four acts entertained us, namely, The Great Aziz, Jango Starr, Gary Dunn (who also compered) and finally Garry & Jenny Seagraves who closed the show. Anyone I spoke to afterwards voted the evening a great success and thoroughly enjoyed the “concept”. Our thanks once again to the acts who entertained us, you rounded off a magical day.

Our Stage manager, George Colvan, worked wonders during the competitions and cabaret show getting the acts on and off. Given the limited “backstage space” that was available to work in, that was indeed “magic”.

Raffle – The Raffle was drawn and the winner of the £100 was Phil Brannan, from Hamilton (works beside Scott Kennedy) and The Child’s Bike went to “Silly Billy” aka Graham Whyte of Paisley Magic Circle. Most of the other prize winners were in the hall and collected their prizes, however anyone who won and was not there should get them from fellow club members who did attend. SAMS would like to thank everyone who donated a raffle prize – Thank You.

For the second night in a row, the late night show, this time organised by Vice President, Lynne Kennedy, was cancelled due to time constraints.

"Very Late Night" socialising then followed, with a mixture of old and new friends chatting away.

Sunday –

Registration Desk and the dealers opened at 10am.

10.10am brought an additional item to the programme. The Vice Presidents show from the previous night was done in an “abridged version”. Elizabeth McNamara accompanied by Lynne’s two young sons started the show and performed magic for the audience. The boys had been practising hard and they did well as Elizabeth guided them through the routines.

Fraser Stokes then took to the stage and with the help of four volunteers wearing balloon hats, entertained with a comical dance routine.

!0.30am saw the Close-up show featuring Peter McLanachan, Steven Blair, Sean Brannigan and Doc Eason. The close-up was enjoyed by everyone who watched and all four performers blended to make a very entertaining show.

11.45am brought the third and final lecture from Alan Astra, assisted by his wife Barbara. The lecture was mainly on children’s entertainment and Alan showed (and explained) a variety of kids effects. Anyone who is a children’s entertainer would have taken something away from this lecture.

The Farewell Lunch started just after 2pm where our President, Brian Jeffrey, introduced his “top table” to the conventioneers.

Following on, after we had eaten, the presentation of prizes was conducted by Alan Duncan with Provost Liz Grant presenting the recipients with their prizes. (Prize winners are listed below).

After the speeches at the top table, Brian then handed over the President’s chain to Lynne Kennedy. Brian (in the absence of his wife Maureen due to illness) then passed the Ladies / Partners chain to Lynne’s husband, Scott.

Lynne closed the convention by saying that the 2016 convention will be held at Adamton House Hotel, Monkton (near Prestwick) and it will “move forward” a weekend next year to the 6th, 7th & 8thof May.

See you all next year!!!!!

Full list of Prize Winners -

John Ramsay Rose Bowl
Best magic effect in the close competition
George Speirs - Paisley
Stuart Leith Trophy
Runner Up in Close Up
George Speirs - Paisley
Anne Warlock Trophy
Best act in Close Up
Elliot Bibby – Forth Valley
Brian Jeffrey Award
Runner Up in Children's Magic
Jamie Fields – St Andrews
Max Raskin Cup
Best Act in Children's Magic
George Speirs - Paisley
The Fletcher Cup
Second Place in the Stage Competition
Aziz & George Speirs – Paisley – (Joint Winners)
Harold McMillan Shield
Best Stage Act
Steven Blair - Kilmarnock
Jack Silver Dealers Award
Best magic dealer display
Adrian Harris - Perth
Ian Adair Award
For Originality
Gary James - Edinburgh
Murray Wand for Showmanship
For the person showing the most showmanship at the convention
Steven Blair - Kilmarnock
Sir Alexander Cannon Trophy
Scottish Club Scoring the highest points over the year
Kilmarnock & Paisley (Joint Winners)
The Craig Quaich
Presented by the SAMS President who in their opinion has done the most for Scottish Magic.
Ricky McLeod - Edinburgh

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