Happy Birthday Rob!

Today is a special day in the Supernatural fandom – the birthday of Rob Benedict!  There are few people who are more integral to the SPNFamily than Rob. His character, at first seemingly the mild mannered Chuck, became so much more as Rob himself became a fan favorite – first a stand in for Eric Kripke himself and later, quite literally, God. Albeit not exactly a benevolent version. The part Rob has played in this show has been as important as the role suggests, and he’s been there right through until the end in the last few episodes.

It’s not only the part he’s played on the show itself that makes Rob so important to this fandom and this family, though. Early on in the now long history of Supernatural conventions, Rob brought his talented band, Louden Swain, to play at the conventions on Saturday night. I remember going to one of the first concerts and bringing Richard Speight, Jr. with us; we all sat there going WOW. (I feel like that was part of the spark of something else great and memorable in Supernatural history that eventually became and now is again Kings of Con). Having a band like Louden Swain made the conventions so much more fun, and did their part to keep the cons going and the fanbase passionate.

Those Saturday night concerts became special in a deeper way after Rob had a sudden stroke at the Toronto Supernatural convention in 2013. It was the closeness of the Supernatural cast that saved his life that night and the love of the SPNFamily who helped him fight his way back. Rob wrote a heartfelt, incredibly powerful chapter that takes you moment by moment through that night and the long recovery that followed in Family Don’t End With Blood: Cast and Fans on How Supernatural Changed Lives. I remember when he sent me the first draft, how I read it with my heart in my throat, even though I knew he was okay – it was that compelling a chapter and his story is that compelling.  That year, the Saturday Night Special, while Rob couldn’t front the band, carried on without him – in his honor. When he returned to Louden Swain and the SNS, there were tears of joy and gratitude that were unstoppable. We had all learned, when we almost lost him, that Rob and the band are truly the heart and soul of this SPNFamily. And we would never forget it.

I’ve had many long chats with Rob as we’ve gone on this journey with a little show on the CW that turned into so much more. In a weird way, I feel like Rob’s journey with Supernatural and my own are oddly intertwined. I was on set the same day he was on set for the first time – introduced as Chuck in ‘The Monster At The End Of This Book’. I sat there and watched him film some of his first scenes with Jared and Jensen, little suspecting that he would become such a big part of the show and the fandom and my own life. I was on set again in Season 11 when Rob was back on the show – I didn’t know at the time that he would be there and squealed so loud when he got out of the van to say hello, “ROBBBBBB!” that Jensen reminded me “hey, I’m here too.”  Anyone who knows me at all knows that is REALLY saying something! (This is not me dissing Jensen, I knew he was there but Rob was a wonderful surprise).

I’ve been so thrilled to watch Rob’s success over the years — with Louden Swain and in so many acting roles, in Kings of Con the show, and now on Kings of Con the podcast.

I’ve traveled across the country to see Louden Swain play live more than once. I am more likely to have Louden Swain playing in my car than just about anything else, with Radio Co. the other top contender.

I am forever grateful that Rob and Billy and Mike played at the book release party for Family Don’t End With Blood at the Study in LA – and Rob did a reading from the chapter he wrote, to my great delight (as you can see…)

Rob reading from his chapter in Family Don’t End With Blood

Like so many Supernatural fans, our love of Rob Benedict and Louden Swain has enriched our lives in countless ways.

Clearly I’m a big Rob fan, as most of us are. But my partner in crime, photographer extraordinaire Kim Prior, is a Rob girl through and through. So here are her happy birthday wishes for Rob, along with of course some very pretty pictures…

KIM:

Listen, I could probably write an entire book about all the wonderful things about Rob Benedict… and while many of you might appreciate that book, I should probably keep this short and sweet instead. I’ll start with a few of my favorite photos.

The thing about Rob is, well, he’s Real. He is real, and genuine, and sincere. It’s the way that he brings his true self to his podcasts with Richard Speight, Jr. – from his full belly laugh at the things that are said, to the way that he gets frustrated when he stumbles over his words or can’t find the right words to explain something – it’s like eavesdropping on an actual conversation between long time friends. It’s the way he really listens to the questions during his meet & greets at conventions, and in the way he puts thought into his answers, in the way he gives us his truth. It’s those little moments on stage during a convention, when he is listening so intently to someone else speak, the flash of a sparkle in his eye when someone is telling a funny story and he is enjoying their moment with them. It’s the little wave that he gives to a fan as he sings during the Vendor Room Jam. It’s the hug that he gives during photo ops, as if each and every one one of us are an old friend that he hasn’t seen in awhile. In every way, in every moment, Rob is sincere and genuine and Real.

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Remembering #NashCon: The Saturday Night Special!

Guest post by Kim Prior to pretty up your Saturday… in which she looks back at the last four years of Nashville Saturday Night Specials and remembers just how special they are. Take it away, Kim!

And thus begins all the many ways in which I try to express how special the Saturday Night Special is…

2016

The recap of the 2016 concert in Nashville is a little less recap, a little more overflow of emotion as I tell y’all how much I love this band, and all the celebrity guests.

And lots of pictures.

#ActualRockGod Rob Benedict

Matt Cohen
Gil McKinney
Osric Chau
Ruth Connell and Kim Rhodes
Tim Omundson on harmonica

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Remembering #NashCon: Friday Panels

Guest post by Kim Prior

(With commentary by Lynn…)

Lynn and I should be meeting this weekend, in Nashville. At the Salute to Supernatural Convention at the Grand Ol Opry Hotel/Resort. Instead, we are locked down. Quarantined. The convention has long been canceled. (Rescheduled for August and Chuck knows we are beyond excited at the thought of attending another convention!) Rather than sit and worry about the state of the country, the world… rather than be sad we don’t have a convention this weekend… we thought we should remember the good times we’ve had in Nashville over the years. So without further ado, here’s a quick look back at the Salute to Supernatural Conventions in Nashville!

2016

[Kim]  One of my favorite parts of these conventions is listening to the Rules and Regulations as presented by our host, Richard Speight, Jr. alongside Rob Benedict and Louden Swain. Do they discuss what they are going to do each time? Do they write it, plan it, rehearse it? I don’t know, and frankly, I don’t care. Their version of the Rules and Regulations are different at each convention, usually laced with indirect or direct innuendo about the host city, and always laugh-‘til-my-cheeks-hurt funny. I may or may not have laughed ‘til I cried at more than one of these presentations.

[Lynn] I miss Rules & Regulations! I miss the theme song, and the fabulous showcase that it is for Rich and Rob’s hilarious sense of humor and mad improv skills. Just sayin’.

[Kim} This convention began on Friday with Richard bringing us yet another fresh, new version of the Rules and Regulations. In typical fashion, he managed to explain these to us all while making fun of southern sayings; he referenced so many that I could not possibly include them all – and yes, I reckon I laughed so hard I was fixin’ to cry.

(Ugh. Eww. Look at the ridiculous watermark. Look at the blurry photo. *sigh* I had so much to learn back then.)

Friday panels began with the dynamic duo of Kim Rhodes and Briana Buckmaster.

They danced their way onto the stage, and immediately began to tell us about their conversation from the night before – one that included both periods and trying on underwear – because that’s how best friends roll. Listening to their panel, watching their interaction, I had no doubt they share an epic friendship, and it reminded me of my own real life best friend. (You really don’t want to read some of our texts either.) I don’t know if Wayward Daughters will ever be picked up as a spin off, but if it isn’t, can someone please give these two besties their own show already?

[Lynn]  Ouch. That one’s hard to read now…

Gil McKinney had a solo panel on Friday. Always smooth and sexy, he talks effortlessly about his life on Supernatural and beyond. He also reminds us how much the show and the fandom have impacted his life. Oh, and he discovered and now loves Cracker Barrel… and y’all know you’re gonna eat there for breakfast every time there’s a con in town.

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Louden Swain Rocks Austin!

When Louden Swain announced two shows in Austin, Kim immediately suggested we go. It was two days before the new semester started, but on the other hand they were playing on my actual birthday, so – what better way to celebrate! Great music and a much-needed weekend away with lots of my favorite people. So off to Austin we went!

Kim and I have been there a few times before, once for the first Supernatural Day and once for our friend Alana’s birthday (Austin seems to be the SPNFamily birthday destination in my little corner of the fandom). This was the first time Louden Swain would be playing there while we were there, though! What I didn’t count on was injuring my back – and then my knee because of my back – long story, but suffice it to say my doc and PT person said “no long flights, not too much walking or standing, no uneven ground.”

Errrr….okay? So I flew to Texas, went to two back to back concert shows, and walked all over Family Business Beer Co, which happens to have pathways made of rocks and uneven ground with tree branches everywhere. Everyone SHHHHH. The things you do for fandom….

Kim and I met up at the Austin airport and our friends Bev and Betty picked us up before we headed out to FBBC to squeeze in a delicious gyro before the Shawarma food truck closed – yum!

Then it was on to the spacious house a whole bunch of us were sharing – gotta love Airbnb! Eight fangirls, a fully stocked fridge, mimosas and pan fried bacon and eggs in the morning and good company – does it get better than this?

Alana and Liz picked us up after breakfast and we headed out to FBBC again – if in Austin, there is no better place to hang out. It was a beautiful day, and we sat under the trees and did some filming that you’ll see on Alana’s youtube channel very soon announcing what we both hope is some exciting news. Kim played director (watch out, Ackles and Speight and Cohen, Kim is good at this!)  I also filmed a little “Who wrote this” video for the #GuessTheSPNScene youtube. Well, Alana filmed it, I just read a passage from Family Don’t End With Blood.

We chatted with the many other fannish friends who were there, had some more delicious food, took alot of selfies and generally enjoyed having lots of Supernatural inclined folks all in the same place. It’s a luxury and I relish it every single time! What better way to spend my birthday?

Then we drove into Austin and to The North Door to wait for the doors to open. Doors opened a bit late, so there was alot of standing in line in the alley, which of course was something I wasn’t supposed to be doing. For a while, I sat on the wall beside the door, only to realize that was a dangerous spot to be in – there were HUNDREDS of birds perched on the scaffolding right above my head, and they were doing what birds do when they’re above you. Everyone covered their heads and tried to get out of the way. A few times, a loud kazoo chorus scared them away temporarily, but they figured out pretty quickly that kazoos were not dangerous and returned to stalk us all.

The Birds!!
Photo Liz Madsen

Finally the doors opened for the VIP meet and greet – yay! I had made arrangements to be able to sit up in the balcony because of my injuries, so I hobbled up the stairs and pretty much stayed there other than a few trips to the ladies room. It meant we couldn’t stand close to the band to ask questions, but it also meant my injuries didn’t worsen too much over the weekend.

Anticipation was building!

Pre Show – Photo Liz Madsen

Someone reminded the band it was my birthday, and they were sweet enough to wish me a happy one. The questions were good ones and the band’s answers were sometimes insightful and sometimes downright hilarious. I particularly enjoyed Rob’s blow by blow story of how they got into the wrong Uber, loaded ALL their gear, found out it was the wrong one, got into another IDENTICAL vehicle, and somehow all their gear no longer fit.

Rob is a gifted story teller – if you haven’t read the chapter he wrote in Family Don’t End With Blood that takes you moment by moment through the time he had a stroke at a convention and how he survived with the help of his fellow actors and the fandom, you’ll be shocked at how compelling a read it is. And he’s always hilarious doing ‘stand up’ whether at a meet and greet like this or onstage with Richard Speight at a con (or doing Kings of Con, for that matter!)

Jensen Ackles joined the spectators for the meet and greet portion of the show, standing on the balcony right across from us and waving to the crowd in greeting. He seemed to be enjoying Rob and Billy and Stephen and Mike’s answers as much as the rest of us, and the fans just let him be a part of the audience as we all focused on Louden Swain. The green room and backstage area was also across from where we were, and Jensen headed there after the meet and greet to chat some more. At some point, Jared and Gen Padalecki also arrived – it made me all kinds of emotional seeing how much this group of actors supports each other, always.

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The Last Supernatural Con of the Decade – Jacksonville 2019

 

Jacksonville is a great venue for a con, with the vendor room in a gigantic brightly lit room with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the river. I was fortunate to have my friend Christina with me at the vendor table all weekend, along with other friends who stopped by to chat or bring food and a latte or give me a bathroom break. I always leave conventions feeling so warm and fuzzy about this fandom, and this cast, and this show. Maybe because we all knew this was the last con of the decade, there were even more warm and fuzzy feelings than usual – along with some anticipatory sadness, knowing the end of the show is coming.

The con kicked off, as it often does, with a panel by Rachel Miner. Rachel always makes me smile, so it’s a good way to start the day.

One of the things I love most about Rachel is that she’s a bona fide geek, just like so many of us are. She spent a few minutes sorting her colleagues ala Hogwarts.

About Billy Moran?

Rachel and Rob: Slytherin for sure!

Rachel: I’m a big Dr. Who fan. I’d love to be on that crossover. I feel like that’s why we all connect, because I’m such a nerd.

She’d also love to see Meg team up with Rowena.

Fan: Double sassy!

Rachel: Meg and Dean are also alike in some ways. Snarky and afraid of their feelings.

I also love that Rachel is a proud shipper – of Meg and Cas – but also a vehement supporter of ship and let ship (or don’t ship at all).

Rachel: Everyone should ship who you want, but I ship Meg and Cas and in my fanfic version she would never turn on him.

Rachel l had some kind words for Rob and the work he’s doing as Chuck.

Rachel: I think Rob is doing such a great job. We should all be extra nice to him, because he’s still a great guy – he’s just a good actor!

She also had nice things to say about the Supernatural set, and how special it is.

Rachel: I’ve never had that feeling of being taken care of on another set, and that feeling like you’re doing something important, but not self important, as on the set of Supernatural.

She’s also very excited to have Shoshannah Stern back. Shoshannah has written another project for her and Rachel, which is doubly exciting!

On a more serious note, Rachel acknowledged that life is sometimes hard.

Rachel: It’s okay to feel like life is really hard because sometimes it is, and don’t beat yourself up about feeling that. And then you can move on and notice what joy there is right here. It’s work to find that joy, though. It’s not easy. You’re allowed to feel your feelings, and also take time to find the joy in even moments that are difficult.

How can you describe the SPNFamily?

Rachel: We take care of each other, and that’s a model for the whole world.

Jason Manns did his traditional “quoncert” next, playing some tunes and answering some questions.

Someone asked him how he got Jared Padalecki to sing on his Christmas CD.

Jason: I was up in Vancouver recording Jense, and Jared was hanging out and I was like, well, you’re here if you want to record a song…no pressure…

Good job, Jason!

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