Thursday, August 24, 2006

The pictures

Here's Al & me with Constantia, Ailsa & Conna. Love you guys!! That's the really cool Flemish coif I got from Historic Enterprises!
Kevin and Al walking off the battle field after marching Dark Moon into battle. That's a big drum, huh?
A very fine looking couple.... Richard & Melanie
The tiniest tent in the entire place. Forever known as "The Chastity Tent" as only one person can actually fit into it.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Back home

I made it back to Texas on Saturday, however, I had stayed up until 1:30 AM drinking David's home-made Braggot (beerish thing with 8% alcohol) and then had to be up by 6AM to pack up wet tents and make it to the airport where higher security meant hanging out in lines for even more time. So.... I got to Al's house (in Houston) where we had to unload and re-sort our junk. After we finished that, it was time for a nap. I slept from 7PM till 7:30AM. There is a Panera Bread near Al's house so I made us go over there before I drove my way back to Austin.

So, the trip.... Pennsylvania. We had a blast and learned alot. This event was huge. More than 11,000 people camping, living, eating, breathing, showering, singing, battling in a space of about one square mile. They call this Pennsic War XXXV. We wore some sort of medieval garb all the time except for those 4 AM bathroom run where my garb was reduced to a wool cloak and neon green fuzzy slippers. Various "kingdoms" from across the country had encampments - some very elaborate with guards posted by the stone gates of thet kingdom's camp. Other kingdoms were more relaxed, but whether relaxed or formal, most were very welcoming, friendly and quick to share their beer or food with us wandering lowly musicians.

We went to the war as "Istanpitta" in two forms.... one was a loud form which should have been dubbed "Tar-Pitta" as it was actually a combination of Tartanic and Istanpitta. The music came from both groups, the players came from both groups, but the experience in loud stuff came from Tartanic's two players, Richard and Kevin (Nevik). Both of these palyers are also former members of a group called Wolgemut who was also there at Pennsic. Richard is a professional piper. He is (as he should be) fabulous. He has a collection of unusual bagpipes which I will not describe today as I haven't eaten breakfast yet. But not only does he own these unusual and crude works of art, but he can actually play them.... very well. Kevin, or Nevik as many know him, is the single most musical musician on percussion I have ever seen. He played a big ol' huge loud tupan. He had a fabulous energetic stage presence that was not a gimic but an addition to the music. Kevin graciously let me beat the living tar out of a little drum all week until the last day when my arm hurt so badly that I could hardly raise it. I had a blast and strangely enough, I learned ALOT just doing the simple things I was doing and listening to the changes, patterns, dynamics and stops that Kevin used. Al worked his keister off keeping up with those two. Richard replaced reeds to make Al's instruments louder which meant Al had to work even harder. It was great! hee hee. No, I'm not saying I enjoyed seeing him suffer :-) ..... It was good for both of us to be so challenged and to work so hard to adapt to new things on the spot.

The other Istanpitta was Al on saz or whatever other soft instrument he pulled out of a bag and me singing and playing riq, the nice drum. We had a great time in our comfort zone and did do a couple of evening gigs as the duo Istanpitta. Most evenings we gigged as the loud version and had an amazing time.

We met up with many friends that Al knows from past events and I have met at out various fairs over the last few years. Our wonderful friends from Calontir played with us and always seemed ready to offer us a beer :-) . No, wait, they WERE always offering us beer. Al spoke at Constantia's laureling ceremony for her fabulous musical skills, and Al & I played a drinking song for David's laureling in the art of beer making (Conna's husband). Anyway, we always look forward to hanging out with and playing with the "Calontinis" as we call them.... although I think it is formally "The Juniper Consort". I'll have to look that up. Move to St. Louis and maybe they will let you play in their musical ensemble! Just kidding - they are really very serious and strict with who plays. Unless you have a beer. No, really, you gotta be good. Eddie Izzard has entered the blog. Eddie and Elvis..... (inside joke(s) - sorry, had to do it!)

I can't even begin to tell you about all the new friends we made.... mostly because people like to use these crazy names that I can't pronounce much less spell or remember long enough to put them in the blog. But anyway, Vince the hammered dulcimer player was there (we know him from the St. Louis fair). Also met a couple of Alex's who were both very sweet. The Alex of Historic Enterprises - THANK YOU and the rest of Historic Enterprises for putting up with the noise..... AND thank you SOOOOO much for the most awesome Flemish coif. The other Alex, it was a delight to meet you - I so hope that our paths cross again. Melanie, you'll get the cool coif next year!

Al and I have been talking about returning as Istanpitta in a quieter but no less energetic form with vielle/fiddle, recorder/shawm and Al and myself..... Richard and Kevin should add another fabulous piper and go crazy. Whatever happens, I plan on incorporating alot of what we learned this week into Istanpitta's regular sets.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Great day for telegrams

I guess I had time for one more entry before I leave town.
I ended up with three great telegrams today. The first was for a man's 60th birthday. A big party was thrown, but his wife could not be there, so she sent me to sing a love song. Everyone thought it was incredibly sweet and he seemed to truly appreciate it too. Then a romantic man took me to his wife. They have been married 20 years. He brought flowers and a movie camera to capture the event. And finally a 50th wedding anniversary. The couple's son asked me to sing "The Eyes of Texas". When I asked if he would also like some love song or anything else, he replied that this is "their" song, the most romantic song they know! True UT fans.
Time to finish packing......

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

catch up

Chicago was great. It had cooled off considerably by the time we got there and two little rain bursts on Sunday kept it even more pleasant.
I came home Tuesday and did a telegram and a performance with Ceridwyn. Both went great. Ceridwyn and I worked up quite a few new songs from the last time we performed and they all came off great. I have a similar day planned Thursday.... Telegram, performance and travel. This time I drive to Houston where Al and I will combine packing efforts to be sure we can get all of our camping gear in the airline allotted luggage quotas. This Pennsylvania trip is a week of camping and music and friends. I know I will have a blast, but I plan on being completely exhausted when I return.
So about the catching up..... I don't think it's going to happen till I come home after this next trip. I have so many things to practice and study, but alas, it will have to wait. oh well. It may be a while before I blog again..... take care :-)

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Next stop: Chicago

South Elgin to be exact. 
In the Irish front, The Austin group is blazing thru lessons. Because I will miss the next three classes, I did several lessons this week to pre-catch up. It's going amazingly well. I said a few entries ago that I should have five songs ready for the next song session. I was kinda joking, but I have 4 songs in Irish pretty much ready to go and another 3 well on their way. I picked up another Irish song book when I was in Connecticut. So now I have tons of tunes to choose from.
In GreenGabriel news, we have 3 performances scheduled for August. We have a pretty strong set of repertoire. We've added harmonies and have many songs in the wings. Before we know it, it will be time to start working on holiday music.
Last Saturday, I did four and a half hours of massage for a WONDERFUL spa party. A group of friends and daughters got together and ate fabulous food, got massages, did pedicures, and when spa time was over the husbands and young children came over for a barbeque. Everyone was so wonderful. The whole idea was fantastic. What a way to spend a summer day!
Otherwise, same ol' practicing fun.