general SCA

Settling in for the marathon

As of this weekend, I have been Queen’s Bard of the East for a full three months–a quarter of the year that champions are supposed to serve. I continue to be honored and deeply humbled at this opportunity, and recognize the good fortune and privilege that allowed me to compete and to serve. With that said, I need to level with you about something:

This position does not look like it did on the brochure.

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Couldn’t resist.

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Wars of the Roses 2019

We got back late last night from Roses, and boy, is our everything tired. We’re a bit under-slept (which often happens, but a couple of unforced errors on my part made it worse than usual), yet at the same time my heart feels energized and refreshed, and my spirit is lighter and clearer than it’s been in a while.

In the SCA, the idea of going “home” to an event is bandied about a lot, and I’ve seen my share of backlash posts from people who object to the idea of an SCA event, particularly a camping event, as their home. Your mileage may vary. But returning to Concordia of the Snows’ big start-of-camping-season event (hosted by the Shire of Glenn Linn) really felt like a homecoming this weekend. The Albany area is generally a 2-3 hour drive for us, so we get up to the Barony less often than we’d like, and there are places closer to us that probably would welcome us and offer opportunities to do things we love to do…but ever since our first Roses six years ago (referenced in the opening verse of “Concordian Soil”, this has always been a place where we felt we really fit. And the Barony took the opportunity to remind us yesterday that the feeling is indeed mutual.

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PSA – Vaccinations and Pennsic

I started something on Facebook this morning that has gone viral, with the help of some fearless and outspoken friends. It occurred to me (and I’m sure I wasn’t the first to think of it) that recent measles outbreaks, the direct result of a decades-long drop in vaccination rates, could seriously imperil Pennsic this year–and that further, there is something we can do about it in the next three months if we raise awareness. My wife and I got our MMR boosters a few weeks back.

A measles outbreak among a population of 10,000 people would do irreparable harm to the SCA, and all the communities we’d be returning to. When in doubt, get your MMR booster. And discuss this with your camp. Everyone who can be vaccinated should be, there’s no excuse.

Feel free to save and share. (But don’t have a cow about it.)

For those who say “Pennsic schmensic, people should be vaccinating anyway!”, I agree. But if this raises awareness and moves people to action by creating new urgency, then I’m all for it. Thanks to everyone who is participating in this effort, and to everyone who has posted or commented that they’re getting tested or getting a booster shot.


Checking in…

I’m bummed to have missed Coronation, but I’m savoring this experience doing Drood. We close this coming Saturday, and after a nice long run, I’m going to be sad to see it end. I’ve found another family with this cast and crew.

But while I enjoy being a musical theater actor once more, and indeed this may be my favorite experience doing a show (which is not the same as it being my favorite show)…

In my heart I’m still a bard. And while I can be both, I have missed my other tribe. I’m looking forward to connecting with my SCA peeps again this coming month.

#firstworldproblems #knownworldproblems #broadwaygeekproblems


Catching up

It’s been a busy month, but there haven’t been any big developments that felt like they were ripe to share in the bardic sphere. A bunch of things are going on that were, well, “bardic-adjacent”, or of some potential interest, or that involved bards. And there are some overdue updates I’m realizing I should have shared sooner. Sorry for running silent.

First off, I realized that I never posted about sending off the final official donation to the Therapeutic Nursery last December, honoring our two-year commitment to dedicate all proceeds from Hidden Gold to that worthy cause. The last $400 check brings our total donation to just under $2,000. (I reserve the right to make further donations if the album ends up raising enough additional funds to justify further checks, but have completed the pledge.) This was a project that was wonderful to see reach fruition.


The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart

I got a rare treat of off-Broadway theater with the family today. We saw The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart, a Scottish immersive theater production performed in a live pub setting at the McKittrick Hotel, the same location (and creative group) as the long-running Sleep No More, the interactive meditation on The Scottish Play. 

Prudencia Hart warrants a mention here because it concerns itself with a passionate if over-earnest young academic whose focus is Scottish border ballads, and “Tam Lin” gets not only name-dropped, but becomes intrinsic to the supernatural evolution of the plot. It was wonderful to see the show take swipes at academics who feel the need to analyze and deconstruct folk tales until they have lost all context and feeling, while Prudencia stands as the defender of these tales as art, as pieces of vibrant popular music. 

As a Scadian, as a bard, as someone with more than a passing interest in Tam Lin, I was mesmerized. As an American, I was overjoyed to see a postmodern and thoroughly cheeky and creative Scottish take on this subject matter. The cast of five was delightful and committed to both the silly and serious aspects of the story they were telling, and Jessica Hardwick, as Prudencia, was positively spellbinding. The entire ambiance of the thing delighted all three of us, as well as our friends who were happily able to join us. (I must once again acknowledge my debt to, yes, Ellen Kushner, who tipped us off about the show.)

The show is playing for three more weeks. If you have the time and the means, I recommend you run to see it like…(SPOILERS!) the Devil himself is chasing you. 

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Looking Back

2015 will always be a special year to me. I finished Hidden Gold, and shared it with the world, and people discovered my music. We have raised over $1,100 for The Therapeutic Nursery. And a few other key events came to pass that I wasn’t necessarily expecting.

One of these I never got around to sharing, because it happened in the middle of a month that was full of other good news and it felt a little unseemly to share at the time. But I don’t want to leave the year behind without mentioning it, because in its own way it was just as exciting as anything else that happened. In late October, my wife and I received an invitation to Ellen Kushner’s birthday party, which she and her wife, Delia Sherman, were hosting in their home. I have name-checked Ellen several times on this site, since her phenomenal novelization of Thomas the Rhymer was a touchstone for me as a bard, inspiring several of my songs, most notably “Tam Lin of the Elves”. She is one of my all-time favorite authors, and one of the great blessings of having Jess in my life is that she and I ended up becoming personal friends with Ellen.

Ellen greeted us warmly, and asked me at the door if I would be singing for her at the party. Needless to say, I was happy to oblige. Later in the party, Ellen introduced me to her friends as (I kid you not) her “personal bard”. I managed to keep it together long enough to give over “Tam Lin” to an enthusiastic crowd of authors, editors, and other creative folks, which led off a lovely little bardic circle. This is one of those memories that I will cherish all my days.

I hope that all of you had the opportunity to touch some of your dreams this past year, and if not, that you will in the year to come. I have a few more big plans in store for 2016, and will share them as fortune allows. I hope you’re safe with cherished loved ones tonight to ring in the new year, and that the challenges ahead will lead you to joy.

Happy New Year.

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NO SPOILERS!! Star Wars: TFA and the Clash of Civilizations

[NOTE: This is a departure from my normal posts about bardic. I’ll say right now that if you don’t care about Star Wars or find the whole issue of spoiling movies online ludicrous and unworthy of discussion…You don’t need to see this post. This isn’t the topic you’re looking for. You should go about your business. Move along, move along… But also note that NO details about the plot of the new movie are revealed here, so it’s safe to read.

ADDITIONAL NOTE There’s no way the last line is meant to be taken seriously, it was satirical. Apparently that wasn’t obvious to some  readers.]

It’ll be two more days before I get the chance to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens in the theaters, by which time the movie will have been in the theaters eleven whole days. We’re down in Florida visiting family, and my wife sets the schedule for these sorts of things. So we’re going for my son’s birthday with everyone who’s down here with us. (I should note that she is not the Star Wars fan that I am, but in principle I was content to wait this long to see the movie. In principle…)

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Voice heralding: that was a blast!

So I’ve found a new thing that will be my next thing: voice heralding. Getting to be the MC for a bout at a tourney who announces the combatants, revs up the crowd, and announces the winner. It requires being comfortable as an upbeat shouty person who can project vocally, and have fun. A bit of bardic flair seems to be welcome.