I was privileged to enter the competition for Bhakail's first Bardic Champion (I never knew there wasn't one); I told the organizer that I could not win/serve as Champion (potential conflict of interest with Ostgardr). All four competitors used historically-informed songs and original languages (mostly), and we rated each other courtesy of forms t_bard developed, like (if not the same as) those which evolved for judging Kingdom Bardic, with categories like Audience impact and performance skill and appropriateness for the event (research, etc.), and (my favorite category) additional impressions not covered by other criteria. My only suggestion for the future would be adding a space of one or two lines for specific remarks per entrant. I'd like to see more competitors familiarized with those criteria -- I think it can only improve future competitions.
A lady named Lionora (sp?) did a 15th-century Portugese song. A young man named Martin with an opera background did a 16th-century aria. (He later said that he briefly considered accompanying himself on the organ, but did not "because no one else was doing that" **"C'MERE!!!" ::::::smackSMACKsmack::::::** He was encouraged to show off his skillset to the maximum in future 8)
The guy who won had contrafacted a roster of Bhakail's past and present baronage, to the tune of "Gaudete". Some dude named t_bard 8) 8) (I'd like to see the lyrics again if I may...)
I had been wanting to write something for the investiture and for woodwindy and her LC, but I also didn't want to cause embarrassment with my fulsomeness. So I wrote about Mina:
BABY OF BHAKAIL
( Contrafact, to the tune of "Packington's Pound" )
Sweetly-blown melody borne on the air
Met with the sheltering arm of the earth
Wedded in harmony wondrous fair;
This is the union that led to thy birth.
How else couldst thou be, but lovely to see
Thus fashioned from love in the highest degree?
Joy you inspire with the force of a gale,
Beloved and Beautiful Babe of Bhakail!
Happiness sparkles from thy shining eye
Such is thy pleasure to bring us delight;
All gaze in wonder as arms are thrown high,
Every life moment new to thy sight.
With innocent style dost thou sweetly beguile
All who behold thee with a laugh and a smile.
Joy you inspire with the force of a gale,
Beloved and Beautiful Babe of Bhakail!
Much to my relief, my voice held (mostly) for the higher notes, and people enjoyed the song. I got to join in some enjoyable pick-up singing between the two courts and later during feast, and met the Princess and Consort. She had asked whether I have a CD, and since I've gotten into the habit of carrying several with me for just such an occasion (it serves as both business card and demo), I was able to present one with a hasty explanation that it's Mostly Modern Music (It does have "Sacred Night" and "One More Song to the Tune of Greensleeves"). Turns out she LOVES "Carrot Juice Is Murder" and has heard it back-to-back with something called "Cows with Guns" (must research this...) I've corresponded once or twice with liamstliam, but hadn't been formally introduced or anything. Very nice man.
The food was abundant (!) and delicious (!!!). There was leftover Ember Day tart with plenty of greens and cheese. I was tired and happy 8)
"Dottie" and "Lorraine" perform together as "Bag Lady / Wandering Gypsy Theatre" (example at http://www.sidetracked.biz/Site/Watch.
They did okay tip-wise, for working just over an hour. I got a lot of smiles but not much money, which is how my above-ground experiences in NYC have gone in the past. Both of them definitely want to come back and do this again, for a longer shift. We talked about the one other busker-friendly site I know of, Washington Square Park of the maddening performer crowds. After we said goodbye I relocated my (more passive) act into a subway station nearby for a while, then came home to treat a pounding headache. (I might have worked longer had I remembered to bring food and take a bathroom break. sigh. I do really know better, honest 8)
After a nap and some dinner, I learned about the unexpected death of "Meet The Press" host Tim Russert. My memory of him is mostly surprise that someone could have such a sincerely enthusiastic smile, so often, for the potentially soul-numbing experience of immersing oneself in politics and politicians. Nice guy. Too soon.
For three months in early 2000, we played "12 Angry Shows" at a trippy space called Surf Reality south of Delancey Street.
Kurt has spent the last few years performing two one-man shows on the Canadian Fringe Festival circuit (mostly) and is taking "off" this summer to focus on writing. mostly 8) After the Suspects broke up, Juliette started playing drums and is very into jazz and experimental music ( I think).
Artistic pimpage :
"The Rachael Ray Show"
Three of the songs are original, but since this is (mostly) a food show, my blind guess would be that they want "Carrot Juice Is Murder" which is owned by The Arrogant Worms. In my answer I told them which songs I own and that I'll release any of those which they might want. I also credited the composers of the cover songs and told them what I know about finding a recording of "Carrot Juice" by the composers, and their website addy (no reason the Worms shouldn't get the exposure if I can't...)
Hey, if I can't get on the show, maybe they need another web researcher 8)
ETA: I just received an email with a release form attached -- they're doing a montage of street performers. My music may still not get on the air, but everybody who gets into the segment will be notified when the segment is due to air 8)
I am soliciting opinions as to what song to use -- the rules stipulate it must be a well-known song, not an original creation.
The question for me is do I present myself as a comedy/novelty act or as a straight singer? In my mind, I've always seen myself as a comic, since there was a long time when I couldn't sing and a time when I didn't realize I could sing, but I've always known I can make people laugh. In the past, pros I've asked invariably point me towards the songs I'm most comfortable performing, which means stuff from the street show, stuff from the CD. I have no idea whether those songs are considered "well-known" enough.
My short list:
Kathy's Song (Paul Simon)
The Thing (sung by Phil Harris, written by Charles C. Grean)
You're My Home (early Billy Joel album cut which has gotten some radio play but is not among his best-known works)
The Marvelous Toy (Tom Paxton)
This Is My Song (Petula Clark, written by Charlie Chaplin)
The Rose (Bette Midler)
I Got It From Agnes (Tom Lehrer) (I think he's still alive-- if he finds out someone turned his unsavory work into a G-rated comedy sketch he might not like it...)
shrinkyohead has voted "novelty song" because...there will be many many more straight singers than comic singers. (Okay, what was actually said sounded like "You can't compete with people who've been singing their whole lives..." ) There is something to be said for doing two things with one song if I can.
The glare makes it harder to see, but the red and plaid thing in the foreground is my original "jester's hat". Thus "My Cat Sat (almost) On My Hat" 8)
Isn't Jamie photogenic? That only took twenty tries and 90 minutes. From what I understand of cats, this is some kind of record. My problem was that I was learning to use a borrowed camera (under some time pressure) and learned only slowly, that Jamie's head could move between the time I saw her looking adorably right at me, and the time 0.00000131475 seconds later when the camera snapped a picture 8P
The designated performers' space inside the hall was next to two instrument dealers. This concerned me since usually they need for their customers to be able to sound-test without any aural conflict, but it was fine that day. I got to pass the case (needNeedNEED new tip hat!) and after my set was over, heavy-duty schmoozing commenced. It was wonderful to touch base with so many people and to share a few things I'd been in mind to share for a couple of months. Court was over two hours. I learned how to spell a gaelic harper's name correctly (filing it away for future reference) after court. There were long discussions during dinner regarding several events, including Fools of Gotham. Tiny Lass has agreed to coordinate the games (she and BSM were suggesting "Cheese Bocce" rather than Cheese-rolling, and perhaps "toss your rent down the hare/rabbit hole"). Conversations will need to continue. The two of them pre-reg'd and were talking up the event at the mead-tasting party they went to after the dancing was over ( greenman73's plan for "shooting at the butts" is getting raves and giggles 8). This made it easier to take when I was told that Crystal Snowflake Ball in Concordia is being planned for -- you guessed it -- April 5th. sigh. (The EKU made me a little madder since I'd really like to teach again at an EKU...)
I was supposed to meet them at the mead-tasting after dropping stuph off in the room, but...damn, that bed looked good, and I was feeling cable-deprived (I get VHF plus local 24-hr news, TBS and the Food Network) ... that was that 8)
Sunday morning I had a nice long tub soak (accept no substitutes) before breakfast. Some people were hustling to get on the road because of snow, others from snowier areas just looked out the window and shrugged "What?" I got to have a nice long musical talk with woodwindy (which put Mina to sleep? 8) while my companions breakfasted. We had a nice peaceful drama-free drive to our respective homes.
It was a lovely weekend.
Song source, published 1607, vetted for Kingdom Bardic ("documentable before 1605") -- Check.
Application sent for "America's Got Talent" -- Check. (I may or may not hear back.)
CD ready to send to Music Under New York -- Check. (Need printout of application first. Someday, My Prints Will Come...)
Still to do:
Update list of local open mikes, including Queens and Long Island (and sometimes Jersey).
Solicit opinions as to which song best conveys "my unique act" for AGT audition (assuming I get one).
Color hair. Trim bangs and crispy ends.
Laundry. (My window of non-crowded opportunity opens tomorrow morning)
I've never felt less "ready" in my life, but I'm not gonna feel "ready" until I'm in mid-song at some point in the next few days.
On with the
While I had very much enjoyed driving up to the event via the (new to me) Merritt Parkway (lots of trees, rolling hills, light traffic, no visible heavy industry) , I didn't relish trying to find my way back to it through unfamiliar territory in the dark, so I stuck to the Interstates til I got back to the 3rd Avenue Bridge in Manhattan.
Time well spent 8)
I got to Bhakail Yule later than I wanted but I was in time to say hi to woodwindy (Mina is Level 10 Lawful (?) Adorable!) and siobhan1214 and zaduzbina. We even had time, before and after a quick trip to the proteinaceous dayboard, to work in a few songs and I met a new lady who plays recorder and sings. loosecanon had a smile and a generous offer re: the car situation. I have the most awesome friends evah.
Too soon, I had to leave for the Phoenixville Firebird Festival and Busking In Teh Great Outdoors. I learned that my motley coat fits over top of my down jacket, which made the two-and-a-half hours possible. I set up outside a well-lit, "green" store called Earth Mart. My store liaison was a local artist who was doing children's activities (looked like cookie-making or Play-doh). They brought me cups of hot tea once an hour. They had steady streams of customers/lookers which was great for me. The Bag Ladies / Wandering Gypsies worked their tag-team comedy, along with several other young Pennsic denizens, most of whom were juggling / manipulating fire, torches, fire-poi spinning, to keep with the Burning Bird theme. I sang most of the funny songs I do in the subway, with some "churchy" Christmas carols (I can't remember all the words / chords to "Frosty" and "Rudolph"....pathetic, I know. People seemed to like "Greensleeves" and "Silent Night", and some of them sang along, which I love when there's no alcohol involved 8)
The deal is that the festival starts at 4 pm with a bunch of craftsmen / merchants in the area near the bird, which, unfortunately is un-lit. Earth Mart was up the street but along the route most people took to get to the bird. There's a parade of puppeteers and drummers about an hour before the bird goes up, some fire-manipulation, then they light the bird. They had a portable outdoor stage and a few acts working there which I didn't see due to working 8) After the parade went by, it was time to go down to the bird, put away the guitar and the hat, sit on my chair and spectate.
Later, the Bag Ladies took me to a party at "Lorraine's" house where I met a large crowd of high-school and college-age kids, had some delicious pizza, and learned "The Austrian Paper Game" which involves alternating sentences and pictures on papers which get passed around a circle and added to. I can't wait to play it again -- all I need is six more people...
I was scared by the thin coat of ice on my car when I went to load up ("Dottie" had offered me crash space at her house twenty minutes away), so I decided to trek home late and crash at home. The drive (on the Schulkyll, then to 295/turnpike) was mostly rainy, only slushy when I got near Staten Island.
Yesterday I slept and worked up a shopping list for some desserts I want to make for this Friday. Watch this space for the newly-tested recipe for "Mendoza Cake"!
One other performer friend who seldom improvises, described the process by which he methodically vetted every single piece of advice more experienced performers gave him (with some disastrous performance results, but that didn't seem to bother him at the time). His exact words were "I kept a notebook".
So, what 's the deal?
Does the bent for science confer some kind of emotional distance which translates to a kind of fearlessness even if there's no script and there's an expectant audience out there?
Does it all boil down to this?
ETA: My mom now wants to try contact juggling 8) 8) 8)
The trip back to Delaware was nice and peaceful. I don't care what anybody says about maintenance--the Bay Bridge looks to me like a crazy-quilt going too high over too much water. I'll ride over it but I doesn't has to drive next time =80
After a weekend of too much fast food, I made this hybrid we like of not-quite-potato soup, not-quite-succotash with elements of both. I also had sprouts because I had a Green Food Deficiency (tm).
The trip home to NYC needs its own post because -- well, you'll see 8)
Now if the sun could just return here the way it finally did in Slippery Rock...
The other Big Problem of the day was that the glass blowers had been told they were permitted to practice said craft today, which necessitates a blowtorch flame. Equipment was rented and hauled on-site. Site management refused to permit flame of any kind -- not nowhere, not no how. Glassblowing demo became finished - glasswork exhibit. Cut to shot of frustrated glassblower stating, "If I'd known there was a problem, I could have done music." Several serious discussions took place, hopefully all is improving.
The site is lovely, and the Feds who turfed us out wanted and received our contact info for future reference (apparently one of the rangers has been to Pennsic, or at least knows about it).
Tear-down had to start at 3 pm, and we got packed in time for the 4 o'clock ferry. Early supper followed.
Saturday I went back to Phoenixville for a downtown Festival (Springtime In Paris--apparently the local foundry made some of the steel for the Eiffel Tower). Eight buskers took to the streets including Bag Lady (aka Wandering Gypsy) Theatre, a juggler and a balloon artiste from Coxcomb, some local puppeteers, a blues band, a fire poi-and-shenanigans duo, and an eighteen y/o Theatre major doing his first street gig selling roses, looking tres charmante wearing knickers, knee sox, a vaguely Victorian jacket and a pale gray top hat. Also yours truly, clinging to freshly learned Ren-era chansons 8)
The eight-hour festival sort of petered out during the fifth hour when a large number of attendees went home through some simultaneous instinct which remains a mystery to yours truly. I took a break to rehydrate and facilitate and went back out for another hour, but the crowds were mostly gone. (There were fewer people than there were for the December Firebird festival to begin with...) I decided to Support a Local Business and had a "gourmet pizza", loaded with white cheeses and green veggies, for dinner. "Lorraine" from BLT, who had booked me, invited me to meet up with her and friends at a second-floor used/rare bookstore ("There are 26 steps--a moment of silence for this tribute the the majesty of the alphabet"). The store had a lovely reading area overlooking the street with magazines. The books were sort of wasted on me (I'm a horrible shopping buddy--I "hunt down my prey" and Get The Hell Outta Dodge); I couldn't find anything since many books weren't alphabetically arranged.
After hot chocolate from Another Local Business, we made an early night to support "Lorraine"'s plans for Sunday--early rehearsal before SAFD Stage Combat Certification with "Dottie" and their teacher Mr. Tm. Along with my friends, I got to see a lot of other actors and students present fight scenarios in a variety of weapons forms. I left my friends when the "closed" portion of the event started and learned about the Philly subway (two lines, no waiting.) Bargain lunch in Chinatown ("four items, free soup, $5") and a short walk downtown to learn how far I was from Independence Hall on my own two feet. East of the Historic District was a large street festival with gi-normous speakers, recorded/DJ'd music, and a distressing lack of street entertainment 8) (Also a lot of cops, and it's a bad idea to Just Start Busking Uninvited or I'd have tried it) Just before catching my bus home I walked through Reading Terminal Market and found The Famous 4th Street Cookie Co.
I knew what had to be done. It had walnuts 8)
Starting next month Kurt will be touring Fringe Festivals with two one-man shows he wrote himself, "Rebel Without A Niche" (about his day jobs and odd jobs) and "Hooray For Speech Therapy" (about living with his (99% offstage) stutter).
He worked with Unusual Suspects for four years and was the driving force behind our most successful performances, a run called "12 Angry Shows" in 2000. Some of his most memorable characters included the superhero Choir Boy (whose incoherent ululations induced evil-destroying Catholic Guilt), a pirate (before Johnny Depp "made it cool again") and a guy who felt so at home hanging out at Barnes & Noble cafe that he and his roommate started personal grooming rituals:
K: What the hell are you doing?
K: That's obvious, man, but have you no decorum? It's your BACK that needs shaving!
I'm so proud 8)
Round One started with eleven competitors (including a singer all of eight years old!!), whittled down to seven, then the Final Four (also t_bardand Frau Baumhecker 8). Performances took place in the sanctuary of the church where the event was held, and I didn't see/hear a bad performance in the lot. Frau B in particular impressed me this day--she chose two pieces with which she was sufficiently comfortable to give a relaxed appearance onstage, and it made all the difference in the world! I saw a number of entrants using pieces they knew well enough to take the performance to that next level--it definitely works, as well as being more professional artistically! (also more like what an entertainer's persona would have done...) I have heard sad things about the state of the performing art in other kingdoms, and I'm never more proud to be an Easterner than when I see this competition.
I got to do both the pieces I had prepared. I also got to see two of the performers who'd come with me entertain at feast (concert got cancelled because everything else ran late...big surprise) and receive praises and largesse. I hope they both compete locally and at Kingdom 8)
Full disclosure--I didn't have My Best Day. Performing at feast helped to restore equilibrium a little (took my own advice and did the Dead Jester again). I have much to ponder.
Last but not least, I got to audience-test "Pyramus and Thisbe". Got lots of encouragement and some very useful, specific feedback which I can use during final rehearsals this week. (My Coxcomb teachers were the ones who reminded us that professional live productions have out-of-town tryouts and previews to get this kind of feedback as well as knocking out bugs.)
Time and coin well spent 8)