Neofolk Romantique – New Music!

We have new music, which was just unveiled last night at our show with Wendy Rule at Serpent’s Kiss in Santa Cruz.  Just in time for our cross-country tour. Yay!! This is a collection of traditionals and new originals that have yet to find their way onto a “formal” album. It also introduces our self-proclaimed musical genre, Neofolk Romantique. After years of  listening to the staunch Celtic traditionalists proclaim that my music is “Not Celtic”  I have decided to create my own genre. Neofolk Romantique is what I like to think of as an innovative and fresh interpretation of folk music; it contains a goodly dose of stark melancholy and reverence for ancestral tradition that one thinks of when one hears the term Neofolk, but also has a romantic and fanciful spin. Romantique, in fact, for our love of antiquity and old world charm. Rather more flattering than “Not Celtic”, wouldn’t you say?

Neofolk Romantique gives me far more flexibility to reflect my own world without getting bogged down in annoying trivialities such as facts. Facts have very little place in art, as far as I am concerned. Give me Steampunk over Reconstructionism any day.

So – reinventions having been thus proclaimed, let me tell you about this album.

It is indeed romantic and fanciful. All acoustic and very sparsely instrumented. A highlight for me is a song I wrote for a storm, who’s beauty swept me away completely. It’s called Mistress of Maclyr, and the vocal performance is one of the most emotional I have ever given. It isn’t technically perfect, but that is part of the charm of this album, and left this way intentionally. Enchanting performances by Winter and Tim Rayborn are also featured.

It also includes Saucy Sailor, a feisty English traditional about a carefree sailor lad. I have always loved the spirit of this song. Then there is an A Capella poem by William Butler Yeats, and a fun little tune I wrote called The Captain’s Flask. And of course we had to include Henry Martin, one of our best loved songs when we play live.  We also recorded an acoustic version of Pandemonaeon’s Queen of Shadows which came out surprisingly well. The album contains 10 songs in all.

We consider this a pre-release, which means this:

These particular versions of the songs will only be available for a limited time.

Some of these songs – particularly the traditionals – will only be released on this album and not on the formal release. Therefore they will only be available for the duration that this pre-release is available.

These songs represent a sparse, paired down interpretation of our music that is much more akin to our live shows than our full-production albums. They contain the flaws, vulnerabilities, and intimacy of a live show and as such give a different feeling than our lushly crafted studio albums.

You can listen to the album in it’s entirety – and if you like, purchase it – on our bandcamp page. Folks who purchase this album will get $5 off our formal studio release, due out within the year, simply by mentioning they bought the Neofolk Romantique pre-release. We beleive in the honor system because we believe you are honorable.

Enjoy!

Tour Schedule

May 6th 7-9pm and May 7th 10-am-4pm w/ breaks
Sonic Alchemy and the Sovereignty of True Will – Workshop
Georgetown DE
Hosted by Bell, Book and Candle.
Note: this will be held at Seelie Court near Georgetown, DE – Not at the store – Directions will be given to registrants.
Tickets: $150
full details and registration here:
http://www.bellbookandcandle.biz/
Harmonic Bodywork Therapy sessions will be offered throughout the week. Signups taked via the store at the link above. To learn more about these sessions visithttp://www.sharonknight.net/acutonics.html
To learn more about this work in general and this workshop visit:http://www.sharonknight.net/blog/sonic-alchemy

May 13 – 15th
Blue Ridge Beltane
Stoney Creek Resort
277 Lake Drive
Greenville, VA 24440
http://www.blueridgebeltane.org
http://www.stoneycreekresort.net

June 11th
House Concert @ Cerulia House
Seattle, WA (check back for details)

June 15th
Sacred Paths Center
777 Raymond Ave
St Paul, MN 55114
$15
http://sacredpathscenter.com/

June 16th
House Concert
Ann Arbor, MI
7-10pm
$7 – $15 sliding scale
RSVP for directions to coirbidh_99@yahoo.com

June 18th
TempleFest
New Hampshire (check back for details)

June 24th
Wisteria Summer Solstice
39835 State Route 684
Pomeroy, Ohio 45769
http://www.wisteria.org/wisteria-summer-solstice.htm

June 25th
Northern Exposure Music Festival
A Sacred Place
970 NH Route 118
Canaan, NH
http://aspcanaan.org/northernexposure

July 1st
Musical Mistresses of Myth and Magick
Triple Goddess Concert
with Kellianna and Wendy Rule
The Lily Pad
1353 Cambridge St (Inman Sq)
Cambridge MA
8pm sharp
tix $20
http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/170910
http://www.lily-pad.net/

July 2nd
Musical Mistresses of Myth and Magick
Triple Goddess Concert
with Kellianna and Wendy Rule
House Concert
Western MA (check back for details)
cover $20

July 3rd
Musical Mistresses of Myth and Magick
Triple Goddess Concert
with Kellianna and Wendy Rule
Sacred World Interdependence Day
Earthlands
39 Glasheen Rd
Petersham, MA
01366
http://www.heartbeatcollective.org/swid

July 7th 6-11pm
Pirate Feast at Bubes Brewery!
102 North Market Street
Mount Joy, PA 17552
$50 includes feast and show
Reservations requested:
Phone: (717) 653-2056
http://www.bubesbrewery.com/

July 14 – 17th
Wolvenwold Sumer Solstice
St. Louis MO (check back for details)

July 23rd
Denver CO (check back for details)

July 29th Time TBA
Sharon Knight Trio – yep with Caith Threefires
Fitzpatrick Winery – Pizza Night
Woodfire pizza, wine, gorgeous scenery, and music!
7740 Fair Play Rd.
Fair Play CA 95684
Phone: 530-620-3248 / 800-245-9166
http://www.fitzpatrickwinery.com/main.html

September 2nd Time TBA
Sharon Knight Trio – yep with Caith Threefires
Fitzpatrick Winery – Pizza Night
Woodfire pizza, wine, gorgeous scenery, and music!
7740 Fair Play Rd.
Fair Play CA 95684
Phone: 530-620-3248 / 800-245-9166
http://www.fitzpatrickwinery.com/main.html

Sonic Alchemy

For folks near Dover, DE, I want to let you know I will be offering this workshop in May. Also if you are curious about my Sonic Alchemy work this is a good description. This event is being hosted by Bell, Book and Candle, and a link to purchase tickets is provided at the end of the description.

Sonic Alchemy  and the Sovereignty of True Will

Friday May 6th 7 pm – 9 pm & Saturday May 7th from 10:00 am – 4 pm with breaks

This will be held at Seelie Court near Georgetown, DE – Not at the store – Directions will be given to registrants

What is True Will and how can we manifest it?  How can we bring a deeper sense of meaning and destiny to our lives? How can we use sound and music to empower the most authentic parts of ourselves?

Using symbol to invoke powerful ideas, and using tone and musical vibration to deeply imprint these ideas, we awaken the Mighty within us. In so doing, we  cultivate a sense of purpose and promote a life that lives like an epic journey, where a destiny uniquely our own unfolds before us.  This workshop incorporates elements of Sharon’s “Waking the Mythic Soul” and “Musecraft” workshops, and will explore mythic arcs such as the Stone of Destiny, the Hero’s Journey, and the Grail of Renewal, as well as sonic resonance and re-patterning in the form of toning, chanting, and acutonics.  Using song, movement, touch, trance journeying, and acutonic therapy (tuning forks used in conjunction with acupressure meridians) we will explore and deepen these mythic arcs within us. Together we strive to uncover and solidify the grace of our own sovereignty while promoting the rights of others to find their own.

Bio: Sharon Knight has been a magickal practitioner for over 27 years.  She is a professional musician and level 5 Acutonics practitioner. She has been combining the twin disciplines of magick and music for many years, culminating in this powerful and vibrant practice.  Sharon’s approach to practice is that of a modern day alchemist, striving to transform the lead of habitual thinking into the gold of illumined awareness via the use of symbol, sound, and ritual.  She teaches and performs nationally.
http://www.sharonknight.net/
http://acutonics.com/

I will also be offering private Harmonic Bodywork Therapy sessions (based on Acutonics) throughout the following week.
Learn more at http://www.sharonknight.net/acutonics.html

More information on these events can be found here:
http://www.bellbookandcandle.biz

Tickets are $150 for the event and can be purchased here:
http://www.bellbookandcandle.biz/shopping/pgm-more_information.php?id=147

Musings on Religion and Imagination

Recently I was part of a conversation on religious pluralism, albeit passively, as I was editing a podcast on the topic. (T.Thorn Coyle’s “Elemental Castings”, the “Hindu Pagan Dialog” panel from Pantheacon.)

As part of the dialog, the importance of supporting religious pluralism in our conversations with others came up, and some stories were shared on conversing with atheists. One Pagan woman said she tells them “I don’t believe in the same God you don’t believe in.”  It amused me, and it also got me thinking how I myself might find common ground with atheists.

I don’t consider myself an atheist. I also don’t consider religion “true” however, so I feel I can understand the atheist’s perspective, and in fact I do not find it in conflict with my own views. How is this possible? To use a metaphor from Robert Anton Wilson, I see religion as the map but not the territory.

Religion gives us a set of symbols that creates a “bridge”, so to speak, for grappling with ideas and energetic forces that would otherwise be unfathomable to us. Therefore all religions are both true and untrue at the same time.

My more religious friends may question my integrity, since I declare myself a Pagan, so surely I do believe in a religion. To them I say, “Yes, I use symbols that speak to me, i.e. Pagan ones, in order to experience that which does feel like the territory, which is a sense of expansive awareness I cannot explain, but which gives me something I value as essential to my being.”  Whether I call this “God” or not is irrelevant.

To my more atheistically-inclined friends, who may suggest it is less than truthful to claim I am not religious after what I just described above, I say “You don’t believe in God, but do you believe in imagination?”

Imagination has always been a key that unlocks doors in the minds of the religious and non-religious alike. We all love stories. We all love music that takes us somewhere, that opens a corner of the mind we did not realize was there a moment ago. We all have room in our being for more than what is going on in our immediate surroundings at any moment.

Religious symbolism uses the imagination to open doors in the mind, to expand awareness, and to glimpse the infinite. The arts also do this. Likewise does science, in it’s ability to reveal the vast workings of our world. For those who don’t practice a spiritual discipline, they may yet find a similar satisfaction in the way interior design sets the harmony of a room, in the way a piece of art opens something in the mind, or in the feeling of awes that overcomes s when we realize the size of the Universe.  These things do not need to be called “God” to create an experience of mystery or magic.

Perhaps the spiritually inclined can sometimes be condescending toward those who don’t find a need for religion, thinking that part of them is missing, asleep, or unfulfilled. Perhaps atheists can sometimes be condescending toward the spiritually inclined, thinking they need religion as a crutch, when it may well be that we all seek to tap the mysteries of life, albeit in different ways.

As someone who has found wonder in art, science, and religion alike, I propose that any of these can lead to an experience of fulfilled human life.

Perhaps, as we can learn to find common ground among those who hold different religious views than our own, we can also find common ground among those who don’t have any religious views at all. At least some of the time. Thus we can emphasize our similarities and not our differences.

StrowlerFest Review

I recently returned from StrowlerFest, as many of you know, and it was a peak experience for me in many ways. It felt like a homecoming, so I share some of my musings here.

StrowlerFest was similar to a few of our convention-style Clan gatherings out here in California – namely the Sci-Fi/fantasy themed BayCon and the Pagan themed PantheaCon, except that StrowlerFest featured music as the prominent element.  Care was taken to choose a good venue for experiencing a musical concert, and an excellent sound system and skilled technicians were in place to give participants the best experience of the featured music.  As a Pagan musician, this was a welcome turn of priorities for me. Whereas PantheaCon gives us the opportunity to come together and explore our spiritual identity, StrowlerCon gives us a way to build our culture. This has been something I have been ready for for some time.

StrowlerFest was attended by the usual suspects – dreadlocked Goths and faery winged gypsies, Renn faire refugees and Steampunk bellydancers. Pirates in eyeliner and flirty nymphs with animal tails. Makers. Crafters. Circus performers. Most were very creative, smart, tech savvy, and crafting a life on their own terms. Most were Pagan, too, although one of the things I liked best about StrowlerFest is that it was more “Pagan friendly” than strictly Pagan.  Although there is a strong Pagan undercurrent to StrowlerFest, the focus is not on spiritual identity  but rather the creative expression that comes from a richly imaginative worldview, which includes the Pagans but is not limited to them.

In keeping with this ideal were the musicians themselves. Most, if not all, were Pagan.  The sultry Wendy Rule opened Friday and Saturday nights with her musical circle casting and spellbinding vocals, performing as a trio with her guitarist sweetie Tim and tricky Pixie cellist Betsy Tinney. She was probably the most overtly witchy of the performers and is well loved internationally for her Gothy witch-songs that reflect her Scorpio nature.  A favorite performance for me was Heather Dale, a Celtic singer I first discovered via “The Secret Life of Celtic Rock” Cd, where her song Mordred’s Lullaby was featured. Her voice and her melodic sense are absolutely world class and brought tears to both Winter’s and my eyes. In fact, knowing she would be performing was a key reason Winter and I accepted this gig ourselves. Many of her songs are based in Aurthurian mythology, so for the lovers of myth among us, her show was a real treat.

Speaking of the myth-lovers, Tricky Pixie was another highlight of the weekend. Tricky Pixie is  made up of StrowlerFest co-founder SJ Tucker, who describes her music as MythPunk – an apt description as her tales are laced with mythical beasts, the land of Faerie, great horned gods and the like;  feisty fiddler Alexander James Adams (heir to the musical legacy of Heather Alexander, who some may remember from the Bay Area Celtic band Phoenyx);  and gorgeous Cellist Besty Tinney of Gaia Consort. They are all consummate performers with electric stage presence, impressive musical skill, and an admirable dose of comedic savvy.

Other performers included GB Mojo (fantastic!), Big Bad Gina, Dreamtrybe, and of course Winter and I. I’m hardly going to review my own show but suffice to say we were very well received indeed.

There were also workshops during the day at the hotel, much like Pantheacon, ranging from  circus arts to Bardic singing, runes and tarot and healing – a community of people coming together for a weekend and sharing those things most dear to their hearts.

So how do you know if you might be a Strowler?

Here’s a definition from Urban dictionary:

n. Vagabonds, Itinerants, Men of no settled Abode, of a precarious Life, Wanderers of Fortune, such as Gypsies, Beggars, Pedlars, Hawkers, Mountebanks, Fidlers, Country-Players, Rope-dancers, Jugglers, Tumblers, Shewers of Tricks, and Raree-show-men.
From A Dictionary of Thieving Slang, 1737

“Aligned with [steampunk] and other chronology-bending movements, strowlers focus on alternative forms of performance art, such as music, juggling, poi spinning, dancing, drumming, circus arts and ropework. Strowlers are also into craft, calling themselves “makers”. Strowlercon is an annual gathering of such folk.”   –  Urban Dictionary

I would add to this that we are the people who make our own way in life, for what is offered by mainstream society is not acceptable. So we live by our wits, our imagination, our creativity, and by the love and good will of one other,  for we each know the perils the other endures.

StrowlerFest was our Rock concert.

Think you might have missed something awesome?  You did, but take heart, there are two more Strowler-themed events scheduled for this year – StrowlerCon in Boston Oct. 8 – 10, a Con-style event with lots of workshops, concerts,  and wicked afterparties, as well as a VIP breakfast with the artists Sunday morning; and Strowler Nights in Seattle Oct. 29 – 31st, which sounds like it’s shaping up to be a full-on All Hallows Circus.

Winter and I will be performing at each, and I’ll be offering my Well of Song workshop.

Want to join us in Boston?  Visit http://www.strowlers.com/events/strowlercon for details and tickets.

Enter  “winterknight15″ as the discount code to get 15% off your admission!

(Note: The VIP brunch with the artists Sunday morning is $40 and  the discount code applies for this as well. Also for the budget conscious they are helping folks find compatible roommates to share hotel rooms. It’s all at the link above.)

Seattle better for you?

Visit http://www.strowlers.com/events/strowler-nights for details and tickets.

Enter  “winterknight” as the discount code to get 10% off your admission!

(Note: yep only 10% discount for Seattle. It’s filling up fast so discounts likely won’t go less than 10%, and you ought to get your tix soon. Day passes available as well, it’s all on the site. :+) )