Portals Featured Artist: Alexander James Adams

Alec

Alexander James Adams

Alexander James Adams is the original Faerytale Minstrel. He has been playing faerytale folk music on dozens of instruments long before it was cool. He’s been on the circuit since I can remember, defining the genre almost single handedly. He is the consummate session man, able to jump in at a moment’s notice and learn your songs in real time, as you are playing them on stage. And what he comes up with is devilishly tasty!

He is one third of the wildly popular band of frolicsome fey, Tricky Pixie. Along with Betsy Tinney and SJ Tucker, Alec charms the socks off of audiences all across the US and Europe.

Give a listen, and then get excited for his addition on Portals!

Learn and listen to more of Alec’s work here:

http://faerietaleminstrel.com/inside/

And make your pledge to PORTALS right here:

http://www.sharonknightportals.net

Portals Featured Artist: Betsy Tinney

SONY DSC

Betsy Tinney

Cellist Betsy Tinney is one third of the dynamic trio known as Tricky Pixie. Along with SJ Tucker and Alexander James Adams, Betsy charms audiences in America and Europe with her soulful yet whimsical playing.

Winter and I were fortunate to have her play on Mistress of MacLyr (Neofolk Romantique) and now that we’ve had a taste, we want her on more songs! She also appears with us when we play Faerieworlds.

Betsy writes playful songs about animals, and is the author of an SJ Tucker performance favorite, “Alligator in the House”. If you know SJ Tucker, you know the song I am referring to.

Betsy is highly sought after, playing with the Heather Dale Band, SJ Tucker, Tricky Pixie, Jessica Star, Kellianna, Molly Lewis, and, whenever we can get her, us!

She’s also got a great sense of pixie style! I love her stage outfits and her kind heart and her love of cats. And of course her divine cello playing! She’s got a solo album out called “Release the Cello” which features beautifully layered looping cellos.

This haunting song from “Release the Cello” is one of my favorites:

You can learn more about Betsy Tinney at:

http://betsytinney.com

Reserve your copy of the Portals album plus get lots of specialty perks and help the Portals project realize its full vision here:

http://www.sharonknightportals.net

Portals Featured Artist: Paul Nordin

AugustFalls-PaulNordin5C

Paul Nordin reviewing a take on the set on August Falls

This friendly fellow is Paul Nordin. He may look like a refugee from the set of “Vikings” but as it turns out, Paul is much more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it. So much so that he was asked to be the cinematographer for August Falls, Fairuza Balk’s most recent movie. (Bonus for Breaking Bad fans: Skinny Pete is her co-star in the movie).

Paul filmed our Song of the Sea music video many years ago, and we have wanted to do another one with him ever since. It was the desire to do a music video that first got us going on the idea of crowd funding.

Paul has been the Director of Photography on numerous award winning films and music videos. He has an eye for dramatic lighting, and best of all, he has the collaborative spirit that is key to the Portals vision. He has been an ardent supporter of Winter’s and my music since we met, and over the years we have grown to become family.

Which is exactly the way we like it. Every Portals artist chosen has become family to us in some way!

During our touring escapades, our song Porcelain Princess has emerged as a favorite among our concert attendees. The story of a porcelain marionette in love with her puppet master, she yearns to be a living, breathing girl. Indeed, she would come to life, with a beating heart and a flush in her cheeks, if only he would see her for what she could become. She laments alone in her dusty attic with the other theater props, living for the moment when the curtains rise and she can dance on the stage with him again.

The song is about feeling invisible, and also about the yearning we all have to feel fully alive. Porcelain Princess is the song we have chosen for the music video, and also the impetus for the theme of the entire Portals project; an old-world theater of mystery, where uncanny things happen between the cracks of the expected.

The Showtime feature “Penny Dreadful” is the perfect look to tell this tale, and Paul Nordin is the perfect cinematographer to capture it. His eye for framing and light, mixed with his penchant for the archetypal and mythic, make him our number one choice. Not to mention, he commands a capable and loyal crew! As any good pirate captain does! (Hey this is a Sharon and Winter production after all. Did you expect there wouldn’t be pirates?)

But enough talk! This part of the project is about pictures, not words. We’ll let Paul’s cinematography speak for itself, and post his reel:

And of court, the Song of the Sea music video, also filmed by Paul Nordin!

You can learn more about Paul’s work at http://www.embstudios.com

And of course we’d be thrilled if you’d make a pledge to the Portals Project right now and help us make all this awesomeness happen! There are great perks in it for you!

Learn more and make your pledge here:

http://www.sharonknightportals.com

Thanks for sharing in our journey!

Featured Portals Artist: The Visual Artists!!

In light of Maxine Miller signing on to the Portals project I thought this would be a good time to introduce our visual artists.

As you know, the music and video are the core of this project. But if we can reach our stretch goals we plan to bring the project into the visual arts, with a gorgeous art book with song lyrics, stories based on the songs, and companion art from these featured artists. I am honored to present them to you!

Morpheus Ravenna

Morpheus Ravenna

Morpheus is a good friend, and also a big impetus in Portals existing as a crowd funding campaign. Through her own recent (and very successful) crowd funding campaign for her “Book of the Great Queen”, she benefited several members of her community by bringing them into her project. We see Portals as “paying it forward” by carrying on this tradition and including several artists in our project. Thus do we keep our communities thriving!

Also her art is striking and powerful! Celtic, tribal, and mythic, the art of Morpheus Ravenna evokes the ecstasy and mystery of union with the Otherworld. I am thrilled she’ll be contributing art that brings the Portals songs visually to life. In fact, one of our songs, No Long Night, was inspired by her. We’ll have her illustrate that one.

BONUS: She is also a tattoo artist You can have her art on your body!

Here are a few examples:

You can find out more about Morpheus’s art at http://www.bansheearts.com.


 

Maxine-Miller

Maxine Miller

Maxine Miller

I have loved Maxine’s art for years. She is well known, and has many iconic designs out in the Celtic and Pagan worlds. Imagine my glee when she began showing up to our shows in Portland! We have become friends, and I am super excited to have her as part of Portals. Her art is vibrant and incredibly ornate, with a bit of nouveau flair! I am thinking her style would be perfect for our song, Porcelain Princess!

BONUS: She has offered 10 signed 11×17 prints as perks! I’ll be adding this perk as soon as they arrive, so keep your eyes on the campaign!

Here are a few of my favorites:

You can find out more about Maxine’s art at: http://celticjackalope.com


 

Laura Tempest Zakroff

Laura Tempest Zakroff

I first met Tempest, as she is known in dance circles, when a magazine she co-produced, Crescent, featured an article on Pandemonaeon. The magazine was beautifully produced, and really stood out due to Tempest’s art. Over the years I have continued to be wowed by her creations. She has a singular style, which is reflected in her costuming as well as her visual art. She was a natural choice when compiling my favorite artists for the art book.

BONUS: Tempest is also an excellent dancer, specializing in dance that delves into the realms of myth and magic! She is very much an opener of portals!

Here is why I adore her work:

You can find out more about Tempest’s art at: http://www.owlkeyme.com


 

Valerie Herron

Valerie Herron

I met Valerie through Maxine and have gotten to know her better through various mythic communities. Her artwork is sophisticated, emotional and evocative, and delves deep into the realms of myth and symbol. She’s got a spunky spirit with flaming red hair and a pagan-goth vibe that identifies her as “my people”. She combines fierceness and vulnerability in a way I just love!

BONUS: Valerie’s art will be featured extensively in Morpheus’ “Book of the Great Queen”.

Check her out:

You can find out more about Valerie’s art at: http://www.valerieherron.com


 

Shauna Aura Knight

Shauna Aura Knight

I first met Shauna as a mover and shaker in the world of Pagan leadership. Only later did I discover that she is an astonishingly gifted artist. She takes iconic, mythic images, and frames them in Celtic knot work and jewel-like accents, brightly colored and with bas-relief touches. Her style is romantic and beautiful, drawing heavily on Aurthurian and Celtic legends. I have an original hanging on my wall, and I love it!

Shauna’s art would be perfect paired with the song we’ll do with Heather Dale!

BONUS: Shauna also writes novels!

Here is a sampling of her work:

You can find out more about Shauna’s art at: https://shaunaknightarts.wordpress.com


 

WE WANT THIS ART BOOK TO HAPPEN. 

And we need to get well into our stretch goals in order to do it.

I’d love to get one or two larger donors in the next week. It would be a good boost for the campaign, and also a great news item! If you have been thinking you’d like to have Winter and I come to your home for a house concert, I’d be thrilled if you book one through the campaign today.

Also, if you are in a position to help us step up to the next level by taking on a role as Executive Producer, I would love to talk with you. Please contact me privately to discuss a specialty arrangement just for you. Email sharon (at) sharonknight (dot) net.

Of course ALL donations and sharing are helpful, so please keep it up! Together will will make something truly stunning!

PLEDGE TODAY:

http://www.sharonknightportals.net

Portals Featured Artist: Heather Dale

Heather Dale. Photo credit: Barry Gnyp

Heather Dale! The Celtic Myth songbird who’s heart is as pure as her voice! Another remarkably talented singer who is also incredibly kind. (Life is too short to work or play with people who aren’t you know?)

Heather smiles all the time. And it is genuine. She loves what she does, and it shows in her electric performances. Her partner Ben is a droll yet charming compliment to her bubbly joy. And of course they are both outstanding musicians.

Many of their songs are based in Arthurian Legend, and Heather is well-known in SCA circles. She is truly a poster girl for the Bardic Arts!

I was already rather start struck when I first met Heather, because I had heard her song “Mordred’s Lullably” on a compilation Cd called “The Secret Life of Celtic Rock”. When I heard this song, I was floored. I listened to it over and over again. Her voice, the melody, the theme, all really spoke to me.

If you’ve heard Winter and I perform live in the past year or two, you have most likely heard us perform Heather’s song “Joan”, about Joan of Arc. Now you have a face to go with the name! And links to her music!

About 6 months after discovering Heather, SJ Tucker invited Winter and I to play her Strowler events, and we jumped at the chance, largely because we’d be sharing the stage with Heather Dale.

I am thrilled that she’ll be singing with me on Portals, and I already know exactly which song we’ll be featuring her on!

Without further ado, let me introduce you to Heather Dale! If you are at all a fan of Celtic music, you’ll be glad to have discovered her!

Here are three of my favorite Heather Dale songs:

And here is a cool video of Heather playing several public pianos that her hometown of Toronto has placed around the city for people to play. Great idea!

Want to learn more about Heather? Here are some links!

To dive right in to the music, I recommend her Bandcamp page! She is very prolific so make a cup of tea and settle in!

https://heatherdale.bandcamp.com/music

And her website (currently being rebuilt):

http://heatherdale.com

And remember, we are able to include – and pay – these wonderful guest musicians specifically through the power of crowd funding!

Pledge Your Support for Portals and Claim your Awesome Perk Today!

http://www.sharonknightportals.net

 

 

Portals Featured Artist: Sonja Drakulich

Sonja Drakulich of Stellamara

This beautiful woman is Sonja Drakulich. She is one of my all time favorite singers; one of the best vocalists currently on the planet, as far as I am concerned. Her voice is pure and controlled, yet deeply evocative, able to elicit emotion with a command that few possess. I hold her in the the same regard as Lisa Gerrard or Loreena McKennitt.

And I’m not the only one. She is the most successful of the musicians we know, recently completing a lengthy stint touring with Faun. She is the only one of our musician friends who has performed in stadiums. As such, she has become somewhat of a folk heroine to those of us on the circuit.

The recognition she has gotten is well deserved. Aside from a rich talent and a stage presence that seems effortless, she is an incredibly nice person. You would expect someone like Sonja to be a diva, but she is remarkably down to earth and open. And she is supportive of other artists in a way that makes her the perfect Portals candidate.

Winter and I met Sonja through her musical collaborator, Gari Hegedus. Gari answered an ad on Craig’s List for Pandemonaeon, and joined us for many years. He plays more instruments than I can count, and has been instrumental in developing Pandemonaeon’s sound. He is an outstanding musician and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he makes an appearance on Portals.

I don’t know what else I can say about Sonja that would be more powerful that just introducing you to her music. So without further ado, I link you to Stellamara’s most recent release on Bandcamp. You can stream the entire album and if you don’t fall in love with Sonja by the second song, I may believe you heart has turned to stone.

Suffice to say, Sonja, SJ Tucker, and I singing three part harmonies on Melusina = dream come true.

Also, here she is with Faun:  That is her singing lead!

You can learn more about Sonja here:

http://stellamara.com

RESERVE YOUR COPY OF PORTALS TODAY!

http://www.sharonknightportals.net

Portals Featured Artist: SJ Tucker

SJ Tucker. Photo by Earth to Steve.

This is the first in a series I will be writing on the artists we are featuring in the Portals Project. This is the essence of Portals; to strengthen our vibrant artists’ community by shining a light on one another’s talents. Throughout the campaign, I will introduce a Portals artist here and share a bit about why I love them. Starting with SJ Tucker!

SJ Tucker is a pint sized package of pixie-pirate awesomeness, with a heart of gold and a voice of pure magic. She is also a consummate show woman, with probably the best command of the stage I have ever seen. She is incredibly kind and open hearted, but also fierce as a lion.

I first met SJ at the Heartland Festival in Kansas 10 or 11 years ago. She was a wee wisp of a girl back then, and as we sat around the campfire, she announced to what was clearly a community she knew and loved that she was going to go for it; that September she was going to quit her job and try her hand as a full time musician. At the time, I was coming off “The Warner Brothers incident” and remember thinking to myself “Good luck with that, I hope it works out for you”, not feeling at all confident that making a living in music was even possible.

I think we can safely say, it has worked out for her!

She is one of the most well-loved performers in all the mythic-magic tour circuits we play, and for good reason. Her songs are filled with charm and whimsy. Her lyrics are clever and imaginative, weaving poetry and humor as she parts the veils to reveal fantastical worlds within. Her voice is honey and yearning, and her command of her instruments is masterful. Her stage presence is larger than life and utterly captivating. These things combined have won her a large and loyal following. I hope you get a chance to see her completely own the Neverworlds Stage at Faerieworlds! She and Tricky Pixie (all of whom are featured in Portals) do a great job on the main stage too, of course, but it’s as though the Neverworlds Stage was made just for her.

As Winter likes to say, SJ Tucker is a force of nature.

On a more personal note, she’s got a special place in my heart because she visited me in dream about 6 years ago, one of those vivid dreams that you wake from trembling, with the word “woah!” on your lips. In the dream she floated up out of nowhere and said, “You know, you really should be doing this”. Shortly thereafter, she showed up at Pantheacon, and asked me if I would play at her Strowler events. In many ways, I credit her with giving me the boost I needed to give music another try. And I am pleased to say, it is working out for me, as well!

To celebrate this dynamo, here is a sampling of some of my favorites of her work:

“Neptune”, from her Mischief album

A personal favorite, dark and haunting:

Showcasing her clever wit:

And her newest:

We are featuring SJ Tucker in Portals because we are sure you will love her as much as we do, and we know without a doubt that bringing her into the mix will help make a good project great!

 Learn more about SJ Tucker here!

Learn more about the Portals Project here!

We are the Light Returning

Winter Solstice is upon us, and with it, themes of the returning light, of the glimmer of hope endured after hardship, and the general goodwill of humankind. I have always loved this time of year, and associate it with Return of the King-type sentiments. An epic journey completed, with the fruits of a long struggle at last beginning to shine through the darkness.

Of course, for us in California, this is kind of a joke. By the time we reach Winter Solstice, our epic journey through the darkness has been going on for all of 6 weeks. Oh the horror! The rain has barely gotten started by Solstice, if we get any at all.

For this California girl, the Return of the Sun is something felt more as an internal process than as something that ties me to nature. It has always been more about the bleakness in the human soul, and the hope of return to a better life. This internal bleakness, I am sorry to say, is something we have a plentiful supply of.

My world has been seeming mighty bleak of late. I don’t know if events of the world are worse than usual or if it is just easier than ever to access a wide variety of news. Whatever the case, the human struggle has been hitting me pretty hard these past several weeks.

The woes of the world touch us all at different times, and different events trigger different people. Regardless of the what or when, we all know this feeling of bleakness, when it seems that no light touches us, but only a never-ending, grinding cruelty.

A cruelty that threatens to overwhelm us.

Many times over the last year, I have seen people plaintively express feelings of hopelessness, powerlessness, and overwhelm. They want to do some good in the world, but they don’t know where to begin. They don’t know how they can possibly make a difference when so much is going wrong all at once. Or they feel crushed under the weight of their own burdens, with scarcely enough money or time to handle the immediacy of their own lives.

I have felt this way myself, many times, and recently.

What helps me through my own periods of hopelessness is to take action. Even a small action. It doesn’t have to be some epic “Save the word in one fell swoop” action. Just a little something. The act of taking one small step toward the world you want to live in has the power to move incredible amounts of energy. Energy that will shift the paralysis of overwhelm.

Too often we think our gestures have to be grand, or they are worthless. By judging what we can do as “Not enough”, we shame ourselves into doing nothing. In our frozenness, we shut down and close out the world. And thus, we cut ourselves off from a sense of connection to and belonging in the world.

No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.

This little saying has helped me immensely. We don’t have to build a non-profit from scratch. We can donate $10 to one. We can volunteer one day a month. Even if we have neither time nor money, we can devote an hour a week to learning about a situation that troubles us. Education is often the first step in figuring out how to be part of a solution.

How do we pick something, in a sea of troubles so numerous that the very thought of narrowing them down triggers overwhelm?

I always start with this question:

What is breaking my heart?

Usually one thing will flood to the surface above the others. Take the first thing that comes to mind. Don’t second guess it. It may not be “The One True Thing Forever and Ever”. It doesn’t need to be. You can support another thing down the road.

Hell, you can write different things down on paper and draw one out of a hat. It doesn’t matter what you pick, only that you pick, and then take a small action in support of that choice. Whatever you pick, I guarantee you will feel so much better investing a part of yourself into its healing.

Once I have chosen something, I look for organizations local to me that I can donate to or work with. Keeping it local makes the most sense for me, because that is the community I am invested in. (My pick for year’s end donations this year is Planting Justice, an organization that combines several of my interests at once into their mission. Check ’em out!).

By participating, however small, in solving a problem that breaks our heart, we become part of that solution. We become part of the light of the world. It is so easy to think that our offerings are small and unworthy, and therefore not worth doing. But real change is made from a thousand small gestures. We really don’t need to ride in on a white horse with capes billowing, and save the day. This world will be changed not by the mighty heroes, but by the small gestures of all of us, woven into the fabric of our everyday lives. The changes that can be realistically sustained over time by regular folks are the ones that will endure.

We are the light. We must never forget this. A thin sliver shining through a crack in a dark room is light nonetheless. We are the Strengthening Sun. We are the Return of the King. The Solstice season reminds us yet again to take stock of what truly matters to us, and to shine our light on it.

And when we do? We light a fuse that burns away the darkness. We renew hope, not only in ourselves, but in all those we touch. We become the light.

Pick something. Some small gesture. Commit to it. Own what breaks your heart, and let yourself crack open. And then feed it your care, your commitment, your compassion.

Become the Light. And Shine.

 

Statement of Solidarity

T. Thorn Coyle and Brennos of Coru Cathubodua in Oakland, CA

I have been seeing statements in the Pagan community coming out in active support of people of color. Just now I have heard that people of color are asking for our overt support.

Here is mine:

On behalf of Winter, Paul, myself, our band Pandemonaeon, and our festival Hexenfest, I publicly state that we are 100% in support of the black and brown people in our community, and their struggle to overcome the obvious racial inequities within our justice system.

We want you to know that we see you, hear you, and are actively educating ourselves as to what your experience is. We are listening.

We are committed to calling out racism when we hear it spoken. We will do so firmly, with as much skill toward not triggering defensiveness as we can, that true dialog can happen. We will withdraw our support from any person or organization who continues to demonstrate racist behavior even after genuine discourse has been attempted. We are committed to challenging racial stereotypes as they come up, within ourselves as well as our communities.

We will continue to educate ourselves, and share what we are learning. We will continue to listen to the voices of color in our communities, and to remain open to to further ways in which we can support you.

We do not want these militarized police. We will not stay silent.

We know there are good cops. We know that all lives matter. However, we will not diminish the discourse that needs to happen right now by stating these obvious facts. Right now, the emphasis needs to be on the frequency with which black and brown lives are discarded, not only by police but by those of us who remain complicit by justifying police brutality with racial stereotypes.

We care about you and will stand for you. Black and brown lives matter to us.

Sincerely, Sharon, Winter, and Paul, representing Pandemonaeon and Hexenfest.

 

NEW MUSIC!! – The Transmigration of Cora Riley: Music and Words

CoraRileyEP_Cover_Letter_BCWe have new music for you!

And it is a bit off the beaten path from what we usually do. These three songs are based on an urban fantasy novel written by upcoming author Ellie DiJulio, and combines the feel of my solo work with the harder rock of Pandemonaeon, with a hint of Tori Amos vibe thrown in for seasoning.

The story goes that Cora Riley arrives at her 30th birthday wondering what the hell happened. How did she end up here? Had she just been sleepwalking through her life this whole time? She can’t shake the feeling that there must be something more to this world, something more to her life.

She finds it, alright!

The story continues, chronicling her adventures as she stumbles into the Underworld, and comes to find that all is not well there. In her quest to get back home, she must draw on resources she never knew she had. In so doing, she finds the life she was meant for.

It is a fun read, and one that our tribe will likely resonate with.

Ellie-DiJulioI first met Ellie DiJulio in an online group, where I was struck by her clever writing style and her commitment to her craft.

So, I was delighted when she asked me if I would like to collaborate by creating a music collection to go with the book.

Winter and I wrote three songs, inspired by three characters in the book; Cora Riley herself, a mysterious secret agent who holds the key to Cora’s destiny, and the self-appointed Queen of the Underworld.

Winter and I are proud to offer these songs along with the book!

You also get a supplemental PDF with song lyrics, character insights, and details about Ellie and I, your devoted creatrices.

This project is offered as a bundle called The Transmigration of Cora Riley: Music and Words. It can be yours for $8.00!

Yep you get:

  • 3 Original Songs by Sharon Knight and Winter.
  • The Full eBook of the novel “The Transmigration of Cora Riley” in both .epub and .mobi formats.
  • A supplemental PDF with song lyrics and other details about the book and it’s authors.

For Eight Bucks. 

You can check it out right here:

https://sharonknight.bandcamp.com/album/the-transmigration-of-cora-riley-music-and-words

 Want to learn more about Ellie ?

You can visit her here: http://elliedi.com

Just want the songs and the PDF without the story? That is also available for $5, right here:

https://sharonknight.bandcamp.com/album/the-transmigration-of-cora-riley-original-ep

I hope you enjoy our latest offerings much as we enjoyed making it!

May life be ever more full of magic!