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. :+) )