Friday, August 17, 2012

PARF - The Grande Arrival

I've been thinking about this for a while, and honestly I've always wanted to do this but I've never had the time or been able to be consistent enough to do this.  What is "This"? Well, it's writing up re-caps of the different shows I'm working. I'm feeling lucky, so lets give it a try, shall we?

There's only one word that I think can accurately describe opening weekend at PARF, and that word is "Wet".

The theme of opening weekend was "The Grande Arrival".  The day started out moist, with high temps and higher humidity. My morning ran pretty smoothly, minus a clock error on my part (being late to the first morning meeting was more than a little embarrassing). Opening day at faire is wonderful. You see all the familiar faces, there are the hugs and smiles and the feeling of being home.

One of the best parts of the day for me at PARF is the morning jam at the Gazebo. It's the first time in a year that most of us shire musicians have seen each other, but once the canon fires it's like we were never apart. The jam really starts my day. It doesn't matter if I've had coffee or tea, the jam wakes me up. I had 2 stage shows (2:30 at the Ball and Chain and 4:30 at the Rose) as well as several street sets, so after the jam I trundled off to say hi to folks before my first street set.

The heat and humidity was oppressive Saturday.  I know I did my best to stay hydrated, and the glass of pickle juice mid-day did wonders as a pick-me-up. I will say that's it's difficult to play the fiddle when your hands are so moist that your fingertips wrinkle up and your hands slide up and down the strings. The crowds, however, completely understood. We were all walking in our own personal sauna's.

My first stage show at the Ball and Chain was fun. The stage has been completely re-worked. Instead of picnic tables as benches, there were "risers" and a mesh tarp gave some cover from the sun.  The dunk tank was removed, and a splash tower stood in its place.  There was a space for the soundboard (the stage is mic'd) and the stage manager really seemed on the ball. Overall, I like the new layout.  The patrons really seemed to have a good time despite the heat. They laughed and participated and that just makes my job so much easier. The weather folks said we might have a storm later in the afternoon, and sure if it didn't get dark and a little breezy just as my show ended.  After the show I was chatting with some patrons when I heard the music playing on the sound system. (When the stages are empty the faire plays music featuring different groups that have been and currently work the show) I don't know when it happened, but I was added to the mix. I was listening to myself on the sound system. I squee'd like a 6-year-old. :grin: Then I started to play the tune that was playing. It was surreal and awesome.

My second stage show was at The Rose stage, and was equally as fun. I always feel like the folks that really seek me out go to that stage.  The humidity kept growing during that show, which made performing a bit tricky. It's hard to play when 1) the fiddle doesn't stay in tune & 2) your fingers are so damp that they slide on the fingerboard. I ended up singing a bit more at that set. :grin:

My last stage show was Pub Sing, which was back at O'Malley's Pour House stage.  Pub Sing is a nice cap for the day for me. I get to play with most of the musicians who were at the morning jam, and it's a very relaxed set. We usually do a round-robin and today was no different.  I think we were all a little punch drunk from the heat and humidity at that point. Some friends from MDRF were there, and gave a huge complement to me that I shared with the others.  They said that it wasn't the kind of pub sing they were expecting (raucous, loud, bawdy) but more of an Irish session. They really enjoyed it.

Pub Sing at PARF hasn't really seemed to find it's niche yet.  It's not the spectacular that Finale is, nor is it the familiar gathering like the Pub Sing at Sterling.  I like the idea that it's more of a Session, and can get people excited for the joust and then the Finale.

The weather was much better in the early part of the day.  Instead of the humidity being in the90's, it was in the 60's.  The temps were still unGodly at 97, but the lower humidity did help.  Also, there was a breeze!  Breezes can make all the difference, let me tell you. :grin:

Gazebo jam was fun. I had to leave just before the end, though, because I was playing Queen's Court. I am still squee-ing about this. :grin: I've never played Queen's Court before.  For the uninitiated, Queen's Court is at the Globe (the largest stage) and most of the morning patrons go there as the first show.  They're introduced to the cast and the storyline, and there are 2 independent's that perform. It gets the word out about shows and performers that the patrons may not already know about.

I got mic'd and waited back stage for my cue.   I have to give huge props to the "MC", who pronounced my name correctly.  A lot of  folks pronounce my name as Need-Fire, which is incorrect.  I was on after The Mud Squad. I'll admit it, my stage fright was kicking in. Me. On the Big Stage. Performing ALONE.  It was a lot of fun. I reveranced. I played "Butterfly". I was funny. I got off stage without falling down. The only problem was that my mic (and the Queen's) went out mid-performance. Ah, technology. Still, I got a lot of complements from the cast and the stage manager.

My show at the Ball & Chain was fun.  I stuck to a similar format from Saturday's show. The audience laughed at most of the jokes, and they seemed to have a lot of fun. The weather started to turn at that point.  It got a little cooler and the sky got a little darker.  The weather held until about 5 minutes into my 4:30 show at The Rose.

It started to rain and I invited the patrons onto the stage before I started.  There's a tarp over the benches, but it' not a solid tarp and the rain drips down.  We put benches on the stage and as the rain started to fall harder everyone came up.  The wind picked up then, and the thunder started. It turned into a full-fledged rain storm.  I started with Butterfly as the rain started to fall sideways.  Lightening, more thunder, more rain, but I kept playing.  At some point someone came by and said that we all needed to stay at a permanent shelter, so my stage fit the bill but standing at the benches under the tarp did not. More people came up. We all got pretty close. :chuckle: I think 2 or 3 inches of rain fell in that 30 minutes.  Everyone had  a good time at the set, I got a lot of hugs and "that was great music" and some folks took home some CDs. This is one of the times where I really do love what I do.  I got to entertain folks, and they were entertained, while the weather railed around us, and no one seemed to mind.

The rain died down after that, and I went over to Pub Sing. The set was really a lot of  fun.  There were only 4 people in the audience, but they were having So.Much.Fun, just sitting in the drizzle and listening to us perform.  It was a soggy and amusing set.

After that set it was time to go back to the 'Bagel and pack up for the drive home. That was my opening weekend, wet and wonderful.  Next weekend: Time Travelers weekend!


  1. Thanks for the behind the stage view! Love hearing how it all works.

  2. You're welcome. :) It's a crazy world back there...



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