Monday, August 27, 2012

PARF: Irish Weekend (wknd 4)

It's officially one month of weekends at PARF. Where did August go? Really, where?

Faire this weekend was a mixed bag for me. Saturday was one of the hardest days at faire that I've ever had due to an incredibly bad migraine. Not only did I sleep a little funny (and not in the ha ha ha kind of way) so my left shoulder was screwy, but it went up into my neck so I had a hard time turning my head. Put the migraine on top of that, and it made for a very unhappy musician.

I was a little nervous about the weather for the weekend. Rain was coming up the coast, and boy did it slam my friends for opening weekend at the Maryland Renaissance Festival.  Thankfully for us in PA, the storm stayed away for most of the day.  Don't get me wrong, I adore a good rain day, but after last season when we suffered through ALL the weather (and I mean ALL the weather), we really needed a break from Mother Nature.

Opening the day at the Gazebo was made even better with Doug, (Miguel from Don Juan & Miguel)  Bob & Jim (the Burly Minstrels).  Don't get me wrong, all the other musicians that were there are grand fun. There's Tilda, Harper Lee, Demitrius T. Musician, Barby Holder and Rowan & the Rose. There's just something about the bass guitar, duck calls and a bladdervarius (I really don't know how to spell that...) that turns something special into extraordinary.  Also, one never really knows they're going to miss these combined sounds until they actually hear them again.

The rest of the day took me from street set to show and back again while trying to hide from the evil burning daystar that was quickly turning my migraine into a thumping band of pain across my eyes. The day is actually a little blurry to recall. The wonderful folks who came to my shows were incredibly sweet and understanding and made being there completely worth it.

Extra fun: there was a feast for a 6 year old and his family. It was a small affair, and my first feast gig of the season. Due to some horrific traffic, the family was late. Due to some freak chance of nature, I was early. It was very odd. I entertained the crew as we waited for the family to appear, and they did, while being escorted by the Queen and her posse. I wasn't sure, given her schedule, how to handle the timing of things, but we worked it out quickly. She would do her thing, I would play quietly as background, and then I'd play something fast, fun & a little gaga as she went to her next engagement.  Oh yes, I played her Royal Majesty off with a little bit of Bad Romance. There is nothing quite so fun as watching the Queen look back over her shoulder at you with a gigantic smile. Have I mentioned how much I love my job?

I've had a couple of friends ask me how I can actually perform with a migraine. The answer is both complicated and not. The not complicated answer is that I'm there to do my job. I'm damn good at my job and I love my job. Unless I can't physically move or am so sick that I look like something out of an Anime creation, I'm going to do my job. I may stumble before and after the show, but that show will be as spot on as I can make it.  The complicated answer is much longer to explain, and quite possibly deserves its own post.

I boogied off the shire as soon as I was able after my last show and relaxed for the rest of the night in the 'Bagel.  DB was incredibly sweet and good and she went to sleep with no fuss, so I ended up just relaxing in the dark for a while. The migraine did go away by the time I went to bed, but damn if it didn't strike back at 5am.  I knew I would have a much harder day if the migraine was as severe as it had been, so I had some caffeine and 2 OTC migraine meds. (Think Excedrin migraine, but not recalled.)  Sweet, luscious, dreamy sleep came back to keep me company, and damn if I didn't sleep until almost 8am. This, of course, brings us full face to Sunday Morning.

Sunday morning was wet. It wasn't hugely, downpouring, OMG get a frelling ARC kind of wet, but it was wet.  That meant one thing - it was going to be a slow morning at faire.  Let me let y'all in on a little faire secret. Weather is a key factor in how busy a day at faire will be. The better the weather, the bigger the day. The worse the weather, the smaller the day.  I'm sure this is a huge surprise to everyone. :crickets:  Yup, y'all already knew that. ;>

Thanks to modern medicine, the migraine of 5am was barely noticeable.  I found out at morning meeting that I'd be at Queen's Court, so I went through tunes in my head. Something lively, upbeat and fun. That ruled out every Irish love song. Instead I decided I'd play Tam Lin.  Gazebo was really wonderful as Rose brought her French horn to gate. When I was in college and I took brass class, my favourite instrument was the French horn, followed by the trombone. There's something about the timbre of the horn that just puts me in a happy place.  We featured her at the beginning of Planxty Fanny Poer and then layered in the rest of the instruments.  I wish someone had been there to video it, because it was lovely and had such a full sound.

Queen's Court was a lot of fun for me.  I so enjoy playing with the court this year. There was my showing deference to the Queen (I ran to her throne and kissed her skirt) and then I made some silly joke about fast tunes and the way the Queen likes her music.  I'm lucky I didn't get sent down the hole. :grin:  It all went very well, and I scampered off stage.

After that was street work, a nifty Gazebo set with Harper Lee, and then my stage show at the Ball & Chain.  This is where my day went from fun and good to crap in 30 seconds. I had something happen at this stage show that I have never had happen before. I'm not sure how to write about it exactly, so I'll just leave it that I was very demoralized. Thankfully the set ended up on a positive note. The family in the stands had a baby with them. He must have been 6 months old, maybe 9, and his name was Joshua.  He was the most serious baby. He watched me with a look that said, "I don't know what to make of you, strange Roma Fiddler!" But when I started to play, he turned into the smile-iest, happiest, dance-iest baby. Every time I stopped, he turned back into serious baby. Every time I played he was happy.

This is one of the reasons that I do what I do. I doubt as that baby grows up that he will remember me. Really remember me. But the music touched him. I'd like to believe that the music will remain with him. I'd like to believe that as he gets older he might develop a fondness for folks in strange costumes and that he will always treasure the sound of music. Again, have I mentioned how much I love my job?

The rest of my shows were quiet affairs. I played, people smiled and laughed and clapped along. My migraine stayed to a low-to-almost non-existent level.  I spent some time with friends and ate some pretentious cheese. It was a good close to the day.

Once my last show was done it was time to get things in high gear so we could leave on time. One of the hard things about the Sunday departures is that I can't pack before I head out for the day.  I suppose the suitcase, but I need to pull clothes for the drive home. I need to wash up. I need to do my accounting. I need to pack any food I'm taking home.  After 4 weeks, my timing is getting better, and we were on the road by 7p. The drive home was uneventful, and we got home way before the witching hour.

Next up, weekend 5, Children's Fantasy Weekend and Labor Day Monday!


  1. *hug* I'm sorry for whatever demoralized you. If you wanna talk about it, you know I'm around. I'm glad for all the good bits of the weekend.

  2. Thanks. I've written most of it up, and now am debating if I want to publish it or not. The good bits definitely made the day for me. I appreciate you being there to want to listen.

  3. I'm curious what got you demoralized. I'm putting together a stage show and may have to deal with challenges. I know it can be hard to write about, knowing everyone involved might possibly read it.

  4. Danny, I'm not so worried about thinking everyone involved might read the post, as the people were strangers and completely pissed. In some ways, I'm more worried about other performers reading it and going, "Oh, Jeeze, you did WHAT?" More than likely I'll publish the post, just not yet.

    You've got me curious about what kind of stage show you're putting together. What are the venues?

  5. So sorry bout your continuing migraines. Jeez, it's hard enough on your body being a patron in the ungodly heat, but to have to work in it with a migraine must be awful. My hat is off to ya. I am behind on my blog reading, and my own blogging as well, but I am also curious about your demoralizing event. You are such a pleasure about the shire, I hate to think of something bad happening to you. On a personal note, I felt lucky to be stuck on the Rose stage with you and Bob and Barby during the brief stom. I love to sing along but am hesitant to unless invited, so that was grand altogether!

  6. Thanks. I'm doing a lot better of late. I think between the acupuncture, the B12, the magnesium and the feverfew I've got a better handle on the migraines. In the last week I had 1/2 a migraine and 1 headache instead of a migraine every day/other day. That is a huge improvement. :)

    I'm working on writing about the demoralizing event.

    LOL You are always welcome on the stage in inclement weather! I'm glad that you enjoyed singing and had a good time!



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