The Bardic Arts center around entertaining - singing, narrating, playing music, as well as composing works to be performed. Performed around the hearth or a campfire, you can picture a bard entrancing his audience while dinner settles.
Our barrony's bard, Lady Rivkah, became the kingdom bard last fall after competing in a series of bardic competitions. She's obviously very talented and a great lady to boot. As part of her new standing as the Windhover Bard, Rivkah volunteered to host a bardic circle the last evening of war, in our campsite. Listed in the schedule, anyone at war was invited to attend.
The two large (open ended) tents which, up until then, had been our gathering and eating place, were cleared out in hopes of a large attendance. A second fire pit - raised metal basins in which fires were allowed - was brought in, and two rows of chairs arranged around.
We started casually, as the early arrivers settled (in prime seats near the fire, I might add!). Fires roaring, there was naught to do but try our hand at a few rounds which the choir members could lead us in.
Before we knew it we'd collected a nice sized crowd and Rivkah set the theme : as it was Valentines day, she declared that any bard that brought a tear to her eye with a love story -- be it passionate, bawdy, or riotously humorous, would be rewarded with a chocolate truffle. The play was 'Play, Pick or Pass', meaning that as your turn around the circle came up you could perform, select someone else to perform, or simply pass.
Unsurprisingly I unfailingly chose pass. But motivated to tinker with our camera's manual settings, I was thrilled to finally get some campfire shots. I love the warmth of these pictures, as it really fits the magic of the evening.
Beyond anyone's expectations, we needed every inch of space and every chair that had been set up. The circle went on hour after hour. As people filtered in and out all night we must have had a few hundred come through, and several dozen different performers, many who performed more than one piece. And people are still talking about the amazing quality of the performances there. Funny or sad, spoken or sung, new composition or old favorite, each bard entranced the audience.
One young lady stood up and tentatively admitted that this was her first bardic. Obviously welcomed by the group, she moved into the forefront, and proceeded to sing an amazing Italian aria. Just amazing. Afterwards, Rivkah got up and presented to her a ring which had been given to Rivkah at her first bardic.
Our crown was not the only royalty to join us, but they came and stayed for a long time. And, again beyond anyones expectations, Queen Salomea did not just pass or pick when it came her turn, but performed a beautiful song about Viking raiders (If I recall correctly... there were soooo many performances)
I didn't find out until later, that the gentleman who'd stayed through most of the evening - one of the few die hards that Dave sat around with long after most of us had gone to bed -- was one of the people who was in attendance at the very first gathering where an organization called the SCA was envisioned. Back in Berkely in 1966.
Helen used a turn to tell the story of how, at an SCA event, she is always loathe to leave the comfort of our middle ages to have to return to the garish modern world... "yet, we were out of eggs." Just the evening before they had decided to make a provisions run - Helen ran the meal program. Jumping into the car and stopping at the first mini-mart they came across, they quickly set about stocking up. As is typical when out in garb, they noticed a few stray glances their way - but never you mind, that's typical. Except this one group who seemed to be having car troubles, and their glances seemed a bit more than casual. Alas, the mini-mart did not have eggs, so they hopped back into the car to venture further into mundanity. Helen thought she was just being paranoid when the car from the mini-mart pulled out and started following them. And then turned into Safeway with them. And then parked right next to them. At this point Etienne decides the time for being direct has come, and asks if they can help them? "Oh, yeah. We're lost trying to find Estrella War and kind of figured that if we followed you you'd lead us to it!"
I couldn't resist snapping this shot, of Baroness Rossilind and Master Thorfinn.
One of my favorite performances all night was the one about the lonely widow who made a deal with the Devil, for as she said: "Hell on Earth or Hell in Hell it's all the same to me." Well -- Blow me over! I not only found this on the net, but here's a youtube recording! Listen if you are curious as to how "for the first time in eternity, Satan shook with fear." ;-D