Speaking of music and renaissance faires …

March 2, 2008 at 1:21 pm | Posted in festivals, local, music | 5 Comments

Yesterday I went to the Potsdam museum to see a performance by Stan Ransom, a folk musician who lives near Plattsburgh, New York. The focus of the performance was the hammered dulcimer, a percussive, melodic instrument with a long and rich history. It is often played at renaissance festivals, and it was at the NY Renaissance Festival that I first remember hearing, and falling in love with, the sound of the hammered dulcimer.

Over the years, I have entertained the idea that I might one day learn to play the hammered dulcimer. I came dangerously close at times, but I never picked up a hammer before yesterday. It felt really good. Stan told me of a festival in the Adirondacks, the Northeast Dulcimer Symposium, and it just sounds wonderful. I probably won’t try to pick it up until next year, but when I’m ready to take the leap, it seems very doable. Besides, a hammered dulcimer would cost about $500, and I have to save up. I know they can cost much more than that, but I won’t spend more than that for my first one. As long as it sounds good and has a few octaves, I’d be happy. Also, I just started TKD, and I don’t want too many new projects at once.

But it’s still very exciting!

Fire Art

December 8, 2007 at 10:39 am | Posted in art, festivals, memories | 1 Comment

Years ago, I went to Glendale Glitter and Glow, a block party like festival in Glendale, Arizona. (The next one is in January; here is where you can get info on it.) I went in 2004 when Flam Chen, Tucson’s pyrotechnic theater troupe performed there. (Here’s a promotional video for Flam Chen.)

It was fun, but seeing Flam Chen perform was absolutely amazing. Adjectives that come to mind are mystical, magickal, otherworldly, entrancing. On the one hand, the inherent danger of what they do with fire and the technical proficiency required to do it are impressive. But even though the awareness of that never goes away, their handling of the fire is not the point, it is their medium. They are not there to dazzle you with their abilities of handling fire, their purpose is art. And their performance is mesmerizing.

I will not see Flam Chen for a while, living in the North Country as I now do, but I am on the lookout for anyone performing with poi in the area.

I have also become aware of a group based in San Francisco called Flaming Lotus Girls. Their brand of fire art is not based in performance, but in sculpture. Their media for creating their sculptures is metal and fire, and some of their art is interactive to a degree. I have not seen them in person; I became aware of them through an old school friend Lee, who made a bold life-changing move from New Jersey to San Francisco about 5 years ago. He obviously fell in with the right sort of “wrong crowd,” and has made the most of it. Rock on, Lee!

FLG has had their art featured at Burning Man and around the world. They now have an impressive two year calendar, the proceeds of which go to improving their current project, Serpent Mother (video), and continuing its world tour. I really want a calendar. I’ll probably get one after the holidays.

For those about to burn, we salute you.

August 20, 2007 at 1:26 pm | Posted in festivals | Leave a comment

Everyone who is about to go to Burning Man, have a transformative week. Perhaps someday I will join you.

(But honestly, there’s a better chance of me going to Pennsic War or Starwood.)

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