Having experienced my first Renaissance Festival at Baycrafters (see Origin Story Part I
), I went off to college. I was dating a girl in Dayton, Suzzi Bibby, while going to school in Columbus, and I accumulated a lot of miles between the cities. It was she who introduced me to the Ohio Renaissance Festival.
We went as patrons, and soon were going in costume. We would treat the admission fee as a cover charge and spend all day in the pub, watching band after band. Soon we were playing together the music we were hearing, with my experiments on mountain dulcimer (no relation to my now-primary instrument, the hammered dulcimer) being accompanied by her playing on recorder and bodhrán (an Irish frame drum).
We called ourselves the Tweedford Minstrels, since our music straddled English, Scottish, and Irish traditions just as a fictitious ford on the River Tweed would straddle the countries of England and Scotland. Our first and only performance was at the Ohio State University Medieval and Renaissance Faire in May of 1997.
We had broken up the previous January, and the band outlived the relationship only briefly. I was branching out into new music and we weren't getting together to rehearse as often now that we were dating other people more local to us. I had taken up the cittern, a ten-string instrument that had more volume, more flexibility, and more of a renaissance image. And so I went solo.
In 1998 I played a madrigal dinner, and my hosts Mac and Cheri Corbeil insisted that I audition for the Ohio Renaissance Festival. I didn't feel myself to be ready, but I played the Ohio State Medieval Faire again on my own and gathered the courage to audition for ORF that summer.
To my amazement I got the gig.
Everything else I've done followed from that moment. I discovered that my love of performing went deeper than I had imagined, and I learned that there were people who made a living by traveling the country and bringing joy to their audiences. I investigated the Renaissance Festival circuit and began plotting a future, even as I commuted to North Carolina to fulfill an internship with IBM. A stark choice lay before me, and I was strongly considering Option B.
I have never regretted treading the path less taken.