vinceconaway: (Default)
I know it's been a hard year for a lot of people, but personally it's treated me fairly well even as I mourn for various people and events. I'd like to thank everyone who made this year so good for my music and travels; it's been a very full year for me, and I can't believe so much has happened in a mere twelve months.

I began the year in southern Ontario, Canada, recording Dulce Melos. I'm incredibly proud of how it came out, and of how ambitious I was with the complexity of its music. I continued my Baroque explorations, delved even further into sixteenth century music, and discovered some fourteenth- and fifteenth-century gems in addition to the Celtic and early medieval music which has long been my foundation.

From Canada I went to Texas, although it minimized my culture shock that I was living in Austin (unofficial motto: "Keep Austin Weird"). I had a truly splendid experience at the Sherwood Forest Medieval Faire, feeling myself absolutely at home among close friends old and new. It's a delightful show with a lot of heart and skill behind it and I relished the experience of playing there. Austin audiences were incredibly welcoming and generous, and between my colleagues and our patrons I had a magical time.

From the newness of Sherwood I returned to my stomping grounds of Gulf Wars, a large SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) event in southern Mississippi. I had a great time, as my Canadian friends mingled with those I have in New Orleans. We did have a bit of an incident, however, with a massive storm system that swept through. I had just begun a set in the tavern when the intense winds and driving rains began, and I moved my setup to the minstrels' gallery (it's an amazing place). I spent the next few hours at my dulcimer, doing my best to add a bit of calm to the atmosphere. They're calling that night "Gulfnado", and it's a story that will always be shared by those who were there.

I then headed to Italy as I do most years, where I made some discoveries pro and con. Cities that have been good to me in the past, Padua and Bologna, had recently passed anti-busking regulations, and even the nominally friendly city of Perugia gave me some problems. In response, I broadened my busking to cities where I had spent very little time in the past, and was very pleased at my welcome in Prato, Terni, Foligno, and Pistoia. Taranto, Genoa, and Pisa were delightful and reliable as they've been so often in the past, and I'm pleased to have added Foggia to the list of cities where I reliably return.

From Italy I resumed my renaissance festival circuit, picking up in St Louis. I always feel very at home there, with this being my fifteenth year there as a musician, but it was a bit of an oddity; the festival is in the process of moving from the spring to the fall, and these two weekends were "preview" weekends offering a limited version of the show free to the public. Even so, I had a really positive experience, and the weekends were a rousing success.

I then spent a month performing at SCA camping events. It's typical for me to include a few of these throughout my year, as with Gulf Wars, but we were celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Society's founding. This meant that I went from St Louis to a ten-day camping event outside Kansas City, and on to a week outside Indianapolis, with a few days visiting my parents before a long weekend at the War of the Trillium surrounded by my family of friends in Greater Toronto.

I then continued my Canadian adventures by spending July as a street performer at Byward Market in Ottawa, the nation's capital. I love Ottawa and, as is a theme in my travels, have a number of friends there. It's my favourite busking pitch in North America, as a historic neighbourhood meets a farmers market under the umbrella of a very helpful and organized management team.

I returned to the States, and to the SCA, for my annual trek to Pennsic, north of Pittsburg. My fifteenth year there, I'm starting to play for the children of people who started listening to me as children, themselves. I taught a class on neat medieval sites to visit in Italy, and I was honoured to co-teach a lesson on street performing with my old friejnd and dear colleague Jack Strauss, who calls himself Dr Henry Best in the Society. We have sharply different styles, and it was a lot of fun to see where our perspectives differed and lined up. I'm especially proud to be a part of this class because it has a history of encouraging artists to become professionals, with several alumni who have gone on to make some brilliant art.

I'm running out of creative ways to say "and then I went someplace else".

So off to the New York Renaissance Faire rode I! It's a truly beautiful show set in a former botanical garden, where I'm surrounded by (you guessed it) good friends, delightedly playing for New Yorkers who live in the live entertainment capital of the world and know how to be a phenomenal audience.

Sadly, the New York Faire overlaps with the new autumn dates of the St Louis Renaissance Festival, but I was able to return for the last two weekends of its season. As I mentioned, the preview weekends had gone off very well, and the full show was an even bigger deal.

After two weekends off, which I spent being a social butterfly in southern Ontario again, I headed south to Louisiana. This was my fourteenth year at the Louisiana Renaissance Festival, after a very difficult year for them. The site flooded in March, under 8 feet of water, and after they had cleaned it up did so again in September. I was deeply impressed at how many people pitched in their labour to make things work, and how well management pulled off the event after two such disasters. Thankfully the weather had gotten the water out of its system, because we only had one wet festival day the entire season for a remarkably good run.

In short, it's been a very good festival season for me. Outside of my live performances, however, I also got a lot more into Internet video this year. I launched a Patreon campaign and I'm very pleased both at its generous reception and with how much fun I'm having. I've been intending to take more video, and this has been a brilliant motivation to keep coming up with new variations. Many thanks to all of my patrons! And many thanks to everyone who has offered me encouragement, feedback, applause, and their business. Without you there could never be me, and I'm deeply thankful.

A good day

Jul. 10th, 2016 08:09 pm
vinceconaway: (Default)
It wasn't a great day, but it was far from a bad one. I'm busking the ByWard market in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, and today's highlight was a large group of middle-school kids, early in the day, who clustered around and listened to both to the music and my explanations of it. Not only were they intent and asking good questions, but they were surprisingly generous tippers. A definite win!


Jul. 25th, 2010 12:13 am
vinceconaway: (Holland Head Shot)
The original plan was to busk Ottawa for a week then busk Toronto for another two, but it's turned into a really intense week of busking in Ottawa followed by two weeks of total indolence in Toronto. I did perform a guerilla busking set (without a permit in an area that requires one) on Dundas street, behind the Eaton Center, at lunch time last week but was unimpressed and too unmotivated to try it again. For the future I'm thinking of buying a busker permit at the St Lawrence Market, given how well Pike Place Market and Byward Market have worked for me in the past, but for this trip I haven't enough time left in the city to make buying a pass worthwhile.

On the leisure front, however, it's been a fantastic stay. I've been able to spend time with some wonderful people, whom I see far too little, and get some apparently needed relaxation. I've been spending a lot of time wandering the city, both alone and with friends, which is one of my favorite activities in one of my favorite places. All in all I'm chalking it up as a win.


Jul. 9th, 2010 07:22 pm
vinceconaway: (Holland Head Shot)
I’ve spent much of today recovering from a wonderful but exhausting week, and only made it out of bed for a few hours here and there. It’s been a delightful break, and I’m much refreshed to head into the weekend.

The city has been very kind to me, and I’m already mentally planning future trips. Ottawa is lovely (even under a record-shattering heat wave), the audiences are kind, and Canadian multi-culturalism is beautifully on display. During my conversations I’ve veered off into dulcimer-related tangents on the cymbalom, santur, and yanquin for Hungarian, Iranian, and Chinese immigrants and visitors. As I played “The Ashgrove” a couple wandering past “that’s Welsh and we’re from Wales!” Even elsewhere in Canada I’d be hard-pressed to find such a varied audience.

The French-Canadian connection is also incredibly strong, since we’re just across the river from Quebec. As I’ve struggled with a few French phrases (much to the amusement of my friends) I’ve been told I have a very strong Italian accent. I’d noticed that in Barcelona as I drew on my reserves in Spanish, and when you can hear your own accent it must be pretty serious.

I’ve been performing at the Byward Market, which is a very neat neighborhood and marketplace, lively and full of vendors. With all due respect to New Orleans, it’s kind of refreshing to play at a “French Market” where people actually speak it. I’ve been playing mornings and late afternoons, taking a break in a nearby park between sets and visiting with friends in the evenings. It’s been an intense week, but I’ve been loving it.

And, most of all, I had a fantastic concert on Wednesday night. I’m staying in town with a friend, Micayla, and when I was making housing arrangements my friend TSivia offered to host a house concert of sorts at the University of Ottawa, where she is a faculty member. Although I’ve never done any such thing before I readily agreed, and it went smashingly. I had an absolutely incredible time, my audience seemed to enjoy themselves, and I’m eager to do more along these lines!

In short, life is good, and I’ve made friends with a new city to boot.

August 2017

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