This Summer marked the 50th year that the Pennsic war took place. What is Pennsic you ask? Well what it is, is a 2 week long camping event held by the S.C.A. where things like fully armored battles, classses in anything you can think of related to the middle ages (and ancient Rome) from the arts to history, merchants specializing in hand making and selling long forgotten crafts, performances, food, and the sharing of home brewed adult beverages happen on a daily, almost nonstop basis. I heard someone on TikTok refer to it as the Cochella of medieval enthusiests and, well, they’re not far off.
Although I went to far more performances,as I was surrounded by music and dancing, I limited this report to three distinct catagories of performance:
- Bardic Circles
- Highlights of campfire-centric music and dancing
- Stage performances
1) Bardic Circles
One of the delights of playing a bard in the SCA is that you get to attend bardic circles. Some are announced publicly and some are invitation only. They may be themed ( as in sea shanty or songs existing in a certain time period only) or free form/ anything goes!
They are a chance for us to share stories and songs with other bards , and those who wish to listen for some entertainment.
By attending these you get to hear all sorts of talent around the kingdoms of the known world. This ranges from Storytelling (think engaging renditions of Norse folktales and King aArthur told by a human in a way the stories were originally meant to be shared and passed down, to funny :” no $#!% there I was anectdotes from Pennsics Past) and Filks ( parodies of existing music) – my favorite! to some absolutely gorgeous renditions of early folk music.
2) Highlights of campfire-centric music and dancing
One of the other adventures one can have at Pennsic is walking around to the varous encampments at night and witnessing all sorts of informal performances. Throug this practice, I saw some incredibly impressive fire dancing, drum circles, witnessed and all out middle eastern music jam session materialize in fromt of my eyes and ears at the Lost Boys encampment, and, through tagging along with some other bards, some soothing entertainment at a few smaller campfires. One particular experience ended at 3am with a bard performing an acoustic rendition of ” Buggar Off” to end the night!
3) Stage Performances
In addion to all of the ambient music happening around me, there were some formal scheduled performances as well.
One of the perofrmances I witnessed under the official performance tent was from a well seasoned bard in the Performing Arts Tent ( I wish I could remember his name!).
He sang some gentle tunes, and told some stories, and even invited who I think was a former apprentice and/or great friend on stage where they harmonized beautifully on a few tunes. She was fantastic as well!
My favorite song from this performance was Juniper, Gentle, and Rosemary. This song is on my list to learn for next year thanks to this bard exposing my ears!
To conclude this post, Please enjoy this rendition of Erutan’s the Wilow Maid, performed with a couple of very talented Bards I met in these excursions, named Ainsley (Main vocals and lyre) and Gryphon ( lute?) at 3 am one Pennsic morning! I Harmonized 🙂