I've been playing folk and Celtic music for over 30 years, and within the last 5 years or so have discovered the Renn Faire scene. I've performed at many of the Oklahoma Faires with my band The Counterfeit Bards.
One of my friends told me about Owain Phyfe, and what a coup it was for the Norman Medieval Faire to be able to book him, on the way as he was from Arizona to Scarborough. Our mutual performing schedules prevented me from catching any of his full sets, but I was able to stop and listen to a song or two a couple of times, and then got to hear him at the "Last Huzzah" at the end of all three days.
As a performer, I am in total awe of Owain's skills in interpreting and communicating his material to a modern audience. And although I cannot claim to share his skill level or interpretive abilities, we share the same opinions about the limits of "authenticity" and how more important it is to share the spirit.
With all the CD purchases by band members, I think that among us we have his entire catalog. If that first album ever comes back into print, put the word out, I'll jump on it.
A couple of "asides," which may be amusing: My teenage children are members of a reenactment/performing group called the Arthurian Order of Avalon (AOA), the group that does the chessboard and some of the dance shows at the Norman Faire. My daughter told me that most of her friends were going "Wow, Owain Phyfe," this year when last year they were going "Wow, Bilge Pumps." I'm sure that Owain would be gratified to hear that he is able to draw teenage girls' attention away from singing pirates who take off their pants!!!
The AOA has a Beltaine Feast every year, in which they celebrate the previous Faire, give awards, grant knighthoods, etc. I've had a custom of doing at least one filked "Tribute" for each Faire at that Feast. This year -- due to the pervasive presence among Norman Faire-goers of some of Owain's material - my "Tributes" consisted of the following, which I humbly offer in the spirit that "Parody is the highest form of flattery:"
(Chorus): We've all come to play At the Medieval Faire with the AOA But how can I make it for one more day? My parents won't send any money. There's so much to buy, and it's every which way At the Medieval Faire with the AOA But I can't take it with me for all that I pray, My parents won't send any money. There's swords and there's kilts and there's cow horns to blow And bling-bling to make a young lady's eyes glow And a bodice that's not really cut all that low, But my parents won't send any money. There's sodas and sausages, cheese on a stick Sas-a-parilla and ice cream to lick, It's my teenage duty to stuff myself sick, But my parents won't send any money. So buy me a snack, or an entrée At the Medieval Faire with the AOA Or I'll sing this song again, en francais 'Til my parents come up with some money. * Fuggi, fuggi, fuggi, a little song Drives me nuts the whole day long Fuggi, fuggi, fuggi, a little song Drives me nuts the whole day long Day and night it never ends Misery for all my friends It's going on forever Thinks it's mighty clever Stupid little tune won't leave my head - If I see Owain Phyfe, he's dead! *
Just kidding. Happy Travels to the Master Bard, and I hope I can hear him again soon.
Lee Agnew http://counterfeitbards.tripod.com
PS: My friend Jeremy (Fugli) has some pictures of Owain at Norman Faire on his web site, www.povera.com . Select "Artwork," "Photos," then "Medieval Fair, Norman OK 4/2/04-4/4/04."