Owain Phyfe at Tennessee Renaissance Festival (May 18th, 2003)
by John McFarlin
My wife and I don't get out to a great deal of faires, being pretty busy these days, but we were greatly pleased to encounter Owain playing solo at the Tennessee Renaissance Faire. Frequently, his recorded music takes advantage of supporting instruments, but here he was on his own, and in fine form, a bard in his prime, speaking and playing, readying the crowd with contemplative finger-picking and taking the time to tell a bit about each peice before playing. He played We Be Soldiers Three, Fa La La Lan, and In Hac Valle Florida, to my recollection.
Owain has a command of many languages, and the ability to handle how different languages behave with melody is impressive. Owain is no filk-singer, for certain; the complex melodies required by the authentic poetry he sets to song do not permit any artistic relaxation or doggrel. The peices he has chosen to include in his repertoire require the listener to think a bit, to not get lazy, and touch the listener even through the veil of language.
Owain's style is at the same time sensitive and robust, appealing to both feminine and masculine audiences. He'd be a fine, fine addition to any lord's retinue, in my opinion. His ability to play and speak, to draw one's attention with words, and then a moment later, to become almost completely unobstrusive, speaks a great deal to his skill and unpretentious nature. He gives the strong impression that he is merely the portal through which the music moves, and that he himself ought to be disregarded in preference to the music. Such humility is refreshing, and Owain Phyfe is a performer worth caring about.
We'll definitely pay attention to Owain's performance schedule to see if we'll be in the same neck of the woods as he.