Monday, December 14, 2009

To paraphrase Voltaire - "Dark Dark Darkity Dark Dark Dark Dark Clan!"

One of the perks of what I do are the hard parts.

That is, the parts where running Wicked forces me to do things I might not do ordinarily. In my pre-Wicked life, even during the event portions of it, I would be interested in performers, true...but I wouldn't actively seek them out. I wouldn't spend my time looking around, trying not just to see what's out there, but to appreciate an ever-wider range of sensations.

To write this post, I had to immerse myself in some of The Dark Clan's music, because I wasn't really familiar with them. ...and all of a sudden, I got that "new band" contact high. Do you know the feeling? Some people get it, some don't; it's that sensation when you've come upon something you really, really love, and voila! the world has one more pleasure to offer you!

Here's what makes it for me: This is incredible Gothic music. But it displays much, much more variety than almost any performers I've ever worked with. And I fully see both people who love Gothic music, and people who don't care for it, vastly, deeply enjoying this band.

There's more. I try not to focus on humor, because while I'm an enormous fan of humor, not everyone wants a lot of funny in their salad. Plus, bands who do funny music get pigeonholed; they're humorists, they're novelty acts, or what-have-you.

But seriously. Those of us outside the Gothic world, don't most of us think that the coolest, most fun Goths we've met have been those who didn't take themselves seriously all the time? I'm not sure what charms me more--to talk just about songs you can access for free on their Myspace page ( - I dare you not to be charmed by "Goths On A Boat"--which, in a terribly ballsy move, isn't content to poke fun at that great-but-weird true concept, the "Goth Cruise"...

....but also takes at least three different tones, shifting musical style, singing style, even lyrical style to poke fun at different kinds of Goths. That's not simply funny; that's impressive talent, and it really makes the song cohere.

It's not just that, though. It's "Real Vampires Don't Sparkle", which takes a familiar snarky slogan and then plays it seriously, and pulls it off. It's "New London", which pulls off the epic "music from the cathedral" feel I associate with the Limelight club in 1998--and has just a gentle enough touch, just enough quiet self-assurance, to hold it. The song could easily come off as overwrought - and perhaps it is -- but it has such unassuming adroitness that we can enjoy it without irony.

As for "The Cinal Fountdown"...well, I kind-of wish I hadn't already used the term "ballsy" above, because I want to use it about twelve times here. Instead, I'll tell you to check out that Myspace page, and I'll go sign off.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Egads, what Sorcery is this?

So the proposal read,

ASK A SORCERER, With Jason Miller. You can call in to a show and get the advice of doctors, psychiatrists, therapists, homemakers, pick up artists and just about anything else you can think of. Why not a Sorcerer? Rather than advice, Jason Miller, author of "The Sorcerer's Secrets" and "Protection and Reversal Magic" will be doling out spells and rituals to get your mojo working. Need to find a job? Get a promotion? Get laid? Get a neighbor to move? Chances are if you have a problem, Jason knows time honored spell that can help you out. Even people that have no prior experience in magic or complete unbelievers can get results.

I met Jason/Inominandum back when I was still the one running Crucible. I was struck by a number of things about him - the interesting contrast between someone who was utterly serious about his work - who studied it daily, who performs it as if the profession were sorcerer were as clearly-established in our society as the profession of doctor or firefighter, and who was calmly confident about his abilities -- and who, at the same time, could take it all very peaceably. Someone felt disbelief? Sure, that was natural and understandable; he simply took it in stride, with neither angry outrage nor arrogant dismissal. A beginner wanted to talk to him? He was glad to go over basic subjects and give his thoughts. Conversation with experienced practitioners? Equally comfortable.

I admit: without even touching on the matter of what Inominandum's abilities are - the first thing which impressed me about him is the thing which still impresses me most: He's a really great guy.

Monday, November 30, 2009

A guest post regarding famed Renfaire headliners "Coyote Run"


Jeff writes: "And now, I'd like to present to you some thoughts on the rather amazing Coyote Run. Coyote Run is a well-known Faire headliner, and I'm ridiculously pleased to have them with us."


One of the most recent additions to Jeff Mach’s most delectable entertainment schmorgasboard for WICKEDFAIRE 2010/MAD TEA PARTY is COYOTE RUN.

It should NOT be assumed that COYOTE RUN is just another yummy dessert or an after dinner mint – they are unquestionably a definitive main course, a singularly exquisite entre with their own distinct taste for all to savor.They have at one time or another been compared to Jethro Tull and Red Hot Chili Peppers in kilts yet in actuality defy pigeonholing. COYOTE RUN emerged in 1999 and like choice wine, cheese and steak they continue to improve with age. Their initial offering was “traditional Celtic Rock” with “story telling” (a mainstay to be sure) yet they continue to evolve into other fringe areas on the musical forefront. Their art is punctuated in part with the wail of bagpipes, amazing riffs from a killer electric bass, guttural didgeridoo growls and the pounding, rhythmic (dare I use the phrase “bordering on tribal”) sound of drums. Mixing this with amazing vocals and lyrical harmonies, you have the makings of a performance that leaves you wanting more.

ALCHEMY can be described as a transforming or enchanting power and the entertainment offered by COYOTE RUN is unquestionably the personification of the word.The individually unique styles of David, Doug, Mike and Catherine create gold from what would be, in the hands of other musicians “base metal” music. Their ability to mesmerize an audience is only secondary to the quality of their sound.

Recently returned from Scotland and presently in the midst of their holiday tour, they will be performing at MARSCON/Williamsburg, Virginia in January and at WICKEDFAIRE 2010/MAD TEA PARTY in February.Continually tweaking theirmusical technique, COYOTE RUN has most recently been experimenting with and moving towards a Steampunk persona… not just in look, mind you, but in style and sound!

And what exactly, you ask, IS Steampunk music? More about that in my next blog. Right now the wind is picking up from the West and I can no longer dally on the promenade and gaze over the railing. My presence is required in the wheelhouse.Pirates are everywhere these days.

Respectfully submitted by Lord Montague J. Fromage,

High Admiral, Supreme Squadron Commander of HIM Airship Armada

Monday, November 23, 2009

Voltaire, Voltaire, Voltaire

There's something you might not know about the way I see Voltaire.

Lo those five years ago, he was to be the Big Headliner, he was the person whom we hoped would most give name recognition to our brand-new, small (we thought it would be!), experimental event.

Half a decade later, regardless of who we bring in, or what's going on--this man fills up every stage area we put him in, even when that area's gotten bigger and bigger and bigger.
There's a secret I don't talk about: In many ways, Voltaire exemplified my original idea of what Wicked Faire could be.

What he does is cross genres like it's nobody's business, and pretty much as if the lines don't exist. Which is damn weird for someone who plainly comes out of a particular subculture. But even back in the day, they called him the Clown Prince of Goth. It was clear to me that this was a man whose music would appeal to pretty much anyone who liked things at least a little bit outside the ordinary. His music was often funny, but it was also magnetic; it was passionate without losing control, beautifully modulated without ever appearing mechanical. And you could take a crowd of any kind of weirdos, and even if they'd never heard him before, they'd stop, and they'd listen, and then they'd want more--to hell with whether this was "goth" or "comedy" or "punk" or "Rennie" or what-have you; to hell with it, this is good, and we want it!

If that's not my dream for how people will experience Wicked Faire, I don't know what is.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Raab Rashi, master teacher of the sword

Back at the beginning of my own martial arts study, I read every damn martial arts book I could find. Many of them liked to list martial arts as esoterically as possible. There's at least one martial art whose initial descriptions were so fascinating, mystical, and confusing that, though I've since met many practitioners, I still can't figure out what the hell they do. (That would be Pa Kua Chuan.)

I found "Iado" in a big, coffee-table book in the library, a book which gave one-page descriptions of about a hundred different arts, with cool pictures. Iado had one of the best descriptions ever - it said, pretty much, "Iado is the art of having presence of mind and masterful body such that you draw your sword faster than your opponent, and thus slay him instantly."

I hear you ask me, "Jeff, what is a modern-day samurai doing performing at Wicked Faire?" And having seen Raab in action, I can state, from the heart, "Any damn thing he wants to, man. I ain't gonna say no to him."

...okay, that's an old and a cheap joke, I admit. And the only person who's going to laugh at it is me. Forgive me my moment of weakness. Let's move on to the heart of the matter. As it were.

Iado is part of the set of martial arts Raab teaches. I've seen him teach - not just martial artists, but people who've never held swords before. I've seen people pick up sticks as if they were sticks, and half an hour later, put them down as both deadly weapons, and very serious tools. Raab is a truly excellent martial artist; if you're experienced yourself, you will be able to see it clearly in his movements, his balance, his carriage, and his concentration. If you are not a martial artist, you will still sense it in his classroom - you'll still be able to tell that this is a man who has devoted much of his life to a warrior art.

But much more than that, he's a wonderful instructor, and inordinately fun. He's someone you'd want to raise wooden swords with, in class--and then raise some pints with, afterwards. Not everyone at Wicked would think of attending a sword class. That would be their loss.

Raab's class has been featured in "Time Out New York", and "The New York Post's Best Of New York" - to name a few. His older brother, "The Old Man Of The Mountain", will also be at Wicked this year.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

"This Way To The Egress"

I have this weakness. I am an insane sucker for Gypsy punk cabaret. And you're going to have to bear with me here--because when I talk about why I love that music so much, people tend to look at me in the sort of manner which makes me wonder uncomfortably if they've finally figured out that I escaped from a particularly high-security psychiatric facility and have taken the medication I was originally on and substituted it with a strict diet of Pez and whiskey. I love that music because, to me, it's exactly like dark ska. (If you're not familiar with ska, might I suggest you try this Youtube video of The Toasters' "Don't Let The Bastards Grind You Down"?)-- only sung by poetic bipolar 19th-century balladeers who've spent too long in absinthe-and-opium-induced trances and thus gained keen if somewhat horrified insight into the world in which we live.

"This Way To The Egress" (who are, by the way, named after one of my all-time favorite true stories) - are the first part of this year's Wicked Faire entertainment to go online because

1. They're new to Wicked, and I'm hoping we can give them a really warm welcome.
2. They're not famous yet, and I'm hoping that spotlighting them early will help people notice how good they are.
3. One thing I noticed: when either members of the performance team in general, or I personally, get into a conversation about gypsy cabaret we've heard, we inevitably ask if the other person or people have heard of "Egress", and if not, say, "You have to hear them!" - and flip over to their Myspace page.

"This Way To The Egress" - have you heard of them? No? You have to hear them!

(And a brief note for people who aren't fans of gypsy cabaret: there's a hundred more posts to follow this one. Be patient, best beloved.)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


It's a little-known fact, but Voltaire paints his toenails bright pink.

It's little-known because it's not actually a "fact". It's more a "lie I just made up".

However, if you stay tuned to this blog, I will fill it largely with facts! And only just slightly with lies.