Sunday, December 18, 2011

Victorian Christmas music hall and library concerts

our most recent concert at the East Greenbush Library concert series
(note: in the poster we are wearing Renaissance attire, but we do have Victorian attire)

here is the press for the event:

Last year, we performed a Christmas concert for the Troy Music Hall with our whole band (4 of us) to a crowd of about 800 - 1,000:
that's half the stage with a big grand piano on it with organ pipes above it (the side boxes go up 3 stories and there is a big balcony in the rear)
we have been told by many respected performers that it has the best acoustics in the country!

And we've been performing for years for the Victorian Streetwalk in Saratoga Springs, NY. I used to also perform for the Troy Victorian Stroll through the 1990s (before meeting Jim, my music partner) and I performed at a sold out Christmas concert at the North Pointe Concert Hall in Kinderhook, NY years ago.

For the Kinderhook concert, we performed a couple of songs on the radio before hand and it was broadcast all the way to Amherst, MA - Woodstock, NY - the Adirondacks - Utica. People contacted us to buy CDs from that live performance. It was wonderful to get such a positive response.

For library and art center concert series, we make the experience educational and come dressed in appropriate Victorian attire. We talk about the style of dress during the era, about the instruments that were used at the time, the origin of the songs and the hammered dulcimer (the musical instrument that Jim plays for many of the carols as it has a bell-like quality and is perfect for this style of music). Since we also perform a wide variety of Renaissance songs and instrumentals and we are known for this music (through concert series, Renaissance faires and my CD of Renaissance songs, Wing'd With Hopes), we often incorporate this music and its carols into the program and repertoire. 

We would love to perform more concerts in this genre!

If you are reading this and you know someone who might be interested in featuring us, contact us through this e-mail address: SaratogaFaire (-(att)-) (Note: what is in the parentheses should obviously have an @ symbol, but we didn't want anyone to spam us!).

You can check out our music through the following sites:

Thursday, December 15, 2011

performing and experiencing the 2011 Saratoga Springs Victorian Streetwalk

"Victorian Christmas" sketch
© Lise Winne
available from my on-line Artfire shop through this link

In the usual tradition (originally started on my website in 2005), I'm recapping this year's Victorian Streetwalk.

This was the first year in about three years where I wasn't getting over a cold, infection or some other malady. And because of that, it was a joy to perform (note to the uninitiated: performing isn't all roses and clapping; at this level, the level of the every day average non-star performer, it sometimes means hefting heavy sound equipment in a nice dress and shoes often in terrible weather, children trying to strum your instrument while you are performing, and a myriad of other situations -- some outright comical -- that I originally planned to use as the focus of this blog, and perhaps will in the future).

In fact the only distraction happened just before leaving for the gig. A childhood sweetheart (the first one, a brief dating experience in eighth grade -- and someone I hadn't seen since I was a freshman in highschool) friended me on facebook. So, as I'm leaving the house, memories from childhood come rushing back. I hadn't really thought about this part of my life at all since leaving it behind so many years ago and all of a sudden the memories became overwhelming. Mind you, these weren't exactly happy childhood years for a myriad of reasons: let's just say they were riddled with a lot of anxiety because my brother who went to the same school came home beaten with shredded clothes repeatedly only because he had long hair -- I had been punched a few times too because a certain crowd at the school took it upon themselves to study their classmates and were suspicious that I wasn't who they thought I was, i.e. possibly not part of acceptable mainstream junior high society (what if they really knew us! shudder!).

When you perform, you can't give into any overwhelming feelings no matter what is going on in your life because the job entails a great deal of focus for everything to come out right. My job entails two instruments (vocals and a stringed instrument) and I also have to keep track of what everyone else in the band is doing. While the Victorian Streetwalk is just two of us and isn't a high pressure gig like the Troy Music Hall, it is always packed and a group is always standing in front of us watching what we are doing. So, the childhood memories were squelched.

I love performing in this environment once a year -- the main street is totally devoid of cars; it is totally packed with marching bands,  jugglers, carollers, horses, wagons, food vendors and townspeople, many dressed in Victorian attire. The wonderful thing about this festival is that all of the performers are local. And the costume element is something I've always loved and brings me back to the days when I used to perform at Renaissance faires with the Spirites Consort.

Jim, my music partner at this event, is just starting to assemble a Victorian outfit. I already have one, but I was trying to sew a long red skirt (didn't quite finish it, but used it for the Victorian Christmas concert we put on at the East Greenbush Library the following Sunday).

We love playing at Dawgdom! We love the fact that we are helping to support a small business and helping the "buy local scene" in our own hometown. The happy dogs -- even the little toy dogs that put on the ferocious act like they are going to rip a great dane's head off -- are a plus.

After we packed up, the streetwalk was still in full swing and we went to listen to John Kribs and Doug Moody playing across the street. They looked so classy, dapper and handsome in their Victorian garb. I have so much admiration for John as a human being -- a true being of light -- and it comes across in the Sam fund which he started for musicians with health issues. He is a great musician too and he has made music his life despite lots of hardships that musicians are faced with these days and the scarcity of venues.

Then we headed over to Celtic Treasures where I show my greeting cards and where our Sartatoga Faire CD, Saratoga Romance has a place to be seen in our community. We visited Paul (the store owner), John Cromie and Tommy Wadsworth. They were already busy packing up, but they invited us with them for some post Streetwalk revery. Paul treated me to some Irish Sweet Potato fries (so nice!) and Jim to a Guinness Stout.

It is so wonderful to be part of this community and I feel proud of my community when I'm part of an event like this!


It looks like MYSPACE is up and running again (yippie!) which is the best way to hear soundclips of our music:

MY RENAISSANCE BAND'S (this myspace site seems to be the most loved)

sketch available through:
(note: the reason I refer to the accompanying illustration as a sketch instead of a drawing is because it was done quickly and does not have the thoughtfulness and proper perspective that a finished drawing would have, despite its details and embellishments).

Friday, December 9, 2011

Extra Long Handmade Pepper and Salt Scarf for him and her

Here's the newest in 100 percent natural colored wool:
These are available in my Artfire shop.
Keep in mind these are extra long and we (the models) are tall people (I am 5'10" and Jim is 6'1"), so on a smaller person they might come to ankle length (?). You can always wrap it around and around. These are made from one hundred percent pure wool with lanolin, my favorite kind of yarn for a scarf. Lanolin (a natural sheep oil) makes the wool much more durable, more waterproof and even warmer. Of course, it also means you shouldn't wash it in soap unless you have to as soap will strip the oil.
Jim's outfit details:
Jim's scarf is made by me and available through through this link
Jacket by Calvin Klein
Shoes by Wolverine

Lise's outfit details:
the scarf is made by me and available through through this link
Vintage White Coat by ILGWU (made in the USA)
Purple Eggplant Velour shirt by L.L. Bean (made in the USA)
Boots by Timberland


Jim is a member of the same band I perform with, Saratoga Faire
here is Saratoga Faire's CD on CD Baby

purchasing my art and clothing:
Artfire on-line store