Known World Bardic Congress and Cook’s Collegium VII. Just … Wow. Possibly one of the best weekend events I’ve been to, ever. The classes were inspiring, educational and fun, the discussions between classes were invaluable, the music was varied and wonderful, the food was OMG insane, the other attendees were remarkable… I can’t say enough wonderful things about it. The theme of my classes seemed to be always arriving late because I was caught up in another discussion with someone.
I learned about extant interpretations, better songwriting techniques, and the Cantigas de Santa Maria. I played a hurdy-gurdy and now I lust for one (damn you, Robyyan, and your enabling!). I learned that I can remember lyrics better than I give myself credit for. I was privileged to represent both Æthelmearc and Atlantia when one bardic circle was doing a series of a kingdom/patriotic song from every kingdom of the known world. I spent time with wonderful, talented people I don’t ever get to see enough of. I met people I thought had stopped playing (Thomas Bordeaux!), and I spent time getting to know others that I’ve respected for years and never had a chance to talk much with. I got called one of the “cool kids”, several times, much to my surprise. I have handouts on writing humorous songs, medieval accompaniment, and modern music notation. (While I can read music myself, for folks who want to learn, I now have a resource to use and walk through with them.) I added two more songs to my repertoire, both filks done by Eleanor/Truly. Hopefully a recording of our rendition of “Your Group’s Name Here”, modified from Yaakov’s filk, will be available on YouTube soon, as well my performance during the Sunday concert of Gwen’s “Wind on the Sea”. (At least I finally got a copy of the “Parting Glass” trio from Pennsic.) At the end of the event was possibly my favorite bardic circle in a long while. It wasn’t the “official” bardic circle taking place outside at the fire, but was inside, having started when critical bardic mass (defined as 3 bards) was hit when a few folks came to listen to Lucia noodling around on a guitar. Organic development, but many wonderful powerhouses performed. I was surrounded by “my people”, whether I knew them personally or not, and I felt at home and welcome, most thoroughly.
Can’t talk about Cooks and Bards without at least mentioning the food. Saturday’s feast was the first time I’d been to one in which all the feast gear, for everyone, was provided. It was more like attending a wedding reception, with name cards at seats, gold-colored chargers, goblets and napkins and silverware, everything provided for. There was rabbit pie, duck eggs, guinea fowl, cheeses, cured meats, an amazing abundance of fantastic dishes. The cooks outdid themselves.
Despite taking 12 hours of travel just to get there and another 12 back, it was worth it, no question. I still have to write up all the new references I had suggested to me while I was there (and place a hefty Amazon order soon, I believe), which I’ll try to put up here somewhere with notes as I read them myself, in all that spare time I have…