Tuesday, October 16, 2012

"The Music Beat: Don't Ever Tick Off The Minstrel!" by Jeanne Jasperse

This article is from the September 2012 issue of KC Stage

It was said in days of old to never make your court musician or traveling minstrel angry. The reason being is that most of them were songwriters ... they had to be! Sometimes the song would not sing the praises of the lord or lady, especially when they did not host the musician cordially or give them a significant enough bag of coins for them to move on their way. Soon after, comic songs would be released and the general population would know exactly who the songs were about, to the chagrin of the lord and/or lady. The same holds true today, even though we are traveling back into the Renaissance eras via modern times ....

Axel the Sot (aka Scott Hendricks) is one such traveling minstrel. He started doing Renaissance fairs more than 24 years ago. Axel is your designated drunkard and like other "Rennies" (people who travel year round doing these fairs) started off with the fair in his own home town, the Waxahachie Texas Faire - also known as Scarborough.

Axel says you never know who is watching your show. It could be that a producer of another fair is in your audience watching and then offers you a spot at their own fair, and so the whole thing begins. From early spring to late fall and even sometimes in the winter, Renaissance festivals pop up all over the country, as climate permits, and takes all of us back into another time of life - back in the golden age, although I have seen some curious Trekkies pretend they are using fairs as holographic decks. (It takes all kinds.)

Axel has the unique spin with his character. When in character, anyone who works for the fair has to be in character whenever out in public, no exceptions! You can't really tell if Axel is sober or not, he is that good! You can catch his shows at the Seafarer's Beer Garden Stage doing his PG and PG-13 shows. (The bawdier the better in his case.) These shows are more in the morning, and then in the afternoon they are rated more in the R category for VERY raunchy. Little ones should be cautious. If they know what Axel is REALLY talking about, it's the parent's fault!

This year, I would like to also settle on one of the Festival's favorite groups, and they ARE local, the Jolly Rogers!

Year after year, these guys manage to get better and better. They have several high-quality CDs for sale. (So does Axel.) Just stick around after the show and meet the boys. They have several lovely wenches with their group that would be more than happy to help with your purchase, and they might even get them all to autograph it for you! Jolly Rogers do both music and skits and save a show every day for stuff they haven't done much lately. They will have a brand new CD coming this year.

Both street and stage musicians as well as actors are paid a rather small stipend, and tips and CD and DVD sales are the main ways these performers make their money. They pay their own travel expenses, living expenses for two months, (mainly in campgrounds near the festival sites), etc.

Other music at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival always includes Madrigalia Bar None, and a new show this year by Brian Leo, "The Tinker".

The royal court is showing off their singing skills as well, performing a 30-minute piece, opera style, about the play or "scenario" that goes on throughout the day between the royal court and other various royals that are visiting Canterbury.

For more information on stage times and days, please contact the Kansas City Renaissance Festival on their website or on Facebook. Axel the Sot is also on Facebook. The Jolly Rogers can be reached at Jollyrogerskc.com. I have also heard a rumor that the Musical Blades will be there the last three weekends.

You can reach Jeanne Jasperse on Facebook or on kkfi.org.

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