Bardin’ Hard: PPD & ECG

Playing around the fire at ECG
Playing around the campfire at ECG

I’ve returned from a wild week of what I call “Barding Hard.”

Last Sunday, the 13th, I had the great fortune and honor to play at the Kansas City Pagan Pride Day–my first “official” performance ever. It was a ton of fun, and I got a lot of good feedback after the show (including some potential exciting news…but that’ll have to wait for the time being).

Here’s a link to a playlist of my performance there (more videos will be uploaded ASAP):  

It was totally beyond my frame of reference to perform in front of a live audience (aside from the occasional campfire), and it was just so fun and exciting to be able to share my stuff with people…live.

The day after KCPPD, I hit the road for a long, long journey to Pennsylvania to attend the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids’ East Coast Gathering. This was my first year attending, and just six months after I had attended my first ever OBOD Gathering down at the Gulf Coast Gathering in Louisiana. OBOD’s community gatherings are beyond words. It is such a welcoming, inviting community filled with love, peace (Heddwch, as Kristopher Hughes has taught us), and the Awen.

It was interesting reflecting on the last week. An interesting mix of events, as I performed my first ever public performance as a musician, but also I met one of my musical inspirations for the very first time. At OBOD’s ECG I had the honor to chat with Damh the Bard. His music was some of the first pagan music I listened to, and was one of the main reasons I got into Druidry in the first place and got inspired to make Pagan music. His first song book, also, is home to some of the first songs I learned to play on guitar. To be able to thank him in person for the inspiration was indescribable, and he is such a cool guy.

Every night at ECG we had a bonfire and a bardic circle where everyone was encouraged to get up and perform some Bardic Art. Two of the nights I shared a song of mine (Brothers of the Night and We Can’t Hold Hands When We’re Pointing Fingers).

Although I love these Bardic Circles, I would love to see them adopt a more inviting way to conduct them, perhaps in the same vein as the Bardic Circle I attended at Heartland Pagan Fest in 2012, where there was someone “running” the show, and you’d go in a circle. When it was your turn, you had the chance to sing/play/recite something, or just pass if you were too shy or had nothing prepared. This way I felt everyone had an equal opportunity to be able to do something. It also cuts out the uncertainty of “should I go up and play something? No, someone else wants to, I shouldn’t get in the way.” But in the end it was still a very inspiring, magical time shared around the campfire.

We had some great workshops and talks, guests, food, and ritual, but the thing that will remain with me the most was the people. Meeting such like-minded people and hanging out with them for a weekend was such a treat, but ultimately didn’t last long enough! I feel I’ve left a part of me in the Poconos, and I can’t wait to go back to my new “home” next year.

I left ECG with a hot, burning fire in my head. It’s only been three months since I released my first album, “Four Branches,” but I am beyond ready to start on something new. This time ’round, this album will be a lot more personal, a little less myth (though probably not totally devoid of at least one story), and…how should I put this…barefoot? That’s the only way I can put it, but I’m really excited to get to work on it. Time to let the Awen flow once more.

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