Once in a while, the planets align just right, a horrible set of circumstances causes everyone to scramble to try and make everything right, and a little slice of magic happens. In this case, I'm talking about the final Saturday's Pub Sing at the Texas Renaissance Festival this year.
First off, let me say that I really like pub sings at the end of festival days. There's just something fun about getting the musicians together, rattling off some easy-to-sing-along-with drinking tunes, and just goobering around in general with the audience and participants. I like being able to see what the other acts do since we don't get to see them much on stage and at the same time, they can see what type of show we can do. Pub sings were generally my favorite part of the day at Muskogee, KC, TRF, and the other assorted festivals that have them. Having the acts get up and do a song or 2 to put on a nice little impromptu show was always fun for me.
In the case of TRF, the pub sings were generally performed by the Pride of Bedlam crew (who organized the whole thing), Bard O'Niell, Jim Hancock, ourselves (at least on Saturdays), and some of the fun cast members who could carry a tune. For the first 7 weeks of the festival, the pub sing would take place in front of the Leek and Daffodil Pub, generally on top of their picnic tables. However, the final Saturday of the festival brought us rain and 40 degree temperatures and that's not real conducive to playing music and/or keeping an audience entertained. At least not an audience without a rubber parka. So, with much deliberation, the pub sing was moved to the Prince of Wales Pub which holds the distinction as being the only indoor pub at the festival and thus climate controlled.
Next thing you know, word spread around the festival site and everyone started pouring into the place. If the fire marshall had been watching, we prolly would have been shut down. There was not the usual amount of space for all the participants to spread out and face the crowd, so we all packed in tightly around the small stage the pub had, keeping the front of the stage clear for whomever might be leading a song at the time. By the time we were all set up and warmed up, it was wall-to-wall people in the place. The only clear spot was right in front of the stage where everyone would have to jump on/off the stage. Luckily, the stage is elevated enough that we could all be heard at the back of the room and the low, wooden beamed ceilings gave a nice sounding board to bounce our voices off of as well.
The Bedlam Crew, Bard O'Neill, and Jim Hancock all got up there and fired off the crowd favorites including "Mad Tom of Bedlam", "Barrett's Privateers", and "Johnny Jump Up", and the crowd would all be singing along with the chorus as loud as they could, which was considerable as at some points, I could barely hear the sound of some of the drums, the voices were so loud. Lots of smiles, cheering, drinking, and dancing. It was pretty much what you would like a pub sing to be. The Bilge Pumps played songs everyone knows like "All For Me Grog", but a really cool moment for me was when we played, "A Pirate's Christmas Wish", which is an original Christmas song that only a couple of people in the bar had heard before. Everyone listened to the song instead of just zoning out when they realized they didn't know the song right off, they enjoyed the tune, and, by the end, were singing the chorus as loudly as they were for their more familiar tunes. Very awesome.
Needless to say, it was one of those rare occurances that might never happen again where adversity created perversity and everyone joined in. After all the pub sings and last huzzah's we've done under tents, on stages, on tables, and on the dirt, to do one in an actual indoor pub with all of the elements clicking was something to remember. It made me feel like were in a pub in Ireland.
Because it's all for me blog. Me jolly jolly blog.