Rarely do I find a talented author who is also a talented musician. That has occurred with Kaedrich Olsen. Kaedrich is the author of Runes for Transformation: Using Ancient Symbols to Change Your Life. He has taken some of the concepts from that book and put them into this debut Galdrakraft CD, Soul Magic. Both works are inspiring for entirely different reasons! Continue reading
Category Archives: Pagan Music
My friend and co-host on Pagan-Musings Podcast introduced me to a unique band from Washington in 2014. Chronilus is a family, a tribe of musicians and Pagans that have been inspired by the musical styles of various lands and centuries. Styling themselves as chrononauts, they borrow from ancient times and modern times. They take a little bit of this and little bit of that and make it all work together in a most unique manner.
On February 2, 2015 they released their first full length album, Threshold. Prior to this release they had an EP called Prologue and had been featured performers at Redmond, WA’s Soulfood Coffee House and Fair Trade Emporium. Soulfood has also featured artists like Bone Poets Orchestra, Celia, and Betsy Tinney. Being in the Redmond area they are lucky enough to have a large music tribe in the Pagan community. They also have ties to the poly-community in that area.
I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with the bandmates twice on the Pagan-Musings Podcast. You can listen to the first interview from March 9, 2014 and the second from November 9, 2014. The tracks from Threshold that we played during the second interview were rough cuts and do not appear in those forms on the album. So, listening to the interview means that you get to hear some of what is different from the official release. A rare treat!
From their “about the band” sidebar on their homepage:
“Chronilus is a new Celtic and World Fusion band from the Seattle area. Their enchanting vocal harmonies float over a musical landscape created by a combination of historical, traditional, and modern instrumentation, from all around the world. Here the clairseach, the brass-strung harp that entertained medieval Irish nobility, may play with harmonies from an electric guitar influenced by progressive rock. Funky electric bass may provide a solid foundation alongside the driving rhythms of the West African djembe.
“With a range of expression from raw, primal energy to ethereal finery, Chronilus’ songs explore such subjects as connection, history, fantasy, and ageless spirituality.”
Threshold has twelve tracks for your listening pleasure. Each one will raise you up out of your seat and make you dance a jig. From “Ecstasy” to “The Wild Hunt”, you get a taste of just what this group is capable of. Let’s meet the band before learning more about the album.
Chronilus consists of four main players, occasionally accompanied by others while on stage at various venues. Those four players are Bone Deep the Bard, the captain of this merry band of time travelers. He plays hand drums, bass guitar, banjo, mandola, mandolin, percussion, woodwinds and does electronic arrangements. Manfred More is his trust first mate and plays the electric and acoustic guitar. Caera, who had a solo career before boarding the ship with these mad travelers, does vocals and plays the medieval style Irish harp called clairseach and provides additional percussion. Last but not least are the vocal talents of Sonia, who also plays keys, conga, djembe, viola and percussion. As you can tell, they are a diverse and talent foursome!
“Ecstasy” gets things going with a lively drumbeat and dulcet strains of music, introducing you to the circle dance of many ancient lands and today’s Pagans. The ethereal voices of Caera and Sonia tell the listener just how to dance to these beats and strains. A delightful piece to use both in and out of ritual. Great for getting things done around the house, too.
With harp, guitar, and djembe “Brighid” is the perfect accompaniment to an Imbolc celebration, as well as a lovely lullaby to help you relax and go to sleep. Sonia and Caera bring the essence of Brighid into your presence and tells you how She can help you along your path. The gentle sway of their voices and the instrumentation makes me want to sway along as well.
In a cover from Loreena McKinnett, Chronilus brings their own sound to the classic “The Mummer’s Dance.” Another of those get-up-and-dance pieces that have inspired many a Pagan and New Age spiritualist alike. Staying close to the original tones of Ms. McKinnett’s work, the foursome lends a unique quality with the duet of Caera and Sonia and the individual talents of Bone Deep and Manfred.
“The Wild In Me” is perhaps my favorite piece from the CD. It gets played frequently on both the Pagan-Musings Podcast Channel and Murphy’s Magic Mess on KZUM. Bone Deep wrote the words (Caera wrote the third verse and chorus) and music for this piece with the help of the fans. Asking them just what they wanted to hear as the “wild” in the community and how it all interacts with each individual and as the whole. This piece will definitely get you out of your chair to move around – and I don’t dance very well!
With another cover, this time from Blackmore’s Night (Ritchie Blackmore and Candice Night), Our intrepid time travelers bring us “Under a Violet Moon.” A classic rock riff from the electric guitar leads into the tambourine and drums talents of the whole group. Sonia and Caera lend their voices together to encourage you to “raise you glass and your voices too” and dance under the violet moon, just as the incomparable Candice Night does on the original recording from the Blackmore’s Night album of the same name. The words are the same, but the instrumentation is something very much Chronilus.
And now comes a piece written by Caera, originally recorded on one of her solo albums. “Gifts of the Faeries (Bronntanais na Sioga)” is entire in the Irish Gaelic tongue. With Caera on her Celtic harp and the rest of the crew accompanying her, it has a much richer sound than her original recording. The lyrics talk about the gifts that the faeries give to a child in the cradle, they can be found at this page. The chorus translates as “faeries are dancing around the cradle to safeguard ‘to thee/the faeries are dancing around the cradle to gifts ‘to thee”, at least according to Google translate. The gifts of the faeries are strength, heart, music, and happiness.
“Byker Hill” is an English traditional ballad. Chronilus brings their one of a kind combination of musical talents to this traditional piece and make it their own. Bone Deep referred to it as one of his favorites to play on stage, it gets the whole audience involved. A bit of a dirge, a bit of a seafarer’s lament. Around the middle of the song it slides into a jig that one might dance to celebrate a fallen comrade in arms.
Speaking of laments, or songs of lost love… “Longing” is just that. Another piece written by Caera, it speaks of a woman’s longing for the love of one who understands her and knows everything about her. Sonia joins Caera on this piece to add her dulcet voice to the magickal voice of an electric guitar and the Celtic harp. A truly interesting combo of musical tones come together in this song of love and longing. Brings a tear to my eye everytime I hear it.
Christopher Bingham, of Bone Poets Orchestra, gifted the crew of Chronilus with “The Rede (An it Harm None)” to add to this collection of magick and beauty that is their debut full length album. A cover, yes, but one that they again turn into something truly their own. You can hear the sounds of BPO and Gaia Consort in the opening of the song, even throughout the entire piece, but Sonia and Caera’s voices are just enough different from Sue Tinney’s and the rest of GC/BPO that you cannot mistake the two groups for each other. It gives a lesson, just as the Wiccan Rede does, but it speaks a bit beyond what most would normally intuit from the text of the simple Rede.
“Heave Home” reminds me a bit of the open theme to an 80’s adventure series or film. That’s not a bad thing. It’s lively, creatively choppy, and grabs you. I suppose you could call it the theme of the Chronilus. It tells a bit of the story of our intrepid friends as they travel through musical time and space to bring their listeners their Celtic and World Fusion sound, a sound that is not like anything you will hear anywhere else, I dare say. The song invites you to join them on this journey they call life.
Caera’s lyric and music writing talents are evident again in the eleventh offering on this album, “A Promise Unbroken.” With playful, almost child-like music to open the piece, Sonia and Caera play off each other to tell of this promise that is unbroken – that no matter what, no matter how far or how long between, the Gods (or whatever term you wish for the Divine) still endures and is there for you.
“The Wild Hunt” finished off the CD with Sonia writing the lyrics and music. With Manfred on his electric guitar and Bone Deep providing bass and djembe for percussion, Caera and Sonia’s voices meld into a spooky story of the Wild Hunt. Evoking the foggy meadows and moss covered trees that can be found in both the Seattle area and Ireland, the sounds of hooves and horns of the hunt can be heard in the rhythms and voices of this band.
As you can tell, I really enjoyed this CD. I could go on and on about it. But I’d like for you to listen and decide for yourself if it is one that you want to add to your collection. Check their website for more details about Threshold and Chronilus. They play frequently in the Pacific Northwest and do plan to tour outside of that region sometime in the near future.
The second offering from Cernunnos Rising, Urban Druid, is an inspired collection of original songs from the mind of artist, musician, and activist George Nicholas. With a cast of guest musicians playing on the CD, Urban Druid brings us a more rock feel to the musical styling of the collaborative work known as Cernunnos Rising. The first CD, Wild Soul, was more folksy with a traditional Pagan feel. This second release brings that Pagan feel to a more “pop” sound, without losing the voice that brings us to the Druid context of each song.
Combing the philosophies of Druidic beliefs with the political activism that many modern day Pagans are involved in, Urban Druid takes us from the city to the country side and back with tracks like “The Witches Tree” and “Beyond Us is the Cost”, and of course the title track. “Wise Old Yew” reminds us that the lore of the trees is important even in today’s modern and hectic times. “King of the Forest” tells us how Herne, or Cernunnos, is among us even while many of us dwell in cities.
As Druids often honor the trees in their practices, we learn a bit of lore as we listen to this collection of songs. Like with Wild Soul, we hear some of the lore of the “Hawthorn” and the Yew. And as hinted, with “Beyond Us is the Cost” we are reminded once again, as with “Green Man (Last Tree Falling)”, just how important the environment is to George and to many Druids and Pagans. This seems to be a recurring theme with the music from Cernunnos Rising, one that I am please to hear and to share.
On the Pagan-Musings Podcast Channel we’ve had the pleasure to speak with George Nicholas about both these albums. You can hear our conversation about Wild Soul here and our more recent talk about Urban Druid here.
The summer of 2014 saw the release of two singles, and videos, from Cernunnos Rising. Both of which are environmental activist pieces. “Crying for the Honey Bee” talks about the plight of the disappearing honey bee and how the loss of such a wonderful insect could (and will) have dire consequences for mankind. “The Folly of Fracking” is about the oil companies desire to drill and force water into oil shale, often below the level of ground water, and how it has an adverse effect on drinking water, wildlife, and even the lives of humans. See below for those videos.
Once known as The Gypsy Nomads, Frenchy and the Punk have been making music and magic for some time, both solo and together. I’ve had the joy of seeing them live at a local coffee house and I’ve had the pleasure to interview them for my music podcast, Musica Pagani.
Elephant Uproar is their 2013 release, and it is quite the CD. Mainly a drumming CD, but with a distinctly cabaret style to the drumming. Not quite what I was expecting when the CD promotion started. But I am not disappointed!
They launched the CD while at one of the many conventions they travel to. Steampunk, Sci-Fi, all kinds of conventions. Their launch video was Rock, Paper, Scissors – a favorite game and something that you might recall being augmented through the popular TV series Big Bang Theory. MAYBE you’ll hear that tune being played someday on that or another TV show. From what I could tell, the fans loved the song and they certainly seem to love Sam and Scott!
You may recognize a tune or two from earlier releases by F&P or their former name Gypsy Nomads, but from a purely instrumental perspective each piece is unique unto itself.
Take a dance with a Matador in the first track followed by an honoring of the divine Isis in track two. With track three you’ll go on a Carnival ride while playing Rock, Paper, Scissors (lizard, Spock) with number four. The title track at position #5 will take you for a ride on the Orient Express and then you will settle down with the Dust and the Sand of the Caravan in track seven. The Blacksmith in #8 will take you a merry Chase (#9) for the Celtic Sprite (#10) and finally you will rest with the Specter in the final track as you contemplate the Forest and the Sea.
1. Nevermore The Matador
2. Isis Rising
4. Rock Paper Scissors
5. Elephant Uproar
6. Orient Express
7. Dust and Sand In The Caravan
9. The Chase
10. The Celtic Sprite
11. Specter Of The Forest And Sea
Rosin Coven reached out to Murphy’s Magic Mess through our music director. She forwarded their email on to us to see if we might be interested in the music. I took a look and a listen and thought, “Of course!”
Cabaret style Pagan music is something that you don’t hear very often (Frenchy and the Punk, when recording as the Gypsy Nomads, being another example). This San Francisco, CA based band definitely fits that bill. Their newest release Sing Me Malaise is lively, thought provoking and different from most anything that has come across our mixing board in some time.
Listening to Sing Me Malaise makes me want to get up and dance. Not the best thing to do while trying to write, but it happens. The cats are giving me strange looks as I try to chair dance and type without too many errors. It is quite the sight, I am sure. The beats and notes help tell the story of the words. The auditory alchemy of the music is evocative of traditional cabaret, but the added darkness to certain pieces, or the lively humor of others, is something that is purely Pagan in feel.
The more I listen to Rosin Coven the more I am reminded of the movie (and stage production) Gypsy. Which makes perfect sense. Gypsy is a story about a family that started in Vaudeville and wound up in burlesque. Both styles of entertainment are related to Cabaret. I can even see Bette Midler strutting around on stage to some of the marvelous songs on this CD.
In the weeks leading up to the first Okeechobee Summer Solstice Pagan Festival I was keeping tabs on what was going on event wise. You can read what the Mead Muse and others have to say on the hubbub leading up to the festival as well as their post-festival coverage. What I want to share with you here is some of the wonderful music that I discovered while following that story for the Pagan Weekly News. Namely, Mama Gina!
Mama Gina gives her listeners a taste of the divine and the humorous with her debut CD. From the first track “Summer of the Fae” I was hooked. “Summer” shows Gina’s light side while “Come Trance with Me” shows her spiritual side. “Sisters Waiting” will bring a tear to your eye and “The PSG Song” will leave you laughing.
“Come Trance with Me” is a wonderful little piece to help get you in the mood for meditation, exercise or ritual. It will sooth the spirit just enough to get you into that perfect start of a trance state. Or, you can just listen to it to listen to it.
“The PSG Song” is very fitting for anyone who has ever attended a large out door Pagan festival that has the freedom of body that PSG and other similar festivals do. It could almost be renamed the “Pagan Festival Song” and fits right along with Loke E. Coyote’s “Pagan Polka”.
From what I know from talking with Mama Gina herself, she has been going to Florida based Pagan festivals for some years, performing at many of them. Friends and listeners at these events had been encouraging her for some time to record her music, she finally did so this year. The CD came out in time for the Lake Okeechobee Summer Solstice Pagan Festival and was officially released in July to rave reviews from the listeners.
Hosting Musica Pagani and cohosting Murphy’s Magic Mess on KZUM means that I am constantly looking for new music to share with the listeners. I came across Mama Gina through postings related to the Okeechobee event earlier this year and liked the sound. With guitar and drum, body percussion and voice there was no doubt that I would be adding her music to my collection. I didn’t even know that she had a CD available when I reached out to her to ask to use her music on the shows. I was pleasantly surprised when she offered to send me a copy of the CD.
I do hope that if you pick up a copy of this CD that you enjoy it at least as half as much as I do.
Get a taste of Mama Gina’s talents at her ReverbNation page.
Earlier this year, the drumming and singing family from Gatlinburg, TN known as Tuatha Dea released their latest album called The Tribe. This CD is a tribal effort (pun intended) by Tuatha Dea, Celia, Spiral Rhythm, Murphey’s Midnight Rounders, Damh the Bard and Wendy Rule. When all these talented musicians get together to do an album you know it is going to be something amazing.
I had the pleasure of seeing Tuatha Dea on stage at Heartland Pagan Festival at Camp Gaea over Memorial Weekend. They played music from all their CDs plus a piece or two that aren’t or won’t be on a CD – including their cover of “Sympathy for the Devil”. They began their concert with “The Hunt” (their quarter calling song), substituting Dragons for the quarters, and ended with “Mishiamagu”, everything in between was just awesome and got people up and dancing, stomping their feet, clapping their hands and just having a great time. My only regrets about the concert, I had left my camera in my tent and I didn’t yet have their CDs in my collection for autographs.
I was working the gate at Heartland the afternoon that Tuatha Dea arrived on site. Which means that I got to meet them first thing upon their arrival. I got the chance to visit with the band at the musicians tent and after the concert. The best thing they did, other than the concert, was host children’s workshops – drums, chants, songs and fun!
Wendy Rule lends her talented voice to the first track on the CD, “Aradia”. Matching her ethereal voice to the rhythms and sounds of Tuatha Dea, you are introduced to the legendary and mythic figure of Aradia, queen of witches. Spiral Rhythm treats you to a combination of their musical and vocal sounds with that of Tuatha Dea in “Akasha”, “Khawuleza”, and “The Landing/Tuatha de Danaan”. Damh the Bard lends his Druidic power to “The Handfasting”. Celia changes course from her live looping and uses her voice to take you on a Native American journey with “Mishiamagu”. Minnesota’s Murphey’s Midnight Rounders (the headline act along with Wendy Rule from Heartland 2012) mix things up with a radio channel hopping in “Hypocritical Mass”.
Tuatha Dea has a special treat for listeners with their stupendous cover of Jefferon Airplane’s “White Rabbit”. Using their intense drumming, didge, and vocals, they create their own take on the classic rock song. One that you will have stuck in your head and like it!
The final track to the CD probably should have been the first track, “The Blessing”. In this piece they bless the drums, the hands that touch them, they bless the voices and the bodies that house them. “The Blessing” is wonderful addition to the album and would fit well, with minor adjustments, into any musically inclined ritual group.
Tuatha Dea took the idea behind The Tribe and ran with it. They have created a website for networking with Pagans from all walks of life. The Tribe Online features musicians, podcasters, bloggers, authors, and more. On the site you can get links to these talented Pagans and their current projects, concert and workshop schedules, podcast feeds and authors’ pages. Well worth the visit!