On SCA Patrons of Bardic Arts

A question about Patrons in the SCA was raised on a bardic list I’m actively a part of.

“Is there a tradition anywhere out there about being a bardic Patron? I know some folks have students, and Laurels can take apprentices… but is anyone/does anyone have a patron? How has that worked? Thanks!”

I decided to post my own answer below.

I would say that patronage is fluid. I view Master Julien de la Pointe and his lady Mistress Carolyne as my first Patrons – it was he who put me in situations where I would be Heard by people beyond the campfire in my home shire. He asked me to perform in challenging locations (the exhibition area at King & Queens A&S, for example, as an exhibition) and at the well-attended Eastern scotch & cigar night at Pennsic. Those were likely the first times anyone heard me outside my little home. They helped me become better known outside my own circle by their work as Patrons. I worked because I wanted to please and entertain them, and that work set the ground for my next Patronage.

Afie (Amanda Lord) and Toki were my next Patrons of a sort, meeting me at Pennsic just three years back or so. They encouraged me greatly, and ultimately my work to become Eastern Bardic Champion was inspired by their encouragement. I still turn to them for advice and assistance. I suspect I ever will.

As Champion I found all of my monarchs to be excellent Patrons. They requested things of me, I complied, and it was quite formal feeling, as was proper and mostly as expected.

However I did have another person who I think really fit, for a time, a very specific role as patron. Shortly after I was named Champion, Baron Angus Pembridge really took on a role as Patron, I think, much more what would have been medieval in style. It was not formalized in a ceremony or anything, but he commissioned a piece not long after we became friends, and provided in exchange a rich muse in the fighting community, which remains a source of constant inspiration to me today. I wrote and performed for him – sometimes by request and sometimes at my own wish – at his encampment and others. He introduced me to many people in that community as a Patron would – taking me to small gatherings, introducing me to people on the field, asking for a performance after the woods battle, and so on. A strong political ally, he helped me navigate the larger sea of Kingdom-level involvement with better grace than I would have had on my own, certainly. (With added help from Toki and Afie.) I would certainly not be the bard I am now without his patronage. Now that I am better-known by the people he wanted me to know, I think that aspect of our relationship has changed from Patron to something more nebulous – but if I am a tower, he is certainly a cornerstone in my foundation.

I think Patronage does exist, formally for some, and less formally for others, but I found it invaluable in every instance and would hope that others have the opportunity to experience it with someone as well.

Ever Comes the Sun

A lullaby for a hard day.
http://mbouchard.com/misc/Ever-Comes-the-Sun.mp3*

Fear not my sweeting
for the the day is o’er
through dire trials many
sleep you now secure.

For all the people
and kindness they have shown
never will leave you
to face the dark alone.

Though there is darkness
ever comes the sun
pulled up from the ocean deep
by these blessed ones.

See watching over
clad in green and blue
doubtless and fearless
they watch over you.

Into all dangers
go they for all
sleep knowing dear one
they protect the small.

Though there is darkness
ever comes the sun
pulled up from the ocean deep
by these blessed ones.

From fearful city
to uneasy towns
none can take our deeds,
they will not cut down.

Many the hands
that come to bear the load
ever we forward look
unwavering from the road.

Though there is darkness
ever comes the sun
pulled up from the ocean deep
by these blessed ones.

Fear not my sweeting
for the the day is o’er
though dire trials many
sleep you now secure.
For all the people

and kindness they have shown
never will leave you
to face the dark alone.

Though there is darkness
ever comes the sun.

____________________________________________________

*I offer half-hearted apologies for any guinea pig noises there might be in the background (there’s a big, ridiculous thud in the middle of this song. This would be a jumping guinea pig. This was recorded at the kitchen table, clock ticking and all, and it seemed that the pigs were mostly quiet but you know – it’s a lullaby. And there’s life, noisy, funny life in the background. Which is exactly how it should be, every day. And this was also a song I just wasn’t willing to let wait until tomorrow. 

 

The Tale of Adolphus the Devourer

The victorious Adolphus the Devourer was captured in this strikingly realistic portrait by Ben Fugler.

Once upon a time, in the spring of the year as the mud thaw ground gave way to greening, a kingdom was beset with a plague that distended bellies and left all affected exhausted, longing but to lay down for many hours at a spell.

The bearers of this affliction were a nation of hardy, olive-skinned ones, who came in great numbers from their homeland, a place of fire and boiling waters. They came and set upon small clutches of people who seemed unable to bear resistance of them, and the people were unable to fight off this new scourge upon the land, amid the burning pyres around which listless people had gathered.

Among them was a man named Adolphus, now known as The Devourer. He was a man who truly represented the heart of chivalry that night, wresting over the burning pyres that green-skinned legion, oily and filled with things grown in the earth – fungal things, dark, heavy-scented, and the color of ichor.

Their shining plate was blinding in the flickering flame, all who looked upon them groaned as people whose bellies had seen more than enough carnage that eve alone. When I, humble witness to this deed, rode forth to this ground of my neighbors, they had done what they could against the numerous adversaries. My own nearby village had fought nobly against them, barely surviving, every man, woman, and child having struck again and again at their ranks until at last they were no more.

Illumed by fire it was clear that they were too much for the meager crowd assembled, and though they were well-armed with blades and spiked sticks with two to four tynes, they were forced to cower before these invaders, and it appeared that their place may have been forever given over to these sticky things.

But Adolphus – brave, brave Adolphus – he did stand and with noble bearing and a chest most extended with posture – how could we be but inspired by such a man? One who, selfless, looked upon the wreaked tableau and the foe arrayed in clusters surrounding the pile of sacrifices made to their savage, orange, earthy gods and held no fear and did not cower.

Nay, he set upon them armed but with a single fork.

Never have I seen such slaughter, and I have seen the brutality of wars for ten whole years hence.

Each olive-skinned, puffed-up, white-war-painted member of that oppugnant clan was brutally pierced and then, in a manner which would give nightmares to all who born of those boiling waters – they were forced into his mighty maw, that he may make of them an example to their kin. For he saw that this rabble distressed the people and vowed that he would avenge them, leaving not a single survivor as he looked upon them in haughty pride.

When it was seen that only a few pockets of resistance remained, did Adolphus let them lay there as dead, only to have them be rescued by their servants and returned to the fiery hall of their birth?

No! He marched forth with long strides and stood, looking down upon the vanquished, made of them an example to all of the Clan Ra’Violi of the Tort’linni born of the murky pastes of Semolina, and their many kinfolk. Again, it was not sufficient to rend them with his spikes, but he did eat whole each and every enemy in a brutal display, which is why he is known as The Devourer.

And when he was done, nothing was upon that battle field but empty plate which lay unmoving even with the peoples’ wind-like sighs of relief.

Then swooped down the Prince of the realm, who had been fighting his own battle against these small but mighty foe. And he did say unto Adolphus that he had seen from afar his victorious prancing and had heard the cries of joy from his people, so hearty that he had been inspired to travel from his own war-ground to investigate. And he did celebrate with the people, and Adolphus was begged by them to sit again at his place that he may be venerated with tale and song.

All who cross forks with Adolphus ought quake with fear and flee.

For he did save many of us that day and the flames once thought to be mesmerizing pyres did become bonfires of celebration most joyful as we raised a toast to Adolphus, protectorate of the people.

Know ye all that this is true. For it was witnessed by many, including this most honest bard, and also the herald vox regis, who has, herself, given this tale the seal of truth.

All honor to Adolphus the Devourer!

May his fork be ever sharp

___________________________________

This tale was extemporaneously performed at Mudthaw during feast, primarily for the table next to my own, for Adolphus had asked if I would please come sing for them. Once done, he decided to take care of the remaining homemade ravioli from the table. I decided to make it a more dramatic endevour. As he acted I described and as I described, he acted. It was quite a piece of cooperative improv, to the delight of his table. When we were all toasting and laughing, Prince Gregor came down and startled the lot of us, noting that he’d been forced to check on us after seeing Adolphus’ dramatic prancing and hearing the noise. We were then taken to task for appearing to have more fun than the royal table. (Which was likely a level critique. It was a lot of fun.) And so was born the tale of Adolphus the Devourer.

AoA – Hew of Albion

The Love Story of Turi MacKinnon and His Marguerite

Turi proposes to Marguerite.
Turi proposing to Marguerite. Photo by Meredith Bailin Hull.

This is a song-gift to Turi MacKinnon and his bride Marguerite, in honor of their love and in celebration of their wedding day. It is a shared gift from me and Sir Cullan Mac Cianain, who asked me to write it, which was splendid because I was going to write one anyway! As both Turi and Marguerite were present the first time I sang for the Unbelts, their story begins there. Turi proposed to her following the Unbelted battle at Pennsic the following summer, and I was happy witness to that moment too. They are people of great joy, and their smiling faces were in my mind as this was composed. I hope it sounds as warm as the Pennsic sunlight, and as happy as these lovely people who have found each other.

The violin part was played by my good friend Sam Hess.

http://mbouchard.com/misc/The-Love-Story-of%20Turi-MacKinnon-and-His-Marguerite.mp3

A fighter marched down with his friends one fine day
to sport on the tourney field green.
A maiden did come to watch the battle play
while they postured and fought to be seen.

He said to his brother standing beside
“Would that there were a lady for me.
Her honor I’d fight for, my sword she would guide
and my love for her I would decree.”

The ladies were standing like flowers arrayed,
She in blue stood apart from the rest.
She said very softly from beneath her shade,
“If one would fight for me, I would love him the best.”

And so it begins there so sweet,
out in the sun and the hay
the tale of life so complete
the love story of Turi MacKinnon and his Marguerite.

Came then a time of the winter’s cold bite
when warm thoughts are oft so far away
but he muse’d much on the lady’s smile bright;
how to her his heart convey.

Then at long last did a message he send
“Sweet lady please grant my desire,
I beg come with me and a fine feast attend,
for you I have come now to greatly admire.”

And so it begins there so sweet,
out in the sun and the hay
the tale of life so complete
the love story of Turi MacKinnon and his Marguerite.

In this fighting lad all delight she did find,
For he was all the things she could dream.
They were rose and thistle together entwined;
their joy like the sunlight did stream.

He marched off the field one victorious day,
to the one who owned his arm and heart,
and there at her feet his whole life he did lay
with a ring he did vow that they never would part.

And so it begins there so sweet,
out in the sun and the hay
the tale of life so complete
the love story of Turi MacKinnon and his Marguerite.

And so it begins there so sweet,
out in the sun and the hay
the tale of life so complete
the love story of Turi MacKinnon and his Marguerite.