A vastness without mercy~
Whist the flash of early autumn lightning sparks its fiery offspring where I call home here in Nevada City California and all sorts of other unrested movements unquiet our minds, rest easy friend, you’ve had a busy day. I shall write on, sing on, play on and carve on, dedicated to honoring the new moon and her many mutable guises, in short, welcome back to The Craneskin Bag. This is a friendly place for to share ideas, art, music, musings and inspirations. I am so thrilled at all the positive feedback I have been receiving about The Craneskin Bag, thank you all for your support and encouragement in developing this monthly newsletter. It has been a delight to curate what is found within.
Illumination Tales update~
This past month we filmed the third installment of Illumination Tales and this one was a tad different from the previous two. Firstly, instead of The Hollow Hill, we went out to Thistlethorn Witherwand’s property, some distance from any known or trusted maps. In case you forgot, Thistlethorn Witherwand was the lead villain in my last theatrical production, Make Believe and how I convinced the cantankerous old fairy gardener to let me climb his trees and make a short film, I’ll never know. Yet film we did and not until 5:00 am did we say goodbye to the rakish Thistlethorn and crawl back towards home, barely awake as dawn peeked its sleepy head over the pink and blue horizon. My beloved fiance Angie Holm makes a memorable short appearance as Ele, the fairy daughter of Culdub mac Dein. Huge thanks to Angie Holm, Ben Milner, Camen Hodges, Jori Phillips, Matt Marcum, Ryan Stubbs, Ariana DeFalco and of course Thistlethorn Witherwand.
Without giving too much away, (for the third installment, alas! won’t be ready to view until next new moon), I will say that the spirit of mischievousness was more or less accidentally summoned the night of filming and the trickster’s belly was satiated with sly and ringing laughter. In addition to my normal role as the storyteller, I took on the role of Culdub mac Dein, the otherworldly fairy whom is given mention in one of the earliest texts written about Finn mac Cumhaill. The text I refer, Marbad Culdub, or The Death of Culdub, dates to the late 8th or early 9th centuries. In my telling of the tale I give Culdub a bit more flesh to his character and wrote two songs for him, one in which he sings astride a precarious bough of an enchanted oak tree. I will elaborate next month on Culdub and his world, for now here are some stills from the day of shooting and a little teaser video caught on cellphone at roughly 3 in the morning.
This month also saw the introduction of a new series I have been posting every Wednesday called “Rumpel's Riddles.” These are short one-minute videos of Rumpelstilzchen trying his best to outwit you with his inexhaustible book of riddles and bewildering conundrums. The first person to find the right answer gets their name announced during the following Wednesday’s riddle. So far these are going out on Instagram and facebook. Here is a sampling of my favorite from last month. Rumpel is ready to challenge the wittiest among you but be not afraid to venture your guesses.
A very merry Lughnasadh was had this year, August 1st marks the celebration of the first of autumn, the early harvests coming in, a time for games, races, contests, trades, fairs, markets, music and of course storytelling. This year my family and I headed out to the hinterland wilderness with dear friends Summer Yarrow, the Faun Frykdahl family, and a few more pals for several uninterrupted days of lake swimming, river plunging, juniper lichen collecting, hiking, soaking and campfire ghost telling’s. Twas around the fire on Lughnusadh eve that a 600 pound bear decided to lumber 5 feet from our eyelids. Silent as the grave he was until right next to us, and then off he went, confident in the gravitas of his earthly power. The next day at a mountainous pristine lake, unspoilt by the affairs of pesky humans, we read the W.B. Yeats play, The Green Helmet, In honor of Lugh and the ripening of the season. One of my personal favorite portions of the play is spoken by the shadowy spirit of the red man who has the final lines~
“And I choose the laughing lip,
That shall not turn from laughing, whatever rise or fall,
The heart that grows no bitterer although betrayed by all;
The hand that loves to scatter; the life like a gambler’s throw,
And these things I make prosper, till a day come that I know,
When heart and mind shall darken that the weak may end the strong,
And the long remembering harpers have matter for their song.”
~The Green Helmet. W.B. Yeats
Have matter for their song…. Hmmm… I like that.
This month I want to introduce you all to a little-known band from a bygone era, Jan Dukes De Grey. Hailing from Yorkshire England and led by vocalist, guitarist and songwriter, Derek Noy, Jan Dukes De Grey were one of the most innovative recording artists of the late 60’s/early 70’s acid folk phenomenon. Each of their three albums stand in direct opposition to one another. Their 1969 debut, Sorcerers, hosts a generous 18 songs, each a folksy oddity of guitar and flutes between 2 and 3 minutes long. Their second album, Mice and Rats in the Loft has only three songs, but each one is a vast sonic empire unto itself and can last close to 20 minutes in length. The third and final album they recorded in 1976-77, Strange Terrain, never saw the light of day until released in 2010 even though it had the distinction of being produced by Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters.
I would encourage you to seek out all three of these enigmatic time capsules but Mice and Rats in the Loft is probably the one sure to twitch your ears with delight right off the bat. For me it stands next to Comus’ First Utterance as an equal in stylistic audacity with its relentless sheer force of maniacal musical virtuosity and creative will.
The third record, Strange Terrain took me about 100 listens until I was finally hooked
and inspired to write this blog entry. Strange Terrain is exactly that, an album within a rather odd vacuum of space which seems to have inspired Mr. Bungle, The Talking Heads, Bauhaus and The Virgin prunes without ever being heard or released into the airwaves. In this schizophrenic tapestry of sound there are surprises waiting around every corner. Derek Noy’s unabashed vocal prowess defies the known laws of physics. His musical vision deserves much more recognition and I hope some of you will take the time to seek out these unsung heroes of Britain’s underground. It is only a matter of time until the entire world is enthralled as much as I am.
The Miller for the Rumpelstilzchen Marionette Opera still awaits his finishing touches and he did tell me to say hello, he promises to greet you all in September for next new moon. For now, he sleeps in a bath of joyful dreams.
Farewell for now~
Stay tuned next month for the release of the 3rd Illumination Tales film, more puppetry adventures, inspirations, peregrinations and whatever else the ever-revolving wheel of life has to say.
May you prosper in spirit and prevail atop your inner holy mountain.
Tall and Thin,
Through thick and thin once again,
New Moon, August 18th, 2020