Let me start this off by saying – I’m a nerd. I’m a lover of games, weird film and quirky music. And when I walk into a gig and pick up one of the maps (handed to all in attendance) and read the following quote -“A fair Warning to all Lovers of Mufick. There fhall be no dainty mufick play’d here.” – John Henry – I take it as a good sign for the night to come.
The way the evening played out was that the map had marks on it throughout different parts of Europe. Each destination had its own respective folk tune played by the band, Here Be Dragons, throughout the night. As part of the audience, I was able to experience a musical voyage from one country’s folk history to the next.
Folk music is an interesting genre. It’s steeped in history, eclectic in range and a heartily fresh yet classic take on storytelling. And this is why I was so charmed by a night with Here Be Dragons – their use of the folk genre to tell the story of its route and history invited the audience into a spell-binding musical experience. They took not only folk, but also baroque music – and delved into artistic variations of both, colourfully blending them all into different styles and leading their audience into a foot stomping reaction.
On that note of foot stomping, allow me to segue into what I generally think of in relation to folk. Picture this – a traditional Irish pub with rowdy drinkers and music filling every crack of the room; a warm atmosphere envelops as you feel the flush warm your cheeks.
Although kept within the sophisticated confines provided by Baroque as a theme, Here Be Dragons managed to take the above image and animate it through their own version of a narrative painted with musical melodies. One piece in particular was described by Jan-Hendrik, the lead performer, as a “modern folk piece stylized as if by a 60’s rock band” – to which the person sitting next to me says, with a quick inhale of air, “cool”. This moment pretty much sums up my experience of the night.
As Here Be Dragons seamlessly blended genres, I was reminded of the appeal of folk and all its possible iterations. It provides an escape from the noise pervading our everyday background; a mythical ship sailing on to a different land and pace. Think dungeons and dragons with an emphasis on a healthy helping of banter and a lot of ale.
“Let’s make war on this bottle. Let’s sing and drink, my friends.” Jan Hendrik says as Here Be Dragons moved into one of their final pieces to round off an evening of rustically charming entertainment.