For those following posts about my various performances, how about me playing Bigfoot...in a Mummers Play...with a Squid...at the Library of Congress? If you find this intriguing, please join the fun at this page!
One month ago, your humble scribe Wynken De Worde had the honor of conducting an on-stage interview with the Grammy-winning folk band The Carolina Chocolate Drops! Rather than write an extensive blog post on the experience, I've folded it into an article about this remarkable band and their unique brand of old-time folk, based on little-known African-American string band music. Read the article here!
Years from now, my niece and nephew and once-removed cousins are apt to ask me: “Weird Uncle Steve, what’s it like to sing in a Great Big Rock Concert?”
Luckily, I will now be able to tell them, in my usual articulate manner: “It's, uh, pretty awesome.”
But I get ahead of myself. First of all, where do I get off calling the show on December 27, 2011 at the Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia, a "Great Big Rock Concert?" It was certainly a triumph of electric folk and a watershed moment in…Read more
This year I once again adapted, directed, and performed in my office's Christmas Mummers play. Mumming, or disguising oneself, going door to door, and performing in neighbors' homes and in public places, is a very old and widespread custom in Europe, going back at least to the middle ages. However, the type of play we call a Mummers Play today may not go back any further than the eighteenth century, since earlier references to "mumming" either are vague about the exact type of performance, or are clearly…Read more
From his earliest appearances among the characters of pageants, shows, and St. George’s Day observances, the Green Man has been associated with calendar customs, especially those of springtime. Yet, one of Richard Hayman’s specific claims in "The Ballad of the Green Man" is that the Green Man is “the latest accretion to the long cast of characters that have featured in annual May celebrations, like Robin Hood, Jack-in-the-Green, May Queens and Lords of Misrule.” He thus…Read more
In Part 2, I showed that the idea of a man covered with leaves, as well as the name for that man, “Green Man,” existed for a long time, in the same cultural milieux as the carved foliate faces on churches. However, it is not clear that these two artistic traditions were related. Although scholars like Lady Raglan in the early twentieth century, and Terri Winding in the early twenty-first, identify the Green Man with a variety of practices going back to pre-Christian…Read more
So what DID the term “Green Man” refer to before 1930, and how did the term come down to modern times, to Lady Raglan’s day and beyond? To answer this, we can rely partly on Brandon Centerwall’s “The Name of the Green Man,” a crucial article that is almost never cited by writers such as Hayman, who wish to downplay the deep history of the Green Man. We will also rely on a source that is even more seldom consulted on the matter (which is curious indeed): the Oxford English…Read more
Both before and after Lady Raglan’s landmark 1939 essay "The Green Man in Church Architecture," in which she applied the term “Green Man” to a carving of a foliate head in her local church, much has been written about the strange creatures known as “Green Men.” References to them in English go back to the sixteenth century. In the twentieth century they captured the imaginations of many people, from architectural historians to neopagan worshippers, and from folklorists to participants in…Read more