Pixie In Overdrive
The Badass Bardery of S. J. Tucker
by Phil “Satyrblade” Brucato,
photos by Kyle Cassidy & Jeff Navarro
A Seattle basement, mid-winter. The room swarms with eager fans. Each person, it seems, knows the words to every song belted out by a slender pixie in a jester’s cap. FaerieWorlds, 2007. A blue-braided power-house whales on a bodhran, sending hundreds of bright-clad neo-tribals leaping happily through the air. Sunday morning barefoot boogie. Dozens of dancers gyrate to a song they’ve never heard before. Grabbing the chorus, they sing: The circle is here/ It lives in each of us/ In perfect love/ And perfect trust. This is the magic of S. J. Tucker, and if you haven’t heard of her yet, you will.
S. J. Tucker is a self-made Pagan performing artist. The “folk” label is too limited to hold her. Although she seems at first glance like a simple “guitar chick,” in truth she’s a glittering badass of fire-spinning verve. Musically, “Sooj” ranges from a capella Gospel to World Fusion technobeats. Combining theatrics and mysticism with info-tech savvy and spirited attitude, Tucker defies expectations. Despite her elfin appearance, this “skinny white chick” has a roaring voice and thousand-yard stare. Like Ani DiFranco and Jonathan Coulton, she’s a product of timeless artistry and postmodern opportunity. Though bardic in tradition, S. J. Tucker is fully an artist of Now.
Focus on Pagan music —
If you think “Pagan music” consists solely of music suitable for Elvish weddings, drum circles, and chants about the Goddess, you may need a healthy dose of Icarus Witch. The brainchild of bassist (and proud Pagan) Jason Myers, Icarus Witch has been featured in heavy metal magazines Metal Maniacs, BW&BK, Outburn, Hit Parader, Pit, Explicitly Intense, Unrestrained and Classic Rock. They’ve brought the Goddess to the mosh pits of Hamburg, Germany’s Headbangers Open Air Festival, and have played alongside luminaries like George Lynch of platinum ‘80s rockers Dokken and Frank X. Aresti of prog metal gods Fates Warning. Kenaz Filan was able to catch up with Jason in his Pennsylvania home just before he took off for the band’s summer “No Rest for the Witches” tour opening for one of their all-time favorite bands, Y&T. Icarus Witch will be promoting their recent release, Draw Down The Moon, this time with former Dirty Looks guitarist/backing vocalist, Christopher Shaner as the new frontman and DiAnno guitarist, Ed Skero on 2nd lead guitar.
K Icarus Witch released its first EP, Roses on White Lace, in 2005. What were you guys doing before then? How did you all come together?
Jason Prior to Roses, I had been living in L.A., working in the record industry, doing A&R, art direction, publicity, and various jobs that allowed me to build up the business knowledge and contacts to help launch a band of my own creation. Although California is still the epicenter of the music business, I felt I would have a better chance of finding the right musicians for this classic metal style back in my hometown of Pittsburgh, PA, an area of the country known more for its blue collar work ethic and traditions than trendiness.
Wardruna - Sowing New Seeds, Strengthening Old Roots
Sowing New Seeds, Strengthening Old Roots
Wardruna began to take shape in 2002 as a project of musician Einar Kvitrafn Selvik (known from his work as a drummer with metal bands Jotunspor and Gorgoroth.) The band became a place where Einar’s practice of Norse paganism and runes could be combined with his passion for music. In 2007, the project attracted popular attention after it was featured in the documentary True Norwegian Black Metal. Finally, the debut album Gap var Ginnunga was released in 2009. Each album will feature music written to evoke the spirit and meaning of eight runes; the first album featured Hagal, Bjarkan, Thurs, Jara, Laukr, Kauna, Algir, and Dagr.
Focusing on the cultic musical language of the Pagan arts of galder, seidr and the daily acts of the cultic life, mixed with impulses from Norwegian/Nordic folk music and music from other indigenous cultures, Wardruna aims to create a portrait of each rune it features. Recordings often take place outdoors, in locations chosen to resonate with the specific rune in question, using human voice and instruments, including deer-hide frame and ceremonial drums, mouth harp, clove/hoof rattles, bone flute, goat and cow horns, Hardanger fiddle, bowed lyres, and tagelharpe (“viking fiddle”). Other, more elemental inputs include natural sounds such as wind in trees, water over stones, crackling fire, employed to enhance the nature of the rune being portrayed.
Faerie Music: Songs of Enchantment
Whether light and ethereal or wild and rollicking, music at faerie events is always filled with the enchantment of the Otherworld. Here is a sampling of just a few of the musicians who have found favor with faerie fans — and surely with the Fae themselves!
• Alexander James Adams
Adams describes himself as “the heir to Heather Alexander” and carries on in Heather’s tradition of fine fiddling, filk, and folk music. Whether doing traditional ballads or the still immensely popular “Creature of the Wood” he is pitch-perfect and full of mischief. Adams weaves complex Celtic-inspired tunes around riveting stories to produce foot-tapping, memorable songs. Alexander performs at faerie and folk festivals around the world both on his own and with fae-band Tricky Pixie, and his playful presence and intense performances are a joy to fans at every turn. Find him online at www.faerietaleminstrel.com. (Heather Alexander’s backlist remains available at www.heatherlands.com.)