Randy Granger

Randy Granger
In the Chihuahuan Desert near the Organ Mountains, New Mexico

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Chicago Tribune write up.



All's fairy
Festival brings the sprites out of hiding and reveals their secrets (who knew they loved pickles?)

By William Hageman

Chicago Tribune reporter

August 17, 2008

On a beautiful summer weekend, under a canopy of oak trees at Vasa Park in South Elgin, the fairy people gathered.

Hundreds of them, many of them winged, some wearing pointy ears, others with curly-toed footwear.

Welcome to the World of Faeries Festival 2008.

"We tell people, it's a fantasy festival, so come in your Renaissance or fantasy gear," said Dave Yaeger of Crystal Lake, who with his wife, Gloria, puts the annual event together. "It's not a must, but I'd say 15 or 20 percent come dressed."

The Yaegers were inspired by a Pennsylvania event, the Fairie Festival, which has been celebrating all things fairy for two decades. The Yaegers' business, The World of Faeries (theworldoffaeries.com), specializes in fairy statues and Celtic jewelry, and they thought that a local festival would enable them and other vendors to reach a new audience. The first one was in 2005, and it has grown steadily in size and scope.

"We get a little of everything," Gloria says. "Some [visitors] are just curious. They don't know what this is all about. I tell them it's a little like a Ren [Renaissance] fair. But just a little. Ren fairs don't have people dressed in costume like fairies."

And how many Renaissance fairs have a pickle guy? Dressed as a pirate, no less.

A.K.A. John Folan of Chicago, he set up his barrel at the far end of the park and hawked his crunchy green wares to all within earshot.

"Icy cold, fresh, delicious, nutritious ... a bill a dill!"

"How about a pity sale? I'm a grown man, for Pete's sake."

And "There's no breath like pickle breath!"

Folan said he started dealing pickles back in college some 20 years ago.

"It helped get me through school. You do a big fair, you could make $500 in a weekend. That's a lot of pickles."

He left the pickle biz a little over 10 years ago but came out of retirement for the weekend. "My wife is the artistic director—or something—with the fair, and she shanghaied me."

The pickle-pushing pirate was just one of the fest's interesting cultural overlaps. There was Mother Goose, standing next to another pirate, not far from a balloon man in a leprechaun get-up. And flitting about the grounds were visitors, especially young visitors, in all their fairy goodness.

Paula Hutson of Crystal Lake was soaking it all up with daughters Emma, 6, and Audrey, 4, and friend Leslie DeWitt of Carpentersville, and her daughter, Stephanie, 3.

"I said, 'You guys want to dress up?' And they were down in the basement getting their stuff," said Hutson, holding two half-eaten pickles that her daughters had temporarily abandoned.

The girls—heavily into pink girly-girly outfits, with wings, of course—were busy interacting with some of the 30 or so entertainers sprinkled around the grounds. At the gate, each kid got a sheet listing various activities (make a craft, tell a joke, etc.); as they accomplished each task, it was marked off. A sort of scavenger hunt.

That hunt eventually took the kids to the throne of Queen Belladonna of the Unseelie fairies, enchanting in her blue and purple wings and seated amid pillows and flowers under a Sports Authority canopy.

"They come to bow or curtsy to a queen of the fairy court," she explained, handing a half-eaten pickle to her handmaiden as a group of children approached.

In addition to some 30 vendors—offering coat-of-arms T-shirts, body art and crystals as well as soy candles and jewelry—the fest offered two full days of entertainment.

There was the unusual, like the Swords of Valor, where performers flailed away at each other with swords, a giant mallet and shields as the crowd offered encouragement ("Kill! Kill! Kill!" they suggested). Just as entertaining was the music.

"This is my first fairy fest. I didn't really know how to dress," said musician Randy Granger, who performed on the Native American flute and hang drum both days. "I sort of Googled 'male fairies' and got all kinds of hits."

Pause. Laugh.

"From what I could tell, it's much like a Renaissance or medieval festival. And it smells good —soaps and patchouli."

His performance on the hang drum, a Swiss instrument that sounds like a steel drum, added an other-worldly sound and atmosphere to the weekend. But that's what these events are all about.

"I think the common thing about fairy festivals is an honoring of the spirit," said Samantha Stephenson, half of the duo Gypsy Nomads, who also performed. "I grew up in England, and the fairy thing is very British. It's the child's spirit we all have, and it comes out in these festivals. There's a big emphasis on music and playfulness."

And pickles.


Copyright © 2008, Chicago Tribune

Monday, August 18, 2008

Ghost Dancers video.

This is "Ghost Dancers" is from my new album 'A Place Called Peace.' The song was inspired by the Ghost Dance religion that tragically led to the Wounded Knee Massacre. Indian people at that time in the 1890's were having it hard. Hunger, disease, despair and extreme poverty was the story of the day. A new religion that came to the Pauite Shaman Wokova said by praying, meditating, chanting and dancing the Ghost Dance an Apocalypse would come and after that the ancestors would return and the Buffalo and the old ways of Indians before whites. Ideas like borders, ownership and especially alcohol would have to done away with.

Tragedy upon tragedy followed ending in the Wounded Knee Massacre where 290 men, women and children Indians were killed by a heavily armed 7th Calvary. The same Calvary Gen. Custer once commanded. There were reports that many of the soldiers yelled "remember Little Big Horn?" as they chased Indians into the hills, the majority of them unarmed. 29 soldiers also died though it is said that it might have been from "friendly fire" as the Indians had been disarmed that morning just before the slaughter began. 23 7th Calvary soldiers later received Congressional Medals of Honor. There is a well-known photo of Chief Big Foot dead in the snow. He was known as a peace negotiator, was elderly and ill with pneumonia when he as branded a "fomenter of disturbances."

What saddens me about the entire Ghost Dance tragedy is that it was essentially a messianic religion and they believed that Jesus was going to raise their ancestors and restore the natural balance and order. This as a peaceful movement akin to Gandhi's nonviolent movement and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s philosophy. That they were banned, persecuted and eventually murdered for practicing their religion is a tragedy that more Americans should know about. Peace begins with forgiveness. Understanding and recognizing such violence will help to know when it happens again and call attention to it before more tragedy ensues. There is so much more on the Ghost Dance story and I implore you to research for yourself. Hate begets hate. Compassion leads to empathy. In this video and blog I don't want to blame anyone and make anyone feel bad or sad. I'm trying to tell the story that inspired the song Ghost Dancers from my perspective. I welcome a respectful debate. Thank you for reading.


Dog Days of Touring, Poem. And Friends or Fans?

Ah the Dog Days of summer are here in the southwest with long sultry days and occasional thunder-head clouds that look like huge cotton candy icebergs above the Organ Mountains. The green chilie is finally being harvested after too much rain kept fields muddy as cake batter. I’m happy to be home for just a while after tours that resemble long-haul trucker routes. It’s funny that I’ve been thinking about how I’m always a little late to the continental breakfasts at the hotels where I stay. The rare times I actually have a night in the same city where I woke up I head down to the gym, if there is one, then to see what’s left at the breakfast bar. Let me tell you it is competitive sport with people lined up and the baked goods and waffles go first. The only thing left most times is oatmeal and some individual cereal boxes. Myself I’d rather have something more substantial like lasagna, enchiladas or pizza--or just get on the road.

I’m playing at a church this Sunday, something I haven’t done for a while and swore off altogether. Even so, this is a special situation involving a church that really needs some healing, a new minister and because a very spiritually powerful friend asked me to play when she delivers a guest sermon. More local gigs are in line including a show in conjunction with the U.N. International Day of Peace. Check it out and maybe organize something in your area. Would be nice to have an eon of peace instead of just a day but peace is something that begins with the individual then grows from there I think. It is strange being on the road then coming back to your home town and few people know you’ve ever left…ha ha . I know that CD’s are sold one at a time and that fans are made one at a time as well. It is cumulative really. As I continue to work and work and work I’ve hired a radio promotion company to do what I usually do and it is going well. Of course no one ever works as hard as you do but I’m trusting and having faith. Air play and reviews continue to grow for A Place Called Peace and I’m happy about that. I read a quote recently about the music industry; “There are no airbags in the music industry. When it goes wrong YOUR head is going through the windshield.” I’m not fatalistic about it but I do know that you and your listeners make it all happen and every relationship is personal. I try to spend as much time as I can talking to people after gigs, answering emails, questions, listening to every story. Sometimes I’m so tired I feel nauseated but try not to let it show. Sometimes I even hang out with fans, etc. after gigs or accept an invite to come to dinner or stay at their house. That doesn’t always work though. Too often I’m either the brunt of their frustration or they start picking at my amour and finding all the chinks only to realize….OMG….he’s human. Hell yeah I’m human. I need to rethink these offers.

Friends or fans? We’ll I’d like them both. But a friend is someone you need to be able to be yourself around; your “real” self with all the idiosyncrasies, bad hair days, bad smell days and changing mood days. Sometimes I get emails (or at shows) asking what my religious or sexual preference is, how much I paid for my Hang and how I got it, etc. I don’t mind being open at all. But, hey get to know me first or at least buy a CD before we go there eh?

Here is a funny (well I hope it is) poem about my dislike of cereal I read at an open mic last week. Happy Dog Days of summer.


Boxed Mornings

The cereal box mocks me
From top the pantry
Judging me in silence I recall
All the commercials and NPR

Stories “eat breakfast” loose weight
Live longer--as if I wanted to--
Stuffed with puffed rice shredded
Wheat, Life and Corn Chex

I’d rather eat the lasagna from
Last night or potatoes with green
Chilie and cheese smothered in
Lard or tamales with ketchup

Wash it down with chef’s
Salad and enchiladas none of
This filler granola taking
Up space like a church of

Overdressed congregations in
The belly of my disgruntled
Hunger oatmeal is phlegm
With sugar, Denny’s is

Oklahoma dressed in
Aluminum Siding I need
To eat more yoghurt and
Fruit maybe in a cocktail

Randy Granger, August 2008