When it comes to the myriad of musicians at renaissance festivals, the talent displayed is overwhelming. You have people who have dedicated their lives to the romanticized notion of a wandering bard bringing their music from town to town and spreading joy like a guitar strumming Johnny Appleseed. With all this skill, it’s strange to realize that not many of our performers go mainstream to the point of being known outside the community. Whenever you get a duo known far and wide with a dedicated fanbase, it’s an achievement worth celebrating!

A (Very) Brief History of Elizabethan Musicians

Goldegg Castle wall painting

Queen Elizabeth 1st is often credited as a patroness of the arts. Her Majesty was herself a skilled strummer with talent in the lute and virginal keyboard, even composing dance numbers for her retinue to perform. During her reign, England became noted for its art and music culture throughout Europe as the popularity shifted from religious music to more secular tunes. The common folk had always sung together, whether at worship or among friends at the tavern. With wider access to print and education for the gentry and lower classes, music in England began to evolve to new levels of sophistication. It came to reflect the people more than the church, allowing for more expressive interpretations to come forward.

Henry George Hine’s “The Waits at Seven Dials” (1853)

Waites – As far back as the medieval period, any English town worth its salt had a group of town waites, or a small band, that performed duties such as waking people in the morning, leading processions, sounding the alarm, and playing for civic ceremonies. Such was their position of necessity that they even had salaries and livery with a coat of arms that showed the official nature of their career. Some families were known for their musical talent, with the surname Waits and Wakeman surviving into modern times.

Street Musicians – With the rising popularity of theater, local musicians often found work adding their accompaniment to the stage, setting the mood and reflecting the emotions of the actors for the audience. They would also attend the weekly markets, taverns, and festivals in the area, providing folks with more down-to-earth popular tunes than they might find at official ceremonies or church. While the wealthy might be able to afford a private servant to strum for them during supper, street musicians brought tunes to the masses.

Liechtenstein Museum – Master of female half-figures – Three female musicians

House Musicians – Wherever royalty walked, the gentry was bound to follow. So it should come as no surprise that anyone with money in their pouch hired a servant who was profiscent in performance. They would play during meal times, awaken the household, and even education the children. Aspiring social climbers were often encouraged to take up an instrument, with the lute being resoundingly popular for young men and “any young woman unable to take her proper place in a vocal or instrumental ensemble became the laughing-stock of society.”

Elizabeth I dancing ‘La Volta’ with Robert Dudley. Penhurst Palace & gardens Art UK.

Court Musicians – Queen Elizabeth was an avid music lover who employed over seventy musicians over the course of her reign. She enjoyed both simple ballads and complex madrigals, believing dance to be an excellent method of exercise for the nobility. Many of her court musicians became widely famous, such as Thomas Campion (1567 – 1620) who composed  A Booke of Ayres along with Philip Rosseter. William Byrd (1540 – 1623), was named Gentleman of the Chapel Royal and eventually granted Letters Patent over printing music and for twenty one years. It was safe to say that there was profit and influence in being a court musician, if one was talented enough to catch the Queen’s attention.

An Interview with Pirate’s Creed

Shipmates for Life

We are two best friends (Navigator and Quartermaster) that love playing music and performing together. We owe everything to the Renfair community. Nothing is better than performing for the guests of the ORF. We both met and worked in another pirate band at ORF 4 years ago. The old band that we were in wasn’t working out for either one of us, so we decided to join forces and Pirates Creed was born. We both have been performers for several years, and it is our individual talents that make Pirates Creed such a fun band to watch!

On Stage & On Point

Live at the 3 Fools Pub!

Our first performance as Pirates Creed was at The Dublin Pub for ORF fans. We’re always nervous but that comes with performing. We never know what songs we are going to play or what we are going to do. We have no set dialogue or script and let things happen naturally. As a performer you have to roll with the punches and try to make the best out of every situation. It’s important to watch each other’s back on stage and help out each other when we run into sound issues or things like that. Sometimes you may even have to sit in with another group to help out when it comes to people being unable to perform.

Pirates Creed is full of energy because we love what we do, and we want to give the guests a fun experience. Our inspiration comes from our love of music and our love of ORF. We really enjoy performing with each other. Like I said we are best friends, and we are having fun. We act the same way at our band rehearsals.

Part of the Ship, Part of the Crew

We hope audiences have a good time and forget about life’s everyday troubling issues. We want to give the people a place and time to just have fun. We love to come off the stage and make a personal connection with our fans while performing. It is that personal touch that audiences remember and keeps them coming back for more! Some of the most memorable experiences come from how our music is changing people’s lives and making them glad they came to faire. Our music has even become popular with children and we never saw that coming but we take great pride in it. We love our powder monkeys! We can tell what works and what doesn’t work by the interaction with the audience.

Our fans can find us all over the social media platforms. Our music is on all music apps. We also have a webpage at www.piratescreed.com Our favorite places to play so far is Oren, Kentucky Renfair, and a place called Bircus Brewing Company that has a circus theme. The crowds pretty much follow us wherever we play, so, it’s like a mini renfaire every time we perform. We have the very best fans.