Diosa De Cancion

Southern Pirate FestivalReview

7 posts in this topic

I have been asked for some time to post my thoughts about pirate festivals I go to, so others can get a feel for them. Most times, I am just too lazy to do the job, but after this weekend's Southern Pirate Festival, I want to share some fun moments, so, here we go.

Columbus, Ga. Ok so, yes, we're talking Columbus, GA here. Not a bustling metropolis by any means, and the drive, well let's say I saw a LOT of cotton fields. The museum is nestled over by the Chattahoochee River in the FAR west side of Georgia. So far west that I literally took one wrong turn on the way to the grocery store and ended up in Alabama!

While the drive was long to get there (7 1/2 hours) the weather was Chamber of Commerce blue skies and sunshine and I had Amelia (the baby flying squirrel) as a co-pilot, so we were good to go. I won't bore you with the details of the drive suffice to say the one thing that stands out is driving by a 'cotton gin' site and seeing white roads, with all the excess cotton that had blown around. It was everywhere! I even pulled over to grab a handful. Amelia will likely get that to add to her bedding collection.

After checking in at the hotel, I was off to the museum around 5:30 Friday afternoon. I could see camps setting up in the field behind the museum and smoke rising from a camp fire. I checked in and got to meet Ken "The Flash" Johnston (the Museum Programs Director) in person. A piece of advice, if you want to have a chat with Ken in person, wear running shoes. He was always on the move and it seemed everywhere you looked, there he was. Either that or he has perfected cloning. I need some of whatever he was on!

I had a few moments to look through the museum before we did the walk through of the pirate scenes for the event and WOW, it's quite the facility with some amazing exhibits. I am not sure how I hadn't heard about this one before. The CSS Chattahoochee remains were most impressive and I found myself walking around that area time and time again. While I took pictures and could ramble, the museum website is very thorough, so I'll let them take care of that part!


Out back, encampments were being set up. Pirate tents, Limey tents, the jail and vendors were tricking in.



At this point, let me say how much I appreciate the Pyracy Pub and Facebook. I had begin friendships online and was able to continue them in 3-D! It was nice to not have to always begin with a full introduction...I saw Calico Ann, Bloody Sam Rackham, Tobias and had to greet each one with a 'don't hug to hard, I have a squirrel in my shirt'. That was pretty much everyone's introduction to Amelia as that is where she spent a lot of her time.

This is where the joke on Del McRae came in. Tobias spotted him coming and said I was talking to my chest and that Del should do something about it... Del walked over and went to look down my top, saw something fuzzy and jumped back yelling "What the heck is that!?!?" That ended up being done to a number of people through the weekend, but he was first. There were many cries of 'Squirrel!' a la UP throughout the weekend too.

Friday night was rather laid back, Tobias made up some stew for us all to enjoy while we all rekindled old friendships or began new ones and then the instruments came out. It started with Arden and Thighbiter playing with a fiddle and then Suzanne pulled out a guitar and she knew Dark Lady so I got to sing as she offered beautiful vocal and guitar harmonies. Soon Charlene and Melissa jumped in and we had a wench quartet going. Next, the Brigands pulled out their instruments and well it was officially an opening night party!

Sadly, I did not stay as late as I would have liked. It had been a long drive and I had a little girl who needed a bottle and a pecan so I headed back to the hotel.

Saturday morning, I arrived at the site at 9ish.... just in time for the morning 'meeting' and to find out where I would be stationed and performing. Things were hopping. Breakfast was cooking on the fires and the weather was perfect, another day of blue skies and sunshine. Limeys were patrolling and the pirates were taunting them.

I had a couple of jobs. I was set for a 1:30 presentation on the life of Mary Read and the rest of the day I was teaching period games, talking about a table display of many items of my growing kit (the most popular being my axe and shackles), and trying to get away to see as many of the other acts as I could.

This was one of the most packed festivals as far as things to see and do. There were three different performing areas as well as a movie area (playing old pirate flicks) and the encampments.

Here's a quick look at a few of the acts I was able to catch:

Capt Mayhem - Mayhem seemed to be everything from MC to Magic man at various points throughout the weekend. His magic show is always fun to watch and he knows how to keep the tempo going as an MC. Bonus points to him for coming over to my display area and making coins disappear, reappear and change in appearance. It was much fun!

Willoughby Caught & Arden - How the heck have I not heard these ladies before??? Where the heck have I been?? If you have not heard Willoughby sing, you need to hunt her down at the next thing she is attending where you are and make her serenade you! She has an amazingly soulful voice that draws you in. She even serenaded me with a Mary Read song and has a number of VERY FUN songs that she has written that will have you clapping, tapping, and desperately trying to learn the words so you can join in. One of the gems of my weekend!

The Brigands - They got me to dance. Need I say more? Well, I will. I had heard a little of The Brigands before SPF, but a couple of clips on YouTube do not do them justice. These guys sound amazing in person. They look and sound like they are having fun on stage and it's contagious. You want to be involved in the music... I go back to... they got me to dance. I do not believe I have ever done period dancing at an event before this... and I got out three times at the ball!

Billy Bones Pirate School - Down from NY to play with pirates in the south, Billy Bones Pirate School was enjoyable to watch, even though I didn't have a little one. After doing children's shows myself, I know how hard it can be to keep their attention and keep them involved. Well, he made it look easy keeping the kids excited and cheering from start to finish.

Unfortunately I did not catch the 'dance classes...which I DEFINITLY should have... more on that later...

The Members of the Cursed Few, Titans and the museum also had a series of pirate scenes that played out throughout the day surrounding the quest for a treasure map and then the quest for treasure with plenty of sword fighting and a firing of the 8-pounder cannon that was from the Jackson - WOW! It was deafening and awesome!

The Dead Buccaneer Ball

I had planned to be at the dinner and ball on time, but it seems that the 7:30 arrival time I was given was about 30 minutes late. So after a quick munch of a meal and only getting to hear one of the Willoughby dinner songs, I was off to the room bragging the Monitor, where the rest of the ball commenced.

This is a link I snagged from Charlie Conklin's photos of the room while empty... nice venue!


It started with the crowning of the King and Queen, Karen and Gumbatz. She looked stunning as always... I think he cheated :)

Then the Brigands music began. I believe I made the mistake of mentioning 'I've never danced at one of these types of events' and then there was a reel playing and suddenly I was on the dance floor!

John was my partner on this and he and I were both clueless. I quickly learned that wearing pouches and knives on a belt is not wise while dancing a reel, so those got tossed aside, and I started to catch on. We were having enough fun with it that as one song ended, the band got a call for more so we could continue. I think that happened 2-3 times before we finally let them take a break.

Then they lowered the tempo and Charlie decided to teach me to do a slower dance. I warned him I may step on his feel to which he responded ' That's ok... I work with horses". Thanks.... thanks a lot..... Although a good stomping may have been deserved, I did not step on his feet and actually got into the dancing thing pretty quickly.

I may have been just about to think I had it down, when King Gumbatz decided to spank a little humility into me by pulling me out for a faster dance. I tripped at lease once and was almost able to figure out how to follow by the time the song was over, with a look of terror on my face the whole time which was caught on video (Thanks, Melissa). Ok, so Ginger Rogers, I am NOT! But it was very fun nonetheless.

When the Brigands were not on stage, Bilgemunky was spinning all sorts of pirate tunes to keep the place hopping!

As the ball wound down, we headed outside and around one of the fires. Willoughby and I were discussing songs we both knew and before I knew it we weer harmonizing Somewhere over the Rainbow... ok not piratey, but I thought it was pretty. Then we did switch into pirate and nautical and there was much singing with all the ladies from the previous night as well as Gumbatz joining in and leading a few.

Just after midnight (Sunday morning) we broke into Amazing Grace which went into Will the Circle Be Unbroken and well whether you are religious, spiritual or any or none of the above it was a moving experience. It was a clear night under a full moon with at least 20-25 people joining into the song in our little impromptu choir. Just perfect!

Then there were lights and sirens.... You see, they were lighting up a bonfire across the way... a pretty large one at that. Since the Museum is on the side of a main highway through town, it seems someone called in the fire. I am not sure what the deal was with burn permits or whatnot. I had heard the state was under a burn ban. I hear there was a lot of conversation between a few of the pirates and the firefighters, some wenches were dispatched to pose for pictures and well... wench, and then all was good again.

That was when my evening started to wind down and I retreated to my bed.

MAJOR Kudos to:

Captain Midnight for inviting me to the event and helping me with Amelia care! Your Squirrely man tips aer on the mark so far!

Ken Johnston for agreeing I was worth having on the docket and already telling me to start planning my expanded role for next year! Woohoo! Can't wait!

The Cursed Few and the Cutthroat Titan Crew and the museum for hosting such a fabulous event! From a spectator standpoint, it went VERY smoothly, which means you all worked hard and tirelessly to make it so. I know Raven was always flying from place to place making things happen even while sick (I hope you had a little time to enjoy yourself too!) and the other crew members also were always 'on it' and made everyone feel like they had come home to their pirate family!

I must say, this was one of the most active festivals I have ever attended. There was always something to do and I found myself wanting more time to be able to do it all! Bring on the Southern Pirate Festival 2011!!!

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Thanks, love! I will make this short for now, but come back later for more... it was MUCH work, stress, tears, blood shed (I mean it- I bled at some point and so did others- haha), arguments, and much more laughter. Everyone did a wonderful job, and I sincerely appreciate all the pirates coming together to make my dream of a real pirate ball come to life!!! The festival was fun, a lot of work, but FUN!! I will come back for more ranting and "thank you"s, but for now, THANK YOU, DIOSA!!!!! I a so glad you enjoyed yourself.

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Raven, so in addition to just how much fun and impressive the overall event was.... Some of us who have been around the inner workings of festivals were talking on Sunday morning... and we noted that while we KNEW there had to be things going wrong, and some likely 'in house' BS as happens with everything in life, we did not have it heaped on us. There was no visible drama or BS or ugliness and we were damn impressed :) You managed to do something I do not think has ever happened at a festival, keep any negativity that existed out of the spotlight, double kudos for that!

And feel free to rant all you want, I have a friendly ear :)

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Many thanks fer all o' th' kind werds ye be bestowin' on us.

As Raven stated 'twas HARD work, but I enjoyed every minute of it.

I can't fathom how wonderous NEXT year will be!

Ye will be there, aye?

Thanks again, and thanks to all who had a part in this fantastic festival!

We couldna done it witout ye!

Diosa, Ye were ..."SQUIRREL"...Fabulous! Arr ye going to th' Gathering?

We can talk more there!!

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Thank you so much for you kind words, Diosa. I also want to thank you for helping our... SQUIRREL... first festival be the success it was. You truly were a great asset to us. As Raven said, there was a lot of sweat, tears and blood involved. I know I accidentally stabbed my fencing partner in the leg. Looking forward to Southern Pirate Festival 2011!!!

Calico Ann Rackham

Crew Surgeon of The Cursed Few

Edited by Calico Ann Rackham

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Aye Sam, I will be at the gathering. Setting up tent on thursday night or friday morning and will be there for the duration! Mary will be teaching a lesson or two to some of the wee ones and then Diosa will be out much of the rest of the weekend :)

Calico Ann, I was thrilled to be a help in the little ways I could. It was a grand time and I'm ready for 2011! Here's hoping it will be a longer event!

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Big Kudos to the Renegade Raven for the huge amount of work she put into not only the Festival but the Ball!!

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