|Bardic Circle Featuring Blue Knight...
A Maid in Ninian's Day
(by James Gilchrist)
Audience Count: 7,140
I wrote the lyric to “A Maid in Ninian's Day” as a poem in 1998. While I sat in the World Wide Plaza on West 50th St, NYC, enjoying a warm spring evening, the words to the opening stanza began to coalesce in my mind. There were no rolling Irish hills in the foreground; there was no view of the seashore. There was only the mist on my face from a fountain on which I rested my boots, Shirley Toulson's book CELTIC JOURNEYS in my pocket, and the sight of a beautiful woman strolling through the plaza in a flowing white dress. Or perhaps the woman was only in my mind's eye...
I paired the finished poem with the painting OPHELIA (J.W. Waterhouse, 1910) and put it up on a website I'd just started building, dedicated to works of Pre-Raphaelite art and accompanying poems. I composed several different melodies for the piece but none of them seemed to stick - as a song it had yet to be performed. On two successive evenings in the spring of 2001, I rewrote the song - differently. After the first evening's work, I played the song for a friend over the phone...she was less than enthusiastic about it. The next night, I started over and wrote the opening measures for guitar that today begin the song. The lyrics and melody finally fell into place.
"A Maid in Ninian's Day" went on a long journey from inception to performance - and has continued to change over time. The song is about a journey of love; a journey that begins and ends with the heart. It reminds me to keep some faith, look for the circles...and enjoy the trip! ~ James Gilchrist
Recorded: April 6, 2003 at the Irish Arts Center, NYC
Guests/Players: James Gilchrist - Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
Carol Crittenden - Vocal Harmonies
Eric Mauriello - Bass
Andrew Potenza - Percussion
Celeste Ray - Bowed Psaltery
Kyle Sanna - Lead Guitar
Technical Notes: Recorded live to CD using 2 suspended mics capturing stage and room. No effects, no PA, just music straight from the hip.
Artist Profile: Founder of the Folk/Rock/World band Blue Knight, James Gilchrist has been performing his music for audiences since 1993. While most often heard performing at NYC village venues such as Kenny’s Castaways and The Red Lion, his music has also supported many theatrical productions in the city. Gilchrist says Blue Knight owes its inception to contributions made by Kyle Sanna, Carol Crittenden, and Bethany-Burgess-Smith – again, all performers (and later close friends) he worked with in the theater. “I’d been doing the solo thing - coffee houses, little clubs, small theatres, etc. – but I wanted to add more music to my songs, beyond what I could provide singing and playing acoustic guitar.” Celeste Ray, also a performing songwriter with her own ensemble, adds a distinctly Celtic/World sound to Blue Knight with melodies played on the bowed psaltery. Andrew Potenza has contributed his unique blend of Moroccan/Turkish percussion for the band since January, 2003, and Eric Mauriello added his inspired bass work to the Blue Knight sound in April of that same year.
In May of 2003, Blue Knight performed at the Open Hearth Foundation’s Spring Ball in Washington, D.C. (See the article here on The Witch's Voice.) The positive reception of his songs by the pagan community was “very rewarding” but didn’t surprise him. “So many of the themes I write about are spiritual, even mystical. I write songs based on the poetry of John Keats, songs that celebrate the earth and our connection to her, songs that have a Medieval ‘bardic’ influence to them – and they appeal to people who have embraced Celtic traditions and typically pagan belief systems. I’d like to increase those elements in my music and have Blue Knight perform a balanced mix of traditional singer/songwriter ballads, modern rock songs, and Celtic/Romantic influenced tunes. That way, everyone will get a little something – and it pretty much sums up my style.”
LINK to the mp3 File: Click HERE
A Maid in Ninian's Day
(words & music by James Gilchrist)
There lived a maid in Ninian's day,
Whose heart was gold the minstrels say,
Her voice a songbird's fluted trill,
And by her gaze were poets stilled.
Of'times a light illúmed her face,
When she should smile, so full of grace,
As with her shoes clutched in her hands,
Her grassy feet strode o'er the lands.
She wandered 'lone this way and that,
Glossed strands of hair 'scaping her hat,
While she went searching for a sign,
Where she her long lost love might find.
She stood awhile upon the shore,
And watched the seabirds dip and soar;
She knelt within an ancient wood,
Hoping that the animals could
Tell her where did her lost love go -
But alas, alas…none did know.
She wandered far beneath the ground,
Listening always for the sound,
Of her love's tread upon the earth,
Or ship of his returned to firth,
But nowhere could her love be found -
So sighing made she homeward bound,
And there she found him, smiling for
His long lost love was lost no more.
copyright 2002 James Gilchrist