In Gowan Ring/Nick Castro @ Le Chateau, Spring 2006

Long overdue now, with longer days left burning and a wee bit more opportunity to reflect on, resonate with, and delight about, it is with great pleasure that I recall the night in early April that we hosted a band of roving troubadours at la manse. It was a strange happenstance at first, that this very enchanted and enamored enthusiast, deciding to write to the artist formerly known as B’eirth, formed a devious plan to lure the currently-Oregonian balladeers southward for a spell and a sip, all in exchange for a song and a quip. It was really more of an open invitation, and I didn’t think much about receiving such a positive response at first, but in due time I was pleasantly surprised. It’s not often that a meager fan gets to share such intimate intimations with the focus of their fanfare. But magic things happen around these folks, and here’s proof.


It just so happened that the date we chose was very near the kickoff of their spring tour with Mr. Nick Castro, a dark and dusky melodist in his own right, and it happened to work perfectly for everyone involved. E-mails went out and a select number of website referrals were accepted; many dollars went into the spread of wine and cheese and sweet and savories. A carnival of pillows was splayed across the floor, notes were written to neighbors just in case, and furniture was cleared for optimal viewing pleasure. By mid-afternoon, a veritable symphony of antique and hand-made instruments was set up in the living room, and the bands spread out to prepare and to fuel up before the event.


By the evening-time, we had some thirty-five people in the house looking forward to the show, made up of an eclectic mix of Bay Area characters of all ages and backgrounds. It never ceases to amaze me how the neo-folk movement brings together such strange fellowships of tribal spiritualists, fledgeling hippies, and retired goths – and all were represented on the night. Many new faces in the house, all getting on well, being social without discomfort and open without mistrust.


Four musicians soon sat in front of the hearth and stories were told amidst candle and firelight; hushed, awed whispers from the rapt audience in between tinkling bell and ringing bowl, hand-carved lyre, penny whistle, accordion, and stand-up bass. Two sets were played, but all performers contributed to each – a symbiotic execution of what lies on drifting soul and gamesome mind.


Nick Castro opened the evening with his aching plod of mysterious lullaby and shivering dirge, softening eyes and heart with his earnestness and resolve. I was stricken by the totality of his own envelopment as the music came out of him, and it was hard to keep my own eyes open as he fell into each word, syrup-like, struggling to break free from the somnolent viscidity as we watched, nearly forgetting to breathe.


B’ee reappeared after a short intermission to carry us into the late hours of this spring night, on lilting oceans of meadowsweet and bogmyrtle, filling in the gaps between the cracks and pops of burning logs with alchemical resonance, gnostic adventures, and fecund dreams that delighted and sedated all at the same time. His craft conjures the desire to leap off into worlds uncharted by any means necessary – a more than perfect soundtrack for a shadowed enterprise to some foreign country, to some foreign time.

The wind that cracks the leaves
has scattered all the seed
Lo, the light limned low
Low to the ground.

The time is all I own
and time is come and gone
the limbs of life left low
Low to the ground.

The sight that holds my eyes
has made the lovers blind
alike their love laid low
Low to the ground.

I sound the oath to sit
in thrall of weather’s wit
all the languished lips
Low to the ground

The seed that left the tree
will carve a thousand leaves
and let them all to cleave
Low to the ground
To the ground…


When it was over, we all had ample time to spend in conversation and warm approbation. The forward persona of In Gowan Ring and company belies their mystical, reclusive facade, as all gave open-armed hugs and emanated genuine humbleness as might a band of wayward minstrels seeking shelter for the gelid night ahead. The house soon emptied, leaving me some more intimate time with B’ee, who entertained my long-wondered questions with poise and patience, and I learned about his training in the ages-old arts of historical balladry and music craft. We spoke of wandering and of new homes, both of us having left Michigan at a young age; we charted the maturity of his subject matter and lexical stylings since the release of Love Charms, so many years ago, and the present differences between In Gowan Ring and his solo project, Birch Book.

He and one of his lot stayed the night by the fire and recharged a bit for their upcoming European tour, on which an Edinburgh show was rostered. I was delighted to advise some friendly and illuminating refuges in the city’s environs, and though I have yet to hear about that specific portion of the tour, we’ve been in correspondence and it does appear he’ll be making a return trip to our home sometime later this fall. If you’d like to join us for this, please let me know as soon as you may.

The epilogue of hosting such an event is that there has proven to be a demand for a local community that can facilitate and contribute to this kind of gathering. Many people were delighted to be in a comfortable environment that pulled the music out of a bar or a club, and the showgoers’ subsequent response was immense and positive. Much of it is the band’s choice to trust in their fans and perhaps advertise a bit less for a poorly-paying gig, but regardless, I encourage you to write your favorite artist and invite them over. Unless it’s Coldplay or the troubled ghost of G.G. Allin, you might be pleasantly surprised at the results.

‘”Truth Against the World” – It is only the inveterate renegade that can appreciate the sublimity beyond the apparent vague simplicity of this aged bit of pith. If only we could have had elders who plastered something of this ilk on their mantles instead of the deceptively placid and ignoramical “Just Do It”.’



More concerts at the house very soon.

17 Responses to “In Gowan Ring/Nick Castro @ Le Chateau, Spring 2006”

  1. noire_blanche Says:
    June 13th, 2006 at 2:20 am

    Truly magical day and evening. Good company, nice food & drinks and live music played on wondrous instruments… A break from the club is indeed nice where neo-folk music is concerned. I wish I'd been able to attend this very intimate gathering and any coming splendours you are planning at your house.

  2. FunkyPlaid Says:
    June 13th, 2006 at 11:59 am

    I know you, especially, would have loved it. So we look ahead to hoping you'll be here for a future event, however difficult that might be from distance. Have you found the secret songs in this post yet?

  3. velvetdahlia Says:
    June 13th, 2006 at 6:21 am

    I love them– How cool! It would have been fantastic to be there!

  4. FunkyPlaid Says:
    June 14th, 2006 at 10:49 pm

    We were toying with the idea of vidcasting through AIM, but it never quite came to fruition.

  5. agntprovocateur Says:
    June 13th, 2006 at 8:43 am

    it was a truly beautiful experience! i felt very included and welcomed by the band. next, time, i'm bringing along a little fan. i can't wait to see what else you have in store for us! 🙂

  6. FunkyPlaid Says:
    June 13th, 2006 at 6:28 pm

    So glad you enjoyed and were comfortable. Lots more good stuff just ahead.

  7. thistlelurid Says:
    June 13th, 2006 at 2:35 pm

    waiting so long for these images…almost forgot that it happened 😉
    can you disclose the location of their secret hiding place for the
    upcoming album work? I need to know where to park my tent!

  8. FunkyPlaid Says:
    June 13th, 2006 at 6:27 pm

    Sorry, Ms. Hurryup, I was taken with other things for a spell. 🙂
    He told me to where he was retreating, but I promptly forgot – and it appears this was for the better!

  9. thistlelurid Says:
    June 14th, 2006 at 1:28 pm

    <small>but I like coldplay.</small>

  10. hermiston Says:
    June 14th, 2006 at 3:53 am

    a happy day, where the intimacy and openness was supreme. I hope more follow and the trend is set. I draw inspiration from that occasion.

  11. FunkyPlaid Says:
    June 14th, 2006 at 10:55 pm

    Having you there was a highlight of evening, even through travel-tired eyes and nodding head.

  12. dichroicynosure Says:
    June 14th, 2006 at 5:08 am

    a feast for eyes and ears alike
    Delighted to see these finally decorating your space. I can stop holding my breath. My-my does Mr. B'ee look mature with that growth on his chin…so sumptions I am swooning at it all.
    Yes, I may just plan my next move based on your next gathering.

  13. FunkyPlaid Says:
    June 14th, 2006 at 10:53 pm

    Re: a feast for eyes and ears alike
    That's precisely the idea. We've planned it in the fall for a reason. 🙂

  14. no_mans_land Says:
    June 14th, 2006 at 2:05 pm

    <small>doesn't get any more intimate than this. i wish i could hire my favorite german bands to invade my home. ;]</small>

  15. FunkyPlaid Says:
    June 14th, 2006 at 10:50 pm

    Hasn't Germany done enough invading for one millennium?

  16. kittynitro Says:
    June 14th, 2006 at 3:37 pm

    Pretty music, lovely people, lots of wine, and cold medicine. A magical combination!

  17. FunkyPlaid Says:
    June 14th, 2006 at 10:51 pm

    Was so glad you were there. I love you even through your medicinal stupors.

Leave a Reply