MUSIC REVIEW: FAIRE MAY'S VIRTUAL CHRISTMAS CONCERT AT COCKAYNE FARMSTEAD
Greetings fellow adventurer and time traveler!
One of the many things that I enjoy about the holidays is the music that comes with this time of year.
As someone who performs quite a lot of traditional and early music, for me, it is naturally much of the older music that draws me in.
Last weekend, I had the pleasure of taking in the Faire May Christmas Concert which was livestreamed from the Cockayne Farmstead in place of the farmstead's live Christmas tours.
Faire May is Max McGovern, Jacob Coughlan, Zac Gordon, and Jariel Henthorn
I visited Cockayne on Halloween night during their Scarecrow Lane event, which can be viewed in this post and video.
The Cockayne Farmstead
is comprised of a c1850 farmhouse and its original collection of over
3000 objects and 15,000 primary documents and it is open for tours
Mon-Fri, 10am-4pm (which I highly recommend).
When it comes to Faire May, the band that specializes in Irish, Scottish, Bluegrass, 18th Century, Baroque (and you might even find a song or two from the folk singers of the 1960s and 1970s sneaking into their set lists) have been a main staple at a couple of the farmstead's events along with playing at a variety of venues and festivals through West Virginia and also venturing outside of their state. In the short time that they've been in the game, Faire May has been covering a lot of ground.
The musical act saw its beginnings with founding members Zac Gordon and Jariel Henthorn. The two met while performing with the bluegrass band Crandell Creek before stepping out on their own. In its original form, Faire May involved Jariel Henthorn serving as lead vocalist, along with playing guitar, bass, dulcimer and piano. Zac was lending his talents on fiddle, mandolin, guitar, whistles or bouzouki, and you might even catch him singing a song or two during a set.
While Zac and Jariel were having much success on their own, their sound was soon amplified and enhanced when Jacob Coughlan (banjo, some vocals, and some woodwind instruments-also performed with Zac in the band Gallowglass) and Max McGovern (guitar).
Now as a quartet, Faire May has gained even more momentum, including winning first place at a local event, Valleys Got Talent which took place at the Sycamore Youth Center. Between all of this and knowing some of the musicians from living history and reenactment events like Fort Henry Days, I was looking forward to watching their Christmas concert.
As I said earlier, the concert was a virtual presentation livestreamed from the parlour of the Cockayne home on the Cockayne Farmstead Facebook page. The Victorian era home was decorated in the visually beautiful way true to its time period and it created the perfect atmosphere and backdrop for Faire May and their holiday setlist.
Faire May with Cockayne Site Director, Kara Gordon after the Christmas Concert
Through the set, Zac did most of the song introduction, though there was also some banter between him and all the band members. Zac proves to be a rather charismatic "frontman" (and I use quotations as this band by and large seems to be an ensemble effort) though all the band members offer their unique personalities and talents to the stage. There was even an audience poll going on throughout the show with people voting on whether Jacob Coughlan should keep his 19th century sideburns (and for those wondering, the end result was him keeping the sideburns)!
Another notable feature to the sound that Faire May brings to the table is the singing of Jariel Henthorn. As a vocalist myself, I always am interested to hear another singer's approach to a song, especially if it is one that I have sung myself. For some reason, I was expecting her to have that ethereal Celtic Woman soprano sound that is often very prevalent in Celtic music and other similar styles. And while that sound is quite beautiful and enjoyable, I was pleasantly surprised when she instead came out with a more folkish, soulful alto voice. Natalie Merchant and Nora Jones were two singers that came to mind upon listening to Jariel and it offered something a little different from the type of vocals one might normally hear in this style of music.
Jacob Coughlan and Max McGovern also add a lot to the group with their fine playing and together with Zac and Jariel, the musical act is proving to be one that show much promise for future endeavors. In listening to them, it is easy to be taken back to times and places like the Cockayne house when West Virginia was nothing but a frontier. Their sound can really take you back to a time when families and friends sat out on their porch or around a bonfire, played instruments and sang into the night. That is the kind of sound and vibe that Faire May gives off, though with just enough polished professionalism.
I very much recommend following Faire May on their Instagram and Facebook pages:
Also, if you missed their Christmas Concert, you can still purchase a ticket and watch it as the concert will be available for viewing until after Christmas.
Last but not least, if you are looking for a last minute Christmas gift (for yourself or someone else!) Faire May has their own line of herbal teas as they have partnered up with Crooked Creek Herbals. These teas are available either at Faire May Concerts, or you can purchase them from the Crooked Creek Herbals website (I'm thinking of snatching up the Apples in Winter blend!).
Faire May Herbal Tea Blends
Thanks for reading! Go on a musical adventure with me through time where for five days I'll send you a new song or story, and a personal email from me!