Inside the Bardic Circle with Drake Oranwood

I’m actually really excited to share this week’s update with you. Having been in the society for only a few years and performing for even fewer, it is still no surprise that I quickly heard of Drake Oranwood. His enthusiasm for all things musical performance is as infectious as his original melodies and if you have been fortunate enough to hear him perform then you know the love he has for his craft. I must admit that I am always impressed with original works and enjoy the level of commitment that Drake displays in each of his endeavors, be it composing, researching, or playing the lute. You can read all about it at I look forward to more from him and can’t wait to hear his second album. Did I mention that he has incredible garb? And a wonderful, supportive family as well. I enjoyed getting to know him a little better through this interview and I hope you will as well.

1. What is your favorite word? Why?

“Neurodivergent”. It’s a beautiful word for those of us whose brains operate differently from the “normal” (or preferably, “neurotypical”) range. Rather than thinking of our brains as defective, think of them as running a different operating system. My primary difference is ADHD, my son’s is autism. So many of the people I’m closest to live and thrive with these differences, and I’m grateful to live in a time where they are increasingly celebrated.

2. What is your least favorite word? Why?

“Normal”. See my previous answer.

3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? 

Learning something that surprises me and makes me rethink what I thought I understood. That, and upcoming events that provide a deadline to try something new or challenging.

4. What turns you off? 

Making assumptions instead of asking for information. And deadlines that are way too close for the work left to be done.

5. What is your favorite curse word (bonus points if it is a period appropriate slur)? 

“Bastard.” Two syllables that convey contempt, or rage, or seething resentment. Shakespeare’s favorite shorthand for “I don’t need to give my villain a motivation.” There’s a lot of assumptions about inherited privilege and hierarchy embedded in that one word. Not for nothing did I build my first SCA song (“The Bastard’s Tale”) around it.

6. What bardic-related sound or noise do you love? 

Is a hush a sound? There is a change in the air when an audience is invested in a performance, and all the chatter drops away. That’s the sound.

7. What bardic-related sound or noise do you hate? 

The silence that tells me I’ve gone blank on the next line.

8. What area of bardic performance (other than those that you already working in) would you like to attempt? 

I would love to participate in a full-day immersion storytelling event—I just have to find the right overlap between the chosen source work and my schedule.

9. What area of bardic performance (other than those that you already working in) would you not like to attempt? 

I’m not sure what the prerequisite skills are to take up fire-eating…but I don’t think I’m ready to find out.

10. Your name is called to appear in court. What would you hope to hear Their Majesties say?

“You have used your skills in service to our kingdom and the Society.”

What are you currently working on?

My second solo album of SCA music, as yet untitled. And a commitment to write a blog post about Arts & Sciences topics that I’m obsessed with, once a week, for the next year. I just got started on it.

How long have you been playing in the SCA? 

I first found it around 1991, but drifted away after a couple of years, until I got married and my wife convinced me to go to Pennsic for the first time in 2002. 

How long have you been a bard?

Seven years now.

Have you won any competitions or championships?

I have served as Baronial Bard of Concordia of the Snows. I have also been a Winter Nights Champion, K&Q Bardic finalist twice, and twice won Morgan Wolfsinger’s Pennsic Depressing Song Contest.

Drake Oranwood performing Come Again Sweet Love by John Dowland

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