A busy October!

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on A busy October!
Oct 192013

It’s been a busy month!

Ada and Lauren had a great time at Fencon in Dallas at the beginning of the month followed by an excellent house concert with Heather Dale and S.J. Tucker with local friends new and old. Both were fabulous and we hope to return to Fencon again as well as host more house concerts the next time the Heather Dale band or S.J. Tucker come through Texas.

Pegasus graphic

Lauren and Ada are also preparing to go to OVFF next weekend where we’ll be performing Ship of Stone in the Pegasus concert. (Lauren will also be pretending to be a drum set for another nominee.) We’re looking forward to seeing everyone there! If you won’t make it, don’t forget that pre-convention voting is open until midnight Pacific Time on Monday, October 21, 2013, so if you haven’t voted yet, go listen and do so soon!

All of Sassafrass has been working hard on recording this month from our various locations; final editing is almost complete for the title song Sundown, and we’re making great progress with recording Hearthfire, A New World, Here’s to Valhalla, and If I Could Ask You.

Teaching Albums Complete

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on Teaching Albums Complete
Sep 252013

FutharkAlbumCover3We have now completed and launched the two digital teaching albums which were promised as Kickstarter stretch goals. These albums take the songs apart and present each voice and combination of voices individually, so you can hear them alone, making it easier to understand and, especially, to learn these complex pieces. You can stream the music online for free, but each $5 album also comes with downloadable PDFs of the sheet music, lyrics sheets, a MIDI file for computer playback, and a PDF of notes by the composer discussing the piece and its sources.

The Futhark Song Teaching Collection contains a whopping 32 tracks combining the different subsections of the harmony in all different combinations.  This makes it easier to understand the modal harmony, and the explanatory notes discuss not only the origins and meaning of the runes, but give a lay introduction to modal music and discuss how modal elements are used in this and other songs in the Sundown collection.  I heartily encourage you to listen to Longer in Stories than Stone again after reading the discussion of how its modal harmonics work.

The My Brother, My Enemy Teaching Collection features one track with Odin’s voice dominant and Loki’s soft, and one with Loki’s voice dominant and Odin’s soft so you can follow each character individually, as well as the combined final recording (the same version that is on the Sundown album).  Its notes discuss the historical sources, some of the nuances and references in the lyrics, and talk about how Loki and fire are connected, in the myths, and in the Sundown cycle.

Check out these streaming samples:


Longer in Stories than Stone – Final Cut Shared Streaming

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on Longer in Stories than Stone – Final Cut Shared Streaming
Sep 162013

To thank the community for Sassafrass’s Pegasus award nominations, we are temporarily sharing the fresh-off-the-digital-presses final cut of the Sundown finale chorus “Longer in Stories than Stone.”  It is available streaming only, and will remain online until the end of October, in celebration of the Ohio Valley Filk Festival (host of the Pegasus Awards.) This is the finished final track, of which a clip appears on the Sundown: Preview album, and the whole thing will be on the finished Sundown: Whispers of Ragnarok CD. This gives a real taste of the better quality recording we have been working so hard on, to make the finished CD a real step above our past releases. (Thank you again Kickstarter backers!)  Enjoy, and remember to also scroll down to see the streaming video from Balticon!

The cover illustration, featuring portraits of group members Ruth, Lila, Emily, Lauren and Matt, comes from “The Chronicle” a card inspired by Sassafrass (and by this song in particular), which appears in the “New Tarot,” a project authored by Warren Tusk and illustrated by Leslie Minnis.  A “sequel” to the classic Tarot, the New Tarot is a 78-card Tarot-structured oracle deck about exploring the world and achieving your dreams.  Learn more about the New Tarot at: www.kickstarter.com/projects/361457705/the-new-tarot

Peasus Nominations; Worldcon, Fencon, House Filk

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on Peasus Nominations; Worldcon, Fencon, House Filk
Sep 082013

Sassafrass is delighted to announce that we have again been nominated for the Pegasus Awards for Excellence in Filking.  This year Sassafrass has again been nominated for Best Performer, and our composer, Ada Palmer, has, for the first time, been nominated for best Composer/Songwriter.

In celebration of the nomination, and to give people a better sample of the full on-stage performance experience of Sundown, we are temporarily releasing this preview of “Longer in Stories than Stone” from the Balticon debut performance.  This video uses the footage from our professional video cameras, and is close to a final cut, but still awaiting some final post-production fixes to details like color tinting and digital zoom.  We hope you all enjoy this sample of the performance, and the taste it gives of what we can look forward to when the DVD is finally finished:

The Pegasus awards are an exciting time, when new, exciting creations from around the filk community are gathered and shared.  We enourage all our friends to visit the Pegasus website to hear samples of all the other great songs, composers and performers who have also been nominated.

In addition, our recent performance at Worldcon was a great success.  It meant an enormous amount to us to be able to bring Sundown to the unique audience which Worldcon attracts, and to share it with so many friends, old and new.  Looking down from the stage and seeing the rapt and often tearful faces of friends was an overwhelming experience for us as we performed.  We remain extremely grateful to the backers of our Kickstarter, without whose support we could never have brought the group to Worldcon.

We are also happy to announce two upcoming TX performances:

Concert at Fencon (Dallas), Saturday October 5th, preliminarily scheduled for 6 PM.  Only two Sassafrass members will be present, Lauren and Ada, so we will concentrate on duet pieces and some of our rarely-performed two-part adaptations of more complex works.
House Filk on Thursday October 10th, in College Station TX, hosted by Lauren and Ada and featuring Heather Dale and S.J. Tucker!  We are delighted to be hosting these wonderful guest performers for our first TX area House Filk, and are talking with Heather about plans to experiment with some harmonies together.  If you are interested in attending the event, please e-mail us or RSVP on our Facebook event page.

Ragnarok comes to San Antonio!

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on Ragnarok comes to San Antonio!
Aug 282013

This weekend at the 2013 World Science Fiction Convention, Sassafrass will be performing Sundown: Whispers of Ragnarok for the second time ever! We hope you’ll be able to come see us at LoneStarCon 3 in San Antonio. Sundown will be from 2-4 pm on Saturday in Ballroom A. You can also see several members of the group in other programming at Worldcon, including a special panel on the making of Sundown! You can hear us discuss “The Making of the Musical Sundown: Whispers of Ragnarok” at 11 am on Sunday in Conference 12.  This performance would not have been possible without the support of our fans, so thank you so much for bringing us to Worldcon.

Speaking of the support of our fans, for those of you who’ve been waiting for news of the CD, don’t worry. We are working hard on recording so that we can get it to you! The recording process is slow, but steady, and we’ll be keeping you updated as we complete songs and make progress on the DVD and CD.

Thanks again to all our fans and to LoneStarCon 3 for featuring us. See you in San Antonio!

Thank you, Readercon!

 Con Report  Comments Off on Thank you, Readercon!
Jul 192013

As the post-Readercon reports come in, it seems the consensus is that A Most Readerconnish Miscellany was a great success! (See here and here, and many of the tweets on the #Readercon hashtag.) Sassafrass opened the evening with Somebody Will, and we were followed by an incredible variety of wonderful performances.

Sandry, Kara, Lila, Ruth, and Tili, singing Somebody Will.

Sandry, Kara, Lila, Ruth, and Tili, singing Somebody Will.

Thanks so much to fellow performers C.S.E. Cooney, Daniel José Older, Caitlyn Paxson, Sonya Taaffe, Cat Valente, Andrea Hairston, Pan Morigan, John Kessel, Therese Ann Fowler, and Jeanne Beckwith, and hats off to Cooney again and to Mike Allen for their stellar appearances as emcees. Together we raised over $1,000 for the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center and Operation Hammond. Readercon was a lovely audience and we are delighted to have been able to bring our music to a new venue!

Jul 122013

Sassafrass is proud to be part of something unprecedented this Saturday. For the first time ever, Readercon (in Burlington, MA) will be featuring performances, as part of a two-hour variety show, called A Most Readerconnish Miscellany. From the Readercon program: “C.S.E. Cooney and Mike Allen emcee an extravagant evening of music, theater, and readings to benefit the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center and Operation Hammond. Bring cash or credit cards to make donations toward these very worthy organizations, all while being entertained by exquisite performers including Andrea Hairston and Pan Morigan, Daniel José Older, John Kessel, Sonya Taaffe, C.S.E. Cooney and Caitlyn Paxson, and a cappella group Sassafrass. Don’t miss this unforgettable event.” We hope to see you there!

Online Pre-Orders Now Available

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on Online Pre-Orders Now Available
Jul 022013

DVDPlaceholderCoverSmallSassafrass is delighted to announce that we now have an online method set up for pre-ordering the CD and DVD of Sundown.

The Kickstarter has closed, but since we continue to receive frequent requests from people who want to order the discs in advance, we have set up our “merchandise” page on Bandcamp to offer the CD and DVD for physical pre-order.  Both are priced at $20, with $6 domestic shipping.

As of right now we do not have an option for combined shipping if you order both at once.  This is because we expect the DVD to be available several months before the CD, so, for those who pre-order both, we will ship each as it becomes available.

We do not yet have it set up to let you pre-order the digital download, but if you want the digital version you can request to be put on a mailing list and we will let you know as soon as is it available.  Meanwhile, our preview album contains three finished tracks from the final CD, the character themes and a bonus rough cut of the creation myth song “Ice and Fire”.

Interview about Sundown on BLT Blog

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on Interview about Sundown on BLT Blog
Jun 092013
Baldur, Odin and Loki in their traveling cloaks, with chorus behind in more modest human costumes.

Baldur, Odin and Loki in their traveling cloaks, with chorus.

A few updates to share.  First, a very fun literature and culture blog “Bible, Literature and Translation” has done a piece on Sundown with an interview with composer Ada Palmer talking about the source and background of the play.  You can read it here.  Especially for those who couldn’t make it to the panel about Sundown after the play at Balticon, the interview looks at textual issues as well as underlying idea behind the structure of the play and music.

Second, we are now one week from the end of our Kickstarter fundraising campaign, and we’ve passed $13,000.  We’re overwhelmed by how powerful the response has been, and how much we’ve managed to exceed our goal.  Having extra resources has let us start thinking about the next performance, and talk to cons and other venues about where we might perform Sundown next.  We had expected it to be many months until we had another venue, but with these resources in hand we’ve been able to accelerate our plans for a second performance.  For this reason we hope donations will continue to climb in the last week of the kickstarter, since every donation increases the chance that we can travel to perform at more and bigger cons.

And since we’ve passed $13,000, several of Jo Walton’s Norse poems about Odin and Ask and Embla have now been shared with our backers.  We are really hoping we can hit $14,000 so she will write her Loki poem.

A big thanks to everyone who has supported us so far.  We have big plans, thanks to you!  We hope to have some finalized enough to announce soon, so stay tuned!

Sundown Comes! A Victorious Debut at Balticon

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on Sundown Comes! A Victorious Debut at Balticon
May 312013

Sundown 041 BrighterI am delighted to announce that our first performance of the full stage play Sundown: Whispers of Ragnarok was an enormous success.  Balticon was a fabulous host at every stage, from enthusiastic tech staff who were eager to help us develop exciting lighting effects, to enthusiastic friends new and old who helped with last-minute logistics, to the most enthusiastic audience we could have hoped for.  We especially want to thank several SCA Viking costuming and wireweaving experts who were at the convention, and helped us solve several last-minute costuming issues.  In the end, our historic costumes all came out delightfully, and we were able to display many signature elements of Viking clothing.  A huge thank-you to everyone who helped make this possible!

Below: the moment of Baldur’s murder, with Baldur collapsing on the left, and Hod and Loki on the right, still posed to fire the arrow:



Lauren, Ada and Kara as Odin, Loki and Hella.

Lauren, Ada and Kara as Odin, Loki and Hella.

Our DVD film director Dave Kowarsky reports that the video came out extremely well, and he has high hopes for the DVD.  We had four cameras going throughout the performance, to capture different angles, close-ups and distant shots, so over the next month he will work on cutting and splicing different shots to assemble the best possible video.  At the end of June our composer, Ada Palmer, will get together with Dave at his editing studio in New York to help finalize the cut, and work on DVD extras.

Now we want to do it again!

With the first performance behind us, we’re eagerly investigating venues for a second performance.  We have already received several invitations, but getting so many performers together  requires a lot of planning, so we don’t yet know where we will be able to next perform Sundown.

We are also concentrating on recording, and have a rigorous recording schedule planned for the summer, so we expect to make great progress toward the CD.

We also have great Kickstarter news!

KickstarterButtonThe Kickstarter funding campaign we launched two weeks ago has been a staggering success.  We were staggered by the response, and met our $7,000 starting goal in only 48 hours!

We’re genuinely overwhelmed by the support we’ve received.   This guarantees that we can produce the CD and DVD, but now we are working on stretch goals, to raise more so we can help finance further performances, DVD extras and professional digital mastering for our audio CDs.  As of this morning we hit $11,000, which means composer Ada Palmer will write 24 pages of historical and mythological notes about the making of the play, to be printed in the libretto and shared in PDF with our backers, and Hugo- and Nebula- award-winning author Jo Walton has written two poems about Odin to share with readers and backers (read the first one here) and she has promised more as the campaign continues.  We still have 16 days to go, and we hope pledges will continue to climb, since every dollar increases the chances that we can afford to perform the play again soon.  We have exciting rewards planned if we hit $12,000 or more, including more poems by Jo, and more DVD extras, so for details please check the Kickstarter Updates, and please continue to share our Kickstarter link with friends and families – this Kickstarter is a great opportunity for us to reach new audiences, and share our music through pre-orders of the CD and digital downloads.

Once again, a huge thanks to all our supporters, at Balticon and around the world.  Sundown has been a greater success than any of us could have imagined, and we could never have done it without your support.  Thank you!


Alessandro, Alexa and Matt as our three narrators: Saemund, the Seeress and Snorri Sturlson