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

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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

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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

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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


Kickstarter Launch!

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May 172013


An exciting day: Sassafrass is launching a Kickstarter to support Sundown: Whispers of Ragnarok! We have some really exciting plans for Balticon and for the CD (period-accurate costumes, eco-friendly packaging, filming the play to make a DVD), and we need your help to make them happen. This is our first time trying out something like this and we have high hopes that with our fans backing us up through Kickstarter, our most ambitious project yet can get off the ground. Check out our project page and preorder your CD and DVD now!

You can support The Sundown Project at any level!  We have exciting ways to say thank you:

  • For just $1 or more we will thank you personally on the Contributors page of our website, and at higher levels we will also thank you in the CD and DVD.
  • For just $10, you can pre-order a digital download of the finished album, while for $25 you can pre-order the CD itself, or for $50 the CD and DVD.
  • For those who pledge more, we have such exciting items as a poster with a beautiful illustration of the Norse Cosmos produced by comics artist friend Rob Snyder, another poster with images from the International Space Station celebrating our space exploration song “Somebody Will“, a libretto, and bound collections of our sheet music.
  • Exclusive thank-you items include a certificate with your name in Runes, and, at high levels, advanced digital access to the tracks as we finish them, before the CD is released.
  • We also have exciting stretch goals planned!
"Your name in Runes."  One of our ways of saying thank-you to our generous backers.

“Your name in Runes.” One of our ways of saying thank-you to our Kickstarter backers.

We have uploaded a lot of new music samples to go with the Kickstarter, as well as lots of new info about the Sundown Project.  Both on the Kickstarter page and on our new main page you can hear streaming samples of the new recording of My Brother My Enemy, which demonstrates our new recording tech, plus the new Futhark Song and a sample of the finale of the cycle, Longer in Stories than Stone.  Our info page about the Play also has new recordings of the Character Themes, and you can hear all the new samples on the Sundown Preview digital album.

For more information, check out our Kickstarter page, and thank you for helping us bring Ragnarok to life!

But there’s even more news: Three New Digital Releases!

To replace our retired albums, Sassafrass has three new online albums available through Bandcamp.

These are the results of our efforts to clean up our old sound, and reorganize our music, new and old, to give people the best taste of the new improved sound quality our new recording and editing techniques can produce.  We have reorganized our old tracks, taken down a lot of the old and rough ones, and consolidated the cleaner ones into three new collections:

  • SundownPreviewCoverThumbSundown: Whispers of Ragnarok – Preview is our way of sharing what we have of the still-in-progress Sundown Norse Myth Song Cycle.  It contains the final recordings of “My Brother, My Enemy” and both versions of “The Futhark Song” (the sweet one and a new eerie modal arrangement), just as they will appear on the final CD.  It also contains recordings of the seven Character Themes which recur throughout the song cycle, letting you spot the influence of each character in the larger pieces.  As a final bonus, it contains a sample of the six-part finale piece “Longer in Stories than Stone” which is still in production, plus it comes with downloadable PDFs including a lyrics sheet for “My Brother, My Enemy,” one for “The Futhark Song” featuring the original runic characters, and the sheet music for the Character Themes.
  • MakeThemAllRealCoverThumbMake Them All Real collects the best tracks from our past albums, digitally remastered by our new sound editors.  They have been re-balanced for volume, filtered for improved microphone quality, and have enhanced clarity of sound and lyrics.  In addition to such favorites as “Somebody Will” and “Fall”, this collection contains a new recording of one of our Norse pieces, the solo version of “A New World (Frigg’s Song), which will appear as a trio on the finished Sundown CD.  As a bonus, the complete album purchase comes with downloadable PDFs of the lyrics sheets with guitar parts for “Somebody Will” and “Threadbare Dragon,” formatted to help you learn and perform them.
  • RemnantsCoverThumbRemnants and Alternates collects favorite rougher takes from all our old collections, trying to gather the best take of each of the pieces we have not yet had a chance to rerecord, plus favorite old versions, gathering selections from six different albums into one. It also contains two live concert recordings never before released online!

All three are available for $5 each through our bandcamp site, and sales help pay for the production of Sundown.

A fourth collection is coming soon!  We often receive requests from friends and fans who still want access to retired rough tracks, which may not be our cleanest, but are still fun.  We are gathering a selection of the best retired tracks and will soon make them available on our website, both streaming and for free download.  Stay posted!

It’s a big day, and this is going to be the most exciting month Sassafrass has had, with the Kickstarter, three digital releases, and the long-awaited debut of the stage version of Sundown at Balticon.  None of this would be possible without the support and encouragement of our many friends, so thank you for being part of this project, and we hope you enjoy!

Old Albums Retiring Soon

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Apr 202013

FirebrandCoverLargeHello, friends. Sassafrass is about to revamp our website and online albums, getting ready to focus more on the upcoming release of Sundown. In preparation, we’re about to retire all our old albums from Bandcamp, and have already taken them off CDBaby. We are going to collect the best of the old recordings and re-release them, digitally remastered, in a new collection, but we are also permanently retiring more than half of our current music, particularly rougher live takes and alternate takes of things we have several versions of, plus the older, rougher versions of our Norse music. We hope you’ll all enjoy the new stuff, but if you want the old stuff, get it now, since it won’t be around much longer.


 Con Report  Comments Off on Vericoncert!
Apr 042013

Vericon2013-1Sassafrass Boston and Ada were delighted to perform at Vericon, the Harvard/Radcliffe Science Fiction Convention!  Our concert was almost entirely Norse, including the first performance of the final two songs in the Sundown cycle.  These were “Here’s To Valhalla,” a drinking song for the warriors of Asgard, and a rough demonstration of “If I Could Ask You,” a quartet for Odin, Loki, Baldur and Hella.  The latter shows the children pleading with their fathers to give up their vengeance and the stubborn pride that will destroy the world through Ragnarok, and in rehearsal, Emily (Baldur) and Kara (Hella) sang the opening lines so beautifully that Ada (Loki) cried.  Which means that Loki has now wept for Baldur, so he’ll be released from Hell, and the world is saved!  Hurrah!  (Though that does mean there may need to be some slight revisions to the song cycle before we perform it at Balticon in May.  We’ll get right on that…)

Ada & Tili as Odin and Loki, performing "If I Could Ask You"

Ada & Tili as Odin and Loki, performing “If I Could Ask You”

We also sang “Gift of Life” and “the Futhark Song,” and ended with a group performance of “Somebody Will,” joined by the Harvard fan community and such Vericon guests as Greer Gilman and Jo Walton.  As always, it was great singing with and for you all, and we look forward to singing at Vericon again!

Also, we collected emails for our mailing list of people who want to be notified about our Kickstarter when we start it.  If you’d like us to add you to that list, please do let us know!

Sassafrass also helped once again with the  Vericon charity auction.  This year Ada as Loki helped lead a Team Competition, between “Team Good” and “Team Evil.”  In the end we raised more than $12,000 for Doctors Without Borders, four times what we did last year, and far beyond what anyone expected.  You can see the records of the competition on the chalkboard behind us.  Many thanks to all who helped make the auction a staggering success!


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Feb 182013

Greetings, loyal and new friends and followers! vericon

Sassafrass will be giving a concert at Vericon, at Harvard University on Sunday, March 24th at 1 PM.  This concert will feature many of our pieces from Sundown, our upcoming Norse album.  We are SO excited to once again be performing at Vericon, especially with so many incredible guests this year!

Register here!  You can also see information about our awesome speakers this year here. This exciting lineup includes Greer Gilman, N.K. Jemisin, Seanan McGuire, Jennifer Pelland, Jo Walton, and Guest of Honor Tamora Pierce! Make sure to check out the Schedule page as Vericon approaches, too, so you can stay appraised of all the exciting events we’re planning for you this year.

Hope to see you all at Vericon!

Balticon, With a Little Help from Our Friends

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Feb 072013

Hey all!

Balticon is quickly approaching and preparations are picking up!  Costumes are being ordrered, rooms are being booked, and transportation is being arranged.  And, of course, we are working on all of our songs, recording, and Balticon souvenirs for our table in the Dealers’ Room!

To that end, we received a request from Kate Nepveu, asking if we could signal boost this amazing project:

“Balticon has donated two memberships to Con or Bust, the fund I run that helps fans of color/non-white fans attend SFF cons and that is administered by the Carl Brandon Society, a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to increase racial and ethnic diversity in the production of and audience for speculative fiction. I would really like these to be used (Balticon donated memberships last year and no-one took them up on it, and I hate when that happens). The donations are good for a new registration or a refund on an existing one–can you spread the word that they’ll be available?

I’ll be taking requests for assistance to attend Balticon (and other cons in April, May, and June 2013) from February 15-25, 2013; the info page is here.”

We really hope that everyone can join us at Balticon, May 25-27!  See you there!