The 2nd Annual Northern NY Paranormal Expo is Coming!

Guess what? October is almost here! I know! Where the heck did the summer go? Living in the northeast, October is often ominous. Although the changing leaves are beautiful, gazing upon them instantly makes me wonder, exactly how much snow we will get this year? As someone who commutes to their job, snow is a vexing occurrence. However, there is one thing about this October that I’m very excited about…

The 2nd Annual Northern NY Paranormal Expo, put together by the Northern New York Paranormal Research Society and The City of Plattsburgh Recreation Department! I went to the one last year and had a great time, and this year is looking like it’s going to be even bigger!

The featured speakers are David Pitkin (author of “Haunted Saratoga County”, “New England Ghosts”, and more), Joe Citro (author of “Weird New England”, “Curious New England”, and more), the NNYPRS Tech Team (who you may know from this introduction or this essay on the Frank’s Box), and Dan Lowenski (Who will be speaking about the Ark of the Covenant. I’ve heard Dan give a presentation on UFOs and he was fantastic, I suspect his “The Ark of the Covenant: Movies, Mysteries, and Myth” is going to be excellent!)

There will also be a wide variety of vendors and a preview of the documentary “NNYPRS: Touching Eternity” from Rousell Films and Garage Daze Entertainment! Here are the details:

The 2nd Annual Northern NY Expo

Date: Saturday October 16, 2010
Time: 10 AM – 6 PM
Where: Plattsburgh Recreational Center, 52 US Oval Drive, Plattsburgh, NY
Cost $6 (Bring in a nonperishable food item and receive a $1 off discount!)

But wait! There’s more to share!

After years of discussing their investigation techniques, protocols, and equipment at events throughout New York, the Northern New York Paranormal Research Society has decided to start offering formalized seminars for people interested in learning more in a focused environment. This one day seminar will discuss investigation ethics, setting up equipment, EVP sessions, data review, proper equipment use, and much more. The seminar is being held at the Peru DAV Building on Route 22 Peru, NY on Saturday November 13, 2010. The cost for the seminar is $49.95 and includes a t-shirt. For more details and inquiries, contact Brian at or by phone at 518-420-3327.

I Like Noise

I like noise. I can’t think of a better way to say it. Whether listing to HipGnosis Glitch.FM pod casts that features the sound of a computer in it’s death throes, the grinding distortion of Sleigh Bells, or the latest album from M.I.A., I can no longer deny it. Yes, I understand that to many it just sounds like noise, but I really, really like that noise.

I came to this conclusion after buying M.I.A.’s latest album “Maya”. Some of you may have been made at least passingly familiar with the album due to the controversy surrounding the first video released, “Born Free”. The video features nudity and graphic violence, so it may not be your visual cup of tea, but for those of you who feel you’ll be all right with this totally not safe for work video can view it here. With the visuals now out of the way, let’s focus on the sound of the album.

M.I.A., and the producers she worked with, created a fantastic sonic mash up that I would compare to N.E.R.D.’s awesome “Seeing Sounds” album, which I called a “Jackson Pollack painting pressed onto a disc.” Thumping bass, industrial noise, distorted voices, glitch style hiccups, danceable reggae, melodic vocals, and more, converge into one album; sometimes one song. I find it impressive, inventive, and fearless.

Lyrically it’s obvious M.I.A. has information politics on the mind. With lyrics like, “I licked envelopes, wrote a letter to the pope. He never gave me rope, in the times I couldn’t cope. They cleaned up the dope and censored my scope. The writing on the walls been beaten to a pulp. All I ever wanted was my story to be told,” from the song “Story to be Told”. Also “Who says all the rules are made by rulers? We break ‘em and breakin’ their computers. I ain’t buying no more from the looters who try to out school us,” from the track “Meds and Feds”.

A personal favorite from the album, “Lovalot”, says, “I really love a lot, but I fight the ones who fight me.” The way M.I.A. delivers the line “I really love a lot” is very fluid, so the words kind of run together. At first I thought she was saying, “I really love the law, but I fight the ones who fight me,” which I was taking as a political message of how the law can still leave average citizens vulnerable. Once I learned it was “I really love a lot”, I thought, well that’s better. Who doesn’t love the idea of a gentle soul that will still fight when pressed? (As Hyde from “That 70’s Show” would say, “Where Zen end, ass kicking begins.”) However, Kitty Empire of “The Observer” summed the track up best with, “So you may not agree that the CIA controls Google, as intro track ‘The Message’ posits. You might not wonder what went on in the mind of Dzhennet Abdurakhmanova, the Russian teenager who bombed Moscow’s tube system to vindicate the death of her husband, an Islamic militant. But MIA does, and her ‘Lovalot’ ponders her inner world with a mixture of nonsense rhyme, militant posturing and pop-cultural free-flow; her London glottal stop mischievously turns ‘I love a lot’ into ‘I love Allah’.”

M.I.A. could have sat back and done a whole album of “Paper Planes” (the song from her previous album “Kala” that brought her mainstream recognition) and made a fortune off stoner college kids who seemed to have overlooked such buzz killing lyrics as “Some, some, some, I some I murder. Some, I some, I let go.” Whoa to the shopper expecting a catchy, pop friendly album, because M.I.A.’s album is the equivalent of a boot to the throat of that listener….but you can dance to it.

It was a Dark and Stormy Talk Like a Pirate Day

Avast Matey! Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day! International Talk Like a Pirate Day (ITLAPD) is a parodic holiday created in 1996 by John Baur (Ol’ Chumbucket) and Mark Summers (Cap’n Slappy), of Albany, Oregon who proclaimed September 19 each year as the day when everyone in the world should talk like a pirate. For example, an observer of this holiday would greet friends not with “Hello,” but with “Ahoy, matey!” The holiday, and its observance, springs from a romanticized view of the Golden Age of Piracy. The holiday is a major observance in the religion of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. (Thank you Wikipedia!)

As a fan of ye olde Flying Spaghetti Monster and his salty Pastafarian followers, rougish rum drinking pirates, and well rum in general, I thought in honor of this high holy day I would share with you my personal thoughts, reflections, and recipe for the delightful rum cocktail, The Dark and Stormy.

I had my first Dark and Stormy on a Royal Carribean cruise to Bermuda, a trip I’m soon taking again I might add. In fact, it was that trip that really developed my interest in all things rum, and helped me become the rum swilling lass that I am today. Props to all the Jamaican bartenders that insisted on me trying every “drink of the day”!

A Dark and Stormy is an incredibly simple drink to make, so like all simple recipes it’s more about the quality of ingredients than anything else. All you need for a Dark and Stormy is a glass, a shot glass (if you’re prone to measuring like I am), ginger beer, and a spiced rum. That said, there are infinite variations and pairings that can be made.

For instance, you could go with ginger ale instead of ginger beer like these guys and get a servicable Dark and Stormy, but to get the best Dark and Stormy I heartily recommend Reed’s Ginger Beer. This gives your Dark and Stormy the tangy bite like the ones I had in Bermuda.

Reed's Ginger Beer's Lesser Cousins

Now it’s time to address the rum portion of this mix. In my opinion, if you enjoy rum you should have a bottle of Captain Morgan’s Private Stock on hand. It’s the go to workhorse rum for me and my borderline alcoholic friends. It makes a fine rum and coke, and when mixed with Reed’s Ginger Beer, a respectable Dark and Stormy.

Captain Morgan's Private Stock and Reed's Ginger Beer

I would be remiss in my duties as Dark and Stormy ambasador to International Talk Like a Pirate Day if I didn’t mention the existence of Kraken Black Spiced Rum. With it’s vintage appearing bottling and thematically kick ass name, it could easily be viewed as a must for those partaking in ITLAPD revelries. I’m not going to lie to you, tasted straight, Kraken can clean the barnacles off your poop deck if you get my meaning. However, when cut with, I mean when mixed with a nice cold Reed’s Ginger Beer, it makes a fine Dark and Stormy. No pirate would make you walk the plank for serving it this way.

Kraken Black Spiced Rum and Reed's Ginger Beer

Alas, it is time for the big reveal. How does Rebecca, fan of all things rum, make her personal Dark and Stormy? Behold!

Everything You Need for Rebecca's Dark and Stormy

Indeed, in a household containing no less than twelve different rums, some costing more than $50 a bottle, at the end of the day I choose the humble and inexpensive Castillo Spiced Puerto Rican rum for my Dark and Stormy. Above you’ll find everything you need for Rebecca’s Dark and Stormy.

Fill your pint glass with ice. Add a shot, and perhaps an extra splash, of Castillo Spiced Puerto Rican rum. Then fill the rest of the glass with Reed’s Ginger Beer. You’ll get a refreshing, tangy, rum drink with a little bit of bite. A Dark and Stormy is a great summer time cocktail, a refreshing alternative to the standard rum and coke, and the absolute best way I can think of to celebrate all things pirate.

If any of you guys give this a try, let me know how it goes! And if anyone has their own preferred recipe, definitely share it with us!

A Magical Buffet of Authors Wrap Up

Unless you haven’t visited the website, Facebook, Twitter, or My Space pages for The Magical Buffet in the past couple of months, you know that this past Saturday was the “A Magical Buffet of Authors” event at the Barnes and Noble in Saratoga Springs, NY. The event suffered a huge set back with the original Community Relations Manager, Crystal Jenkins, passing away unexpectedly. This put all of Barnes and Noble’s marketing for the event way behind schedule, and once combined with my lack of experience in these matters, I can safely say the turn out wasn’t anywhere as good as it could have been.

That said, for me, the authors, and the other people who showed up, the event had a lot to offer. The authors in attendance were a who’s who of Buffet contributors: Ellen Evert Hopman, Gail Wood, Deborah Blake, Gordie Little, Maria Kay Simms, and David Pitkin. Because of the small turn out, what could have been large impersonal meetings instead were intimate conversations with the authors when they spent 30 minutes talking with the group. Authors got to spend time talking to the folks like me who bought books (In my case, WAY too many books.), and wide ranging conversations could be heard around the tables.

David Pitkin getting metaphysical....

I enjoyed all the presentations; each author had a different approach. At any given moment there could be laughter, quiet murmuring, or thoughtful silence. Of course I loved hearing what all the authors had to share, but for me the super star of the event was Maria Kay Simms. I had never seen Maria in person prior to the event, but words can’t express how beautiful she is in person. (However I do want to state for the record that Gail Wood continues to be adorable in photos and more photogenic than myself or Deborah Blake.) Maria’s shining silver hair, dressed in a flowing purple top and skirt, she embodied everything my mind conjures up when imagining an elder high priestess. And then, while speaking, she told the audience about how when alone she draws down the moon. It was an intimate moment with her voice wavering from the obvious joy she experiences from it. Out of all the wonderful moments of the day, and there were many, that will be one I’ll never forget and will be held in my heart until the end of my days.

Gordie Little charming a group....

Something else that I got to experience was the authors interacting with each other and myself when others weren’t around. Each author had their own energy and when they mingled it created poignant moments in my mind. Gordie Little’s boundless enthusiasm as he discussed ghoulies with Ellen Evert Hopman, Deborah Blake telling all the other authors about buying Godiva on sale at the store (whether they wanted to know about it or not), David Pitkin talking to me about being weird, discussing the charms of Lily Dale, NY with Gordie Little, Gail Wood, and Maria Simms, everyone fussing and shoving to do the group photos at the end of the day, those are things that not everyone gets to witness, but I did.

The adorable Gail Wood, the enchantress Maria Simms, and the luckiest girl in the room (me)!
Deborah Blake (left) and Ellen Evert Hopman (right) Is it possible Ellen is telling Deborah she doesn't care about discount Godiva chocolate?

It’s safe to say that the event was by no means a success, and only time will tell if Barnes and Noble will have us back or if any of the authors would want to try it again, but for me personally, it’s a day that I will always cherish for the unique experience that it was.

(left to right) Gordie Little, Maria Simms, Gail Wood, Ellen Evert Hopman, Deborah Blake, David Pitkin, and crouched in front, me!

On a side note, if you’re local to the area but missed the event, the Barnes and Noble in Saratoga Springs, NY has a small stack of books autographed by the appropriate authors still in the store.

One Sonnet Leaves

I’m pleased to say that we had a lot of participation in our “Contest of Shakespearean Proportions“! Thanks to all of you, one Buffet reader will be receiving a free copy of the book “To Be and How to Be” by Peggy Rubin thanks to our friends at Quest Books!

The Prize Thanks to Quest Books!

Without further ado, let’s congratulate our winner!

There once was a man from Nantucket
Dear, this is a sonnet, not a limerick!
But I really wished to utilize “suck it”…
Inappropriate, darling, don’t be a dick.

A dick? A dick?? A dick, you say?
Quiet now, Grandma is resting her eyes
I can’t believe my Gram would ever speak this way!
Well, dear, grannies can be vulgar too–surprise!

Alas, my heart has been torn asunder
My grandma, pure of thought, is no more
Her shining image of moral wonder
Hath been trampled, by reality, to the floor

Hush now, youngling, ‘tis all a part of growing up
Things are still as they seem, just a bit more f*cked up!

That’s right, Erica R’s f bomb dropping sonnet about growing up is the winner! Congrats Erica! A hearty round of applause everyone for both Erica and Greg for sharing such fantastic sonnets! Those two guys really classed up this joint!

September Tidbits

Not to get all random on you guys again so soon, but alas I have a laundry list of things to talk about and so again I will be cramming them all into one bizarre post. Enjoy!

As some of you may already be aware, this summer I got to try my hand at officiating a couple of weddings. I’m guessing you’re curious as to my thoughts and reflections regarding this odd new endeavor. I won’t be discussing it here on The Magical Buffet directly, but I will be sharing my experiences in a newsletter. If you don’t get the newsletter, you should, they’re always informative and fun. I’ll probably spread the link around too, so keep an eye out!

Where the heck are you going to be this Saturday? Wherever it is, if it’s not the Saratoga Springs, NY Barnes and Noble for the “Magical Buffet of Authors” event, you will be missing out big time! Unfortunately, due to health concerns the author Lama Willa Miller won’t be able to attend the event. Although not serious, if you’re the type who is inclined to pray for someone, show Lama Willa some love and keep her in your thoughts. Despite Lama Willa’s absence, we still have a pretty sweet line up, if I do say so myself: Deborah Blake, David Pitkin, Ellen Evert Hopman, Gordie Little, Maria Kay Simms, and Gail Wood. All will be giving brief talks, and all will be signing books. Also, if you care about these sorts of things, I too will be there, covering tables for authors, drinking lots of fattening coffee beverages from the café, and waiting in lines for author autographs with everyone else. Don’t worry if you don’t know what I look like, I’m sort of a legend at this particular Barnes and Noble for being the loudest employee they ever hired, so just listen for the obnoxiously loud voice bouncing off the book shelves and you’ll find me easily enough.

Long time readers know that my breast cancer organization of choice is the California based Breast Cancer Action. Every October I profile their Think Before You Pink campaign, and I showed my support for their lawsuit challenging the legality of patenting human breast genes. With BCA’s 20th anniversary coming this October, it saddens me to say that Executive Director Barbara Brenner will be stepping down from her position at the end of the year. Brenner was Breast Cancer Action’s first full-time Executive Director, and has served in that role since 1995. Thanks to Brenner’s fantastic, pitch perfect, appearance on the television show “Penn & Teller’s Bullshit”, I was introduced to an organization that I could feel good about supporting. The BCA continually impresses me with their sly wit, loving support, ruthless logic, unyielding morals, and all out righteous fury. If there was ever an organizational body that truly reflects the “total woman”, Breast Cancer Action would be it, and I suspect it was the work of Barbara Brenner who made them that way. On behalf of anyone who has ever uttered the phrase “Cancer Sucks”, I wish you only the best in all of your future endeavors Barbara. Anyone with breasts owes you a great debt.

Do you have a minute to spare on September 21, 2010? Well Odyssey Network is trying to collect a million of them for peace. You heard correct, they don’t care who you are, where you live, or what religion you practice, if you pray in any way, shape, or form, they want you to pray at noon on September 21st for world peace.

To learn more about A Million Minutes for Peace, visit their website. You’ll find other ways to show support for their initiative and connect with like minded individuals.

Remember the Contemplative Photographic Art of Roger Baut? Look what I’m now the proud owner of! I now have a skunk cabbage to love and call my own! Word!

Skunk Cabbage in Bloom

And lastly, congratulations are in order. I’m happy to say that two things that I reviewed here on The Magical Buffet won COVR Awards! (FYI, COVR=The Coalition of Visionary Resources. For a complete list visit Take a moment to applaud U.S. Games and Stuart Kaplan for the Pamela Coleman Smith Commemorative Set winning in the divination category and Llewellyn Worldwide and author Gede Parma for winning the Wicca/Paganism category with his book “Spirited“. Two great works, both deserving of recognition! Congrats guys!

Whew! I think that’s everything! I hope to see some of you Saturday!

Two Sonnets Enter, One Sonnet Leaves

In case you missed it, on August 4, 2010 I announced “A Contest of Shakespearean Proportions”. Well, the time has come to present to you two sonnets, both worthy of a free copy of “To Be and How to Be” by Peggy Rubin, compliments of Quest Books. Both sonnets are excellent, yet to compare them to each other is apples and oranges. This is why I’m turning it over to you; the readers of The Magical Buffet to decide which sonnet will exit Thunderdome with a copy of “To Be and How to Be”. Enough talk! Let’s get ready to rumble!

Sonnet number one comes from Buffet reader Erica R. Erica’s approach to the sonnet is, let’s say, unconventional. Any sonnet that riffs on limericks and drops an f bomb is A OK in my book! Take a look:

There once was a man from Nantucket
Dear, this is a sonnet, not a limerick!
But I really wished to utilize “suck it”…
Inappropriate, darling, don’t be a dick.

A dick? A dick?? A dick, you say?
Quiet now, Grandma is resting her eyes
I can’t believe my Gram would ever speak this way!
Well, dear, grannies can be vulgar too–surprise!

Alas, my heart has been torn asunder
My grandma, pure of thought, is no more
Her shining image of moral wonder
Hath been trampled, by reality, to the floor

Hush now, youngling, ‘tis all a part of growing up
Things are still as they seem, just a bit more f*cked up!

Good times, good times. However, let’s turn our attention to sonnet number two. Greg B. presents a wonderful acrostic sonnet written for his wife while they were living apart. Grab yourself a facial tissue and check out “Always, I love you”.

Always, I love you

Always, I love you, I call, through my days.
Lifted up, thoughts of you, they carry me.
Wiling and willing my time through that haze,
Abiding, until forever comes to be.

Yearning and need guides my hopes and my dreams
Softly tugging me along the path of life.
Idle thoughts turn, as ever my heart deems
Longing for us, for you, my love, my wife.

O, how slowly falling, grains of sand that mock,
Verily choked to a mere halt in the glass.
Even as I, you feel the creep of that clock;
You know the weight of the seconds that pass.

Onward, we stride the bridge of time, us two.
Unto each step echoes, Always, I love you.


Voting will end at 9:00pm Eastern on Saturday September (Thanks Deborah!) 11, 2010 (Which, by the way, is the date for the “A Magical Buffet of Authors” event in Saratoga Springs, NY. Come on, you knew I wasn’t going to post that date and NOT mention the event!)

Good luck to both Erica and Greg! You’re sonnets demonstrate the intellect, enthusiasm, and creative spirit of our readers! My hat off to you both!

Geek Month in Review: August 2010

By JB Sanders

And here’s the August edition of Geek Monthly.

Pictish symbols
Because few things are geekier than a language dead over a thousand years. Plus it’s got some code-decryption bits.

Pencil-tip Micro-sculptures
Geeky in that retro sort-of way. There’s a “how many angels” joke in here somewhere.

Nobody Does it Better
Where “it” is late-night talk show hosting. Thirty years of shows digitized and searchable. Pro-payment thing to get the full clips, but they’ll have a rotating selection of clips and full shows available. Wild!

When Computer Keyboards Were Made Like 1950’s Cars
You know, with steel. There are people who swear by their ancient, clunky keyboards and will get violent if someone tries to take them away. And when your keyboard is, in fact, made of steel (NOT plastic), that’s a problem.

But there are different brands of “my favorite keyboard”.

There’s Ancient Apple.
The Intentionally Retro

And the King of Keyboards, the IBM Model M Thunkmaster. So you KNOW when you’re typing.

LEGO Creationary
It’s like Pictionary; only instead of drawing you build things with LEGOS. Not sold yet? How about it has difficulty settings, from things like “cactus” to “Taj Mahal”. Seriously. Buy here.

Ancient Recordings!
Well, ok, old recordings. From the 20’s and 30’s and 40’s, music and speeches not heard since they were recorded. It’s mostly an article about lost Jazz recordings, but also about a tech genius (William Savory) who recorded live jam sessions onto aluminum and acetate 12-inch and 16-inch disks at 33 1/3 before that it was fully invented (he did help create the standard). Which leads to quotes like this: “You hear some of this stuff and you say, ‘This can’t be 70 years old.’ ”

Unfortunately, although they’re hard at work digitizing (and in some cases, cleaning the records so they can be played), it’s going to take a long time to get online. And then there’s the who owns it thing. Not the records, that’s clear – the music. Woo!

Screens Under the Microscope
Kindle and iPad screens under a USB microscope, compared with newspaper, book and magazine print. Nice comparison!

Big Monster Movies
Are they back? If so, cool!

Plug-in Solar & Wind
This is crazy smart, if they can make it happen. Imagine grabbing a few solar panels from the hardware store, putting them where you like and plugging them into a regular outlet. Then it just provides the house with power. The company is coming out with products in 2011 (which is a lot better than the ubiquitous “5 years”). I’ll be waiting.

Visualizing Data
David McCandless shows us how to visualize massive amounts of data. Or “knowledge compression”. Fascinating, funny, insightful. Pretty much as with all TED talks (the good ones, anyway).

And don’t miss out on his actual website, where he’s posted zillions more of these great diagrams.

Especially this one on how many times Dr Who has traveled through time.

Muh Ruh Ruhhh
All of Chewbacca’s dialogue from all his appearances in the Star Wars movies, on a large sticky note.

Lost 25 Minutes of Metropolis: Found!
When Fritz Lang’s epic silent-movie Sci-Fi masterpiece was released in theaters, the movie was cut from it’s original 2 and a half hours to a more palatable 90 minutes, slicing away scenes which “make so much more sense” when included. Take a look at a glimpse.

Cheeseburger Dissolved in Acid
Ever wonder what would happen if you dipped a burger in hydrochloric acid? Wonder no longer!

Self-lacing Sneakers on the Way
Marty McFly had them in 1985, so why don’t we? Nike is working on it.

About John:
John’s a geek from way back. He’s been floating between various computer-related jobs for years, until he settled into doing tech support in higher ed. Now he rules the Macs on campus with an iron hand (really, it’s on his desk).

Geek Credentials:
RPG: Blue box D&D, lead minis, been to GenCon in Milwaukee.
Computer: TRS-80 Color Computer, Amiga 1000, UNIX system w/reel-to-reel backup tape
Card games: bought Magic cards at GenCon in 1993
Science: Met Phil Plait, got time on a mainframe for astronomy project in 1983
His Blog:

10 Questions with The Gypsy Nomads

1. I find myself having trouble describing your duo’s sound. The best I come up with is that it’s like a French cabaret, populated with fairy folk, performing on a steampunk air ship. How do you describe your sound?

(Samantha) That sounds good to us! We usually call it Gypsy Cabaret Folk Punk, it sounds cliché but it is such a mix of different influences that it does become difficult to pin point. We basically write what comes naturally to us and the combination of both of our life experiences makes it what it is.

2. Now Samantha, you have a background in art and dance. When did you discover singing? Or perhaps the question is, when did you decide to focus on singing?

(Samantha) I started singing at a very early age. I come from a musical family and singing was a normal part of our lives. I sang in the school choir in England and a little when I came to the States. After that I guess I was a closet singer, a “belt-it-out” at home type, using it as a cathartic thing for those soul searching times. Mostly, my stage performances were dance. It wasn’t until 2005 when I started collaborating with Scott that I got back to singing on stage.

3. The other “must be asked” question is for Scott. Readers may recognize you from your time with the punk bands Deep Wounds and Outpatients, how did you evolve from that scene into the music you’re performing now?

(Scott) In the mid `90’s the Outpatients broke up, so after years of playing in punk and metal bands I wanted to do something different. I switched from bass to acoustic guitar and started writing songs. The music that came out was more earthy and melodic. I liked the idea of creating a full sound but with layers of acoustic guitar. It seemed like a natural progression to me. With the Gypsy Nomads it has all come full circle, we play this earthy eclectic music that has a lot of fire and punk energy and attitude. When Samantha and I started writing together everything gelled and it has become this amazing entity. There is a chemistry we have on stage and when we write that is very special and humbling.

4. What kind of process do you use when writing music? As a duo, who breaks a tie if you guys disagree on an idea?

(Samantha) Usually Scott will be riffing on the guitar and when I hear words attached to those riffs I’ll let him know and he’ll just keep repeating it while I write. Then we play around with the arrangement and brainstorm together. I can’t think of an instance when we have disagreed. It doesn’t really happen that way, it‘s more like a flowing of ideas and some stick and some don’t. We’re not overly attached to whose idea it was.

(Scott) Samantha writes all the lyrics and we work on the music together for the most part. Each song takes us on a little journey, it’s a mysterious path the muse guides you on and you never know when an idea for a song will happen. For example, when we were driving through Pennsylvania, Samantha came up with the melody for ‘Yes! I’m French’. We wrote the songs ‘Kaii’ and ‘Le Train’ off of our Eternal Summer CD in a hotel in Kansas. But I do tend to go off on my own to work on instrumentals. For our new CD, Happy Madness, I went away for 4 days, locked myself in a room and wrote the songs ‘Sombrero Cabaret’ and ‘Happy Madness’.

5. On your website readers can see that you tour extensively, playing all kinds of steampunk and fairy events. What have been some of your favorite events to perform at?

(Samantha)Our favorite ones are where the audience is totally into it. When people are jumping around, dancing, singing and just having a great time, we really feed off of that. Ultimately it’s an exchange between us and the audience. We love the scene we’re in, the mix of steampunk, faerie, pagan, sci-fi, geek, freak, cabaret is a great audience because they are as crazy and expressive as we are.

6. I’ve been given to believe that you’re based out of New York and perform all over the United States. Any chance you could show your home state some love and do a few gigs in Albany, NY? Why yes, I live near Albany, why do you ask?

(Samantha) Ah ha! We would love to. I don’t know what it is, but we just love being on the road! I think they call it wanderlust… I traveled a lot as a kid and Scott moved around quite a bit too I guess it’s in the blood. Albany? sure, book it and we’ll be there!

7. The Gypsy Nomads have an aka of Frenchy and the Punk. Which came first, Frenchy and the Punk or The Gypsy Nomads? Was Frenchy and the Punk a designator that your fans gave you, or you gave yourself?

(Samantha) The Gypsy Nomads existed first. The name came from a song Scott had written for his Brocade CD and which was later put on the compilation CD Thread and Stone called “Traveling Band of Gypsy Nomads”. That was one of my favorite songs back then and I spontaneously picked up a tambourine at one of Scott’s shows and danced around to that song. That’s what started the whole thing. So we started calling ourselves “Scott Helland and the Traveling Band of Gypsy Nomads,” a play on the fact that Scott was using live guitar looping so it sounded like there were more people on stage. Then it became “The Traveling Band of Gypsy Nomads” which still felt too long so we shortened it to “The Gypsy Nomads.” Frenchy and the Punk grew out of that, I was born in France and Scott played in punk bands. I think it was someone at a show that said it and it kind of stuck.

8. When you two aren’t working together as The Gypsy Nomads, do you each have solo artistic endeavors that you can tell my readers about?

(Samantha) Yes. I do oil paintings. I’ve been working on a series of Vintage Gypsies which are based on images of mostly women in the late 1800s and early 1900s. I also am working on a book about the adventures of my magickal character, Pupella. It’s been a long process since we are rarely home but it’s almost done.

(Scott) I do pen and ink drawings on parchment paper and sharpie drawings on Fabric, with primarily earthy themes that mix the female form with trees, vines, medieval and celtic symbols, stonework and guitars. I do some gallery shows but most of my drawings are available at our shows. Our stickers t-shirts and pins have our artwork on them and those are all on the website as well as the CDs.

9. What’s next for The Gypsy Nomads?

(Samantha) We shot a DVD this past Spring that we hope to have out before the end of this year. We’ll be touring again in the Fall and early Winter (we’re playing DragonCon in Atlanta in early September, Earth Wariors Festival in Ohio, StrowlerCon in Boston, FaerieCon in Baltimore and SteamCon in Seattle) and then working on new material during the winter months. We’ve also been contacted by a European agency about touring over in Europe.

(Scott) Yeah, what Samantha said! We have done a lot of touring for the Happy Madness CD, but there’s always more to do. We love playing shows and traveling so we’ll probably do the states again in the not so distant future, unless we get wrapped up in writing another record!

10. Parting Shot! Ask us here at The Magical Buffet any one question!

What is the most important ingredient for a magical buffet?


About The Gypsy Nomads:
Gypsy Celtic Cabaret with tribal and punk elements and an undercurrent of the mystickal. The Gypsy Nomads, also affectionately known as Frenchy and the Punk, channel the spirit of the gypsy sound, lacing it with a cabaret, Celtic and neo-medieval flavor rooted in punk, folk and the vineyards of southern France.

The duo features French-born Brit. Samantha Stephenson, whose vocals have been likened to a cross between Siouxsie Sioux and Edith Piaf, and veteran of the punk scene Scott Helland on guitar. Helland’s innovative live looping technique coupled with Stephenson’s animated percussion produces a sound that makes it hard to believe there are only two people on stage.

Samantha Stephenson, Gypsy Nomads singer and percussionist, studied art at The National Academy of Design and Art Students League in New York City. She began her dance training at the Royal School of Dance in England and performed in dance troupes in Boston and New York and studied and played piano throughout her teens. She also is the creator of Pupella’s Reign, purveyor of magickal wares and the free spirited gypsy Pupella character, who is currently in book mode.

Scott Helland has recorded and appeared on over 25 records and CDs. In the eighties and nineties, he played bass guitar with the bombastic, and now legendary Western MA hardcore punk bands Deep Wound, (which included Dinosaur Jr’s J Mascis and Lou Barlow) and Outpatients with whom he toured with in the US, Canada and South America. The bands released critically acclaimed underground recordings that still sell today to punk record collectors and aficionados of the hardcore music scene here in the U.S, Asia and Europe. The show flyer collages Scott put together in the`80s and `90s have evolved into intricate pen and ink drawings that blanket the covers of his CDs and merchandise. His artwork is exhibited in galleries and is collected around the world.

Their music has been licensed for Indie films and TV including the Oprah Winfrey show and WE TV’s Gothic Wedding show. They have been featured performers at events around the country such as FaerieCon, NYC’s lower east side burlesque club The Slipper Room, the cabaret stage at Philadelphia’s Trocadero Theater, NY’s Brushwood Center, St Louis’ Focal Point Theater, and more. The Gypsy Nomads have shared the stage with Voltaire, Dinosaur Jr, Faun, Dragon Ritual Drummers, Albannah, Coyote Run, Ego Likeness, Wendy Rule, Brian Viglione and the White Elephant Burlesque, Lunar Fire as well as amazing belly dance troupes across the U.S.

Learn more at their website or their official My Space page!