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Live Review: Wenches A’ Wailing at The Ohio Renaissance Festival
Femme performers take the narrative back in rowdy performances backed up by musical talent at the ren fest.
By Al Herrera
At The Ohio Renaissance Festival, music is all around. While walking the grounds you may pass by performers carrying around guitars or lutes, small groups adding more strings and percussion to their ensemble, stages with larger performances, or bars with live music. If you are attending a lyrical performance you are most likely going to hear men recounting tall tales or singing spirited drinking songs full of sexual innuendos. After a song or two, the latter can get a bit uncomfortable and the acts start to blend together. There is, however, a change of pace in the lineup of festival attractions. Towards the end of the Father Son And Friends set a lyric foreshadows the next act, “A night out with the girls wouldn’t do us any harm.”
The Wenches A’ Wailing perform at the Aleing Knight Pub 3 times a day each weekend of the festival. A three-part girl group with the help of a fiddler and stand-up bassist from the other acts lead the pub in boisterous drinking songs with wit and hilarity. The 3 Wenches stood together with their guitar and light percussion instruments in their flower crowns and matching corsets to command the audience’s attention. Something about women singing the sexual innuendos reclaimed the humor typically held by male performers. Some hallmarks of male renaissance humor were jokes about cross-dressing and accidentally being gay, but the tone changed when the Wenches performed. Suddenly, songs with innuendos were about men being the fools and women prioritizing their fun. Not to say there weren’t any verses about being gay, it’s just that the tone of those songs was celebratory while being humorous. The tongue-in-cheek nature of the songs made it obvious they were in on the joke.
The Wenches’ solid musicianship took center stage just as the musicians did, but their comedic timing, vocal harmonies, instrumentations, and crowd work were just as impressive Even during the October rain, the Wenches kept the energy up with rousing call-and-response moments and cheekily teasing the crowd into gradually louder applause. Wenches A’ Wailing was a refreshing change of pace during my visit to the Ohio Renaissance Festival and I’ll be sure to find their stage if I return.
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