In Northern Europe, the first of May has been, since ancient times, a time for revelry and celebration. The world is finally released from Winter’s grasp and Spring enlivens every living thing. A wealth of lore and music is associated with this time and on May 2 the folk duo Castlebay will present joyous songs and stories in a traditional May Garland.
The evidence left us by the early inhabitants of the British Isles indicates that they viewed the calendar year as a circle or wheel with fixed points determined by solar and lunar activity. In addition to the well-known solstices and equinoxes, the ancients marked the cross quarter days or halfway points between with appropriate celebration. Beltane, also called May Day, is one of these "cross-quarter" days, and is celebrated on May 1st, the midpoint between the vernal equinox and the summer solstice.
The music and lore of the British Isles is alive with imagery associated with the turning points of the year and our relationship to the natural world. In many areas, these traditions are still carried on. The "Queen of May" and her consort the "Green Man" preside over Beltane.The denizens of the Fairy realm travel between the worlds. New life is celebrated in symbolic activities assuring the fertility of animals and crops for the rest of the year. The great fruitfulness of the earth and the exuberance of Spring are honored, beginning the night before, with a carefree sense of playful abandon. Rising to greet the dawn, celebrants sing, gather flowers, and dance around the May Pole.
In olden times a garland was not only a woven chain of flowers, but also a collection of songs and music. In this year's May Garland, traditional musicians Julia Lane and Fred Gosbee (known as Castlebay) of Round Pond, Maine, will join voices and instruments to weave together songs and tunes celebrating the coming of May. These fine singers support their vocals with a variety of instruments including Celtic harps, 14 string guitars, fiddles, and woodwinds. The music will be interspersed with humor and historic anecdotes. Come and join Castlebay to cast off winter's cloak as the music of Spring fills the air.