The first weekend of May was spent at Renaissance Festival of Nebraska at Bellevue Berry Farm outside Omaha, NE. Because of all the flooding along I-29 this year we had to take a longer route up US 75 from Topeka. It’s two lanes most of the way and I do not recommend it unless you have no other choice. This was the second year I was at this event and I had requested being somewhere other than the children’s area all day. I was not disappointed, four shows per day each at a different stage. Since last year I had figured out how to minimize my props so we didn’t need the wagon, instead relying on a foot locker and a fold-able two wheeler. The shows seemed to go over pretty well and management seemed pleased with the way everything went.
After that, we were back in Oklahoma for the next three weekends at the Oklahoma Renaissance Festival working for T’ger Toggs. There was one weekend that a strong storm rolled through overnight. Hearing tornado sirens and looking outside to see it eerily quiet is not something you want waking you up at 3am. Turns out that storm had spawned tornadoes to the south of town. It missed largely populated areas but we heard later about several homes that had been damaged.
We returned to Great Bend the first weekend of June. This little one day event is a great local festival and I am always grateful that they ask me back year after year. We rented a trailer this year so I could bring the Acupuncture illusion with me as well as all the other equipment this family of performers requires. I only performed the Acupuncture once due to technical difficulties. Trying to fix what was wrong in the blazing sun wasn’t working so I ended up cutting it from the rest of my shows for the day. My wife painted faces all day and was joined by our daughter in the afternoon. Also longtime friend Beth Byrd performed throughout the day handing out tickets to patrons for silly things like being “too darn cute” and did a show followed by a workshop on miming for all the kids. Always a good time.
Spent some time in the mountains of Colorado relaxing with friends and family.
I fixed the problem with the Acupuncture so that shouldn’t be an issue anymore.
Walked on broken glass at Kansas City Magic Showcase with Rod Sipe, again.
Fringe Fest meant performing friends staying with us. Mike and Nancee Micham presented their performance piece “Red Clay Country and White Cloverine Salve” five times during the 14 day run. It’s a rustic story about Nancee’s grandmother and her trip across the dust bowl to a better life in California.
Mike and Nancee put their lives in my hands in some dangerous equipment. I can’t say enough about what good friends they’ve become over the years.
I know I said I was going to break these up into quarters but not a lot happened in the months after the Kansas City Renaissance Festival. 2018 ended the way it should have, surrounded by friends and family and lots of wishes of grand adventures in 2019.
We were notified that Norman Medieval Fair was not hiring Marvelous Matt this year. I was one of the newer acts and they had had several years of falling revenue so I was cut. It was a solid blow to my ego, but I said it over on Facebook and I’ll say it here again, “No hard feelings.” I understand budget cuts and tightening one’s belt, but for some reason it just felt personal. Applications for the 2020 Fair are open now and my application has already been submitted.
I performed again at the Kansas City Magic Showcase in February. This time snow was forecast for the evening so almost nobody showed up. Besides my own act, I also teamed up with longtime friend Rod Sipe to walk on a bed of broken glass. By the time the show was over there was almost 4″ of snow on the ground.
Guess what? I’m coming back to the Kansas City Renaissance Festival for 2019. (ha ha) The festival had a shindig to announce all the returning acts as well as audition dates for street cast. It was good to see those people I only see at KCRF in street clothes. They also announced the return of The Lord Mayor’s Company, which my wife is a part of. At this point things are coming together for the spring and summer 2019 events.
I returned to the Great Plains Renaissance Festival in Wichita for the first time in many, many years. It ended up being a cold and windy weekend, but no rain, thank goodness. All shows seem to be well received and the festival was pretty well attended from my point of view. I made a few changes to pacing in the show and it really seemed to help keep moving things along. They also do a fall festival and asked about my availability, but KCRF was already booked.
Final weekend of April we went down to OKRF (Oklahoma Renaissance Festival) to work in a clothing shop, T’Ger Toggs. This is the same person my wife works for at the Kansas City festival. The original thought was that since my wife would be there anyway she could run the shop while I performed. He applied to vend and was accepted, I was not, so we ended up working the shop four of six weekends. Still had a good time meeting and renewing friendships with a bunch of people.
I was asked to perform at the Kansas City Magic Showcase for the second time. It was an amazing experience. If you haven’t been, I cannot recommend highly enough that you should go. It’s $5 at the door, Westport Coffeehouse is upstairs or the Green Room Bar is next door if you want food and/or drinks.
It’s always nice to have an appreciative audience and the effects I presented were well received. I have to laugh because after my segment the MC said that he was told to keep it family friendly and that I pushed every boundary of that…
I know I’m writing this almost a year late but I figured I’d give you, the reader, a selection of posts to chose from. I’m going to do a couple of posts, breaking up the last year into quarters, so it’s not one huge post. In the future I’m going to strive to post something at least once a month. With that said, lets get into it…
Now the 2018 KCRF wrap-up
The biggest thing I was looking forward to adding to the 2018 show was the new illusion. Because it arrived two days before the festival I had no rehearsal with it so I did what I do best, I made it up as I went.
This is the Audience Acupuncture, or as I like to call it during the show, The Spike Table, modeled by my daughter in our basement. I wasn’t able to get any photos of the illusion in action at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival. Overall, I think it worked out pretty well. There were some technical issues during performance that caused me to abandon the effect mid-routine, but when it did work I think it was pretty well received. There are a few tweaks I need to make to the routine to make it stronger but I’m happy the way it worked out.
Generally, KCRF 2018 was okay and it wasn’t just me. I spoke to many vendors and performers, and everybody had a down year. The biggest thing I remember about last year was how much it rained; either late in the week so the site was still wet or during the festival day itself. It was the lowest attended festival in over 30 years by a third or more.
One exciting thing that happened in August 2018 was that I was approached about performing at another faire. This was an event I had been working toward getting into for several years and they wanted a video which I did not have. I worked up a little promo video using existing clips and photos. I thought it was okay for being something I put together myself, but they wanted a complete performance video. My wife hired a friend that does video editing and he brought out five cameras during the festival and put together a full video. It was rough to watch myself and it suffered from lack of an audience but I sent it off anyway. I did not get the gig; they said I was too similar to other acts they already had.
So there you have it. The WAAAAAY overdue 2018 wrap-up post. Like I said above I’m going to go back and fill in some gaps from the last year. I’ll probably start in July last year just to make sure everything is covered.
So the new prop I ordered back in April has finally arrived in Kansas City. I need to get it picked up and transported home so I can work with it a bit before debuting this at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival this coming weekend. Nothing like only having two days of rehearsal to get everything ready.
Last time I posted I mentioned that I had been in Vegas. Purchase happened in early April and due to some mis-communication delivery was delayed. I was hoping to have this illusion by mid-June so I’d have some rehearsal time with it; it will now be delivered (hopefully) by the end of next week (8/10). I’ll let you know how it goes.
In other news, I was at the Norman Medieval festival for the second year. I was on a new stage this year with two music acts so I was unsure how this would go. Friday was chilly and I got in three out of four shows before the entertainment director pulled me off stage and told me to save my voice for the weekend.
Saturday started with a message from the Entertainment coordinator that they were delaying opening the faire until 2pm due to the frigid temps. I ended up doing four back to back shows in the five hours we were open because the cold temps weren’t good for the music group’s instruments. Full audiences for every show due to about half the acts at the fair not being there. By the time the day ended I think it was in the 50’s and I was feeling good. Sunday ended up being breezy but not as cold. I did my four shows, the final one was raucous with the Oklahoma University Rugby Team in attendance. Go Butters!!
I also performed at the Renaissance Festival of Nebraska for the opening weekend of this two weekend event. This year I trimmed up my show before arrival unlike last year where I got there and found out show slots were 30 minutes. FYI – 30 minutes means 20-22 minutes of actual show, the rest is setup and tear down. Anyway, I shortened my show and it went over really well this year. I’d like to convince the owner to hire me for both weekends, but based on conversations with several other performers, he likes to change things up each weekend. Oh well, maybe someday.
I also appeared, again, at the K-96 June Jaunt event in Great Bend, KS. This was the seventh year for this event and I’ve been there for all of them. The June Jaunt was originally a regional event with each city along the K-96 corridor doing it’s own local events. Over the years I think some cities have dropped out, but Great Bend is still going strong thanks to Christina Hayes who is the Community Coordinator for the city. It’s always a pleasure doing shows like this. This year I even had a gentleman introduce himself to me that said he came from Wichita to see my show and that he wasn’t disappointed. No pictures from this event because my wonderful wife was painting faces all day.
That’s about it for the last four months. I’ve got some things in the works for next year already and I’m hoping everything comes through. Look for me at an event near you.
Two weeks ago we traveled to Sin City, Las Vegas, NV. Spent time doing touristy things. Saw two amazing magic shows and met with the illusion builder I talked about in a previous post. I had a few ideas and he pointed out that one wasn’t currently acceptable and the other was overdone. Then he gave me a new option I hadn’t considered and That’s the one I’m going with. A few close friends know what it is, but for the rest of you I’m going to keep it close to the chest until I debut it later this year…
Next month is Norman Medieval Faire and I’m looking forward to returning. I’ve made some changes to my show to be more “family friendly” for this audience so I hope it all works out. I just checked the schedule for this year and I’m on the Unicorn Stage which is right at the crossroads of the three areas and I’ll be sharing the stage with Tullamore and Bardmageddon. Tullamore is a well known Irish music act and I know them personally so this should be a good weekend.
I promised I’d make this post shortly after KCRF was over. It’s now mid December so I’m a little behind. **It’s now almost mid-January… I suck at these things**
I never felt like this year really ‘took off’. Did I have good shows? Yeah, I know I did. Were there some stinker shows? Definitely. It just felt like something was off. The crowd sizes were down a bit from last year. I heard after the fact that we never got near any of the record numbers we’d had in years past. The weather, although mostly nice, stayed way warmer than most people were expecting, even into the final weekend. There were only two variations to that. I remember one day of hurricane type rains and one day where it only got into the 60’s, but overall it was mid-80’s or above for the entire run.
I did try out a few new effects this year. One was something I worked on last year so I rotated it in and out as needed. It may need to have some editing done to the script because it started to feel too long but otherwise it’s a keeper. One was something I learned at a lecture early in the season and by the end of the run it was a staple of the show. The last effect was a rope trick I thought was really cool, but I either need to devote more time to it or drop it. It never really gelled the way I thought it should and didn’t seem to make much of an impact.
Of course, I still closed with the straitjacket. This was the fifth year doing it in my show so I’m thinking it’s time for a change. Do I want to do another escape? Maybe, maybe not. I’ll be in Vegas in February and I’ve already talked with an illusion builder there, so we’ll see if he has anything to suggest that’s in my budget. Maybe I’ll keep the jacket and do something bigger in the middle of the show. Who knows?
I met that illusion builder at a magic “convention” at the beginning of November called The Workshop. This was a one of a kind event for magicians to learn from the pros and to meet others who are looking to further their performance. If you follow my Facebook page I posted a bunch of pictures there during the event. I came home tired, but I have several new effects to work on this year. I’m glad I went because the gentleman that produces it says this is definitely the last one ever.
After that, Thanksgiving came and went and so did Christmas and New Years. I guess at this point I’ll just say that I hope to see you soon and I’ll talk to you later. Ciao!
I originally started this post on July 13 today I finish it.
I will start now and work my way back, kind of like a time machine…
June 19 the call was taken. The info confirmed. The waiting began. That’s the short of it. The longer version, I got called by Kansas City; they confirmed I was still interested and said the contract would be out in a matter of days. That was nearly four weeks ago. I got the word between now and then by a third party that the festival office had to send parts of the contract out to a lawyer for review before they could send it on to performers to be signed. I guess to make sure it meets the guidelines for anti-bullying and harassment or something like that. In discussion with others we wondered will the office make the time to reprint those contracts that had been issued earlier this year and require all performers sign or will they just “let it go”? Doesn’t matter as long as I get my contract prior to opening day.
In other news, I did one weekend a the Renaissance Festival of Nebraska (not to be confused with the Nebraska Renaissance Festival) and it was a good time overall. I did have to cut my show short due to only being allowed 30 minute time slots as opposed to my normal 40 minute slots. 30 minutes really only allows for a 15 minute show after accounting for setup, calling the show and tear down .
I also did the June Jaunt in Great Bend, KS again. This makes six years doing this fabulous small town event. I was joined by another magician/mentalist Curtis the Mentalist from Wichita. During lunch he mentioned that this wasn’t his typical type of event, but I think he did pretty good wowing the crowd. Because of the rain that had started the afternoon ended a little early for us entertainers so we packed everything up and called it a day.
Well there you have it dear readers, my summer in review.
Update** The contract for KCRF finally arrived July 14th and I just sent it back today. I’m hoping that they don’t reject it for any reason and I can get serious preparing for the 2017 season.
Back home after a gig at the Medieval Fair of Norman. Friday was sunny and cool, Saturday was overcast and the rain held off until late in the afternoon, and Sunday was dreary with light rain and drizzle for most of the day. Because this is a free fair there were still lots of people at the event all three days.
This was the first time I’d done this event and I’m hoping it wasn’t my last. Most of my audiences were rather small. That may have been a result of the threat of inclement weather Saturday and Sunday or something else that I can’t put my finger on. The audiences that I did have seemed to enjoy my show. My favorite part of the whole weekend has to be the egg routine on the last show of Sunday. I had chosen a tween girl to assist, like I normally do, and when we got to the part about her favorite magic word she says “Taco Bell”. I and the people in the sound tent lost it. I know I laughed through a good portion of the rest of the show.
The one downside of this event is that apparently not everyone appreciates my particular sense of humor. I learned, on the way home, that one lady posted on the official Facebook page of the event that she was offended at the use of sexual innuendo in the show and that she had to take her 6 1/2 year old daughter away. At first I was saddened that I had offended anybody. But as I played the entire script of my show from beginning to end I realized that I hadn’t said anything during the show that would upset a 6 year old, only her mother. Sure there are lines that can be taken different ways, just like in the old Rocky and Bullwinkle show. I understand wanting to protect your child, but nothing I said would have led a child to believe I was saying “naughty” things. Apparently I should add a disclaimer at the beginning of the show as many do these days, “If the kids understand the jokes, it’s not my fault.”
Here is a picture that conveys the same idea:
A child sees the dolphins, an adult sees something else… The question is how do you see the world?