Steven's Band Dragonship Created a Rock Opera
Rock opera based on the novel by Jodie Forrest. Music composed by Steven Forrest.
Jacket art: Mike Roig.
Music performed by Steven Forrest, Jodie Forrest, Dragonship members-emeritus: Michael Chandler; Mike Roig; and Linda Smith; and by guest artist Robert Griffin.
June, 2005 – Dragonship is: Steven Forrest, guitar, vocals; Jodie Forrest, keyboard, and bass guitar; Rhiannon Jones, vocals, fiddle, percussion; and Scotty Young, drums, percussion, backup vocals.
Once upon a time, Jodie gave Steven a new guitar for his birthday, and he began composing songs based on her novel-then-in-progress, The Rhymer and the Ravens: The Book of Fate. Jodie had no idea where her work, and her birthday gift, would lead. Steven started working with a singer with an extraordinary voice, Linda Smith. One critic compared her soaring vocals to those of the lead singer for the art-rock group Renaissance. When Steven engineered an early version of the music, that recording’s cassette jacket thanked Linda for helping him “find the soul of the music.” Prophetic words, for Linda brought a couple of friends into the band: bassist Michael Chandler and percussionist Mike Roig. Dragonship played its first gig in May 1995, with Jodie narrating between songs. At our next show we were joined by The Valkyries, a dance troupe choreographed by Theresa Arico.
Our sold-out June 1996 performance was a landmark in many ways. Norse scholar Dag Rossman introduced the show. As well as continuing to narrate, Jodie played her first show as keyboardist. Mike Roig, also a metal sculptor, made 24 Runic candleholders that were lit one by one during the performance. And Steven and his music were compared to Pete Townsend and The Who’s rock opera, “Tommy,” by the same critic who recognized Linda Smith’s star quality and praised the Valkyries’ “bang-up job.” Since then, Michael, Mike and Linda (http://www.lululive.com) have gone on to other creative and professional pursuits, and we miss them.
However, we were delighted to welcome our new lead guitar player,
Roger Windsor, aboard Dragonship. He plays fantastic guitar leads, so much so that Jodie’s taken over most of the bass parts on her keyboard and on the bass guitar itself, a new instrument for her. We’ve played a couple of Rhymer and one Elves’ Prophecy show with Roger, and found that he has a real ear for musical arrangement. You can find out more about Roger at his website, http://www.rogerwindsor.com. Roger has now left the band to go on to other projects, probably including a cover band of his favorite ’60s and ’70s music, and we thank him for all of his contributions.
Steven’s written an entire new rock opera based on the trilogy’s second novel, The Elves’ Prophecy: The Book of Being. (That’s “Elves’,” not “Elvis,” no matter what anybody says! You know who you are…) We’re having big fun with this new show, working carefully as a team to fine-tune every measure and song-as-a-whole. It’s taken us a while to put it all together, and that’s fine with us–we’re all forty or fifty-something, have Other Lives, behave irrevently, are doing this for the fun of it, and wish we had more time to practice.
Our drummer, Scotty Young, is the easy-going veteran of some ethno-world-beat and eclectic bands, including Mango Jam and Luna Sundog. He plays like a funky metronome, got right in the groove on day one and keeps that heartbeat coming. He’s a great guitar player too, but so far he’s playing drums with us. [Meanwhile, in Scotty’s Other Life, he gives great therapeutic massages. Are you local? You can email Scotty for an appointment.]
We rehearsed for a while with singer Christen Campbell. Christen’s other band, the semi-pro Combo Platter, got so hot locally that she moved on to focus exclusively on her work with them. Spanish twins Alicia and Maripaz Medina y Soto filled in on backup for a while before they moved back to Spain.
On lead female vocals for a while, including our first Prophecy show, was Sonja Runar, an American of Swedish descent (what a Nordic name!), before she moved to the West. Sonja has a clear, hypnotic, cuts-through-the-mix alto that blended wonderfully with Steven’s vocals. In her Other Life, Sonja does feng shui; check out her website at www.sonjarunar.com. Good luck, Sonja!
Our new singer is Rhiannon Jones, born in Wales, on lead female vocals, violin/fiddle and percussion. She has a true, sweet, haunting soprano and an amazing range. Her fiddle is re-Celtifying what was becoming a very rock and roll sound. (We like both styles, yet the Celtic feel is very appropriate for the books that these shows are based on.) We’ve just started working with Rhiannon, although Scotty’s been in a band with her before (Luna Sundog), and we are thrilled to have her with us. The vocal blends among Rhiannon, Steve and Scotty are sounding really magical. Not only that, Rhiannon and Steve did the music for a show about Rhiannon’s home town, Ystradgynlais, for Welsh television. They’re calling themselves Siant y Ddraig, or Chant of the Dragon.
We are pleased and entertained that, given the Nordic-Celtic elements of the book that inspired the show, we had a singer named Sonja Runar and now have one named Rhiannon!
This page would be incomplete without mentioning our fabulous sound guy,
Martin Brossman. The sound man is really another member of the band, just on another kind of musical equipment. Martin’s bent over backwards to work with us despite his own busy schedule. He’s energetic, positive, upbeat, supportive and loyal, has great ears, and Dragonship is a whole lot more fun and runs more smoothly because of him. Thank you, Martin! Check out his Other Life’s personal coaching practice at http://www.CoachingSupport.com
Here’s a quote from a different reviewer:
“A variety of modern, electronic folk music. Of course, it’s a whole lot more than this, because it’s performed by people with a feeling for the Old Ones. Treat yourself to some real witchcraft.” –Ian Read, Chaos International.