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A modern Renaissance: Blackmore’s Night brings medieval melodies to Lehigh Valley

Blackmore's Night (Courtesy Blackmore's Night)
Blackmore’s Night (Courtesy Blackmore’s Night)

Inspired by renaissance, nature and love, Blackmore’s Night has been captivating audiences with their ubiquitous melodies and troubadour-style performances for more than 25 years at venues, festivals, and castles alike.

The group features vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Candice Night as well as legendary guitarist and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple, Rainbow).
But don’t expect to hear screaming vocals or high-volume distorted electric guitar from this eclectic duo and their band. Instead, Blackmore’s Night live show is a passport to a time gone by; complete with merry camaraderie, medieval instruments like the hurdy-gurdy, shawms, and pennywhistles as well as renaissance garb.

The group is out on six-city tour, which includes a stop at The Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg at 8 p.m. Saturday.

I recently spoke with Candice Night about the band’s upcoming performance and more in this new interview.

It’s been nearly 30 years since you and Ritchie formed Blackmore’s Night. What inspired the project?

Candice Night: I had never heard of Renaissance music before I met Ritchie, yet I was always inspired by having one foot in a magical world, a world of fantasy. When I met him, he brought me to his dark English Tudor house in the woods of Connecticut with nothing but trees around for miles. He had a minstrels gallery; everything was very low lit with lots of tapestries on the walls and a huge fireplace. He would play nothing but purist Renaissance music on the sound system. And it was there, looking out the window as the snow fell and watching deer eat the grass off the front garden while this music played that it became the soundtrack to nature in my mind. It completed the picture — the perfect marriage of visual and audio.

Most know Ritchie as being the driving force behind bands like Deep Purple and Rainbow. Blackmore’s Night is certainly a big departure from that. How would you describe your sound?

I don’t know if I can do that justice. We’ve coined a few phrases like “Renaissance Folk Rock” or “Castle Rock” but it’s so much more than that. As with any art, you can’t put creativity in a box and label it. We just play melodic music that we enjoy. Music that takes you on an emotional journey. We do some songs based on the 12th-15th century and update them with new lyrical content and arrangements and instrumentation. We also do “tavern” — like everyone grab your beer mug and swing it, fun music where everyone sings along; cover songs; ballads and instrumentals. There’s even a few songs from Ritchie’s past bands. We change our setlist nightly and take requests from the audience. There’s something for everyone. If you like melodic music you’ll enjoy our band.

In your opinion what makes Renaissance music so timeless and special?

The strong melody line. We tend not to get involved with quieter lute music from those times, but more of the songs that can translate to being played on today’s instruments. We play some shawms and hurdy gurdies as well as the guitars, keyboards, bass and drums in our 7-piece band, but the songs come across more like something you might hear today due to our interpretation.

What can fans expect from your upcoming performance at the Sherman Theater?

It’s a family show so there will be people from all ages and all walks of life. We say our fans are independent thinkers looking for something different to enjoy and taking the path less traveled. Yet there are men who have followed Ritchie’s musical career for decades knowing that his name is synonymous with guitar brilliance. A lot of women come for the female singer aspect or lyrical storyteller part. Children enjoy the fact they can dress up like Robin Hood or fairies or queens and sing along to catchy choruses in some of the songs and dance along and older people enjoy the fact that the music is melodic. Our set lists change nightly and many fans dress up in garb to feel as if they are part of the show. It’s like a costume party coming to your town.

Your most recent album is 2021’s “Nature’s Light.” What can you tell me about it?

Our tough year was 2018. I lost my dad to cancer, Ritchie lost his brother to COPD, our cat of nineteen years died the day after we returned from tour and Ritchie’s closest friend from a band passed after a stroke. We were going through such emotional grief and upheaval. Then after we finished the album COVID hit. We couldn’t be around people at that time, yet we noticed so many singular people keeping distance by walking through the woods and along beaches. Getting back to the beauty that was in front of them all the time and healing their souls. We felt the world needed and was healing from “Natures Light.” The CD actually helped heal us from our personal pain in 2018 and for the rest of the fans around the world through COVID times.

It would be remiss of me to not ask about the Deep Purple song “Smoke on The Water,” which is probably the first song any new guitarist learns how to play. What was Ritchie’s inspiration for that riff and did he know how influential it was going to become to generations of future guitar players?

No he didn’t but as he says, “It pays the bills!” so no complaints there [laughs]. He has mentioned to me that at the time he wrote “Smoke on The Water” he was writing pretty complicated songs and then he listened to what was popular: The Kinks “You Really Got Me” or the [Rolling] Stones “Satisfaction” and listening to those riffs he realized that he needed to write something simple or something the postman could whistle. And man, did he ever! When he says he’s going to do something, he really commits to it!

A character from "Blackmore's Night": Ritchie Blackmore (Music, Entertainer, Alone)
Ritchie Blackmore of Blackmore’s Night (Contributed)

Are there any new projects you’re currently working on?

We have a new Blackmore’s Night CD in the works and will finish that up later this year. Our third album, Fires At Midnight, has now been remixed and remastered with some songs having new parts added and will be released in the coming months. I also have my third solo CD coming out and we’re doing six tour dates this summer and probably more in the fall.

Is there a message you have for the fans of the area prior to your appearance at the Sherman Theater?

Just that we are so pleased to be coming back to see you all! We always have a great time at The Sherman Theater and we will make it a night to remember. “So raise your hats and your glasses too, and we will see you under a violet moon!” Normally the fans dressed in garb have special seating in the front rows, so come be a part of our world. See you then!

James Wood is a freelance writer. You can contact him at jimmywood@gmail.com

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