Tuesday, October 30, 2012

‘Candice Night’ Medieval Princess: A fairytale journey with ‘Ritchie Blackmore’

By Ray Shasho

Candice Night interview:

CANDICE NIGHT is the enchanting singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, for the medieval folk rock group Blackmore’s Night.
Candice was raised on Long Island, New York and began a modeling career at the age of twelve, appearing in print ads, commercials, and promotions at trade shows into her 20s. She hosted a rock show at a local Long Island radio station which helped transform her destiny.

Night met Ritchie Blackmore, legendary lead guitarist for Deep Purple, at a soccer match hosted by WBAB the classic rock radio station she worked at. Blackmore enlisted Night to sing backup vocals for Deep Purples’ The Battle Rages On tour in 1993.
Night went on to co-write and contribute her musical styles to Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow on the tracks, “Aerial” (Charted #2 in Europe), “Hall of the Mountain King,” “Black Masquerade,” and “Wolf to the Moon” for the Stranger in Us All album (1995). Night also toured with Rainbow as a background vocalist.
Candice also provided vocals on Ritchie Blackmore’s version of “Apache” on the album, Twang! A Tribute to Hank Marvin & The Shadows. The compilation features some of the greatest guitarists of our time.

In 1997, BLACKMORE’S NIGHT catapulted the duo of Ritchie Blackmore and Candice Night into a fairytale journey, performing wizardry medieval folk arrangements with a dose of rock and roll. The group’s debut album, Shadow of the Moon endured the European music charts for seventeen weeks. The track “Play Minstrel Play” featured Ian Anderson, the superlative flautist of Jethro Tull.

Blackmore and Night toured Europe extensively with their newly christened band, decorated in medieval garb, while capturing the ambience and spirit of Renaissance as they perform shows at castles, theaters, churches, opera houses, and fairs. The group also performs with many of the musical instrumentation used during the Renaissance age. Self-taught, Night learned to play the hurdy-gurdy, the shawm, rauschpfeife, pennywhistle, recorder, cornamuse, and gemshorn. The addition of these amazing instruments, along with performances by virtuoso musicians, spotlighted by Ritchie Blackmore’s valiant and poetic acoustic strumming and Candice Nights’ enchanting fairy tale vocalizations, completes an exciting and extraordinary musical celebration.
But then occasionally you’ll also witness Ritchie Blackmore “the legendary rocker” wailing on his ‘Strat’ on tunes like “The Circle.”

Blackmore’s Nights’ music is positive, inspiring, romantic, and it wakes up the soul. Their audiences are so inspired, that they contribute to the celebration by dressing in their favorite garb, mimicking their most revered fairy tale, medieval, or Renaissance era character.

Blackmore Night’s subsequent album releases … Under a Violet Moon (1999), Fires at Midnight (2001), Ghost of a Rose (2003), The Village Lanterne (2006), Winter Carols (2006), Secret Voyage (2008), and Autumn Sky (2010).

Ritchie Blackmore and Candice Night finally tied the knot in 2008 after a nineteen year relationship. Their first child together, Autumn Esmeralda Blackmore was born in May 2010. Blackmore’s Nights’ eighth album, Autumn Sky was dedicated to the birth of their first born daughter.

Candice Night released her first solo album entitled Reflections in 2011. It’s an awe-inspiring collection of music written and performed by Candice. The album was not influenced by husband Ritchie, leaving Candice alone to do her own thing. Track two … “Gone Gone Gone,” should be sitting at the top of the country charts, while “Dangerous Smile” could easily be the theme to the next James Bond movie. “Alone with Fate” is a beautiful composition reminiscent to the timeless classic “Those were the days” by Mary Hopkin.
… I instantly fell in love with the CD and gave it (5) stars.

On February 7th 2012, Candice Night gave birth to their son Rory Dartanyan.
Blackmore’s Night continues to amaze and illuminate audience’s worldwide, bringing joy and happiness to their faithful, young and old, and who for one very special evening are transported into another place and time … filled with fantasy, magic, chivalry, clever repartee, and a reason to be merry.

Blackmore’s Night is currently celebrating their fifteen anniversary.

The group’s latest release is called Blackmore’s Night: A Knight in York. It’s an incredible journey of some of the groups most recent tracks performed live in York, England. The special edition collection contains a single audio CD accompanied by (1) DVD and (1) Blue-ray DVD. The DVD is where you’ll receive the genuine Blackmore’s Night experience. You’ll witness the colorful onstage wardrobe and scenery, capturing the true ambience and celebration of the show. You will also share what their audience’s have experienced for fifteen years … the enjoyment and magic of being part of a Blackmore’s Night event. I gave Blackmore’s Night: A Knight in York - The CD/ DVD special edition collection (5) stars.

Coming in mid January 2013! Blackmore’s Night will be releasing “The Beginning” A documentation of their early period. -Including Shadow Of The Moon and Under A Violet Moon as well as rare video footage of their early tours "Live In Germany 1997-1998" and "Under A Violet Moon - Castle Tour 2000” -Available for the first time on DVD and only in the "The Beginning” box.

I had the delightful opportunity to chat with Candice Night last week about her life before and after meeting her legendary guitar-hero husband.

Candice was definitely one of the most personable artists that I have ever interviewed. She gleams with positivity, is extremely cheerful, and just a pleasure to talk with.

Here’s my interview with the enchanting songstress/ songwriter/ and multi-instrumentalist for Blackmore’s Night… CANDICE NIGHT.
Ray Shasho: Candice, thank you for being on the call today, where are you calling from?
Candice Night: “I’m in cold, wet, and rainy New York, but the leaves here are amazing right now.”
Ray Shasho: First of all, I’d like to say congratulations on the groups fifteen year anniversary.
Candice Night: “Thank you very much Ray … you’re one of a few men who remembered an anniversary (All laughing).”
Ray Shasho: Tell Ritchie, I also like to clean house and run the vacuum like he does.
Candice Night: “I hate to tell you this … but this is probably one of the main reasons why your wife married you, because I could say that about my husband (Laughing). He calls it a Hoover, because the big separation of language between the English and American, so I often need a translator when he’s talking. So when he says I’m running the Hoover, I say that’s exactly why I married you my darling (All laughing).”

“But it’s so funny when you listen to all the different dialects when you’re traveling and touring. This one whole area where Ritchie’s ancestors are from, Jamaica Inn, which was based on an old story by Daphne du Maurier, it’s a little bit north and east of Penzance where all the pirates use to come and bring all their booty there and distribute it. So the Jamaica Inn actually exists and it’s very haunted on Bodmin Moor. Whenever we go to England, we try and go to this place because a lot of Ritchie’s ancestors are from there, it’s a lot of farm country, and all the people out there literally have a pirate’s dialect. It’s like being out on a movie set … you have the sign swinging in the wind, it’s really dark and misty, the cobblestones are outside, and then the door blows open and some guy comes in talking like a pirate … and I go, can somebody just pinch me, I just love it!”
Ray Shasho: Ritchie always looked like a swashbuckler anyway … put a sword in his hand and he could even be one of the Three Musketeers.
Candice Night: “He’s a big fan of Errol Flynn as I’m sure you could imagine. And of course you watch The Princess Bride and he’s like Inigo Montoya. Actually Mandy Patinkin who played that part, we went to see him in concert at Westbury Music Fair awhile ago and he was just brilliant. He has this amazing voice where when he sings he sounds like an old 1920s record. It’s so funny because apparently for his encore he ends by running back on stage and saying “Hello: My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” And then everybody applauses and he comes back off the stage (Laughing).”
Ray Shasho: Candice, you and I share something in common … we were both in radio.
Candice Night: “Actually, when I first met Ritchie that was my chosen career path. I tried to figure out where I’d fit into the radio world, trying every aspect of it … promotions, I was cutting commercials, and just seeing where I’d fit in before someone came along and scoop me up and ride off in a white horse … or black horse probably.”

“I met Ritchie back in 1989 on a soccer field. I was there to cheer on my team; we were actually number one arbitron-rated for a classic rock station here in Long Island. I was going to New York Tech for communications and taking my radio courses. So I was interning there for about a year and half at WBAB and Deep Purple came into town and said let’s play a charity soccer match. We brought our guys down, and they brought all their ringers from Europe, and our guys were not the most athletic, they were really good at eating pizza, and running up and down on the field was not their forte. So you can imagine that Deep Purple beat us pretty badly. So after the game, I went over and congratulated him and that’s when our meeting began.”
Ray Shasho: Was Ian Gillan the singer of Deep Purple at the time?
Candice Night: “Yes, but the funny thing was he wasn’t on the soccer field. Ritchie and Roger Glover came, but I think the rest of the guys just said have a nice time boys.”
Ray Shasho: I chatted with Joe Lynn Turner last year, and it sounded to me that he really cherished working with Ritchie, so they must have had a really good working relationship. But it didn’t sound like Ritchie and Ian Gillan liked each other very much.
Candice Night: “Joe and I ended up doing a duet; we redid “Street of Dreams” on one of our albums a couple of years back. Joe is one of those guys we keep in contact with and just such a good guy and so overenthusiastic and has got a lot of energy. But yea, I think there was a lot of friction and from what I wound up seeing there was a large amount of friction in the last days of that Deep Purple incarnation, which was so sad because in the beginning they had such an amazing rapport and they had so many amazing songs. But towards the end, everybody is travelling in their own separate limo and they only talk when they get onstage …if then, and maybe egos were pulling everyone in opposite directions, and it’s kind of bad to see that sort of thing happen. You also don’t want to keep people in one box when they’re like that because somebody is going to explode somewhere along the line.”
Ray Shasho: What did you think when Ritchie asked you to become his musical partner at that time?
Candice Night: “It’s a funny thing; we never actually went through a conversation like that. Everything that we’ve ever done has been a really natural evolution. When I first met him, we ended up being friends first and then obviously the evolution of our relationship grew and he got me on the road with him. He knew I could sing …when he has parties, he’ll bring out the acoustic guitar and play for you, but he also wants everybody to give a little bit of themselves to be on an equal playing field. He doesn’t care if it’s reciting a poem, or doing a dance, or playing an instrument, singing a song or whatever it is, just bring it and let everybody have a good time and participate. So when it got to my part when I first met him at one of his parties, he said what’s your contribution to the party? I said I’ll sing a song … and I think the first song we ever did together was the “Theme from Mahogany” believe it or not, he loves that song. At that point he knew I could carry a tune. So when I went out on the road with him in 1993 with Deep Purple, he had asked me to do some backing vocals on his “Difficult to Cure” solo. So they had me well hidden behind some drapes and had amplifiers stacked up in front of me so nobody could see me.”

“So really after that … was when he left that band and reformed Rainbow, and he knew I was kind of a closet poet, constantly scribbling in my journals and writing poetry. So when the guys in Rainbow were having a hard time coming up with lyrical content he came to me. He called me up on the phone and I was coming up to visit anyway, he played me a backing track over the phone and said, look, see what you can do, if it’s not something that works for us, we’ll fly up a professional guy and head that way. So I thought I’d just give it a shot and got on the ferry up here from Port Jefferson to Bridgeport and by the time I got to the other side, and after an hour and fifteen minutes of just looking at the water and listening to that backing track in my head, I came up with fourteen versus. When I got to the other side they said … great! We’ll take this one and that one. Then they’re circling … yea, this one, that one, and the other one, and we’ll piece this together … there’s the chorus and there’s the song. I said wow that was easy! And it was something I really loved. So that was actually how I ended up writing or co-writing.”

“While the other guys in Rainbow were doing the backing tracks, Ritchie and I would be sitting in front of a big raging fireplace in Massachusetts at Long View Farm Studio with the snow falling down, and he and I would have the acoustic instruments, and I would make up lyrics and he would make up songs, and that was kind of his escape from what the rock and roll world had become for him, because he had been in it for over thirty years at that point. So like I said, it was just all a natural revolution, we started writing together, the people wanted to hear the music more, and then a record company offered, and it grew and grew. Now it’s been fifteen years and every step of the way has been amazing.”
Ray Shasho: Blackmore’s Nights’ music is positive, inspiring, romantic, and it wakes up the soul.
Candice Night: “This is one of the only shows where people leave with smiles on their face. It’s like a contagious energy that’s all positive and it makes me feel so good in a world that is so unsure, unknown, and negative. And you have everything from road rage to air rage to your senses being bombarded by texts and emails and everything is always in your face all the time. Even the commercials are screaming at you all the time …and it never ends! For me it’s just nice to see people enjoying the music and enjoying the escape to be able to close their eyes and go someplace else and get away from all the stress and the pressure. I love the age range of the people that come to the shows … from five year old little kids who are enjoying it because they’re still innocent enough to dress up and become anything from princesses to fairies, or Robin Hood. Then the parents get involved because the fathers followed Ritchie’s music since the 60s, and now that guy’s married to a wife who likes the romantic lyrical content. Then there’s the grandparents who think it’s just good old melodic music.”
Ray Shasho: I watched an interview that you and Ritchie did implying the decision to play Renaissance-type music was because of Yoko Ono … was that a joke?
Candice Night: “Its tongue and cheek I think. I’ve heard rumors that I may be referred to that occasionally but no one has been brave enough to say that to my face luckily, probably because I do have medieval torture devices all through my house. We have converted our home into a medieval dungeon. I think when people get so caught up in nostalgia; they just look at their favorite bands and think those bands are going to be exactly the way they were in the 70s, just stay in that box and be like that forever and ever. And when something comes along, that world changes and their whole world gets shattered and they have a hard time dealing with that.”

“Let’s go back to the John Lennon/Yoko Ono thing, when you’re watching any of the documentaries, for better or for worst, did you ever see John Lennon happier than with Yoko Ono?”
Ray Shasho: I don’t know … I really thought Paul McCartney broke up The Beatles. (All laughing)
Candice Night: “When the Beatles ran their course and weren’t happy anymore, you can’t keep them in that box. So who’s ever around at the time ends up getting blamed, and I can speak from personal experiences. Being with Ritchie, I’m with him first and forth most at a personable level and if something is going to make him smile and be happy than I’m for that one hundred percent. But if somebody’s going to tell me, he’s got to go on stage and be absolutely miserable, and I know its eating him up inside, and he hates what he’s doing every night, which one are you going to support? I stand behind him whatever decision he makes, and so the decision he made was to follow another path.”
Ray Shasho: I do like hearing all those Ritchie Blackmore rock and roll stories though. Like when he destroyed the cameraman’s TV camera at California Jam. Greg Lake told me that he’d become annoyed over the fact that Emerson, Lake & Palmer were headlining. They didn’t want to be playing in the support role.
Candice Night: “I think they were promised by the promoters when they were to go out and do their show that they would be the first band to play when the sun went down. So they ended up getting completely screwed on that. He said he had people banging on his door for like an hour saying you’re going to get cut from the list, than you can’t go out, and you’re going to get sued…. they tried to get rushed out and he said no, this is what was in the contract, this is what we were promised. So… sorry Greg, it had nothing to do with that. But it was probably the fact that they had promised him that slot and he was just so pissed off. It’s just such an amazing visual when you’re the first band that comes onstage when the lights come on.”

“But there were problems on the Come Hell or High Water video too. And these are all the stories behind the stories. We were in the dressing room and we knew they were going to film that night, Ritchie had said, “Why don’t you film on the first couple of nights because the singer tends to blow his voice out on like the second or third night and I’d rather you guys get a good performance.” So they kept putting him off, and putting him off, and saying no. They finally decide they’re going to record more towards the middle or end of the tour. So Ritchie wasn’t happy about that, he didn’t feel like it was going to be a really good performance for everybody involved.”

“Ritchie goes to the side of the stage and sees cameras setup on the stage, and a camera was setup right in between him and the audience. He said, “That is not going to happen because those people paid money to see me, not to see the back of a cameraman’s head.” Everything he does is fighting for the fans, which is so ironic because he has such a bad name, but nobody ever hears the stories behind while these temper tantrums are happening. So he spoke to management and they said okay I get it, we’ll move the cameraman, get ready to go onstage. Ten minutes later, the cameraman hasn’t moved an inch, he’s still out there. So Ritchie says, “That’s it… I’m telling you, I’m not going out there.” And everybody is waiting and the guy still isn’t moving. Ritchie says, “I’m not having a cameraman in between me and the fans!”

“By the third time, Ritchie tells the roadie to move the cameraman. Five minutes later, Ritchie hears the band starting. Now they’re starting “Highway Star.” Ian Paice is out there getting the drumbeat started; everyone is starting and their waiting for Ritchie. The band is thinking if they go ahead and played Ritchie has to come out and play at some point. So they’re going on and on and on with the backing track of “Highway Star” without a guitar.”

“Ritchie says, “That’s it!” He went out with a glass of water and threw it right into the camera and it was taped. The guy’s camera was ruined, and I think somewhere along the way when he threw that water it got Ian Gillian’s wife at the same time. It was not international but it did happen. So that was the story behind that.”
Ray Shasho: Deep Purple will never capture the excitement it once had; especially now that Jon Lord has left us. Did you and Ritchie attend Jon Lord’s funeral?
Candice Night: “We actually got the news five minutes before we stepped on stage one night. We didn’t go; we were actually on tour at the time but we were invited to it. We actually made a large contribution to pancreatic research in his name and obviously sent condolences to his family. But it was just devastating for Ritchie.”
Ray Shasho: Blackmore’s Night recently released A Knight in York and will be releasing “The Beginning” box set sometime in mid January of 2013. I really want to chat about “Reflections” your first solo album …it’s an awe-inspiring CD.
Candice Night: “Wow, that’s so nice thank you. When you do something solo you kind of take off the training wheels, you’re doing the whole thing by yourself. Ritchie didn’t even know I was going to the studio and doing that, I would book time when he wasn’t in the house with the producer, and didn’t even ask his advice or want him knowing it. If I had asked his advice it would have been the same as a Blackmore’s Night song. So it was really important for me to do that one hundred percent by myself.”
Ray Shasho: The second track on the album “Gone Gone Gone” can easily be sitting on top of the country charts, are you a big fan of country music?
Candice Night: “I love country music; Richie stays far away from that stuff, I obviously have different influences than he does, he’s much more into the renaissance purist aspect of things and I get more involved with the fantasy aspect of things. And I’ll listen to radio tracks, even on “Dangerous Smile” I was getting inspiration from a Kelly Clarkson track at that point which was “Walk Away” as far as instrumentation and production was concerned. Yea, I love country music and listen to it often. As a matter of fact it’s probably almost the last passion of music where I feel they really craft their songs and their lyrics. Sometimes I listen to some of those lyrics and it brings tears to my eyes. I can’t think of another genre of music that makes me feel that deeply at this point.”
Ray Shasho: The DVD of Blackmore’s Night: A Knight in York is so important because it captures the full essence of the concert experience, not only the music, but the beautiful set and wardrobe. How do you determine the on-stage wardrobe?
Candice Night: “I have a lot of different colored outfits that I mix and match so it looks like I’m wearing all different outfits every night. On that show, I was five and a half months pregnant. My daughter comes out in one of the songs and I did not know that they were going to bring her out at that song. We’re in a brilliant opera house and she’s walking out onstage while I’m playing the shawm towards the microphone and there’s a big huge drop where the orchestra pit was. So I’m watching her frantically as she’s walking out and I’m having a mommy- moment. (All laughing) So I finally scooped her up while I finished the song because I knew she was in my arms … but it was so funny.”
Ray Shasho: A lot of your audience also dresses up in renaissance garb as well?
Candice Night: “We’ve seen everything from five year old little girls dressed up in fairy outfits to knights and shining armor, peasants, kings and queens, minstrels, and eighty five year old jesters in full bells in England. Actually in England, I’ve seen men dressed up like women coming to the shows. But it always adds to like a costume party type of event and makes the show a lot of fun. It’s always so interesting to me to see what these people wear, when they wear their personality on their sleeves.”
Ray Shasho: Candice, you are an awesome songwriter, where do you usually receive your inspiration for writing?
Candice Night: “Nature is my number one inspiration. I think there is just so much complexity and simplicity in dealing with nature. You go outside and see a flower and really get involved with the intricacies of that flower …. Like the bees going into it. Nature provides miracles and magic every single day and so many people are caught up on survival mode, or survival techniques, so we don’t get a chance to see it, enjoy it, or appreciate it. And if you king of unplug everything and just step outside …listen to the crickets, feel the wind in your hair or face, see the stars or sunset … all these things are in front of you all the time. If you just unplug and give yourself to that moment ….it’s incredibly inspirational. So if I ever feel low on inspiration, I just take a walk through the woods and it all comes back to me.”

“The other thing I like to do is when we are travelling, doing our touring, I always like to get absorbed in the legends, the myths, and fairytales of the regional area, which I always find fascinating. That’s where songs like “Benzaiten” about one of the Goddesses from Japan wound up coming to me. She actually lived at the bottom of a lake and played this sixteenth century instrument and married the dragon king and I thought … huh, that’s kind of close to my life. But she’s an incredible legend, out of the seven Gods of good fortune; she’s the only Goddess from Japan. So I reworked that legendary story and put it into a song.”
Ray Shasho: We’ll be looking forward to “The Beginning” box set coming out in mid January 2013. The set also includes footage from your early castle tour?
Candice Night: “For the fans who really want to see where our roots came from and where it all started, I think it’ll be a great collector’s piece for them and they’ll really appreciate it.”
Ray Shasho: Candice, thank you so much for all the great music you and Ritchie have given to us over the years. And please come down to Florida … Imagine Blackmore’s Night performing at Epcot or the Magic Kingdom?
Candice Night: “We love Epcot! Ritchie use to have a house down there on Marco Island about twenty years ago.”
“It was great talking with you Ray!”

Candice Night official website http://candicenight.com/
Blackmore’s Night official website www.blackmoresnight.com
Order nowBlackmore’s Night: A Knight in York at amazon.com or on Blackmore’s Night official website.
Order now … Candice Night’s incredible solo release Reflections at amazon.com
Coming in mid January 2013! Blackmore’s Night will be releasing “The Beginning” A documentation of their early period. -Including Shadow Of The Moon and Under A Violet Moon as well as rare video footage of their early tours "Live In Germany 1997-1998" and "Under A Violet Moon - Castle Tour 2000” -Available for the first time on DVD and only in the "The Beginning” box.

Special thanks to Chip Ruggieri of Chipster PR & Consulting www.chipsterpr.com

Contact classic rock music journalist RAY SHASHO at rockraymond.shasho@gmail.com

Purchase Ray’s very special memoir called ‘Check the Gs’ -The True Story of an Eclectic American Family and Their Wacky Family Business … You’ll LIVE IT! Also available for download on NOOK or KINDLE edition for JUST .99 CENTS at amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com -Support Ray so he can continue to bring you quality classic rock music reporting. 

 ~~Pacific Book Review says Ray Shasho is a product of the second half of the 20th century, made in the USA from parts around the world, and within him is every trend in music, television, politics and culture contributing to his philosophical and comically analytical reflections collected in his fine book of memories. I found Check the Gs to be pure entertainment, fantastic fun and a catalyst to igniting so many memories of my own life, as I too am within a few years of Ray. So to all, I say if you have a bit of grey hair (or no hair), buy this book! It’s a great gift for your “over-the-hill” friends, or for their kids, if they are the history buffs of younger generations trying to figure out why we are the way we are.

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