Blackmore’s Night bring renaissance magic to Peekskill

The husband-wife duo, featuring legendary rock guitar God, Ritchie Blackmore (formerly of Deep Purple and Rainbow) and the smooth, sultry vocals of singer-songwriter Candice Night of the renaissance new age rock band Blackmore’s Night along with their back-up band will bring their magical performance to their fans at the Paramount in Peekskill; on November 8 in support of their new album, "Dancer and the Moon." The hit single, “The Moon is Shining” (Somewhere Over the Sea) is a favorite among their fans. The music video can be seen on YouTube.

Other members of Blackmore's Night include:
Bard David of Larchmont (David Baranowski) - keyboards
Earl Grey of Chimay (Mike Clemente) - bass, mandolin, rhythm guitar
Troubadour of Aberdeen - percussion, drums (David Keith)
Lady Kelly De Winter (Kelly Morris) - French horn, harmony vocals
Scarlet Fiddler - violin (Claire Smith)

I had the opportunity to speak with lead vocalist, Candice Night about the band's career, their new album, "Dancer and the Moon," the upcoming tour and their show at the Paramount.

“The album is two years in the making even though we released some products since our last album which was called, “The Autumn Sky” in 2010 and we released a couple of DVDs since then. “One was called, “The Beginning” which dates back to the beginning of “Blackmore’s Night,” explained Candice in a telephone interview from her home in Long Island. “So we released the DVD in January of this year and prior to that we released, “A Night in York” which was filmed in a beautiful opera house in England."

"So we had a couple of years off as far as writing music but during that time period; we were touring and doing other things so we were able to collect a lot of different ideas as we travel throughout the world and that’s really where we get a lot of ethnic music, regional folk music; even the lyrical ideas like the legends and myths of the regions that we travel to we get to learn about the different places and somehow we wind up weaving the lyrical content in the music. We’ve done a lot of touring throughout the world.”

Candice talks about recording, "Dancer and the Moon" in the studio.

“It’s different because we went into the studio with our producer from L.A. and then we went on the road on tour; so it gave us a chance to get away from those couple of tracks and listen to and revisit them with ‘fresh ears’,” Night said. “Some of the tracks wound up on the ‘cutting room floor’ that we didn’t think would work with the album and some of the tracks we revamped, rearranged and added new instrumentation to.” She continued, “What we used to do is go into the studio and record the entire album straight out for a couple of months this one we had breaks, revisited and re-listened and I think the entire process worked out really well.”

Interestingly, Candice and Ritchie have a Hudson Valley connection. They were married at the Castle on the Hudson in Tarrytown.

Tarrytown, NY, castle by day and at night“We were married at the Castle on the Hudson in 2008; Ritchie is becoming a “Castle Connoisseur!” she joked. "When we looked at different venues to hold our nuptials, we looked at a bunch of different castles and Castle on the Hudson was far and above the most beautiful place that we’ve seen and it just offered everything. It’s a beautiful hotel the leaves were amazing it was in October so the leaves were changing in the Hudson Valley right near Sleepy Hollow so you have a bit of myth and history there of course and interestingly a week after we got married we were watching television and there was this program on the Discovery Channel and they were talking about different vortexes (energy centers) throughout the world they were going through the top five and the first one that they said was “Stonehenge” and that was expected and Sedona, Arizona then the third one they named was Hudson Valley!”

When choosing a venue, the band is very selective and prefers to play in older theaters and not bars or rock clubs.

“We’ve gone into old performing arts centers that have been renovated even old movie theaters that have a history; we don’t book ourselves in rock clubs they don’t have the spirit we’re looking for; even if you book at a specific rock club people go there with a specific mindset that it’s going to be a rock show with a purpose to get drunk!" she laughs.

"When we play, we tend to have sections of sensitivity in our act if it’s quiet Ritchie will open up and play amazing intros and solos and he changes how he plays every night so he never plays the same songs the same way twice; we change the set list every night depending what we feel the audience wants to hear or even what resonates best in the hall that we’re playing in. For us, we’re living on the edge every night that we go out to play; we never know what the next song is going to be and you can look at the members of the band and sense the fear and terror in their eyes not knowing what to expect but we’re all watching Ritchie because he’s definitely the “captain of the ship.” remarks Candice. She adds, “He’s been in the music business for 50 years and he must practice guitar six hours a day I’m still amazed! I’m lucky I get a front row seat every time he’s practicing here. People forget that he’s not only a guitarist but he’s composing everything, coming up with the songs, the melodies and the instrumentation."

There are a couple of projects in the works. Both Candice and Ritchie re-recorded some songs off, “Winter Carols” their 2006 holiday album. One of the songs was done in German. Candice also has a lullaby solo album being released sometime next year. Ritchie’s guitar work is featured on that record. Her original solo album was “Reflections.” Candice has two children, Autumn, 3 and Rory, 1.

“We’re always writing and creating, we kind of write in a skeletal way with Ritchie’s guitar and my voice on it, so we always have songs to revisit when we go into the studio. We did an upbeat version of the Christmas song, “Christmas Eve” in English and also in German and a version in German and English and we promoted it by opening our home and having a bunch of people come and dress up in renaissance garb and we got some video and audio equipment and recorded a bunch of holiday songs on video that everybody can enjoy (there’s even a Hanukkah song included) and that will be on the re-release of “Winter Carols” this December. I also recorded a lullaby CD (no official release date yet) It’s being shopped around to labels but that should be out sometime in early 2014,” she said. “It’s obviously inspired by getting my children to go to sleep!”

Candice doesn’t just provide lead vocals; she also plays nine medieval renaissance-era instruments.

“I actually play nine medieval renaissance woodwind instruments. When people ask me what I play, they have no idea what I’m talking about! I play recorder, hurdy gurdy, Cornamuse, Shawm, Rauschpfeife, all self taught. It actually started because we take the spirit of songs that are 100s of years old and thought it would be important to incorporate some of the older instruments onto some of these songs to be true to what their original spirits were and what they sounded like hundreds of years ago; as oppose to just revamping them."

"What we do normally is breathe new life into them it could be anything from acoustic to electric guitar, keyboards but in essence the old melodies are still there from anyone who knows what they are they can hear the ghosts of those songs that we do and then we update the lyrics so people can resonate those words as well. We do a lot of revisions of the original songs but we thought it was kind of important to have some of the older instruments as a nod to those days passed and it adds a very interesting texture to these songs as opposed to being a five-piece band we’re able to add different flavors, colors to the songs that’s what the songs are called for,” Candice admits.

Candice says the worst part about the tours is the traveling.

“The traveling ruins the excitement of touring. Once you’re there, it’s great! The reason why we’re doing a certain cluster of shows here is because it’s basically any place we can drive to. We live on Long Island so Ritchie has had it with domestic airline travel. When you travel you get jet-lagged, sick, etc. Luckily, we’ve all reaped the benefits of Ritchie traveling on the road for so many years and him being in bands that travel and play every single night and travel that same night and go to the next gig and they were all kind of ‘running on empty’ and that breaks your system down and then you get sick even more and he says he won’t play no more than two shows in a row I need four days off during the week so it’s like we’re on vacation and we stay in these beautiful castles!” Candice stated.

“Ritchie and I travel by separate car and usually want to leave the venue a little bit earlier so we can get back and get some rest and the band will have a tendency to want to hang out and meet and greet the fans and go to a local pub so we travel separately then the crew has their own tour bus (they’re the first to get there and the last to leave) they love to get their hands dirty they will set up for us anywhere and love a challenge and we’re so lucky to have them!”

Candice’s musical influence varies. But she’s a loyal fan of Stevie Nicks!

“I’ve often been compared to Stevie Nicks! I love her! The only thing we have in common is probably the layered skirts and the long blonde hair! There’s a lot of parallels there with her relationship with Lindsey and I’m totally inspired by her lyrics and I love the fact that she kept her femininity throughout all those decades. It’s amazing I love that she’s always kept her class and mysticism and her magical presence she’s number one! But I also love listening to Sarah Brightman, she actually came to our show in Hamburg, Germany so that was amazing to me so to have her come to our show just blew my mind! I’m also enthralled by Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull) he’s an absolutely brilliant musical genius and we were lucky to have him play on the first album with us on the track, “Play Mister, Play” and he played the flute on it he’s just amazing and untouchable! If we were going to tour with anybody it would be Ian Anderson!”

By SUZANNE ROTHBERG - October 20, 2013