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The Poxy Boggards
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The Renaissance Pleasure Faire. "This Pub that we call Home"
How it began
The Renaissance Pleasure Faire that has had a number of venues in the Los Angeles, California, area is a place for mediaeval fun and frolic. Set in the England of Good Queen Bess you enter a day long past where people celebrated the end of the long cold winter with a village faire. Townsfolk are singing and dancing, there is merriment of all kinds, merchants trading their wares, and townspeople from far and near here to buy, participate in the cheer and even spy a nobleman or two. Queen Elizabeth I herself will be in attendance and shouts of “God save the Queen” can be heard whenever she goes by with her entourage.
One of the most popular areas in the Faire is “Rogues Reef” Here are the bawdy songs and plays, the Ribald fun of mediaeval England. Children beware; good parenting means you don’t take your children to Rogues Reef. Not unless you want to here them sing “Bang away Lulu” in the schoolyard and they will, it’s a catchy tune.
Usually it’s sung by The World Famous Poxy Boggards.
In the early 90’s Stu Venable and Bill Roper were members of a Renaissance singing group called “Good Company” They were a mixed group, male and female, who sang Madrigals. It became a custom for the guys to do a short stint by themselves singing what they called “Men’s Songs.” Stu and Bill had the idea of starting a group that would sing only those kinds of songs. They were thinking of a name and had come up with the word “Poxy.” In modern British slang something that is poxy is awful or inferior. Although in renaissance times “pox” was the common word for syphilis.
Another traditional singing group that performed at the Faire was “Good Company” (Among that group was Heather, the lady who was to become Stu’s wife.) In the winter of 1993 the two groups with significant others in tow, around 30 folk in all, went up to Big bear City for the weekend. A weekend of singing and drinking and just hanging out. One evening some of them were playing a word game called “Balderdash” in the game the word “Boggard” appeared. It seems that Stu and Bill were bluffed into thinking the word meant, “Someone who cleans out the stables or toilets” In Yorkshire slang a Boggard is a ghost, a Bogey, but for Stu and Bill the word was just what they were looking for. The Poxy Boggards were born with the byline of “A drinking group with a singing problem”
That’s the boring version. The one I like better is the one Tappy told me. He said “Stu got a few of us together and said “Let’s start a Renaissance singing group. Then we can get into the Faire for free, get drunk and get laid” For the last 16 years we’ve been getting drunk.”
Contact the Boggards
- Poxy Boggards | Singing Original and Traditional Songs of Drinking and Revelry
The official website of the Poxy Boggards. Information on upcoming gigs and containing their podcast.
- Renaissance Pleasure Faire - Southern California
The official site of The Southern California Renaissance Faire. See you there..;)
They became a great hit at the Renaissance Faire. Their harmonies and the effortless way that they present traditional songs make you feel you always knew it and just needed them to remind you of how it should be sung. Of course everyone loves the bawdy nature of their songs. The irreverent way they approach women and beer makes a welcome relief from these days of political correctness.
For the guys in the group this was never planned to be more than a hobby. A hobby that pays for itself these days and sometimes even makes a little money. Not the kind of money that would allow any one of them give up his day job but it is fun. Anyone who has been to their shows or concerts can’t help but feel the enthusiasm and sheer enjoyment they display.
They have cut six C D’s and have opened for Irish groups such as “The Fenians” and “The Young Dubliners” Occasionally they headline in Southern California as well as the Renaissance Faire. Their concerts are a sell out and continue to be as their fan base grows. They sell “T” shirts and other paraphernalia at their concerts. Or, as Johnny Breen so eloquently puts it “This is the crap that keeps us from robbing your homes on a Saturday night. It keeps us from two houses, the poor house, and YOUR house.”
The traditional songs are sung in a style that is uniquely theirs. I have to mention that Tim Cadell (The gaffer) sings the most amazing rendition of “The Mingalay Boat Song” that I have ever heard.
My wife fell in love with Johnny Breen when she heard him sing “The Galway Shawl” It brings tears to her eyes and she begs him to sing it at each concert she attends, while the Welsh song “Sosban Fach” is sung with such a unique style and enthusiasm that it is hard to believe they are not Welsh.
Stu has written about a third of the non-traditional songs. A prolific and talented composer, his songs tend to the bawdy but written with such wit and inspired lyric that even the prude wants to sing along.
Bill Roper (Captain Black) has written and co-written with Stu’ many of the non-traditional songs, including the chromosome song that is hidden on one of their C D’s.
The group includes twins, Steve and Philip Schwadron. They have written some very moving melodies, such as “Virginia” and a very funny song “Get it up Grandpa” Philip told me that he got the idea when he heard the American Presidential candidate, John McCain give a lame answer during a debate. He jumped up from his seat and said “For God’s sake! Get it up grandpa!” Then he thought “Oh, a song’”
It’s hard to believe that Johnny Breen has only ever written one song, “Up and away” a song about life at sea. The song is poignant, yet it reflects a love for the sea and an enthusiasm for a certain way of life that may never return.
Jon Enge (Snoball) is the filmmaker and a song writer. He wrote “Hey Nonny Nonny” A very bawdy song. One of the more amusing incidents at the Renaissance Faire was when Jon was in the middle of this song and he noticed his parents in the audience. He had to keep going but the poor guy was traumatized.
Jerry Wheeler (Mudge) is a kind and compassionate man who nevertheless has a mischievous glint in his eye. If his hair and beard were white I would believe he is Santa Clause.
Matt Cadwaladr (Tappy) The ladies favorite. All the women think he is hot. I once had a woman thank me profusely because I introduced her to him. When the Boggards sing Welsh songs it’s because of Tappy.
Gregg (Stork) is often the front man at the concerts. He gets the crowd singing along and clapping. He also has an amazing voice. I once heard him sing, in an off guard moment, “The Grey Funnel Line” He never saw how my jaw dropped at the sound that came out.
Sean (Lurch) is a big guy with an even bigger heart but I don’t think I’ll ever get over him at a karaoke night singing “I enjoy being a girl”
Every member is talented beyond what seems fair. A terrific group that has been together for five years without any change in line up. May they continue for many more.
Drink till I die
I wear no Pants
Stu wrote a song, “Drink till I die” it became an immediate hit. It seems to have become a tradition at their concerts to end with this song. By then the crowd are inebriated enough that the chorus has become very meaningful. It was decided to make it their first video.
Another of Stu’s songs is “I wear no Pants” a song that the Boggards took to singing in their underwear. A great favorite at their concerts and the ladies look forward to them strutting their stuff. In November of 2009 Stu was contacted by an advertising company. They wanted to use “I wear no Pants” for a commercial advertising Dockers and Levi Strauss jeans. The commercial would air for the first time on Superbowl Sunday followed by a year long campaign featuring the song. It seems as if fame and fortune has found them at last. “Not so fast” says Stu. Most of the group has families and mortgages and responsibilities. To throw all that away for a short term gain is not on the agenda. It would have to be something spectacular and long lasting and even then, the notion of leaving their families for long periods of touring is not appealing.
So for the time being at least they remain what they have always been, a group of friends that get together to drink beer and sing songs.
To the delight of us all.