My vocal chords used to be made of elastic. I could get through a whole summer at the Sterling Renaissance Festival screaming my bloody head off and it wouldn’t be until I started dehydrating via Sunday night alcohol consumption that my voice would start to go.

No more.

Since going part time with Lenny Burrows: Master of Revels, Lord of Misrule, Merrymaker in 2012 (did you know you can LIKE him on Facebook and FOLLOW him on Twitter? You can!), things have become perilous.

Firstly, I don’t project the correct way.

Third, as soon as I get upstate – the allergies kick in. When I hit New Jersey on my drive home a light fog lifts from my sinuses. Thank God for pollutants!

Secondly, I no longer have a month of speaking outdoors during rehearsals for conditioning purposes. This month also helps reduce the allergies as I consume local honey like I’m Winnie the Pooh.

Fourth, I’m getting older.

Seventh, I don’t consume enough water.

Sixth and lastly, I run into unpredictable variables, as noted below.

(No Fifth provided)

On the final weekend of 2014, I had borderline pneumonia. I didn’t know that at the time as I was only freezing from my feverish sweat and questioning the rattle of my lungs… By the time I was rain soaked Saturday evening at the end of the Festival day, I was done for. Woke up Sunday morning with no vocal instrument. Only a four hour regiment of pickles, pineapple juice, apple cider vinegar, and the essential oil blend Thieves (liquid gold, I say!), along with speaking out of the corner of my mouth like a pirate got me to the end of the day.

Sort of.

After three summers of battling the voice by the end of Sunday I swore ‘not this time’. I arrived on Thursday and I could feel the allergies kick in a little bit, but I was doing what I could to preserve things. Saturday went well. The voice was tired but I knew from experience I was in a good place for Sunday.

And then there was one bad meatball.

I had a great dinner on Saturday night. Really good. Quite filling. I didn’t even finish my meal because I was full.

Or was it because of one bad meatball?

I woke up in my hotel room at 2am dripping in sweat. Instinctively, I thought this was because the air conditioner was off. Then the rest of my body checked in.

You’re going to throw up.


It’s inevitable.

I tried to protect myself with the essential oil blend Digize (liquid gold, I say!). That put a temporary hold on things. Typically, as I do before throwing up, I was walking around the room like Groucho Marx. I should have just given in but I didn’t.

You see, there’s no calm to my throwing up. My body only knows violent vomiting. And I would shred my vocal chords if I were to engage.

I would not engage.

It’s inevitable.

I sat down in a chair for ten minutes attempting to breath through it. This unusual style of breathing and the Groucho Marx impersonation are the two sure signs that there will be imminent puking.

A decision would have to be made. Would I sit and continue to fight, potentially keeping myself up the entire night and facing exhaustion for the Festival on Sunday?

Or would I give in…

It’s inevitable.

In six short and quick rounds, it was all over – vomiting by TKO. I was able to sleep the three additional hours to avoid complete exhaustion.

The voice? Well, the stomach acid did its damage. I fought the good fight but, by 3pm, things were slipping away. By 5, it was back to corner mouth talking. Better than having pneumonia though. Three hours after the Festival day concluded in spectacular fashion, when the exhaustion set in and there was no keeping up with hydrating my voice, it was all over. Only a shot of Wild Turkey could salvage things for an hour at the after party.

Next year, God willing?

No meatballs.

And no pneumonia.

Load up on the anti-allergies early.

And maybe walk around the city speaking at an escalated volume for  months prior.

And maybe learn how to project properly.

Photo at top by Mike Meagher. Photo at bottom by Chad Williams.

Meatball not pictured.

3 thoughts on “VOICE

  1. I thought there was something a little off with your voice on Sunday, but I thought it was just me, so I did not say anything. Kevin noticed it first and asked me if you were sick again. Please take care of yourself. No more getting sick, no more eating food that has gone bad.

    We were very excited to participate in your show. REV E LERS! REV E LERS! I sincerely hope that next season we will see you every weekend in Sterling?

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