Matt Hughes Music

Extended Liner Notes - Majestic Reign - Renaissance Steel

Greetings and welcome to the extended liner notes, I am your tour guide to the songs on this CD. This is all the cool background info on the songs that I recorded for this CD.

First the how I came to this. in 2005 I recorded a CD with a friend of mine called Metalkelt - Fusing Tradition. There was some good, but a lot of bad on this CD. I have about 700 copies remaining. I won't sell them as they are not where I am today. About four years ago,I got to see Coyote Run play a whole show at a local pub and really enjoyed the show, it reminded me that I liked hearing and playing electric guitar. They did a song called Invictus that had electric guitars and a metal feel to it. I decided then that I had to do something like this again. My original plan was to do a double CD, one called Metal Celt and the other called Renaissance Steel. For a while, i was doing one song for one CD and one song for the other. However, I started getting more of Ren Steel done, so I decided to finish that one. I came to the name Majestic Reign by way of my brother Rich, he had come up with the name in High School, I asked if I could use it and he said okay. So the metal CD's will be under the name Majestic Reign, the CD with mostly traditional Irish tunes will be called MetalliCelt and I hope to have it done by the end of 2016. We'll see.

Renaissance Steel is a CD of songs that are played at a lot of Ren Faires and a bunch of my originals that fit the theme. So here goes the info on the songs.

In the Court of the King/Renaissance Steel - A song about a joust loosely based on the Knights of Noble Cause, the Good Knight wears Red and White and the Evil Knight wears Black and Gold. In the Court of the King is a Medieval Style instrumental that I came up with a few years ago, I had presented it to the King and Queen of the Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival for the Court Dances. It was never adopted, but I've kept it in my back pocket to be used in the future. This may also show up on a Celtic Shores CD as a full on medieval style tune. Renaissance Steel is a song I started coming up with while working on this CD, I realized I wanted a song about the Joust as it is one of the most popular events at any Renaissance Faire. This song also features the first guitar solo I've ever played. I altered it a bit for the final recording so it flows more smoothly, overall this is a song I'm very pleased with. I started coming up with the lyrics when I was walking in the cemetery across the street from my house. I came home and wrote what I had down, then went and finished it.

Haul Away Joe - Yea that drum beat sounds familiar? This song is a sea shanty or work song for Sailors. I borrowed (with permission) two verses from Kirk McWhorter (super genius) of Penny Whiskey. When I started arranging this song, I realized I didn't want to play the verses the same way, that it would get boring pretty quickly. To that end, I changed the way I play each verse on the guitar. My introduction to this song came from the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. I came up with this arrangement while playing in Off Keel and it quickly became one of our more popular songs. We would often play it at Pub sing.

Down in the Locker - One of two songs about Davy Jones and his Locker on the CD. Sometimes, when I write a song it comes from a strange place. I had just restrung one of my guitars and came up with the acoustic version of the Main Riff. That version appears on Off Keel - Running at a Slant…. Again?!?! I came up with the chorus while playing through the song and trying to figure out what I wanted to do with it. A song about someone agreeing to join Jones' crew but not liking it one bit. Well, he starts a mutiny and of course loses. Our sailor friend ends up in Sailor's Hell or Davy Jones' Locker.

Pirate Ship the Diamond. - This is based on the traditional tune Bonnie Ship the Diamond. On a road trip Cindy (my partner in the now defunct Off Keel) and I were talking about Pirating up this song. We came up with the verse about the Ships first and then worked the song around it. We had written it on the way home and then I changed up the lyrics a bit so that it wasn't as similar to Bonnie Ship. I slowed the song down for the metal version from the version Off Keel would have done.

The Brotherhood - The acoustic version of this appears on Off Keel - Running at a Slant. I wrote this song several years ago about the Brotherhood of Pirates. My first version of the metal song had me just copying the strum pattern on the acoustic one and I really wasn't happy with it. I came up with a variation on the riff and changed a whole bunch of stuff and I think it is one of the better songs on this CD. I also redid the vocals a few times trying to vary up the melody and wasn't happy with it, so I went back to the original melody and I feel that it works much better. The intro is pretty cool. I took my acoustic guitar and ran it through my electric guitar amp and put it on the clean channel. I love the sound it gets. the lead section on the intro part was one of the first "slow" leads I ever did.

Greensleeves - The only song that features a guest musician. Vince Conaway on the Hammered Dulcimer. He is an amazing player and really nice guy. I asked him to record a verse and chorus of Greensleeves for me. The only thing he asked me was the tempo I wanted him to play. So I grabbed my classical guitar and did a run through of the verse and chorus. A few day later he sent me back his recording. As expected, he nailed it. I intended to just use the Dulcimer for the opening section, but the guitar blended so well with it, I decided to keep it. Then the song speeds up. I wanted to do something different instead of just keeping the same tempo as the opening. So I came up with the thrash version and staccato vocal for the melody. Then I came up with the idea of adding the Dulcimer to the end. So I cut the chorus out and just used the verse and faded it out. It sounds great with the E5 chord underneath it at the end of the song.

Wild Mountain Thyme - This song is a staple at most Ren Faires and is a fairly popular tune. I decided to play this version simple with just guitar and vocal. This song also features one of my first acoustic leads. Lead guitar is a new thing to me as for years I didn't think I could play lead. I started messing around with some stuff on this CD and found some of it sounded pretty good. So, I realized I had this thing called the internet, so why I don't I go get some info on how to play solos. I learned the most important thing. I can play any note in the key signature and it works. So, I decided instead of finding a guitar player to play the solos to do them myself. I hope you enjoy them, I'm fairly pleased with most of them. I still have more to learn as far as some style of solos go, but I think I did pretty good on this CD.

Hangman - I came up with the Riffs for this song at the Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival about 5-6 years ago. Sue and I were at the front gate and I just started going through the chorus progression and she started playing along. I switched to the verse riff and we just jammed along to it a bunch of times. I liked it but didn't have any lyrics for this. I tried writing something for it called the Oncoming Storm and only came up with a chorus for it. A couple years ago, my friend Terry Griffith told me about this guy at the Great Lakes Faire (Ian Murphy) that writes lyrics and told me that he saw one and it was pretty good. So Terry gave me his Facebook info and I messaged him about the lyrics. He sent me what he had, and I realized it would work with this riff that I had been sitting on for years. So I asked Ian if I could write some additional lyrics to finish the song. He agreed and the version you hear now is what came of the two of us putting our heads together.

Ghost of Edward Teach - This song could easily be on a Candlemass Record as this version is very much influenced by the Swedish Doom lords! The acoustic version appears on Off Keel's Running at a Slant. I changed this from that version where I am not playing chords. The melody is kind of Black Sabbath inspired as I follow the riff much like Ozzy on songs like N.I.B. and Iron Man. The upbeat section is another riff that I came up with playing acoustically. I was starting to put more rock progressions into my folk songwriting just to kind of vary things up a bit. I realized I could put these two together and make it work. The concept behind this song is Blackbeard's Ghost wants revenge on the Maynard's for killing him. On the anniversary of his death he comes back with his ship The Adventure and kills Maynard's descendent. I originally had a different lyric at the end, and it was pointed out to me that it didn't make sense, so I came up with the Laughter Rang out section to the end. I am much happier with that lyric.

I Am the Sea - This line is directly from Pirates of the Caribbean 2. I came up with the chord progression at a rehearsal for Off Keel. I really liked the progression and came up with the lyrics at a later date. This song appears in its acoustic version on Off Keel's Running at a Slant - Again?!?! This is the other song about Davy Jones on the CD. It tells the story of how he came to sail the 7 seas as a cursed sailor. Also based on the events of POTC 2 As to this version I struggled with the arrangement. I'm still not completely happy with it. It may get a rerecord at a future date if I come up with something better.

Cuckoos Nest - A traditional Bawdy song that is VERY popular at Ren Faires. I have Doug Peterson to thank for this one being on the CD. He said, you should do some bawdy songs! So I intended to do more than just this, but I got to 14 songs. This song has 80's hair metal written all over it! KISS' Heaven's on Fire is the inspiration for the songs arrangement. I love the drums on this one, Lou who is mastering the CD added a great deal to the thunderous drums!

Drunken Sailor - I had done this on the Metalkelt CD years ago and wanted to redo it properly. This version kicks ass compared to that one. I wrote some of the verses to be more "metal" I also sped it up significantly and added the chopped chords during the chorus and I absolutely love the way this song sounds!

Return of the King - The acoustic version appears on my CD On October Night. A version of this song also appears on that CD as a Bonus Track. I changed it up a bit for this release. I have electric leads at the beginning instead of the acoustic guitar playing an E Minor. The song was originally written when I was with Ar Eigean Gael. We had done the song at the Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival a few times. The song is not about the Lord of the Rings, but rather about a King who had his throne stolen from him. He fought back and regained his crown. In a way, the song is about not giving up but, rather, persevering in the face of Adversity. Still has one of my favorite lines in a song ever. The Bards tell their stories in drunken revelry is one of my favorite lyrics.

Health to the Company - This song is the only song that could end this CD. Almost every Renaissance Festival uses this song to close their pub sing and their gates. Owain Phyfe wrote a verse for this song and I love his verse It's the one that starts my footsteps may falter. Owain passed away a few years ago and many of my performer friends sing his verse in tribute to "The Bard" I never met Owain, but I did have the chance to hear him perform. He was a great performer and very knowledgeable about the Renaissance period. Many people who knew him spoke of what a humble and genuine individual he was. I decided after seeing how my friends viewed Owain that I had to include his verse in the song. His widow Lady Paula was kind enough to grant me permission to use the verse. So thank you Lady Paula for that! Health to the Company has the line let us drink and be merry all grief to refrain for we may or might never all meet here again. This is a reminder that we should treasure these moments that we are together, that we may not meet again in this lifetime. We are blessed with this song to remind us to enjoy the moment, tell our friends and loved ones that they matter. This song also features what is probably my favorite guitar solo on the whole CD. I am really pleased with how it came out.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. I want to thank Vince Conaway for his addition to this CD, Lou Anscheutz for mastering the CD, my brother Rich for all of his feedback while I was working on this CD, and of course all of you who have this CD, I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed making it!