Traveling minstrels and wandering bards are a staple of most fantasy stories, but there's far more music in the world than most seem to think. From taverns and taprooms, to festivals in the square and soirees at noble estates, musicians ply their trade anywhere people gather. Some of them are simple strummers and singers, using the talents they were born with to keep the dance floor filled. Others combine the mystic arts, or strange gifts, melding them into breath-taking performances that an audience will never see the like of again. Whether you need a house band at your party's favorite watering hole, or an unusual set piece at the center of an upcoming celebration, there's someone here who fits the bill.
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The Scullery Maids: With loose aprons, rolled sleeves, kerchiefs in their hair and a button or two left undone at their throats, the Maids always draw a local crowd when they perform. Their songs are about the lives of servants, forbidden romances, and killing men who do them wrong. Whether it's the husband who raises his hand one too many times in "Fetch Me The Spade," or the lord of the manor who tries to have his fun while his wife is with child in "Before I Swing (Just Let Me Sing)," there's a brutal, harsh honesty in their tunes that draws plenty of whistles and applause.
Brackish Waters: A pair of sisters with thick, black hair and voices like a swamp rash rasp, this band has the sound of a black water curse. With their hulking, silent bass player keeping time, the Whately sisters can spin quite a spell over their listeners. While some claim their songs are a blasphemy even to listen to, and label them as witches, all that seems to do is drive more people to their shows.
Busted Cups: A hard-nosed, rough-edged group of rabble rousers, Busted Cups spins tunes and spits lyrics that get people on their feet. And with songs like "Hang the Bastards," or "Step Off," their shows can get more than a little boisterous. Fortunately, that's exactly what the band, the venues that host them, and the people who pay the cover cost to hear them, are looking for. As the band often says, if they walk away without a few bruises to show for the effort, then it wasn't a very good set.
Bellringers: While not monks themselves, all four of the Bellringers were raised within the confines of a monastery. Completely deaf from their time spent in the belfries, they create beautiful layers of sound with small, deep-toned bells that take up most of the stage. Though they can't hear the sounds themselves, they can feel the vibrations, and how a song settles in their bones when it's played properly. The same is true of their audience's reactions, which is why they make their applause loud enough that the Bellringers can feel how pleased the crowd is.
Willow Winds: In the forests frequented by the fey, long reeds grow along the streams with naturally-occurring holes in them. This turns every breeze into a soft, sighing symphony that locals refer to as fey song. The Willow Winds traveled into the heart of the forest, following the streams to where they burst from the ground, and plucked black reeds from places where the sun has never shone. Fashioned into pipes, these reeds have a rich sound to them, and those who listen to their songs find them both compelling and haunting at the same time. Strangest of all, cats are drawn to the music, sitting still and listening raptly until the band has finished the last of their songs.
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