Candice Night shines a light on the band’s latest album, Nature’s Light
Metamorphosis is not unusual in rock and roll. Most bands of any merit regularly evolve, adapt and come up with ways to express their sound and keep their audiences interested and attentive.
In Ritchie Blackmore’s case, however, that trajectory may seem stranger than some. Known as the guitar ace behind the bands Deep Purple — yes, that’s his classic riff on their signature song “Smoke on the Water” — and Rainbow (originally Blackmore’s Rainbow), he’s altered his course over the past 25 years ago with a band titled Blackmore’s Night, one whose mantra focuses on… wait for it…medieval music. To some it may seem like an unlikely change in tack, but as his partner and collaborator Candice Night explains, their union — both personal and professional — came about quite naturally.
“I was going to college and interning for a rock radio station located on Long Island,” she recalls. “I knew that I wanted to do something as a career that would keep me around music, because music was always my great escape. I used to write lyrics for friends’ songs, and kept journals and would sing for friends, but I never felt that I could be the one onstage. As a result, the only way I thought I could work with music would be either in a studio, or for a radio station or record company. I was trying out the different components of the radio station — working with writing and voice overs in commercials, or promotions or on air jock help — and trying to see where I would fit in.”
As it happened, fate intervened and her career took a different turn, albeit unexpectedly. “About a year and a half into working at the radio station, Ritchie’s band, Deep Purple, called the station to see if they would be interested in having a soccer match for charity,” she continues. “Naturally, I went to cheer my team on. I was familiar with Deep Purple, but not a diehard fan. I only knew the songs on the radio. So, after the game was over, I went to ask Ritchie for his autograph. He looked up at me after signing the paper I had brought him and told me he thought I was a ‘very beautiful girl.’ I thanked him and disappeared into the crowd of other fans awaiting his signature. As I made my way back to the car, he sent a roadie through the crowd to ask who I was and to see if I would meet him for a drink later at a local pub. We wound up talking till the wee hours of the morning about so many deep and varied topics. He told me when I walked into the room it was like seeing an old friend again. We connected instantly and have been pretty much inseparable since then. Our relationship started as friends and grew naturally, like any other relationship. That was about 32 years ago, in 1988.”
VIDEO: Deep Purple performs “Knocking At Your Door” at Giants Stadium Rutherford, NJ 1988
Given Night’s lack of familiarity with Blackmore’s earlier history, his fondness for Renaissance music seemed natural, at lease from her perspective. She noticed that he would turn to it consistently in his down time, whether at home, in a hotel room and while cruising in his car. Night admits that personally, she was unfamiliar with the form. However, after spending time with him in 1991, and accompanying him to recording sessions, she quickly became enamored by its subtle charms.
The pair began writing songs together, strictly for themselves without any intention of releasing them to the wider world at large. However after sharing them with friends, they realized that there was potential for some wider appreciation. For Night, it marked the beginning of a new creative career.
“I wasn’t really making any music prior to this venture,” she says. “I was writing poetry, and so when friends who were musicians needed lyrics for songs, they would come and ask me if I had anything they could use. I loved lots of different kinds of music, and grew up in a very musical household. My mother loved show tunes and my dad loved big bands sounds. They would always play music from the ‘50s. I took singing lessons and I have done little theater productions since the age of four. I liked everything from rock music, to folk rock, to the music my parents listened to. I was a big Stevie Nicks fan, and I still am. My school books were filled with lyrics that I would write in my notebooks from various bands that I liked…lines from their songs that I felt really reflected my spirit and that resonated with me.”
VIDEO: Blackmore’s Night “Second Element”
Nevertheless, Blackmore’s Night finds her making a significant contribution, one she’s continued to maintain over the course of the group’s eleven albums, a catalogue that culminates withe their latest effort, Nature’s Light. Songs such as “Four Winds,” “The Twisted Oak,”“Once Upon December” and the title track find the band delving into any number of archaic styles, from medieval and madrigal music to sounds of an Old World variety. and archaic folk-like realms, a sound that’s more akin to the musings of gypsy minstrels as opposed to any basic pop pursuits. Blackmore trades his electric guitar for acoustic, adding hurdy-gurdy, nickelharpe and mandola to share authentic sounds of a vintage variety. Night contributes woodwinds and a ratified vocal that’s both precious and precise.
The album ends with “The Second Element,” a song that sums up the album’s sentiments thoroughly.
“Of course, we’re very connected with elements, with Earth, with nature, with ﬁre, with water, with air, with the moon, with the sun, all of this going back to Nature’s Light again,” Night reflects. “So, we thought that it would be a perfect home to do a song that was so entwined with our theory of Nature’s Light and the element of water. And that what the song wound up being, ‘The Second Element,’ which was the water element and so vital and magical to us and to the world around us.”