From the orchestra pitts of Shakespeare plays to costume balls and private parties; from dusty fields to gothic cathedrals, Early Music consort Mince Pye has built a reputation upon their energetic performances, outrageous style, and high-level musicianship. Their eclectic repertoire of Renaissance, Medieval, Celtic, and Middle Eastern Music, together with their unusual instruments and colorful costumes, continue to dazzle audiences of all ages.
Mince Pye was formed in 1995 when Recorder player Scott Long, Percussionist and Hurdy Gurdy player Paul Ash, and Guitarist Joe Matzzie met at the New York Renaissance Festival. They began playing, for sometimes fun and sometimes profit, along with Hammered Dulcimer player Stephen Starensier. The name of the group was established shortly after at a rooftop party in Manhattan where they jokingly told the audience that there would be a prize for whoever could name the group. The only name they got was "Mince Pye".
In 1996, Paul met Hammered Dulcimer player Ken Paulson, and annexed him to Mince Pye. Their first performance together was the Arkivestry Costume Ball at the Angel Orensanz Foundation. Following that Mince Pye proceeded to perform at every event that would have them; Festivals, Shakespeare plays, Weddings, Parades, and Society Events throughout the Northeastern United States, Mince Pye has managed to sell hundreds of copies of their debut album, Renaissance Dance Music, while building a fiercely loyal following.
Then in 1999 Mince Pye went through more changes, when Harpist, Bodhran player Erika Lieberman met the group at the Woodstock Renaissance Festival, where she was performing as a solo act. Erika joined Mince Pye and the group went on to perform even more widely, touring throughout the east coast, playing at The Maryland Renaissance Faire and The Huntington Renaissance Festival.
"What we play is authentic, but I wouldn't call it pure," says guitarist, Joe Matzzie. "To me, the Renaissance was anything but pure. We take what we do very seriously; we do our homework, but just as important is the energy, and the that this music is basically ethnic music."
The loyalty of Mince Pye's fans was exhibited when they played The 1999 New York Medieval Festival in Fort Tryon Park. Explains Joe Matzzie, "After every set the people in the audience would come running up to us and say 'so where's your next set' and we would tell them and they would all be there. They'd follow us all over the faire!"
In August of 2000 they released their second full length album, Pye To Go, along with Fiddle player, John Cordes. Featuring many of the songs that have become hits at their live performances, such as Medieval Drum Dance, Knocknagow, and Brian Boru's March.