We are seven Alaskans who sing Irish and Scottish drinking, sailing, courting, loving and dying songs. Rogues and Wenches was formed a few years ago, when we met as performers at the medieval alehouse “The Crooked Toad Tavern” at Alaska’s only renaissance faire. As we developed our band we’ve retained our persona as 16th century pub patrons. We are not just vocalists but dramatists as well. We combine our love of music with the love of acting. Bawdy songs of drinking and seduction are our specialty. Our music explores the rich texture of interchange between the sexes, as described through the wit and wisdom of Irish and Scottish pub tradition. Our songs dance a lyrical tight rope spun taut with sexual tension and desire, which transport us from raucous laughter to utter despair, and all points in between. Gawd, we have fun!
As to our name : Know that a ROGUE is a man who is both a perfect scoundrel and a kind of entrepreneur of shamelessness, who plunges forward when other men are restrained by some combination of moral scruples, fear and the capacity to blush. A rogue is someone who strays from the accepted path. He is a man who is playfully mischievous; a scamp, a rascal. A Wench is a wanton as would keep the company with a rogue!
We perform throughout Southcentral Alaska (a wee part of our northerly home a bit larger than Ireland, Scotland, and Wales combined) during the year at events like the Girdwood Forest Festival, St. Patrick Day celebrations and an on-going summer gig at McGinley’s Irish Pub and the 4th Avenue Theater, Alaska Highland Games, First Friday Events, Celtic Treasures, Afternoon in Ireland at the Anchorage Museum, Three Barons’ Renaissance Faire, Anchorage Folk Festival, Alaska State Fair, Bear Paw Festival and have opened for various Shakespeare comedies at Anchorage's Performing Arts Center and at Cyrano’s Playhouse as well as performing at weddings, birthday parties and private celebrations.
Our troupe of performers includes:
1. Benjamin James – lead tenor vocal, acoustic guitar
2. Robert Woofter – baritone vocal lead and harmonies, harmonica
3. Lucia Woofter – alto lead vocals, accordion, tin whistle, flute
4. Hunter Woofter – baritone vocals, bodhran, djembes, snare drum, and other percussion instruments
5. Kevin McClear – bass lead and harmony vocals
6. Shannon McClear – alto harmony
7. Erin Wells – mezzo soprano lead and harmony vocals, flute
8. Andy Wells - sound engineer
Benjamin James is a musical product of the 80’s though his range of musical exposure includes the Eagles, Willy Nelson and Motown and extends into the late 50’s. He has a clear strong voice with the capacity of precise mimicry, which makes him a very versatile singer. This talent of his has also earned him some big prize money in after hours karaoke competitions. His interest in guitar extends back to 1990, when he began to play with a rock band, writing many of their songs. In high school Ben was drawn to the performance genre of the musical since it neatly combined both music and drama, both of which he excelled at. Playing with Rogues & Wenches also affords Ben the same chance to combine drama and music. He is currently writing songs again and hopes to, in collaboration with other musicians, create an album of only original work. Ben is drawn to traditional Irish music because he finds it is less inhibited than other types of folk musical and offers something that is more timeless; something that everyone can relate to. Ben’s musical influences include Elliot Smith, Cat Stevens and Kyf Brewer of Barleyjuice. His next ambition is to learn mandolin and fiddle and tour Ireland and the States with the Rogues & Wenches.
Robert Woofter’s grandfather played strings and woodwinds in German symphony orchestras. He taught him all the woodwinds save flute and piccolo at an early age. A fat lot of good that classical music training did him when R&W was being formed! The European tradition of Haus Musik and an affinity for harmonies led him to focus on vocals with some tin whistle and harmonica at our live performances. Throughout his school years,instrumental and choral performances as varied as a 60's rock band, jazz saxophone, directing and playing in a large high school band, and celebrating Luther' 95 Theses as part of a massed choirs performance at Wittemburg Cathedral kept his musical options completely unfocused (or, as he prefers, "wide open"). As a young Army officer he continued using his musical talents by performing in and directing various choirs. He learned his love of vocal harmony by listening to Peter, Paul & Mary, The Kingston Trio, Jethro Tull,a slew of Doo Wop groups, and the Clancy Brothers. He uses his skill at harmonizing to help craft the distinctive sound of Rogues & Wenches. He also serves as a perfect foil for the younger(all),less serious members of the band.
Lucia Woofter’s great great grandfather was a professional musician in the Civil War; she owns and plays one of his original flutes, in addition to playing the recorder, which she learned at college. Lucia has played flute in woodwind choirs and the recorder in medieval musical groups at Chico State College. Her musical inspiration was James Galway and the musicians of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon, which she visited often during her student days. Lucia has an interest in the dramatic arts as well as music and dance. Along with voice training, Lucia has been studying the accordion, which instrument she inherited from her father. In many Rogues & Wenches songs Lucia plays the accordion and assists Ben in sustaining the underlying bass and rhythm. She also plays the tin whistle as well as the flute in accompaniment to several songs. The traditional Irish folk music forms and sounds draw close to many of the early European medieval musical forms, which creates a natural bridge that Lucia happily crosses. In many a private gig she has a talent for getting even the most staid of audience members on their feet and learning an Irish Jig or a Scottish Country Dance.
Hunter Woofter has grown up in a home filled with music and played piano for six years before beginning voice training. He has a natural talent for percussion instruments and plays in his highschool band. The poor lad's frequented the rowdier locales of Rennaisance Fairs and Irish Pubs since he was wee. 'Tis his bodhran anchoring R&W's "Spirits" album, while he was yet sixteen. He also performs three to four plays a year in both musicals and Shakespeare productions. Hunter's first original song will appear on the band’s next album. He looks forward to touring with Rogues & Wenches. His musical influences include: Great Big Sea, Gaelic Storm, Seamus Kennedy, and The Clancy Brothers.
By day Erin is a mild mannered music teacher for the Anchorage School District in the small hippy ski resort town of Girdwood, Alaska. By night, she is either wenching in the various pubs of Anchorage, or she's pushing alcoholic refreshment from the largest liquor warehouse in Anchorage. Erin has been teaching music for 13 years, and enjoys harmonizing every chance she gets. When all else fails, Erin can be found wherever the rum is flowing!!