The New Troubadours

History

BRIEF HISTORY

 

The New Troubadours were a group of friends who came together at the Findhorn spiritual community in Scotland in the early 1970s.  Formed by young Americans David Spangler and Lark Batteau, at first they performed as The Findhorn Folk Singers.  Their debut concert was in the community on October 2nd 1971, and they subsequently performed at the Royal Air Force station at nearby Kinloss, and folk clubs and ceilidhs in surrounding Morayshire.  They renamed themselves The New Troubadours in Autumn 1972 when the line-up crystallized as: David Spangler and Kathi Lightstone (lead vocals), Milenko Matanovic (guitar), Lark Batteau (guitar, vocals), Jewels Manchester (vocals) and Jim Bronson (double bass).  This line up continued to perform in the community and also performed at the Westminster Theatre, London, in March 1973.


The Troubadours recorded two albums in Findhorn, both released in 1973: Homeland and Love Is.  These were issued only on cassette but were kept in catalogue by the community for thirty years, selling many thousands of copies.  The band also appeared on several contemporary television and radio programmes about the Findhorn community, including BBC's Mainly Magnus, in January 1973, on which several songs were broadcast.

In 1973 most of the Troubadours relocated to the USA to form their spiritual education and publishing group, The Lorian Association.  They recorded the album Winds Of Birth in San Francisco, released by Lorian in 1974.  A collection of Christmas songs, Festival Of Light, followed in 1980.   Though the band has been inactive since, Milenko and Kathi, now married, have continued to record and perform together for many years and have released several albums of their own.

 

 

NOTES ON THE TROUBADOURS

by David Spangler

 

The music of the New Troubadours came out of a special time in the history of Findhorn, the international spiritual community in northern Scotland.  Founded in 1962, for many years the “community” was really just the Caddy family, Dorothy Maclean, and Lena Lamont.  By 1969 a few more had joined but not more than fifteen people.  As a couple of the newcomers were musicians, Peter Caddy started having an occasional “fun night,” a time when the community would gather in their newly constructed community dining room and individuals would put on impromptu performances of music, poetry or comedy.

 

I arrived in the summer of 1970, to discover that I was at the leading edge of a surge of people coming to visit and then to join the community.  In a matter of months, the resident population went from fifteen to around a hundred and fifty people all living on one half of a trailer park.  Among these newcomers were artists, musicians, actors, and craftmakers.  Under their influence the “fun nights” went from being once every other month or so to being weekly events for which individuals prepared musical and comedic performances.  Soon people were scheduling rehearsal times into their days.

 

These fun nights were popular with the many visitors who were coming to the community as well as with the residents.  They also provided a neutral and enjoyable way in which people in the nearby towns and villages could interact with the community.  There was some suspicion and even hostility towards the community.  The local people weren’t sure just who these people talking to nature spirits at the local trailer park, and there was concern that we were a nest of drug-using hippies.  Nor did the fact that we referred to ourselves as the Findhorn community sit well with the residents of the Findhorn fishing village nearby who saw themselves as the true Findhorn, not these strange New Agers down the road.

This was the situation in which the New Troubadours were born, initially as a group of friends singing at the fun nights and then as a folk group singing at local events around the area as ambassadors of good will from the community.

 

Initially our repertoire was composed of traditional folk songs with which people were familiar and could sing along, always a crowd pleaser.  But moved by the idea of a New Age and the ecospirituality which Findhorn was exploring, I felt a desire to write new songs that expressed some of the joy and vision we were experiencing in the community.  At first with Lark Batteau and then with Milenko Matanovic, I wrote what one friend laughingly called “mini-lectures set to music.”  These we performed exclusively at fun nights in the community as a way of celebrating the spirit we were all feeling.  Lark and another talented community member, Patti Weber, also wrote songs in this same vein.

 

Many of these early songs either were not recorded or were recorded in ways that lacked the quality to be included in this CD.  The ones that did make it are Change Can Come, the Love Affirmation, Free, Canticle, Happy Song, I Dreamed a Dream, The River, and  Winds of Birth. 

 

In 1973, there was an opportunity to develop and present a musical comedy at a conference in London.  Inspired by Godspell which was then at the height of its popularity, I thought it would be fun to write a musical about the evolution of the Christ Consciousness within humanity from an esoteric viewpoint.  Ha!  No small ambition there!  Milenko and I sat down and in an amazing burst of creativity, wrote all the songs for it in a three-day period.  The musical itself, named Freedom Man, never saw the light of day for a number of reasons, but the songs became a major part of our repertoire and were featured on a number of tapes. On this CD, they are In My Name, Love One Another, Let New Worlds Grow (the Song of the Devas), In the Beginning, Where There is a Will, and the Song of the Avatars.   

 

We also wrote a number of Christmas songs for a community winter festival in 1972, which later we collected on an album produced in the United States called Festival of Light.  On this CD, these songs include Pan and Jesus and Festival of Light (the latter having been written after we all returned to America in 1973 and were performing as part of the Lorian Association).

 

There were other songs I would have liked to have included, but the state of their recording was just not good enough to make the cut.  Often we recorded under the most primitive of conditions, without soundproofing.  Indeed, one of our favorite stories involved the commander of the nearby Royal Air Force base who was friendly to the community and had invited the New Troubadours to do concerts for the enlisted men and officers.  We had a standing offer that we could call him before we were about to record and if he could, he would ground all the planes on the base for a couple of hours so as to minimize the noise, which could be quite loud when the big jets took off and landed.  It was true cooperation!

 

The spirit of the New Troubadours (affectionately called “the Troubs”) was one of fun, laughter, and a joy at the vision of a possible new world and a new consciousness of wholeness evolving within humanity.  I think that spirit and joy comes across in our music.  We were all young and whatever our deficiencies as musicians we made up for in enthusiasm and a desire to serve through our music.  If I have any regrets, it’s that when I wrote so many of the lyrics I was not sensitive to the emerging desire of so many women and men to stop using the word “Man” to mean all humanity.  On the other hand, sometimes I simply couldn’t think of another word that rhymed so well and easily. 

 

I’m proud of the work we did and love the songs as much now as when they were first written.  The vision and consciousness they celebrate is as real and powerful—and needed—now as it was then.

 

David Spangler

June, 2008

 
NEW TROUBADOURS DISCOGRAPHY

Homeland (Findhorn Foundation Music Series, 1973)

Love Is (Findhorn Foundation Music Series, 1973)

Winds Of Birth (Lorian Association, 1974)

Festival Of Light (Lorian Association, 1980)

Music From The Magic Garden (Findhorn, 1995, compliation incl. six Troubadours tracks)