Sometimes the Wolves are Silent

Coming in 2018!

Skene House, near Aberdeen, Scotland

While exploring my family’s heritage I came across a connection to Clan Skene in the Highlands of Scotland near Aberdeen. When I saw the Skene Manor for the first time, it triggered something within me, and I went on a search to learn more about the Skenes. The name “skene” refers to a dagger. Legend has it that a younger son of the chief of Clan Robertson, when he was a young boy, saved the life of the king by killing a wolf with nothing but his  sgian-dubh. A sgian-dubh is a small knife traditionally tucked into a stocking as a back-up weapon. The word ‘sgian’ was transliterated to ‘skene.’ The young son of the Robertson clan was granted lands in Aberdeenshire, and Clan Skene was born.

While studying the biographies of various members of the Skene clan, I came across the “Wizard Laird of Scotland,” the 16th Laird of Clan Skene, Alexander Skene. This Laird of Skene Manor studied in Italy at the University of Padua. It was there where he learned the ways of necromancy. Legend has it that he made a deal with the devil and inherited his magical powers in that manner.

One dark winter night Lord Skene and his driver, Kilgour, were riding home from an engagement when the devil began chasing them. Anxious to make it to the safety behind the gates of Skene Manor, the driver took a shortcut across Loch Skene. About halfway across the lake, the ice began to break. Panicked, Kilgour turned around and saw his master wrestling with a figure bearing cloven feet and horns. They barely made it to the safety of the shore before the ice broke completely. Legend has it that to this day when Loch Skene freezes over you can see the marks of the wagon wheels in the ice.

Information on the Wizard Laird of Clan Skene is scarce and obscure, but the more I read about him, the more I felt a kindred spirit. As I pondered the life and times of Lord Skene, who died in 1727, a musical biography began to take shape.

Sometimes the Wolves are Silent is an album about the Wizard Laird and the dark magic that shaped his life. The title of the album comes from a George Carlin quote, “There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls.”

His surreal statement was meant in jest, but to me this quote always had a darker side. It seems to question our ideas of conventional reality while at the same time hinting that the line between reality and imagination is not as concrete as we might think. Sometimes the Wolves are Silent is my musical attempt to walk that fine line.