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2nd Guest of Honor: John DiBartolo, Lonely Mountain Band Singer/Songwriter

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January 21, 2015 by Anthony Burdge

“I would draw some of the great tales in fullness, and leave many only placed in the scheme, and sketched. The cycles should be linked to a majestic whole, and yet leave scope for other minds and hands, wielding paint and music and drama…” — John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, from a letter written to Milton Waldman, ca. 1951

Middle-earth Minstrel John DiBartolo

 We are excited to announce our 2nd Guest of Honor, Lonely Mountain Band Singer/Songwriter  John DiBartolo. We previously announced our 1st Guest of Honor, the Keynote Speaker, Janet Brennan Croft, who will open the Conference with her address.

John DiBartolo will close the conference with his music and take us Beyond the Western Seas as the Conference ends.

“Losing your imagination and wonder of creation is the opposite of growing up, to me it is stunted growth. I think that is why I identify with Tolkien & Lewis so much. They kept that priceless part of their childhood and turned it into a life’s passion and profession.” John has made part of his life goal to keep the road well traversed that leads to the cottage of lost play.

From table top role playing games and back-yard adventures of the imagination to historical and fantasy reading, bible scholarship and music composition; the spiritual has ever been tied to imagination for John. “It was actually reading Dungeons & Dragons manuals in elementary school that led me to become a voracious reader of fantasy and history. I truly believe our own real history, though much of it lost, yet still hinted at, is just as exciting as any fantasy world the best author could invent.”  All of this lore going in to John’s mind, eventually would emerge through his own ‘sub-creative’ filter.

Writing & recording hundreds of songs, honing his audio production skills and performing in national touring Celtic Rock bands Fathom & KING KELTIC, which has culminated in the Lonely Mountain Band music project. Lonely Mountain Band focuses on a self-styled genre called “Folk Fantasy”; songs built with an acoustic skeleton, digital flesh, and in the spirit of Tolkien & Lewis.

Beyond the Western Seas is an album inspired by the epic literary world of J.R.R. Tolkien, and the debut album for The Lonely Mountain Band, created by minstrel John Di Bartolo. The scope of Beyond the Western Seas covers the early days of Tolkien’s world, however, giving its intricately detailed history a unique musical life. As a lay Tolkien scholar in his own right, an acoustic and independent body of work in tribute to Tolkien’s lore began to grow in John’s songbook, he decided to consolidate these new songs into a new sub-creative entity.

While Di Bartolo’s Celtic roots are clear throughout Beyond the Western Seas, The Lonely Mountain Band is a separate musical experience infused with fantasy. Fans of Tolkien’s work will find many details in the album to enjoy from the familiar poetry and name of heroes and battles right down to the cover art provided Ted Nasmith, an artist renowned for his interpretations of Tolkien’s work. The catalyst for this new collection of songs was the recording of “Let Us Sing Together,” a rearranged cover of a song from the soundtrack to The Lord of the Rings Online written by composer Chance Thomas.

Beyond the Western Seas had its worldwide release on September 22, 2010, with a virtual release party held within the world of The Lord of the Rings Online. Tolkien Societies, scholars, artists and Tolkien fan groups worldwide have received the music of the Lonely Mountain Band with glowing reviews and growing enthusiasm. Second Breakfast & Songs of the Dwarves followed in 2011 and 2012, and the fourth album is currently being written for a 2015 release.

John’s various musical projects have garnered hundreds of thousands of downloads, listens and views through iTunes, and all mainstream digital outlets. There are dozens of viral videos and machinima on YouTube featuring music from the Lonely Mountain Band and John’s other projects. John’s fan base extends to the online gaming world through the widely popular gaming guild in Lord of the Rings Online that he founded also named the Lonely Mountain Band. Fans of the music have even gone to the lengths of converting John’s music into a format that can be played within the virtual game world. This Lord of the Rings Online gaming guild has been featured on multiple news outlets including the BBC.

John has played a founding role in many of the exciting endeavors and concepts that have grown out of the fertile ‘chance-meeting’ grounds of the fantasy & related scholarly community; including but not limited to Legendarium Radio, SwordSong Records, Legendarium News & Media, Oloris Publishing, MyMiddle-earth and the Mythgard Institute.

…of the folk genre so often informed by traditional Celtic culture…music is professional, tasteful and competent…a real gift for composing and melancholy, atmospheric styling.” – Ted Nasmith, Tolkien Illustrator

It practically brought me to tears as it brought me right to the pages of Tolkien and his spirit.” – Anthony S. Burdge, Heren Istarion: The North East Tolkien Society

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