Silent Lion as Four:    John Saunders on Irish Bouzouki, Barbiel Matthews-Saunders, guitar and vocals, plus Michael Manderen on viola da gamba and Rio Blue on cajon.  The Minstrel Stage at the Great Lakes Medieval Faire.

Silent Lion as Four at Great Lakes Medieval Faire, 2014. Photo courtesy of Eric Silva.
Chanter’s Song/ Arran Boat Song, traditional Irish and Scottish, (c) arranged Saunders

Silent Lion has been performing and writing music since 1995 when John Saunders and Barbiel formed the original duo of the group. They started out calling themselves Sassafras, but changed to Silent Lion after their second CD, Convivium was published. (By the way, all their CDs can be ordered from the To Have and To Hold page in this website.)

John Saunders and Barbiel Matthews-Saunders of Silent Lion

As much of their original music was Celtic and blended a Medieval mysticism with other more modern musical styles, gravitating toward the Medieval and renaissance festivals was a natural progression. For the last twenty years they’ve expanded their authentic and ancient repertoire, performing 12th and 15th century favorites along with jigs and reels and their originals inspired by Medieval literature.

And there’s still jazz….

The far above portrait is John Saunders with Irish Bouzouki and near above is Barbiel Matthews-Saunders with guitar, both at Ohio Renaissance Festival, 2006. The two digital paintings were done by a generous and talented patron!

They are joined by the third SL, Michael Manderen, lutenist and viola da gamba master, at their favorite faires.

Enjoy our site, check schedules, and browse the photos, listen to our music, and look at our cds. (Yes! Available for purchasing!) Silent Lion music can be heard on Amazon, i-Tunes, You Tube, Spotify, Slacker and many internet sites.

Silent Lion on the Jewel Stage at Michigan Renaissance Faire, featuring Michael, John, and Barbiel.
The Breton Song, traditional Breton. Hmmm, sounds like the name….but we have an original arrangement. (p)Saunders
Noting the sublime
The Prancing Pony (c) Saunders/Matthews, from Ye Travelers of Time CD. Inspired by Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring, in which we allude to the moments when the hobbits start out from Bag End, when they arrive at The Prancing Pony, when Frodo dances on the table, when Strider identifies himself, when Barliman Butterbur cannot remember Gandalf’s message, and the Black Riders appear.
John Saunders and Barbiel Matthews-Saunders
Rocking the Boat, (c) Saunders/Matthews. An original swing tune with attitude! Find it on our Silent Lion CD featuring John on lead guitar, Barbiel on vocals, Dave Huddleston on bass, and Ohio’s own, the late great Denny Jones on fiddle.
Circle In the Woods, (c) John Saunders/Barbiel Matthews. From the Satellite to Reason cd. This is the full version with instrumental and vocal.

Past and Future Gigs

       Over the years Silent Lion has performed everywhere from folk festivals to bookstores  to concert venues, including Severance Hall in Cleveland. We’ve performed for Akron First Night for many years, and for medieval dinner theaters, church concerts, and arts festivals, headlined at the Kent State Folk Festival and various state parks and concert stages.
Fans have found us regularly performing at Renaissance and Medieval Festivals in the eastern U.S.
Michael Manderen has been a regular member of our group since 2013 adding his viola da gamba to our performances and delighting us all.

Welcome to our gigs page! 


March 14, 2024 Silent Lion celebrating St. Patrick and more, starting at 6:30 at the Athens County Library, Home St., Athens, Ohio 45701


Gigs Coming Up:  (Check back for updates)

All Hallows Fantasy Faire, Saturday, October 14- Sunday, October15, 2023. At the Trumbull County Fairgrounds, 899 Everett Cortland Hull Rd., Cortland, Ohio 44410.


Michigan Renaissance Festival, August, September….One of the best runs ever!!!! Thank-you to all those who came out to hear and see us, and told their friends about us, who cheered!!!! Yea!!!!

We’ll see you all next year!


July 8th, Saturday to August 13th Sunday. GREAT LAKES MEDIEVAL FAIRE. Rt. 534, Rock Creek, Ohio. Every Saturday and Sunday, rain or shine!!!!

Minstrel Stage!!!     www.medievalfaire.com


Saturday, April 15, 3:30-7:30 and Sunday, April 16, 3:30-7 RITTERFEST at SHULTZ BRAU BREWING COMPANY, 126 Bernard Ave, Knoxville, TN 37917! Come join us at Knoxville’s newest event! John and Barbiel will be having a great time serving up our favorite Medieval, and Renaissance tunes along with our originals and Irish jigs and reels, (anything that will make you thirsty) Hope to see you there!

WOW!!!  WHAT FUN!!!  We want to thank SHULTZ BRAU BREWING in KNOXVILLE, TN for their gracious welcome and fantastic time! Come see us there next year!!!!


2022: Saturday July 9- Sunday August 14, 2022. EVERY SATURDAY AND SUNDAY! RAIN or SHINE!  GREAT LAKES MEDIEVAL FAIRE, Rt. 534, Rock Creek, Ohio 44084 At the Minstrel Stage!

Saturday August 20-Sunday October 2, 2020. EVERY SATURDAY AND SUNDAY! RAIN or SHINE! MICHIGAN RENAISSANCE FESTIVAL! 12600 Dixie Highway, Holly, Michigan 48442 At The Jewel Stage!

Silent Lion at the Great Lakes Medieval Faire’s Minstrel Manor, with Chris Puente on cajon, and Barbiel, John and Michael  


 July 10-11, 17-18, 24-25,7-8, 14-15, 2021! GREAT LAKES MEDIEVAL FAIRE, Rt. 534, Rock Creek, Ohio. Every Saturday and Sunday, rain or shine!

August  21-22, 28-29, September 4-6, 11-12, 18-19, 25-26, October 1,2,3. MICHIGAN RENAISSANCE FESTIVAL, Holly, Michigan. Every Saturday and Sunday! Rain or shine!

October 16, Saturday, 6-7:30pm. Silent Lion in Concert at Shade Community Center, 2380 Rt. 33A, Shade, Ohio 45776


In the Past:

2020:  REGRETFULLY, BECAUSE OF COVID CONCERNS, SILENT LION IS STAYING CLOSE TO HOME.  (But as compensation, why not pour yourself some mead or wine and listen to Silent Lion’s version of Health to the Company on youtube from our Travelers of Time cd?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0gk2GlA2zI) Stay well, stay safe, treasure your love, and we’ll see you next year.

Upcoming gig  CANCELLED

Saturday, July 11 (every weekend) to Sunday, August 16. Great Lakes Medieval Faire, Rt. 534 Rock Creek, Ohio. Every Saturday and Sunday for six weeks! Gate opens at 11am, closes with a bang at 7pm. Come see Silent Lion joined by Michael Manderen at the Minstrel Stage, in the magical woods of our medieval village of Avaloch!


Michigan Renaissance Festival. Saturday, August 22,(every weekend) to Sunday October 4, including Labor Day Monday September 7 and Festival Friday October 2. Michigan Renaissance Festival, 12600 Dixie Hwy, Holly, Michigan 48442. Find Silent Lion at the The Owain Phyfe Jewel Stage sharing musical magic with Michael Manderen all day!

2019:    Past but not Forgotten:

April 27, Saturday, 11-3pm Wine Tasting at Kroger on East State Street, Athens, Ohio.

May 25th, Saturday, 11-3pm Wine Tasting at Kroger on East State Street, Athens, Ohio.

June 29, Saturday, 11-3pm. Wine Tasting at Kroger on East State Street, Athens, Ohio.

July 13, Saturday to August 11, Sunday. Great Lakes Medieval Faire, Rt. 534, Rock Creek, Ohio. Every Saturday and Sunday for five weeks! Come see Silent Lion joined by Michael Manderen at the Minstrel Stage, in the magical woods of our medieval village of Avaloch!

October 26th, Saturday, 11-3pm. Wine Tasting at Kroger on East State Street, Athens, Ohio.

October 26th, Saturday, 7:00-8:30pm. The Federal Valley Resource Center. Rt. 329, Stewart, Ohio.

Nov. 3, Sunday, 10:30. Eastshore Unitarian Universalist Church, Silent Lion accompanying morning service, 10848 Chilicothe Rd., Kirtland, Ohio , 44094


Great Lakes Medieval Faire Pub Sing, with Michael Manderen on viola da gamba, John on 10-string Irish Bouzouki, and Barbiel on guitar.
Rio Blue playing cajon with Barbiel and John at Great Lakes Medieval Faire
The band takes a music break at Masquerade Ball at Michigan Renaissance Faire to explore some jazz. Chris Puente on cajon, John on banjo (gasp!) and Michael on guitar.


Email is good. You can reach us at:  saunders@silentlion.com

Silent Lion is still busy composing new music and we can hardly wait to perform for you again!


Backyard Renaisssance, (c) Matthews/Saunders, from Into the Medieval World cd