About Silent Lion

Just a brief introduction, after all these years….John Saunders met Barbara Matthews in 1994 in Cleveland, Ohio, at Goose Acres Music and Folk Center when she became his mandolin student. With his instrumental virtuosity and her quirky mystical songwriting, they were soon inspired to form a duo to blend Celtic and Bluegrass with Medieval and Renaissance music. Soon, other genres jumped into the mix: rock and jazz, blues, world folk, and the many more originals they kept writing. And, yes, they married in 1996.

John and Barbiel, 1995
Memories Below, (c)Matthews/Saunders, from Ye Travelers of Time CD
John Saunders and Barbiel Matthews-Saunders
John Saunders and Barbiel Matthews-Saunders, 1995
Convivium Jig, (c) Matthews/Saunders
John and Barbiel, Courtesy of Gerry Pas Studio, Chagrin Falls, Ohio

When John and Barbiel started out performing, they called themselves Sassafras. Fans will note that if they have the Satellite to Reason cd or the Convivium cd the mp3s will come up naming Sassafras as the artist, because we were….

Burning Sun, (c) Matthews/Saunders, from the Convivium CD

Many ask us, how did the name Silent Lion come about?

Well, we were performing at The Barking Spider back in 1999, and a musician friend came up and said to me, “John is so powerful on any one of the instruments he plays; and he doesn’t say anything. He’s like a silent lion!”

Yes, so we’ve used it since then, and registered it in 2000, and it suits us as a duo or when we’re joined by others.

But, John does speak. He says a lot, really.

courtesy of Gerry Pas Photography
Whiskey Before Breakfast, Irish Traditional
Great Lakes Medieval Faire Pub Sing, with Michael Manderen on viola da gamba, John on 10-string Irish Bouzouki, and Barbiel on guitar.
A La Una, Ancient Sephardic
Michael at the Jewel Stage presenting solo entrancements on lute, and viola da gamba.
Canterbury Cocktail, (c) John Saunders
Michael holding one of his traveling guitars, and Chris Puente at the Castle, Michigan Renaissance Festival, Setting up for The Queens’ Masquerade Ball.
Rio Blue, Michael Manderen, and John Saunders sneaking in some jazz while on a break from the Renaissance Ball in Michigan.
Ohios Dulc-i-more Festival
Convivium, early morning. Photo courtesy of Gary Brown
The old Minstrel Manor at Great Lakes Medieval Faire; L to Rt: Judy Frahm, Barbiel, Michael Manderen, John Saunders, Rio Blue
Health to the Company, traditional Irish, the faire farewell song made famous by our beloved Owain Phyfe.
Ye Old Harmony Stage, GLMF
Jewel Stage, Michigan Renaissance Festival. L to Rt: Michael Manderen on viola da gamba, John Saunders on Irish Bouzouki, and Barbiel on guitar.