Public Library Program Available

If you are interested in a fascinating and unique concert/presentation about music of the sea, come along side!

This past summer I had the thrill of a lifetime working as a member of the Demonstration Squad at Mystic Seaport. (That’s me on the left helping to bunt the foremast lower topsail.) And even though I have sung sea shanties for most of my life there is nothing like calling “Haul Away, Joe” on the Joseph Conrad, a tall ship, as we haul on the halyard and raise an 1100 pound yard!

“The Shanteyman” involves a visual presentation of the ships, sails and tasks sailors did on board their vessels, especially, in the 19th century and music they sang. Think of “Moby Dick,” or “In the Heart of the Sea” or “Two Years Before the Mast.” The presentation is informative as well as entertaining. As a member of the Mystic Seaport squad I slid down the line in a breeches buoy life-saving demonstration,  I was part of the crew that rowed actual whaleboats, climbed aloft on the Conrad as well as the Charles W. Morgan. We demonstrated seine fishing and cod fishing, raised and lowered sails and yards and launched a lifeboat during the man-overboard drill.

As a music teacher I have presented the use shanties, especially their work effort, to educators in local, regional and national conferences. My article about sea shanties appeared in a national journal some years ago. The students in my own classrooms have loved to “John Kanaka” or “Alabama John Cherokee.” In school assemblies, part of my focus is the use of simple machines and mechanical advantage.

And, there is instrumental music; hornpipes and such played on the Anglo concertina and ballads, known as forebitters that sailors sang and played during their infrequent breaks while underway.

If you are interested in such a program, please contact me via email or telephone at (401) 423-1574. I can perform for thirty minutes or do an entire concert/presentation. I can gear the material for adults or families and I can bring along some noisy ‘fufu’ band instruments to let the audience join in. By the way—this is VERY participatory and can be a little raucous but all in fun and thoughtfully edited for modern audiences.

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