Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Port Townsend to Revive Songs of Yore

Local musician Mike James (photo) and Lee Erickson, organizers of the Port Townsend Sea Shanty Song Circle and Sing-Along, were recently interviewed by Peninsula Daily News Jefferson County reporter, Charlie Bermant.

The January 4 front-page story reads: "Port Townsend to revive sea songs of yore - Series of shanties begins Thursday at maritime center."

Bermant's interview quotes James as saying: 

"Shanties speak to the life before the internal combustion engine.... It comes from a time when people did work by hand doing whatever required muscles and power, and the songs gave them a sense of unity.... Workers on a ship would sing the songs as a way to stay focused on the task, and to build a sense of camaraderie among sailors. You would sing the song until the task was done.... If you finished the task with three verses to go, you wouldn't sing those verses.... The shanties also were a way for workers to speak out against abusive bosses. Sometimes you could sing what you really felt about your boss. You were doing the work while you were singing so they couldn't really object as long as your weren't too insulting.... Many of the songs are call-and-response and are easily learned."

Erickson comments: "People who can't sing can always bellow out a shanty.... People who don't have good voices and never sing will still have a good time when they join in."

To read the full article, click here.