"A squinted eye may be the reaction from someone who hears about a Shifty Sailor. But it's straight ahead fun from Whidbey Island's Shifty Sailors, who will be leading the April 5th Sea Shanty Song Circle at the Northwest Maritime Center. The 6:00-8:30 event is free and family-friendly. You can lead a song, request a song, pass, sing along, or just listen....no walking the plank, sword play, or keel hauling involved! The circle will gather in the NWMC chandlery cafe, which will remain open for those wishing some "galley" fare. The circle has proven itself to be a popular event. It's not about the singer. It's about the musical heritage of our town and the sense of community that is generated. Hope to see you here. "Aaaargh!" - Mike James
The past few months have been so exciting for me... and hopefully for all of us shanty-enthusiasts!
The idea of starting a Sea Shanty Song Circle, was just that... having recently moved to this amazing maritime community this past October, I had a notion that I would find others, like myself, who would be interested in learning and singing sea shanties, whether we had good voices or not. Being a good singer wasn't the focus, rather finding community and learning about our local, regional and international maritime heritage through song together.
I don't know if I told you this, but my husband is a student at the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding (NWSWB). Soon after school started, there was a party to welcome new students. There was a raffle. I put in his name. He won. The prize was a sail for two aboard the schooner Adventuress! A dream come true, for DZ. We went and had a great time. While aboard this beautiful vessel sailing off Port Townsend, I met Jake Beattie, the Executive Director of the Northwest Maritime Center (NWMC). A month later, he tapped me on the shoulder to say "Hi!" at a Maritime Center members' function. I asked him what he thought of my idea to host a Song Circle... a Thursday evening... the first Thursday of each month. He loved it! Then, he graciously offered the Maritime Center Cafe to be the venue after-hours. And that is how the Port Townsend Sea Shanty Song Circle and Sing-Along came to be. I inquired at Crossroads Music about who in town sang maritime music. They suggested I contact Mike and Val James. Mike was the first person I talked with about the Song Circle and he has been instrumental ever since in helping to promote, organize and lead our monthly gatherings. Since our first Song Circle in January, we have had an attendance each month of any where from 60 or so to nearly 100 sea shanty enthusiasts!
Thank you to the shanty-enthusiasts who come out to learn, share and sing the songs of the sailors! What a treat, what an education and wonderful way to preserve our maritime culture through music and oral tradition... what family-friendly fun... for free!
Thank you to the staff Northwest Maritime Center and Crossroads Music for sponsoring us!
Tune in to KPTZ 91.9 FM Radio Port Townsend this coming Monday, April 2, to Boat Talk with show host Peter Guerrero between 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. Peter will be interviewing Mike James, myself and other shanty enthusiasts about sea shanties and our monthly Sea Shanty Song Circle, most likely between 1:40 p.m. to 2:20 p.m.
Another announcement, which I am so very pleased to share with all of you, is that the "Friends of the Arts" here in Port Townsend, has selected our Sing Shanties group to be the recipient of a grant to print a special edition of Stephen Gottlieb Lewis' personal collection of maritime songs. Fifty songbooks will be made available to lend during our Song Circle, so everyone has an opportunity to sing from a songbook and we can literally all be on the same page! We hope to print more, which can be purchased by those wanting their own individual copies. More to come about this later. We have a committee working diligently on cataloging, researching and preparing to print Lewis' collection. It is our goal to have this special edition songbook available for our September Song Circle and before the Wooden Boat Festival in September.
Thank you to the song book committee: Deborah Lewis, Mike James, Helen Gilbert, Ellie Mathews, Carl Youngmann, Susan Jensen, Tom Booth and Judy Courtwright.
Thank you to the Friends of the Arts.
Thank you to everyone who keeps coming out each month... sharing and singing from Lewis' orange, blue, green songbooks... shouting out book colors and page numbers to all!
Your continued participation, presence and camaraderie is wonderful and encouraging to keep on singin' shanties.
We hope to see you on April 5th! Bring your kids, bring your friends.
Remember, singin' is encouraged, but knot required."
Please share the flyer in the previous blog post with family and friends.
Let's have a great turn out and enthusiastic welcome for Whidbey Island's Shifty Sailors!