Thursday, January 3, 2013

Celebrating Our First Anniversary!

Thank you to Charlie Bermant for writing the following article about our first anniversary shanty sing, published in the Peninsula Daily News on January 3, 2013.

Sea Shanty Song Circle to celebrate first anniversary
By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — In January 2012, a loose coalition of sea chantey enthusiasts decided to meet each month to sing songs of the sea.

A year later, the group has developed into a monthly gathering that goes a long way toward keeping the tradition alive.

“It has exceeded our expectations,” said Lee Erickson, one of the organizers of the gatherings.

“At first, we thought we might meet every other month, but the people who attended said they wanted to meet monthly.

“It's a family-friendly night where no one has to have a great voice,” Erickson said.

Preserving traditions

“The people are just giving a little bit of themselves in order to preserve the traditions,” he added.

The Sea Shanty Song Circle and Sing Along celebrates its anniversary from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. today at the Cotton Building, 607 Water St.

Port Townsend musician Mike James, who led the first song circle, will lead the anniversary celebration.

The gathering is held the first Thursday of every month, aside from September, when a chantey sing-along is held in conjunction with the annual Wooden Boat Festival.

The evenings begin with everyone sitting in a circle. In turn, participants can either lead a chantey or pass to the next person.

The chanteys, many with multiple verses in a call-and-response format, were published this year in a collected lyrics book and will be on hand during the event.

The impetus for the gatherings came after the 2011 death of Stephen Gottleib Lewis, a Port Townsend resident who had a huge collection of chanteys he was attempting to preserve for posterity. The book, which was published last summer, contains 141 pages of lyrics from Lewis' collection.

The enthusiastic response also prompted a location change. The first gathering was held in the coffee shop at the Northwest Maritime Center, 431 Water St. The crowd spilled out into the Chandlery, which caused a move upstairs to the maritime center's meeting rooms.

After a few months, the upstairs rooms were no longer available because they were being rented out with increasing frequency, so the song circles now alternate between the Port Townsend Community Center and the Cotton Building. 

To read the full article, click here.

Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at