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Sea Music Festival

Mystic Seaport is proud to host its 35th annual Sea Music Festival, one of the world’s premier sea music events. Fans of traditional sea music gather each year to hear international performers and the Museum’s chantey staff perform music from the golden Age of Sail through the best of contemporary compositions. This year’s roster includes music from Great Britain, The Netherlands, Portugal, Canada, and the Caribbean, along with singers from across the United States. The weekend’s festivities include concerts, special performances for children, instructional workshops, and a unique opportunity to witness sea music at work aboard the Museum’s historic vessels.

35th annual Sea Music Festival performers: Ankie van der Meer, Nanne Kalma and Tseard Nauta (AN&T), The Barrouallie Whalers, Celeste Bernardo, Jack Dalton, Anni Fentiman and Dave Webber, Forebitter, Dick and Carol Holdstock, Winston Hoppie, The Johnson Girls, Larry Kaplan, Chris Kastle, Margaret McCandless and Aunt Sallie’s Band, Dan McKinnon, Robbie O’Connell and Dan Milner, Dave Peloquin, John Roberts, Don Sineti, The S.S. Chanteens, Ken Sweeney, Ana & Jose Vinagre and Bob Walser.

Performer Bios

Ankie van der Meer, Nanne Kalma and Tseard NautaAnkie van der Meer, Nanne Kalma, and Tseard Nauta (AN&T) are three folksingers from Friesland, The Netherlands who have a wide repertoire of traditional Dutch folk and composed songs on many different topics with an emphasis on maritime and historical themes. As a duo Ankie & Nanne, both multi-instrumentalists, have toured in many countries including Australia and the USA. During 2009 in New York State with four other musicians, they presented the song cycle Henry Hudson and the Half Moon. Ankie and Nanne also perform as part of the folk quartet Kat yn’t Seil. For their Old Silver Leg program they joined forces with Tseard, a multi-instrumentalist who, as a member of several groups, has performed around the world.This year they bring us Nanne’s latest show Pieter Stuyvesant in the New World.

The Barrouallie WhalersThe Barrouallie Whalers of St. Vincent and the Grenadines consist of several men who have worked in longshore whaling from time to time. Their home, Barrouallie (rhymes with “warily”), a fishing and farming community on the leeward (west) side of the island of St. Vincent, West Indies, has a history and reputation as a blackfish (pilot whale) hunting center during the 20th century. Within living memory, Barrouallie men pursued various types of whales from Yankee-style open 25-foot wooden whaleboats powered by sail and oar in a manner similar to that of 19th-century American whalemen. The Barrouallie Whalers also are the last practitioners of a unique Eastern Caribbean musical tradition that accompanied their whaling activities. They call their a capella whaling songs “shanties.”

Remarkably, many of the Barrouallie shanties are direct descendants of classic deepwater sea chanteys (sailor songs, also spelled “shanties”) such as “Blow the Man Down,” “Goodbye Fare-you-well,” and “Rio Grande.” On the basis of a visit to Barrouallie in 1966, American folklorist Dr. Roger Abrahams published a book, Deep the Water, Shallow the Shore, on Caribbean shanties. This book, which featured interviews, songs, stories, and photographs of Barrouallie whalers, became a reference of great interest to chantey and maritime enthusiasts throughout the world.

The Barrouallie Whalers include George “Tall 12″ Frederick, Veron “Maysay” Harry, Milton “Proova” Anderson (now of Barbados), George “Bopsy” Marson, and Vincent Reid. Several of these fellows, who were among those Abrahams recorded in 1966, appeared in the cover photographs of Deep the Water, Shallow the Shore. They form the core of a small group of Vincentians who, since reconvening in 2001, are reviving memories, stories, and songs of their whaling days.

Celeste BernardoCeleste Bernardo has worked as an interpreter, educator, and manager for 25 years at maritime sites in New York, Connecticut, California, and Massachusetts. She collects and sings songs to interpret people’s relationship with the sea, often accompanying herself on concertina, guitar, or banjo.

Jack DaltonJack Dalton is rooted in Naparyarmiut (Hooper Bay), was born in Bethel and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, and has grown up an ambassador between two worlds, his Yup’ik Inuit and European heritages. A professional storyteller, actor, writer and teacher, Jack has been honored by the World Indigenous Peoples’ Conference on Education as a Distinguished Dignitary, featured as the cover story for the premiere issue of First Alaskans magazine and considered by many people around the world, indigenous and non-native alike, to be “The Storyteller.”  He has created and produced five theatrical works of epic storytelling, written a book, co-wrote and starred in the play Raven’s Radio Hour (airing nationally in 2009), performed in Sweden, France, Norway, Denmark, New Zealand, at the National Multicultural Festival in Australia, and the Scottish International Storytelling Festival. His fifth play, The Last of His Kind, premiered May 2013.

David Webber and Anni FentimanAnni Fentiman and Dave Webber have been well known and respected performers of English traditional song for more than 40 years. They began singing as a duo in 1993 following eight successful years singing in the group Beggars Velvet and recording their album Lady of Autumn. Dave and Anni have toured extensively in the UK and annually in the USA, and featured on both local and national radio in the UK. They present mostly a capella 2-part harmony songs, now have five albums of their own, and love to get their audiences singing with them. Anni specializes in songs from her native northeast England, and Dave has been writing songs in the traditional vein since 1982, many that have become part of the general song repertoire of singers all over the world.

ForebitterForebitter - In 1987 Craig Edwards, David Littlefield, Geoff Kaufman, and Rick Spencer were working as chanteymen at Mystic Seaport. They decided to put together a set of songs for what they thought would be a single performance at the 10th Annual Sea Music Festival. Twenty-five years and countless performances later the group is together once again. Each of the members of Forebitter have enjoyed successful careers as soloists and have worked together in duo and trio combinations in the US and abroad.

Dick and Carol HoldstockDick and Carol Holdstock sing traditional ballads, songs of the sea, old time tavern songs, songs of the California gold rush, and contemporary songs of social significance, and recorded Shanties and Sea Songs From Way Out West. Dick and Carol have performed together at festivals and clubs throughout the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, and England. They also collaborated with Tom Murphey to record San Francisco Shanties and Sea Songs of California’s Gold Rush. Carol has toured and recorded as a part of the folk trio “Jeremy’s Friends. Dick is the other half of the popular folk duo Holdstock and Macleod, who, with four recordings to their credit, continue to perform their traditional English and Scottish songs throughout the United States.

JeggaeWinston Hoppie is a self-taught musician, popularly known as Jeggae, who has been playing drums, keyboard, the harmonica, doing poetry, and storytelling for more than 35 years. Jeggae plays music for the Guyanese and West Indian Spiritual Baptist Churches on weekends throughout the Tri-State area, Maryland, Atlanta, and sometimes internationally. Jeggae contributes to the annual African Liberation Ceremonies, Guyana Folk Festival and has released five CDs that are compilations of drums, poetry and popular gospel music, and “Folk Kwe Drums”, a collection of Guyanese Folk and Kwe Kwe (Queh Queh) songs. He represented Guyana at the 1981 Caribbean Festival of Arts (CARIFESTA) in Barbados. While still residing in Guyana, Jeggae toured the US and Canada with the Chronicle Atlantic Symphony Steel Orchestra and Troupe and performed at numerous venues including the United Nations in New York City.

The Johnson GirlsThe Johnson Girls have been a force on the folk and maritime music scene for almost two decades as the leading all-woman, a cappella maritime group in the world. Believing that sea chanteys and sea songs were the first real “World Music,” Joy Bennett, Alison Kelley, Bonnie Milner, and Deirdre Murtha each bring a special influence to the group. Whether performing at packed international folk festivals, intimate venues, or presenting school and library programs, The Johnson Girls remain true to their mission of keeping chantey singing alive, bringing women’s voices to the fore, and encouraging everyone to join in the revelry. Widely acclaimed for their powerhouse performances of rousing work songs, sensitive renderings of haunting ballads and laments, and hair-raising harmonies, they sweep their audiences along in a tidal fervor. The Johnson Girls are releasing their fourth CD, On Deck & Below (Folk Legacy Records) at this year’s festival.

Larry Kaplan Larry Kaplan - “Old Zeb,” “Song for Gale,” “Song for The Bowdoin,” John,” and “Get Her Into Shore,” are just a few examples of the extensive songbag of some of the best contemporary ballads from sea and shore in folk music today. Larry’s poignant stories in song, written in the best folk tradition, honest, sing-able and always memorable, have been performed and recorded by many respected artists around the world. He has also played a significant role in bringing the music collected by the late E. Gale Huntington, of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, to scholars, performers, and collectors alike. Larry, who calls London, England, and Essex, Connecticut, home, worked for many years on the traditional schooners from Maine, and sailed on and helped restore the Schooner, Bowdoin.  Larry is a multi-instrumentalist and fine singer and has two CDs on Folk Legacy Records, Worth All The Telling and his latest, Songs For An August Moon.

Chris KastleChris Kastle’ songs and stories have been described as “exquisite” and possessing “powerful imagery.”  She performs a rich blend of original and traditional songs with a maritime connection from her work aboard tall ships, which captivates and entertains people of all ages. Chris, whose current home is St, Augustine, Florida, is a touring musician, storyteller, songsmith, writer, and educator, and has performed in the United States, Canada, Europe, and New Zealand. She has three solo CDs as well as 12 CDs and a DVD as part of a duo. Chris has designed and written programs, training materials, and curricula for numerous maritime-related institutions, and is currently the Co-Director of the Chicago Maritime Festival and President of the Florida Storytelling Association.

Margaret McCandlessMargaret McCandless and Aunt Sallie’s Band - Margaret has loved to share sea songs and music since her childhood family folk song evenings. Concertina, banjo, and other instruments captivated Margaret as she discovered them and her first harmonica was a gift from her father. Along with music, Margaret enjoys telling true tales of others’ childhood adventures at sea. This year, as part of Aunt Sallie’s Band, Margaret will join forces with Dee McCandless (whistles and accordion) with whom she has been singing for years, as well as Mark Edwards (washtub bass, rub-board, and more) and Joe Maurer from Brown University’s pirate band Aaaaaargh (banjo, concertina, whistles, and odd stuff). Be prepared to sing along!

Dan McKinnonDan McKinnon - Nova Scotia singer/songwriter Dan McKinnon hails from a region steeped in traditions shaped by the influence of the North Atlantic. He has a beguiling ability to temper past and present in songs that revel in gentle melody and deeply reflective narratives. Dan’s austere guitar style and sense of musical immediacy, blend seamlessly with his warm baritone voice to make him, “one of the most engaging and genuine performers on the scene.” – David Kidman, The Living Tradition, September/October 2006.

Dan Milner and Robbie OConnellRobbie O’Connell and Dan Milner - Robbie grew up in Ireland’s Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary, and moved to the United States in the 1970s, joining his uncles, the famous Clancy Brothers, with whom he recorded three albums. Dan comes from a singing family he can trace back to his great-grandfather, Patrick McKay, from Ennis, County Clare. He grew up partly in Ballybunion, County Kerry, sailing to New York City in 1961 where he has since organized more than 600 concerts of traditional music and song. Robbie went solo in 1982, formed a trio with Mick Moloney and Jimmy Keane, releasing the album, Kilkelly in 1987, the title track of which was voted Best Album Track of the Year in Ireland. In 1991, Robbie was featured in the TV series Bringing It All Back Home, and the following year, he performed at Carnegie Hall with the Clancy Brothers and seen by an estimated 500 million people worldwide on the live tribute to Bob Dylan at Madison Square Garden.  After recording with the seminal Irish traditional music group The Flying Cloud, and publishing The Bonnie Bunch of Roses, his collection of 150 Irish and British folk songs, Dan withdrew from performing for 20 years, but came roaring back in 1998 with the now-classic Folk-Legacy album Irish Ballads & Songs of the Sea featuring Louis Killen, Mick Moloney, The Irish Tradition, and others.

Dave PeloquinDave Peloquin, former Mystic Seaport chanteyman and historic interpreter, has been singing songs of the 19th-century sailor for more than 35 years, and his clear tenor voice has been heard at Mystic Seaport’s Sea Music Festivals since 1981. As owner of Night Sail Sound Studios, he recorded and produced numerous sea music projects, including a film soundtrack for the New Bedford Whaling Museum, Russell and Purrington’s A Whaling Voyage ‘Round the World. At this year’s symposium, Dave will deliver a paper entitled Ahab’s Tear; Melville’s Mystic Heart.

John RobertsJohn Roberts was born in England and moved to the United States to study graduate-level psychology at Cornell University, where he formed his longtime musical partnership with Tony Barrand. As Roberts and Barrand, they present a cappella and accompanied performances of traditional English folk music, and have recorded sea chanteys of the North Atlantic, and an album of traditional drinking songs. The duo is also half of the group Nowell Sing We Clear, which performs an annual yuletide concert series and has many recordings. John also has a solo career, is a member of the trio Ye Mariners All (with John Rockwell and Larry Young), and performs regularly with upstate New York’s Broken String Band.

Don SinetiDon Sineti is a folksinger, songwriter, part-time chanteyman at historic Mystic Seaport (with one of the most powerful voices on the Eastern Seaboard!), and long-neck, 5-string banjo picker. He is also an award-winning, internationally-acclaimed marine mammal illustrator with a number of books and prestigious exhibitions to his credit including at the United Nations, Indiana University, and museums and galleries. Don was the major illustrator for Alaska Whales And Whaling, and his work has been published in Alaska magazine. For more than 20 years, he has combined his exhaustive knowledge of cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) with his boundless energy, to deliver rousing renditions of songs from the days of wooden ships and iron men, alongside his own compositions dedicated to saving whales and the degraded marine environment. Don served as a consultant on traditional sea songs for the 20th-century Fox movie Master And Commander, The Far Side Of The World. He said it was great fun, and he got a “thanks” on the CD. With a booming voice and a hearty laugh, he shares his music, his art, and his unrestrained love for the whale with audiences of all ages.

The S.S. ChanteensThe S.S. Chanteens formed in 2002 following week-long sail training aboard the Victory Chimes in the Gulf of Maine, where students from the Sound School Regional Aquaculture Center, on New Haven Harbor, Connecticut, were crew members. They learned the history of various chanteys while raising sails and performing other sea duties, and learned about life at sea during the Age of Sail through their work and the singing of fo’c’sle songs that speak of the trials and tribulations of the sailors. These students’ incredible passion for sea music quickly spread through the school, resulting in an afterschool music program consisting of many members of the rowing and sailing teams and advised by Paula Daddio, formerly of the trio Shipping News. The group performs at schools, festivals, museums, and on sailing vessels. Although the members change every few years, they all have a genuine love of history and perform with great enthusiasm.

Ken SweeneyKen Sweeney is an accomplished singer and instrumentalist on harmonica, 5-String banjo, and English Concertina, and has been performing at festivals and dances here and abroad since the mid-1970s. Wide experience with varied lifestyles, occupations, and hard travel drive his performances and he has special affinity for the songs of his native New England shores. Ken has been a farmhand, deckhand, logger, lecturer, motorcycle currier, railroad hobo, and “Visiting Professor of Harmonica and Banjo” at a Connecticut university. Former Chantey and Demo squad member at Mystic Seaport since 1989, Ken has crewed on tall ships and climbed to the main truck of the Charles W. Morgan!

Jose and Ana VinagreAna & Jose Vinagre (Fado Singers) were born in the fishing village of Buarcos – Figueira da Foz, Portugal where they began participating in their church choir and in the local community playhouses doing stage plays and operettas as children. At 13, Ana joined the local Folk Dance Group, Cantarinhas de Buarcos, that toured Portugal and several European countries.  At the insistence of some friends, in 1978 Ana began singing Fado, the traditional folk music of Portugal, in New England Portuguese restaurants.  Ana & José have performed at folk music festivals across the United States and at sold out events on the east and west coasts, have performed on Norwegian Cruise Lines, and were contracted as Fado consultants for the movie Passionada. In 2003 Ana and José started a Fado Lecture & Song tour of New England, sponsored by the Massachusettes Arts Council.  In 2003 and 2004, Ana was the recipient of a Mass. Arts Council Grant for a Fado Apprenticeship Program to teach young singers the traditional Portuguese music.

Bob WalserBob Walser - Musician, scholar and educator, Robert Young Walser’s musical career spans decades and continents. In the early 1980s as a chanteyman at Mystic, he helped start the Sea Music Festival and ran it and the chantey program for several years. Bob presented Folklore In Action folk music and dance programs as an artist-in-residence in schools across the USA, taught at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, and performed as a singer, dance leader, and dance musician in the USA, England, France, Poland, and The Netherlands. Bob earned his Ph.D. in ethnomusicology at the University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies. He is part of an international team researching sea chanteys and sailors’ songs from the James Madison Carpenter folklore collection, which is funded by the British Academy and the National Endowment for the Humanities (USA) with the cooperation of the Library of Congress (USA), American Folklore Society, and the Elphinstone Institute at the University of Aberdeen (UK). Bob’s articles and classroom materials were published in the Folk Song Journal, ISMIR 2005 and by World Music Press. He has three CDs on The Old and New Tradition label, including Outward Bound on the J.M. Carpenter.

Evening Concerts: June 12-14, 2014

Daytime concerts and workshops are open to all Mystic Seaport visitors. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening concerts require special tickets and can be purchased at the Museum’s main entrance.

Thursday, June 12, 7 p.m.

“Fitting Out” Concert at the Boat Shed: This evening will feature the Museum’s chantey staff and a number of special guest performers getting us “fitted out” for the weekend voyage. We will be celebrating both the 35th anniversary of the Sea Music Festival and the 38th Voyage of the Charles W. Morgan, which is already underway in New London, Connecticut.

Featuring: Bonnie & Dan Milner (MCs), Current Mystic Seaport Chantey Staff (Craig Edwards, David Iler, Geoff Kaufman, Denise Kegler, Barry Keenan, Chris Koldewey, David Littlefield. Don Sineti), Carol & Dick Holdstock, Larry Kaplan, Chris Kastle and Ken Sweeney

Friday, June 13, 7 p.m.

“Unmooring” Concert at the Boat Shed: As we get “under weigh” for the rest of the weekend, you will be treated to an exciting mix of acts from our stellar roster of performers from near and far.

Featuring:  Bob Walser (MC), Ankie, Nanne & Tseard, The Barrouallie Whalers, Forebitter, Dan McKinnon, Don Sineti and Dave Webber & Anni Fentiman

Saturday, June 14 , 7 p.m.

“Full Sail” Concert at the Boat Shed: Get ready for another amazing night from more great performers. We’ll be posting tentative concert rosters soon.

Featuring: Geoff Kaufman (MC), Jack Dalton, Winston “Jeggae” Hoppie, The Johnson Girls, Dan Milner & Robbie O’Connell, John Roberts and the Ana Vinagré Trio

Music of the Sea Symposium: June 13-14, 2014

As part of the Sea Music Festival, Mystic Seaport will host the Music of the Sea Symposium, a two-day program that explores the interaction between sea, music, and song. This two-day collaborative program between the Museum, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, and University of Connecticut at Avery Point explores subjects from history and folklore, to literature and ethnomusicology and many other related topics.

The first day of the symposium will be hosted Friday, June 13, on the maritime campus of the University of Connecticut at Avery Point in Groton, CT. Admission is free. The symposium continues Saturday, June 14, at Mystic Seaport in the Greenmanville Church. Museum admission is required.

Contra Dance: June 14, 2014

The Sea Music Festival will continue this new tradition that began in 2012! All are invited to kick up their heels and enjoy live music and contra dancing at Frohsinn Hall, located directly across from Mystic Seaport at 54 Greenmanville Avenue, from 3-6 p.m. on Saturday, June 14. Admission to the Contra Dance is $8 and is included in the festival’s All-Access Pass.

Become a Friend of the Festival

The Friends of the Festival is a leadership gift club for the Sea Music Festival. We invite you to join this dedicated group of individuals who, through their generosity, ensure the well-being and future of the festival. To learn more, email the Advancement Department or call 860.572.5365.