Sea Music Festival
June 7 - June 10
Join us for the 39th annual Sea Music Festival featuring four days filled with workshops, concerts, hands-on demonstrations, and a scholarly symposium – all celebrating the music of the sea! From songs of the golden age of sail to contemporary compositions, the Sea Music Festival includes a wide variety of sea music both modern and traditional, a children’s stage with special performances for families, and demonstrations of maritime work songs – or chanteys – aboard our historic vessels.
As one of the world’s premier sea music events, performers come from around the world and across the United States. This year, we are excited to present the music of Matthew Byrne from Newfoundland, The Vox Hunters from Rhode Island, FUNI from Iceland, Dan Zanes from New York City, and many more. We are proud to partner with Williams College and the Williams-Mystic Maritime Studies Program to present the Music of the Sea Symposium, exploring the connection between music, maritime culture, folklore, history, and other related topics.
Daytime concerts, workshops, and the Symposium are included with Museum admission. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening concerts require the purchase of a separate ticket. Combination passes are available for this event, including Two-Day and All-Access.
2018 Performer Roster
Walter Askew – California
Inspired by a love of history and traditional culture, Walter has been featured at sea music festivals and clubs around the U.S., U.K., Ireland, Germany, and the Netherlands. Voted “San Francisco’s Favorite Sea Chantey Band” with his group Salty Walt & The Rattlin’ Ratlines, he regularly performs concerts and programs at the San Francisco Maritime Museum.
Matthew Byrne – Newfoundland
Born into a family of Newfoundland music makers, Matthew Byrne’s music has traveled well beyond those rugged shores since his 2010 debut album, Ballads. Touring as both a solo artist and as a singer with The Dardanelles, he has graced major festival stages worldwide. With his second album, Hearts Heroes, receiving Traditional Recording of the Year at the 2015 Canadian Folk Music Awards, he has established himself as one of Canada’s most authentic and vital traditional voices.
Judy Cook – Ohio
Judy began performing professionally in the early 1990s. In addition to programs and festivals from the Midwest to New England, she has toured annually in the U.K. and U.S. since 1998. Judy specializes in programs with historical interests and presents songs from a varied repertoire woven together with historical details, quotations, letters from her own ancestors, and images.
FUNI (Bára Grímsdóttir and Chris Foster) – Reykjavík, Iceland
Bára Grímsdóttir is one of Iceland’s best traditional singers and is widely respected in Iceland as a composer. Bára has a special interest in the old rímur and kvæðalög styles of Icelandic folk music, but she also sings in other traditional styles, both secular and religious. Chris Foster started singing folk songs in his native southwest England. He was recently described as “one of the finest singers and most thoughtful inventive guitar accompanists of English folk songs, meriting legend status.” For 40 years he has toured throughout the U.K., Europe, Canada, and the U.S., recorded six solo albums, and worked on many collaborative projects.
Sara Grey & Keiron Means – Maine and New York
Sara is a treasured American singer, banjo player, and song collector. She’s immersed in the song traditions of both sides of the Atlantic and has performed throughout the U.K., Europe, North America, and Australia for the past 50 years; she has also collaborated with Tom Spiers on a project of songs that migrated across the Atlantic. Kieron is a singer and guitarist of great merit. A fine performer of traditional and contemporary songs, Kieron has toured in the U.S. and the U.K. and often joins his mother, Sara. Together, they perform a wide range of American traditions, including old-time songs and ballads from the Appalachians, Ozarks, New England, and the West, blues and gospel music, as well as a few of their favorite contemporary songs.
Jim Mageean & Pat Sheridan – England and Ireland
Jim is an English folk singer based in Tyne and Wear, specializing in sea chanteys, maritime music, and Geordie Songs from his native northeast. Jim and his singing partner of 35 years, Johnny Collins, sang at festivals and concerts throughout Europe and North America until Johnny passed away. Pat developed an early interest in folk songs, began collecting during the great folk revival of the late 1960s, and started singing folk songs with guitar in some of Dublin’s bars. In 1970 he joined a Dublin acapella group called Garland, and both his repertoire and style changed forever.
Mara and Rokus Korus – Carnoet, Bretagne, France w/ Mary Ann Roberts from Wales (originally from Trinidad)
Mara brings together three strong performers from Brittany: fiddler Yuna Leon, playing tunes from the Breton and Irish traditions with equal ease, and powerful mother and daughter duo, Brigitte and Katell Kloareg, who have sung together for over 20 years and share a large repertoire of Breton, French, English, and Welsh songs with forays into other traditions. Mara will present lively singing for the dancing tradition of Brittany along with ballads and songs focusing on women and shipwrecks. Rokus Korus is about two friends who shared their singing traditions and passed the songs on to their daughters. Powerful duo Brigitte & Katell Kloareg met mighty Trinidadian singer and dancer Mary-Anne Roberts in Cardiff and started singing together in the 1990s. Mary-Anne’s daughter, Aisling, joined the initial trio for an eclectic mix of songs in English, Breton, Welsh, French, and Creole.
Dan Milner – New York
Dan Milner and his elder brother Liam began adding sea songs to their family repertoire of Irish ballads after sailing to New York aboard the Queen Elizabeth in 1961. A decade later they were singing at South Street Seaport with David Jones, Charlie O’Hegarty, and the X-Seamen. For ten years beginning in 1975, Dan was the organizer of Manhattan’s renowned Eagle Tavern folk venue. A geography professor at St. John’s University, he also teaches singing at summer music camps and has been a presenter at three Music of the Sea Symposiums.
Lee Murdock – Illinois
Lee Murdock is an accomplished instrumentalist on the six- and 12–string guitars, combining ragtime, Irish, blues, and folk styles with his flair for storytelling in songs. His musical influences span 15 generations, from 17th century Turlough O’Carolan compositions to Scott Joplin piano rags, to 21 century ballads. Murdock has released 21 LPs and CDs to date and maintains a busy international touring schedule.
Lynn Noel – Massachusetts
Lynn Noel has a voice of striking clarity and power and a captivating storyteller’s style that brings history to life. She is a Country Dance and Song Society (CDSS) local hero for chanteys and pub sings in New England, a harmony singer with a repertoire from medieval to music hall, and an internationally known heritage interpreter, author, and living history professional. Lynn’s concert series, Crosscurrents: Bluewater and Whitewater Music, has received awards of excellence from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and the Canadian Parks Service. Lynn appears this year at the Sea Music Festival as “Gudrid the Wanderer: First Viking Woman in the New World,” a role developed for L’anse aux Meadowes National Historic Site in Newfoundland.
3 Ravens – Massachusetts
Lui Collins earned international acclaim for her Philo and Green Linnet recordings and her intimate concerts. Along with creating playful 4-string arrangements of original songs, Lui has been exploring jazz chords in old American standards and bossa nova on tenor ukulele. Donna Hébert is a cultural treasure, a Franco-American fiddler, and a composer three-times documented in Smithsonian collections. Recognized in 2009 for “outstanding artistic achievement” by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, Donna also teaches fiddle and performance at Smith and Amherst Colleges. Max Cohen’s natural humility hides an amazing talent. An accomplished guitarist, Max balances sensitivity with driving rhythmic power.
Steve Turner – England
Steve Turner is known as a pioneer of highly sophisticated English concertina song accompaniments, stretching the boundaries of traditional forms with one of the best voices in the business. A multi-instrumentalist, Steve accompanies himself on the cittern and plays mandolin and banjo. He returned to performing in folk clubs and festivals in 2005.
The Vox Hunters – Rhode Island
Armand Aromin and Benedict Gagliardi are seekers and singers of old songs, tireless multi-instrumentalists, and a driving force of traditional folk music in Rhode Island. The duo is known to instigate singing and music–making at any opportunity and delight in the community that forms around local music events. With a pair of oft-harmonizing voices accompanied by fiddle, free-reeds, and tenor guitar, The Vox Hunters present an exciting and eclectic repertoire of traditional folk songs, driving dance tunes, percussive footwork, and other musical varia.
Dan Zanes and Claudia Eliaza – New York City
Dan is a Grammy Award winner who occupies a unique place in American music: where sea chanteys, English Music hall, play party songs, the spirit of early rock-n-roll, soul, and North American and West Indian folk music collide. Claudia is an exuberant Haitian American songstress with a rich voice that captivates her audience at large. Having performed at Carnegie Hall, Claudia performs in other prestigious venues including the Jazz Philharmonic Hall in St. Petersburg, Russia, and the Berklee Performance Center. Dan and Claudia perform sea songs from North America and the island of Haiti. The audience is invited to sing and dance along to the sound of voices, guitar, flute, harmonica, and trombone in what might be called a casual, and subversively educational, interactive party atmosphere.