Sea Shanties are work songs first heard aboard early 19th century packet and clipper ships. They once accompanied the hard labor and coordinated effort necessary to make the big boats stop and go. No musical instruments were used. When it came to anchors both hands of all hands required occupation. There were no free digits about for plucking ukuleles or fingering the chance ocarina. Gusto spiced with wit had to be enough. And it was. That is, until steam-powered vessels smoked utility, propelling the raucous noise landward to new roosts where even today joyous yobbos and monkey-jacketed dreamers of corsair dreams, their mouths full of cackle fruit and bellies of bumboo, bellow full-heart, just as they like, till they be in Davy’s grip.
Central Pennsylvania hasn’t been underwater since the pre-Cambrian era. And the founder of the Allegheny Bilge Rats Shanty Choir has never been on an oceangoing boat. But the enthusiastic response, of the singers, to the old sailor songs is clear and infectious. Our shanty choir is growing, in number and volume, in and around the Penn State Altoona campus.
Props go out to artist, musician, and musicologist Art Rosenbaum for offhandedly introducing Steven Sherrill to the genre. And to the rowdy crew who jumped onboard without hesitation when asked “want to come to a sea shanty party?”
In a world where everything is judged, commodified, packaged, and marketed, opportunities to come together for the sake of nothing other than the joy of making community noise are hard to find. The Allegheny Bilge Rats Shanty Choir sings for each other. We’d be happy to let you join us.
Contact info for Steven Sherrill can be found at www.stevensherrill.com
released November 15, 2012
Sam Findley on "Shenandoah;" Jordan Heitkamp on "Haul Away Joe;" Sarah Jenkins on "South Australia" and "Lowlands Away;" Hal Kunkel on "Blood Red Roses," "Cape Cod Girls," and "Minguley Boat Song;" Christian Reifsteck on "Hanging Johnny;" Steven Sherrill on "Roll the Old Chariot," "John Kanaka," "John Kanaka (with kids)," and "Donkey Riding;" and Mike Weiland on "What Shall We do with a Drunken Sailor."
Paul Bilger, Chas Brua, Tom Burk, Christie Charles, Eric Charles, Tyler Cousart, Sam Findley, Jordan Heitkamp, Sarah E. Jenkins, Matt Kresch, Hal Kunkel, Jordan Ley, Nathaniel McCartney, Timothy Melbinger, David F. Parry, Lee Peterson, Julie Piotti, Christian Reifsteck, Steven Sherrill, Jordan Shumaker, Chris Sickenger, Mike Wieland
Merryn Charles, Renna Charles, Esmee Sherrill, Josephine Squillante
Recorded by David Villani of Data Music Services
Production and album design by Mark Ari