Kamis, 21 Januari 2021

Want to sing your own sea shanty? Here’s how to do just that - The Mercury News


The sea shanty is having a moment.

The old-timey form of maritime music, which experienced its original heyday back in the mid-1800s aboard sailings vessels and fishing boats as well as at shipyards across the globe, is making its (very) long-awaited comeback as people increasingly post and watch shanty videos on TikTok.

Go figure, right?

Most trace the trend to a TikTok user by the name of Nathan Evans, who on Dec. 27 posted a video of himself singing a tune called “Soon May the Wellerman Come.”

It quickly became a viral sensation, generating seemingly endless discussion and admiration as well as countless imitators and tributes on various social media sites. The response has been great enough to lead one Twitter user to proclaim that “2021 is the year of the sea shanty.”

Even celebs have caught on, with Jimmy Fallon and the Roots notably delivering a wonderful shanty-style version of Olivia Rodrigo’s recent smash “Driver’s License.”

Yet, the sea shanty party is hardly a new thing in the Bay Area. In fact, it’s been going on for 40 years at the National Maritime National Park.

“Since 1981, the park has hosted a monthly shanty sing-along aboard historic vessels on Hyde Street Pier,” says Peter Kasin, the now-retired park ranger who has been leading the monthly shanty sing since 1996.

For decades, these gatherings would draw in the neighborhood of 70 participants each month to enjoy a good shanty (also spelled “chanty” or, as the National Maritime National Park prefers, “chantey”). But their popularity has definitely been growing in recent years, as monthly attendance soared into the 150-200 range. Of course, that was before COVID-19 hit, which necessitated putting the in-person sing-alongs on hiatus and taking the shanty party online.

And what has happened since then? Well, the event has grown even more popular.

“Since it went virtual, it’s gone international,” Kasin says. “At the last one, we had over a thousand people take part.”

The park’s free Virtual Chantey Sing is held from noon to 2 p.m. on the third Saturday of each month. The next one is set for Feb. 20. Interested parties can just just dial up the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park Association’s website, martime.org, click on “chantey sing” on the top right hand side of the page and get ready to sing some shanties.

Those looking to lead a shanty — be a shantyman or shantywoman for a particular number — should register in advance through the same website. There is space for roughly 30 leaders at each of these gatherings, which now draw people from several different countries.

“We’ve had people from all over the world log on,” Kasin says. “Even among the lead singers, at this last (shanty) we had a number of people from England, we had a singer from France, we had a singer from the Czech Republic and a singer in the Netherlands.

“Definitely, since it’s gone virtual there’s been a tremendous surge in people taking part.”

Kasin does link the latest surge in shanty interest to that viral TikTok video.

“It’s really caught on with a lot of young people,” he says.

But he also credits this success story to the numerous maritime music venues and festivals around the globe, which have been supporting shanties for years.

“There was already a built-in fanbase of this kind of music,” he says. “Of course, compared to pop music and rock, it has been much more under the radar and not as popular as that.”

Well, maybe not as popular in this century (or, really, the previous one). But shanties certainly were a dominant music force back in the 1800s. These maritime songs were very popular onboard ships, where they would be used to rhythmically coordinate the work being done as well as “try to make these miserable, backbreaking jobs seem to be a little more bearable,” says Kasin.

“You’d have a number of sailors in a row hauling on a line — like a long rope called a line — to raise sail, or pumping water out of the ship, or turning the capstan, which was an iron winch to help raise anchor, for example,” he says. “You’d need to coordinate that effort. You need to get everyone in rhythm working together.

“Plus, it was a good thing to lift spirits. I mean, you could do it with numbers — you could do it without a shanty — and you could go like, ‘one, two, three, pull, one, two, three, pull.’ But that’s going to get pretty boring.”

These work songs, which were also used by longshoremen at shipyards and docks, were delivered in a call-and-response format.

“In every case of a shanty, you have a leader — someone who sings out verses,” Kasin says. “Then there is a chorus that keeps coming back over and over again. The other people would sing the chorus back to (the leader).”

And these songs could definitely be heard on the countless ships heading to and from San Francisco once the Gold Rush hit.

“(San Francisco) immediately became one of the world’s major port cities,” Kasin says. “So, you had thousands of ships coming in every year.

“And chanteys were the lifeblood of working aboard sailing ships.”

And now they are all the rage on TikTok, which is an unexpected turn of events that makes a bit more sense as one learns more about the genre. More than just “a reflection of history,” shanties “speak to people in many ways,” Kasin says.

“There are a lot of concepts that everyone feels that shanties speak to — such as fear, longing for a better life, love, lust,” he says. “All of these emotions people all over the world feel and know, they appear in shanties. So, I think sea shanties have that sort of direct connection to people’s emotions, as well as a connection to history.

“Chanteys, as a form of international music, cross ethnic and racial lines. There is a tremendous Black influence — African-American and also Caribbean. There is everything from Japanese net-hauling songs to Black American fishermen and whalers of the 19th century. It crosses at lot of lines in that regard.”

For more information on the Hyde Street Pier Chantey Sing can be found at https://www.facebook.com/groups/hydestreetpier.

The Link Lonk

January 22, 2021 at 03:17AM

Want to sing your own sea shanty? Here’s how to do just that - The Mercury News



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