Happy summer! Hope you’ve had some great times on the water this past month.
If you recall, late last month found me aboard our wonderful community Water Taxi, excited to be on my way to the 45th Annual NW Regional Folklife Festival, a small detail that perhaps a few of you noticed or wondered about, though it has no obvious correlation to boats and boating. Of course, in my mind, there is one. The commonality is music: sea tales and songs of boats and boating.
I fell in love with sea chanties at my first Folklife Festival some years ago. As a very young person, I had only heard Top 40 or popular music (or “boring” parental music that I didn’t learn to appreciate until much later). Then, I stumbled upon a non-commercial radio station that was broadcasting live from this 3-day festival. I was hooked from that moment, and impulsively headed off to the festival to the great surprise of my family and friends, and even myself.
I immersed myself in traditional and non-traditional music that year. My favorites were the sea chanties, but I also loved the folk, bluegrass and ethnic music. For years after that, I enthusiastically looked forward to, and back on, Memorial Day weekend. I volunteered at subsequent festivals (and also at that radio station); happy to donate my time, because there was no place that I would rather be. Then, adventure called. I moved away from the area for a while. Life got busy/busier. Responsibilities, other people, and other interests and/or activities (even boating) sometimes prevailed, so I wasn’t always able to get there. Still, I enjoyed and followed this music, sometimes literally. Over time, my interest deepened. I collected albums and attended as many concerts as I could afford.
Fast forward to this year. When I ventured to the festival, after too many years away, I looked forward to hearing new things and to be inspired. I was happy on all those counts. But, I had also hoped to catch a few sea songs, and perhaps some of the musicians and bands that I remembered, but that was not the case.
In these weeks since, I was happy to find that this year’s festival recordings are online (wonderful, but most not boating-related). More importantly, I discovered that some of my favorite recordings from earlier years have now made the leap from vinyl. I’ll sign off with a small sampling that you might enjoy! They run the gamut from playful to suspenseful. (Apologies that some have ads that you’ll need to skip over or tolerate.)
Fairport Convention’s rendition of the Sailor’s Alphabet.
Gordon Bok’s Peter Kagen and the Wind.
Peter, Paul and Mary’s Somos el barco (We are the Boat).
I could have added many more to this list—songs of leaving on long journeys, songs about rivers and lakes, songs from other genres and popular culture—but what I especially enjoy about these last few is that they speak to resiliency…or as we boaters might say, buoyancy.