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GUEST,Chanteyranger Festival of the Sea, San Francisco (45) RE: Festival of the Sea, San Francisco 12 Sep 05

Thank you to the Mudcat volunteers and performers who helped make this festival such a great success! As noted, the weather was fine, the setting beautiful.

The front gate opened at 10am, and festival activities got underway with capstan and pumps demonstrations by the park's living history program, held aboard the square-rigger Balclutha. At 11:00, a ceremony in honor of the Balclutha's 50th anniversary as a museum ship was held on her poop deck. Chris Caswell opened the ceremony with some pipe tunes, and after several presentations, Alasdair Fraser ended the ceremony with some fiddle tunes, with me guesting with him on a set of reels. Music on the forepier stage began at 10:30 with Salty Walt and the Rattlin' Ratlines. music on the mid-Pier stage began with Danny and Joyce Macleod, and at noon in the Balclutha's shelterdeck, Alasdair Fraser started the first of two solo sets, the other at 2:00 on the mid-Pier stage. Children's concerts and puppet shows started earlier in the visitor center theatre.

One of the great things about traditional music festivals is the sense of community among the performers and among the audiences, and this festival was no exception. Alasdair Fraser calls up several musicians from the audience to do a song, or fiddle tune, with him. Another performer, Christa Burch (of the duo "Lintie"), is called up to do a song which Alasdair accompanies. Gerry O'Beirne shows his brilliance on the guitar, and calls up Alasdair for some tunes. It's a professional gig, but it's also friends getting together and having fun on stage, and conecting in a special way with their audiences. Rather than "We're up here and you're down there," the spirit is more like "We're all here together. Let's do some music!"

This was the first time for a good number of bay area people to see The Johnson Girls, (they performed a sea music concert for a much smaller audience here a couple of years ago) and Danny and Joyce Mcleod. Need I say they made an impression?

The Johnson Girls are beginning to influence and inspire chantey singers in the bay area, mostly through their first CD, which has been out for a few years. "London Julie,' "Blackbird Get Up," and several other songs from their repertoire are making their way into the chantey sings here. It's time for their second CD to start planting seeds among bay area chantey singers.

We are blessed with a large number of very talented local chantey singers, anchored by Dick Holdstock and Allan Macleod, who have been performing at this festival since the park's first one in 1979, and by Skip Henderson, a fixture on the scene for at least 30 years.

Dave Swan's group Oak, Ash and thorn were in fine form-fitting mean in fine form. Pam Swan has emerged as a force in mouth music and has a new CD out of international mouth music.

The youngest performer was Shay Black's six and a half year-old daughter, Shosi. She sang with her dad at one of the children's concerts. She's an older role model for the up and coming five year olds!

Hyde Street Pier's longtime galley cook extroardinaire Alice Watts and her volunteer crew kept performers, volunteers, and staff incredibly well fed with breakfast, lunch, and a huge barbecue meat and vegetarian dinner party aboard the 1890-built ferry Eureka before the Balclutha's evening chantey sing.

The spirit of the festival kept rolling Sunday night at the Starry Plough Irish Pub in Berkeley, at Shay black's session. A special post-festival session was held, with much more emphasis on singing than usual, as a number of festival performers were there. Thanks to shay for hosting it, and for the Starry Plough regulars for giving way to festival performers in the singing slots.

Mudcatters played a prominent role from performing, staffing, and volunteering were PJ and Dave Swan, Riggy, radriano, Melani, BillR, open mike, Bev and Jerry, FranzS, Mark Cohen, Joy Bennett, guestJim, and Musique174 (who had her solo performing debut), and Lancslad. Great to see Joe Offer in the audience and at the chantey sing! Did I leave anyone out?   

All in all a great day. Now, finally, to sleep. G'night!


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