The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #126347   Message #2826402
Posted By: Charley Noble
31-Jan-10 - 11:13 AM
Thread Name: From SF to Sydney - 1853 Shanties Sung?
Subject: RE: From SF to Sydney - 1853 Shanties Sung?
I've been focusing some research at the Australia end with regard to stevedore shanties. The Australian poet Edwin J. Brady was working as a tally clerk on the Sydney docks in the 1890s and was fascinated by the work chants of the screw-jack crews as they were jamming in bales of wool or cotton into the holds of ships. Here's an example from one of his poems "Laying on the Screw":

They will raise a chanty forrard of the stevedorin' kind:

''I'm goin' down to Tennessee,
Oh, take my love and come with me;"
Or, it's "Cheer up, Mrs. Riley," or "Blow, my Bully Boys, Blow"

There's also a reference to "Bully in the Alley" in another poem titled "Lost and Given Over," and a wonderful unique chant of "Re-a ri-a rally!" which appears in several poems.

Perhaps some of our Australian friends are aware of earlier research or notes of what might be happening on the docks. I'm planning to ask members of the Sydney based sea music group The Roaring Forties and our good friend Danny Spooner in Victoria if they are aware of any early documentation of work chants.

Charley Noble