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Preserving Chanties of Virginia Fishermen

Related threads:
A.H. Rasmussen Chanties (7)
Lomax Collection Sea Songs & Shanties (2)
The Robert Winslow Gordon Chanties (1)
Lyr Req: James M. Carpenter Shanties & Sea Songs (46)


katlaughing 11 Dec 06 - 10:50 PM
Barry Finn 12 Dec 06 - 03:08 AM
RoyH (Burl) 12 Dec 06 - 08:41 AM
Charlie Baum 12 Dec 06 - 08:58 AM
karen k 12 Dec 06 - 09:22 AM
Peter Kasin 12 Dec 06 - 10:49 AM
Lighter 12 Dec 06 - 04:58 PM
Barry Finn 12 Dec 06 - 05:04 PM
katlaughing 12 Dec 06 - 05:07 PM
dick greenhaus 12 Dec 06 - 07:53 PM
Peter Kasin 12 Dec 06 - 10:38 PM
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Subject: Preserving Chanties of Virginia Fisherme
From: katlaughing
Date: 11 Dec 06 - 10:50 PM

Great program on NPR, yesterday. You can hear the program and samples of these songs, Mule on the Mountain, Dead or Alive,Drinking of the Wine at THIS PAGE. Here's the write-up:

Along the eastern seaboard 50 years ago, African-American fishermen used to sing as they worked. That work song tradition went by the wayside when machines replaced manual labor. But it's being kept alive by a group of aging former fishermen in the northern neck region of Virginia.

The men, all in their 70s and 80s now, rehearse each week in Dr. Elton Smith's living room. Smith is the manager of the Northern Neck Chantey Singers.

Chanties are songs that the fishermen would sing while working on the boat, Smith explains. The chanties would give the workers a sense of togetherness in pulling in the nets and hauling in the fish.

In 1957, Christopher Harvey worked on a boat called the Pocahontas near Greenport, Long Island. He learned the chanties from some of the old fishermen he met on the boats.

"It helped us as a crew of men to work together as one and to take some of the weight off each other," Harvey says. "If you sing chantey and coordinate yourself to come in at the same time, we know everybody have their share of work."

The fishermen would be at sea for weeks at a time on a large fishing vessel in search of menhaden, an oily fish used in animal feeds, fertilizers and industrial lubricants. Their time away affected what they sang about.

"If you young, you sing about your girlfriend," Harvey says, adding, "You also sing about your loved one you missed from home. Stuff like that."/i


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Subject: RE: Preserving Chanties of Virginia Fishermen
From: Barry Finn
Date: 12 Dec 06 - 03:08 AM

Thanks Kat.
Their repatoire is very close though the harmonies differ to those of the 'Manhaden Chanteymen' another group of former fishermen that sing as a chantey group that fished the same industry only a little bit farther south. I had the great pleasure of hear the Manhaden Chanteymen on a few different occasions & spent a weekend at Mystic while they were there. I've always wanted to catch the Northen Neck Chantey Singers but so far it hasn't happened. I glad there's been some focus on them, maybe it'll help get them out into the public a little bit more. Anyone know if they have a CD out, the Manhaden Chanteymen do on Rounder?

Barry


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Subject: RE: Preserving Chanties of Virginia Fishermen
From: RoyH (Burl)
Date: 12 Dec 06 - 08:41 AM

Kat, thank you so much for putting up this link. I've really enjoyed it Wouldn't they be great at Mystic? Will somebody please find out if these blokes have a cd? I'd love one. This is great stuff. Burl.


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Subject: RE: Preserving Chanties of Virginia Fishermen
From: Charlie Baum
Date: 12 Dec 06 - 08:58 AM

I 'm hoping that (and wouldn't be surprised if) the chantey singers turn up at next year's 2007 Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the Mall in Washington DC. One of the focuses of the 2007 Festival is the culture of Virginia, in honor of the 400th Anniversary of Jamestown.

--Charlie Baum


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Subject: RE: Preserving Chanties of Virginia Fishermen
From: karen k
Date: 12 Dec 06 - 09:22 AM

Nice find, kat. Thanks,

karen


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Subject: RE: Preserving Chanties of Virginia Fishermen
From: Peter Kasin
Date: 12 Dec 06 - 10:49 AM

The Northern Neck chanteymen have a cassette available, but I'm not sure if it's been put to CD yet.

Chanteyranger


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Subject: RE: Preserving Chanties of Virginia Fishermen
From: Lighter
Date: 12 Dec 06 - 04:58 PM

That's great, Katlaughing ! The Lomaxes found convicts in Texas singing "Dead or Alive" to drive spikes in the '30s. So there was probably a lot of song trading going on among black workers in the enmtire South.


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Subject: RE: Preserving Chanties of Virginia Fishermen
From: Barry Finn
Date: 12 Dec 06 - 05:04 PM

To add to that Lighter: "Drinking That Wine" is another found in both the prison & fishing traditions, along with versions of "Ol Alabama" & "Mule On A Mountain". I started to do some research on the songs that crossed eithin those traditions, I should get back to it, though I didn't find alot more than these mentioned.

Barry


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Subject: RE: Preserving Chanties of Virginia Fishermen
From: katlaughing
Date: 12 Dec 06 - 05:07 PM

That's what came to mind when I listened to them, too, Lighter and Barry. They sounded so much like what I've heard of the prison songs from that era.

Glad you all have enjoyed this.

Thanks,

kat


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Subject: RE: Preserving Chanties of Virginia Fishermen
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 12 Dec 06 - 07:53 PM

The Menhaden Fishermen' CD is on the Global Village Label. Available from CAMSCO.


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Subject: RE: Preserving Chanties of Virginia Fishermen
From: Peter Kasin
Date: 12 Dec 06 - 10:38 PM

Hi, Dick. This is a different group than that one. Would you have the Northern Neck Chanyeymen cassette? The other group you mentioned is great, and anyone interested should definitely contact you at CAMSCO.

Chanteyranger


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