Seattle Chantey Sing
Seattle Chantey Sing is a landing page to direct folks interested in Sea Chanteys (Shanties)
and other maritime music in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest
Upcoming Seattle and Northwest Events
Updated February 19, 2024
There's lots of events that include singing sea chanteys in the greater Seattle area. Here's what we know for now:
What's a Sea Chantey?
Sea Chanteys were work songs sung during the Great Age of Sail, roughly the 1800s, when ships were powered by the wind and it took human power to lift the yards, set the sails, winch up the anchor, and pump the bilges. A call-and-response song led by a chanteyman coordinated this labor so the crew acted as one to get the work done. Other songs were sung aboard ships too. Forebitters were the songs of leisure sung by sailors who usually hung out at the forward part of the ship. Forebitters were were the songs of home, love, or happier times ashore and are often sung duirng Chantey Sings. Note, Chantey is also spelled Shanty.
Why Sing Sea Chanteys?
The bottom line--Sea Chanteys are fun to sing!
The call-and-response form of most chanteys makes it easy for anybody to join in on the chorus, yes-in public.
For people who sing in the shower, its their chance to step out of the shower and let loose.
By singing chanteys, people are singing HISTORY--keeping oral traditions alive that can be hundreds of years old!
It's not a dead art--people are still writing songs in the forms of chanteys and ballads that tell about their relationships to the sea, ships, and sailors.
Tik Tok and games like Assassin's Creed have made new generations aware of the coolness of sea chanteys.
Where to Sing Chanteys in Seattle
Northwest Seaport hosts a monthly Chantey Sing, usually on the second Friday of the month at Lake Union Park. The sing-along is hosted by experienced chantey singers, and members of the audience are encouraged to lead chanteys. Don't worry, at least some members of the audience are bound to know at least the chorus of the song. Sign up to be notified of the location date for each month. The Chantey Sing is also streamed via Zoom, so get on the mailing list to get the link each month.
Where else can you sing or hear chanteys in the Pacific Northwest?
Budd Bay Sea Shanty Singers gather in Olympia each month. Check the website for the next event.
Occasional sea music concerts and events are presented by Maritime Folknet. Their Yule Tide Concert is a holiday favorite as is the Port Gamble Maritime Festival.
The Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival occurs on the weekend after Labor Day every year. On Friday and Saturday nights there is the Sea Shanty Circle from 7 to 10 pm in the Marina Room led by Wayne Palsson and Jean Geiger.
The Northwest Folklife Festival on Memorial Day Weekend is a great place to sing chanteys and hear maritime music. The festival is held over Memorial Day weekend at the Seattle Center. The Maritime Showcase is a concert featuring favorite bands and artists. The showcase is usually held on Saturday afternoon, and sing-alongs happen on Saturday and Sunday evenings at a local pub. Check the festival website in the spring for the schedule.
The Port Gamble Maritime Music Festival occurs on the second Saturday of August at Port Gamble, Washington--a National Historical District. The festival features popular maritime performers in a relaxed, park-like setting.
The Tumbleweed Folk Music Festival held in Richland, Washington over the Labor Day Weekend brings performances of several maritime acts and a lot of folk singers in a laid back atmosphere on the banks of the Columbia River at Howard Amon Park. Nightly chantey and folk sing-alongs keep the nautical tradition alive.
FisherPoets Gathering occurs over the last weekend of February in Astoria, Oregon. Though Fisher Poets focuses in the written and spoken word, there are maritime music sessions during and around the festival.
How to Get Started Singing Chanteys
There are many books, videos, and on-line sources for learning sea chanteys and music. A great introduction, Chantey Pathfinder, guides you to learn more about sea chanteys. Live chantey sings are very popular at the San Francisco National Martime Historic Park and on-line chantey sings are presented by the San Francisco National Maritime Park Association.
Seattle and Northwest Maritime Performers
The Northwest has many muscians and performing groups who sing sea chanteys and sea songs. This is not an exhaustive list but here are a few:
William Pint & Felicia Dale are known across the US and Europe as an exciting and engaging duo who weaves traditional and modern music with the central maritime theme. Harmonized voices blend with a variety of instruments and even a hurdy gurdy. They perform on-line and at regular concerts at the Couth Buzzard in Seattle's Greenwood District and have an extensive CD list.
The Whateverly Brothers are the eclectic duo of Dan Roberts and Chris Glannister who bombard the audience with super harmonies and an arsenal of instruments presenting folk and maritime songs and tunes.
Hank Cramer with a voice as big as the outdoors performs songs from many different genres: cowboy, Celtic, and chanteys. Check out his performing schedule and diverse discography.
Strikes A Bell is an acappella group that arose to perform at local festivals and special events. They are exclusively maritime with the mission of singing singable sea chanties! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Matthew Moeller Captain Matt writes and performs original maritime and other folk songs as well as traditional sea songs.
Shanghaiied on the Willamette perform songs plundered from land and sea. Shanghaied On the Willamette is based in Portland, Oregon.
The Shifty Sailors are homeported on Whidbey Island but make their way to local maritime festivals and events. They have an extensive repertoire and have recored six CDs.
Seastar is a blend of both the old and the new, the tranquil and passionate, the dramatic and playful. They master songs and stories that are Celtic in nature but also include a few songs of the sea.
Time & Tide has been playing a wide variety of maritime music at Puget Sound festivals, clubs, and other venues for over 15 years. Time & Tide also performs traditional and favorite songs and ballads from Americana, folk, gospel, and British Isles sources, featuring male and female leads and harmonies, both a capella and backed by guitar, English concertina, fiddle and bass. Audience participation is encouraged. Contact: Simon ffitch email@example.com
Alex Sturbaum is a traditional musician based in Olympia, Washington. Alex is a singer, songwriter, dance musician, and multi-instrumentalist, and performs folk music from Celtic, American, English, Canadian, and martime music to create something at once old and new.
Have information to add? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.