Sea Shanties and Forebitters
Richard Adrianowicz & Peter Kasin

We will sing forebitters in the first hour and sea shanties in the second hour. Richard and Peter will briefly describe the different types of shanties and their use but the workshop will primary consist of as much singing as possible. Audience participation is encouraged!

On sailing ships, a bitt was a sturdy post to which anchor or mooring lines were attached, and the fo'csle or fore-deck was the area of the ship holding the crew accommodations. Off-watch crew gathered on the fo'csle, above their quarters, around and perhaps seated upon the fore-bitts. Hence forebitter, songs sung during sailors’ leisure times. Sea shanties, on the other hand, were the work songs of sailors before the invention of steam driven ships. They were used to coordinate the hoisting of sails, general hauling, and work at the capstan (raising the anchor), among others shipboard duties.

Richard’s interest in traditional music began in the early 70s when he moved to California. He was part of several groups in the San Francisco Bay Area, the best known of which was Out of the Rain. The band was active from 1983 to 1995 and recorded two studio cassettes, A Common Treasury and Song of the Wage Slave. Richard also produced With the Friends I Love Best, a compilation CD of live concert recordings from Out of the Rain performances. One of the regular shanty singers at Hyde Street Pier’s monthly shanty sings in San Francisco, held aboard one of the historic sailing ships moored there, he released a recording of sea shanties and sea songs, Time Ashore is Over, in 2002, featuring a chorus of singers from Hyde Street Pier. Raised in Chicago, Illinois, Richard also has a keen interest in songs of the Great Lakes sailors. In addition to being a vocalist, he also plays the guitar, tin whistle and fiddle.

Peter, a native Berkeleyan, grew up on folk music, and, later, rock and blues. He took up Irish and Scottish fiddling in late 1985, and started singing chanteys in the early 90s, after being inspired by a recording of Ewan MacColl and A.L. Lloyd, and by hearing Louis Killen. Peter sings sea chanteys, plays in the San Francisco Scottish Fiddlers, and is a member of the 18-member group In Harmony's Way. Peter's listening tastes are eclectic, and he counts Mike Bloomfield as his guitar god.

Peter and Richard have known each other since the late 1980s, when they met at Irish music parties. After Richard recorded his solo shanty album, “Time Ashore is Over” in 2002, in which Peter participated, they formed a musical partnership, and have released three recordings of sea music, "Boldly from the Westward", "Cast Off Each Line" and "With Shipmates All Around." They are currently in the process of recording a fourth album.