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.