Singing songs of the sea - Regional News | Connecting Wellington
 Issue 222

Singing songs of the sea by Madelaine Empson

For those unfamiliar with the Wellington Sea Shanty Society (WSSS) one half of the seafaring duo, Vorn Dont le Père Etait Marin, sums it up best.

“Ahoy”, the squeezebox-player shouts. “We are the Wellington Sea Shanty Society. We stomp our feet and bang our instruments and sing songs of the sea... sometimes even in key!”

With co-captain Lake Davineer on git-fiddle, WSSS has been belting out traditional sea songs from Aotearoa, France, Spain, the UK, and beyond since time immemorial (2012). When it comes to the canon of music, Vorn thinks sea shanties can spread a particular kind of joy.

“Shanties were originally work songs, sung to help sailors keep in time while doing repetitive tasks together. They’re designed to make hard times easier by setting them to music and sharing them with mates. We find that’s something everyone can relate to, even if they’ve never hoisted a mainsail.”

In the past year, WSSS has flown to Canada (their pirate ship was stuck in the dry dock) for a bilingual shanty tour with their French friends Croche Dedans. Now, they’re back on our shores for a brief stint of shanty singalongs before they set sail for the Albany Folk ‘n’ Shanty Festival in Western Australia.

The Pre-Perth Pirate Party at The Petone Depot on Jackson Street on the 27th of June will be your shot to catch them before their overdue visit to their ex-convict cousins.

“The last marine deputation sent to Western Australia from New Zealand were plagued by accusations of cheating due to KZ-7’s fibreglass hull so we’d just like to take the opportunity now to assure the authorities that all our instruments are made from standard materials. Ahoy!”

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« Issue 222, June 18, 2024