ABOUT

Canada Day, 1991

Referees:

Deborah Trask, Lunenburg

Jon Stone, Halifax

 

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Elevator pitch:

The Yarmouth Shantymen deliver hearty a cappella renditions in rich harmonies of traditional work songs from the age of sailing ships, wrapped up in an entertaining, audience-engaging performance.

Short Bio:

The Yarmouth Shantymen were formed in 1984 when Eric Ruff, Curator of the Yarmouth County Museum, recruited some musical friends for a one-time performance to illustrate a talk on sea shanties, the rhythmic work songs that helped ships’ crews with their heavy work, and the delightful “off watch” songs about the joys of life, romances and good times. Thirty years and counting later, the a cappella group is still going, with robust voices and rich harmonies, and is out to entertain. The Yarmouth Shantymen have released 3 CDs, and have performed in Quebec (La Fête des chants de marins), Maine, and New Brunswick; in Nova Scotia they have sung numerous times in Halifax and various other places around the province, including the Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival.

Medium Bio:

In 1984 Eric Ruff, Curator of the Yarmouth County Museum, recruited some musical friends for a one-time performance of sea shanties to illustrate a talk he was giving at the museum. Sea shanties are rhythmic work songs that helped ships’ crews with the heavy work of hoisting spars, trimming sails and weighing anchor in the age of sail. Sailors also had delightful “off watch” songs about the joys of life, romances and good times.  

A request for a return engagement marked the birth of The Yarmouth Shantymen. In the 30+ years since, they have greatly widened their shanty repertoire and strengthened their performance: they sing a cappella with robust voices and rich harmonies, and are a group out to entertain. They keep the rhythms authentic to the original sea tasks, and provide song-specific banter to gain audience engagement.

The Yarmouth Shantymen have self-produced three CDs featuring 53 different shanties and sea songs, and have more in their repertoire waiting to be recorded. They average about 15 shows a year, and have performed in Quebec (La Fête des chants de marins), Maine, and New Brunswick; in Nova Scotia they have sung numerous times in Halifax and various other places around the province, including the Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival.

Long Bio:
 
In 1984 Eric Ruff, Curator of the Yarmouth County Museum, recruited some musical friends for a one-time performance of sea shanties to illustrate a talk he was giving at the museum. Sea shanties are rhythmic work songs that helped ships’ crews with the heavy work of hoisting spars, trimming sails and weighing anchor in the age of sail. Sailors also had delightful “off watch” songs about the joys of life, romances and good times.

Later in 1984, CBC-TV Halifax sent a reporter to shoot a news item on their songs and the history of commercial sailing in Yarmouth. This publicity led to an annual performance at Yarmouth’s Sea Fest festival and paid appearances at Yarmouth’s Grand Hotel when the client needed their all-ages lively music.      
        
More invitations to sing followed. In the 30+ years since, The Yarmouth Shantymen have widened their shanty repertoire using books, CD’s, the internet, and networking with other shanty singers. They sing a cappella, with robust voices, rich harmonies, and are a group out to entertain. They keep the rhythms authentic to the original sea tasks, and provide song-specific banter to gain audience engagement.

The Yarmouth Shantymen have self-produced three CDs featuring 53 different shanties and sea songs, and have more in their repertoire waiting to be recorded. They average about 15 performances a year. They also donate performances to schools and some charitable events.  They have performed in Quebec (closing the final concert at La Fête des chants de marins), Maine, and New Brunswick; in Nova Scotia they have sung numerous times in Halifax and various other places around the province, including the Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival, where in 2015 they gave four shows, including the main stage Friday night.