cover of Roll and Go CD Rolling Down to Sailortown with link to CD Info

Roll & Go

Rolling Down to Sailortown

Outward Bound – A fine sea poem by the writer and sea shanty collector Cicely Fox Smith which Charlie has adapted for singing. Charlie's tune is from the traditional Blow the Candle Out. This is a classic sailortown song where the sailors have "laid around and played around" too long and it’s time to ship out. Led by Jeff Logan with back-up vocals on the verse by Charlie and Eli and full chorus; Jeff and Eli on guitars, Charlie on banjo, and Norris on whistle.

Paddy Lay Back – A traditional capstan shanty which according to shantysinger and collector Stan Hugill, dates back to "the Mobile cotton hoosiers." It's a fine setting-out song which describes the make-up of the crew, their condition, their officers, and the voyage ahead. Led by Norris with full chorus.

Running Down to Cuba – Traditional halyard shanty describing a typical East Coast run to the West Indies loaded down with lumber, the joys of sailortown, and then loading up for the return home. Charlie has selected verses from several versions of this hard-driving song. The earliest version was collected by Hugill from a West Indies sailor. The repeating chorus was more recently added by The Beans of New Bedford, Massachusetts. Led by Charlie with full chorus; Charlie on banjo.

So Long (All Coiled Down) – Another C. Fox Smith sea poem that has been musically arranged by Alan Fitzsimmons, © 1998, used with permission. Charlie first heard this sung by Danny and Joyce McLeod in concert. It's a great farewell to the ship and one's shipmates after a long voyage. Led by Dick with full chorus; Jeff on guitar.

Whiskey, Johnny – Traditional halyard walk-away shanty; this arrangement is after Ewan MacColl and A. L. Lloyd's recording Blow Boys Blow, now available as a CD from Tradition, TCD 1024, 1996. According to sea shanty editor/collector William Doerflinger this was a favorite of a Black shantyman "Lemon" Curtis in the 1890's. The shantyman is waxing wistful as he imagines how generous their captain might be in providing the crew some intoxicating refreshment. Led by Charlie with full chorus.

Fathom the Bowl – Traditional sailortown drinking song. Dick's version is after the singing of Cliff Haslam. No nonsense in this song, just a stirring description of where good liquor comes from and what should be done with it, with an aside to a doubting spouse. Led by Dick with full chorus.

Gosport Nancy – Nancy's a one-woman welcoming committee for sailors going ashore at Gosport. This is a 1930's Blue-Jacket drinking song collected by ex-Royal Navy submariner Cyril Tawney and recorded by him on In the Naval Spirit, Neptune Tapes NEP 000, 1987. Here's high praise for this best of all the girls. Led by Norris with full chorus; Charlie on banjo and Eli on guitar.

Mariner's Compass – Charlie found this 1808 drinking song by John Holland reprinted in John Ashton's Real Sailor-Songs. It lacked a tune but he was able to channel one that seems to be a good fit. Here grog, the sailor's traditional shipboard drink of rum and water, is celebrated in full measure. Led by Charlie with full chorus; concertina by Charlie.

Serafina – Traditional halyard shanty. Hugill notes that "Serafina" was a legendary prostitute in Callao's Calle Marina, in 19th century Peru. What a striking characterization of another sailortown denizen. Led by Eli with full chorus.

Paddy West – Traditional forebitter. Hugill claimed that "Paddy West" was a real Liverpool inn keeper who ran a school of "practical navigation" in his taproom for the benefit of aspiring young sailors. At least they'd graduate with some idea of the nautical nomenclature, but they'd never fool a real deep-water sailor for long. Led by Charlie with full chorus; Charlie on concertina.

Mollymauk – Contemporary forebitter with music and words by Bob Watson (UK) © 1987 ROM (Bob) Watson, Reading, UK and used with permission. Norris first heard this sung by Jeri Corlew and Barbara Benn at the Press Room in Portsmouth, NH. One shellback superstition was that the soul of a drowned sailor would fly forever as an albatross off Cape Horn. Led by Norris, with back-up vocals on the verse and chorus by Eli and Jeff; Norris on whistle.

South Australia – Traditional pumping shanty. Hugill points out that the reference in the chorus to "hauling and heaving" is descriptive of what the pumping team would actually be doing. Here we have a sailor sharing his memories of his last visit to Sydney's old sailortown adjacent to Circular Quay. Led by Jeff with full chorus.

All for Me Grog – Traditional forebitter/drinking song collected by Cecil Sharp back in 1904. Norris' version is after the singing of A. L. Lloyd, English Drinking Songs, Topic, 1961, re-released in 1998 as TSCD-496. Here we have a lament for all that has been lost while on a sailortown spree, the only gain being a severe case of delirium tremens. Led by Norris with full chorus; Norris on whistle.

West Indies Blues – Charlie adapted this song from a popular early 1920's blues song as sung by Ella Robinson Madison to his mother. Madison's version includes the unique Charleston verses which may go back to her days as an internationally known minstrel singer. Instead of using the original blues tune Charlie refit it to the Southern Appalachian tune I've Been All Around This World. Here the West Indies immigrant is longing to be home. Led by Charlie with full chorus; Charlie on banjo, Jeff and Eli on guitars, and Norris on washtub bass.

Mariquita –This C. Fox Smith poem is unabashedly nostalgic as the old shellback recalls the love of his more youthful days. Sure, he knows that he's grown old and Mariquita's no longer the girl she used to be but he cherishes the memory. Charlie set this poem to music and lightly seasoned the words. Led by Dick with back-up vocals on the verse by Jeff; Eli on guitar, Charlie on banjo, and Norris on whistle.

Leave Her, Johnny – Traditional pumping/capstan warping shanty. Here the sailors are nearing port, and as Hugill says, "airing their grievances" about their officers and the ship's condition, while anticipating the solace of sailortown. Led by Eli with full chorus.

Outside Track –Based on a poem by the late 19th century Australian poet Henry Lawson as musically arranged by Gerry Hallom, © 1982, used with permission. There are many leaving songs. However, in this one the old gang is breaking up as one member ships back to the mother country. Those left behind feel the loss strongly, and as their numbers diminish year by year, become increasingly bitter. Led by Charlie with back-up vocals on the verse by Norris and with full chorus; Charlie on banjo, Jeff and Eli on guitars, and Norris on whistle.

Port o' Dreams – Charlie adapted this C. Fox Smith poem for singing, setting it to a tune composed by Rhode Island's Jon Campbell for his coastal tanker song The Mary, © 1992, used with permission. We love the pursuit of the romantic dream as told by the old salt, the recognition that the dream is an unlikely reality, but what the Hell, it's still fun to muse on! Led by Jeff with back-up vocals on the verse by Eli; Jeff on guitar, Charlie on banjo, and Norris on whistle.

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Dick, Charlie, Nor, Jeff, Eli