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Munk

Mystery Shantie!

8 posts in this topic

Ok,

So I was trolling through youtube one night as Iam apt to do when I cant sleep and I stumbled across this shantie!

Its Called Blackbird get up. I love this song and it sounds like it has its roots in black working songs.

If any one knows any thing about this song can you please enlighten me!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKvW6SCieUE

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i agree that the song is probably of black origin, i dont much know of it...i have a feeling its a 19th century tune.....id email mystic seaport...they are usually pretty good about helping out

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Another potential starting point is to research gandy dancing.

I looked at YouTube for gandy dancer / gandy dancing and didn't have good results, but this might be one of those songs. There was a point in time (early 1980's) where gandy dancer songs and sea shanties were being performed by the same performers (sort of a cross-over performance of working songs). Those songs dated from the days when the railroads were being built and the working songs of the black railroad workers (the gandy dancrs) performed similar timing tasks as sea shanties. There was an amazing piece which timed the hammer blows into the spikes among multiple workers on the rr, but that's for another forum *g*

Jen Dobyns

Ok,

So I was trolling through youtube one night as Iam apt to do when I cant sleep and I stumbled across this shantie!

Its Called Blackbird get up. I love this song and it sounds like it has its roots in black working songs.

If any one knows any thing about this song can you please enlighten me!

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=uKvW6SCieUE

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The Shantey is being sung by my friend Craig Edwards, of the group Forebitter. These were the four Shantymen doing the Sea Music Program at Mystic Seaport Museum. One day they had the idea to try a quartet and it worked! I think he learned it from the Menhaden Fishermen from Beaufort, NC and it was used to gather in the "Bunt" of the Purse Siene in the Menhaden Fishery. A "Gandy Dancer" was a Specific job upon the railroad. It was performed by large bands of men of a very low station that worked mainly for keep and drink. The job was to "Tramp" upon the gravel stone laid as ballast for the track to form it to a Road for the Rails. My Dad told me that during the Depression trucks would come from the railroad and gather up a gang of those willing to be a "Gandy Dancer". One summer my Dad worked for a contractor building a road. It was a section of the Post Road (route US1) on a grade fairly steep, outside New Haven, CT, our hometown. He was hired as a "Shaker". He held an Iron Drill Rod as a very large black man whalloped it with a sledge hammer. He said the man has a chant that kept them in synch. It was more a sing song than an actual song but I remember Dad said that hammer would go airborn to "Hard Labor" Whomp! twist the drill and brace. "Make a days pay" Whomp! twist the drill and brace. I'm so glad I learned these things from first hand experience. I was truly Blessed. My father taught me not just sailing but seamanship. History and sense of place by seeing as much of our surroundings as we could. The experiences he had in a very colorful and unique life.

Edited by capn'rob

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Capn rob,

Thank you So much for your reply Iam speechless you truly had a blessed childhood to come up with such an exposure to our history. Especially with your fathers first hand experiences! I remember when I was 11 or 12 my dad took me to a friends house that we reenacted with his father had been a coal mine worker in the Depression he played me a caset tape he had with an interview of his father before he passed asking him about mine life and working conditions. It was unbelievable its these little pieces of americana that keep me enthralled with history as you never know when you will meet some one who has lived it. Now I must ask with this shantie you siad it was used to gather the bunt on the purse siene can you please tell me what that means?

The Shantey is being sung by my friend Craig Edwards, of the group Forebitter. These were the four Shantymen doing the Sea Music Program at Mystic Seaport Museum. One day they had the idea to try a quartet and it worked! I think he learned it from the Menhaden Fishermen from Beaufort, NC and it was used to gather in the "Bunt" of the Purse Siene in the Menhaden Fishery. A "Gandy Dancer" was a Specific job upon the railroad. It was performed by large bands of men of a very low station that worked mainly for keep and drink. The job was to "Tramp" upon the gravel stone laid as ballast for the track to form it to a Road for the Rails. My Dad told me that during the Depression trucks would come from the railroad and gather up a gang of those willing to be a "Gandy Dancer". One summer my Dad worked for a contractor building a road. It was a section of the Post Road (route US1) on a grade fairly steep, outside New Haven, CT, our hometown. He was hired as a "Shaker". He held an Iron Drill Rod as a very large black man whalloped it with a sledge hammer. He said the man has a chant that kept them in synch. It was more a sing song than an actual song but I remember Dad said that hammer would go airborn to "Hard Labor" Whomp! twist the drill and brace. "Make a days pay" Whomp! twist the drill and brace. I'm so glad I learned these things from first hand experience. I was truly Blessed. My father taught me not just sailing but seamanship. History and sense of place by seeing as much of our surroundings as we could. The experiences he had in a very colorful and unique life.

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Regie Speaking of black work songs are you familiar with the Lomax recordings?

i agree that the song is probably of black origin, i dont much know of it...i have a feeling its a 19th century tune.....id email mystic seaport...they are usually pretty good about helping out

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Don't know 'bout the song, but if'n I recall slave ships were called Blackbirds. Thought it might help, but probably not.

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Thanks for the kind comments, Mr. Munk. We are talking about one of the oldest fisheries in the U.S. Europeans knew hook and line fishing but the Wampanaug taught the settlers to Fish Trap on the shore. Purse Seining is similar only in deep water. For some great photos of the net being set, hauled and repaired and some music and literature about the fishery, I suggest www.unknowntounges.com . This is a Cajun Band of friends of mine here in "Down East" North Carolina. Barbara Blake has written a very indepth study regarding the Menhaden Fishery, the Fishermen and the Fish. She and her husband Bryan have also written the music on the CD that this website will bring you to. A Purse Seine is a long, flat net with floats on the top and weights on the bottom. Along the bottom is a line called a "purse string". When a school of fish are sighted, two boats will approach and with each boat with an end, encircle the fish with the net. When the boats meet again the "Purse string" is drawn tight closing the bottom of the net, forming a Purse. The "Mother Ship", a vessel of about 70 or 80 feet will come alongside and the boats with a good sized gang in each boat, will begin to gather in the "bunt" or belly of the net making the purse ever smaller. When sized right a dip net is the used to scoop out the fish and put in the Fish Hold of the ship. In order to get the 15 or 20 men to pull the bunt at the same time a chant was used. Or as we say, a Shanty was sung. As I mentioned, Craig said he got this one from the Men of the Beaufort Fishery. That's the people the Barbara writes about. Fun fact. My old friend Craig has been camping next to my new friends, the Blakes at a music event for several years now. Another member of Forebitter, David Littlefield has written a Shanty about the Menhaden Fishery on L.I. Sound. I think the title is "Luce Bro.s", the name of the company that owned the boats. I say that Dave wrote a Shanty and not a "song" about the fishery because of one important detail. Several years ago a Capt. that I fished with on an Eastern Rigged Dragger was Capt. of a "Trap Boat" the f/v "Boucolo", Gallilee, RI. As the gang was bringing in the three sides of the net I began to sing out "Haul on the bunt boys and walk her around. Haul on the bunt boys and walk her on down."! The guys said the loved pulling to a tune and as it was used to coordinate work, It is a Shanty!

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