The Plimsoll Gear® brand has a strong connection to the maritime traditions of the past and present. What better way to recognize and bring awareness to the men and women who silently ship 90% of the goods we buy every day than to celebrate classic and contemporary maritime music.

We are officially declaring every Saturday as Sea Shanty Saturdays. Each week we will feature a song or artist that exemplifies the Sea Shanty genre and share it through our social media networks with the hashtag #seashantysaturdays.

So what is a Sea Shanty you ask?

A sea shanty is a type of maritime work song that was once commonly sung to accompany labor on board large merchant sailing vessels. The purpose of the songs were to keep the workers movements coordinated, stave off the boredom of the work and make the work day much more interesting.

There were many tasks on a wind powered ship that required a coordinated group effort in pulling or pushing, including weighing anchor and setting sail.

Most shanties are formatted as call and response and are performed between a soloist and the rest of the workers in chorus. The soloist is called the shantyman and was typically someone that could carry a tune and with a strong voice.

Since shanties were typically only sung in work-based settings, they were almost always sung Acapella. By the late 1800s, steam-powered ships and the advent of machines to handle shipboard tasks changed the course of sea shanties forever.

Much like the revival of bluegrass mountain music, veteran sailors, folklorist song-collectors, and their documentation provided resources that would later support a revival of singing shanties. This time it was for pure fun and enjoyment.

Commercial musical recordings, popular literature, and other media, especially since the 1920s, have driven interest in shanties among land-folk. The modern performance contexts of these songs have affected their forms, their content, and the way they are understood as cultural and historical artifacts. Recent performances range from the “traditional” style of practitioners within a revival-oriented, maritime music scene, to the adoption of shanty repertoire by musicians in a variety of popular styles.

Sea shanties cover many different subjects. There are songs about work, drinking, protest, glorification and more!

A perfect example of a traditional Sea Shanty is “Haul Away Joe”. It was a tack and sheet, short haul shanty. There are many verses and it may have been used as a halyard shanty as well. Sheet shanties were usually no longer than three or four verses. Sometimes the word ‘pull’ or ‘haul’ was used instead of Joe.

Although “Haul Away Joe” was known earlier among British sailors, it was not well-known on Yankee ships until the period between 1812 and the Civil War. It was certainly sung after the French Revolution.

Stay tuned for the launch of #SeaShantySaturdays this Saturday, September 7th.