Sea Songs and Stories of New England
There is a story about us in the book Music on Martha's Vineyard.
Last February we performed at the 19th annual FisherPoets Gathering, Astoria, Oregon.
A maritime collection of New England sea chanties, songs and stories is available from the Island of Martha's Vineyard. Storyteller Mark Alan Lovewell sings, plays guitar, concertina and harmonica and tells tales about the sea.
He is a descendant of an old New England whaling family. For more than three decades he has written about the waterfront and the fishing industry. He brings those tales to stage. They are relevant, celebrate our mutual and shared history. The stories and songs celebrate community, the importance of connection, and the value of heritage.
As a newspaper reporter and columnist, Mr. Lovewell is current on the issues of our maritime age. He wrote the With the Fishermen column appearing weekly in the Vineyard Gazette for 25 years. The column was dedicated to commercial fishing. In pursuit of stories, he went out to sea on a number of fishing trips, crossed George’s Bank twice, and been in fishing boats to Gulf of Maine, Cape Cod Bay and Nantucket Shoals.
He worked on the National Marine Fisheries Service vessel Albatross IV, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Oceanus, a Coast Guard cutter and a number of fishing boats. When he was younger, he traveled across the seas of Northern Europe in a tramp steamer. As a teenager he went through the Panama Canal on a freighter and crossed the Pacific Ocean on a cruise ship.
He was a professional singer and storyteller at our Nation’s Bicentennial celebration in New York Harbor on July 4, 1976. He co-authored with Eric Russell a little book of sea songs called Songs of South Street - Street of Ships (now out of print). At college in New York City he performed and worked as an editorial assistant at the South Street Seaport Museum.
Martha's Vineyard is a 100-square mile Island off the coast of Massachusetts. The community he lives in is linked to both the sea and farming. Much has changed in this age of tourism, Internet and digital music; still some of that history, simplicity and insular independence lives on in his songs and stories.
Writing about the affairs of the waterfront, he collects past stories of seafaring communities for sharing with all. He writes poetry, fiction and prose. He upholds the maritime traditions of his island and family, by telling stories about an age when ships were wooden and the men who sailed them had hearts of iron.
Sea chanties are work songs, folk songs. The songs are distinct, tell a story, some offer humor. They are sing-along songs with a strong rhythm. At Straight Wharf on Nantucket. He sings ballads, tales of love found, love lost, hardship, hard work and triumph over struggle.
List of songs include: Fiddler's Green, Greenland Fisheries, The Diamond, Desolation, New Bedford Whalers, Cape Cod Girls, Shenandoah, Ghostly Crew, and Squidjigging Ground.
His program is ideal for clambakes, parties, boat trips and for the classroom. He has even brought his tales to weddings. He can perform inside or out on deck.
Mr. Lovewell has performed at the New Bedford Whaling Museum and Martha's Vineyard Museum. In the spring of 2004, he sang and told stories at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Bishop Museum in Honolulu, Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage, and Iñupiat Heritage Center in Barrow, Alaska.
He has performed at the Chatham Maritime Festival, for the Cape Cod Maritime Festival, and at the Nantucket Whaling Museum. On Martha’s Vineyard he has performed at the Edgartown Whaling Church and Martha’s Vineyard Campmeeting Association’s historic Tabernacle.
photo by Wayne Smith
Visit Youtube.com/markalanlovewell for videos and music.