In February 2020, I appeared on a radio station in Astoria, Oregon: Radio station KMUN as part of The Ship Report, “All Things Maritime” Podcast and Radio Show, www.shipreport.net, a frequent morning show. The host was Joanne Rideout, she is loved out there. Click here to [...]
Waterfront Folksinger & Storyteller
Sea Songs and Stories of New England
Waterfront folksinger & storyteller Mark Alan Lovewell sings, plays guitar, concertina, and harmonica as he tells tales about the sea. His maritime collection of New England sea chanties, songs, and stories is available from the Island of Martha’s Vineyard.
Lovewell is a descendant of an old New England whaling family. For more than three decades, he’s written about the waterfront and fishing industry, bringing those tales to the stage. The stories and songs celebrate community, the importance of connection, shared history, and the value of heritage.
As a newspaper reporter and columnist, Lovewell is current on the issues of our maritime age. He wrote the With the Fishermen column, which was dedicated to commercial fishing and appeared weekly in the Vineyard Gazette for 25 years. In pursuit of stories, he went out to sea on a number of fishing trips, crossed George’s Bank three times, and has traveled in fishing boats to the Gulf of Maine, Cape Cod Bay, and Nantucket Shoals.
Lovewell worked on the National Marine Fisheries Service vessel Albatross IV, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Oceanus, as a Coast Guard cutter, and on 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.
Waterfront Folksinger & Storyteller Mark has performed at our Nation’s Bicentennial celebration in New York Harbor on July 4, 1976. Lovewell also co-authored a little book of sea songs called Songs of South Street – Street of Ships (now out of print) with co-author Eric Russell. 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, Lovewell collects past stories of seafaring communities for sharing with all in the form of 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 and folk songs. The songs are distinct, tell a story, and many offer humor. They are also sing-along songs with a strong rhythm. At Straight Wharf on Nantucket, Lovewell sings ballads, tales of love found, love lost, hardship, hard work, and triumph over struggle.
You can learn more about Lovewell’s story in the book:
Friday, July 19, 2013— Mark Alan Lovewell is a journalist and photographer who has traveled all over the world and the Vineyard writing stories and chronicling aspects of the sea. He writes a fishing column and his charted his own course through his life, while keeping an Island base. More than anything Mr. Lovewell wants to see the traditions and history of the seafaring community stay alive, which he does through his chantey songs and storytelling. He likes to say, the kids he performs for will someday be in charge of the Vineyard. "We have a common obligation to connect our kids to the legacy behind it, to cultivate their imaginations," Mr. Lovewell said. Mr. Lovewell's newest children's recording features his signature true and clear voice and a few nature sounds here and there, too. The CD is aptly titled A Child's Island. It contains plenty of familiar songs but it also includes stories. Mr. Lovewell will perform songs from the CD on Tuesday, July 23, at 4 p.m. at the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown. Mr. Lovewell descends from a whaling family and his songs and stories bring those days to live. In his story Quahaug, a Tale, Mr. Lovewell asks the lister to ponder the life of a quahaug—a lone life indeed. They were eaten long before "candy bars and lemon meringue pie," he says. He said he gets a kick out of playing to a crowd of children. "I love doing children's shows, getting them excited. Music is participatory not a spectator sport." He's been playing for his own children, now grown, for years. It is their picture on the cover of A Child's Island. He played at their birthday parties and now they ask him to play for their friends when they come to visit and he's happy to oblige. "I come from a musical family," he says. His music next Tuesday won't be lost on the adults in the room, either. Mr. Lovewell said he enjoys watching the generations interact. "Why not celebrate the songs that connect generations?" asks Phil DaRosa will join Mr. Lovewell at the concert. He recorded his CD in Mr. DaRosa's studio and has him to thank for incorporating the sounds of the Flying Horses and the ocean to the music. Billed as a concert "for the young and the young at heart," the event begins at 4 p.m. Tickets at the door are $10 for adults and $5 for seniors. Children 12 and under can come for free when they bring an adult with them.
Mark Alan Lovewell is a Martha’s Vineyarder to the core, but he is also a citizen of the world.
February 4, 2008—
Thank you for your participation at the 21-st Burns Nicht Supper by giving the “Toast to Scots Around the World.” Your eloquent presentation and ballad accompanied by your concertina was worthy of belonging in the annals of the Scottish Society of Martha’s Vineyard as one of the best toasts ever! You gave an inspirational history lesson. Along with a charming ballad you enthralled the entire audience with your great enthusiasm! Your toast gave me the idea of future toasts be set to Robbie’s songs...
Thank you Mark, for making our celebration of Scotland’s Bard a memorable success!
Patricia Q. Wheeler
Happy New Year Mark!
We so enjoyed your concert New Year’s Eve. Your passion and respect for the music’s heritage are clear. Please keep pursuing your passion and your new song is beautiful. When I told my Dad of you and our experiences his voice with joy said: “‘Oh how beautiful... What instruments did he use?” He fished for groundfish out of Boston and Gloucester and pole fished tuna out of San Francisco. He was chief engineer. Was at sea weeks. He will Love your CD—no doubt.
Denise and Tony Purcell
Mark Lovewell’s Music Is Available On: