Secrets of Sea Chanteys

Sat, Apr 30


Treasure Island Museum

Secrets of Sea Chanteys

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Time & Location

Apr 30, 10:30 AM

Treasure Island Museum


Treasure Island's pirate history is as artificial as the island itself, but that never ruined anyone's fun! It gave the Golden Gate International Exposition’s creative publicists a hook to hang the pirate theme on, and an excuse to hire "pirate girls" to promote the fair.

The current craze for sea chanteys rests on equally soft foundations, but can still tell us much about maritime history, if you know what to listen for. Together, we'll crack open these linguistic time capsules to get a glimpse into life aboard ship at the end of the Age of Sail. From 'dead horses' to the dreaded 'stuncil bones,' we'll explore how chanteys have survived in song down to the present day—or not—and how they have been reimagined and remixed for the cultural moment. And yes, we will learn what to actually do with a drunken sailor.

Speaker: Preston Thomas is a sailor, chantyman, and exhibit developer with the San Francisco Sailing Science Center, headquartered on Treasure Island.

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