The iconic singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell once said of her classic song The Circle Game, "This song isn't good with just one lonely voice." That's also true of sea shanties and other maritime folk music.
But sea shanty singers were always in short supply in Saint Petersburg, where I was living. With the Great Plague of 2020 and Beyond, the situation got even worse. A virtual group was clearly going to be the only viable option.
Unfortunately, this music is a niche genre if ever there was one (at least until the TikTok craze of January 2021). Singers willing to sign on to a some old coot's shanty crew were few and far between - as the group I finally put together proved.
And so, in a time of storm at the butt-end of the Baltic, the sea shanty singing group The Stormy Dan'ls was spawned. In unprecedented times of Social Distancing, distance was definitely the best way to work with these scurvy dregs and wharf-rats. The more distance the better.
This shanty crew is now disbanded. They never did tour. They did, however, entertain lucrative offers to keep quiet.
Shortly before my wife and I abandoned Russia in April, 2022, I went to round them up for a few last drinks only to discover they were nowhere to be found. Presumably they were some of the first rats off the sinking ship - which would be total par for the course. All I was able to come by was one rumor that Dartmoore Dan'l may have stowed away on a bulk carrier bound for Istanbul. Later, I heard that a figure resembling Dinghy-oar Dan'l was observed rafting downriver from Narva, Estonia in the dead of night. If it was him he was certainly making his way back to his favorite Tiki bar in Tahiti. I hope he gets there and stays there.
Dredgebottom Dan'l and Drunken-whelp Dan'l vanished without a trace - a great relief.
This break-up is the best thing that could happen to the sea shanty community. I hope everyone is properly appreciative.
Through some perverse accident of birth in widely scattered locales, as improbable as integrity in politics, every member of this crew is named Dan'l.
Was he ever incarcerated in the famous Devon prison? If he was, odds are he was never officially released. If he wasn't, it's a definite lapse on the part of the British authorities.
In any case, he's not telling and it seemed wiser not to press the matter too far.
Found tranquilly floating on the Baltic in a rubber raft, he really belongs in a rubber room. Claims he was paddling home across a Tahiti lagoon after a few mai-tais at the local Tiki bar, and took a wrong turn.
Well, he does sing tenor. More or less. In such times, one takes what one can get.
Dredging bottom was certainly what I did when I signed him. Gaslighter extraordinaire, with rare talent for dragging things through the muck. Because, in a fetid sort of way, he reminded me of certain aspects of my native shores - I took him on. Already I regret it.
He sings the lowest part, of course.
The name says it all, folks.
In such times, one takes what one can get.
DISCLAIMER: The consumption of tobacco and alcoholic beverages may be depicted in these video. However, no tobacco or alcoholic beverages were actually consumed by anyone during the shooting. Post-production was another matter entirely.
In which the Stormy Dan'ls were first inflicted upon the unsuspecting the world